When Sydney’s original European settlers arrived in Sydney Harbor, they sustained themselves by planting a garden here at Garden Island. Today, after land was reclaimed and filled in with rocks, Garden Island is now a point that juts out into the harbor, and houses the Royal Australian Navy’s eastern fleet of ships. During World War II, a Japanese mini sub infiltrated the harbor and sank an Australian ship—resulting in the death of 21 sailors from the Australian and British navies. Much more history is outlined in depth at the Royal Australian Navy Heritage Center—a fascinating museum here on Pott’s Point that’s a must for history or war buffs. Once finished perusing the Heritage Center, which is fantastically free of charge, take a stroll through the gardens and grounds that are hidden behind the museum, where BBQ grills and views of the harbor make the perfect spot for a picnic. From the elevated viewing platform behind the museum, it’s possible to see the Harbor Bridge as well as the Sydney Opera House, and the view stretches all the way out to the heads and the mouth of Sydney Harbor.
Garden Island is accessible by ferry from multiple points across Sydney. The most popular route is along the line to Watson’s Bay, departing from Circular Quay, where Garden Island is the first stop after leaving the downtown docks. The RAN Heritage Center is open daily from 9:30am-3:30pm, with the exception of various holidays. Since part of the peninsula is closed to the public, access is only by ferry.