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Katharine Hepburn’s memories of her ‘wonderful walks’ to Barrenjoey Lighthouse

The late, great Hollywood actor Katharine Hepburn had a hobby.

She liked to paint - and when Katharine visited the Northern Beaches in 1955, clearly she liked what she saw.

According to the ‘Phyllis Loves Classic Movies’ blog site, Ms Hepburn painted several local landscapes while touring Australia with the Old Vic theatre company - including some lovely views of Barrenjoey Lighthouse.

The artworks - mostly watercolours on paper - were auctioned by Sotheby's in New York in 2004.

The prices were initially set surprisingly low!

Lot 213, Ms Hepburn's view of the lighthouse and Broken Bay painted in 1955, had an estimated selling price of just $US300 to $US500.

Lot 214, two other paintings of the same lighthouse, had a suggested price of $US600 to $US800.

However, they must have generated some excitement at the auction with Lot 213 selling for $14,400 and the two other paintings of the same lighthouse selling for $15,600 each.

The catalogue described the lighthouse as an "icon of the Sydney Northern Beaches”.

“Sydney residents and international visitors have been walking the steep track to the summit to be rewarded with stunning views of Broken Bay," it says.

It notes Ms Hepburn painted her picture of Barrenjoey Lighthouse "from the perspective of Palm Beach".

In 1987, Warringah Shire President, E.W (Ted) Jackson wrote to Ms Hepburn offering to buy one of her paintings of Barrenjoey lighthouse.

In her letter of reply, Ms Hepburn declined, rather humbly suggesting at the time that her beautiful paintings were “really not worth exhibiting”.

“They are just to aid my memory of the wonderful walks I used to take when I was playing there nearby with the Old Vic,” she wrote.

Of course, Katharine Hepburn is not the only famous star to appear at Palm Beach.

In fact, because of its exceptionally clear night skies, on a cloudless night, you can see more than a thousand stars - just by looking heavenward.

With the Pacific Ocean on one side and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park on the other, Palm Beach enjoys a noteworthy lack of ‘light pollution’ making it ideal for astronomers and stargazers.

So, if you want to go back in time – just look skyward and go way back in time - billions of years, in fact.

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