Visitors to Hat Head National Park are rewarded with superb views from Smoky Cape, Hat Head and Kemps Corner. Take the trip out to one of these headlands, and you'll be looking across a natural expanse of forests, swamps and ocean.
All these headlands provide excellent vantage points for whale watching. Typically, southern right and humpback whales migrate north in May, June and July to breed in warmer waters off the Queensland coast, and return in August, September and October to the rich southern feeding grounds in the Antarctic.
The whales can be seen off in the distance playfully jumping, followed by the huge water 'fountains' they create when crashing back to sea. Scan the ocean halfway to the horizon, looking for the telltale 'blow', which is the whale breathing.
Lookouts and scenic vantage points
Captain Cook's lookout
Fire/closure alerts currently apply to this location. See details below.
Wheelchair access: medium
Assistance may be required to access this area
- The picnic area here has easy-access facilities and toilets
For a scenic treat, make your way to Captain Cook’s lookout at the base of Smoky Cape lighthouse. Pause to feel the salty breeze as you gaze out over the Tasman Sea and Hat Head National Park.
Visit between May and July to see southern right and humpback whales swimming past the headland. Or catch them on their return trip between August and October. Playful dolphins can be seen in the area, too.
As well as being an ideal spot for whale - watchers, Captain Cook’s lookout is great for birdwatchers, too. Although you don’t even have to watch anything at all if you’d prefer – just sit back, enjoy the clifftop picnic area and feel on top of the world. If you feel like something more energetic, try Jack Perkins walking track or the longer Little Bay to Smoky Cape.
Activities: walking, whale watching, birdwatching, picnicking, playing and socialising
shown on Smoky Cape map
Getting there: Captain Cook’s lookout is in the Smoky Cape precinct of Hat Head National Park. To get there:
- Take Arakoon Road from South West Rocks
- Turn into Lighthouse Road and follow the signs to Smoky Cape Lighthouse
Road access: Sealed road - 2WD vehicles.
Facilities: picnic tables, gas/electric barbecues, non-flush toilets, lookout
Events, activities and alerts at this location
|Hazard reduction burn|
Hazard reduction burn
A hazard reduction burn is planned for the park during the first fortnight in May, weather permitting. Some delays may occur on Lighthouse Road.
See details on the Rural Fire Service website (Borefields burn) or call the park office on 6566 6621.