If you are ever in the Port Stephens area you MUST do the Tomaree Head Summit Walk. The views from here are absolutely incredible and it is only a 20 minute walk up to the top! Here’s all you need to know about the Tomaree Head Summit Walk!
TOMAREE HEAD SUMMIT WALK
Distance: 1.3km each way
Difficulty: moderate (short but steep walk)
Tomaree Head is located in Tomaree National Park, Port Stephens. The National Park stretches from Tomaree Head to Anna Bay, and Tomaree Head lies at the southern headland of Port Stephens. At 161 metres high the views from the summit of Tomaree Head are spectacular and the walk to the top makes a really popular activity for both locals and tourists. On the maps below you can see the location of Tomaree Head in location to Port Stephens, as well as the route to get to the top of the mountain.
How difficult is the Tomaree Head Summit Walk?
The walk is only 1.3km each way but it is quite steep. That being said, as a relatively fit person I didn’t find it too challenging. I did see a couple of quite large people along the track, and although they were going slower and were a little out of breath going up, they still managed. So even if your fitness level is lower the walk is still manageable and I still recommend you give it a go if you think you can reach the top.
The great thing is that the majority of the track is paved with a steady uphill incline but there are benches along the way for you to rest if you need. I promise once you get to the top, the views are absolutely worth it! I was completely blown away by how incredible the view was. So even if the walk takes you longer than you would like, do not give up!
What to bring with you on the Tomaree Head Summit Walk
- it is possible to complete the walk in thongs (flip-flops) but I would suggest to wear trainers, especially as you go up some metal staircases and steep brick paths that can be slippery when wet.
- make sure to bring some water, especially if you will be coming up here in the middle of a hot sunny day.
- binoculars if you want to do some whale watching.
- note as this walk goes through National Park you are not allowed to bring dogs.
Where does the track to the top of Tomaree Summit start?
To reach the start of the walk head to the far end of Shoal Bay. Drive along Shoal Bay Road right to the end until you get to the boom gate by Tomaree Lodge. You’ll then see several parking spots on your right hand side. You can park for free here whilst you do the walk. These parking spots are right in front of the Tomaree Track and the Zenith Beach Track, so they are the best location to park. If these spots are full there are parking spots further back along Shoal Bay Road, also free.
Toilets are located 350 metres from the base of the walk by the Shoal Bay Boat Ramp and there aren’t any located along the walk so I would suggest you go to the bathroom before you start the walk if you need it.
Take the Tomaree Track up to the summit. The track starts on a paved brick uphill route just to the side of the small parking area. It winds it’s way around, a little bit steep in parts, so do be careful if it has rained recently as it can be a little bit slippery. The path then turns into a concrete path. After a few hundred metres you will reach a junction that points right to the picnic area and left to the gun emplacements. Go left, then shortly after you’ll see a steep metal staircase infront of you. Head up the staircase and you’ll find another one shortly after to climb aswell.
As you get nearer to the summit you’ll level out and walk across some metal boardwalk. The views out across Shoal Bay and Port Stephens from here are absolutely stunning. Then you’ll reach the lookout over Zenith Beach and Fingal Spit, but keep walking up the stairs until you get to the very top of the mountain, where the views are unbeatable.
Tomaree Mountain Summit
From the lookout you will look down to Zenith Beach and Shark Island on one side and Shoal Bay and Port Stephens on the other.
If you walk around to the other side you will also see uninterrupted views of Yacaaba Head and the Yacaaba Spit which is also really beautiful. The views from up here are just incredible and this was definitely a highlight for me of all the things to do in the region.
Crossing the Sand Spit to Fingal Island (Shark Island)
As mentioned, from the summit of Tomaree Mountain you can see Fingal Island (also known as Shark Island). Here on Fingal Island is the Port Stephens Lighthouse that was built in 1862.
At low tide you can actually go across the spit of sand at Fingal Beach to the island and across to the lighthouse! Lots of people however don’t time it right with the tides and by the time they have finished exploring Fingal Head Island the tide has risen. They then get stuck and can’t get back across to the mainland (meaning they have to wait a few hours for the tide to lower again!).
If you do this walk it is REALLY important you make sure you check the tide times before you attempt to cross. It can get very dangerous if you try to cross when the tide is high. The currents are really strong here and the current is coming in two directions towards you. Lives have been lost by people trying to cross at high tide so just be careful.
Even at low tide you will probably get a little wet here. You may want to bring a waterproof bag for any valuables or leave them securely in your car. And take your shoes off – you don’t want to lose a thong along the way or get your trainers soaking!
Beaches in Tomaree National Park
After you’ve climbed to the top of the summit you’ll probably be keen for a dip in the ocean to cool down afterwards. Luckily there are several beaches here and all of them are stunning.
The stunning Zenith Beach which can be seen from the Tomaree Head Summit can be reached within a couple of minutes from the car park along the Zenith Beach Track. It is a lovely beach with white sand and has stunning views across to Fingal Island. Tomaree Head towers right next to Zenith Beach you so you can look up and see just how high you climbed!
Further past Zenith Beach is Wreck Beach, Box Beach and then Fingal Beach – where the spit is. You can’t walk from beach to beach along the coastline though because of the headlands – you will need to head back on the path then walk across to the next trail. To get from Zenith Beach to Wreck Beach take the Shoal Bay East Trail. It is 1.6km long and will take around 25 minutes to walk there – click here to see the route on Google maps. To carry on to Box Beach continue taking this trail until you get to Box Beach Road.
If you want to park your car near Wreck Beach the closest you can park is on Verona Road. From here take the Wreck Beach Trail for 1km to Wreck Beach.
At the most western part of Tomaree National Park you’ll find the beaches of Samurai Beach and One Mile Beach. Note Samurai Beach is a nudist beach.
Take care when swimming as the beaches here in Tomaree National Park are not patrolled and there can be strong rips and undercurrents.
If you are looking for a good place for snorkelling, Big Rocky is a very good place. Big Rocky can only be reached by a 1km walk or by 4WD down Big Rocky Trail.
You will drive through Nelson Bay to get to Shoal Bay. On the way into Nelson Bay you will see a turning for Gan Gan Lookout (just labelled ‘lookout’). You can drive all the way to the top – there is space for about 8 cars up here. About a 50 metre walk left from the car park takes you to the lookout.
The view over the bay is really stunning and offers a nice perspective of the bay but I did prefer the view from Tomaree Head Summit. This view is great though if you are unable to do the Tomaree Summit Walk as there is no strenuous walking and the short walk to the viewpoint is flat, making it wheelchair/buggy accessible.
Of course, Nelson Bay is home to Dolphin Swim Australia – the only company in Australia where you can swim with dolphins in the wild! This is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, and as Port Stephens is often named the dolphin capital of Australia, you have to add this onto your bucket list! Around 165 bottlenose dolphins live here in the port so your chances of seeing the dolphins are very high.
Nearby Places to Visit
The nearest city to Tomaree Head is Newcastle, located just on the other side of Worimi National Park. It is about one hour away in the car and is definitely worth a visit. The ocean pool known as The Bogey Hole is one of the best ocean pools in the world – click here to read more!
If you are looking to explore the best sea caves in NSW head to Caves Beach – click here for all you need to know!
How to get to Port Stephens and Tomaree National Park
Tomaree National Park is located 155km northeast of Sydney. It should take around 2.5 hours to drive to Port Stephens from Sydney, and about 1 hour from Newcastle.