This is Stop 13 on the Spit to Manly Walk as marked on the Manly to Spit Walk Map.

Romantically, Forty Baskets Beach gained its name from a group of fisherman who caught 40 baskets of fish here in one afternoon in 1885. Far from being greedy, the fish were caught for soldiers at the Quarantine Station across the water who had just returned from the Mahdist War in Sudan. The soldiers had not fought in any battles and the only casualties came from disease, including one who died of typhoid while staying at the Quarantine Station.

On 21 August 1857 two boys, Daniel and William Whealey, whose family lived nearby were walking along the beach. This was the day after the day after the wreck of the Dunbar at the Gap, South Head (see Watsons Bay Walk) and the beach was full of wreckage. Miraculously, Daniel found the ship’s bible among the debris. It showed slight signs of water damage, was missing a title page but was otherwise intact. It had probably been stored in a steel box that only broke apart as it was washed against the beach, preserving its contents.

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 – you are currently on this page
Stop 14: North Harbour Reserve
Stop 15: Fairlight House
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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