Yacaaba Head, also known as Yacaaba Headland and Mount Yacaaba, is a phenomenal hike in Myall Lakes National Park. By reaching the summit of Yacaaba Head, you’ll be spoilt by stellar views of Port Stephens in one direction, and, Hawks Nest, in the other. To experience these inspiring coastal views, make sure to add the Yacaaba Headland Walking Track to your hiking to-do list. Along the way, you’ll enjoy glorious white sand beaches, rugged headland bushland and a challenging hike. Regardless of what time of year you plan to visit, expect to have an epic time hiking to the summit of Yacaaba Head.
Yacaaba Head | Hiking Guide
Located on the southern boundary of the Barrington Coast, Yacaaba Head is a perfectly positioned headland, with the summit providing glorious 360 views. To the north, across the ocean, you’ll have stunning views of Tomaree Head (Mount Tomaree) and the beautiful beaches either side of it. To the south, you’ll have even better views of Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens. Most notable is the thin strip of land at the tip of Hawks Nest that divides the Pacific Ocean and Karuah River. On the river side is Jimmys Beach, and on the ocean side is Bennetts Beach – a beautiful white sand beach where your Yacaaba Head hiking adventure begins.
Yacaaba Head Hiking Highlights
The Yacaaba Headland Walking Track begins along the sensational Bennetts Beach. Get ready for brilliant white sand, crystal clear turquoise ocean waters and serene coastal bushland. Sand walking can be tough at the best of times, let alone when you’re speed hiking! But at least you’ll have lovely natural surrounds to distract you regardless of your speed of hiking. Plus, one-way, this hike is just shy of 2km, so it’ll actually fly by.
WHAT IS SPEED HIKING? Well, it’s not rocket science! It’s just hiking quicker than your usual hiking speed. Give it a try! Speed hiking makes for a great workout. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy more hikes in a day, which is particularly useful if you have limited to explore an area.
Hiking Bennetts Beach towards Yacaaba Head will lead you to the southern end of the beach where you’ll find a signpost directing you into the dense bush of the headland. Very soon, you’ll realise the sand hiking was actually the easy part. That’s because the walking trail up Mount Yacaaba is a steep, rocky and dusty path, which makes for a challenging hike.
SIDE NOTE: Bennetts Beach is 4×4 accessible, so expect a few vehicles on the beach during your hike.
From the open expanse of the beach, you’ll soon be surrounded and sometimes even sheltered by dense coastal bushland on Mount Yacaaba. Upon entering the headland, you’ll quickly begin steeply ascending to the Yacaaba Head summit. The track is straightforward enough to follow as there are no misleading false or side-trails. However, the steepness of the trail meandering through Yacaaba Head makes it a fairly tough slog. Expect to work up a sweat, particularly in the warmer months.
After around 500 metres or so, you’ll reach a dusty, flat section of the trail where you’ll encounter your first viewpoint. With an opening in the dense bushland, you’ll have some nice northerly facing views of Hawks Nest including Bennetts Beach. For some people, the hike will end here. But at this stage, your views will still be partially blocked by bush, so we recommend continuing up to the summit. So what’s the catch? Well, the next section is the most difficult and steep part of the track. In parts, it’s a bit of a scramble with plenty of loose rocks, but it’s certainly not too hardcore. After about 400 metres of this more challenging section, the track flattens out again, and leads you to the summit!
So all in all, from the base of Mount Yacaaba (the southern end of Bennetts Beach), the track to the summit is just over 1km. But because you’ll be gaining more than 200 metres of elevation, it’ll feel much longer. Thankfully, by reaching the summit of Yacaaba Head, you’ll catch sensational views of Hawks Nest and Port Stephens.
Hawks Nest Views
From the summit of Yacaaba Head, the best views are facing back at Bennetts Beach and Jimmys Beach. Further in the distance is Hawks Nest, Tea Gardens and the stunning coastline of the Barrington Coast. During the steep ascent of Mount Yacaaba, you’ll catch occasional glimpses of Hawks Nest through gaps in the dense bushland and at the first viewpoint. But those views are surpassed by the ones at the Yacaaba Head summit. If you’ve dabbled in a bit of speed hiking, in only around 1 hour, you would have walked the southerly end of Bennetts Beach and scaled the top of Yacaaba Head. The glorious views of Hawks Nest will certainly make it worth it!
Port Stephens Views
In the opposite direction to Hawks Nest, in a southerly direction, is Port Stephens and the outstanding Tomaree National Park. Admittedly, your views of Port Stephens will not be as good as your views of Hawks Nest. Given the summit is fairly wild, thick bushland will slightly block your views of the stunning Port Stephens coastline. But you’ll still have amazing views to enjoy. Tomaree Head is a standout feature of this coastline – having climbed it in early 2020, it was nice to see it from another perspective.
After you’ve enjoyed the summit of Yacaaba Head, it’s time to do the return leg of the hike. Take care as you descend the mid-section of this track, which is steep and has many loose rocks – the perfect recipe to lose your footing! Even though in some sections you’ll need to take it a bit slower for safety, the descent should still be quicker than the hike up. So expect to be back down at Bennetts Beach in no time, celebrating your summit ascent with a refreshing swim!
Yacaaba Head Recap
Hiking Yacaaba Head should be at the top of your hiking to-do list if you ever find yourself in Myall Lakes National Park. There’s much to enjoy on this hike – the drool-worthy Bennetts Beach, the heart-pounding ascent to the summit and the glorious 360 views of Hawks Nest and Port Stephens atop Mount Yacaaba.
We hope this guide has inspired you to hike up Yacaaba Head and travel to this beautiful part of the world. For more information on nearby accommodation, useful hiking gear and bonus tips for this hike, please continue below.
Getting to Sydney
Flights: Of course, you’ll need to fly to Sydney to do this trip from abroad. If you’re travelling to Sydney from overseas, use Skyscanner to search for the cheapest flights. When flying abroad, we always get the ball rolling with a Skyscanner search.
Also, if you’re based in the UK or US, you should sign up to Jack’s Flight Club for the best flight deal alert service. By simply subscribing to the free weekly newsletter or buying a premium membership, you could save lots of money on international travel. If you’re interstate, subscribe to I Want That Flight for the best flight deal alerts to and from Melbourne. You can usually find cheap flights with Jetstar or Tiger Airways.
Getting to/from Yacaaba Head
Park at Jimmys Beach Reserve to begin the Yacaaba Headland Walking Track. Yacaaba Head is located in Hawks Nest, at the southern end of Myall Lakes National Park. From Sydney, it’s a decent 2.5–3 hour drive, whilst it’s just a stone throw’s away from Newcastle! Either way, if you’re travelling up to Hawks Nest, hiking Yacaaba Head is a good way to start your exploration of Myall Lakes National Park, as it’s located at the southern end.
We camped at the Stewart and Lloyds Campground. Read our Myall Lake National Park guide (coming soon) to find out more about this awesome campground where you can hang out with chilled dingoes! If you’re not in the mood for camping, use Booking.com or Airbnb to find yourself some lovely coastal accommodation.
There’s plenty in the way of shops in Hawks Nest and the nearby Tea Gardens. So there’ll be plenty of options for stocking up before your hiking adventure!
- Petrol: $15AUD/person ($12USD)
- Food: $5AUD/person ($4USD)
= $20AUD/person ($16USD)
Five Hiking Gear Essentials for Yacaaba Head
For a more comprehensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Otherwise, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a trip, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Merrell Moab 2 Mid Goretex hiking boots – you’ll want hiking boots with decent traction, particularly for the steep mid-section of the Yacaaba Headland Walking Track.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack – a fantastic day pack for hiking.
- Anker PowerCore Portable Charger – this hike isn’t very long, but it’s always useful to have a portable charger in case you need to charge your camera or phone en route.
- BUFF Unisex Gaiter – the trail through Yacaaba Head is quite dusty in sections, so if you have asthma or any other respiratory conditions, consider a gaiter to cover your mouth and nose.
- DJI Mavic Air 2 – we found the initial viewpoint, about halfway along the Yacaaba Headland Track, as a great place to launch the drone. Although it is very dusty, so we don’t recommend flying if there are people around, as the drone can unsettle the dust.
Trail navigation is fairly straightforward for hiking Yacaaba Head. But if you’re unfamiliar with the area, haven’t hiked here before or are an inexperienced hiker, consider downloading an online map before you set out. We recommend using Wikiloc for GPS guided directions. For those not so prepared, if you’re needing navigation help during the hike and don’t have any phone reception, consider using Maps.me. Although you need to have at least downloaded the map of the general area beforehand.
- Pack plenty of water: it’s a relatively short hike, but on a hot day, you’ll be baking on the beach and working up a sweat as you ascend Mount Yacaaba. Take 2L of water to be on the safe side.
- Bennetts Beach deserves more of your time: Bennetts Beach is a truly stunning stretch of coast. Make time to chill out on the beach and go for a dip after your hike. Alternatively, if you’re up for more hiking, there is more of Bennetts Beach to explore north of Jimmys Beach Reserve.
- You need permission to fly your drone in NSW National Parks (NPWS): please send an application form to NPWS to ask for permission to fly your drone at Yacaaba Head.
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