Manly to Bondi: Sydney's new 80km walk to be most spectacular in the world

Should Sydney’s new 80-kilometre Bondi to Manly walk be called the Manly to Bondi track?

The answer depends on your perspective, and which of six mayors you asked at Sunday’s launch to mark the signing of a memorandum of understanding that will see the new walk become a reality.

Map of the planned walking path around Sydney Harbour, linking Bondi Beach and Manly.

The trail is a dream come true for two night walkers – former Labor Senator John Faulkner and Kevin Rudd’s former senior press secretary and chief executive of media company RevTech, Lachlan Harris.

Walking at night, the only time Faulkner and Harris could escape the stresses of the government, they realised there was more public land around the harbour than anyone realised.

“It was an act of imagination to have Sydneysiders understand the scale of public land around the harbour. The idea that you can walk from Bondi to Manly is a reality now,” said Mr Harris, who co-founded the Bondi to Manly Walk Supporters with Mr Faulkner.

Talking in order of location from Bondi in the south to Manly in the north, thought to be the most democratic approach, the mayors came to rare agreement.

The multi-day walk would become a “major tourist attraction”. It would have have the same status as some of the world’s great walking trails such as Cinque Terra in Italy.

From right, Waverley Mayor, John Wakefield, Woollahra Mayor Peter Cavanagh, City of Sydney Mayor Clover Moore, North Sydney Mayor Jilly Gibson, Mosman Mayor Carolyn Corrigan and Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan, who have agreed to connect parks and lands around Sydney to create an 80m Bondi to Manly walk. CREDIT: DEAN SEWEL

The walk will highlight Sydney’s history, including its Indigenous people, the arrival of the First Fleet and the building of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

It will pass Taronga Zoo, Bradleys Head, Clifton Gardens, Middle Head, and Aboriginal rock engravings at Clontarf before heading to North Head and ending in Manly.

Together with federal and state government agencies, the mayors agreed to link existing coastal and harbour-side walking tracks and paths, and erect consistent signs and directions.

About 60 kilometres of the trail is on public land. The rest will be on footpaths, including near Point Piper, Darling Point and Potts Point.

The 80km walk will come near Wendy Whiteley’s not so secret garden in Lavender Bay. CREDIT: GRAHAM JEPSON

The mayor of Waverley, John Wakefield said it would take visitors to two of the world’s best beaches, Bondi – in his council – and Manly in the south. Woollahra mayor Peter Cavanagh said his section would encompass Macquarie Lighthouse, the Murray Rose Pool and other hidden gems. “Don’t go to theirs, go to ours,” he said of his attractions.

Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney, said the view from Mrs Macquarie’s chair in her local government area was “perhaps the most beautiful in the world”.

Jilly Gibson, North Sydney’s mayor, urged walkers to bring their bathers. “North Sydney: What a place for a halfway pit stop,” said Ms Gibson. “If you are hot after walking across the bridge, you can cool off by taking a dip in North Sydney pool, you can go to the pub next door for a nice ice cold beer, and go on the ferris wheel at Luna Park. A quick walk around Lavender Bay, along the Peter Kingston walkway, you will find yourself at Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden.”

Clover Moore said the view from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair was the best in Sydney. CREDIT: DANIEL MUNOZ

The trek will include signage and information about the original inhabitants of the Eora nation. Mosman Mayor Carolyn Corrigan said it would showcase her council’s rich Indigenous history and culture.

Finally at Manly, Northern Beaches mayor Michael Regan welcomed the “Manly to Bondi walk” pointing out it depended on which direction you started from.

The walk was the vision of former Labor party senator John Faulkner more than 10 years ago. He said it was rare, if not unprecedented, to see three levels of government come together like they had.

“It will be an unforgettable experience and I am certain it will become a must-do for walkers everywhere in the world.”

The 80km walk from Bondi to Manly will take in many of Australia’s most iconic sites.

Manly to Bondi Walk

The Manly to Bondi walk is the harbour section of Sydney’s Great Coastal Walk. It’s between the Palm Beach to Manly Walk and the Bondi to Coogee Walk, and is smack bang in the middle of Sydney’s coastal walks.

You could do this in the opposite direction as a Bondi to Manly walk, but if you prefer the sun on your back rather than in your face, walk north (Manly) to south (Bondi).

The Manly to Bondi walk links two of Sydney’s most famous beaches and is the highlight of all Sydney Harbour walks.

Start with the Manly to Spit Walk and continue through to Balmoral Beach. We recommend including the Middle Head walk too. It’s easy to skip Middle Head but the views out the heads from the gun emplacements are well worth the walk.

Manly to Bondi Walk Distance

80 km

Manly to Bondi Walk Time

23.5 hours

World famous Manly Beach, equal sister to Bondi Beach.

The walk will take in Grotto Point at Balgowlah Heights.

Manly to Balmoral Beach

Manly Wharf is the start of the Manly to Spit Bridge Walk, more often called Spit Bridge to Manly Walk or Manly Scenic Walkway.

This is the first of two days walking Sydney Harbour on a mixture of bush tracks, elevated timber pathways and concrete walkway. Find yourself a nice AirBnB by Balmoral Beach for the night.

It will also snake around Taronga Zoo.

Manly to Taronga Zoo

Manly Wharf is the start of the Manly to Spit Bridge Walk, more often called Spit Bridge to Manly Walk or Manly Scenic Walkway. This is a long day walking Sydney Harbour on a mixture of bush tracks, elevated timber pathways and concrete walkway.

You can save time and distance by not doing the Middle Head loop and by catching a ferry from Taronga Zoo to your accommodation in the Rocks.

Nutcote, at Neutral Bay, is the home of Snugglepot And Cuddlepie author May Gibbs.

George Street at The Rocks.

Balmoral Beach to The Rocks

Get your blood pumping with a few stairs to start the day and enjoy harbour and ocean views from Middle Head.

Explore the military history on Middle, Georges and Chowder Heads before rounding Bradleys Head for panoramic city views. Continue past Taronga Zoo, exit Sydney Harbour National Park and walk suburban streets before crossing Sydney Harbour Bridge to The Rocks for a well earned rest.

Parsley Bay at Vaucluse. Picture: @isabelladobozy

Camp Cove Beach at the Watsons Bay trail.

The Rocks to Watsons Bay

Is there a better way to start a day in Sydney than walking around Circular Quay, past Sydney Opera House and through the Royal Botanic Gardens to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair?

Today isn’t all walking harbour foreshore however. It’s predominantly a suburban walk interspersed with waterside walkways to enter Sydney Harbour National Park again briefly at Nielsen Park before continuing through suburbia to Watsons Bay. Well, ‘suburban’ may not be the kindest term for some of Australia’s most expensive real estate but it’s not coastal walking.

Dudley Page Reserve at Dover Heights.

The world famous Bondi Beach.

Watsons Bay to Bondi

Stroll out to Hornby Light on the Watsons Bay Walk and enjoy ocean, harbour and city views before continuing along the coast to Bondi.

After yesterday’s very urban day, you’re spoiled with coastal sights today and the reveal of Bondi Beach this afternoon is pretty special.

Source: Julie Power, “Sydney’s new 80km walk to be most spectacular in the world”, The Sydney Morning Herald, November 26, 2018. “Plans under way for Sydney’s new favourite walk: an 80km trek between Bondi and Manly”, News.com.au, November 26, 2018. “Manly to Bondi Walk”, Sydney Coast Walks.

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Manly to Bondi: Sydney's new 80km walk to be most spectacular in the world