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Taronga Zoo to Chowder Bay

A walk through Sydney Harbour National Park from zoo to beach
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 4.5 miles
Duration: Full day
Family Friendly

Overview :  This trail packs a lot of Australiana into one day: a harbor ferry trip past the Opera House, getting up close with native wildlife... more »

Tips:  There are no ferries stop at Chowder Bay but your options for returning include getting a bus from Chowder Bay Road (see POI 13),... more »

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Points of Interest

Circular Quay is Sydney's main ferry terminal and a hub for bus and train services. Its location, in between the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, means that there are great photo opportunities no matter which ferry route you choose.

The starting point for this trail is Wharf 2, where there is a direct ferry service to Taronga Zoo every 30... More

2. Ferry ride

Sydney's harbor is visually spectacular and one of the best (and cheapest) ways to appreciate it is by ferry. It's public transport and harbor cruise rolled into one. Always go for an outside seat to get the full benefit.

This route sails alongside the Opera House and you can look back for views of the iconic bridge. After a few minutes you will ... More

At the wharf you have two options for entering the zoo: a bus can take you up the hill to the main entrance or you can take the more exciting Sky Safari.

The latter is a chairlift that introduces you to the zoo with a treetop view over the animal enclosures before dropping you at the main entrance. That leaves you to pick your favored itinerary... More

It's best to allow half a day here. If you find it hard to pull yourself away, perhaps it's best not to fight it and come back to do the walk to Chowder Bay another day. But to be honest, you could spend several days here and still not be sure you've done it all.

To help make the decision, it may be best to focus on Taronga's unique exhibits. It ... More

5. Athol Beach

After leaving the zoo at the wharf exit, walk up the road 200 meters to find the start of the walking track on your right. You soon will see Athol Beach below the path and it's worth a short diversion down one of the side tracks.

There's a better swimming beach at Chowder Bay, but there are great views from here across the harbor to the bridge, ... More

6. Athol Beach to Bradleys Head

Much of this section of the trail offers more uninterrupted views back across the harbor, but it's also worth keeping an eye on the natural features as well.

This area of Sydney Harbour National Park has been preserved as pristine native bushland, so it appears the same to today's visitor as it did to the first European settlers 240 years ago ... More

The head is marked with the mast of a World War I naval boat; you don't have to go too far to see this point had other military significance. There is a sandstone gunpit built by Irish convicts in 1840 just to the left of the mast.

The theme goes back much further, with the local aboriginal name for the place--dalyungay--meaning lookout. These... More

8. Bradleys Head to Taylors Bay

Head back up past the mast to rejoin the path. The vegetation along this section of the trail is incredibly varied. You can be walking through tall eucalyptus one minute and ferns the next. There is even the occasional banana tree. Closer to Taylors Bay there is a small waterfall and pockets of vegetation reminiscent of rainforest. Almost... More

9. Taylors Bay

The trail circles around Taylors Bay, a picturesque inlet mooring several small boats.

Its history includes the sinking of a Japanese midget submarine during the only naval attack on an Australian capital city during World War II. It was one of three submarines that set out in 1942 to attack Allied shipping in the harbor. A sign next to the... More

10. Chowder Head

Chowder Head, on the point between Taylor and Chowder bays, has a secluded rocky beach that's a worthwhile diversion if you prefer a private swim to sharing the sandy shore at Chowder Bay. The trail is well marked. It's a steeper, rockier path than the one you've been walking on, but it's only a five-minute descent.

Chowder Bay was named in the early 1800s by American whalers who would make chowder from the oysters they collected from the shoreline rocks.

The food eaten by today's visitors is more likely to be of the picnic or BBQ variety. Kookaburras wait in the surrounding trees for scraps. The sandy beach is a popular swimming and boating spot and adjoins... More


If you walk in front of the buildings and up the steps at the far end, you reach Ripples Cafe. It's a casual place, but more upscale than the kiosk. It's the lunch or dinner choice if you prefer to celebrate the end of the trail with a glass of wine and some modern Italian cuisine while looking across the bay.

It's popular, so it's a good idea to... More

13. Bus stop, Chowder Bay Road

One of your options for returning to Circular Quay is to take the 244 bus from Chowder Bay Road. It takes about 45 minutes, stopping at various Mosman and Milsons Point locations before crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

There's only one bus an hour so check the timetable (see link in other resources).

To get to the bus stop, go up the steps... More