Frenchy’s Cafe, in Headland Park, is a great starting point for stair training, with at least two possible routes. The path from Headland Park down to Chowder Bay and on to Bradley’s Head offers a number of stair interval training opportunities, including Sarah’s Walk and Taylors Bay stairs. Alternatively, in the other direction are Balmoral Steps and Barney Kearns Steps. The reward is coffee back at Frenchy’s when you are done!
Sarah’s Walk, from Clifton Gardens up to Morella Road, has 151 nice spaced, shady stairs. Remember to enjoy the view on the way down! At the top of the stairs, you can turn north up Morella Road and loop back on the stairs that descend to Clifton Gardens, or you can turn south on Morella Road to make a shorter loop on the next set of stairs. Or just keep going up and down Sarah’s Walk until your legs complain!
In case you are wondering, Sarah was the daughter of Mr David Thompson, who owned the land around Clifton Gardens and Taylors Bay. Judging by this 1912 sub-division poster, he named most of the streets after his family. Sarah Street led down to Clifton Gardens Wharf, while Sarah Walk was a neat shortcut. Later, in 1922, Sarah Street became part of Morella Road. Thompson built the Marine Hotel which operated from 1885 to 1967, as well as a wharf and dance pavilion.
Taylors Bay stairs
Continue around Chowder Head on the bush track towards Taylors Bay. At a four way track intersection, a narrow path leads down to the bay while 147 steps lead up to Burrawong Ave, crossing the end of Iluka Ave on the way up.
While Clifton Gardens entertained pleasure seekers, Taylors Bay was the place of battle with a Japanese midget submarine in World War 2. Now, it’s shady and peaceful.
These popular stairs adjoin the bushland of HMAS Penguin. There are 262 evenly spaced stairs, but fortunately they are not steep and the landings between stair sets allow a short recovery (but don’t be tempted by the bench seats). The stairs close at 8:30pm in Summer Daylight Savings, and 6pm in winter.
Barney Kearns Steps
From 1829, a ferry operated by a former Irish convict, Barney Kearns, carried passengers across the waters of Middle Harbour from Chinaman’s Beach to Clontarf. A set of 216 gruelling stairs that climb up from Kiora Ave near Rosherville Reserve to Parrawi Road are named for the ferryman.
If you want still more, head for Quarry Steps further along Parrawi Rd, climbing up to Spit Rd. Or do a hill burn to work your calves up Awaba Street on your way back to Frenchy’s for that coffee.
Not in Mosman, but close enough just over the Spit Bridge. These stairs link Battle Boulevarde to Edgecliff Esplanade. Originally wooden steps, they were built around the time of World War 1.
In A History of Seaforth, Bonnie Pence says “Do you know what we used to do for fun? All the way down Bantry Bay Road, we’d walk to The Spit! Then a penny tram ride down the hill, and we’d walk up to the very top again up a long flight of steps called the “Gallipoli Getaway’. And we’d continue until we ran out of pennies for the trams to take us down, then set out for home in the Forest again.”
Fast forward one hundred years, and the locals are still running up and down those 150 now metal stairs, and enjoying the view from the top.
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