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Published December 19th 2020
A must-see when you visit Nelson Bay
Gan Gan Lookout is located off Nelson Bay Road, on the way into Nelson Bay Town Centre. It is the best place to start your visit as you drive into the Nelson Bay area, to get an idea of where each town is situated and the size of the Port Stephens region. From the lookout, you can see 180-degree views along the waters of Port Stephens and across to the towns on the other side of the water. It is 160 metres high, so it is easy to see how it was used by the local indigenous Maiangal clan (of the Worimi people), as a smoke signalling location.
At the top of the lookout, there are signs which explain the indigenous and European history of the hill. The name "Gan.gan" means "white-breasted fish hawk" in Gathang language, and you often see them circling the hill. As well as the hawks, another natural feature of this hill are the stunning Gymea Lilies, with their long straight stalks and bright red petals that catch your eye.
It is a "must-see" when you visit Nelson Bay!
Gan Gan Lookout, with tall Gymea Lilies all around
The drive up to the lookout is short but steep. When you get to the car park, you will see numerous mobile phone structures clustered together at the top - which don't look attractive, but they don't impede any views. There are only a small number of car spaces at the top, so if you are visiting in the summer school holidays, I recommend getting there early to avoid the crowds. If you are a photographer, this vantage point is an ideal place to visit at sunrise or sunset, as the bright orange light sweeps over the landscape.
From the car park itself, you can walk over to a small platform to view the white sands of the Stockton Sand Dunes at Birubi Beach, as well as One Mile Beach and the Worimi National Park. Read the signs, admire the Gymea Lilies, take in the views and then walk up the narrow pathway to the main Gan Gan Lookout. There are no stairs, so it is wheelchair and pram friendly, making it accessible for all.
Take in the views from the car park, then walk up the path to the main lookout
It is just a short walk to the lookout platform and then you can take in the views all along the Port Stephens waterway. Take your own binoculars or pay $2 to use the binoculars in the centre of the platform. There are signs to read around the outside of the lookout, which point out landmarks and explain the history of the region.
When my family visited this lookout for the first time, the view reminded us of the beautiful Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, with islands surrounded by bright blue water. Allow at least 15 minutes up the top of the lookout to simply soak up the scenery and appreciate its natural beauty. As the wind whistles over the hilltop, you can't help but relax and settle into the holiday feel of the Port Stephens region.
The entrance to Port Stephens - Yacaaba and Tomaree Heads
Many visitors to Port Stephens wish to go whale watching between May and November, however, you won't see any whales from this lookout as the views are mainly over the waters of Port Stephens (see here for more options). What you will see is the beauty of the region and all of its natural attractions.
Even on a cloudy day, you will still be mesmerised by the view...
Gan Gan Lookout - a must-see when visiting Nelson Bay!