Sydney is home to one of the world’s most beautiful sea harbours, iconic architectural masterpieces and a wonderful mix of urban and natural environments. Although its skyline is known the world over, there are visual treasures hidden all over Australia’s most populated city. Here are fifteen places you must visit on your next Sydney adventure to experience the best angles of this unique city.
1. The Strand Arcade
Those looking for a historical Sydney experience can find what they’re after in this Victorian shopping arcade. With neatly lined shop signs and patterned tiles, you are sure to get a great shot in the Strand Arcade followed by a perfectly brewed coffee downstairs. A great way to get an unobstructed photo of the entire arcade is to take the stairs to the second level. Once you are upstairs, shoot right down in the middle of the arcade, for a beautifully symmetrical and colourful image.
2. Dr Mary Booth Lookout Reserve
This is a very special spot in Sydney where you can capture two of Sydney’s iconic bridges in one frame. From Jeffrey Street Wharf you can enjoy the scenic walk next to the water until you reach a set of stairs to take you up to Dr Mary Booth Lookout Reserve. Sunset is an ideal tie for this shot, allowing you to catch the silhouettes of the city. To capture the sky when its colours are richest, shoot during the blue hour—right after the sun has fully set below the horizon.
3. Angel Place
One of the gems of downtown Sydney is in a small lane called Angel Place. If you’re not careful, you might walk past the birdcages that hang in the heart of the city. “Forgotten Songs” is an art installation that was recommissioned to be a permanent part of the city in 2012. As you stand under them, you can hear the digitally recorded songs of fifty birds that vary from night to day—a truly beautiful and immersive experience both visually and audibly. For an interesting shot, capture this scene from a lower angle so you can include the whole set of cages in one frame. If you want to show a sense of scale, include a subject, but keep in mind this works best with just one or two people.
4. Streets of Barangaroo Precinct
One of Sydney’s newer urban developments, the Streets of Barangaroo precinct boasts a variety of modern architecture that looks great day and night. To enjoy the entire area, start at Wynyard Station. From there you can take the path through Wynyard Walk and down to the main precinct. During the days the area is filled with people from the nearby office buildings, but as the workday finishes, you can shoot a brilliant combination of light and structures there. To achieve accurate symmetry, add a grid feature to your phone or use a tripod with a leveller if shooting with a DSLR.
5. George Street
George Street is the main road that runs all the way through the city. Previously filled with cars and buses, this road will be home to a new tram line in the near future. Once the tram lines are completed the path will be shared with pedestrians. This means that with no traffic, you can capture a unique perspective on foot. Try and use the leading lines from the tracks and you’ll end up with a rather eye-catching photo of the Sydney CBD’s largest road.
6. Cahill Walkway
The Cahill Walkway is one of the best walks to do to experience Sydney’s icons in a more panoramic view. Once you take the lift up from Circular Quay, you can walk towards a viewing platform that offers a rare perspective of both the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. A cool little bonus is you can watch as the city’s signature green and gold ferries pull up to the Circular Quay wharves, and you can have a bit of fun also reading each unique name written on the ferries. Try shooting in a panoramic mode to capture all the great features one frame, or you can emphasise colour in your frame by zooming in to capture the details of the ferries.
7. Darling Harbour
Connected to the Sydney Harbour is the smaller, but no less spectacular, Darling Harbour. A place that is popular with locals and tourists, it is a beautiful spot to enjoy a bright and colourful reflection of the Sydney skyline on the water. To get a shot that looks almost like a painting you can go close to the water and fill half your frame with the Sydney skyline and half of it with the reflection that is cast on the water beneath. This is a reflective shot that can be achieved either during night or day. And you don’t need to use a DSLR—even an iPhone will do since there is ample light around.
8. Wendy’s Secret Garden
Tucked away in North Sydney you’ll find a set of stairs off Lavender Street that leads down to a very special garden. As the name suggests, Wendy’s Secret Garden will make you feel removed from the hustle and bustle while still being able to see a phenomenal view of Sydney Harbour. Incredibly, a single person planted this massive garden. Wendy Whitely began the project after her husband Brett passed away. Use the variety of plants and trees to frame your shot for a memorable view of the city.
9. Luna Park
Luna Park is bustling with colour and sounds, and is one of the Sydney’s top destinations. It’s a great place to get a fun portrait, as well as just enjoy feeling young at heart. A tip while shooting here is to prepare an outfit for your subject that is colourful enough to stand up to the background. Scope out the area in advance and choose colours that complement the surrounding rides and structures. You will end up with vibrant, eye-catching photos.
10. Sydney Opera House – Bennelong Lawn
Attracting millions of people every year, Jorn Utzon’s masterpiece, the Sydney Opera House is a must-visit venue in Sydney. You can get a great view of the western sails across at Bennelong Lawn. It is a little bit of a walk but well worth it for a shot like this. To get a completely unobstructed photo, you can shoot through the gates that surround the lawn and marvel at the light that hits the angled glass panels towards the end of the day.
11. Chinatown Alleyways
A neon-lover’s paradise, Sydney’s Chinatown is home to many colourful, glowing shopfronts and signs. Best experienced at night, you can take a walk through the main intersection of Dixon Street and Little Hay Street where you will stumble upon some interesting side roads. One of the more popular spots is an art installation on Kimber Lane called “In Between Two Worlds” that lights up the night with dazzling blue. A tip here is to shoot in portrait so you can include more details of the neon figures in your frame and also give the viewer a sense of depth.
12. Dawes Point
The scenic walk from Hickson Road Reserve takes you past the underbelly of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and leads to Dawes Point. From this vantage point, you have an amazing view of Luna Park across the water, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and a fresh perspective of the Sydney Opera House. Using the rule of thirds, you can create an interesting image by placing the large white sails towards the bottom of the frame and using the base of the harbour bridge to fill up the top half. If you wait for the right moment, you may be able to include a person or car in the frame to provide that additional sense of scale.
Katt Gao is a travel photographer and content creator from Sydney, Australia. Enjoy more of her work at www.kattgao.com.