Hungry Gate campground in the Hat Head National Park is the perfect base for heaps of beach-based activities, hiking and just to get away from it all.


  • Sand dunes
  • Decent surf break & beach fishing
  • Beautiful grassy campground with plenty of room
  • Stargazing on clear nights
  • Plenty of wildlife

Heading To Hungry Gate

The weekend had arrived once again and I was keen to get out of the house for a camp. It was set to be a moonless night – perfect for some astrophotography out in the sand dunes of Hat Head National Park. Like most times I go camping, my younger brother Aidan came along for the ride and some company. We hit the road from Coffs Harbour late Sunday afternoon and arrived a couple of hours later at Hungry Gate campground. There were three or four tents pitched around the site and twice as many kangaroos keeping the grass trimmed.


Sand Dunes & Stars At Hungry Gate (NSW), Liam Hardy, Hat-Head, car, off road, waves, beach, sand


We set up camp, cooked some dinner and built a solid fire before rugging up and heading out to the neighbouring sand dunes. The night sky was nothing short of breathtaking with the galactic core glowing directly above us. We spent a couple of hours wandering through the dark photographing the stars with the distant glow of Crescent Head peaking above the dunes to the south. Arriving back at our camp, we brought the fire to life and enjoyed a few too many toasted marshmallows and a couple of icy cold beers before calling it a night.

The next day began with us watching the sunrise above the ocean, casting a warm glow across the dunes. I snapped a few photos and headed back to camp for breakfast and coffee around the fire with Aidan. Once we were well-fed and packed up we said farewell to the roos and hit the road once again. Until next time…


Sand Dunes & Stars At Hungry Gate (NSW), Liam Hardy, Hat-Head, shadows, windswept, pattern, sunlight

Essential Gear

  • Camping gear, food & water
  • Cash for campground fees
  • Rubbish bags, as bins are not provided
  • Extra firewood – there’s a very limited supply around the campground
  • Spare tyre

How To Get There

Heading south from Coffs Harbour, drive approximately 77km along the Pacific Highway and exit onto MacLeay Valley Way. After 20km exit onto Smithtown Road, and then left onto South West Rocks Rd. Follow signs from here to Hat Head, making a right turn down Gap Road just before the Hat Head township, and then right again down Hungry Road. For the next 3.5km, you’ll dodge more potholes than you can count before arriving at Hungry Gate campground.

Heading North from Port Macquarie, drive 56km and exit on to MacLeay Valley Way, then right on to Smithtown Road. From here the directions are the same as above.


Skill Level

Beginner for camping and photography

Intermediate for Connors Walking Track (Grade 5 – steep sections)

Distance Covered

1km return walking through the dunes.

I personally haven’t walked Connors Track, however, it is 3.3km one way along a narrow scrubby track with steep sections offering beautiful views of the coastline.