South Head Walk, Sydney, Australia

Sydney's historic harbour walk - 16 km, 4 hrs

Camp Cove - Arthur Phillip's first overnight stop in Port JacksonTHE SOUTH HEAD PENINSULA WALK is one of Sydney's Historic walks along the harbour foreshores. The 16 km walk from the Rose Bay Wharf and Watsons Bay including the South Head loop shows you some of Sydney’s earliest history as well as providing a varied walk.

HISTORY:From the earliest times, Europeans have settled around the inlets and valleys of the peninsula. Henrietta Villa on Piper’s Point was the classiest house in the colony, later superceded by Wentworth’s Vaucluse House.
Whalers and sealers made their homes around Watsons Bay and the Macquarie Lighthouse together with the Hornby Lighthouse stand testimony to the importance of safe shipping to the colony.
As the colony expanded more and more people settled and made their mark on the peninsula.

The Hornby Lighthouse and bunker at South Head

SOUTH HEAD SIGHTS: 1.ROSE BAY FERRY WHARF
2. SANDS OF ROSE BAY BUNGAREE
3. HARBOUR WALK. Woollahra is an Aboriginal word for meeting place.
4. HERMIT BAY,
5. NIELSEN PARK
6. VAUCLUSE HOUSE
7. WENTWORTH MAUSOLEUM
8. SUSPENSION BRIDGE OVER PARSLEY BAY
9. OBELISK TO THE 73RD
10. WATSON’S BAY WITH MEMORIAL
11. DOYLES RESTAURANT
12. CAMP COVE MEMORIAL
13. SOUTH HEAD HERITAGE TRAIL
14. HORNBY LIGHTHOUSE
15. RETURN VIA GAP TO FERRY WHARF

HORNBY LIGHTHOUSE: Two shipwrecks led to public opinion in Sydney demanding that a lighthouse be erected so that the entrance to Jacksons Bay could be exactly defined.

The first was the DUNBAR of 1,334 tonnes in August 1857. It arrived at Sydney Heads on a gale ridden night. A pilot from the Watsons Bay Pilot station would have been unable to get out through the heads to guide the ship in, so the captain decided to seek shelter but got caught between The Gap and Outer South Head.

All attempts to claw the ship away from land failed and the ship crashed onto the rocks just after midnight. It wasn't till next morning when people at the signal station saw the wreckage that they realised the disaster had occurred.

There was only one survivor of the 122 on board. An Irish seaman, James Johnson, was found that morning clinging to a ledge. His family was to go on and play a significant role in the manning of New South Wales lighthouses.

Two months later in October 1857 another wreck occurred, this time off North Head. It was the CATHERINE ADAMSON, a clipper ship of 895 tonnes with the loss of twenty-one lives including the pilot who was guiding the ship in.

Map of walking Route on the historic South Head Peninsula Walk

ITINERARY for South Head Walk - 16 km

  • WHERE TO START: Rose Bay Ferry Wharf.
  • HOW TO GET THERE: By from Sydney's Circular Quay. Return from Watson's Bay by ferry.
  • WHEN TO GO: We recommend all year round, but it does get hot in summer, so take your swimming gear and try some of the beaches on the peninsula.
  • FACILITIES: There are restrooms and food available at Rose Bay. Further along the route are cafes and shops. Then at Watson’s Bay you can also get food and drinks.
  • FOOD & WATER: Take at least one litre per person and some snacks in case you get hungry.
  • WALKING GEAR: Weather: can change at anytime, so pack appropriate wet weather gear, sun hat and glasses.
  • THE WALK: 16 kms of varied walk along Sydney Harbour and harbourside suburbs.
Our Take:
Spend a good half day out here and enjoy the views, fresh air and historic sites. An under-rated Sydney itinerary which is worth the time to fully explore. We visit the Wentworth Mausoleum, Nielsen Park, the suspension bridge over Parsley Bay. Also, Camp Cove and the monument to Arthur Phillip and Hornby Lighthouse.
[top]
[top]