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10 things to do in Sydney (blog)

Looking for great activities to enjoy with friends and family on Sydney Harbour? Read this blog and discover the breadth of memorable experiences you can have at our beloved destinations.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 things to do when you next visit Cockatoo Island, North Head Sanctuary, Headland Park, Sub Base Platypus, Woolwich Dock and Parklands, or Macquarie Lightstation.

The list contains hot tips for visitors, including families, outdoor adventurers, and history buffs. If you're unable to visit, however, don’t worry – the blog also includes recommendations for exploring the stories of each place online!

1. Embark on an unforgettable odyssey

Experience the splendour of the world’s best harbour as part of a one-of-a-kind pilgrimage with the Bondi to Manly Walk (B2M). Spanning 80 kilometres of harbour foreshore between two of Sydney’s most iconic surf beaches, the B2M is a network of public tracks that includes pit stops at four of our protected sites: Macquarie Lightstation, Sub Base Platypus, Headland Park and North Head Sanctuary.

2. Awaken history with our Talking Object Tour

Awaken history with our self-guided Talking Object Tour and speak directly to iconic objects about their incredible stories. When you next visit Cockatoo Island / Wareamah, Headland Park, Macquarie Lightstation, North Head Sanctuary, Sub Base Platypus, or Woolwich Dock and Parklands, look out for the colourful “Hello” signs inviting you to ‘talk’ with select landmarks, objects and structures. 

3. Connect with nature at North Head

The easiest way to experience the natural splendour of North Head Sanctuary in Manly is to embark on the Sanctuary Loop. A circuit trail of the entire park, it can be completed in under two hours at a relaxed pace. Highlights include exceptional coastal views from Third Quarantine Cemetery (pictured), endangered flora and fauna, and diverse birdlife.

4. Enjoy an island staycation

Escape the hustle and bustle of modern life with a stay at our sanctuary on Sydney Harbour: Cockatoo Island. Surrounded by landscaped gardens with sweeping views, our apartments and holiday houses marry heritage character with modern amenities. Meanwhile, our campground represents an opportunity spend a night (or longer) under the stars, in the heart of the world’s best harbour. With easy access to picnic spots and waterfront cafés, it’s easy to see why Cockatoo Island is the perfect choice for your next Sydney getaway or staycation!

5. Enjoy a barbeque on the waterfront

Formerly a torpedo factory, submarine base and gasworks, Sub Base Platypus is a now a community hub and parkland on the waterfront at North Sydney. If you're looking for a picturesque backdrop for your next get-together with friends and family, it's hard to look past Oberon Park. Located at the northern end of Sub Base Platypus, this landscaped green space boasts shaded barbeques, views across Neutral Bay, and a pocket playground that pays tribute to the site's naval heritage.

6. Embark on a guided tour

Want to discover the fascinating stories and secrets of Cockatoo Island? Journey back to Cockatoo Island’s storied convict and maritime eras – or dare to step into the supernatural realm – with our program of history and paranormal tours. Our program of regular day and night tours run from Friday to Sunday but we also accept bookings for private group tours at Cockatoo Island.

7. Enjoy a coastal stroll

A network of scenic trails link Georges Heights in Mosman to Balmoral Beach and other nearby attractions as well as the neighbouring precincts that makeup Headland Park – Middle Head / Gubbuh Gubbuh and Chowder Bay / Gooree. The scenic coastal walk between Georges Heights and Middle Head (pictured) offers an incredible vista encompassing North Head, South Head and the Pacific Ocean. If you’re still famished after this visual feast, you'll be pleased to know there are plenty of cafés and restaurants nearby.

8. Watch the sun set and rise

Few things are more breathtaking – or romantic – than watching the sun set and rise on the world’s best harbour.  Many of our heritage sites offer incredible vantage points of Sydney Harbour. Looking for somewhere special to watch day seep into night or the breaking of a new dawn? We recommend Georges Head Lookout at Georges Heights, Biloela Lawn on Cockatoo Island, Woolwich Dock (pictured), Macquarie lightstation or the entrance to Third Quarantine Cemetery at North Head Sanctuary.  

9. Feed your inner foodie

Worked up a thirst? At the mercy of your hunger? We’ve got you covered – there’s no shortage of cafés or restaurants across our network of heritage destinations. Headland Park, Sub Base Platypus, Woolwich Dock, North Head Sanctuary and Cockatoo Island all feature licensed and family-friendly venues, meaning you can unwind and recharge on Sydney Harbour. From Modern Australian, Italian cuisine and classic pub grub through to high tea and French bistro – there’s something for foodies of all persuasions.  

10. Get your market fix

Complete your weekly grocery shop and enjoy the great outdoors at the Organic Food Market at Georges Heights – one of the precincts of Headland Park, Mosman. Operating every Wednesday from 8am to 2pm, the country-style bazaar is an opportunity to stock up on fruit, veggies, gourmet cheese and other produce, or purchase artisan products including homewares and fashion. While you’re perusing the stalls and keep your energy up with a coffee or a hot bite.

Bonus: Explore Heritage Sydney Online

Unable to visit our heritage destinations in-person? Don’t worry! Delve into the layered stories of North Head Sanctuary, Cockatoo Island, Headland Park, and other heritage destinations with our collection of online exhibitions, videos, history articles and boredom busting activities.