Hunter Wetlands National Park

Overview

Just a short drive from Newcastle is Hunter Wetlands National Park, a wildlife sanctuary with family-friendly walking, cycling, fishing and birdwatching.

Read more about Hunter Wetlands National Park

It’s hard to believe Hunter Wetlands National Park, a haven for nature-lovers, is so close to the city of Newcastle. Pop the kids and their bikes in the car and head to Ash Island, where Riverside Park is just the spot for a picnic and easy cycling – or walks if you prefer – through rainforests and mangroves. You can also meander to the old World War II radar station or explore the ruins of Milham’s Farmhouse.

For twitchers, this is paradise. More than 200 species of birds either live in or migrate through the Hunter estuaries. One of the most popular spots for birdwatching is Stockton Sandspit, right next to Stockton Bridge, where shorebirds such as curlews and avocets come to roost and feed.

The diverse ecosystems also mean that underwater life is abundant. Bring your fishing rod or handline and try your luck off the jetty at Riverside Park. You won’t be the only one trying to catch a fish – pelicans, cormorants and sea eagles are often spotted here.

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/hunter-wetlands-national-park/local-alerts

Contact

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Hunter Wetlands National Park.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    From Newcastle:

    • Drive north along the Pacific Highway towards Hexham
    • Just before Hexham McDonalds (on the left at the lights), turn right across the Ash Island Bridge.

    Park entry points

    Parking

    Road quality

    • Unsealed roads

    Vehicle access

    • 2WD vehicles

    By bike

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

    By public transport

    For information about public transport options, visit NSW Transport – Newcastle Buses and Ferries.

    Best times to visit

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

    Autumn

    With the weather mild, now is the time to get those bicycles out and ride the paths around Ash Island.

    Spring

    Pack a picnic to eat at Scotts Point or Riverside Park This is also the time you'll see the cream flowers of the mangroves .

    Summer

    This is the best time for birdwatching at Stockton Sandspit, as many of the migratory birds are here feeding. Make sure you're there at low-tide.

    Weather, temperature and rainfall

    Summer temperature

    Average

    20°C and 25°C

    Highest recorded

    42°C

    Winter temperature

    Average

    10°C and 18°C

    Lowest recorded

    1.8°C

    Rainfall

    Wettest month

    March

    Driest month

    November

    The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

    283.7mm

    Facilities

    Toilets

    Picnic tables

    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

    Newcastle (14 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

    Charlestown (16 km)

    Charlestown lies just 12 km south of Newcastle. It's a key town centre at the northern end of Lake Macquarie.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Cessnock (38 km)

    Some of the finest wines in the world are created in the Hunter Valley and its towns, gourmet food is acclaimed and luxury, boutique accommodations are matched by the most beautiful natural scenery.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Learn more

    Hunter Wetlands National Park is a special place. Here are just some of the reasons why:

    World-class wetlands

    Wetlands, Hunter Wetlands National Park. Photo: Susan Davis

    Hunter Wetlands National Park makes up part of the Hunter Estuary Wetlands Ramsar site (the Ramsar convention recognises wetlands of international importance). This peaceful area is important for many species of birds, including 45 that migrate internationally. The green and golden bell frogs, both threatened species, breed in the freshwater lagoons. The mangroves here also provide maternity roosts for tiny bats, including the eastern free-tail bat.

    • Rainforest walk to Riverside Park Rainforest walk to Riverside Park, near Newcastle, is suitable for walking or cycling and crosses Ash Island, ending by the river where you can fish and birdwatch.
    • Riverside Park The family-friendly Riverside Park, near Newcastle, is the perfect base for cycling, walking, fishing and birdwatching on Ash Island.

    Feather bluster

    Sunset over Hunter Wetlands National Park. Photo: Susan Davis

    The Hunter River and its estuaries are home to a number of habitats - freshwater wetlands, mangroves and coastal rainforest among them - making the area a haven for birdlife. More than 200 species of birds live here or pass through on their migration. Head to Stockton Sandspit, where shorebirds - plovers, oystercatchers and curlews, to name a few - roost and feed on the mud flats. Along the river foreshore, you'll also likely see pelicans, spoonbills, black swans and, sweeping over the water searching for fish, sea eagles and swamp harriers.

    Early evidence

    World War II Radar Station, Hunter Wetlands National Park. Photo: Susan Davis

    Get a taste of some of the area's history. From the picnic area at Riverside Park, you can walk through the Kooragang City Farm precinct and find the ruins of the farmhouse and dairy built by William Milham, who ran a property here with the first European owner of Ash Island, AW Scott. Also on the island is a heritage-listed World War II radar 'igloo'.

    • Rainforest walk to Riverside Park Rainforest walk to Riverside Park, near Newcastle, is suitable for walking or cycling and crosses Ash Island, ending by the river where you can fish and birdwatch.
    • Scotts Point Way to Riverside Park trail Enjoy an easy walk or bike ride along the river on the Scott Point to Riverside Park trail, Ash Island, as it takes you past excellent spots for fishing and birdwatching.

    All-ages adventure

    Stockton Sandspit lookout, Hunter Wetlands National Park. Photo: Susan Davis

    The action all starts at Riverside Park. Here, you'll find a picnic area and paths leading off around Ash Island. They're all flat and wide, so perfect for getting kids on their bikes for some fresh air. Take a walk through the wetlands and identify different species of birds. Head to the deepwater jetty and do some fishing. There's quite the underwater bounty around here and, whether your spot is the jetty or the river foreshores, you can haul in flathead, whiting, tailor and bream.

    • Rainforest walk to Riverside Park Rainforest walk to Riverside Park, near Newcastle, is suitable for walking or cycling and crosses Ash Island, ending by the river where you can fish and birdwatch.
    • Riverside Park The family-friendly Riverside Park, near Newcastle, is the perfect base for cycling, walking, fishing and birdwatching on Ash Island.
    • Scotts Point Way to Riverside Park trail Enjoy an easy walk or bike ride along the river on the Scott Point to Riverside Park trail, Ash Island, as it takes you past excellent spots for fishing and birdwatching.

    Education resources (1)

    School excursions (2)

    What we're doing

    Hunter Wetlands 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.

    Hunter Wetlands National Park. Photo: Susan Davis/NSW Government