Sydney has many secrets but my favourite one is tucked away in the meanders of Pittwater, north of the city. The Basin is an isolated gem on the edge of Ku-Ring-Gai National Park, sheltered in quiet waters but ready to escape into the South Pacific Ocean. Shaded by gumtrees and populated by diverse wildlife, The Basin is Sydney’s Best Kept Secret.
Sydney is a pretty widespread city, but Palm Beach is only an hour’s drive north of the CBD, more on the bus. Therefore, The Basin is a great destination for a day trip or an overnight camping adventure.
Head to Palm Beach (or take the bus from Wynyard) but make sure you get there early, especially in summer or on the weekend, as Palm Beach is incredibly popular. There are some nice restaurants along the road where locals and visitors enjoy lattes and seafood platters.
Even though Palm Beach is considered as part of Metropolitan Sydney, it always feels to me as a holiday destination. I’m pretty sure some Sydneysiders have holiday homes there, as you would on the Central Coast or the NSW South Coast.
To get to The Basin, there is an adorable ferry departing from Palm Beach Ferry Wharf. I would go to The Basin just to ride on that adorable boat… Check out the timetable here and don’t forget to buy your return ticket! If you do forget, you can still buy them on board the ferry.
Welcome to Paradise
OK, it’s a small paradise, but still… The Basin is nicely tucked away in the meanders of Pittwater, as you brush past the settlements of Great Mackerel Beach, Coasters Retreat and Currawong Beach. I discovered it some years ago when I joined a friend’s picnic. I keep going back there for a day of swimming and relaxation.
The approach on the ferry is stunning: you discover a secret paradise shaded by gum trees, translucent waters and a haven of peace.
Camping & Beach
There is a camping ground at the Basin, with very good facilities, so it would definitely be worth more than a day. The facilities available are:
- Electric and gas BBQ
- Picnic tables
- Toilet and (cold) shower block
- Public phone
- Vending machine
- Ice is sometimes available
- In case of emergency there is a Ranger on site
The Basin is quite isolated and it’s part of its charm, but bear in mind there no public road access so you need to plan your trip.
Just like you can enjoy a nap or a picnic under a shaded tree, the local wildlife will host you for the day.
The giant lizard has been there for years, and is really after some left over food but it’s impressive watching it climb trees… It’s not aggressive but I wouldn’t get too close either…
An Australian bush scene wouldn’t be complete without some sort of marsupial… And this wallaby hangs around the lawn quite happily…
Now, this is Australia, and let’s not forget about the very toxic and lethal types… This blue-ringed octopus was spotted near the ferry wharf and its sting is deadly. Therefore, I would recommend swimming in the lagoon.
There are walking tracks around, including the Bain Trail Walking Track, which will take you up to Ku-Ring-Gai National Park. It is very steep at times so make sure you are prepared.
Another Way of Getting to The Basin
The first time we visited The Basin, we really had no idea what to expect and thought we would get there from West Head Road through the Bain Trail Walking Track. The track is wide and kind of sealed but vehicles are not allowed.
I understood why towards the end. It is very steep and getting a car to do the climb back up could be an issue. However, the walk down was beautiful and we caught glimpses of the water between the trees.
My father and I left The Basin on the ferry and my husband had to do the climb back up to the car… This way of accessing The Basin is a little more complicated and would require someone to drop you off at the track turnoff but it does offer beautiful views. If you are planning to camp there for a few days, it is definitely something to think about.
Have you been to The Basin: Sydney’s Best Kept Secret ? Please share any tips and stories in the comments below.