Nature and Parks
Sydney’s natural wonders are incredible. Magnificent national parks, sparkling Sydney Harbour and majestic humpback whales, to name just three. The striking sandstone cliffs, the lovely sandy beaches and the myriad of colourful birdlife are three more natural features of the harbour city.
There are gorgeous gardens and parklands, too. One of the best harbour foreshore walks meanders through the Royal Botanic Garden to the Sydney Opera House. There is a free guided tour daily of the garden, Aboriginal Heritage Tours several times a week and special plant exhibitions in the Calyx.
Other harbour walks include the Manly to Spit Bridge Walk on the northern side and the Hermitage Foreshore Track in Vaucluse on the southern side. On scenic coastal trails such as the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk there are vantage points to spot humpback whales on their annual migration.
On the edges of Sydney, and right in the heart, are national parks. You’ll find wildlife, bushwalking trails to breathtaking lookouts and tranquil waterways for kayaking and fishing. There is precious Aboriginal rock art, including engravings of a sky spirit and a whale, and ochre hand paintings.
The Royal National Park is Australia’s oldest national park, established in 1879. You can relax on secluded beaches, discover littoral rainforest and go camping. Small row boats are for hire from the Audley Boatshed to explore pretty Kangaroo Creek. Other national parks in Sydney include:
- Kur-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 go camping on a Sydney Harbour island. Cockatoo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage convict site, with a campground and tents. 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.
One of the great natural wonders is the annual migration of thousands of humpbacks and other whales along the NSW coast, between May and November. Whale watching is popular on Sydney coastal walks and on special boat tours departing from Circular Quay, Darling Harbour and Manly.