Federation Cliff Walk (or Bondi to Watsons Bay Walk)

The Federation Cliff Walk is a 5 km walking trail from Watsons Bay to Dover Heights, boasting stunning sandstone cliffs and amazing panoramic views of the Tasman Sea. This coastal walk wanders through beautiful parklands and open spaces and includes a very exciting timber walkway with viewing platforms that brings you right on top of the cliffs.

The Bondi to Watsons Bay walk (or Watsons Bay to Bondi walk) is the same as the Federation Cliff walk but goes a little further from Dover Heights to Bondi Beach.

 
 

Characteristics:
– Distance: 5 km (one-way)
– Time: 1.5 hours
– Grade: easy
– Kid friendly: yes (few stairs)
– Running: yes
– Dog friendly: yes

Highlights:
– Beautiful ocean views
– Sandstone cliffs
– Macquarie Lighthouse
– Parklands and open spaces
– Timber walkway with platforms
– The Gap

Getting there:
Starting in Watsons Bay: buses 324, 325 from Circular Quay to Watsons Bay. Ferry into Watsons Bay (phone 13 15 00). Starting in Dover Heights: free street parking or bus 380 from CBD.

Federation Cliff Walk

The Federation Cliff Walk can be commenced either from Gap Park in Watsons Bay, or in Dover Heights at Rodney Reserve or Raleigh Reserve. This article describes the walk starting from Watsons Bay with The Gap as the starting point, wandering through the suburb of Vaucluse, and ending in Dover Heights.

The Gap is located on the eastern side of Watsons Bay and offers one of Sydney’s most famous ocean cliff lookouts with views that are absolutely breathtaking.

The Gap to Christison Park

From The Gap, follow the cliff-side path towards the south through Gap Park, leading up to Old South Head Road. The track stays on the road’s footpath for a short while until turning into the Coastal Cliff Walk Path (see the big sign) which runs parallel to Old South Head Road.

Coastal cliff walk

Keep following this path and enjoy the views of the ocean on your left as you walk past the Signal Station and Signal Hill Fort (est. 1893) on your right as part of the Signal Hill Reserve. The gun at the fort was removed in the 1930’s and the underlying fort has since been locked up. The site of the current signal station has been used since 1790 to signal incoming ships.

As you continue, you’ll walk through the Lighthouse Reserve, past the famous Macquarie Lighthouse. Constructed in 1818 and rebuilt in 1883, the Macquarie Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in Australia and is open to guided tours.

Federation Cliff walk: Macquarie lighthouse

Macquarie Lighthouse

The path continues south past Christison Park with its wide sports fields and Clarke Reserve. These are excellent picnic spots with toilet and playground facilities. This is also where you’ll see the first glimpses of the breathtaking cliffs at Diamond Bay further south.

Federation Cliff Walk path

Federation Cliff Walk path with views of North Head

At Clarke Reserve, walk into Jensen Avenue via Clarke Street. Then turn into Marine Street and Chris Bang Crescent that will lead to steps going down into Diamond Bay Reserve.

Federation Cliff Walk: Diamond Bay Reserve lookout

Diamond Bay Reserve lookout

Diamond Bay Reserve

As you walk down the steps into Diamond Bay, you’ll feel like you’re stepping into a tropical rain forest which is quite a fascinating experience. The track goes around Rosa Gully, an inlet between the cliffs that is a popular place for rock climbing.

Federation Walk Reserve: Diamond Bay Reserve

Swamp area leading into Rosa Gully

Federation Cliff Walk: Diamond Bay Reserve park area

Diamond Bay Reserve

A beautiful wooden walkway with viewing platforms was built by Waverley Council to provide a safe and scenic circuit route around the cliffs. This walkway gives you a sense of being right on top of the cliffs which makes this walking track an even more amazing experience. It start at Diamond Bay Reserve and continues, with a few interruptions, to Dover Heights.

Dover Heights

Follow the timber walkway, leading you out of Diamond Bay reserve, around the huge white apartment block with million dollar views, to Ray Street. The cliff walk continues a few hundred metres south at Oceanview Avenue.

Follow the cliff walk all the way to Dover Heights Reserve, where it briefly stops. Walk into Lancaster Road and then into Military Road, past Dudley Page Reserve. Take a moment to enjoy the spectacular city and harbour views from this park area. This is also a great vantage point for the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks. It’s easy to understand why this is a popular spot with tourist coaches to stop and have a break.

Federation cliff walk wooden platform walkway

Federation Cliff Walk timber walkway

From Military Road, turn left into Weonga Road or Blake Street in order to get back to the cliff walk track. This is the north point of Rodney Reserve which flows into Raleigh Reserve towards the south. Enjoy the 80-metre high sandstone cliffs at Raleigh Reserve, revealing millions of years of earth’s geological history.

Near the cliffs at Dover Heights you will also find a full-size replica of an eight-element radio antenna that was built in 1951. It has a comprehensive plaque in front of it that explains the rich history behind it.

 
 

Bondi to Watsons Bay Walk

The Bondi to Watsons Bay walk (or Watsons Bay to Bondi walk) includes the Federation Cliff walk with the extra bit between Dover Heights and Bondi Beach.

This walk is 7km in total and is definitely worth it if you have the energy. It may also be easier to catch public transport in Bondi and Watsons Bay than it is in Dover Heights so that could be another reason to walk this whole stretch.

Getting to Bondi is easy: From Dover Heights (Raleigh Reserve / Rodney Reserve), follow Military Road onto Wentworth Street through the Hugh Bamford Reserve. Go back onto Military Road past the Bondi Golf Course and follow all the way to Bondi Beach.

Summary

The Federation Cliff Walk is a great walking trail for the whole family with unparalleled views of the ocean and amazing cliff scenery. While this walk is not too long (5km), if you include all stops for photo’s and general sight-seeing, it may actually take a few hours before you’ve completed the walk. The Federation Cliff Walk is far less crowded than the Bondi to Bronte walk or the Bondi to Coogee walk, but perhaps even more beautiful.

Even though there are enough cafes and restaurants to grab a drink and a bite in Watsons Bay and North Bondi, it’s recommended to bring some snacks and a good size water bottle. This walk with its many park areas is perfect for picnics. So why not prepare your own food beforehand and choose a great spot on the way for a picnic with awesome views.

Federation Cliff Walk Map

You can start this walk at The Gap in Watsons Bay or at the other end, at Rodney Reserve or Raleigh Reserve in Dover Heights.

Federation Cliff Walk map

Google Map:

 
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