When you're the proud pawrent of a furbaby, there's nothing better than finding out you're going to a beautiful sandy beach knowing that your beloved pooch can tag along and roam leash-free while you're there! Swimming Creek Beach is located in Nambucca Heads, a town on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales. 'Nambucca' is derived from an Aboriginal word, 'ngambugka', which can be loosely translated as "entrance to the waters". 512km away from Sydney, Nambucca Heads is approximately 30 minutes south of Coffs Harbour by car.
The tidal part of Swimming Creek is not always freely connected to the ocean - this is known as an 'ephemeral entranced lagoon'. When beach and sand moves across the entrance, Swimming Creek becomes a lagoon as the beach sand effectively seals the creek from the ocean. However, after high seas or extended periods of rainfall, the lagoon is able to break through the sand barrier and become Swimming Creek once again. The periodic closure and reopening of the creek to the ocean may allow fish to grow in a food rich environment as it acts as a barrier to potential predators.
Some information on Swimming Creek's coastal processes.
Granted, the entrance can be a bit tricky to find unless you're a local and/or you know the area well - however, with a bit of luck and persistence I was able to locate it fairly easily. From town, follow the signs towards BIG4 Nambucca Beach Holiday Park, continue along Swimming Creek Road until it merges onto Bemago Street, before parking in the provided area at Morrison Park on Reed Street. Once you've parked, Swimming Creek Beach is literally less than a minute away by foot!
Are dogs allowed at Swimming Creek Beach and other beaches in Nambucca Heads?
Dogs are more than welcome, off-leash at any time of the day, at Swimming Creek Beach! However, different rules and regulations apply for different beaches and other public areas in the Nambucca Heads region. Please check the signs at each place to make sure your dog is allowed at that particular area at that particular time, and refer to the map below if necessary. If unsure, I personally would err on the side of caution and take my dog someplace that I was sure they would be welcome.
The view is absolutely breathtaking, with seemingly endless soft sand beneath your feet and a cool breeze running through your hair, it's hard to tell whether you or your dog is enjoying this untouched paradise more! There is plenty of things for your pooch to sniff and explore, with piles upon piles of dried seaweed, colourful shells, and fallen tree logs. The water is clean and clear, and also refreshing on a hot summer's day. If your dog, like mine, isn't keen on going for a swim in the great, big ocean, there is also a shallower patch of water (sometimes separate from the ocean depending on tidal conditions) in the sand where we saw several dogs having a paddle.
Eddy is loving the big open area that's free for him to roam in!
There were also heaps of other dogs and their owners around when Eddy and I visited, despite it being a weekday, which added to experience! Eddy particularly enjoyed playing with a bigger dog, Ollie, and engaged him in a few games of fetch - Eddy tried hard and worked those little legs as fast as he could, but Ollie still outran him each time. Poor fella!
Back at the carpark, there are taps and showers conveniently located for you and/or your dog to rinse off. Bear in mind, however, that there are no drinking facilities - please bring your own water bowl (and water bottle for yourself!) that you can fill up with water from these taps.
What things do I need to keep in mind when visiting Swimming Creek Beach?
There are lots of logistical things to keep in mind, although all of the information is prominently displayed as signs in the vicinity. Swimming Creek Beach and its surrounding reserve area is for day visitors only - open fires, caravans, and camping is strictly prohibited. 4WD vehicles are, however, permitted 3.2 kms north of the entrance to Swimming Creek Beach, although users must display a current beach driving permit and comply with the conditions to drive on the beach. From the entrance to Swimming Creek Beach, dogs are allowed to the left of the entrance but are prohibited to the right of the entrance from 9am to 6pm (are allowed on-leash at all other times). Also, swimming in the creek itself is prohibited, due to contamination of water.
Lots of signs to that will provide you with all the information you need, and more!
Nambucca Heads makes for either a great holiday destination or a place to stop on a road trip - we had to make a detour in the opposite direction of the way we were heading to come, but it was well worth the trip. Eddy and I had so much fun! There are also plenty of beautiful lookouts to visit within a 5 minute drive; Eddy and I headed to Captain Cook Lookout (at the end of Parkes Road) and enjoyed a beautiful coastal view from high up. We'll definitely be visiting again, Swimming Creek Beach and Nambucca Heads!