Haven't got a boat? Ah well, you can hire one. Then again, they won't let you go outside. Better option is to get a mate who's got one! Then you can go anywhere and hang the cost.
Fondest memory: Thus it was that we went fishing one day off Port Stephens. No, let me rephrase that. We went with the intention of going fishing.
However, a serious problem developed. There were no fish. Damn and blast.
This is where photography comes in handy, at least the day's not a total waste.
So, what we have here is pics of Tomaree Headland (1 & 4), showing the massive cleft in the rock that you can only guess at on land.
The boat we went out on is shown in pic 2 and the offshore islands constitute the other snaps. The water was cold, the sea was rough, our hopes are for a better day.
Yacaaba Headland is like a magnet for your camera. Whether perched on the end of Soldiers Point (about 10kms west) or sitting in a restaurant at Shoal Bay (as I was here when I decided to take this one) it constantly draws the eye.
Fondest memory: There's a couple of cafes across the road from the park where I took this photo and, sitting there on a sublime day in winter sipping your favourite beverage is an activity I wholly recommend.
The cares of the world drift their way across the road and out across the bay. It's so relaxing and conducive to recharging your batteries I wish every VTer would have the chance to do it just once in their lives. Me, I manage about once a month and never tire of it.
When VT suggested "Blue Skies and Beaches" as a general tip heading they were obviously thinking of Port Stephens.
It's that sort of place. It matters little what the weather is, the place always looks beautiful and this shot, taken from the next beach west of Dutchies Beach, gives a good example of what a lovely place to have a holiday it is.
....or golf. You can do more than one sport around the bay other than fishing.
This is one of a number of golf courses available within the shire. It's called Horizons, located at Salamander Bay, and is a private course that the public can play on. Beautifully manicured it has all the trappings of a resort course.
Some other options are the Nelson Bay Golf Club that has 27 holes to choose from or Lemon Tree Passage that is not quite to the standard of the former two.
Raymond Terrace has a challenging course called Muree and on the other side of the bay there's the lovely Hawkes Nest Golf Club.
It was a calm day, a little overcast, a little threatening perhaps; in hindsight, foreboding even.
With Sarah from Toronto (Canada) as our guest we were giving her a guided tour of Newcastle and surrounds. Port Stephens is always a good starting point. Everybody likes Port Stephens and, where better to dine than the old lighthouse, now turned into a small museum and cafe and manned by the volunteer coastal patrol.
Fondest memory: It's also a good place to view some wildlife. There's always a bird on hand (literally as it was to turn out) and we know they're better than two in the bush. That, during my time on this earth, was my accepted view. Today, I'm not so sure.
After we made ourselves comfortable and ordered our respective choices it was time to take in the sublime view across Shoal Bay to Tomaree and Yacaaba Headlands and beyond.
Closer at hand a wattle bird picnicked on the honey-coloured banksias and some myna birds flitted from place to place. But, above us, a kookaburra stared with fixed intent upon the tables. We jokingly suggested to Sarah that she had probably been warned about snakes, crocodiles, sharks and all the rest but no-one hard warned her about the birds.
In due course our meals arrived. Taste temptations from the kitchen. I noted the headfeathers on the kookaburra were raised and jokingly suggested to Sarah to hurry and eat her meal before the bird did.
Rosemarie (my partner) then plunged her fork into a salmon pattie and proceeded to cut with her knife.
Bang! Crash! Whoosh! The kookaburra had swooped, its feet clumsily crashing a mugaccino all over Rosemarie but its beak precisely removing part of the salmon pattie.
To say we were shocked would be a touch of understatement. In all my life I had never heard of kookaburras diving for food. The black currawongs are notorious for it and magpies will attack you personally during mating season but a kookaburra? Never!!
Now, I have to add to the list of things to watch out for in Oz and Sarah has an unforgettable anecdote. Alfred Hitchcock must be rolling in his grave.
There are daily cruises in and around and even out of Port Stephens. There can be as many as half a dozen ferry/catamaran/pleasure boats on the water at any given time. It's a good way to appreciate how big the port is. In fact, it's 28 kilometres from the mouth of the Karuah River that runs into it to the headlands. The Queen Mary, as in ship, once came in here during the war years.
Fondest memory: One of the things you will get an excellent view of if you take the early trips are dolphins. Both the morning and afternoon cruises attract them but during the a.m. one they appear more active. At certain times of the year you will see whales though remember that these are understandably more offshore than the dolphins. They are, as you may have noticed, slightly larger and thus require a little more water.
You can got your cruise at D'Albora Marina right at the end of the main street through Nelson Bay.
To view the area in all its magnificence you cannot do much better than climb the southern headland that heralds the entrance to Port Stephens.
A well made walkway takes you upwards 168 metres through the Aussie bush, part of an 896 hectare park where wildflowers proliferate between July and Fenruary. In places you are climbing stairs but it only takes about 15 minutes and you're at the top.
The vista is 360 degrees, Tasman Sea on one side, Port Stephens on the other and headlands in between.
Fondest memory: Looking south over Zenith and Box Beaches towards Fingal Bay on a spring afternoon, sea breeze in your hair, emerald waters below dashing themselves onto white sands. When your batteries need recharging, try it!