When he first set eyes on Sydney Harbour on 23 January 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip, commander of the first fleet sent from Britain to invade Australia, claimed to have found the “finest harbour in the world”. Even today, with the earth’s entire coastline mapped and most of it inhabited, I doubt there can be many if indeed any harbours that can challenge this claim.
Sydney Harbour is in fact three connected harbour: North Harbour, which includes Manly. Middle Harbour, which includes such suburbs as Northbridge and Cammeray, our own mooring in Sailors Bay and some quiet and leafy inlets including our favourite, Sugarloaf Bay. The main harbour, basically everything south and west of Middle Head, including most of the familiar sites.
Dividing the main harbour like a dagger is Bradley’s Head, a familiar site whenever we’re heading from Middle Harbour towards the city. From Middle Head the main harbour runs in a NE-SW direction till it turns a corner at Bradley’s Head and continues E-W. The main Sydney skyline is hidden as you enter the harbour but then appears dramatically as you round Bradley’s.
The headland was known to aborigines, sadly long since displaced, as Borogegy, which means something like “vantage point”. It is, without doubt, the best vantage point on the harbour. Ahead you can see all the large bays of the south shore, along with Shark Island and Clark Island. To the west you can see the CBD, the bridge and beyond. To the northeast you can see right up the harbour towards the ocean.
Today we’ve come from Blackwattle Bay, another favourite spot and, with the wind from the east, have anchored in Chowder Bay, immediately west of Bradley’s and nicely sheltered from both the wind and swell.
Bradley’s is special not only for its views. It is a remnant of the harbour before colonisation, it’s vegetation left almost completely untouched. It is one of a handful of pockets of bushland that make up the Sydney Harbour National Park. This afternoon we had a wonderful stroll around the headland, enjoying the birds, waterdragons, ferns and eucalypts. Tonight, as Neringa sways gently at anchor in Chowder Bay I can hear the familiar chorus of cicadas, frogs and other bush sounds behind me while looking ahead at the bright light of the Sydney skyline, just two or so miles away. Their juxtaposition is one of the things I love most about Sydney. Never too far from nature and never too from all the things the city offers.
Bradley’s Head has lost none of its value as the harbour’s best vantage point. We are already in prime position to watch the start of tomorrow’s Sydney-Hobart race. Depending on the wind direction, this may yet be a choice spot for New Years Eve. We shall see.