Hidden Gems In Sydney

14 Must-Visit Sydney (And Beyond!) Hidden Gems For Your 2024 Family Adventure


Farah Fazanna •  Dec 13, 2023

Ah, New South Wales. This beautiful state in Australia is known for many things. Its iconic Sydney Opera House, the bustling cafe scene, wildlife and the great outdoors. Yet, there are well-kept secrets among the locals that you may not know 😉 Well, that’s why we’re here. We’ve uncovered 14 hidden gems in Sydney and beyond that should be on your list for your next trip!

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14 hidden gems in Sydney and beyond

1. Manns Point Park

Sydney is a city made for photographers. Find yourself a beautiful vantage point anywhere around the harbour and you can take some great photos of this famous city. There are quite literally dozens of parks around Sydney that offer enviable city views, and they all make a great spot for watching the New Year's Eve fireworks as well. Manns Point Park in the suburb of Greenwich is one such location!

The views of the city make a nice backdrop for a picnic, and you can either spread out on a patch of grass or use the picnic benches and seats supplied. A short walking trail through the bush connects the lower and upper levels of the park where you’ll be rewarded with the best views!

Admission: Free

Address: Prospect St, Greenwich NSW 2065, Australia

Opening hours: 24 hours

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2. Wendy’s Secret Garden

Wendy’s Secret Garden

Credit: Photo by Daphne Misbrener on Unsplash

Everyone needs a secret garden in their life and you’re invited to visit Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden, a public garden and much-loved oasis in the heart of Sydney.

Wendy’s Secret Garden – which is at the foothill of her private home in Lavender Bay – has been nurtured by Whiteley and two gardeners over the past 25 years. They’ve planted natives, exotics, plants and herbs and landscaped the space with winding paths supported by raw bush timber balustrades, benches to sit on, cobbled stairs and retaining walls and paths.

Located a short walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge or a 10-minute walk from Milsons Point and North Sydney train stations, the Secret Garden is a haven where you can explore meandering pathways and discover sculptures as you go. Enjoy a picnic basket or read a book at one of the tables or benches beneath the garden’s canopy, or you can simply enjoy the nature and serenity of your beautiful surroundings. Be sure to get your camera ready for that Insta-worthy shot of a spectacular city view! You may even stumble across a hidden fairy house 😉

Admission: Free

Address: Lavender St, Lavender Bay NSW 2060, Australia

Opening hours: 24 hours

While you’re in the area, be sure to check out the Insta-worthy Lavender Bay Wharf. Located between Milsons Point and McMahons Point, the spot has expansive views of central Sydney Harbour. This wharf is centrally located, so you can take a quick boat ride to many places around the harbour too!

P/S: Looking for more things to do in New South Wales? Check out these 8 Must-Visit Family-Friendly Attractions In Sydney And Beyond (Including Halal Restaurants Nearby!).

3. Maccallum Seawater Pool

Maccallum Seawater Pool

This hidden gem may even rival the popular Bondi Icebergs pool 😉 Take a dip in the 1920s-style pool and enjoy the iconic view of Sydney Harbour. Picture this: You are swimming in the refreshing water while ferries glide by, yachts bob on the water and the sun shines. Sounds like the perfect vacation, amirite? It’s also a nice spot to bring the kiddos out to play in the water!

Address: Milson Rd, Cremorne Point NSW 2090, Australia

Opening hours: Open 24 hours

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4. Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout

There are many ways to get up close and personal with Sydney’s famous bridge, but perhaps the best way is by visiting the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout. This less well-known Sydney tourist attraction not only offers fantastic harbour and city views, but it is also home to a fun and educational museum! With amazing views of the city skyline and the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout is one of the best lookouts in Sydney!

How to get there: The lookout is located in the pylon on the southeastern side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Simply follow the pedestrian walkway on the bridge and look out for the entrance sign and door.

Admission: AUD$24.95 (adult), AUD$12 (children). AUD$16 (concession). Free entrance for children under 3 years old

Address: Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Rocks NSW 2000, Australia

Opening hours:10am – 6pm (Saturday – Monday) – last recommended entry at 5pm, 10am – 4pm (Tuesday – Friday) – last recommended entry at 3pm

*Please note that these hours are subject to change


5. Queenscliff Tunnel

Hidden Gems In Sydney

Credit: Destination NSW

Affectionately known as the ‘Manly Wormhole’, it was in fact industrious fishermen – and not natural erosion – that chiselled this 40-metre channel through the rock of Queenscliff Head more than a century ago! While it may be a bit of a challenge scrambling over the rocks of the headland north of Manly Beach to find it, your efforts are soon rewarded with a close encounter with Sydney’s rich history and a view of Freshwater Beach that’s hard to beat, especially if you time your visit to coincide with sunset.

Getting there: Upon arriving at Manly Beach, walk over to the far left of the shore and from a distance, you will see what appears to be a dark spot. That is the Wormhole. Walk past the rock pool and climb the cliff. From there, walk towards the tunnel with a big pink heart graffiti painted on top. Do note that you should only visit the Manly Wormhole during low tide!

6. Eveleigh Treehouses

Hidden Gems In Sydney

Credit: Mirvac

Eveleigh Treehouse is conceived as a site of belonging for adults and children alike, a retreat from the bustle of daily life. Built from steel and recycled hardwood, the two drop-like forms of the Treehouse are whimsical. Your kids would certainly enjoy climbing and running through the Treehouse. It makes the perfect backdrop for that family photo too! Located outside the Community Building at South Eveleigh, the Treehouse is open 24 hours so you don’t have to worry about closing time!

Address: 39A Henderson Rd, Eveleigh NSW 2015, Australia

Opening hours: Open 24 hours

7. Shopping galore

Shopping in Sydney offers a diverse and exciting experience. The city boasts an array of shopping districts, from the upscale boutiques of Paddington to the bustling markets of Paddy's Market in Haymarket. For the best deals on high-end fashion and designer labels, the iconic Queen Victoria Building (QVB) is a must-visit. If you’re seeking unique items and locally made goods, then you should explore the vibrant markets such as The Rocks Markets and Glebe Markets, where artisans and craftsmen showcase their wares. Don't miss out on Sydney's thriving farmers markets, like Carriageworks Farmers Market and Bondi Farmers Market, for fresh produce, gourmet treats, and a taste of the city's culinary culture. Want to know what you should bring home from Australia? Check out these 17 Brands Cheaper In Australia Than Back Home!

8. Blue Mountains lookout points

Hidden Gems In Sydney

Known as Sydney’s ‘backyard wilderness’, see the forested valleys of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park unfolding under the famous blue haze (created by eucalyptus oils in the atmosphere!). Take in the beautiful view of the famous Three Sisters from a number of scenic lookouts: Echo Point, Honeymoon Bridge, Pulpit Rock and Elysian Rock. 

9. Southern Highlands

Hidden Gems In Sydney

Credit: Destination NSW

Take a 90-minute drive south of Sydney to Southern Highlands for an epic road trip. If you’re not driving, you can easily catch the direct train from Sydney to Bowral, one of the charming towns in Southern Highlands. The train ride takes about two hours. Check out the Transport NSW website for more schedules and tickets. Home to beautifully preserved colonial architecture, colourful gardens and manicured estates, Bowral is famed for elegant boutiques, acclaimed restaurants and the colourful Tulip Time Festival that’s held during Spring in September. It’s the ideal getaway to rewind, refresh and rejuvenate!

Hidden Gems In Sydney

Credit: Destination NSW

Remember the children’s favourite movie, Babe? It was filmed right here in the Burrawang Village Hotel near Robertson! If you’re looking for some outdoor activities, drive to beautiful Kangaroo Valley, 40 minutes from Bowral, and camp under the stars or paddle in a kayak on the river. While you’re here, visit the stunning Fitzroy Falls in Morton National Park, where water plunges over 80m to the valley below.

There are plenty of things to see and do here all year round. In spring, there’s a tulip festival, and in autumn you can marvel at the beautiful autumn foliage. Be sure to check out the book barn Bendooley Estate too!

If you’re in Bowral on the second Saturday of the month, make your way to the Bowral Market. This market has a range of clothes, toys, plants, sculptures and handmade goodies that make excellent souvenirs. With lots of food on offer too, you can fill up your belly with a croissant and delicious coffee in the sun. If you’re visiting on a weekend, be sure to check out the local markets where you can purchase local honey, butter, fresh produce and many more! No matter when you visit, the Southern Highlands is perfect for an exciting getaway from Sydney 😍

Address: Bowral Market, Bowral Bowling Club, 40 Shepherd St, Bowral NSW 2576

Opening hours: 8am - 1pm (every second Saturday of the month)

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10. Grand Pacific Drive

Grand Pacific Drive

Credit: Destination NSW

About a 45-minute drive from Sydney is the Grand Pacific Drive, a 140km scenic coastal drive beginning at Royal National Park. This natural beauty is the second oldest natural park in the world, and it’s perfect for sightseeing with several walking trails to choose from!

Hop off the car and stretch your legs as you walk along the iconic Sea Cliff Bridge, a picturesque coastal road. The 455.6-metre-long bridge extends into the ocean and is absolutely breathtaking. You can feel the ocean breeze from every angle!

Drive a little further and reward yourself with an incredible coastal view with the Wattamolla to Eagle Rock lookout route. This route is truly a hidden gem where you can see Curracurrong Falls, a spectacular waterfall that cascades down into the ocean - it’s definitely worth the drive.

Kiama Blowhole

Credit: Destination NSW

Further down the route is the scenic coastal town of Kiama, which offers a perfect mix of activities for an amazing adventure. Visit the Kiama Farmers Market open from 3PM to 6PM every Wednesday for fresh produce from local suppliers, then head to the viewing platforms at Kiama Blowhole, the world’s largest blowhole that can squirt water up to 30 metres into the sky! The Kiama Coastal Walk is another hot spot in town, and it's made up of rock formations that give the coast its iconic rugged look.

P/S: Looking for more road trip ideas in New South Wales? Check out these 7 Scenic Road Trips From Sydney For The Ultimate Nature Getaway!

11. Jervis Bay

Hidden Gems In Sydney

Credit: Jordan Robins

What’s a trip to Sydney without spotting some dolphins and whales, right? Jervis Bay is where the goods things are at. Enjoy a dolphin-watching cruise where you’re guaranteed to see these magnificent sea mammals and if you’re lucky, you can spot seals, penguins and seabirds too! During the annual whale migration season, from May to November, you can see whales as well! That’s not all you can do here. Explore the beautiful beaches of Jervis Bay! First up is Callala Beach, boasting the bay's longest shoreline and gentle waves that are just perfect for the little ones. Nearby Myola awaits, blending bush and beach vibes for a tranquil getaway. Heading south, Collingwood Beach welcomes you with its expansive charm. And for those craving a more intimate seaside escape, look no further than the hidden gems of Orion and Barfleur. Happy beach-hopping!

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12. Snap photos of the colourful flowers in Sydney and NSW

Hidden Gems In Sydney

Credit: Destination NSW

If you’re visiting Sydney and NSW in spring, then you’ll get to view the purple jacarandas, daisy fields and cherry blossoms. Here we’ve compiled a list of flowers and where you can find them!

Jacarandas: From around late October to November, the city of Sydney is peppered with these pretty purple trees. The jacarandas are bright purple so you won’t miss them! Some of the best spots in the city to catch these mauve blooms include Circular Quay, Kirribilli, Royal Botanic Gardens and Lavender Bay.

Cherry blossoms: The Cherry Blossom Festival is held annually every August in the Japanese Garden of the Auburn Botanic Gardens 🌸 Be sure to take a selfie in front of the pretty pink arch of delicate blossoms! During the two-week festival, be sure to check out the other range of fun attractions and activities. Experience Sydney’s finest food trucks and Japanese food stalls while enjoying the beautiful blossoms 🥰

Tulips: Visit Bowral in the Southern Highlands in September for the iconic Tulip Time festival 🌷 where a vast garden of 75,000 tulips makes for a colourful display. During the festival, you can also visit the garden during Tulips After Dark, which will take place every Friday and Saturday evening from 6pm to 9pm. You can enjoy daily entertainment featuring bands, dancers, choirs and fun family activities, and browse a large range of handcrafted wares, local produce and refreshments.

Hidden Gems In Sydney

Credit: Destination NSW

Canola fields: The golden fields of canola flowers can be found on country roads between Young, Boorowa and Harden in the Riverina. The yellow flowers shine from September to November.

Paper daisies: Be sure to check out the paper daisy display at the Australian Botanic Garden in Mount Annan where it’s an Insta-worthy moment with fields of pink, white and yellow native daisies covering more than 2,000 square metres in September.

Sunflowers:Farm & Co Kingscliff on the north coast of NSW has some of the most glorious sunflower fields 🌻 Dress in your spring best and get a photograph among the tall, yellow sunflowers. It’s a $6 entry fee (if you buy online or $7 if you walk-in) and Kingscliff is a great stop on the way to Byron Bay. The sunflowers also bloom all year round! You can also visit Glenbernie Family Farms, only an hour’s drive from Sydney or Pine Crest Orchard in Bilipin.

13. Stockton Sand Dunes Port Stephens

Stockton Sand Dunes Port Stephens

Feel the adrenaline rush as you glide down the vast sand dunes of Port Stephens on a quad-biking adventure. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced rider, this exhilarating activity promises loads of fun and excitement. Ride down the slopes on a sandboard and embrace the thrill of flying across the golden sand 🥳. Fun fact: the Stockton Sand Dunes Port Stephens are the highest-moving coastal sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere!

14. Hot Air Balloon Hunter Valley

Hot Air Balloon Hunter Valley

Credit: Destination NSW

Experience the Hunter Valley from a whole new perspective with a captivating hot air balloon ride. As you gently ascend into the morning sky, the picturesque vineyards, rolling hills, and sprawling landscapes come to life in a breathtaking panorama. The tranquil journey offers a sense of serenity and wonder, as you float above the stunning wine region. Feel the cool morning breeze on your face and soak in the golden hues of the sunrise as you glide effortlessly through the air. It's a magical and romantic adventure that allows you to appreciate the Hunter Valley's beauty in a truly unique way, creating memories that will last a lifetime 🥰

With so many hidden gems waiting to be discovered, it’s easy to understand what lies within Sydney and New South Wales’s allure. It’s what makes people keep returning because it’s simply gorgeous every season. So will you be making Sydney your travel destination soon? We know we are!

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