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Published October 18th 2020
Whale watching, walks & weekend fun
Barry Park is a scenic picnic area located on Marine Drive at the southern end of Fingal Bay, Port Stephens. To get there, you need to drive along the coastal road, past the southern end of Fingal Bay and look for the small car park and entrance up on the headland.
The reserve itself is named after the Barry family, who lived on the site in the 1930s. Since then, it has been transformed into a scenic parkland with ocean views, well-kept bushwalks and spectacular lookouts. Many weddings are held at this venue throughout the year and it is easy to see why, with sweeping views over the bay and out to the white sands of Fingal Spit. It is a "must-see" when you visit the popular coastal town of Fingal Bay.
The main park has a few covered picnic tables and a free BBQ to use, so you can stay for a while and enjoy the relaxed garden ambience. There is also a new toilet facility at the back of the parkland, which is handy for groups who stay all day.
If you continue to walk past the picnic tables, down the short dirt path, there is a small whale watching platform with 180-degree views over the water. There is also signage to read which explains the different types of whales and their migration paths, between May and November. If you love to whale watch, don't forget your binoculars!
When you walk back to the main park and past the new toilet facilities, look for the sign which takes you along the bush track to the boardwalk. If you continue along this path for 400 metres, over the boardwalk, you come to a junction in the path and a sign for the Tomaree Coastal Walk. If you choose to keep going, just follow the sign to Boulder Bay (2km) and Big Rocky (5km). Otherwise turn back the way you came and appreciate the tranquil beauty of the native flora, paperback forest and hundreds of native birds that live in the treetops.
Follow the boardwalk sign, next to the toilet facilities
When you walk back into the main park and out towards the exit, there is also a sign which points you in the direction of the stairs down to the rock platform. Down at the bottom of the stairs, there is a secluded swimming "pool" at low tide, which is part of the natural rock formation. If you plan on exploring this rocky area, I recommend wearing sneakers or sturdy shoes to get over the uneven rocks.
Barry Park is a surprising find up on the headland at Fingal Bay. The entrance to the park is small and you could easily drive past it, but when you stop and start exploring, there is so much more to do there than you expect. Why not take your walking shoes or your swimming costume and spend the morning at Barry Park? Who knows what else you will discover!
Follow the sign down to the stairs and rock platform