Coastal

Coastal Sydney / CBD locations

These locations are all relatively close to the coast of Sydney. Some are very close to the CBD (eg: Centennial Park or the Royal Botanic Gardens, while others are further out, such as Warriewood Wetlands.

Botany Bay South – Kurnell Peninsula
Much of the southern shores of Botany Bay are protected by the Towra Point Nature Reserve which runs along the Kurnell Peninsula.
These sites, Shell Point, the Metromix Site, Quibray Bay, Boat Harbour, Bonna Point, and Cape Solander are some of the sites to be found along the peninsula.

Access: Shell Point, Taren Point
Approx 23 km from Central Station.
Head south along Rocky Point Road, and follow it over the Captain Cook Bridge (Taren Point Road). Turn left into Bay Road, and follow to the end. Turn left onto Atkinson Road and park at the end of the street.
Take gumboots and at low tide walk out onto the mudflat.

Metromix Site:
Approx. 27 km from Central Station.
Drive along Captain Cook Drive heading towards Kurnell.
approx 500 metres past the roundabout to Eloura, on the left is a parking area under the powerlines. Park and walk over a small rise to the wetland.
It is possible to walk around the wetland, or you can set up a scope on the grassy rise.

Quibray Bay:
Approx. 30 km from Central Station.
From the Metromix Site, continue along Captain Cook Drive for approx. 3 km, and after passing the entrance to a tip on the right, there is a small parking area on the left leading to a boardwalk and platform.
There is no access to the mudflats.

Boat Harbour:
Approx. 35 km from Central Station.
From the Quibray Bay site, continue along Captain Cook Drive for approx. 2 km until there is a turnoff to Sir Joseph Banks Drive.
There is a turnoff marked “Boat Harbour” before Sir Joseph Banks Drive, but this is paid 4wd access only.
Drive to the end of Sir Joseph Banks Drive, and there is a small road that heads into the bush on the right – follow this road for approx 1 km until you arrive at a small car park.
Walk south from the car park and follow a track along the cliff-top until you arrive at a set of stairs leading down to Boat Harbour beach. Continue along the beach to the rock platform at the southern end.

Bonna Point:
Approx. 36 km from Central Station.
From the Quibray Bay site, continue along Captain Cook Drive for approx. 3 km, and pass through the small roundabout.
Take the first left onto Silver Beach Rd, and turn left onto Prince Charles Parade.
Follow to the end of the road where there is a carpark and picnic area.
Be aware that construction of the Sydney Desalination Plant and pipeline may affect access to Boat Harbour and Bonna Point.

Cape Solander:
Approx. 38 km from Central Station.
From the Quibray Bay site, continue along Captain Cook Drive for approx. 3 km, pass through the small roundabout, continue along for another ~800 metres and turn right into Botany Bay National Park.
Follow Cape Solander Drive until you arrive at a large carpark area.

Type of habitat: Shell Point, Metromix, Quibray Bay, and Bonna Point are all tidal sand/mudflats, with mangrove habitat.

Boat Harbour consists of a large area of low coastal heath on the way from the car-park and a large rock platform and some off-shore reefs.

Cape Solander has extensive wind-swept heathland, and its high, exposed ocean fronting cliff tops. On the way through Botany Bay National Park to Cape Solander are some good stands of wet and dry woodland, and there are open grassy parklands near the visitor centre.

What birds can be expected: Shorebirds are to be expected at Shell Point, Metromix, Quibray Bay and Bonna Point, including but not limited to Common Greenshank, Whimbrel, Eastern Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Pied Oystercatcher (breeding residents at the Metromix site), Grey-tailed Tattler, Wandering Tattler (occasional at Boat Harbour), Double-banded Plover, Red-necked Stint, Sanderling, and Ruddy Turnstone.

Seabirds are likely at Cape Solander, Boat Harbour and Bonna Point, with Albatross and Shearwaters likely (Cape Solander), and Terns (Bonna Point, Boat Harbour, Cape Solander). Birds of prey, including White-bellied Sea-eagle, Whistling Kite, Peregrine Falcon and Australian Kestrel are regular at Cape Solander, and Swamp Harrier frequent Metromix.

Brown Quail, Bar-shouldered Dove, Chestnut-rumped Heathwren, White-browed Scrubwren, Southern Emu-wren, and Variegated Fairy-wren are regular at Cape Solander in the heath behind the whale watching area. For more information, view this annotated map. You can follow the firebreak down to the oil refinery fence, and wandering the paths, particularly in suitable weather, will turn up some good birds.

Best Time to Visit: September-April for most of the shorebirds. Double-banded Plovers arrive from New Zealand in March/April and remain until August/September. Calm mornings for Southern Emu-wren. Winter, particularly after onshore winds for Albatross. Onshore winds for other seabirds.

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Botany Bay West
Much of the western foreshore of Botany Bay has been heavily developed.
These two sites at Banksia and nearby Arncliffe are basically all that is left.

Access: Riverine Park, Banksia
Approx. 14 km from Central Station.
Drive down West Botany Road, and turn left into an unnamed side road advertising a driving range. Park in the small carpark and walk to the wetland.

Eve Street Wetlands, Arncliffe
Approx. 14 km from Central Station.
Drive down West Botany Road, and after passing the entrance to the M5 Motorway, turn left into Eve Street. Park at end of road.

Type of habitat: Riverine Park is a small, degraded wetland, but is better than it looks at first glance. The Eve Street Wetlands are quite deep lakes, with fringing reeds and other vegetation.

What birds can be expected: Riverine Park often has Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper. There are resident Golden-headed Cisticola, Black-winged Stilt, and Chestnut Teal. There is often Royal Spoonbill and Black-fronted Dotterel.

Eve Street has masses of Australasian Grebe, and occasionally Hoary-headed Grebe. There are also large numbers of Chestnut and Grey Teal, and Pacific Black Ducks. The lake edges are also worth searching.

Best Time to Visit: August-April for shorebirds, year-round for others.
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Botany Bay East
Similarly to the western foreshore of Botany Bay, much of the eastern foreshore has been heavily developed.
Penrhyn Estuary and La Perouse offer quite different experiences, but some good birding.

Access: Penrhyn Estuary, Port Botany
Approx. 12 km from Central Station.
Drive along Botany Road, and turn into Penrhyn Road at the set of lights. Take the third exit at the roundabout and park in the carpark at the end of the road.

La Perouse
Approx. 15 km from Central Station.
Drive along Anzac Parade until reaching La Perouse.
Park past Bare Island if looking at the rock platforms, or park on the left to look in the heath.

Type of habitat: Penrhyn is a rather unattractive looking inlet, often with large numbers of dogs and their trainers, but can be good for birds. The habitat is an exposed sandspit to the western end of the point, and mangroves at the eastern end.

La Perouse has a variety of habitat, with Banksia scrub forming much of the northern side of Botany Bay National Park, extensive heath hugging the coast from La Perouse to the entrance of Botany Bay, and a medium sized rock platform on the north western edge of the point.

What birds can be expected: Shorebirds and other waterbirds (cormorants, egrets etc) at Penrhyn, terns at both locations, honeyeaters and woodland birds at La Perouse. Spangled Drongo are regular at the golf course end of the Jennifer Street Boardwalk.

Best Time to Visit: August-April for shorebirds, year-round for others.
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Maroubra
Maroubra is one of the best places along the Sydney coast for sea-watching.
The north headland, named Mistral Point is easily accessed as it is close to the road, although the southern headland, named Magic Point is more exposed, and the walk through the low coastal scrub can add to the experience.

Access: Mistral Point
Approx. 13 km from Central Station.
Drive along Fitzgerald Avenue towards the ocean, and turn left at the roundabout onto Marine Parade. Follow this to the top of the point, and park in the carpark or on the street.
In a strong southerly wind, there is a sheltered area on the north side of the point. In rain, there is a sheltered “cave” on the south side of the point. See this map for specific locations. Otherwise sit and watch from the end of the point.

Magic Point
Approx. 13 km from Central Station.
Drive along Fitzgerald Avenue towards the ocean, and turn right into the park, and continue along to the carpark area.
Follow the fisherman’s trail through the scrub until you arrive at Magic Point. Be aware that on the right as you walk to Magic Point is a firing range.

Type of habitat: Mistral Point and Magic Point are both high exposed cliff tops. The habitat is oceanic. The trail from the car-park to Magic Point passes through low coastal heath.
What birds can be expected: Pelagic sea-birds are frequently seen from both locations. In ideal conditions it is unusual to not see several species of Albatross or Shearwaters. Heathland birds (honeyeaters, cuckoos, emu-wrens and fairy-wrens) are to be expected on the walk to Magic Point. Around the rocks at the southern end of Maroubra Beach, terns and gulls are usually present, and on quiet days, Reef-egrets and some shorebirds (Double-banded and Red-capped Plover, and Black-fronted Dotterel) may be present.

Best Time to Visit: For sea-watching, following and during periods of strong on-shore winds are best, as they blow the more pelagic species in to shore. During winter storms with strong south-easterly winds, something of interest usually turns up. Similarly during summer following cyclonic activity off the south east of Queensland, something will turn up.

The key to a successful sea-watch is a spotting scope, lots of patience, and the right conditions.

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North Head
Situated in Sydney Harbour National Park, North Head is an exposed headland at the entrance to Port Jackson. Along with Long Reef, North Head offers good sea-watching opportunities.

Access: North Head
Approx. 22 km from Central Station.
Drive through Manly and along Darley Road, bearing right onto North Head Scenic Drive.
There is parking at the end of the road and tracks leading to vantage points for seawatching.

Type of habitat: North Head is an exposed cliff top, presenting a good vantage point for seawatching. The walking track from the car-park passes through coastal heathland.

What birds can be expected: In ideal conditions, a variety of pelagic sea-birds can be expected to be seen, including Albatross and Shearwaters. There is a Little Penguin colony in nearby Manly, and in the right place, it may be possible to see these elusive birds.

Best Time to Visit: For sea-watching, following and during periods of strong on-shore winds are best, as they blow the more pelagic species in to shore. During winter storms with strong south-easterly winds, something of interest usually turns up. Similarly during summer following cyclonic activity off the south east of Queensland, something will turn up.

The key to a successful sea-watch is a spotting scope, lots of patience, and the right conditions.

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Long Reef
Long Reef is a location in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney. It has a well-founded reputation as a good spot for sea-watching and shorebirds on the rock platform.

Access: Long Reef
Approx. 25 km from Central Station.
Drive north along Pittwater Road, and after passing Dee Why Lagoon, turn right onto Anzac Avenue. There is limited parking in the area.
Type of habitat: Long Reef is a large rock platform, similar to Boat Harbour. There is a golf course with some low coastal bushes, and beach areas. Sea-watching can be conducted from the cliff top of the golf course, or from the rock platform.

What birds can be expected: The birds on the rock platform are much the same as those to be found at Boat Harbour, although Pacific Golden Plovers are frequently reported from Long Reef. In ideal conditions, a variety of pelagic sea-birds can be expected to be seen, including Albatross and Shearwaters. Terns and gulls are frequent.

Best Time to Visit: Most shorebirds are found here during the Austral Summer. For sea-watching, following and during periods of strong on-shore winds are best, as they blow the more pelagic species in to shore.

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Warriewood Wetlands
Situated at the back of a housing development, the somewhat small wetlands that are Warriewood Wetlands, turn up some remarkable birds.

Access: Warriewood Wetlands
Approx. 30 km from Central Station.
Drive along Pittwater Road, and when approaching the northern end of Narrabeen Lagoon, turn left onto Garden Street. Approx. 2 km along, there is some parking on Garden Street and walk to the wetlands or turn into the housing estate and park there.
As this is a housing estate, it may be best to park on Garden Street.

Type of habitat: Warriewood Wetlands are a series of small lakes behind a housing development. There are areas of dense reeds and a series of boardwalks through and over the wetlands.

What birds can be expected: Wetland birds such as ducks, herons and Sacred Kingfisher are resident. Little Bittern frequently turn up during summer – best to check with local birders for up to date information.

Best Time to Visit: Spring and summer are the times where birds are more active. Little Bittern seems to only be seen during summer. The resident birds are present all year round.

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Centennial Park
Along with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Centennial Park provides superb opportunities for birders very close to the CBD.

Access: Centennial Park
Approx. 3 km from Central Station.
Centennial Park has multiple access points. To access the ponds in the southern part of the park, enter the park by the entrance off Darley Road (the Govett St Gates). To access the woodland in the northern part of the park, enter by the Moore Park Road / Oxford Street entrance (the Paddington Gates).
The park has a comprehensive website with maps and transport information accessible here.

Type of habitat: Centennial Park is a large inner city park, with grassland, ornamental lakes, more bird-attractive lakes, large stands of trees, and planted garden beds.

What birds can be expected: Apart from the birds that would normally be expected at an inner city park, occasionally unusual birds turn up. Check with local birders for up to date information on what has been around.

Best Time to Visit: Centennial Park is worth a visit year round.

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Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens are located a very short walk from the CBD, and the grounds are very popular with city workers. Along with Centennial Park, the Royal Botanic Gardens provides excellent birding opportunities very close to the city.

Access: Royal Botanic Gardens
Approx. 2 km. from Central Station.
Parking is limited, and it would be better to take public transport to the Royal Botanic gardens.
The Gardens are a short walk from Circular Quay, Martin Place and St James train stations, and numerous buses pass the park on MacQuarie Street.
Public Transport information is available here 131500.info, and the Gardens have an informative website accessible here.

Type of habitat: The Royal Botanic Gardens is a well organised and planted park. As it is an artificial garden, there are many areas where the habitat is not that which is found in the inner city, providing a suprising variety of birds in an extremely central location.

What birds can be expected: Buff-banded Rail frequent the area around the Cook Statue (SW corner) and Rainforest area near the visitor shop. There is an Australian White Ibis nesting colony in the rainforest area as well. Tawny Frogmouth are resident in the park and surrounding area, although they move around. Powerful Owl turn up from time to time.

Apart from the birds that would normally be expected at an inner city park, occasionally unusual birds turn up. Check with local birders for up to date information on what has been around.

Best Time to Visit: The Royal Botanic Gardens are worth a visit year round.

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Eastlakes Golfcourse
This is a public golfcourse in Kingsford/Eastlakes in Sydney’s south. Many notable rarities have turned up here over the years. As it is a golfcourse, care must be taken to not get hit by flying golfballs, and right of way must be given to golfers.

Access: Eastlakes Golfcourse
Approx. 8km from Central Station
Drive along Wentworth Avenue, and turn left into Page Street. Turn left into Martin Avenue, and park at the junction of Martin and Donaldson Avenue.
To access the golf course, there is a hole in the fence partially hidden by a bush next to 15 Martin Avenue. Go through the hole, and walk down to the lake in front of you, negotiating the two golf holes – the first will have balls coming from the right, the second from the left.

Type of habitat: Eastlakes Golfcourse has good wetland lakes, some excellent stands of reeds and woodland, and protects some areas of East Sydney Banksia. The birds reflect the diversity of habitat in a condensed area.
What birds can be expected: During season, Latham’s Snipe are easy to locate. Little Bittern turn up (almost) annually, and other rarities include Yellow Wagtail. Many dry country/inland birds, such as White-winged Triller, turn up at Eastlakes during times of drought. Fairy Martins and Sacred Kingfisher breed during summer. Brown Quail, Bar-shouldered Dove, and Black-fronted Dotterel are regularly sited on the dyke between the two lakes nearest Wentworth Avenue. Spangled Drongo are regular during winter. Crakes and Reed-warbler are present in suitable habitat.

Best Time to Visit: Eastlakes Golfcourse is worth visiting at any time of year, although the variety of birds present is wider during summer. The variety of birds makes it one of the better sites in the inner city area.

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