North Head
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Mairwen1
By Mairwen1
Combining North Head & Manly Beach in a Day-Trip
Oct 2020
North Head is a national park area, sitting high above Manly and Shelly beaches. You can easily combine Manly Beach and North Head in a a day trip and you get the best of Australian sand, surf and bushland. Highlights at North Head include bushland walking trails, whale-watching sites, native wildlife, panoramic views of the harbour, military relics and the old historic quarantine centre. It is free to enter. You can walk from Manly Beach up to North Head but it’s steep and you need to allow about an hour. I’ve not done this yet but, I’d like to go back and do it another time. Instead we drove to North Head and did a few of the bush walking trails around the headland. If you have 1 – 2 hours, you will easily have time for more than one walking trail. They are well sign-posted although I’d recommend stopping by the Information Centre first and picking up a free map or guide. They are pretty helpful in there. The Fairfax Trail is the best one for panoramic views and whale-watching. It only takes 30 minutes. The Memorial Walk is the best one for seeing native bushland. It has beautiful native wildflowers (acacia, banksia, boronia, wattle). Depending on how much noise you make and whether you thud your way through the bush, you may also see native wildlife like kookaburras or the normally shy echidna. I found the Memorial Walk to be very moving. The red brick pavers are engraved with the names of those who served in different wars and there is excellent historical information, set in sandstone blocks with old photos. The Bella Vista Café is a nice spot to finish. The outdoor seating has wonderful harbour views. We finished here. GETTING THERE: From the Manly ferry 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. Bus 135 is pre-pay only so you will need an Opal card, otherwise you will be stuck. If driving, It is only a flat $5 parking fee for the day (must be the most reasonable parking fee in Sydney).

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Top ways to experience North Head and nearby attractions

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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mmswire1
Wollongong, Australia3 contributions
Jun 2020
North Head is Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub (ESBS), which is a nationally and state-listed Endangered Ecological scrub. Because this land was first set up as a Quarantine Station to protect Sydney from the Spanish Flu in 1919, and later just before the onset of WW11, then became a military stronghold to protect and ward off the enemy. What is left is amazing remnant bush, these two factors have saved this part of North Head as a isolated beauty, just up the road from Manly.
Written June 17, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Mairwen1
United Kingdom7,094 contributions
Oct 2020
North Head is a national park area, sitting high above Manly and Shelly beaches. You can easily combine Manly Beach and North Head in a a day trip and you get the best of Australian sand, surf and bushland.
Highlights at North Head include bushland walking trails, whale-watching sites, native wildlife, panoramic views of the harbour, military relics and the old historic quarantine centre. It is free to enter.
You can walk from Manly Beach up to North Head but it’s steep and you need to allow about an hour. I’ve not done this yet but, I’d like to go back and do it another time. Instead we drove to North Head and did a few of the bush walking trails around the headland.
If you have 1 – 2 hours, you will easily have time for more than one walking trail. They are well sign-posted although I’d recommend stopping by the Information Centre first and picking up a free map or guide. They are pretty helpful in there.
The Fairfax Trail is the best one for panoramic views and whale-watching. It only takes 30 minutes. The Memorial Walk is the best one for seeing native bushland. It has beautiful native wildflowers (acacia, banksia, boronia, wattle). Depending on how much noise you make and whether you thud your way through the bush, you may also see native wildlife like kookaburras or the normally shy echidna.
I found the Memorial Walk to be very moving. The red brick pavers are engraved with the names of those who served in different wars and there is excellent historical information, set in sandstone blocks with old photos.
The Bella Vista Café is a nice spot to finish. The outdoor seating has wonderful harbour views. We finished here.

GETTING THERE:
From the Manly ferry 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. Bus 135 is pre-pay only so you will need an Opal card, otherwise you will be stuck.
If driving, It is only a flat $5 parking fee for the day (must be the most reasonable parking fee in Sydney).
Written October 24, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

EllieandSherlock
Terrigal, Australia468 contributions
Feb 2018 • Friends
We caught the ferry to Manly and then walked to the beach, then Shelly Beach, then followed the paths to Fairfax Lookout at North Head. It is not a long nor tiring walk! Lots of look outs and gun turrets and tunnels to look at as well as the remembrance walk. Sign posting is a little lacking and we found the visitor centre to be most helpful in helping us get to where we wanted to go and they have real paper maps for visitors to follow! A great way to spend a Sunday morning! Highly recommended !
Written February 21, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

SCOTT W
sydney10 contributions
Sep 2016 • Couples
North Head is a great place to visit. Its majestic views, steep cliffs and untouched nature makes it one of Manlys best kept secrets. It is also a fantastic place to observe whales when the are migrating. A tip would be to look out for the large whale watching jet cat that is generally about 100 metres away from the whales.

My second tip would be to have lunch at Bella Vista Cafe at North Head. Owned and ran by an Italian family, this is no tourist trap. Food is of the highest standard and mouth watering. A nice glass of wine and a home made pasta or scallopine would be the fitting end to a walk around this majestic area. My recomondation would be the home made gnocchi with four cheeses and hazelnut or the veal scallopini with lemon and caper sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Written September 28, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

David B
Rayong, Thailand9,813 contributions
Aug 2016 • Friends
North Head, together with South Head, are the giant cliffs that are the portal from the Pacific Ocean into Sydney Harbour.

North Head is still covered with the same flora as when the first European settlers sailed through The Heads in 1788 to establish the Colony of New South Wales and the area abounds in bird life and small native animals.

The view from North Head out across the Pacific Ocean and backwards down Sydney Harbour all the way to Sydney City, is nothing less than breathtaking, particularly at sunrise and sunset.

This is also a popular spot for whale watching between May and November when whales migrate from their breeding grounds in the Antarctic to warmed northern waters, then back again, accompanied by their newborn calves.

If you hunt around you will still find the remnants of old military fortifications and observation posts dug into the cliff face at a time when the fledgling colony feared invasion, particularly from Russia, with which Mother England was at war at the time.
Written August 17, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

SpoiltGirl2013
Melbourne, Australia49 contributions
Dec 2014 • Couples
Great walking track through the National Park.
Quarantine Station Museum, Boiler Room restaurant and beach
Written December 19, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Michael N
Lawson, Australia1,176 contributions
Oct 2014 • Friends
Catch a ferry to Manly and veer towards the left as you exit the wharf. Cross the road and there is the bus stop for the North Head Route.
Alternatively, walk up to the Corso and turn right to Shelley Beach. Lovely walk along the sea shore and then continue up along the headland.
You will pass some old gun turrets and lookout posts and eventually arrive at the former Artillery School. Next to the Parade Ground there is a Visitor Centre where you can learn a lot about the area generally.and particularly the role it played in the defence of Sydney during World War II.
Continue along the road to the end of the Headland and you will see spectacular views of the Harbour and the ocean outside the heads. As a bonus you can often see whales at the right time of year. The lookouts are beautifully maintained by the National Parks and all are fully accessible.
As you come back you will pass Bella Vista Café which provides nice refreshments. If you want to avoid the walk back, there is a bus stop right opposite the restaurant.
Alternatively continue along the road and back to Manly. A diversion just before the exit gates takes you down towards the harbour and leads to Little Collins Beach which is also worth a visit.
Written October 25, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

BasherWarwickshire
Solihull, UK269 contributions
Feb 2020 • Couples
Like everyone, caught the ferry to Manley and then did the scenic walk. There is however a great little visitor centre at the North Head which also does a tour of the gun placements as well as being helpful about the history of the North Head
Written February 20, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Oz Traveller
34 contributions
Oct 2019 • Family
North Head Manly is a fantastic place to visit, explore several walking (plus running and bike riding) tracks, learn about Australian history and enjoy gorgeous views. Great for a family walk, safe and easy to access. From there you can walk to the beautiful Shelly Beach or Manly. Amenities and cafes are available, or you can find a picnic spot to enjoy own food.
Written October 13, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Maayan Harel
Halifax, Canada1,068 contributions
Sep 2016 • Couples
Quite windy with an amazing view of the ocean and Manly's cliffs. Highly recommended to take the 135 bus from city center cause its a long and steep walk there (around 40-50 min I'd estimate). If you're in Manly, it's a must.
Written September 23, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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North Head (Manly) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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