Parks & beaches
Sydney Harbour National Park
tel. 02 9960 6266, www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au
With its sunny beaches and shaded parks, Sydney Harbour National Park is a great place to enjoy many of the outdoor activities the city is known for. The national park encompasses Nielsen Park to the south, and Ashton Park on the northern shore, as well as two historic islands: Fort Denison and Goat Island.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Mrs Macquaries Rd., tel. 61 2 9231 8111, www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au
This is Australia’s oldest scientific institution. With some 7,500 trees dispersed throughout gardens that cover 30ha, this is a hiker’s and jogger’s paradise. The Mount Tomah and Mount Annan botanic gardens are also worth a visit for their tropical plants.
The majestic Hawkesbury River, with its inlets, beaches and first-rate picnic sites, runs through some of Sydney’s most beautiful national parks before emptying into the Pacific Ocean some 30km north of the city. A good way to explore the river is by boat.
Royal National Park
A 30km trail runs through this spectacular park, which shelters one of the region’s oldest nature reserves. The park encompasses Burning Palms and Garie beaches, as well as a lush tropical forest.
A string of beaches borders the coast north of Sydney, including Freshwater, Curl Curl, Bilgola, and the superb Palm Beach. The best waves are found southeast of Sydney. Bondi is the most popular beach with surfers, while Coogee is located near an excellent spot for scuba diving. Between these last two beaches lie Bronte and Tamarama beaches, which are also great places to go surfing.