COME SEE The Tomaree Head Summit Walk, Hunter. Australia.
TOMAREE HEAD SUMMIT WALK: THE GUIDE
REGION: Hunter Region
ACCESSIBILITY: Private car, limited access via public transport.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Summer (Dec-Feb)| Temps average 17-28 Celcius.
LOCATION: 2:49mins from Sydney CBD | 1:05mins from Wollongong | Open in Google Maps
WALKING DISTANCE: 2.2km return
TIME REQUIRED: 2 hours
TOURIST RATING: Popular tourist hike
TOMAREE HEAD SUMMIT WALK: THE EXPERIENCE
As told by Jackie Te-Aroha.
I remember Port Stephens as a kid. It was this far away place we use to camp during the holidays. A place where the sand was endless and the waves crashed down upon the shore taking you and your boogie board along for the ride. There were pipi’s scattered along the shores that mum would collect and eat later. It was a place where we would go to spend quality time together living the simple life. We spent our days at the beach and our evenings in a tent beneath the stars. And come to think of it, could a contributing factor as to why why I gravitate towards minimalism and #VanLife. I was soo excited to be able to show Zade some of this small seaside town.
The first thing to check off our to-see list on our visit to Port Stephens was the Tomaree Head Summit Walk. Its located right on the edge of the southern headland which makes for picturesque views at the top. This walk is described as a Grade 5 and is recommended for individuals with an average to advanced level of fitness. If this is you, then find a park along Shoal Bay Road. Try to get one as close to the end as possible as this is where the access to the Tomaree track is. There’s a small entrance to Shoal Bay here also which we already knew we would be taking advantage of, post mountain climb.
From the very first step past the signage at the bottom you get an insight into what the walk will be like… Steep! We started mid-morning although hindsight taught us that during the warmer months this walk is more suited to early mornings. The path was steadily inclining and made its way into thick shrub where the song of the cicada was loud. If you take the time to look around you’ll also see some rather LARGE spiders hanging about, an arachnophiles treat and one of my worst nightmares! Run!!
At the intersecting path turn left. If you want to see the World War II emplacements continue along this track until as it winds to the back side of the mountain. However, if you’re here for the views looking south then you’ll need to take the stairs on your right side almost immediately. From here the track starts getting a lot more intense and becomes more of a climb rather than a walk. From the bottom all the way to the top the path is clearly marked and has areas with natural stone steps and metal stair cases and boardwalks that are built straight into the escarpment.
After a few sets of stairs the track begins to reveal itself from the shrub and open up to some amazing views overlooking Shoal Bay and the large inlet known as the Karauah River. Shortly after you’ll arrive at the first viewing platform where you can see both bodies of water beside the narrow peninsular. On the left side (from closest to furthest) you have Zennith Beach, Wreck Beach, Box Beach and Fingal Bay which leads out to Shark Isalnd.
Just a little further and you’ll reach the top of Tomaree Mountain. From here there are multiple vantage spots on either side. There’s a large grated viewing deck that overlooks the same view described above and on the other side is another deck with views up towards Yacaaba Head and Jimmys Beach.
If your walk up was hot and steamy like ours you can almost catch a chill by standing in the ocean breeze on the decks. It was… heavenly!! We spent a good hour up the top trying to catch our breath, indulging in the views, taking a few photos and watching an eagle circle its prey below. If you visit during summer make sure you bring plenty of water because there’s no mountaintop cafe or vending machines available. And if you visit during winter (May-Aug) wear warm clothes and bring a set of binoculars to try and catch a glimpse of the annual northern migration of Humpback Whales.