Sydney’s wonderful waterways
Just as you haven’t seen New York until you have been to the top of the Empire State building, and you have not seen London until you have seen Big Ben, you haven’t done Sydney until you’ve been out on the harbour and experienced Sydney’s wonderful waterways.
One of the most beautiful waterways in the world, Sydney Harbour is inexorably linked with the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Two of Australia’s most impressive architectural icons. But don’t be fooled into thinking the Harbour ends at the Harbour Bridge it is much larger than that, with 60,000 megalitres of water stretching from the Sydney Heads up to the Parramatta River.
Officially known as Port Jackson, Sydney Harbour is an integral part of life for many Sydneysider. This is used for transport, with many ferry routes crisscrossing the harbour, most originating at Circular Quay where the fledgeling colony was born back in 1778. It is used for leisure, with canoes, kayaks, sailing dinghies and state of the art yachts always visible somewhere on the harbour.
Many interesting landmarks are also visible from the water. Nielsen Park is a beautiful area for picnickers and sun lovers, with the scenic harbourside beach area and enclosed swimming area great for warmer months. At Vaucluse, further along, the harbour is Vaucluse House, a beautiful historic house built in 1803, and Parsley, a tranquil, pretty inlet blessed with rock overhangs, lush vegetation and clear, blue water. At South Head, look out for gorgeous Watson’s Bay, with its well known beachside restaurants, cliff walks around the Gap, and the historic Hornsby Lighthouse, built in 1858 following the tragic shipwreck of Dunbar, with all on board except one, losing their lives in the rough dark seas.
It is also the front yard for the many thousands of people who live in the mansions and apartments that line the foreshore, and it is also the iconic view of the Harbour from Sydney’s luxury hotels that entice people here to Sydney in the first place. There are many attractions both man-made and natural in and around the foreshores. Fort Denison is the first place you will come to on any boat trip east of Circular Quay its beautiful stone buttress sit elegantly in the middle of the Harbour. Was used as a prison for unruly convicts from 1778.
There’s also Middle Harbour, which winds its way to the north west of Sydney past the spit with its lifting bridge allowing boat traffic through to the Roseville Bridge and the upper reaches. Chinaman’s Beach and Balmoral Beach are on the western side of the entrance into Middle Harbour, and then it’s back into the Harbour proper with Chowder Bay, Bradley’s Head and Taronga Zoo other highlights not to be missed.
Every year, humpback whales and southern right whales migrate north from the Southern Ocean to breed in the warmer waters. The best time to see them in Sydney is from June to August. You also have a chance to watch them in their return, from September to November.
One of the best ways to see Sydney Harbour is by boarding a boat and heading out onto the water. Captain cook cruises offer over 20 harbour cruises every day including the award-winning 2.5-hour coffee Cruise to beautiful Middle Harbour and the Sydney Harbour Explorer Cruise, combining the flexibility of a ferry with all the ease and comfort of a cruise. Hop off at any of the six harbourside attractions which include Taronga Zoo, beachside Watson’s Bay, Shark Island, Luna Park and Darling Harbour. The company’s flagship “MV Sydney 2000” takes Sydney Harbour dining to an impressive level. A comprehensive range of lunch and dinner options are available from a sightseeing – style seafood buffet lunch to elegant seven-course degustation menus.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service says that that around 2000 whales make the journey within sight of the coast each year with the majority being humpback whales. Minke whales, southern right whales and pygmy killer whales are also seen. At the peak of the migration, you can stand on a coastal headland and see up to four whales pass by every hour. In one day at ape Solander in Kurnell, near Cronulla in Sydney’s south, 68 whales were spotted.
For a unique experience, board the Svanen, Sydney Harbour’s only timber tall ship. The 40 metre, three-masted schooner was heavily constructed in Denmark in 1922 to withstand the gales of the Baltic sea. She sailed to Sydney from England in the historic Bicentennial First Fleet re-enactment in 1988 and is now a permanent jewel of Sydney Harbour.
Whether slipping into pretty bush lined coves or beating alongside Sydney Ferries in a strong breeze, a Sydney Harbour Tall ship cruise captures the classic beauty and excitement of Sydney’s world famous harbour. Passengers can throw themselves into the experience alongside the crew to help hoist sails, or simply sit back, relax and enjoy delicious food and entertainment.
Or else, why not experience Sydney Harbour from the deck of a stunning 64 footer prime luxury motor yacht. Operated by SeaDream Charters, the “Enigma” has been designed and built to cater to those seeking the refinement and comfort one would expect from a private yacht.