Bouddi Coastal Walk
Central Coast & Hunter - NSW
Bouddi National Park
Allow 4.5 hrs
Elevation gain (m):
Max. elevation (m):
Moderate (Grade 3)
Steps near Little Beach
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A spectacular ocean-side walk packed with features, including scenic coastal views, stunning sandstone cliffs and beautiful beaches, with shorter options available.
This moderately trafficked walk is best started from the Putty Beach car park at the end of Putty Beach Road in Killcare.
The walk is a little over 8 kilometres one-way, from Putty Beach to Macmasters Beach, however can be shortened to your desired length or capabilities.
The walk is commonly broken into shorter sections, given there are a number of additional trails leading off the main track to car parks.
The three most common shorter sections are:
1.Putty Beach to Maitland Bay (3 kms one-way, Allow 1 hr, Easy)
2.Maitland Bay to Little Beach (3.5 kms one-way, Allow 1.25 hrs, Moderate)
3.Little Beach to MacMasters Beach (1.7 kms one-way, Allow 45 mins, Moderate).
The walk is a hiker’s delight, with scenic coastal views, spectacular sandstone cliffs, beautiful beaches, boardwalks, lookouts, lush rainforest sections and plenty of wildlife.
Wildflowers and migrating whales also add to the spectacle at various times of the year.
It is worth noting that the only public toilets along the walk are at the Putty Beach campground and the Little Beach campground. There are no fresh water sources along the trail, so take enough water for your entire walk.
The following sections outline the details for each of the shorter sections of the walk.
Section 1: Putty Beach to Maitland Bay
This section is arguably the most beautiful, and certainly the easiest, section of the Coastal Walk.
From the car park, head down the sandy path to Putty Beach. The beach stretches over a kilometre west down to Killcare Beach. You may be tempted to have a swim before starting the walk.
To access the Coastal Walk, turn left and walk across the beach toward the headland to reach the trailhead. Look for a set of wooden steps, leading to the top of the headland.
After a short walk along a gravel path through bushland, the trail kicks off with a bang, with the beautiful coloured sands, where swirls and patterns can be found in the sandstone cliff tops.
A wooden boardwalk, perched on top of the cliffs, then leads you along the coastline with sweeping ocean views. Marvel at the jagged and dramatic cliff line up and down the coast and to the rock shelves below that present themselves at low tide.
The first lookout has a view down to the tessellated pavements, which can typically be seen regardless of the tide time.
This is followed shortly after by a side track (to the right) that leads to a set of steps down to Bullimah Beach, a picturesque little cove beach nestled under the cliffs.
After retracing your steps back to the main trail, the walk cuts across the headland through the bushland. These inland sections of the walk typically provide more shade, but also include more steps and undulation.
You then arrive at the sensational Gerrin Lookout, atop Gerrin Point. From the constructed viewing platform, there are views down to the patterned rock shelves being battered by the ocean waves and out into the ocean, where whales can be seen migrating during the season.
It is also recommended to look up and back towards Bullimah Spur – the rocky mound popping out of the forest.
The walk than enters the bushland again for about 1 km, undulating through the forest, with the occasional glimpse of the ocean and cliffs.
You will then arrive at a short side-track (on the right) leading to a constructed lookout for your first glimpses of the incredible Maitland Bay. Look across the tree-tops, down onto the sweeping beach and Bouddi Point headland at the eastern end of the beach.
From the lookout, it is another 400m to get to the beach, via a steep asphalt path and wooden steps. Be sure to turn right at the fork, following signs for the Coastal Walk.
This section ends at Maitland Bay, a 600-metre sweeping curved beach that backs directly onto lush bushland. The protected cove means that it is usually calm, however the beach is unpatrolled, and you should swim with caution.
At low tide, you may catch a glimpse of the S.S. Maitland Shipwreck on the eastern side of the beach – a paddle steamer from Scotland that was wrecked in a storm in 1898, taking the lives of 24 of the 36 passengers. Parts of the boiler and iron hull are strewn across the rock flats below the headland.
To continue to the next section of the Coastal Walk, walk along beach to the eastern end and find the steep rocky steps leading to the top of the headland where the track resumes.
The walk can be ended here (with a two-car shuffle) by taking the trail back up the western end of the beach, following the path to the Maitland Bay Information Centre on The Scenic Road. Otherwise, retrace your steps back to Putty Beach.
Section 2: Maitland Bay to Little Beach
This section of the walk is noticeably more difficult than the first, with a greater elevation profile, but is still a relatively easy walk for experienced hikers.
If starting the Coastal Walk from Maitland Bay, park at the Maitland Bay Information Centre (on The Scenic Road) and follow the path leading to the beach.
Walk along the beach to the eastern end and find the steep rocky steps leading to the top of the headland where the track resumes.
After a short walk across the headland, you will arrive at two lookouts close to one another, with spectacular views to the ocean and along the cliffs.
The first is a constructed wooden viewing platform nestled in the kangaroo grass, while the second it a flat section of rock atop the cliff, with a safety rail.
Be sure to respect the fragile environment in this area and stick only to the path and viewing areas. The kangaroo grass is at risk of extinction, with tramping being a main source of damage to it. There is no need to proceed past the excellent views provided at the viewpoints.
The walk then proceeds to climb higher up the headland. About 250m after the lookouts, keep right and follow signs to Little Beach. The path to the left is to Mount Bouddi summit.
The trail runs adjacent to the cliffs for a period, with a constructed wooden platform offering more amazing coastal views, including back toward Bouddi and Gerrin Points.
The track then becomes much steeper and more undulating, heading inland with minimal views to the ocean.
You will cross Cave Gully, where you can see an overhang amongst the bushland. Listen for frogs and the constant trickling of water from the headland to this point, and enjoy the glimpse of the ocean and the boulder strewn shoreline below the cliff.
About 300m after Cave gully, you will come to a clearing, where the track changes to a sandy fire trail – the Bombi Moor Trail. At this clearing, head left, following signs to Little Beach and Bombi Point.
After approximately 600m, at the next Junction, continue right, following signs to Little Beach. A side-trail soon after is an optional extension to Third Point (1.3 kms return) and is arguably not worth it the extra effort for the relatively similar views seen elsewhere.
After another 600m, you will arrive at a four-way junction. Continue straight, following signs to Little Beach. The 81TRL track is 1.4kms return, and similar to Third Point, is arguably not worth the effort for the similar views offered, while the 78TRL track is only 620m return, but offers minimal views.
From the junction, continue for another 750m to Little Beach. As you get closer to the beach, the trail turns to a steep paved path. Keep right at the junction, following signs to Little Beach – the track to the left heads to the Little Beach car park.
Walk through the campground and cross a small footbridge to arrive at Little Beach. The campground is equipped with BBQs, picnic tables and toilets.
It is worth taking some time to relax at this small, but beautiful, rocky cove beach, nestled among the bush under the cliffs. The protected cove makes the water typically calm, however the beach is unpatrolled so swim with caution.
The western end of the beach is particularly interesting, with overhangs under the cliff that often produce small waterfalls, as well as intricately patterned rocks formed by erosion.
To continue to the next section of the Coastal Walk, head back to the footbridge and follow the steep trail up the rocky steps to the top of the headland.
The walk can be ended here (with a two-car shuffle) by heading back through the campground and following the track back up to the Little Beach car park at the end of Grahame Drive in Macmasters Beach.
Section 3: Little Beach to Macmasters Beach
This section of the walk, while shortest, offers the least in terms of views and is of similar difficulty to the Section 2.
If starting the Coastal Walk from Little Beach, park at the car park at the end of Grahame Drive and follow the path leading to the beach.
Spend some time exploring Little Beach before taking the steep trail from near the footbridge up the rocky steps to the top of the headland.
A short distance up the stairs, there is a small lookout on the right overlooking Little Beach.
After the steep stairs section, you will arrive at a clearing where the track heads left and changes to a sandy fire trail – the Mourawaring Moor Trail. It is advised to ignore the unsigned trail to the left and the 72TRL trail on the right.
A worthwhile additional side-trail however is that to Second Point, which is located on the right, less than 100m from the end of the Coastal Walk.
The 1.4 kms return trail provides beautiful ocean views, as well as views down and across Macmasters Beach, as well as north to Copacabana Beach and Tudibaring Head.
Track: The trail varies significantly along the walk. Section 1 is mostly graded paths and wooden boardwalks, with some steps. Sections 2 and 3 involve rougher tracks and sandy fire trails, as well as a considerable number of steps. All sections are well-signed and easy to follow, particularly Section 1.
Difficulty: Section 1 is relatively easy and is suitable for all fitness levels, whereas Section 2 and 3 and somewhat more difficult, with rougher tracks and a greater elevation profile, and require a moderate degree of fitness, especially if completing the entire walk in one trip.
Care should be taken along the cliff edges, which are periodically not protected by safety rails. If swimming at the beaches, be aware they are all unpatrolled, so swim with caution. Young children should be supervised at all times.
Direction: The walk can be completed as either an out-and-back track that returns the way it came (in its entirety, or in sections) or as a one-way trail with a two-car shuffle.
The walk is best started from the car park at the end of Putty Beach Road in Killcare, 9.25 hours drive south of Brisbane, or 1.5 hours drive north of Sydney.
It is also possible to start from the opposite end of the walk – at the end of Beachview Esplanade at MacMasters Beach.
If doing Section 2 or 3 of the walk, the best starting points are the Maitland Bay Information Centre on The Scenic Road (for Section 2) or the Little Beach car park at the end of Grahame Drive (for Section 3).
Parking is ample at the Putty Beach car park, but the location can become very busy during weekends and holidays. Parking at all other locations is limited.
Note that there will be park fees associated with parking at many of the staring points.
If doing the full walk, and especially if doing the return walk, Putty Beach campground is a great place to spend the night before/after the walk to allow for an early start.
best time to go
The walk can be completed year-round. Be advised that many parts of the walk are exposed to the sun, with minimal shade, so may be more difficult and less enjoyable during the warmer months.
Be sure to check the New South Wales Parks and Wildlife Service website for updates regarding track closures.
Note that there are park fees associated with entering many national parks in New South Wales. Check the New South Wales Parks and Wildlife Service website for more information.
Remember, whenever venturing into the outdoors, practice the Leave No Trace principles and be considerate of others. This means: dispose of your waste properly, don't remove things or move things from their natural position and respect all wildlife. Also be sure to plan ahead and adequately prepare for any adventure.
I respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which all activities listed on this website are found, as well as Elders past, present and emerging. I strive to not promote sites where requests have been made for people not to explore due to the cultural significance of the site to Indigenous peoples, or note how to respectfully visit a site. If I have a promoted a site with cultural significance, please send me a message and let me know.