Nature and Parks
Nature is right on the doorstep of downtown Sydney. The glittering harbour city is bordered by magnificent national parks, sandstone cliffs and sandy beaches. The edges of this bustling metropolis are softened by vast vistas of ocean and untouched wilderness at every turn.
Sydney is known for its gardens and parklands, too. The Royal Botanic Garden, founded in 1816, covers 30 hectares and hugs the edge of the famous Sydney Harbour. There is a free guided tour of the garden each day, Aboriginal Heritage Tours several times a week and botanical exhibitions in the Calyx.
Discover the city on one of its beautiful walks. The Manly to Spit Bridge Walk is a popular harbour walk on the Northern Beaches, the Hermitage Foreshore Track winds through coastal national park and the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk is one of Sydney's most scenic trails, with great whale-watching vantage points.
You'll find bushwalking trails to breathtaking lookouts and tranquil waterways for kayaking and fishing in national parks dotted around the city. Discover Aboriginal rock art, including engravings of a sky spirit and whale in Jibbon Head and ochre hand paintings in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
National parks in Sydney
Established in 1879, the Royal National Park is Australia’s oldest national park. You can relax on secluded beaches, discover littoral rainforest and go camping, too. Small rowboats are for hire from the Audley Boatshed to pootle around pretty Kangaroo Creek. Other national parks in Sydney include:
- Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park for the Red Hands Cave walking track
- Sydney Harbour National Park for exhilarating walking foreshore trails
- Kamay Botany Bay National Park for whale watching at Cape Solander
- Dharawal National Park for tours with an Aboriginal Discovery Ranger
- Thirlmere Lakes National Park, a World Heritage area in Western Sydney
- Lane Cove National Park for bushwalking, cycling, rowing and camping
- Dharug National Park for a World Heritage convict trail in the Hawkesbury
You can even spend the night on Cockatoo Island, a UNESCO World Heritage convict site, with a campground and houses in the middle of Sydney Harbour. There are guided camping tours, too. Join Life’s an Adventure, Sydney Coast Walks or EcoTreasures for a Sydney camping adventure in a national park.
Whale watching in Sydney
The annual migration of thousands of humpbacks and other whales along the NSW coast, between May and November, is one of the world's great natural wonders. Whale watching is popular on Sydney coastal walks and on special boat tours departing from Circular Quay, Darling Harbour and Manly.