3.5 Anchorages in Sydney Harbour

sydney athol bay

P1070657 (Copy)Our first anchorage and one of our favorite was Athol Bay near Taronga Zoo. It was packed, and full of party boats on Saturday night, and had the normal amount of Sydney daytime bumpy wash, but it was beautiful and full of the sounds of zoo animals at night and in the morning. On one side of the boat I had the jungle and on the other side a postcard perfect view of Sydney Bridge and the Opera House.

We anchored out at first but there was such terrible anchoring techniques in display, with people putting out 1.5:1 scope and backing up at 4 knots, that we thought we had a serious risk of having our anchor pulled up by another boater. So, the day we were planning to leave the boat all day we moved to an available mooring after breakfast. Thanks for the beers Kate!

sydney blackwattle bay

P1070662 (Copy)We spent our longest stretch at Blackwattle Bay, right in the heart of downtown, near the Sydney Fish Market (but not too near if you know what I mean). It was excellent. The anchorage was busy but with everyone cooperating worked out well. One local boat of dubious character drifted away in the middle of the night in a bit of stronger wind without its owner aboard and was impounded.

P1070680 (Copy)The Fish Market no longer has a dinghy landing as the piers have been condemned and so we used the Rowing Club and several other public jetties conveniently located on park land bordering the anchorage. A great place for a run and we took full advantage, as did a huge number of runners and dog walkers. It was easy to walk to downtown, or to take all kinds of public transit to wherever you wanted to go from there. We spent days just wandering about downtown, letting ourselves get a little lost and accidentally find new neighborhoods which is how we accidentally went to the Lord Nelson Brewery. While we were in Blackwattle we had a great seafood Christmas lunch/dinner (more on that later) and took a trip up into the Blue Mountains (more on that later).

sydney farm cove

Farm Cove is where we spent our amazing NYE. Dinghy access to shore is normally easy with a jetty near the Opera House. This is closed on NYE so do your booze run the day before if necessary! We heard that you can get big fines for taking a dinghy up to the wall and climbing over it. So if you do that, maybe don’t admit it.

sydney spring cove

Our last anchorage (it counts as half because we were hardly there) was an Spring/Manly/Little Manly Cove and we arrived, went into town for ice cream, and enjoyed the view from the cockpit but didn’t do much else here as we were bound the next morning up to the Pittwater area.

In sum, we could have easily spent another month in Sydney, enjoying the city. We probably would have alternated between the harbour anchorages which are lumpy all day as a wash builds up from the gazillion boats but fades at night, and then moved to Blackwattle/Rozelle when we wanted some flat non lumpy time. It’s a great town for boaters.


  1. Hi Guys, Would it be ok if I republish this post on the Down Under Rally Website for those who are headed Down Under in 2016 ?

    1. As long as the re-post links back to the original (this here), that's fine and thanks for asking first!

  2. Black wattle Bay is quiet compared to harbour anchorages. A bonus is the fish markets to the north east. North Harbour is another hidden area with many bays and marinas but need to wait for the Spit bridge lifting times. There are a few public moorings (24 hour as are all P M's) to the west of Manly ferry terminal. Pittwater is another story (about 3 hours sail north of Sydney)

    1. We had a nice time in Smith Creek in the Pittwater area.



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