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

The Basin, Sydney: 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

The Basin, Sydney: 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. There are manyOther day trip destinations I recommend are Berrima, Berry and Kangaroo Valley.

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.


  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!

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