Tomaree National Park

Overview

Tomaree National Park near Port Stephens is a great weekend getaway. Explore the historical significance of Fort Tomaree on a school excursion, or go whale watching, walking to see koalas or fishing and have a tasty picnic lunch by the beach.

Read more about Tomaree National Park

Tomaree National Park, jointly managed with Hunter Water Corporation, provides a magnificent backdrop to the coastal towns and villages of Nelson Bay, Shoal Bay, Boat Harbour and Anna Bay. It’s the only place in NSW where you can see outcrops of the acid volcanic rock rhyodacite.

It’s an excellent spot for whale watching and offers a range of scenic walks, including the short Wreck Beach walk through coastal angophora forest and the longer Morna Point walk that comes alive with spring wildflowers. Keep your eyes out for koalas dozing high in the trees.

The park’s beaches are pretty places for a family barbecue and there are picnic facilities around Anna Bay and Fishermans Bay - enjoy a swim or snorkel or head to One Mile Beach for some surfing. There are some good places for fishing, though you’ll need to check the marine park zoning before setting out.

However you choose to spend your time in Tomaree National Park, make sure you hike the Tomaree Head Summit walk. It’s not difficult and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views over Port Stephens, the coast and Broughton, Cabbage Tree and Boondelbah islands nature reserves. While you’re there, check out the historic gun emplacements, part of Fort Tomaree and built in 1941 as part of Australia’s World War II east coast defence system.

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/tomaree-national-park/local-alerts

Contact

  • in the North Coast region
  • Tomaree National Park is always open but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

    • Nelson Bay
      (02) 4984 8200
      Contact hours: 8.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday
    • Level 1, 12B Teramby Road, Nelson Bay NSW
    • Fax: (02) 4981 5918
    More
See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Tomaree National Park.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    Tomaree National Park is easily accessible from Nelson Bay and Anna Bay. It surrounds the towns of Boat Harbour, Shoal Bay and Fingal Bay.

    • Take the Pacific Highway from Newcastle or Buladelah, turn east into Richardson Road and continue along Nelson Bay Road.
    • For Anna Bay and Boat Harbour, turn right into Gan Gan Road
    • For Shoal Bay and Fingal Bay, continue along Stockton Street before turning right into Victoria Parade. Continue along Shoal Bay Road which becomes Government Road and then Marine Drive.

    Park entry points

    Parking

    Road quality

    • Sealed roads

    By bike

    Check out the Bicycle information for NSW website for more information.

    Best times to visit

    There are lots of great things waiting for you in Tomaree National Park. Here are some of the highlights.

    Spring

    A fabulous time to experience Tomaree's wildflowers display.

    Summer

    Cool off with a dip at Shoal Bay or Box beach, or try snorkelling at Zenith beach; a gorgeous and protected marine sanctuary.

    Winter

    Fishermans Bay and Boat Harbour are the best places to spot humpback whales as they migrate north between May and July or you can take a guided tour.

    Weather, temperature and rainfall

    Summer temperature

    Average

    17°C and 27°C

    Highest recorded

    41.5°C

    Winter temperature

    Average

    8°C and 19°C

    Lowest recorded

    1.1°C

    Rainfall

    Wettest month

    May and June

    Driest month

    October and November

    Facilities

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    However you discover NSW national parks and reserves, we want you to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Our park and reserve systems contrast greatly so you need to be aware of the risks and take responsibility for your own safety and the safety of those in your care.

    Extreme care should be taken when swimming or fishing in Tomaree National Park as strong rips, undercurrents and dangerous surf conditions sometimes occur along the coast. The park's beaches are unpatrolled, however, there are seasonally patrolled swimming areas at Fingal Bay in front of the Surf Club, and at the southern end of One Mile Beach.  Birubi Headland at Anna Bay is also seasonally patrolled.

    Please note the Fingal sand spit across to Fingal Island and Port Stephens Lighthouse is currently impassable. Seawater covering the sand spit, combined with deep channels and ocean swell, have made the crossing extremely unpredictable and hazardous. For your own safety, please do not attempt to walk across the spit in any direction. Access to Fingal Island is by boat only, until further notice.

    Mobile safety

    Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency + app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

    Accessibility

    Please note that parts of Tomaree National Park are not open to vehicle access. Please contact the Nelson Bay park office before heading out to confirm access.

    Prohibited

    Pets

    Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the OEH pets in parks policy for more information.

    Smoking

    NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

    Nearby towns

    Nelson Bay (4 km)

    Nelson Bay is a major holiday playground and the main resort area of Port Stephens. It's located on the southern shores of Port Stephens.

    Newcastle (55 km)

    Newcastle is a harbour city surrounded by amazing surf beaches that are linked by a great coastal walk, the Bathers Way. The walk from Nobbys Beach to Merewether Beach takes about three hours and is a great way to explore the city.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Bulahdelah (96 km)

    Buladelah is the gateway to Myall Lakes National Park. It's situated on the Myall River, with a backdrop of soaring, forested hills.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Learn more

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

    Birdlife and koala country

    Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), Tomaree National Park. Photo: John Turbil

    The park's beaches and rocks support sooty oystercatchers and the swamps support active populations of wallum froglet populations of migratory shore birds including the eastern curlew and red-necked stint. See if you can spot the passing bar-tailed godwit - this long-beaked bird holds the record for the longest non-stop flight; 11,000km without a break. Visit in winter to see colourful lorikeets and honeyeaters feeding on wildflowers in the coastal heathland and in summer you'll see migratory tropical species including cuckoos and rainforest pigeons. Look close at the surrounding shoreline and you may find green turtles and dugongs. Tomaree National Park also offers the opportunity to see one of Australia's iconic animals up close. See koalas feasting on swamp mahogany in and around the park, or in the trees around One Mile Beach carpark.

    • Wreck Beach walk The short walk to Wreck Beach offers a private alternative to the beaches of Port Stephens, with opportunities for picnicking and whale watching.

    Aboriginal heritage

    Big Rocky walk, Tomaree National Park. Photo: John Spencer

    Tomaree National Park is the traditional land of Worimi People and provided a range of resources, including food, medicines and shelter. The ancient landscape of the park is part of the cultural knowledge and 'Dreaming' stories of the Worimi People and remains an important Aboriginal place today. A walk along the beaches of Tomaree National Park are a walk along ancient travel routes used by Worimi to travel north and south through their Country.

    Ancient landscape

    The northern section of Tomaree National Park has 4 peaks, the largest being Tomaree Head at 162m high. Overall, the landscape is the residual surface of a peneplain uplifted during the tertiary period (65 to 1.8 million years ago) and subsequently eroded, leaving the more resistant volcanic rocks as small hills. Port Stephens is a flooded river valley. The western sections of the park are sand deposits of fluvial and estuarine origin.

    • Tomaree Head Summit walk Take a guided tour along Tomaree Head Summit walk, absorbing views of Port Stephens and the north coast. When you reach the summit, enjoy a relaxing lunch on the bench by the lookout.
    • Wreck Beach walk The short walk to Wreck Beach offers a private alternative to the beaches of Port Stephens, with opportunities for picnicking and whale watching.

    Military history

    Tomaree Head gun enplacements, Tomaree National Park. Photo: John Spencer

    Follow in the footsteps of Australian soldiers on the trail to Tomaree Head. The historic Fort Tomaree played an important role in the defence of Port Stephens during World War II, including Tomaree Head that was solidly armed with gun emplacements. You can take a guided Discovery tour of the gun emplacements to find out more about this historic site.

    • Fort Tomaree walk Fort Tomaree walk is an easy walk that runs just below Tomaree Head Summit walk and takes you to the World War II gun emplacements, used in the defence of east coast Australia during World War II.
    • Point Stephens Lighthouse and Fingal Island Point Stephens Lighthouse on Fingal Island is one of a kind. Kayak or take a boat to the island to explore the lighthouse and historic ruins.
    • World War II gun emplacements Discover the military history of Port Stephens on a guided tour of the historic gun emplacements at Tomaree Head in Tomaree National Park on the north coast of NSW.

    Plants and animals you may see

    Animals

    • Koala. Photo: Lucy Morrell

      Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

      One of the most renowned Australian animals, the tree-dwelling marsupial koala can be found in gum tree forests and woodlands across eastern NSW, Victoria and Queensland, as well as in isolated regions in South Australia. With a vice-like grip, this perhaps most iconic but endangered Australian animal lives in tall eucalypts within a home range of several hectares.

    • 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.

    Plants

    • Old man banksia, Moreton National Park. Photo: John Yurasek

      Old man banksia (Banksia serrata)

      Hardy Australian native plants, old man banksias can be found along the coast, and in the dry sclerophyll forests and sandstone mountain ranges of NSW. With roughened bark and gnarled limbs, they produce a distinctive cylindrical yellow-green banksia flower which blossoms from summer to early autumn.

    • Smooth-barked apple. Photo: Jaime Plaza

      Smooth-barked apple (Angophora costata)

      Smooth-barked apple gums, also known as Sydney red gum or rusty gum trees, are Australian native plants found along the NSW coast, and in the Sydney basin and parts of Queensland. Growing to heights of 15-30m, the russet-coloured angophoras shed their bark in spring to reveal spectacular new salmon-coloured bark.

    • 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.

    Environments in this park

    Education resources (1)

    School excursions (1)

    What we're doing

    Tomaree National Park has management strategies in place to protect and conserve the values of this park. Visit the OEH website for detailed park and fire management documents. Here is just some of the work we’re doing to conserve these values:

    Managing weeds, pest animals and other threats

    Pests and weeds have a significant impact to the ecosystems within Tomaree National Park. NPWS carries out risk assessments for new and emerging weeds as well as Bitou bush, lantana and other weeds with relatively minor distribution that require control programs to protect biodiversity in this park.

    Conservation program

    Bitou bush threat abatement plan

    Bitou bush poses a serious and widespread threat to threatened species populations and ecological communities on the NSW coast. The NPWS bitou bush threat abatement plan helps to reduce the impact of weeds at priority sites using control measures such as ground spraying, aerial spraying, biological control and physical removal.

    Historic heritage in our parks and reserves

    Tomaree National Park is both historic and scenic, and heritage sites within the park receive ongoing maintenance, upgrading and conservation work. NPWS undertakes the routine upkeep and upgrading of its visitor facilities.

    Developing visitor facilities and experiences

    Tomaree National Park promotes a safe and positive experience for all its visitors, and works to provide top-quality facilities and equipment. To ensure optimal comfort and enjoyment, park facilities receive regular upkeep. Recreation areas are well maintained with minimal impact on the park's natural and cultural values.

    Conserving our Aboriginal culture

    NPWS works alongside the Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council and the local Aboriginal community in documenting and protecting the cultural heritage in Tomaree National Park. Culturally significant items, sites and places within the park are assessed, protected and conserved for future generations. Heritage maintenance and conservation programs are ongoing, and human impact is minimised where possible.

    Managing fire

    NSW is one of the most bushfire prone areas in the world as a result of our climate, weather systems, vegetation and the rugged terrain. NPWS is committed to maintaining natural and cultural heritage values and minimising the likelihood and impact of bushfires via a strategic program of fire research, fire planning, hazard reduction, highly trained rapid response firefighting crews and community alerts.

    Conservation program

    Hazard reduction program

    Managing fire-prone NSW national parks requires a three-pronged approach, including fire planning, community education, and fuel management. When it comes to fuel like dead wood, NPWS conducts planned hazard reduction activities like mowing and controlled burning to assist in the protection of life, property and community.

    Fort Tomaree, Tomaree National Park. Photo: John Spencer