Beach Nobbys Head was called Nobbys Island until it was joined to the mainland by the construction of the southern Hunter River entrance wall in 1846. On the east side of the small knobbly head is a 250 m long beach (NSW 241), bordered by the entrance wall on the north and the inner rocks and reefs of Big Ben Rock in the south. In the early days of penal settlement the head was called Coal Island, where coal was mined by convicts. The beach can now be reached via the breakwater road. It is a moderately protected beach and waves average less than 1 m, producing a steep beach fronted by a continuous shallow bar, with rocks in the surf toward Big Ben.Nobbys Beach (NSW 242) was also formed as a result of the entrance wall, and today the wall backs the entire beach. During big seas waves wash across the beach to reach the wall. At the south end a seawall continues round in front of the Nobby SLSC, founded in 1923, to car park at the foot of 20 m high Flagstaff Hill. The 900 m long beach faces the east-southeast and receives waves averaging 1.6 m on the outer reef. They are lowered along the southern section of beach where the bar is usually attached bar, with higher waves and rips dominating the northern end. The higher waves break on the northern reef and reform in a wide deep trough before reaching the beach as a strong shorebreak, with a rip flowing out of the trough (Figs. 4.140 & 4.141).
Swimming The headland beach is moderately safe beach in close to shore. Nobbys Beach is more exposed, with rips, rocks and reefs. Only swim when patrolled and between the flags.
Surfing There are a number of reef based surfing spots around Nobbys including a left called The Wedge off the head; Stratts Spit located immediately south of Big Ben; Nobbys Reef that works in southeast and east swell and in the south; The Spot, a reef which has rights and lefts running off the southern bar into the rips. Around the rocks towards Newcastle Beach is the Cowrie Hole, which can produce some excellent reef breaks during southeast swell, and the adjacent Flat Rock which in smaller northeast swell holds a left.
Fishing The rocks at the south end and the Cowrie Hole are the most popular spots to fish for luderick, bream, snapper and tailor.