Overview: This trail packs a lot of Australiana into one day: a harbor ferry trip past the Opera House, getting up close with native wildlife... more »
This trail packs a lot of Australiana into one day: a harbor ferry trip past the Opera House, getting up close with native wildlife... more » and a walk through habitats ranging from eucalyptus to rainforest. And that's before you reach the beach.
It starts with a ferry ride to Taronga Zoo, where you can easily spend half a day before walking the 6.5 kilometers (3 miles) around the harbor to Chowder Bay.
You can skip the zoo if you are just looking for a half-day outing, just as you can opt to drive to the zoo instead of ferrying across the harbor; however, by doing so you will miss out on a lot of fun. You will get more out of this tour doing the whole thing, even if you have to pace yourself over two half days.
Pack a towel and swimsuit if you fancy finishing the walk with a cooling dip at Chowder Bay or trying one of the more secluded beaches along the way. less «
There are no ferries stop at Chowder Bay but your options for returning include getting a bus from Chowder Bay Road (see POI 13),... more » retracing your steps to the zoo ferry wharf or a water taxi from the Chowder Bay Wharf.
Water taxis are normally an expensive option unless you are among a small group, but Yellow Water Taxis offer zoo package deals that include your zoo entry and return boat trip for almost the same price as buying your own zoo and ferry tickets. It may be well worth negotiating a zoo dropoff/Chowder Bay pickup deal. less «
Circular Quay is Sydney's main ferry terminal and a hub for bus and train services. Its location, in between the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, means that there are great photo opportunities no matter which ferry route you choose.
The starting point for this trail is Wharf 2, where there is a direct ferry service to Taronga Zoo every 30... More minutes from 7:15am (8.45am weekends). Tickets are about $5 for each one-way trip. The $50 Zoo Pass ticket, combining zoo entry and return ferry trips, may save a few dollars.Less
Sydney's harbor is visually spectacular and one of the best (and cheapest) ways to appreciate it is by ferry. It's public transport and harbor cruise rolled into one. Always go for an outside seat to get the full benefit.
This route sails alongside the Opera House and you can look back for views of the iconic bridge. After a few minutes you will ... Morepass by the picturesque suburbs, bays and parks of the lower north shore.
Along the way, the ferry passes by the small island Fort Denison. Today it is a historic site, picnic ground and cafe, but in the mid-1800s it was fortified as part of the British colony's defenses. It never fired a shot in anger, which was just as well because (in a classic example of shortsighted military planning) advances in artillery made the fort's weapons obsolete by the time construction finished. Not that that mattered much for the three cannons still in the stone Martello tower today. They were positioned and the tower was completed around them. But the openings for the cannons to aim through were built too small, which meant that in the time it took to load the guns any ship would have sailed out of the firing line. The gun room itself was also too small for the recoil produced by this size cannon.Less
At the wharf you have two options for entering the zoo: a bus can take you up the hill to the main entrance or you can take the more exciting Sky Safari.
The latter is a chairlift that introduces you to the zoo with a treetop view over the animal enclosures before dropping you at the main entrance. That leaves you to pick your favored itinerary... More down the hill through the zoo to pick up the trail again at the wharf exit.Less
It's best to allow half a day here. If you find it hard to pull yourself away, perhaps it's best not to fight it and come back to do the walk to Chowder Bay another day. But to be honest, you could spend several days here and still not be sure you've done it all.
To help make the decision, it may be best to focus on Taronga's unique exhibits. It ... Morehas all the big cats, large mammals and exotic species you would expect to see in any world-class zoo, but if you are an international visitor it gives you a chance to see a wider range of Australian birds, mammals and reptiles than you will encounter at home.
To get the premium experience, consider a personalized behind-the-scenes tour that focuses on Australian wildlife. For more than two hours, a keeper will share his/her specialist knowledge with a small group, giving them privileged access to research and feeding areas. The price includes entry to the restricted koala enclosure, where you can stand virtually face to face with the furry marsupials.
If you're in the zoo around noon, head for the entertaining and informative bird show where a range of feathered actors from galahs to vultures swoop over the crowd to demonstrate bird behavior.
At some time during your visit, pass the giraffe enclosure, which has a spectacular city skyline backdrop.
Bradleys Head Road
Mosman NSW 2088, Australia
Phone:(02) 9969 2777
Adults $44, Children 4-15 $22
After leaving the zoo at the wharf exit, walk up the road 200 meters to find the start of the walking track on your right. You soon will see Athol Beach below the path and it's worth a short diversion down one of the side tracks.
There's a better swimming beach at Chowder Bay, but there are great views from here across the harbor to the bridge, ... MoreOpera House and city skyline.Less
Much of this section of the trail offers more uninterrupted views back across the harbor, but it's also worth keeping an eye on the natural features as well.
This area of Sydney Harbour National Park has been preserved as pristine native bushland, so it appears the same to today's visitor as it did to the first European settlers 240 years ago ... More(and as it did to the original Australians for many millennia before that). One highlight is a group of Sydney red gums whose dramatically twisted salmon trunks line both sides of the path for a few meters.
After a few minutes, you'll come to steps on the left marked as leading to Athol Hall. The 1860s weatherboard hall is a kiosk in the middle of picnic grounds today, but it was a much rowdier venue 150 years ago. Back then it was a pub and (allegedly) a brothel that was eventually closed down because it offended Sydney citizens.
Only take the hall diversion if you need a break--there are better picnic areas ahead. There are a number of unmarked trails around this area, so keep an eye on your GPS. Most just lead down to the foreshore, so you won't go too far wrong.Less
The head is marked with the mast of a World War I naval boat; you don't have to go too far to see this point had other military significance. There is a sandstone gunpit built by Irish convicts in 1840 just to the left of the mast.
The theme goes back much further, with the local aboriginal name for the place--dalyungay--meaning lookout. These... More days surveillance from here is more about the harbor views. The path to the right of the mast leads to a grassy amphitheater designed for just that purpose. There is also an old stone pier jutting out into the water that was once used for landing imported zoo animals that needed to be quarantined. Today, it's used for fishing and wedding shots.Less
Head back up past the mast to rejoin the path. The vegetation along this section of the trail is incredibly varied. You can be walking through tall eucalyptus one minute and ferns the next. There is even the occasional banana tree. Closer to Taylors Bay there is a small waterfall and pockets of vegetation reminiscent of rainforest. Almost... More certainly, you will be walking to the distinctive soundtrack of the eastern whipbird.
If you need to leave the trail quickly for any reason, rather than retrace your steps, there is a path where I have placed the POI marker that will lead you to a road a few hundred meters south of the main zoo entrance. The path is well marked with "Park Entrance" but doesn't appear on most walking maps for some reason.Less
The trail circles around Taylors Bay, a picturesque inlet mooring several small boats.
Its history includes the sinking of a Japanese midget submarine during the only naval attack on an Australian capital city during World War II. It was one of three submarines that set out in 1942 to attack Allied shipping in the harbor. A sign next to the... More trail will explain how it fired on the USS Chicago but the torpedoes missed and hit a naval barracks, killing 21. Recent research suggests the damage was more likely to have been the result of "friendly fire."Less
Chowder Head, on the point between Taylor and Chowder bays, has a secluded rocky beach that's a worthwhile diversion if you prefer a private swim to sharing the sandy shore at Chowder Bay. The trail is well marked. It's a steeper, rockier path than the one you've been walking on, but it's only a five-minute descent.
Chowder Bay was named in the early 1800s by American whalers who would make chowder from the oysters they collected from the shoreline rocks.
The food eaten by today's visitors is more likely to be of the picnic or BBQ variety. Kookaburras wait in the surrounding trees for scraps. The sandy beach is a popular swimming and boating spot and adjoins... More Clifton Gardens, which is a spacious park with a childrens' playground, toilets, etc.
People fish or swim around the pier, and part of the beach is netted off if you are paranoid about sharks (you are much more likely to be hit by a car in Sydney but nobody stops crossing roads).
The former Army Maritime School at the far end of the beach is now a training center and houses a food kiosk and more upmarket cafe.Less
If you walk in front of the buildings and up the steps at the far end, you reach Ripples Cafe. It's a casual place, but more upscale than the kiosk. It's the lunch or dinner choice if you prefer to celebrate the end of the trail with a glass of wine and some modern Italian cuisine while looking across the bay.
It's popular, so it's a good idea to... More reserve ahead.
Chowder Bay Road
Mosman NSW 2088, Australia
One of your options for returning to Circular Quay is to take the 244 bus from Chowder Bay Road. It takes about 45 minutes, stopping at various Mosman and Milsons Point locations before crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
There's only one bus an hour so check the timetable (see link in other resources).
To get to the bus stop, go up the steps... More past Ripples Cafe and the path will lead you to the road. The bus stop is about 100 meters farther.Less