The Manly Scenic Walkway is a 10km delight of stunning bushwalking, encompassing panoramic views of the majestic entrance to Sydney Harbour and swathes of bushland from Manly Wharf to the Spit bridge. The walk is well sign-posted and takes around 2.5 hours for fit, active walkers to complete. If you are not a regular walker or plan on taking a few breaks, allow 3-4 hours. The walk is not suitable for wheelchairs, bikes, or prams. On occasion, you will be walking along the water’s edge if the tides are high, but there are always high-tide alternative options clearly signposted. No domestic pets/dogs are allowed in the National Park, however, an alternative dog route is provided
Walkers can go in either direction or complete the round trip, with cafes and restaurants available at either end. If you are starting at Spit Bridge, there is parking and a bus stop on both sides; if you arrive from the City, you will be on the western side and if you are approaching from Manly, the eastern side. It is easier to walk across the left side, following the looped path under the bridge.
There are many places of interest worth stopping at, either to admire the stunning water views or to learn more about Sydney’s living history. Keep an eye out for mammals such as the nocturnal Brush-tailed and Ringtailed Possums, Long-nosed Bandicoots, or the occasional Echidna. You might come across a Burton’s Legless Lizard or an Eastern Water Dragon soaking up the sun. Stay quiet for a while to spot a Variegated Fairy-wren or New Holland Honeyeater or hear the unmistakable honk of a Fairy Penguin out for a day’s fishing. Look out for colourful Rainbow Lorikeets sipping nectar from the flowers high in the Sydney Red Gums.
Make sure you visit Arabanoo lookout at Dobroyd Head, named in honour of Arabanoo, the first Aboriginal man to live among European Settlers. It’s a great spot for whale watching between the months of May to November, offering views over North and South Head and the Pacific Ocean.
Grotto Point at Dobroyd Head is one of the best places to see up close rock engravings made by the region’s Aboriginal inhabitants. Look carefully along the side of the trail to see a giant kangaroo, boomerangs, a whale, and several small fish. The site features timber enclosures protecting the engravings and you can learn all about them from the informative signs. Grotto Point Lighthouse, an active beacon still today, is located on a rocky headland near Dobroyd Head. A short well-marked track off the Manly Scenic Walkway will take you to the ‘Disney Castle’. Apart from marvellous views out to the Tasman Sea, you might spy cormorants or a white-breasted sea eagle.
Along the walk, you will find at least six beaches along the way, where you can stop for a dip so make sure you pack your swimming costume/bathers/togs and a towel! Clontarf, Reef Beach, Forty Baskets, Fairlight, and Manly Cove all have toilet facilities, whilst Castle Rock and Delwood Beach are more secluded. Cafes and restaurants are located at Spit Bridge, Clontarf, and North Harbour Reserve where you can stop for a quick snack, sneaky coffee or an ice-cold refreshment if you have worked up a thirst.
To complete the Manly Scenic Walkway in the opposite direction, start at Manly Wharf, just outside the ferry terminal. Make sure you call in at the Manly Visitor Information Centre to pick up your free copy of the Manly to Spit Bridge walk.
(Click on the map below to enlarge)