Port Stephens - Great Lakes Marine Park

Rockpool

Port Stephens–Great Lakes Marine Park extends from Cape Hawke near Forster south to Birubi Beach at the northern end of Stockton Beach.

The Marine Park is approximately 980 km2and includes:

  • offshore waters to the three nautical mile limit of NSW waters;
  • all of Port Stephens, the Karuah River, the Myall River, Myall and Smiths Lakes, and their creeks and tributaries to the tidal limit.

The park was established in December 2005 and its zones and management rules commenced in 2007.

The marine park Zoning Map (PDF, 2810.6 KB) and User Guide (PDF, 3584.94 KB) provide information about the zoning arrangements and management rules in the park.

Commonwealth marine reserves

The Hunter Commonwealth Marine Reserve adjoins the State marine park and extends further offshore. For more information visit the Australian Government.

Why Port Stephens–Great Lakes Marine Park is unique

The marine park contains a diverse range of habitats, including beaches, seagrass beds, mangroves, saltmarsh and open waters, which all support distinct groups of plants and animals.

The extensive and diverse estuaries and shorelines include remarkable features such as:

  • the state's largest:
    • drowned river valley (Port Stephens);
    • brackish barrier lake system (Myall Lakes);
    • intermittently open and closed lake (Smiths Lake).
  • Broughton Island, the state's second largest island, provides important habitat for the threatened grey nurse shark and black rockcod;
  • Cabbage Tree Island (John Gould Nature Reserve), the primary breeding site for the threatened seabird Gould's petrel.

The park offers quality recreational fishing and productive commercial fishing grounds, aquaculture, many popular scuba diving sites, and regionally significant tourism activities such as whale and dolphin watching.

Its diverse marine life includes many dolphin, turtle, fish, invertebrate, seabird and seaweed species, and threatened species such as the Gould's petrel, little tern, grey nurse shark, black rockcod and green turtle.

A number of significant Aboriginal cultural and spiritual sites within or adjacent to the park include middens, burial sites and traditional campsites. Aboriginal people's association with the sea and land in the area dates back thousands of years and local people still gather food in the traditional way.

Things to do and see

Port Stephens - Great Lakes Marine Park offers plenty of activities and exploring.  Check out what to do and see: