Five Islands walking track

Saltwater National Park

Overview

This gorgeous coastal walking track follows a part of the Saltwater National Park coastline that is rich in Aboriginal history with great spots for swimming, fishing, surfing, and sailing, near Taree.

Where
Saltwater National Park
Accessibility
Hard
Distance
2.4km return
Time suggested
30min - 1hr
Grade
Grade 4
Price
Free
Please note

  • It's a good idea to put sunscreen on before you set out and remember to take a hat and drinking water
  • Remember to take your binoculars if you want to birdwatch

Experience the beauty of coastal landscape on Five Islands walking track as you explore the surrounding salt and fresh water environments. Setting out from Saltwater picnic area, this flat to gently rippled walk meanders through coastal heath and paperbark swamp before it crosses over Saltwater Gully, where you’ll enter Khappinghat Nature Reserve in the west.

Aboriginal heritage is plentiful at Saltwater National Park, and along this walk you'll see traces of their heritage in the form of scarred trees, middens and fish traps.

Saltwater Gully forms part of a system of waterways which means you’ll experience rainforest, mangroves, salt flats, sedge and wetlands, all in one walk. Khappinghat Creek, where you can see the 'five islands', is the largest area of undeveloped wetlands and the only naturally opening and closing estuarine system on the mid north coast of NSW.

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/five-islands-walking-track/local-alerts

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Five Islands walking track.

Track grading

Grade 4

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

    30min - 1hr

  • Quality of markings

    Clearly sign posted

  • Gradient

    Flat

  • Distance

    2.4km return

  • Steps

    Occasional steps

  • Quality of path

    Rough track, many obstacles

  • Experience required

    No experience required

Getting there and parking

Five Islands walking track starts at Saltwater picnic area in Saltwater National Park. To get there:

  • Take Old Bar Road from Taree/Pacific Highway
  • Drive 10km east and turn right into Saltwater Road
  • Follow Saltwater Road past the village of Wallabi Point
  • Saltwater picnic area is at the end of Saltwater Road

Parking

Parking is available at Saltwater picnic area.

Best times to visit

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

Autumn

Take walks around the headland and through to adjoining Khappinghat Nature Reserve.

Spring

Enjoy whale watching from the viewing platform at Saltwater Point from August through November.

Summer

Swim, surf and sunbathe on the beaches, canoe and kayak in the creek, or enjoy a picnic on the grass under the shady rainforest trees.

Weather, temperature and rainfall

Summer temperature

Average

17°C and 29°C

Highest recorded

45.2°C

Winter temperature

Average

8°C and 21°C

Lowest recorded

-5°C

Rainfall

Wettest month

March

Driest month

August

The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

280.2mm

Facilities

Drinking water

Water is not available in this area so it's a good idea to bring your own

Maps and downloads

Safety messages

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.

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

Forster (18 km)

Dominated by water sports Forster is the centre of the Great Lakes area.

www.visitnsw.com

Old Bar (4 km)

As well as its beachside attractions, Old Bar is an ideal base for exploring nearby natural attractions. Crowdy Head National Park and the beautiful waterways of Myall lakes National Park are just two of the best.

www.visitnsw.com

Taree (14 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

Five Islands walking track is in Saltwater National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

Spiritually significant landscape

 Headland walking track, Saltwater National Park. Photo: John Spencer

Saltwater Beach and its surrounds are a cultural landscape of great importance to the local Aboriginal Biripi tribe. There are several sites related to the Dreamtime within the park, and the area is declared an Aboriginal Place. Joint management with Aboriginal people and local residents, in association with Saltwater Tribal Council and NPWS, gives this park special local importance.

  • Five Islands walking track This gorgeous coastal walking track follows a part of the Saltwater National Park coastline that is rich in Aboriginal history with great spots for swimming, fishing, surfing, and sailing, near Taree.
  • Saltwater picnic area Enjoy relaxed picnicking or barbecues at this well-equipped picnic area with ocean beaches and walking tracks nearby where you can swim, fish, surf, kayak or birdwatch.

Striking plant life

Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae), Saltwater National Park. Photo: John Spencer

Parts of the park are listed as endangered ecological communities and there are a number of rare and lovely plant species to be spotted here. Keep your eyes out on the walking tracks for magenta lilly pilly, a small tree with dark shiny leaves, magenta-coloured fruit and white-flowered wax plant. Pink-flowering pinnate boronia, and the golden flowers of the wallum banksia, among others, can all be seen in Saltwater National Park. The park also supports many marine-dependant species, such as the white-bellied sea eagle, as well as endangered or vulnerable species including the pied oystercatcher, little tern, the flesh-footed shearwater and osprey.

  • Headland walking track This short walk around the headland takes you to a whale watching viewing platform, has Aboriginal history, is near Khappinghat Nature Reserve near Taree.

Surf's up

Wallabi Beach, Saltwater National Park. Photo: Kevin Carter

Saltwater Beach's headland is a highly popular surfing point break used for recreational surfing, as well as club and competition surf events. Take a stroll through a rainforest walking track, and be sure to do a spot of whale watching at Saltwater Point. The adjacent Saltwater Beach and Wallabi Beach are popular surfing and swimming areas.

  • Khappinghat Creek At the flat water Khappinghat Creek, kayak or canoe through undeveloped wetlands, mangroves and rainforest. Swimming and fishing near Taree on the mid-north coast of NSW.
  • Saltwater picnic area Enjoy relaxed picnicking or barbecues at this well-equipped picnic area with ocean beaches and walking tracks nearby where you can swim, fish, surf, kayak or birdwatch.

Unique geology and landscape

Saltwater headland, Saltwater National Park. Photo: Kevin Carter

Saltwater headland, which separates Wallabi Beach and Saltwater Beach, is one of only three headlands between Wallis Lake and the Manning River. Khappinghat Creek, which borders the park, is the largest area of undeveloped wetlands and the only naturally opening and closing estuarine system on the mid-north coast of NSW.

  • Five Islands walking track This gorgeous coastal walking track follows a part of the Saltwater National Park coastline that is rich in Aboriginal history with great spots for swimming, fishing, surfing, and sailing, near Taree.
  • Headland walking track This short walk around the headland takes you to a whale watching viewing platform, has Aboriginal history, is near Khappinghat Nature Reserve near Taree.

Education resources (1)

Saltwater headland, Saltwater NP. Photo: Kevin Carter/NSW Government