Art at your feet

Published Jan 2024 

From north to south, Sydney has an amazing coastline with truly stunning natural vistas, and there are fabulous walks along most of it. As well sandstone cliffs organically sculpted by tide and weather, many seaside strolls also offer impressive human-made artworks. 

The Northern Beaches coastal walk stretches from Palm Beach to Manly, taking you past several surf beaches with their distinctive dark yellow sand.  One surf beach in particular, Freshwater, is famous for having hosted Hawaiian surf advocate, Duke Kahanamoku who demonstrated this dazzling ancient sport in Freshwater’s waves in 1914. In 1994, a statue by sculptor, Barry Donohoo was dedicated to Duke Kahanamoku. It stands on the beach headland and depicts Kahanamoku on a surfboard.

A walk from Manly Beach around to Shelley Beach features lots of small silver metal sculptures of sea and land creatures embedded in the sandstone or sitting on benches. At the Fairy Bower, roughly midway, on the far side of the ocean pool you’ll find The Oceanides (aka Sea Nymphs), a sculpture by Helen Leete based on Greek mythology. Originally made of ceramic, the sculpture was damaged in a storm in 2016, but thanks to local crowdfunding efforts, it was recast in weather-resistant bronze in 2017.

Head even further south to Botany Bay and the walk along Kyeemagh Beach and you’ll find a few sculptures there. One rather large, impressive metal artwork, The Crab, by Joy Heylen, was created and displayed for the 7th annual Sculptures@Bayside competition — which it ultimately won. Local council decided to make it a permanent fixture. 

Further along, at the entrance to Cook Park, is another competition winner. Renowned artists, Gillie and Marc Schattner won the sculpture prize at the 2019 Bayside Arts Festival for their delightful work, Come out, Come out Hippo, Wherever you are. It depicts a small hippo coming out of a manhole and has featured in countless selfies. 

On the other side of Botany Bay, along the Kurnell Foreshore walk, you’ll find the Kamay sculptures which were placed in 2020 to mark 250 years since the Endeavour arrived at that shore. Sitting on the rocks right beside the sea is a large, ambiguous sculpture that combines the idea of the ribs of HMB Endeavour and the skeleton of a whale. Called The Eyes of the Land and the Sea, it was created by Alison Page and Nik Lachacjzak.

Nearby is Gawuras (Whales), created by Indigenous artist, Theresa Ardler. It depicts a large bronze humpback whale with its calf, both looking out to sea.