Walk Distance: 3 km
Walk Duration: 1 hr 30 at preschooler pace with plenty of time to inspect the wildlife and read the information boards.
Suitable for: Babies in carriers, little legs, all the family.
Walk Features: Great views of Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, boardwalk, beaches, harbour views, wildlife, nature trail with information boards, historic landmarks, refreshments, toilets.
‘The Bradleys Head Circular Walk was our first Australian Baby Route walk. It is a simple family walk but packs a punch with fantastic views of the famous Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge all whilst exploring the bush. It’s a nice extension to a day trip to nearby Taronga Zoo and whilst the headland could be exposed on blowy days, it makes an otherwise good outdoor option if it’s rainy or very hot as the trail is well shaded most of the way.
The route follows boardwalks and earth tracks around the headland with many chances to spot wildlife and drop onto a beach or two ( these are unpatrolled so take care & check Beachsafe for hazards). Kids will love the wildlife info boards. Ours nearly tripped over a wonderful Eastern Water Dragon bathing in a puddle!’
The Bradleys Head Circular Walk starts from Taronga Zoo ferry wharf. From the end of the wharf (with your back to the water) turn right up Athol Wharf Road. Follow the pavement slightly uphill, passing Taronga Zoo entrance on your left.
Immediately after Taronga Zoo follow the footpath as it bends slightly downhill to the right. You will pass a look-out spot with some benches and a turn-off to one of the little beaches before coming to a split in the path.
Follow the sign for Bradleys Head, Athol Hall and Sydney Harbour National Park on the path to the left.
You will now walk gently uphill on a dirt track, including some shallow steps, passing another sign for Sydney Harbour National Park directing you straight on.
The path comes to a split with Athol Hall (wedding venue with great views but also has a cafe) up to the left and Bradleys Head trail straight on. Unless you’re starving, take the right hand path onwards on the Bradleys Head Trail.
Follow the trail down hill. The path goes down steps but these are of the gentle, long variety and didn’t cause our mini walkers any issues.
At the crossroads with the steps, your path leads on. Before you follow it, consider taking a brief diversion down the steps to your right. These lead down to a small beach from which there are some excellent views across Athol Bay back towards Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.
Back on the trail continue onwards as the dirt track turns into boardwalk and the bush gets denser. This eventually returns to a dirt track as the views open up on through the trees back out for yet another amazing view of Sydney harbour’s famous landmarks.
The tantalising watery views accompany you on the walking track until emerging onto a car parking lot at Bradleys Head amphitheatre and mast. If you need to use the facilities, then there’s an alfresco loo block to your left here.
The point of the headland is a great place to take a break and watch the boats sailing past. This place has plenty of history. It has long aboriginal significance as well as naval and military importance. The point is named after Lieutenant William Bradley of HMS Sirius who is thought to have first referred to it as Bradley Point in 1788 and has always been a significant landmark for boats to pass on their way down this famous waterway.
The mast erected here is from HMAS Sydney – a Royal Australian Navy ship lost off the coast of Australia during the Second World War during a battle with a German ship. Both ships were lost in the battle but whilst many of the Germans managed to escape on rafts and be rescued, all hands on HMAS Sydney were lost making it the largest loss of life in the history of the Royal Australian Navy. It wasn’t until 2008 that the wreck was finally found. Alongside the mast is a short memorial walk commemorating other navy ships lost at sea.
Follow the roadway uphill until the road bends back on itself to the left. Here the footpath leaves the road and continues along the waters edge, passing a bandstand on your left. You will see a signpost for Athol Hall, Chowder Head and Middle Head marking the trail.
Continue the walk onwards on a narrow dirt track through the bush. The views out on the other side of the headland here are wilder and feel much further removed from the city. If you’re lucky and walking the trail between humpback whale migration season of June and November you may even catch a rare glimpse of a humpback whale from here! Whales of several different species are being increasingly sighted taking refuge within the harbour and have even made it as far as Sydney Harbour Bridge!
Eventually the path climbs up some gentle steps. Beyond the trail continues before coming to a split in the path. Take the left hand path back towards Athol Hall.
N.B. For more ambitious walkers there are options here to extend your hike considerably by taking the right hand trail towards Chowder Head with the option to return via public transport or link up the footpath before reading Chowder Head with Whiting Beach Road, completing your circuit to the north of the zoo and back to the ferry wharf via Whiting Beach.
Climb the steps back up to the parking lot and follow it to the right to join the main road. Turn right along the road before turning immediately left back off it at the next junction towards Athol Hall.
From here take the path back down past Athol Hall where fantastic views of Sydney Harbour Bridge are waiting to greet you once more.
Take the path leading diagonally right downhill from Athol Hall. This will rejoin the original path you took on your outward journey.
Turn right and retrace your outward trail back to Taronga Zoo ferry wharf where the walk finishes.
Map of Route:
The Bradleys Head Circular Walk ( Sydney ) starts from the Taronga Zoo ferry wharf, which is easily accessed by regular ferries from Circular Quay.
For those arriving by road, paid parking is available at Bradleys Head car park and you can join the route half way through at Bradleys Head mast and amphitheatre.
238 buses run to Taronga Zoo ferry wharf and along Athol Wharf Road.
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