The Lower North Shore is the metropolitan area on the northern shore of Sydney Harbour and is surrounded by Middle Harbour to the east and Lane Cove River to the west. The region extends as far north as Chatswood, where beyond that is the Upper North Shore
If you have ever walked the steps of the Sydney Opera House and wondered what lies on the other side of the harbour, it is time to explore the Lower North Shore. Connected to the city by Sydney Harbour Bridge, the region offers travellers spectacular views of the harbour, hidden harbour beaches and a peak into the lives of some of Sydney's most affluent residents.
The commercial and geographical centre of the district is North Sydney, a large business hub with skyscrapers (housing mostly financial services companies), shopping malls and a small nightlife scene. Just south of North Sydney is the harbour and the densely populated suburbs of Milsons Point and Kirribilli. It is here where you will find the northern foundations of the bridge and a waterfront promenade with excellent views of the city skyline and the Opera House. It is also where you will find Luna Park, a historic theme park by the water.
To the east is the visually stunning Mosman peninsula which includes the suburbs of Neutral Bay, Cremorne and Mosman. Throughout this area are quiet harbour beaches, natural bushland reserves and magnificent mansions with private jetties. It is also where you will find the world famous Taronga Zoo.
To the west lies historically significant suburbs such as Lavender Bay and Wollstonecraft. Most of the houses are Victorian-era terraces made of sandstone. There are also some natural headlands that off an opportunity for short hikes.
Finally, the north of the area and reaching the upper border of the region are the commercial centres of Crows Nest, which has a popular food and bar street, and Chatswood, a mega shopping zone with 3 large shopping malls and a long shopping street.
There are harbour crossings that connect the Lower North Shore to the city: the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Harbour Tunnel. For North Sydney, Milsons Point and Kirribilli you have to take the bridge, and take any of the first set of exits to your left as you come off the bridge. For points further north, you can use the bridge or the tunnel. Then for Cremorne and Mosman, take the 'Military Road' exit and head east. For Chatswood, continue on the freeway until you reach the Chatswood exit.
The North Shore Line (T1/T9) serve the central core of the region between Milsons Point and Chatswood. Trains for the Lower North Shore depart from Central, Town Hall and Wynyard stations in the city. Services run every five minutes or so during the day.
Regular buses run from the city throughout the Lower North Shore. From Chatswood there are regular bus services to the City, North Sydney, Crows Nest, Bondi Junction, Parramatta, Eastwood, Ryde, Macquarie University, Gladesville, Northbridge, Mosman, and the Northern Beaches.
West of the Harbour Bridge, Milsons Point and McMahons Point are on the F3 and F4 routes, providing connections to Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Balmain and up the river towards Parramatta. Both wharfs provide access to North Sydney for ferry travellers. You can walk there from Milsons point, or get the bus connection from McMahons Point.
Just to the east of the Bridge the F5 route connects Kirribilli with Circular Quay.
The rest of the eastern area of the region also has ferry services, to Mosman, Cremorne, Neutral Bay and Taronga Zoo services.
To the far west, a little known private ferry operation connects the Lane Cove River to Circular Quay and Darling Harbour by Captain Cook ferries.
The ferry may be a slower way of travelling around the region. Services can be less frequent than trains and buses, cost more, and take longer. So, check with Transport NSW if your interest is purely in the fastest trip. On the other hand, every trip is a bargain priced harbour cruise, letting you see the most scenic side of the area.
You can walk across the Harbour Bridge from the Rocks, directly into Milsons Point. It takes about 20 minutes brisk walking. Be careful on hot (or rainy) days since there is not much shade or shelter along the way.
There is a dedicated cycleway on the western side of the bridge, fully separated from cars and pedestrians. On the city end, follow the Kent St Cycleway north, or enter from Observatory Hill. From the Milsons Point end, the entry is the stairs west and south of the station. Once you leave the bridge, there is only a patchy network of bicycle lanes and the roads can be narrow and steep. Plan your route in advance. Lime eBike and Mobike are available on the southern (city) side of the bridge. You can ride them over the harbour bridge, but you have to return them back to the city within a reasonable time to avoid excess charges, so they are not really useful for more than a cruise over the bridge and back.
Away from the railway line and ferries, a car can be a good option for getting around the Lower North Shore. North Sydney and Milsons Point are business districts, with parking at a premium on weekdays. The shopping areas of Chatswood and Crows Nest generally have 3 hours of free parking available. Other tourist spots and the harbour can have parking metres or paid parking.
By public transport
The public transport system in the Lower North Shore is mostly designed to get locals from the area directly to North Sydney and the city. Therefore, connections between the hotspots (Taronga Zoo to Balmoral Beach for example) are not that easy. Because of this, day trips to places are excellent (e.g. city to Taronga Zoo by ferry and city to Balmoral Beach by bus) and many travellers will prefer to do day trips from the city to one place. If you do want to get around using public transport, it is best to use Google Maps or a similar tool that can help you determine the best combination of trains, buses and ferries to get you around. For the most part services are on time and not crowded.
Exploring the harbour on the north side is ideally done by foot. There are walking trails and paths along the water. The overall region is too large to walk, so you'll have to combine walking with some other form of distance transport: public transit, car or bike.
- 1 Taronga Zoo, Bradleys Head Road, Mosman (Taronga Zoo has its own ferry service departing Circular Quay), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 9AM to 5PM. is Sydney's major zoo and houses both Australian and exotic animals. Worth the trip for the views back to the city and Opera House. Don't miss the Bird Show where various native birds fly free over the heads of visitors. $100 for 2 adults and 2 children, $43 adults, $21 children 4-15 years, $30 concessions, free for children under 4 years.
Harbour parks, walks and picnics
- 2 Blues Point Reserve, Blues Point Road, McMahon's Point (from North Sydney it is at the end of Blue's Point Road; from Circular Quay, catch the Darling Harbour Route ferry to McMahons Point). Blues Point Reserve is a small grassy area right on the water, affording perfect views of the Bridge. It is the most popular area in the district to watch the fireworks at New Years' Eve.
- 3 Sawmillers Reserve (at the bottom of French Street, which is on the main Blues Point Road in McMahons Point). Very close to Blues Point Reserve, but completely hidden! Quiet harbour views and ideal for picnic on the grass.
- 4 Balls Head Reserve, Ball's Head Road, Waverton (follow Bays Road and then Balls Head Road to the south-west of Waverton Station). Two points to the west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Balls Head is a large park and picnic area with extensive harbour views.Also has a restored Aboriginal rock carving of a whale.
- Bradfield Park, Alfred Street South, Milson's Point (head directly down the hill from Milson's Point station; or head east from the Milsons Point ferry wharf). Bradfield Park is directly adjacent to the Harbour Bridge's northern approach. However, the very south end has the best view of the city on the other side of the harbour.
- 5 Berry Island Reserve (walk down Shirley Road from Woolstonecraft station). Berry Island first connected to the mainland with a causeway from Wollstonecraft farm in the 1800s. Later quarried sandstone made a permanent land bridge to the island. The land bridge is now lawns with a playground, and a loop walk circles the island, which will take around 20 minutes. There are interpretive signs about the Aboriginal heritage of the area. The last part of the walk can be done rock hopping along the sandstone rocks on the coastline. There is an Aboriginal carving there, but it basic, and quite hard to make out. There is a lookout at the end of the point, with views across the harbour to Balmain and Birchgrove. You can also see across to HMAS Waterhen Naval Base. free.
- 6 Cremorne Reserve, Milson Road, Cremorne Point (head down Murdoch Road and Milson Road from Military Road, Cremorne, or catch bus route 225 to Cremorne Wharf; from the city, take the Mosman Bay ferry and get off at the first wharf (Cremorne Point)). Cremorne Reserve is a small park along the water near Cremorne Wharf, with sweeping views southwest to the city and Harbour Bridge. A good place to watch the sunset on a summer night with a picnic dinner.
- Headland Park, Middle Head (Buses 244 and 288 service the area on weekdays. On weekends, buses connect with the Taronga Zoo Ferry. Alternatively there is a connecting walk to Chowder Bay around Bradleys Head from the Taronga Zoo Ferry.). The park is bushwalking for the latte and chardonnay set. Take middle head road from Mosman - follow the signs to the Zoo, and then turn left at the roundabout onto Middle Head Road. The site offers spectacular vies over the harbour, and the city. Well formed bushwalks, picnic areas, and swimming at Chowder Bay and Balmoral beaches on the harbour. There are several well placed cafes and restaurants within the park, if you don't feel like carrying a picnic basket, including Ripples near Chowder Bay. Entry and parking is free.
- Tambourine Bay Reserve, Riverview. The reserve has a park adjacent to it with a variety of barbecue facilities. The park is also a peculiar meeting place for dogs and their owners. On most days, usually between 2-5PM, a group will gather and the dogs will play while the owners socialise. Not far from the park is a distinctive mangrove swamp and a reserve with many bush walking trails. The bay is picturesque with its yachts and native vegetation in the foreshore. A sea scouts clubhouse is located in the area, and is popular with rowers and sailors alike. Also nearby is the historic St Ignatius (Catholic) college, a prestigious secondary school in Sydney. The school has football fields and outdoor basketball courts that are often used freely by members of the public.
- Extensive walking opportunities are available in Lane Cove National Park. Lane Cove Park is developed, with well formed walks, cafe, etc. Entry fee is payable for cars to enter. Cyclists and pedestrians are free.
- Harbour views from parts of the district are spectacular. In addition to the normal views, Sydney Harbour has occasional fireworks displays, the most impressive of which is the New Year displays at 9PM on New Years Eve and at midnight on New Year's Day. Visitors hoping to watch the New Year fireworks from a North Sydney vantage point need to be prepared to arrive at around midday on New Year's Eve to claim a spot in one of the public parks. The area is frequently restricted access on New Year's Eve and visitors may not be allowed to bring alcohol into the area
- Walk around the foreshore from Kirribili to Lavender Bay along the Luna Park promenade.
- Mosman walks. Walk on beautiful shorefront trails through trees and "bushland" in Mosman.
- 7 Wendy Whiteley's Secret Garden, Foreshore, Lavender Bay (Downhill from Clark Park on Lavender Street), ☏ . Wendy Whitely, the widow of famed Australian landscape painter Brett Whiteley, has cleared out disused railway land in Lavender Bay to create a large, unofficial park, packed dense with Australian and exotic flowers.
- 8 Balmoral Beach. Family friendly beach away from the main Harbour waters. Good for a quick swim in the swimming baths, enclosed by shark nets and a wide boardwalk. Plenty of cafes around.
- 9 Chinamans Beach. A beach that's perfect for picnics, off-leash dog walking and ample parking. This small sheltered beach looks across Middle Harbour to Clontarf and Sydney Harbour National Park, where the water always seems to be glistening. Rosherville Reserve is perfect for picnics games with the kids and dogs are allowed off-leash on weekdays.
- 10 Cobblers Beach. Clothing optional beach which is also popular with families. It can get crowded here on weekends in summer, but nudists say that's a great time to join in if you're new to it. You'll blend in to the crowd.
- 11 North Sydney Oval, Miller St, North Sydney (Walk 15 minutes up the road from North Sydney station). Great old cricket and rugby ground. Northern Suburbs (Shute Shield), North Sydney Bears (NSW Cup) use the ground regularly, with some NSW one-day cricket games played there in summer.
- 1 Luna Park, 1 Olympic Drive, Milsons Point (walk straight down the hill from Milsons Point station and follow the signs, or take the ferry to Milsons Point wharf.), ☏ . Luna Park is an older style amusement park on the harbour's edge. The huge grinning face over the entrance is a Sydney icon.
- 2 North Sydney Olympic Pool (Milsons Point Train Station or Milsons Point Ferry Wharf.). An outdoor public pool almost under the Harbour Bridge with spectacular views. It opened in 1936 and features sea water, sauna and outside snack area. Conveniently close to Sydney CBD. Winter water temperature can be very cold. Adult $7.30, child $3.60 for a swim.
- Chatswood's Victoria Street Pedestrian Mall, very close to the train station, has regular musical performances, an ethnic food market on Thursdays, and occasionally performances from buskers.
- Chatswood Cinemas. Chatswood has two multi-screen cinema complexes, in Westfield and in the Mandarin Centre. In addition to mainstream movies the Mandarin Centre often features Asian films, including Japanese Anime, and films from Bollywood and China.
- 3 Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, 380 Military Road, Cremorne, ☏ . The Orpheum shows mainstream and art house films in beautiful refurbished theatres. Call ahead to find out when the organist is playing for a real old rime treat.
- Natural Wanders, Milsons Point, ☏ . Natural Wanders offers guided sea kayak tours of Sydney Harbour leaving from Lavender Bay. The minimum distance is 5.5km. No kayaking experience is required but a reasonable level of fitness is needed. from $65.
Chatswood can feel like one big shopping mall. Westfield, Lemon Grove, Chatswood Chase and the Mandarin centre merge along the Victoria Avenue into a seemingly endless stretch of fashion, food and just about everything else. The major chains are all there, with many of them having more than one outlet. There are also many smaller shops and centres lining the main shopping mall. Chatswood Chase is an upmarket shopping center with designer clothing stores and the upmarket department store David Jones. Chatswood Westfield is a mainstream shopping center with cheaper clothing stores. Chatswood Mandarin is a smaller shopping center with an Asian food court, a cinema, and a Chinese supermarket on the ground floor.
North Sydney has plenty of shopping options during the week, but feels eerily quiet on weekends when most businesses shut shop.
Crows Nest and Lane Cove have a good selection of local shops to browse, and both have a good community feel.
The Lower North Shore has plenty of great eating options. Milsons Point has a good selection of Italian and Thai restaurants and cafes, many overlooking the Bridge and Harbour. North Sydney has plenty of food courts for office workers, although not much for evenings and weekends. There are numerous restaurants with a variety of cuisines in Crows Nest near the junction of Pacific Highway, Falcon Street and Willoughby Road, and in McMahons Point, along Blues Point Road. St Leonards mostly has cafes for office workers. Chatswood has a fantastic selection of East Asian restaurants, and the shopping malls have plenty of quick options. Neutral Bay and Mosman have also countless options all the way down Military Road (and if visiting the zoo, it would probably be advisable to try this rather than use the cafes at the zoo).
Packed with office workers during the week, you will find most options (although not all) are closed during the evenings and on weekends.
- S and I Thai, 59 Ridge St, North Sydney, ☏ . This Thai restaurant's menu is more limited than many in Sydney, but makes up for it with large serves of tasty, spicy basic Thai dishes. Mains $12-22.
- 1 Ryo's Noodles (Ryo's Ramen), 125 Falcon Street, North Sydney (take the 228 bus from North Sydney station and get out at the 5th stop; look out for the orange building opposite the petrol station), ☏ . Th-Tu 11:40AM-2PM 5PM-8:30PM. Ryo's Noodles serves authentic Japanese ramen and is well known among the Japanese expat community in Sydney as some of the most authentic and tasty ramen outside of Japan. They also serve some unique dishes such as the miso bolognese - give it a try. The place is very small and they don't accept bookings, so expect to queue sometimes - particularly at weekends.
- Jagos on Miller, 232 Miller Street, North Sydney, ☏ . A small upmarket cafe near St Leonards Park, Jagos is a reliable place for a good breakfast. Open from morning until evening.
It is a great option to walk down Blues Point Road from North Sydney and choose a good restaurant. The architecture and atmosphere is very pleasant, and outside seating is popular. Unlike North Sydney these cater mostly to residents and are open evenings and weekends. Check the prices on the menus at the door, as there are some premium places along here you could stumble into.
- 2 Blu Ginger Indian Restaurant, 147 Blues Point Road, McMahons Point, ☏ . The food is excellent and the service friendly and informal. Main courses cost about $15, and banquets start at $25.
- Sails on Lavender Bay, 2 Henry Lawson Avenue, McMahons Point, ☏ . Fantastic views over the harbour to the bridge and Opera House. Great food, though portions are small. Entrees about $25, mains $35-40.
- Thai Riffic, 139 Blues Point Road, McMahons Point, ☏ . Thai Riffic has a much higher standard of presentation than most Thai restaurants, and isn't afraid to mix up tradition a bit in favour of better looking food. But don't worry, they're also very flavoursome: not as spicy as some, but just as much lime juice and fish sauce as you'd expect. Best to go on slow evenings; it's a loud space.
Neutral Bay and Cremorne
- 3 Addictions Pizza Espresso Bar, 4/4 Rangers Road, ☏ . Neutral Bay and Cremorne. 3 Addictions is a traditional Italian pizza restaurant. Chefs are members of Associanzione Verace Pizza and ensure specific principles are followed to ensure an authentic Neapolitan pizza. $15-25.
- Maisy's Cafe, Shop 1, 164 Military Road, Neutral Bay, ☏ . Maisy's is a slightly crowded cafe and slightly overpriced for the quality, but the reason is that it is open 24 hours, which is very unusual in Sydney. The menu is standard burger and pasta fare, if it's a late night and you need to fill your stomach, Maisy's is the place to be.
There is almost no limit to the options to be found in Chatswood. The two shopping malls provide large food courts, and there are plenty of authentic Asian restaurants within a few minutes walk of the train station.
- Gourmet Pizza Kitchen, 60 Archer Street, ☏ . Chatswood. The Gourmet Pizza Kitchen is a family restaurant which serves thirty different gourmet-style pizzas. $15-25.
- Genghis Khan Mongolian Barbeque Restaurant, 77 Archer Street, ☏ . The, Chatswood. The Genghis Khan is a self-serve restaurant. Your meal is cooked on a large hot plate by a flamboyant chef. $20.
- Cha for Tea, 389 Victoria Ave, ☏ . Chatswood. Serves light meals, snacks and a wide range of (mostly tea-based) beverages. The leafy courtyard out the back is a very pleasant place to relax on a sunny afternoon.
- Makoto Sushi Bar, 336 Victoria Ave, ☏ , fax: . Chatswood. Open 7 days, with dinner starting from 6PM. At a much higher quality than your standard sushi-bar, Makoto offers sushi, sashimi, along with a range of small cooked dishes. The service is authentically Japanese, and the cooks work in full view of the client, enclosed by the sushi conveyor.
Crows Nest and St Leonards
- Seri Malaya Restaurant, 56-62 Chandos St, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-3PM, 5:30-10PM. St Leonards. Small and unpretentious, serving quality Malaysian, Thai and Chinese cuisine. Singaporean and Malaysian favorites added to the menu on F and Sa. Fully licensed and BYO.
- Qmin, Shop 5, 207B Pacific Hwy St Leonards, ☏ . Tucked away between Pacific Highway offices and the Royal North Shore Hospital, this Indian restaurant is in a surprisingly pleasant setting. Excellent food and service.
- 3 Green Gourmet, 538 Pacific Hwy, ☏ . Lunch Th–Sa 11:30AM–2:30PM; dinner M–Th 5:30–8:30PM, F Sa 5:30–9PM. All-vegan Chinese restaurant with an emphasis on Cantonese dishes.
Lane Cove and Longueville
An eat street with more local appeal.
- Curry Lane, 110 Longueville Rd, ☏ . Lane Cove. Indian sit-down & takeaway restaurant with a range of flavorsome curries, naan bread, snacks, drinks & lassi. Great food & service. Of particular interest is reading the little philosophies on life scrawled on the walls.
- Gilroy's, 75 Christie Street, ☏ . St Leonards. Friendly Irish pub catering to a mostly professional clientèle. The upstairs restaurant serves large meals, has comfortable seating and TV screens to keep an eye on the current sporting event.
- Great Northern Hotel, 522 Pacific Highway (cnr Mowbray Rd), ☏ . Chatswood. The Great Northern has a friendly outdoor beer garden, and serve generous steak dinners.
- Chelsea Hotel, 10-14 Railway Street, ☏ . Chatswood. Mostly catering to the after-work crowd and locals, has low priced meals.
- Oaks Hotel, 118 Military Rd, Neutral Bay, ☏ . M-W 10AM to midnight, Th-Sa 10AM to 1:30AM, Su noon to midnight. This relaxed and popular pub has a large interior and beer garden centered around a large oak. You can purchase raw meat to be barbecued, and there is also a pizza kitchen.
- The Commodore Hotel, 206 Blues Point Road, McMahons Point, ☏ , fax: . A pub frequented by young professionals, it is popular and noisy. Special deals include free beer until the first point scored during major football games.
Bars and clubs
The suburb of North Sydney is known as a playground for young Sydneysiders, in particular for teenagers and people in their early twenties. There are a number of nightclubs and pubs located within walking distance of North Sydney train station.
- The Greenwood Hotel, 36 Blue Street, North Sydney, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. This large pub has four bars, and has music events every week including R&B, hip-hop, funky house and trance. Known jokingly by locals as 'Teenwood' because of the notoriously young clientele it attracts. Before 9pm it has a more office and after work crowd. Nice outdoor area with good choice of drinks and reasonable pizza.
- 1 Small Bar, 85 Willoughby Rd, Crows Nest, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. The ambience is set up by beautiful fairy lights in the outdoor courtyard. There is a decent variety of craft beers and Australian and international wines.
- 1 Park Regis Concierge Apartments, 287 Military Road, Cremorne, toll-free: 1800 006 922. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Ideally located amidst the relaxed village atmosphere of Cremorne - a short drive to the attractions of Sydney's city centre. The hotel's city fringe location gives leisure visitors numerous sightseeing and entertainment options on the North Shore. The hotel features fully self contained studio and one bedroom apartments some with harbour views. The apartments feature modern decor, climate controlled air-conditioning, TVs, direct dial phones with internet access and full kitchen and laundry facilities. The hotel is situated near numerous dining options with a restaurant and bar next door. From $99.
- The Sebel Residence Chatswood, 37 Victor Street, ☏ . North Sydney Hotel moments from Chatswood's shopping and business districts. Apartment-style North Sydney accommodation a short walk to Chatswood railway station and a 10-minute train ride to Sydney's CBD.
- Harbourview Hotel, 17 Blue Street, North Sydney (Walk downhill from North Sydney train station), ☏ , toll-free: 1800 801 989, fax: . The Harbourview is a mid-range hotel, and most rooms has an excellent to spectacular view of Sydney Harbour, one of the best afforded by the district. Rooms are neat but not luxurious. Double rooms range from $150 to $250 per night, higher on New Year's Eve.
- 2 Vibe Hotel North Sydney, 88 Alfred Street South (Cnr Cliff Street), ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. This Vibe North Sydney fronts onto Alfred Street, just across the road from Milsons Point Railway Station, and some rooms offer sweeping views over the harbour. A few minutes up the hill to North Sydney CBD, and a 2km pleasant walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge will bring you to the main sightseeing, shopping and entertainment areas. Starting from $170.
- 3 Glenferrie Lodge, 12A Carabella St in Kirribilli (the hotel is about 4 minutes walking distance from the Kirribilli ferry wharf; the nearest rail station is Milsons Point), ☏ , email@example.com. Charming hotel in a large 19th-century heritage house. The rooms have access to a shared, dormitory-style bathroom. Certain rooms have their own ensuite bathrooms. Dining room is open every morning for a hot breakfast. If you book directly with the hotel, your breakfast will be included in the cost of your stay. Otherwise, there is an additional daily fee for breakfast. The hotel has a garden with outdoor seating, and a play area for children. The hotel says it welcomes pets. There is also a Tesla Destination Charger on site. A little further down the road are breathtaking views of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This hotel is highly recommended for those with young children and for those travelling on a budget. Room rates start at $68/night.
- Royal North Shore Hospital, Pacific Highway, St Leonards. ☏ . fax +61 2 9926 7779. The Royal North Shore Hospital is a fully equipped public teaching hospital. It has an emergency room.
- Chatswood Medical & Dental Centre, 270 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood. ☏ . No appointments, just turn up. Payment by cash or credit card. They are used to seeing travellers there. Daily 8AM-10PM.
- Forum Medical Centre, Pacific Hwy, St Leonards (cnr Herbert St). ☏ . M-F 9AM-5PM; Sa Su 10AM-2PM.
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