Why Visit: Bear Island at La Perouse is embedded on the tourist map. However for those travellers who love history and bush walking the historic La Perouse ocean cliffs are scattered with military relics on a idyllic, lonely trail.
The defence of Sydney began in the 1870’s with a major expansion of during World War II. Initially our boarder protection began around Sydney Harbour, then extended along the coast line to La Perouse.
It’s along the splendid coast line that today a network of Cannon Battery installations, a light house and observatories lay dormant, abandoned and this historic sight and it’s just 25 minutes drive from Central Station.
Along the coastal walk the lost golfer or shooter who stray from their course probably unaware that the headlands were once bustling with soldiers defending the nation from the enemy, protecting Sydney, protecting Australia.
For history buffs who love to wander along the stunning coast line, take a dip in the ocean, maybe even spot a whale then the Malabar Head Lands are well worth the trip.
That’s what makes it so special. Sydney tourism is awash with magnificent destinations, the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, or the Blue Mountains. Each destination you share with a swarm of others, but not so for Malabar.
Here, isolated from Sydney’s packed tourist sights you share the track with a lazy lizard or occasional jogger who murmur ‘hi’ as you pass by.
The bush trail winds along the coast cliffs that look out towards the Pacific Ocean to Botany Bay. It’s here overlooking the sapphire blue sea that a forgotten piece of Australia’s Defence history stands, crumbling, beautiful and truly fascinating.
It was in the 1870’s that the British sent instructions to the newly formed NSW Government that there was imminent danger from a Russian invasion. Yes, the British colony at the end of the earth, began defending itself against Tsar Alexander II’s Naval ships that were seen cruising along the eastern coast.
The NSW Governor, Somerset Richard, Earl of Belmore, ordered the building of a harbour defence system in response to what was considered as a terrifying ‘Russian Scare’.
NB: Somerset Richard, Earl of Belmore was witness to the first Royal Assassination when Henry O'Farrell shot the visiting Prince Alfred in the back while picnicking on Clontaf Beach.
As Australia, under the guidance of the British Government prepared for war in the 1930’s along the eastern coast of Sydney a network of military forts and batteries were built to protect against would be considered a treat from a Japanese invasion.
After WWII Australia’s war efforts were prioritized in different areas and so the relics over time have been left to become a lonely stage for wandering tourists.
Overview of the trip:
Steps: 2857 from Golf Club car park down Henry Head walking track to the Henry Head Light house. There are a number of areas where the footpath is uneven and a trip hazard. The stairs around the war battery’s are steep and potentially a risk.
Level of difficulty: Not recommended for anyone with walking difficulties and medical attention maybe more tricky than other more popular tourist sites.
Cafes: None in the national park, but you could slip into the golf club for a quick beer. For anyone driving there are some tantalising options.
Try the Boatshed at La Perouse where the restaurant overlooks Botany Bay, the ports and airport. For those who love sea food, and are prepared to pay, it’s a worthwhile option.
Alternatively, if you prefer reasonably priced, average food, with a stunning view head to the Malabar Beach Cafe.
Car: Drive to the NSW golf course car park and walk towards the fire trail.
Public Transport: From the CBD take the bus, number 391 (36 stops) or L94 (29 stops). Jump off at Botany Bay National Park (Ask, the driver to tell you which is your stop, but you’ll still be on Anzac Parade). The bus trip takes an hour.
Either walk straight up Grose Street or take Henry Head Lane and walk to the Henry Head Walking Track.