The Ultimate Guide to Middle Head in Sydney

The Ultimate Guide to Middle Head in Sydney

When I first moved to Sydney, I really had no idea about the city and its geography. In order to get to know my new home, I remember gradually exploring and visiting the highlights. Understandably, I was charmed by Sydney Harbour: sweeping views, nooks and crannies, hidden beaches… Middle Head is one of Sydney’s 7 Headlands. It offers a unique vantage point over the Pacific Ocean, framed by North Head and South Head. I have the ultimate guide to Middle Head, Sydney.

Views over Balmoral Beach from Middle Head in Sydney

Middle Head, Sydney is in the suburb of Mosman, on the Lower North Shore: it offers sensational views over Sydney Harbour and is a place of historic and military significance. Middle Head makes for a great day out: go for a bush walk, pack a picnic, marvel at the majesty of Port Jackson, enjoy a relaxing coffee break at one of the local cafes and restaurants, and be sure to take your camera!

The Manly Ferry passing North Head as seen from Middle Head in Sydney

Georges Head

Driving along Middle Head Road, shortly after passing Mosman Village, you need to take a right turn on Suakin Drive for your first stop. Georges Head is home to Gunners Tea Rooms a chic restaurant housed in the old Gunners Barracks. As a popular setting for events and wedding, the Gunners Tea Rooms is surprisingly reasonably priced, when you consider the breathtaking views it offers.

The CBD is visible from Georges Heights on Middle Head in Sydney

The Georges Head lookout offers sweeping views over Sydney’s CBD and Watsons Bay. It’s a popular location for picnics and lazy afternoons. The lookout is easily accessible and has a number of gun pits, so take caution when walking around.

Middle Head in Sydney gives sweeping views over South Head and North Head

If you are walking around military sites, I recommend wearing sturdy footwear, as Sydney’s Middle Head is a former army base.

Middle Head in Sydney still has the old military gun pits

Georges Head Lookout is my favourite spot to take overseas visitors and show the magnificent views from Sydney’s Middle Head.

Middle Head

At the end of Middle Head Road, and beyond the access to the navy base, there is a carpark before entering the Middle Head site. There is a loop walk through the bush to take you around the headland.

From Middle Head in Sydney you can see all the activity on the harbour

You get a magnificent view over Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.  As can see when visiting the site, the gun pits and cannon bases also tell the story of how Sydney used its unique geography to protect itself from possible invasions.

Cannon bases are still in place on Middle Head in Sydney

Enjoy the panoramic views over Manly from the gun pits and bunker.

Gun pit at Middle Head in Sydney with views over the beach suburb of Manly

The bunker at the very tip of the headland looks over to Manly and North Head.

View to Manly from the Middle Head bunker in Sydney

As a former military base, Middle Head, Sydney still has a large number of military buildings. Some of them now house cafes, artists’ retreats and even private offices. In my opinion, the Sydney Harbour Trust has done a very good job in transforming the area after the army’s withdrawal. The headland is now largely accessible to the public and offers leisurely bush walks to admire the stunning views.

Georges Head Barracks at Middle Head, Sydney

 

The bushland around the headland is quite thick and home to the local wildlife, which will give you a good opportunity to catch sight of a bird or two.

If you are looking for a restaurant option, Burnt Orange hosts lunch or afternoon tea within the Golf Club House. This restaurant is very popular with the locals and I recommend booking in advance. So, if the place is booked out, the gift shop is still worth a look.

Chowder Bay

Down from the cliff of Sydney’s Middle Head, Chowder Bay is an ideal spot for a day out enjoying the historic buildings and the jetty. Activities available include swimming, snorkelling and kayaking. You can access Chowder Bay by car along the coastline or through the suburb of Clifton Gardens. If Chowder Bay is your next stop after the headland, continue the road down the coast. Driving down, you can stop at the Beehive Casemate, an impressive fortification designed to house defensive artillery for the defence of Sydney Harbour. Nearby is a little park with a memorial to the Japanese Midget Submarine Attack in 1942.

Chowder Bay is quite a secluded spot, with well-preserved historic buildings and a range of dining options. You can enjoy some swimming, snorkelling or kayaking at this beach.

The Barracks at Chowder Bay should be part of your visit of Middle Head in Sydney

The Ripples Cafe is nestled in the historic buildings and is a lovely spot for lunch. If you are looking for a more challenging bush walk, Chowder Bay is an ideal stop on the walk from Balmoral Beach to Taronga Zoo.

Balmoral Beach

Named after the royal residence in Scotland, Balmoral is mostly known for its charming beach and heritage-listed esplanade. Balmoral became a leisure destination for Sydneysiders in 1922, upon the extension of tram services. The rotunda was built in 1930 as part of the Great Depression employment projects. Balmoral Beach has got to be my favourite beach in Sydney. Whilst parking can be a little challenging at times, you shouldn’t miss a visit to this elegant and relaxed beach. The Bathers Pavillion has been restored and is now divided into a cafe, a restaurant and a kiosk. It’s a really pleasant area to finish your tour of Middle Head in Sydney.

View of the Bathers Pavilion at Balmoral Beach near Middle Head in Sydney

The Rocky Point outcrop divides the beach between Balmoral and Edwards beaches. I’ll give you a local’s tip: buy a snack or an ice-cream at the Bathers Pavillion and find a quiet spot on the Rocky Point outcrop… That’s what I do and it feels so special every time!

Rocky Point at Balmoral Beach near Middle Head in Sydney

Balmoral Beach offers gorgeous views over Middle Harbour, North Head, Manly and Clontarf. The beach is very lively and a popular with the locals: no matter how early, you will people swimming, running, walking along the bay, walking their dogs, having a picnic or simply socialising. Due to its parking limitations, Balmoral Beach isn’t a major attraction like Bondi Beach. Therefore, it is a more intimate beach, but nevertheless beautiful.

The Verdict on Middle Head

Middle Head in Sydney is an ideal day trip in Sydney and will reward you with breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour. And because Sydney is such a green city, the cheeky Australian wildlife is never far… This kookaburra seems to greet visitors on their arrival at Middle Head in Sydney…

Kookaburra at Middle Head, Sydney

If you are looking for more day trips ideas within Sydney, read my blog posts on other things to do in Sydney:

There are no less than 7 headlands so you should visit some of the other ones, for example:

Sydney is incredibly photogenic and has many gorgeous beaches:

Finally, I have a number of suggestions for Sydney on my Pinterest Board.

I would love you to tell me about your experience of Sydney’s Middle Head, please leave a comment below!

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The ultimate guide to Sydney\'s Middle Head for a relaxing day trip offering breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour, in New South Wales, Australia

18 Comments

  1. Court

    July 6, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    Loving all your pictures. I haven’t been to middle head yet, but it will have to be on the to do list when I am down in Sydney next!

    1. Delphine

      July 6, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      hi Court, yes, do make some time for Middle Head, there is plenty to do and it’s less touristy than North Head or South Head!

  2. Sam

    July 7, 2017 at 5:19 am

    Looks so dreamy! Thanks for all the details!

    1. Delphine

      July 7, 2017 at 8:19 am

      Thanks Sam, I’m pleased you like my post!

  3. Tanya

    July 7, 2017 at 9:34 am

    I went to a gorgeous wedding at Middle Head. Such a beautiful spot and the views are as magic as you describe xx

    1. Delphine

      July 7, 2017 at 10:44 am

      Thank you Tanya, I think I may have attended the same wedding šŸ˜‰

  4. Devajani

    July 10, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Lovely post with great details. Keep up the good work .

    1. Delphine

      July 10, 2017 at 1:07 pm

      Thanks Devajani, I’m very fortunate that this place is so close to my home!

  5. Lyn (aka) The Travelling Lindfields

    July 29, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    This is our old stomping ground. David and I lived in Mosman for many years before moving further up the north shore line. We still go back to visit from time to time. The traffic and parking is awful but in every other respect it is a perfect part of the world. Middle Head is a fantastic place to go on New Year’s Day to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. We park a few kilometres away, unload the bikes and cycle there avoiding the parking and traffic hassles. You get a great view of the maxi yachts competing to be first out of the heads. I can highly recommend Gunners Barracks restaurant for lunch. It is expensive but we have never had anything but a superb experience there. If you want something a little less upmarket Frenchy’s Cafe has a lovely setting and is a locals’ favourite.

    1. Delphine

      July 31, 2017 at 10:08 am

      Hi Lyn, thank you for dropping by. You’re right, Middle Head is really beautiful and less touristy than South Head or North Head. I actually got married at Gunners Barracks and I love going back there from time to time.

  6. Lydia C. Lee

    July 30, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Lovely pics. Been a while since we’ve been there – should go back!

    1. Delphine

      July 31, 2017 at 10:11 am

      Hi Lydia, I definitely recommend you visit Middle Head again. There’s been a lot of improvements in terms of welcoming day trippers and visitors: signage, cafes, park areas, it makes for a very relaxing day trip.

  7. Cath

    June 3, 2018 at 10:38 pm

    And donā€™t forget Cobblers Beach, the best nudist beach in Australia!

    1. Delphine

      June 4, 2018 at 10:35 am

      Hi Cath, indeed I didn’t include this one! But I have to say I haven’t been there, not game enough… And I don’t think my camera would be welcome there, which is fair enough!

  8. Cath

    June 6, 2018 at 9:04 am

    You should definitely try it out Delphine (when the weather warms up!). My husband and I did the nude charity swim the Sydney Skinny to raise funds for Dr Charlie Teo and weā€™ve become regulars at Cobblers. Thereā€™s a nice bunch of people there – lots of couples and women – who are very friendly and protective and inclusive.

    1. Delphine

      June 7, 2018 at 9:53 am

      Thanks Cath, this is way out of my comfort zone but I’ll keep it mind for a sunny day!

  9. Alex

    August 13, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    I agree with Cath that Cobblers Beach is one of the best things about Middle Head. It is definitely worth keeping in mind, and I think it is nicest to visit on a warm day in winter or spring when the UV radiation is less intense.

    1. Delphine

      August 13, 2018 at 8:07 pm

      Hi Alex, I did most of my touring of Sydney’s coastal spots and beaches last winter and the light was incredible. It made for such beautiful photography! I need to go back and discover Cobblers Beach, I managed to miss it last time!

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