Cockatoo Island, Sydney, NSW
Beyond its landmark buildings, Sydney Harbour National Park shelters secluded beaches, picturesque islands and rare pockets of native bushland. Swim, picnic and bushwalk along the spectacular foreshore or visit harbour islands on a ferry. Go sailing or kayaking, get up close to wildlife and discover ancient rock art and convict-built buildings. The harbour's bays, parks and headlands are also natural grandstands for some of Australia's biggest events, from New Year's Eve fireworks to the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
You can hike all around Sydney's famous harbour, on short trails, day walks or sections of the 100km Great Coastal Walk. On the harbour's northern edge, discover popular beach precincts such as Balmoral Beach, Manly and Chowder Bay. Visit Taronga Zoo, swim from pretty Chinamans Beach and do the walk between Manly and the Spit Bridge. Explore old forts and barracks and enjoy spectacular views across the water from Bradleys Head and Middle Head. On the harbour's southern edge is Nielsen Park and Parsley Bay, where families gather in droves over summer. Feast on fish and chips at Watsons Bay at South Head, then follow a heritage trail past the gap and lighthouse.
Monuments to Sydney's history are scattered all across its harbour. Learn about the lives of the city's original inhabitants, the Cadigal people, on a cruise with an Aboriginal guide. Listen to Dreaming stories and learn the Aboriginal names and meanings of Sydney's landmarks. Get up close to rock-carvings and stop for a traditional Aboriginal welcome and bush tucker lunch on Clark Island.