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 Sydney’s Middle Head .
Middle Head is in the Sydney 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 !
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 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.
If you are walking around military sites, I recommend wearing sturdy footwear.
Georges Head Lookout is my favourite spot to take overseas visitors and show the magnificent views on offer.
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.
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.
Enjoy the panoramic views over Manly from the gun pits and bunker.
The bunker at the very tip of the headland looks over to Manly and North Head.
As a former military base, Middle Head still has a large of 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.
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. However, if the place is booked out, the gift shop is still worth a look.
Chowder Bay is an ideal spot for a day out enjoying the historic buildings and the jetty. Activities available include swimming, snorkelling and kayaking. Chowder Bay can accessed by car along the coast line 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 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 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 a ideal stop on the walk from Balmoral Beach to Taronga Zoo.
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.
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 !
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. This makes it a more intimate beach, but nevertheless beautiful.
The Verdict on Middle Head
Middle Head is an ideal day trip in Sydney and will reward you with breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour. If you are looking for more day trips ideas within Sydney, read my blog post on The Basin, in Sydney’s North. And if you have more time for day trip outside of Sydney, read about my top 5 ! Also, there is a great coastal walk in the Bouddi National Park on the NSW Central Coast.
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 !