July 3, 2020
Say goodbye to Spit Bridge and its 130,000 daily commuters. This is the last of these once-common low opening bridges remaining on a busy main road. The now predictable traffic delays weren’t anticipated when the bridge opened in 1958.
In the early 1850s a local farmer by the name of Peter Ellery had a rowing boat to ferry passengers across to “the Sand-Spit” by request.
Imagine standing on the bank, hands cupped, shouting “Ellery!” to grab his attention. Even with a later upgrade to hand-operated punt, that was the way across Middle Harbour for nearly two decades until the Government introduced a public ferry in 1871.
There was a short period of tram service from The Spit to Manly, ceasing in 1939. The remains of the concrete wharf you can see is where the punt carrying the steam tram docked. The tramline met the punt’s hydraulic platform, specially designed to adjust height with the tide.
Soon after leaving the Reserve, amongst the natural bushland next to steep stairs, you’ll spot the pipeline that carried water for the thirsty steam tram engines.
Parking at Ellery's Punt Reserve, The Spit Bridge
There are a few parking spaces at a small car park next to Ellery's Punt Reserve. However, it can only be accessed by approaching The Spit Bridge from the north. Even driving at slow speed – and knowing the entry was just before the bridge itself – we still managed to miss it. If you miss the turn, it's quite a long loop back to re-approach the bridge from the northern end.
You could try your luck here but for more parking options, see our comprehensive guide to getting to the start of the Spit to Manly walk, which includes details of more parking at the Spit Bridge.
Spit Bridge Opening Times
Spit Bridge is the essential link between Sydney’s northern beaches and the city. But due to its humble height, many boats simply can’t pass underneath unless the bridge is open.
Whether you’re on foot or driving, expect a delay during opening times.
Weekday openings are 10:15am, 11:15am, 1:15pm and 2:15pm.
On weekends and public holidays, the bridge opens 8:30am, 10:00am, 11:30am, 2:30pm and 4:30pm, with more openings both weekday and weekend evenings.
For the latest Spit Bridge opening times, check with Roads & Maritime.
Where to go next on the Spit to Manly Walk?
Follow the signposted track through the bush around to the next bay.
Be careful not to step on Water Dragons as they warm in the sun mid-track. Watch your head under the sandstone overhang as you descend the stairs. A small waterfall may splash the boardwalk after rain.
After the rocky overhang, pause on the raised timber walkway. Look to your left to notice oyster shells piled at the foot of the rock face.
Read more about the Spit to Manly Walk.
Jump to any stop by clicking on the name below.
Stop 1: Ellery’s Punt Reserve – you are currently on this page.
Stop 2: Fisher Bay
Stop 3: Fisher Bay Houseboat
Stop 4: Sandy Bay, Hawkesbury Sandstone
Stop 5: Clontarf Reserve
Stop 6: Clontarf Pumping Station
Stop 7: Castle Rock Beach
Stop 8: Grotto Point Lighthouse
Stop 9: Grotto Point Aboriginal Engraving Site
Stop 10: Crater Cove
Stop 11: Dobroyd Head
Stop 12: Reef Beach
Stop 13: Forty Baskets Beach
Stop 14: North Harbour Reserve
Stop 15: Fairlight House
Stop 16: Manly Wharf