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“A curiously dispersed park: wilderness in a city”

Sydney Harbour National Park
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US$ 282.27*
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Private Sydney Harbour National Park Walking Tour
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US$ 127.37*
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Best of Manly Guided E-Bike Tour
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US$ 39.25*
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Sydney Harbour Afternoon Tall Ship Discovery Cruise
Ranked #141 of 480 things to do in Sydney
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Owner description: This historical park consists of five small harbor islands, rugged sandstone cliffs, bushland and beaches. Visitors can fish, boat, sunbathe, swim and explore historic sites, including Fort Denison, Goat Island and the Quarantine Station.
Sydney, Australia
Level 5 Contributor
68 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
“A curiously dispersed park: wilderness in a city”
Reviewed 8 May 2006

When the settlement of Sydney was young, there was a fear that "an enemy" might come along and attack the town. In the end, people realised that the guns were of little use against aircraft, that invasion was unlikely, and so the guns were taken down. The departure of the military coincided with the high period of National Park-ism, so that property developers were prevented from getting their paws on the land. Instead, it became communal property, Sydney Harbour National Park, in fact, with a few other bits thrown in as well, like the Quarantine Station.

You can get more background in my own absolutely non-commercial web site through http://members.ozemail.com.au/~macinnis/syd/natparks.htm#shnp, and you can find more links there to some of the best choices. I live a stone's throw from the Dobroyd Head section of the park, and I have been walking all over it for 55 years. The key to understanding this park is that it is an amazing collection of scraps of land, all around the harbour, and slowly being joined up by walks. The Spit-Manly walk is a bit over-usewd at the moment, but as more walks are added, so you will have more places to go, and the crowds will thin out.

The best places to start are at the Spit (catch a bus from Wynyard) or Manly (catch a ferry from Circular Quay) or near Bradley's Head (catch a ferry to Taronga Zoo). Try walking the foreshores, or get to the end of North Head (catch a 135 bus at Manly Wharf)

The Park is by no means a commercial site, so you will need to take food and water with you. The walks are well signed: read the information first.

The bush may seem a bit straggly if you are from overseas: it varies from heath to dry sclerophyll. Understand that you are walking the whole time on Triassic sandstone that is 200 million years old, and the sandy soil contains very little in the way of nutrients. You will find flowers of some sort, all the year around. You won't see many animals here, though you will walk closer to penguins than you realise, and pelicans may soar overhead. The rare snake should be left alone, and you will see a few lizards if you keep your eyes open.

In swampy places, look out on the uphill side of the track for the red colour of sundews. small sticky insect-eating plants.

The tracks are generally suitable for ages 5 to 75, and some portions are even wheelchair-friendly, like the circular walk with spectacular views on North Head.

I love this park, and always have, so if you are looking for bad things about it, you won't hear them. Go see for yourself, and I think you will agree with me.

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