From Manly up to Avalon and out to Whale Beach, Sydney’s northern coastline is truly special with idyllic beaches, bush, and an endless-summer vibe. An hour’s drive from the city (best avoided during peak hour), the region makes for an easy beach escape with the kids, and there’s enough to do to make even a cruisey day-trip feel like a holiday.
Designer Henrietta Gothe-Ellis, who has made a name for herself with the internationally successful AURA furniture collection, has been lucky enough to live and work in Palm Beach, 41km north of Sydney, for the last six years. Yoga enthusiast, nature-lover and mum to Harriet, aged four, Henrietta shares their favourite things about life on the Northern Beaches.
What do you enjoy most about this area as a place to spend time with your daughter?
Nature! It’s a great place to connect with the bush, and the ocean is right on your doorstep.
What are your top spots to take your little ones?
Whale Beach Rock Pool
Located at the southern end of beautiful Whale Beach, this is a magical place for kids to swim, explore and play. You can access the 25m-long rock pool via The Strand, off Whale Beach Rd, and there’s a good playground nearby too.
This is a spectacular sunset picnic and BBQ spot that will take your breath away. Clareville is a flatwater beach, so it’s incredibly tranquil and safe for little ones to swim. There are also stand-up paddle boarding lessons on offer, both for little ones and their parents.
Kiddies Corner, Palm Beach
In the southern corner of surf-happy Palm Beach is a cove known as Kiddies Corner. As the name suggests, the surf you’ll find here usually comprises a smaller, fatter wave that is ideal for the learner surfer and for little ones looking to get out on a board for the first time. Manly Surf School operates its Palm Beach branch from a truck at Kiddies Corner, and offers classes for children.
A Ferry Trip from Palm Beach to The Basin
A family adventure on a vintage wooden ferry to see the wallabies! The Basin is a stunning spot, with a pristine golden-sand beach that backs on to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. There’s waterfront camping, safe swimming and lots of wildlife – and all just a 45 minute ferry ride from Palm Beach.
The easy 1km bush walk up to the iconic Barrenjoey Lighthouse (star of Australian soap Home & Away) at Barrenjoey Point on Palm Beach offers spectacular views across Palm Beach and Pittwater. Don’t forget your binoculars for a spot of whale watching! You can leave your car along Barrenjoey Road.
(1472 Pittwater Road, Warriewood) Held every Friday morning from 8am to 1pm at the Pittwater Rugby Park, this local farmer’s market has a petting zoo, jumping castle, face painting, live music and yummy organic produce.
Where do you recommend visiting friends and their children stay?
I would rent a house, as there are very few accommodation options for families up here. Check out Palm Beach Holiday Rentals or Stayz for lovely (if largely pricey) apartments and beach-house rentals.
Where do you and Harriet like to eat around Palm Beach?
- The Boathouse Location, location, location! This beach hut-style cafe is situated at the northern most end of Palm Beach right on the water. Best go for breakfast (Green Eggs & Ham; banana bread with berry marscapone; quinoa bircher…) to beat the crowds.
- Picnic/BBQ at Clareville Beach (see above) for dinner as the sun sets over the water. Stunning.
- Cranzgots Pizza (1/1 Careel Head Rd, North Avalon) at Careel Bay does THE BEST pizza!
- 2108 Espresso (3/24 Ocean Rd, Palm Beach) This cafe has a laid back vibe and is very kiddie-friendly. Bring scooters so you can sip your coffee and enjoy the view while the kids scoot up and down out the front.
- Chill Bar (74 Old Barrenjoey Rd, Avalon) Harriet’s favourite for the delicious gelato.
Any favourite kids’ shops in the area?
I just discovered MamaPapa, a great shop in Avalon: creative French chic kids’ clothes (and mummy) heaven. Also in Avalon is the I am Kidz Boutique, which deals mainly in designer kids’ clothes, and where the labels are predominantly Australian.
And finally, you have a lovely babysitter for the evening. What does your perfect local date-night consist of?
Barrenjoey House at Palm Beach is a date-night favourite of ours. We love going for a cocktail and dinner (Sydney rock oysters, baked red snapper pie, rocket, beetroot and goats cheese salad…), and watching the sun set over the water. It also has a timeless beach holiday vibe.