If you’re looking for a road trip close to Sydney then Tomaree National Park should be high on your list. It’s next to Port Stephens, which is a relaxed coastal city about 2.5 hours north of Sydney. Tomaree Head and Zenith Beach are two of the highlights in the area. You can experience both on the same hike, which starts from the Zenith Beach carpark. The 2km return trip doesn’t sound like much, but with an altitude of 161m the climb to Tomaree Head summit will require some work. We walked for about 2 hours, with a fair amount of that time spent at the top to enjoy the views and eat a packed lunch.

Zenith Beach

Zenith beach has beautiful sand, a lighter hue than what you’ll find on Sydney beaches. At either end of the beach are rocky headlands. It’s meant to be good for swimming however there are no surf life saver patrols. Check out Beachsafe for more info.

Tomaree Head Lookout

From the lookout you’ll be able to see the whole of Port Stephens and Shoal bay. I was impressed by the view looking towards Zenith Beach. I particularly enjoyed the strong sense of dimension of the landscape – it’s got a lot of depth. This makes it ideal for landscape photography. Apparently the landscape consists of residual volcanic rocks. Port Stephens itself used to be a huge valley that built up sediment over time and was then flooded by the ocean.


Wildlife is a big part of Tomaree National Park. Koalas, green turtles and dugongs are all regulars here. In addition the locale is rich with birdlife; seabirds, migratory shorebirds and a variety of honeyeaters readily frequent the coastlines. I even saw a white bellied sea eagle! The area is also a sanctuary breeding ground for the rare Gould’s petrel. This means you should take extra care not to leave rubbish lying around. Petrels are notorious for mistaking plastic as food in the ocean, even feeding it to their chicks, oftentimes with tragic consequences. The plants here are what you’d expect from coastal heathlands. Banksias, eucalyptus and grass trees have adapted to the low nutrient, sandy soil and the salt spray typical of habitats like this. Tomaree Headland also possesses a strong Indigenous heritage. I can tell the nature here is plentiful, and the Worimi people would have lived sustainably here, gathering food and medicines from the landscape.

Getting There

Tomaree is positioned at the end of the Anna Bay Peninsula. It’s best to drive here, and it will take around 2.5-3 hours from Sydney. Park at the Zenith Beach Carpark or the Tomaree Head Carpark. From here you can also hike along the plentiful beaches down south.

Plan Your Trip

I would spend half the day exploring Tomaree National Park, and then check out other parts of the Port Stephens area. Gan Gan Lookout, Fingal Bay, Shark Island and Port Stephens Lighthouse are all on my exploration list. Alternatively you could stop on the way at Stockton Sands, Caves Beach or Catherine Hill Bay. If you want to stay overnight in Port Stephens there are plenty of affordable options here.