Macleay Coast Destination

Showcasing the natural, cultural and historical heritage of the Macleay Coast.

Trial Bay Gaol from Monument Hill, Arakoon National ParkTrial Bay Gaol in Arakoon National Park is an iconic tourist destination attracting over half a million visitors each year. The Macleay Coast Destination project will modernise and improve visitor facilities in the surrounding Arakoon and Hat Head national parks to enhance the experience of visitors and locals alike.

The project will significantly improve the Trial Bay and Little Bay precincts, with new nature-based and heritage experiences to encourage visitors to stay for longer and strengthen the region's appeal as a year-round destination.

What the project involves

The Macleay Coast Destination project will improve the range and quality of experiences on offer in Arakoon National Park and develop visitor facilities that complement the existing historic and cultural significance of the area.

The project will include revitalisation of the Trial Bay campground including new walking tracks, picnic shelters and upgraded access roads, amenities and campsites.

At Little Bay, new family friendly walking and bike paths along with upgraded visitor facilities will reinvigorate this cherished precinct as a favoured location for family gatherings.

The Cardwell Street beach access will become a key attraction for day visitors in the future, with improved parking and facilities.

A coastal walk between Trial Bay and Smoky Cape will provide stunning views over the coastline and meet the increasing demand for bushwalking opportunities. Improvements are also proposed for the Smoky Cape lighthouse precinct to improve access for visitors.

The Macleay Coast Destination project will address ageing infrastructure and increase the appeal of the area for the local community and visitors alike.

This $6.7 million project is part of the NSW Government’s largest investment in national parks history.

The Macleay Coast Destination project is due for completion in 2027.

The NSW Government is delivering its largest investment in national parks history with more than $450 million for over 200 visitor infrastructure projects across the State.

It builds on the $17.9 billion and 74,000 jobs national parks already contribute annually to the State's economy and is supporting NSW communities to recover in the wake of droughts, bushfires, floods, and the pandemic.

Trial Bay Gaol within Arakoon National Park is an iconic tourist destination and popular recreational location, attracting approximately 550,000 domestic and international visitors each year.

Tourism to the park is a major contributor to the local economy of the Kempsey local government area. The Macleay Coast Destination projects aims to improve visitor experiences by reducing congestion in peak periods and diversifying recreational opportunities within the park.

This project will complement existing off-park experiences, deliver longer stays and support local businesses. Promoting Macleay Coast as a year-round destination will boost visitation in shoulder and low seasons.

Our national parks are managed to protect their unique values and provide for sustainable visitor use and enjoyment. This includes providing visitor experiences and facilities, where appropriate, including tracks and trails.

We will conduct independent environmental and heritage assessments to identify the potential impacts of the proposal and measures required to mitigate any impacts. This will ensure public visitation and enjoyment is compatible with the protection of conservation values.

The proposed project will undergo further detailed design and assessment to ensure compliance with the park’s plan of management and conservation management plans. Further stringent environmental, cultural heritage and cost-benefit assessments, involving our staff, key stakeholders and other experts, will ensure the project meets environmental, cultural and economic aspirations.

Environmentally sustainable design that is appropriate to its setting will be a key focus of the project, with the aim of immersing visitors in the landscape to create a strong connection and sense of place. The scale and design of upgrades and any new facilities will respect the park’s natural and cultural values and the area’s coastal setting.

Plans of management guide what happens in our national parks, and how we manage them. An up-to-date, clearly articulated plan of management is an important tool for effectively managing our parks.

The existing plan of management for Arakoon National Park dates back to 1987, when the park was a state recreation area, and now needs updating. The existing plan of management for Hat Head National Park dates back to 1998. A lot has changed since these plans were prepared, and new plans are needed to properly manage these special parks and assist in delivering the Macleay Coast Destination project.

We will be engaging with stakeholders and the community as part of the process for preparing new plans for these parks. See our Arakoon National Park and Hat Head National Park Plan of Management page.

Effective community and stakeholder engagement is critical to the success of this project. NPWS will engage with stakeholders and interested community members in a meaningful and timely way in planning and delivering the Macleay Coast Destination upgrades and new plans of management for Arakoon and Hat Head national parks. Positive and ongoing consultation with the Aboriginal community aims to ensure the proposal is in keeping with Aboriginal interests and aspirations.

Register your interest if you’d like to receive regular updates and be notified when there are opportunities to engage.

To register your interest in this project please complete and submit the form.

The information you provide in this form will only be used for the purpose for which it was collected. By submitting, you consent to storage, use, and disclosure of your personal information in accordance with our privacy policy. You can request access and amendment of your personal information.

Macleay Coast Destination – Register of interest