Early last week we posted our June/July Adventure Bucket List on our Facebook page. We received a number of suggestions on what we could add on our Sydney adventures. The suggestion of Barrenjoey Lighthouse was a stand out, especially with our fondness for lighthouses since visiting Cape Leeuwin. So with a blue sky forecast for Sydney over the weekend, we packed a backpack and took the drive North to Palm Beach.
Barrenjoey Lighthouse is located on Barrenjoey Head at Palm Beach, Sydney’s most northern point. It is accessible on foot (click here for the walk details and map) along a 1 kilometre walk. Parking was easy but is ticketed. You will need to purchase a parking ticket which is $3.00 per hour. Thankfully it accepts credit cards! (our car change jar didn’t have enough change!). To access the track up to the lighthouse (the smugglers track is closed for renovations) you will need to walk along the beach a little. Don’t worry, there is a clear sign indicating where the track begins.
The track is pretty amazing to be honest. It has been created from local stone and paves the way all the way to the top. I understand that helicopters assisted with the construction and they numbered the original rocks to ensure they were integrated into the new layout. Discovering this half way up the track made us appreciate what we were stepping on. It’s wonderful.
After taking numerous breaks on the way up to investigate the small rock caves we saw, to look at the magnificent view at different heights and check out the various flora (my kids actually found seed pods that I missed!) we finally reached the top. The lighthouse was glorious under the warm sun but the ocean was breathtaking.
I was pretty proud of myself has I pulled two sets of binoculars out of the bag so the kids could sit and look out across the ocean. It’s the perfect spot to watch for whales doing the annual trip up the coast. We saw lots of boats, no whales on this occasion. Master R read the signs and was able to name a number of whales. He was intrigued by the “Right Whale” and how it got its name. He predicts that Right Whales like to swim to the right and let us know that he would be looking it up when returned home. (On returning home we learned their name has been given for a far more sinister reason. They were the “right” whales to kill back in the whaling days due to their high blubber percentage and high oil content. They were almost whaled to extinction as they are so docile and let boats approach them).
Being a Sunday, the lighthouse is open to visitors. Every 30 minutes, local volunteers conduct tours for a small fee ($5 per adult $2 per child). We had to climb to the top of course. It is a lot smaller than the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse but just as spectacular. Being smaller my usual vertigo did not surface and I was able to enjoy looking across Palm Beach which seemed very familiar (I think Home & Away could be the reason as I have not previously visited). The kids were very excited to see Centrepoint Tower in the distance (I had to squint without binoculars. It is at least 40 kilometres away).
After climbing back down we were able to explore the engine room. The kids caught sight of lots of curiosities such as a kerosene lamp, typewriter and old style telephone which were all new to their eyes. We then moved to the lighthouse cottages. There is a small exhibition detailing the sites history.
Our last site visit was to the gravesite of the first lighthouse keeper, George Mulhal. His unfortunate demise is said to be due to a bolt of lightening striking him. Of course, Master R who is currently incredibly intrigued by death had more than a handful of questions about the grave and of George’s death. I’m starting to think the trip to the Police & Justice Museum wasn’t such a great idea!
The walk back to our car was easy – downhill has that advantage. This time the view was observed throughout the walk. We spent some time on the beach with the kids enjoying writing in the sand, before returning to car. Our day was topped off with hot chips on the beach before journeying home for dinner.