Chowder Bay

Sydney Harbour National Park

Overview

Chowder Bay at Clifton Gardens offers spectacular harbour views, swimming, scuba diving and historic heritage, for a perfect family day out near to Sydney Harbour National Park.

Where
Sydney Harbour National Park
Price
Free
Entry fees

Vehicle entry fee applies at Clifton Gardens Reserve carpark.

What to
bring
Drinking water, hat, sunscreen
Please note

For more information on the unique plants and animals of the area, check out the audio files available here.

For a taste of natural beauty in the heart of the city, head for Chowder Bay, near Mosman, in the northern precinct of Sydney Harbour National Park. Located along Bradleys Head to Chowder Head walk, it’s a popular spot for swimming and picnicking. With plenty of facilities and large grassy areas for the kids and spectacular harbour views, it’s a fun and relaxing day out for the family without leaving town.

From the picturesque palm-dotted beach, you’ll gaze across the scenic waterways to South Head. Enjoy a refreshing dip in the calm waters and unpack the picnic hamper on one of the shady tables. The nearby historic military buildings and Clifton Gardens Wharf now house lively cafés and restaurants.

For the more adventurous, it’s a popular spot for scuba diving, and a welcome pit stop on the popular Harbour Bridge to Spit Bridge walking track.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

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 https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/swimming-spots/chowder-bay/local-alerts

Park info

  • in Sydney Harbour National Park 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. To visit Shark, Clark or Rodd islands all vessels, including kayaks, need to pay a $7 per person landing fee. To arrange, please contact 1300 072 757 (13000 PARKS). Annual NSW Parks Passes not valid for landing fees.

    Buy annual pass (//pass.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/).
See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Chowder Bay.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    To picnic at Clifton Gardens and Chowder Bay, drive down Morella Road, Mosman. 

    Park entry points

    Road quality

    • Sealed roads

    Vehicle access

    • 2WD vehicles

    Weather restrictions

    • All weather

    Parking

    Paid parking is available at Clifton Gardens Reserve carpark. Please note that NSW National Parks passes do not apply here. Paid parking is also available on Chowder Bay Road. It can be a busy place on the weekend, so parking might be limited.

    All NPWS annual passes and the NPWS Exemption Card are valid for a maximum of four hours per calendar day in the Chowder Bay precinct of Sydney Harbour National Park. You are required to purchase a ticket from the machines to top up your length of stay if you plan to visit for a longer period.

    Please note: The Chowder Bay precinct of Sydney Harbour National Park begins near the top of Chowder Bay Road and ends at the border with Harbour Trust land (before the buildings at Chowder Bay). This section of the park is also referred to as Georges Head. Carparks operated by Sydney Harbour Federation Trust or Mosman Council are not covered by your pass. Please check signs carefully.

    Facilities

    Toilets

    • Flush toilets

    Picnic tables

    Cafe/kiosk

    Carpark

    Drinking water

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    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.

    Bushwalking safety

    If you're keen to head out on a longer walk or a backpack camp, always be prepared. Read these bushwalking safety tips before you set off on a walking adventure in national parks.

    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).

    Paddling safety

    To make your paddling or kayaking adventure safer and more enjoyable, check out these paddling safety tips.

    River and lake safety

    The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you're visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips.

    Permitted

    Fishing

    A current NSW recreational fishing licence is required when fishing in all waters.

    Prohibited

    Pets

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

    Smoking

    NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

    Nearby towns

    Mosman (2 km)

    There are plenty of water sports that the whole family can enjoy at Balmoral Beach, near Mosman. Go snorkelling in the sheltered waters around Balmoral Beach, sailing or join a scuba dive course at Chowder Bay where you may be lucky enough to see the tiny sea horses that inhabit this part of Sydney Harbour.

    www.sydney.com

    Parramatta (24 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

    Sydney City Centre (6 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

    Learn more

    Chowder Bay is in Sydney Harbour National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

    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 on Goat Island 'Guilty of petty theft – your punishment is penal transportation to Australia for the term of your natural life.' Discover what life was like for the first convicts of Australia in this unique Stage 2 (Years 3-4) excursion on historic Goat Island.
    • 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. Fort Denison is currently closed for maintenance and conservation works. 
    • Goat Island heritage tour Take a fascinating tour of Goat Island, an iconic Sydney landmark in Sydney Harbour National Park.
    • Greycliffe House and Nielsen Park heritage tour Enter the world of the mid 1800s when you visit Greycliffe House. It's been a part of Sydney's history since its first residents moved in. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy in the grounds after the tour.
    • Japanese mini submarine tour: Garden Island One night in 1942, 3 midget submarines entered Sydney Harbour to attack naval vessels docked there. Find out the rest of the story on this 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, easy South Head Heritage trail takes in scenic beaches and Sydney Harbour views, historic gun emplacements, and great whale watching from the distinctive red and white striped Hornby Lighthouse.
    • Strickland House Step back in time as you walk up the lush lawn to Strickland House in Vaucluse. This 19th-century estate is a heritage treasure and boasts one of the best harbour views anywhere in Sydney.
    • Strickland House heritage tour Wind back the clock and explore the varied history of Strickland House on a guided tour. With stunning harbour views, it was home to leading figures of Sydney's establishment in the 19th century.
    • 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 In the early days of colonial Sydney, the Middle Head area formed a key line of defence against attack via sea. This Tour de Forts history excursion for Stage 5 students (Years 9-10) explores these fortifications, including lookouts, gun placements and ammunition stores.
    • 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

    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: 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.
    Show more

    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.

    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.

    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.

    • 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.
    • Living world WildTracker: Bradleys Head On a WildTracker excursion, Stage 3 (Years 5-6) students investigate and analyse the natural environment of Bradleys Head. Students identify and group species and discuss adaptations that help these species survive and thrive here.
    • Living world WildTracker: Nielsen Park On a WildTracker excursion, Stage 3 (Years 5-6) students will explore and analyse the natural environment of Nielsen Park. We'll identify and group species and discuss the adaptations that help these species survive and thrive here.
    • The earth's environment at Bradleys Head The earth's environment is a fun, Stage 1 (Years 1-2) geography excursion at Bradleys Head. Students will identify the physical features of this beautiful place. They'll discuss how people interact with the place in both past and present contexts.  
    • WildThings at Bradleys Head Book your WildThings school excursion for Stage 1 (Years 1-2) students in Sydney Harbour National Park. Together we'll explore the living world and identify the features that help native plants and animals thrive here.

    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 in Wollemi National Park. Photo: Rosie Nicolai/OEH

      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)

    Chowder Bay, Sydney Harbour National Parl. Photo: John Yurasek/NSW Government