Sydney Harbour offers endless possibilities, this spectacular body of water literally glitters with the sun’s kiss. The 240kms of coastline which make up Sydney Harbour holds secrets that even Sydney siders do not know about. Boating is undeniably the greatest pastime of Sydney Harbour. Big or small, luxurious or all dinged up, you will find any and every watercraft imaginable on Sydney Harbour. If you are thinking of a new vessel to experience the Harbour in, Boat Monster have you covered, whether you are after one of our popular centre console fishing boats such as a Contender 25 Tournament, Invincible 35 Catamaran and Tidewater 198 CC Adventure or a leisure boat from the luxurious Raneri Next range such as the Next 330 LX. The sheer magnitude of this city paradise, however, can be daunting for boaters and fishermen alike. Treat this like a mini guide; some helpful information to lighten the load and ease your mind. You will be out on the water and tackling Sydney Harbour in no time.
On the Water
Dotted with infinite bays, islands, National Parks, restaurants and cafes, Sydney Harbour has something for every boater. For a novice boater, the islands, Shark, Clark, Goat and Rodd, are the easiest points to access. The spectacular bays, Watsons Bay, Parsley Bay, Vaucluse Bay and Shark Bay, are all breath taking but all on the busy side and can be overwhelming for less experienced boaters. Clifton Gardens with its picturesque park and famous fishing jetty, your best bet here is to set your anchor just out off the jetty and snag a beauty while the jetty fishers climb all over each other.
Middle and North Harbour are far more relaxed. While still busy, the further North you travel the lighter the air you breathe feels. Balmoral Beach is a beautiful family spot with its world famous restaurants. Travelling further North, one has the feeling to lose the weight from the shoulders and reconnect with nature. North Harbour is where most sea life is spotted. You can see it all here. Dolphins, whales, turtles and seals are not uncommon sightings. North Harbour beaches that are well worth a stop include Collins Beach, Little Manly Beach, Reef Beach and Quarantine Beach.
On the Fish
Wetting a line is a must-do in Sydney Harbour. Fish stocks are back up and water quality has improved vastly over the last years. The previous concerns over dioxins in the Harbour meant that commercial fishing all but stopped resulting in fish stocks flourishing. Anything from Kingies to leatherjacket could end up on the end of your line.
Not sure where to start? Fish are attracted to structure and there is plenty of that in Sydney Harbour. Kingfish are charmed by the ‘wedding cake’ navigational markers. Follow any kind of marker as a matter of fact and you are bound to find fish. As a beginner, do not underestimate the heavy fishing. Live baits and lures will be lost to the fish and the structures they hover around.
All your live bait can be caught in the Harbour. Plenty of squid, yellowtail and slimies are waiting. If you prefer lures, use light jigs, poppers and trolled minnows. Sandbars and weed patches are plentiful and house stacks of bream and flathead, which love soft plastics.
Fun in the sun
When it comes to pulling your vessel up for a relaxing day basking in the joys of nature, it’s got to be Middle or North Harbour. You can’t beat Balmoral Beach for a Middle Harbour family destination, and there are parts of North Harbour that appear untouched by the hand of civilisation. It gives you a sense, as you look for a stretch of sand to call yours for the afternoon, of what Sydney Harbour looked like before Australia was colonised. Except, of course, for the dozens of other keen boaties and power yachts that will be anchored up nearby thinking the same thing. Some of the little North Harbour beaches we really enjoy are Collins Beach, Little Manly Beach, Reef Beach and Quarantine Beach. A word of warning though: Reef Beach was once a nude beach, and a few freedom fighters may still insist on baring all at this spot.
If you’re lucky enough to see a lazy seal, dolphin, whale, turtle or little penguin enjoying the weekend, you wouldn’t be the first. There is a lot of nature to enjoy, and few people realise just how much marine life frequents North Harbour. Worth noting, too, are the accessible spots of historical significance scattered around the coastline of Sydney Harbour. They are worth a visit and provide insight into how much things have changed. Quarantine Station, with its haunting reminders of the suffering that went on there, is chilling. The cliffs around the Heads are littered with World War II machine gun turrets, somewhat crumbled but still recognisable, and Fort Denison proudly stands near Kurraba Point, Neutral Bay.333
Whether you want to eat on the water, by the water or even in the water, all options are available to you. Hop off your boat at any number of Sydney Harbour’s bays and you will find either world class dining or picnicking options. The Fish Market at Pyrmont is the place to find the freshest of the fresh of Sydney Harbour’s seafood. Park yourself on a bench outside and feast on fresh caught fish, prawns, squid, Balmain bugs and anything else you could imagine. Keep a close eye and be prepared to fight off the mischievous seagulls.
Hit Watson’s Bay for the famous Doyle’s seafood. Always bursting and always fresh, it is a little on the pricey side but what isn’t in Sydney these days. If a cosy picnic is more your cup of tea, then grab some takeaway fish and chips from the cafe and eat lunch with your feet in the water. The Darling Harbour precinct or Barangaroo also offer a plethora of food options.
With over 5 million people living in Sydney and thousands of tourists visiting the city every year, the Harbour is nothing short of hectic sometimes. Careless boating costs lives. One must always exercise extreme caution when boating but even more so in spots like Sydney Harbour.
Keep out the way of the ferries. These guys are running the same trip multiple times per day and have zero patience for stupid boaters. A good rule for life, if you are big, look out for those smaller than you. If you are small, remember that you are difficult to see and take responsibility for your safety. When you are pulling up to a bay, slow to the required speed limit. Anchor where it is signed and permitted and watch out for bathers.
When it comes to fishing, the buoys and markers that are so productive on our inshore pelagics can become car parks on weekends, public holidays and afternoons during daylight savings. Fishing in these circumstances can lead to competition and sadly, flat-out aggression from some anglers, with safety the first casualty. If you’re not a regular and you’re looking to fish the markers for the first time, you’d be best advised to save your first trip for a non-crowded day. Communicate with other boats, don’t tow lures near them, and share the spots.
Sydney Harbour is a vast, exciting and great place to go boating. More and more people are boating and fishing these waters every year. Fish stocks are healthy and the water is glistening. With a bit of planning, your next outing on Sydney Harbour will be a success. With so much to see and do, we couldn’t begin to scratch the surface of what’s possible, but hopefully this guide has sparked some ideas and motivated you to join the Harbour rat race. We’ll see you out there!