The Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk is a short bush walk with big rewards, amazing views over Palm Beach and whale watching in Winter and early Spring.

Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk

Barrenjoey Headland is a relatively small peninsula, primed for spectacular views. From the top you can see the vast stretch of Pacific Ocean to the east, Hawkesbury River to the north and the gorgeous still waters of Pittwater and Broken Bay to the west.
The walk via Smugglers Track looks down over Palm Beach and Pittwater. It has 360 degree views from the top of the headland with a heritage lighthouse and lighthouse keeper’s cottages

Quick Start Guide

barrenjoey lighthouse walk

Barrenjoey Headland at the end of Palm Beach

  • Distance: 3km return (1.4 miles)
  • Time: About 30 minutes up to the lighthouse. Allow same time for return.
  • Track Conditions: Marked track. Some uneven natural stone steps.
  • Grade: The track goes straight up the side of the headland. Steep in sections, some people may find this tough.
  • Water: At the parking area.
  • Public transport: See details below.
  • Coffee: The Boathouse, Palm Beach. 100m from the carpark.
  • Toilets: At the parking area. Temporary toilets have also been installed at the top of Smugglers Track, behind the cottage, with a permanent facility to be built in 2020.
  • Mobile phone reception: Yes
  • Swimming: Yes, at Palm Beach.

Palm Beach Lighthouse Walk

You’ll start on the western, Pittwater side of the peninsula, rather than the Palm Beach side.

At the far northern end of Governor Phillip car park, is a signed walking track to Barrenjoey Headland. The track is well-marked.

There are two routes to the top; the more genteel Access Trail or the shorter, but steeper, Smugglers Track.

Take the Smugglers Track for the best views. About halfway up is a great photo spot overlooking Palm Beach.

barrenjoey lighthouse walk overlooking palm beach

Views over Palm Beach (left) and Broken Bay (right) from the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk

Spend some time exploring Barrenjoey Lighthouse and cottages on the headland.

You may want to take the Access Trail back down, just to mix things up a bit and make the walk a loop. The Access Trail to the lighthouse is a narrow road, so it lacks that lovely bush walk feel.

Barrenjoey Lighthouse

Barrenjoey Lighthouse was built in 1881 from sandstone quarried on site.

Barrenjoey lighthouse

Barrenjoey Lighthouse and cottages

The grave of Barrenjoey Lighthouse’s first keeper – George Mulhall – is on the headland . He was struck by lightening four years into the job. Hmm, did we mention don’t walk up to the lighthouse in wild weather?

Even though there are a few buildings up on the headland, they don’t include toilets. Or water. Or a fancy cafe. The closest public toilets are at Governor Phillip Park near-ish to the car park.

Overlooking Palm Beach

The extraordinary views of Palm Beach to the left, and Broken Bay to the right, is the most photographed viewpoint of the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk. There is a rock platform just off to the side, about halfway up Smugglers Track, which is the perfect place for this view.

barrenjoey lighthouse walk

Views over Palm Beach and beyond from the Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk and Smugglers Track

palm beach lighthouse walk

There are some uneven sandstone steps on the walk up to the Palm Beach lighthouse

Getting to Palm Beach and Barrenjoey Lighthouse

Palm Beach, or “Palmy” is as far north as it can get, and still call itself Sydney. It’s right on the tip of a long peninsula – 45 kilometres (28 miles) north, and a little over an hour drive from the city centre.

The phrase “exclusive end of the Northern Beaches” is sometimes bandied about, probably due to the price of local real estate and favoured celebrity holiday spot. But anybody can feel golden sand between their toes, and soak in million dollar views.

Where to start the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk

The track starts (and ends) at the northern end of Governor Phillip Park car park, just past The Boathouse cafe, on Beach Road.

Palm Beach Lighthouse Walk Parking

Park in Governor Phillip car park (Pittwater Council parking fees apply) or on Barrenjoey Road.

Closest Street Address The car park is on Beach Road, Palm Beach. But if you type “Governor Phillip Park, Palm Beach” into Google Maps, you won’t get to the very end of the street where the car park is located. So closest for Google Maps purposes is “The Boathouse, Palm Beach”. The car park is just past this point.

How to get to Palm Beach by Public Transport

Catch the L90 bus from the bus interchange at Wynyard Station in the centre of the city. It’s a long bus trip: up to 2 hours in busy periods, and more than 50 stops even on this “limited stops” service.

Or catch the B1 bus, also from Wynyard, to Mona Vale. Change buses at the Mona Vale terminus for the 199 bus to Palm Beach.

Both the L90 and 199 buses now continue on past Palm Beach's ferry wharf and stop directly outside Governor Philip Park car park, near the start point of the Barrenjoey lighthouse walk.

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The only other way to get to Palm Beach, is as a day trip or tour (best suited for fans of Australian soapie Home and Away, who may recognise Palm Beach as the fictional Summer Bay).


Where to stay near Palm Beach

Palm Beach is a popular Sydney getaway because it's still in the city's borders, yet feels a million miles away. Even for locals, staying in the area will turn a weekend walk into a relaxing getaway. 

Jonahs – and it's restaurant – at Whale Beach (the beach next to Palmy) is synonymous with Sydney luxe. Barrenjoey House, right near the base of the walk, now offers seven boutique rooms above the delicious Boathouse Cafe.

Here are all the accommodation options in the Northern Beaches (of which Palm Beach is the northern-most tip).

Now that you've done the Palm Beach Lighthouse Walk, you may also like…


Tara Wells is a freelance journalist who is delighted to combine her love of hiking – and Sydney – with storytelling.

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