Boarding House Dam picnic area

Watagans National Park

Overview

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.

Type
Picnic areas
Where
Watagans National Park
Accessibility
Hard
Price
Free
What to
bring
Drinking water
Please note
  • The weather in this area can be extreme and unpredictable, so please ensure you’re well-prepared for your visit.
  • There is limited mobile reception in this park
  • Remember to take your binoculars if you want to bird watch

Boarding House Dam picnic area is a must-see starting point for any trip into Watagans National Park.

The boarding house originally accommodated the longest-serving and largest logging camp in the area.

Today, an outstanding rainforest canopy awaits anyone looking for an easy walk, taking in lush ferns and moss-covered boulders and walls along the Circuit walking track. The area is especially popular with families, since the picturesque creek and dam nearby are ideal for a paddle. Whether you choose to unwind in the shade of this luscious rainforest area, or cook up a feast on one of the picnic area’s barbecues, this is a great place to while away the hours.

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/picnic-areas/boarding-house-dam-picnic-area/local-alerts

General enquiries

Park info

  • in Watagans National Park 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.

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about the Boarding House Dam picnic area.

Getting there and parking

Boarding House Dam picnic area is in the Boarding House Dam precinct of Watagans National Park. To get there:

  • Take Cessnock (Freemans Waterhole) exit off the F3
  • Turn right into Freemans Drive then right onto Mount Faulk Road (unsealed after 3kms)
  • Turn left into Watagan Forest Drive
  • Turn right into Boarding House Dam Road
  • The picnic area is at the end of the road

Road quality

Check the weather before you set out, as the road to Boarding House Dam can become slippery when it rains. Prolonged wet weather may cause temporary road closures.

  • Unsealed roads

Vehicle access

  • 2WD vehicles (no long vehicle access)

Weather restrictions

  • 4WD required in wet weather

Parking

Limited parking is available on Boarding House Dam Road. 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 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

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

Toilets

  • Non-flush toilets

Picnic tables

Barbecue facilities

  • Gas/electric barbecues (free)

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.

Bushwalking safety

If you're keen to head out on a longer walk or a backpack camp, always be prepared. Read these bushwalking safety tips before you set off on a walking adventure in national parks.

The walking opportunities in this park are suitable for experienced bushwalkers who are comfortable undertaking self-reliant hiking.

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).

Accessibility

Disability access level - hard

  • Wheelchairs can access this area with some difficulty.
  • Accessible toilets and picnic tables next to the car park

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

Cessnock (17 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

Morisset (14 km)

Morisset is a gateway to the Watagan Mountains. It's a resort and residential town close to huge state forest. It's situated on Lake Macquarie between water and woodlands.

www.visitnsw.com

Newcastle (38 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

Learn more

Boarding House Dam picnic area is in Watagans National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

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.

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.

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.

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.

Education resources (1)

Tree canopy, Watagans National Park