Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park

Overview

Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park offers a variety of water activities and other great things to do like kayaking, swimming, boating and fishing.

Read more about Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park

Some places are so special they demand protection, and such was the case with the stretch of coastal land between Nambucca Heads and Scotts Head, near Macksville. Home to the local Gumbaynggirr People, this area was recognised as a vital spot for state preservation on 23 April, 2010, in a joint management agreement with the Traditional Owners.

Encompassing Warrell Creek, Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park covers an undisturbed coastal dune system, littoral rainforest, shrubland, and estuarine mangroves – covers, in short, a variety of breathtaking natural environments that teem with migratory wildlife and precious endangered species.

Visitors to the park will find a unique marine playground perfect for boating, fishing, and canoeing. Beach tracks lead to short forest hikes, and secluded camping sites accessible by boat or canoe from Warrell Creek make it an ideal spot for an enjoyable camping weekend. Bring your binoculars and swimmers for a lazy afternoon of birdwatching and swimming, or bring a kayak or canoe and go kayaking or canoeing along tranquil Warrell Creek as the sun goes down.

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/visit-a-park/parks/gaagal-wanggaan-south-beach-national-park/local-alerts

Contact

  • in the North Coast region
  • Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park is always open but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

  • More
See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    From Macksville:

    • Drive 4km south along Pacific Highway
    • Take the turn-off to Scotts Head
    • At Scotts Head, follow the directions to the boat ramp at Weir Reserve.
    • Continue along South Pacific Drive and South Beach access trail

    Park entry points

    Parking

    By bike

    Check out the Bicycle information for NSW website for more information.

    By public transport

    Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park is not accessible by public transport.

    Best times to visit

    There are lots of great things waiting for you in Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park. Here are some of the highlights.

    Spring

    Go beach walking along ‘Gaagal Wanggaan,' the original Gumbaynggirr name for Forster or South Beach.

    Summer

    Explore the cool retreat of Warrell Creek by kayaking or canoeing, then settle down for a barbecue at Warrell Creek picnic area.

    Winter

    Wander through the coastal forest on dune sand, enjoying the birdlife and wildflower display.

    Weather, temperature and rainfall

    Summer temperature

    Average

    19°C and 26.7°C

    Highest recorded

    43.3°C

    Winter temperature

    Average

    8.3°C and 19.3°C

    Lowest recorded

    -3.2°C

    Rainfall

    Wettest month

    March

    Driest month

    September

    The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

    404.6mm

    Facilities

    Toilets

    Picnic tables

    Barbecue facilities

    Boat ramp

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    However you discover NSW national parks and reserves, we want you to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Our park and reserve systems contrast greatly so you need to be aware of the risks and take responsibility for your own safety and the safety of those in your care.

    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

    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

    Macksville (18 km)

    Macksville is a relaxed fishing and oyster-farming town centre of a rich rural district. It's on low-lying land around the Nambucca River.

    www.visitnsw.com

    South West Rocks (50 km)

    South West Rocks is a sleepy coastal retreat at its barefoot best. It's an oceanfront holiday town on north-facing Trial Bay.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Bellingen (64 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

    Learn more

    Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park is a special place. Here are just some of the reasons why:

    Enduring Aboriginal culture

    Warrell Creek, Gaagal Wanggaan National Park. Photo: L Orel

    Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park has tremendous cultural significance for the Gumbaynggirr Aboriginal community of Nambucca Valley, with sites that demonstrate continuous use of the area for thousands of years. Gumbaynggirr People used the lands and waterways for sustenance and ritual practices; they continue to use it today, passing knowledge through generations. In recognition of this living heritage, the national park is jointly managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Aboriginal Traditional Owners. Their contribution and knowledge of the area is central to the management of the park and to educating visitors on Aboriginal culture.

    An insect paradise

    Palm forest along creek, Gaagal Wanggaan National Park. Photo: A Ingarfield

    Making up the bulk of the dry land in the park, sand dunes and dry forests of banksia, blackbutts and scribbly gums encourage a rich undergrowth of shrubs and grasses. Flowers bloom in late winter and early spring, and this attracts a variety of insects and butterflies, including the black grass-dart butterfly. Gaagal Wanggaan is also home to an array of bird species, including white-bellied sea eagles, ospreys, white-faced herons, azure kingfishers and black-necked storks, as well as the endangered little tern.

    • Warrell Creek Warrell Creek offers opportunities for kayaking, canoeing and fishing, with nearby places to picnic and secluded camping sites

    Plants and animals you may see

    Animals

    • Australian pelican. Photo: Rob Cleary

      Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

      The curious pelican is Australia’s largest flying bird and has the longest bill of any bird in the world. These Australian birds are found throughout Australian waterways and the pelican uses its throat pouch to trawl for fish. Pelicans breed all year round, congregating in large colonies on secluded beaches and islands.

    • Superb fairy wren. Photo: Ingo Oeland

      Superb fairy wren (Malurus cyaneus)

      The striking blue and black plumage of the adult male superb fairy wren makes for colourful bird watching across south-eastern Australia. The sociable superb fairy wrens, or blue wrens, are Australian birds living in groups consisting of a dominant male, mouse-brown female ‘jenny wrens’ and several tawny-brown juveniles.

    • Closeup of a laughing kookaburra's head and body. Photo: Rosie Nicolai/OEH

      Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae)

      Of the 2 species of kookaburra found in Australia, the laughing kookaburra is the best-known and the largest of the native kingfishers. With its distinctive riotous call, the laughing kookaburra is commonly heard in open woodlands and forests throughout NSW national parks, making these ideal spots for bird watching.

    Plants

    • Cabbage tree palm in Dalrymple-Hay Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer/OEH

      Cabbage palm (Livistona australis)

      With glossy green leaves spanning 3-4m in length and a trunk reaching a height of up to 30m, the cabbage tree palm, or fan palm, is one of the tallest Australian native plants. Thriving in rainforest margins along the east coast of NSW, in summer this giant palm produces striking spikes of cream flowers which resemble cabbages.

    •  Black sheoak. Photo: Barry Collier

      Black sheoak (Allocasuarina littoralis)

      The black sheoak is one of a number of casuarina species found across the east coast of Australia and nearby tablelands. Growing to a height of 5-15m, these hardy Australian native plants can survive in poor or sandy soils. The barrel-shaped cone of the black sheoak grows to 10-30mm long.

    Environments in this park

    Education resources (1)

    What we're doing

    Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park has management strategies in place to protect and conserve the values of this park. Visit the OEH website for detailed park and fire management documents. Here is just some of the work we’re doing to conserve these values:

    Preserving biodiversity

    Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park supports programs that monitor, help recover and secure threatened bird populations. NPWS measures and limits disturbance from recreational users and undertakes frequent monitoring within this park.

    Managing weeds, pest animals and other threats

    Pests and weeds have a significant impact on the ecosystems within Gaagal Wanggaan National Park. Risk assessments for new and emerging weeds are carried out as an ongoing initiative within the park. Pest management is an important part of the work NPWS does to protect the integrity of biodiversity which exists within Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach).

    Conservation program

    Regional pest management strategies

    Weeds and pest animals cause substantial damage to agriculture and our environment, so it’s essential we manage them in NSW national parks and reserves. Our regional pest management strategies aim to minimise the impact of pests on biodiversity in NSW.  We work hard to protect our parks and neighbours from pests and weeds, ensuring measurable results.

    Conserving our Aboriginal culture

    Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park is the traditional Country of the Gumbaynggirr People and boasts a proud legacy of Aboriginal culture. Ongoing NPWS projects are in place to monitor the condition of Aboriginal sites. NPWS shares responsibility for park management with local Aboriginal people, and together they work on issues of conservation, operations and employment, education and training opportunities for Aboriginal people.

    Conservation program

    Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park joint management program

    Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park is jointly managed by the Aboriginal people of the Nambucca Valley and NPWS. As Aboriginal land, it is leased back to the NSW government. The Aboriginal owners have the main say in the running of the park through a board of management. 

    Managing fire

    NSW is one of the most bushfire prone areas in the world as a result of our climate, weather systems, vegetation and the rugged terrain. NPWS is committed to maintaining natural and cultural heritage values and minimising the likelihood and impact of bushfires via a strategic program of fire research, fire planning, hazard reduction, highly trained rapid response firefighting crews and community alerts.

    Conservation program

    Planning for fire

    Bushfires are inevitable across fire-prone vegetation types within NSW national parks. NPWS prepares for wildfires by working with other fire agencies, reserve neighbours and the community to ensure protection of life, property and biodiversity. Every park has its own fire management strategy, devised in consultation with partner fire authorities and the community to plan and prioritise fire management.

    Warrell Creek, Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park. Photo: A Ingarfield