Bongil Bongil National Park
Bonville Creek is a great place for canoeing, kayaking and fishing and also offers great birdwatching opportunities in Bongil Bongil National Park, near Sawtell.
- Bongil Bongil National Park
- Please note
- The nearest toilets can be found at Bongil picnic area
- Drinking water is limited or not available in this area, so it’s a good idea to bring your own.
You don’t need to be an experienced paddler to enjoy Bonville Creek. While close to the thriving holiday village of Sawtell, paddling this tranquil waterway will make you feel you’re a million miles away from any commotion. It’s an easy paddle for canoeists and kayakers of all levels, offering great fishing and birdwatching.
This saltwater estuary is also a good sheltered fishing spot and you might be lucky enough to be cooking up your flathead, mullet or mangrove jack for dinner that night.
Bonville Creek, surrounded by native bushland, attracts plenty of birdlife. Bring your binoculars for a chance to see cormorants, whistling kites, ospreys, kingfishers and the beautiful rainbow bee-eaters. Shorebirds such as little terns and pied oystercatchers make their nests at the mouth of the creek.
For those wanting a longer paddle, canoes and kayaks can also be launched around the upper reaches of Pine Creek.
For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/canoeing-paddling-experiences/bonville-creek/local-alerts
- in Bongil Bongil National Park in the North Coast region
Bongil Bongil National Park is open sunrise to sunset but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.
All the practical information you need to know about Bonville Creek.
Getting there and parking
Bonville Creek is in the northern precinct of Bongil Bongil National Park.
For launching smaller crafts such as canoes or kayaks:
- Use the pontoon at Bongil picnic area, off Williams Road, Bonville.
For launching larger dinghies or tinnies:
- Use the public boat ramp at Lyons Road in Sawtell (outside Bongil Bongil National Park).
- Sealed roads
- 2WD vehicles
- All weather
Parking is available at Bongil picnic area and Lyons Road boat ramp. It can be a busy place on the weekend, so parking might be limited.
Best times to visit
There are lots of great things waiting for you in Bongil Bongil National Park. Here are some of the highlights.
With cooler weather, it's a great time to explore the mountain bike tracks in the park.
A great time to explore Bonville Creek by canoe, kayak or stand-up paddle board.
Look for birds feeding on fruit-bearing trees in the rainforest.
Weather, temperature and rainfall
20°C and 27°C
9°C and 21°C
The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day
Drinking water is not available in this area so it's a good idea to bring your own.
- Non-flush toilets
Maps and downloads
A current NSW recreational fishing licence is required when fishing in all waters.
Bellingen (19 km)
Bellingen is a laid-back, tree-lined town with a New Age vibe. It's set in a luxuriant valley beside the Bellinger River.
Coffs Harbour (9 km)
Coffs Harbour is a coastal city on the North Coast, packed with things to do. It's surrounded by lush forests and national parks.
Bonville Creek is in Bongil Bongil National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:
A place where one stays a long time
Bongil Bongil National Park is the traditional land of the Gumbaynggir people, whose ancestral lands extend from Grafton in the north to the Nambucca river in the south, and from the coast west to the headwaters of the Nymboida river. The park provided abundant seafood and bushtucker, and was a site for gatherings and sacred ceremonies.
- Bush tucker Bush tucker is a Stage 3 (Years 5-6) school excursion in Bongil Bongil National Park which focuses on HSIE. Join our Aboriginal Discovery rangers for an easy walk along the forested banks of Bonville Creek, to investigate the rich diversity of plants and animals in this park.
- Bush tucker Bush tucker is a school excursion in Bongil Bongil National Park for Stage 5 (Years 9-10) students focusing on geography as a KLA. Join our Aboriginal Discovery rangers for an easy stroll along the forested banks of Bonville Creek to investigate the rich diversity of plants and animals in the park.
- Bush tucker Bush tucker is a Stage 4 (Years 7-8) school excursion to Bongil Bongil National Park, which focuses on geography as a KLA. Join our Aboriginal Discovery rangers for an easy stroll along the forested banks of Bonville Creek, to investigate the rich diversity of plants and animals in the park.
- Bush tucker Bush tucker in Bongil Bongil National Park is a school excursion for Stage 2 (Years 3-4) students with a focus on HSIE. Join our Aboriginal Discovery rangers for an easy stroll along the forested banks of Bonville Creek, to investigate the rich diversity of plants and animals in the park.
Beaches and waterways
The waterways within Bongil Bongil National Park carry water across the coastal plains from the steep foothills to the west, providing a home for many types of birds, animals and reptiles. For visitors, the waterways and beaches in Bongil Bongil National Park offer a range of water activities, including excellent fishing and kayaking. Try your luck on the Bonville river for flathead and whiting.
In addition to being home to one of NSW's largest koala populations, Bongil Bongil National Park also boasts more than 165 species of birds. The park provides breeding, roosting and feeding habitats for a number of migratory birds like the little tern and the pied oystercatcher. The Bundagaree Rainforest walk is the best place to see the birds of the rainforest, like the dramatically beautiful wompoo fruit dove and the colourful rose-crowned fruit dove that makes a loud and explosive "hookco" sound.
- Bongil Beach Bongil Beach, in Bongil Bongil National Park near Coffs Harbour, is a remote beach ideal for walking and fishing offering scenic coastal views and birdwatching.
- Bundagaree Rainforest walk Bundagaree Rainforest walk is near Tuckers Rocks in Bongil Bongil National Park on the NSW north coast. This easy walk takes in rainforest and beach.
- Pine Creek paddle route Adventurous canoeists, kayakers, and stand up paddleboarders will enjoy this downstream route along pristine Pine Creek, a wildlife haven in Bongil Bongil National Park, near Coffs Harbour.
Plants and animals you may see
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.
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.
Lace monitor (Varanus varius)
One of Australia’s largest lizards, the carnivorous tree-dwelling lace monitor, or tree goanna, can grow to 2m in length and is found in forests and coastal tablelands across eastern Australia. These Australian animals are typically dark blue in colour with whitish spots or blotches.
Grey mangrove (Avicennia marina)
Grey mangrove is the most common and widespread mangrove found within intertidal zones across Australia, and throughout the world. Growing to a height of 3-10m, they thrive best in estuaries with a mix of fresh and salt water. They excrete excess salt through their long thick leaves, and absorb oxygen through their aerial root system.
Blueberry ash (Elaeocarpus reticulatus)
The blueberry ash is a rainforest shrub which produces blue olive-shaped berries and spectacular bell-shaped flowers, which often appear on the plant together. It is a tall slender shrub or small tree found in rainforest, tall eucalypt forest and coastal bushland in eastern NSW, south-east Queensland and Victoria.