Chowder Bay

Location: Lower North Shore
The very picturesque Chowder Bay, now part of Sydney Harbour National Park, is one of those harbour bays with everything. There is a wharf, enclosed baths, change rooms, childrens playground, lots of grass, picnic tables and several places to buy food. When the picnic lunch is over, there's bushland to wander through, or you can go fishing or snorkeling in the clear water. Up until recently, the eastern side of the bay was off limits to the public. It was home to a naval base with historic buildings originally used as a Submarine Miners Depot. This was later converted to barracks and mess buildings but the whole complex has been given back to the public for recrational use. There are today home to backpacker accommodation, cafes, a scuba diving centre and a place where you can also watch craftsmen practice the age-old trade of restoring and constructing wooden boats.

Behind the bay on its south eastern side is the exclusive suburb of Clifton Gardens, with its million dollars homes with million dollar views. Tucked in between these houses and the former military establishment to the north-east is a pristine area of bushland with walking trails to explore. If walking is your thing, there's also the extensive George Head and Middle Head fortifications which can be explored by the trail along the ridge overlooking the harbour and Sydney Heads. There is also a 1.5km walking path from Chowder Bay (near the Bacino Bar) to Balmoral Beach. At the end of the trail you pass the HMAS Penguin site.

The name Chowder Bay recalls the seafood stew eaten by whalers who set up a whaling station in the vicinity of Clifton Gardens in early colonial times. Presumably they boiled the stew in pots on the shores of the bay. The Aboriginal name for the bay was Koree, and Chowder Head was known as Gurugal.

Clifton Gardens was named after Captain E.H. Cliffe's home, Cliffeton, which gave rise to the naming of a hotel in the area in 1871 as the Clifton Arms Hotel. Cliffe, a whaling captain, bought land here in 1832, anchoring his ships in nearby Chowder Bay. The Clifton Arms was bought by David Thompson in 1891. He built a wharf, dancing pavilion and picnic facilities nearby and called it Clifton Gardens.

Chowder Bay is 8 kilometres north-east of the Sydney CBD. Accesss by road is from Morella Road via Bradleys Head Road, Mosman. UBD Map 217: E12.

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  • History of Chowder Bay
    Named after whalers who made chowder from the bay s abundant seafood, Chowder Bay is located on the southern side of Sydney s Middle Head peninsula, nestled between stunning harbour-side frontage and a steep backdrop of natural bushland. It was Chowder Bay was once an important area for the Borogegal clan (it was called "Koree"), with the stretch of water between Chowder Bay and Obelisk Beach called Taliangy .

    In the 1890s, a military base was built at Chowder Bay for the Submarine Mining Corps. Mines were attached to cables that went under the water from the bay to the other side of the harbour. They were designed to be detonated if an enemy ship entered the harbour. In 1922, after changes in technology that made these types of mines ineffective, the Corps was disbanded. Chowder Bay then became a depot and barracks for Army engineers. In the 1970s it was the site of the Army Maritime School until the school closed in 1997. Chowder Bay is now open for everyone to enjoy with a diverse range of activities available, including water sports, nearby walks, cafes and restaurants.

    Getting there
    On foot: Walk to Chowder Bay along the bush track from Taronga Zoo (via Bradleys Head), Mosman, Clifton Gardens, Georges Heights or Balmoral.
    By bus: Sydney Buses route 244 connects Chowder Bay with Wynyard in Sydney s CBD and route 228 connects Clifton Gardens with Milsons Point in North Sydney. Both routes travel via Neutral Bay, Cremorne, Spit Junction and Mosman. For timetable details visit or call 131500. The bus stop at Chowder Bay is located outside Building 2 (Other Ranks  Quarters 2) [F2]. The bus stop at Clifton Gardens is located at Morella Rd [A3].
    By water: Vessels (including water taxis) may drop off and pick up passengers at the public wharf at Clifton Gardens and may anchor off the beach. The naval re-fuelling wharf on the eastern point of Chowder Bay [E4] and the jetties in front of Building 10 (the Boatshed) [D3] are available for public use by prior arrangement with Ripples, LIW3, SIMS, and Land s Edge.
    Catch the ferry to Taronga Zoo from Circular Quay and connect with Sydney Buses route 238 at the wharf. Alight on Middle Head Rd (before the bus turns left at Beaconsfield Rd for Balmoral) and walk 20 minutes to Chowder Bay via Georges Heights. For timetable details visit or call 131500.
    By car: Chowder Bay can be reached by car along Chowder Bay Rd, via Middle Head Rd, Mosman. There is limited parking along Chowder Bay Rd and metered parking in the public car park at Clifton Gardens [A3] (which is accessed via Thompson St, off Bradleys Head Rd, Mosman). Pedestrian access to Chowder Bay from the car park at Clifton Gardens is via the beach.
    Chowder Bay is a shared vehicle and pedestrian area, so please take care when driving and parking your vehicle

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