Like Sydney Hotel and Katoomba’s Carrington Hotel, the heritage-listed sandstone cottage was designed by prominent colonial architect John Kirkpatrick. Today, the charming building is a private residence. Although it is closed to the public, visitors can relax at the adjoining park and nearby beach.
Planning to visit? For a hassle-free experience, refer to the information below ahead of your trip.
By car: The beach at Camp Cove can be accessed via Pacific Street in Watsons Bay. Limited parking is available in the surrounding streets.
By bus: Sydney Buses operate the 324 service, which links Circular Quay to Military Road, Watsons Bay, daily. Alight at the final bus stop and walk 10 minutes via Cliff and Pacific streets to reach Camp Cove.
By ferry: Sydney Ferries run between Circular Quay and Watsons Bay daily. Once you disembark at Watsons Bay, walk for approximately 10 minutes via Cliff and Pacific streets to reach Camp Cove.
For public transport information, including timetables, visit the Transport NSW website.
Limited parking is available on the streets surrounding the Marine Biological Station. Check signage for any fees or time limits.
There is no wheelchair access to the former Marine Biological Station, which is closed to the public; however, the nearby park and beach at Camp Cove are open daily. Toilet facilities are located at Green Point Reserve at the southern end of Camp Cove. Although most areas of Camp Cove are wheelchair accessible, there are some uneven and steep surfaces. Further, there are stairs linking Green Point Reserve to the beach.
In the event of an emergency, dial 000 or 112 if mobile reception is poor. Harbour Trust Rangers patrol Macquarie Lightstation approximately once per fortnight. To contact a ranger during an emergency, call 0432 750 714 (7am to 4pm). Alternatively, to contact a security officer, call 0433 631 572 (4pm to 7am).
The Former Marine Biological Station is a private residence and not accessible to visitors; however, the nearby beach and park are open to the public daily. For your own safety, and to protect this area, please observe the following rules, enforceable by our rangers: do not erect gazebos or marquees (without a permit); do not operate remote-controlled vehicles (including drones); do not play amplified music (without a permit); do not undertake commercial activities (without a permit); do not ride or use skateboards, roller-skates, in line skates or similar equipment on Harbour Trust land. For further information, see: Sydney Harbour Federation Trust (SHFT) Regulations 2021
Although the Former Marine Biological Station is closed, there are activities for visitors to Camp Cove.
A short walk from Watsons Bay ferry wharf, with views across to Headland Park in Mosman, Camp Cove is arguably the prettiest beach on Sydney Harbour. Picnic on the foreshore and enjoy a kayak or leisurely swim. An underwater enthusiast? This area is frequented by snorkelers and scuba divers.
The Marine Biological Station is adjoined by a scenic park, landscaped to reflect the original terrain. Although the station itself is closed, the park provides public access to areas for rest and relaxation, including the beach at Camp Cove.
Feeling ambitious? Embark on Sydney’s Great Coastal Walk, a massive 100km pilgrimage from Barrenjoey Lighthouse in the North to Cronulla in the South. When you reach Camp Cove at Watsons Bay, take a breather and admire the colonial architecture of the former Marine Biological Station.
Designed by prominent colonial architect John Kirkpatrick, the former Marine Biological Station is recognised as the first biological research station in the Southern Hemisphere.
Built in 1881 as a place for Russian scientist Nikolai Nikoleavich de Miklouho-Maclay to study local marine life, the beautiful sandstone cottage was later acquired by the Australian Army to house officers. It received Commonwealth Heritage listing in 2004 and is one of the most historically significant buildings on the Sydney Harbour foreshore.
[Image credit: The Former Marine Biological Station at Camp Cove, circa 1881, State library of NSW, FL1228185]
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