Sydney Observatory and Observatory Park

Sydney Observatory is a historic site, a museum and a park all in one

Sydney Observatory showing the time ball tower and the observatory towers
Sydney Observatory showing the time ball tower and the observatory towers cc licensed photo by g_kat26

The Sydney Observatory is our only attraction to be listed under three different categories. In addition to being a historical site it's also a museum and the surrounding gardens form a lovely park with superb views.

Day or night it is free to enjoy a stroll around Observatory Hill Park where you will be treated to panoramic vistas of Sydney Harbour including the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. Consider visiting during the early morning or at night to avoid the busiest times. You can also see the exterior of the heritage-listed Observatory through the gate.

Sydney Observatory Tour

If you would like to explore inside of the Observatory compound and enter the Observatory itself you can book a Sydney Observatory Tour. The one hour tour, available Wednesday to Saturday leads guests through the Observatory's grounds, revealing the stories behind Fort Phillip, the bombproof shelter, the flagstaff, and the numerous buildings on site. Visitors are invited to step inside the Observatory building to explore objects from the Powerhouse collection and investigate the site's role in surveying, timekeeping, and astronomy.

Ascending the Observatory's narrow staircases, guests will be able to venture into the astronomy domes, where they can witness historic and modern telescopes in action. From this stunning vantage point, visitors can take in the breathtaking view of Sydney Harbour and, when conditions are suitable, observe terrestrial objects through a telescope.

It is important to note that the tour includes approximately 125 stairs, some of which have no wheelchair access due to the steep and narrow staircases of the heritage-listed site.

Sydney Observatory Family Tour

A Family Tour that is more suited to families with younger children between age 6 and 12 operates on Friday and Saturday evening.

In the event of rain, tours will be cancelled and payments refunded. Cancellation notices will be sent to participants by email four hours prior to the start of the tour.

Sydney Observatory Late

Sydney Observatory Late is a free program occuring once each month and offers an evening of stargazing, lectures from distinguished astronomers, and live music and performances.

The program is tailored to events taking place in the night sky and includes informative astronomy talks, as well as telescopes for observing the stars. Guests can enjoy live music, and food and drinks are available for purchase.

Sydney Observatory History

Construction of the Observatory took place from 1857 to 1859. It is strategically located on the highest ground overlooking Sydney Harbour. The first purpose of the Observatory was to keep accurate track of the time based on the positions of the stars. A time ball located on a pole on top of a tower is dropped each day at exactly 1pm as a time signal to ships in the harbour.

Beginning in 1887 the Observatory participated in a world-wide project to map and photograph the entire sky. It was nearly 80 years later when the Sydney Observatory had finally completed the large portion of sky that was allocated to them.

The observatory was also responsible for keeping records of meteorological observations and, for over a century, it served as a signal station using various flags to relay information about arriving ships or to communicate weather conditions to the port authorities and to other points around the harbour.

Recent archaeological excavations have clearly revealed the foundation walls of Fort Philips which was built between 1804 and 1806. The Fort even had a bomb shelter, but its primary purpose soon changed to that of the shipping signal station described above.

Without a doubt, a visit to the Sydney Observatory and Observatory Park should be high on your list of things to see and do in Sydney.

Nearby attractions include: Garrison Church, The Rocks and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Facts For Your Visit

Fee: Park access is free. Guided walking tours with access to the inside of the Observatory are subject to a fee and must be booked in advance. See the official website for details.

Address: 1003 Upper Fort St, Millers Point NSW 2000, Australia

Phone: (02) 9217 0222

Official Website: Sydney Observatory

Sydney Observatory Reviews

Rated 4.6 out of 5 Star Rating

5 Star Rating Attended last nights 10pm session. It was amazing!! Highly recommend anyone to attend while you’re in Sydney. The tour was a great mix of history, astronomy with great practical elements to get involved with. Elvie was our tour guide and if you get her, you’re in for a great tour. 10/10 would recommend, definitely if you’re looking for something different too 😁
Janet Malu - 2 months ago

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5 Star Rating A fun and enjoyable experience for a couple or for the whole family. The guide was very knowledgeable and entertaining. A historical journey into Sydney's time keeping and astronomical past. We booked our tour for 9:30pm on a Friday night. It was easy to get to and easy to park the car. Well worth a visit.
Mark Buhagiar - 6 months ago

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5 Star Rating I noticed that most of the comments about the Observatory, are actually about the view you can have from there. Don't get me wrong, the view is indeed outstanding, and it is a must visit spot in Sydney, however, I want to comment about the guided visit to the Observatory itself. Yesterday, was Valentine's Day and I took my loved one to see the stars from the telescopes there. Unfortunately, the weather didn't contribute for that, it was even raining, and we couldn't use the telescopes. But still, we were amazed about the visit. Our guide, Jack, was simply FANTASTIC! We have learnt very interesting things about the Observatory, how it was used, how it's being used, the flags communication (fascinating!), and lots of other bits and pieces really interesting. It's a paid visit, but it worth every cent. Once again, I'd like to thank Jack his kindness, knowledge and passion for what he is doing there. It was a great night! Cheers.
Clodoaldo Prado - 4 months ago

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5 Star Rating Have been to sydney Observatory couple times. It has the best view can see cleary for the star and good views Unfortunately today we went there weather not good enough. The Sydney Observatory is a historic observatory in Sydney, Australia, with a rich history dating back to 1858. It's not only a center for astronomical research but also serves as a museum and public observatory, allowing visitors to learn about astronomy and stargaze through its telescopes.
Beta Man - a month ago

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5 Star Rating Even in today's technologically advanced world, when I saw the observatory's 1880s telescopes, I marveled at the science and rigor of the foundry industry of that era. Many related information came from a girl called Khushi; she was warm, polite and attentive. Her style of presentation was very lively and interactive. It was an unforgettable memory.
Linda Chi - 5 months ago

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Line Nearest Station Walking Time
L2, T2, T3, T8 or FerryCircular Quay12 minutes

How to get to Sydney Observatory by

By Train or Ferry: Make your way to Circular Quay Station; exit and proceed west and north through the park to Argyle Street. Go west on Argyle continuing through the pedestrian plaza and the bridge approach underpass. Take the steps to your left across from Garrison Church to Watson Road and follow it uphill to the park entrance.

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