Update 12/06/2020: The Smiths Lake Field Station is still closed, but we are working opening up the station as soon as possible now that domestic travel has resumed in New South Wales. An updated User Guide and booking form will be provided on re-opening. This covers the procedures required at the Station to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

About the Smiths Lake Field Station

The Smiths Lake Field Station is located on the shore of Smiths Lake in the Myall Lakes National Park, ~100 km north of Newcastle. The Station is used by UNSW Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences as a research and teaching zone, allowing students to study coastal and marine ecosystems. Other groups within the University and local communities can also access the Station for their own research and teaching purposes.

Since 2003, Smiths Lake Field Station has accommodated 3,000 students each year. Today, it’s in the trusteeship of UNSW for the promotion of the study and preservation of native flora and fauna. Students undertaking a course with UNSW Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences may conduct fieldwork at the station as part of their study.

Available Habitats

The Smiths Field Lake Station is an extension of the Myall Lakes National Park. The Lake comprises of three zones: a general use zone, a habitat protection zone, and a special research zone adjacent to the field station. Smiths Lake is a saltwater lake, which periodically opens to the sea and varies in salinity from 20-35 ppt. The neighbouring coastline offers sandy surf beaches with rocky headlands and a range of lakes varying from almost freshwater in the upper lakes to saline conditions in the lower lakes and Karuah estuary.

North of Smiths Lake is Wallis Lake, an extensive system on the estuary of Wallingat. Adjacent terrestrial habitats include vast tracts of sandy coastal heath, swamps, sclerophyll and rain forests. Over the last 30 years, sand mining activity and subsequent rehabilitation programs have provided an additional range of habitats in various stages of regeneration.

Recreational Visits

The UNSW Smiths Lake Research Station (the facility) is available for recreational visits by current UNSW staff members (group leader/s) and
their immediate family under the following terms:

  • An “immediate family” is defined in this case to mean a spouse, de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the group leader/s;
  • Immediate family members must be accompanied by the group leader/s at all times during the visit;
  • A recreational group size is limited to 8 persons;
  • Recreational use of the facility extends only to accommodation dormitories, the kitchen and outdoor cooking areas, the ablutions block, and the covered group area. It does not extend to the boatshed nor any on-site water-craft;
  • The cost of visiting the facility is set out below and is to be paid via the UNSW OneStop online payment system with credit card. No cash will be accepted:
    • Adults: $15 per night each
    • Children (16 & Under): $7 per night each
  • Recreational groups take the lowest priority if bookings clash with research or teaching groups – your booking may be moved or cancelled at short notice;
  • The Smiths Lake Users Guide (see below) is to be read by the group leader/s;
  • For risk management purposes, it is compulsory the group leader/s accurately complete and sign the table in the Smiths Lake User Guide, and complete and sign the Safety signoff sheet – all the forms are in the appendix of the Smiths Lake Users Guide. The booking will not go ahead should these completed documents fail to be emailed back to the Smiths Lake Admin Team at least two weeks before the visit.