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Watsons Bay Walk

The Watsons Bay Walk is a scenic hike around South Head featuring beautiful views of Sydney Harbour, the city skyline, the Pacific Ocean, North Head and the historic Hornby Lighthouse.

On a weekday there is plenty of parking available but in the busy weekends finding a parking spot can be a challenge. Public transport is good, with regular buses (324 and 325) departing Circular Quay.

You can also catch the ferry to Watsons Bay from Circular Quay which may be a nice opportunity to see even more of Sydney Harbour, the sailing ships, and not to mention the prestigious waterfront mansions.

 
 

Characteristics:
– Distance: 4.5 km
– Time: 2 hours
– Grade: easy
– Kid friendly: yes (few stairs)
– Running: yes (avoid weekends)
– Dogs: not permitted on beaches

Highlights:
– Camp Cove
– South Head Heritage Trail
– Scenic harbour and ocean views
– Hornby Lighthouse
– Picnic in Robertson Park
– The Gap

Getting there:
Parking in and around Watsons Bay can be limited in the busy weekends. Buses 324 and 325 depart from Circular Quay to Watsons Bay. Or simply catch the ferry into Watsons Bay.

 

Watsons Bay

Once you arrive in Watsons Bay, either by car or at the Watsons Bay ferry wharf, it’s recommended to explore this picturesque and historic fisherman’s village before you start the walk.

Go see the Vaucluse Yacht Club and enjoy the idyllic area with beautiful city views. Close to Vaucluse Yacht Club, in Robertson Park, you may bump into a historic stone obelisk.

This obelisk marks the end of the construction of the first road from the city to South Head in 1811 and it reads: “VIII Miles from Sydney”.

If you enjoy high tea or fancy long lunches, head to Dunbar House, a truly stunning historic building. Alternatively, you can order the best fish and chips at Doyles on the wharf and have a picnic in Robertson Park.

Robertson park is a very family friendly place with public toilets, tables and playgrounds. You can also eat in at Doyles restaurant on the beach, which has been around since 1885.

Views of the city from Watsons Bay

Views of Sydney CBD from Watsons Bay

The Watsons Bay Walk starts as you walk towards the north from Robertson Park, leading up to Camp Cove. Walk past Doyles onto the little stretch of beach. At the end you walk into Cove Street, turn left into Pacific Street and follow all the way to Green Point Reserve.

Take a moment to enjoy the scenic views here before you make your way down into Camp Cove along the walking trail.

Camp Cove

Camp Cove is where Governor Arthur Phillip first landed in Port Jackson (the old name for Sydney Harbour) in 1788.

Camp Cove Governor PhillipIt is now a little sheltered bay popular with locals and Watsons Bay visitors.

Camp Cove has a beautiful, north-east facing beach where you can spend some time swimming and snorkeling in amazingly calm waters.

Alternatively, you can simply sit back, relax and soak in the uninterrupted Sydney Harbour views.

At the northern end of the beach is a toilet block and a little kiosk where you can buy coffee and refreshments. This is also the spot where you continue the Watsons Bay Walk further north, climbing up a timber staircase.

Camp Cove beach along the Watsons Bay walk

Camp Cove beach

You will end up on a path where you can experience a bit of Sydney’s history, walking past a cannon and a gun emplacement. From here you’ll have great views over Camp Cove beach, Sydney Harbour and the city CBD skyline.

Make sure you take a few good photos of the canon with Sydney Harbour in the background.

Camp Cove canons and gun emplacements

 

Lady Bay Beach

As you continue the walk from the cannon, you’ll end up in an old road that turns into a footpath. As you walk further, you’ll bump into a signpost for Lady Bay Beach.

Lady Bay Beach entry

Lady Bay Beach is a very small, secluded beach that you can access by going down the stairs from the footpath.

If you spot a few naked people, don’t be too surprised, because Lady Bay is actually 1 of 3 legally sanctioned nude beaches in Sydney Harbour.

If public nudity is not really your thing, you can still enjoy the breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour from Lady Bay Lookout, right above the little bay.

South Head Heritage Trail

The Watsons Bay Walk now goes into the South Head Heritage Trail, a 500m loop track around South Head.

Highlights of this trail are the iconic Hornby Lighthouse and the Lightkeeper’s cottage.

South Head Heritage Trail sign along the Watsons Bay Walk

Hornby Lighthouse

The lighthouse was built in 1858 and is now a very characteristic red and white striped tower, surrounded by views to die for.

Hornby LighthouseFrom here you can see the Pacific Ocean to the east, Sydney Harbour to the west and North Head to the north.

If you’re lucky, you may even spot some whales as they migrate north in Winter.

From Hornby Lighthouse, the circle walk continues along the footpath past the concrete gun emplacement, towards the Lightkeeper’s Cottage.

To return back to Watsons Bay, you simple complete the circle and then follow the same track back to where you started.

When you arrive back in Watsons Bay, it’s time to visit the infamous cliffs of The Gap.

 
 

The Gap

Located on the opposite side of the Watsons Bay ferry wharf, The Gap is one of Sydney’s most famous ocean cliff lookouts with panoramic views that are unparalleled.

Sadly, The Gap is not just known for its breathtaking views, but also for the many suicides that have occurred there over the years. Security cameras and emergency phones have been installed to help prevent people from jumping off the cliffs and to offer support.

The park around The Gap is a beautiful place to wander around and enjoy the best views that Sydney has to offer.

The Gap in Watsons Bay

The Gap, Watsons Bay

If you’re in for a real challenge, you can also follow the trail to continue south, which forms the official start of the Eastern Coastal Walk that goes all the way to Bondi, Coogee and Maroubra.

It starts with the Federation cliff walk (also known as the Bondi to Watsons Bay walk, or vice versa), followed by the Bondi to Bronte walk.

Summary

The Watsons Bay Walk offers the best city, Harbour and ocean views one can imagine, combined with a healthy dose of Australian history.

The walk is fairly easy, and with Robertson Park and fresh seafood for lunch, this walk is the perfect day out.

 
 

Watsons Bay Walk Map

Start your walk at Robertson Park, past Doyles onto the little beach. Then follow Cove Street and Pacific Street to Green Point Reserve.

Watsons Bay walk map

Google Map:

 
Comments 1 comments
Rachel Hayhurst - April 17, 2017

Whilst otherwise very informative, the south head and lighthouse walk is not dog friendly on or off a lead. Dogs are prohibited from the camp cove kiosk and on the beach. Followed the instructions on your guide and found out the hard way the information was wrong.

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