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 National Park to enhance the experience of visitors and locals alike.

The project will significantly improve the Trial Bay and Little Bay precincts, helping to boost the regional visitor economy and contribute to community well-being. New nature-based and Australian heritage experiences will be provided in the Trial Bay area, which will increase visitors’ length of stay and strengthen the region’s appeal as a year-round quality destination.

What the project involves

Macleay Coast Destination is being developed in stages over the next 7 years. The project will improve the range and quality of experiences on offer and develop park visitor facilities that will complement the existing historical and cultural significance of Arakoon National Park.

The project will include the development of new visitor infrastructure at Trial Bay campground including walking tracks, picnic shelters and upgraded access roads, amenities and campsites. It will also provide additional visitor facilities for beach access along Trial Bay. At Little Bay, enhanced facilities and new family friendly walking and bike paths will reinvigorate this cherished precinct as a favoured location for family gatherings.

The project will address aging infrastructure and increase the appeal of the area for visitors and the local community. 

The NSW Government has provided funding of $6.7 million for the Macleay Coast Destination project. The project will commence in 2022/23 and will be delivered in stages, with completion expected in 2027.

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. The 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.

The proposed Macleay Coast Destination project will deliver an exceptional experience of historic heritage and family recreation, immersed in a naturally beautiful coastal setting.

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.

April 2022 update

An update on planning for the Macleay Coast Destination project, release of the Trial Bay Coast and Foreshore Protection Strategy and the latest plan of management news.

  • 09 Apr 2022

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Macleay Coast Destination – Register of interest