Australia: Hat Head NSW

Time to add my voice to the growing number of people who enjoy visiting this northern NSW coastal holiday gem. Just 350 people call Hat Head home, so if you crave peace and quiet, this is your place. The town butts up against a national park that offers great hiking, scenic beaches, a river and excellent fishing. Cycling is a must since the terrain in town is flat.

Hat Head Beach
Views on the hike

Our first day here gave us fine weather, but by Day 2, a slow moving coastal trough stretching from Coffs Harbour to Sydney plied us with torrential rain (one hour yielded 100 mms) as well as 40kms winds. Nothing about Australian weather is ever done in half measures.

The only place to spend a rainy afternoon – Hat Head Bowls Club next door to the caravan park attracts staunch local support for its popular restaurant and bar.

The sheer onslaught of rain saw us retreat indoors, venturing out only for a coffee run into nearby Gladstone. My coffee addiction is real. Gladstone on the Macleay River is a delightful little town that prides itself as an artistic and cultural hub. Across the river lies its sister town – Smithtown, also worth a visit.


Hat Head, we discovered, fares well in heavy rain. The town is below sea level so a levee bank has been built between the river and the caravan park. And luckily, sand quickly absorbs any run-off.  Our biggest concern was getting out if roads closed. BOM and NSW SES became our firm friends as we monitored the situation and made the decision to shorten our 5 day stay by one day.

We packed up a soaking wet camper trailer in double quick time during a brief window of no rain and high tailed it west to Kempsey and a motel! Traitors we are to the camping world, but my relief at leaving behind the incessant noise of flapping canvas and breaking branches together with a constantly shuddering camper trailer is vast.

Cudos to Hat Head Caravan Park who cheerily offered refunds to campers who escaped before their time was up.

Kempsey is on flood alert, so it’s anyone’s guess how long we’ll stay. While pizza, red wine and the Slim Dusty Centre work their magic, we intend to stay put.

I would like to say we swam, we hiked, we cycled to the point of exhaustion, but we didn’t. Looks like we won’t get to the Hunter Valley this trip. The wine cellar will have to wait.

6 thoughts on “Australia: Hat Head NSW

  1. Oh boy! That wet flapping canvas and tree branches banging about is horrible!
    I hope you were cosy in the motel. Where are you now? I am hoping to go to WA across the Nullarbor later this year. I will probably have the AstraZeneca vax. Getting COVID would be bad. When are you home. Let’s commit to a get together. Lots of love Nor

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kempsey is full of stranded travellers. Fairway Lodge Motel comes highly recommended. While other motels in a most UnAustralian way hiked up their prices, Fairway did not. Manager told us they wanted to help travellers.

      Liked by 1 person

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