North Head Sanctuary at Manly would be transformed with a new walking track and food and beverage outlets under plans to lure more visitors to one of Sydney’s most prized headland parks.
A draft master plan released on Tuesday proposes the creation of a shared pedestrian and cycle path that would loop the headland, as well as a First Nations cultural space. It also suggests opening up closed parts of the former military defences, including tunnels and gun emplacements, to tourists.
Sydney Harbour Federation Trust executive director Janet Carding said the draft plan aimed to enhance existing attractions at the site, which holds natural, Indigenous and military significance.
“Our vision is to create a walking place. While we have a really loyal group of visitors and tourists there’s much more we could do to help people explore the heart of North Head and take them through, but then also understand more about what there is to discover there.”
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has tasked the trust, a federal government agency that manages former defence land around Sydney’s waterfront, with balancing the preservation of heritage assets while opening up the sites to more visitors. Her view underscores a long-running debate about making money through adaptive reuse of heritage sites around the harbour.
The draft master plan covers the 74 hectares managed by the trust, which shares the headland with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Q Station and other agencies.
“We’re being very careful that this is a sanctuary first, and a site for activation second,” Carding said.
Under the plan, an existing service road would be turned into the shared walking and cycling track that would form the main route, linking the former military defences to the existing Fairfax walk and the clifftop Burragula and Yiningma lookouts.