Pebbly Beach campground is tucked away on the north coast of NSW in Yuraygir National Park. This neat little spot is only accessible by four-wheel drives, and the salt-water crossing that’s required before entering the campsite means getting there is just part of the adventure.
Back in early 2016 a huge storm smashed through NSW’s north coast, causing widespread damage and washing out the famous Pebbly Beach salt-water river crossing by pulling away a heap of sand from the banks, making it near-impossible to get across – regardless of how kitted out your fourbie might be. National Parks’ have since set up a new water crossing, just a few metres from the original, but far shallower than previous.
When we arrived at Station Creek and took the turn-off to the protected Pebbly Beach dunes we saw a sign reading ‘CAMPSITE FULL’. We both swallowed our pride, and decided to walk the four-wheel drive track to see what we were missing out on. That way we’d avoid letting air out of our tyres for no reason.
Luckily, when we got back to the car two campers were on their way out, and very kindly approached us. “You guys keen to snag a spot over at the campground? We’re on our way out because we didn’t pack any shelter, and it’s forecast to rain for the rest of the long weekend.”
We didn’t waste a second, we thanked the two of them and began to let the tyres down to a lower PSI.
By the time we reached the crossing, it was nearing high tide (around 2:30pm), but the Hilux managed to get through without any trouble (this wouldn’t have been the case a few years back when the original crossing was still in operation). Of course, we waded through the water first, and a local dude gave us a tip to cross in a question-mark manoeuvre – without his advice we’d have dipped straight into a deep hole over the other side.
There are 60 campsites to choose from, some overlooking the beach and some set back against the bush, all marked out with rope fencing to avoid any campsite fisticuffs. Despite the place being totally packed there was a real sense of tight-knit community the weekend we were there, everyone was giving us the thumbs-up to congratulate us on scoring the very last spot.
A Remote Campsite With Adventures Just Around the Corner
The best part about Pebbly Beach, is there’s a heap of stuff to do (aside from kicking back in the hammock with a tinny).
Top-and-tailed by two tropical-looking headlands, you can pick between a walk along the grassy-knoll at the north end of the beach or the sharp, rocky boulders and rock-pools to the south.
If you choose to go for a stroll around the south headland, bring a pair of flip-flops with you. The rocks are jagged, and no matter how tough your feet might be, a shoe-less walk along these rocks could end badly (I learnt the hard way).
Pebbly Beach campground actually happens to be a few kilometres away from the final leg of the multi-day, 65km (one way) Yuraygir Coastal Walk. If you’re not feeling up to tackling the whole thing and would rather chill out at camp, duck up the north headland to walk along the path around the corner to where we found a small man-made tree-house. Keep your eyes peeled for whales, we saw a few as we wandered through the scrub.
They don’t call it Pebbly Beach for nothing. The waves crash onto smooth pebbles and thousands of interesting shells. You could waste hours walking along the shore-line to find bits-and-bobs of all kinds. Just leave them there, wild souvenirs are selfish.
Tick that One Off the List
While we were there we saw willie-wag-tails, eagles, brush-turkeys, butterflies, rats (ew), and unfortunately Mark had an encounter with a tick. As we sat by the campfire in the evening, I had my Led Lenser head light shining down on my dinner. With a little yelp, Mark slapped the back of his neck, and quickly held his finger under the light to see a tick crawling along his thumb-nail. Just a reminder that wild places sometimes* (*always when you’re in Aus) mean nasty critters are about. Pack some bug-spray and you’ll be right.
So, if you do choose to take the long trip from Sydney or just a short drive 50km north of Coffs Harbour, pack a kayak, surf board, plenty of food and water – and of course a tent – to enjoy (arguably) one of the best remote campsites New South Wales has to offer.
The Important Stuff:
- To get there, take the Pacific Highway and turn off onto Barcoongere Way, don’t follow the maps’ suggestion to take you along McPhillips road (a little further up). Don’t ask why, a local just told us Barcoongere is the best way to get there. This road is unsealed, but it’s actually 2wd accessible all the way to Station Creek campsite. From there you’ll need to let your tyres down and drive along the track between the protected dunes before reaching the river crossing.
- There are 60 campsites at Pebbly Beach, however on long weekends you’ll really want to get there nice and early. It’s a favourite among locals, so don’t go taking the title of this piece too seriously, it really isn’t all that secret up in Coffs or Brisvegas and the Gold Coast. We actually saw more Queenslanders there than NSW campers.
- The campsite will set you back $12 per adult, or $6 per child a night. On the long weekend we stayed two nights, which cost us $48 all up. There are no bookings required, which makes getting there all the more exciting – you could literally get there and see the sign that says ‘Campsite Full’, just like we did (at first).
- There’s a real neat looking toilet block, and they provide wood-chips to cover up your business (literally). Read the sign, “If it’s a poop, chuck in a scoop. If it’s a pee, let it be.”
- There’s no fresh water at Pebbly Beach campground and you’re nowhere near a local store to re-stock if you run out of food, so it’s a good idea to come fully prepared with all food and water required for however long you’re staying.
- Always remember to bring something to shelter your campsite in case of rain or a storm, the reason we snagged the last spot was because a dude from Sydney forgot to pack an awning. Don’t be a dooface.