Palm Beach To Manly Coastal Walk And The Hidden Trails Within

By Jonathan Fletcher

One of the most special ways to enjoy the coastline of our beaches is to walk them. I often spend a day off with the family exploring the hidden trails on the peninsula and taking in their majestic views.

It’s a privilege to live in Avalon Beach and have direct access to the Northern Beaches coastal walk – one of Sydney’s Great Walks. I take a look at how the walkway from Palm Beach to Manly has been upgraded and highlight some of the off-road tracks within it.

The Northern Beaches coastal walk stretches 36km from Palm Beach to Manly showcasing breathtaking scenery, ocean lookouts, national parks, dramatic cliff tops and iconic city views. The walk also connects the suburbs of the Northern Beaches and the B-Line.

In 2016 Northern Beaches Council in partnership with NSW government allocated $6.89 million to refurbish and finish the walkway. So far $5 million has been spent with much of the work completed and including Dee Why Headland, Curl Curl, Narrabeen Park Parade, the Palm Beach Walkway (linking the wharf to Governor Philip Reserve), Mona Vale Golf Course, Hillcrest Ave Mona Vale, and Newport Beach. Works at Bilgola Beach as part of the Coast Walk were also completed during the foreshore upgrade. The section through the Bilgola Bends, the Newport to Avalon Pedestrian and Cycle Link commenced consultation in October 2018 and Council is still engaging with the residents association and directly affected residents.

The Newport to Avalon section comprises a safe path of travel for both pedestrians and cyclists away from Barrenjoey Road with a combination of footpath, shared user path and on-road cycleway on The Serpentine. It is expected that we will complete the majority of the works towards the end of 2021.

If you walk south on the main arterial walk of the beaches your final location will be the south end of Manly. If you continue the path on from Manly there is an 80km pathway running over the spit bridge, across the harbour bridge to Bondi Beach. I’m not sure how manly days it would take to walk that but it would be a few! 

The Off-Road Trails

Barrenjoey Lighthouse

The Barrenjoey Lighthouse is one of the favourite off-road trails for locals, holiday-makers and tourists. There are two tracks to access the top

1. Smugglers track

This track is through bushland and on steps, is the shorter of the two (400m) but more challenging. If you prefer a leisurely walk you might want to take this on the way down!

2. Access Trail

This road is twice as long at 800m and is easier to walk, especially with children, but, there are also some steep parts.

I can still beat my kids to the top, for now… Whichever track you arrive from you won’t be disappointed when you reach the Lighthouse at the top.

Rain, hail or shine I find it’s always a great way to burn my kids incredibly high energy levels.

Barrenjoey Lighthouse sits at Sydney’s most northern point – Barrenjoey Head at Palm Beach. The panoramic views circle from Broken Bay, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park to the Central Coast.

Barrenjoey Head is an excellent spot for whale watching and because the headland is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and national park, at night it enjoys a noteworthy lack of ‘light pollution’ making it ideal for astronomers and stargazers.

Bangalley Head

This walk is a little more hidden from the main thoroughfare. It can be accessed on Whale Beach Road or where North Avalon Road meets Marine Parade.

It is a relatively hard walk with many steps taking around 45 leisurely minutes, returning on a loop route. Bangalley Head is one of the largest bushland reserves on Pittwater’s coastline.

The walk’s highlights are a rugged climb to the highest point on Sydney’s northern coastline, with spectacular views north and south, lookout points and an abundant variety of native wildlife.

Bilgola to Newport

This is an easy and short walk, a connector trail from the bottom of the south end of Bilgola Beach over the headland to Newport Beach. There are a few lookout spots and is a well-maintained path of dirt, stairs and wooden boardwalks. It’s a beautiful and easy one to do with a friend before picking up a coffee and watching the sunrise or going for a swim.

If you’re looking to make Avalon Beach home, or need any advice on buying or selling across the Upper Northern Beaches, contact me today.