Bradleys Head Reserve
Last Thursday the Fiance and I got up nice and early to go get some pretty shots of the sunrise, and to kill two birds with one stone (slightly brutal, I know) we decided to explore the Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay walk.
For me this is fine, I’m an early morning kinda gal, but my fiance?? Not so much. He isn’t the best morning person but he knows how much I enjoy doing these things with him and that he tends to regret it if he doesn’t come along.
Unfortunately for him, I forgot to check the weather before planning our early-morning-sunrise-jaunt so there wasn’t a sunrise in sight annnnd we got rained on. Oooops. But I promised him a coffee at the end so he begrudgingly went on the planned walk anyway.
Turns out that coffee really put the wind up his tail and he made me run the whole way back. What a drill sergeant! I hadn’t run that much since way before Christmas. Oh well, at least we’re even now. I got my early morning and he got to watch me run 3.5km.
A Bit About the Walk:
This is one of Sydney’s hidden gems. It is part of the Sydney Harbour National Park located in between Taronga Zoo and Middle Head and is this beautiful bushwalk with views too good to be true.
At several different points the track can begin, but officially starts on Bradleys Head.
If you’re getting the Taronga Zoo Ferry there is a path leading to Bradleys Head. This path winds around & above Athol Bay, from here you’ll see some great views of the city and if you take a path to your right you are lead up to the Athol Hall Cafe & Function Centre where you can grab some morning tea.
If you drove you can park in a number of car parks. The car park at the top is a good place to start if you want to add a bit more distance to your walk (about 900 metres). But if you want to start at the ‘start’, follow the road to the bottom and park there, this is also where you’d park if you were just going for a picnic.
Bradleys Head has a few points of interest. The most obvious one you’ll see is the huge mast on a small cliff overlooking the harbour. This is the fore-mast from the ship HMAS Sydney which was broken up on Cockatoo Island, in 1929. In 1934 the mast was erected at Bradleys Head and now serves as a monument for all Australian ships lost and all Australian sailors killed at war.
There is also a large amphitheatre which is a very popular spot for fishing, picnics, weddings & wedding photography.
We got our engagement photos taken here and they turned out brilliantly. As you can imagine the backdrop behind us is amazing with views of the city and two of Sydney’s famous icons, the Opera House & the Harbour Bridge. Though the location can’t take all the credit, our talented photographer did a fantastic job!
Furthermore, the headland features a small lighthouse which has functioned since 1905!
Next to the mast is the start of the Royal Australian Navy Memorial Walk that turns into the track to Chowder Bay. This short walk commemorates the loss of 22 commissioned Royal Australian Navy ships and submarines, each represented by a little plaque.
Once on the Chowder Bay walk, you’ll find that it weaves gently around the headland leading you to Chowder Bay where you can go for a swim or grab yourself some lunch & a drink at the cafe Drift.
Chowder Bay (or Clifton Gardens Reserve) is a very popular picnic spot and has a small sandy beach with a netted swimming enclosure, play area for the kids, change rooms and great BBQ and picnic areas.
The Finer Details:
Location: Bradleys Head Reserve, NSW
Access: By Car, Bus (B238 / B237) or Ferry (Taronga Zoo Wharf).
Cost: Free! Unless you drove, then you have to pay the $8/day parking fee.
Distance: 7km return from the top car park to Chowder Bay (+500m to Drift cafe)
5km return from the bottom car park to Chowder Bay (+500m to Drift cafe)
8km return from Ferry terminal & Bus Stop (+500m to Drift cafe)
If you liked the sound of this bushwalk you should also try the walk on Balls Head, which you can read more about here.