Lake Innes Nature Reserve

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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.

Current alerts in this area

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Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see


  • 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.

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See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Lake Innes Nature Reserve.


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Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get 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.

    By bike

    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

    Summer temperature


    16°C and 27°C

    Highest recorded


    Winter temperature


    7°C and 17°C

    Lowest recorded



    Wettest month


    Driest month


    The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day



    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 Plus 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).



    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.

    Nearby towns

    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.

    Learn more

    Lake Innes Nature Reserve is a special place. Here are just some of the reasons why:

    Get active

    Innes Ruins, Lake Innes Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

    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

    Lake Innes, Lake Innes Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

    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

     Innes Ruins, Lake Innes Nature Reserve. Photo: John Spencer

    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.