North Head Sanctuary

North Head Sanctuary, Manly: Address, Phone Number, North Head Sanctuary Reviews: 4.5/5

North Head Sanctuary
4.5
Nature & Wildlife Areas
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The area
Neighborhood: Manly
A 40-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay will take you to the famous northern beach of Manly. The beaches here are perfect for learning to surf or spending the day sun-tanning. The walk from Spit Bridge to Manly is a great way to experience Sydney Harbor Bay and the Australian bush land. Along the foreshore, there are plenty of watering holes and wine bars with excellent cuisine. There are plenty of kid-friendly restaurants as well, especially along the family-oriented areas like Shelly Beach. An excellent way to experience Manly is to rent a bike and explore the dedicated bike paths and off road trails. The North Head National Park is another must-see. Located on the southern tip of Manly, North Head National Park offers great bushwalks and panoramic views of the city.
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4.5
271 reviews
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Mairwen1
United Kingdom4,627 contributions
Fairfax Walking Trail an Excellent Whale Watching Spot
Oct 2020
North Head is an excellent day-trip if you have the time to explore beyond the main tourist sights in Sydney. It’s not on many tourists’ radar but is a stunning spot.
The sanctuary sits above Manly Beach. It’s free to enter and has several bushland walking trails, whale-watching sites, wildlife, rare native flora, panoramic views of the harbour, military relics and the old historic quarantine centre.
Start at the Visitor Centre where you can grab free guides and they can advise and direct you to the various walks.
The best views are definitely from the Fairfax Trail. Right now (Aug-Oct), this is also a good spot to whale-watch and they can be frequently see making their way back to the Antarctic.
It’s an easy circular walking path that loops around past the harbour and follows the cliff edges. It connects 3 lookout points. First you see the dramatic sheer cliff faces and expansive views over the Pacific Ocean. Then, further around, you look across to the eastern suburbs and straight up through the entrance to the harbour to the city skyline.
Along the way, you will notice some curious concrete hut-like structures. One or two are accessible from the path and you can go inside. These are gun emplacements and military bunkers dating from 1920s.
The path is flat and level, with fenced railings on the cliff side. It is mostly paved and is a gentle walk which is easy even for small children with little legs. Allow about 30 minutes.
There are several other walks and if you are up for it, you can walk right down through the bush to end up at Manly Beach but this is a much longer walk (about 8km).

GETTING THERE: From the city, the Manly ferry is the best way to start. Apart from anything else, it is a wonderful trip. From the Manly wharf, catch the 135 bus (stand C) which will take you right into the North Head sanctuary, stopping by the visitor centre and Bella Vista cafe. An important thing to know is that Bus 135 is pre-pay only so you will need an Opal card.
If driving, there is a very cheap parking fee. Just a flat $5 for the day.
Written October 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

sydneysider48
Sydney, Australia859 contributions
Great walks and beautiful scenery
Sep 2020
North Head offers some great walks through bushland, all well graded and signposted, with terrific views across the harbour to the southern suburbs and the city and out through the Heads to sea.
Written September 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Alison S
Sydney, Australia2,019 contributions
Walk to North Head from Manly
Jun 2020
Manly to North Head Walk was well worth while last weekend.
COVID-19 has prevented people from getting out much, but now that restrictions have eased it was wonderful to get out and enjoy the "out of doors".

Many opportunities to see the ocean and possibility of seeing whales as they travel north to warmer waters.

Just a beautiful day and views.
Well worth the exercise.
Many historical points of interest and beautiful flowers and native bushes to see.
Written June 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

summutha
Sydney, Australia421 contributions
Beautiful walj
Mar 2020
We walked through the middle of Manly then up to North Head, around Fairfax lookout and back down to Manly.
Amazing walk topped off with a visit from a young Echidna.
Well worth a 9km walk.
Written March 15, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

ylc25
Markham, Canada987 contributions
Great hike
Jan 2020 • Couples
Took ferry from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf on Sunday which is capped at $2.80 all day. Took first ferry at 6:50, very few people. Walked to Shelly Beach and followed trail to Barracks. Then walked to North Head Sanctuary Visitors Centre, then to Fairfax Track. Saw birds and reptiles. Lots of good views even though visibility was poor from the fires. Then walked back to the wharf.
Written January 6, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Thomas V
Oakland, California10,875 contributions
Spectacular Views
Oct 2019
We came here for a hike with our friends. Well it was a short hike and the views were the best part. The ocean and the cliffs and you can see part of the city. Popular spot.
Written December 27, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

AlpinerHut
Chantilly, VA1,058 contributions
Incredible skyline view
Oct 2019
We walked around Fairfax Track, a half-mile-plus loop in North Head Sanctuary, then walked to Bella Vista Cafe (see my review, "Lives up to its name"), a short distance away on North Head Scenic Drive. 

Fairfax Track is an easy walk that offers nice ocean and cliff views, a great look at South Head across the opening of Sydney Harbor and some surprises, like the World War II North Head Artillery Lookout. The highlight, though, has to be the spectacular view of the Sydney skyline from Fairfax Lookout.

TIPS:
--We took the Sydney Ferries ferry (see my review, "Truly a top attraction") to Manly Wharf, then crossed West Esplanade street to board Bus 135 North Head at Manly Wharf West Esplanade Stand D. Bus 135 took us to bus stop near North Head Sanctuary Visitor Center, but the driver offered to drop us in a parking lot adjoining Fairfax Track, which is farther on. We gladly accepted. Unfortunately, though this parking lot shows on Google Maps as a bus stop, it apparently isn't; when we wanted to return, two buses whizzed past us before we realized they usually just loop around here but only stop at the Visitor Center. We had to walk back.

TRAVEL MOMENT:
--A group of tourists jumped the fence along Fairfax Track and were posing for pictures on the cliff's edge. Suddenly, just like in the movies, an unseen police helicopter rose above the cliff and an officer with a bullhorn told the surprised tourists in no uncertain terms to get back on the path! 
Written November 25, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

H W
Bradford, UK27 contributions
Great day out
Sep 2019
Took the easy way and drove up but spent the whole day at North Head. Following the suggestions from the very helpful gentleman in the information office we followed the main route round the headland. The walking was easy and the views were stunning, even did a bit of whale spotting at Fairfax Point. Lots of bird life but didn't see the echinads. We also visited the Q station which was really interesting to learn about a part of Australian history we had no knowledge off. Definitely worth a visit.
Written September 9, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Thomas V
Oakland, California10,875 contributions
Glorious Coast Line
Jun 2019
Our friends took us here to show off the splendid coast just outside the city. There are a lot of spectacular view spots along the coast and this is one of the best. Folks go hiking here.
Written September 3, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

NLcycle
Rotterdam, The Netherlands617 contributions
Beautiful walk
Aug 2019
We made a beautiful walk from Manly, past Shelly Beach to North Head. Absolutely stunning views, flora and fauna; we hardly met any other people. Nice surprise were the WWII bunkers, the gun pits and command post, still to be seen.
Written August 21, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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