Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk, Enjoy Stunning Ocean Views from up the Hill
The Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk is a popular hiking trail in Barrenjoey Headland, the northernmost part of Palm Beach.
There are two walking tracks that go all the way up to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse on top of the hill from where you can enjoy stunning ocean views.
Looking across Pittwater to the west, you can spot the West Head Lookout, another beautiful place to visit if you have spare time.
- Distance: 2.2 km (loop)
- Time: 1.5 hours
- Grade: easy / moderate (some steep parts)
- Dogs: not allowed
Palm Beach tends to get very busy during weekends and while there is plenty of paid parking available, it can often be quite challenging to find a parking spot. The main parking area is located off Beach Road.
Alternatively, several buses travel to Palm Beach from Central, Town Hall or Wynyard in the city. Check the NSW transport site for more information.
The Barrenjoey Lighthouse stands tall and proud on the highest point of the Barrenjoey Headland, the northernmost tip of the Palm Beach Peninsula, part of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
The heritage listed sandstone lighthouse, at 113 metres above sea-level, was built in 1881 and has been an iconic Sydney attraction for many years.
Where does the name Barrenjoey come from? Arthur Phillip, the first Governor of New South Wales (late 18th century), called the headland “Barrenjuee”, which meant little kangaroo or wallaby.
There have been different spellings for this name ever since, but in 1966 it was officially named Barrenjoey Headland.
From the Barrenjoey Lighthouse you can enjoy beautiful views over Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (west), Broken Bay (north) and the coastline north of Sydney (east).
As you walk up the hill towards the lighthouse, the views will get better with each step you take. The top of the hill is also a great location for a picnic with million dollar views.
You may even spot some whales that are migrating north during the months of May to November.
In September 2013 a large part of the bushland on the hill was destroyed by a huge bushfire. The damage of the fire is still very visible and it will take some years for the bushland to fully recover. Fortunately though, the lighthouse got away unscathed.
At the very north end of the parking area (past the Boat House Palm Beach) you will see a big sign pointing towards the beach (Pittwater side).
Make your way to this narrow stretch beach and walk towards the north for about 200 metres and then turn right when you see the next sign.
Follow this trail for another 100 metres until you get to a point where you need to choose between two tracks going up to the Barrenjoey Lighthouse at the top of the hill:
The Smugglers Track and the Access Trail.
What’s great is that you can choose one of these two trails for the way up and the other one for the way back down to the beach.
This way the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk essentially becomes a circuit track.
1. Smugglers Track
The Smugglers Track, despite being the shorter one, is the most challenging of the two tracks. So you may want to save this track for the way down, depending on your energy levels. It’s a fairly steep, 400 metres long walking trail (grade 3) straight up to the top of hill.
The track crosses bush land and includes a lot of steps, so make sure to bring some water as it can be quite hard, especially on a hot day. It’s also recommended to wear decent walking shoes for this short but steep climb.
The Smugglers Track got its name from customs officers who built the track in the 19th century to monitor any smugglers that bringing contraband into Broken Bay.
2. Access Trail
The Access Trail (grade 2) is twice as long as the Smugglers Track and is a lot easier, although it does have some steep parts. The Access Trail follows a narrow road to the top of the hill.
Once you’re at the top, there is plenty of opportunity to walk around and enjoy the views. Make sure you walk around the lighthouse and do the extra stretch of walking track at the other side.
You’ll also see the grave of George Mulhall who was the first principal keeper of Barrenjoey Lighthouse. It’s a bit creepy and fascinating at the same time.
Once you’ve completed the Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk, it’s time to enjoy the rest of your day in Palm Beach.
The Palm Beach peninsula is one of the most famous beach suburbs in New South Wales, located 41 kilometres north of Sydney.
Due to its somewhat remote location, it’s a reasonably quiet beach suburb compared to, for example, Bondi Beach or Manly Beach, although the area fills up quickly on warm summer days, especially in the weekends.
The walk up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse is not difficult but there are some very steep parts. Especially the smugglers track can be somewhat challenging. It’s a relatively short hike though and the views are absolutely worth it.
This walk makes for a great day out as there are lots of other activities in the area, such as swimming, kiteboarding, stand-up paddling and golf.
The area also has sufficient parking (make sure you buy a parking ticket!) and great picnic and BBQ facilities. It’s worth pointing out that there are no bathroom facilities at the lighthouse.
Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk Map
Start your walk right at the end of the car park, walking onto the small but very pretty beach on the Pittwater side.