Tourist Drive 12


Tourist Drive 12 highlights some of the Macleay Valley Coast’s best coastal attractions and scenery.

Crescent Head is known for its surfing with the Crescent Head Surf Reserve and one of Australia’s best beaches, Killick Beach.

Follow the picturesque Bellmore River to Gladstone for interesting art galleries and gift shops.  Visit the sister town of Smithtown where Milo is made.  Drive along the edge of the mighty Macleay River for spectacular vistas.

Visit the Heritage Listed Pilot Station Complex at South West Rocks which includes the South West Rocks Visitor Information Centre and Maritime Museum.  Spend time at Horseshoe Bay Reserve with a swim, picnic or take in the views of Horseshoe Bay and Trail Bay.

Arakoon National Park to the east is where history Trial Bay Gaol is located and Laggers Point is one of only a few places on the east coast of Australia to see the sunset over the water.  Learn of the gaol’s past dating from the 1880’s to World War I.  Arakoon National Park offers many leisure activities from swimming, fishing, whale watching, bushwalking and picnicking.

Within the Hat Head National Park is Smoky Cape Lighthouse for lookouts, whale watching or pre-book a tour of the historic lighthouse.

Follow these instructions to enjoy Tourist Drive 12:

118kms bitumen. 

Follow the brown Tourist Drive 12 signs.

This scenic trip takes you to pristine beaches and charming villages. If heading north, turn right opposite the Kempsey Visitor Information Centre and head towards the famous surfing hot-spot of Crescent Head. (Angus Neil Cr becomes Crescent Head Rd).

Continue into the village and turn left at the roundabout next to the holiday park and day visitor area for some fantastic beach and headland views. Return to the roundabout, turn right into Pacific St, then turn right into Belmore St. Turn right at the intersection into Belmore River Right Bank Rd, then turn right onto South West Rocks Rd.

Continue to the charming village of Gladstone (a left-hand loop takes you past galleries, shops, eateries and lovely historic buildings), cross Major Oakes Bridge to explore Smithtown on the opposite river bank. Return to South West Rocks Rd, turn left and continue towards South West Rocks. At Jerseyville, cross the bridge, veer right and continue to South West Rocks, where the road becomes Gregory St.

Instead of turning right to Livingstone St, turn left at the end of the road to discover the Visitor Information Centre, located within Boatmans Cottage No.1 Ocean Dr, and the maritime history displays. In front of the Visitor Information Centre go straight ahead into Livingstone St, past the holiday park to the Horseshoe Bay Day Visitor Area. Turn left at the end of the road, continue around to the second car park for stunning headland and ocean views. Return to the Horseshoe Bay entrance, veer left into Memorial Ave.

Turn left at the roundabout onto Landsborough St and continue straight ahead at both roundabouts into Phillip Dr. Continue over German Bridge and turn left into Cardwell St, which takes you to famous Trial Bay Gaol, the German Monument and Powder Magazines. Back at the intersection of Cardwell and Wilson Sts, turn left into Wilson St and continue into Gladstone St, then Carri St to popular picnic spot, Little Bay Park. Little Bay is not suitable for swimming. Take the loop to the right and see the Overshot Dam. Keep an eye out for kangaroos.

Return to the intersection of Cardwell and Wilson Sts, but this time continue straight ahead, then left turn into Arakoon Rd towards Smoky Cape Lighthouse. Turn left into Lighthouse Rd, continue until you reach the car park. Walk to the top of the headland to the highest lighthouse in New South Wales.

Return to the corner of Lighthouse and Arakoon Rds, turn left into Arakoon Rd then left into Gregory St. At the Pacific Highway Sign, turn right into Plummers Lane, which returns to the Pacific Highway.

For the latest brochures and drive map for all the drives in the Macleay Valley Coast see our brochure download page.

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