The Best Natural Attractions in Sydney
Sydney is the capital and the most populated city in Oceania and Australia on the east coast of Australia. Between the Blue Mountains and the Royal National Park, the city is a hotspot for nature lovers from hikers to boaters. Sydney is also a fantastic spot to see Aboriginal archaeological sites.
Among the 2.5 million acres of nature and 400 parks, you can find some of the most beautiful attractions like waterfalls, cliffs, and beaches. Whether you are visiting the city for the first time or the 101st, there is always something new to see. Drop off your heavy bags and backpacks at a Sydney luggage storage locker and explore.
Developed in 1810, Hyde Park is the oldest park in Australia and is one of the best natural features in the city proper. The 40-acre green space is full of flora and fauna including almost 600 trees like palms, conifers, and figs. You can also find the Anzac Memorial, Archibald fountain, and the pool of reflection.
Western Sydney Parklands
With 13,000 acres, this is one of the world’s largest parklands and was once a home for the Darug people. It includes over 300 acres of Cumberland Plain Woodlands and more than 1,000 acres of grassland. The parklands are separated into 50 minor parks with various features including a zoo, reserve, and gardens.
Bicentennial Park is a fun place to see Homebush Bay, the wetlands, and a variety of bird species. Bring a camera so you can get some shots of the rare birds that sometimes visit. Take a guided tour to visit and learn more about the Brickpit Ring Walk, Powells Creek, the salt marsh, and Lake Belvedere.
Beaches of Sydney
Not named for the gender of those who visit, Manly Beach is one of the most popular. This is more of a touristy spot with shops, cafés, and activities nearby. You do have to take the ferry to get there but it is worth it, especially if you are a newbie surfer who wants to try some gentle waves.
One of the best surfing beaches in Sydney, Bondi Beach was established in 1851 and has over a half-mile of golden sand beach on Bondi Bay. If you decide to take a dip, beware of the “Backpackers Rip,” which is a dangerous riptide at the southern end of the beach. Beginners should try the Bondi Baths instead.
Another beach with a saltwater pool, Bronte Beach gives you the option of a pool or the surf because the waves can be rough. It is great for families with a shallow pool for the little ones. They have a few gazebos picnic areas for a meal. But if you did not pack your food, they have a bunch of restaurants and concessions.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Known for its Aboriginal sites and named for the first Indigenous people, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is over 37,000 acres. While many people visit the park for fishing, boating, hiking, and picnicking, the historical sites are historically significant. You can see engravings and cave drawings in over 800 sites around the park.
Georges River National Park
This park has some of the most well-preserved aboriginal shelters and ax-grinding sites in the city. The rock engravings are from the Dharawal and Dharug people of Georges River who lived there before the 1770s. The groups hunted and fished along the river and in the woods of the park long before the Europeans came.
Royal National Park
Located in the Dharawal Aboriginal people’s land, Royal National Park is the second oldest park in the world, founded in 1879. The park also has a littoral rainforest, uplands, valleys, riparian forest, salt marshes, and mangroves as well as several natural rock formations like Jibbon Point with Aboriginal rock art.
Maddens Falls at Dharawal National Park
Take a short and easy walk of less than a mile to get the amazing reward of seeing Maddens Falls. The viewing platform gives you a magnificent view of the falls as well as the areas around Dharawal Park. Bring your phone for unique selfies and possible shots of wallabies, tree frogs, and other wildlife.
Blue Mountains National Park Falls
The park has more than 20 main waterfalls to see. The most popular are the Wentworth, Empress, and Katoomba Falls. Wentworth has three tiers over 650 feet tall, Empress is easy to get to with panoramic views of the Jamison Valley, and Katoomba Falls is a popular spot with cable cars for better views.
Waterfall Walk at Richard Webb Reserve
One of the easiest waterfalls to get to even if you have the kids with you is the Waterfalls at Richard Webb Reserve. Meandering along Darling Mills Creek, the trail to take starts off Aiken Road and takes you south toward the M2 Motorway. Be sure to bring a camera, especially after a big rainstorm.
Great Trails to Hike
Aboriginal Heritage Walk at Ku-ring-gai Chase
This three-mile walk in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is of medium difficulty with some steep grades and lots of steps. Start at the Resolute Picnic Area and head to West Head Lookout to see the Barrenjoey Lighthouse, Pittwater, and a variety of ancient rock engravings. Pack water and lunch as well as a camera.
Bushland Corridors at Rouse Hill
The easy 2.7-mile walk at Rouse Hill will take you on a history tour and through a mysterious graveyard. See original land grants from 1803, an early farmhouse, several reserves and parks, as well as water birds and other wildlife. The lake and Caddies Creek are cool places to get some pics and see more wild animals.
Cascades Trail at Garigal National Park
Try the Garigal National Park Cascades Trail to see rocky cascades, rock pools, Aboriginal caves with cave art and rock engravings, and a variety of nature like kookaburras and goannas. It is a moderately difficult walk of less than two miles but pack a lunch and swimsuit so you can cool off in the swimming hole.
Another cool site in Sydney is the Three Sisters rock formation in the Blue Mountains. Aboriginal legend says the Three Sisters, Gunnedoo, Wimla, and Meehni fell in love with three men but they were from another tribe so they could not marry. Find out the rest of the story at the site in Blue Mountain National Park.