A superb coastal walk around South Head, the gateway to Sydney Harbour. Discover stunning views of the city, ocean and surrounding headlands from vantage points only accessible on foot. Rich in early settler and forgotten military history, Watsons Bay walk is home to one of Australia’s first lighthouses. It’s the easiest way to escape the city and yet still enjoy city and harbour vistas.


    • Stroll along Sydney’s famous Watsons Bay
    • Experience Camp Cove where the Birrabirragal mob met the First Fleet
    • Enjoy endless harbour and ocean views
    • Look into a sandstone chasm from Gap Bluff
    • Discover Sydney’s wartime history
    • See two of Australia’s first lighthouses
    • Spot whales during migration season

Route Map

South Head and Watsons Bay walk map

Quick Start Guide

    • Distance: 4.5km (3 miles)
    • Time: 2 hours
    • Track conditions: Mainly paved walkway. Some soft sand walking across Camp Cove beach. A couple of sections with stairs.
    • Mountains to climb?: Relatively flat. Slight incline to 20m elevation at South Head itself. Steep climb up to 40m up stairs at Gap Bluff (optional).
    • Water: Regular refill places
    • Public transport: Yes. Public ferries and Eco Hopper to Watsons Bay. Or bus route 324 from the city to Watsons Bay.
    • Coffee: Yes. Plenty of options. Try Watsons Bay Hotel (better known for cold drinks than hot!), historic Dunbar House for high tea, or gelato on Military Road. The iconic Watsons Bay experience is fish and chips from Doyles on the Beach.
    • Toilets: Regular intervals
    • Mobile phone reception: Yes
    • Swimming: Camp Cove beach is a calm, family-friendly beach but is not patrolled by lifesavers.

Watsons Bay Walk-Thru in One Minute

Walking through Watsons Bay, home to some of Sydney’s oldest remaining houses, remember this is the place of the Birrabirrigal Aboriginal people who called this place home for thousands of years before European arrival.

Entering Sydney Harbour National Park you’ll learn about the little known Japanese submarine attack in WWII and continue along the beach where Europeans first set foot inside Sydney Harbour.

Strolling along the harbour foreshore all the way to South Head you’ll be treated to panoramic harbour and ocean views from the gateway to Sydney.

Listen to shipwreck tales from the early colony and enjoy sweeping views from towering cliffs as we stroll past The Gap and look back towards Sydney from this unique vantage point.

Sydney at War

On the night of 31st May 1942, Japan brought WWII to Sydney’s doorstep. Three miniature submarines, launched from larger mother ships offshore, secretly entered Sydney Harbour. They torpedoed navy ships at Garden Island as the Manly ferry still transported passengers to and from Circular Quay. Stand on the spot where anti-submarine defences were controlled and read how one of these submarines was successfully caught.

Warra warra

The arrival of the English navy to Aboriginal Australia was truly a clash of cultures. The Birrabirragal mob had fished, hunted and harvested shellfish at Kutti-kutti (Watsons Bay) for nearly ten thousand years. The Europeans arrived in huge ships with fancy clothes and rifles that could fell a kangaroo at 100 yards. Walk on the beach where stone-age Aboriginal hunters were confounded by English sailors cooking fish in a cast iron pot.

View from Gap Bluff


Sydney has always been a maritime city. With shipping, comes shipwrecks, and Sydney has her fair share. Two tragedies at Sydney Heads in 1857 caused Hornby Light, the red and white striped lighthouse to be built on South Head. Macquarie Light was built atop the cliffs further south 40 years earlier but was unable to prevent these tragedies. See the places these ships were wrecked and read a lone story of survival from the carnage.

What to See

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Getting There

Watsons Bay is such a great day’s outing that it can get busy on weekends, making parking difficult to find. The short ferry trip is a highlight, so well worth considering.

Public Transport

Hands-down, the best way to get to Watsons Bay is by ferry across Sydney’s glistening harbour. Public ferries are clean and offer just as scenic views as the private sightseeing ferries (Captain Cook Cruises and Sydney Harbour EcoHopper). The differences are validity of an Opal Card, commentary and sometimes bar service. The trip from Circular Quay takes 15-25 minutes, depending on stops, and run regularly.

It’s a 700m walk from Watsons Bay ferry wharf to Gap Bluff, crossing the road and heading across Robertson Park.

If you’re coming from Bondi Junction (Bus # 380, 387 and more) or the eastern suburbs, then the not-very-scenic bus is best – a half hour trip. The bus stops at Military Road, right at Gap Bluff. There’s also a ferry from Rose Bay.

Check Transport NSW for timetables and trip routes from your departure point.

Driving and Parking

It’s about a half hour drive from the city centre to Watsons Bay, or about 20 minutes from Bondi Junction.

Watsons Bay could be described as a village, with the equivalent-sized parking. There’s time-limited street parking wherever you can find it, and two small car parks. Park either in the carpark opposite Watsons Bay Hotel at 1 Cliff St – close to Robertson Park and Gap Bluff, or at Camp Cove carpark at the far end of Cliff St, near Camp Cove and South Head).


Hear all the stories that make this walk so fascinating – at your leisure! Coming Soon.

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