Stream/s: Reaching conservation goals; Improving health and wellbeing; Respecting Indigenous and traditional knowledge and culture
Host Organisation: New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service in partnership with Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust
Location: Sydney Harbour National Park (Fort Denison) and Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

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Above Image: K McGrath OEH
Tile Image: Jaime Plaza RBG Trust

New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust welcomes you to experience Sydney Harbour. On this excursion you will visit Fort Denison, one of Sydney Harbour National Parks best vantage points from which to view the city, and to take a guided walking tour of the beautiful harbourside Royal Botanic Gardens.

Your journey will begin with a ferry cruise down the Parramatta River from Sydney Olympic Park, where your hosts will set the scene for the day. You will have an opportunity to try out the new interactive app “Against the Tide” that gives you the choice of selecting one of a variety of stories about experiences linked to the habitation of Sydney – some over 250 years old and others contemporary – as you make your way into Sydney Harbour.

Fort Denison will be your first stop. Originally a popular fishing spot for local Aboriginal people, this small rocky island in the centre of Sydney Harbour became a penal colony after the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788. At the highest vantage point on the island you will receive a welcome to country by a local Aboriginal custodian before being invited to share a traditional morning tea with special invited guests. You will then be invited to take a tour of the site with a National Parks and Wildlife Service guide who will give you insights the island’s dark and haunting secrets– there is good reason why Fort Denison is also referred to as ‘Pinch Gut Island’.

Back on the ferry, your next stop will be Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden, one of the oldest botanic gardens in the Southern hemisphere. Nestled between the iconic Sydney Opera House and the harbour foreshore, this area along Sydney cove was originally set aside as a private reserve for the NSW Governor. The garden was founded by NSW Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1816 as part of the Governor’s Domain, with the first colonial botanist appointed in 1817.

Take a guided walk around this beautiful public garden and hear about the inspiring living collection of plants, the animals that live there, and the fascinating history of the place. The garden is the oldest scientific institution in Australia and from its earliest days, has played a major role in the acclimatisation of plants from other regions.

Today, the garden also provides a great public recreation space in the heart of Australia’s largest city. Settle in for lunch in the Gardens overlooking Sydney Harbour before taking the ferry back to Sydney Olympic Park in time to enjoy the afternoon entertainment at PlanetFest.

Particulars and requirements

The first part of this excursion will be on a boat and Harbour Island. The second part of the excursion will include a one hour long walking tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens. A good level of fitness is recommended.


Transportation: Return travel to Sydney Olympic Park via ferry. There will be a communique to delegates closer to the date regarding options to get to/back from Sydney Olympic Park pre/post excursion.
Meals: Morning tea and lunch *Catering will include some vegetarian options. Delegates with other special dietary requirements will need to bring their own packed food/beverage.

What to bring

  • Wear comfortable clothing
  • Closed-toe walking shoes
  • Sun lotion
  • Weather gear (hat, rain jacket, a sweater/warm clothing in case the wind picks up on the water)
  • Water bottle


Weather conditions can be checked at

IUCN WCPA Parks Australia NSW NPWS