Winter in Sydney is absolutely stunning when the sun is shining and the breeze is brisk. Days like these are so gorgeous it's an absolute crime to stay indoors. So, what to do? Make a day trip to the Palm Beach Lighthouse (also known as Barrenjoey Lighthouse). The climb to the top of Barrenjoey Headland will provide you with spectacular views over Pittwater, Palm Beach and the Central Coast. It will also give your legs and your lungs a good workout.
I took my teenage kids here during the winter school holidays. Not only was it a great day out, it got my son out of his dark room and off his devices for a few hours, and got him exercising more than just his thumbs.
That said, the track to Palm Beach Lighthouse is pretty steep. However, there are two routes to get you to the top: the steeper track that takes just 10 minutes, or the less steep (but still pretty steep) track that takes 20 minutes.
We opted for the less steep graded track going up and the steeper one coming back down. If you have dodgy knees though, I'd opt to do it the other way around.
Which ever route you decide on though, you won't be sorry you pulled on your walking shoes and made the effort to get to the Palm Beach Lighthouse.
NB: If you want to take a tour of the historic Palm Beach Lighthouse, it is open on Sundays between 9am and 3pm for a small fee. But the sensational scenery is what I, and I think most people, come here for.
Breathtaking, awe-inspiring, heart-stirring are all adjectives I'd use to describe the 360 degree views you get from the top of Barrenjoey Headland.
To the north you cop views up along the Central Coast, Lion Island and the mesmerising Hawkesbury River. Directly west is Middle Head and Ku-ring-gai National Park, and to the south the beautiful body of water known as Pittwater, and of course Palm Beach.
Take the short walk around the top of the headland for a little bushwalking and the possibility of seeing whales (from April to September) cruising along the coast.
If you visit during the warmer months, be sure to bring your cosy and towel for a dip afterwards, as you're sure to want to cool off. And the beauty of Palm Beach is, you get to choose whether you want to go for a body surf in the waves or splash about in the still waters of Pittwater.
If you're swimming in the surf and are not terribly experienced swimmers, I advise you head right down to the southern end of the beach where the rockpool is located, as the beach is more protected there.
And, if you have young children who need to burn off more energy, there are sand dunes at the foot of Palm Beach Lighthouse that are great to run up and roll down.
Getting to Palm Beach
As Palm Beach is right at the very end of the northern beaches peninsula, it can take a wee while to travel there. If you're visiting the Central Coast, you can choose to travel to Palmy by ferry, which provides a spectacular trip from Wagstaffe and Ettalong. There is a bit of a walk from the wharf however to the lighthouse.
Travelling from Sydney, take the B1 bus from Wynyard (the bright yellow doubledecker bus) and change at Mona Vale for a 190 bus to Palm Beach.
If driving, don't forget to pay the parking fees, as rangers regularly patrol the area.