Parsley Bay

It is perhaps a blessing that Parsley Bay is overshadowed by its more famous neighbour, Watsons Bay, as this picturesque corner of Sydney Harbour is a quiet haven for those lucky enough to know of its existence and have discovered its tranquility. Though the least frequented, it is as attractive as any other bay on the South Head peninsula, and the perfect place for children to take a dip in its sheltered waters or fossick for shells and crabs on the rocks while the adults laze away the afternoon in the shade of the Moreton Bay fig trees.

Circling Parsley Bay is a rocky ridge which forms a small valley through which a small stream flows. The stream enters the valley high on the escarpment at the valley's head and cascades over rocks for some metres before winding its way through the only remaining natural strand of rainforest on Sydney Harbour's southern shores, to empty into the harbour.

Parsley Bay is claimed to be one of the best places for scuba diving, especially at night. This little bay is also a premier location for family picnicking and calm water swimming in a lagoon equipped with the shark proof net (first installed in 1931).

A path from the beach follows the stream to the head of the valley and back and this short walk is a most relaxing experience. Other paths lead to the harbour foreshore and up to the picturesque 100 year old suspension footbridge which spans the mouth of the Bay. It was built in 1903 to bring locals to Central Wharf on Point Seymour at a time when it was serviced by a ferry. The creation of Edwin Sautelie, the then Council Clerk and Engineer of the Vaucluse Municipal Council, legend has it that a peg was placed at a point on the southern side. An instruction was given that the bridge was to be built on the right side of the peg, however, in facing the other way round, the instruction was misconstrued and the bridge was built too far west, requiring the acquisition of property and leaving a 'kink' in the approach to it.

In 1910, Vaucluse Council approached Mr Varney Parkes, architect of the Vaucluse Town Hall (then under construction) to design a kiosk for the Parsley Bay Reserve. The son of the Founder of Federation , Sir Henry Parkes, Varney Parkes was responsible for a number of architectural landmarks of Sydney, including the Marble Bar of Adam s Hotel, which survives, under official Heritage protection, today. A less celebrated refreshment place was the small kiosk building he designed for the Parsley Bay Reserve - a shingled timber structure built at the head of the Bay, beside the creek, in a style reminiscent of a Japanese Tearoom.

A succession of lessees operated from the first kiosk, culminating in the proprietorship of Robert Morgan, beginning in 1923. Morgan was to have a major impact on the Reserve, making many improvements of his own, and pressuring Council to carry out more. Under his management, the Reserve, and the Kiosk building, became a focus of community life  especially for the young - a tradition carried on years later by his successor, Larry Daley, who took over the lease in 1946, and came to be known as 'The Pied Piper of Parsley Bay'.

Facilities: toilets, barbeques, picnic tables, grassed area, kiosk (limited opening times).
UBD Map 237 Ref Q 1 . Horler Avenue, Vaucluse
Public transport: Bus No. 325 from Circular Quay. Alight in Fitzwlliam Road, walk down lane to reserve near cnr. of Parsley Road.

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