National Parks & Recreation
Want to experience the great outdoors at its best? For breathtaking views across the Hunter Valley you can hike up to Mount Bright Lookout, Bimbadeen Lookout or Pokolbin Mountains Road lookout (they’re also accessible by car).
Then make the most of the surrounding countryside and explore one of the region’s amazing national parks. You can see the region’s most significant Aboriginal cultural heritage sites in Yengo National Park, bushwalk along marked trails in Watagans National Park, including part of the Great North Walk, which runs from Sydney to Newcastle, or pack a picnic and spend a day swimming in the shimmering waters of Lake St Clair.
Yengo National Park
The World Heritage-listed Yengo National Park is part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, stretching from Wisemans Ferry to the Hunter Valley. It features tall rocky ridges and steep gorges as well as a number of Aboriginal sacred sites and rock engravings that have cultural significance to local Aboriginal communities.
Within its 1543 square kilometres is the historic, convict-built Old Great North Road, a reminder of the labour intensive infrastructure dating back some 200 years. There are a number of bushwalks and it is also popular with mountain bike riders. While 4WD access is preferred, there are some areas accessible by 2WD.
There are various camping and picnic sites throughout Yengo National Park and areas with various access points around its boundaries. For further info, call National Parks and Wildlife office at Bulga on 6574 5555 or head to nationalparks.nsw.gov.au
Lake St Clair
Lake St.Clair is nestled among the undulating hills at the foot of Mount Royal Range, a quick 30-minute drive north of Singleton. The lake is popular with locals, who go sailing, swimming, water skiing, canoeing, kayaking and camping.
If you’re looking to cast a fishing line, the lake is regularly stocked with Australian bass, golden and silver perch and catfish by the NSW State Fisheries and local fishing clubs. Fishing licenses are a must and you can get them from the Lake St Clair caretaker or Singleton Visitor Information & Enterprise Centre.
Want to stay longer? Easily done as there are 11 powered camping sites with 38 hectares of camping space, as well as electric and wood-fire barbies, hot showers and a camp kitchen. And you can bring Fido too as dogs are allowed but must be on a lead.
Watagans National Park
Watagans National Park offers the perfect place to get away from it all and explore Australia’s native plants and wildlife. Just 30 minutes from Cessnock it offers several marked walking trails, including part of the Great North Walk that stretches from Sydney to Newcastle, and you can also explore the forest roads by mountain bike or 4WD.
Mt Royal National Park
Mt Royal National Park is also a World Heritage-listed park and adjoins Barrington Tops National Park. It is 30 minutes’ drive from Singleton and takes you past the picturesque Lake St Clair - one of the best inland fishing hotspots in the region.
At Mt Royal you can enjoy a day’s drive, stopping at various picnic points or better still, pack up the kids and the camping gear and spend a night or two enjoying this rustic, bushland environment at the Youngville Camp site and explore the park by car or foot.
Eco tourism accommodation and tours, an ideal getaway for families, friends and small groups, are also available in Mt Royal National Park.
Wollemi National Park
Bushwalking, canyoning, swimming and kayaking can all be enjoyed within the spectacular 4870 square kilometres of the Wollemi National Park. Also part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Wollemi National is the second-largest national park in New South Wales and contains the largest remaining area of wilderness in the state.
This park really is a wilderness wonderland and popular among experienced bushwalkers who enjoy the challenge of this remote region with numerous short and day walks as well as longer week-long walks that feature picturesque camping spaces for overnight breaks.
The park is 81kms distance from Cessnock and just over 77kms from Singleton with most access points identified on maps. Beware that some of the area is privately owned and permission must be sort prior to access and that most of the fire trails have locked gates so do a little research ahead of your adventure, especially if you intend to explore more than a few kilometres into the park. The park is also home to Colo River that offers a challenge for the experienced kayaker but also a lovely cool down in the crystal clear waters after a hot day’s walk.