Macleay Coast Destination draft master plan

This master plan will guide the upgrade of visitor infrastructure in Arakoon National Park and Smoky Cape in Hat Head National Park.

Trial Bay Gaol campground, Arakoon Bay National ParkPublic exhibition of this draft master plan provides an opportunity for members of the community to have a say in the visitor improvements in Arakoon National Park and Smoky Cape in Hat Head National Park.

This draft master plan has been developed from what has come from the community so far, but it's still only a concept. There's still flexibility for how a final master plan might look – and we are keen to hear from the community what you do and don't like about the draft.

The Trial Bay, Cardwell Street, Little Bay and Smoky Cape precincts are popular visitor destinations within the Arakoon and Hat Head national parks, near South West Rocks on the NSW mid north coast. Trial Bay is often described as the jewel in the crown of the Macleay Valley Coast, and Smoky Cape lighthouse offers spectacular views of the coast.

What is being proposed?

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is committed to improving and modernising visitor facilities in these parks to enhance the experience of visitors and locals alike.

Plans include the development of new walking tracks, amenities blocks, shelters and upgraded access roads at the Trial Bay campground.

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.

Bushwalkers will rejoice at the prospect of a spectacular new coastal walking track between Little Bay and Smoky Cape.

This exciting project will boost the regional visitor economy, with new nature-based and heritage experiences enticing visitors to stay longer in the region and strengthening the Macleay Coast's appeal as a year-round quality destination.

Trial Bay Goal and Smoky Cape Lighthouse are iconic tourist destinations and currently attract over 1 million visitors per year. The current infrastructure is ageing, and significant improvements are needed to provide better experiences to visitors while protecting the park's existing historic and cultural significance.

The project also aims to reduce congestion in peak periods and diversify recreational opportunities within the park to encourage visitors during low and shoulder periods.

The project supports our vision of conservation, celebrating and respecting our rich culture and heritage, working for and with our communities, and providing outstanding natural spaces and engaging experiences.

The project will be implemented in 3 stages, with the initial $6.7 million in funding focused on delivering stage 1 and 2 over the next 4 years. The 3 stages are:

  • Stage 1 – Develop a blueprint to meet long-term visitor demands of key visitor precincts in Arakoon National Park and Smoky Cape in Hat Head National Park and determine priorities for implementation.
  • Stage 2 – Use project funding to improve the visitor experience by improving pedestrian, cycle and traffic circulation; separating non-compatible uses; and modernising facilities in priority areas.
  • Stage 3 – Undertake remaining works as funding becomes available over the 10-year life of the master plan.

Works for items in the master plan not permissible under the current parks' plan of management will not be undertaken until approved under a new adopted plan of management.

A draft master plan illustrates the design concepts developed for the area. It includes site plans, diagrams of proposed infrastructure and visual representations of completed designs. It presents a picture of planned visitor infrastructure improvements at the site.

This draft master plan does not address the permissibility of recreational activities (such as access for dog walking) within Arakoon and Hat Head national parks. These items will be considered in the new draft plan of management for these parks. Any comments received on items outside of the scope of this master plan will not be considered at this time.

After the public exhibition period closes, comments received, along with results from environmental, cultural heritage, and other assessments, will be used to finalise the master plan. The final master plan will then be available on our website. Implementation of the final master plan must still comply with the parks' current plan of management.

Printed copies are available for viewing at:

  • Trial Bay Gaol Museum, 73 Trial Bay Gaol Access Rd, Arakoon NSW 2431
  • Verges Creek Office, 247 Old Station Rd, Verges Creek NSW 2440
  • Port Macquarie office, 22 Blackbutt Rd, Port Macquarie NSW 2444

If you have any questions on the plan, we will be having open house drop in sessions at Little Bay picnic area, end of Carri Street, Arakoon National Park on:

  • 10 am – 12 pm Tuesday 6 December 2022
  • 10 am – 12 pm Saturday 10 December 2022

How can I comment on the master plan?

The master plan is on public exhibition until 10 January 2023. You are invited to comment on the master plan before this date.

While all submissions count, they are most effective when we understand your ideas and the outcomes you want for the precinct. Some suggestions to help you write your submission are:

  • write clearly and be specific about the issues of concern to you
  • note which page of the document your comments relate to
  • give reasoning in support of your points – makes it easier for us to consider your ideas and helps avoid misinterpretation
  • tell us specifically what you agree/disagree with and why.

Your comments will be used to inform the final version of the master plan.

Have your say

Public exhibition is from 24 November 2022 to 10 January 2023.

You can provide your written submission in any of the following ways:

  • Make a submission online by using the online survey
  • Email your submission to: Macleay Coast Destination master plan at
  • Post your written submission to:
    Manager, North Coast Branch
    National Parks and Wildlife Service
    PO Box 1236
    Coffs Harbour NSW 2450

Your privacy

Your comments on the Macleay Coast Destination draft master plan may include 'personal information'. The department complies with the NSW Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998, which regulates the collection, storage, quality, use and disclosure of personal information. For details, see our privacy page. The inclusion of personal information with your submission is voluntary, but information that in some way identifies you may be gathered when you use our website or send us an email.

A summary of issues raised in public submissions may be made publicly available. If you wish your identity and personal information in your submission to be treated as confidential, you must request your name be treated as confidential and not include any of your personal information in the main text of the submission or attachments so that it can be easily removed.

If an application to access information under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 requests access to your submission, your views about the release will be sought if you have indicated that you object to your submission being made public.