North Head in Manly is one of those very special places. Protected by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust it is home to important military fortifications and endangered native animals like the long-nosed bandicoot. Entry is free but as it is best accessed by car you will probably end up paying a parking fee which will set you back a few dollars.
North Head is popular amongst locals and tourists thanks to the look-outs which will provide sweeping views across Sydney harbour and the South Pacific. Couples will come here to enjoy the romantic sunsets, photographers are delighted by the views, and tourists appreciate the chance to experience native Australian bushland so close to the city centre.
I simply love North Head, such a beautiful little place on earth. It’s great for kids – the Fairfax walk is fully fenced and thus safe, and there is something new to discover at every turn, for example the military look-out shelters from WWII. And it is so quiet when you get out of the car, you forget that you are actually very close to Sydney. But once you get closer to the sea the crashing and rumbling of the ocean takes over, the sweetest sound ever.
The views from here are outstanding: steep cliffs, waves washing dramatically over the rocks, the deep blue of the sea, little specks of white in the distance that are sails and boats. To the south you can see the harbour in all its glory, the ferries busily coming and going, the silhouette of the Sydney Tower in the distance, and the green nature reserves along the shores that make Sydney such a great place to be.
Now is a great time to visit North Head because June/July is whale migrating season, and with a little bit of patience it’s usually fairly easy to spot a whale or two.
But there is more to North Head than look-outs and fortifications. You may think you already know every corner of the peninsula but have you been to Collins Beach yet? If not, this little protected bay definitely is worth a visit. After the gate make sure you take the right turn towards the police management facility. Park here and walk the last steps by foot. Your path will lead you through dense but cleared rainforest bushland, across a creek and down quite steep steps.
The creek flows right onto the beach in a spectacular waterfall. The beach is almost untouched and beautiful, it is hard to imagine that Little Manly is just a few steps away.
Give this little beach a try next time you visit North Head. And if you are planning a visit now during migration season make sure you pack a paid of binoculars for the best views.