NSW NATIONAL PARKS
A national park is a park in use for conservation purposes, created and protected by the Federal Government. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that the state declares or owns.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is a directorate of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment[ which was established in 1967.
Tomaree National Park
Tomaree National Park stretches along the coastline from the south head of Port Stephens (Tomaree Head) to Birubi Point. The park falls within the Port Stephens local government area and is within the area of the Worimi Aboriginal Nation and the Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council. Originally reserved in 1984 as a thin coastal strip of 800ha, the park was extended to 2,310ha in 1996 with the addition of most of the Nelson Bay Special Area, a water reserve declared under the Hunter Water Act 1991. The Port Stephens lighthouse, associated grounds and ruins of the lighthouse keepers’ house were formally added to the park in January 2003.
The park contains a range of landforms from coastal headlands to volcanic peaks to sub-coastal swamps. It provides essential wintering habitat for a variety of birds and supports several plants and animals which are threatened and/or of limited distribution. It is an important part of the broader nature conservation system of the Port Stephens area. The Nelson Bay Special Area is within the park and protects a high quality water aquifer important for water extraction.
The park also contains a range of cultural heritage, including Aboriginal sites and landscapes of Aboriginal importance, the Point Stephens lighthouse and associated structures, and the World War II fortifications on Tomaree Head.
Hunter Wetlands National Park
Hunter Wetlands National Park lies in the lower estuarine reaches of the Hunter River. It borders the city of Newcastle to the south and extends from the town of Hexham in the west to Stockton and Fern Bay in the east. The park is in two distinct sections. The eastern part includes: Stockton Sandspit; Sandy and Smiths islands; the bed of Fullerton Cove; part of the north and southern arms of the Hunter River, Tomago Wetlands, Kooragang, Ash, Hexham and Campbell islands. The western part covers Hexham Swamp.
The park was established in 2007 for the revocation of Kooragang and Hexham Swamp nature reserves. Ash, Campbell and Hexham islands were later additions to the park. It is part of a green corridor stretching from the Watagan Ranges, through to Hexham Swamp and Port Stephens. The wetland system in the park is of international significance and is listed under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. It is of exceptional conservation value, containing the second largest area of mangroves in New South Wales and extensive areas of coastal saltmarsh.
The park provides habitat for a diversity of wildlife including 41 threatened species such as the Australasian bittern, green and golden bell frog and breeding habitat for the eastern freetail-bat. It also provides important habitat for migratory bird species listed under international agreements, including the curlew sandpiper, sharp-tailed sandpiper and the red knot.
Gir-um-bit National Park
Gir-um-bit National Park was created in July 2007. It covers an area of 580ha.
Gir-um-bit National Park and Gir-um-bit SCA are located approximately 16 kilometres west of Nelson Bay. They fall within the NSW North Coast Bioregion and within the administrative areas of Port Stephens Council, Hunter Local Land Services and Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council. They are made up of small parcels of land that are fragmented by residential land, vacant Crown land and land previously used for sand mining. The parks fringe the waterways of Port Stephens bay and include Swan Bay, Fame Cove and small islands. They comprise dry sclerophyll forests, drainage wetlands and salt marsh vegetation that provide key habitat for a variety of shorebird species and migratory bird species protected under international agreements.