Moderately hazardous: 4-6
Highly hazardous: 7-8
Extremely hazardous: 9-10
BeachThere is an excellent view of South Smoky Beach (NSW 144) from the Smoky Cape lighthouse car park. The 16 km long beach runs initially south-southwest then south before curving round at Hat Head to finally face northeast and can be divided into three sections. The northernmost (NSW 144a) extends southwest of the cape for 2.5 km to a subdued foreland in lee of Black Rocks reef, located 1 km seaward. This section is fully exposed with a well-developed rip-dominated double bar system. One kilometre south of the cape is a beach side picnic and camping area, together with 4WD access to the beach. Beach NSW 144b extends south of the foreland for 11.5 km, trending southwest then south towards Hat Head. It has a continuous rip-dominated double bar system, with up to 40 beach rips operating along the inner bar. The only access is by 4WD along the beach. It is backed by 200-500 m wide dunes, then a swampy interbarrier depression and an inner Pleistocene barrier, all located within Hat Head National Park. The southern Hat Head section (NSW 144c) curves to the southeast in lee of 164 m high Hat Head, which protrudes 1.5 km to the northeast as Korogoro Point. As a consequence wave height drops to the south, maintaining a single rip-dominated bar, which terminates in the south as a wide shallow bar against the mouth of Korogoro Creek (Fig. 4.74 & 4.75). The shallow creek flowing out hard against the rocks of Hat Head. This beach is backed by a vegetated foredune, then the small village of Hat Head (population 350), which has a large caravan park bordered by the creek mouth. The Hat Head SLSC, established in 1948, and lifeguards patrol the popular creek mouth and southern end of the beach. There is a boat ramp at the creek mouth.
SwimmingBe very careful at South Smoky and along the main beach as rips and a wide surf zone dominate. Stay on the attached bars, if present, and away from rip holes and currents. Best swimming is a Hat Head between the flags on the usually wide flat bar and in the shallow creek mouth. However rips form against the point and particularly up the beach.
SurfingHat Head well known for its good righthand beach break at the point, which when the bars are right can run on down the beach. Holds northeast to southeast swell up to 3 m, with south-westerlies blowing offshore.
FishingThere is a permanent gutter at the base of Smoky Cape, and numerous gutters down the beach, which are fished for whiting, bream and tailor. In addition there is the creek at Hat Head, with a boat ramp in the creek.
GeneralThe northern 0.5 km and southern 1.5 km at Hat Head are closed to all vehicles, except at the boat ramp. The central 14.5 km of beach is open. A beach driving permit is required from Kempsey Shire Council, and is also available from Hat Head and South West Rocks caravan parks.
- Formal parking area