Clontarf Reserve is located just 13 kms from the city of Sydney and it sits on Sydney’s Middle Harbour. It is a great place to take kids as it has a large playground on the harbour and a swimming enclosure. It’s also a popular place for kayaking, sailing and stand up paddle boarding. There are BBQs available for public use as well as a cafe which serves good coffee and healthy snacks as well as treats such as fish and chips and ice blocks.
The swimming enclosure at Clontarf Beach is provided as a precaution as Sydney’s Middle Harbour is known as a breeding ground for bull sharks. Mind you this fact does not deter some people from jumping off boats and swimming outside the enclosure. Needless to say there has not been a shark attack in Middle Harbour since 1963.
I’ve not seen sharks in the waters of Middle Harbour, however I do stand up paddle board close to the shore. The water is crystal clear but it drops off quickly into an inky blue darkness which is a little disconcerting. One marine animal who is very obvious on the sand floor is the sting ray, I will often see 5 or more on one day.
There are many water birds which flock to Clontarf. Pelicans will perch on the railings of the swimming enclosure and we’ve seen a lone penguin glide through the shallow waters.
Middle Harbour also hosts many marine mammals such as dolphins and seals. Last winter a southern right whale spent several days swimming between the middle harbour areas of Balmoral Beach, Clontarf and The Spit.
Aside from Clontarf Beach you can also visit Chinaman’s beach, Balmoral and Castle Rock Beach which all sit on Middle Harbour. There is also the well known Spit Bridge to Manly walk which is truly breathtaking and if you enjoy dining out you can try Chiosco or The Public Dining Room. But one of our family’s favourites is The Middle Harbour Yacht Club for a relaxed Sunday lunch with friends.