Sydney Airport Plane Spotting

Be sure to leave a comment down the bottom if this was helpful or if you’ve got a plane spotting question or just something to say.  Flights are ramping up again in Sydney now that national and international borders have started to open so now is a great time to get back in to plane spotting.


Sydney Airport Runway Map

Sydney Airport Runway Map


Above is a map showing runway numbers at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport.

For a super comprehensive interactive experience exploring the many locations around Sydney Airport to take in the sights and sounds.  Check out 16Right Media’s panosphere site here.

My first recommendation is to use an app such as FlightRadar24 to see where the planes are landing and taking off from. This will save you a lot of time finding a location only to be disappointed by a lack of planes.

On a good day planes will be either landing or taking off on 16R/34L or 16L/34R so anywhere along this track should provide good viewing. Sometimes majority of planes will only land on 07/25 but this is normally only on particularly windy days.

The best spots here are Shep’s Mound or The Beach on most days.  You’re sure to find plenty of other plane spotters here with their cameras.  Most people are happy to have a chat about planes but try not to be too invasive if people look like they’re in their zone.  Remember above all you’re at an airport and security is heavily restricted so follow all signs in the area and do not undertake risky behavior as it’s likely to get you in trouble.  Likewise for parking your vehicle, do not disobey road signs as the roads around the airport are frequently monitored by police and security.

You can find maps for each location at the bottom of it’s section.  Be sure to leave a comment if you find anything has changed so I can update it on this page.

** All the same photos and videos below were taken on an iPhone or my Canon Powershot SX60 which a moderately budget superzoom camera.


Swamp Road Tempe

Best location for landings on RWY16R or takeoffs from RWY34L.  Not the best spot for taking photos due to planes proximity making it difficult to get good photo angles.  Great to watch but as you are really really close to landing planes as you can see in the video below.




View from Swamp Road Tempe

View from Swamp Road Tempe


Turn off the Princes Highway near the Salvos store and follow the road around until the end. This will park you next to the runway lights at the beginning of 16R.

This is a great place to get right up close to anything landing or taking off from 16R/34L with planes going over top at only a few hundred feet.

There’s normally a few other people around watching the planes.


Takeoff from 34L


Landing on 16R

For a map and directions, click here.


Shep’s Mound aka Tower Mound

Best location for RWY16R/34L, International Terminal area and most eastern taxiways.

Sydney Airport finished renovations to Shep’s Mound in August 2017 and the new area will not disappoint. You can see lots of photos on my Shep’s Mound post here. The area now has two elevated areas, a paved car park and lots of grassy areas to sit around and watch the planes.

This area is located almost directly under the air traffic control tower. This is a very popular spot with people just taking a look and spotters setting up to take photographs.



Not only will you be able to see planes on 16R/34L directly in front of you, there are also planes taxiing to 16L/34R up closer to the fence.



There are some trees and buildings around so you won’t get a clear view of the entire runway, in fact planes on 16R/34L tend to be obscured by the trees on the eastern side of the M5 motorway.


A Jetstar 787 Dreamliner taking off on 34L


From this location you can also catch planes taking off on 34R but generally only after they are airborne.

You’re more likely to run into fellow plane spotters to chat with here so if you’re trying to get into the scene this is a great place to start.



It’s not the best after 2-3pm as the sun comes lower you’ll end up with a lot of light problems with photos.

To get here follow Ross Smith Avenue right around toward the control tower.  Follow the road to the end and you’ll see a carpark on your left.  Don’t turn left towards the control tower as there is no longer any parking up there.

For a map click here.


Barton Golf Course

Heading along West Botany Street, turn left into Barton Golf Course (opposite Spring Street) and follow to the end. This will place you almost at the start of Runway 07. This runway isn’t always in use so be sure to check where planes are landing first.

You’ll get a good view of the planes coming in to land but they disappear over the airport boundary before touching down. You can hear the wheels hitting pavement and definitely get a good roar of thrust reverses even if you can’t see them.

Be warned the road is unsealed for the last little bit and when I visited last there was a massive “puddle” to drive through so be careful. The road may also be locked off with the fence secured by security so you may not be able to drive through but you can still walk down the bike track to get fairly close.


View from Barton Golf Course

View from Barton Golf Course



For a map click here.


Ross Smith Avenue

At the other end of Runway 07/25 you’ll get pretty close to Runway 25 from Ross Smtih Avenue near the junction of Mill Pond Road. Be sure to check parking signs along here as most of it is No Stopping. Worse case park in one of the fast food chains along the road and walk back up. Another runway to check for activity first as it’s not in use all the time.  Also security can get quite edgy if you get too close to the fence.  Best to stay back a bit, definitely do not try and climb the fence for any shots as this will likely land you in hot water.

For a map click here.


The Beach

Best spot for RWY16R/34L and taxiway Alpha.


Views from The Beach


The Carpark Area

The Carpark Area


You can generally get a good enough view from the car park without walking the last bit up the beach however if you want to get right up close to the action you can get pretty close on the beach itself.

You can get right up to the fence by walking along a dirt track or along the beach but getting too close will upset airport security.  Also it’s not that easy to take photos through the fence if you’ve got a big camera.  I did manage to take this photo with my iPhone between the wires.  Remember, climbing the fence or generally disrupting it may land you in a lot of hot water with airport security so DO NOT DO IT.  Also worth noting the top of the fence is electrified.  If you’re going to use a ladder or something for shots above the camera line you need to stand back from the fence otherwise it is going to land you in the spotlight of airport security.  A camera in hand will not save you from looking like you’re up to no good.


Using the small lens of an iPhone to get between the fence bars


This is a great spot very close to runway 16R/34L but can be difficult to drive to due to it’s proximity to the freeway. The loop road off General Holmes Drive aka Kyeemagh Avenue will take you around. Look for the old control tower which is brick and glass. There is a large car park which is open between 5am and 7pm with access outside of these times by foot only.  Hours may vary depending on daylight savings etc.


The Beach

The Beach

Be careful not to park in any No Stopping areas.

You’ll get a good enough view but if you want up close be sure to have a good lens.

Here’s some videos taken from this spot.

For a map click here.


Foreshore Road

Head down Foreshore Road and turn off at the sign for the Boat Ramp. There’s a large carpark here and lots of shipping containers. You can park just after you turn off and there’s some public toilets and some seats along the path in front of the beach.

From here you’ll get a great view of Runway 16L/34R and can see planes taxiing, as well as takeoff and landings. If it’s clear enough and the traffic is in the right direction you can see the lights of the incoming planes lining up for about 20 miles.

For a map click here.

Airport Drive

While it is possible to watch planes on 16R/34L from Airport Drive, most of this road is No Stopping or No Parking so would require some walking. It will get you right up close to the beginning of Runway 16R so you’ll be able to get some very up close pictures.

For a map click here.


Rydges Sydney Airport

Unfortunately the planespotting roof top is not really open to the public anymore.  On occasion the hotel has a plane spotters weekend but these are few and far between.  They will generally put info up on their Facebook page when it’s scheduled.  Tickets do sell out fast but.

They do offer plane spotter room packages with a room facing towards the airfield.

For more information visit Rydges website or for a map click here.


P1 International Terminal Parking

If you like the Rydges location you can also go to the P1 international terminal car park (which is directly next door to Rydges) where there are some good vantage points especially from the upper levels. The car park is accessible 24hrs just remember if you’re parking your car here it can be quite expensive.  Also be wary of cars and heights, both can be dangerous.


Bankstown Airport

While Bankstown Airport is much much smaller than Kingsford Smith it still has some potential for plane spotters interested in smaller aircraft.

Bankstown Airport

Bankstown Airport

The best vantage points are anywhere along Tower Road where you can stop or Nancy Ellis Leebold Drive.

To get to Tower Road turn off Henry Lawson Drive near the BP Service Station and Aldi and follow Tower Road around until you find a good vantage location.

To get to Nancy Ellis Leebold Drive turn at McDonalds/Bunnings off Milpera Road and follow around until you find a good vantage location.

If you’re heading to Banktown Airport it might be worth your time to drop in to the Australian Aviation Museum which is open Wednesday and Saturdays. See their website for more info.

For a map of Banktown Airport, click here.


Got a Great Spot?

Please share in the comments. I have personally sat at most of these spots for hours on end watching planes although I don’t use any equipment besides my iPhone so my videos and/or photo’s aren’t super quality.

You can see more of my videos on Youtube and please subscribe if you’d like to see more.


comments left so far. Please leave a comment below. Did I mention that I love your feedback?

Posted in Planes, Planes: General, Planespotting.


  1. Hi folks, starting a new comment in the native comments section (sans Facebook). This guide has been super popular with almost 50k visits since I first put it online. Of course things change and I’d like to keep it as fresh as possible so newcomers have a great experience with planespotting in Sydney. If anything I have here is out of date or needs a revision please let me know here so I can update it. I don’t make it to the airport as much as I’d like these days due to poor health but it’s in my heart and mind constantly.

  2. How is everyone holding up with lockdown?

    Any locals managing to get out and take in the sights of the runways? I really need to get back out to the airport once lockdowns are over and start enjoying the experience again.

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