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HomeNewsNorth Head lookouts win top gong

North Head lookouts win top gong

The new North Head lookouts, Burragula and Yiningma, have won the highest award for architecture in NSW.

The Manly attractions, designed by local architecture firm Chrofi and connecting with Country designers Bangawarra, took out the Robert Woodward Award in the Small Projects category and the NSW Architecture Medallion at the 2024 NSW Architecture Awards on Friday night, 28 June 2024.

The new lookout at North Head. Photo: NPWS

Head of NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Atticus Fleming said the lookouts were durable and functional but also culturally relevant. 

“What we have achieved at North Head is a spectacular transformation of tired 40-year-old viewing platforms, to an immersive experience aligned with their iconic settings.

“With over 40 million people visiting national parks in NSW each year, they are a key driver of the economy.

“By improving accessibility more visitors can enjoy and appreciate the wonders of Sydney’s national parks whether it is whale-watching in winter, learning about Country or just enjoying Sydney’s spectacular coastal scenery and skyline.”

The new lookout at North Head. Photo: NPWS

The Fairfax Walk, which connects the lookouts, reopened after a major upgrade about a year ago.

On 9 June 2023  the construction site fencing was removed and public access was again allowed to the new paths and two new lookouts – named Burragula and Yiningma, respectively. The redesigned Fairfax Walk reopened seven months after nearby North Head Lookout was reopened, following a similar upgrade (see photo below).

The new Burragula lookout is on the southern point of the North Head peninsula, facing South Head across the entrance to Sydney Harbour.

The new Yiningma lookout is situated nearby, approximately 80 metres to the north-east, adjacent to North Head Bunker Ledge on the eastern cliff edge, facing the South Pacific Ocean.

The previous two lookouts, Fairfax and Artillery, were closed in March 2022 and demolished.

View of South Head from the new Burragula Lookout at North Head. Photo: Alec Smart

The upgrade works are part of a greater redevelopment of North Head, including the North Fort and Artillery Barracks, to include extended walks, recognition of Indigenous history, improved lookouts and additional entertainment facilities, as reported in Manly Observer in May 2021.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment said the upgrades replaced the original Fairfax lookouts which were closed due to the geotechnical risk associated with the unstable nature of the sandstone cliff faces.

“This project is being delivered as part of the largest visitor infrastructure program in national park history and aligns with the outcomes for North Head outlined in the Sydney Harbour National Park Plan of Management (2012),” it states.

View from the new Yiningma Lookout on Fairfax Walk, North Head. Photo: Alec Smart

“We worked with local architects CHROFI and Aboriginal consultancy Bangawarra to design lookouts that address geotechnical risk, maintain visitor safety, maximise viewing space, and use materials that can withstand the harsh environment whilst responding to Country and the character of the surrounding landscape.”

Work included new granite paving, installation of balustrades, plus further concreting and landscaping to complete the works. Fencing on the Fairfax track that was damaged in the October 2020 bushfire was also replaced.

The previous works undertaken to upgrade the nearby North Head Lookout included 1,200 square metres of newly turfed recreation space, seating for visitors to enjoys views west across North Harbour, new footpaths and pedestrian crossings, a picnic shelter, bus stop, improved accessible parking and the planting of over 10,000 native plants.

The upgraded North Head lookout facing Sydney city to the west, reopened November 2022. Photo: Alec Smart

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service describes the walk as a gentle 1km loop walk.

“The paved track starts at the end of North Head Scenic Drive and loops around the top of North Head.

“Its circuit connects two lookouts which provide the kinds of views you see on Sydney postcards. Look out over endless ocean from Yiningma lookout, or across the harbour to the city skyline from Burragula lookout.

“Fairfax walk is ideal for families with children and is partially wheelchair accessible. It’s also an exceptional walk for whale watchers during the June to July and August to October migration seasons.

“The heath-covered clifftops at North Head reveal unending ocean views and a spectacular panorama of Sydney Harbour and the Sydney skyline. Situated on the northern-most edge of the harbour within sight of Hornby Lighthouse on South Head, it’s a relaxing ferry ride from Circular Quay or bus trip from Manly Wharf.”

Kim Smee, Manly Observer editor, enjoys the new Burragula Lookout on North Head on opening day. Photo: Alec Smart

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service also recommend North Head as a venue suitable for wedding ceremonies, albeit with a limit of 20 people. They add: “This venue is also suitable for commercial and public events such as small live performances and product launches.”

Fairfax Walk, NSW Parks and Wildlife visitor information


North Head carpark fees: $5 per vehicle per day (pay machines accept cards and coins but no change given).

Fairfax Walk virtual tour via Google Street View Trekker.

View of South Head from the new Burragula Lookout at North Head. Photo: Alec Smart