Discover colonial heritage, pretty harbour beaches and spectacular walks in Vaucluse, on the South Head peninsula in Sydney’s east between Rose Bay and Watsons Bay. You can even enjoy high tea at the magnificent Vaucluse House, a colonial mansion-turned-museum in a picturesque garden estate.
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.
Vaucluse House began as a cottage. The colonial explorer William Charles Wentworth bought the single-storey cottage in 1827 and 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.
Other delicious refreshment spots include Il Dolce Dell’Amore, The Grumpy Baker, Sol Botanica and Pigeonhole, a wine bar. You’ll be impressed with picnic spots too at natural landmarks such as Nielsen Park, home to a charming cafe, Shark Beach and Bottle and Glass Point, popular for diving.
The Hermitage Foreshore track begins in Nielsen Park and winds past the heritage-listed Strickland House to Milk Beach, a small sandy beach and one of Sydney’s well-kept secrets. 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.