When GoSeeAustralia set up base camp at One Mile Beach Holiday Park, Port Stephens we found a place of shining blue waters and thriving coastal National Parks about two and a half hours north of Sydney. Sheltered swimming and a patrolled surf beaches are easily found and there are many short coastal bushwalks plus some of the finest fishing spots on the eastern seaboard. Some of the most popular hikes and lookouts are in Tomaree National Park and the view from the top of Tomaree Peak is spectacular. The port, which is two and a half times the size of Sydney Harbour, is home to more than 160 resident bottlenose dolphins and from May to November it is whale watching time.
Among the ultimate wildlife experiences is to see the 15m and 48 tonne bulk of a humpback whale as it propels itself skyward with powerful thrusts of its tail and crashes back into the ocean. Between late May and July about 3,500 whales migrate north to the tropics and return between September and November. Because the islands and headlands of Port Stephens extend so far east, the whales come in close and are easily accessible by a number of whale watch cruises which depart daily during the season.
Outstanding views of Port Stephens can be seen from the bluffs of Tomaree (161m) and Yacaaba (219m), which guard the entrance to the harbour.
Port Stephens 220km northeast of Sydney, 64 km northeast of Newcastle includes One Mile Beach, Anna Bay, Bobs Farm, Corlette, Fern Bay, Fingal Bay, Karuah, Lemon Tree Passage, Medowie, Nelson Bay, Raymond Terrace, Salamander Bay, Salt Ash, Shoal Bay, Soldiers Point, Swan Bay, Tanilba Bay, Tomago, Williamtown.
On the Tilligerry Peninsula, nature enthusiasts with experienced guides can see koalas in their natural habitat. Fishing is excellent in the Tilligerry area, with two boat ramps and a quaint marina. For any eco-tourism fan a trip to the unique and beautiful Broughton Island is a must. Eight nautical miles east of Tomaree Headland, Broughton Island is a habitat of cool mossy caves, icy fresh springs, vertical clay cliffs and drop offs into blue opal water. The island is ideal for fishing, snorkelling and diving and many professional cruise operators offer information and trips to Broughton Island and the Myall Lakes.
Port Stephens stretches from Fingal Bay in the east, Karuah to the North, Fern Bay to the south and to the west, Raymond Terrace. It is world-famous for the freshest of seafood, especially the famous Pacific Oyster. Nelson Bay is part of the picturesque Tomaree Peninsula as well as popular holiday spots at Shoal Bay, Fingal Bay, Anna Bay, One Mile Beach, Salamander Bay and Soldiers Point.
There is both Aboriginal and European history, a hidden Tin City in the Stockton Beach sand dunes and the shipwreck of the Sygna Bergen to be explored.
For families, surfers and beach lovers, Port Stephens is an ideal holiday with about 26 sandy beaches in an area of tranquil protected bays and natural bushland.
From the mouth of the Hunter River, Newcastle to Port Stephens, the famous Stockton Beach and its moving sand dunes have much native fauna and flora.
This 32km stretch of wilderness can be explored in many ways or experience the power of a 4WD vehicle pivoting over the top of the dunes or jump on and hang on for the rush of adrenalin and adventure of quad-bike riding, or galloping across dune landscapes on horseback.
The exhilarating 4WD/6WD ride climbs 30m sand dunes with ease. A tour takes in all the sights and visitors can try sandboarding down 60 deg dune slopes at breathtaking pace.
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For caravanners Port Stephens location on the Pacific Highway and at the junction of the New England and Golden Highways, makes it an easy place to visit, whether as a single destination or as a stopover while heading north.
The Inland Golden Highway from Dubbo offers a scenic, hassle free route for those coming from the west or south as it allows caravanners direct access to the coast without having to negotiate Sydneys roads. The absence of heavy traffic and steep escarpments plus the bonus of scenic rural views, interesting townships and access to the Hunter Wine District also makes this highway a hassle free route for towing.
Towing to Port Stephens is also an easy highway, freeway run from Canberra via the Federal Highway, M5 the M2 and new M7 to bypass Sydney.
Editors note: There are no toll booths on the M7. Pay by phone within 48 hours. There is an additional $2.20 fee, payable at a toll booth, for the section of the M2 which is involved. GoSeeAustralia got some change out of $20 when we used the bypass options.
Port Stephens is famous for its fishing and every February/March hosts one of the biggest game fishing competition in the southern hemisphere. For the amateur fisherman, there are many reefs located offshore and there is great fishing inside the Port, from piers, a dinghy or the beach. Stockton Beach spans the 32 km distance between Anna Bay and Stockton. This beach and the massive associated sand dunes form the biggest coastal dune system in Australia. Camel riding, horse riding, sand tobogganing, four wheel driving, quad bike riding, surfing, swimming and fishing are popular pastimes with locals and visitors alike as are the regular 4WD tours over the dunes.
Birubi Beach Caravan Park is at the Gateway to the Stockton Beach Dunes in Anna Bay. The dunes have something to offer all age groups and Birubi Beach Caravan Parks location is ideal for all dune activities with pick up points for all tours only a two minute walk from the accommodation.
Some of the best beach and rock fishing takes place 100m away from Birubi Beach Caravan Park at Birubi Point. There are two large bait and tackle shops in Anna Bay and a small amount of bait is kept for sale at the caravan parks reception. Whether it is offshore, beach, rock or estuary fishing, the various operators in the area have it covered. Day and night fishing, all equipment, bait and refreshments included. Some charters are seasonal and bookings are essential.
The area has extensive activities for the kids, rain or shine.
Toboggan Hill Park - toboggan rides, model plaster painting, tractor train ride.
Oakvale Farm Fauna World - animal feeding shows, tractor ride, milk a cow.
Romp Stomp Fun World - indoor children's play ground. Child minding is available.
Anna Bay Surf School - learn to surf, body and surf board hire.
Tomteland Theme Park - waterslides, games, rides and shopping.
Laser Force - live action laser game, space age battle suits and secure fun provided.
Shoal Bay Bike Hire - bikes, scooters, helmets available for hire.
Tomaree Pool - Waterslides, infants, child and Olympic sized swimming pools.
Salamander Super Strike - Cosmic bowling experience - glow in the dark lanes.
Sandpiper Reserve - duck feeding Go Carts - small, safe course for the young and young at heart.
Fighter World - aircraft museum, 15 minutes drive at Williamtown.
Tomaree National Park - guided and unguided walking trails by National Parks Wildlife.
Putt Putt Golf - driving range and putt putt golf.
Birubi Beach Caravan Park is a privately owned park set on 14 peaceful landscaped acres, where the owners aim to cater for all families alike. Birubi Beach is fully patrolled with consistent surf and great fishing. At certain times of the year the majestic Humpback whales migrate up and down the coast. These whales can be seen from the beach and the park. In fact you can sit on the balcony of a Deluxe Cabin and simply watch them go by.
On the south western shores of Port Stephens the Tilligerry Peninsula is a quiet family destination that boasts a significant wild koala population. A walk along the well signposted waterfront trails almost guarantees a koala sighting. Expect to see seabirds, wildflowers, mangroves, oysters, beaches and forests.
Finding suitable accommodation in Port Stephens is easy. Choose from one of nineteen holiday / caravan parks, many of which are located right on the waterways or beaches. They typically offer cabins and camping as well as drive in and ensuite sites for caravans. Many also offer full resort facilities like pools, spas, entertainment areas, camp kitchens and an array of activities from putt putt golf to wildlife nights hosted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Nearby Newcastle is also a modern city with a cosmopolitan mix of restaurants, shops and facilities.
Its scenic harbour and superb beaches are minutes from the Central Business District.
Newcastle is the second oldest city in the nation. Founded in 1804 as a penal settlement, it has preserved many fascinating links with its colonial beginnings, from the convict built Nobbys breakwall, flanked by ocean and harbour, to beautifully restored buildings and historic sites.
Take a guided walking tour around the city or see it by plane, zip around it on the back of a motorcycle, sit back in comfort in a taxi, view it from a sailing boat on the harbour or travel the streets onboard Newcastles Famous Tram complete with commentary.
GoSeeAustralia founda Surf School right besideOne Mile BeachHoliday Parkand for those who always wanted to ride a board, but never thought they could; this is one place to build surfing confidence.
So if you have you ever wanted to surf but didn't know where to start well, here isyour chance. Anna Bay Surf Schoolat One Mile Beach. You can book in for the ride of your life. IT'S ADDICTIVE , SURFS UP!!
One Mile beach is one of the best beaches in the whole Hunterand Port Stephens region to learn to surf. Perfect gentle white water waves for the beginners and awsome green waves for the more experienced board riders. The Surf School operate every day from Oct - May. Lesson times may change due to seasonal variations, so be sure to book ahead to secure your spot. If you can't fit your board in don't worry! You can hire one from the Surf School, Perfect!
Visit a museum, race a quad bike over sand dunes or stroll the scenic Bathers Way, browse around an art gallery or watch hang gliders.
Shop, take in a show, drink coffee or dine in style, buy a surf-o-plane or ride one, pose with a koala for a holiday snapshot or watch a ship that seems to pass at arms length from a cosmopolitan harbour caf.
As a base for a variety of 20 to 40 minute drive experiences Raymond Terrace is now virtually a commuter belt township attached to Newcastle, 23km to the south. Raymond Terrace is a historic experience in its own right. Raymond Terrace, two hours north of Sydney has been one of the North Coasts principal southern gateways ever since Lieut. Colonel Paterson called a halt on June 29, 1801 while surveying the Hunter.
Raymond Terraces off-beat name could be the result of an earlier impression from one of his party, called Raymond, who remarked on the terraced nature of the tree tops while exploring the area in 1797.
The town has its quirks. Two big trees, half way along King St, are called the marriage trees because they were used for that purpose before churches were built.
Nearby are attractions and destinations which include the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens, Nelson Bay and Tea Gardens, Dungog, Gloucester and the Barrington Tops, Newcastle City, Hunter Valley vineyards, Maitland, Morpeth, Paterson and other historic villages.
The Williams River joins the Hunter River at Raymond Terrace and the Paterson River is about 10km away to the west.
The Hunter Botanic Gardens are 4.5km south along the highway. Volunteers created and maintain the walks, wildflowers and native vegetation.
Tomago House is an elegant sandstone mansion dating from 1843 just south of Raymond Terrace. It became a National Trust property in 1986. Raymond Terrace links with the extensive waterways of beautiful Port Stephens, the Hunter Valley, and Barrington Tops World Heritage National Park. Barrington Tops is a plateau about 25km long between extinct volcanic peaks in the Mount Royal Ranges.
To the west of Raymond Terrace and the Pacific Highway lies a picturesque rural hinterland that showcases meandering rivers, country drives, eco-destinations and plenty of opportunities to explore the Hunter Valley.
Nearby destinations include the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens and Hunter Valley vineyards, Nelson Bay and Tea Gardens, Dungog, Gloucester, and the historic towns such as Morpeth and Paterson as well as the Barrington Tops National Park.
Listed as a World Heritage Area, Barrington Tops National Park is an 80,000 hectares park ranging from subtropical rainforest to high windswept plateaus, cut through with wild rivers and covered with snow gums, Antarctic Beeches, meadows and subalpine bog.
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