The Great Lakes region of NSW is unique due to the environmental diversity of the area. In a single day you can discover ocean beaches, tranquil lakes, teeming rivers, rich rainforests and towering eucalypts. The area around Forster – Tuncurry is full of diverse natural attractions and activities that the whole family can enjoy.
A popular spot for locals and tourists alike is the Booti Booti National Park just 10 km south of Forster or 140 km north of Newcastle. Here you can enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the ocean, go for a swim or surf the waves, stretch out your legs on the walking tracks or even go for a dive to view spectacular coral outcrops. A small park entry fee is payable via coin-operated machines at the park entrances.
Cape Hawke in the northern section of the park was sighted by Captain Cook in 1770 but the area was not developed by white settlers for another hundred years. The land is the traditional home of the Worimi and Birpai tribes and evidence of their presence can still be found right throughout the park. If you keep a sharp eye you may spot the site of a midden or stone tools scattered around.
Follow the scenic walkway to the lookout at the top of the headland at Cape Hawke to be rewarded with magnificent 360 degree views. Looking east you can gaze out at the vast Pacific Ocean and the nearby surf beaches. To the south you’ll see the rich greenery of the national park covering the narrow strip of land between the ocean and Wallis Lake. Turn westwards to take in views of the gentle lake with the hills of the escarpment in the distance. The twin towns of Forster – Tuncurry can easily be seen to the north.
Take the family on the Booti Hill / Lakeside walking track in the southern area of the park. Drive down The Lakes Way through the centre of the park to The Ruins campground. You can set up your caravan or pitch your tent here too. The 3.2 km circuit track features a littoral rainforest and access to both surf and lakeside beaches. There are some steep sections but the walk can generally be managed by most people within 2-3 hours. Bring your lunch and swimming gear to enjoy some pleasant stops along the way.
Camping in the park does incur a small fee payable at the park office. See the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service website for current fees plus wheelchair access notes. The Ruins campground is well set up with barbeques, drinking water and amenity blocks. The cafes at Pacific Palms are a short drive south of the park so you won’t have to go without your latte.
Out on the water you can paddle a kayak and explore Wallis Lake at your leisure. Surfers will love the pristine 7 Mile Beach or the seasonally patrolled Elizabeth Beach while kids can collect shells at the aptly named Shelly Beach. Divers can spend many hours exploring the beautiful and biodiverse world below the surface.
Fishing opportunities abound in the park and surrounding waterways. Drop a line from the rocks, take a dinghy out on the lakes and rivers, or join a tour to go deep sea fishing, prawning or visiting the oyster farms.
During winter point your binoculars out to sea to spot whales on their annual migration south. The park has an abundance of wildlife year round. Be there around dawn or dusk to see the kangaroos and wallabies. Goannas regularly visit at The Ruins campground but be cautious when out walking as the park is also home to several varieties of snakes. Avid birdwatchers won’t be disappointed as over 200 species calling the surrounding waterways and forests home.
So whether you are planning a day trip or a longer get-away, a lone adventurer or a young family Booti Botti National Park will be sure to leave you with many beautiful memories.