Sydney does not need an introduction; Sydney Harbour National Park probably does. Although the Blue Mountains are often regarded as the nearest piece of natural beauty to Sydney, Sydney Harbour National Park lies in fact entirely within the boundaries of Australia’s most famous city.
Introduction to Sydney Harbour National Park
The national park encompasses a large part of Sydney Harbour, which is easily the most iconic harbor in the entire world. The park protects the shores, inlets, bays, islands and beaches of this natural harbor. It comprises nearly 400 hectares. Places and sites that are protected by the Sydney Harbour National Park include Nielsen Park, Shark Island, Fort Denison, Dobroyd Head and Goat Island. Manly to the Spit is a well-known section of the park, a section that is home to a spectacular coastal hiking trail. The waterway between North Head and Dobroyd Head is protected by the North Sydney Harbour Aquatic Reserve, a nature reserve that lies inside the national park.
Things to Do
The national park is home to historic military, Aboriginal and colonial sites, several walking trails, marine reserves, quiet picnic areas, parks, sandy beaches, swimming spots, islands and coastal cliffs. The beautiful skyline of Sydney is visible from numerous places inside the park – it is, in fact, a very popular vantage point to watch the world-renowned New Year’s Eve fireworks over Sydney Harbour. Another major event that takes place (partially) in the national park is the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
All these potential activities and natural landmarks attract both Sydneysiders and tourists. On a sunny day, it’s a marvelous place to spend a relaxing afternoon. Options are overwhelming, from admiring Aboriginal rock art that dates back thousands and thousands of years and visiting old historic colonial sites to leisure bike rides and sea kayaking.
Almost the entire length of the Sydney Harbour National Park coastline can be explored, either by sea kayak or canoe, or on foot. Easy short strolls lead to great lookout points, while the 100-kilometer-long Great Coastal Walk offers arguably the best impression of the Sydney coastline. More inland, hiking trails lead over rocky plateaus and through woodlands. Other highlights are the huge mansions owned by the rich and famous of Sydney.
Additional activities are swimming and sunbathing, as well as joining night tours or daytime cruises. Diving, snorkeling and wildlife spotting are popular things to do too.
Because it is located completely within Sydney, Sydney Harbour National Park is easily reached from the CBD. Public transport, which includes buses, trains and water taxis, is probably the most convenient way to get there.