Hat Head National Park

Hat Head National Park, Ricky Eaves / Explore Australia Publishing
Barbecue Bike riding Campfire Caravan Disabled Fishing Park entry fee Swimming Toilets Wildflowers Wildlife Aboriginal site Accommodation Camping area Information Picnic area Ranger Walking


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.

Fact file


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)

Park information

  • NSWNPWS 1300 361 967
  • NPWS South West Rocks (Trial Bay Gaol) (02) 6566 6168


7458 ha

Visitor information

Arakoon/Kempsey (02) 6563 1555 or 1800 642 480

Lighthouse cottage (02) 6566 6301


See Also


Hungry Gate camping area

Tucked in behind sand dunes and ringed with heath and woodland, Hungry Gate is an attractive camping area just a hop, skip and jump from the ocean. It’s 5 km south of Hat Head village – follow Hungry Rd off... Find out more

Smoky Cape camping area

To reach this small campground nestled in the rainforest at Smoky Cape, turn on to Arakoon Rd from South West Rocks Rd and head for Smoky Cape Lighthouse. Bring your own firewood and drinking water. There are plenty of... Find out more

See Also

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