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Update on COVID-19- The safety of our communities, customers and staff is our top priority. We are continuing to monitor daily developments in response to COVID-19. Find out the latest.


We are committed to safety and accessibility in Port Stephens through parking regulations.

Designated parking areas, time restrictions and ticket machines are used to help regulate parking to ensure equitable turnover of parking spaces. If you drive or ride a vehicle, you need to know what the parking regulations mean and how to follow them correctly.

Smart parking

Park Free Permit portal 

If you're a resident or ratepayer of Port Stephens, or you work at a business in the Nelson Bay town centre, you can now sign up to park for free in Nelson Bay. You can also change your details via the portal.

How to use smart parking

1. Enter your number plate at the meter
  • If your vehicle has a Park Free Permit you do not need to pay or enter your number plate at the meter.
  • Vehicles displaying a Mobility permit are exempt.
  • The first 15 minutes are free.
2. Choose your duration of stay

Operating hours are 8:30am to 5:30pm, 7 days a week including public holidays.

3. Pay the displayed amount

Our meters accept:

  • coins
  • credit or debit cards
  • pay wave

No ticket will be issued and you do not need to display a ticket.

4. Drive away

Move your car when your paid session has expired or the maximum time (as signposted) has been reached.

Smart parking FAQs

Your frequently asked questions about smart parking answered.

The new smart parking technology makes finding a car park easier and simpler. It includes:

  • a new Park'nPay app — to help you find a park or set your parking time without going to the meter
  • number plate recognition technology — your new ticket to park
  • sensors and digital signs — to help you find the nearest park.

Smart parking will reduce congestion and improve safety by making it quicker and easier to find a park.

Funds collected from smart parking will be reinvested into Nelson Bay to fund improvements to the public domain, landscaping, increased car parking and place activation.

We know that during busy holiday periods, parking in Nelson Bay can be in short supply. That’s why we established an Independent Parking Panel in 2018, comprising 17 randomly selected community and business representatives.

Facilitated by the University of Technology Sydney, the independent panel came up with ideas to improve parking at peak times in the Bay using technology. After consulting extensively with the community and businesses, in May 2020 our elected Council voted to install smart parking in the Nelson Bay town centre.

In November 2019, we gave our community an opportunity to have real influence over the variables of the smart parking scheme, including who should park for free, paid parking locations and parking times. Read the full community engagement report.

There are plenty of parking options in Nelson Bay. Parking time limits are generally 2 or 4 hours for on street parking and 4 hours or more for off street parking.

New paid parking zones in the Nelson Bay town centre include Government Road, Church Street, Tomaree Street, Yacaaba Street and Victoria Parade. It also includes eastward extensions for the commercial areas of Magnus Street and Donald Street.

There are designated all day parking areas for employees of businesses within the Nelson Bay town centre using a business Park Free permit. These areas include:

  • Donald Street East carpark (along eastern wall)
  • Yaccaba Street carpark
  • Government Road carpark
  • the Bowling Club carpark.

Take a look at our map to see where to park and the time limits that apply.

The NSW Government’s Park'nPay app makes finding and paying for parking easier. You can download it from your smart phone's app store. The benefits of the app include:

  • pay for parking with your smart phone using the app — you'll receive a notification when your parking is about to expire to avoid fines
  • keep track of your parking history and receipts
  • look up the best place to find a park, all from the passenger seat!

Yes. Smart parking meters still accept card and coin payment as well as the app. If paying by coin, you will need to pay the correct amount as change won’t be given. Once the maximum amount is received the machine will stop accepting coins.

No. Your ticket is your vehicle registration (number plate). When you pay via the parking meter or the app, you will enter your number plate and this will act as your ticket instead of a paper ticket.

Private car parks are not currently included in the smart parking scheme but may be if they choose to in future.

We have begun carrying out traffic and parking studies and community consultation to investigate installing smart parking at Birubi Point and Shoal Bay. Nelson Bay was chosen as the first smart parking location following the findings of the traffic and parking studies and the recommendations of the Independent Citizen Parking Panel.

Smart parking — Park Free Permit FAQs

Your frequently asked questions about the smart parking Park Free Permit answered.

Our Park Free Permit is for residents and ratepayers of Port Stephens, plus those who work at businesses in the town centre of Nelson Bay.

If you have a Park Free Permit, you do not need to use the meter or the Park'n Pay app to park in Nelson Bay. Simply park and stick to the time limits — you can still be fined if you overstay the signposted time limit.

Eligible people can now register for a digital parking permit using their vehicle number plate.

Read the permit conditions:

The Park Free portal is now open. Please make sure you have your rates notice on hand to help fill in the form.

Park Free Permits are valid until 30 June 2022 and must be renewed even if your details remain the same. We will send a reminder to permit holders closer to the renewal date.

Resident and ratepayer permits:

  • Resident: 5 vehicles per address
  • Ratepayers: 2 vehicles per address

Business permits:

Businesses will select which size relates to their business.

  • Small business: 1 to 10 vehicles
  • Medium business: 11 to 20 vehicles
  • Large business: 21 to 50 vehicles

Time limits and restrictions apply to all vehicles including those who have free parking permits. This means you can still be fined if you overstay the signposted time limits.

If you work at a business in the Nelson Bay CBD, your employer will be given access to register for employee permits.

There are designated all day parking areas for employees of businesses within the Nelson Bay town centre using the business permit scheme. These areas include:

  • Donald Street East carpark (along eastern wall)
  • Yaccaba Street carpark
  • Government Road carpark
  • the Bowling Club carpark.
Park Free Portal — Troubleshooting FAQs

Before contacting Council, check the below FAQs to ensure your application form is completed correctly.

If you're having trouble completing the application form online, make sure you have checked the following:

  • make sure there's a 0 at the start of your mobile number
  • don't add a 0 to your assessment number
  • when entering your address, select the correct address from the drop down menu, don't free type it
  • when entering your address, don't add the street type to your address — select this from the drop down menu
  • when entering your unit address, follow the example format and don't add 'unit'
  • the name on your rates notice needs to exactly match the name you enter in the smart parking application
  • when entering your information on the applicant page you are required to 'save' before clicking 'next' otherwise you won't be able to submit your application
  • ensure 'Terms and conditions' has been ticked at the end of the application form.

If your details change, you can update your permit via the Park Free portal:

  • Log in using the same email address you used to sign up
  • Check your email inbox for the single-use passcode and use this to complete log in
  • Applicant tab — check your details are correct and click save and then next
  • Permits tab — withdraw your current permit
  • Vehicles tab — delete all of your vehicles and add or re-add all of the vehicles you wish to have a permit
  • Permits tab - ensuring all the vehicles you want to add are checked (blue button) and click submit
  • Check your email for the result of your application

A non-resident rate payer means you own property in Nelson Bay but don't usually live at this address. As a non-resident rate payer you are entitled to 2 smart parking registrations.

When completing the application from, you will need to select 'non-resident rate payer' otherwise your application will get rejected.

If you are a disability pass holder this will override smart parking restrictions.

Your valid disabled parking permit will be your ticket to park. You will still need to follow the conditions of Transport for NSW's Mobility Parking Scheme.

You will only need a Park Free Permit from Port Stephens Council if you are parking longer than the times set in the Mobility Parking Scheme. In this case, you will need to be a resident, ratepayer or employee of a town centre business to be eligible.

If you are still having trouble, email council@portstephens.nsw.gov.au

Parking infringements

In the event that you receive an infringement notice, you have 21 days to pay the fine, lodge an appeal or elect to go to court.

The NSW Government Revenue is the appropriate authority to direct your enquiries, representations and payments relating to infringement notices.

  • Visit their website
  • Call 1300 138 118
  • Mail PO Box 786 Strawberry Hills NSW 2012

Parking machines

Parking machines are located at Nelson Bay and use smart parking technology. You can pay by card, coin or the Park'n Pay app — remember, your number plate is your ticket to park.

Paid parking operates throughout the Nelson Bay Town Centre and foreshore. Please check kerbside signs for parking restrictions.

Outside the times indicated, parking is free and unrestricted. However, other parking conditions may still apply to ensure road safety. Please check the information on the kerbside signs before parking your vehicle.

Off-street parking

On-street parking buses

Donald Street (Cnr of Yacaaba Street)

Hardy Street

Yacaaba Street (Cnr of Donald Street)

Cultural Close (Bill Strong Oval)

Donald Street West

Nelson Bay Bowling Club

Nelson Bay Marina 

Government Road (Next to the Nelson Resort)

Parking around schools

Signs around schools are designed to keep children safe. Common signs appearing around schools include:

  • No parking — you can drop your child off here but you must stay with your car.
  • No stopping — you cannot drop your child off in this area. Medical or other emergencies are permitted.
  • Bus zone — you cannot stop here unless you are driving a bus.

Motorcycle parking

A limited number of marked motorcycle marking spaces are available in the Donald Street car park (opposite Woolworths) and along the waterfront on Victoria Parade. There are also motorcycle parking spaces at Shoal Bay, adjacent to the traffic signals.

Disability parking

A number of Disability Parking spaces are available in the Port Stephens town centres for your convenience.




No. Spaces

Donald Street West Carpark, Nelson Bay

Eastern Entrance

90° Front or Rear

Donald Street East Carpark, Nelson BayBack left corner

90° Front or Rear


Magnus Street, Nelson Bay

Near Post Office



Stockton Street, Nelson Bay

Near Seabreeze Hotel


Stockton Street, Nelson BayNear WoolworthsAngle1

Teramby Road

Near Marina

90° Front or Rear


Victoria Parade

Fly Point



Beach Road

Little Beach



Shoal Bay Road

Nelson Bay RSL


Town Centre Circuit, Salamander BayTomaree Library

90° Front or Rear

Town Centre Circuit, Salamander BayTomaree Community Centre

90° Front or Rear

Aquatic Close, Salamander BayTomaree Aquatic Centre

90° Front or Rear

Leisure Way, Raymond Terrace

Lakeside Aquatic Centre

90° Front or Rear6
Warren Street, SeahamSchool of Arts Carpark90° Front or Rear3
The Close, Raymond TerraceThe Hub90° Front or Rear6
Sturgeon Street, Raymond TerraceRaymond Terrace Library90° Front or Rear2

Sturgeon Street, Raymond Terrace

Council Admin building

90° Front or Rear2
William Street, Raymond TerraceNear pedestrian crossingAngle2
William Street, Raymond Terrace

Opposite Police Station

Ferodale Road, MedowieMedowie Community Centre90° Front or Rear4
James Paterson Street, Anna BayBirubi Surf Club90° Front or Rear2

Disability Parking Permits (Mobility Parking Scheme) provide concessions to people with mobility issues. Roads and Maritime Services is responsible for issuing these permits.

A Mobility Permit Holder can park in spaces marked with a symbol for people with disabilities. This permit also provides parking concessions in other spaces if a marked space is unavailable:

  • where parking is limited by a sign to more than 30 minutes, Mobility Permit Holders can park for an unlimited time
  • where parking is limited by a sign to 30 minutes, Mobility Permit Holders can park for 2 hours
  • where parking is limited by a sign to less than 30 minutes, Mobility Permit Holders can park for a maximum of 30 minutes
  • at a 'No Parking' sign, Mobility Permit Holders may park up to 5 minutes — the driver must remain in the vehicle or within 3 metres of the vehicle to drop off or pick up passengers or goods
  • when parking in metered or ticketed parking areas operated by Council, no charge is applied — charges may apply in privately operated parking areas.

Please obey all other parking rules.