Big Nellie lookout and picnic area

Coorabakh National Park

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Overview

Big Nellie, in Coorabakh National Park, and the scenic lookout at its base offers a vantage point for photography and birdwatching, as well as a great place to picnic.

Type
Lookouts
Where
Coorabakh National Park
Accessibility
Medium
Price
Free
Opening times

Big Nellie lookout and picnic area is always open but may have to close at times due to flood events, poor weather or fire danger.

What to
bring
Hat, sunscreen, drinking water

Big Nellie is one of the main attractions of Coorabakh National Park. It’s an imposing rock plug that soars more than 500m above sea level, reminding visitors of an earlier time when the Australian landscape was still being created by volcanoes and earthquakes.

The best place to see scenic Big Nellie is right near its base, where a handy platform has been built to give clear views over the rocky hump. Take the opportunity of a great backdrop to do some family photography, or if you’re keen on birdwatching, this is a great place to spot some of the local birdlife.

Right near the lookout are several tables, making this a good choice as a place to picnic as well. Take advantage of the lookout and then settle down to a leisurely lunch, or consider Starrs Creek picnic area for a shadier alternative in the lush rainforest.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

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 https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/lookouts/big-nellie-lookout-and-picnic-area/local-alerts

General enquiries

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about the Big Nellie lookout and picnic area.

Getting there and parking

Big Nellie lookout and picnic area is in the northern precinct of Coorabakh National Park. To get there:

  • From Coopernook and Moorland, take Forest Drive Road north.
  • Travel through Coopernook State Forest and follow the signs to Coorabakh National Park
  • Turn left at Newbys Creek Road, and follow signs via Starrs Creek to Big Nellie lookout and picnic area.

Road quality

Check the weather before you set out as the road to Big Nellie lookout and picnic area can become boggy when it rains.

  • Unsealed roads

Vehicle access

  • 2WD vehicles (no long vehicle access)

Weather restrictions

  • 4WD required in wet weather

Parking

Parking is available at Big Nellie lookout and picnic area.

Best times to visit

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

Spring

Several endangered plants flower in the park, creating beautiful displays of wildflowers near lookouts and along roadsides.

Summer

A perfect escape from the summer heat can be found in the subtropical rainforest around Starrs Creek, with its elevated boardwalk, and along the slightly more adventurous path to the cave at Newbys Creek.

Winter

Low rainfall and reasonable temperatures make winter a great time to take advantage of the several stunning lookouts around the park.

Weather, temperature and rainfall

Summer temperature

Average

17.2°C and 28.6°C

Highest recorded

45.2°C

Winter temperature

Average

6.5°C and 12.8°C

Lowest recorded

-5°C

Rainfall

Wettest month

March

Driest month

September

The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

280.2mm

Facilities

Drinking water is limited or not available in this area, so it’s a good idea to bring your own.

Picnic tables

Carpark

There is a small carpark near the lookout.

Maps and downloads

Safety messages

This park is in a remote location, so please ensure you’re well-prepared, bring appropriate clothing and equipment and advise a family member or friend of your travel plans.

Mobile safety

Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency Plus 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

Disability access level - medium

  • Assistance may be required to access this area. There are no wheelchair facilities.

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 pets in parks policy for more information.

Smoking

NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

Nearby towns

Kendall (19 km)

Named after the Australian poet, Henry Kendall, this small mid-north-coast town celebrates its literary past each year with the Watermark Literary Muster in October. And in September, the Kendall National Violin Competition attracts young violinists from around Australia to compete in the finals of this exciting event that's open to the public. Now in its second decade, the event has allowed many past finalists and winners the chance to go on to forge impressive international careers.

www.visitnsw.com

Port Macquarie (47 km)

Vibrant Port Macquarie is surrounded by beautiful waterways - the Hastings River, canals, creeks, bays and the Pacific Ocean. The city also has a five-star collection of golden-sand beaches stretching from Port Macquarie Beach to Town Beach and north along the 16-km swathe of North Beach.

www.visitnsw.com

Taree (23 km)

Taree is a major mid North Coast city, ringed by superb beaches. It's situated on the Manning River and set against rolling hills.

www.visitnsw.com

Learn more

Big Nellie lookout and picnic area is in Coorabakh National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

A legacy of timber harvesting

Looking up the tree canopies, Coorabakh National Park. Photo: John Spencer

Before it was a national park, Coorabakh had a long history of forestry operations. This was once a centre of intensive logging - particularly during the World Wars - and visitors can still find physical remnants of the industry. One evocative site is the Langley Vale tramway, which was originally used to transport timber 21km from Old North Camp to Langley Vale, first by horse and later by steam engine. The line was abandoned in the 1940s, but relics still remain: timber bridges, elevated platforms, offcuts left to moulder in the forest, reclaimed by nature.

Eighteen forest ecosystems

Flat Rock lookout, Coorabakh National Park. Photo: John Spencer

The astonishing variety of forest ecosystems in Coorabakh vary from wet foothills covered in blackbutts to subtropical rainforest. This makes a visit a fascinating experience as you range from high lookouts over eucalyptus canopies to cool mossy creekbeds.

  • Big Nellie lookout and picnic area Big Nellie, in Coorabakh National Park, and the scenic lookout at its base offers a vantage point for photography and birdwatching, as well as a great place to picnic.
  • Flat Rock lookout Flat Rock lookout offers scenic views over the Coxcomb, Goonook and Killabakh nature reserves, as well as great picnicking and birdwatching opportunities.
  • Newbys lookout Newbys lookout, on the edge of the Landsdowne escarpment, offers scenic views over Manning Valley as well as opportunities for birdwatching and picnicking.

Home to rare native species

Starrs Creek, Coorabakh National Park. Photo: John Spencer

The park is important at a regional level for a number of rare and significant plant species. There are also several species of threatened animal, including the spotted-tailed quoll, yellow-bellied glider, powerful owl and stuttering frog. Don’t forget your camera.

  • Newbys Creek walk and caves A short walk along Newbys Creek in Coorabakh National Park takes visitors to a scenic cave, where a large overhanging rock creates a natural shelter above the stream.
  • Starrs Creek picnic area Great for picnicking and birdwatching, Starrs Creek picnic area in Coorabakh National Park also offers an elevated boardwalk that opens up the rainforest on an easy walk.

The Aboriginal connection

Looking down the plains, Coorabakh National Park. Photo: John Spencer

Before Europeans arrived, the area was the traditional domain of the Ngaamba People. Research suggests that they once used the dramatic cliff lines and distinctive volcanic formations to navigate the region. They may also have been important for cultural practices, sites of sacred ceremonies and other social gatherings.

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