Hike North Head Sanctuary

8.1 miles 1099.1 ft gain  - Loop Trail

Added by Katie Kessel

Take in beautiful views of the ocean around Sydney and explore North Head, including the historic fort in Manly and the many walking trails in the area.

Since there are many different walkways, I have put together several different ways to get to North Head, though there are many different places to explore along the way. It's a great way to get outside the Sydney and escape for a few hours without a long commute. If you follow the paths around the area, the total walking from the wharf is around 13 kms, but it's as long as you make it!

The easiest way to get to Manly from the centre of Sydney is by ferry, which you can take from Circular Quay. From the Manly wharf, turn left and follow the beach , following the path until you reach Stuart Street. Walking up Stuart Street, take a right into Little Manly Point, where you can start to enjoy some ocean views.

Follow the ocean, reaching a path that takes you into the forest and follow it until you reach Collins Beach. Walk along the beach until you get to the other side where Collins Flat Track starts back up the hill. The track meets Collins Beach Road, taking you up the hill until you reach North Head Scenic Drive. Take a right here, following the walking track and sidewalks along the road. There is a walking track partway up from this junction that takes you up stairs to the North Head Sanctuary via a more remote walking track. 

Once you reach the fort at North Head Sanctuary, either continue along the road where you can explore the many different walking tracks or head up to the fort to take a look at the historic area. There are many different signs and maps around the area, so feel free to explore. 

The east-most part of this walk offers some stunning views of the ocean and takes you along a walk called the Avenue of Honour, which I highly recommend. There are many different stories of Australia's past conflicts and memorials for the soldiers here etched into stunning stonework.

Some of the best views from Manly are from the lookouts at North Head at the south-eastern portion of the walk. Once you're in the North Head Sanctuary, follow signs towards the Fairfax Lookout. Here, you can follow the path along the beach taking a look at stunning cliffs and rock formations as well as whales if you're there at the right time of year! This portion of the walk is a circuit on the southern point of Manly. 

To walk back to the ferry, take the same pack back towards the wharf. If you're looking for some good food along your walk, I highly recommend either the Bella Vista Cafe in the North Head Sanctuary on the main road near the visitors' centre or Four Pines across the road from the Manly Wharf if you're looking for some great food and amazing brews. 

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Great Views to CBD and Beyond

An interesting headland with scattered wartime installations, the walk is anything but dull. On a nice day you can see across the headland to Sydney’s CBD and all along the coast.


about 3 years ago

Great Info!

I lived in the PNW for awhile good to know there's another Outbounder down here in Australia right now! I'm currently living up by Sydney and found this article very useful I'm going to go try this one soon. What was your personal favorite track route, as you mentioned there are many to choose from! For photography would you recommend sunrise or sunset from this spot? Let me know if you're in the NSW area at all in the coming months! 😀

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