Barrenjoey Headland, in Palm Beach, is the furthest you can go north while still being in Sydney. From the CBD it’s just an hour by car or 90 minutes by bus, making it a killer city escape that deserves a spot on an airport billboard.
From your house to the lighthouse
Lighthouse keepers don’t have it so bad… except when the weather turns south. You can’t drive right up to the lighthouse, so there’s two options to get to the top:
- The first is the Access Trail, which winds gently up to the top.
- Then there’s the Smuggler’s Track – half as long, twice as steep.
Both require moderate fitness and BYO water, as the nearest amenities are in Governor Phillip Park, 1km from the start of the trail.
Did You Know: The Smuggler’s Track was built in 1881 to monitor any suss characters trying to shift bootleg rum.
After you’ve had your fill, head back down to the bottom. You’ll no doubt have worked up an appetite and Palm Beach has awesome dining options – the Boat House or Dunes will both serve a mean milkshake to sip at “Summer Bay” (the set of Home and Away) or after a surf at North Palm Beach (The Joey).
Bowled over by The Basin
Want more? A weekend camping trip amongst the trees is exactly what the season demanded. The Basin campground, a 20 minute ferry ride from Palm Beach, is the most popular camping area in the state. It’s a peaceful camping ground, available year-round at a super reasonable cost. You need to book ahead to reserve a spot, as this is a renowned hotspot. The place has all the facilities for a lazy summer day – BBQ plates to cook anything from pancakes to snags on, (cold) showers, and plenty of places to set up a cricket pitch.
Let’s talk logistics; there are two ways into The Basin. Both clock in at under an hour and a half from the CBD:
The 20 min ferry ride, leaving from Palm Beach Wharf (1 hour drive from Syd), will take you and all your camping gear over to The Basin.Or you can drive to the start of the Basin Trail on West Head Road but it is a 2.8km walk down to the Basin. For obvious reasons, pack light if you choose to drive. The walk down might be fine… the walk back up, not so much.
Although it’s a relaxing spot, there’s never a dull moment at The Basin as there are so many activities and so much room to do them in! Think swimming, bushwalking, lounging, bike riding, and exploring, to fill your day. No need to BYO, you can hire kayaks, SUP boards and more through EcoTreasures. You can also organise a fishing license to fish away your arvo. Garfish, among others, can be caught and eaten providing they’re of legal size.
Did You Know: The Basin Track takes you to one of the best examples of rock engraving art by the Garrigal People of the Guringai Nation. Our tip: the late afternoon or early morning light gives them shadows and a light, alive look.
Once it gets dark, build a fire in one of the designated fire pits (, roast marshmallows, and shoot the breeze. Remember to double-check for fire safety alerts and total fire bans.
Did You Know: Think before you lift. It is against regulation to collect kindling from all national parks , as it may disturb the home of animals. You can BYO a sack of logs which can be found at Bunnings or most service stations or buy a bag of firewood on-site for $20.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is a postcard waiting to be sent. Dip your toes in with a trip to the Lighthouse. If you love it, The Basin makes an awesome camping getaway, a retreat to one of the state’s hidden gems.
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