Suburb Profile: Palm Beach

By Jonathan Fletcher

The water-locked shores of Palm Beach attract holidaymakers and long-term residents alike for many of the same reasons – the pristine beaches, vacation vibe and family-oriented feel.

Let’s look behind the tv scenes at what I think makes Palm Beach truly iconic in terms of real estate and lifestyle.

Where is Palm Beach?

Palm Beach lies at the peak of Sydney’s Northern Beaches, bordered by Whale Beach to the south and capped by Barrenjoey Lighthouse to the north. Occupying most of the northern peninsula, Palm Beach is an aquatic fanatic’s dream with Pittwater to the west, Broken Bay to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the east.

Being just 45km north of Sydney, or a bit over an hour from Sydney’s city centre, Palm Beach and it’s 2.3km sandy shores are a favourite beachside escape for Sydney locals as well as international tourists, especially given it’s ‘Summer Bay’ alter-ego thanks to TV soap Home and Away.

A short history of Palm Beach

As far back as the 1790s, Palm Beach was named after the cabbage tree palms, Livistona australis, which were dotted along the area and utilised by the land’s original residents, the Guringai people.

In 1816 the original Palm Beach Estate, an area of 400 acres which stretched from Palm Beach down to Newport and included Whale Beach, was granted to James Napper and soon became a popular spot for fishermen.

In 1881, colonial architect James Barnet was commissioned by the colonial government to build a stone lighthouse at the northernmost part of the natural isthmus to alert ships to the entrance of Broken Bay and Pittwater. It was christened by Governor Phillip as the beloved Barrenjoey Lighthouse we know today.

In the early 1900s, the residential interest in the area grew, with local sandstone being used to construct local houses and the iconic Palm Beach Surf Lifesaving Club joining them in 1921.

Retailer RJ Hordern donated Hordern and Wiltshire Parks and Mackay Reserve which today still capture the prevalent natural beauty which has consistently denoted the area.

In 1988 the natural beauty was accompanied by the lights, cameras and action of the classic Australian TV soap Home and Away, introducing the shores of Palm Beach to generations of international audiences.

According to the 2016 Census, Palm Beach is home to 1,593 residents, including 436 families.

Things to do in Palm Beach

Palm Beach has a naturally beautiful coastline, family-oriented community and relaxed lifestyle which is popular among both young families and retirees.

For those who love the great outdoors and all its glory, there are countless water activities to fill your days. From kayaking tours and paddleboarding on Pittwater to a sheltered swimming lagoon in The Basin, there’s enough activities to keep everyone entertained and work up an appetite.

For those who enjoy a beautiful view and a great bite to eat, it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to visit The Boathouse at Palm Beach on a sunny day. Nestled against the water’s edge on a wharf, this local and tourist’s favourite has a delicious reputation for a reason. Dunes Cafe and Kiosk (currently renovating and will be reopened in Spring 2019) is another family-friendly option that provides direct access to Governor Phillip Park with its playground.

Palm Beach Surf Lifesaving Club is not just known for their patrols of the pristine beaches, but also for their iconic facade which has made its way as a staple on the set of Home and Away. With over 1,100 members, PBSLC is one of the largest clubs in the northern beaches, offering surf lifesaver training and hosting other water-based competitions.

And you can’t make a trip to Palm Beach without taking in a view of its towering overseer? Barrenjoey Lighthouse, sitting at 91 metres above sea level, makes for the perfect day-trip destination, offering public tours every Sunday. The trail to the keeper’s cottage provides scenic views of the iconic lighthouse and the ocean beyond to the east, making it the perfect spot for whale watching and picturesque picnics.

And if you’d like to be wowed by the Palm Beach beauty from above, you can tour by seaplane, travelling up the coast from Rose Bay.

Palm Beach transportation

Buses are the main form of public transport in and around Palm Beach, much like the rest of Sydney’s northern beaches. If you find yourself to be a lucky local, you’ll find that most conveniences and favourite spots are within walking distance or reachable by bike.

The ferry serves as a convenient and scenic mode of transport from Palm Beach to various other waterside locations including Ettalong to the north and Basin campground in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Palm Beach schools and education facilities

Within the surrounding area there are a host of local schools ranging from kindergarten to high school, with Palm Beach Kindergarten being at the heart of the community for more than 60 years.

For those who prefer an adventurous style of education, the Manly Surf School offers lessons at the southern corner of Palm Beach – anyone can become a surfer of the glassy Palm Beach waves.

The Palm Beach property market

Palm Beach may be loved by travellers, but it’s also home to many who want to live and find community in this beachy, laidback slice of Sydney.

Palm Beach houses dominate the market, with 4-5-bedroom homes topping the sales figures for this year so far. Prices of Palm Beach properties reflect the keen interest in the area, with some Palm Beach houses in the past 12 months fetching close to $4 million, while the median price for homes doesn’t drop much below that at $3,342,000. Properties for sale in the area typically see over 1000 visitors online, well above the state average of 704.

With the median price change year-on-year coming in at 5.45% over the 12 months to mid-2019, there’s no doubt of the continued reliable yields that are available in this sought-after market. Over 70 properties have been sold in Palm Beach in the last 12 months, with an average of 110 days on the market. With houses dominating the market over units, it’s important to partner with the right local team when it comes to considering the best long-term option for you.

What the locals’ verdict?

The sand, the sun, the small community feel – when I talk to the locals of Palm Beach, they all share the same love for the place they call home.

If you’d like to start the search for your perfect Palm Beach property, contact my team of local experts today.