Sydney Harbour National Park

Overview

Sydney Harbour National Park protects islands and foreshore around Sydney Harbour. Explore Sydney's history on a school excursion or guided tour to enjoy coastal walks, picnics and swimming.

Read more about Sydney Harbour National Park

Sydney Harbour National Park protects a number of islands and foreshore areas around one of the world's most famous harbours.  The park is home to superb swimming spots, bushwalking tracks and picnic areas, which offer a huge range of activities that will have you coming back again and again.

See native wildlife living in rare pockets of bushland once common around Sydney, or take a fascinating walk to explore the park's cultural history. You'll see everything from convict-built buildings and military fortifications to Aboriginal sites and a heritage lighthouse. And with the harbour's staggering coastline creating an endless natural lookout, the park's jaw-dropping views simply have to be seen to be believed. If you're at one of the park's lookouts during winter, be sure to keep a lookout for whales on their annual migration north.

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/sydney-harbour-national-park/local-alerts

Contact

  • in the Sydney and surrounds region
  • Sydney Harbour National Park is open sunrise to sunset but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

  • Park entry fees:

    Bradleys Head carpark: $8 per vehicle per day. North Head carpark: $5 per vehicle per day. There are pay and display machines that accept cards and coins - no change given. Chowder Bay Road parking: Monday-Friday: $3 per hour, to a maximum of $16 per day. Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: $4 per hour, to a maximum of $20 per day. If you hold an NPWS All Parks or Multi Parks Pass, you can park free for up to four hours per day - additional time can be purchased. Car parks operated by Sydney Harbour Federation Trust or Mosman Council are not covered by your pass. Please check signs carefully.

    Other fees:

    Landing fee or tour fee applies to visit Sydney Harbour Islands. Fort Denison can only be visited on a tour. To visit Shark, Clark or Rodd islands Island, all vessels, including kayaks, need to pay a $7 per person landing fee. To arrange, please contact 13000 PARKS (13000 72757).

    Buy an annual pass (http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/Sydney-Harbour-National-Park/visitor-info#Fees-and-passes).
    • Vaucluse
      (02) 9337 5511
      Contact hours: 9am-5pm Monday to Friday
    • Greycliffe House, Nielsen Park, Vaucluse NSW
    • Fax: (02) 9337 1303
    More
    • Mosman
      (02) 9960 6266
      Contact hours: 9am-4.30pm Wednesday to Friday
    • Governors Road, Middle Head, Mosman NSW
    • Fax: (02) 9960 3965
    More
See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Sydney Harbour National Park.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    Park entry points Show more

    Parking Show more

    By bike

    Check out the Bicycle Info website for more information about visiting Sydney Harbour National Park by bike.

    By public transport

    Use the Transport NSW website to plan your trip into Sydney Harbour National Park.

    Facilities

    Maps and downloads

    Fees and passes

    Park entry fees:

    Bradleys Head carpark: $8 per vehicle per day. North Head carpark: $5 per vehicle per day. There are pay and display machines that accept cards and coins - no change given. Chowder Bay Road parking: Monday-Friday: $3 per hour, to a maximum of $16 per day. Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: $4 per hour, to a maximum of $20 per day. If you hold an NPWS All Parks or Multi Parks Pass, you can park free for up to four hours per day - additional time can be purchased. Car parks operated by Sydney Harbour Federation Trust or Mosman Council are not covered by your pass. Please check signs carefully.

    Other fees:

    Landing fee or tour fee applies to visit Sydney Harbour Islands. Fort Denison can only be visited on a tour. To visit Shark, Clark or Rodd islands Island, all vessels, including kayaks, need to pay a $7 per person landing fee. To arrange, please contact 13000 PARKS (13000 72757).

    • All Parks Pass - For all parks in NSW (including Kosciuszko NP) $190 (1 year) / $335 (2 years)
    • Multi-Park Pass - For all parks in NSW (except Kosciuszko) $65 (1 year) / $115 (2 years)

    Annual passes and entry fees (http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/passes-and-fees)

    Safety messages

    However you discover NSW national parks and reserves, we want you to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Our park and reserve systems contrast greatly so you need to be aware of the risks and take responsibility for your own safety and the safety of those in your care.

    Beach safety

    Beaches in this park are not patrolled, and can sometimes have strong rips and currents. These beach safety tips will help you and your family stay safe in the water.

    Fishing safety

    Fishing from a boat, the beach or by the river is a popular activity for many national park visitors. If you’re planning a day out fishing, check out these fishing safety tips.

    Mobile safety

    Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency + app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

    Prohibited

    Drones

    Flying recreational drones is not permitted because this park is located within 5.5km of an airfield or helicopter landing site. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) states that drones should not be flown within 30m of vehicles, boats, buildings or people, or within 5.5km of an airfield. Drones can also impact on public enjoyment and privacy, interfere with park operations, and may pose a threat to wildlife in some areas.

    Please contact the park office for consent if you wish to fly a drone for commercial filming or photography purposes. For more information, see the Drones in Parks policy.

    Pets

    Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the OEH pets in parks policy for more information.

    Smoking

    NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

    Nearby towns

    Sydney City Centre (10 km)

    No trip to Sydney is complete without spending some time in the city’s beautiful parks. Whether it’s in central areas like Hyde Park or the Royal Botanic Gardens or further out in Centennial Parklands, there’s plenty of green space to go out and enjoy.

    www.sydney.com

    Hornsby (29 km)

    A suburb in Sydney's upper north shore, Hornsby is conveniently located for easy access to Lane Cove National Park, Berowra Valley Regional Park, and the heritage-listed Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park - Australia's second-oldest national park. Explore walking and cycling tracks and Aboriginal sites, as well as marinas, cafes and picnic areas.

    www.hornsby.nsw.gov.au

    Parramatta (34 km)

    Parramatta offers a fascinating insight into early colonial life in Australia. Don't miss a visit to Old Government House, now one of 11 Australian Convict Sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

    www.sydney.com

    Learn more

    Sydney Harbour National Park is a special place. Here are just some of the reasons why:

    Native birds and animals

    Water dragon (Physignathus lesueurii), Sydney Harbour National Park. Photo: John Spencer

    You'll probably spot at least one of the park's 150 bird species on your visit, like a white-bellied sea eagle or a New Holland honeyeater. If you're near Manly, you may be lucky enough to glimpse an endangered little penguin as it is the state's only known mainland colony. If you happen to see unusual webbed footprints on a beach or shoreline, they may well belong to a native water rat looking for seafood in shallow water close to the shoreline.

    • Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay walk Take the Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay walk for beautiful views of Sydney Harbour. This easy walk takes you from Taronga Zoo to the beach and cafes at Chowder Bay, and there is a guided tour to download.  
    • Fairfax walk The paved Fairfax Walk is easy, gentle and ideal for walking with children. Located at North Head in Sydney Harbour National Park, it's a great walk for whale watching.
    • Wet and dry environments - Bradleys Head Wet and dry environments - Bradleys Head is a school excursion in Sydney Harbour National Park. It's for Stage 1 (Years 1-2) primary school students, focusing on HSIE as a KLA. Visit wet and dry environments in the Bradleys Head area of the park, and identify its living and non-living things through fun, hands-on activities.
    • WilderQuest WildThings Come on a WilderQuest WildThings excursion for Stage 1 students, focusing on science and technology. We’ll investigate the living world in Sydney Harbour National Park, home to native birds and animals.
    • WilderQuest WildTracker Take a WilderQuest WildTracker school excursion for Stage 2 students, focusing on science and technology. Students will carry out investigations and explore the living world in Sydney Harbour National Park.

    Diverse landscapes

    Arabanoo lookout at Dobroyd Head, Sydney Harbour National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    Immerse yourself in nature at Sydney Harbour National Park. Exploring its varied scenery, you'll find everything from sandstone cliffs and rocky foreshores to quiet beaches and bushland. Stand beneath gigantic Sydney red gums and Port Jackson figs or absorb the sheer size of the harbour from a headland lookout.

    • Bottle and Glass Point Bottle and Glass Point is an ideal picnic spot in Nielsen Park in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Enjoy lovely harbour views and go fishing, snorkelling, diving or swimming.
    • Manly scenic walkway Also known as the Spit Bridge to Manly Walk, Manly Scenic Walkway is among Sydney's best walking tracks. Enjoy bush, beach and beautiful views on this excellent day walk.

    An island paradise

    Bradleys Head, Sydney Harbour National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    The park protects five historic harbour islands. Discover the rich convict and maritime heritage of Goat Island, along with stunning views from all angles. Why not picnic at Rodd or Shark Island? Set aside for public enjoyment as early as 1879, both offer picnic areas, beaches and paths for you to explore. The park’s exceptional landscapes are the perfect setting for fishing, swimming, scuba diving and soaking up the views. Head to Clark Island for an Aboriginal cultural experience and enjoy the city lights as you dine on Fort Denison. Sydney Harbour National Park is beloved by landscape photographers, so why not bring your camera and take a few shots? 

    • Arabanoo lookout at Dobroyd Head Arabanoo lookout at Dobroyd Head is named in honour of Arabanoo, the first Aboriginal man to live among European settlers. It's a great spot for whale watching, offering views over North and South Head and the Pacific Ocean.
    • Bradleys Head Amphitheatre Bradleys Head Amphitheatre is an exceptionally popular place within Sydney Harbour National Park. A fabulous lookout, it's also a great picnic area and fishing spot.
    • Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay walk Take the Bradleys Head to Chowder Bay walk for beautiful views of Sydney Harbour. This easy walk takes you from Taronga Zoo to the beach and cafes at Chowder Bay, and there is a guided tour to download.  

    Aboriginal heritage

    Arabanoo lookout, Sydney Harbour National Park. Photo: John Spencer

    Before Australia became a British colony, the area around Sydney Harbour was occupied by the Eora, Guringai and Daruk Aboriginal Nations. Upon the arrival of settlers and convicts, land was cleared to make way for the developing colony, and Aboriginal people were forced further and further away from their traditional camping and hunting grounds. As the colony spread, more evidence of Aboriginal life and culture was destroyed. Today, despite the great spread of the city, you can find many Aboriginal sites like rock engravings and middens - examples of an ancient and enduring cultural heritage and a record of the Eora Peoples' connection to Country.

    • Aboriginal culture and bush tucker: Bradleys Head Join an NPWS Aboriginal guide on this fascinating morning of cultural exploration on the shores of Sydney Harbour. On this tour, we'll visit beautiful Bradleys Head, near Taronga Zoo.
    • Aboriginal culture: expanding contacts Arabanoo lookout Aboriginal culture expanding contacts Arabanoo lookout is a Stage 4 (Years 7-8) school excursion in Sydney Harbour National Park which focuses on history as a KLA. Embark on a learning journey of Aboriginal culture from pre-colonisation to now.
    • Aboriginal culture: expanding contacts Bradleys Head Aboriginal culture expanding contacts Bradleys Head is a Stage 4 (Years 7-8) school excursion in Sydney Harbour National Park which focuses on history as a KLA. Embark on a learning journey of Aboriginal culture from pre-colonisation to now.
    • Aboriginal culture: expanding contacts Nielsen Park Aboriginal culture expanding contacts Nielsen Park is a Stage 4 (Years 7-8) school excursion in Sydney Harbour National Park which focuses on history as a KLA. Embark on a learning journey of Aboriginal culture from pre-colonisation to now.
    • Arabanoo lookout at Dobroyd Head Arabanoo lookout at Dobroyd Head is named in honour of Arabanoo, the first Aboriginal man to live among European settlers. It's a great spot for whale watching, offering views over North and South Head and the Pacific Ocean.
    • Grotto Point Aboriginal engraving site Sydney Harbour National Park’s rock engravings immerse you in Sydney’s Aboriginal heritage. Head to Grotto Point at Dobroyd Head for historic rock art and scenic views.
    • Who's Arabanoo? This school excursion in Sydney Harbour National Park is for Stage 2 (Years 3-4) students and focuses on HSIE. Walk down the track to Reef Beach with an Aboriginal ranger to hear about the cultural history of the area and learn about the European history of surrounding sites.
    • WilderQuest WildThings Come on a WilderQuest WildThings excursion for Stage 1 students, focusing on science and technology. We’ll investigate the living world in Sydney Harbour National Park, home to native birds and animals.
    • WilderQuest WildTracker Take a WilderQuest WildTracker school excursion for Stage 2 students, focusing on science and technology. Students will carry out investigations and explore the living world in Sydney Harbour National Park.
    Show more

    A world of history

    Fort Denison, Sydney Harbour National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    Although British authorities first planned to set up their penal colony in Botany Bay, the First Fleet of convicts only stayed in Botany Bay for a few days and then set sail around the coast to Sydney Harbour, where the colony was established. Since then, Sydney Harbour has continued to play an important part in the development of the nation and a number of places in the park have strong links to Sydney's history. You'll find buildings constructed using convict labour, maritime and military fortifications, and the Quarantine Station which once housed new boat arrivals to Sydney, protecting Sydneysiders from infectious disease.

    • Beehive Casemate tour NPWS is conducting a series of guided tours of this historic fortification in Sydney Harbour National Park. We'll explore the rarely opened Beehive Casemate as part of this tour at Middle Head, near Mosman.
    • Convict kids - Goat Island Convict kids - Goat Island is a Stage 2 (Years 3-4) school excursion in Sydney Harbour National Park, focusing on HSIE. History comes to life on Goat Island when you unexpectedly find yourself on trial for a crime you may or may not have committed. Students experience what life must have been like for Australia's first British settlers and how life could have been much easier if only they had had knowledge of the bush.
    • Fort Denison Fort Denison is a heritage fort on a Sydney harbour island, once called Pinchgut. This former military site is the most complete Martello Tower in the world and a popular Sydney attraction. 
    • Goat Island heritage tour Take a fascinating tour of Goat Island, an iconic Sydney landmark in Sydney Harbour National Park.
    • Japanese mini submarine tour: Fort Denison In 1942, 3 midget submarines entered Sydney Harbour to attack naval vessels docked there. What happened next? Find out on this great harbour tour into Sydney's history in Sydney Harbour National Park.
    • Military relics at Bradleys Head Discover Sydney's military history at the Bradleys Head Fortifications Complex. Bradleys Head is next to Tarongo Zoo in Mosman NSW.
    • South Head Heritage trail The short and easy South Head Heritage trail takes in scenic Sydney Harbour, views, historic gun emplacements and the distinctive red and white striped Hornby Lighthouse.
    • Three islands tour aboard the Gargarle Join an NPWS guide on the historic boat, Gargarle, for a fascinating tour of three islands in Sydney Harbour. The Gargarle was built in the 1950s to transport maritime workers to and from Goat Island.
    • Tour de Forts - Middle Head This excursion in Sydney Harbour National Park is for Stage 2 (Years 3-4) students and focuses on HSIE. Students will visit observation posts, searchlights, gun emplacements and other defensive structures at Middle Head.
    • Tour de forts Middle Head The tour de forts Middle Head school excursion in Sydney Harbour National Park is for Stage 5 (Years 9-10) students which focuses on history as a KLA. The Middle Head forts complex covers 150 years of military history and contains one of the oldest surviving colonial fortifications, the 1801 fort above Obelisk Beach.
    • WilderQuest Convict kids on Fort Denison Take this exciting guided WilderQuest journey back in time on Fort Denison. During this fun school holidays activity you'll find out what it was like to be a convict transported to NSW.
    • WilderQuest Convict kids on Goat Island Do you love stories about long ago? If you do, this WilderQuest holiday adventure's for you. We'll take a trip to Goat Island and into Sydney's past.
    Show more

    Plants and animals you may see

    Animals

    • Humpback whale breaching. Photo: Dan Burns

      Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

      The humpback whale has the longest migratory path of any mammal, travelling over 5000km from its summer feeding grounds in Antarctica to its breeding grounds in the subtropics. Its playful antics, such as body-rolling, breaching and pectoral slapping, are a spectacular sight for whale watchers in NSW national parks.

    Plants

    • Grass trees, Sugarloaf State Conservation Area. Photo: Michael Van Ewijk

      Grass tree (Xanthorrea spp.)

      An iconic part of the Australian landscape, the grass tree is widespread across eastern NSW. These Australian native plants have a thick fire-blackened trunk and long spiked leaves. They are found in heath and open forests across eastern NSW. The grass tree grows 1-5m in height and produces striking white-flowered spikes which grow up to 1m long.

    • Blueberry ash. Photo: Jaime Plaza

      Blueberry ash (Elaeocarpus reticulatus)

      The blueberry ash is a rainforest shrub which produces blue olive-shaped berries and spectacular bell-shaped flowers, which often appear on the plant together. It is a tall slender shrub or small tree found in rainforest, tall eucalypt forest and coastal bushland in eastern NSW, south-east Queensland and Victoria.

    • Flannel flowers. Photo: Michael Jarman

      Flannel flower (Actinotus helianthi)

      The delicate flannel flower is so named because of the soft woolly feel of the plant. Growing in the NSW south coast region, extending to Narrabri in the Central West and up to south-east Queensland, its white or pink flowers bloom all year long, with an extra burst of colour in the spring.

    • Smooth-barked apple. Photo: Jaime Plaza

      Smooth-barked apple (Angophora costata)

      Smooth-barked apple gums, also known as Sydney red gum or rusty gum trees, are Australian native plants found along the NSW coast, and in the Sydney basin and parts of Queensland. Growing to heights of 15-30m, the russet-coloured angophoras shed their bark in spring to reveal spectacular new salmon-coloured bark.

    Environments in this park

    Education resources (1)

    School excursions (14)

    What we're doing

    Sydney Harbour National Park has management strategies in place to protect and conserve the values of this park. Visit the OEH website for detailed park and fire management documents. Here is just some of the work we’re doing to conserve these values:

    Planning for the future

    The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) are working on a master plan for Middle Head and Georges Head, Sydney Harbour National Park. The master plan, prepared by Environmental Partnerships, was on public exhibition from Thursday 3 November 2016 to Friday 16 December 2016.

    Comments have closed on the draft plan. Submissions will be considered by the consultants and NPWS during preparation of the final master plan. The master plan will be available on the OEH website when completed. 

    Preserving biodiversity

    Sydney Harbour Park is home to endangered plant and animal populations, and protecting these is key to upholding the park’s biodiversity. Population monitoring, management and other conservation activities are ongoing in this park. NPWS collaborates with volunteers and other groups and agencies to ensure its native species are properly preserved. Protecting and revitalising such populations is an ongoing goal.

    Conservation program

    BioNet

    Uniting technology with the vast collection of information on biodiversity in NSW, BioNet is a valuable database open to any user. From individual plant sightings to detailed scientific surveys, it offers a wealth of knowledge about ecology and threatened species in NSW. 

    Managing weeds, pest animals and other threats

    Pests and weeds have a significant impact on the ecosystems within Sydney Harbour National Park. NPWS carries out risk assessments for new and emerging weeds as well as fox control to protect biodiversity in this park.

    Conservation program

    Fox threat abatement plan

    The fox threat abatement plan addresses the long-standing threat of foxes to biodiversity. By implementing fox control measures in 59 sites throughout NSW, the plan protects threatened species and works to minimise the potential of foxes to cause future extinctions.

    Developing visitor facilities and experiences

    The upkeep of Sydney Harbour National Park’s visitor facilities is an NPWS priority. Programs relating to the management and enhancement of the park’s walking tracks, trails, picnic spots, lookouts and other offerings are ongoing. Car parking processes and facilities are frequently reviewed, and park amenities and infrastructure receive regular maintenance.

    Conservation program

    Major events volunteering program

    Ongoing volunteer work is an essential part of NSW National Parks’ work, but sometimes an extra push is needed. We call these ‘one-off’ or ‘major’ events. These single-day or short-term volunteer activities need a large number of volunteers to turn up at around the same time in the same place for things like: visitor service, bush regeneration, historic heritage, or threatened species management. 

    Conserving our Aboriginal culture

    Aboriginal culture is of great value to NPWS, and the condition of Aboriginal sites is reviewed and upgraded as required in Sydney Harbour National Park. NPWS works to ensure visitors are well informed about the history and importance of such assets, and maintenance programs are ongoing throughout the park.

    Conservation program

    Connecting to Culture Sydney

    Connecting to Culture Sydney is an Aboriginal educational program. It immerses urban Aboriginal youth into Aboriginal culture within NSW national parks close to Sydney. Participants take part in camping trips, ongoing fieldwork on Country, recording and preserving Aboriginal sites, and discovering Australian native plants and traditional practices.

    Managing fire

    NSW is one of the most bushfire prone areas in the world as a result of our climate, weather systems, vegetation and the rugged terrain. NPWS is committed to maintaining natural and cultural heritage values and minimising the likelihood and impact of bushfires via a strategic program of fire research, fire planning, hazard reduction, highly trained rapid response firefighting crews and community alerts.

    Conservation program

    Hazard reduction program

    Managing fire-prone NSW national parks requires a three-pronged approach, including fire planning, community education, and fuel management. When it comes to fuel like dead wood, NPWS conducts planned hazard reduction activities like mowing and controlled burning to assist in the protection of life, property and community.

    Hornby lighthouse and South Head. Photo: David Finnegan