Friday, June 4, 2010

Take A Walk On The Harbour Side

With the Sydney Harbour Bridge being one of its most famous icons, it should be no surprise that Sydney is located on Port Jackson, an inlet on the Pacific Ocean.  Port Jackson--aka Sydney Harbour--is a drowned river that extends 19 km between its entrance at the Headlands and the Parramatta River. 
It is impossible to visit Sydney without becoming familiar with Sydney Harbour--after all, the waterways are an integral part of the city.  What will vary, is how visitors choose to familiarize themselves with what many consider the finest harbour in Australia.  
There are those who will choose to take to the waters by ferry, water taxi or boat.  Others will sit at one of the many wharves and enjoy an elegant meal.  Some will settle for a swim.  The more adventurous may want a panoramic view with an adrenaline rush and join a guided  climb to the summit of one of the world's most famous bridges.  Most likely, all will stand on the Quay (pronounced key) to admire the Opera House.

On previous visits to the Harbour City I experienced many of the above.   I even had a birds eye view--no, I didn't dish out the big bucks ($300) to climb the bridge--, when I was treated to a holding flight pattern over the harbour.  As for as a dip in its waters, that just will not happen for this land lover.  Last month when we returned to Sydney, I decided that I was familiar with its famous body of water, but I really wanted to get to know it.  I wasn't sure how I would accomplish this.  So when I discovered a series of brochures created by the Walking Volunteers I was thrilled.  
I used the detailed brochures to map out a 50+ mile walking tour.  I started at North Head, worked my way up to the Parramatta river, and back to South Head.  Since the harbour has many bays and inlets each map gives several routes to walk, but I tried to stay as close to the water as possible.
Over 5 days I walked along shared bike paths, streets, and single track paths.  I crossed 5 major bridges.  I visited dozens of distinct neighborhoods, several National and Local Parks, numerous wharves, various lighthouses and countless bays.  I contemplated ancient aboriginal drawings.  I peeked in to the past at the historic Quarantine Station and former Forts--the tunnels, open batteries, barracks and trenches--that date back to the 1830's. I  delighted in  Mother Nature's treasures; her white beaches, rock pools, massive sandstone cliffs, kookaburras, and water dragons.  Of course, the entire walk was not picture perfect.  There were several stretches of busy roads, graffiti, and dilapidated areas.  However, what I found the saddest was the amount of garbage entering the water.  All I can say is that in this day and age there is just no excuse.
I realize that walking the entire Sydney Harbour is not for everyone.  However, I really recommend that any visitor to Sydney take some time and get off the beaten path.  If nothing else the views of the city skyline are spectacular.  To help in planning your walk--which can easily be coordinated with public transportation--pick up a Walking Costal Sydney Brochure or check it out online.


  1. Hi Maya, wow kudos to you for doing the 50 mile walk around Sydney Harbour. I checked out the link you posted. That's such a great website and resource. What a wonderful way to see the harbour. It's pretty diverse.

    Thanks so much for sharing your photos, resources and experiences. Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. I wish I had known about this organization before our trip. We were going to do the walk from Manly to Spit Bridge. I found quite a bit of information on line but your recommended site would have been a great help.

    We intended to do it. We took the ferry to Manly and walked through the town to where the path went out of the town but didn't go much further. The day was too hot for us. I think it was getting on 30 degrees and we are heat wimps. I definitely wan to explore it more.

  3. Kathy, my favorite way to see a city is by walking. People who travel with me know they had better bring some good walking shoes.

    Marta, the information provided by this organization is wonderful. It gives the tourist and even locals so excellent walking choices. My walks in Sydney have been in late fall and the weather has always been perfect. Another walk that is a must is the South Head to Bondi beach, the views and cliffs are amazing.