Manly is kid heaven: beaches with perfect sand and rockpools, bushwalks around the headlands looking for wildlife, and fun visits to Oceanworld, Manly Waterworks or ghost tours at the Old Quarantine Station. The magic begins with a ride on the ferry from Circular Quay. This tubby watercraft with its green and cream paintwork is just like an illustration from a picture book. Your kids will stand on deck waving delightedly at smaller boats bobbing below, and then squeal in excitement when the famous Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge loom up huge and impressive beside them

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Contact details

Manly Visitor Information Centre, The Forecourt, Manly Wharf, Manly; (02) 9976 or

Don't Miss

■ The chance to ride a wave – surf lessons are offered by SEA Australia. Bookings are essential: (02) 9907 7650.

■ Some wonderful snorkelling opportunities on the harbour side and in Cabbage Tree Bay, the marine reserve between Manly and Shelly beaches. See the Manly Environment Centre website for information on the range of marine life you are likely to spot;

Fabulous Facts

Sydney Harbour National Park at Manly is home to an endangered colony of long-nosed bandicoots. As you walk the track, see if you can spot any small, conical-shaped hollows in the ground where bandicoots might have been burrowing for food. Bandicoots use their front paws for digging, then snuffle around with their long noses to find insects, earthworms, spiders, plant tubers and roots to eat. You aren’t likely to spot any of the bandicoots themselves, as they sleep in nests hidden in the ground under leaves during the day.

Insider Tips

■ Choose an open deck on the ferry – kids are less likely to get seasick with fresh air in their faces and this is the best vantage point for photos. (Refer to Sydney Ferries entry.)

■ Explore the different beaches. The little coves around the harbour side are free of surf and safer for swimming. Little Manly Beach is a favourite for families and has an enclosed pool area. On the
ocean side there are long stretches of surfing beaches, as well as the more sheltered Shelly Beach.
■ If you’re heading into the water, remember to swim between the flags and keep an eye out for warnings about bluebottle jellyfish (also known as Portuguese man-of-wars). Don’t be misled by
reckless people ignoring the signs; the sting feels much worse than a bee sting.
■ There are plenty of eateries, ranging from historic beachside kiosks to restaurants and fast-food outlets, in the attractive shopping strip of the Corso.
■ If you plan to do a bushwalk, check out beforehand and bring a list of photos of flora and fauna to spot.

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