5 Ways to See Sydney From Above

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Jun 07, 2017

by AKASH ARORA, Features Editor

It doesn’t matter how long you have lived in Sydney or how many times you have visited, there are some aspects of the harbour city you can only fully appreciate from above. The apostrophic bends of its creamy beaches, say, or the latticework of white yachts moored in impossibly blue bays. Here are five ways to you can gain height and see Sydney from a whole new angle. 

Hop into a seaplane

You know it’s home to one of Sydney’s most renowned waterfront restaurants, Catalina. But did you know Rose Bay’s Lyne Park was also the departure site of Qantas’s “flying boats” back in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, when travelling between Sydney and Singapore took four days? Obviously, a lot has changed since then – Qantas doesn’t operate seaplanes any more and flying to Singapore takes about eight hours. But you can still soak up the grandeur of that bygone era (and staggering views) by booking a scenic flight with Sydney Seaplanes. The harbour, the Sydney Opera House and the bridge are, of course, the indisputable stars, but the 30-minute Sydney Secrets tour also reveals pockets of the harbour city you might have never seen before. Most astonishing among them is the strip of soaring rugged orange cliffs that stretches all the way from Watson’s Bay to Bondi Beach – it’s a slice of the Adriatic right on Sydney’s doorstep. The trip also takes in the lush islands of the Northern Beaches, the iconic strip of sand along Palm Beach as well as many national parks, before swinging back to the harbour with a short circuit close to the bridge and those iconic sails. 

Scale the mast

Is this the most surprising way to go “up” in Sydney? We think so. Climb the 150-metre-high mast of the Soren Larsen and have your own Titanic moment (Celine Dion track not included). The ship was built in Denmark in 1922, but now traverses Sydney Harbour’s waters with a number of cruises each day. The best are the Afternoon Discovery Cruise in winter and Twilight Dinner Cruise in summer, as both offer sunset views. Sydney is the only place in the world where you can experience a mast-climb (as a commercial activity), so make sure you add that to your cruise when booking and you’ll feel like you can raise your hands and touch the bridge when you’re at the top. 

Do the SkyWalk

There are many ways to take in the stellar views – the lush sweep of the Royal Botanic Garden, the glassy skyscrapers of the CBD as well as the bows and dips of the famous bridges – from The Sydney Tower, the city’s tallest manmade structure since 1981. You can book a table at the revolving 360 Bar and Dining restaurant for Elton Inglis’ gourmet fare, opt for a buffet experience, or sign up for the 45-minute SkyWalk tour, which takes you 268 metres above street level, out into the open air and over a glass floor. And if you want to turn up the luxe factor, opt for the private Skywalk tour for two.

Skydive

This one’s clearly not for the faint-hearted – jumping off an aircraft from about 14,000 feet above ground. Thankfully, you’ll be strapped to an experienced skydiver as well as a parachute. But that doesn’t dilute the heart-stopping experience, which includes a free fall at the speed of about 200 kilometres per hour. The free fall lasts for only about a minute but feels like eternity. Your reward? Gobsmacking city, coastal and Blue Mountains views all the way to the horizon, which – thanks to the height and wide-angle views – you’ll see bent like an arch. Visit Adrenaline or Sydney Skydivers

Climb the bridge

You may have driven over it, sailed under it and flown above it, but nothing quite captures the drama of the Sydney Harbour Bridge like climbing it. Ascend 134 metres above the ocean, right in the very heart of the harbor, for 360-degree views and a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity. Most say sunset is the best time to go to watch daylight vistas gradually dissolve into a dark canvas studded with millions of twinkling city lights and stars above. But the sunrise tour is just as fine – a chance to watch the sleeping steel structure spring to life under the gaze of the rising saffron sun. And the best thing? The company offers private tours, complete with musical performances and canapés. No wonder it’s caught the eye of lovebirds popping the question, tying the knot or renewing their vows on top of the world.

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