Sydney Harbour National Park is a national park comprising parts of Sydney Harbour, its foreshores and various islands. The park lies within the Sydney metropolitan area and was created in piecemeal fashion during the 20th century. Much of the harbour foreshores had been spoiled by residential development; what remained was preserved partly because of the presence of military bases, and partly because of the work of conservationists. Early precursors of today's "Greens" were responsible for stopping mining at Ashton Park in the 19th Century. Other places were saved because of people such as the visionary Neil Nielsen, who became the New South Wales Minister for Lands and a strong advocate of a public reserve around Sydney Harbour.
Nielsen was ahead of his time when he used the phrase "national park" in regard to the harbour foreshores, but Sydney eventually caught up with him. The attractions of Nielsen Park are not only scenic, although that would be enough. There are also Aboriginal sites, military fortifications and historic sites stretching back to the early years of the colony, plus archaeological features and over a thousand engravings at the Quarantine Station. A highlight for visitors is historic Greycliffe House, erected at Shark Bay by the Wentworth family in neo-Gothic style during the 1850s. There is also a family-friendly swimming beach at Nielsen Park and a restaurant and cafe.