Now that spring is here, it is just warm enough to break out the Kelty and go for some long walks! Sydney has tons of gorgeous coastal walks: Bondi to Coogee, North Head, South Head, and Spit to Manly. The Spit to Manly hike includes awesome nature-filled bushwalking, rougher terrain (i.e. soo many stairs), and stunning city views, which makes it one of our favorites.
The walk is 10km, but JZ and I swear that it has to be longer because it never fails to take us the better part of the day. However, we generally make it a leisurely hike, spending lots of time enjoying the scenery and side paths, taking photographs, eating lunch, and, of course, changing a few nappies. Our preference is to start the hike at the Spit Bridge and finish at Manly Wharf. No one wants to sit on a bus after a long hike, especially little CZ, and even a packed ferry offers more space to move about.
After crossing the bridge, the walk winds through dense vegetation along the edge of Fisher and Sandy Bay.
The next stop is Clontarf Beach. There is a nice beachside cafe, Clonny’s on the Beach, with sandwiches, salads, and ice cream. When we get a later start, or if I don’t have time to prep a lunch, we stop here for hiking sustenance. This is also the last bathroom and water stop for the next several kilometers, so we make use of the facilities. Depending on the tide, we either walk along the beach or take a marked shortcut down Monash Cres. Sometimes we cut it close!
The next bit of the hike includes some heart pumping stairs- steep, uneven, and usually a bit slick from the constant drip of water down on the rocky walls. We pause at Castle Rock to trek down to the rocky beach and admire some huge algae/seaweed-like growths on the sand. The water is Caribbean blue, but the view is definitely Sydney.
The main trails are well used and not conducive for stopping for a picnic, but the side paths offer plenty of options. Last time, we took a side trip to the Grotto Reserve for more beautiful water views, and we stumbled across a great lunch spot. I packed some sandwiches, clementines, and banana oat bites; and we enjoyed the quiet of nature. It can be a little claustrophobic constantly crammed into a city of almost 5 million people, and the lack of silence is noticeable in our daily life. Out on the trail, there is a sense of freedom in the endless blue sky meeting the bright, blue water. And what better way to enjoy this freedom than post-lunch naps?
After a bit of refreshment, we pack up, and head towards Sydney Harbor National Park. This stop offers facilities, water refills, and CZ gets to watch the dogs run through the field. There is a great lookout point with views of Balgowlah and Manly on one side that we enjoyed while CZ stretched her legs.
Now that CZ is learning to walk, she is less happy being carted around in the backpack all day. She requested a little walking time for the next leg of the journey. While we were unable to move at max speed, we definitely had maximum cuteness.
The next segment traverses Jilling Cove, connecting with the Manly Esplanade. We always hit this section mid-afternoon, when we are ready to be home, and it feels like Manly Wharf is forever “just around the bend,” as you trudge along this beautiful coastline. Adding to the disappointment of relocating wharf, there are signs warning passersby to watch out for Tiny Penguins, which we have yet to see.
Even though it feels long, we have a lot of fun on the last leg of the journey, and the only real downside to the day is traveling to Spit Bridge and home from Manly. We catch a train, then a bus, walk 10k, take a ferry, and another train. Most days, this means spending the transport daily cap of $15 per person; so taking the hike on a Sunday when the cap is $2.50, makes a big difference in cost. Of course, that means fighting the crowds of tourists (especially in the summer) and the risk of being passengers 1008 and 1009 on the 1000 passenger ferry. However, even if we miss the ferry, we still make it home for sunset.