Take a coastal drive and discover remote beaches and the expansive protected wetlands of Myall Lakes National Park.

Explore the superb southern precinct of Myall Lakes National Park on this coastal road from Tea Gardens to Bulahdelah via Bombah Point. It’s a journey that’s been taken for over 4,000 years.

It’s a journey that’s been taken for over 4,000 years.
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy
Photos by Lesley Goroncy

This scenic drive is an exploration of the superb southern precinct of the Barrington Coast including Myall Lakes National Park. Here the twin holiday towns of Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest sit prettily on the Myall River that feeds the aqua blue waters of Port Stephens. Take some time to visit their local shops, cafes, galleries and parks before continuing your journey on this extraordinary route.

On this journey it’s impossible to resist the urge to dig your toes into the white sands of our southern shores. Afterwards you may wish to take the challenging walk to the top of Yacaaba Headland for unbeatable 360-degree views, the perfect place to quietly contemplate.

Further along the road you’ll find the sand dunes of Dark Point, a site of aboriginal significance with a rich cultural history as a gathering place for the Worimi people. They would meet here in clan groups to feast on the abundant seafood and the middens plus traditional burial sites have been found here. As you wander the coastal woodlands bounded by long isolated beaches unchanged by time, it’s easy to imagine the same journey taken for over 4,000 years by these first Australians of the Barrington Coast.

Myall Lakes

The beautiful and remote Myall Lakes National Park offers countless opportunities for adventures, nature based escapes and exploring. The park boasts more than 40 kms of beaches, forests, rugged escarpments, endless tracks and trails and spectacular Broughton Island.

The centrepiece of the park is the triple lakes system of Myall Lake, Boolambyte Lake and The Broadwater. This is the state's largest coastal lake systems and is protected by the 1975 Ramsar Convention as being a Ramsar Wetland of International Significance. Ramsar is a city by the Caspian Sea in Iran where the nature convention was held.

The lakes and beaches are perfect for water activities, and if you don't have your own craft, you can hire one locally. 4WD beach driving is permitted between Hawks Nest and Big Gibber.

Points of interest

Tea Gardens

The village of Tea Gardens sits at the mouth of the Myall River and you can enjoy its many cafes, restaurants, boutique shopping and the Myall Community Arts and Crafts Centre (situated at the rear of the Visitor Information Centre).

1. Visitor Information Centre: Your first stop when visiting any country town should the visitor information centre, you'll find helpful volunteers who can give you much more information than you'll find online. And some local tips and secrets too.

2. Myall River Art Walk: Wandering along the Myall River foreshore at Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest, you will find a selection of art installations, from murals to sculptures to mosaics and poems. These interpretive works form the Myall River Art Walk, a project that encourages and fosters local art and artists, helps to develop community pride and awareness of our culture, history and environment.

3. Singing Bridge:The Singing Bridge is so named because during a strong south-westerly, the wind generates a singing sound through the bridge railings.

Hawks Nest

The village of Hawks Nest has a beautiful vantage point with both ocean and river frontage. The beaches here have something for everyone from the surfing at Hawks Nest Beach (Bennetts Beach) to the safe swimming of Jimmys Beach. The area is also home to one of the few remaining wild koala colonies and they can often be spotted in backyards.

1. Jimmys Beach: stretches from Yacaaba Headland to the mouth of the Myall River in a 5 km arc. Facilities include picnic tables, playground and toilets. Located nearby (off Beach Road) is the access walking track to Yacaaba Headland.

2. Yacaaba Headland Walk: Yacaaba is the largest headland of the bay of Port Stephens and marks the southernmost point of the Barrington Coast. A track to the headland begins from Bennetts Beach and the initial section is a well informed path, winding its way through a tall open forest. The track leads around the northern side of the hill, offering spectacular views. The final section to the top of the headland is very steep and unformed, its more suitable for experienced walkers. There is no formal lookout , but the top is marked by an old trigonometrical survey point. Allow three hours for a return journey.

3. Bennetts Beach: Bennetts Beach is one of the jewels of the Barrington Coast. Stop by the Surf Club and take in the views over to Boondelbah and Cabbage Tree Island, the only nesting site of Gould’s Petrel.

Myall Lakes National Park

1. Dark Point: The rocky headland of Dark Point was declared an Aboriginal Site of Significance in 2002. This area has a rich cultural history and has been a gathering place for the Worimi people for over 4000 years, making it well worth a visit. Walk along Dark Point walking track to the headland and take in the fresh coastal breezes. Observing the sweeping scenic views across to Broughton Island, you can imagine why it was a popular spot for so long.

2. Broughton Island: You'll need a boat to visit Broughton Island but it's worth it. Camping on Broughton Island is a truly special experience, you'll be camping amongst an active breeding colony for wedge-tailed shearwaters. There are plenty of opportunities for water activities, including swimming, fishing, boating, snorkelling and scuba diving. You’ll find sandy beaches within Esmeralda Cove. With only five campsites, you’ll feel like you own the island. The campground is fairly basic, so you’ll have to bring all your equipment and supplies with you, including water. You must book and pre-pay for a campsite prior to arriving at the island.

3. Hole in the Wall: This rustic picnic spot is the perfect base for a fun-filled day trip at the beach. Hole in the Wall picnic area provides easy access to the seemingly endless golden sands and rolling waves of Mungo Beach. Take in the fresh coastal air and sweeping views including Broughton Island and Dark Point to the south. If you enjoy a walk, there are large stretches of beaches to explore, or you can tackle nearby Mungo walking track. Remember to take your binoculars if you want to birdwatch or whale watch.

4. Mungo Brush:
Mungo Brush is perfectly positioned between the lake and the ocean. Mungo Brush campground is right on Bombah Broadwater with great opportunities to go for a kayak or canoe along the lower Myall River to Hawks Nest. A short walk from the campground leads to the beach for swimming, fishing and sailboarding. Mungo Rainforest Walk is an easy loop walk takes you on a short trip through rare coastal rainforest, almost like the enchanted forest. The lush environment features ancient trees, plum pine, mock olive, coogera and brush bloodwood. The walk starts from Mungo Brush campground, from here follow Tamboi walking track to the historic Tamboi fishing village or work a longer walk follow the Mungo walking track to Hawks Nest.

5. Tamboi Historic Fishing Village: Tamboi sits at the lower end of the lakes where the Myall River leads off to Port Stephens. Historic fishing huts line the banks of the river. Visit by boat or view from the Tamboi walking track. which is an ideal path for walking or cycling along the edge of Bombah Broadwater.
White Tree Bay is another great place to camp on the shores of Myall Lakes National Park. Pitch your tent or park the caravan in a clearing fringed with majestic paperbarks, then immerse yourself in the watery wonderland of the park. The nearby waterways attract huge numbers of migratory birds. It’s about 1.5km to Mungo Beach, and the long Old Gibber Road/Mining Road fire trail is perfect for mountain biking and hiking.

6. Wells Camping Area: For a relaxing holiday spent on or beside the tranquil waters of Bombah Broadwater in Myall Lakes National Park, make sure you visit The Wells campground. It’s a perfect spot for a family holiday with space for caravans or tents. The still waters make it ideal for canoeing, paddling, and motor boating. You can even bring a trailer sailer for a day on the lakes. The kids will love the shallow waters for swimming and the brackish water is good for fishing. Nestled among the she-oaks on the eastern shores, this delightful spot is one of the few places you can have a campfire. So, at the end of a brilliant day, stoke up the fire and barbecue your catch.

7. Bombah Point: The vehicle ferry at Bombah Point provides access across the lake (operates 8am to 6pm daily, fees apply: cash payments only). Under strong winds the ferry may be closed. Ferry fees (subject to change): $2.50 per pedestrian; $5.50 per motorbike; $6.50 per car; $6.50 caravan, trailer or boat trailer; $10 per 4 tonne or larger vehicle; Please note: dogs are not permitted in the park which includes the ferry and Mungo Brush Road.

Bulahdelah

Bulahdelah is a country town on the banks of the Myall River near its junction with the Crawford River, named from an Aboriginal word thought to mean "the meeting of the waters". The town is the gateway to the major attractions of Myall Lakes National Park, Bombah Broadwater, Myall River, Alum Mountain, The Grandis and Bulahdelah Court House.

1. Bulahdelah Visitor Information Centre: Your first stop when visiting any country town should the visitor information centre, you'll find helpful volunteers who can give you much more information than you'll find online. And some local tips and secrets too.

2. Court House Museum

3. Wade Park: Wade Park is the perfect stopover when traveling with kids, they'll love the playground while you set up on the picnic tables.

4. Alum Mountain Trail and Mine Walk: Situated at the base of the Alum Mountain, the former site of the alunite processing plant, the precinct has been transformed into a natural park and picnic area. Also known as Bulahdelah Mountain, it includes an aboriginal scatter site, scarred trees, former Alum Mountain house site 'Twin Dams' including tramway, mullock heap, boiler wall and clay brick crucible.

Neranie in Myall Lakes National Park (photo: unknown)
Neranie in Myall Lakes National Park (photo: unknown)

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