Alexandra Rampano finds out why Watson’s Bay is one of Sydney’s best-loved Harbour beaches.
Watson’s Bay, I imagine, looks a lot different today to what it did when Governor Phillip first landed and established Australia’s oldest fishing village in 1788.
Little upturned row boats line the edge of the sea-side walkway, wrapping themselves around the bend all the way to the end of the strip.
The renowned Doyle’s restaurant sits on the very site he sold his daily fish catch from in 1845, with a few renovations since then of course. Sitting outside at Doyle’s restaurant or in the Watson’s
Bay beer garden, positioned right on the waterfront, the city and harbour bridge look as if they are a mere stone’s throw away. The only thing slightly obscuring the view of the city are dozens of boats and yachts gently bobbing on the water.
Since Doyle’s opened their doors 125 years ago, five generations has seen the franchise successfully continue and expand to include a takeaway restaurant right on the wharf.
It takes some self control to step off the ferry and walk past the fisherman’s wharf without stopping in for a snack of the renowned fresh seafood.
Giving in to temptation for lunch, we joined the snaking queue and purchased traditional fish and chips for a reasonable $11.90, sitting in the area out the back and complementing our meal with a cold Heineken from the licensed bar.
Most of the restaurants are fully operational from 11am onwards. The colourful Tea Gardens Café is open from breakfast though, where a cup of coffee and scones with jam and cream can be enjoyed under one of the bright blue umbrellas.
Being one of the early arrivals ourselves, we leisurely walked the northern loop of the area to fill in time between breakfast and lunch.
Just a few minutes away on the opposite side of the bay is The Gap, the site where the Dunbar sank in 1857, killing all but one of the 122 people on board. Not nearly as sinister as the history would suggest, a route has now been cut into and around the stone pathway that winds itself up through native bushland. With only a background soundtrack of birds chirping and waves breaking on the rocks metres below, the area is peaceful and serene.
Walking back up past Watson’s Bay, gorgeous little coves are tucked away around every corner. Camp Cove is a treasure, crystal clear water encouraged us to kick of our shoes, roll up our jeans and splash our way toward the South Heritage Trail.
The trail leads up through the bush and past Lady Bay, where one can wear nothing but their birthday suits if so desired.
In no time at all, we emerged at the point of the walk and rounded the corner to discover the delightful Hornby Lightstation. Painted in vertical red and white stripes, it looks direct from Willy
Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. In some quirky, inexplicable way though, it is the perfect fit against a backdrop of the Tasman Sea.
Watson’s Bay is another area of Sydney that combines history with modernity, and provides a place to explore, relax and enjoy.