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

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

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 gum trees and populated by diverse wildlife, The Basin is Sydney’s Best Kept Secret.

The Basin, Sydney: Palm Beach

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 in Sydney is a great destination for a day trip or an overnight camping adventure.

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

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.

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

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.

The Palm Beach ferry to the Basin Sydney
Photo Thierry Mignon

To get to The Basin in Sydney, 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.

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

Welcome to Paradise

Beach houses near the Basin in Sydney
Photo Thierry Mignon

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.

Arriving by the Palm Beach ferry at the Basin Sydney

The approach on the ferry is stunning: you discover a secret paradise shaded by gum trees, translucent waters and a haven of peace.

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

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.

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

The Basin, Sydney: The Wildlife

Just like you can enjoy a nap or a picnic under a shaded tree, the local wildlife will host you for the day.

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…

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

An Australian bush scene wouldn’t be complete without some sort of marsupial… And this wallaby hangs around the lawn quite happily…

There are a few cute wallabies at the Basin Sydney
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

The Basin, Sydney: Bushwalking

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.

Pink wildflowers in bloom at the Basin Sydney
Photo Thierry Mignon

Another Way of Getting to The Basin, Sydney

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.

The blue waters of the Basin Sydney gleam through the trees
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. If you are planning to camp there for a few days, it is definitely something to think about.

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

If you have made the trip to the Basin in Sydney, I would recommend visiting Barrenjoey Lighthouse at Palm Beach and West Head Lookout. There are many other day trip destinations I recommend are Berrima, Berry and Kangaroo Valley.

For weekends away, Mudgee and Orange are great wine regions.

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

The Basin is Sydney\'s best kept secret and a fantastic idea for a day trip to the beach.

36 Comments

  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. MY RIG Adventures

    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!

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