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Marine Biological Station

arrow Delve into the station's storied past (NEW)
View of Camp Cove Beach from the Former Marine Biological Station


  • Station is currently closed to the public.
  • Periodically opens for special public tours
  • Camp Cove is open to the public daily
  • Car
  • Bus
  • Foot

Pacific Street, Watsons Bay, NSW 2030


Google Maps

Located in Birrabirragal Country at Camp Cove, the Former Marine Biological Station was one of the first buildings established in Watsons Bay.

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 currently closed to the public, it can be viewed by visitors to Camp Cove Beach, including people undertaking Sydney’s Great Coastal Walk.

Plan ahead

Planning to visit? To ensure your outing is enjoyable and hassle-free, refer to the below information ahead of your trip…

Getting here arrow

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.

Parking arrow

Limited parking is available on the streets surrounding the Marine Biological Station. Check signage for any fees or time limits.

Facilities and accessibility arrow

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.

Emergency and security arrow

In the event of an emergency, dial 000 or 112 if mobile reception is poor. Rangers patrol the grounds of the Marine Biological Station approximately once a fortnight.

Visitor guidelines arrow

Please note: the Former Marine Biological Station is a private residence.

For your own safety, and to protect this historic site, please observe the following rules, enforceable by our rangers:

Prohibited: 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); and do not undertake commercial activities (without a permit).


Looking for things to do in Sydney? Although the Former Marine Biological Station is closed, there are activities for visitors to Camp Cove...

Unwind and make a splash at the beach

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 sandy foreshore and enjoy a leisurely swim or kayak. An underwater enthusiast? Camp Cove is a popular destination for snorkelers and scuba divers. 

Experience Camp Cove as part of a coastal odyssey

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...

History of the Former Marine biological Station (Overview)

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]

DigiTale: Nicholas Maclay – Russian polymath

Nikolai Nikoleavich de Miklouho-Maclay – more commonly known as Nicholas Maclay – was a celebrated humanist, explorer, marine biologist and anthropologist from Russia. Upon arriving in Sydney in 1878, he captivated the local scientific community. By the following year, he had convinced the NSW Government of the need for a marine research laboratory in Sydney. 

[Image credit: Portrait of Nikolai Nikoleavich de Miklouho-Maclay, 1886, by Korsuhin (Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales)]