I am taking you on a very short walk today, but it still packs a punch. Or perhaps that should be, jumpstarts the ol’ ticker!
Lace up your sneakers and let’s head out into the early morning light, stepping out on the path up to the very top of Tomaree Head.
Puff, pant, puff, pant…
Tomaree Head is a prominent headland looming over the coastal town of Nelson Bay. Nelson Bay, about two hours drive North of Sydney, is a popular beach-break destination. It was only when I did a little homework, did I realise how many walking opportunities were in the area. Perhaps I was blinded by the pearly white beaches and didn’t think to look around at the beautiful Aussie bush edging down to the sea.
The Summit Walk is part of the Tomaree National Park extending from Tomaree Head south to Anna Bay and covers around 2 310 hectares.
This is only a short walk, but what it lacks in distance, it makes up for in scenic views out to sea, over islands, back inland and up and down the coast. My goal was to make it to the top in time to watch the sunrise. “Missed it by that much”, as Maxwell Smart would say, but who cares when it was such a lovely morning.
Here are the Nuts and Bolts of this little walk:
- Distance: 2.2km return, up to 161m in height.
- Rating: ‘Moderate’ or ‘Very Steep & Difficult’ – it depends on which signage you believe!
- Terrain: It is a summit after all, so it is steep with lots of steps.
- Path: The surface underfoot is generally excellent with paved paths, concrete and gravel tracks, and iron walkways. Sneakers/running shoes are more than sufficient.
- What Else There is to See: If you are into military history you may also enjoy the role that this headland played in World War II. There are a number of lookouts, coastal defence gun emplacements and a radar station on the very top of the headland. All the military remnants are signposted with information explaining their background and purpose.
- Who is this walk for:
- Fitness: You don’t need to be super-fit to enjoy this path, just be prepared for the steep terrain going up and, of course, down. Take your time, catch your breath and enjoy the views that surround you.
- Birdwatchers: Native Australian bush edges the path and it is full of chattering birdlife. I recognised a few of their calls (mainly lorikeets), but I am sure there were plenty more species tucked away on branches and in the bushes that my novice eye missed.
- Botanists: For the flower lovers, small wildflowers are plentiful with a nice range of wattles and happy wanderers (hardenbergia) in a riot of purples and yellows. I particularly enjoyed the sculptural shapes of the trees blown and blasted by the coastal winds.
- Mobile Phone Coverage: Telephone reception is readily available.
- Water: Take water with you. There are no watering points available anywhere. This is even more important if you walk in Summer.
- Sun Protection: Wear a hat and sunscreen. Even though there is some shade on the path, the Australian sun is unforgiving.
- Snakes: This area would be prime snake country in summertime. Be careful where you step.
- Bushfires: Be careful with any cigarettes or naked flame. Sometimes you are walking through thick patches of bush with no real escape routes, so take care.
- Toilets: There are no toilet facilities
- This walk is highly recommended as an early-morning heart-starter. It was popular with local walkers and some early-bird exercisers were on their way down even as I headed up. It is the perfect way to get the blood pumping and start your day.
- This is a sensory experience on every level, not just visually. I made myself pause and take it all in – the smell of the Aussie bush and the sounds of waves crashing on Zenith Beach far below. The rising sun lit up the coastline in a rainbow of golden hues, spotlighting various features of the bush, beach and town as the sun rose.
Life is good in the Great Outdoors.
What short walks would you recommend?
Where: To get to Tomaree Summit, walk or drive to the very eastern end of Shoal Bay Road (Shoal Bay is a small community that has now blended with Nelson Bay). The road ends with a private compound. On your right you will see a sandy car park area. Follow the signs/path in between the road and the path to Zenith Beach.
When: I walked in August – our late Winter. You could walk this path at any time of year however I would recommend avoiding the serious heat of Summer due to the lack of water, shade and the potential risk of bushfire. An early morning or late afternoon visit would increase your chance of seeing native wildlife. You may also be able to see the annual north-south humpback whale migration from early June through to late October.
Why: For the joy of a sunrise and a good walk.
How: On foot. Park at the bottom of the Summit in the designated carpark.
Who: Happy dogs with happy owners. This is not an accessible path for those with mobility difficulties.
Related Posts: For another short bushwalk, but much further inland, have a look at my post about walking the Castle Rocks Walking Track.
Related Blogs: For an amazing selection of diverse walks and beautiful photos, have a look at Jo’s Monday Walks as she explores a whole range of coastal and inland paths in Portugal. I think Jo would really like this stroll in the Australian bush.
Read About It: Feel like a stroll in Australia? Lonely Planet are releasing a brand new guide book this month celebrating their pick of the 60 best day walks in Australia. Grab a copy from Book Depository.
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