Tomaree National Park is located in the Port Stephens region and includes the scenic coastline from Fishermans Bay to Shoal Bay - passing through Boat Harbour, One Mile, Fingal Bay and Nelson Bay. Along the coastline there are a number of walking trails which leads to beaches, bays and secret local spots - see here for a map to find them.
I discovered the Tomaree Coastline Walk after doing the most popular walk in the national park - the Tomaree Head Summit Walk. This spectacular walk takes you up to one of the best views in the entire region, where the colour, the beauty and the view will take your breath away (as well as the steep walk up!). If you hop back in your car or continue to walk up Zenith Beach Loop however, you will then find yourself at the entrance to the next walk along the coastal path. This walk begins behind Zenith Beach and travels along the coastline to Wreck Beach, Box Beach and Fingal Bay. Before you get started though, ensure you take the quick detour to admire Zenith Beach - its pristine beauty will you draw you down to the sand.
Walks to Wreck Beach, Box Beach and Fingal Bay - how far will you walk?
Both Zenith Beach and Wreck Beach, at the end of this walk, are both Sanctuary Zones within the Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park, which covers 98,000 hectares from Forster to Birubi Beach at Anna Bay, here in Port Stephens. As these beaches are protected areas, there are signs saying that visitors can't collect anything off the beach or fish, to keep this pristine environment exactly as it is now, for the next generation to enjoy.
Although there are many other options along the coastal path, on my walk I chose to visit the closest beach, Wreck Beach, as the day was hotting up quickly and I was also cautious of snakes, particularly in hotter weather. It is only 1.5 kilometres to get to Wreck Beach, however, it is graded on the NSW National Parks website as a Grade 4 walk, so it includes a lot of hills and rough areas to walk. The fire trail is quite wide, however, the 20 minutes walk will test your leg muscles and your fitness - but ensure you stop and admire the view of Shoal Bay over the top of houses along the way!
This walk to Wreck Beach is perfect for those who wish to get in some exercise on the way to this secluded beach, however if you want a shorter route, it is also accessible from Verona Road in Shoal Bay. Both paths meet at the junction where you turn off to Wreck Beach, or continue on uphill to Box Hill, 1 kilometre further along the path. I took the narrow, winding path with steps down to Wreck Beach and after a few minutes, the view was presented before me. With pure white sand, clear blue water and sun shining overhead, it was a vision of every beach I had seen in the brochures for Port Stephens. As I looked down, I could see only a few other sets of footprints on the sand, so I had the secluded, pristine oasis (almost) to myself.
Wreck Beach isn't a safe swimming beach (however it is good for a splash in the shoreline to cool down), so if you are looking for a swimming beach then continue back up the path and on to Box Beach, further along the coastal path.
As the day was hotting up on my visit, I chose to walk back the way I came, hop in the car (blast out the air-conditioning) and cheat by driving to Box Beach to see what it was like! If you thought Zenith Beach and Wreck Beach were beautiful, then walk down onto Box Beach and watch the surfers ride the perfect waves and take in the effect of the light reflecting off the volcanic cliffs, either side of the sparkling water.
Whether you do the whole Tomaree Coastal Walk, or just a short section of it, you are sure to leave with sand between your toes and fond memories, of summer in Port Stephens.
Go on, take off your walking shoes and feel the sand between your toes!