Sydney Harbour National Park

Walking

Sydney Harbour represents one of the most stunning and environmentally diverse attractions in the world. It features cliffs, beaches and inlets of magnificent beauty unique to the region. The walks listed below highlight some of the experiences residents and visitors can enjoy by exploring the beautiful areas of Sydney Harbour.

Don't miss Bradleys Head audio tour. Enjoy this fantastic walk on the northern side of Sydney Harbour National Park and let the audio tour be your guide on this unique harbourside bushwalk with spectacular views to Sydney's icons and more.

Watch Classic walks of Sydney Harbour National Park: view the video.

Walking tracks

Fairfax walk

Wheelchair access: medium

Assistance may be required to access this area. There are steps down to the northern lookout, making it unsuitable for wheelchairs and strollers, however other lookouts are easily accessible.

The Fairfax walk offers superb views and an enjoyable, gentle walk. This short paved track starts at the end of North Head Scenic Drive and then loops around the top of North Head.

Its circuit connects three lookouts which provide the kinds of views you see on Sydney postcards. Look out over endless ocean or across the harbour to the CBD. 

The Fairfax walk is ideal for families with children and is partially wheelchair accessible. It’s also an exceptional walk for whale watchers during the June–July and August–October migration seasons.

If you’ve still got energy to burn after completing the Fairfax walk, you can continue on through North Head Sanctuary. From there, just wind your way back down to Manly and join the Manly Scenic Walkway or take the Bluefish track to Shelley Beach.

Take a virtual tour of Fairfax walk on Google Street View.

Plant communities: heathlands

Location:  shown on North Head map

Opening hours: Vehicle access to the lookouts at North Head is available from 5am to 10pm every day.

South Head Heritage trail

The short South Head Heritage trail offers something for everyone; incredible beach and harbour views, a glimpse into history and excellent whale watching opportunities.

Starting at Camp Cove in Watsons Bay, this short walk takes you on a stroll along an 1870s cobblestone road past Lady Bay Beach, before reaching historic Hornby Lighthouse with its distinctive red and white stripes. Take some time to explore the gun emplacements and keep your eyes open if you’re there during whale watching season.

The spectacular views of Sydney are sure to astound you, with Sydney Harbour to the west, Middle Head and North Head to the north, and the expansive Pacific Ocean to the east; and leave you wanting to explore more of Sydney Harbour National Park.

Plant communities: heathlands

Location:  shown on South Head map

Hermitage Foreshore track

One of Sydney’s great coastal walks, the easy Hermitage Foreshore track offers up stunning views of Sydney’s harbour, islands and icons.

Be sure to take your camera as there are plenty of photo opportunities along this walk; you’ll be able to see Shark Island, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the grounds of Strickland House along the way.

You can start the walk at either Bayview Hill Road or Nielsen Park and whichever way you walk, a stop at Nielsen Park is a way to spend some time. There’s a family friendly beach to enjoy, lots of grass for spreading out a picnic blanket and the Nielsen Park Café that offers coffee, lunch and snacks.

Plant communities: grassy woodlands, dry eucalypt forests

Location:  shown on Nielsen Park map

Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay walk

Looking to Sydney city from Bradleys Head on the north side of Sydney Harbour National Park (Image: K McGrath/DECCW)The views along Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay walk are almost too good to be true. The gentle bush track weaves around the harbour headlands from Taronga Zoo Wharf around Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay and is guaranteed to impress. There is even an app you can download directly to your iPhone or Android device.

You can see the Opera House and Harbour Bridge – Sydney’s most famous icons – in all their glory. Watch the boats glide by from Bradleys Head Amphitheatre or step into the past at Military relics at Bradleys Head. Come face-to-face with wildlife and ancient trees, and stop for a drink at heritage-listed Athol Hall or a Chowder Bay cafe.

The Harbour Bridge to The Spit Bridge walking track continues past Chowder Bay if you feel like a longer walk. Once you’ve explored this exquisite part of Sydney Harbour you’re sure to want to walk more of Sydney's coastal walking tracks.

Take a virtual tour of Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay walk on Google Street View.

 Audio tour: You can download an audio tour of the walk to your mp3 player or phone to take with you. This self-guided tour will be your companion on the ferry from Circular Quay to the start of the walk, and will guide you through each section of the track. The tour from Circular Quay to Chowder Bay will take approximately 2 hours.

Extending the walk: From Chowder Bay, you can carry on to Middle Head and Balmoral Beach for a further 3km - see the map on the Mosman Council website (PDF 607KB). You can also continue to The Spit - see notes for the Harbour Bridge to The Spit Walk.

Plant communities: dry eucalypt forests

Location:  shown on Bradleys Head map

Opening hours: Vehicle access to Bradleys Head is available between 6am and 8pm every day.

Manly scenic walkway

What’s the prettiest way to get to Manly? Some say catching the Manly ferry, but those in the know will tell you otherwise – it’s the Manly scenic walkway.

Beginning at Mosman’s Spit Bridge, this classic walk shows you some of the most picturesque parts of Sydney’s Middle and North Harbours and is part of Sydney's coastal walks.

Follow the shoreline to Fisher Bay, Sandy Bay and Clontarf Beach then enter the Sydney Harbour National Park at Castle Rock. Make your way around Dobroyd Head and don't miss the Aboriginal rock engravings at Grotto Point or the amazing views from Arabanoo lookout. Pass by or take a dip at Reef Beach or Forty Baskets on your way to Manly.

Fancy an ice cream at the Manly Corso after all that effort? Go on, you deserve it.

Plant communities: heathlands, grassy woodlands, dry eucalypt forests

Location:  shown on North Head map

Harbour Bridge to The Spit Bridge walking track

This stunning urban foreshore walk begins at the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Start at the bridge’s southern end in The Rocks or its northern end at Milsons Point, and then follow its signage around the harbour’s northern shores.

On this superbly scenic route, you’ll tread the paths of history as you pass harbour fortifications and Federation homes. You’ll walk some of the city’s most interesting and exclusive streets and find yourself ensconced in beautiful bushland and rainforest remnants.

Hike east past Taronga Zoo and into Sydney Harbour National Park, home of the incredible Bradleys, Chowder and Middle Heads. Be sure to stop at Athol Hall for a cuppa and a bite to eat, before continuing on to the exquisite Balmoral Beach for a swim. Then press on until you reach The Spit Bridge; you may even get there in time to see it open and rise to allow boats through.

It’s easy to break this walk up into shorter sections by parking partway along the route, catching the bus or the ferry at Mosman or Taronga Zoo wharves.

Plant communities: heathlands, grassy woodlands, dry eucalypt forests

Opening hours: Harbour Bridge to Spit Bridge walking track is always open but may need to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

Walking: events and activities

Commercial activity

Australian World Expeditions

World Expeditions is Australia's original trekking and adventure travel company. Since 1975 World Expeditions has operated quality treks and adventures around the globe.

More info: Australian World Expeditions, Phone: 02 8270 8400 (international +612 8270 8400)

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Commercial activity

Auswalk

Auswalk offers quality accommodated walking holiday packages in many destinations.

Self-guided inn-to-inn walking holidays in the Blue Mountains and Snowy Mountains. Walk from one comfortable accommodation to the next through the national park. We move your luggage ahead for you. Follow our detailed walk notes and marked maps. Start any day of the year in season.

Group guided walking holidays in the Snowy Mountains. Join a group with two knowledgeable guides and hike through the area, staying in comfortable accommodation at night. We also have a spring snowshoeing trip in the Snowy Mountains.

Privately guided trips ranging from 1 to 5 days in the Sydney Harbour area and Blue Mountains.

More info: Auswalk, Phone: 03 5356 4971 (international +613 5356 4971)

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Commercial activity

Colourful Trips

South Coast day tripColourful Trips is a tour operator and travel agency specialising in the international youth and adventure market. We offer a schedule of regular departures for day trips from Sydney that give people the opportunity to explore the amazing range of national parks on offer, within a three hour driving radius from Sydney.

Private or charter groups are also catered for so call us or send an email, so we can help you explore nature.

More info: Colourful Trips, Phone: 02 9318 0853 (international +612 9318 0853)

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Commercial activity

EcoTreasures

EcoTreasures experienced local guides are going to show you some hidden gems around Sydney's Northern Beaches. Choose from a range of nature experiences including stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkelling, bushwalking, coastal walks and Indigenous walks.

The Basin Campground - EcoTreasures offers guided stand up paddle board (SUP) safari, snorkelling tours and SUP Hire and kayak hire during the school holidays and by group request all year. Indigenous guided nature/culture walk to ancient engravings available by request. Customised group programs available with transport and catering options available for all tours. Please book ahead to avoid disappointment.

Sydney Harbour National Park - EcoTreasures provides guided coastal walks around Manly's foreshores, North Head and through Sydney Harbour National Park. If you are a family, team building group or a private groups who would enjoy a local nature experience with a local eco guide then the Coastal Walk is a perfect option. Customised programs, educational work sheets and team building programs are available specifically designed to meet the aims and objectives of your day.

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park - You be in charge and tell me what your group would like. Private Tours are available by request. Choose from a range of nature based experiences options including stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling, bushwalking, bird watching and Indigenous guided walks. Perfect for school groups, team building groups, family and private groups.

More info: Ecotreasures, Phone: 0415 121 648 (international +61415 121 648)

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Commercial activity

Flamin' Galah Tours and Adventures

Ku-ring-gai Chase National ParkFlamin' Galah Sydney Tours and Airport Transfers offer a unique collection of exciting and affordable private tours of Sydney. Want to know what to do in Sydney? Well, look no further than Manly Beach, Sydney's northern beaches, The Blue Mountains, The Hunter Valley wine region and Jenolan Caves.

The Manly Package. This tour shows off a classic Sydney beach and reveals why there is SO much more to Manly than just Manly Beach.

Home and Away Tour. Explore Summer Bay (Palm Beach in Sydney) to see the location of Home and Away, one of Australia's best loved TV soaps.

Blue Mountains, Sydney. A truly iconic Sydney tourist attraction. No wonder millions of people flock to see the 3 Sisters at Sydney's Blue Mountains.

Hunter Valley Wine Tour. Sit back, eat, drink and be merry on the ultimate tour to The Hunter Valley - one of Australia's finest wine making regions.

Jenolan Caves. A rare and intriguing natural phenomenon, gets you out of Sydney and soaking up some of Australia's vast landscape.

Half or Full Day Bush and Beach Experience. An 'off the beaten track Sydney tour', showcasing Sydney's spectacular, untouched, vast and beautiful bush and beach settings.

More info: Flamin' Galah Sydney Tours and Airport Transfers, Phone: 02 9977 7890 (international +612 9977 7890)

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Commercial activity

Land's Edge

Snorkelling at Land's EdgeLand's Edge is one of Australia's leading providers of dynamic and progressive education outdoor experiences for schools and other groups.

Operating in Sydney Harbour, the NSW South Coast and in Kosciuszko National Park, the company's outdoor experiences combine adventure and personal growth.

Land's Edge provides safe and enjoyable programs, with participants guided at every turn by highly experienced and professional staff. Land's Edge staff adheres to comprehensive safety and risk-management procedures.

Land's Edge also offers inexpensive group accommodation on the foreshore of Sydney Harbour. The Land's Edge Sydney Harbour education/accommodation facility is located on the foreshore of Chowder Bay, on Sydney's lower North Shore and adjacent to Sydney Harbour National Park.

Offering spectacular Harbour views, the venue accommodates 75 people in fully refurbished dormitory-style rooms. A large, light-filled dining room in a bushland setting seats 80 and can be used for multiple purposes. 

More info: Land's Edge, Phone: 02 9969 0038 (international +612 9969 0038)

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Commercial activity

Life's an Adventure

Visitors to Sydney and the Blue Mountains will love Life's An Adventure's extensive range of active day experiences and overnight adventures. Choose from a range of unique and personalised kayaking, hiking and mountain biking guided tours with a maximum of 15 participants. Adventures are paced to suit you, with average fitness levels suitable for most activities. Tours are available daily and include gourmet food and the option of hotel pick-ups from the Sydney CBD or Manly area.

More info: Life's an Adventure, Phone: 02 9913 8939 (international +612 9913 8939)

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Commercial activity

Sydney Coast Walks

Walking in Royal National Park with Sydney Coast WalksSydney Coast Walks are the Sydney walking people. With some of the city's best natural beauty only accessible on foot, Sydney Coast Walks provides expertly guided half day, full day and overnight hiking adventures through Sydney Harbour and Royal National Parks, enabling guests to reconnect with nature in Australia's largest city. Small groups, maximum 12 guests, for a better walking experience.

Sydney Harbour National Park Walking Tours

Royal National Park Walking Tours

  • Jibbon Aboriginal Tour Learn the traditions of the Dharawal Aboriginal people, view thousand-year-old rock carvings and listen to Dreaming stories.
  • Marley Explore Royal's majestic sandstone coastline on a full day walk.
  • Wattamolla (Coast Track) Discover awe-inspiring views and fascinating history as you hike the iconic Coast Track. Enjoy a fully catered and supported camping experience.

When: year-round. Bookings essential.

More info: Sydney Coast Walks, Phone: 02 8521 7423 (international +612 8521 7423)

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Commercial activity

Walkabout Tours

Barrenjoey Lighthouse at Palm BeachWalkabout Tours is an exclusive Sydney tour operator offering private individual and small group tours in and around the Sydney area. Designed for the sophisticated traveller, our tour programs offer the best of Sydney - whether you are looking for Aboriginal culture, art and heritage, museums and galleries, food and wine or scenic touring.

All individual tours are conducted on a private basis so we can design a tour day to suit your interests. We are one of the few licensed tour operators conducting tours to the Aboriginal ceremonial and rock art sites in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, only 25km north of Sydney.

All full day tours include a two course luncheon at a gourmet restaurant. Let us show you the best of Sydney!

More info: Walkabout Tours, Phone: 02 9332 2611 (international +612 9332 2611)

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Commercial activity

Wild Women on Top

Wild Women on Top Coastrek ViewsWild Women on Top specialise in adventure fitness training for women. Our 10-week trek training programs and Wild Weekends operate in and around NSW's spectacular national parks and prepare women for trekking adventures both in Australia and overseas.

We also run the Wild Women on Top Sydney Coastrek, which is a 100km trek along the world class coast of Sydney. This is an event for women and mixed teams, including corporates, who are interested in participating in team building challenges to promote health through walking and raising funds for charity.

In addition this, Wild Women on Top offer Wild Weekends to assist women in preparing for extreme and moderate trekking challenges.

More info: Wild Women on Top, Phone: 0434 027 912 (international +61434 027 912)

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