We’re in the last month of winter – a perfect time to visit the Central Coast’s National Parks for the weekend. If you’re in Sydney and want to be spoilt for choice of bushland, mountain bike trails, Aboriginal carvings and hidden beaches, head north for an hour or two.
There, you’ll find the small-but-action-packed Bouddi National Park along the east coast, and the massive adventure playground of Brisbane Water National Park running along the north of the Hawkesbury River mouth. To the south of the Mooney Mooney Bridge, you’ll find the fragile ecosystem that bursts with wildflowers for only 6 weeks a year – Mougamarra Nature Reserve.
Today’s walk was a little one but well worth it.
Maitland Bay Track runs from the carpark next to the Maitland Bay Information Centre. Be sure to pop in there when you visit – the helpful volunteers there can show you around and give you a map to Bouddi and surrounds.
The track leads you from the dry scrub and the road above, down through lush, shaded bush and to a spectacular, idyllic beach panorama.
Maitland Bay Track is a 1km walk that’s easy to complete if you’re fit enough to walk up a few flights of stairs. Most stairs on the track are wide and on a gentle gradient, with only one short area with around 60 steps, much the same size you’d find in an office building.
If you do happen to have shoddy knees or don’t really like steps, then you could still do this walk if you take your time on the stepped areas.
If you’d like to hit a nudist beach, the closest one is Birdie Beach, a while away (near Newcastle). This time you’ll just have to wear your swimsuit, sorry!
The wide ‘two step’ steps are long and easy. She-oaks, ferns and wattle trees line the path.
Bullimah Spur is a 1.6km offshoot to the Maitland Bay Track. It’s a great walk to do with kids and possibly see an echidna! Good luck – they’re very shy (the echidnas, not the kids!).
Further on, just off to the left of the track, here’s a great lookout over Maitland Bay. It’s your first exciting peek at the brilliant blue water below.
The steps take you down quite quickly to the shady, cool rainforest below – a stark difference to the dry scrub above. As you hit these stairs, look left. You’ll see The Man with the Big Nose (at least that’s what I’ve dubbed this rock!)
The Man with the Big Nose – do you see it? Otherwise I see a hawk or a turtle. What do you see? Have a look:
The walk continues on, down the steps and a long, gentle slope towards the beach.
Crossing a little bridge, you’re on the home stretch. The gullies here are lush and bright. The dappled light make for an amazing scene but not so great for photography at midday, FYI. The sounds of the bubbling stream below, and the birdsong above, make this a very special place for the senses.
The beach awaits
Continue down the track – you’ll see the Bouddi Coast Track joins your path. Take the left/straight ahead path to the beach. The ground gets sandier and you’ll notice the plants on either side of you change from the temperate forest ferns, she-oaks and gums, to the coastal Banksias, Karkalla “Pig face” bright, purple flowered succulents and Marram grass.
It’s just stunning.
The beach is gorgeous.
I’m still learning how to wrangle my new camera so these shots don’t do this particular spot justice…
Maitland Bay was originally called Boat Harbour, but was renamed in 1898 after the S.S. Maitland ran aground there. A vicious storm blew through the area, pushing the coastal paddle steamer onto the rocks at the eastern end of the beach.
The storm was also dubbed the “Maitland Gale” after this disaster.
Almost 120 years later, some of the remains of the shipwreck are still visible. It’s worth walking the extra stretch from the end of the Maitland Bay track to Bouddi Point to see these historic remains at low tide.
The Maitland Bay Track is just a small part of the Bouddi National Park. It’s well worth being there for the whole day – or a weekend – to make the most of their walking trails and mountain biking trails.
Let me know if you’ve been here or would like to!