This is the ultimate Sydney city walk. The challenge: exploring the living green-ness of Australia’s largest city without getting lost in the urban jungle.
In just half a day, see the big hitters – the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge – combine it with historic district The Rocks, traverse over to new parkland Barangaroo and catch the vibrancy of Darling Harbour… all linked by the many nature walks Sydney has to offer.
Sydney Coast Walks map coming soon!
For locals, this is the most surprising part of the walk. Back in the day it was working wharves, abandoned in 2003 when commercial shipping was moved to Port Botany. That same Hawkesbury Sandstone so prolific in Sydney’s historic buildings (and a la naturale at Wedding Cake Rock) has transformed this waterfront precinct into a thoughtfully designed green space.
Views across to Balmain, Goat Island, and the spectacular reveal of Sydney Harbour Bridge make this an unexpected highlight of the city walk.
Long before the wharves, evidence of shell middens and rock engravings show Aboriginal occupation dating back about 6,000 years. There are worthy efforts to recognise the area’s varied history, with ‘Barangaroo’ being named after a Cammeraygal woman who lived in the area at the time of European settlement.
Spend time exploring the repurposed piers of Walsh Bay. Perhaps you’ll have time for a drink at The Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf, and make a mental note to come back for a show at the Sydney Theatre Company or Sydney Dance Company.
Then you have two choices. The first, and most impressive, is to cross Hickson Road and climb the steep sandstone Hickson Steps up to Lower Fort Street.
You’ll be rewarded with the rarely visited underbelly of Sydney Harbour Bridge which has preserved convict-era ruins, and views across to the Opera House. Check out the ruins then turn right, to follow the path back down to an original sandstone road.
If your knees complain at the mere sight of Hickson steps, the secondary option is to go around the end of Pier One. The booby prize is seeing signatures of B-grade celebrities in the cement outside the once-popular Sebel Hotel.
Full loop track notes and walking directions from Circular Quay, and including Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, Art Gallery of NSW, Hyde Park with Archibald’s Fountain and ANZAC Memorial, Darling Harbour and the historic Rocks district.
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Video: Sydney Coast Walks Stills: Destination NSW