Palm Beach is well known in the UK as the setting of the Australia’s longest running soap opera Home and Away. It is also very popular as a beach getaway for well-off Sydneysiders. A short visit will show you why.
Palm Beach and Barrenjoey Lighthouse – The “home” of Home and Away.
Palm Beach provides a perfect example of Aussie beach life, and it’s a great place to explore year round. It’s also the most northerly point of the Sydney suburbs and an ideal location to take a walk.
Exploring this area makes a pretty big day out. It’s a little over 41km from the centre of the city and can take an hour to reach, but it’s a very scenic journey. The trip is entirely possible to do by public transport, making it a good option for visitors who have a little time on their hands and want to see beyond the tourist meccas of Manly and Bondi.
Palm Beach is the setting for the outdoor filming of the Australian soap opera Home and Away and the North Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club provides one of the inside sets. If you visit the beach on a weekday you just might catch them filming. Die-hard fans can also join a Home and Away tour. Celebrity spotters might also be in luck; over the summer, it is not unusual to find the rich and famous holidaying here.
One of the features of the landscape is the Barrenjoey Lighthouse on the northern headland. The lighthouse is open to the public on Sundays. From up here, you get a 180-degree view of Pittwater, Ku-ring-gai National Park, and the Central Coast.
There are two walks to the Barrenjoey Headland. The first called Smugglers Track starts from the Pittwater side just past the ferry wharf. It starts off easy, but there is a very steep section for the last 500m. Alternatively, you can head along the beach and then a 2.5km bush track for a little over an hour and a half. I would consider this second option suitable for anyone with an average level of fitness.
Sadly much of the vegetation on the headland was destroyed by bushfires in spring of 2013, but it is growing back pretty quickly. Make sure you leave time to return before sunset because it can be quite challenging finding your way back in the dark!
If you are not keen to walk to the lighthouse head off to the south for a swim in the rock pool. There are some good examples of Aboriginal rock art here including engravings of fish and a boomerang. There are also some great carvings in the boulders at this end of the beach
If you have a bit more time in the area I recommend taking one of the ferries that leave from Palm Beach area. There is the Palm Beach ferry to the Basin or the Hawkesbury river cruise to Patonga.
Getting there: L90 (Limited stops) bus from Wynyard Station or drive – but parking can be a struggle in summer
Best time to visit: All year round but you need a nice sunny day to make the most of it.
Where to eat: $ – Palm Beach Fish and Chips, $$$ The Boathouse on the Pittwater side
Insider tip: Check out the view from the Bible Garden
Fact: The name Barrenjoey means wallaby or little kangaroo in local Aboriginal language.
Find out more about walks in the area here