COVID-19 alert from Belmont Wetlands State Park: There is a group maximum of 10 people allowed at Belmont Wetlands State Park and Nine Mile Beach. Camping is not allowed until further notice, and non-essential travel from out of the Newcastle/Lake Macquarie region is not allowed. Visits are for recreational activity only: this includes surfing, walking, fishing, boogey-boarding – long story short, no sitting on the beach.
When lockdown restrictions ease, and camping is allowed on Blacksmiths Beach again, this is what you need to know before you go.
If you’re all about good times, camping, sunrises and sunsets – Blacksmiths Beach might just be one of the best spots to set up camp.
When intense storms hit the NSW coast, erosion can wash away significant amounts of sand on the beaches. In February 2020 there was a storm surge that eroded sand at the southern entry point of Blacksmiths at Awabakal St. Before airing down your tyres, get out to check the situation. A 6ft drop isn’t safe for you to enter the beach – especially if the waves are crashing there.
The entry at Kallaroo Rd has a better view before you drive on the beach. I’d advise heading there. Keep in mind the gate closes around 5pm, and there’s only a narrow, 4WD only track to get out after hours.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Council have (rightly so) made a few new restrictions for four-wheel drivers. You are no longer allowed to drive up the big dunes at the north end, near the creek. You are no longer allowed to drive behind the dunes through the four wheel drive tracks. Before you get cranky, as a local to the area, we have seen the trash that litters this beach after long weekends, and to be honest, it’s a disgrace. For conservation efforts, it’s important to adhere to the new restrictions. If you don’t, get ready to be fined. Don’t be a dick.
HEALTH AND SAFETY: Make sure you read the signs at Third Creek. Due to low rainfall, the creek water can become stagnant from time to time, leading council to put up signs that warn visitors not to go swimming. Look out for the signs before you jump in for a swim.
If you’re driving from Sydney, you can be there within two hours. That’s including the time it’ll take you to drop the PSI in your tyres.
If you’re from Newcastle, Blacksmiths is just a 25 minute drive from town.
Keep in mind: Blacksmiths Beach has some of the softest sand on the east coast of Australia. We usually drop the tyres down to about 12 or 14 PSI, and we rarely have issues. But the sand here is boggier than other beaches.
Here are a few reasons to pack a picnic, and throw your camping gear into the ute, and get to Blacksmiths Beach.
1. It’s great for a day trip with a convoy of fourbies, or a multi-day overnighter
If you enter via Redhead beach, head straight for the lagoon, or opt for a beach front campsite.
If you camp beside the creek at night, cover yourself with mosquito repellant and don’t be alarmed if there’s a foul smell – the water can become stagnant when the waves haven’t dredged the creek for a while.
2. 4WD tracks to test your suspension
4. Even during summer you’ll find a quiet spot
The beach is so huge that even in the middle of summer you should find a quiet campsite.
On long weekends the beach can become pretty packed, but there’s plenty of room for you to find solitude and go fishing, let the dog have a run around or set up camp.
It goes without saying: if the beach is empty, don’t camp right beside other people. Find your own space.
5. So much room for activities
Bring an old boogey board and slide down the dunes into the lagoon.
Pack a beach fishing rod and try your best at fishing in the ruts. Safe to say we’ve never had any luck. Tips are welcome anytime…
6. The sunsets are unreal
7. You’re guaranteed to find your own private campsite
8. Watch the sunrise from inside your swag
You don’t have to get out of bed to watch the sunrise over the horizon. Flip back the canvas on your swag, or roll up the tent flaps and watch the sun pop into action.
9. The beach is pet friendly
Up until you hit Redhead Beach, dogs are allowed to run around off-lead. There are plenty of dog-friendly beaches in Newcastle, but this is the perfect place to take your dog for a swim in the lagoon or on the shore of the beach, let it meet other woofers, and enjoy knowing that when you get home, your dog will be tired and happy.
Thanks to irresponsible campers, things are changing at Blacksmiths Beach. People have left rubbish in the dunes, buried dog-shit instead of picking it up and disposing of it later, and even worse, failed to dig a decent hole for your own waste. If you don’t know how to dig a hole, do everyone a favour and get back in your car, drive down the road and find a public toilet.
Council and locals have had enough. The prices of permits might rise, or worse, camping might be banned. Look what happened to Stockton Beach, just another hour north of here.
Do your bit, clean up after yourself and your pets.
Please note: you actually can’t camp on the dunes. The rangers are pretty friendly, so if you weren’t aware they will usually let you off with a warning. Find a spot on the flat region beside the lagoon or near the beach (but not where the tide will come up).
Get ready to be hit with a penalty of $220 if you choose to not buy a permit before driving on the beach. There are a few options for permits, but generally the cheapest covers you for one week, and the other lasts one year.
Check to make sure you’re getting a permit that covers how often you want to drive on Blacksmiths Beach.
You can get your permits from a few places near the beach:
- Caltex Star Mart Swansea
- Metro Petroleum Redhead
- Blacksmith’s Home Hardware
- Belmont Golf Club
- Tackle Power Charlestown
- Caltex Star Mart Lake Munmorah
- Medco Service Centre in Windale