Munmorah State Conservation Area was created in 1977 to protect the diversity of coastal native plant communities, the habitat of threatened species, and to provide recreational access. Located at the northern end of the Central Coast, the area boasts 12 km of sweeping coastline, walking trails, fishing hotspots, two camping areas, picnic spots, stunning ocean views and, of course, native flora and fauna.
The area has sweeping views over some of the Central Coast’s most secluded beaches, grass trees, and birdlife. Look out, too, for wallaby tracks across your path. Prior to entering the conservation area you’re greeted at the pay station by a National Parks & Wildlife team member who can answer questions you may have. Unless you have an annual pass, it will cost you $8 for an all-day entry fee.
Entry from the northern entry to the park: Drive along Blue Wren Drive then turn onto Campbell Drive.
Entry from the southern entry to the park: Drive along Birdie Beach Road, turn left onto Blue Wren Drive, and then right onto Campbell Drive. On Campbell Drive, the road surface becomes unsealed and unpredictable, so take care if you have a low-base car. Best suited for 4WD vehicles.
The final turn is onto Snapper Road where there is a small gravel parking area and the Moonee Beach Walking Trail sign.
The 4 km return trail slowly descends towards Mooney Beach with gorgeous views to your right over Ghosties Beach, and then Moonee Beach. Straight ahead are expansive views of the ever-growing housing development at Catherine Hill Bay.
At the half-way point is the highlight of the walk: Moonee Beach where you’ll want to throw off your shoes and watch the waves roll into shore. You’ll be tempted to dive into the blue-green crystal-clear waters but keep in mind that the beach is not patrolled and is well known for strong currents and rips.
Want to extend your walking trail experience? Continue walking south where you’ll come across a huge rock platform. Big and little kids will love searching for crabs under rocks and in the small rockpools.
We found it hard to turn back to hop back onto the trail for the return trip. What we thought was a slight decline on the trek down to the beach seemed much steeper on the way back. Our leg muscles started to burn, and the midday sun pelted down, so the lesson for summer hiking on this trail is to either start early morning or later in the afternoon.
Trail conditions: The Moonee Beach Trail is suitable for beginners (and kids) with a moderate level of fitness. The ground surfaces vary, with the greater part of bushland areas rocky under foot, so good walking shoes are a must.
You’ll need to bring plenty of drinking water, sunscreen and a hat. Mobile phone coverage is great for some carriers; inconsistent for others.
There is no access to tap water or public toilets along this trail, but both can be found at the two camping grounds – Frazer and Freemans Camping Grounds, with Frazer being the only patrolled beach in the conservation area (during summer school holidays and Easter). There are two picnic areas: Tea Tree and Palms.
Opening hours: 5.30 am to 9 pm (daylight saving time), and 5.30 am to 6 pm (other times).
Bicycles are only allowed on managed trails not on the walking trails.
WORDS KIM COLE