NSW Top Tourism Town Finalist

Welcome to Karuah

Tiny Town: population under 1,500 residents

09:00 Weds 13 April - till - 17:00 Weds 27 April.
Members of the public may lodge only one vote for one town in each category. See Terms & Conditions.

Riverside bliss and adventure await along the road
less travelled at Karuah

Take the road less travelled, ducking off the Pacific Highway North of Newcastle to the riverside village of Karuah, and ease into a cruisier pace. A pretty little town and popular holiday haven, set on the banks of beautiful Karuah River which flows down from Barrington Tops, Karuah is a gateway to the Northern peninsula of Port Stephens. 

Generations of oyster growers have harvested the tranquil waters here from the time of European settlement, and the whole town is oyster-mad. Seafood lovers thrill to the salty-sweet taste of the freshest oysters you can get, straight off the harvesting barge and shucked-to-order by the grower. When Karuah bursts to life for its annual Oyster and Timber festival in Spring, it’s not unusual for 10,000 dozen oysters to be demolished before lunchtime! 




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It’s like time stands still when you stay on a houseboat here and meander the winding river at dusk. With the simple pleasure of wine on the deck and a line in the water, you’re set for the night. Nothing beats the sheer magic of tracing the riverbank by kayak or paddleboard on water like glass, that reflects the early morning sunlight, and a head-clearing plunge in the tidal pool is a must.

An easy day drive from Sydney or Newcastle, and a stone’s throw to the pristine beaches of Hawks Nest, a visit to Karuah is made all the more rewarding by our welcoming locals. Be sure to pack a picnic blanket and swing by a traditional, small town bakery for some freshly baked bread, snap up a crisp Hunter Semillon from the bottle-o, and a dozen delicious oysters direct from Cole Brothers riverfront farmgate. You’ll find no end of insta-worthy sitting spots, starting with the picture-perfect riverside pavilion within a few short strides of the shopfront. 

Good old fashioned fish & chips on the riverbank is a favoured local pastime on balmy evenings. 

The Worimi have walked these lands since time immemorial and local walking trails tell the story of a richly textured regional heritage. Plinths that line a short riverbank walk through Longworth and Memorial Parks, tell its stories.

At low tide, you can still make out the ruins of an historic ferry master’s cottage, beside the bridge.

The Karuah Wetlands Board Walk heads north from the Visitor Information Centre into mangroves teeming with migratory birds, wallabies, and amazingly, wild koalas.  

More adventurous trekkers can follow the recently heritage-listed Old Australian Agricultural Company Road for 5km, all the way to historic Tahlee.

Back in the 1800’s this was part of a million-acre land grant, and the bush track was originally trodden by convicts who worked the farms.

Karuah National Park is one of the East Coast’s most spectacular National Parks for off-road hiking, mountain biking or 4WDing fun, with abundant native fauna in residence. 

Make the most of the abundant natural assets Karuah is blessed with by day, and wind down around a campfire at night, staying at a BIG4 Karuah Jetty Holiday Park, complete with splash play zone.

You can pitch a tent, right on the riverbank, at Tattersalls campground in Karuah National Park. Or check into a cosy local Inn or Motel. 

Touring to outlying small towns will take you into Swan Bay, North Arm Cove, Tahlee, Carrington and Boat Harbour, where you can explore more sites of significance to the region’s heritage. 

Karuah is a town on the move with more and more people choosing to call it home and a local community that holds its natural environment as sacred, while creating new places to connect around the town centre. 

Instead of sticking to the freeway on your way up the coast, why not stop in and wind down in this special little town by the river, specialising in hospitality with heart.


Two days in Karuah

Riverside bliss and adventure await along the road less travelled at Karuah

Located 197km north of Sydney, the township of Karuah sits proudly on the Karuah River, in the local government area of Port Stephens. 

In 2005 Karuah, which had historically been a town on the Pacific Highway, was bypassed and, as a result, became a quiet and relaxing holiday destination. Today it attracts visitors seeking a genuine connection to nature and appreciate ’Karuah's hospitality with heart culture.


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