Dobroyd Head Walking Track

“Sensitive habitat. Challenging terrain. Spectacular outcome.”

Executive Summary

Located in Sydney Harbour National Park, Dobroyd Head marks the exact halfway point along the spectacular Spit to Manly Coastal Walk. With several sections of the popular track in disrepair, locals were concerned about its safety – particularly with the increased volume of people using it for exercise during the pandemic. Following a successful tender submission, Fleetwood was appointed by National Parks & Wildlife Services (NPWS) to deliver major structural upgrades at three separate locations using approved designs from landscape architecture firm, Thompson Berrill Landscape Design (TBLD). Work included a 40-metre boardwalk extension, the replacement of a 6-metre timber footbridge and a new 290-metre boardwalk extending from Crater Cove Lookout to the culturally-significant Arabanoo Track. Unsurprisingly, there was a very strong environmental aspect to the project, requiring detailed management plans to preserve the historic site both during and after construction.



National Parks & Wildlife Services (NPWS)





Design Partners

Thompson Berrill Landscape Design

Scope of Work

Discover, Develop, Detail, Deliver

Fleetwood Involvement

Fleetwood was appointed by NPWS to detail and deliver structural upgrades at three different locations in Sydney Harbour National Park: a boardwalk extension at Reef Beach, a bridge replacement at Beatty Street and a replacement boardwalk along Dobroyd Head. Beginning with the approved designs from landscape architecture firm, TBLD, our design team detailed and refined each structure, before the project moved seamlessly into the fabrication and installation stages, each managed expertly by our inhouse delivery teams. Due to the significant sensitivities of the site, all work was guided by a robust environmental management plan, developed in close consultation with NPWS.


Approved prior to the tender, the designs for the three structures were quite complex. They also presented several major executional challenges due to the tight timeframes and sensitive habitat at Dobroyd Head. Knowing the initial concepts would require a significant amount of drilling into the local sandstone, we instead recommended a number of key design refinements. The end result was a series of custom modifications to the main 290-metre boardwalk that were considerably less invasive, saved time and was less costly – whilst still delivering on the original creative vision from TBLD.


The exposed and isolated site presented numerous construction and access issues. Being right out on the headland, with the waters of Sydney Harbour far below, it was challenging to get materials in and out safely. Helicopters were used to drop off sections of the boardwalks and much of the equipment required for the install. Everything then needed to be hand-assembled on site, working forward from what had already been built. For example, sections of boardwalk installed on a Monday became our working platform on the Tuesday, allowing us to install the next section, and so on. The site logistics of this process were tricky, but our crews pulled it off to perfection.


Given the rich Indigenous heritage of Dobroyd Head, we knew there was always potential to discover archeological items that needed to be left undisturbed. We developed a site-specific construction system to ensure the installation was as smooth and non-invasive as possible. This included establishing a strict hierarchy of reporting if something of significance was found, so it could be recorded and taken care of appropriately. During the design phase we also readjusted the original position of the main boardwalk to reduce the likelihood of disturbing historical sites.


  • 290m main boardwalk
  • Mixed elevated boardwalk and crushed sandstone track
  • Sandstone rock steps
  • Small bridges

  • FRP
  • Stainless Steel
  • Crushed Sandstone
  • Sandstone blocks

  • Mars™ (hybrid)
  • Balmoral™

Site access was very difficult. We had to carefully plan the helicopter lifts and how we would safely access the site from the local streets. Extensive WHS documents were created as part of a detailed construction management plan. Strict safety protocols were established around helicopter lifts to ensure clear communication between ground and air crews, correct slinging and double-checking of all item weights. Another risk came from keeping the existing walking tracks open during the upgrade works – something both the council and NPWS were keen to do. Rope diversions were used in sections, allowing visitors to continue accessing the walking tracks safely.


Sustainability was paramount with all work taking place in a pristine National Park with significant flora, fauna and Indigenous sensitivities. From the boardwalk design and materials used, to the installation methodology and equipment, detailed planning ensured the surrounding habitat was carefully preserved, both during the construction stages and for years to come. As just one example, low-maintenance FRP was chosen for the boardwalk decking, boasting high recycled content, together with crushed local sandstone in line with the Report of Environmental Factors (REF) that had been developed specifically for the site. This allowed the structure to blend seamlessly in with the natural landscape.


The Spit to Manly Coastal Walk has been a much-loved community asset for generations. Used by thousands of walkers, joggers and families every week, the newly-upgraded infrastructure provides an enhanced and more immersive experience for locals and visitors to enjoy all year ’round.


The new boardwalks and bridges have significantly enhanced access to one of the most beautiful and untouched parts of the Sydney Harbour foreshore. Thousands more locals and visitors can now comfortably (and safely) explore Dobroyd Head without disturbing the flora and fauna, connecting with nature and learning more of the area’s rich Indigenous heritage.