Dammerels history walk

Moonee Beach Nature Reserve

Overview

Dammerels history walk is a short, easy stroll taking in historic sites, scenic views and the pioneering heritage of South Solitary Island. Whale watching and birdwatching is recommended.

Where
Moonee Beach Nature Reserve
Accessibility
Hard
Distance
1.9km return
Time suggested
30min - 1hr
Grade
Grade 2
Price
Free
What to
bring
Drinking water, hat, sunscreen
Please note
  • Eastern grey kangaroos inhabit the reserve. They are powerful wild animals capable of causing serious injury if threatened, so please appreciate them from a distance.
  • Remember to take binoculars in you want to birdwatch or whale watch

When the Dammerel family took the job as full-time operators of the signal station here in 1884, they could not have known what lay ahead over the next 40 years. Apart from extremely hard work, which the daughters took on as well, the family had their fair share of tragedy, mishap and love stories.

Dammerels history walk is a short easy stroll with a superb view out to Solitary Islands, named by Captain Cook. Learn all about the workings of an historic 19th century lighthouse with a kerosene light and the signal station that provided its only link to the mainland. Hear the story of the Dammerel family and of the collision in 1886 of Keilawarra and Helen Nicoll. Only two bodies of the 48 who died in the accident washed ashore, and their graves are on Dammerels Head.

Watch for wildlife like grazing eastern grey kangaroos, wallabies, goannas and pythons. Pack a picnic and enjoy the scenic views and this fascinating portion of Australian history.

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/walking-tracks/dammerels-history-walk/local-alerts

General enquiries

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Dammerels history walk.

Track grading

Grade 2

Learn more about the grading system Features of this track
  • Time

    30min - 1hr

  • Quality of markings

    Clearly sign posted

  • Gradient

    Gentle hills

  • Distance

    1.9km return

  • Steps

    Occasional steps

  • Quality of path

    Formed track

  • Experience required

    No experience required

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    Dammerels history walk is in the Look At Me Now precinct of Moonee Beach Nature Reserve. To get there:

    • Take Emerald Beach exit off Pacific Highway and then, once in Emerald Beach, turn into Dammerel Crescent.
    • Park in Look At Me Now carpark and follow the signs

    Park entry points

    Parking

    Parking is available at Dammerels history walk, including several designated disabled spots. Bus parking is available. 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 Moonee Beach Nature Reserve. Here are some of the highlights.

    Spring

    This is the tail end of whale watching season, but the beginning of the best time for birdwatching and wildflower displays.

    Summer

    Enjoy a dip in the ocean or a splash around in the estuary when the weather's at its hottest.

    Winter

    Whale migration begins in this season, and you'll find uninterrupted views of the ocean from beaches, headlands and walking tracks.

    Weather, temperature and rainfall

    Summer temperature

    Average

    18°C and 26°C

    Highest recorded

    43.3°C

    Winter temperature

    Average

    7°C and 19°C

    Lowest recorded

    -3.2°C

    Rainfall

    Wettest month

    March

    Driest month

    September

    The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

    781.9mm

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    Beach safety

    Beaches in this park are not patrolled, and can sometimes have strong rips and currents. These beach safety tips will help you and your family stay safe in the water.

    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.

    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.

    Permitted

    Fishing

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

    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

    Bellingen (41 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.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Coffs Harbour (15 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.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Woolgoolga (6 km)

    Woolgoolga is a busy rural service town with a large Sikh population. It features a coastal setting surrounded by banana farms and forested hills.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Learn more

    Dammerels history walk is in Moonee Beach Nature Reserve. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

    Rare and threatened

    Eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus), Moonee Beach Nature Reserve. Photo: Rob Cleary/Seen Australia

    Little bent-winged bats roost in nursery caves on the headlands of Moonee Beach Nature Reserve. Producing only one offspring each year and being particularly vulnerable to disturbance by humans, they are, unsurprisingly, an endangered species. Eastern grey kangaroos are found throughout the reserve and swamp wallabies frequent the coastal rainforests and heathlands. 80 bird species are known, including 10 endangered species, such as sooty and pied oyster-catchers and black-necked storks. Five threatened plant species survive in the salt spray and shallow soil on the surface of the headlands. To the untrained eye these plant communities, hidden within the grass, don't look like much. But to a botanist they are EEC (ecologically endangered communities) and their plight probably keeps some of them awake at night.

    • Look At Me Now Headland walk It’s an easy hike along Look At Me Now Headland walk, with scenic views all the way and a lookout over Moonee Beach. This is a great place for whale watching in winter and birdwatching in spring.
    • Moonee Creek canoe route For those into kayaking, canoeing or fishing, Moonee Creek canoe route is the ideal alternative way to enjoy the reserve. This pristine estuary is at the southern end of Moonee Beach.

    Settling in

    Look At Me Now Headland walk, Moonee Beach Nature Reserve. Photo: David Young

    The 1880s were a big decade for newcomers to the area and the history is fascinating. From 1884, South Solitary Island signal station was operated by the Dammerel family. Only a couple of years into what would become a 40-year job, there was a collision at sea between Keilawarra and Helen Nicoll. Lone fossicker Frederick Fiddaman spent much of the 1880s searching for gold, and evidence of his toils can still be seen at Diggers Point. A century later, locals protested long and hard, successfully preventing the area becoming a site for sewage ocean outfall. Only in 1995 were Look At Me Now Headland, Diggers Point and Bare Bluff added to the reserve.

    • Dammerels history walk Dammerels history walk is a short, easy stroll taking in historic sites, scenic views and the pioneering heritage of South Solitary Island. Whale watching and birdwatching is recommended.

    This powerful place

     Moonee Beach Nature Reserve. Photo: Rob Cleary/Seen Australia

    Look At Me Now Headland is significant to local Gumbaynggirr people as an important mythological site and a powerful place within their homeland. Evidence of everyday lives of Aboriginal heritage and its people remains in the form of middens, campsites, ceremonial sites and areas where stone axes were ground. The name Moonee comes from 'Munim-Munim', which is the Gumbaynggirr name for the area. It means 'rocky', reflecting the original importance of this place for axe-making.

    • Look At Me Now Headland walk It’s an easy hike along Look At Me Now Headland walk, with scenic views all the way and a lookout over Moonee Beach. This is a great place for whale watching in winter and birdwatching in spring.

    Education resources (1)

    Dammerals Historical walk, Moonee Beach Nature Reserve. Photo: A Walton/NSW Government