What We Do

The Marine Rescue NSW Port Stephens unit is a Category One Marine Search and Rescue Co-ordination Centre (SARCC), and is accredited by the State Rescue Board.

Our Radio Base & Communications Centre at Nelson Head (VMR217) is operated by trained and qualified volunteers, 24 hrs a day; 7 days a week; 365 days a year, monitoring 27MHz, VHF and HF marine frequencies, emergency and calling channels.  We are open during each day to the visiting public.

Apart from radio coverage generally to the local boating community, the base offers:

  • Emergency support to vessels in trouble;
  • Emergency and routine after-hours communications for Rural Fire Service, Port Stephens, Dungog and Cessnock areas.
  • A Marine Radio Safety (MRS) Service – Boat Register;
  • A checkpoint and radio coverage for recreational vessels transiting up and down the coastline, in our area;
  • Weather readings and local conditions observations; and
  • Current Bureau of Meteorology weather forecasts, sea observations and tidal information.  (These can be obtained by contacting the base by phone or radio and are also offered in regular radio skeds).

Weather recording facility.   Accredited by the Bureau of Meteorology, Marine Rescue Port Stephens provides regular reports on local conditions, which are electronically communicated to the Bureau of Meteorology, as well as to Radio, TV and Print media outlets in the local area.

Nelson Head Reserve and Heritage Inner Light Cottage.  The Nelson Bay Unit of Marine Rescue NSW is responsible to the State Government for upkeep of this heritage precinct, through its ‘Nelson Head Lighthouse & Reserve Management Committee’ (which includes a representative of the Port Stephens Historical Society).

  • A small museum is operated by volunteers and is open to the public, 7 days a week from 10am to 4pm.
  • A portion of the building is leased to a private operator for morning/afternoon teas/coffee and lunches.
  • Wedding Ceremonies.  Bookings can be made to hold these in the grounds (see Lighthouse Weddings page).

Below the Communications Centre, on the ground floor, is a tourist shop operated by the Ladies Auxiliary without whose assistance and support, together with that of the local community, clubs and businesses, the Unit would find it very difficult, if not near impossible, to operate.