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Hiking the Harbour City

This article appeared in Great Walks magazine:

A surfer crosses the path after a cheeky morning session; children learn to sail, their boats bobbing in the harbour; and mates pull a kayak down to the water’s edge for an arvo paddle. Sometimes there are no people at all; just scrubby coastal heath, delicate flannel flowers, towering angophora, twisting Port Jackson figs and the slap of water against rocky foreshore.

Here, there’s no hint of the city’s petrol-hazed traffic crawl and no cacophony of mega-mall food courts. Where is this utopia? It’s Sydney, but not as you know it. This is the Bondi to Manly Walk, a new 80km track gripping the city’s coastline like its coffee-fueled life depends on it.

Overlooking Crater Cove, Watsons Bay, on the new Bondi to Manly Walk. Image: Sydney Coast Walks

Actually, it’s been possible to walk it for years, ever since a passionate group of walkers – the Walking Volunteers – waded through the madness of nearly-but-not-quite connecting tracks. But barely anyone did. Logistics were still a puzzle, maps hard to come by and there was no signage. Enter a new group who picked up the “what if…” question, backing it with political nous and an appetite for bureaucracy (Chairman of the Bondi to Manly Walk Supporters is former Labor Senator John Falkiner). The result: 15 local, state and federal bodies actually agreed on something.

So here I am. In the bush. In Sydney.

Read more: Great Walks magazine. Issue 86 (Dec/Jan 2020) . Article not available online. Read the PDF.

By Tara Wells

Tara Wells is a freelance journalist based near Sydney, Australia.