Rediscovering a lovely local
Hearnes Lake Beach

Cb steps out one Saturday morning on the Coffs Coast to explore a local beach and finds that Hearnes Lake Beach ticks the boxes for everyone.

We really are spoilt for choice when it comes to our beaches, as we are along the entire north coast. There are, after all, a fabulous 40 on the Coffs Coast alone from which to choose.

As a family, our local spots are to the north of town around Emerald, Sandy and Woolgoolga (‘Woopi’ to the locals). There are beaches best for when the kids are keen to boogie board, others ideal for developing their surfing skills, Sandy Beach is great when the wind is from the south and Back Sandy (actually called Fiddamans Beach but we all seem to refer to it as Back Sandy) fits the bill when there’s a nor-easter.

There is our true local, Emerald Beach which always results in enthusiastic waving out the window from the boys as they spot schoolmates before we even get to the beach. Then there are those spots that few holidaymakers are aware of and where the head count is often under twenty along the whole beach– even on the most spectacular of days.

And so, with so many wonderful ‘known’ options, perhaps we shouldn’t have been all that surprised when the kids were reluctant for a change the other weekend. The weather was amazing and with soccer season soon to encroach on those leisurely Saturday mornings, we wanted to get out and about while we still could.

And so, we hopped in the car and found ourselves in the mood for Hearnes Lake Beach. We used to frequent the area more when the kids were toddlers and the calm waters of Hearnes Lake were ideal but now they’re older, the surf is where it’s at for them.

To get to Hearnes Lake, the roundabout is a few kms to the south of Woolgoolga and the road to the beach takes you alongside The Pines Caravan Park. The gravel road leads to a single dirt road before you reach a small, cleared area of bushland on top of the sand dune where you park to access the beach. As you drive, you will pass a couple of shady spots to park on your right, closer to Hearnes Lake and offering more level access to the beach.

Even though I’m lucky to enjoy beautiful views of stunning beaches and the Solitary Islands in all their splendour pretty regularly, I was still taken aback when I looked out through the trees where the lake and surf meet, seeing Flat Top Point and the stretch of coastline to the south and north toward Woolgoolga.

It was just such a gorgeous view on a cracking morning too – and it felt a little like seeing it for the first time. I’d truly forgotten how lovely it is. Of course, my snaps from the iPhone don’t do it justice but I took the pictures nonetheless.

The three boys made their way toward the surf but not before discovering an enticingly steep, cleared part of the sand dune which they happily launched themselves down. The boogie boards were a less worse for wear afterward but there was some quality face-planting and plenty of belly laughs as they slid down the dune time and time again. A wash in the estuary didn’t quite get all the sand out and so they headed to the surf where the conditions were great. The temperature was perfect, the water crystal clear and the complaints about ‘somewhere different’ long forgotten.

From the ocean, we observed others enjoying the beach for all sorts of reasons. We saw a young family kayaking in the lake. The lake catchment covers just under seven square kilometres and has broad appeal for those on watercraft. The lake alternates between being open and closed to the ocean.

We noticed two people on horseback cantering along the beach like a scene from a movie. We watched a kite-surfer getting his gear ready. There were those who had set themselves up under awnings next to their 4wd vehicles too. Hearnes Lake Beach is one of just a handful of beaches on the Coffs Coast where driving is permitted on the beach. Access is from Sandy Beach. And with it also being a leash free beach, we saw some very happy pooches.

As we grabbed towels, we chatted to a couple walking north along several beaches from Moonee to Woolgoolga where they’d reward themselves with brunch at Woopi’s Ground Earth café. The stretch of coastline they were covering that morning would take about 90 minutes and is part of the Solitary Island Coastal Walk. The Coastal Walk traverses 60 kilometre of beach and rainforest from the seaside village of Sawtell all the way up to Red Rock.

It was such a terrific morning as a family and it was only when the boys’ tummies grumbled, well after lunchtime, that we decided to head home. Luckily for us, we’re not going anywhere (apart from soccer every Saturday for the next five months) but our wonderful beaches in all their glory will be just as we left them…