Gan Gan HillGan Gan Hill Lookout
Gan Gan Hill is Port Stephens highest and most accessible lookout due to the fact you can drive right to the top of the mountain. At a height of 160m, experience 360 degree commanding views of the whole of Port Stephens, right through to Newcastle in the south and the Myall Lakes to the north. Also enjoy view’s to the north east with Yacaaba and Tomaree headland and to the west of the harbour looking towards Karuah.
The Gan Gan Lookout is truly one of the highlights of the area. The panorama is breathtaking, especially at dusk. It is possible to look south to the opposite side of the peninsula, south-west down to the stacks of Newcastle and the cargo vessels in its harbour, west to the mountain boundary, north-west over Soldiers Point, spanning eastwards over Hawks Nest, the two gigantic headlands that loom over the Port’s entrance, Nelson Head and Nelson Bay.
Located on Lily Hill Rd, it is named after the abundance of enormous Gymea lilies to be found at the top the hill. The stalks, which grow to 5 metres, can be eaten and were used by the Aborigines for spears. At the right time of year (Spring) the spectacular Gymea lilies burst into impressive flowers.
Getting to the Gan Gan Lookout
1.5 km south-west of the city centre along Stockton Rd is the turnoff to the right (signposted on your left) along Lily Hill Rd which will take you up to the Gan Gan Lookout car park. Follow the path around the Telstra buildings to the viewing platform.
Tomaree Head Lookout
The walk to the top of Tomaree Head and around historic WWII gun emplacements provides panoramic views over Port Stephens, up and down the coast, and out to Boondalbah, Cabbage Tree and Broughton islands, all of which are nature reserves. The top of Tomaree Head is also a great place to look for whales on their annual migration (May to October), as well as seals and little penguins.
Cultural heritage – A NSW Heritage listed site
Tomaree Head is an strikingly identifiable element in the landscape, and as such has been used as a beacon by Aboriginal people as well as early European explorers, seafarers and settlers. For this reason, amongst many others, the site has gained a listing on the NSW Heritage register.
Tomaree Head is a prominent landform at the entrance to Port Stephens. The geological formation is an unusual combination of landform aeolian sands and volcanic derived clays and adds to the heritage value of the site. Yacaaba Headland, on the north side, is slightly higher at 217m but is less accessible. The prominence of the headland featured in Aboriginal stories and beliefs, partly for the aesthetic appeal.
To virtually all points of the compass there are stunning views of both land and sea scapes, dotted with some cultural elements. Many of these views contain varying compositions of the natural elements of mountains, vegetation and water, which are rated highly by people, whatever their
cultural background. The plunging cliffs, slopes and rock formations along the eastern flank and waters edge are highly dramatic.
The natural areas of the headland have high conservation values. The Tomaree Headland is listed on the State Heritage Register for its ecological sign. Please see Fort Tomaree Walk for more information on getting to the lookout.
Tomaree Head Fortifications
The Tomaree fortifications are of historical importance as part of the WW2 defence network installed along the coast of NSW to protect strategic places. The location on the head protected Port Stephens and the network of adjacent rivers and watercourses and the hinterland. It was an important part of the protection of the industrial installations at Newcastle.
The headland, part of Fort Tomaree, played an important role in Australia’s east coast defence system during World War II. Fort Tomaree included search light stations, a radar tower, torpedo tubes and barracks, where around 500 army, navy and air force personnel served.
The complex of fortifications located at Tomaree Head remains as one of only a few non-urban forts. It is also one of the few fortifications that retain elements such as rifle pits, and the radar was the first air warning radar made in Australia. Tomaree Head Fortifications represent the ongoing concern of Australian governments since the 19th century with the defence of Australia’s coastline, and the fear of invasion that existed during WWII.
The lives of the few European occupants of Tomaree Head pre WWII have passed into local folklore. The fact that it had some importance to Aboriginal people is also part of its social significance.