Barrenjoey Lighthouse: Sydney’s best sunset lookout
On the northernmost tip of Sydney’s northern beaches is one of the city’s most spectacular coastal lookouts. It also happens to be accessible only through a steep bushland climb and as it’s a good 1.5-hour drive out of the city, Barrenjoey Headland doesn’t make it to the list of everyday tourist spots. Fortunately though, as you embark on the uneven incline, each step rewards you with an increasingly sublime view of the Palm Beach peninsula. It’s precisely these features that make Barrenjoey Lighthouse Sydney’s best sunset lookout.
1. Beachside village
Palm Beach is a familiar and well-loved name around the world. Add into that, its unique position as the most northerly aspect of Sydney and the lookout jumps in popularity. The broad stretch of orange sand and open sea is set against an affluent cafe and shopping scene. Once you reach Avalon on Sydney’s northern beaches the single lane road bends and twists along the coastline. There are stunning homes perched into the undulating cliff, boldly placed to get the best view of the never-ending ocean. The roadside is thick with leafy overgrown flowering shrubs and all of a sudden, you’ve left the city behind.
2. Room with a view
Standing at 113 metres above sea level, Barrenjoey Lighthouse looks serenely across the Pacific Ocean as it has done for over 130 years. Bult from local sandstone, it’s the pinnacle of the peninsula and by far the best aspect to view Broken Bay, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the sweeping views of the ocean. Each Sunday between 11.00am and 3.00pm you can join the 30-minute guided tours of the Lighthouse, though the grounds of the Lighthouse are open 24 hours. This makes it a perfect spot for a coastal walk, picnic or Sydney’s best sunset lookout.
3. Bush trails and tales
There are two walking tracks that go all the way up to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse and they join as a circuit if you take one up and choose the other for the way down. Either way, you’ll experience one of the most picturesque harbour bushwalks.
The Smugglers Track
It may be shorter, but at the hint of the name, you know that The Smugglers Track is not the easy route. It’s the steeper of the two trails and is 400m climb directly to the top of the hill. The walk is considered Grade 3 so carry plenty of water, wear the right bushwalking shoes and maybe make this your descent back down the hill. As the story goes, The Smugglers Track acquired it’s convict sounding name from customs officers using the pathway to monitor smugglers who were bringing contraband into Broken Bay.
As the name suggests, here is the walking track for the nature lover seeking a gentler, meandering walk and who has more time to embrace the surrounding beauty. The Access Trail is Grade 2 on the scale of walking treks and follows a narrow, though somewhat easier road to the reach the Lighthouse.
4. A road for all seasons
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is a popular park all year around. Summertime peaks naturally on Palm Beach and the sun blazing on the bay provides a sparkling view. Shallow water jetties and sleek yachts lulling in the bays, fill the long summer days with tourists. In the cooler season, from May to October, the peninsula is a magical spot to catch sight of the humpback whale migration as they follow the warmer waters north. Springtime is ablaze with sprigs of wildflowers and even under the steely winter skies, the cooler days make for more pleasant bush walks. But for all of the daylight views, sunset on the peninsula is truly magical.
5. End of a perfect day
To catch a glimpse of the sun setting is a great thing to add to your travel wish list. There’s a huge choice of striking sunset lookouts around Sydney basin, but for all the iconic silhouettes of the city, something about the peninsula makes Barrenjoey Lighthouse Sydney’s best sunset lookout. Its tapered headland is one of those rare formations that a good sunset makes worth the climb. There are regular photographic tours you can join or after the walking trails, take some time out to absorb nature’s most gentle time of the day.
You might also like to find out about other sunsets spots at our favourite secluded beaches in Sydney.