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Iconic Photo Locations

It's a common complaint among travellers the world over that they see a photograph of a place which catches their eye, but when they get there to take their own photograph of it, they have difficulty finding the exact spot where the shot was taken. There are plenty of such photos floating around on the internet that promote Sydney. We ve isolated the most well known of them and pinpoint where they were taken.



The classic photograph of the Sydney Opera House alongside the arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is taken from the eastern shore of Farm Cove on the walk to Mrs. Macquaries Point. The Point is the most popular location in Sydney from which to take photos of Sydney's two iconic buildings - the Opera House and Harbour Bridge -  which are seen alongside each other from the point. Many visitors drive to Mrs Macquaries Point and park, but the place is very popular, especially with tourist coaches that arrive in a seemingly endless stream on most days, so we suggest you walk there from the Royal Botanical Gardens. When you ve finished photographing Sydney's two most famous icons, check out Mrs. Macquaries Chair (a seat carved out of the rock for use by the wife of a colonial governor) before walking back to the city via the path alongside Woolloomooloo Bay and The Domain.




The front on view of the Sydney Opera House is taken from Dr. Mary Booth Reserve on the Kirribilli Foreshore. Pan your camera viewfinder across the Sydney CBD skyline and you ll focus on another famous shot, that of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The reserve from which these photos are taken can be reached either by walking over the Sydney Harbour Bridge or by train to Milsons Point station. From the station or bridge steps, walk down Broughton Street to the harbour, then the foreshore to the left.




There aren't too many railway stations in the world with a million dollar view to compare with this. To catch this iconic vista  which takes in Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and everything between - all you have to do is catch a train from Town Hall or Wynyard Station on the City Circle to Circular Quay. Alight from the train, and there it is in front of you!

For the same view, but from a slightly higher perspective, take the Cahill Walk along the top deck of Cahill Expressway, which is accessed from either a lift or flight of stairs on Circular Quay opposite Phillip Street, or the steps on Cumberland Street, The Rocks, next to the bridge over Argyle Street. If you have a wide-angle lens, it will give you a wider perspective of the scene.




Sydney's Taronga Zoo is often promoted with the use of the above scene, or variations of it. The giraffes are the easiest animals to line-up for a photo with the city skyline as the backdrop, so that is why they appear so frequently. The giraffes have to stand in a certain position for the shot to happen and unfortunately, they are not always obliging. Around feeding time is one of the best times to try and capture the scene, but again, there are no guarantees. If the giraffes won't co-operate you might try the elephants or the Himalayan Tahrs.



Another shot of the city from the zoo that is very popular is from the cable car ride up from the ferry wharf to the zoo entrance. If you can have someone on the ground photographing you waving out of the cable car, it adds to the drama of the occasion, but they'll need a fairly powerful telephoto lens and a bit of time to set the shot up on a dummy run before you climb aboard the cable car.




Used extensively overseas to promote Sydney is a shot of the harbour bridge with the Opera House visible under the bridge deck. This scene is captured from or near the McMahons Point Wharf at McMahons Point on Sydney's Lower North Shore. There s even a little bay for your car to stand in to prove that you took the pic and were actually there. A similar shot, with part of the bridge and opera house in close up, is also popular and can be taken from a harbour ferry.




Perched on thigh ground in the harbourside suburb of Vaucluse, Dudley Page Reserve offers the best view ever if you want a shot that takes in the city skyline, the opera house, the harbour bridge and a large section of the harbour itself. Face the other way and there are some great ocean vistas that can include the historic Macquarie Lighthouse. Street parking is available along Old South Head Road for those arriving by car, or the park can be reached on foot via the Coastal Walking Path from Watsons Bay or Diamond Bay.




Bondi Beach is generally photographed from the western end of the beach (contrary to popular belief, the beach run east to west, not north to south). To get the full effect of the curve of the beach, take your shot from Notts Avenue, above where the surf meets the sand. Many professional photographers use a wide angle lens for effect. For a front-on view of the beach or pavilion, take your photograph from Mackenzie Point using either a telephoto lens or the telephoto setting on fixed lens cameras.




Not far away, up above the main village of Watsons Bay is The Gap, noted not only because of its attraction to people wanted to commit suicide, but its fabulous views. Climb to the highest point and you can just about see the whole of Sydney - its dramatic sea cliffs, the harbour, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the eastern suburbs, the lower north shore - all that's missing is the Opera House, hiding behind Bradleys Head! If you have a wide angle lens, you can capture the whole vista in one dramatic shot. If you don't have one, a photo of the harbour and another of the ocean will surfice.
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  • Bald Hill is located at the southern end of Royal National Park on the Illawarra escarpment high above the coastal village of Stanwell Park. At the apex of Lawrence Hargrave Drive, the Bald Hill lookout takes in the panoramic 360 degree views of the Northern Illawarra and the escarpment all the way to Wollongong and Port Kembla. Whale watching, when in season, captivates many a Sydney day-tripper. Not only are the views excellent, the area is also internationally known as a major hang gliding centre. It was on the beach below Bald Hill that Lawrence Hargrave, an Australian pioneer of flight, experimented with box kites in the early part of the 20th century.
    Location: Otford Road, Stanwell Tops, 44km south of Sydney via Princes Hwy and Lawrence Hargrave Drive.
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    • Circular Quay

      The rain of jacaranda blossoms on the footpath and the gigantic canopies of purple in city parks and streetscapes from mid-October before a peak in mid-November are sure signs of the arrival of the spring season. Grafton in northern New South Wales is recognised as one of the best places in the world to see and photograph jacarandas in full bloom, but if that is too far for you to travel, you'll find plenty of trees in Sydney to keep you snapping away.

      In the inner city area, there are Jacaranda trees at the southern end of Circular Quay. The Botanic Gardens has the oldest recorded specimen of jacaranda tree, dating back to the 1850s, and it provides a magnificent backdrop when photographing the harbour from the Gardens. Oxford Street, Glenmore Road and Five Ways in Paddington have a great selection to view. A walk through the University of Sydney at Camperdown is a must as there are jacaranda trees all around the campus. Also take a look inside the quadrangle, where a genetic clone of the original famous tree was planted in July. Neighbouring suburbs of Glebe, Camperdown and Erskineville are also worth exploring.

      On the North Shore, thhe tree-lined McDougall Street in Kirribilli is a well-known spot, as are picnic areas in Lavender Bay, Greenwich, Waverton, Longueville and Wollstonecraft. The Hunters Hills Trust organises walking tours through the suburb's best streets.




      After the Jacaranda season is over, many of Sydney's suburban streets are turned into night-time wonderlands of fairy lights, heralding the beginning of the Christmas season. Communities and streets within those communities try to out-do each other by having the biggest and best Christmas decorations, and attracting the most visitors. They don't seem to mind when their streets become clogged with cars that have come from near and far to join in the festivities.
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