Moderately hazardous: 4-6
Highly hazardous: 7-8
Extremely hazardous: 9-10
Stockton Beach (NSW 239) is the longest beach in NSW and curves in a gentle south-trending arc from Birubi Point for 31.8 km to the mouth of the Hunter River at Newcastle. It occupies Newcastle Bight, known at its southern end as Stockton Bight. For most of its length the beach is well exposed to the dominant southerly waves and winds. The waves have delivered masses of Hunter River sand to the beach, which has then been blown up to 3 km inland, building one of the largest and most active coastal dune systems in NSW (Fig. 4.138). The beach can be divided into the northern Birubi Point section and the southern Stockton section.
The beach receives all waves out of the east through south, which averages 1.6 m, only decreasing in the southern 5 km toward Stockton and the northern Hunter River entrance wall, a massive structure extending 800 m out to sea. Beach sediments are fine in the north and medium to the south. The waves combine to maintain a well-developed double bar system for most of the length of the beach, with even three bars occurring in the north during very high seas. The inner bar is usually attached and cut by rips every 300-400 m, which are bordered by a deep 80 m wide trough and the outer bar with rips every several hundred metres. Only in the last few kilometres at Stockton do the lower waves and coarser sand result in a single attached bar, however it is still cut by rips all the way to the entrance wall. The end result is a long and hazardous beach, with waves only decreasing in front of the southern Stockton surf club.
At Birubi Point rips are strong and there is a permanent rip against the rocks. Use caution if swimming here, and stay between the flags. In the south, waves are usually lower and the beach patrolled. Watch for rips along the entire beach, particularly north of Stockton where they increase in strength.
Birubi Point is a popular summer spot for Newcastle surfers as it picks up any southeast swell and the northeast winds blow offshore. The central beach area is a no-mans-land of numerous beach breaks, with the wreck of the Sigma sometimes producing good banks. Stockton is a popular spot with the locals.
The entire beach is accessible by 4WD and numerous gutters always abound. These are fished for whiting, flathead, bream, tailor, mulloway and salmon. Popular spots are the Sigma wreck 10 km up the beach, and the Stockton Breakwater, including the Adolf wreck on the entrance wall.
4WD permitted on beach and some sections of bare dunes.
- Formal parking area