The Bradleys Head To Chowder Bay Walk is a relatively short but picturesque bush trail in Sydney’s lower north shore, boasting panoramic views of Sydney Harbour.
The walk is part of the longer Taronga Zoo to Balmoral Beach walk, one of Sydney’s finest Harbour walking tracks.
|Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay|
|Distance:||2.7 km (one way)|
How to Get to Bradleys Head
Paid parking is available at Bradleys Head (via Bradleys Head Road), although the parking area is very small and fills up quickly.
You can also catch a ferry to Taronga Zoo from Circular Quay and walk up to Bradleys Head. Otherwise, bus 247 departs from Wynyard to Bradleys Head and Taronga Zoo.
About Bradleys Head
The Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay walk officially starts in Bradleys Head. If travelling by ferry, you will first need to do the short section between Taronga Zoo (from the ferry wharf) and Bradleys Head.
This path winds around and above Athol Bay which has a lovely secluded stretch of sand with great views. Athol Beach lies just south of the path and is very much worth a visit on a sunny day.
Let’s find out first why Bradleys Head is such a special place in Sydney Harbour National Park.
Foremast of HMAS Sydney
Named after William Bradley, a Royal Navy officer who participated in the First Fleet to Australia, Bradleys Head is now quite a fascinating place to visit.
The first thing you’ll notice is the huge mast that stands tall and proud at the edge of the cliff, overlooking Sydney Harbour. The mast was the foremast of HMAS Sydney, a light cruiser that was broken up on Cockatoo Island in 1929.
It was erected at Bradleys Head in 1934 and now serves as a monument for all Australian ships lost and all Australian sailors killed at war.
Bradleys Head Amphitheatre
The amphitheatre at Bradleys Head is a very popular fishing and picnic spot within the Sydney Harbour National Park.
The man-made amphitheatre is a great lookout for the best views of the city skyline, the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
With million dollar views, the amphitheatre is often regarded as one of Sydney’s best outdoor wedding locations. Bookings can be made via National Parks for both the Bradleys Head Amphitheatre and Athol Hall for the reception.
You can also experience some of Sydney’s military history at the Bradleys Head Fortification Complex, on Bradleys Head Road.
The complex, built in the 19th century, was part of the larger Sydney Harbour defence system, meant to protect New South Wales and its wealth from invaders. There are also remains of convict-built artillery batteries.
Bradleys Head Lighthouse
Bradleys Head features a small lighthouse, built in 1905 that is still active today.
The lighthouse, closed to the public, is located just in front of Bradleys Head, connected to shore by a small footbridge.
Next to the big mast is the start of the Royal Australian Navy Memorial Walk that flows into the track to Chowder Bay.
This short walk commemorates the loss of 22 commissioned Royal Australian Navy ships and submarines, each represented by a little plaque.
From Bradleys Head, you follow the track into the bush going to Taylors Bay. This is now a true bush walk with lots of wildlife (mainly birds and lizards) and native trees, like eucalyptus and ferns. There’s also a little waterfall along the way.
After a few hundred metres you’ll see a sign pointing left to Athol Hall Cafe and Function Centre, which is a great place for morning or afternoon tea.
The building is more than 150 years old and is surrounded by quiet picnic grounds. It’s definitely worth having a look before moving on to Taylors Bay.
As you continue, the track circles around Taylors Bay offering great views of this picturesque inlet with several small boats anchored. There is a side track that goes down to the bay so you can enjoy a swim if weather permits.
From here you continue the track to Clifton Gardens and Chowder Bay, past Chowder Head. Chowder Head has a great vantage point from where you can enjoy wide views across the Harbour, including South Head, Rose Bay, Shark Island and Bradleys Head.
Clifton Gardens Reserve and Chowder Bay
Clifton Gardens Reserve has been a very popular picnic spot for families since the 19th century. It now has a rocky beach with netted swimming enclosure, a fenced playground, change rooms and excellent BBQ and picnic facilities.
Chowder Bay is a great place to relax with a coffee and a meal at one of the kiosks.
If you’re looking for a pricier dining experience, you can try Ripples Chowder Bay, with views and food that are both top quality.
The Bradleys Head To Chowder Bay Walking trail is a great way to explore the beauty of Sydney Harbour. The wildlife and natural bushland are very much thriving in this area.
This trail is part of a longer walking track so if you have enough energy, you can continue walking from Chowder Bay to Balmoral.
There are a couple of small parking areas at Bradleys Head but if these ones are filled up, you can try parking at Taronga Zoo. You can also start this walk from the other end, and park your car at Chowder Bay where you’ll find more parking spots.
With Taronga Zoo literally just around the corner of Bradleys Head, why not combine this walking trail with a fun-filled day at Taronga Zoo if time permits.
Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay Map
The walk is very well sign-posted so once you arrive at Bradleys Head (or Chowder Bay), you will easily find the start of the track. It’s also very easy to find from Taronga Zoo.