Perch Hole picnic area

Lake Innes Nature Reserve

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Perch Hole picnic area, beside Lake Innes, is an idyllic spot for a family celebration, a romantic picnic, or to get away from it all and enjoy some solitude in the middle of nature.

Picnic areas
Lake Innes Nature Reserve
What to
Hat, sunscreen, drinking water
Please note
Remember to take your binoculars if you want to go bird watching.

Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a relaxing day by the water at Perch Hole picnic area.

People come from miles around to take in this beautiful setting, where you can also enjoy fishing, kayaking, canoeing and swimming in this large estuarine lake in the middle of the reserve. Birdwatching is another highlight here, as the lake supports a variety of birdlife including osprey, black swans and wood ducks, as well as many other aquatic animals.

Perhaps the best way to enjoy the lake though is to explore it by kayaking, canoeing, or setting sail in a small motored dingy.

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

General enquiries

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about the Perch Hole picnic area.

Getting there and parking

Perch Hole picnic area is in the eastern precinct of Lake Innes Nature Reserve. To get there:

  • From Port Macquarie CBD, head south on Ocean Drive and continue for approximately 14km
  • Turn right at the sign indicating Perch Hole picnic area, shortly before the town of Lake Cathie.
  • Follow the signs to the picnic area

Road quality

  • Unsealed roads

Vehicle access

  • 2WD vehicles

Weather restrictions

  • All weather


Parking is available at Perch Hole picnic area.

Best times to visit

There are lots of things to enjoy when you visit Perch Hole picnic area in Lake Innes Nature Reserve. Here are some of the highlights.


Go birdwatching or enjoy wildlife-spotting around the lake.


Enjoy getting out on the water canoeing, kayaking or fishing.


Cool down when the weather is hot by swimming in lovely Lake Innes.


Take a guided tour of Innes Ruins and learn about the area’s intriguing history.

Weather, temperature and rainfall

Summer temperature


16°C and 27°C

Highest recorded


Winter temperature


7°C and 17°C

Lowest recorded



Wettest month


Driest month


The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day



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

Picnic tables

Maps and downloads

Safety messages

Fishing safety

Fishing from a boat, the beach or by the river is a popular activity for many national park visitors. If you’re planning a day out fishing, check out these fishing safety tips.

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).

Paddling safety

To make your paddling or kayaking adventure safer and more enjoyable, check out these paddling safety tips.

River and lake safety

The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you're visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips.



A current NSW recreational fishing licence is required when fishing in all waters.



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.


NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

Learn more

Perch Hole picnic area is in Lake Innes Nature Reserve. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

Early settlement history

 Innes Ruins, Lake Innes Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

Lake Innes Ruins is the remains of the elaborate estate built in the 1830s-40s by convicts and free labour for Major Archibald Clunes Innes, an entrepreneur and important figure in the settlement of Port Macquarie. Innes was convinced that Port Macquarie would become the main gateway to the coastal area around the Hastings River and to nearby New England, so the extensive complex was an ambitious creation by one of the most influential of the early European settlers in the area. Sadly, the Depression of the 1840s brought Innes to near insolvency, prompting the family to leave the estate by the 1850’s and move to Newcastle where Archibald Innes was appointed Magistrate. Today, its ruins serve as an educational reminder of the area's early settlement history, and are a testimony to the ambition and tenacity of the early settlers.

  • Innes Ruins Innes Ruins at Lake Innes Nature Reserve, near Port Macquarie, is closed until further notice due to the impacts of bushfires in October 2019.

Fascinating wildlife and bird life

Lake Innes, Lake Innes Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

Numerous local birds and wildlife call the reserve home. On your visit to the park, you're likely to spot, koalas, kangaroos, possums and gliders, as well as various reptiles and amphibians. Among the birds you might spot on or around the lake are ospreys, ducks and black swans, so be sure to have your binoculars handy for a spot of bird watching. The reserve also contains extensive wetlands, including the Innes Swamp, which supports a number of sedges and rushes. On the edges of Lake Innes lie swaths of endangered salt marsh and on the eastern edge of the reserve, you can see the Christmas Bell Plains - a mosaic of coastal heath and swamp that are gorgeous when in bloom in summertime.

  • Googik Heritage walking track Enjoy walking, hiking or cycling along Googik Heritage walking track in Lake Innes Nature Reserve while taking in some of the great sights of Port Macquarie.
  • Perch Hole picnic area Perch Hole picnic area, beside Lake Innes, is an idyllic spot for a family celebration, a romantic picnic, or to get away from it all and enjoy some solitude in the middle of nature.

Get active

Innes Ruins, Lake Innes Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

Lake Innes Nature Reserve provides opportunities for a number of fun recreational activities both on the land and lake. Enjoy fishing, swimming and kayaking in Lake Innes via Perch Hole picnic area. Go bushwalking and bird watching on the fire trails that run along the Christmas Bell Plains. Or, take a guided tour of the historic Innes Ruins and learn about Port Macquarie's early history.

Education resources (1)

Perch Hole picnic area, Lake Innes Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer/NSW Government