Lake Innes Nature Reserve
At Lake Innes Nature Reserve, near Port Macquarie, visitors can enjoy cycling, fishing, birdwatching, swimming, kayaking and learning about NSW convict settlement history.
Read more about Lake Innes Nature Reserve
Whether you’re an eager history student or an outdoor adventurer, you’ll find plenty to do at Lake Innes Nature Reserve, not far from Port Macquarie. The reserve features a fascinating historic site set in gorgeous natural scenery with plenty of opportunities for hiking, cycling, birdwatching and water sport activities.
Lake Innes lies at its heart and is a picturesque setting for the historically significant Innes Ruins, which is a great place to learn all about early settlement and convict history in NSW. You can book a tour of the ruins through the Port Macquarie Information Centre.
The lake is also a gorgeous backdrop for picnicking, birdwatching, walking or cycling. Or, get out on the water by kayaking or canoeing across it or enjoying a splash of swimming in its tranquil waters or spot of fishing from Perch Hole. There’s an impressive array of wildlife to admire here too, including osprey, ducks and swans paddling on the lake and the kangaroos, wallabies and dingoes that can be seen throughout the reserve.
For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/lake-innes-nature-reserve/local-alerts
- in the North Coast region
Lake Innes Nature Reserve is always open but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.
Port Macquarie office
02 6588 5555 for general enquiries only, no bookings.
Contact hours: Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.30pm.
- 22 Blackbutt Road, Port Macquarie NSW 2444
- Port Macquarie office
All the practical information you need to know about Lake Innes Nature Reserve.
Getting there and parking
Get driving directions
From Port Macquarie CBD:
- Drive south on Horton Street then west on Gordon Street. Turn and head south on Ocean Drive until you come to Lake Innes Nature Reserve on your right.
Check out the Bicycle information for NSW website for more information.
By public transport
For information about public transport options, visit the NSW country transport info website.
Best times to visit
There are lots of great things waiting for you in Lake Innes Nature Reserve. Here are some of the highlights.
Go birdwatching or enjoy wildlife-spotting around the lake and fire trails.
Enjoy cycling or hiking along Googik heritage walk or get out on the water canoeing, kayaking or fishing.
Cool down when the weather is hot by swimming on lovely Lake Innes or enjoying a relaxed picnic by the lakeside. Take in the gorgeous displays of Christmas bell in bloom along the Christmas Bell Plains.
Take a guided tour of Innes Ruins and learn about the area's intriguing history.
Weather, temperature and rainfall
16°C and 27°C
7°C and 17°C
The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day
Maps and downloads
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.
NSW national parks are no smoking areas.
North Haven (13 km)
Follow an enjoyable coastal track that passes through littoral rainforest, heathland and eucalypt forests at Grants Beach, located on the north side of the Camden Haven River mouth. The track lies behind the beach and is popular for bushwalking and birdwatching.
Port Macquarie (16 km)
Vibrant Port Macquarie is surrounded by beautiful waterways - the Hastings River, canals, creeks, bays and the Pacific Ocean. The city also has a five-star collection of golden-sand beaches stretching from Port Macquarie Beach to Town Beach and north along the 16-km swathe of North Beach.
Wauchope (28 km)
Wauchope is great base for exploring nearby national parks that are part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. Follow the Hastings Forest Way to Werrikimbe National Park, a rugged wilderness of outstanding beauty spread with short and long walks. Willi Willi National Park is a rainforest mountain park with three beautiful walking tracks that follow the river and lead to a sparkling waterfall.
Lake Innes Nature Reserve is a special place. Here are just some of the reasons why:
Lake Innes Nature Reserve provides opportunities for a number of fun recreational activities both on the land and lake. Enjoy fishing, swimming and kayaking in Lake Innes via Perch Hole picnic area. Go bushwalking and bird watching on the fire trails that run along the Christmas Bell Plains. Or, take a guided tour of the historic Innes Ruins and learn about Port Macquarie's early history.
Fascinating wildlife and bird life
Numerous local birds and wildlife call the reserve home. On your visit to the park, you're likely to spot, koalas, kangaroos, possums and gliders, as well as various reptiles and amphibians. Among the birds you might spot on or around the lake are ospreys, ducks and black swans, so be sure to have your binoculars handy for a spot of bird watching. The reserve also contains extensive wetlands, including the Innes Swamp, which supports a number of sedges and rushes. On the edges of Lake Innes lie swaths of endangered salt marsh and on the eastern edge of the reserve, you can see the Christmas Bell Plains - a mosaic of coastal heath and swamp that are gorgeous when in bloom in summertime.
- Googik Heritage walking track Enjoy walking, hiking or cycling along Googik Heritage walking track in Lake Innes Nature Reserve while taking in some of the great sights of Port Macquarie.
- Perch Hole picnic area Perch Hole picnic area, beside Lake Innes, is an idyllic spot for a family celebration, a romantic picnic, or to get away from it all and enjoy some solitude in the middle of nature.
Early settlement history
Lake Innes Ruins is the remains of the elaborate estate built in the 1830s-40s by convicts and free labour for Major Archibald Clunes Innes, an entrepreneur and important figure in the settlement of Port Macquarie. Innes was convinced that Port Macquarie would become the main gateway to the coastal area around the Hastings River and to nearby New England, so the extensive complex was an ambitious creation by one of the most influential of the early European settlers in the area. Sadly, the Depression of the 1840s brought Innes to near insolvency, prompting the family to leave the estate by the 1850’s and move to Newcastle where Archibald Innes was appointed Magistrate. Today, its ruins serve as an educational reminder of the area's early settlement history, and are a testimony to the ambition and tenacity of the early settlers.
Education resources (1)
What we're doing
Lake Innes Nature Reserve 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.