Port Stephens is known for its unspoilt beaches with perfect surf breaks or sheltered bays for swimming, snorkelling and kayaking. Or try parasailing over the bay. Walk along the beach at Shoal Bay to Tomaree Headland for splendid panoramas. At sunset, kayak with dolphins at Nelson Bay and Soldiers Point. Fingal Bay Beach has its own island. Surfers will be thrilled by One Mile Beach, Birubi Beach, Zenith Beach, Box Beach, or Samurai Beach. Families will love One Mile Beach, Boat Harbour and Birubi Beach.
Dolphin Swim Australia remains the only permitted wild dolphin swim in NSW, licensed by the Marine Park Authority to operate in the Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park. Aboard an ocean-going catamaran, qualified dive masters take you through the most amazing experience of your life, frolicking with short-beaked common dolphins and oceanic bottlenose dolphins.
Tomaree National Park is a magnificent backdrop to the charming coastal towns of Port Stephens. It's the only place in NSW where you can see outcrops of the acid volcanic rock rhyodacite. The stunning rocky bush coastline is a delight for walkers – take the short Wreck Beach trail through angophora forest – and great for whale watching. Check out the historic gun emplacements of Fort Tomaree. And take your fishing rod – the fish bite well.
Port Stephens is a top spot to see humpbacks and southern right whales during their annual migration. From mid May to early September thousands of whales move north to their breeding grounds, and from mid September to mid October they migrate south - you may spot mothers playing with their newborn calves in the calmer waters. Watch them from Tomaree Head Summit - or get up close on a tour from Nelson Bay.
Ride on quad bikes from the bush to the beach, traversing magnificent sand dunes and learning about Aboriginal culture in the Worimi Conservation Lands. On a Sand Dune Adventures tour, riding a 400 cc bike, you’ll be in awe of the area’s natural beauty. Expert Aboriginal guides will lead you through the Southern Hemisphere’s largest moving coastal sand dunes, some rising more than 30 metres. You’ll learn about traditional Aboriginal foods and how to find fresh water.
Murray's Craft Brewing Co. is one of Australia's most beloved craft beer brewers, and shares its home with the region's oldest winery. Recognised as one of Australia's top brewers, Murray's acclaimed beers feature in critics' lists of the best beers. Visitors to Murray's can taste the beers, as well as local and regional wines; dine at the Brewery Restaurant (food is made with and matched to beer), play bocce and listen to live music in the beautiful eucalypt and vine surrounds.
Nelson Bay, on the southern shores of Ports Stephens, is a major holiday playground and the main town in the area. The abundance of nature parks, marine life, brilliant beaches and bays are what make Nelson Bay beautiful. You'll also enjoy the friendly community, buzzing events calendar, gourmet restaurants, beautiful boutiques and art galleries plus award-winning places to stay.
Gorgeous, tranquil and a great base for sports fishing and scuba diving, Shoal Bay is named after the numerous sand shoals scattered around the peninsula. Close to Nelson Bay, this is a beautifully sheltered waterway. A top drawcard to Shoal Bay is the biggest game fishing competition in the Southern Hemisphere, held each February. The is also excellent for bushwalking and bike riding.
Tea Gardens is a small town on the Myall River, just a short drive across the "whistling" bridge to neighbouring Hawks Nest. Surrounded by wetlands, the foundation for the town's valuable fishing industry, Tea Gardens is the southern gateway to the Great Lakes, with a reputation for good food and great events, including the Myall River Festival. Along the waterfront is a meandering art walk. There is plenty of good accommodation, outdoor cafés, moored boats to hire and fresh oysters to sample.
As home to around 150 bottlenose dolphins, Port Stephens is a great place to join a dolphin-watching cruise from Nelson Bay. These peaceful mammals thrive in the beautiful bay. With one of the more complex behavioural patterns in the animal kingdom, the intelligence of dolphins is extraordinary to observe. Imagine Cruises, Dolphin Swim Australia and Moonshadow-TQC Cruises all offer dolphin-watching cruises, running from d'Albora Marinas in Nelson Bay.
Irukandji Shark and Ray Encounters are leaders in marine educations, conservation and fun. This unique experience is unmatched by any other location in the country. Visitors interact with marine life during a guided shark encounter tour; joining them in their world, petting and feeding them all under the ever-watchful eyes of the experienced guides. Irukandji is a massive family, fish and staff alike, as they set out to reveal the true character of some of the worlds most beautiful, intelligent, elusive creatures, at the same time they educate visitors about Australia's delicate ocean ecosystems, ocean pollution and conservation. Located in the beautiful Port Stephens on the mid north coast: one of the best holiday destinations in Australia.
Pamper yourself at a day spa in a relaxed and tranquil setting. Body and Soul Spa Retreat at Oaks Pacific Blue Resort, in Salamander Bay, offers anti-ageing treatments, massage, facials, body rituals, waxing, manicures, pedicures, tinting and more. This award-winning luxurious spa is s perfect escape to revive the body and soothe the spirit.
The highest lookout in Port Stephens offers spectacular views, especially at dusk. On a clear day you can see all the way down the peninsula to the Newcastle docks, and north-west over Hawks Nest to the gigantic headlands of Nelson Head and Nelson Bay. The drive up Lily Hill road to Gan Gan Lookout - through an abundance of Gymea lilies, which grow to five metres - is gorgeous.
Golfers will be delighted with the excellent courses in the region, set among native trees with wildlife including kangaroos, wallabies and native birds. Nelson Bay Golf Club is 27-hole championship course by the sea. Pacific Dunes Golf Club is among the best 18-hole championship courses in NSW. Horizons Golf Course is a top ten Australian championship course. The Palms Golf Course is family friendly with barbecue facilities. The annual Spring Cup tournament is held each August on courses around Port Stephens. For the kids, Toboggan Hill Park at Salamander Bay offers mini golf.
The 98,000 hectare Great Lakes Marine Park extends from Stockton Beach to Forster - including Port Stephens, Karuah River, Myall River, Myall and Smiths Lake - and three nautical miles out to sea. On shore, the bushland has many indigenous cultural and spiritual sites. Offshore, deep submerged cliffs create a water heaven for divers. An official marine conservation area, the park is home to dolphins, turtles, fish, seabirds and seaweeds, along with threatened species such as grey nurse sharks and green turtles.
The award-winning Hunter Region Botanic Gardens feature more than 30 hectares of tranquil landscaped gardens displaying the beauty and diversity of Australian native flora. The gardens also feature are large expanse of natural bushland with several walking tracks. The walks provide an opportunity to see local plants and wildlife including birds, goannas, possums, wallabies and koalas.
Myall Lakes is one of the largest coastal lake systems in NSW. The lake and beaches are perfect for water activities including kayaking, canoeing, boating, fishing, swimming and surfing. Overnight camping sites provide a choice of tent, trailer, caravan, motor home and even boat sites. Don't miss the Grandis Gum - at 76 metres it's one of the tallest trees in the State. Dark Point, a rocky headland north of Hawks Nest, is rich in Aboriginal cultural history.
Stockton Beach stretches 32 km and is a sweeping expanse of sand and sand dunes and Australia’s largest moving coastal sand mass. The gigantic dunes, behind Birubi Beach at Anna Bay, are a magnet for sand boarders, 4WD and quad bike enthusiasts. The beach is also great for swimming and learning to surf. Rich with marine life, fishing and diving is also popular at Stockton. After your adventures, enjoy a picnic and barbecue in the park next to the beach.
A favourite feeding and resting spot for local koalas, Tilligerry Habitat Reserve is a nine hectare ecotourism park on Tanilba Bay. Entry is free with easy walking tracks through the scenic swamp mahogany paperbark forest. You'll see many native birds as well as native orchids and bush tucker plants in season. You might spot koalas, echidnas and bandicoots in the wild. Discover more about the local history, culture and the environment on guided walks.
Chef Alex Chan has over 30 years of experience in creating Chinese and Asian dishes. Expertise and fresh produce are the secret ingredients for his wide range of Asian cuisine that's full of flavour and colour - you may enjoy sizzling Mongolian lamb or share duck sang choy bow. Sauce recipes handed down from father to son are given a light and healthy touch. Barbecue pork and duck are favourites.
Right on the beautiful sands of Fingal Beach, in the Fingal Bay Surf Life Saving Club, Long Boat Café is the perfect spot after a dip or a surf, for a hearty meal. Celebrate Australia's surf culture at its best relaxing by the water and indulging in fresh local seafood with a fine selection of ice cold local beers and chilled wines.
On the edge of the picturesque marina, Mavericks is great place for sunset drinks and delicious food. The modern Australian menu is made up of light snacks and more substantial mains, plus charcuterie and cheese boards and seafood platters to share with friends over a glass of Australian wine. On Fridays and weekends, Mavericks is a lively entertainment spot, with local musicians performing for diners.
The Twilight Dinner Cruise is the perfect dining experience for all occasions. Enjoy appetisers on arrival, followed by a modern Australian buffet featuring a large variety of seafood, meats and vegetarian options. View breathtaking sunsets and moonrises from the top deck, and keep an eye out for the dolphins who love to ride the bow waves. There are two fully licensed bars, and fabulous entertainment so you can dance the night away.
Great for a family outing, The Deck at Soldiers Point Marina comfortably sits 100 for casual dining by the water overlooking the boats. The Greek family who own and run The Deck create a warm atmosphere. Enjoy a delicious Mediterranean breakfast, lunch or dinner. A fine selection of snacks, salads, pasta, risotto and substantial mains as well as amazing desserts are on the menu.
Enjoy sweeping views across the water, Pacific Dunes golf course and the surrounding bushland at The Eatery @ Pacific Dunes. With a casual al fresco dining area and a garden terrace, it's the perfect location to meet with family, friends and colleagues for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Bring the kids for free babycinos, toys to play with and colouring in activities.
This charming, sun-drenched café is part of the stylish Nelson Resort. Head here for organic Suspension Espresso coffees and a yummy breakfast or lunch. With the gorgeous lookout over beautiful gardens to the town, Little Nel is the perfect brunch spot. Try the ploughman’s platter with leg ham, Harrigan’s Irish Cheddar, Hunter Gold Washed Rind, hard boiled egg and Hank’s onion marmalade.
Location and ambience complement a great dining experience at this stunning waterfront spot in the Soldiers Point Marina overlooking untouched hinterland. The succulent seafood menu justifies the many awards The Point has earned, including Best Seafood Restaurant in the region. Enjoy a cocktail or excellent glass of wine and take in the breathtaking sunsets.
A short drive from Nelson Bay is a top winery, Wonganella Estate. The estate's café and restaurant sits atop a hill with superb views of the hinterland through to Port Stephens. Each dish on the Modern Australian menu is matched with a Wonganella Estate wine. On Saturday night, the kitchen offers a delicious three-course menu inspired by a different European destination each week.
This festival was introduced to the Australian Country Music calendar with the idea of bringing the country to the coast. Enjoy free entertainment in Port Stephens with great named acts and some of Australian Country Music's rising stars. Over three days, the fantastic community atmosphere is charged by music, arts, markets and entertainment, all in the beautiful surrounds. Don't miss Gum Boot Throwing on the beach or Boot Scooting in the streets.
In September, the communities of Port Stephens are united by a weekend festival of events and entertainment guaranteed to awaken the Celt in anyone. A real Highland fling, pipe bands, Scottish dancing, singing groups, fiddlers, a strong man competition and even a medieval fight re-enactment create an atmosphere of frivolity. Browse among Celtic-inspired jewellery and clothing stalls, and visit clan tents and savour local foods, wines and ales.
From relatively small beginnings in 1994, this competition for enthusiastic anglers has become one of the most popular in the country. This tournament is held just outside the Easter school holidays. A lot of fun for all the family, it draws some 1,000 entrants and 450 boats. Regarded as easy to enter, but very hard to win, it attracts the best linesmen to the ferry terminal in Nelson Bay. But for half of the contestants, this is their first ever fishing tournament.
This October event offers spring market stalls, stage entertainment, river activities, games and competitions for all. The family friendly Myall River Festival kicks off with a floating lantern display and fireworks on the river. You'll also enjoy live music, duck racing, boating, dancing, a pet parade and a chance to watch artists at work in Galleries in the Gardens.
This delightful monthly market is where you'll find the wonderful things the community produces. A range of stalls flourish with flowers, plants, paintings, clothing for all ages, baby goods and even animal treats. Kids entertainment includes face painting and a jumping castle. Goodies include a sausage sizzle, homemade cakes, Devonshire Teas and coffee. The market is held on the fourth Saturday of the month, except in December.
If one event captures the spirit of Port Stephens - this is it. Each April, one of the fastest growing regattas in Australia sets sail from the glistening waterways of the marine park and out to sea, around the islands and back. This gorgeous race course is set to become internationally recognised. But it’s not all about sailing and spinnakers – the event is a load of fun with family entertainment to be found both on and off the water. Keep an eye out for the Regatta Markets.
Tomaree Markets are charming country community markets with live music and an enjoyable atmosphere. Stalls sell craft, artisan food products and designer items, from jewellery to local art works to olive oils - Tomaree Markets will surprise you. Held on the second and fourth Sunday of the month - go along and enjoy the fun.
It's hard to resist the fresh and high quality oysters that come out of Port Stephens. Oysters from this region are sold worldwide - and Holberts are some of the best. For five generations this family owned business has been growing and distributing award-winning oysters. Holberts is now one of the biggest operations in NSW. Watch the oysters being shucked daily. A must - whether dining in or out.
The Medowie plantation, established in 1980, grows five varieties of macadamia trees over five hectares. The plantation is family owned and run, from planting to harvesting to experimenting in the kitchen with new and tasty treats for visitors to take away. Try the chilli-flavoured nuts and macadamia brittle, plus macadamia ice cream as well as oils, beauty products and other great gifts.
An institution in Nelson Bay, the wharf is famous for its prize-winning fish and chips plus a range of the freshest prawns, snapper, flathead, jewfish, cod, salmon, tuna and ocean trout unloaded daily from the fishing trawlers. Choose your fresh fish and watch it being filleted. Or select from the lobster tanks for live shellfish that's cooked on the spot. Meeting the staff and hearing the local stories make heading down to Fishermen's Wharf Seafoods well worth it.
The Community Arts Centre at Port Stephens is a hidden gem where you'll discover the skills of the region’s artisans and take home some beautiful gifts and mementos. The centre houses a number of galleries displaying large collections of arts and crafts - all for sale at reasonable prices. The Arts Centre have a delightful weekend café for light lunches and drinks.
With fashion, food and services, you're sure to find what you need. The shopping centre offers over 80 retailers plus the added convenience of Coles, Kmart, Target Country, Woolworths, Aldi, a food court, and parking for over 1,000 cars. The range of specialty stores includes women's and men's fashion, jewellery, homewares, coffee shops, a newsagent and post office, and more.
Tailor Made Fish Farms is a unique aquaculture and hydroponics operation providing live barramundi to restaurants. Using award-winning and internationally recognised recirculation technology, Tailor Made Fish Farms can offer visitors a combined package of Production Tours that run daily at 11am and 2pm, with a delicious dining experience at the Cookabarra Restaurant and Function Centre.
From Newcastle Airport, in Williamtown, it's a half-hour drive to most of the beautiful beaches in the Port Stephens area. Airlines Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia, Regional Express (REX) and FlyPelican service the airport, allowing easy access on a daily basis. Port Stephens Coaches operate a public bus service from Newcastle Airport to Newcastle train station up to 11 times per day, as well as a service to the Nelson Bay area. For further information and timetables, phone: +61 2 4982 2940 or visit www.pscoaches.com.au.
Port Stephens is on the New South Wales coast 200 km north of Sydney. It's an easy route to drive, which takes about 2.5 hours along the M1 highway. At the end of the M1, turn right at the roundabout and follow the sign “Hexham and Pacific Highway”. Veer to the right and merge with the New England Highway then merge to the left at the sign “Taree and Pacific Highway” which takes you over the Hexham Bridge. Turn right onto Tomago Road, and turn left into Nelson Bay Road at the roundabout. Then follow the signs to your Port Stephens destination.
CHEMMART PHARMACY • 18 Stockton St., Nelson Bay, NSW 2315 • Phone:+61 2 4984 2445 ANNA BAY PHARMACY • 129 Gan Gan Rd., Anna Bay, NSW 2316 • Phone: +61 2 4982 2490 LAKESIDE PHARMACY • Shop 13, 80 Benjamin Lee Drive, Raymond Terrace, NSW 2324 • Phone: +61 2 4987 5005 MEDOWIE PHARMACY • Shop 17, Medowie Shopping Village, Medowie, NSW 2318 • Phone: +61 2 4982 8564 NELSON BAY PHARMACY • 71 Magnus St, Nelson Bay, NSW 2315 • Phone: +61 2 4981 1237 PRICELINE PHARMACY • Terrace Central Shoppping Centre, Raymond Terrace, NSW 2324 • Phone: +61 2 4987 3466 SALAMANDER BAY AMCAL CHEMIST • Shop 12, Salamander Bay Shopping Centre, Salamander Bay, NSW 2317 • Phone: +61 2 4982 7644 SHOAL BAY PHARMACY • 59 Shoal Bay Rd., Shoal Bay, NSW 2315 • Phone: +61 2 4981 1247 WANDA BEACH PHARMACY • Shop 2, 261 Soldiers Point Rd., Salamander Bay, NSW 2317 • Phone: +61 2 4984 7936
Taxis are available from Newcastle airport to Port Stephens, and within the region on call. NELSON BAY TAXIS 132 George Rd, Salamander Bay, Port Stephens, NSW 2317 Ph: +61 2 4984 6699 NEWCASTLE TAXIS 3/7 Chaucer St., Hamilton, Newcastle, NSW 2300 Phone: +61 13 33 00 www.newcastletaxis.com.au