The Manly Eastern Hill Heritage Trail

Manly is named after the Aboriginal people first encountered on the shores of Port Jackson in 1788. Due to its remoteness from Sydney it was not developed by Europeans until the mid-nineteenth century when a ferry service was introduced. Over the subsequent years Manly has undergone countless changes in its environment. Fortunately there are many fascinating buildings and parks that have been retained and the Heritage trails have been created to take visitors from the harbour beaches into the centre to appreciate Manly’s history.


I started on this trail from the East Esplanade on a very hot day in November. Under a large Moreton Bay fig tree is an interesting plaque that informs you about the first inhabitants of the Manly area who were the Aborigines known as the Kayimai. They lived as hunter-gatherers, roaming according to the seasonal availability of food and trading with other clans. They moved around, making shelter as needed from branches and fronds or using the many sandstone caves in the area.

Following the path around the corner you find the Manly Cove Launch Club, established in 1937. Next to it stands the heritage-listed Manly Rowing and Sailing Club Boatshed. Established in 1875, this was one of the earliest waterside clubs in NSW. Carry on up the steps and right on East Esplanade to the corner of Stuart Street. Walk up Stuart Street to the junction with Addison Road, the second road to your right.


Addison Road Architecture

The road has been planted with an avenue of Norfolk Island Pines and mixed with Port Jackson Fig trees (smaller than the Moreton Bay fig) and was first planted in 1882. It provided the most welcoming shade on this hot day as I wandered down the road peering over fences to look at the homes.


Here are some excellent examples of different styles and periods of architecture. There are Italianate, Victorian Villa, Federation, Interwar Spanish Mission, Old English, Californian Bungalow, Post-war International, Late Twentieth Century, and Post-modern architectural styles! I’m not expert enough to be able to identify them, but I do know that there are several very interesting features that I admire.

Could this be an example of Post-war International?


Federation Style, maybe?

At the end of Addison is a path onto Manly Point ‘Peace Park’, an area now a Little Penguin Critical Habitat. A plaque close by reads:

“World peace begins in the hearts and minds of each individual – may we each seek harmony and peace in our daily lives. “

Peace Park View

A couple of metal benches provide a resting place with a view over to the Quarantine Station and across the bay to Middle and South Head and where I sat and watched the Manly ferries pass by. Even if you are not interested in architecture it is still worth walking to the end of this road for the views.

Retracing my steps I passed this imposing white building which was dressed for Christmas with beautifully designer wreaths and ribbons.


The grey and white decoration on this house (California Bungalow?) is perfectly framed by this wonderful gum tree with its peeling grey bark revealing a chalk-white trunk. Even the white lilies match. And just look at that fretwork above the windows!


And this one has interesting gables and windows. Lots of straight lines going on here.


I’d love to see inside some of these houses.


Returning to Stuart Street I turned right, then right again into Craig Avenue for Little Manly Beach. Here I walked along the beach to the Kiosk where I could get a much-needed drink, and decide where I went from here. My intention was to continue to Little Manly Point and follow the trail around Spring Cove to Collins Beach and possibly visit the Old Quarantine Station, but given the soaring temperature and the fact that storm clouds were fast appearing on the horizon, I decided to cut across Marshall Street (this area of Manly reminds me of San Francisco with all the steep hills).

Observe the chimney pots on this house on Marshall Street and the lovely 3D bargeboard on the gable end. Not to mention that wonderfully scrolled wrought-iron balcony and the arched windows.


I cut through the grounds of St Patrick’s (the International College of Management, Sydney is now located in the former St Patrick’s Seminary) and down several sets of steps which brought me out onto College Street.

The ICMS building – formerly St Patrick’s Seminary

From there it was an easy stroll down Bower Lane to Marine Parade near the swimming pool and Mambo Coffee shop and make my way back to the esplanade. Just before the storm broke!


This blue house (below right) overlooking Cabbage Tree Bay and in spitting distance of Shelly Beach is my dream house. Location, location, location!!

Marine Parade
Marine Parade
blue house
A better view

I noticed some very interesting windows along this route:

Leaded with stained glass
Leaded windows with stained glass

When walking an historical trail like this one it is important to pay attention to the details you see along the way. That might be a picket-fence post, a barge-board, a colourful tile, an interestingly shaped window, or some stained glass or gable ends.

…and maybe there are some Australians (or architects) out there who can help me to identify the different styles.

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

41 thoughts on “The Manly Eastern Hill Heritage Trail”

    1. It was fascinating walking down Addison Road Gilly, so many different styles jostling together I didn’t quite know where to look! A shame our bungalows are so boring. I wish we had more variety including Spanish-looking villas, but I suppose the time (and space) for bungalows is long gone. Just shove up a hundred or so three storey town-houses with a square foot of garden seems to be the ‘in’ thing here at the moment.

  1. Lovely guided tour Jude, thank you. I really fell for St Patrick’s Seminary – it’s a gorgeous building. P.S. Did you peek in the gardens of the houses you photographed??

    1. Haha, you know me so well 🙂
      Most of these gardens had a very small front garden and a lot of the time hidden by trees and large shrubs so I didn’t see much. I did have a lovely conversation with a lady working in her garden though.

  2. A great tour of Manly. Different styles as if struggling to find something uniquely Australian that would be brave enough to shake off our past and embrace our own ‘Australian’ architecture .
    I suppose, the humble weatherboard with iron roof and wide verandahs comes pretty close.

    1. I always think of the ‘Queenslander’ style with the stilts, the verandahs and yes, the corrugated iron roof, as a ‘typical’ Aussie house. Although I realise you don’t get much of that in NSW 😉
      I do like the turn of the century styles though – eclectic is the word!

  3. Yes, that’s Federation style. Very common in the southern states, but not often seen in Queensland. Here we have lovely Queenslanders, raised off the ground with those beautiful wrap around verandas mentioned by Gerard. This is a great collection of photos of a lovely part of Sydney. Thanks Jude.

    1. I must get to read your posts on architecture! At the moment I don’t seem to have time to read other blogs, but I’m damned if I know where the time goes!

  4. Wow – you seem to have quite the grasp on different architecture. I’m afraid the significance of all details on these beautiful buildings would be lost on me!

    1. It’s what happens to you when you live in a medieval town Jo! Though actually I first got into the Victorian / turn of century architecture in your neck of the woods – Cabbagetown! I must write a post about the buildings there too, though my photos from then aren’t as good as these.

      1. oh – is that what that architecture is in Cabbagetown! Maybe I should learn a bit about architectural features so I can be more suitably impressed when I look at interesting buildings 🙂

    1. The BIG white one? With the Christmas decor? That’s an amazing place – not sure if it is apartments or one humongous house. If it is you’d be able to throw very glamorous parties there! But I reckon you’d need a few squillion dollars to buy this one Sylvia 😀

  5. What a splendid walk, Jude. I enjoyed every single minute, and your photos are scrumptious as is the architecture. Thank you for sharing. Good thing looking at fabulous houses isn’t like looking at dessert you can’t have: fattening. 😀 😀 😀

  6. A wonderful walk Jude and again I am taking in all the variety of photos, the angles, the distance, the composition. when you are out on such a walk do you keep track of what you have taken?

    1. Not at all Sue, which is why I end up with several shots the same 😀
      And I have to look at the sequence to try and work out what I took and when, which is why I always work on copies of images when editing.

      1. That actually reassures me Jude. We are trying to be more methodical especially on long trips. Nothing like arriving home with a couple of thousand photos and no idea where you were when!

  7. After all these snowy photos on so many blogs, it’s almost weird to get seasonally appropriate photos. 🙂 Loved them all. Can’t help you with the architectural styles but I can tell you that is some serious money in those houses.

    1. In dire need of some blue skies H. Ours has been like pewter for several days now, I’m beginning to lose heart of spring appearing 😦
      Serious money indeed – I know for a fact that teeny apartments in Manly (and not this area) go for close on $1 million – so I hate to think what one of these treasures is worth. I’d still like one though 🙂

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