Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia

Sydney Is Not On The Ocean

Usually, I’m pretty savvy about geography, but for some reason I thought that Sydney, Australia was on the ocean. Whenever I looked at a map of Australia, Sydney appeared to be on the coast – this is such a large country that small maps of it don’t show much detail. Then there are the more than 70 beaches and the famous surfing spots like Bondi Beach that I have always read about. To my surprise I discovered that the city center is located about a third of the way down a long inlet that forms the famous Sydney Harbour – it’s the suburbs that are actually on the Pacific Ocean. I couldn’t come to Sydney and not visit its famous beaches so today I climbed aboard a ferry for the 15-minute ride to the town of Manly.

Pulling into the ferry dock at Manly Australia

Pulling into the ferry dock at Manly

The Corso, the main street in Manly Australia

“The Corso” – the main street in Manly

The boat docked on the inlet side of the narrow strip of land that forms the northern entry to the inlet. A five-minute walk down “The Corso” (the main drag) took me from the inlet side to the ocean side of town, where a promenade ran the entire length of the long crescent of golden-pink sand that is Manly Beach. It was immediately apparent that surfing is taken seriously here – in fact, surfing is considered a national sport in Australia.

The boardwalk along Manly Beach Australia

The boardwalk along Manly Beach

Hotels that cater to surfers are just steps from the beach in Manly Australia

Hotels that cater to surfers are just steps from the beach

Surf Pavilion in Manly Australia

Manly Surf Pavilion

Retail stores on The Corso in Manly Australia are filled with surfing gear

Retail stores on The Corso are filled with surfing gear

Set after set of incredible, glassy waves roll in to shore in Manly Australia

Set after set of incredible, glassy waves roll in to shore

Perfect wave in Manly Australia

Perfect wave

There were hotels that cater to surfers and oceanfront Surf Clubs where surfers can leave their backpacks when they are in the water. Everywhere, stores displayed surf clothing. And of course, there were the surfers and the waves – beautiful, glassy waves that roll in day after day without fail in this surfer’s paradise – my surfer friends will drool over these photos.

ocean pool in Manly Australia

Manly’s ocean pool

Along the path to the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve in Manly Australia

Along the path to the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve

View from the highest cliff in the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve in Manly Australia

View from the highest cliff in the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve

I walked to the end of Manly beach and climbed the steps of the Marine Parade, an elevated walkway leading around giant sandstone outcroppings, destined for Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve. Along the way I passed a saltwater pool that is filled by the ocean at high tide, its calm waters perfect for swimming laps regardless of how rough the ocean may be. At the end of the Parade was a lovely little crescent beach and just beyond the beach a rocky hill jutted into the ocean, forming a perfect left-hand point break where several surfers and two ocean kayaks waited for the next set. I followed a trail up the hill, mounting steps carved of weathered sandstone. Looking south from the top of the hill I could see for miles along the sheer rocky cliffs of the headland – waves crashed incessantly against rocky detritus at the base of the cliff as two whales swam by in the distance, betrayed by their white spouts.

setting sun turns beach to liquid gold in Manly Australia

The setting sun turns Manly beach to liquid gold

Back down on the beach, divers disappeared under the calm waters of the bay, joggers and bikers were out in force along the beach promenade, and body boarders had arrived to claim their little slice of the beach. As the setting sun turned the water to gold, I snapped a few final photos of the waves, wishing that I could feel the thrill of catching that perfect wave just one more time. But my knees say no – I guess I’ll just have to live vicariously through my surfer friends.

2 Comments on “Sydney Is Not On The Ocean

  1. This comment is two years after the post date but I do enjoy reading impressions of my home city. Some great photos of Manly Beach and the areas around it.

  2. As always, wonderful blog and fantastic photos! Love all of them especially the last 6 ones! Thanks for sharing, Barb…

    Take care and stay safe!

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