Middle Camp - Beach in Catherine Hill Bay Lake Macquarie NSW - SLS Beachsafe

Middle Camp NSW

Catherine Hill Bay is a 1.5 km long east-facing bay bordered by prominent headlands and rock platforms. It is occupied by two sandy beaches (NSW 259 & 260) also known as Middle Camp Beach (Fig. 4.151 & 4.152), and backed by two valleys, the northern drained by Middle Gamp Gully... Read more

Catherine Hill Bay is a 1.5 km long east-facing bay bordered by prominent headlands and rock platforms. It is occupied by two sandy beaches (NSW 259 & 260) also known as Middle Camp Beach (Fig. 4.151 & 4.152), and backed by two valleys, the northern drained by Middle Gamp Gully which flows across the northern end, with a smaller creek flowing out towards the southern end. The backing slopes are the site of two coal mining communities, the northern Middle Camp and southern Catherine Hill Bay which dates back to 1873. Parking and good beach access to the beach is available in the north next to the cemetery, and in the south next to the road and Catherine Hill Bay SLSC. Middle Camp Beach (NSW 259) is now better known as Catherine Hill Bay, the name resulting from the wreck of the schooner Catherine Hill in 1867. While it was one of the first beaches 'discovered' by Sydney surfers in the late 1950s, the local coal miners had formed a surf club at the beach in 1928. Coal mines operate at either end, and masses of coal are piled above the southern headland. Up until 1963 a railway line ran along the back of the beach delivering coal to the southern jetty, for loading onto small coastal steamers.The main beach is 1.5 km long and sweeps in a gentle east-facing arc between the headlands. The surf club sits on the southern bluff, just above the beach. The beach receives waves averaging 1.5 m decreasing slightly to the south resulting in one bar cut by 5-6 beach rips with a strong permanent rip against the northern head. To the north the rips are often joined by a trough, creating a continuous rip and rip feeder channel along much of the beach.South of the southern rocks and 250 m long coal jetty is the second smaller more protected 150 m long north-facing beach (NSW 260). It is wedged in between the jetty, cliffs and a low rock platform. Waves refracting around the point average less than 0.5 m and maintain a steep reflective beach, which is used for launching small fishing boats.


Best in the south between the flags. This is a potentially hazardous beach owing to the persistent rips, particularly up the beach. Stay close inshore, on attached bars, if present, and watch for rips holes and feeder currents.


The large rips and bars up the northern end usually have a wave, with the right conditions holding good breaks up to 2 m. When its too big up north, then look to the southern end for a little protection and cleaner swell.


North of the beach are a series of popular rock gullies called Middle Camp Inlet, Bogey Hole, Drummer Hole and Shark Hole which are fished for mulloway, snapper, bream and groper. On the beach the best gutters are up the beach. The southern rocks, between the jetty and the point, are flat and more protected, with vehicle access to the beach, which is used to launch small boats.

Read less

Patrolled Unpatrolled Today Change Day

There are currently no services provided by Surf Life Saving Australia for this beach. Please take the time to browse the Surf Safety section of this website to learn more about staying safe when swimming at Australian beaches. Click here to visit general surf education information.

Catherine Hill Bay SLSC

Lake Macquarie City Council Lifeguard Service



Catherine Hill Bay, NSW 2281


General Beach Hazard Rating:
7/10 (Highly hazardous)

Beach Key:

Nearby beaches


  • Sharks
  • Bluebottles
  • Winds
  • Littoral currents
    Littoral currents
  • Fixed rips
    Fixed rips
  • Flash rips
    Flash rips
  • Travelling rips
    Travelling rips
  • Rocks
  • Shallow Water
    Shallow Water
  • Uneven ground
    Uneven ground
  • Submerged Objects
    Submerged Objects
  • Shallow Sandbars
    Shallow Sandbars
  • Beach exposure
    Beach exposure
  • Accessible Rock Platforms
    Accessible Rock Platforms
  • Long beach
    Long beach
  • Beach erosion
    Beach erosion
  • Heavy shorebreak
    Heavy shorebreak
  • High surf
    High surf
  • Gutters
  • Strong Currents
    Strong Currents

Information Symbols

  • Formal parking area
  • Toilets
  • Disabled Toilets
  • Dressing shed
  • Showers
  • Kiosk
  • Park
  • BBQ
  • Shade
  • Shelters
  • Lookout
  • Mobile Phone Coverage
  • Train

Regulation Symbols

  • Surfcraft Prohibited
  • No Parking
  • No Dogs Allowed


Friday 26, May 8:05 am

Day 20°    Night 6°

Water Temperature  22°C



Wind: Variable below 10 knots.
Swell: Southerly 1 to 1.5 metres, decreasing to around 1 metre during the morning. 2nd
Seas: Below 1 metre. 1st
Weather: Mostly sunny.


8 am
2 am
8 pm
2 pm


Index: 3 (Moderate)

Sun protection not recommended


128 km

radar helper


Saturday 27, May

Day 21°    Night 6°
Early fog then sunny



Wind: Variable about 10 knots becoming northerly 15 to 20 knots in the evening.
Swell: Southerly around 1 metre. 2nd
Seas: Below 1 metre, increasing to around 1 metre by early evening. 1st
Weather: Mostly sunny. 30% chance of a shower offshore.


9 am
3 am
9 pm
3 pm


Index: 3 (Moderate)

Sun protection recommended from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm


Fri 26, May to Fri 02, Jun



Wind: North to northwesterly 15 to 20 knots tending west to northwesterly during the evening.
Swell: Easterly around 1 metre.
Seas: Around 1 metre, increasing to 1 to 2 metres offshore.
Weather: Mostly sunny. 30% chance of a shower.



Fri 26th 3 (Moderate) Sun protection recommended from 11:00 am to 12:50 pm
Sat 27th 3 (Moderate) Sun protection recommended from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
Sun 28th 3 (Moderate) Sun protection recommended from 11:20 am to 12:30 pm
Mon 29th 3 (Moderate) Sun protection not recommended

SLSA provides this information as a guide only. Surf conditions are variable and therefore this information should not be relied upon as a substitute for observation of local conditions and an understanding of your abilities in the surf. SLSA reminds you to always swim between the red and yellow flags and never swim at unpatrolled beaches. SLSA takes all care and responsibility for any translation but it cannot guarantee that all translations will be accurate.