It’s one of the most iconic harbours in the world, framed by two equally iconic landmarks – the Harbour Bridge, and Opera House. While these are a must to experience, don’t miss out on exploring the rest of Sydney’s magical harbour. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Sydneysiders make the most of the 240 kilometres of shoreline that makes up its beautiful harbour, and from almost every vantage point, there’s an array of enticing opportunities to just sit, and watch the heartbeat of Sydney on the water.
Start by seeing one of the best views of Sydney you’re likely to come across, and take a walk up the huge bridge that has spanned the harbour since 1932, with a ‘BridgeClimb’ tour. You can book a twilight or dawn climb, and get some of the best selfies you’re likely to ever have.
From the buzz and energy of Circular Quay at the foot of the city’s business district, you can take your pick from a number of ferry services to reach many of the harbourside suburbs. You can also take a water taxi, a harbour lunch or dinner cruise, or take a walking tour around the historic Rocks area.
From there you can also walk to the Sydney Opera House and Royal Botanic Gardens, stopping at a number of chic cafes and award winning restaurants on the way, featuring some of the city’s best views.
One of the best ways to experience this beautiful harbour of course, is to do so from the water. If you’re happy to get wet you can kayak to Fort Denison, Shark Island, Rodd and Goat Island. Or you can keep your feet dry and take a ferry, but these small islands are a great insight into Sydney’s colonial history.
View the city from 150 year old Fort Denison, in the centre of the harbour. Once just a small rocky island, referred to by the local Aboriginal people as Mat-te-wan-ye (or Muttewai), it was used as a prison, a local fishing spot, defence structure, weather station, and now houses a unique restaurant, special events space and historic museum.
At 1.00pm each day, a cannon is fired from the island, a tradition that began in 1906 to help sailors set their ship’s chronometer to local time. It continues to this day, although was halted during World War II for obvious reasons.
On the opposite side of the harbour, Sydney’s Taronga Park Zoo is arguably one of the most beautiful of its kind in the world. Set on a hillside in suburban Mosman, the zoo extends down the hillside to the harbour foreshore.
Take a ferry directly from Circular Quay to the animal park, disembark at the bottom and take a scenic ’Sky Safari’ cable car to the top of the park and meander downwards through amazing animal enclosures. Taronga cares for 4,000 animals from over 350 species, many of which are threatened. There’s a strong conservation and education theme throughout the zoo, that both kids and adults will enjoy. State of the art equipment, breeding and rehabilitation programmes make a day at the park an unforgettable experience.
Naturally there’s opportunities to interact with some of Australia’s most famous local wildlife; the koala, kangaroo and a few more you may not have heard of before. And did we mention the spectacular harbour views?
Sydney has some spectacular beaches too, and an easy way to get to one of its most popular from the city centre is again, by ferry. Catch a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly Beach, one of the stars of Sydney’s northern beaches. ’Only seven miles from Sydney and a million miles from care’, say Manly locals.
Have some fish and chips beside the beach and watch the seagulls fly down, squawking at you to share some of your lunch. Then take a walk along the palm-tree lined esplanade, stop in at a restaurant or do all your summer shopping at the many shops. You can even pick up a surfboard.
Take a surfing lesson on the 1.5 kilometre beach, or bathe in the sheltered ocean pool at the end. Some of Australia’s surfing legends polished their skills on Manly’s waves.
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Images courtesy of Tourism Australia and NSW Trade and Investment