I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
Published February 2nd 2017
A Sydney Harbour Favourite
There's not much that can beat Sydney Harbour on a lovely sunny summers day but for an interstate visitor to the harbour city it can be difficult to know just where to go to get the best out of your visit.
Most people will jump on the ferry to Manly and that's a great trip, but for my money one of the best and most readily accessible spots on the harbour is Watsons Bay.
Camp Cove Watsons Bay is the spot where Governor Phillip first landed on Australian soil. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
Just 11 kilometres north east of Sydney's CBD Watsons Bay is a short and very pleasant ferry ride from Circular Quay. It's the spot where Governor Phillip first landed in Australia, the site of the nation's oldest fishing village established in 1788 and the former home of the Sydney Harbour Pilot Boat Station.
There are two excellent short walks starting and finishing at Watsons Bay Wharf and requiring little more than an hour to complete.
Head south on the coastal cliff walk and you'll pass the notorious 'Gap', the memorial to the wreck of the DUNBAR, Signal Hill Reserve and the old Signal Station and the Macquarie Lighthouse.
Head north on the South Head Heritage Trail via Lighthouse Road, Lady Bay Road and the South Head Lighthouse Walk and you'll pass the Lady Bay nude beach (eyes-front) en-route to South Head and the Hornsby Lighthouse.
..... or south are equally impressive from the cliff top walk above Watsons Bay. Photos: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
Iconic landmarks are seemingly everywhere around Watsons Bay including the magnificent Macquarie Lighthouse
. Still in operation today it's Australia's oldest lighthouse, designed by the convict architect Francis Greenway, built in 1818 and rebuilt in 1883.
Sydney Harbour Federation Trust guided tours of the lighthouse are run every two months or so and visitors can climb the 100 steps to the balcony for some amazing views. For further information go to the website.
Built in 1818 Macquarie Lighthouse, Australia's first, earned a pardon for its designer the convict architect Francis Greenway. The light is still operational today. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
But no visit to Watsons Bay would be complete without sampling some famous Doyle's seafood and there are two options available.
Doyles On The Beach Restaurant is an icon of Sydney's dining scene and Watsons Bay is the site of the first Doyles restaurant established in 1885. That was little more than a café really and continued as such until the late Peter Doyle and his three brothers set about transforming the business into an internationally renowned restaurant empire.
Doyles On The Beach is a-la-carte fine dining at its best, something that, as you might expect, is reflected in the prices.
If your wallet isn't up to that, Doyles On The Wharf offers excellent value for money in a much less formal environment.
The range of seafood sold here is extensive and the serves are generous. If you wish you can take advantage of a comfortable undercover dining area and bar, the perfect location from which to watch the comings and goings at the adjacent Wharf.
Watsons Bay is famous as the home of the original Doyles Seafood restaurant. Visitors today can enjoy the up-market a-la-carte service of Doyles on the Beach .....
.....or the less expensive but extremely tasty fare on offer at Doyles On The Wharf. Photos: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
Sydney and its harbour are full of fabulous things to see and do and Watsons Bay is right up there with the best of them.
Watsons Bay ferry terminal - the end of a short but very relaxing trip from Circular Quay. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
Getting There …..
Sydney Ferries and Captain Cook Cruises operate regular services to Watsons Bay from Circular Quay. You'll need a local OPAL Travel card.
Regular bus services run to Watsons Bay from Circular Quay STAND D on routes 324 and 325. If you're driving, Watson Bay is 12.5 kilometres from Circular Quay, approximately a 30 minute drive on the New South Head Road via Double Bay and Rose Bay.
A taste of the good life - idyllic Camp Cove Watsons Bay. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank