With its beautiful stretch of sand backed by wild dunes, Hawks Nest is a classic Aussie seaside destination, offering water sports, boating, fishing and surfing as well as an impressive smattering of cafes, restaurants and galleries to reflect its chilled coastal vibe. Just a few hours north of Sydney, the town is accessed via a bridge across the Myall River from Tea Gardens, the gateway to the Myall Lakes National Park in all its watery and bushland glory.
Sun & surf
Separated from Port Stephens by the prominent Yacaaba Headland, Hawks Nest is best defined by its spectacular ocean beach, which is patrolled at the southern end (also known as Bennett’s Beach). Meanwhile, on the bayside, tranquil Jimmy’s Beach offers sheltered areas for children to play in and is popular with picnickers.
Take a hike
For a sensational overview of the region, take the challenging, 6km Yacaaba Headland Walking Track, ascending 228m from Bennett’s Beach through tall open forest and a rocky ridgeline to the summit. From the top, you can see as far as Seal Rocks and Barrington Tops, while out to sea, Cabbage Tree Island protects the only known breeding colony of the endangered Gould’s Petrel.
Follow the Dark Point Walking Track through the dunes to discover Dark Point Aboriginal Place, a rocky headland overlooking Broughton Island that served as a ceremonial and feasting place for Worimi people for more than 4,000 years. You can also extend this walk by continuing onto the Mungo Walking Track, a 21km hike through the Myall Lakes National Park that takes in Aboriginal and post-colonial heritage sites as well as a diversity of landscapes.
Discover the river
The many moods of the tranquil Myall River unfold on a guided kayak tour with Ezy Kayaks Hawks Nest or Lazy Paddles. You can also hire a kayak or stand up paddle board for self-exploration, paddling along the river to the remote Engels Reach Picnic Area or Pipers Creek Picnic Area for a scenic lunch.
With its stretch of riverside cafes and restaurants, Tea Gardens is the place to head for a seafood dinner or casual lunch. The iconic Tillermans is the longest-operating restaurant on the NSW North Coast, focusing on regional cuisine; while Tea Gardens Boatshed is a popular meeting place for breakfast and lunch.
Getting there & where to stay
Perfect for a beachside escape or family holiday, Hawks Nest is around three hours’ drive north of Sydney, 45min from Newcastle Airport and 90min from Taree Airport. Coach services also run from Sydney via Newcastle. You can make this a memorable stop on a North Coast road trip.
Accommodation in Hawks Nest ranges from motels to beachside holiday parks and camping grounds. You’ll find plenty of camping options, with the alluring attractions of the beautiful Myall Lakes National Park right next door.