Pacific Palms

Pacific Palms (including Smiths Lake, Sandbar, Blueys Beach, Boomerang Beach, Booti Booti National Park, Green Point, Wallingat State Forest)
Quiet and water-bound settlement between Myall Lakes and Foster
Pacific Palms, 282 km north of Sydney via the Pacific Highway, is the general place name given to a strip of the mid-north coast from Tarbuck Bay in the south to Tiona Park in the north. It is also the name given to the central shopping area adjacent Boomerang Beach. The main access road which bisects the area is The Lakes Way which departs the Pacific Highway just north of Bulahdelah and runs east out to the coast following it north to rejoin the highway south of Forster.

This is a holiday area of small settlements which are primarily designed for holiday makers and people who have chosen to retire in the area. Not surprisingly there is a feeling of relaxation and transience.

Fishing is obviously a popular pastime and beach anglers will usually be rewarded with tailor, bream, whiting and mulloway. The headlands and rocks are good for drummer, blackfish, bream and tailor, the lakes for bream, whiting and flathead and Charlotte Head is generally considered the best spot for land-based game anglers after tuna and kingfish.

Captain Cook and Matthew Flinders sailed by the area in 1770 and 1799 respectively. Two ships were wrecked off Cape Hawke in 1816, presumably intoducing the first white people to the area. The Captain of one of the ships, his wife, child and two crew reached Newcastle. The rest were presumed killed by the indigenous inhabitants of the area.

In 1818, John Oxley and his party, en route to Sydney after an inland expedition, carried a boat from Booti Booti to Boomerang Beach where they spent the night. One of the party was speared by the local Aborigines (probably the Worimi) who watched them from canoes. Oxley named Wallis Lake after the commandant of the penal settlement at Newcastle.

This area was issued as part of the million-acre land grant to the Australian Agricultural Company (AAC) in 1825 but they found this section of their grant of no use and it reverted to the crown. Nonetheless, it is said that the Chinese shepherds hired by the AAC in the 1850s fished off the coast here and dried their wares for sale.

Ex-convict William Bramble and his family became the first European settlers of the district in 1854. One of his grandsons took up land just north of The Sandbar in the 1880s. The Godwin family took up land at Cape Hawke in 1863 and William Newman moved into the area in 1866. The Newmans took up most of the land east of The Lakes Way between Smith's Lake and Elizabeth Beach in the 1900s and 1910s.

Timbergetting and its related activities were the main source of income in the early days with the timber mills of Bungwahl providing much employment. Fishing was also a major activity although problems of preservation and transportation limited its commercial possibilities until after World War II. Small farming also developed.

The small community was badly hit by the effects of the depression of the 1930s on the timber industry. Dairying was attempted with little success. Nonetheless, local pressure led to the opening of a school at Charlotte Bay (at the south-eastern corner of Wallis Lake) in 1937.

World War II saw a resurgence of demand for timber, strengthening the cash economy. Significantly, a man named Wally Williams bought up land at Elizabeth Bay in 1946 with an eye to its tourism potential. He subdivided a hundred allotments between Wallis Lake and the beach, set up a shop and something of a tourist resort. Investors and retirees bought up the land and businesses began to emerge. With this example in place others began to provide services for holiday-makers, such as a boatshed, tea rooms and a real estate agency.

Slowly, the emphasis shifted from the creekside settlement of Charlotte Bay to the ocean shore. The rerouting of the Pacific Highway through Karuah and Bulahdelah and the establishment of a bridge over the Karuah River aided the tourism potential of the area. Caravan and/or camping parks emerged in the 1950s at Elizabeth Beach, Santa Barbara and The Sandbar.

A developer named Degotardi did much to promote (and further subdivide) the area in the late 1950s and a local progress association came up with the name 'Pacific Palms' in 1959 with an eye to enhancing its appeal.

Subdivision, homebuilding, sandmining and roadworks encouraged population growth in the 1960s and 1970s. All in all, the 'development' of the area has been extremely slow. Indicatively, the local school didn't receive electricity until 1967 and The Lakes Way remained unsealed until 1970.

A market is held on the last Sunday of each month at the Community Centre in Pacific Palms, from 9.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.

Things to see:

Smiths Lake and Sandbar
At the southern end of the district, occupying a peninsula that juts out into Smiths Lake, is a pretty village situated in beautiful bush surroundings which also goes by the name of Smiths Lake. Fortunately the land was not cleared before the houses went in and the residences are not so densely placed as to spoil the natural setting. There is a hire service at the Frothy Coffee Boatshed, located at the southern tip of the headland. Aside from a truly exceptional coffee you can obtain catamarans, motor boats, paddle bikes, flipper skis, canoes, surf skis, aquabikes, windsurfers and bait. Adjacent the boatshed is John DeBert Reserve, a beautiful lakeside spot where there is a boat ramp, as well as picnic, barbecue and toilet facilities. Birdlife is abundant here.

Smiths Lake township is on the western rim of Symes Bay and from the verandah of the boatshed it is possible to look east across to Sandbar, literally a sandbar which separates Smiths Lake from the ocean. Sandbar has a caravan park situated on the lakeside in a thick bush setting 3.5 km along a very bad dirt road which heads off The Lakes Way. They have boats and canoes for hire and there is a children's playground with barbecues at the Lakefront Reserve. At the shop they will point you to Sandbar Beach, a few minutes walk away. This is a good spot for families, for surfing, bushwalking, bird watching, sailing, prawning and fishing, although commercial trawling of the lake has diminished returns for the individual angler.

The Sandbar turnoff is clearly signposted from The Lakes Way 500 m east of MacWood Rd. As you head south along the dirt track a branch road will appear to your left which will take you to a 9-hole golf course in bushland setting and on to Cellito Beach, a noted surfing beach just north of Sandbar. Just past this turnoff is Bushland Camping Ground. It is another kilometre to Sandbar Caravan Park and the booking office. There is a charge for day visitors.

Coomba Park and Pacific Palms Visitors Centre
Continue north along The Lakes Way and you will come to a turnoff to the left into Coomba Rd which runs around the western shore of Wallis Lake up to the boat ramp and picnic area at Coomba Park, a farming district adjacent the rural tranquillity of Coomba Bay (22 km). There are a number of homesteads which provide accommodation in this area.

3.6 km further along The Lakes Way you will come to the signposted Boomerang Drive turnoff on your right. This route will take you east out past the Oasis Caravan Park. After 1.6 km you will come to a shopping centre on your left. On the western side of it is the Pacific Palms Visitors' Centre.

Boomerang and Blueys Beach
Beyond the centre and up Headland Drive is Boomerang Point overlooking Boomerang Beach. Blueys Beach is on the southern side of this headland. In recent times Blueys (which is reputedly named a after a cow which fell of the southern cliff) has become a fashionable and expensive destination for Sydneysiders seeking a quiet retreat. These two beaches and their hinterland make up the core of Pacific Palms and have a combined population of 500. They are both noted surfing beaches.

At Boomerang Beach's northern end is Charlotte Head, a massive rocky headland which rises up above the ocean. It is the southern tip of Booti Booti National Park, a popular coastal reserve of scenic lookouts, surf beaches, rainforest walks, thick scrub, beach and rock fishing, sailing, windsurfing, boat-fishing, prawning, skindiving, camping, picnicking and an abundance of wildlife (mostly nocturnal).

Elizabeth Beach and Shellys Beach
Boomerang Drive veers west becoming Lakeside Crescent. On your right, as you pass the western edge of the elevated headland, you will see a car park to your right which lies at the eastern edge of Elizabeth Beach where there are picnic facilities, a boat ramp and a surf club which patrols the beach in season. Consequently this is the most popular family beach in the locality.

Adjacent the car park is a series of steps which lead to a dirt path. This will take you down to the other side of the headland where you will find Shellys Beach. The seclusion provided by the enormous rock wall between town and beach, the outcrops which shield the extremities of the beach from prying eyes, and the lack of road access have encouraged those who prefer to bathe au naturel.

The Lake and Booti Booti National Park
Continue along Lakeside Crescent and it will take you back to The Lakes Way. The stretch of coast from Shellys Beach north to Forster is a spit which separates Wallis Lake from the ocean. This spit constitutes the remainder of Booti Booti National Park. There is a boat ramp into the lake adjacent the Pacific Palms Recreation Club. When you come to the intersection of Lakeside Crescent and The Lakes Way turn left and you will see the club's car park to your right after 500 m. The lake is noted for its sailing and saltwater fishing.

Head back north along The Lakes Way past Lakeside Crescent and on to the spit. There are several picnic spots to your left facing out onto the lake, the last at Booti Point. 3.5 km from Lakeside Crescent is the Park's information centre, situated within The Ruins campground. Here you can pick up a leaflet outlining The Booti Hill Walk (3.2 km) which heads south from here, past Booti Hill (169 m), around the headlands above Lindemans Cove to Elizabeth Beach. The gradient is steep at times but the ocean views are rewarding. Adjacent Booti Hill and Lindemans Cove is a littoral rainforest. If you wish to return there is an easy-going path which runs beside Wallis Lake and The Lakes Way. If you want to start at the southern end join the walk from Lethbridge Rd, off Lakeside Crescent at the western end of Elizabeth Beach. The dirt loop at the end of Lethbridge Rd takes you past a small wooden footbridge where a barely visible sign indicates the start of the walk.

The Ruins campsite is situated at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach, with amenities and disabilities facilities. Tents are allowed but no caravans and it is essential that you book in advance.

Tiona Park
700 m north of The Ruins is Tiona Park, technically the northernmost point of Pacific Palms. There you will find, on the western side of the road, a caravan park and the Green Cathedral, an al fresco temple, consecrated by the Saints Church. It has rough timber pews and a wooden lectern situated under a rainforest canopy on the shores of Wallis Lake and is much used for outdoor weddings . There is also a boatshed, tel: (02) 6554 0291.

Santa Barbara and Green Point
1.5 km north, to the right, is Santa Barbara, a lovely picnic area with amenities. Another 2 km brings you to a signposted turnoff on your left which will take you to another picnic area beside the sailing club where there are catamarans and windsurfers for hire in season.

About 2 km north of here is Green Point Drive which will take you out to Green Point where there is a small settlement on the edge of the lake. At the end of this road is a restaurant and gallery. 1.2 km from Green Point Drive is a very rough dirt track to the right which takes you out to secluded Janies Corner at the northern tip of Seven Mile Beach.

Cape Hawke
Another 4 km north along The Lakes Way (14.6 km from the Lakeside Crescent turnoff) is a roundabout. Turn right here and it will take you the 3.5 km out to Cape Hawke, one of the most northerly points of Booti Booti. There is a very steep 440-m path which winds its way to the summit of the hill. There are several rest benches en route. As you ascend the headland the views are increasingly spectacular. At the top (233 m above sea-level) is a cairn noting that Captain Cook sighted and named Cape Hawke on May 12, 1770. A raised viewing platform affords quite spectacular views north along the coast over Forster to Hallidays Point, north-west to the meeting of the Wang Wauk River and Wallis Lake, west to the Great Dividing Range and south along the spit.

Wallingat State Forest
Wallingat State Forest covers the area west of Lake Wallis and east of the Wallingat River. If you follow The Lakes Way west to the northwestern edge of Smiths Lake you will come upon the access route - Sugar Creek Rd which lies to your right, clearly signified by a large, attractive sign advertising Sugar Creek Toymakers, who specialise in unique wooden toys. They can be found to your left just 500 m along the road. A very large and unusual tallowwood tree stands outside the attractive cottage of cypress pine-log. All of the toys are hand-made on the premises, some of local corduroy beech (one tree lasts them 7 or 8 years). There is also a little luncheon section that is tasteful, clean, and tidy.

Further along the road a series of blue arrows with a white leaf inset on white circular discs indicate the route of the Wallingat Forest Drive (25 km). A pamphlet provided by the State Forestry Commission office in Bulahdelah, tel: (02) 4997 4206 outlines the sites of greatest interest, including the Sugar Creek Flora Reserve (7 km) and Wallingat River Forest Park (10 km). There was formerly a small community in the vicinity of the latter which supplied timber for the punts headed upriver to timber mills at Coolongolook and Tuncurry (1855-1954). The picnic area was once a log dump and the camping area a bullock pen.

At the Sugar Creek Flora Reserve is a picnic area and a rather beautiful 30-minute walking trail. It is well worth investigating the Whoota Whoota Lookout (15 km) which is also indicated on the Forest Drive pamphlet. There are outstanding views over Wallis Lake and south-east down to Hawks Nest and the offshore islands.

The park's birdlife is prolific and includes rare species such as the little tern, the sea eagle and the wampoo pigeon. There are also bandicoots, kangaroos, koalas, tiger cats, possums, wallabies and gliders. A warning however, the road is unsealed, rough and hopeless when wet. Its 4WD country really.

Tours of the Area
For those lacking a 4WD, Boomerang Tours will pick you up from your accommodation and take you on a trek of the area's attractions, tel: (02) 6554 0757. Scenic flights also depart from the Pacific Palms Recreation Club, tel: (02) 6555 8771 or (017) 819 412.

L.J. Hooker Holiday Accommodation
210 The Lakes Way
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 0666
Facsimile: (02) 6554 0667

Pacific Palms Real Estate & Holiday Accommodation
Boomerang Dve
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 0540

Raine & Horne Pacific Palms Holiday Accommodation
Macwood Rd Smiths Lake
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 4000

Blueys Pacific Palms Motel
Boomarang Dve Blueys Beach
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 0665
Facsimile: (02) 6554 0665
Rating: ***

Brookers Bed & Breakfast
17 Macwood Rd Smiths Lake
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 4029
Rating: **

Burraneer House Homestay
Burraneer Rd Coomba Park
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 2292
Facsimile: (02) 6554 2292

Karingal Bed & Breakfast
98 Coomba Rd
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 0122
Facsimile: (02) 6554 0062

Pepper Tree Cottage
106 Amaroo Dr, Smiths Lake
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 4522
Rating: ****

Boronia Apartments
Boomerang Dve Boomerang Beach
Pacific Palms NSW 2428

Pacific Palms Resort Service Apartments
2 Lakeside Cres.
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 0300
Facsimile: (02) 6554 0272
Rating: ***

St Clair By the Sea Holiday Apartments
166 Boomerang Dve
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 0586
Rating: ***

Moby Dick Caravan Park
Boomerang Dve Boomerang Beach
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 0292
Rating: **

Pacific Palms Caravan Park
Mariana Ave
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 0209
Rating: **

Sandbar & Bushland Caravan Park
Lakes Way
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 4095
Facsimile: (02) 6554 4253
Rating: **

Tonia Park
Lakes Way
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 0314
Rating: **

Palms Oasis Caravan Park
Boomerang Dve
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 0488
Facsimile: (02) 6554 0268
Rating: ****

Casa La Cima
Wallis Lake
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 2084
Facsimile: (02) 6554 2084

Coomba Park Retreat
43 Attunga Pl.
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 2113
Facsimile: (02) 6554 2113

Beaches On Lakesway
Bellman Ave
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 0247

El-Jay's Italian & Seafood Restaurant
Bowling Club Smiths Lake
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 4333

Johnny Oceans Cafe
8 Redgum Rd Bommerang Beach
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 0878

Pacific Palms Recreation Club
The Lakes Way
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 0207
Facsimile: (02) 6554 0527

Lot 21 the Lakes Way
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 0877

Jenz@Blueys Beach
24 Boomerang Dve
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 0582

Lakeside Coffee Lounge
The Lakes Way
Pacific Palms NSW 2428
Telephone: (02) 6554 0309