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Hornby Lighthouse Walk – The Watsons Bay Lighthouse Walk!

The Watsons Bay Lighthouse Walk to Hornby Lighthouse and South Head is a great walk in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs to include on any Sydney itinerary.

This short yet very picturesque walk provides stunning vistas of Sydney Harbour and the Pacific Ocean, as well as North Head and Manly.

It is an easy quick walk that provides a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city and the busier beaches in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.

Beginning at Robertson Park – which is next to Watsons Bay Jetty, the walk takes you along the coast and past a variety of beautiful spots, including Watsons Bay Beach, Green Point Reserve, Camp Cove Beach, and Lady Bay Beach and ending at the charming Hornby Lighthouse on South Head.

Watson's bay lighthouse Sydney 

The Watsons Bay to Hornby Lighthouse and South Head walk takes approximately 20 minutes (1.5km) one way and 3km in total.

You walk back the same path you came, as the other side of the headland is occupied by HMAS Watson so is therefore inaccessible.

The Hornby Lighthouse Walk is well-marked, with mostly easy terrain, but there are some sections a little bit steep and some stairs to navigate.

Although it is a brief walk, the views on the walk are spectacular. You can enjoy breathtaking views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House, and Sydney skyline throughout most of the walk.

As there are a few beaches along the walk, you can choose to take it easy and beach hop and go for a swim at each beach before continuing if you wish, or you can complete the walk in one go – it’s up to you!

Once you arrive at South Head, you can take in stunning panoramas of North Head and Manly, as well as Middle Head where you’ll find the Taronga Zoo to Balmoral Beach walk which is located in Mosman – one of Sydney’s most affluent lower north shore suburbs. 

Watsons Bay

Watsons Bay, the starting point of the Hornby Lighthouse Walk, is a delightful area of Sydney and is actually the oldest fishing village in Australia, established in 1788!

watsons bay Sydney

Watsons Bay has a warm and inviting atmosphere, and this charming spot also holds significant historical importance as Governor Philip landed here upon arriving in Australia.

If you do the Hornby Lighthouse Walk to South Head, you’ll most likely want to stop for some food in Watsons Bay before or after your walk.

Several fantastic eateries are available, including the popular outdoor area at the iconic Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, which serves a delectable selection of food and drinks and is a favourite spot for afternoon and sunset drinks.

For a classic fish and chips experience, head over to Doyles across the street. Or, if you’re in the mood for a lighter option, the Dunbar Cafe is an excellent choice for brunch and coffee.

Hornby Lighthouse Walk

To commence the Hornby Lighthouse Walk, walk along Watsons Bay Beach for a couple of hundred meters until you reach the end of the beach. From there, take a right-hand turn and ascend the stairs and then take a left onto Cove Street.

The first left on Pacific Street will lead you to Green Point Reserve, where you can view the First Landing Obelisk, the location where Governor Phillip first landed in 1788.

Afterwards, walk down the steps to reach Camp Cove, a stunning and scenic beach.

Camp Cove Beach

Despite its secluded location, Camp Cove Beach can get crowded on weekends with locals as it’s an excellent spot for swimming, boasting calm waters and lovely harbour views.

If you want refreshments, stop at the cute Camp Cove Kiosk, which is one of the best hidden photo spots in Sydney!

camp cove kiosk Sydney instagrammable cafes Hornby Lighthouse Walk

Lady Bay Beach

After passing the historical cannon (you’ll see many if you do other Sydney Harbour walks), the South Head Heritage Trail leads to Lady Bay Beach which is located about half a kilometre away from Camp Cove Beach.

Lady Bay Beach is a picturesque and secluded spot with stunning views of the city and harbour in the background. The water here is calm, making it an ideal place for swimming.

Lady Bay Beach is probably the most well-known nudist beach in Sydney (there are actually several!), so be respectful and refrain from taking any photos when there are nude people present.

You can still enjoy a swim in your swimsuit if you don’t fancy going swimming in your birthday suit. 

South Head & Hornby Lighthouse

If you follow the South Head Heritage Trail, you’ll eventually arrive at a rocky area that offers stunning views of the city.

If you continue along the path, you’ll come across the gorgeous red and white Hornby Lighthouse – the third oldest lighthouse in NSW.

Built in 1858, Hornby Lighthouse is an iconic heritage-listed structure with a vintage and charming appearance that provides excellent views of North Head and Manly.

It’s a popular location for people to sit and take in the scenery, particularly during the cooler months from May to November when it’s the ideal spot for observing humpback whales on their annual migration – you’ll often see the whales leaping out of the water and slapping their tails!

Although it’s a favourite spot among locals, you’ll always find a peaceful spot to enjoy the scenery. There are numerous rocky ledges to sit on, unwind, watch the sunset, and relax.

To return to Watsons Bay, simply retrace your steps along the same route.

Watson's bay Hornby Lighthouse Walk Sydney

Other Nearby Walks Close To The Hornby Lighthouse Walk

The Watsons Bay Lighthouse Walk is a wonderful addition to either the Rose Bay to Watsons Bay Walk or the Bondi to Watsons Bay Walk. If you’re doing either of these walks, feel free to tack it on to the end!

How To Reach Watsons Bay From Sydney CBD

To get to Watsons Bay from Sydney CBD by public transportation there are two options: a bus or the ferry. If you prefer the bus, take the 325 bus from Town Hall to Watsons Bay. You can find the timetable and route map for this bus online.

However, the most picturesque way to reach Watsons Bay (and avoid the terrible rush hour traffic on New South Head Road!) is to take the ferry from Circular Quay to Watsons Bay, or even the ferry from Manly to Watsons Bay if that suits you better.

The Circular Quay to Watsons Bay ferry ride takes less than 20 minutes, which is certainly better than the hour or more it takes on the bus when you’re stuck in rush hour traffic.

If you plan to take the ferry to and from Watsons Bay from Circular Quay, the ferries usually run every half an hour, but there can be an hour in between services at times. It’s a good idea to check the timetable and plan accordingly.

camp cove Sydney Hornby Lighthouse Walk

For the Manly to Watsons Bay ferry, the services run about once an hour, beginning at around 11 am and ending at 6 pm. Be sure to check the timetable if you intend to utilize this service as sometimes they don’t run due to crew shortages.

I highly recommend taking the ferry to Watsons Bay: it’s one of the most scenic ferry rides in Sydney! However, keep in mind that the ferries stop running around sunset.

If you plan to stay later or miss the last ferry back, you’ll need to take the bus instead.

If you prefer to travel by car, the best option is to park at Watsons Bay in one of the free spaces. Just make sure to check the parking signs carefully!

Other Sydney Coastal Walks:

Looking for other Sydney coastal walks? Check out:

Hermitage Foreshore Walk
Parsley Bay
Palm Beach Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
Palm Beach to Avalon Walk

Bondi to Bronte Walk
Maroubra to La Perouse Walk
Lady Robinson’s Beach to Brighton Le Sands Walk
Cronulla Coastal Walk

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