Hat Head National Park
Hat Head National Park, a beautiful stretch of New South Wales' northern coastline, with pristine beaches, rocky headlands and one of the state’s largest dune systems, nurtures a patchwork of vegetation types – scrub and dry forest, melaleuca wetlands and freshwater lagoons, a dense cloak of tea-tree thickets and low forest. The park was part of the traditional lands of the Dunghutti people.
For visitors, there is excellent swimming and surﬁng, good ﬁshing, and below the headlands are rock platforms and pools to explore. Beachcombing is popular, or there are bushwalking tracks. From Gap Picnic Area there is a 2.5-kilometre loop to Korogoro Point, past wildﬂowers in spring and early summer. On the prominent granite outcrop of Smoky Cape stands the handsome 1891 lighthouse. The short walk to the lighthouse is rewarded by superlative coastal views, and a viewing platform below the lighthouse is ideal for whale-watching (southern right whales migrate north in May, June and July, and head south in August, September and October). Birdwatchers will also ﬁnd plenty to keep them occupied. On the park’s western side hawks and falcons hunt the small marsupials that inhabit the open forest. The nectar-rich heathlands attract honeyeaters and wattlebirds; the wetlands provide breeding grounds for herons, egrets, swans, spoonbills and other waterbirds; and along the coast you may see raptors such as white-bellied sea-eagles, kites and osprey on the wing.
There is a campground nestled into the rainforest at Smoky Cape and another in an attractive setting near Hungry Gate. The old lighthouse keeper’s cottage at Smoky Cape is a B&B.
Smoky Cape, take drinking water, fees apply; Hungry Gate; bookings recommended in holidays
Location and access
450 km north of Sydney; 20 km east of Kempsey via Lighthouse Rd (northern section), Hat Head Village Rd (central section), or Crescent Head Rd (southern section)
- NSWNPWS 1300 361 967
- NPWS South West Rocks (Trial Bay Gaol) (02) 6566 6168
Arakoon/Kempsey (02) 6563 1555 or 1800 642 480
Lighthouse cottage (02) 6566 6301
- Bushwalking in Hat Head National Park, Eco-friendly activity
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