Entrance:  Access is via Darley Street and North Head Scenic Drive from Manly.  Turn left at the Bella Vista Café to the free car park – 2 and 4 hour limits.
Grade:  Easy An Explore North Head Sanctuary map and information is available from the Visitor Centre at the car park.
Time: Sanctuary loop 2 hours approximately

Bushwalkers at North Head
Society plant expert, Ron Gornall, (in hat) guiding a walk at North Head


North Head Sanctuary
is on the traditional lands of the Gayemagal people, now a Sydney Harbour National Park. It is a haven where natural heritage and Australian history combine with spectacular ocean and harbour views. It is a photographer’s delight, particularly wonderful in Spring!  A delightful café and Visitor Centre await as well.  

 Easy walks feature an amazing abundance of native plants in various environments from endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub to the Hanging Swamp.  The bushland provides a habitat for a wide range of native species so keep an eye out for rainbow lorikeets, little wattlebirds, echidnas, lizards, snakes and the long-nosed bandicoot.

 The Sanctuary Loop walk passes by the former School of Artillery buildings and the Memorial Walk honours those who have served and supported the defence of Australia.  The Third Quarantine Cemetery established in 1881 for victims of a smallpox epidemic is situated with a spectacular harbour view and is worth exploring for its beautiful native vegetation and poignant history.

 Note:  In October 2020 a bushfire hazard reduction burn at North Head spiralled of control burning more than 50% of the sanctuary.   With good rain over the 2020/21 summer and as many Australian native plants rely on fire to germinate, visits over the next few years will reveal the resilience of the bush to recover from fire. 

North Head Sanctuary map

Areas closed on North Head  (as of 28 June 2021)
Some parts of North Head in Sydney Harbour National Park are closed due to fire damage and geological instability. Do not enter the closed areas. Penalties apply for non-compliance

The closed areas include:

  • Bluefish Drive past the Gunner Road carpark entrance
  • Fairfax lookouts
Harbour view from North Head

North Head Sanctuary walk
Open areas include:

At North Head, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) is contracted by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust to deliver research and monitoring projects (of extant wildlife, feral predators and the Critically Endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub) and reintroductions of locally extinct mammals. AWC is not contracted to deliver fire management at North Head.

In 2020, AWC celebrated a decade of effective conservation partnership at North Head, including the successful reintroduction of three locally extinct species, native Bush Rats, Brown Antechinus and Eastern Pygmy Possum.

North Head fire damage

The uncontrolled and intense fire at North Head of October 2020 burnt through approx. 62 hectares of bush and a substantial section of Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC’s) project area

All equipment (camera traps, SD cards, and data) in the burnt area has been destroyed, along with much of the habitat where we carry out threatened wildlife reintroductions and areas of the headland’s Critically Endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub. Experiments running at the burn site have had to be abandoned. Using vital lessons learned from our Kangaroo Island and Wollombi Valley projects, we are installing refuge tunnels, nest boxes, and watering points and providing supplementary food for surviving animals.

In the field at North Head AWC ecologists delivered immediate action and are implementing a response plan. Please phone 08 9380 9633 or donate to their website to support the recovery efforts.

AWC’s team is installing refuge tunnels to connect patches of unburnt vegetation and provide shelter for surviving animals.

The latest details can be found on our Facebook page.