North Head Lookout

Manly, New South Wales 2095

The North Head Lookout sits atop the pretty cliffs of North Head, which open out onto uninterrupted sea views and incredible scenery.

North Head Lookout

Set just outside of Sydney City near Manly, it’s the perfect day trip for those looking to explore the wilder side of the region. North Head was originally used by the native owners of the land; the Camaraigal people. It reaches an approximate area size of 156 hectares and feature native flora and fauna perfect for nature lovers to explore. The North Head lookout is a must-see attraction for both local and international tourists.

From the top track, you can look out at the coastal headland, which is only a short ferry ride from Circular Quay. You can see Hornby Lighthouse from the top, as well as the picturesque skyline of Sydney itself. The lighthouse’s iconic red and white striped façade looks great in photos and is the perfect spot to do so some whale watching during winter. It was built after the tragic shipwreck of the Dunbar in 1858 off the coast of Jackson Bay.

There are plenty of things to do around the North Head Lookout, too, whether you’re searching for a relaxing day by the beach or an adventurous exploration of the landscape.

Things to do around North Head Lookout

  • Diving

    For the more adventurous travellers, North Head has some of the best boat diving sites in Sydney, especially if you’re looking for drift dives. Here, you can explore the North Head lookout Sydney remains of the historic shipwrecks that dot the coast and get up close and personal with the colourful underwater world.

  • Walking

    If you prefer to explore by foot, there are around 10 kilometres of walks to get stuck into. The easy Fairfax walk is a firm favourite with visitors, which takes you along the coastal path and exposes you to some of the best views in the area. For an extra challenge, why not take the Manly Lagoon to North Head trail? This walking loop is 8 kilometres return and begins around Shelley Beach before you head into the Sydney Harbour National Park for a beautiful walk through lush greenery. When you reach North Head, there are three lookouts for you to visit, each with their own marvellous view over the harbour.

  • Wildlife

    If one of the top reasons for you visiting Australia is because of the wildlife, you won’t be disappointed. At North Head look out for Australia’s first scientifically describe bird; the New Holland honeyeater. Look down and you might be lucky to spot a sunbaking Eastern water dragon or an endangered long-nosed bandicoot.

  • Whale Watching

    Perhaps one of the most exciting things to do in the area is to spot the migrating whales as they elegantly swim by in winter. If you’re lucky, you might also be able to spot a pod of dolphins or two while you’re at it. The whale’s migration season is between June and July, and then August to October.

  • Birdwatching

    The wildlife on land is equally as fascinating, with numerous bird species calling the area home. From the Lookout, you can spot some of the 90 species that reside in the Murramarang National Park, including sea eagles and peregrine falcons.

  • Q Station

    This area once housed the diseased migrants who had arrived straight off boats and into these stations to protect the rest of the population of Sydney. Today the area has been remodelled into a 4.5-star accommodation but there is an exhibition explaining the history of the site on the grounds. You can take historic tours to learn the tales that this building holds, or, depart on a ghost tour and explore the spiritual side of the station as night falls at Q Station.

  • Food Nearby

    If you’re feeling peckish head to the Bella Vista café located in the historic North Fort building for amazing views of the city across the harbour and great foods. This café which stays open till 5 pm on weekends dishes up Italian cuisine in a modern setting, perfect to stop at after a nice hike!

  • Relax at the Beach

    North Head boasts some incredible beaches. After soaking up the views and the wildlife, you can kick back and relax on the pristine sands with a book or a drink, and enjoy an afternoon by the sea.

How to Get to North Head Lookout

North Head Lookout, Sydney

If you’re taking public transport, you can get the ferry to Manly Wharf before hopping on the 135 Sydney bus route which takes you straight to the Lookout. Let the bus driver know you want to go to the lookout as sometimes they won’t stop at this location if you don’t ask.

Alternatively, if you drive, there is a paid parking area by the Lookout which is signposted along the road from Manly to North Head – the drive there is particularly scenic and only it’s only a 5-minute drive away. If you do choose this option, keep in mind that the parking area is ticketed. Opening hours are from 6 am to 8 pm daily.

Best time to visit

You may think that going to North Head is more of a summer activity, but it can actually be visited during a lot of times throughout the year. If you do want to go in summer, there are great swimming spots around for water activities and snorkelling. In the winter months, travel to North Head for some bird watching.

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