I’m standing on the edge of a rock looking up. In front of me is miles of endless sea, behind me is an ocean pool, and in the direction I’m looking are lots and lots of rocks – none of them, however, are adorned with a pink heart which is the sign I’m looking for to tell me I’m about to find the Manly Wormhole.
I’m also not alone. There’s a young couple and another solo woman eating an ice lolly and we’re all trying to pretend we’re not all trying (and failing) to look for the same thing. And, if you don’t want to be standing on the same rock doing the same thing (or, end up in totally the wrong place altogether), you need to know how to get to the Manly Wormhole too. So, here goes…
What is the Manly Wormhole?
It’s basically a tunnel in the rock, that, if you walk through it, opens up into a peephole view of the sea.
It’s been a local secret for years but in a world of social media, pictures and videos of the pretty view are all over TikTok and Instagram and as such, it’s become one of the secret spots in Sydney to seek out.
It might look like a natural tunnel, but apparently waves didn’t create the wormhole, fishermen who didn’t want to walk the long way around the rocks to get to the next beach did!
It’s also known as the Queenscliffe Tunnel.
Now, at first, you’re going to think that getting to the Manly Wormhole is easy.
After all, its location is not a big secret, it’s marked on the map in big letters, but, if the first rule of Fight Club is don’t talk about Fight Club, the first rule of visiting the Manly Wormhole is do NOT use the instructions that google maps gives you to get there.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Google Maps
If you type Manly Wormhole directions into google maps, you will be instructed to go to a road called Queenscliffe Road and then follow a footpath down to the tunnel.
Sounds easy right and I have no doubt that this works – if you live in the apartment building that footpath goes through; the apartment building that has signs stating ‘No Access to Beach’ written all over it.
I’m pretty sure, the people in this apartment have a little game where they count the number of people who get to the fence on the clifftop, realise that no it doesn’t lead to a pathway and have to turn round and head back from whence they came.
I was there for about two minutes while I realised my mistake and tried to work out where to go next and even during that time, another couple arrived with the same perplexed look on their face
So, Here’s How You Actually Get to the Manly Wormhole.
For starters, you’re not going to find it on the famous Manly Beach – the wormhole is actually located off Queenscliffe Beach at the north end of Manly.
If you’ve come into Manly by ferry, you can walk here in about 20 minutes, or, jump on the 166 or 167 bus from Stand A at Manly Wharf and get off at the stop just before the sandy yellow building that holds the Queenscliffe Surf Life Saving Club (you’ll also see a cafe called Salty Rooster ahead of you). Push the bell, when you go past Ceramic Street on your left.
Now, head towards the Queenscliffe Rockpool – if you’re not from Australia, you might be looking for cute little rockpools like the things you watch fish in when you’re little at this point, but it’s actually this swimming pool that runs alongside the cliff edge.
When you get here, walk alongside the pool on the lefthand/rock side (taking note to look at the slightly amusing doctored signs) to the far end and climb the little set of steps.
At this point, you will see a bench to your right, a cliff full of houses to your left and a whole lot of rocks in front and above you. This is the point where everyone got lost! And googling didn’t really help me… it was at this moment I decided to write this post!
So here’s what to do now…
Keeping your bench to the right, follow the left-hand path above and you’ll see a little set of worn away steps going down onto the rocks (marked with the yellow X in the picture) – take those – and then, head out around the side of the rocks staying on ‘the path’ that follows that same level.
I say path, but it’s not one. It looks fairly flat but actually, you will need to step over a whole load of rocks, it’s not a nice neat path and you might have to clamber a bit, but don’t go up and don’t go down – just stay level. It’s about a 2-minute walk, depending on how fast you move on the terrain.
When you round the first headland, you’ll see the famous bright pink heart that shows you that you’re near the wormhole, The entrance is in the cliff at this point (see the dark hole in the picture below) – just go inside (it’s the first actually hole in the cliff you find so you can’t go wrong but if you’re concerned, look for the big square rock on the floor). Follow it through, it’s not very long, and you’ll come out to the famous view.
How Easy is the Walk?
If you’re fit, agile and used to hopping over rocks, this won’t even enter your consciousness as a tricky walk.
I however am a naturally fearful person, scared of heights with a currently stuffed up leg (I’m a catch!) and I managed it solo – but, it’s not what I would call an easy cliff stroll. You are going to have to balance on a few rocks and take some big steps over cracks.
The tunnel to the wormhole itself is thin, but you can stand upright and it’s pretty light in there. Just be careful, particularly in the middle, as the floor is uneven.
Weirdly, I found going out easier than coming back – coming back, the angles had changed and I was warier of where I was stepping (I never quite trust my leg not to give way or lock) and so I did do a few bits holding on to other rocks.
I did do it in a dress though so it can’t be that bad!!!
It’s definitely not an accessible walkway though.
The Best Time to Visit the Manly Wormhole
As you wander along the route to the Wormhole you’ll notice actual rock pools. That’s your clue that at some points, the waves do come up onto the cliffs which should give you another clue that the safest time to time your walk is away from high tide (you’ll find the tide times here).
Also, don’t do this on a stormy or very windy day – it gets rough out here and you wouldn’t want to be on the cliffside with big waves. Make sure you’re also wearing sensible, non-slip shoes. And always stay as close to the cliff side of things as possible.
I have seen sunrise photos from the wormhole, but these have been taken by locals who have probably been playing at the wormhole since they were kids. Don’t start the walk in the dark PLEASE, it’s only short, but it’s still not a walk you should do without good light.
Is the Wormhole on the Spit Bridge to Manly Walk?
The Spit Bridge to Manly walk is a very popular 10km walk in Sydney, but sadly you don’t go past the Wormhole on that route – you’d need to add it onto the end if you’re not too tired – you could start at the Wormhole and join the walk at Manly Wharf.
It’s also not on the 80km Manly to Bondi walk that’s now possible in Sydney. As the chance of me doing that one are nil, have a look at this post from my friend Paula over at Sydney Expert if you’d like to try that one.
Is There Anything Else to Do Nearby?
Well, you start at a pretty cool swimming spot in the Rockpool, so there’s that! But, if you don’t want to get wet.
Apparently, you can follow the rock path around to Freshwater Beach and then, on to Curl Curl and Dee Why.
I haven’t tried it, but from what I’ve read, it’s a bit more of a clamber than getting to the Wormhole and must be done at low tide. I’d ask advice before you try that one (the Information Centre at Manly Wharf might be a good place to start) not least as it has been blocked by rockfalls in the past.
I actually started my journey at Freshwater(I just walked the roadway around the wormhole – not least due to the whole oh go this way fiasco from Google Maps).
Freshwater is a more local area and you’ll find a cute town centre, the Harbord Diggers social club (open to everyone, just bring some ID to show you don’t live nearby) and, a small park dedicated to some of Australia’s finest surfers – and a statue of Duke Kahanamoku said to be the father of modern surfing.
If you’re hungry, the Salty Rooster does shakes and burgers, or for something lighter visit The Corner at Queensie.
Head south though and you’ll find all the delights of Manly which is jam packed with bars and restaurants; a few shops, kayaking, surf lessons and much more.
Keep going and you’ll find yourself on North Head which is famous for it’s quiet nature trails and tours of the old cemetery and gun placements. Or, if it’s later in the day, head to the old Quarantine Station where you can go on one of the ghost tours. Check out what happened when we took the tour in this post here.
So, there you have it – how to find the Manly Wormhole. Have a great day out.