North Side Sydney beaches
Balmoral Beach, on Sydney’s north side. Photo by Merbabu.
Balmoral is a tranquil suburb about halfway between the Harbour Bridge and Manly, lined with some lovely old houses and a family-friendly beach. The beach offers little surf but instead there are rock pools, a natural splash pool for toddlers, a promenade, netted swimming areas, a playground, picnic tables, and various other kid-oriented features.
The easiest way to get there is to take an E70, E68, 246 or 245 bus just past Mosman and walk down to the beach from there.
Manly Beach, the largest of eight beaches in this peaceful suburb, just 5 minutes walk from the cross-harbour ferry terminal.
The Bugcrew preferred the larger and lower-key Manly beaches to Bondi. Manly has a small but well-supplied village feel to it, with plenty of bars and eateries, not to mention a lot of low cost accommodation near the beach and good surf gear rental places adjacent.
Manly also has a small inner-harbour beach devoid of surf for those with toddlers not ready for a pounding or lap-swimmers who don’t want to go out beyond the surf line.
Then there’s the lovely ferry ride through the harbour to Manly from the city centre vs. the not very pretty urban train/bus ride to Bondi. On the other Bondi’s beach folk are arguably more glamorous and the coastal path south is stunning, while Manly’s walks are not so inspiring. . . Visit both but stay in Manly if you have the time?
Outside the city and away from the surf-smashed beaches lie a good few National Parks though the #1 tourist target is the cool Blue Mountains with its canyons, cliffs, dense forests, waterfalls, good bush walks and adrenalin activities. A train from Central Station takes a couple of hours to travel the 90 kms to the Blue Mountains National Park staging point, chilly but attractive Katoomba. But don’t expect to see any ‘roos leaping around!
Most tourists to the Blue Mountains see it only from one of the lookouts between Wentworth Falls and Blackheath, never actually doing any activities in the park.
Naturally the most frequently indulged activity for tourists are short walks to viewpoints such as the one overlooking the Three Sisters rock formation, but longer walks to more remote areas are common for Australians, as well as canyoning, abseiling, rock climbing and mountain biking.
Tourists looking for something more than a stroll in the park should check Katoomba for enterprises offering guides and activities support. Katoomba also offers visitors the world’s steepest railway, The Katoomba Scenic Railway.