Palm Beach, the real Home and Away, a getaway for the rich and famous

Surfers paddle out at Palm Beach.
Surfers paddle out at Palm Beach.

Teresa Ooi retreats to Palm Beach, the seaside getaway of the rich and famous on Sydney's Northern Beaches.

It is Sydney's answer to the Hamptons. Once popular with the overseas market thanks to Home and Away (they fondly called it Summer Bay), Palm Beach (or Palmy to the locals) has become a summer getaway for the rich and famous.

You'll find A-listers, influencers and captains of industry converging on its pristine shore. In the past, the likes of Mick Jagger, Nicole Kidman, John Cleese, Elle Macpherson and Rupert Murdoch's clan have spent their holidays ensconced in palatial homes, commanding rents of up to $35,000 a week - in pre-pandemic days.

Because of its proximity to Sydney, Palm Beach is a popular, weekend playground for city slickers wanting a bit of recreation and glamour.

We spend a Sunday night at the charming and recently renovated Barrenjoey House. It's lunchtime by the time we arrive.

Take a hike along the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk.

Take a hike along the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk.

After a short sojourn to Palm Beach's weekend market to peruse cheeses, wine and olive oil, we opt for a leisurely lunch next door at Dunes in Governor Phillip Park, a restaurant which boasts both sumptuous seafood and ocean views. I start with the blue swimmer crab linguine with chilli, garlic and tomato, which is comfort food at its best, while my partner's mussels have a delicious Asian twist with turmeric, lime and coconut broth and wok greens.

Then, it's time to check into our room at Barrenjoey House, a boutique hotel with just seven intimate rooms. The loft room upstairs is on its own level with great Pittwater views, a king-sized bed, a separate lounge area and a bathroom replete with L'Occitane toiletries. On the level below, there's a shared lounge and courtyard area.

The Lighthouse's seafood platter is delectable.

The Lighthouse's seafood platter is delectable.

But, be warned: you have to pay for a long-stay in the council car park across the road. The hotel has no lift but, thankfully, staff take care of our luggage.

As we're so close to the ferry terminal, we go for a pleasant, leisurely 30-minute ferry ride to Patonga.

On the way back, we decide to walk up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse.

Built in 1881, the heritage-listed sandstone lighthouse stands 113 metres above sea level. The popular hiking trail up the headland takes about 30 minutes and you will be rewarded with amazing ocean views.

If you look across Pittwater to the west, you will spot West Head Lookout, to the north there's Broken Bay, and to the east there's the stunning Sydney coastline. You may even spot migrating whales between May and November.

Settle in for the afternoon at The Lighthouse.

Settle in for the afternoon at The Lighthouse.

In the evening, we dine at the hotel's restaurant. My partner starts with an old-fashioned prawn cocktail - an item not often seen in today's eateries - while I have lobster ravioli. Both are delicious. I then tuck into a pan-fried trout while my partner has a Black Angus eye fillet.

For dessert, the coconut tapioca pudding and chocolate lava cake with peanuts, miso and caramel are a perfect end to a pleasant evening.

Drive: Palm Beach is 45 kilometres north of Sydney, about an hour's drive.

Fly: From Rose Bay in Sydney's eastern suburbs it's a scenic 20-minute flight to Palm Beach.

Ferry: From Ettalong on the NSW Central Coast, hop on the hourly ferry for the 30-minute trip to Palmy.

Stay: The dine and stay package at Barrenjoey House including a three-course meal for two, excluding drinks, starts from $510 per night.

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