Coastal camping that ticks all the boxes
Travel: Pebbly Beach
- Spectacular campsites
- Amazing scenery
- 4WD-only access
Australia is blessed with many great 4WD destinations and camping areas including plenty in coastal areas. One of the absolute best (and a personal favourite) is Pebbly Beach on the NSW north coast.
Pebbly Beach doesn’t appear in the mainstream tourist guides… perhaps because it is such a fantastic place and the locals don’t want to advertise it! However the secret is out as it is well known within the 4WD community and the camping area can get quite busy on long weekends and school holidays. Outside of the busy times you may well get to enjoy this magical place largely on your own.
Pebbly Beach campground is located in a small bay within the Yuraygir National Park, about 50km north of Coffs Harbour and 58km south of Grafton. Coming from the north it’s well worth stopping at Grafton for fuel and supplies; and in springtime you can admire the magnificent Jacaranda trees in full bloom along with the many historic buildings.
From Grafton head down the Pacific Highway for 35km to the signposted road on the left to Station Creek (Yuraygir NP). The gravel road winds its way through to the Newfoundland and Barcoongere State Forests, with signposts directing you towards the Yuraygir National Park. Eventually you will enter the park and after another 4km you’ll arrive at a main intersection where there are information boards, rubbish skips and a firewood pile. Have a read of the information boards, drop off any rubbish, collect some firewood and head down the track towards Pebbly Beach.
Before going to Pebbly Beach you need to have done some research on the tides, as the last section of the track involves crossing Station Creek which is only possible at low tide (unless you enjoy inundating your pride and joy with salt water). This is important – check the tides and time your trip accordingly.
From the intersection it’s only a couple of kilometres to the warning sign advising ‘only high-clearance 4WDs past this point’. This is a good place to lower your tyre pressures and engage 4WD prior to heading through the dunes via the tight and bumpy sand track that leads down onto the beach.
The wide beach is magnificent with waves crashing in from the Pacific Ocean. It is just a 2.5km run north up the beach to the exit and the Station Creek crossing. The beach exit can be soft, so take care and ensure there are no oncoming vehicles.
The biggest challenge is the Station Creek crossing. At high tide this crossing is impassable but at low tide it’s generally easy. There are star picket markers indicating the crossing point, but make sure you walk the creek first and choose the shallowest route as the crossing can change regularly. On our visit the best route was to initially follow the markers, then divert upstream before circling back to the exit. Since our last visit a new creek exit on the campground side has been constructed which makes it much easier.
Once across the creek a sign welcomes you to the Pebbly Beach campground. There are around 60 large campsites – many bordering the beach with green grass and shady trees. The place is just like a picture postcard with the deep blue ocean right out front, waves crashing onto a sandy beach, beautiful Casuarinas and Banksia trees, large grassy campsites, and spectacular headlands to the left and right framing this picturesque cove that is Pebbly Beach. Time to pick your own piece of paradise, set up your campsite, and relax in this beautiful place.
Camping fees are collected by the Caretaker, Rob, who visits the campsites. You can stay in the area for a maximum of 21 days should you have the time. It’s worth chatting to Rob about the area as he has a wealth of knowledge. There are clean pit toilets in the centre of the campground, with many campsites having fire pits.
Even though it is tempting to just chill out and relax, there are plenty of things to do. If you have a boat it can be launched from the southern end of the beach; or you can try your luck fishing from the rocks or the beach. The protected southern section of the beach is great for swimming, and Station Creek is also a fantastic place for a dip – particularly for young children. Although the sand is soft the beach is great to walk along to admire the range of small stones and rounded pebbles. The headlands are worth exploring, with spectacular views and great fishing. The freshwater beach walk that begins from the northern section of the beach is great, with excellent coastal views. If you are there between April and October you might also be lucky enough to see some whales as they migrate along the east coast.
In the surrounding State Forests there are plenty of 4WD tracks to explore so Pebbly Beach is a great place to set up as a base while enjoying some challenging (or moderate) 4WDing. After a day exploring, there is nothing better than enjoying a cold beverage and a meal beside a campfire while listening to the waves crashing on the shore.
There is plenty of wildlife in the park including kangaroos, goannas, lizards and a large range of birds. A resident goanna and bush turkey checked out our campsite looking for an easy feed, providing us with a reminder to keep food well out of sight and inaccessible while camped here. The birds are magnificent and we spent many hours admiring and photographing the colourful range of species. One highlight for us was seeing a kookaburra grab a small python that ended up as his breakfast… we have heard of this happening but had never actually seen it before.
Pebbly Beach is one of those magnificent places that should be on every camper’s bucket list. It is not difficult to get to, but does require a 4WD and some pre-planning. Plan a visit and stay a few days in one of the best coastal campgrounds in Australia – you won’t be disappointed!
Yuraygir National Park can be found on the NSW north coast. Pebbly Beach campground is located in the Yuraygir National Park, 20km from Corindi Beach and 58km from Grafton. The campsite at Pebbly Beach is located right on the edge of the beach, with access by 4WD only.
WHAT TO TAKE: There’s limited water and no shops at Pebbly Beach so take all the food and water required for the duration of your visit. There is limited mobile phone service so alternative communication such as a satellite phone and/or a PLB is advisable.
TRIP STANDARD: Low range is required when driving on Station Beach, as the sand can be soft. There’s also a creek crossing at Station Creek at the entrance to Pebbly Beach which should only be attempted at low tide. Overall, the area is accessible with a standard 4WD.
RESTRICTIONS, CAMPING AND PERMITS: Camping fees ($12 per adult per night) are collected by the Caretaker who will visit campsites. Park entrance is also $8 per day if you don’t have a NSW annual pass. If you have time, you can stay for a maximum of 21 days. Bookings cannot be made in advance.
LOCAL ATTRACTIONS: The campsite is located right on the beach – so you can fish, surf and swim in some of the sheltered waterholes. There are a number of walking tracks in the area, as well as some fantastic 4WD tracks in the adjacent State Forests. It is a great place to just relax and unwind for a few days.
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL: Any time. Pebbly Beach has pleasant temperatures all year ’round, with hot summer days tempered by cool sea breezes from the Pacific Ocean. The campground can get busy on long weekends and school holidays, so perhaps avoid these times.