Vaucluse is positioned on the South Head peninsula in Sydney’s east between Rose Bay and Watsons Bay, making it one of the ritziest neighbourhoods in Sydney. As well as checking out the Grand Designs-esque houses you can also discover colonial heritage, pretty harbour beaches and spectacular walks.
History and heritage
Vaucluse House is a colonial mansion-turned-museum in a picturesque garden estate. It began life as a cottage but when colonial explorer William Charles Wentworth bought it in 1827, he built it into a stately home. There are guided tours of Australia’s first official house museum and high tea is available Wednesday to Sunday in the garden tearooms.
Things to do
Vaucluse is known for its sheltered harbour beaches. The enclosed swimming area at Nielsen Park is popular with families and divers head east towards Bottle and Glass Point. Parsley Bay is an enclosed swimming area surrounded by bushland while the small, sandy Milk Beach is one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets.
Nielsen Park is also where the Hermitage Foreshore track begins and then winds past the heritage-listed Strickland House to Milk Beach (this is the easiest way to access the beach). The walking trail offers stunning harbour views, including of Shark Island and the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Another wonderful trail is the 5km Federation Cliff Walk along rugged sandstone cliffs in Dover Heights, Vaucluse and Watsons Bay for postcard views of the Pacific Ocean. Stop on the way at Macquarie Lighthouse, Australia’s oldest lighthouse designed by convict architect Francis Greenway.
Eat and drink
Nielsen Park is a great picnic spot and The Nielsen comprises a waterfront restaurant and casual kiosk. The Botanica is a farm-to-table fine dining restaurant. For coffee and casual café fare visit The Trail or The Grumpy Baker, which also runs the sister café next door My Little Israel, serving rustic Middle Eastern food cooked in a wood oven.
Getting to Vaucluse is easy by public transport. Take a bus from the city centre or Bondi Beach. For fabulous views of Sydney Harbour, hop on a ferry from Circular Quay to Watsons Bay and then take a bus or walk for only 30 minutes, via Parsley Bay’s 1910-built cable footbridge, to Vaucluse House.