Bradleys Head, Sydney, Australia

Source: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported


CAB Consulting Pty Ltd.

Type of Area


Land/water interaction

Sandy beach

Built Environment Types

Low built
High green

Scale of Impact


Intervention Scale (Spatial)

Small site

Project Types

Seafront development
Cultural regeneration
Public green space regeneration

Urban/ Rural

Inner urban area

Visibility and Openness

Fully enclosed
Fully contained view

A Panoramic View

Bradleys Head Amphitheatre opened in 1998 and has been used constantly ever since. It is part of the Sydney Harbour National Park and has extensive panoramic views across the harbour, which includes views of the Opera House, Sydney Central Business District and Sydney Harbour Bridge – the iconic views of the city This makes it an excellent vantage point for watching firework displays and yachting events. It has also become a popular spot for weddings and other outdoor functions. 

Bradleys Head is a former naval base and sandstone quarry site. The mast of the HMAS Sydney is situated at the location and the old military mess hall now operates as a café serving the visitors to the site and those using the park trail that runs from Taronga Zoo wharf to Balmoral Beach. However, strong rip tides and currents coupled with a lack of beach patrols means the area is generally less safe for water sports.  

The amphitheatre takes advantage of the natural slope and leads down to a stone jetty that juts out into the harbour. The understated lawned design was chosen to blend in with the landscape. Local materials from the former defensive fortifications were used in its construction, repurposing the historical remnants in the process. Non-skilled labour was also used with the hope that the skills learnt in the process could be used in other areas of 

Perception and Meaning

Focal point
Sense of place
Genius loci

Health and Wellbeing

Increased physical activities
Sense of being away
Aesthetic experience

Interaction with Water


Website of the project:

Google map reference

The head of the peninsula is well accessed by pedestrian paths, boats, public transport and roads with adequate parking. The steep slope with the steps down to the harbour, however, does reduce the capacity for inclusive access for wheelchair and pushchair uses as well as limiting bicycle access. So the low scores for accessibility is understandable due to the topography of the site.

The site has been in constant use since 1998 and whilst the jetty is showing some signs of wear and tear, generally the site has stood up well to the use, hence it scores well for its well-designed infrastructure suitable for the site.

The naturalness of the site and the use of natural planting and retention of ancient trees means the site scores well for a sense of getting away and as a site for contemplation. The panoramic views also aid this. A lack of beach patrols and strong currents obviously impacts the safety of the area and it is not generally suited to water activities because of this. However people can still get close to the water and so the land-water connectivity is good.