Watsons Bay in Sydney Harbour National Park South Head, Sydney, Australia
Places visited: Camp Cove Beach and Sydney Harbour National Park South Head Heritage Trail. Visited 30th December 2015, which is summer for Australia.
Watson’s Bay is a coastal area in Sydney, with beautiful small beaches that mostly only locals know of. Come here on a weekend away from the crowds of Bondi or Manly. We packed a picnic lunch and went to Camp Cove Beach. Camp Cove beach is the small beach on the shore at the Sydney Harbour National Park South Head heritage trail. This beach is also the front yard of many homes along the shore.
Lunch stop was near Macquarie Lighthouse.
Unfortunately we didn’t actually go to the light house. But the grassy field near it had a great view of the ocean with free roadside parking.
There were nice exercise equipment, basket ball hoops portable toilets, but no playground equipment.
After a picnic lunch of cold noodle salad and chicken nuggets, we went to Camp Cove Beach, right near the Sydney Harbour National Park South Head Heritage Trail. You can follow the path down to the water and sand or climb the stairs to the toilets (right in the picture) or on wards to the trail.
There are free parking very nearby, first come first served, but the road is quite narrow and gets narrower as you go nearer in the direction of the shore.
The entry is fairly flat but wheels won’t do well on the sand. There are toilets, but both are upstairs on a wooden deck and not accessible by wheelchairs. There are no baby change facilities and there are no bins in the toilets.
The Heritage trail must be accessible by car somehow because I saw a locked gate on the side of the road, and the trail is quite wide in some parts. We walked up the trail though. See their official website for more info. There are more toilets and bins up on the trail, and there are wide access toilets, but no baby change.
There is a shower head from memory, for sand, at ground level, there is also a tap on the side of the shop for sandy feet.
The shop has some sandwiches and drinks but are quite expensive, $9.50 for a tuna and egg sandwich. They also have some beach supplies like hats and things but why buy when you can bring your own?
Camp Cove Beach
The trail starts at an unassuming path among the trees. Turn left and onto the trail you go.
There are a few flights of stairs and many places have no hand rails.
Entry to the Heritage trail from the beach is via an inconspicuous gravel pathway
Going up to the top
The cobblestone pathway is quite bumpy.
There is a lookout at the top of the stairs
Views as you go up the trail:
If you can find the car entry, this road is built for driving
And there are wheelchair accessible wide toilets too.
Also some great grassy areas or stone platforms for picnicking away from the crowds on the beach, if you don’t mind full sun.
This is where timber ships have wrecked in the times of James Cook. On August 20th 1857 the ship Dunbar from England crashed here and only one out of 122 people survived. That one person, James Johnson, later became the lighthouse keeper. The lighthouse was built to guide future ships but it wasn’t completed soon enough and on October 23rd the same year, another ship, the Catherine Adamson also wrecked here and 21 people died.
The lighthouse and the cottage was designed by Alexander Dawson who also designed the Nobby’s Lighthouse in Newcastle. This one was completed for a price of 3127 pounds.
Going back down
There is a nude beach here, Lady Bay Beach, despite its name, men are allowed. There is an entry on the left hand side of the trail, going in. Access is via stairs down to the beach.
The car gate is on the left hand side of this path
Back to the beach
For a full description see this site:
By car: As you drive closer to the shore, the neighbourhood roads get narrower and narrower. There are limited free parking in a nearby parking lot, then you have to walk to the beach. You will know which direction the beach is in, just ask one of the many people around wearing and carrying beach gear, follow the crowd. The beach is at the end of a dead end road/driveway, right next to a little beach shop:
Unfortunately this location was unplanned so no one brought swimmers, so I wasn’t able to go for a swim, only waded in the water where there were small fish, right up to the sand bank. No photos for fear of dropping my camera. Otherwise this is a great spot for some sun and relatively calm water compared to the large beaches. As you can see there are lots little kids around.
The beach/shore is at the base of the stair access to the heritage trail. The trail is a hiking path at the top of the cliff and is a great lookout location (but very far views from Sydney skyline unless you have a telephoto lens). To get to either the beach or the hiking trail, you would need to come to the same starting point, unless you are driving up directly to the lookout.
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