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.
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.
I came up with the perfect place.
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.
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!
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.
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.
If you have your own boat there are moorings where you can tie up and enjoy The Basin’s facilities and beaches.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Verdict: I think this has to be Sydney’s best kept secret.
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