We have travelled the Pacific Highway from Coffs Harbour to Sydney many, many times over the past years. It’s really only a 6 hour trip, only a few short rest stops needed and if we left home early we could be in Sydney by lunch time. Although the highway has a very poor reputation for black spots it’s still a relatively easy straight-through trip. I guess this is why we never really ventured off the main highway to explore the smaller towns along the way.
Until now- We have spent the past few weeks doing just that! It’s been 7 weeks on the road since leaving Coffs Harbour heading south and we have only ventured as far as Sydney. Most of the smaller coastal towns that have always been by-passed have now been explored- so many gems so close to home too. Why had we not visited them sooner?
Old Bar, Tuncurry, Hawks Nest, Nelson Bay, The Entrance to name a few……….our past few weeks have been awesome!
After leaving Hawks Nest we ventured around to the southern side of Port Stephens to a great little tourist mecca, Nelson Bay! We could literally see Hawks Nest from our caravan park. We had packed up, moved and setup again within 2.5 hours. Hardly seemed worth it- but it was!
I’ve been on Facebook lately and many people are probably sick of me going on about all the kids’ playgrounds around the bay. But It’s really great to see them and they were all getting put to good use! The town of Nelson Bay sits on the south-eastern fringes of Port Stephens and boasts some really great waterside recreational areas, a marina precinct, some great shopping and best of all an awesome fish & chip shop! (Bubs)- is there such thing as “squid overdose” I swear we were nearly eating salt & pepper squid every day. We were stocking up our fridge and freezer with squid tubes and fresh fish and cryovacking our supply using our Freshield vacuum sealer! We still have a freezer full of the stuff!
Stockton Beach Sand Dunes
At the caravan park at which we were staying, we met a lovely couple, Tony and Anne-Marie from Victoria. They were keen 4x4ers and were champing at the bit to get out and have a play on the famous Stockton Beach sand dunes. We teamed up with them on Father’s day, grabbed our beach permits, let our tyre pressures down and ventured out for a great day.
We really put the rodeo through its paces testing it out on the many tracks and steep dunes along the beach. At the southern end of the beach was the MV Synga (1974) shipwreck. A Norwegian coal carrier that fell victim to bad storms off the Newcastle coast. Strong winds pushed the vessel onto the shallow waters and it hasn’t moved since. Here was a perfect spot to stop and have lunch as we watched plenty of other beach goer’s muck around in their 4×4′s and quad-bikes. We travelled back along the beach detouring to see ‘Tin City’ – a group of 11 tin fishing shacks nestled behind the dunes and further up was the tank traps, a group of concrete pyramids strategically placed amongst the dunes to prevent land based vehicle invasions during the war. We had a fantastic time out on the beach and had fun fossicking for shells and other bits and pieces. It was sad however to see so much rubbish left behind by beach users.
Oakvale Farm and Fauna World
Jane took the kids for a day and visited the Oakvale Farm near Williamtown. This place gave the kids a chance to get up close and personal with a variety of animals. Cooper was able to get hands on and feed numerous birds, goats, kangaroos, alpaca and many more. A highlight was Cooper being able to milk a cow. This place is great for kids who haven’t had the chance to see farm animals up close.
Port Stephens is a fantastic area of Australia, and the people of Sydney and Newcastle are lucky to have such a stunning piece of paradise so close to home. It’s no wonder the weekends and school holidays are flooded with city folk escaping the hustle and bustle for some down-time here.
Heading further South- The Entrance
Another area that had always been neglected during our many trips south was the Central Coast. We chose to stay at The Entrance at Toowoon Bay. We shouted ourselves to an ensuite site and enjoyed the views of the water from our site. We also got our fair share of winds gusting up and making our ropes earn their keep!
Our stay at The Entrance gave us the chance to explore the towns nearby. The Central Coast plays host to some stunning scenic coastline, particularly around Terrigal. We also took some time to explore Gosford and Woy Woy where we stopped and had some lunch in a park that seemed to be “owned” by the local ducks. They were friendly enough and the kids had fun feeding them and of course watching them fight amongst themselves as the try to establish a literal “pecking order” in which they were to receive our food donations.
Our time on the Central Coast was unfortunately hampered by bad weather and the threat of more strong winds. We didn’t feel comfortable taking the risk of leaving the camp in case they gusted up again. Jane and the kids did manage to sneak in a coastal walk from the holiday park into town. The markets were on and free entertainment was offered in the way of a band playing. There is a public water park which Cooper had a quick play in (was a tad cold though). The town centre was very attractive and close to the water. A friendly vibe from the locals and shop owners made our stay pleasant. We would like to have spent a bit longer in the area, preferable with nicer weather. There was still a lot to see! One Day……
Off to the big S! (Sydney)
After a reluctant decision to tow our camper through Sydney traffic (I hate even driving around Sydney wuth just the car let alone towing)- we embarked on the “mission” and drove into it with fear. We wanted to visit the kids Great Grandmother (93) and was the main reason for our visit. We ventured into the Lane Cove River Tourist Park and booked in for 2 nights. WOW! What a great park. We extended the stay to 3 nights but were unable to go beyond that due to the approaching school holiday bookings. We were literally only 15kms from the Sydney CBD yet we couldn’t hear the traffic, we were surrounded by bushland and it was so peaceful (except the morning and afternoon QANTAS flights overhead the only drawback) .
If we knew that place existed we would have visited Sydney more often. We like Sydney, I think the busy lifestyle is intriguing and exciting but it’s a lifestyle I wouldn’t want to live every day. Give me the slow-paced nomad lifestyle any day!