This stunning day hike on Sydney’s northern beaches is the perfect adventure for those looking to break a sweat and be rewarded with extraordinary views from the top.

Highlights

  • Only an hour from Sydney CBD
  • A short but satisfying bushwalk
  • 360-degree views of Palm Beach, Pittwater, Broken Bay and The Hawkesbury River from the top
  • Your pick of beaches for your post-walk swim

Access Trail or Smugglers Track?

Barrenjoey Lighthouse is an iconic Sydney structure sitting atop Barrenjoey Head at Sydney’s northernmost point. Built in 1881, this heritage lighthouse was made from sandstone quarried on-site and has stood the test of time.

First things first, you’ll have to make your way to the bottom of the headland either by driving or public transport. Whichever way you arrive, you’ll begin the walk at the Governor Phillip parking area. 

Make your way along Station Beach until you reach a fork in the road where you’ll see a sign displaying your two options to the top, the Access Trail or the Smugglers Track. 

The Smugglers Track gets its name from customs officers who built the track to monitor smugglers bringing in contraband from Broken Bay around the 1850s. Despite this being the shorter way to the top, it’s a little more strenuous and sweat-inducing, but the views over Palm Beach on the journey make it well worth it.

The Access Trail, though twice as long, is an easier path to the top of the headland.

 

At The Top Of Barrenjoey Head

When you arrive at the summit, you’ll be greeted with both the Barrenjoey Lighthouse and spectacular sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Broken Bay. 

If you’re taking on this walk between the months of May and September, don’t forget to pack your binoculars and keep your eyes on the horizon, there’s every chance you’ll see a whale passing through on its migration from the south.

Have a peek at the grave of George Mulhall, the lighthouse’s first keeper, who died after being struck by lightning four years into the job. If that doesn’t reiterate the recommendation by NSW National Parks to not take on the lighthouse walk during wild weather I don’t know what will!

If you’re keen to see the inside of the lighthouse, regular guided tours run every 30 minutes on Sundays between 11 am and 3 pm, with the exceptions a Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Once you’ve taken in all the sights and sounds at the lighthouse, head back down to the car park at a leisurely pace.

 

 

Top it all off by carb-loading for your next walk at the Boathouse and finish with a dip at Palm Beach Rock Pool, or one of the other delicious rock pools in the Northern Beaches, to put a cherry on top of this adventurous day.

Essential Gear

  • Waterbottle
  • Hat & sunscreen
  • Walking shoes
  • Camera
  • Bathers

How To Get There

Park your car at Governor Phillip Park car park in Palm Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Make your way along Station Beach until you reach a fork in the road where you’ll see a sign displaying your two options to the top, the Access Trail or the Smugglers Track.

Activities

  • Bushwalking
  • Swimming 
  • Gasping over the gorgeous view
  • Learning about the area’s history
  • Guided tour of the lighthouse

Skill Level

Beginner

Distance Covered / Time Taken

2km round trip / 1 hour