Day Trip to The Basin: Sydney’s Best Kept Secret

Day Trip to The Basin: Sydney’s Best Kept Secret

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One of the best in places in Sydney for a day trip is The Basin. Beyond Sydney’s northern beaches, The Basin is a little secret spot tucked away in the meanders of Pittwater. If you are looking for Sydney hidden beaches, this 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 gum trees and populated by diverse wildlife, The Basin is Sydney’s Best Kept Secret.

There are lots of grass trees at the Basin Sydney
Photo Thierry Mignon

Day Trip to The Basin: Sydney’s Best Kept Secret

Palm Beach, Sydney is only an hour’s drive north of the CBD, more on the bus. With its perfect cove, regular surf and frolicking dolphins, it’s considered one of the best beaches in Sydney. I love the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk for some stunning views of the isthmus and NSW Central Coast.

A wallaby leaps around at the Basin in Sydney
Photo Thierry Mignon

On your way, you can stop at the Newport Arms Hotel for a casual meal. I like going to The Basin for a day trip so I always pack a picnic to have there.

Palm Beach, Northern Beaches

Palm Beach is one of the best beaches in Sydney. 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.

Arriving by the Palm Beach ferry at the Basin Sydney

How to Get to Palm Beach, NSW

The drive from Sydney to Palm Beach takes an hour and parking can be quite competitive, especially in summer and on weekends. There is a carpark just near the Palm Beach ferry wharf and it gets busy fairly early in the day. If you are on the bus, the L90 will take an hour and a half from Wynyard, but it’s a good option if you don’t want to worry about parking.

You can get to the Basin Sydney by bus
Photo Thierry Mignon

Even though Palm Beach is considered as part of Metropolitan Sydney and is one of the Sydney northern beaches, 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.

The Palm Beach ferry to the Basin Sydney
Photo Thierry Mignon

From the ferry wharf, an adorable ferry departs to Mackerel Beach and The Basin. I would go to The Basin just to ride on that adorable boat… Check out the timetable and don’t forget to buy your return ticket! If you do forget, you can still buy them onboard the ferry.

Take the ferry to the Basin, Sydney from Palm Beach
Photo Thierry Mignon
The ferry from Palm Beach docks at the Basin Sydney
Photo Thierry Mignon

The Basin Camping

Not many beaches north of Sydney have camping facilities. The Basin campground is not very big but it’s great for a night or two. I love the idea of camping near Sydney in such a secret spot!

Beach houses near the Basin in Sydney
Photo Thierry Mignon

The camping facilities are quite comprehensive:

  • 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
Waiting for the Palm Beach ferry at the Basin Sydney
Photo Thierry Mignon


The charm of The Basin is the presence of wildlife. Normally, the Northern Beaches of Sydney are patrolled by anxious magpies but this is different…

An Eastern lizard is a permanent resident at the Basin Sydney
Photo Thierry Mignon

The giant lizard has been there for years and is really after some leftover 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…

The lizard at the Basin Sydney likes to climb trees
Photo Thierry Mignon

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.

Beware of blue-ringed octopus lurking in the waters of the Basin Sydney
Photo Thierry Mignon


Apart from the Palm Beach lighthouse walk, you can combine the Basin Track and Mackerel Track. This is a Grade 3 hike with beautiful ocean views. The distance is 9.6km and you should allow 2-3 hours.

There are a few cute wallabies at the Basin Sydney
Photo Thierry Mignon

If you are looking for more hikes, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase is one of the national parks near Sydney where you can spend a day in the wilderness without really leaving the metropolitan area.

Palm Beach Accommodation

If camping at The Basin is not for you, or if you prefer to look at some Northern Beaches accommodation, I recommend looking at AirBnb.

You can fly over in the Basin Sydney in a seaplane
Photo Thierry Mignon

Coming from West Head

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 Basin Trail Walking Track. The track is wide and kind of sealed but vehicles are not allowed.

Pink wildflowers in bloom at the Basin Sydney
Photo Thierry Mignon

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 is beautiful and you can catch 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 in Sydney is a little more demanding and would require someone to drop you off at the track turnoff but it does offer beautiful views.

The blue waters of the Basin Sydney gleam through the trees
Photo Thierry Mignon

Have you been to The Basin: Sydney’s Best Kept Secret? Please share any tips and stories in the comments below.

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The Basin is Sydney's best kept secret and a fantastic idea for a day trip to the beach.
You can see some wildlife at the Basin, Sydney
The Basin in Sydney is a lovely secret spot


  1. collegeceliackc

    May 25, 2017 at 10:20 am

    What gorgeous views! I’ve never been to Australia, but it’s definitely on my bucket list! For the scenery…and the delicious food!

    1. Delphine

      May 25, 2017 at 10:35 am

      Hey there, a visit to The Basin is a definite highlight if you visit Sydney! The great thing is that it’s not that well known and not that easy to access, so it remains a secret special place!

  2. Rahul

    May 26, 2017 at 1:15 am

    Wow! I just bookmarked this and next time when I’ll be in Sydney, would definitely visit these.

    1. Delphine

      May 26, 2017 at 8:56 am

      Thanks Rahul, enjoy the ferry ride!

  3. Monica

    May 26, 2017 at 4:43 am

    A wild place near a city as big as Sydney should be cherished, thanks for bring it to my attention for the next time I’m in the city!

    1. Delphine

      May 26, 2017 at 8:55 am

      Hi Monica, The Basin is a great day trip within Sydney, I hope the weather is with you when you go.

  4. Julie Estrella

    May 26, 2017 at 5:01 am

    Looks lovely! I haven’t made it to Australia yet, but it’s on the list!

    1. Delphine

      May 26, 2017 at 8:54 am

      Hi Julie, Australia is a great place to visit, you will love it!

  5. Leah

    May 26, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    It certainly is a good secret, I haven’t heard of it! Absoloutely beautiful pictures, you caputred the wildlife and scenery so well! Will definitely have to visit this beautiful spot next time we are in Sydney!

    1. Delphine

      May 26, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      Thanks Leah, The Basin is definitely worth a visit, you would love it!

  6. Viviane Feeney

    May 26, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Never heard of the basin! Would be a great weekend retreat from the bustling CBD.

    1. Delphine

      May 26, 2017 at 6:08 pm

      Hi Vivianne, some lucky Sydneysiders actually have weekend homes around the area, it’s so beautiful!

  7. Umberta

    May 27, 2017 at 2:21 am

    Looks like a wonderful place!! And the animals!! Love them! Love Sydney , hope to visit again and I’m gonna add this place to my list of new places to visit!!

    1. Delphine

      May 27, 2017 at 8:38 am

      Hi Umberta, the animals at the Basin are great, very typical of Australian wildlife. I hope you get a chance to visit The Basin on your next trip to Sydney!

  8. Heidi

    June 28, 2017 at 1:20 am

    Looks amazing! I am a true beach lover, hopefully someday I’ll get there.

    1. Delphine

      June 28, 2017 at 7:40 am

      Heidi, the Basin is a little gem! I was completely taken aback when I first went there. Hopefully you’ll get that chance too!

  9. Heather

    June 24, 2019 at 6:16 am

    I would love to see all the wildlife at the Basin in Sydney. But that blue ring octopus, yikes! I would like to see him but be nowhere near him! The wallaby is precious! The water is beautiful and the ferry ride would be fun, but I wouldn’t want to have to hike back up like your husband did!

    1. Delphine

      June 24, 2019 at 8:47 am

      Hi Heather, thankfully the blue-ringed octopus is quite shy and unlikely to attack humans but I wouldn’t take my chances… We now go only on the ferry, the hike back to the road in the Ku-Ring-Gai National Park is too hard, especially in summer!

  10. Samantha Karen

    June 25, 2019 at 6:29 am

    This looks like the perfect place to visit in Sydney to escape some of the tourists. I would love to see the animals here, they are so unique and authentic!

    1. Delphine

      June 25, 2019 at 9:17 am

      Hi Sam, the Basin is an ideal getaway within Sydney itself. The fact that you have to go there by ferry makes it even more of an adventure.

  11. Tania Muthusamy

    June 25, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    The Basin looks like a true paradise. I haven’t been there but will check it out when in Sydney next. Stunning photos, the water looks so inviting.

    1. Delphine

      June 25, 2019 at 6:40 pm

      Hi Tania, the Basin is a bit of a secret! It’s an hour’s drive north of the city, which you can do on the bus, and then you can forget about your worries for a few hours. We had a lovely swim in the lagoon, away from the deadly octopus!

  12. Nic

    June 25, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    I never knew about this place the few times I’ve visited Sydney, really makes me want to go back and explore this area of the city! Such a cool city with all there is to do in and around it.

    1. Delphine

      June 25, 2019 at 6:41 pm

      The Basin is a great secret place in Sydney. I found out about it by chance when a friend of mine invited me for a picnic… She was camping there with friends and we went there for the day. It was the best thing for a summer weekend!

  13. Shreya Saha

    June 26, 2019 at 3:10 am

    The Basin seems to be a lovely getaway when in Sydney. I have never heard of it before, but looking at the pictures you have posted, I would surely include it in my itinerary. Thanks for adding the link of the timetables of the ferry. It helps planning.

    1. Delphine

      June 26, 2019 at 10:19 am

      Hi Shreya, I’m pleased my post is helpful in planning your trip to the Basin, let me know if you ever get there.

  14. Emma

    June 26, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Thanks for the great info on The Basin in Sydney. I’ve never been, maybe we will visit when we head down that way. I agree, I’d steer clear from those Blue-ringed Octopus! The Lagoon sounds a much better place to cool off.

    1. Delphine

      June 26, 2019 at 10:21 am

      I stayed well clear off the blue-ringed octopus! If they sting you, you die in 20 minutes! The lagoon was a lovely cool swimming spot, just lovely!

  15. Ketki

    June 26, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    Such nature parks near the city are such a respite for a weekend getaway. The Basin looks a lovely place to spend sometime. I ‘d share this place with my friends who lives in Sydney – I wonder is she has heard about it.

    1. Delphine

      June 27, 2019 at 9:00 am

      Hi Kekti, The Basin is a great day trip for Sydneysiders, I do recommend it for your friend who lives in Sydney.

  16. Candy

    June 27, 2019 at 4:22 am

    I have never even heard of a blue-ringed octopus until now. Noted, to stay away from it 🙂 I agree that the ferry is adorable. How long is the ride? Just curious as I get seasick easily, but if it’s a short ride it’s worth getting a little sick. The Basin definitely sounds like a great place for a day trip.

    1. Delphine

      June 27, 2019 at 8:58 am

      Hi Candy, the ferry ride is only 30 mns or so and it’s not directly on the ocean so there is no serious swell, so you should be fine. As for the blue-ringed octopus, it’s had a starring role in the James Bond movie “Octopussy”…

  17. Michael Hodgson

    June 28, 2019 at 8:56 am

    I am with you … that ferry is so damn cute it is worth riding (and taking photos of it) alone, never mind the destination. I love that The Basin is so accessible to the central business district of Sydney. And of course the blue-ringed octopus is dangerous … it is from Australia after all where I think it is a matter of pride that the country is full of venemous creatures. It is a pretty animal though. Did you see one?

    1. Delphine

      June 28, 2019 at 2:02 pm

      Hi Michael, yes the ferry is the cutest! As for the blue-ringed octopus, it was right there in the water for us to look at… Australians are a bit crazy with the animals… the wildlife here is very loud and there are many toxic and deadly things… Thankfully, they’re not too easy to find in a city.

  18. Maggie

    June 28, 2019 at 9:46 am

    I love undiscovered places, and this area of Sydney looks lovely! So peaceful and quaint. And I’m like you, I’d happily go anywhere if it requires a ferry ride – they’re so fun! I’ve still never been to Sydney, but whenever I do make it there I’ll have to make sure The Basin is on my itinerary!

    1. Delphine

      June 28, 2019 at 2:01 pm

      Hi Maggie, the ferry is an ideal way of travelling. Some people have weekend houses in that area with no other access than by boat. I am lucky to take a ferry to the city so I’m very happy!

  19. Bruce Josephs

    September 11, 2020 at 2:40 am

    Delphine, I love the Basin. I have camped there on a number of times and used to visit all the time as a young boy. The wildlife is amazing. Apart from the goannas, swamp wallabies and brush turkeys we have also seen pythons there on a couple of occasions and there is a migratory fruit bat colony there at times.

    1. Delphine Mignon

      September 13, 2020 at 2:30 pm

      Hi Bruce, I need to get back to The Basin sometime soon, hopefully the wallaby and lizard are still there. And maybe there would be many more animals!

  20. Julie

    November 11, 2020 at 4:34 pm

    Omg it hasn’t changed much , the last time I was at the Basin, I was 7 yrs old in 1961 & we camped for a week . There used to be a small playground slippery slide & a couple of swings , a seawater pool for swimming .A truly fabulous place & certainly one of Sydney’s best kept secrets .

    1. Delphine Mignon

      November 11, 2020 at 5:24 pm

      Camping for a week sounds like a great adventure for a 7 year-old! I went back to the Basin recently and it’s still very pretty. The lockdown even allowed the grass to get green again… It’s quite peaceful too, with the camping ground at a reduced capacity. Now is the best time to go!

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