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Hiking Sydney's Barrenjoey Headland

Barrenjoey lighthouse overlooking Palm Beach to the north of Sydney.
Barrenjoey lighthouse overlooking Palm Beach to the north of Sydney.

ABC: Lisa Clarke

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Going for a hike is a great way to explore some of the spectacular ocean views Sydney has to offer, and one of the best is the 1.2 kilometre Barrenjoey Headland walking track in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

This easy hike takes you to Sydney's most northern point, showcasing sweeping panoramic views of the coast.

There are a choice of two tracks to climb Barrenjoey Headland.
There are a choice of two tracks to take when you are climbing Barrenjoey Headland.

ABC: Lisa Clarke

Barreyjoey Headland is located at Palm Beach, 45 kilometres from the CBD. It takes around an hour to drive there, or alternatively you can catch the L90 bus from Spit Junction.

Be sure to pack some water as there are no facilities along the way.

From the northern end of the car park, you have to walk a few hundred metres across the Pittwater side of the sandy shoreline before beginning the incline up the mountain.

Climbers are offered a choice of two tracks to reach the top: the Access Trail to the left, which takes 800 metres to reach the lighthouse, or the slightly more challenging Smugglers Track to the right, which is only 400 metres but a steeper trek consisting mostly of stairs.

If you are relatively fit, the Smugglers Track is the more interesting of the two, having been built in the mid-1800s as a way to keep an eye on any smugglers arriving by boat bringing illegal goods ashore.

360 degree views can be seen from the top of Barrenjoey Lighthouse.
360 degree views can be seen from the top of Barrenjoey Lighthouse.

ABC: Lisa Clarke

Either track you take, the hike to the top should take no longer than 20 to 30 minutes before you are greeted with outstanding views.

At 91 metres above sea level, the historical Barrenjoey Lighthouse was built in 1881 and is still operational.

Dried seed pods can be seen across Barrenjoey Headland.
Dried seed pods can be seen across Barrenjoey Headland.

ABC: Lisa Clarke

On a clear night, the beam from the lighthouse can be seen up to 19 nautical miles out to sea.

Built from sandstone, it is claimed the heritage building has never needed to be cleaned because of the low levels of pollution in the area and consistent rainfalls doing the job quite well.

Guided tours of the lighthouse take place every Sunday between 11am and 3pm, and cost $5 per adult and $2 per child.

If you've brought along your binoculars you could be lucky enough to spot whales migrating north during the winter months, or if you're visiting during the week, an Australian soapie star on Palm Beach below filming a scene for Home and Away.

Barrenjoey Headland is a nature photographer's dream.
Barrenjoey Headland is a nature photographer's dream.

ABC: Lisa Clarke

On your journey back to the base of the headland, loop back down along the alternate track for a different viewpoint of the surrounding national park to complete the 1.2 kilometre circuit.

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