Destination Middle Harbour
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Living in or visiting Sydney, one the most attractive boating destinations you should definitely explore are the waterways known collectively as Middle Harbour.
The many protected nooks and crannies of this anchorage are tremendous for all your favourite daytime activities and overnighting. Read more about the things that Middle Harbour has to offer below.
There are six marinas co-located around The Spit area of Mosman and Clontarf and another four further inland of The Spit Bridge including:
East of the Bridge
- Middle Harbour Yacht Club
- Catalina Anchorage
- Smiths Boatshed
- Fergusons Marina
- Clontarf Marina
West of the Bridge
- d’Albora Marinas The Spit
- Northbridge Marina
- Cammeray Marina
- Castlecrag Marina
- Roseville Bridge Marina
Many of these commercial marinas include fields of swing moorings as part of their offerings. Such locations as Quakers Hat Bay, Pearl Bay and Sandy Bay at Clontarf have a tender service run by their operators for the convenience of clients.
With such a large number of marinas in the vicinity, there’s plenty of options for casual berthing that will allow you to take advantage of the various restaurants, cafés and things to do around the area.
There’s fuel and pump-out available at Roseville Marina and d’Albora Marinas The Spit. If you don’t want to go west of the Spit Bridge there is also fuel available at Clontarf Marina for boats up to a certain size. Timings for the opening of the Spit Bridge can be found on the NSW Roads and Maritime Website – currently available HERE.
There are a ton of places to grab a bite or pick up a coffee in the vicinity including the innovative ‘hatted’ Italian restaurant, Ormeggio At The Spit. This fine dining restaurant is apparently named after the Italian word for “mooring” which is entirely appropriate given its aspect out onto the marina at d’Albora’s.
Other marvellous places to dine nearby include:
- Chiosco by Ormeggio – d’Albora Marinas
- Plonk Beach Café – Fergusons Marina
- Afous – Smiths Boatshed
- The Sandy Bear – Clontarf Marina
- Skiffies Bar and Bistro – Middle Harbour 16ft Skiff Club
- Harbourview Bar & Bistro – Middle Harbour Yacht Club
- Sandbar & Café – Middle Harbour Yacht Club
- Echo On The Marina – Roseville Bridge Marina
With 48 hours notice, Middle Harbour Yacht Club also offers “On Board Catering” for you and your guests when going out boating for the day.
Visitors to the area should also note that if you’re prepared for a walk up the hill (or an Uber up / walk down!), Balgowlah RSL Memorial Club and a variety of cafés are located not far away. At the time of writing, these include Locals Corner (café), Balance Thai, Kohinoor Indian, Sale Pepe Pizzeria, Al’s Seafood, oh and a Vintage Cellars.
Slightly more difficult to access by boat but certainly worthy of mention are the restaurants and cafes along Balmoral Beach and Edwards Beach including the famous Bathers Pavilion Restaurant, The Boathouse Balmoral Beach and the Beach House Balmoral Restaurant & Café.
There’s a wharf by Balmoral Baths for set down and pick up or, if you have a tender, anchoring off is an option. Note that this area can be subject to the swell entering through Sydney Heads which can make it uncomfortable at times.
Middle Harbour is ones of the most protected offshoots from Sydney Harbour and can be quite popular in peak times.
There are commercially operated mooring fields and marinas throughout the area but there are also public moorings and anchorages that offer safe harbour for most size of vessels.
East of the Spit Bridge
One of the most popular areas is Castle Rock adjacent to the beach which is roughly half-way between Clontarf Point and Grotto Point on the Balgowlah Heights shore. Although the bottom is mostly sandy, watch your depth during low tide particularly in sailing vessels due to a sand bar in the vicinity.
Chinamans Beach on the Mosman shore is also very popular. There are five public mooring buoys (pink beehive style) slightly further north along this shore before you reach the Middle Harbour Yacht Club.
On this side (east) of the Spit Bridge, there are two public moorings in Fisher Bay that are marked for the use of vessels constrained by their height and are waiting for the bridge opening. Have consideration for others in this regard.
West of the Spit Bridge
There are two very popular anchorages west of the bridge, firstly Bantry Bay which is home to historical Royal Australian Navy buildings and is surrounded by beautiful bushland views and secondly, Sugarloaf Bay that incorporates Castle Cove and Crag Cove.
In the neck of Bantry Bay anchoring is prohibited by the width of the area however there are eight pink public moorings offering good chance of using this location overnight.
Sugarloaf Bay is also a very picturesque anchorage surrounded mostly by bushland. There are four pink public moorings at the back of the bay.
5. SAFETY NOTES
Particularly relevant on the west side of the Spit Bridge, please keep a close watch when underway for rowers who conduct their training throughout this area. Their craft have low freeboard and wash is a distinct hazard to their safety.
Certain beaches have powerboat exclusion zones marked by yellow buoys. Stay outside these areas to help keep swimmers safe.
The Spit to Manly Walk
This walk commences at the northern end of The Spit Bridge. It’s classified as a track with “moderate” difficulty. Should you wish to go all the way to Manly and get public transport back to your boat, it will take you an average of 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete and is 9.1km one way.
It’s a well-maintained track that can get quite busy on weekends, so an early start is recommended to avoid the crowds jostling to take in the tremendous views that are offered at many places along the walk.
The Seaforth to Roseville Bridge Walk (via Bantry Bay)
Another good walk is the one from Seaforth Oval to Roseville Bridge along a section of the ‘Harbour to Hawkesbury’ track that follows Middle Harbour Creek. It circles around the back of Bantry Bay through Killarney Heights and ends up at the Davidson Picnic Area underneath the Roseville Bridge.
An average time to complete would be 4 hours and it’s 10km one way. It’s classified as a “hard” track so a stop at Flat Rock Beach is generally welcomed.
There is quite a number of small beaches scattered throughout the Middle Harbour area, the most famous being Balmoral Beach and only slightly less so, Clontarf Beach. Both have public facilities and eateries as mentioned above.
Others that are fabulous to visit by boat include:
- Chinamans Beach (Adjacent to Rosherville Reserve)
- Castle Rock Beach
- Flat Rock Beach (Small beach adjacent to Bantry Bay)
As mentioned in the Safety section, certain beaches have powerboat exclusion zones marked by yellow buoys including Balmoral Beach, Edwards Beach and Chinamans. Stay outside these areas to help keep swimmers safe.
There are also a few sandy areas that are accessible by small boat or tender including the shore between Smiths Boatshed and the Middle Harbour 16ft Skiff Club, the shore adjacent to the Plonk Beach Café at Fergusons Marina, and the beach at Sandy Bay on the north side of the Clontarf Marina which seems to be a favourite of the locals to enjoy with their pooches.
8. BOATING SERVICES AND SLIPWAYS
Slipways and haul-out facilities are available throughout the Middle Harbour area for most boats without needing to take your vessel around to the harbour proper.
East side of the Spit Bridge
- Fergusons Marina – Short Marine Services (Straddle Carrier to 30 tonnes / 60ft)
- Clontarf Marina (Slipway to 22 tonnes)
West side of the Spit Bridge
- Cammeray Marina (Slipway)
- Northbridge Marina (Slipway to 20 tonnes / 49ft)
- Castlecrag Boatshed (2 x Slipways up to 35 tonnes / 50ft)
Author: Steve Williams
Video: Standen Marine
Photos: Personally taken by Steve Williams for Standen Marine and Williams Yacht, Aerial Header Photo of The Spit by Haigh Gilchrist. Any other photos remain the property of their respective owners. Please contact us for acknowledgment.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us to recommend any additions or corrections to the above information by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +61 (0)2 8880 4088.