Sydney is famous for its beautiful beaches, glistening in the sunshine. The northernmost point is no exception. In the suburb of Palm Beach, the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk in Sydney makes for a very pleasant day out.
The Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk in Sydney
At the tip of Palm Beach, Barrenjoey Headland is Sydney’s northernmost point and holds this position in spectacular fashion. Looking back at Sydney, the Barrenjoey Lighthouse towers over the isthmus. The headland offers sweeping views over Pittwater NSW, Broken Bay and the Ku-Ring-Gai National Park.
Taking a walk up to the headland is one of the best things to do in Palm Beach.
How to get to Palm Beach Sydney
Palm Beach is about an hour’s drive north of Sydney’s CBD. On the way, you can stop at one of the many Northern Beaches, there are many, but it’s worth spending the day up there.
If you are on public transport, you can take the L90 bus from the CBD (Town Hall, Central or Wynyard) to Palm Beach. It will take a long while, as there are lots of stops. Check the TransportNSW website for timetables.
Governor Phillip Park
The main parking area is near Governor Phillip Park. You can park there for around $20 a day however it gets quite busy in summer and on weekends.
There are two tracks leading to the headland. One is the access trail, which you get to via a small stretch of beach on Pittwater. It’s broad, concreted and not too steep. The other is the Smuggler’s Track, which is essentially made of old stone steps and is quite steep at times.
The Smuggler’s Track is the original pathway to the headland and was built in 1850 by Customs Officers so they could monitor boats bringing contraband into Broken Bay.
The best thing to do is to make a loop by using the Access Trail on the way up as it’s easier and take the Smuggler’s Track on the way down. The views of the isthmus are stunning. The return trip should take about an hour and a half but it’s worth lingering on the headland.
Standing at 91 metres above sea level, the Barrenjoey Lighthouse was designed by colonial architect James Barnet and was completed in 1881. Governor Phillip initially named the headland “Barrenjuee” in 1788, after the Aboriginal word for “wallaby”.
The lighthouse has an original Chance Bros. cast iron and copper lantern house. The keepers quarters have been renovated after a period of neglect and vandalism, and tours of the lighthouse are available on Sundays.
While you’re up there, it’s worth taking the time to wander around, there is a path that goes around the headland. To the north, you can see the NSW Central Coast and Bouddi National Park, which has some beautiful NSW beaches. At the entrance of the Hawkesbury River lies Lion Island, a nature reserve only accessible with a special permit.
Facing the south, you have the choice between the Tasman Sea and Pittwater, and the promontory on the left is the Bangalley Headland, overlooking Avalon Beach, which is one of Sydney’s best beaches.
West Head Lookout, another Sydney headland is also in the frame.
Palm Beach NSW
Being quite far from the city, Palm Beach is actually fairly quiet, compared to places like Manly or Bondi. It definitely has that holiday feel that some exclusive Sydney suburbs have.
Palm Beach is also known as “Summer Bay” and is the main filming location of the long-running Australian series “Home and Away“. For die-hard fans, there is an Official Tour with a pick up in the CBD and drop off in Manly.
Palm Beach Sydney Restaurants
After this hearty walk, why not visit one of the local restaurants? They get very busy on weekends but it’s worth booking ahead Barrenjoey House Palm Beach or trying your luck at the more casual Boathouse Palm Beach.
Both places have a lovely coastal holiday vibe, perfect for escaping urban Sydney for a little while.
Palm Beach Accommodation
If you enjoy the area, why not spend a weekend? Accommodation in Palm Beach NSW can be expensive but there are plenty of really nice places along the Northern Beaches.
The Basin campground is one of the few places where you can find beach camping near Sydney. From the Palm Beach ferry wharf, you can take a charming little boat to The Basin Sydney, also one of the best day trips from Sydney.
Dolphins and Whales
Palm Beach attractions are also in the water… On the day of my visit, there were dolphins frolicking off the beach, much to the delight of surfers and paddleboarders. I didn’t capture them very well with my camera but it was a lovely sight. From May to November, it’s quite common to see whales cruising past.
One of Best Day Trips in Sydney
A day trip to Palm Beach on a sunny day is a fabulous change of scenery, with a rewarding walk and an insight into Sydney’s complex coastline. A visit to Palm Beach is a sure way to excite or renew your interest in Sydney. There are so many other viewpoints that you will want to expand your explorations further. The NSW Central Coast is a ferry ride away and a drive to West Head will complete your views of Barrenjoey Lighthouse and Palm Beach.
Best Lighthouses in Australia
Best Day Trips from Sydney
West Head Lookout
Have you trekked up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse? What did you like most about it? Tell me in the comments below!
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