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Watagans National Park

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Learn more about why this park is special

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

Fascinating Aboriginal landscapes

A man enjoys the forest, Watagans National Park. Photo: OEH

The park is of great importance to the Awabakal and Darkinjung People, and rare insights into art and engraving techniques have been found at over 40 recorded locations in the Watagan Range and surrounding lands. Given that there are only six known Aboriginal engraving sites in the wider Sydney region, this one is particularly noteworthy for its display of more than 100 abstract motifs carved into walls throughout the park.

Building a nation

Turners walking track, Watagans National Park. Photo: John Spencer

Log chutes and old saw mill sites used during past forestry operations still stand among the plants as a testament to the region's rich settlement history. By the 1820s, a fertile timber industry had established itself, providing cedar and hardwood from the area to the building and growing coal mining industries. Increased timber production provided employment and wealth to the region, and you can still see relics from these operations throughout the park.

  • Boarding House Dam picnic area A popular picnic spot with daytrippers in summer, Boarding House Dam picnic area offers all the amenities, as well as local history, paddling, and hiking opportunities.
  • Turners walking track Steep and challenging, Turners walking track in Watagans National Park, near Cessnock, boasts rainforest views, historic heritage and superb birdwatching.

Breathtaking views

Great North Walk, Watagans National Park. Photo: John Spencer

From Monkey Face lookout, there are spectacular views down over Martinsville Valley, and 6km along Georges Road to the north, Narrow Place lookout provides a 180-degree panorama toward Cessnock, Hunter Valley and beyond the Barrington Ranges. There are so many ways to enjoy the scenery, whether by horse riding, 4WD touring in the wetter months, mountain bike riding or pulling into a shaded picnic area to cool down after a walk.

  • Boarding House Dam picnic area A popular picnic spot with daytrippers in summer, Boarding House Dam picnic area offers all the amenities, as well as local history, paddling, and hiking opportunities.

Blossoming rainforest

Boarding House Dam, Watagans National Park. Photo: John Spencer

The area is rich in plant life, producing moist forests and a wealth of plant species. Mountain blue gums and blackbutt trees shelter the smaller brush cherry, climbing vines and tree ferns. Across late winter and into early spring, colourful orange-coloured banksias, brilliant purple happy wanderers, and the many hues of yellow wattle trees all flower in bright abundance.

  • Circuit walking track Circuit walking track is a short walk near Newcastle. Plunging into rainforest, following the creek as it passes a dramatic moss-covered rock wall, this is a great place to visit.
  • Great North walk - Watagans National Park The section of Great North walk in Watagans National Park features great scenic lookouts and wonderful birdwatching. It is best suited to experienced bushwalkers.
  • Monkey Face lookout Monkey Face lookout provides excellent scenic views over the Martinsville Valley, with space for a picnic.
  • The Narrow Place lookout For scenic views of Hunter Valley, you can't go past The Narrow Place lookout in Watagans National Park. Visit this historic lookout, near Cessnock, to go sightseeing or birdwatching.

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Monkey Face lookout hero, Watagans National Park