Quiet Coves and Varied Vistas Along the Manly to Spit Scenic Walkway
Of all the features that make Sydney Sydney, the harbour is its truest and most iconic. For me, and my many Sydney memories, that harbour isn’t part of Sydney, it is Sydney.
There are many ways to enjoy it. Indeed, many of Sydney’s recreational opportunities (cruising, fishing, swimming, picnicking) centre around its blue waters and sandstone cliffs. But, several weekends after re-locating to Manly, we decided to enjoy it through one of its many harbour-side bushwalks. I’ve always found Sydney’s bushwalks the perfect urban escape, quiet trails (not parks) that capture the essence of the Australian bush while being steps away from its largest city.
The Manly to Spit Scenic Walkway is a 10-kilometre bushwalk and, thus, takes the better part of a day to complete. It’s worth it, however, offering a day’s worth of varied views and a decent workout as well.
Starting at Manly’s famous wharf and ferry terminal, the walk quietly begins through Fairlight, with sunny blue views of Fairlight Beach, then North Harbour Reserve. As it continues through Wellings Reserve and into Sydney Harbour National Park, the trail and the views become elevated. Sunny harbour cove views transform into headland panoramas sweeping from Manly Wharf to Sydney Harbour Heads and across Middle Harbour. In short, it goes from scenic to stunning; I have yet to find a city landscape that matches Sydney’s natural beauty.
As the path winds through Sydney Harbour National Park, dramatic vistas mix with hidden harbour coves. Since the park is about halfway on the walk, it’s also the perfect spot for a picnic with a view. We chose to take up the opportunity underneath the Grotto Point lighthouse. Within and past the national park, the walk becomes more trail than path, weaving through brush, forest, and sandstone formations. Finally, the trail becomes beach – literally – at Clontarf. For several easy final kilometres, the beach and the trail meet, winding from Clontarf and Sandy Bay to the Spit Bridge where the trail ends.
The Manly to Spit Scenic Walkway offers a full, but golden, day experiencing much of Sydney Harbour spectacular variety – quiet marinas, dramatic heads, shaded forests, and coves so hidden you feel like you’ve discovered them.
After 10 kilometres, it’s best to take advantage of a feature found only in city bushwalking – public transport. Be sure to follow the signs at the end of the trail to the bus stop to ensure you end up on the right side of the route. Many routes frequent that stop, then travel back to either Manly Wharf or Belgrave Street in central Manly. If in doubt, ask the bus driver.
Since it’s a full day of walking, be sure to wear appropriate gear and bring plenty of water, as well as a packed lunch to take a break with your choice of breathtaking view.
More information on facilities along the walkway is available through the Manly Tourism website.