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2 KM RETURN - 1 HR - STEEP
Maitland Bay is one of the most popular hidden beaches in Bouddi National Park. You can only get there by walking through the bush. And it's worth it.
Walk down the steep but spacious 900 m Maitland Bay track to get to the beach. This track is most direct way, but there are other ones that lead to the beach as well (more below).
This walk is one of the most popular in Bouddi. Understandably – it’s short and well-maintained. And it brings you to a beautiful hidden beach through gullies and lush vegetation.
It's also technically easy. Even if the track is steep (it steadily descends from the carpark all the way to the beach), the slope is paved and there are stairs... very civilised.
Kids can do the walk too… Our four-year-old nearly made it to the top on his own. Then we gave him a piggyback ride... lucky him!
If you want to take it slow, allow 20 min to walk down and 50 min to walk back up.
It’s worth doing the walk even during an overcast day. The beach then may not be picture-postcard perfect but it will make you feel like you’re in complete wilderness... especially if there's hardly anyone around.
On a sunny day the water is sparkly blue and clear. The beach then is picture-postcard perfect. Last time we saw dolphins… can it get any better?
This is what you’ll see when you come out of the track...
It must have looked the same hundreds of years ago – an empty beach surrounded by untouched bushland.
You’ll see at most a handful of people on the beach and in the water (maybe a bit more during the peak holiday season but the beach is never packed).
Set aside a couple of hours to dip your toes and have a picnic.
The bay is a 600 m sandy beach backed by dense bush.
The name “Maitland Bay” comes from the SS Maitland ship that sank off the coast in 1898. “Boat Harbour” was the old name of the bay, but after the shipwreck tragedy the name was changed to the current one.
The ship had left Sydney the day before but the weather deteriorated and the wind blew at close to 100 km an hour. Water started to fill the ship in the middle of the night.
In early morning, the boat hit the rocks off Boat Harbour and snapped in two. Twenty-seven people perished.
You can still see the remains (of the boat!) on the eastern side of the beach when the tide is low.
As you can imagine the disaster made the headlines for a long time. Many people afterwards claimed they saw ghosts on the beach.
In 1957 fishermen found the ship bell under water. The bell is now kept safely at Henry Kendall Museum in West Gosford.
The bell you see in the memorial in front of the Information Centre is a replica. On the memorial, it’s written that the wreck occurred the 5th May, but it’s in fact the 6th May...
If you want to see some bits and pieces of 100+ years old rusted shipwreck, visit at lowest tide. Walk to the eastern end of the beach then along the rocks...
Start the walk next to the Information Centre on The Scenic Rd (opposite of corner Maitland Bay Dr) in Killcare Heights. There’s a free car park. Follow the sign to the walk – the track is well signposted.
The track is 900 m one-way. Allow about 1 hour.
Fishing is prohibited – the bay is part of the Bouddi National Park Marine Extension to protect marine life.
Camping is not allowed on the beach either.
But there are two camping spots along the Coastal Walk (the walk traverses the beach): Putty Beach camping ground (3 km away) & Little Beach Camping Ground (3.5 km away). Book at the National Park and Wildlife Services.
If you want to swim, hmm, you must wear swimmers…
If you’d like to walk longer, the track links up with three other lovely walks: the Coastal Walk, Mount Bouddi walking track and Bullimah Spur track.