I guess it’s because it’s not exactly in Sydney that we hadn’t discovered Sydney Harbour National Park Gap Bluff on previous visits. It’s not found in this city’s tourist information. Nevertheless, some visitors and lots of Australians find it and swarm.
One sign there noted that Gap Bluff was such a tourist draw since the early 19th century that it was finally declared a park in 1887. By 1909 a tramline from the city brought Sydneysiders. Over time, military installations were common at Gap Bluff because of its strategic locale. For example, during World War II the Royal Australian Navy had a Radar School there. In 1960, movie director Alfred Hitchcock was in town promoting his new film Psycho. While visiting Gap Bluff, he insisted on perching on a railing to have his photo taken, causing a stir probably because of its reputation.
In 2014 Ruth and I went by bus to Watson’s Bay to have lunch at Doyle’s, a legendary seafood restaurant. Watson’s Bay is the closest town to Sydney Harbor’s entrance, the world’s most beautiful harbor in my opinion. The lady we had been talking to suggested we see the Park.
“What park?” I asked.
She pointed to the stairs just past the bus stop. “It’s a popular suicide spot,” she added.
Sure enough. There were signs all around. “Warning: Remain behind fences. Penalty $150 and 24 hour CCTV monitoring and recording in operation in this area. I did some research later and found a 2010 article from the Sydney Morning Herald by Malcolm Turnbull. He estimated that around 50 people take their lives at The Gap each year. I also found a reference to Rexie, a German shepherd who belonged to the owner of the Gap Tavern in the 60s. Rexie could sense potential suicides and would bark and run to draw attention to them. She is credited with saving more than 30 lives. Locals talking about suicide attempts compare Gap Bluff to The Golden Gate Bridge.
At Sydney Harbor National Park Gap Bluff, a walkway to the promontory provides dramatic views of the coast that almost but don’t entirely reveal the harbor’s entrance. A trail worth following, however, took me to the full harbor view seen above.
This park is worth tracking down and you can take a water taxi back to Circular Quay and downtown Sydney from Watson’s Bay.