It doesn’t seem like 12 years since the Olympics were in Sydney, but time has slipped by and the area that was used for the Olympics in 2000 is still there and still being utilised. You can still stay in a hotel there and you can use the facilities. Aside from that-you can go birding! It is very easy to reach Olympic Park by public transport and the fastest way is to take a train from Central Station to Lidcombe and then you take a train to Olympic Park. We came to the conclusion that the small loop line that takes you to Olympic Park from Lidcombe is where “old trains go to die”!! You then arrive at a huge train station that still looks new and you exit into a strange atmosphere. It is as if you are in a “pretend place” where everything is clean and organised and very little traffic or people. The graffiti that has sadly become so common in Sydney is missing and you are in this whole new world. The tourist information centre is small and provides you with a map to help you with the large area of both sport’s arenas and the natural environment.
Map provided for exploring Olympic Park
The birding area encompasses footpaths along the Parramatta River and into Homebush Bay. There are a variety of environments including mangroves and woodlands. The paths were part of the cycling circuit and many people still use it for that purpose. There is also a great playground called Blaxland Riverside Park for children where they are using ropes and tunnels in the hillside. We visited during the week and even then it was fairly busy.
Close up of birding area
Our first good find for the day that we visited was at the Northern Water Feature. We had a Black-shouldered Kite in a tree there and also one lone Glossy Ibis. You get used to seeing Eurasian Coots and Dusky Moorhens at all water bodies around Sydney, so it was nice to find something different! We then followed the path around and through the Narrawang Wetland and flushed a Baillon’s Crake. We had good views of Red-whiskered Bulbuls, Superb Fairy-wrens, White-bellied Sea-Eagles and Silvereyes along the Parramatta River and numerous White-faced Herons in the Newington Nature Reserve. You cannot enter the area, but there are some views in along the path. We then enjoyed our first Yellow Thornbills as we walked through the woodlands to get to the Waterbird Refuge and bird hide.
View from the bird hide
The main species present when we visited were Black-winged Stilt, Black Swan, Silver Gulls, Chestnut Teal and Black-fronted Dotterels. There were only one other couple birding and everyone else was just out for the exercise! The depth of water will determine the bird species and also most of the migratory species would have either been feeding or heading north when we visited.
Black-winged Stilt and Chestnut Teal
Black Swans, Silver Gulls and Black-winged Stilts
As you walk alongside the Waterbird Refuge you get good views in and we had several Chestnut Teal on a small island. The area is also good for observing lizards, especially on a warm sunny day!
As we wandered through the mangroves we came across a pair of Royal Spoonbills and completed our walk after about four hours. Ideally you should allow a good part of the day to explore the area leisurely and you could even consider staying at a hotel in the “village” as there are often good deals available. Further information is available online to help you plan your trip.