The Basin, Pittwater

We’re having a very hot summer and it’s also school holidays.  A few days ago there was a night where the temperature didn’t dip below 33C (92F).  In my non-air-conditioned house with no ceiling fans I barely had a wink of sleep.  I woke feeling drained and exhausted and knowing I couldn’t bare to hang around the house on another scorchingly hot day.

So glorious

What to do…

My plan was to take Alfie out for the day with a couple of his mates.  I wanted to go somewhere devoid of crowds that provided swimming and enough interest that the boys would have no interest in looking at a screen.

Enjoying the ferry ride

I came up with the perfect place.

Arriving at The Basin

Just under an hour’s drive from where I live is Palm Beach and a short ferry ride from Palm Beach Wharf is The Basin.  It’s so beautiful and pristine and perfect I’m actually disappointed that I don’t visit more often.

No vehicular access

When I told the little guy to gather up a few mates because we were off to The Basin he was very excited.  And so were his chosen mates who’d actually never been!

Camping area

There is no vehicular access to The Basin.  You can hike through the Ku-Ring-Gai National Park (bit hot for that during a heatwave), or you can catch the ferry.  The ferry ride is less than 10 minutes and drops you at the wharf where you pay a ranger to enter The Basin.

A beautiful place to swim

The Basin is open for day trips only or you can camp.  The allocated area for camping is very small and a generous amount of space is provided between each camp site keeping campers to a minimum but also giving them the best kind of camping experience.  If you want to camp during the Christmas holidays you need to book well in advance.  There is an amenities block but the showers are locked to save water, and are only unlocked for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.  And there’s no hot water provided which is okay at this time of year but I’m not sure about camping there during the winter.

View from the jetty

If you have your own boat there are moorings where you can tie up and enjoy The Basin’s facilities and beaches.

So beautiful

There aren’t any shops at The Basin but when the laundry block is open there are a couple of vending machines at its entrance where you can purchase over-priced ice creams and other snacks.  But I wouldn’t rely on these vending machines – it is best to be self-reliant and take your own provisions.

Just glorious

Picnic tables and free gas barbecues are also provided making it easy to self-cater.  There are also wood barbecues but these can only be used when there isn’t a total fire ban.

Shaded picnic area

The boys were in over-load from the moment we arrived.  In fact they took off at a hundred miles an hour leaving me with all the bags and gear and a place to find to camp.  Even though the camping ground was completely full, The Basin wasn’t at all crowded and I was able to find a grassy spot under the shade of a tree where I set up my chair and relaxed with a couple of magazines – perfect.

Boys enjoying their school holidays

The water in January is a very pleasant temperature and I enjoyed a few swims all on my own which was very therapeutic and much needed after the torrid night and the constant heat.

Enjoying lunch in someone’s dingy – hope they don’t mind!

Meanwhile the boys ran around and swam and explored for a couple of hours before returning famished.  After a quick re-fuel they were off again for another couple of hours completely happy and loving their surroundings and the outdoor experience – and nobody asked for a screen.

The Basin is on the Western Foreshore

And I made friends with one of the locals.  An added bonus is that here are lots of wallabies at The Basin as well as other wildlife.  It’s wonderful to be able to enjoy their company and share the area with them.

My new friend

During the day the ferry departs every hour with the last ferry leaving at 5.20pm.  When it came time to pack up for the ferry back to Palm Beach I almost had to arrange a search party to find the boys.  They were exploring the area as far from me as possible and when I finally found them I had to yell at them to sprint to the jetty as the ferry had arrived and being the last one we couldn’t afford to miss it.

My new friend enjoying some watermelon

With the perfect weather and surroundings it was a fabulous day that the boys and I just loved and definitely the best place to be during a heatwave.

Lunch time

Verdict:  I think this has to be Sydney’s best kept secret.

Can I take you home?

Ferry:  Departs Palm Beach Wharf every hour on the hour from 9am – 5pm.  Cost for an adult and three children was just over $40.00

Entry into The Basin:  Costs $3.00/adult and $2.00/child

I hope to be back soon


  1. Great outing.

  2. David Lovell says:

    Delighting in your adventure at -4 in rural France ! XX

  3. Now that’s the best way to cool down naturally. I’m so relieved we got air conditioning just before the insane heatwave. And then I wondered why it took me so long!

  4. This looks wonderful Charlie. How do you survive without air con or fans?:). It has been terribly hot even with fans up here. Come on winter.

  5. Looks beautiful! I agree, it looks like a perfect place to be during a heat wave. How great that this is so close to home.

  6. that looks like a great spot to visit – so beautiful – there is nothing like a swim after sweltering all night – I am missing not staying at the beach as we have the last few years but we did get there yesterday but not for long enough. It is 35 C here today so we are off to the cinema if I can get the girls out of the garden where they are paying with the hose!!!!

  7. Nice one, looks great – how have I never heard of it? Definitely going there 🙂

  8. Looks like the perfect spot to take energetic boys! I’d much rather be sweltering than cold—but the no A/C would make me grouchy 🙂

  9. Wow, looks so relaxing and fun!! And I love your new little friend 😉

  10. OMG, this looks like so much fun!!! Wish I could be there!!! You are so lucky!!

  11. Oh I know Charlie Its been incredible hasn’t it. That most certainly is a real find. There are so many places around us we aren’t even aware of.

  12. Finally, some place I’ve been. We used to go there often when we had the boat on the Hawkesbury. What a lovely spot. I saw the ferry and I know it is close to Palm Beach but I never put 2 & 2 together to realise where the ferry came from.

  13. That is very, very hot weather! Almost hard to imagine in our current week of around freezing temperatures. It sounds like you picked the perfect place to survive the heat though – what a gorgeous spot. It reminds me a little of Perth’s Rottnest Island, although with fewer crowds!

  14. Hi Charlie, sounds like you found the perfect place for Alfie and his friends. Someday I would love to visit your part of the looks, looks amazing.

  15. This looks like a wonderful place to relax or have real outdoor fun. GG

  16. What a wonderful place to spend a relaxing day Charlie. It has been ridiculously hot here too and we desperately need some rain. Hopefully today!
    Have a beautiful day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  17. What a great day for those boys on what appears to be a mostly deserted beach. Good for you to plan this escape.

    Stay cool. If I could send you some Minnesota cold, I would.

  18. What a beautiful place, Charlie, thanks so much for posting, I have a friend’s daughter who is leaving for Australia in a few days, I’ll post your blog post on her FB page as something to do down under. It’s quite affordable too, which is a nice change.
    OMG, I love that Wallaby, he is so cute. That one pic that he is holding the watermelon, it looks like he’s holding a heart!

  19. What a fun outing! And great way to escape the heat. I couldn’t survive our summers without air conditioning — it’s just too hot!

  20. What a beautiful place for an adventure and so much cooler. Once again…what a great mom! 🙂

  21. It sounds like the boys had a terrific time playing together while you got to relax in the shade…win, win.

  22. Wow what a gorgeous spot! And a treasured encounter with the local fauna too!

  23. What a beautiful place!

  24. What a beautiful adventure! We are stuck right now with VERY cold weather. I could use some of your heat!

  25. Looks wonderful! What a great day for the kids!~

  26. Such a beautiful place, Charlie .I am very glad for your new friend you must be had a wonderfull time!

  27. Just about the best place in Sydney to drop anchor

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