Spend a day on the harbour. Discover Sydney ferries: take a cruise, go island hopping, take a Cat up the river. Family fun activities that won’t break the bank.
Explore Sydney harbour from the water. Sail up the harbour’s inlets and discover Australia’s heritage, criss-cross it from point to point or just cruise along enjoying the sun and the sea.
If you go on a Sunday you’ll get super-cheap, all-day tickets ($2.50 per person) when you use your Opal card.
But be warned: it can get very busy. On other days your costs will be capped at the daily maximum.
Catch a Sydney Ferries’ Rivercat up to Parramatta to discover some of the early history of the colony in New South Wales. The kids might like the scary places – and the ghost stories of Old Government House. You might, too.
Do the best value harbour cruise in Sydney Australia. Take the Manly ferry past the Opera House, Fort Denison and the Heads.
Manly Australia has great food, beaches and some of Sydney’s best places to snorkel.
On the way back you’ll go past Kirribilli House, the Australian Prime Minister’s official Sydney residence. You’ll be able to snap fantastic harbour pictures all the way.
Take a ferry across to Watsons Bay – visit the Gap, one of the top scary places to visit if you have a little imagination.
The Gap is notorious in Australia for suicides and murders and you’ll see why. After viewing all the scary places feast on freshly caught fish: battered, barbecued or grilled, at Doyles’ fish and chips shop.
Visit Some Harbour Islands
Cockatoo island is a stop on both the Parramatta and the Woolwich/Balmain ferry services, each of which leave from Wharf 5 at Circular Quay.
For many years an Australian shipyard, today it’s used for concerts and other harbour events. It still has many of its old buildings, train tracks and tunnels. You can also camp there overnight.
Shark Island (named for its shape) can also be accessed by Sydney ferries.
It used to be Sydney Australia’s animal quarantine, today it’s a great spot for eating those picnic. sandwiches. Leave from Darling Harbour Pier 26 & Circular Quay Wharf 6.
Garden Island – no longer an island as land reclamation has now attached it firmly to Potts Point – the Royal Australian Navy’s main base in NSW.
on the Watsons Bay ferry route. Entry to the RAN Heritage Centre on the island is free. You’ll discover more than 100 years of naval history in Australia there.
Other islands can be accessed by private cruises, water taxi or private boat.
A good one for a family visit is Fort Denison, once an early Australian penal site, then a fort and today a museum.
If you’re in a private boat be aware that the harbour islands are part of the Sydney Harbour National Park and you will usually need a permit to land. Landing fees apply.
If you’re lucky you might be in Sydney Australia during one of the special ‘harbour hopping’ periods. During these times you’ll find lots of extra ferry services to otherwise difficult-to-access islands, plus special activities to engage I’m So Bored. They’ll be well advertised, so keep an eye out for them.
Sydney Ferries Top Ten Places to Visit
Manly Australia: Swim, snorkel, kayak, visit Oceanworld, there are both harbour and ocean beaches just a short stroll away from each other.
Watsons Bay: scramble up the cliffs to view the Gap, feast on fish and chips when you’re down again.
Follow the clifftop walk towards the city for a short distance for another stunning Sydney view and, if it’s open, a lighthouse visit.
Neutral Bay: Learn about old man banksia and the gumnut babies at Nutcote, author May Gibbs’ Sydney home.
Milsons Point: Swim at the North Sydney Olympic Pool. Keep Luna Park for another day. Stroll across the harbour bridge to pick up your next ferry at Circular Quay.
Darling Harbour Sydney Australia: Home of the Sydney Aquarium, Australian Maritime Museum, Tumbalong Park. Many family fun activities
Cockatoo Island: Explore the old quarry tunnels, check out the old shipyard cranes. Picnic and play.
Sydney Olympic Park: Hire bikes, play mini golf, take aim with archery, swing from a trapeze and see the site of the Sydney Olympics 2000.
Garden Island: There’s over a hundred years of naval history at the Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre. Plus big ships.
Parramatta: Visit Old Government House, Australia’s oldest surviving public building. Hear about scary houses and ghosts that haunt them to this day.
Double Bay: Redleaf pool is actually part of the harbour, protected all around by a shark-proof net. With floating pontoons to jump and dive from, a cafe and shady spots for the non-swimmers it’s a peaceful spot to spend a sunny hour or two.
There’s a lovely little adjacent park to picnic, sit and read.