Lake Arragan to Shelley Headland

A coastal walk with birdlife, petrified trees on the beach, striking rocks and a headland picnic lunch spot

Trail information

Lake Arragan to Shelley Headland

There is so much to see on this coastal walk, following the beach in one direction and the inland track through littoral rainforest and heathlands on the return.

We began our walk at Lake Arragan campground, near Brooms Head, dropping onto Plumbago beach, with a view toward the Red and Grey Cliffs to the south of us. After crossing Buchanans Headland, we return to the beach where curious petrified tree trunks on the beach are being splashed by the waves. The stumps date from a time when the sea level was lower.

Although the path heads inland at this point, the tide was low allowing us to walk up the beach toward Shelley Headland. At the end of the beach are some striking coloured rocks. The cliffs are high, preventing further progress, so walk back on the beach to the petrified trees and follow the track inland.

Last century the beach and dunes were mined here for rutile, and the sandy tracks through the national park were popular with four-wheel drivers. Yuraygir National Park was created in 1980. A standoff ensued when the Shelley tracks were closed in 1987, and concrete bollards, known as Frederich’s Line after the Park manager, were used to stop unauthorised access. The squabble over vehicle access ended up in court in 1992, with the NPA arguing for keeping the tracks closed. Fortunately for the environment, and us lucky walkers, the NPA won the day.

Shelley Headland has a campsite and picnic tables, a perfect spot for lunch overlooking the ocean. There are also rock platforms to explore, and a goat track down to some sea caves, but as there was a massive ocean swell, we stayed away from the rocks. As we walked back through littoral rainforest, paperbark swamps and heathlands, we noticed some tracks from the endangered coastal emu. There are also views of Lake Arragan and toward Clarence Peak.

This walk is in Yaegl country and part of the longer Yuraygir Coastal Walk. From the north, you can also access Shelley Headland by walking from Angourie or Mara Creek.

We walked from Lake Arragan to Shelley Headland with the good people at Coffs Hikers, thanks to our leader!

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