If you’ve taken the walk along the ocean side of Manly, the Manly Four Beaches Walk, then try this Harbourside walk next. How different Sydney Harbour is from the ocean beaches!
The Start of the Scenic Walkway: Manly to Balgowlah Stroller Walk
This walk is the first section of the lovely Manly Scenic Walkway which is a 10 kilometre harbourside hike to the Spit Bridge.
NB The Manly Scenic Walkway, which locals often call the Spit to Manly or Manly to Spit walk, is not suitable for strollers. It’s a fabulous walk though, when you can escape the kids one day and do the 10km one way, check out this webpage on the Manly Scenic Walk and download the leaflet and map there.
From Manly, the first section of the walk through Fairlight towards Balgowlah is totally smooth and has no steps. Ideal for strollers.
This is a lovely walk, alongside some beautiful harbour scenery and passing a couple of bijou beaches that are very child-friendly.
The walkway runs through a grassy reserve with some steepish drops to rocks and the sea on one side. There is no fence here so small children need to be watched closely, or tethered.
The path meanders along, up and down undulating slopes and with the odd twist and turn. The grass and bush alongside the walkway are very well maintained, and there are numerous benches for walkers to sink down gently upon to take in the views.
This is a terrific path for an amble, but is equally suitable for a serious power walk. Social stroller walkers will find the path is not terribly wide, except in one short section, so it is not the best for side-by-side strolling and chatting.
There are large trees along the way and plenty of good spots to sit down in their shade, but most of the walkway is unshaded so BYO shade for walkers and babies.
Manly to Balgowlah Stroller Walk Practical Details
Length of walk: approx 4 kilometres return
Time to walk: 1 hour for non-stop return journey, but why wouldn’t you stop? There’s a cafe at the point you’d turn around so do stop for a cuppa.
Start: Manly Wharf if arriving by ferry, West Esplanade or Commonwealth Parade if coming by car
Toilets: At Manly Wharf and Fairlight Beach
Parking: A small two hour carpark on Commonwealth Parade at the start of the walkway or street parking on West Esplanade and surrounding streets
Nearest ferry: Manly Wharf
Bus stop nearby: Yes
West Esplanade to Fairlight Beach
Start at West Esplanade, having just stepped off the ferry. Walk along West Esplanade past the swimming enclosure and beach. Manly Aquarium is ahead but take the path that veers to the right, signposted ‘9 km Manly Scenic Walkway, 2km wheelchair Path’. This path goes past the Manly Art Gallery and Museum.
Push the stroller up the bricked path to Commonwealth Parade and follow the pavement left. Go into the parking area on the left. There is a sign here indicating that the walkway ahead is part of the Manly Scenic Walkway.
The walkway follows the coast and is set above sea level with a grassy area beside the path and then a drop onto rocky shore.
Near Delwood Beach the path is lined by tall Norfolk pines, so there is shade and the views are very pretty. On the right there appear some tall blocks of units.
Delwood Beach is small and sandy and is down many steps from the path. There are some nice rock platforms here that young children would enjoy exploring. It is possible to leave the stroller up at the walkway and to whiz down for a dip and a play. There is no shade on the beach.
Continuing along the walkway, a small headland is rounded to Fairlight Beach. There is a smooth path down to this tiny beach which has rocky areas at each side.
On the left is an ocean pool which has a separate shallow area for children and a pocket handkerchief of sand. There is also a large concrete sunning platform which gets some shade in the morning. A toilet block has an outside shower.
This is a lovely spot for the children, the best place for a swim or a splash on this walk, though perhaps on the way back if walkers choose to go right to the end of the stroller-friendly section of the walkway.
Fairlight Beach to North Harbour Reserve
Just past Fairlight Beach, the walkway gets wider for a short distance. Two signs in this area tell the story of the grand houses that used to command these lovely views. The walkway becomes narrower again as it wends up a gentle slope.
The walkway is now following the shore of a bay known as North Harbour. There is a pretty wooded area here with garden sections bursting with flowers.
At the end of this section the path goes past the end of Bolingbroke Parade and then widens for a short while passing through a small area of bush. There follows a more open stretch where the walkway runs through luscious lawns beside the shrub-covered walls of huge houses.
There is then a steep slope at the top of which the path joins Lauderdale Avenue. Push up to Kings Avenue and then follow it left and down to the end. Then go ahead along the pathway which runs alongside the water through North Harbour Reserve.
There’s a playground here and a cafe called Forty Beans is just on the other side of Beach Lane. It’s a terrific spot to refresh with a cuppa before the walk back to Manly.
Retrace the route, with a stop for a snack, swim or to feed a hungry baby and relish the views from this lovely little corner of the harbour.
You are guaranteed to feel so much better after doing this walk than you did before you started!