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The Secret of a Forgotton Beach in Sydney Harbour
Australian tourism campaigns invariably flaunt the presence of some of the world’s finest beaches. Featured are iconic names like Bondi and Manly in Sydney, Cottesloe and Scarborough in Perth, Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast and far North Queensland resort towns like Port Douglas. But one of the most breathtaking of all is a small suburban beach rarely mentioned, Balmoral.
Minutes From Sydney Harbour Bridge
The remarkable thing about Balmoral is its proximity to the Sydney CBD. In fact, it’s no more than 10 minutes by car from the world famous bridge affectionately known as ‘The Coathanger’, the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The bridge crossing from the city centre leads to the lower North Shore and a short drive along Military Road through Neutral Bay and then Mosman ends up at Balmoral.
Turn right, and first glance down the steep hill the view is stunning, and the beach promenade does not disappoint.
Balmoral is one of Sydney’s most exclusive suburbs, with residential property prices sometimes exceeding AUS$10 million, or about US$9 million. Expensive European cars line the streets outside homes with sweeping balconies to take in the sights.
And why not? Balmoral faces east, directly towards the Pacific Ocean, and in the foreground is the entrance to Sydney Harbour known as the Heads – South Head representing the cliffs of Watson’s Bay and North Head equally majestic at Manly.
While taking in the views to the ocean, the Manly Ferry can be seen transporting workers and tourists on the 30 minute trip between Manly Wharf and Circular Quay, nestled between the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
Two of Sydney’s finest restaurants, offering some of Australia’s finest wines and beers, are on the beach at Balmoral. The Watermark, with its outdoor dining area and waterfront views, is one of Australia’s best, located at the southern end in front of the wharf-enclosed swimming area and watercraft hire outlet. At the northern end is the historic Bathers Pavilion, renowned for its fine dining and attention to detail.
And, if more casual fare is your go, fish and chips don’t come any better than at the local on the corner.
So why is Balmoral overlooked in Sydney tourist brochures? Well, perhaps it’s because of its simplicity but, perhaps more poignantly, it’s because Balmoral is a harbour beach, and not an ocean surf beach. This is a beach for families, with young children to swim and play safely. To picnic on the grass around the historic Rotunda. To ride bikes along the paved paths of the foreshore. No ocean waves to worry them – a positive not considered so for those looking for the thrill and fun of the surf. For them, Manly, a few kilometres further on, is a far more appealing option.
Balmoral is so many things Manly and Bondi are not. It is gentle. It is quiet. And that’s just the way the locals like it. And for those who know of it, the tourists as well.