The Long Reef headland in northern Sydney is a great place to explore at sunrise or sunset. The first time I went was in highschool on a biology excursion to study the rockpool ecosystem. This protected nature area has a mix of cliffs, beaches and rockpools so there’s plenty to explore in one morning.

I drove up with a few friends and parked up on the headland. We were a little late to sunrise because Glenn slept through his alarm clock.. I’ll forgive him this time because it’s usually me doing that. We walked along the headland before heading down the track to the beach and rockpools. There’s interesting reflections in the pools at low tide, plenty of seabirds to observe and panoramic lookout points on top.

Parts of the Long Reef headland are protected. Temperate. There’s not a lot of native temperate grassland left in Australia these days. Here you can find native kangaroo grasses and some banksia woodland. In the rockpools you’ll find a whole collection of animals like mulberry whelks, sea urchins and sometimes even octopi. On the beach I found a seadragon and a puffer fish washed up, which is testimony to the diverse ocean life.

This restricted area is managed by Reefcare Volunteers from Warringah Council

Unfortunately there are some pesky pests at Long Reef – the Bitou Bush has taken over part of the track leading to the beach, while most of the area behind the cliffs has been turned into a huge golf course. Bitou is a fast growing coastal weed that can choke out native plants and reduces biodiversity quickly. The golf course is a problem because of fertiliser run-off – the chemicals wash into nearby Dee Why lagoon, affecting the algae levels in the water. This skews the balance of microogranisms, messing with the ocean ecosystem along the coast.

Birds: Australian Pelican, Silver Gulls, Crested Tern, Cormorant

Here are some more photos! I’d recommend Long Reef for sunrises. After a bit of exploring you can check out the local cafes or go for a swim – there’s plenty of good beaches in the area (my favourites are Dee Why and Curl Curl). We brought our own food along and ate it on one of the rocks.

When you’re here be mindful of rubbish because birds and fish might eat it! I like to bring a rubbish bag in my backpack to put bits of plastic in. I hope you enjoy Long Reef – let me know if there’s other places I should check out for sunrise.