Reasons I left my heart in MANLY, NSW

Of all the places we’ve visited in New South Wales almost three months ago, I can say that Manly is my favorite of them all. Although it’s never the part of our plan to visit it. I remember that it’s only two days before our return flight back to the Philippines when we came up with the idea of visiting this place the next day. My youngest sister’s friend, whose currently based in Sydney, came up with the idea of visiting this place. Also, my middle sister and her partner were already scheduled to go back to Auckland a day earlier than our flight. Thus, it’s only the six of us who went to this beautiful suburb.

NOTE: Well I cannot say Sydney since some of the places we’ve been aren’t part of it. Blue Mountains for example which is 50 kilometers North West of Sydney CBD and 2 hours away by train. Another thing, Sydney is just the capital of the State of New South Wales in Australia.


About MANLY, NSW and going there.

Manly is a beach-side suburb located 17 kilometers North East of Sydney Central Business District. According to my quick research, it’s still part of Sydney given that it’s administered by the Northern Beaches Council of the Northern Beaches Region. I can’t discuss about this any further since honestly, I find the geography and the government system of Australia complicated. I find it difficult to distinguish places if it’s part of Sydney or not.

After we parted ways with my sister and her partner last 4th of October at Darling Harbour, we rode the ferry going to the Circular Quay right away for half an hour to meet up with my sister’s friend who served as our guide during that day. There were five of us who went to Manly: my parents, youngest sister, her friend, my wife, and I.

From the Circular Quay, we rode another ferry going to Manly at 12 noon, and paid a fixed fee of AUD 5.50 through our Opal card. I just don’t have an idea if it’s discounted or overpriced since I find transportation fares through the Opal card unpredictable. The trip lasted for approximately an hour.


Arriving at MANLY and of course… FOOD.

Upon arriving at Manly Ferry Station, as usual, the first thing we searched was a place to eat. It would be great though if we decided to find a local restaurant to try their local food. But instead, we found NANDO’S outside the station which is internationally known for its Peri-Peri Chicken in which according to research, was of African and Portuguese origin (PS: not a sponsored post… LOL!).

Although I found the meal satisfying, I can’t fully recommend it. I love eating spicy foods. But I don’t think others can take it even on the lowest level of spiciness. If I’m going to score it, it would be 8/10.

Well, there’s still other choices of where to eat around though, I’ll just let you do a research on where to.

After taking our brunch (slang for Breakfast and Lunch), we decided to drop by the visitor centre nearby in order to find guides on where to go within the suburb. Well, as expected, they gave us a map and some tips.


Back to our regular programming.

Now that we got a map and took our meal, we’re now ready for an adventure. I’m going to reiterate what I said, that Manly, at least for me, is the best place in New South Wales that we visited last time (so far).

Let me tell you why…


1. The not-so-crowded Manly Cove

Ugh! I think anyone reading this blog right now would conclude that I’m an anti-social. Partly true actually (LOL!). Kidding aside, I loved that the beaches of Manly had lesser crowd compared to the Bondi Beach. Does that mean I love Manly more than Bondi? In a certain way. I loved them differently though. I find them both beautiful in their own respective ways.

The beach nearby the ferry station is perfect for some resting, reflecting, or recording those dramatic music videos or vlogs (slang for video blog.. LOL!). According to research, it’s called the Manly Cove. We only saw some kids playing around. We decided to just have our foot dipped on the cold water. We could’ve took a bath but as usual, we’re not prepared that time. No swimwears (LOL!). But I don’t think we can stand the cold that time especially that we’re coming from a tropical country. Another thing, the water was ice cold.


2. The not-so-few trees by the Manly Cove and Manly Beach

The trees by the Manly Cove and the Manly Beach reminded me of the pine trees in Baguio back in the Philippines. Another of those instagrammable places. Wouldn’t it be nice if we’ll pay it another visit? Baguio or Manly? Both (LOL!).

Note: Manly Beach is different from the Manly Cove. The former is accessible by walking along the street called the Manly Corso.

Manly Cove

On another thought, weren’t these walkways similar to that of South Korea? I haven’t visited it yet though. I’m just browsing the very wide world of the internet. I’m open for corrections if I’m wrong though (LOL!). Another thing, I’m hoping that anytime soon we’ll be able to visit South Korea. Maybe next year eh? I hope that God will permit us to go there.

Walkway by the Manly Beach


3. The shops with not-so-expensive goodies at the Corso

From Manly Cove, we crossed the Manly Corso in order to reach the Manly Beach. Manly Corso is a walkable street filled with different stores and restaurants.

We decided to look around for a moment of things that we can take home from our trip that time. We’re able to stop by a wholesale store that sells various goodies and souvenirs such as pens, ref magnets, keychains, etc. Given that we’re on a tight budget, we found the prices affordable. But we decided to take stroll around the suburb knowing that we only had half a day to enjoy this place. Unfortunately, when we came back, the store was closed (LOL!). But thanks to Chinatown in Sydney CBD anyway for giving us a place to buy those souvenirs we’re not able to buy here in Manly.

I saw a shop that sells baby stuff too. 🙁

Anyway, I also found the street a nice place to walk and have those instagrammable photos. Well, who wouldn’t want to have an addition for their gram collection? Go ahead. Indulge yourselves (LOL!)


4. The not-so-unattractive Manly Beach and the rest of Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve

Our goal that day is to reach the North Head which had a lookout for a panoramic view of the sea and the city. Seeing the map given to us, we knew that it will be a long walk to it. Upon crossing the Corso, there’s the Manly Beach which indicates the start of our long journey to the North Head. My parents said they can’t do long treks and decided to stay here so technically, there’s only 4 of us: my youngest sister, her friend, my wife and I. The beach wasn’t as crowded as the one we visited in Bondi. But similarly, swimmers; surfers; and bystanders are everywhere.

The first half of our journey involved beaches. We started walking on the shoreline of the Manly Beach and few minutes later, we’re already at the Marine Parade Road. 

From the Marine Parade, the picturesque view of the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve with its rocky shorelines can be seen. This part of the long beach is popular for divers given that different sea creatures can be seen here.

Like each people that we saw there, we did took a few stops in order to take some pictures of the blue water and the rocks in which I decided to not include here. There are lots of behind the scenes that happened like when my right shoe got wet by accident and lost my socks somewhere.

Also along the way, we saw these unfamiliar statue. I was able to later identify it as a sculpture of sea nymphs; which indicated that we’re already at the Fairy Bower.

As usual, we kept on walking until we saw another set of sandy shore for the third time. It was known as the Shelly Beach. Seeing a huge rock and a stairway ahead, we can conclude that the Marine Parade road ended here.

Along with those was a restaurant called the Boat House. We could’ve tried it out but decided to give it a pass especially that we’re racing against time to reach the North Head.


5. The not-so-easy hikes and treks to the North Head

Our journey evolved from walking by the beach to trekking real quick. Not knowing how long are we still going to walk, we decided to keep it going knowing that this trip only happens once in a while.

People on this part of Manly were fewer compared to the beaches. I can already imply that this will not be a simple walk-to-the-park. As we walk, we stop by the scenic lookouts. I may not have visited Dingalan, Aurora or Batanes back in the Philippines yet but I can say that there are some similarities in between.

Several minutes of walking and we’re getting drifted away from rocks and cliffs. Tall grasses and guided trails are starting to show up along the way.

But still, the North Head is yet to be found.

Well, this long walk is starting to give us worry and frustration especially that we have to go back before sundown. From the grasslands, we’re now on a village-like place. Along with it is a sign that gave us both good and a not-so-good news. The good news? We’re on the right track.

But the not-so-good news is, it’s still a long way to go. We already spent approximately more than an hour walking. Worse, being on the village gave me a creepy feeling especially that it seems like we’re the only ones walking around. It’s like being on a scene of a horror movie. But of course, we knew that we have to keep on going.

There are two lookouts in the North Head we’re trying to go to according to my sister’s friend: the City lookout and the Fairfax lookout. From the village, we’re back on the guided trail with high grass.

Walking for I think, half an hour, we saw the sign that says City lookout. We hurriedly went to its direction to look for the panoramic view of Sydney.

If not of the clouds, I know the view would be breathtaking. Despite of the partial disappointment, I still find it beautiful.

We could’ve tried to still head by the Fairfax lookout. But seeing the time and how far do we still have to walk, we know we won’t be able to go back to the port before sundown. By that, we decided to head back.


6. The not-so-expected flashbacks of our loss

I think I’ve been oversharing our loss on this blog and it may already annoy some people reading it. But I think this would be necessary to help my wife and I recover from it. There are two situations during our trek that reminded us (at least me… I’m yet to ask my wife) of losing our child. The first one is at a random lookout that we saw on the way to the North Head.

Looking around, we saw a messaged engraved on a metal, placed on a waiting shed that says “in memory of our baby Z**” dated back in 2001. From the message, I can imply but yet to confirm that the parents who had this written may have experienced the same as us. Well, loved ones dying aren’t good for me but I think it’s a relief that we’re not experiencing any isolated case. Before we left, my wife and I agreed to wrote MZ on one part of the rock wall which stands for Marvel Zane; the name of our daughter.

Our second encounter was during our search for a way back to the ferry station. Along the way, we saw a garden-like place enclosed in barbed wires. Having visiting graves already being a permanent part of our lives, I can say that it’s a graveyard.

Reading the nearby sign, it’s called the Third Quarantine Cemetery, wherein people who died of contagious diseases many decades ago were buried. It’s not like my daughter died of something like it. It could be being familiar with places like this.


7. The not-so-slow bus trip back to the ferry station

Well, finding the way back wasn’t easy for us. Looking at our clock, we know that we already need to head back to the ferry station. My sister’s friend said that bus may be nearby although he doesn’t have an idea what time would the bus be there or what time it shall leave. Another frustrating thing is that we need to endure another long walk.

Not less than half an hour, we’re relieved that there’s a bus when we reached the stop. “Finally.” We all thought. We can already rest our exhausted legs. We didn’t cared how long would it take for the bus to reach the Ferry Station during those times.

Surprisingly, what we thought was a half-hour trip was as short as we thought. We’re able to reach the Manly wharf within less than ten minutes. Upon arrival, we decided to reward ourselves with cone of vanilla sundae courtesy of McDonald’s, met up with our parents, and was able to ride the ferry back to Circular Quay by 6:00 PM (Sydney time).


Lastly, it’s not-so-expensive

Aside from our brunch meal, the ferry fare going back and forth, and the vanilla sundae; we didn’t spent anything from the half-day tour here. Overall, everything that we did here in Manly were memorable. I would recommend everyone going to Sydney to set a day or two visiting this quiet suburb and experience every thing that we experienced here. But I think in order to not experience the same misadventures as we did, proper preparation like checking the weather, going to the place early, etc. Most of all, I need to say that everyone should be responsible by not leaving rubbish around the place.

The squad from left to right: My sister Dayanne, my wife Quennie, and Dayanne’s friend Philip


Go forth and experience a one-of-a-kind adventure at Manly! Share with me your memories once you did.

Thank you and happy traveling! I highly appreciate it if you comment and share this post.

–Dex B

10 thoughts on “Reasons I left my heart in MANLY, NSW

  1. Thats funny name – Manly island. Good to know details about it. You have spent one day nicely. If I plan to visit there, will definitely refer this post.

  2. I can tell you had a good time at Manly! I hope I can experience the same albeit your misadventure. But misadventures are interesting in its own 🙂 See more of your posts this 2018!!! keep traveling!

  3. Reading made me miss Australia, oh my god I love Sydney, so much that I’m wishing to move there permanently. I didn’t go to Manly though, actually, going to a beach is one of those things that I missed on my recent trip. But I am planning to change that when i return next year. By just reading your post, it made me so interested to visit Manly. It looks like a beautiful place and I like the chill vibe.

  4. beautiful narration with some lovely visuals, its nice to read when someone writes an article about the off beat destinations , will definitely like to add this Keyword “Manly ” to my keyword destination list .

  5. I love the look of Manly Cove and can understand why you were so drawn to it. Beaches left untouched by tourists are a gem for those who want to take in the culture of a place. The route to North Head must’ve been an adventure in itself and you have captured it beautifully. I love your story-telling writing style!

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