Palm Beach is no. 3 on the top 10 beaches listed in my Top 10 Sydney guide. It says,
"An hour's drive north of Sydney, the area around this beach is a magnet for the city's glitterati. "Palmie" is a lovely beach fringed by pine trees, and was made famous by the soap opera Home and Away. For a cruisy afternoon, catch the Pittwater ferry for a loop around the bay....
The Barrenjoey Lighthouse overlooks Broken Bay, the Central Coast and the Hawkesbury River....
Broken Bay is a beautiful, wide and sometimes wild expanse of water dominated by Lion Island, an uninhabited rocky outcrop."
First up - I've never heard anyone call Palm Beach, 'Palmie'.
As a child, I lived in Ettalong, across the waters from Palm Beach and Barrenjoey Lighthouse. It was so close, but until last month, I had never visited the area. My childhood is illuminated by the constant flashing of the light and the crouching presence of Lion Island (the little green patch in the middle of Broken Bay above).
Secondly - I wish I had read my Top 10 guide before visiting Palm Beach.
The cruisy loop around the Pittwater would have be delightful. The loop takes in Bennett Wharf, Bonnie Doon, The Basin, Currawong Beach and Mackerel Beach.
It's such a trek to get to Palm Beach - it's a day trip really, if you want to see everything on offer. I'm not sure I'll ever make it up that way again!
Although I would like to walk around the West Head Lookout, so perhaps I can do the cruisy thing in reverse one day.
But for now - my photos!
I walked up to the lighthouse on a hot, humid summer's day.
The top part of the walk is quite steep and exposed.
I don't recommend it unless you're well prepared with water, hat and something to fan your face.
And swimmers - so when you make the beach again, you can jump straight in!
(The website also suggests not to climb during high winds.)
This is the view from the top looking south towards Sydney.
On the right is the Pittwater and Station Beach. The jetty you can just see halfway down the beach is part of The Boathouse - where a lot of the filming for Home and Away happens. You can also grab a bite to eat there, if you don't mind huge crowds and queues.
On the left is beautiful Palm Beach and the Pacific Ocean.
(Home and Away fans can also find Summer Bay Surf Club at the southern end of Palm Beach.)
Barrenjoey Lighthouse was built in 1881.
It's a sandstone, heritage listed building.
It is now part of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
You can only do tours of the lighthouse on Sundays. On the other days of the week you can wander all around the headland to admire the views...with fewer people!
Lion Island - a river island - is one of the enduring symbols of my childhood.
I was swamped by nostalgia the moment I topped the rise and spotted it crouching in the middle of Broken Bay, protecting the entrance into Ettalong, Umina and Pearl Beach.
The walk up and back was hot work, but the landscape was fascinating.
View of the Lighthouse and Barrenjoey Headland from Palm Beach.
A panorama of Palm Beach.
The water was delicious!