This is Stop 15 on the Spit to Manly Walk as marked on the Manly to Spit Walk Map.

This fence is all that remains of a beautiful Georgian mansion built in the 1850’s by Henry Gilbert Smith on a subtantial piece land. He is known as the “the father of Manly”. Before him Manly was uninhabited bushland interspersed with a couple of small residences. He built Fairlight, the Steyne Hotel (still here) and a church. He also built a pier, the Pier Hotel opposite it, and introduced the first ferry service in the form of paddle steamers. He marketed Manly as the “Brighton of the South Pacific” and envisioned Sydneysiders visiting Manly for a weekend like Londoners visited Brighton on England’s south coast. After his wife’s death in 1866, he returned to live in Brighton, England and died in 1886, aged 84.

Interestingly, when Smith bought the waterfront land from John Parker in 1852, there was no mention of the 100ft Reservation in the title deed. Smith, therefore believed he owned Fairlight Beach. When he, in turn, sold Fairlight to John Woods in 1880, Woods, built fences to keep the public out of ‘his beach’. It was eventually declared a public reserve, but the fences didn’t come down until 1891.

Read more about the Spit to Manly Walk and download the Manly to Spit Walk Map. Jump to any stop by clicking on the name below.

Stop 1: Ellery’s Punt Reserve
Stop 2: Fisher Bay ‘Midden’
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 – you are currently on this page
Stop 16: Manly Wharf


Ian Wells grew up in Sydney surrounded by Cronulla surf beaches, Port Hacking and Royal National Park, developing a love of the outdoors from an early age.

After nearly a decade travelling the world, he returned home to realise his own backyard was as extraordinary as the places he‘d seen.

With the advantage of local knowledge and a belief that the best natural beauty can only be experienced by foot, he founded Sydney Coast Walks in 2009.

Sydney Coast Walks also provides supervised hikes for the Duke of Ed Award. Coming soon, Ian will co-host new podcast This Hiking Life with his wife Tara Wells.

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