The Freshwater to Manly walk via Queenscliff Tunnel (more commonly known as the Manly Wormhole) is a great walk if you are up for an adventure! It is important to know what to expect on the walk however, and to come prepared as it definitely isn’t your average Sydney coastal walk! Prior to doing the walk I had been unable to find any useful information online, particularly about the section between Manly Wormhole to Freshwater Beach so I had presumed it was a simple walk. However it did turn out to be a little challenging so I have put all the information here so you will be a lot more prepared than I was!
There is no coastal footpath between Freshwater Beach and Queenscliff Beach (adjacent to Manly Beach). The only way to walk from one to the other is either to walk through the residential streets (with no scenic views), or the scenic and more challenging way is to go around the headland on the rocks, passing through the Queenscliff Tunnel (Manly Wormhole) along the way.
Manly Wormhole (Queenscliff Tunnel)
The Manly Wormhole is one of Sydney’s best kept secrets, mostly known only to the locals. It was dug out in 1908 by local fishermen to avoid them having to climb around the rocks to get between Freshwater Beach and Queenscliff and Manly Beaches. The tunnel is perhaps 40 metres long and curves around.
It is a little dark inside, but bright enough that you don’t need a torch to see. Watch your footing as sometimes there are shallow pools of water inside the tunnel where sea water has got in. The Manly Wormhole makes for some really nice Instagrammable photos.
Important information about the Manly to Freshwater walk via Manly Wormhole:
- Do the walk at low or low-mid tide when the rocks are more exposed and stay as close to the headland as you can at all times. The waves can be very strong and unpredictable here.
- The walk is not fenced or marked out – you are climbing between rocks and boulders for a good 400 metres. It will take you longer than you anticipate.
- Bring a backpack so you can keep your hands free to help you climb the rocks and balance yourself.
- This walk is flat but involves a lot of climbing across big rocks and is therefore unsuitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs.
- Don’t bring your dog here as some of the rocks are sharp and very high to climb.
- Be careful if you bring your children here. Make sure they are supervised and close-by to you at all times.
- Only do the walk during daylight hours.
I always use maps.me when I am out walking, and the map appeared to show a connection between Manly Wormhole and Queenscliff Road – one of the residential streets on the headland above. Note there is absolutely no connection and the only way to get to Freshwater Beach from Manly Wormhole is to go around the headland on the rocks, or go back to Queenscliff Beach and keep walking north through the residential streets.
You can do the walk in either direction, from Freshwater to Manly or vice versa. Most people (myself included) are coming from Manly and so will do the walk from Manly to Freshwater, so this is the way I will write about.
How to reach Manly Wormhole from Manly Beach
Stroll north of Manly Beach and it turns into Queenscliff Beach. Look out onto the rocky headland and you’ll see a big pink heart painted onto the cliff edge: this is located right next to Manly Wormhole. Walk to the end of Queenscliff Beach and underneath the cliff you’ll see the Queenscliff Rock Pool. Walk past the pool, up the stairs and onto the rocks.
Keep going straight, walking on the rocky ledges and big boulders and being careful to stay near to the rock wall and well clear of the water’s edge. Walk for about 100 metres on the rocks – you’ll see the pink heart again and the initials “QBC” and then you’ll come to the wormhole on your left hand side.
As you emerge from the tunnel you’ll come to a flat rock platform known as Queenscliff Head. To your left you’ll see a big boulder that you can climb onto – it is very high: infact it was so high that I was unable to get down from it afterwards and so had no choice but to complete the walk!
As I was on my own on the walk I was a little nervous. Nervous that a big wave would wash me away (certainly not the first time that would happen on the rocky coastline around Sydney), nervous that I would fall and hurt myself, and nervous of rockfall from above after I saw some signs up about it. I carried on with the walk, treading carefully but trying to be as quick as I could as I really wasn’t enjoying the walk and would have felt much safer had I been in the company of somebody.
That being said, there are beautiful views along the walk, especially looking onto Freshwater Beach.
As you get nearer to Freshwater you will see lots of big black crabs amongst the rocks. They will scurry away from you, but still it creeped me out.
Freshwater Beach is a lovely crescent shaped beach that is popular with surfers. There is also a nice Rock Pool here and if you walk around past the rock pool you will get lovely views out to the ocean.
Go up to McKillop Park for more aerial views, or head down Lumsdaine Drive/Evans Street and look out to your left just after the bus stop for Harbord Diggers for a nice areal view of Freshwater Beach.
To get back to Manly, you can get the 139 bus back to Manly Wharf from here in just 15 minutes.
What to bring on the Freshwater to Manly walk via Queenscliff Tunnel (Manly Wormhole):
- Trainers or walking shoes. Trust me. I am always walking in flip flops but this walk definitely needs good shoes.
- Wear comfortable clothes – preferably leggings or shorts. You will have to pull yourself up on some of the boulders so you need practical clothes.
- snacks and water
- swimming costume and towel if you want to go for a swim in the ocean or rock pools afterwards.
How to get to Manly from Sydney CBD:
It is very easy to get to Manly from Sydney city centre: simply take the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf. Ferries depart every 30 minute and the journey takes just 30 minutes, costing $9.90 for a single journey. On Sundays all travel across Sydney is capped at $2.80 all day so you can save some money if you visit on a Sunday!
If you are looking for other walks that start or finish at Manly Beach check out:
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