Wyrrabalong National Park
If you’re into whale watching, the Central Coast’s Crackneck lookout and picnic area is ideal. Its views over The Entrance and Shelly Beach also look great in photos.
- Wyrrabalong National Park
- Please note
- Remember to take your binoculars if you want to whale watch
- You can easily access The Coast walking track from this lookout
Uncover the secret of local whale watchers and surfers at Crackneck lookout. Make a beeline for this atmospheric lookout between May and August and you may just be rewarded with views of whales swimming past on their northern migration, and surfers can check out wave conditions.
Crackneck lookout is a fantastic place for a photo stop or picnic at any time of year. Spread out a rug on the grass or set up at one of the picnic tables. You’ll be surrounded by panoramic views of Shelly Beach, which continue along the Central Coast past Norah Head, Tuggerah Lake and The Entrance. It’s a popular spot for hang gliding, so look up to the sky to see them drifting through the air.
If you’re feeling energetic after a picnic lunch, why not take a short walk along The Coast walking track? The track stretches north for about 2km to Bateau Bay Beach picnic area, or south to Forresters Beach, about 1.5km away.
Take a virtual tour of Crackneck lookout captured with Google Street View Trekker.
For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/lookouts/crackneck-lookout/local-alerts
- National Parks Contact Centre
- 7am to 7pm daily
- 1300 072 757 (13000 PARKS) for the cost of a local call within Australia excluding mobiles
- in Wyrrabalong National Park in the Sydney and surrounds region
Wyrrabalong National Park is open from 5.30am to 8pm during daylight saving and 5.30am to 6pm rest of year.
All the practical information you need to know about Crackneck lookout.
Getting there and parking
Crackneck lookout is in the southern section of Wyrrabalong National Park.
To get there from Bateau Bay:
- Take Bateau Bay Road for about 500m
- Turn right onto Burrawong Street
- Take the first right to Hilltop Street and follow it to Crackneck Point at the end
- Sealed roads
- 2WD vehicles
- All weather
Parking is available at Crackneck lookout
Best times to visit
There are lots of great things waiting for you in Wyrrabalong National Park. Here are some of the highlights.
A spring visit allows you to see gorgeous wildflower displays as you walk through the park.
It's summertime and the water's great – visit to surf, swim or snorkel in the park's superb beaches and it's a great time of year to fish for prawns and blue swimmer crabs at Tuggerah Lake.
Head to Wyrrabalong or Crackneck lookouts – these high headlands are perfect posts for watching whales on their northern migration.
Weather, temperature and rainfall
20°C and 25°C
10°C and 17°C
The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day
Maps and downloads
Disability access level - medium
Assistance may be required to access this area
- The carpark is conveniently located close to the lookout and picnic area
Bateau Bay (2 km)
Bateau Bay is one of the popular beachside villages along the Central Coast. It's a laid-back spot where you can enjoy the sea and sandy beaches. Why not hire a bateau - it's French for boat - and enjoy a spot of fishing.
Gosford (15 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.
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.
Crackneck lookout is in Wyrrabalong National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:
North Wyrrabalong forms part of traditional Country of the Awabakal People, with south Wyrrabalong (cut off from the north by The Entrance channel) being Darkinjung Country. The park has a rich Aboriginal history and protects many significant cultural sites, including an extensive midden at Pelican Point. You can take a guided tour with Nyanga Walang to find out more about local Darkinjung history.
Red gum forest
The northern section of Wyrrabalong National Park protects the largest stand of Sydney red gums, or Angophoras, on the Central Coast. Explore the red gum forest and enjoy the shade of these magnificent native trees along the Red Gum trail in north Wyrrabalong. See how the forest changes depending on the season – trunks change from orange in summer to pinkish-grey in winter. Visit around December to see the trees adorned with white flowers, and spot honeyeaters in the branches in wintertime. The park is also an important haven for a variety of wildlife, including a number of threatened migratory birds that visit the coastal strip between Forresters Beach and Blue Lagoon in the park’s southern section. There’s even a population of marine turtles in Tuggerah Lake – if you’re lucky, you might see a loggerhead turtle; they have a large head in proportion to the rest of its body.
- Lillypilly loop trail The easy Lillypilly loop trail is a lovely rainforest walk on the NSW Central Coast. Enjoy birdwatching and scenic views over Tuggerah Lakes.
- Pelican Beach Road lookout Pelican Beach Road lookout offers scenic views over The Entrance and Pelican Beach and is a great spot for whale watching. The beach is popular for fishing and surfing.
The park's spectacular coastal lookouts - both north and south - are ideal vantage points for whale watchers. Bring your binoculars to Crackneck lookout in whale watching season and prepare to be astounded. Whales are frequently seen breaching and tail-slapping nearby. And watch for the blow as they surface for air - there's really nothing like it.
- Tandem paragliding on the NSW Central Coast Take a tandem flight with Cloudbase Paragliding and be treated to a stunning bird’s eye view of Wyrrabalong National Park on the NSW Central Coast.
Plants and animals you may see
Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)
The curious pelican is Australia’s largest flying bird and has the longest bill of any bird in the world. These Australian birds are found throughout Australian waterways and the pelican uses its throat pouch to trawl for fish. Pelicans breed all year round, congregating in large colonies on secluded beaches and islands.
Brown-striped frog (Lymnastes peronii)
One of the most common frogs found in Australia, the ground-dwelling brown-striped frog lives in ponds, dams and swamps along the east coast. Also known as the striped marsh frog, this amphibian grows to 6.5cm across and has a distinctive ‘tok’ call that can be heard all year round.
Cabbage palm (Livistona australis)
With glossy green leaves spanning 3-4m in length and a trunk reaching a height of up to 30m, the cabbage tree palm, or fan palm, is one of the tallest Australian native plants. Thriving in rainforest margins along the east coast of NSW, in summer this giant palm produces striking spikes of cream flowers which resemble cabbages.
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.