Walking on Sunshine
It doesn’t matter if you have 30 minutes or three hours, make like a local and explore the city by foot. Words and images by Roshan Sukhla.
WHETHER YOU ARE after some exercise, keen to see a few iconic sights, or both, here is a fabulous city walk for you. But remember the sun can be harsh in our fair country, so before you start your adventure cover up—slap on some sunscreen, put on a hat, wear comfortable shoes and bring a bottle of water, or two, with you. For an all-encompassing grand walk of Sydney’s must-see highlights, take the Tourist Trek. Enter or exit this walk as you like, because there will be many stunning stops along the way. Our starting point is Sydney Town Hall, the city’s meeting place. If you are taking the train here, use ‘Exit 5’ from Town Hall Station, and take the stairs on the left to get above ground.
Sydney Town Hall looks immaculate in its neo-classical form fresh from recent renovations. On one side of Town Hall is St Andrew’s Cathedral, built in the 1860s, while across the road is the Queen Victoria Building, the grand dame of Sydney shopping, home to designer international labels and contemporary fashion boutiques.
Walk down Park Street to the city’s central green space, Hyde Park. The park is divided into two sections. Head to the south side of the park to visit the ANZAC Memorial, while on the north side of the park you’ll find the Archibald Fountain which was erected in 1932. Be sure to look up and marvel at the view of Sydney Tower from the park.
From the fountain, walk diagonally across the park, cross the road, and you will be in Cathedral Square.
From here you can see the beauty of St Mary’s Cathedral with its towering spires, and visit Australia’s first public museum, the Australian Museum. If you fancy some exercise or a swim, head beneath Cathedral Square to Cook+phillip Park Aquatic and Fitness Centre.
From the Cathedral turn down Art Gallery Road, and The Domain,
Sydney’s stage for outdoor concerts and events, will be on your left. Keep walking till you get to the Art Gallery of NSW, home to both modern works of art and old masters. It was established in 1871, and features a program of ever-changing exhibitions from Australian and international artists. If you have an hour or two, wander around and make sure you don’t miss the collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.
Continue along the path on the Art Gallery side of Mrs Macquaries Road, and keep walking by the water. To your right is Woolloomooloo, and the Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre on Garden Island.
Keep walking and you’ll pass by Andrew (Boy) Charlton pool, a harbourside hotspot overlooking the water. Duck in for a refreshing dip, or head further up the path right alongside the water where soothing waves crash against the rocks.
Look out towards the middle of the harbour and you’ll see Fort Denison, a former defence site, that is now home to a restaurant and event space.
As the sea breeze blows by continue along the path next to the water and follow it right around to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. This is the sandstone seat that was carved out of the rock ledge in 1810 for Governor Macquarie’s wife Elizabeth.
She would sit in this spot and watch ships sail into the harbour. The area provides picture perfect panoramic views of the harbour, Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Get your phone out, because this is the spot for your epic Sydney selfie!
Keep following the path and you enter the gates of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, which celebrated its 200th birthday in 2016. Take in the fantastic city skyline views, relax in the shade of the gardens, see some of our wondrous native flora and listen out for the myriad of birds flying by. Throughout the year, there are numerous special events held here like the St. George Openair Cinema, HANDA Opera on Sydney Harbour, the Tomato Festival, plus tours, talks, exhibitions and more.
Wind your way around the gardens until you come to the Sydney Opera House. Gaze in awe at the iconic architecture of Australia’s most famous building. Take a tour inside or see a performance.
Continue around to Circular Quay, and pass by the bustling transport hub, where you can hop on a ferry or a train. To your left is the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and its always impressive collection of modern art. Walk beside the Overseas Passenger Terminal—giant cruise ships often dock here—and around to the historic storefronts of Campbell’s Cove, which are now home to waterside restaurants. Keep walking around to Hickson Road Reserve, and see views of the Opera House across the water to one side and over to the smiling face of Luna Park on the other. Walk under the steel structure that is the magnificent Sydney Harbour Bridge. Construction started on the bridge in 1923, but it wasn’t officially opened until 1932. It’s nicknamed the Coathanger, but to locals we mostly just call it ‘the Bridge’.
As you walk further along Hickson Road, you are now in the Walsh Bay precinct. The old wharves house cultural powerhouses like the Sydney Dance Company, and the Sydney Theatre Company.
At the end of the wharves you’ll happen upon Barangaroo Reserve. Wander around the water’s edge on the Wulugul Walk, following the 1836 foreshore line. Head up the stairs to the Stargazer Lawn, or walk around to Nawi Cove. Take a look at the magnificent Cutaway, an immense space used for art installations and events. Then head to Waranara Terrace, and exit the park via Argyle Place onto Argyle Street. Continue along and you are now back in the historic Rocks precinct. From here you can explore the area and myriad of shops and restaurants, or on the weekend check out the markets. Or better yet slip into one of the many historic pubs, and treat yourself to a nice cold Aussie beer!
Royal Botanic Garden views to the city. The Rocks precinct and Circular Quay. Barangaroo Reserve.