I visited Sydney's Centennial Park in a quest to find something cool and off-the-beaten path to do with a weekend of downtime on a business trip to Australia. I'd already visited and been wowed by Sydney's Royal Botanic Garden, Hyde Park, and Taronga Zoo. Perusing Google Maps for something fun to do, I stumbled upon a large green space, the Centennial Parklands, located in Sydney's eastern suburbs within walking distance of Sydney's Paddington neighborhood. Sydney's Centennial Parklands comprise Centennial Park plus adjacent Moore Park and Queens Park. These parks in combination are recognized on the New South Wales State Heritage Register. Centennial Park looked like a promising destination for some fresh air, relaxation, and maybe a bit of birdwatching. Leave Sydney's Central Business District behind and join me on a self-guided nature walk in Sydney's Centennial Park on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
Exploring Centennial Park with the Izi.Travel App
Google Maps inspired me to visit Centennial Park but the park website really sealed the deal for me. It was here that I discovered the Izi.Travel app and not one, but two, mobile walking tours of Centennial Parklands in Sydney. The Izi.Travel app featured both a nature and wildlife, and history walking tour. Simply download the app to your Android or iOS device and then head to the starting point. Once your GPS matches you up with a designated location on the map, you'll be treated to location-specific commentary about the park. Use the GPS and map in the Izi.Travel app to find your way from point to point and learn all about Centennial Park in Sydney! I opted to try the nature and wildlife walking tour of Centennial Park since I love birdwatching and hoped to encounter some of Australia'a signature wildlife.
Paddington Gates Entrance to Centennial Park
Start your mobile-guided tour of Centennial Park at Paddington Gate located on Oxford Street. There are several public buses that run from popular neighborhoods in Sydney like Pyrmont where I was staying to Paddington. The gate was a most excellent landmark for positioning myself to star the tour. I sized up the gate and realized that I would be in for a treat.
For my next stop, the Izi.Travel app pointed me toward Paperbark Grove. The trees were originally planted in 1899 by Joseph Maiden. Centennial Park is the one public park in Australia where you can walk in the shade of paperbark trees along a scenic avenue of sorts.
The Bird Sanctuary at Centennial Park
I learned on my Izi.Travel mobile-guided tour that Centennial Park in Sydney is home to a bird sanctuary. A metal gate with a giant bird on it greets you. The bird sanctuary is not open to the public.
The Rose and Column Garden
Continuing on, I discovered Centennial Park's Rose and Column Garden. The well-coiffed ornamental gardens feature a variety of native and non-native plants. Have a look around and marvel at the order of it all.
The Ponds of Centennial Park
The Competitive Corellas of Centennial Park
Corellas and cockatoos are common birds in Sydney and Australia at large but they are exotic and exciting to visitors like me. Near Duck and Lily Ponds in Centennial Park, you may find a fiesty corella staking claim to a bit of feed left out by passersby. This cockatoo doesn't stand a chance!
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Lacking the patience to look for Australia's animals and birds in the wild? Take a water taxi to Taronga Zoo for an unforgettable wildlife experience.
Centennial Parklands Lachlan SwampI am reminded of the 72 Most Dangerous Animals in Australia and how many of the endemic creatures are out to get you. I discovered a small, slightly overgrown path leading through Lachlan Swamp. Overhead, I could see a colony of flying foxes (aka really big bats!). I really wanted to go in for a closer look. At the same time, I was terrified of encountering one of Australia's deadly snakes. I ended up facing my fears and embarked on a walk through the swamp (less than 10 minutes to walk from end to end in fairness). Using a technique that I perfected on our road trip between Perth and Margaret River in Western Australia, I made sure to stomp my feet and make a bit of noise to scare away any snakes or other creepy-crawlies. I was rewarded with amazing views of the slumbering bats above.
An Australian Encounter with Charles Dickens
I learned on my Izi.Travel tour of Centennial Park that this statue of Charles Dickens is one of only two in the world. Apparently Dickens added a stipulation in his will preventing public memorials. Fascinating!
Centennial Park's Grand Drive
In the home stretch of my mobile-guided walk through Sydney's Centennial Park, I learned that Grand Drive was the site at which Queen Victoria declared the 6 independent colonies of Australia as one commonwealth in 1901. I can only imagine what the scene must have been like with countless spectators dressed in their finest gathered in the open space of the park vying to catch a glimpse of the Queen during her visit to the area.
Getting to Sydney's Centennial Park
Sydney's Centennial Parklands is easily accessible by public transportation. There are at least 5 bus lines from central points in the city center leading to Paddington Gates including Bus #352, 380, 440, M40, and 355.
A Centennial Park Sydney Map
Check out this handy map to orient yourself on a walk through the Centennial Parklands.