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Hat Head National Park

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Learn more about why this park is special

Hat Head National Park is a special place. Here are just some of the reasons why:

Striking landscapes

Little Bay to Smoky Cape walk, Hat Head National Park. Photo: John Spencer

Some of the largest in New South Wales, the park's enormous sand dunes can't help but catch your eye. The dunes provide a buffer from the ocean, protecting the land from salty winds and waves. They are slowing growing and moving inland, gradually taking over the park's wetlands. See if you can make it to the top of the dunes - you'll get a bird's eye view and feel like you're on top of the world.

  • Little Bay to Smoky Cape Discover the beauty of the South West Rocks region on the Little Bay to Smoky Cape walk. Hike this 10km coast walk and enjoy sensational views.
  • Rainforest walking track The family will love this short walk in the northern precinct of Hat Head National Park. It offers scenic views, wetlands, wildlife and birdwatching.

What we're doing for Landscapes and geology in this park

Biodiversity

Glossy black-cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus lathami), Hat Head National Park. Photo: John Spencer

Hat Head National Park is rich with birdlife such as black swans, egrets, herons, fantails, and honeyeaters. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a hawk, falcon or eagle soaring above the cliffs. During the spring, you might catch a rare glimpse of a glossy black cockatoo - listen out for the raucous call of this endangered species as it visits the park to feed on ripe she-oak fruit seeds. Resident wildlife at Hat Head includes red-necked and swamp wallabies as well as grey kangaroos and sugar gliders. You're bound to see butterflies fluttering past you in Hat Head National Park. One type, the regent skipper, is only found in Hat Head National Park and Limeburners Creek National Park. With black wings and a range of yellow and red dots and stripes, you might see the regent skipper feeding on tuckeroos in the park's rainforest.

  • Gap Beach walking track Gap Beach walking track is a challenging walk offering birdwatching, swimming, fishing, and scenic views in Hat Head National Park near South West Rocks.

What we're doing for Biodiversity in this park

A place to play

Views of the beach in Hat Head National Park. Photo: Debbie McGerty

Hat Head National Park protects an extraordinary amount of landscapes, birds and animals, but also offers countless opportunities for secluded relaxation, recreation and enjoyment. Sweeping beaches, rainforests, impressive dunes, and rocky headlands make it the perfect holiday or day trip for walking, swimming, hiking, bird watching and fishing.

  • Green Island walking track Green Island walking track goes through coastal heathland to a lookout with scenic views to Smoky Cape Lighthouse, offering excellent birdwatching and whale watching.
  • Smoky Cape Lighthouse Hat Head National Park on the mid-north coast of NSW near South West Rocks is a natural paradise. Explore the lighthouse, camp by the beach and go fishing and swimming.

What we're doing for Visitor facilities and experiences in this park

A long story to tell

Gap Beach, Hat Head National Park. Photo: Barbara Webster

The park is part of the traditional land of the Dunghutti people and remains a significant place. The sea, rivers and wetlands provided a rich source of food like fish and shellfish and the strong Aboriginal heritage is evident today. The park is culturally important to Aboriginal people as it contains ceremonial grounds, burial sites, shell middens and campsites.

What we're doing for Aboriginal culture in this park

Plants and animals you may see

Animals

  • White-bellied sea eagle. Photo: John Turbill

    White-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

    White-bellied sea eagles can be easily identified by their white tail and dark grey wings. These raptors are often spotted cruising the coastal breezes throughout Australia, and make for some scenic bird watching. Powerful Australian birds of prey, they are known to mate for life, and return each year to the same nest to breed.

  • Kookaburra. Photo: OEH

    Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)

    Of the 2 species of kookaburra found in Australia, the laughing kookaburra is the best-known and the largest of the native kingfishers. With its distinctive riotous call, the laughing kookaburra is commonly heard in open woodlands and forests throughout NSW national parks, making these ideal spots for bird watching.

  • Grey headed flying fox. Photo: David McKellar

    Grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus)

    The grey-headed flying fox is one of several threatened Australian animals and the largest Australian native bat, with a wingspan that extends up to 1m. Known to inhabit woodlands, rainforests and urban regions, these fascinating nocturnal mammals congregate in large roost sites along the east coast of NSW.

  • Echidna. Photo: Ken Stepnell

    Short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

    One of only 2 egg-laying mammals in the world, the short-beaked echidna is one of the most widespread of Australian native animals. Covered in spines, or quills, they’re equipped with a keen sense of smell and a tube-like snout which they use to break apart termite mounds in search of ants.

Plants

  •  Black sheoak. Photo: Barry Collier

    Black sheoak (Allocasuarina littoralis)

    The black sheoak is one of a number of casuarina species found across the east coast of Australia and nearby tablelands. Growing to a height of 5-15m, these hardy Australian native plants can survive in poor or sandy soils. The barrel-shaped cone of the black sheoak grows to 10-30mm long.

  • Grass trees, Sugarloaf State Conservation Area. Photo: Michael Van Ewijk

    Grass tree (Xanthorrea spp.)

    An iconic part of the Australian landscape, the grass tree is widespread across eastern NSW. These Australian native plants have a thick fire-blackened trunk and long spiked leaves. They are found in heath and open forests across eastern NSW. The grass tree grows 1-5m in height and produces striking white-flowered spikes which grow up to 1m long.

Look out for...

Black sheoak

Allocasuarina littoralis

 Black sheoak. Photo: Barry Collier

The black sheoak is one of a number of casuarina species found across the east coast of Australia and nearby tablelands. Growing to a height of 5-15m, these hardy Australian native plants can survive in poor or sandy soils. The barrel-shaped cone of the black sheoak grows to 10-30mm long.

Environments in this park

Education resources (1)

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View of beach in Hat Head National Park. Photo: Rob Cleary