Middle Head - Gubbuh Gubbuh and Georges Head walking track link to the Sydney Harbour Scenic Walk

Enhancing the experience of the iconic Sydney Harbour Scenic Walk.

View from Middle Head of the North and South Heads of Sydney HarbourThe National Parks and Wildlife Service is constructing a new walking track in the Sydney Harbour National Park linking Middle Head – Gubbuh Gubbuh and Georges Head to the Sydney Harbour Scenic Walk. The link will connect the headlands and create a seamless walking experience for visitors.

This project is being delivered as part of the largest visitor infrastructure program in national park history.

What the project involves

The new walking track, with story-telling along the route and, improvements to Chowder Bay Road are identified in the Sydney Harbour National Park, Middle Head & Georges Head Masterplan.

Middle Head – Gubbuh Gubbuh is a jewel within the stunning array of foreshore open space and beaches that adjoin Sydney Harbour. The combination of natural and cultural qualities at Middle Head – Gubbuh Gubbuh and Georges Head is unique to Sydney and Australia. Intrinsic to this is a sense of retreat and release from urban Sydney that is enabled by the place’s largely undeveloped and low-key character. The master plan seeks to reconcile these fundamental values with improved and safer access for visitors.

The most important strategy for enhancing the community experience of Middle Head – Gubbuh Gubbuh and Georges Head is its effective integration into the Sydney Harbour Scenic Walk. At present, the headlands are not linked effectively to the broader Harbour Scenic Walk with key connections difficult and unclear. The new walk will connect the headlands to deliver the missing link along and create a seamless experience for visitors.

Across Middle Head – Gubbuh Gubbuh and Georges Head there are points of interest focussed on natural and cultural features from various phases of Sydney's history. The state-registered military fortifications at Middle Head – Gubbuh Gubbuh and Georges Head are significant as a collection of defence structures which date from 1801 to the Vietnam War. Conservation works to the significant military fortifications will also occur along with an interpretation of the area's history to create a highly layered recreational and educational experience.

Interpreting Georges Head and Middle Head – Gubbuh Gubbuh

A significant component of this project is the interpretation of Georges Head and Middle Head – Gubbuh Gubbuh, particularly the state-significant military fortifications.

We will install new interpretations, including signage and other installations, so visitors can learn more about the area's history. Digital interpretation also forms part of this. We have created 3 animations that depict the powerful defences of Sydney Harbour.

The first animation shows how Outer Middle Head, with a network of gun emplacements, shelters and tunnels, changed over time. Originally established in 1870, this fortification gradually changed over time as defence technologies improved. You'll see what guns were installed in this location and how the landscape was modified between the 1870s up to the 1960s.

The second animation describes the perceived threats to Australia during World War II and the twin 6-inch guns which were installed to protect Sydney's harbour in 1942. These guns were installed at Georges Head and Obelisk Bay in Sydney Harbour. Its main purpose was to cover the harbour from attack by torpedo boats. This emplacement includes a magazine, where ammunition was stored and crew room linked by underground passages. The 3 storey building was the control tower, observation point and searchlight.

The third animation shows the 'disappearing guns' installed in 1889 at the Inner Fort, Middle Head. The fortifications at this location were first constructed in 1871 to hold 5 80-pounder rifled muzzle loading guns. In 1889, these were replaced with 2 more advanced breech-loading 6-inch guns on 'disappearing' carriages. A technological marvel for its day, the gun would recoil into a pit to be reloaded as hydraulic rams powered the gun back into the first position. The gun emplacements were connected to the subterranean magazine via stone trenches and underground tunnels.

Watch the video below to see these guns in action protecting Sydney's harbour.

Planning for this project, including site assessment, design, heritage and environmental approvals, was completed in 2020.

Conservation and repair of the historic fortifications were completed in 2021 at the Inner Fort and Outer Fort, Middle Head, the Obelisk Bay gun emplacement and Georges Head gun emplacement.

Preparation for the track work was undertaken in mid–2021, including delivery of hundreds of sawn sandstone steps and hundreds of metres of fibre-reinforced polymer boardwalk.

Construction of the track commenced in late 2021 and will be completed in sections. Currently, the completed sections are from Cobblers Beach fire trail to Outer Middle Head via Inner Middle Head and from 1801 Battery to Georges Head via Obelisk Bay. The remaining section, from Outer Middle Head to the 1801 Battery, is scheduled to be completed by June 2024. Occasional closures may be required for helicopter operations. Please check the current alerts for details before planning your visit.

Middle Head – Gubbuh Gubbuh and Georges Head are not linked to the broader Sydney Harbour area or Bondi to Manly Walk and walkers largely bypass the headlands. Establishment of a new track linking Middle Head – Gubbuh Gubbuh to Georges Head will create an iconic harbour experience that leads walkers to the unmatched cultural and visual environment of Middle Head – Gubbuh Gubbuh. This will enhance the visitor experience at Middle Head – Gubbuh Gubbuh and Georges Head and enable visitors to experience the natural and cultural features of this area.

We manage our national parks to protect their unique values and provide for sustainable visitor use and enjoyment. This includes providing visitor experiences and, where appropriate, new visitor facilities including tracks and trails.

Independent environmental and heritage assessments were carried out to examine the significance of any likely environmental impacts of the proposal and identify means to eliminate or mitigate any impacts to the natural or cultural values of the site.

Gubbuh Gubbuh ('gub-uh, gub-uh') is the recognised Aboriginal name for the area known as Middle Head. We are pursuing dual naming in our national parks in consultation with Aboriginal communities. This dual naming will be incorporated wherever possible as part of the acknowledgment of Aboriginal culture and heritage.

Within the Sydney Harbour National Park are Middle Head – Gubbuh Gubbuh and Georges Head which contain the largest collection of nineteenth and twentieth-century coastal fortifications anywhere in Australia, demonstrating evidence of the continual response to the technological changes in warships and artillery and the nature of perceived and actual threats to Sydney. The headlands also contain Aboriginal sites, pockets of natural bushland and some threatened plant and animal species.

Developing rich and engaging interpretation will be a key focus to immerse the walker in the natural and cultural landscape creating respect, a strong connection and sense of place.

We engaged with community groups and stakeholders throughout development of the master plan and will continue to engage with stakeholders and interested community groups throughout this project. We will provide regular updates on this project website. See the NPWS Visitor webpage and on-site signage for any impacts on visitation during the construction phase.

Update: February 2024

1801 Battery to Georges Head section now open.

  • 18 Mar 2024

Update: May 2023

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is constructing a new 3 km walking track between Middle Head and Georges Head in Sydney Harbour National Park.

  • 26 May 2023

Update: October 2022

The walking track construction has commenced in Georges Head.

  • 07 Oct 2022

Update: August 2022

Construction of the new walking track continues despite the extreme wet weather experienced in Sydney from November to July.

  • 02 Aug 2022

Update: March 2022

Construction of the track commenced in late 2021 and will be completed in sections.

  • 16 Mar 2022

Update: November 2021

Walking track construction.

  • 11 Nov 2021

Update: August 2021

We are developing new physical and digital interpretations to enable visitors to learn more about the area's history - particularly the state-significant military fortifications.

  • 19 Aug 2021

Update: March 2021

Conservation of military fortifications underway.

  • 28 Feb 2021
Sydney Harbour Scenic Walk update

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