The Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk is the Best Day Trip in Sydney

The Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk is the Best Day Trip in Sydney

As I am about to start the Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk, in the gently warming spring sunshine, I have to wonder: Is this one of the best day trips in Sydney? The air is light, the colours are bright with a vague fog in the distance from the traditional late winter back burning, and I am feeling very content after climbing the hill. And the question comes: why did it take me so long to come back? I visited Palm Beach in my early Sydney days and of course, I was duly blown away.

Palm Beach is the start of the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
Palm Beach

Barrenjoey Headland: Sydney’s Northernmost Point

At the tip of Palm Beach, Barrenjoey Headland is Sydney’s northernmost point and it holds this position is spectacular fashion. Looking back at Sydney, the Barrenjoey Lighthouse towers over the isthmus. The headland offers sweeping views over Pittwater, Broken Bay and the Ku-Ring-Gai National Park.

Views over Palm Beach from the top of the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
View from the headland

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk: A Hike, But Not Too Hard

From the car park, the Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk takes about half an hour to the top. The track is concreted and not too steep, so it’s quite a comfortable climb. On the way down, I recommend you take the original Smugglers Track. Built by Customs officers in 1850 in order to monitor boats bringing contraband into Broken Bay, the Smugglers Track is a lot narrower and steeper. However, the descent faces the isthmus and the views are beautiful.

The Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk is not too strenuous
Barrenjoey Lighthouse

Palm Beach: The Essential Holiday Feel

I am amazed at how many times I get that holiday feel right in Sydney. Having grown up in a highly urbanised environment, living in Sydney gives me so many chances of finding isolation in nature. Incredibly, Palm Beach is still part of metropolitan Sydney, but the general feeling is that of a holiday spot. The beaches, the parks and the restaurants all contribute to taking you away from your day to day life. The Boathouse was busy even on a weekday but the location on Pittwater is ideal for a post-hike lunch or drink.

You can find love on the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
Love Sydney Life!

The Isthmus: Scenic Views

Looking back on the isthmus from the Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk is probably one of my favourite sights in Sydney. 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.

The Palm Beach isthmus from the top of the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
The Isthmus

Dolphins and Whales

On the day of my visit, there were dolphins frolicking off the beach, much to the delight of surfers and paddle boarders. I didn’t capture them very well with my camera but it was a lovely sight. In winter, the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk is also a great location to catch a sight of whales cruising along the coast.

There were some dolphins in the surf when I finished the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
A pod of dolphins in the surf

The End or the Beginning?

The Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk may be at the northernmost point of Sydney, it also marks the start of the NSW Central Coast. Turning to the north, you can admire the view over Broken Bay, with the almost haunting presence of Lion Island. Further on, you can catch glimpses of Bouddi National Park on a clear day.

The Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk offers beautiful views over Broken Bay and Lion Island
Lion Island

Barrenjoey Lighthouse: A Little History

Standing at 91 metres above sea level, the Barrenjoey Lighthouse was built in 1881. The lighthouse and the keepers quarters remain in very good condition. Tours are available on Sundays only. The lighthouse is a well-known Sydney icon and a great place to take overseas visitors.

Take the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk to visit the light station
Barrenjoey Lighthouse

There is a track around the headland, so you can explore further and take in various views including that of West Head Lookout.

Beautiful bushland and track on the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk
Headland in Sydney

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. There are activities available for all ages and tastes, such as golf, kayaking and fishing. For “Home & Away” fans, filming is often underway at Summer Bay. A visit to Palm Beach is a sure way to excite or renew your interest in Sydney. There are so many other viewpoints in sight 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. And if you have the time to discover Sydney’s best-kept secret, head to The Basin.

If you are looking for more coastal walks around Sydney Harbour, have a read of my posts on North Head, Middle Head and South Head.

Practical Information

Palm Beach is accessible by the L88 or L90 bus from the centre of Sydney. If you travel by car, there is a patrolled car park at the foot of the Barrenjoey Headland for up to $20 a day. There are no toilets or water on the headland so take what you need with you. Finally, there are guided tours of Barrenjoey Lighthouse on Sundays.

The Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk is the Best Day Trip in Sydney


  1. Katie Mayor

    November 25, 2017 at 7:07 am

    Lovely post! I haven’t been up to Palm Beach for ages, and this made me want to head up this weekend! It’s also a great spot for longboard surfing and swimming as it generally has really calm, small waves. Thanks for sharing! Xx

    1. Delphine

      November 25, 2017 at 7:50 am

      Hi Katie, it’s great to hear from you! Palm Beach is a little far, that’s why we don’t get there so often… But it is beautiful! And the waves aren’t too big, I’ll have to go in summer next time and go for a swim!

  2. whyyouwander

    November 25, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Great post . I did not know about this place.. One of the pics resembled Wine glass bay 🙂

    1. Delphine

      November 25, 2017 at 10:53 am

      HI Rohini, thank you for dropping by… You’re right, the cove of Palm Beach is reminiscent of Wineglass Bay, I’ve been there on another one of my trips and it’s absolutely beautiful.

  3. Camila Ramírez

    November 28, 2017 at 8:18 am

    ohh that lighthouse looks pretty amazing!!! Sydney looks so amazing 🙂 I really hope i can visit soon! Thanks for the images, they are really pretty!

    1. Delphine

      November 28, 2017 at 8:36 am

      Hi Camila, thank you for dropping by! Sydney is an amazing place to visit, there is so much to see and do. Hopefully you’ll get a chance soon!

  4. AnnaCossack

    November 28, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Australia is one of my dream destinations! The views are stunning- hope to use this article one day when I come to Sydney…;)

    1. Delphine

      November 28, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Thanks Anna, I’m very pleased you like the views of Sydney. Feel free to bookmark or pin my Sydney articles, they are designed to inspire you to travel to Australia!

    1. Delphine

      November 29, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Hey Heather, thank you for dropping by! I’m very pleased you like my photos and I hope you get a chance to visit Australia some day!

  5. Anne Thornley-Brown, MBA

    November 29, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    I have never been to Australia but reading this post and seeing the photos makes me want to go.

    1. Delphine

      November 29, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Hi Anne, I hope you get a chance to visit Australia some day, it’s pretty hard to take a bad photo with such beautiful blue skies!

  6. Stargazer Writes

    November 29, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    I think it is up to us to make trips the best. No matter how gloomy the weather is or how annoying our company is. I love lighthouses so I really like to visit this place someday. I bet the views are more breath-taking in real life.

    1. Delphine

      November 30, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      Hi Jill, I agree with you. That’s why I quite like solo travel from time to time, I get total freedom to go where I want. The Barrenjoey Lighthouse is in a really beautiful spot.

  7. idaplougpahus

    November 30, 2017 at 12:07 am

    It surely looks like a good trip!! 😀

    1. Delphine

      November 30, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      Thanks, it’s a really good day trip, and with a bit of luck, you can see dolphins and whales passing by!

  8. Lydia C. Lee

    December 1, 2017 at 6:35 am

    Just beautiful! A gorgeous way to spend the day.

    1. Delphine

      December 1, 2017 at 8:35 am

      Hi Lydia, I agree with you, I love a good walk to some beautiful views to remind me I live in paradise!

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