A ferry company once promoted Manly as ‘Seven miles from Sydney, and a thousand miles from care’. Today it still retains much of the holiday atmosphere of a seaside village. The Manly ferry, which travels to and from Circular Quay, is an experience in itself, and the most pleasant way of getting there.

With two beaches, an aquarium, the Old Quarantine Station and the carnival atmosphere of Manly Corso, a visit to Manly is a must.

Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary

Situated to the west of the ferry terminal, Oceanworld is an exciting bottom-of-the-sea experience.

With colourful displays of marine life that include a touch pool and an underwater tunnel, it also reveals some of the scarier aspects of the continent’s wildlife. There are shark-feedings daily, exhibitions that involve some of Australia’s deadliest snakes and spiders, plus the chance to dive with sharks.

West Esplanade, Manly; (02) 8251 7877; open 10am–5.30pm daily.

Q Station

On the west side of North Head, up the road from Manly, the Old Quarantine Station has been transformed into the Q Station, a unique resort with accommodation, a restaurant, interactive tours and a theatre experience within Sydney National Park.

Built to house incoming passengers and crew suspected of carrying contagious diseases from the 1830s to 1984, there’s an extensive collection of 65 heritage buildings as well as some fascinating 19th-century rock carvings that were made by the crew and passengers interned here.

Access is via car or water shuttle from the Rocks and Manly, and tour bookings are essential.

North Head Scenic Dr, Manly; (02) 9466 1551.