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Palm Beach aka Summer Bay

Palm Beach aka Summer Bay

I think Australian daytime soaps have a lot to answer for.

As an ‘80s child in rainy Britain, I grew up on afternoons of Neighbours and Home and Away, glued to the land down under where every day was spent on the beach and summer was always the season.

Twenty years later, and now living in Australia, I took a trip out to see the real Summer Bay, located just an hour’s drive north of Sydney at Palm Beach, to see for myself this glorious world.

The soaps are deceptive. The ‘year-round summer’ you see in Home and Away is a manipulated form of the real weather. Whilst the sky might be clear and bright, it can get windy, really windy. And, for our trip (in Australia’s spring time) the wind was positively chilly. I don’t envy the actors having to stroll along the beach in their swimwear, giving the impression on screen of hot temperatures.

There’s really not that much to see at Palm Beach, apart from the beach itself.  The area is surprisingly uncommercialised. Forget a barrage of memorabilia to cash in on the beach’s fame. A simple display stand on a wall shows a limited range of souvenirs with a few notes printed from a type-writer about the area. They’re faded in the sun, really unprofessional looking and quite easy to miss.

The only place for food and drink directly on the beach is a run-down kiosk selling instant coffee in polystyrene cups and a small selection of tired looking fast food.

Palm Beach kiosk

The tired looking kiosk area at Palm Beach

Whilst the adjoining surf club is fully-operable, it’s not open to the public, and the only nod to the soap is a sign stating that the Club Official is one ‘A.Stewart.’

Summer Bay Surf Club

Summer Bay Surf Lifesaving Club

After a nice walk along the beach, the obligatory photo taking, our trip to Palm Beach was over fairly quickly.

Interestingly my Lonely Planet Australia guide (2009 edition) barely mentions Palm Beach at all, just one sentence under a ‘Northern Beaches’ heading. Now I can start to see why.

I will go back, but in a few months once it’s warmed up.

Instead, we spent the afternoon a short walk away, drinking great wine and eating some delicious seafood at Beach Road restaurant, one of just a handful of eateries in the vicinity. It was worth the trip alone.

Below is the ‘Beach Road maritime mezze’ which is for two people to share and is highly recommended. Try and catch an afternoon when the acoustic band are playing on the grassed area too.

Beach Road seafood

Beach Road restaurant Maritime Mezze

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