Situated on the lower Northern Beaches of Sydney, Manly Beach is seven miles northeast of Sydney. Set on a small peninsula, Manly is bounded by the Sydney Harbour National Park and is the gateway to the northern beaches.
Manly - Aboriginal History
Through their cultural traditions, Aboriginal people maintain their connection to their ancestral lands and waters. The original owners of the country around Manly, the Kay-ye-my people date back 20,000 years. When encountered by the confident and manly Aboriginals In 1778, Captain Arthur Phillip chose to get to know the indigenous people by capturing a man, named Arabanoo. Arabanoo was dressed in European clothes, trained in English and renamed 'Manly' in honour of his demeanor. The area was then called Manly. Evidence of residence have been established with middens mounds of sea sells at Spring Cove, Cannae Point and surrounding areas; Aboriginal burial sites, rock art and an engraving and Aboriginal tools have been found on North Head which was once the domain of Aboriginal medicine men.
The Australian bathing revolution started in Manly. Colonial soldiers stripped of and swam naked in the ocean, just as Aboriginal people had done over the millennium. In 1833 sea bathing was banned during the hours of daylight. Without direct access to Sydney, Manly was isolated for many years. In the 1850's Henry Smith built Manly's first hotel and shopping avenue between the harbour and the ocean; he backed the first Sydney ferry service to Manly, and beautified Ocean Beach with Norfolk pines. In 1902, Newspaperman, William Gocher mounted a public campaign calling on people to bathe in the daytime - they did - with ladies and gentlemen segregated, and wearing neck to knee 'bathing costumes'. In 1903 Manly boomed as it became the first beach in Australia to embrace surf life saving; Manly Beach was the first to be patrolled by a surfboat and in 1904, Manly became the first beach in Australia to employ a professional lifeguard. In 1931, the Port Jackson and Manly Steamship Company built Australia's largest shark-proof ocean pool at Manly. Uniquely, all the 1924 competitors who won Australian Olympic gold medals came from Manly.
Today Manly is a thriving beachside location with multi million dollar mansions and apartments sited along the harbour foreshore and Manly Beach. The legacy set by Henry Smith, some 150 years ago make Manly unique; the famous towering Norfolk Island Pine trees along Manly Beach, the Corso broad walk and the Manly Wharf.
Manly epitomizes beach culture: Make your choice of saltwater pools or the beaches or the Manly Cove for a swim. Play volleyball, tennis, golf or croquet. Try surfing, windsurfing, parasailing, snorkeling or scuba diving. Manly is the last home to a colony of little or fairy penguins in mainland New South Wales. These beautiful seabirds are found at evening time under the boardwalk near the Manly Wharf and among the rocks near the Aquarium. See the 'Pathway of Olympians', laid into the promenade, along the harbour front. Visit North Head; see the buildings of the original old Australian Quarantine Station.