Surrounded by national park, the coastal village of Seal Rocks is a top spot to get away from it all. There’s no development, no cafes or restaurants and intermittent mobile coverage. But there are plenty of bush and beaches to explore and of course the beautiful Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse. It’s everything you need for a back to basics family getaway just 90 minutes north of Newcastle. Whether you’re swimming, surfing, fishing, birdwatching or hiking, it’s a stunning spot to visit.
Make sure you do a walk up to the Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse. Built in 1875, the historic Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse has amazing views. It’s easy to get to, just drive up Lighthouse Road to the parking lot. Stay to one side of the road as people staying in the lighthouse accommodation drive up and down the road to the cottages.
It’s then a 700 metre walk up to the lighthouse. For those with young kids, we saw families with kids of all ages venturing up the road. Just be prepared to carry little ones up the steep path to the Lighthouse at the end of your walk. Along the way, you’ll find a toilet block (go here if you need to as there are none at the top).
You can push a stroller or pram up the hill or even bike up the hill. You’ll just need to leave them on the flat area before you go up the stairs to the lighthouse.
As you approach the lighthouse keepers cottage, you’ll see a sign that says Sugarloaf Point plus a sign with an arrow to Headland Walk.
If you feel like catching your breath before you tackle the steep climb to the lighthouse, head to the Sugarloaf Point headland area. Look for this building below and follow the path to the right.
It’s a fenced grassy area with great views of Lighthouse Beach. Sit here long enough and you’ll likely spot a pod of dolphins or white-bellied sea eagles.
Then return to the stairs towards the lighthouse.
It’s a short steep path up to the lighthouse so take your time if you need to. On the grassy slopes next to the lookout point and cliff edge, stop to read the three memorials dedicated to people associated with the lighthouse.
At the top though, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views.
Completed in 1875, it’s one of only two lighthouse towers with an external staircase which you can climb up for a better view.
As you can imagine, the views are outstanding from the top.
Take the time to read to the historic boards up at the lighthouse. They provide lots of information about wrecks including the SS Catterthun which sunk nearby. In addition to the lighthouse, there is also an observation area adjacent to the lighthouse with great views as well.
If you have time, after you come down from the lighthouse, head to the beach below Lighthouse Beach.
There are stairs leading down to the beach and you can walk down and wander along the beach. We headed north to explore the rocky shore just below the lighthouse headland.
Just keep an eye out for 4WDs as they are permitted with a NSW National Parks Permit to drive on this beach. 4WD access is located near Treachery Beach.
Treachery Headland Walk
If you have time, do the Treachery Headland Walk (1.2 kilometres), a scenic headland walk with views across both Lighthouse Beach and Treachery Beach.
The walk starts from the Myall Lakes National Park Treachery Headland parking lot.
Keep walking until you’ll see a sign that says “Walking track to Treachery Head”. You’ll pass Treachery Camp, a popular holiday accommodation spot.
This beautiful walk takes you through coastal rainforest.
If you feel like a swim or surf, you can take the sidetrack to Treachery Beach.
You’ll see peeks of Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse across the bay before you emerge on the grassy headland.
The headland trail is a bit rough in spots and it can be pretty windy so supervise your kids.
Follow the trail around until you look north over Treachery Beach. It’s a spectacular view of this secluded beach.
Keep following the headland trail as it loops back to the main trail. See NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service for more information about the Treachery Headland walking track.
Boat Beach is the place to go for an early morning walk. You can watch the sun coming up over the horizon. It’s also a beautiful beach with a small outcrop of rocks just offshore. It’s a great beach to relax and swim at. Just watch out for 4WDs bringing boats down to the water.
Across from the beach, you’ll find the Seal Rocks General Store and Post Office. This is the only place to pick up basic provisions. You’ll also spot the Single Fin Coffee Caravan which serves coffee, chai and cakes.
Number One Beach
Number One Beach is the first beach you see as you drive into Seal Rocks and it’s stunning. Popular with surfers and swimmers, this beach is across the street from Reflections Holiday Park. Larger than Boat Beach, there is more than enough room for everyone.
Good to Know
Places to Stay in Seal Rocks
Seal Rocks Lighthouse Cottages
For an iconic experience, book into one of the Seal Rocks Lighthouse Cottages. There are three Lighthouse Keepers’ Cottages to choose from: The Head Keeper’s Cottage (3 bedroom) or the Assistant Keeper’s North and South Cottages (2 bedroom). It’s a splurge but worth it, if you love the appeal of lighthouses.
We stayed in the Assistant Keepers’ South Cottage. Comfortably appointed yet keeping with the historical period, it was easy to imagine ourselves as lighthouse keepers. Built in 1875, the cottage is solid, needing to be able to withstand the coastal gales that whip the coast. In front, the kitchen area has been added to the cottage to make it self-contained. However, it has wide stone steps, not ideal for those with young children who might fall down them.
From our front verandah, we had views over Lighthouse Beach and could watch visitors walking up the path to the lighthouse. Behind the cottage is a fenced grassy area with a barbecue and views up towards Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse. At night, you can look out from the cottage and see the lighthouse beams of lights travel across the bay.
Reflections Seal Rocks Holiday Park
Other accommodation in Seal Rocks includes Reflections Seal Rocks Holiday Park which has cabins, glamping and powered sites. Located across the beach from Number One beach, it’s an ideal location.
Stay near gorgeous Treachery Beach. Treachery Camp has a selection of accommodation to choose from. There’s a variety of cabins, free form camping as well as a Beach Lodge which accommodates up to 45 people in twelve bedrooms.
Places to Eat in Seal Rocks
You’ll need to stock up on provisions before you get to Seal Rocks as there is only the General Store in Seal Rocks. The nearest supermarket is The Friendly Grocer at Smiths Lake. Also in this shopping strip is a bakery, butcher and bottle shop. You’ll find a Woolworths and Coles at Forster.
Getting to Seal Rocks
If you’re coming from the Newcastle region, head north along the A1 until you’re past Buladelah. You can then take The Lakes Way road all the way to Seal Rocks. It’s windy and slower but the slower pace prepares you for Seal Rocks. It will take you around 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to Seal Rocks depending on your starting location.
If you’re coming from the north, go via Forster and enjoy the scenic drive south to Seal Rocks. You’ll see views of Wallis Lake and the coastal spots of Elizabeth Beach, Blueys Beach and Smiths Lake. Pick up groceries in Forster before you arrive.
In 2012, Reena founded Newy with Kids to share information about family-friendly Newcastle. Originally from Canada, she had no idea about what to do with her toddler and after searching unsuccessfully for a family guide, decided to start her own. Since that time, both the toddler and Newy with Kids have grown keeping Reena busy. If you see her out and about, say hi.