10 February 2018
The early bird catches the worm as they say, and who wouldn’t want to spend their morning watching the sun come up over a beautifully clear Sydney sky? Check out some of the ways Sydney bloggers spend their sunrise – and get some ideas for your own early morning adventures!
Sailing masts clink as I stroll past the Rushcutters Bay departure point of the quintessentially Australian, ‘Sydney to Hobart’ yacht race; a part of my family’s summers for as long as I can recall.
The path hugs the shore where occasionally I glimpse a stingray, but more often a school of silver-tailed fish glimmering in the still of dawn. Mornings are busy; people walk their dogs, gather in groups for outdoor exercise classes, or stop at the Cafe for a caffeine fix. I continue to the furthest point where the ‘Bay’ meets the depths of Sydney Harbour, stopping to gaze and listen to the cacophony of a city coming to life. Ferries chug, a super size Cruise Ship give a low growl of it’s horn, and streamline yachts glide. The sun begins its rise in the ocean beyond the North and South headland – climbing skyward to cast a pink glow on the Harbour Bridge and the city skyline. An awakening of one of the greatest cities in the world, this is my Sydney Sunrise.
One of my favourite ways to start the day in Sydney is to go to Watson’s Bay. And its location at the tip of the South Head peninsula makes it a great sunrise spot. The 1 km long loop trail, the South Head Heritage trail, is a must do. The short hike takes you through different beaches, coves and the historic red and white striped Hornby Lighthouse and offers incredible views of the sunrise over the Tasman Sea to the east and the scenic Sydney Harbour to the west.
If you are more of a water activity person I can highly recommend a sunrise lesson at the Watson’s Bay Stand Up Paddle School, WATSSUP. You will get your daily exercise by paddle boarding around beautiful Watson’s Bay while experiencing the sunrise from the waterside. End your morning at the vibrant Beach Club at Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel for a nice brekkie and you are ready to seize the day!
Truth be told, my favourite thing to do at sunrise in Sydney is to have a sleep-in, in the comfort of my queen-sized bed. But on the rare occasion that I do muster up the energy to catch the sunrise, I like to be out in nature. It’s the most meditative and calming experience to witness the world waking up to a fresh new day.
The Royal National Park is one of my favourite and easily accessible nature escapes in the Sydney region. The hidden gems, relaxing hikes and magnificent lookout points are magical to visit at any given time of the day, but in the wee-hours of the morning, it’s as though you’re the only human on the planet.
If you’re a budding vlogger or drone enthusiast, then you’re definitely in for a treat. It’s one of the few places in Sydney where there’s no heavy drone restrictions so you can capture the amazing natural coastline from above! Some of my favourite vantage points include Providential Point Lookout and Governor Game Lookout. And… you can always go for a cheeky swim at Wattamolla Beach after a droning session to start off the day feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
The best place to start your day in Sydney is definitely Bondi Beach. Not only is Bondi a world famous, beautiful surf beach, but sunrise at Bondi is where you can find the truly local Sydney vibe. As the sun begins to rise over the ocean you can find the Bondi lifeguards setting up their flags and paddle boards for the potential dramas that might arise during the day; the “Icebergs” as they’re called, going for an extremely early swim in their speedos; and if you’re lucky you might even spit a dolphin or seal jumping around on the horizon.
You will often be blessed with an epic pink, orange and purple sunrise to start your day at Bondi, and there is no shortage of gorgeous landscapes to include in your photos – from the rocky cliffs full of uber expensive properties to the left, to the infamous ocean pool and surrounding rock pools on the right. Starting your day with the sun at Bondi gives you a minute of absolute peace in the morning, before the tourists and locals start to flock to the beach to cool down from the Aussie sun and everything gets a little chaotic. No matter what time of the year you visit, Bondi is definitely considered Sydney’s most popular beach, which makes experiencing the beach at sunrise even more special.
Take a dip in the early morning to feel like a real local, or if you just can’t get yourself into that ice cold water in the morning, enjoy the first few hours of the day relaxing on the beach or grabbing a juice or smoothie from one of the beach front cafes.
Generally, the thought of being up before the sun makes me nauseous. It’s really quite unfortunate because sunrises in Sydney are scandalously beautiful – my body just violently disagrees. But, I will push through the dry mouth and general fogginess, for one thing: a chance to spend that magical window that is sunrise at my local swimming hole, Bronte Beach.
Starting your day by doing some early morning laps of Bronte Baths or having a quick splash in the Bronte rock pool leaves you invigorated for the 24 hours ahead (and quickly banishes the sleep fog). This is all while having a front row seat as Mother Nature puts on a pretty spectacular show, painting the sky in rich reds, oranges and blues.
Plus, it’s the best time to enjoy this natural playground before the cossie-cladded crowds pile off the 379 bus. Although sunrise at Bronte brings a different kind of crowd, attracting a throng of photographers eagerly trying to capture the show – and I don’t blame them!
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is an elevated spot that offers an uninterrupted view of both the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and it’s an incredible spot to watch the sunrise. Two Australian icons illuminated by the rising sun – don’t miss it!
Re photography (because let’s be honest, if it’s not on instagram did it really happen?!), from this angle you should be able to frame both the Bridge and Opera House to be in close proximity to one another. The walking path on the Farm Cove bay bank below provides the same views but at a lower point. This is a really popular spot during the day, and usually draws large crowds at sunset, so visiting at sunrise means less crowds, and more available parking. Depending on what you want to shoot it’s advisable to travel with a full range of lenses. This is a great spot for panoramic shots, and those with a good zoom can shoot the Opera House sails with the bridge in the background.
The gate clicks closed as I leave home for my early morning walk, turning east on the dirt road. I am alone with the bush on my left, the wide and powerful Hawkesbury river on my right and the occasional Magpie greeting me. There are no cars to worry about as the road is primarily a pedestrian walkway. Approaching the corner, the cliffs of Little Wobby remain in shadow beneath the eastern sky which is gradually lightening through the trees. Between me and the cliffs the river is dark and gloomy. Turning the corner towards Bradley’s Beach, I surprise a family of Kookaburras who welcome me with their raucous laughter. Settling down on the sand at Bradley’s Beach, I am just in time to watch the sunrise over the cliffs to my left. The water gently laps the shore. The light catches commuter boats moored in the river, their reflections distorting in the rippling water. Walking around Dangar Island is my favourite thing to do in Sydney at sunrise. And I don’t have to leave home to do it.
A hidden gem just a 10-minute walk from Manly, one of Sydney’s most famous beaches is Shelly Beach. A perfect day out for travellers who want to escape the city. There are hourly ferries from Circular Quay to Manly for the 30-minute ride on one of the world’s most beautiful harbours. On arrival at Manly Wharf head towards the Corso, Manly’s main shopping street that leads to Manly Beach and turn right. You can follow the coastal pathway, which has a Mediterranean feel about it, making sure you keep an eye out for the local wildlife – water dragons that sun themselves on the rocks along the pathway. If you have children with you they can enjoy spotting the silver sculptures embedded in the rocks. There is also a salt-water pool for swimming.
Shelly Beach is a sheltered protected marine reserve and is perfect for everyone especially families with young children. It is popular with scuba divers and snorkelers. A great place to have coffee or lunch is at the “The Boat House” at the end of the walkway with stunning views over the beach and the reserve.
Cronulla Beach is a beautiful place to greet the sunrise of a new day. I grew up in Cronulla, and spent many wonderful hours enjoying the beaches and swimming pools all around the Cronulla Beach area. This is also the home of the perfect sunrise! Simply take along a towel or blanket to sit on, a picnic basket – and some sunglasses! Then prepare yourself for what has to be one of the most beautiful sunrises on earth. With the sun spilling over the far ocean horizon you can nibble on your alfresco breakfast and take in the show. Watch the dawning light play across the breaking waves – if you’re really lucky you may see some local surfers – dolphins!
After breakfast is the perfect time of day for a sunrise-swim (take care, it’s still a bit early for lifesavers to be on duty yet!) or a gentle stroll in either direction. Cronulla Beach is the start of a gorgeous expanse of uninterrupted beach stretching for miles towards Kurnell. Head the other way, and you’ll discover large salt-water swimming pools, still more beautiful beaches and The Esplanade – a stunning elevated footpath which leads you along rocky cliffs and past small coves. After your walk, perhaps head down to the Cronulla Mall for an early lunch at one of the many small restaurants and cafes – enjoy!
If you can pull yourself out of your cosy bed, Sunrise in Sydney is the perfect time to stroll the Coogee to Bondi cliff top walk. Start by watching the glowing, orange sun rise over the crashing waves of Bondi Beach. Join the locals for sunrise yoga or head to Bondi Icebergs Surf Club for a brisk morning swim before starting the iconic Bondi to Coogee walk. The six-kilometre coastline path that leads you around spectacular cliff tops with ocean vistas to Tamarama (AKA “Glamarama”) and Bronte Beaches, and then past the incredibly scenic Waverley Cemetery, Clovelly bowls club and secluded Gordon’s Bay, to Coogee Beach.
Grab a leisurely brekkie at the Coogee Pavilion before getting the bus back to where you started, or take a well-deserved swim at the beach. If swimming pools are more your thing, take a dip at Giles Baths, a natural rock pool at the northern headland of Coogee Beach, or head to the south end of Coogee Beach for a splash in the Ross Jones Memorial Pool, a man-made ocean pool.