Coastal Environment

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Newcastle's coastline has a great diversity of coastal environments. To the north of the Hunter River is Stockton beach, which is a long sandy beach that forms part of the largest coastal sandy barrier in NSW. The coastline to the south of the Hunter River is characterised by smaller pocket beaches, like Susan Gilmore, which are separated by coastal bluffs and rocky cliffs.

Further information about Newcastle's coastline can be found in the Newcastle Coastline Management Study.

Coastal Plants

The native vegetation found along the Newcastle coastline is quite limited due to pressures from urbanisation and the spread of the highly invasive coastal weed - Bitou Bush (Chrysanthemoides monilifera). While our coastline is subject to significant pressures, there is still a small, but important vegetation corridor that exists along most of the coast. We work with organisations such as Landcare to undertake revegetation works along our coastline to maintain this vital corridor.

Examples of the plants found along our coastline include:

  • Themeda Grasslands – a very rare community of grass only found on coastal headlands and sea cliffs. In Newcastle we are fortunate to have 2.6 hectares of the grassland across King Edward Park, The Obelisk and Strzelecki.
  • Kangaroo Grass (Themeda Australis) is the main species found in the grassland.
  • Themeda Seedhead – is an endangered ecological community and it cannot be mown. Not mowing the grassland allows us to enjoy the natural beauty of one of NSW’s rarest communities.

Rock Platforms

Newcastle’s coastal rock platforms are occupied by a great diversity of plants and animals. The rock platforms between the Soldiers Baths and Newcastle Beach are the most important platforms along our coastline as they are home to the greatest number of rare invertebrate and bird species. Further information about the plants and animals that call our coastal rock platforms home can be found at:

Protecting our Rock Platforms

Some important things to remember to help protect our rock platforms:

  • Look at rock platform creatures, but don’t touch them
  • Try to walk around birds (keep 20m away if possible) which will help the birds to stay relaxed and will avoid disturbing them
  • Never throw anything at the birds
  • Don’t pick up the birds if they are looking tired
  • Do not take your dog onto our rock platforms
  • Take home any discarded fishing tackle to help protect the many living creatures who call our rock platforms home.

Protecting our Coastal Environment

Our coast and beaches are major drawcards for visitors and are loved by locals. To ensure we protect the environmental health of our coast we take various measures to manage pollution and human impacts.

Coastal Pollution

Potential sources of pollution on Newcastle's beaches include:

  • Stormwater runoff which can carry pollutants like hydrocarbons from roads, chemicals from tyres, nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilisers, detergents, animal excrement, litter, and sediment
  • Discharge of pollutants from the Hunter River, which includes pollutants from urban, industrial and agricultural lands
  • Sewage overflows and discharges from wastewater treatment plants
  • Litter from beach users.

Managing Coastal Pollution

We undertake several activities to help manage coastal pollution, including:

  • Implementing an ongoing program of works to improve the quantity and quality of stormwater including gross pollutant traps, sand filters and porous pavement
  • Requiring developments to have appropriate stormwater controls in place to prevent pollutants from entering our waterways
  • Educating the community about stormwater and our waterways
  • Undertaking regular beach cleaning, which includes the use of a tractor and sieve to remove litter from the sand.

Further information about coastal pollution can be found at the Office of Environment and Heritage.

4WDs not permitted

4WD motor vehicles are not permitted on the beaches within the Newcastle local government area.

4WDs are permitted in the Worimi Conservation Lands in the Port Stephens local government and Belmont Wetland State Park in the Lake Macquarie local government area, subject to permits and approvals.