Myall Lakes National Park

We have been to some amazing places in our three months in OZ, but none of them compare to Myall Lakes NP. Fresh water lakes, surf beaches, sand dunes, walking tracks, boat in camping, fishing, tide pools, 4×4 accessible beaches, and its close to two towns! The park has everything you could ask for and then some.

Located an hour north of Newcastle NSW, it is wonderfully easy to get to from the Princes Highway. It is located close to the towns of Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest. It was an easy drive from the camping areas into town for more food or water or what ever you may need. There is a library in town with free wifi and thoroughly happy and helpful local volunteers staff the information center, which even had a nice little book exchange. There was also a little hut in town that sells oysters from the local oyster farms. I am not much for seafood but Courtney tells me they were some of the best oysters she has ever had. The place is worth checking out if you like oysters.

The park itself consisted of beach on the east side and Myall lakes on the west. The two bodies of water are separated by a strip of land which is rather narrow in some parts, meaning one could easily walk from the lake to the beach at will. The campgrounds are well maintained and have indoor pit toilets.

We stayed at White Tree campground as it was relatively small and was on the lake side of the land spit. The camp spaces were only partly separated but they are numbered and large enough to fit a caravan and car easily. Shade was plentiful and our fellow campers were very friendly. The picnic area ran right up the lake and was perfect for swimming. The water was shallow for, we were told by a local, up to 200m from shore, and was the perfect temperature. The sunsets over the lake were an added bonus.

The park has multiple lakes, and multiple beaches, some of which are 4×4 accessible. We did the Johnson Beach walk, about 8km round trip, which took us out to Johnson Beach campground. It was on the upper part of the lake and is only reachable by boat or foot. There are campsites with fire pits and a toilet and would be a wonderful place to stay if one had a tinnie or other small boat available. We stopped at the campground and had another nice little swim. We sat in the shallows for a while and a school of little fish kept us company. Many of them grew rather bold and began nibbling at our stomachs and leg, which was a new experience for both of us.

A group of campers had drove their boats up from the lower lake for the day and offered us the chance to go with them to some of the other beaches. Unfortunately we had company joining us later that day and we had to decline. We would have loved nothing more than a chance to explore more of the parks waterways.

The first day we were there, the lady at the information center informed us that the hole in the wall picnic area was a great spot to go after dark. We decided to take her advice and we were far from disappointed. The picnic area was located a bit south of our campsite and was an easy drive. The tables are located at the top of a dune and the view was spectacular. Since it was a moonless night the stars were on parade. The Milky Way was splattered brilliantly across the sky and we were able to spot the Southern Cross finally. It was amazingly peaceful being alone on the dune and the view was movingly rare. It was so lovely we went back on Saturday.

Friday we drove down and checked out the dunes. The walk up was a bit tough but the landscape was fantastic. A short walk through the pristine sand brought us to a shell-covered beach, where we took a dip and I did some body surfing. After our splash in the surf we walked a short distance down the beach to Dark’s Point, a rocky and plant covered spit of land that juts out into the ocean. There were numerous tide pools along the point with crabs and mollusks, which one of our group pried off the rock for our tasting pleasure. A short time later we were back at camp enjoying lunch.

It was quiet during the week, but as we were having lunch a “Bucks” party showed up, 35 guys with a trailer full of beer with every intention of being anything but quiet. Luckily it was early enough in the day that we could move to a different campsite without issue.

Dee’s Corner is the next campsite to the south. It is a bit smaller than White Tree largely because it has no picnic area. The entrances to the lake are not quite as open, though it is still shallow and warm, but it has fire pits, which White Tree does not. It was much quieter over the weekend despite being totally full by mid afternoon. After re-setting up camp we hopped down to Teagardens beach. The beach had shower facilities, which were nasty, so we used the out door rinse shower to wash our hair and bodies and prepare for the evening. We took a quick trip to Coles and headed back to camp. That night we went out to The Boathouse restaurant for a fantastic, though expensive, dinner to celebrate Valentines Day and have a little “in town” fun.

The next day we drove up to Seal Rocks. It’s about a forty five minute drive north, though it is still part of Myall Lakes NP. The beach was nice and there was a point that had some nice tide pools, but it was not worth the hour and a half drive. The lighthouse is, so we were told, the thing to see there but we didn’t make it that far into the town so never actually saw it.

Sunday we packed up and said goodbye. Before we headed out though, the couple we had been camping next to since Thursday let us borrow their kayaks. We paddled our way back to White Tree, a bit of a paddle since the wind was ferocious and in our face, to see how the camp had fared. We saw the boat the party was “christening” and had a bit of a self-serving laugh about the hung-over looks we saw on quite a few faces. On the paddle back we stuck to the shore and were rewarded with the view of a ray combing the shallows. We followed the ray for a bit, bothered the black swans that frequent the lakes, and said our final fair wells to the park. It was an awesome place to camp and we would do it again in a heartbeat.

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