Ever since I first went with my Mum to the airport, to drop off a relative, I have been mesmerised by the sight of a big majestic plane taking flight or coming in to land. I love to travel but as my finances do not allow for holidays as often as I would like, I have to get my 'fix' by watching from afar.
In Summer I love to sit on the beach at Brighton and watch as they come in over the ocean. The kids leave me in peace as they paddle around in the water and I can concentrate on trying to determine what sort of aircraft it is from the tail markings and girth. The sounds come drifting over as the planes take off again heading to destinations unknown.
Another favourite spot is in the new Ikea car park at Tempe. It is amazing to see these graceful flying beasts up close, as they dance across inner city suburbs, mere metres above rooftops. You can even get the full sensory affect as the Jet-A1 fuel fumes fill the air around you.
For smaller planes and assorted helicopters, including the big fire fighting helitanker called "Elvis" and his sister craft the "Georgia Peach" when they are in town, Bankstown Airport is perfect. It is a very accessible airport with viewing areas almost all the way around. I like to watch from the service road that runs up the side of Bunning's Warehouse off Milperra Road. Sydney Metro Airport Bankstown is the busiest airport in Australia, and 26th busiest airport in the world, with over 360 000 movements a year, so you never have to wait long.
On the northern side of the airport, the carpark of the new Ikea Store at Tempe is a superb planespotting location, for takeoffs or landings (depending on the direction of the wind). Sydenham Park offers a good prospect as well, directly under the northern approach for runway 16R (the main N-S runway). If you don't mind a longer walk, you can park at the western end of Coward Street, Mascot, and follow the bike path along Alexandra Canal until you are alongside Airport Drive across from the northern perimeter of the airport.
When the wind is strong from the west, or sometimes during slower periods for no apparent reason, aircraft will land from the east over Coogee, Kingsford, Daceyville and Mascot. At those times, anywhere on that approach path will do, including a small car lay-by on the road around the eastern perimeter of the airport which leads out to Long-Term Parking. (Follow the same road to its eventual end for another car-park viewing spot near the control tower).
Finally, for viewing operations on the 3rd runway, there are two good spots (with ample parking) off Foreshore Road - the one near the northern end of that runway can only be accessed by northbound traffic - and a lookout at the end of Prince William Drive, Port Botany, from which planes taking off over Botany Bay can be seen.
My word, Karen, I thought plane spotting was a purely male geek pastime and so I commend you for your interest. People should remember there are still a few nice places within the airport itself where you can sit with a coffee and watch the jets pulling in and taxiing around the aprons. This is great for a non-driver like me as I can take the airport train right to the terminals. Its just a shame that Sydney has lost so many of the great airlines that were once regular visitors, like KLM, Air France, Lufthansa, Continental, Northwest, All Nippon, Egyptair et al. Its a long list.
Hobart Street Richmond - right in line with the RAAF runway, the planes roar down a line with Bowman St so low you would think about to tip the factory roof tops, we were taking great photos of what I think is called touch and go landing, then thought "mmm... maybe not a good idea to stand here photographing the RAAF" LOL
One of the best places to see aircraft is La Perouse. You can also watch container ships coming and going. There is a lovely sheltered beach for children and a picnic area nearby. You can walk around the headland to Bear Island and watch fishermen on the rocks. The museum is also interesting. Lots of restaurants specialising in fish. parking is tight so get there early. Good bus service available.
every house in the inner west has either a window or view from backyard...that is frequently viewing planes, very loudly. ottherwise go to la peruse/brighton and sit on the sand watching them take off & land @ airport..pretty cool when its not drowing out what u r trying to listen to:)