The Hermitage Foreshore Walk is a hidden gem, and while it is not a dramatic as the Bondi to Coogee or as much of a challenge as the Spit Bridge to Manly, it is still a worthy contender for a list of top walks in Sydney.
What I like most about it is that it is so unexpected, tucked in behind the busy New South Head Road, the track offers incredible harbour views, native bushland, tiny deserted beaches and a glimpse into waterfront lifestyle in Sydney’s most expensive suburbs.
Why you should do it
- Approx 2km easy walk – mostly boardwalk – some stairs
- Small time commitment for the views you get – Takes about 45-60 mins depending on how often you stop to admire the views
- Several lovely picnics spots (or proposal spots) along the way
- Well shaded so perfect for hot summer days
- It includes five beaches! (Queens, Hermit, Tingara, Milk and Shark)
- Cafe and safe swimming area at the end Nielsen Park kiosk
A Step-by-Step Photo Guide for the Hermitage Foreshore Walk
Start by deciding which direction you want to walk in. I have always started at the Rose Bay end so I can finish up at Neilson Park with coffee, but you can do it in the reverse direction if you like. If you do choose the reverse journey, you can take the ferry from Rose Bay back to the city.
Take the 325 bus and alight at Bayview Hill Road in Rose Bay just before Kincoppel School. You can take the ferry to Rose Bay and walk from there, but this adds about 20 mins and the infamous Heartbreak Hill to the walk. If you are planning on driving it might be best to start at the Vaucluse end where you will find more parking. Entry to the walk is at the very end of Bayview Hill Road.
It will only take about 10 metres before you reach for your phone as the first view you are rewarded with is pretty special.
The track is a combination of boardwalks and rough, uneven ground although the boardwalks seem to be increasing at a steady pace.
The next thing that caught my eye was a small cemetery. It is the final resting place of the nuns who lived and worked in the Convent of the Sacred Heart. I didn’t manage to get a photo that was any good, so you will have to visit yourself to see it.
From here the track returns to its original state for a little while before becoming boardwalk again.
Next, you will come to the very tiny Queens Beach
and then this view – the size of the beach depends on the tide, but today there was not much at all.
A little further along the track, you will come to Hermit Point. This is a great spot to break open the picnic basket with several wooden tables and plenty of shady spots to make yourself comfortable. In the early days of the colony, this area was full of oysters and a favourite campground for the local indigenous people.
From here walk along the beach and up the stairs to rejoin the track. At the top, you can look back over Hermit Bay.
The next section of the track cuts behind several large older style mansions. Homes here can sell for crazy prices with a new home recently selling for 40 million dollars.
After a little more walking you will come to the Gorgeous Strickland House.
Build in 1850 it was originally the home of the second mayor of Sydney John Hosking and was named Carrara. In 1915 the private home was resumed by the government, opened as a women’s convalescent hospital and called Stickland House. In the 1960s was converted to an aged care facility before finally closing in 1989.
It is now used for functions and weddings and featured in the movie Australia as the Darwin’s Government House. The building is open to the public just one day a year during Heritage week, but the grounds are open daily from 9-5pm.
Directly below Strickland House is Milk Beach on of the cities best secret beaches and a perfect place to watch the sunset.
You can also join 1500 other people to watch the NSW fireworks from this spot. Tickets are usually on sale from October.
From the front of Stickland House, you can take the bus to Watson’s Bay to explore The Gap and South Head or back to the city if you are out of time.
You can also continue to Vaucluse where you will find the rather beautiful Shark Beach and Neilson Park. Both offer coffee and toilets and all of life’s other necessities.
A thank you!
We are very lucky that in 1912 the then government decided to resume this land for all Sydneysiders to access. I am not sure this could happen in the Sydney we live in today. It was officially added to the Sydney Harbour National Park in November 1983. The track is currently being upgraded to preserve the natural environment and make it accessible to more visitors. So thanks forward thinking people of 1920 I really appreciate your efforts to keep this a public space 🙂