Start: Raleigh Street, Dover Heights, Sydney
End: Watson’s Bay, Sydney
Time taken: 1.5-2 hours
USP: Urban, ocean views, cliffs
You don’t always have to jump on a train or drive outside the city to do some exploring and see something new. Sometimes heading down a local side street, or rediscovering your local park can turn up something interesting.
With a free afternoon, we chose to do just that. With only a few hours to spare we’d usually head off on the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. But this time we wondered, “What happens if we go the other way?”
The answer is the Dover Heights to Watson’s Bay Coastal Walk… or ‘The Other Coastal Walk’ as we kept referring to it. Unlike Bondi to Coogee, there are no overflowing coffee shops, or handy sign posts. You’ll need to do some research and fire up Google Maps to get this one done properly.
Living in Bondi, we easily hopped on a bus (380) that would take us up Military Road in North Bondi and jumped off at Raleigh Street. The walk starts at the end of a residential side street that leads to a small park and a sheer cliff; Raleigh Reserve. From here we turned North and set off, not knowing whether we would just be walking through residential streets or finding something exciting.
Raleigh Reserve quickly turns into Rodney Reserve and widens out to form a playing field. To be honest, it wasn’t the most inspiring start, but if we had any doubts, we didn’t voice them. The view out over the Tasman was still amazing and the odd passing whale could be seen taking deep breaths, before vanishing into the deep blue.
At the end of Rodney Reserve we walked back up a side street, crossing Military Road to take in the view from Dudley Page Reserve. An uninterrupted vista across the southern shore of Sydney harbour, all the way to the CBD and Sydney Harbour Bridge. A few snaps and we walked to the North East corner of the Reserve to cross the main road again and headed down Lancaster Road.
Now this is where things got more interesting. At the end of the street there is a white picket fence that looks like a private garden. Head through the gate though and you come to the top of a timber boardwalk that skirts the edge of giant sandstone cliffs. Bright flowers were scattered across the low scrub, punctuated by palms. New Holland Honeyeater, Superb Fairy Wren and Wattle Birds filled the bushes. Looking North the coast stretched away from us and huge glass-fronted mansions clung to the crumbling rock, facing the full force of the Tasman Sea.
Again, the reserve eventually comes to a stop and you have to jink up Ray Street to join the next section of boardwalk that takes in the impressive Diamond Bay Reserve and Rosa Gulley. As we approached we could see tiny figures edging their way along a narrow wave cut platform 30 meters or more below the cliff line, only just out of reach of the moderate swell exploding on the jumble of boulders below; Rock fisherman, well known in Sydney for risking life and limb to reach their own private fishing spot (or photo-op).
Reaching Clark Reserve, the grass opens out again to include several sports fields. Keep heading North along the cliff line and you’ll eventually pass the charming Macquarie Lighthouse. There’s been a navigational aid on the cliff top since 1791 and the current building has been standing since 1883 and is still fully functional.
After a kilometre or so, the path starts to head downhill towards Gap Park and The Gap Look Out in Watson’s Bay. It’s possible to explore the headland itself, walking around to Hornby Lighthouse and into the inner harbour to visit Camp Cove beach. A great spot for a swim on a warm summer’s day, protected from the open ocean swells and boasting a great ice cream shop! If you fancy something stronger after your hike, a cold beer in Watson’s Bay Hotel while looking down the harbour towards Sydney Harbour Bridge and setting sun can’t be missed.
Once you’ve soaked up the atmosphere and are ready to head home, a bus from Watson’s Bay goes back towards Bondi, or a ferry can take you to Manly on the North Shore or to Circular Quay and the rail network of the CBD.