Mid North Coast and Port Stephens

The NSW Mid North Coast and Port Stephens is a fascinating region offering a wide variety of nature based activities and destinations. Along the coastline, perfect sandy beaches, towering dunes, rocky headlands with magnificent ocean views, coastal lakes and estuaries are just waiting to be explored. Inland you’ll find abundant wildlife and spectacular World Heritage parks.

The region is also home to many great land-based whale watching spots including:

Coffs Coast Regional Park

Stretching north from Coffs Harbour, this regional park encompasses 26 kilometres of coastal dune systems, rainforests, headlands, and coastal lakes.

Location and Access

Woolgoolga Headland at Coffs Coast Regional Parks is touted as one of the best whale watching spots on the north coast that is vehicle accessible.  Featuring a 250 degree seascape from its lofty heights, local rangers have recently installed a number of whale watch interpretation signs to enable visitors to better spot migrating whales.

Access to the headland can be reached by car, after turning off the Pacific Highway at Clarence St, Woolgoolga (20km north of Coffs Harbour), turn right onto Beach Street and drive all the way down the road to the headland.

Fees

No fees apply

Facilities

Wheelchair accessible

Top Experiences

•    250 degree views of the ocean from the headland
•    Solitary Islands as backdrop

Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve

This small island is a significant breeding site for wedge-tailed shearwaters, known as muttonbirds. It is also a highly significant site for local Gumbaynggir people, who give cultural tours in school holidays. Enjoy whale watching from the lookouts.

Location and Access

Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve is located in Coffs Harbour (540km north of Sydney and 440km south of Brisbane, on the Pacific Highway). To get to the reserve, go to the harbour via either High street or Orlando street, cross the railway line and park near the Coffs Harbour Sailing Club. A 500 metre boardwalk along the breakwater gives access to Muttonbird Island.

The boardwalk to the island is concrete and the walking track onto the island is paved, but steep in places.

Fees

No fees apply

Facilities

Lookout platform located at the eastern end of the walkway.
Interpretation of the life cycle of muttonbirds
Paved walking track between the muttonbirds’ burrows

Top Experiences

•    Most significant muttonbird breeding site in NSW
•    Whale watching tours are conducted in June and July

Smoky Cape (Hat Head National Park)

Smoky Cape is a headland located in the north part of Hat Head National Park that offers superb coastal views.

Location and Access

Smoky Cape is located in Hat Head National Park (356km north of Sydney and 24 Km north-east of Kempsey). From the Pacific Highway, follow the signs to South West Rocks, and after Spencers Creek bridge take a right turn onto Arakoon Road. Turn right into Lighthouse Road and continue straight ahead. The road has some unpaved sections.

Steep walk up to Smoky Cape lighthouse and whale watching platform from car park.

Fees

Vehicle entry fees apply at Hungry Gate and Smoky Beach

Facilities

•    Whale viewing platform in front of the lighthouse
•    Lighthouse tours available some days of the week
•    Picnic area with facilities
•    B&B and self-catered accommodation available at lighthouse cottages (stay includes lighthouse tour).

Top Experiences

Historic Smoky Cape Lighthouse and superb views from Smoky Cape.

Perpendicular Point (Kattang NR)

The sharp cliff faces of Perpendicular Point jut out into the sea at the centre of the reserve and Dooragan National Park provides a dramatic inland backdrop.

Location and Access

Point Perpendicular is located in Kattang Nature Reserve (25km south of Port Macquarie and 10 kilometres from Kew off the Pacific Highway). To get there, enter off Bergalia Crescent or Charles Hamey Lookout, which are both off Camden Haven Road.

Fees

Vehicle entry fees apply

Top Experiences

•    Visit the Flower Bowl Circuit in early spring
•    Take easy walks with spectacular views from Perpendicular Point

Tomaree Head (Tomaree NP)

The walk to the top of Tomaree Head and around historic World War II gun emplacements provides panoramic views over Port Stephens, up and down the coast, and out to Boondalbah, Cabbage Tree and Broughton islands, all of which are nature reserves.

Location and access

Tomaree Head is located in Tomaree National Park (50 km north of Nwcastle, 3km north-east of Nelson Bay off Shoal Bay Road or Gan Gan Road).

Fees

No fees apply

Facilities

There are a number of excellent lookouts ideal for whale watching and a picnic ground.

Top Experiences

•    The walk through the Tomaree National Park to the top of Tomaree Headland is considered 'one of the Top Ten panoramic views in the country'
•    World War II gun emplacements on Tomaree Head
•    The sand spit or 'tombolo' out to Point Stephens is a spectacular feature of the park

Water based whale watching activities

Once you have explored the many land-based whale watching opportunities that this region offers, you may want to go on a whale and dolphin watching cruise tour.

  • NSW Government
  • National Parks & Wildlife Service NSW