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10 Sydney's Best Sunrise Photography Locations


Palm Beach at Sunrise, Sydney, NSW, Australia


This is the second article on Sydney's Best Photography Locations. Sydney sits on the south-east coast of Australia and provides plenty of opportunities for shooting sunrise but in this article I will show you a few best sunrise locations in Sydney (in my opinion). As usually all these places and lookouts are easily accessible by foot, public transport or by taxi/car. I also provided links to Google Maps and SunFollower.net (TPE-style website and iPhone/iPad application).

Please make sure you check the first article as well: 12 Best Photography Spots for Classical Sydney Skyline.

Location 1: Mrs Macquarie's Point

Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge at Sunrise, Mrs Macquarie's Chair, Sydney, New South Wales (NSW), Australia

Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge at Sunrise, Mrs Macquarie's Chair, Sydney, New South Wales (NSW), Australia


The Mrs Macquarie's Point provides two slightly different spots:
  • Mrs Macquarie's Chair
  • Walking path on the Farm Cove bay bank, below the Mrs Macquarie's Chair
Mrs Macquarie's Chair is an elevated spot and offers excellent view to the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

The walking path below the Mrs Macquarie's Chair provides almost the same view to the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge but from a lower point. It also gives a great view to the Sydney city. However if you want to shoot only the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge only then the elevated Mrs Macquarie's Chair is better. Usually there are a lot of parking spots along the Mrs Macquarie's Road.

The best time for photography from Mrs Macquarie's Point is pre-dawn, around sunrise, around sunset and after sunset. You need full range of lenses for this spot depending on what you want to shoot. Telephoto shots from there could be also very nice as well as wide-angle shots.

The Kirribilli and Mrs Macquarie's Chair lookouts are the two most well-known lookouts and provide the most classical views.

Mrs Macquarie's Chair on maps:
Mrs Macquarie's Point on maps:

Location 2: Kirribilli

Panorama of the Sydney Harbour at Sunrise, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Panorama of the Sydney Harbour at Sunrise
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


This lookout is located near Jeffrey St. Wharf (below the "intersection" of the Broughton Street and South Drive) in Kirribilli. There are a lot of parking spots there in the morning but in the evening it could be overcrowded. You can also use trains to get to the Milson's Point station. Walk down to the wharf and continue walking to the left for a little bit. There is a nice flat place with benches at the harbor bank. You will get great view to the city and the Harbour Bridge.

The best time for photography from Kirribilli is pre-dawn, around sunrise, around sunset and up to 1 hour after sunset. You need wide-angle lens for the Harbour Bridge shot and mid-range lens for the city.

Kirribilli on maps:

Location 3: The Gap

The Gap at Twilight, Watsons Bay, Sydney, NSW, Australia

The Gap at Twilight
Watsons Bay, Sydney, NSW, Australia


The Gap is Sydney's most notorious suicide spot but at the same time it has spectacular views of both the harbour and the sea. To get the best view of The Gap you need to get over the fence and get on the cliff edge, so please take extra care. Rocks can be very slippery. Best time is pre dawn and sunrise. You will need a wide angle lens for shooting there. Shooting can be done from either northern or southern side depending on your preferred Sun position. The Gap Park on the northern side also has a few nice vantage points for photographing Sydney Harbour.

There are plenty of ways to get there - buses, ferry, taxi and by car. In the morning parking is not an issue there. For the buses check timetables for L24, 324, 325 and 380 routes. For ferry service check F7 Eastern Suburbs route from Circular Quay to Watsons Bay.

The Gap on maps:

Location 4: The Macquarie Lighthouse on Dunbar Head, Vaucluse

The Macquarie Lighthouse and Cliff, Watsons Bay, Sydney, NSW, Australia

The Macquarie Lighthouse and Cliff
Watsons Bay, Sydney, NSW, Australia


The Macquarie Lighthouse located relatively close to the previous location - The Gap. The same as for The Gap you will need to get over the fence and get on the cliff edge for the best view of the lighthouse and the cliff, so again please take extra care. The fence is quite high with inconvenient rails. Best time is pre dawn and sunrise. You will need a wide angle lens for shooting here.

How to get there: buses, taxi and by car. There are plenty of parking there along Old South Head Road. For the buses check timetables for L24, 324 and 380 routes.

The Macquarie Lighthouse on maps:
The Macquarie Lighthouse photography location on maps:

Location 5: Hornby Lighthouse

Hornby Lighthouse at Dawn, South Head, Watson Bay, Sydney, New South Wales (NSW), Australia

Hornby Lighthouse at Dawn
South Head, Watson Bay, Sydney, New South Wales (NSW), Australia


Hornby Lighthouse on the South Head is a fantastic place for catching up the rising Sun. From that location you can see the North Head, the Hornby Lighthouse and part of Sydney. Check Sydney Ports Schedule (http://www.sydneyports.com.au/port_operations/cruise_schedule) and you might have a chance to photograph a cruise liner entering Sydney Harbour at sunrise.

There are two main car parks (free) and also roadside parking located along Cliff Street in Watsons Bay (map). Alternatively, you can catch a bus or a ferry to Watsons Bay (the same as for Location 3: The Gap) which will drop you 600m / 10 minutes walk from Camp Cove. Make sure that you checked timetables for buses and ferries in advance. During summertime sunrises are quite early and you can easily miss them.

Walking time from Camp Cove to the lighthouse is approximately 10-15 minutes and 650m one way. From Watsons Bay, head along Cliff Street and follow the signs to Camp Cove Car Park. Camp Cove is a further 50m on from the car park.

The coastal path starts from the wooden steps at the right hand end of the beach, signposted as South Head Heritage Trail (public toilets here). Follow the path uphill through the sandstone cutting and gun emplacement onto an asphalt road. Continue ahead on the road until it narrow to a footpath (more public toilets here). The path heads downhill and Lady Jane Beach (clothing optional) is signposted on the left. Continue ahead on the wooden boardwalk until a path comes in on the right and a sign indicates the start of the loop track. Continue ahead and the area opens up to panoramic views from the CBD and Eastern Suburbs across to Manly and North Head. To reach the lighthouse, follow the sealed footpath over the footbridge and around the corner.

Hornby Lighthouse on maps:

Location 6: Coogee Beach

Beautiful Sunrise Above Coogee Beach, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Beautiful Sunrise Above Coogee Beach
Sydney, NSW, Australia


The Ross Jones Memorial Pool near the Coogee Surf Lifesaving Club is the most popular spot on the Coogee Beach. It has very distinguish features which include concrete piers that extend above the wall resembling turrets at the top of a sandcastle. The pool has a long history of association with local swimming clubs and their members. The pool is used by the Coogee Penguins, a winter swimming club. Speaking about photography this pool is affected by tides, surf and sometimes amount of sand on the northern end. Dawn and sunrise are the best times for shooting there.

You can get to South Coogee by public transport (bus routes M50, 353, 370, 373, 313, 372, 374, 314 and X73) or car/taxi. Coogee Beach is approximately a 20 minute drive from Sydney's CBD. Parking is always the problem anywhere near the Ross Jones pool during the day but you shouldn't have a problem with parking before sunrise. You don't have to pay until 8am.

Coogee Beach on maps:

Location 7: Bronte Beach

Beautiful Sunrise at Bronte Baths, Bronte Beach, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Beautiful Sunrise at Bronte Baths
Bronte Beach, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Bronte Rock Pool would definitely be the most popular part of Bronte Beach and allows you shooting towards the sun as well as the opposite direction.

The top of the shower block that is located just before the rock pool is also a great vantage point from which you can capture the Bronte Rock Pool and the beach. The rocks on the northern side of the beach are also giving you nice view from above the beach, shooting down towards the south end where the rock pool is situated.

You can get to Bronte Beach by public transport (bus route 361 and 378) or car/taxi. Bronte is located approximately a 20 minute drive from Sydney in the Eastern Suburbs. There are plenty of parking on Bronte Road.

Bronte Beach on maps:

Location 8: Manly Beach and Cabbage Tree Baths

Manly Beach at Sunrise, Manly, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Manly Beach at Sunrise
Manly, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Manly is located on the North Shore of Sydney it has an extensive coastline with several beaches and panoramic views of the city from North Head National Park. Manly Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Sydney and has plenty photographic opportunities - the beach itself, Manly to Shelly Beach Walk, rock pool and rock formations. The most interesting part is located on the south end of the beach. You can shoot the whole of Manly Beach from the top of the rocks or walking up the stairs near Manly Life Saving Club.

Manly's Fairy Bower (Cabbage Tree Bay) pool with sculpture at Sunrise, Manly, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Manly's Fairy Bower (Cabbage Tree Bay) pool with sculpture at Sunrise
Manly, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Cabbage Tree Bay also known as Fairy Bower and it's located on the walk from Manly Beach to Shelly beach. It has a small but nice sea side rock pool with the Oceanides statue. The pool is lit at night by a very strong sodium vapour lighting which creates a heavy green cast. I wouldn't recommend shooting there at night or early twilight.

Parking is almost always a challenge near Cabbage Tree Baths even at night, but there are plenty of parking (paid) along the Manly Beach. Also bus and Manly ferry service from Circular Quay available.

Manly Beach on maps:
Cabbage Tree Baths on maps:

Location 9: Narrabeen Tidal Pool

Early Morning at Narrabeen Tidal Pool, Narrabeen Beach, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Early Morning at Narrabeen Tidal Pool
Narrabeen Beach, Sydney, NSW, Australia


Narrabeen Tidal Pool is one of the best rock pools on the Northern Beaches and a very popular photo spot. It is located on the northern side of the North Narrabeen Beach. Be aware about very strong sodium vapour lighting right above the pool. This will cast a horrid orange cast on your images if you are shooting the pool during blue hours or at night. However shortly before sunrise that light seriously dimmed and you rarely have issues.

Right before sunrise and sunrise are the best times for shooting here.

Narrabeen Beach at Dawn, Narrabeen Beach, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Narrabeen Beach at Dawn
Narrabeen Beach, Sydney, NSW, Australia


There is also a vantage point for photographing Narrabeen Beach. Trail starts at the official parking and goes up to the hill on North. From that lookout the Narrabeen Tidal Pool is almost invisible but you can shoot Narrabeen and Collaroy beaches and Narrabeen lagoon.

Getting to North Narrabeen tidal pool is pretty simple, from Pittwater Rd you can take a right onto Ocean Rd and drive along Narrabeen beach, or you can turn East onto Walsh Rd at Warriewood. There is plenty of parking just North of the lagoon (paid on the official parking or free along the street) and it is a short 5 min walk along paved roadway to get to the tidal pool. No public transport there.

Narrabeen Tidal Pool on maps:

Location 10: Turimetta Beach

Storm Clearing over Turimetta Beach, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Storm Clearing over Turimetta Beach
Sydney, NSW, Australia


Narrabin Tidal Pool and Turimetta Beach are the two most popular photography locations on the Northern beaches in Sydney. They are literally a mecca for seascape photographers as they provides so many elements to make up a brilliant shot. You will be able to find photographers there almost on any day.

Dawn and sunrise are the best times for shooting here. The Southern part of the beach is probably the most photogenic. But the real treat there is when the rock shelves turn green with a blanket of moss - roughly from mid-August till early October. Turimetta changes dramatically based on the amount of sand thats thrown up on the Southern end and depending on the tides.

Best place to park is either Pearl Place or Narrabeen Park Parade in North Narrabeen. There is a clearly marked trail leading down to the South Side of the Beach and a separate trail heading down to the North Side of the Beach.

Golden Sunrise at Turimetta Beach, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Golden Sunrise at Turimetta Beach
Sydney, NSW, Australia


There is also a vantage point for photographing Turimetta Beach. Trail starts at the same place but goes up to the hill on South. You need to be very careful shooting there as there are no rails there and cliff edges are unstable.

Turimetta Beach on maps:
Turimetta Beach vantage point on maps:

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