Many locals, and Sydney visitors, miss seeing some amazing locations, because they are not as well known as the Opera House, Bondi Beach, Darling Harbour or the Botanical Gardens. If you are keen to explore some of Sydney’s natural landscapes, you don’t actually have to travel too far from Sydney CBD.

Aussie locals love checking out our natural habitats and off-road holidays are more popular than ever (make sure to cover your risks of off-road travel!)

Let’s grab your walking shoes and your car keys, head north over the Harbour Bridge and check out some of the natural landscapes close to home:

Chowder Bay

Named by the whalers after the seafood that was abundant in the bay in the late 1800s, according to HarbourTrust.gov.au. Located along a well-marked track between Taronga Zoo and Balmoral Beach, Chowder Bay and Headland Park are steeped in history as a maritime village, the Sydney Institute of Maritime Science research area, ship building and of course restaurants serving today’s catch.

Balmoral Beach

This is a safe family beach offering an enclosed shark proof swimming area, a wide boardwalk, toilets, showers, takeaway shops, restaurants and a Bathers Pavilion. Many walkers plan a 3-km, 5-km or 10-km walk around the headland with the backdrop of multimillion dollar homes and yachts.

Quarantine Station

Heading north from Balmoral Beach, over the Spit Bridge and heading towards Manly, is the Quarantine Station on the headland — approximately a 20 to 30 minute drive. According to QStation.com.au, the Station evolved over 150 years and closed in 1984. Its use increased during periods of infectious diseases when international travellers arriving in Australia by migrant ships with suspected contagious diseases in the early to mid 1900’s. They were offloaded in Sydney Harbour and taken to North Head Quarantine Station to protect local residents from infection.

After a number of weeks of incubation they were released into the general public. The buildings remain as a testament to this period in Sydney’s history. Some of the buildings have been converted into accommodation. Ghost tours are available as well as Manly Murders walking tours, arranged by a local crime writer, according to ManlyMurders.com.

North Head Lookout

North Head Lookout, according to SydneyForAll.com is found at the end of a 1-km long paved pathway, not far from the Quarantine Station. The views south to South Head and across to Sydney Harbour are spectacular. Between May and November, this is a brilliant location to view the humpback whales on their migration from the Antarctic to Hervey Bay in far north Qld. You can explore the National Artillery Museum, as this site was used to protect Sydney during the first and second world wars. No toilet facilities are available at this location. Take a jacket when you visit as the southern winds can be intense at times as you near the cliff face.

All of these locations are surrounded by natural easy-to-access fauna and flora. Remember your block out in the summer months, your camera and your map.