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 is also a museum and the surrounding gardens are a lovely park with superb views.

You have several options when visiting the observatory. During the day you can enjoy the park and grounds and a self guided tour of the observatory and its fascinating exhibits without charge. For a nominal fee you can add access to the observatory towers, a 3D space movie, and (weather permitting) telescope viewings. You can also experience a night time visit which includes the same activities, but they must be booked in advance. If the weather conditions don't permit the telescope viewings visitors are treated to a show in the planetarium instead.

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. This tradition continues to this day.

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 lists 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 and a self-guided tour of exhibits with some restrictions is free. Admission required for full access to all activities and observatory towers. See the official website for full details.

Open Now

Hours This Week:
  • Monday: Open 24 hours
  • Tuesday: Open 24 hours
  • Wednesday: Open 24 hours
  • Thursday: Open 24 hours
  • Friday: Open 24 hours
  • Saturday: Open 24 hours
  • Sunday: Open 24 hours

Address: 1001 Upper Fort St, Millers Point NSW 2000, Australia

Phone: (02) 9265 9333

Official Website: Sydney Observatory and Observatory Park

Directions

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

How to get to Sydney Observatory and Observatory Park 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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Reviews

Rated 4.6 out of 5Observatory Hill Park Star Rating

5 Star Rating Make sure you go into the observatory, it's free to see the exhibitions and well worth the visit

Thomas Hobbs - 7 days ago

5 Star Rating The night tour offered by Sydney Observatory is amazing. We went to the 9pm session and was not disappointed. This is suitable for family and couples with great educational value and many romantic interludes. The guide I had was funny and very knowledgeable. Would love to experience more what the Sydney Observatory has to offer. Really fun night out!

Kong Chan - 11 days ago

4 Star Rating Really pretty. If I wasn't so tired, I would have enjoyed it more!

Josh Shanahan - 25 days ago

3 Star Rating Easy walk from The Rocks and a great view of the Harbour Bridge. Terrific place for night photos, day photos, wedding photos, picnic photos, band rotunda photos, observatory photos, and of course time lapses of all of those things as well. On any given day, there will be a wedding celebrant or photographer and happy couple here doing their thing. That can be entertaining from a people watching perspective if you want a cheap day out.

Andrew Johnson - 1 month ago

5 Star Rating Great time and loads of new things learned about the stars and the solar system. So cool to look through the oldest telescope in Australia. Highly recommended!

Andrea Atzori - 2 months ago

Video


The Senior Education Manager for the Sydney Observatory provides an interesting overview of its history, goals and objectives

Photo Gallery

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