Holiday town edged by surf beaches and lakeside holiday retreats
Toukley is a holiday town on the shores of Budgewoi Lake. Tuggerah Lake and Budgewoi Lake are interconnected lakes divided by a narrow strip of land which juts out from the western and eastern shores so there is a narrow channel which allows water to move between the two lakes. This gap is spanned by Wallarah Point Bridge. On the western side of the bridge is Gorokan and on the eastern side is Toukley.
Tuggerah Lake is the principal coastal lagoon in a connected 80 square kilometre lake system which includes Lake Munmorah and stretches from south of The Entrance to the settlement of Lake Munmorah at the northern end of the lagoon of the same name. The three lagoons are separated from the Pacific Ocean by large sand peninsulas but share common access to the ocean at The Entrance. The water in the lakes is than 2 metres deep on average, shark-free and fed by small streams. The lakes, because they are quiet and shallow, are ideal for water skiing, canoeing, sailing, rowing and sailboarding. Tuggerah Lake, upon which Toukley is located, is a popular destination for anglers - blackfish, whiting, mullet, snapper, bream, flounder, tailor, flathead, jewfish, tarwhine and crabs can all be caught. Prawns are plentiful in mid-summer and can be caught at night with a lamp and net. Lake Budgewoi is known as an ideal place to fish for bream.
Toukley is located 116 km north of Sydney via the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway and the B70.^ TOP
Origin of Name
It is known that Toukey comes from a local indigenous word but no one seems certain of its meaning. One theory argues that "toukley" means "many brambles". Another theory is that it comes from "toukley ouckley" meaning "rough on one side, smooth on the other" which has been interpreted as referring to Tuggerah Lake and Budgewoi Lake - although both are mostly rather smooth.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
A major local tourist attraction is Canton Beach on the eastern side of Tuggerah Lake south of Toukley. It is a popular and safe swimming spot for children. It is claimed that the beach got its name because Chinese fishermen used it as a base of operations in the early to mid 19th century, catching and curing fish which they sent to the Queensland goldfields and exported back to China. There is a park which stretches along the foreshore. It is ideal for walking and for picnics.
The headland south of Norah Head is Soldiers Point which has views over Pebbley Beach on the northern side and Soldiers Beach, a popular surfing beach, on the southern side. On a clear day the view south from Soldiers Point is one of the best on the coast. It is possible to see The Entrance, First Point south of Avoca Beach and Barrenjoey Headland at the northern end of Palm Beach.
Other Attractions in the Area
Norah Head Lighthouse
The Norah Head lighthouse, built in 1903, is the last colonial built lighthouse on the New South Wales coast. It was also the last staffed lighthouse and was staffed for over 90 years. It was finally de-staffed in 1994. The lighthouse and the buildings surrounding it were constructed from precast concrete blocks using a design influenced by the great colonial architect, James Barnet. Precast concrete was only used for lighthouses in New South Wales three times - at Point Perpendicular (1897), Cape Byron (1901) and Norah Head.
The lighthouse is 27.5 metres high and has a beam can be seen 28 km out to sea. Only two ships have been lost off Norah Head. In 1917 the small 219 tonne Nerong was wrecked and in 1940 the 1052 tonne Nimbin was sunk after hitting a German mine with seven lives lost. It is significant that before the lighthouse was built ten ships were wrecked at Norah Head between 1894-1903.
It is worth noting that the area around the lighthouse is ecologically important as it contains vulnerable flora including Camfield's gum and vulnerable fauna including the squirrel glider, white tern, sanderling and providence petrel.
The stacks of Munmorah and Vales Point Power Stations are visible to the north-west. Looking north along the shoreline Stockton Beach can be seen in the distance making its way eastwards to the tip of the Tomaree Peninsula, around the corner from Port Stephens, nearly 80 km distant. Tiny Jewfish Point is visible offshore 3.5 km to the north with Bird Island further north and out to sea. To the south is Pebbley Beach and Soldiers Point.
Below the lighthouse is a rock platform which anglers insist is ideal for catching salmon, drummer, tailor, jewfish and snapper. There is a very detailed history of the lighthouse at http://www.heritage.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahpi/record.pl?RNE1489
Wyrrabalong National Park
At the southern end of Soldiers Beach is Pelican Point which marks the northernmost point of Wyrrabalong National Park. Between Norah Head and The Entrance is the northern section of Wyrrabalong National Park. The small southern section lies to the south of The Entrance. The northern section of the park covers 480 ha. Amusingly it is said that Wyrrabalong meant 'headland looking over the sea' (clearly a reference to the southern section of the park) in the language of Darkinjung people who once occupied the coastline between Bateau Bay and Forresters Beach.
The park's northern section stretches from the shore of Tuggerah Lake across to Tuggerah Beach and Pelican Point and covers the dune system which separates the lake from the beach. Although the surrounding area is quite densely populated the narrow strip of coastal land contains a considerable diversity of fauna and flora, including the lace monitor, flying fox, bandicoot, squirrel glider, diamond python, possum, New Holland Mouse, antechinus and many birds.
The ocean side is mostly coastal dunes with beach access via Pelican Beach Rd (at the northern end) and the Tuggerah Beach Walking Track (700 m) which leads to a popular surfing and fishing area.
On the western side of the Central Coast Highway there is the 2.3 km, easy, Red Gum Trail, a pleasant walk through angophoras, remnants of littoral rainforest, and some open scrubland and wetlands. There is also the longer Lillipilli Loop Trail (4.6 km, easy) which is a circuit through rainforest, corkwoods, cabbage tree plains and beside the Tuggerah Lake wetlands. The Wetland Trail runs off the Red Gum Trail (it is only 900 metres of easy walking) and crosses swamp mahogany and paperbark-fringed wetlands. These tracks can be accessed from two car parks on the western side of the Central Coast Highway. it is possible to download a brochure, complete with a detailed map, at http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/parks/brochures/120229WyrrabalongNPBrochure.pdf.
Located only 6 km north of Norah Head, Budgewoi (meaning 'young grass') sits between Budgewoi Lake and Lake Munmorah which are separated by a very narrow channel. This is a place suitable for families and anglers. There are boat ramps and a large shady reserve with picnic and barbecue facilities and a footbridge across to a tiny island. From Mackenzie Reserve there views northwards over Lake Munmorah and Slade Park is edged by Budgewoi Lake.
Munmorah State Conservation Area
Munmorah State Conservation Area is one of those hidden coastal delights which offers peace, quietness, few crowds and lots of opportunities to experience unspoilt beaches, dramatically beautiful headlands and a coastline unsullied by commercial development. There are two entry points: Birdie Beach Drive off Elizabeth Bay Drive and Blue Wren Drive off the Pacific Highway. This is a National Park and there is an entrance fee.
The park stretches across 1500 ha of coastal land, is edged at the southern end by the shore of Lake Munmorah and offers a range of activities including cycling, sailing, fishing, surfing, bushwalking and picnickin. The flora ranges from wetlands through forests, woodlands, littoral rainforests and heath communities.
There are three main walks in the park as described by the NPWS Visitor Guide.
The Moonee Beach Trail (3 km return - medium difficulty) - which departs from Snapper Point Road and passes through coastal heath. It offers spectacular views over Timber Beach, Ghosties Beach and Moonee Beach. It descends to Moonee Beach near Flat Rock Island.
Palms Circuit Track (1.5 km return - medium) wanders through a section of littoral rainforest and open eucalypt forest including stands of cabbage tree palms near the Palms Picnic Area.
Melaleuca Track / Birdie Creek and Coast Tracks (7.2 km one way - medium) - As the brochure explains "This walk can be completed in several sections. Commencing at the southern park entrance on Birdie Beach Drive, this track travels through a swamp / sedgeland paperbark forest, on to a dry ridge scribbly gum community and out onto a spectacular coastal heath. Take in views of Norah Head and Bird Island before a short walk to conclude at Frazer Beach."
For visitors who want to explore the park by driving there are a number of excellent vantage points:
Snapper Point and Frazer Beach
Accessible via Campbell Drive, both Frazer Beach and Snapper Point are not only delightful but also dramatic. Frazer Beach is known as a very good surfing location and Snapper Point offers rock fishing, fine views across Frazer Beach and, just to the north, an indentation in the coastal cliffs where it is easy to see how the geology of the area is a result of sedimentation deposited by a river which used to run from the mountains in the west and which had its estuary at this location
Wybung Head and Wybung Trig Lookout
Along Wybung Head Road is Wybung Trig Lookout, one of the finest views to be found on the entire Central Coast. It looks south over Bird Island to Norah Head Lighthouse, south-west over Lake Munmorah, Budgewoi, Budgewoi Lake and Munmorah Power Station, west to Chain Valley Bay and beyond to the mountains, north-west over Lake Macquarie to the stacks of Eraring Power Station and north to the ships in Newcastle Harbour and beyond to Stockton Beach. There is a track, the Geebung Heath Track, which leads down to Birdie Beach
At the end of Wybung Head Road is a car park looking down on Wybung Head. The dramatic rock forms on the Head are the product of warping, erosion and ruptures of a surface formed in part by the sedimentation deposited by a river which used to run from the mountains in the west and which had its estuary at this location. Walk down to the spectacular headland where fishing is popular from the rock platforms and there are good views southward over Birdie Beach. In spring Munmorah State Recreation Area is alive with dramatically beautiful wildflower displays.
There is a downloadable brochure which contains information about walking, camping and rock fishing in the Conservation Area. Check out http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/~/media/visitor/files/PDF/Brochures/munmorah-sca-pdf.aspx.
* Prior to European settlement the area around Toukley was inhabited by members of the Awabakal Aboriginal language group.
* The last Aborigine in the area was Billy Fawkner who was often seen rowing his bark canoe across Tuggerah Lake. When he died in 1875 he was recognised as 'the last of the Brisbane Water blackfellows'. The rest of his tribe had died from introduced diseases or been killed in the process of dispossession and land acquisition.
* In 1796 after a ship was wrecked on the coast a party from Sydney Town reached the area and discovered the lakes.
* By 1828 a man named John Slade had taken up land on the shores of Tuggerah Lakes and another settler named Robert Henderson owned land at what was then known as Bungaree Norah.
* By 1833 Cabbage Tree Harbour was being used as a port to ship cedar, cut in the hinterland and floated across the lakes, to Sydney.
* In the 1880s the Sydney-Newcastle railway was completed and the Central Coast became popular as a health and leisure destination for Sydneysiders who began to travel by boat, train and horse-drawn vehicle to go fishing, bathing and walking around the lakes.^ TOP
Toukley District Art & Tourist Information Office, Wallarah Road, Gorokan, tel: (02) 4392 4666.^ TOP
There is useful information at http://www.centralcoastaustralia.com.au/info/towns/toukley.^ TOP