Tomaree Head Summit walk

Tomaree National Park

Overview

Take a guided tour along Tomaree Head Summit walk, absorbing views of Port Stephens and the north coast. When you reach the summit, enjoy a relaxing lunch on the bench by the lookout.

Where
Tomaree National Park
Distance
2.2km return
Time suggested
1hr 30min - 2hrs
Grade
Grade 5
Price
Free
What to
bring
Hat, sunscreen, drinking water, sturdy shoes
Please note
  • Take care along the steep sections on this walk as well as paved areas that can become slippery when wet.
  • Remember to take your binoculars if you want to whale watch – the best time of year is between May and October.
  • Zenith Beach is a sanctuary zone, meaning no collecting or fishing is permitted.

Take the invigorating short walk to the summit of Tomaree Head, 161m above the Port Stephens entrance. As you hike the track, you’ll enjoy unparalleled views of idyllic Port Stephens and its coastline. From the top, you can even see as far as Cabbage Tree and Boondelbah islands – these nature reserves are the world’s only nesting sites for the endangered Gould's petrel.

When you reach the summit, enjoy panoramic views of Yacaaba Head, Cabbage Tree, Boondelbah and Broughton Islands from the north platform. From the south platform, views of Zenith, Wreck and Box Beaches, Fingal Island and Point Stephens Lighthouse will be sure to impress. Be sure to check out the historic World War II gun emplacements. Take your binoculars as you might be lucky to see some dolphins.

There’s a picnic table at the lookout, so if you have time, take a picnic lunch or some morning tea to enjoy as you take in the view. On the way back down, don’t forget to try Fort Tomaree walk.

Take a virtual tour of Tomaree Head Summit walk captured with Google Street View Trekker.

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/tomaree-head-summit-walk/local-alerts

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Tomaree Head Summit walk.

Track grading

Grade 5

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

    1hr 30min - 2hrs

  • Quality of markings

    Clearly sign posted

  • Gradient

    Very steep and difficult

  • Distance

    2.2km return

  • Steps

    Many steps

  • Quality of path

    Formed track

  • Experience required

    No experience required

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    Tomaree Head Summit walk is at Tomaree Head.

    From Nelson Bay:

    • Follow Shoal Bay Road to the lower Zenith Beach carpark

    Park entry points

    Parking

    Parking is available at the lower Zenith Beach carpark or upper Zenith beach carpark.

    On busy days you may need to find a parking spot on Shoal Bay Road.

    Best times to visit

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

    Spring

    A fabulous time to experience Tomaree's wildflowers display.

    Summer

    Cool off with a dip at Shoal Bay or Box beach, or try snorkelling at Zenith beach; a gorgeous and protected marine sanctuary.


    Winter

    Fishermans Bay and Boat Harbour are the best places to spot humpback whales as they migrate north between May and July or you can take a guided tour.

    Weather, temperature and rainfall

    Summer temperature

    Average

    17°C and 27°C

    Highest recorded

    41.5°C

    Winter temperature

    Average

    8°C and 19°C

    Lowest recorded

    1.1°C

    Rainfall

    Wettest month

    May and June

    Driest month

    October and November

    Facilities

    Toilets

    A toilet is available at the boat ramp, a 4 minute walk from the track entry back towards Shoal Bay.

    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).

    Prohibited

    Fishing

    Zenith Beach south is a marine sanctuary zone within the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park. Collecting or fishing is not permitted within this zone.

    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 (38 km)

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

    www.visitnsw.com

    Newcastle (11 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

    Tomaree Head Summit walk is in Tomaree National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

    Aboriginal heritage

    Big Rocky walk, Tomaree National Park. Photo: John Spencer

    Tomaree National Park is the traditional land of Worimi People and provided a range of resources, including food, medicines and shelter. The ancient landscape of the park is part of the cultural knowledge and 'Dreaming' stories of the Worimi People and remains an important Aboriginal place today. A walk along the beaches of Tomaree National Park are a walk along ancient travel routes used by Worimi to travel north and south through their Country.

    Birdlife and koala country

    Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), Tomaree National Park. Photo: John Turbil

    The park's beaches and rocks support sooty oystercatchers and the swamps support active populations of wallum froglet populations of migratory shore birds including the eastern curlew and red-necked stint. See if you can spot the passing bar-tailed godwit - this long-beaked bird holds the record for the longest non-stop flight; 11,000km without a break. Visit in winter to see colourful lorikeets and honeyeaters feeding on wildflowers in the coastal heathland and in summer you'll see migratory tropical species including cuckoos and rainforest pigeons. Look close at the surrounding shoreline and you may find green turtles and dugongs. Tomaree National Park also offers the opportunity to see one of Australia's iconic animals up close. See koalas feasting on swamp mahogany in and around the park, or in the trees around One Mile Beach carpark.

    • Wreck Beach walk The short walk to Wreck Beach offers a private alternative to the beaches of Port Stephens, with opportunities for picnicking and whale watching.

    Ancient landscape

    The northern section of Tomaree National Park has 4 peaks, the largest being Tomaree Head at 162m high. Overall, the landscape is the residual surface of a peneplain uplifted during the tertiary period (65 to 1.8 million years ago) and subsequently eroded, leaving the more resistant volcanic rocks as small hills. Port Stephens is a flooded river valley. The western sections of the park are sand deposits of fluvial and estuarine origin.

    • Tomaree Head Summit walk Take a guided tour along Tomaree Head Summit walk, absorbing views of Port Stephens and the north coast. When you reach the summit, enjoy a relaxing lunch on the bench by the lookout.
    • Wreck Beach walk The short walk to Wreck Beach offers a private alternative to the beaches of Port Stephens, with opportunities for picnicking and whale watching.

    Military history

    Tomaree Head gun enplacements, Tomaree National Park. Photo: John Spencer

    Follow in the footsteps of Australian soldiers on the trail to Tomaree Head. The historic Fort Tomaree played an important role in the defence of Port Stephens during World War II, including Tomaree Head that was solidly armed with gun emplacements. You can take a guided Discovery tour of the gun emplacements to find out more about this historic site.

    • Fort Tomaree walk Fort Tomaree walk is an easy walk that runs just below Tomaree Head Summit walk and takes you to the World War II gun emplacements, used in the defence of east coast Australia during World War II.
    • Point Stephens Lighthouse and Fingal Island Point Stephens Lighthouse on Fingal Island is one of a kind. Kayak or take a boat to the island to explore the lighthouse and historic ruins.
    • World War II gun emplacements Discover the military history of Port Stephens on a guided tour of the historic gun emplacements at Tomaree Head in Tomaree National Park on the north coast of NSW.

    Plants and animals you may see

    Animals

    • Koala. Photo: Lucy Morrell

      Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

      One of the most renowned Australian animals, the tree-dwelling marsupial koala can be found in gum tree forests and woodlands across eastern NSW, Victoria and Queensland, as well as in isolated regions in South Australia. With a vice-like grip, this perhaps most iconic but endangered Australian animal lives in tall eucalypts within a home range of several hectares.

    • White-bellied sea eagle. Photo: John Turbill

      White-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

      White-bellied sea eagles can be easily identified by their white tail and dark grey wings. These raptors are often spotted cruising the coastal breezes throughout Australia, and make for some scenic bird watching. Powerful Australian birds of prey, they are known to mate for life, and return each year to the same nest to breed.

    Plants

    • Old man banksia, Moreton National Park. Photo: John Yurasek

      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.

    • Smooth-barked apple. Photo: Jaime Plaza

      Smooth-barked apple (Angophora costata)

      Smooth-barked apple gums, also known as Sydney red gum or rusty gum trees, are Australian native plants found along the NSW coast, and in the Sydney basin and parts of Queensland. Growing to heights of 15-30m, the russet-coloured angophoras shed their bark in spring to reveal spectacular new salmon-coloured bark.

    • Grass trees, Sugarloaf State Conservation Area. Photo: Michael Van Ewijk

      Grass tree (Xanthorrea spp.)

      An iconic part of the Australian landscape, the grass tree is widespread across eastern NSW. These Australian native plants have a thick fire-blackened trunk and long spiked leaves. They are found in heath and open forests across eastern NSW. The grass tree grows 1-5m in height and produces striking white-flowered spikes which grow up to 1m long.

    Environments in this park

    Education resources (1)

    School excursions (1)

    Tomaree Head Summit Walk, Tomaree National Park. Photo: John Spencer