With amazing 360° views at 155 metres above sea level, this four hectare reserve of Hawkesbury sandstone heath boasts views from our beautiful coastline to the haze of the mountains in the west.
The trigonometrical beacon was installed on the summit by the Department of Lands in 1881 and gives the suburb its name. Originally known as Manly Trig Station, it is still maintained to aid with navigation and surveying.
In 1931, the reserve was officially named Governor Phillip Lookout Reserve, in recognition of Phillip’s expedition in April 1788. Phillip led a group from Manly westward to try to find the source of water supplying Middle Harbour. Exactly how close the party came to Beacon Hill is still the subject of debate. To commemorate Phillip’s expedition, in 1929 a brick monument with brass directional plate was commissioned by the Manly Warringah Pittwater Historical Society. It was removed during World War II for fear that the enemy could use it to their advantage. In 1970 the original plate was reinstated with a new stone monument. The commemorative wall at the Warringah Road entrance incorporates bricks from Phillip’s birthplace, with the bronze bust installed in 1991.
A quarry just north of the peak unearthed 200 million year old fossils of Triassic fish, insects, crustaceans, plants and small amphibians. Among them were what became known as the genera Brookvalia and Beaconia. Although originally reserved for public recreation in 1881, this protection was revoked to enable the quarry to operate between 1910 and 1962. In the early years clay and shale were transported to the Brookvale brickworks via a small railway down the steep gully.
World War II
The military occupied the summit and kept contact with defences at North Head and Middle Harbour. Several Sydney beaches were fortified with armed soldiers and barbed wire, including Collaroy, Dee Why and Freshwater. A camouflaged cottage remained at the lookout for decades until its removal in 1965.