Watagans National Park

Overview

Watagans National Park, one hour from Newcastle, offers stunning wilderness right on your doorstep: hiking, biking, lookouts, and quiet campgrounds for longer escapes.

Read more about Watagans National Park

Watagans National Park boasts some of the country’s finest rainforest scenery. Moss-covered walls and boulders, towering canopies of red cedar and Illawarra flame trees pepper the walking track to Gap Creek Falls. You can also expect extraordinary views down toward rainforest gullies at Monkey Face and Gap Creek lookouts.

The Watagan Mountains also house a rich cultural heritage; more than 40 Aboriginal sites highlight art and engraving techniques, and remnants from previous forestry operations showcase settlement history in the area.

Bangalow and Gap Creek campgrounds provide overnight comfort for those who wish to continue exploring; you can pitch a tent next to your car and take advantage of the free barbecue areas and picnic tables available to you.

Whether you arrive with a walking, cycling or 4WD tour in mind, remember to bring your sense of adventure as you’ll discover new things to do every time you visit.

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/watagans-national-park/local-alerts

Contact

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

    • Lake Munmorah
      (02) 4972 9000
      Contact hours: 8.30am-4pm Monday to Friday
    • Blue Wren Drive, Munmorah State Conservation Area
    • Fax: (02) 4972 9055
    More
See more visitor info

Visitor info

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

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    From Newcastle:

    • Travel south along the F3 Expressway and take the Awaba exit at Ryhope
    • Turn right onto Cessnock Road and then left onto Freemans Drive at Freemans Waterhole
    • Turn right onto Mount Faulk Road from Freemans Drive just after crossing over the F3 expressway for the second time
    • Follow Mount Faulk Road uphill into the park

    From Gosford:

    • Travel north along the F3 Expressway and take the Morriset/Coorangbong exit near Freemans Waterhole
    • Turn left into Freemans Drive, and travel south to Martinsville Road on the left.
    • Follow Martinville Road to Watagan Road on the left and follow uphill to Watagan Forest Road
    • Turn right and follow approximately 6km to the park

    From Cessnock:

    • Travel from Cessnock to Kitchener and Quorrobolong via Quorrobolong Road
    • Turn left into Sandy Creek Road and travel east for 5km
    • Turn right into Heaton Road then onto Watagan Road (unsealed) which will bring you to the northern end of the Watagans

    Park entry points

    Parking

    Road quality

    The roads in Watagans National Park are unsealed, and accessible by 2WD in dry conditions only. 4WDs should be used at all other times. Gates and roads may be temporarily closed to prevent damage when wet, please contact the NPWS Lake Munmorah office on (02) 4972 9000 for more information.

    • Unsealed roads

    Vehicle access

    • 2WD vehicles (no long vehicle access)

    Weather restrictions

    • Dry weather only

    By bike

    Check out the Bicycle information for NSW website for more information

    By public transport

    There is no public transport to Watagans National Park.

    Best times to visit

    There are lots of great things waiting for you in Watagans National Park.

    Spring

    Camp at Gap Creek or Bangalow campground and enjoy a campfire as the sun sets.

    Summer

    Cooling off at Boarding House Dam is especially popular during summer months Enjoy the moist and cool Circuit walking track .

    Winter

    Late winter sees the bloom of Illawara flame trees which can be seen across the valley from Gap Creek lookout Check out the views from the various lookouts, while the air is crisp and clean .

    Weather, temperature and rainfall

    Summer temperature

    Average

    16°C and 30°C

    Highest recorded

    44°C

    Winter temperature

    Average

    5°C and 16°C

    Lowest recorded

    -6.7°C

    Rainfall

    Wettest month

    December

    Driest month

    July

    The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

    91.4mm

    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.

    Basic supplies are available in the local townships of Cooranbong and Morriset.

    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).

    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

    Cessnock (18 km)

    Some of the finest wines in the world are created in the Hunter Valley and its towns, gourmet food is acclaimed and luxury, boutique accommodations are matched by the most beautiful natural scenery.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Newcastle (49 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

    Gosford (63 km)

    Gosford is a great destination for a family day trip or holiday. It's situated on Brisbane Water National Park and surrounded by state forests, lakes and beaches.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Learn more

    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.

    Education resources (1)

    What we're doing

    Watagans 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.

    Monkey Face lookout hero, Watagans National Park