Wallarah National Park
Wallarah National Park conserves coastal land south of Caves Beach, just east of Lake Macquarie. The park is in three sections, on the east and west of the Pacific Highway. It's about 30 kilometres south of Newcastle and 120 kilometres north of Sydney.
There are plenty of things to do in the park, including walking, fishing, swimming, surfing. The coastal views are spectacular, and this is a good whale watching spot.
This park is near...
Newcastle (30 km, 30 minutes)
Sydney (120 km, 120 minutes)
Best access routes
The coastal section of the national park is best accessed from Spoon Rocks Road at Caves Beach. Take the Caves Beach turn-off at the Swansea roundabout, turn right at the T-intersection at the end of the road. The gate at the end of the road marks the beginning of the coastal walk. Wallarah National Park is a pleasant 1.2-km walk from the end of Spoon Rocks Road at Caves Beach, along the coastal walk.
Road quality: paved
The lakeside section of the park is accessible on foot from Cams Wharf Road at Cams Wharf. Turn off the Pacific Highway at Cams Wharf Road (opposite the Catherine Hill Bay turn-off) approximately 5 km south of Swansea or 10 km north of Lake Munmorah.
Road quality: paved
Facilities & things to do:
Bushwalking is a popular activity in the park. You can walk on all of the park's management trails, and the Coastal Walk links Caves Beach with the headland just south of Pinney Beach.
You can ride your bike on any of the park's management trails, but not on the coastal walk.
>>Picnics and barbecues
If you're looking for a place to have a picnic, try Camp Yondeo. It's nice and shady, but bear in mind that there are no barbecues or picnic tables available. Please take your rubbish with you - bins are not provided in Wallarah National Park.
Wallarah National Park provides a wonderful scenic experience, with its ocean and lake views and beautiful natural landscape. The park provides wonderful opportunities for bird, whale and dolphin watching and nature appreciation.
You can enjoy magnificent vistas from the headland south of Pinney Beach, accessed on foot via the coastal walk.
>>Swimming and surfing
Pinney Beach is great for surfing and swimming, although it is not patrolled. The beach is accessible on foot, via the coastal walk. Make sure you stay safe at the beach.
Fishing is permitted off the coast in Wallarah National Park - Pinney Beach is a great spot to cast a line. Take care as beaches are not patrolled and rock platforms can be dangerous even when seas appear calm.
A wide range of native animals are found in Wallarah National Park. You might be lucky enough to see a swamp wallaby or a sea eagle, or spot whales and dolphins off the coast.
There are plenty of small birds in the coastal heath and goannas in the forest. At night, powerful owls - a threatened species - hunt for animals such as ringtail possums. Threatened squirrel gliders have been recorded in the national park.
Wallarah National Park conserves a diverse array of vegetation communities including cabbage tree palm rainforest, coastal heath, woodlands and forests.
The threatened plant Tetratheca juncea is conserved in the national park, and there is suitable habitat for other threatened plants, including Diuris praecox (a donkey orchid).
Weeds and pest animals
Bitou bush and lantana are the two most prevalent weeds in the national park. Bitou bush has invaded the coastal heath around Pinney Beach. Lantana thrives in the moist cabbage tree palm gully rainforest areas.
Weeds are controlled in the park using bush regeneration techniques which have minimal impact on native vegetation. Weed species are pulled out by hand or cut at the stump, which is then painted with herbicide (glyphosate).
Introduced mammals in the park include foxes, dogs, cats, rabbits and introduced mice and rats. Some of these - particularly foxes and feral dogs and cats - prey on native animals, especially small mammals, lizards and ground-nesting birds. Others compete with native species for food - rabbits and introduced rodents are all offenders here.
Culture & history
The area between Tuggerah Lakes and the Hunter River is the traditional land of the Awabakal people.
Early European settlers recorded settlements of eight or nine huts, each large enough for six to eight people, with fires built at the entrances.
The area was rich in food. The Awabakal diet included fruit (cabbage palm, macrozamia, lily pilly, geebung), seeds (grasses and acacias), leaves (from grass trees, rushes and sedges), roots/tubers (of orchids and bracken fern), yams and nectar. Shellfish - including pipis, cockles, mussels, whelks and oysters - were collected from rock platforms, lake foreshores and beaches. Fish were caught in rivers and lakes with lines or spears, or trapped in weirs built on tidal channels.
Archaeological investigations indicate that people were probably living on the Central Coast as early as 11,000 years ago. The majority of recorded sites are shell midden deposits. Most of these have a small range of shell species with no other associated evidence and nearly all have been disturbed by recent land uses. Some deeper middens, associated with burials, have been recorded at Swansea and in the park at Pinney Beach.
The Pinney Beach site is thought to date from around 800 AD. The site is considered to be archaeologically significant, as it is one of the few dated middens in the region and a comparative rarity for the coast south of Swansea, given the history of sand mining. The site is obviously also a place of significance to the local Aboriginal community because of the burial and the potential for additional burials and other evidence to be present.
Other sites in the region include axe grinding grooves and artefact scatters. Although there are historical reports of tree carving, and scarring resulting from bark removal for tool production, few such sites survive. Scarred trees have been recorded near the foreshore of the lake at Point Morisset.
The land and waterways, and the plants and animals that live in them, feature in all facets of Aboriginal culture - including recreational, ceremonial, spiritual and as a main source of food and medicine. They are associated with dreaming stories and cultural learning that is still passed on today. We work with local Aboriginal communities to protect this rich heritage.
To find out more about Aboriginal heritage in the park, you can get in touch with the local Aboriginal community. Contact the park office for more details.
Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service