Catherine Hill Bay

Catherine Hill Bay is an old mining and heritage-listed village.  

It’s also where Mel Gibson starred in his first movie in 1977: Summer City (and believe or not he was paid $400 for it!).

And the beach at Catherine Hill Bay is ideal if you fancy both a pristine beach and safe swimming with lifeguard patrol.

Catherine Hill Bay

Welcome to one of the most untouched patrolled beaches between the Central Coast and Newcastle...

About Catherine Hill Bay

Catherine Hill Bay is located just south of Swansea between Lake Macquarie and the Pacific Ocean.

The village was named after the schooner Catherine Hill, which ran aground in 1867. But Catho is the lingo most often used by locals.

Coal mining occurred in the 19th - 20th century.

Catho jetty is the most recognisable landmark, as you can clearly see when you google images of the place. The photogenic Catho Jetty reaches far out to sea.

Ships used to dock at the jetty to take coal to Sydney.

The jetty together with the untouched natural environment – thanks to limited development during mining – make this beach particularly scenic.

View of the beach

So Catherine Hill Bay is unique: It’s the only existing historic coastal coal-mining village in Australia, the 100 or so miners cottages are in almost original state and they’re located in an unchanged coastal setting.

Because of its heritage significance, the town was placed on the State Heritage Register. (It’s one of only 2 towns listed.)

You can sense the bygone setting as soon as you enter the village.

To get to the beach, you drive past the historic Catho Pub (if you arrive from the south), miners cottages and vegetated hills.

The cottages have been beautifully restored, which adds to the charm of the village. Many are now used as holiday rentals.

Historic cottages

So here you won’t find any tourist development, no hotels, no modern restaurants.

That’s why the beach is so unspoilt and quiet – no tourist development means the beach never gets crowded. Well, almost…

The last day we visited there were a lot of people at the beach. But understandably since it was a sunny Easter weekend.

This is what I mean by crowded:

Looking at the northern side of the beach.

If it’s too crowded for you, head to the northern side of the beach. See how busy it is there?

The northern side of the beach is very quiet.

Side note: If you think this beach is not pristine enough, head to the ones just north in Munmorah State Conservation Area: Moonee Beach and Ghosties Beach. 

At this beach you can surf, swim, fish, lie on the sand, walk on the beach....

Walking on the beach

The waves were good when we last visited, according to the number of surfers out there...

Heading for a surf

Kids were playing in the little stream and sliding down the sand dunes...

Kids playing in the stream.

Dogs were exercising on the beach.

The Surf Life Saving Club, flags, jetty, toilets and kiosk are located at the southern end of the beach. Use the GPS on Google map for driving directions, it will take you directly to the carpark.

If you want to eat lunch or dinner head to the charming heritage-listed Catho Pub. It’s the only place you can have a meal at Catherine Hill Bay. There’s life music in the weekends and a little play area for kids.

Don’t be intimidated by the motorbikes parked at the front.

The pub has a special atmosphere, a real Aussie feel, more like what you’d normally find in a remote place rather than in an urban area...

Catho Pub
Catho Pub

If you feel like driving around a little, head to the lookout on Northwood Rd. Follow the road along the cemetery.

From the top of the hill you see the beach below and headlands at each sides of the beach...  

View of the southern side of the beach from the bluff
View of the northern side of the beach from the bluff

other Beaches That May Interest You...

Stay - Vacation Homes

Catho Cottage

● By The Beach @ Catho

● Boardies at The Bay

Getting There

The beach is located 1 hr 40 min north of Sydney, 30 min south of Newcastle and 50 min north of Terrigal.

There’s a small parking area beside the Surf Life Saving Club.

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