Star Rating For Difficulty (out of 5):
4 star because of a lot of steep hills (some long)
This ride would drop to 3&1/2 star with the below alteration (still hard)
- Although Clareville has pretty views over Pittwater, we’d cut this section out all together and start at George St Avalon.
- I don’t believe there is anything else (safe for kids) to make this easier. Barrenjoey Rd is less hilly than Whale Beach Rd, but I just don’t want to take my kids there until they are competent teenagers (and for one-on-one rides at first).
Notable Sites, Cafés, and Playgrounds Along the Way:
On our adventures riding all of Sydney’s coastline, Harbour, rivers, and lakes we could find, we decided to skip Newport and Bilgola – just too hilly and no safe option for kids.
So we start this ride at Clareville overlooking Pittwater. For some parts here we ride on the road and some parts on the footpath (pending on the traffic). In New South Wales it’s legal for kids under the age of 16 and their supervising adults to ride on footpaths. It’s a tough start to the ride with barely any let-up at all from the rolling hills. After that rugged beginning, it was awesome to drop down to the flat George St and ride to the water at Careel Bay. This was the unexpected bonus on this ride. Careel Bay Marina is peaceful with gorgeous views. We decided this is a great place for a cookie or brownie or a milkshake while looking at the water, boats, and fish below. It was actually hard to get the kids moving again from here, they really enjoyed this stop.
There is a nice, short, path through the marshes at Hitchcock park, before stopping at a small playground for some time on the swings. It’s not really a destination playground, but worth stopping at before the serious hill climbing begins up towards Whale Beach. This part isn’t scenic, there’s no bike path or bike lane, it’s simply a hard hill climb to get to Palm Beach. No sugar coating it. The cars that passed us seemed to give us a wide gap and looked upon us kindly. The hills to Palm Beach come in two parts – the part leading to Whale Beach (the harder) and the part leading to Palm Beach (easier but still hard though). We stop for a rest and look at the view at the intersection of Norma Rd and Whale Beach Rd. It’s not a long stop but gives the legs a rest.
The roll down to Palm Beach in general is a nice roll, there isn’t much traffic when we’ve done it and the kids love “mansion spotting”.
Palm Beach is lovely, it’s great to ride the bikes around and scenic. Our two favourite places to get a feed here (and it’s well deserved after those steep and long hills) are The Boathouse Palm Beach but our experience is that it is usually very packed, or 2108 Espresso which is easier to access, feels a little more chilled and is better geared towards kids – definitely a spot to get an ice cream! From here it’s a very short stroll across the pedestrian crossing to sit on a nice bench, enjoy the ice cream and watch the waves roll in. The playground at Palm Beach, Governor Phillip Park is okay, but considering the other playgrounds we’ve been to, and the massive hill we rode to get there, it felt a little underwhelming. Also, Dunes Kiosk was closed when we were there due to COVID, but it’s apparently nice.
All that being said, Palm Beach itself is a nice ride as a family. The traffic is slow, the scenery is great and it feels so nice to ride an easy flat road after the hills. I have great memories of the kids singing in unison a song that they made up (“I’m a car beep beep, be-beep”) for large sections through Palm Beach, perhaps the endorphins kicked in after the hill climbing to get there 😊.
On the return route the hill is again split in two – the section out of Palm Beach and the section out of Whale Beach. On the section out of Palm Beach the road is a little wider, less steep, shaded, and at a slower pace “mansion spotting” is more fun. The hill out of Whale Beach, there’s no other way to describe it – it’s bloody hard! My 10 year old made it, the 6 and 8 year olds needed some pushes while riding up the hill.
We drop down into Avalon a bit of a different way and stop after those brutal hills at Des Creagh Reserve. The kids definitely deserved a chocolate. We sat on the benches, grass, or rocks and watched the waves and also did some rock and rockpool exploring at the Northern end of Avalon Beach.
It’s a short roll along a short bike path (finally) to a little playground at the Southern end of Avalon Beach, while the kids are keen to play at their first playground in ages, there is a better one soon. After a short ride through Avalon shops, we come to Dunbar playground. It’s the best playground today, but the pickings were a little thin. This is more of a “challenge” ride to ride somewhere different, rather than a playground-hopping ride. From here it’s a matter of making it back to the car through Avalon.
Parking & Toilets
If going for the full ride, including Clareville, we park at Hudson Pde Clareville (anywhere here)
If aiming to minimise the hills, then Garden St Avalon.
- Hitchcock Park Avalon
- Palm Beach
- Avalon Beach SLSC