Location: Middle Harbour
The Spit is a residential suburb of Sydney on Middle Harbour. The geographical feature which gives this locality its name is a sandbar which extends beyond Beauty Point on a bend on Middle Harbour prior to it joining the two other harbours which, combined, form Port Jackson. To the south east of The Spit is the Sydney suburb of Balmoral. The bridge at the northern end of The Spit is the gateway to Sydney's northern beaches and beachside suburbs from Sydney's Lower North Shore.
The Spit has become somewhat of a focal point for water based activities on Middle Harbour. Both the Middle Harbour Yacht Club and the 16-Foot Skiff Club are located on The Spit. These marinas, along with and some excellent restaurants, give it a Riviera-like feel. There is a boat launching ramp which can get quite busy on weekends, and kayaks are available for hire. Middle Harbour upstream from The Spit is perfect for kayaking so the service is extremely well placed. Close by the boating facilities are picnic areas with barbecues, harbour swimming and a childrens playground. Most facilities are repeated across the water at Clontarf, which caters for the overflow on summer weekends.
To get from one side of The Spit to the other without taking your life into your hands crossing Spit Road, there is a walkway linking the two sides of Middle Harbour under the Spit Bridge.
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The original Spit Bridge replaced a punt service in 1924. Described at the time as the ugliest bridge in Sydney, it had a centre span which was raised and lowered by a spider-like maze of girders, pulleys and cables hovering above it and mounted on the adjacent piers. Complete with a roadway, footway and tram tracks, it was built as a temporary measure only, but it worked well, even though it was designed and constructed in a space of less than 12 months. The bridge s northern approaches can be seen from Avona Crescent.
The current bridge, a higher, 4-lane structure with a single-leaf electrically operated bascule span, was brought into use in 1949. The final cost of the bridge was approximately 1.1 million pounds, well over the budget projections. The bridge took four years longer to complete than anticipated and it was reported that during construction a total of 12 months had been lost due to 33 separate industrial disputes while difficulties in constructing the foundations had also caused delays.
Increased traffic in recent years has now turned the bridge into a bottleneck. Options for the future that have been considered include a duplicate bascule bridge or a high level structure similar to the Roseville Bridge.
Balmoral Beach is the centre of a busy social scene with its high class restaurants and expensive yachts, this is very much the beach to be seen at on the North Shore. With a 1920s beachfront promenade a-la-Bondi featuring a bathers pavilion, boardwalk, bridges and rotunda, everything but ample parking is laid on for the beachgoer's pleasure. The water is open to the swell from the Heads, so it is kept clean and makes for a good place to swim.
UBD Map 217 Ref E 6. The Esplanade, Balmoral.
Facilities: cafes and restaurants, toilets, showers, shaded picnic areas, grassed areas, childrens playground, enclosed baths, boat hire.
Public transport: train to Chatswood, bus No. 257, or ferry to Athol Wharf (Taronga Zoo), bus No. 238.
Named after Ah Sue, a Chinaman who had a market garden where Rosherville Reserve is today, Chinamans is a secluded smaller beach, a 250m stretch of sand that sits inside Middle Harbour. The beach, on Cobblers Bay, lacks shade but the facilities for children are better than neighbouring Balmoral Beach, making it a great spot for family outings. It is quite safe, but be aware that the water can get quite deep the closer you are to Shell Cove. Chinamans is a popular launching place for kyakers and sailboarders. Unlike Balmoral, there are no cafes or kiosks on Chinamans Beach, so bring your own water and food (and sunscreen!). Behind the beach is Rosherville Reserve, a large, quiet park area, perfect for picnics or barbeques. It has plenty of trees and shade, a small playground and decent shower and toilet. The Reserve has a very small car park which is metered (paid). You can also park for free on the streets surrounding Rosherville Reserve, which has a path to the beach.
McLean Crescent, The Spit.
Public transport: bus No. 169, 173, 175 from Wynyard; or ferry to Manly, bus No. 140, 143, 144, 169. Alight cnr Spit and Parriwi Rds, walk down Parriwi Rd, left into Cyprian St.
Also known as the Rosherville Light, it is positioned to line up with the Grotto Point Light as an aid to ships entering Sydney Heads. The alignment of these two lights from outside the heads gives the line of entry into the harbour. The tall imposing tower has architectural quality and is a dominant feature of the maritime landscape of Middle Harbour, particularly when viewed from the direction of the Heads. It has visual unity with Grotto Point Lighthouse.
UBD Map 197 ref D 15. Parriwi Road, The Spit.
Facilities: small reserve, lookout, rest area.
Public transport: bus No. 169, 173, 175 from Wynyard; or ferry to Manly, bus No. 140, 143, 144, 169. Alight at cnr Spit & Parriwi Rd, The Spit. Walk down Parriwi Rd.
One of the classic Sydney walks, it the perfect way to discover some lesser known parts of Sydney Harbour while keeping fit. The walk is long enough to satisfy those who want a decent walk to get their teeth into, but easy enough for those who prefer to stroll. The track is well maintained and has only a few relatively short stretches that can be classified as having moderate grades. The track follows the shoreline of Middle and North harbours; there are plenty of great harbour views, beaches, a few lookouts, some delightful stands of natural bushland and places for a cuppa and a bite to eat along the way.
Duration: 9km in length, power walkers can knock it off in around 3 hours, but if you take it as a leisurely stroll, it can become a pleasant full day outing.
How to get there: catch the 190 bus from Wynyard Station to the western side of Spit Bridge. Return to the city via the Manly Ferry or 144 bus to Wynyard station. If you are coming by car, drive to the Spit Bridge (UBD Map 197 Ref C 12), and park at the reserve on Avona Crescent. You will then need to catch the 144 bus back to your car from Manly after the walk is completed.
Seaforth is the suburb on the northern side of Middle Harbour immediately opposite The Spit. Seaforth was named after Loch Seaforth and Seaforth Island in Scotland. Because of its isolation, Seaforth remained undeveloped for many years. The hulks of ships that were no longer seaworthy were moored in Powder Hulk Bay for the storage of gunpowder between 1878 and 1919. The first subdivision and auction of land took place here under the name of Seaforth Estate in November 1906.
Powder Hulk Bay, a quiet, sheltered inlet on Middle Harbour, was the favoured Government choice in the 1860s for the mooring of powder hulks containing explosives, hence its name. These days it is a mooring place for pleasure craft at Seaforth Sailing Club and home to Sangrado Pool and Park. The park is a preserved pocket of rainforest in the valley of a small creek that flows over a pretty waterfall here.
The walking path to Sangrado Pool on Powder Hulk Bay, Middle Harbour, holds a special surprise - a picturesque waterfall in a pocket of rainforest. Located beyond the end of Sangrado Street, the falls are located in Sangrado Park, a nature reserve behind a small beach on Powder Hulk Bay. About 50 steps take the walking track down to water level, after which it passes through the valley via a walking track past the waterfall.
Also known as the Rosherville Light, Parriwi Lighthouse on Parriwi Road is positioned to line up with the Grotto Point light as an aid to ships entering Sydney Heads. The alignment of these two lights from outside the heads gives the line of entry into the harbour. Grotto Point Light is located 1,550 metres in front of Parriwi Head Light. It is one of four such lighthouses designed by architect Maurice Festu in a style now sometimes called "Disney Castle", the others being Grotto Point Light, Vaucluse Bay Range Front Light and Vaucluse Bay Range Rear Light. The light is shone through an horizontal slit just below the dome. Facilities: small reserve, lookout, rest area.
Public transport: Bus No. 169, 173, 175 from Wynyard; or ferry to Manly, Bus No. 140, 143, 144, 169. Alight at cnr Spit & Parriwi Rd, The Spit. Walk down Parriwi Rd.
Mosman is a charming residential suburb set amidst beautiful bushland surrounds. The suburb forms a peninsula between the two Harbours and features a number of popular beaches on both harbours. Small arcades, restaurants and exclusive boutiques give Mosman an almost village atmosphere, although the area feels very much alive. Attractive modern townhouses stand shoulder to shoulder with large Federation era houses and Californian bungalows.
Spit Junction and The Spit - named after the tip of the peninsula jutting into Middle Harbour. It was known to the Aborigines as Parriwi, a name which is recalled in Parriwi Road and Parriwi Park. Very little development took place until 1902 when the area was subdivided. Prior to that, the only residents were a number of Chinese who ran market gardens and salt pans on the waterfront. Their presence is remembered today in the name of Chinamans Beach.
On the high ground, a bush track weaved its way down to The Spit where, in 1850, a hand punt service across the water to Seaforth was established by Peter Ellery. The punt was taken over by the Government in 1888 and replaced by a steam powered vessel. This ferry, which connected with a tram service to Mosman after 1900, continued until toll gates and a timber lift-span bridge were brought into operation in December 1924. This bridge was replaced by the current concrete and steel lifting bridge in 1958. The suburb's development has paralleled the development of the transport facilities through it.
Also known as Manly Scenic Walkway, this is one of the most popular walks in the Sydney region, and is a must for anyone who enjoys walking and is eager to explore the bushland around Sydney. Allow yourself the best part of a day to make this popular hike along the foreshores of Middle and North Harbours. Lookouts at Grotto Pt, Cutler Rd and Tania Park offer expansive harbour views. Take a dip at Clontarf, Castle Rock, Washaway, Reeef, Forty Baskets, Balgowlah, Fairlight or Delwood beaches on the way. Easy to Moderate walk. 9.1 km one way.
How to Get There: ferry to Manly, or Bus No. 190 from Wynyard to Spit Bridge.