The Ultimate Guide to Middle Head in Sydney

The Ultimate Guide to Middle Head in Sydney

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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

The Ultimate Guide to Middle Head in Sydney

Middle Head 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. It’s also great for coastal walks.

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

Where to Stay near Middle Head

The Lower North Shore of Sydney is a lovely area to stay in for a few days. AirBnb has a selection of accommodation available.

There is plenty to do in Sydney Harbour National Park so it might be worth staying around the area for a day or two.

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 Middle Head trail to Chowder Bay goes past it so you won’t miss it.

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

As you can see, Sydney coastal walks have some spectacular views!

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. This is one of the best walks with a view of Sydney.

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 some great hikes in Sydney.

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. Walks around Sydney often turn into birdwatching…

A popular Middle Head café, 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.

Cobblers Beach

It took me a while to find out about Cobblers Beach, one of the Sydney bays dedicated to nude bathing. There is a track going down from Middle Head to the beach. It’s a very pretty beach but I would only recommend it if you are comfortable with nudity.

Cobblers Beach is a secret Sydney beach on Middle Head
Cobblers Beach

Chowder Bay

Below the cliff, 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 and one of the best Sydney beach walks. 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.

What to Pack for a Walk on Middle Head

A walk on Middle Head is quite leisurely but you should nevertheless pack some essentials such as water, sun protection and appropriate footwear.

The Verdict on Middle Head

Middle Head is one of the nice walks in Sydney and a great day trip. It 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 Middle Head walk.

Kookaburra at Middle Head, Sydney

If you are looking for more day trips ideas within Sydney’s North, try The Basin, Barrenjoey Lighthouse and West Head Lookout.

Sydney is incredibly photogenic and has many gorgeous beaches, which are all free to visit. Sydney is a great city for the outdoor and the harbour has plenty of beautiful photo spots.

For more coastal walks in NSW, I also recommend the Kiama Coast Walk and Bouddi National Park coastal walk.

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

Save these views of Middle Head on Pinterest!

The ultimate guide to Sydney's Middle Head for a relaxing day trip offering breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour, in New South Wales, Australia
Sydney's Middle Head is close to Balmoral Beach, the nicest beach in Sydney
Middle Head in Sydney has some terrific views of the harbour
Head to Middle Head in Sydney to see some wildlife and catch some beautiful views
Middle Head in Sydney has one of the best Sydney coast walks
Middle Head is great for Sydney harbour walks

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30 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 😉

  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 Lindfield

    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 don’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 we’ve become regulars at Cobblers. There’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!

  10. Linda (LD Holland)

    October 7, 2020 at 2:40 am

    I never new there was a North, South and Middle Head in Sydney. It certainly does look like a great spot for views out over Sydney. With so many outside hiking spots it is a great escape from the busier downtown area. Hubby would definitely be interested in the military past. I know which beach to head to if we forget to pack our swim suits!

    1. Delphine Mignon

      October 7, 2020 at 10:29 am

      Linda, there are no less than seven headlands in Sydney so there is no shortage of great views and hiking spots!

  11. The Holidaymaker/ Renee

    October 9, 2020 at 8:08 am

    You weren’t kidding when you said it offers some pretty spectacular views. There are so many great vistas and vantage points to choose from. Sounds like it’s the perfect place to go for photographers to capture those nice views.

    1. Delphine Mignon

      October 10, 2020 at 7:40 am

      It’s hard to take a bad photo of the harbour… and hard to pick a favourite!

  12. Joanne

    October 9, 2020 at 10:50 am

    Middle Head is just beautiful. I love the sailboats in the distance and of course, the beach. It’s so easy to get swept away with the ‘must see’ locations when visiting. This is the perfect outing during a visit to Sydney.

    1. Delphine Mignon

      October 10, 2020 at 7:39 am

      Middle Head is very quintessentially Sydney… People who live around the area have a very nice life.

  13. Umiko

    October 9, 2020 at 11:51 am

    I would say views from the Middle Head are amazing, both the bay and the city views. Balmoral Beach is also pretty. I will like this day trip since I don’t like crowds.

    1. Delphine Mignon

      October 10, 2020 at 7:38 am

      Balmoral Beach is one of the prettiest beaches in Sydney, I used to walk there early in the morning, it’s so beautiful!

  14. Kevin

    October 10, 2020 at 8:41 am

    Wow, Middle Head really does look like a fantastic area to walk in. When I visited Perth and Melbourne last year, one thing I loved about both was that they were so walkable compared to cities in the States. I’m glad to see that Sydney is the same way and offers some really amazing shoreline views! I can’t wait to visit once things are back up and running!

    1. Delphine Mignon

      October 10, 2020 at 9:31 am

      Sydney is quite walkable and the public transport system is quite good. Still, I like to be able to get around in my car, it’s a lot quicker…

  15. Layla Turner

    October 11, 2020 at 2:11 am

    I love Balmoral Beach, I used to go there a lot when I was house sitting in Mosman. Yes, so much quieter and nicer than some ‘other Sydney beaches’. 🙂

    1. Delphine Mignon

      October 11, 2020 at 8:39 am

      Mosman is such a nice area, I lived there for 5 years and Balmoral was my beach. I always go back there happily!

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