Australian Marine Parks

Hunter Marine Park extends from shallow shelf waters out to the deep ocean. It includes shelf rocky reefs and canyons.

Tuna, albatross and whales feast here, benefitting from upwellings of nutrient-rich waters where ocean currents meet the canyons. Humpback whales and grey nurse sharks also use the area as a feeding ground.

Over 50 of the fish species that live in this area are endemic; they aren’t found anywhere else. Fishing is a significant activity in the region, and includes commercial fishing, recreational fishing, charters and game fishing tournaments.

The marine park adjoins the New South Wales Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park, offshore from Port Stephens in central New South Wales.

It covers 6257 square kilometres, with depths from 15 metres to 6000 metres, and includes a Habitat Protection and Special Purpose (Trawl) zones.

Click on the map below to see what you can do in the Hunter Marine Park.

Download map

Explore

Hunter Marine Park and the adjacent New South Wales Port Stephens–Great Lakes Marine Park are great places to fish and watch wildlife.

You can join a fishing charter or whale-watching tour from Port Stephens and Nelson Bay. Find out more about the Port Stephens–Great Lakes Marine Park.

Discover

Humpback whale. Photo: Eric Woehler

The Worimi People are the traditional owners of the Port Stephens area. The Worimi People have strong cultural connections to sea country (garuawa) including within Hunter Marine Park and neighbouring, state managed Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park.

These important cultural connections were celebrated in a recent collaboration between the Worimi People, artist Melissa Lilley, Parks Australia and the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.

Djarrawarra Wakulgang – Mulloway: The Greatest One

Starting in the centre of the painting (bilbay) you find a single mulloway (djarrawarra) and underlying light -coloured (watuun) lines which represents its movement within the different sea country (garuwa) environments. On the land (barray) environments around the edges are different Worimi communities with adults being indicated by large u-shaped symbols and children (burraydjarr) by the smaller ones. Within the circle you will see (nyaanyiy) some of the men (guri) have special markings (bayirayibal) that identify them as the ones with traditional knowledge and the skills to catch (yarugi) the mulloway (djarrawarra) and care of their community. In the top circle you will see footprints (yabang) heading away (wuunaliyn) from the main community, the small (mitji) circle represents traditional men (gurri) passing on knowledge to the next generation while indicating the continuity of the customs and lore. The colourful dots on the land (barray) masses depict the coastal (mulumun) environment which is lush with many (manday) natural resources. It also shows how Worimi communities along the coastline live with the land and have very little (mitji) impact on the surrounding natural environment. Djarrawarra Wakulgang – Mulloway: The Greatest One. Artwork: © Melissa Lilley (Mombie), 2019.

To the Worimi People of the temperate east (baara) coast (mulumun), the mulloway (djarrawarra) is recognised as ‘king’ (maathang) of the sea country (garuwa) systems, or quite simply, the ‘greatest one’ (wakulgang).

Mandaygang Biiwa: Big Mob Mullet

Land (barray) masses are covered with colourful dots which represents the diverse and lush coastal (mulumun) environment that has plenty (marruwang) of natural resources. Within the land (barray) masses depicted are the different communities who live with the land (barray). The communities are depicted by the small (mitji) groups of u-shaped symbols which represent people (guribiyn) with different colour and markings representing the different tribal family or clan groups. Also depicted are song (guthi withi) lines which link different tribal groups. This represents the trade, alliances and communication between tribes when the mullet (biiwa) are on the move. Communities are distributed north (burru) and south (waang) along the coast (mulumun) line which demonstrates the many (manday) Aboriginal groups who rely on the mullet (biiwa). Across the painting, mullet (biiwa) can be seen (nyaanyila) leaving (wuunagi) the rivers and estuaries, schooling and heading out to sea (garuwa) to travel north (burru). As the mullet (biiwa) migrate, they pass through many (manday) different Aboriginal communities and tribal areas, who all rely on the seasonal movement of this important sea country (garuwa) resource. Mandaygang Biiwa: Big Mob Mullet. Artwork: © Melissa Lilley (Mombie), 2019.

The mullet (biiwa) is highly regarded by coastal (mulumun) Aboriginal People as an important food (buwatja) source and a fish (makurr) of cultural significance. This ‘bread and butter’ fish (makurr) has always provided a reliable food (buwatja) resource that is readily available for all Aboriginal communities along the coast (mulumun).

Wubaray: Black Dolphin

Depicted in the centre of the painting (bilbay) are two wubaray and their represented totemic (bakuwi) links to the Worimi People. The three (bularr wakul) circles in the water (bathu) represent the islands (djimban) in Port Stephens that were believed to be created (wubala) by wubaray. The footprints (yabang) coming from sea country (garuwa) give tribute to the dreaming in traditional times, with Worimi People being seen as descendants of wubaray. The markings on wubaray are replicated on the people which shows the continued connection that wubaray has with Worimi People, and illustrates the sacredness of wubaray for the Worimi. Connections with wubaray will continue for many generations to come. Wubaray: Black Dolphin. Artwork: © Melissa Lilley (Mombie), 2019.

The black dolphin (wubaray) is a sea country (garwua) species that has the greatest of importance to Worimi People. Wubaray is seen as a totemic (bakuwi) animal of high significance, not only because it is a special sea country (garuwa) mammal but also because it is a critical part of traditional Worimi cultural stories.

To read the three stories and learn more about Worimi People’s cultural connections to sea country, please download the Worimi Sea Country (Garuwa) Artworks: A Cultural Interpretation.

Park area

6,257 km²

Depth range

15 to 6,000 m

Average depth

2,605 m