So it’s been a while! Andy and I have been pretty busy lately, but I’ve finally managed to make it to the next installment of our epic Aussie adventure. After Kels, Andy and I had our fill (but really, is that even possible?) of cuddling kangaroos, we continued on our drive to Port Stephens. Here’s where it is in relation to Sydney, if you’re curious.
We happened to arrive just in time to get an amazing sunset show.
That’s Nelson Bay in front of us, looking north.
Here’s Kels and I at the lookout, known as “Gan Gan” (which sounds like it was named after someone’s grandmother). Couldn’t be happier!
Port Stephens definitely gave us a warm welcome!
We headed to our Air B&B and settled in. That night, we walked down to the nearby beach and saw a tawny frogmouth perched on a park sign – all in all a great intro to our home for the next two days.
The next morning, we made for Fingal Bay. We had a rough plan to hike out to Shark Island, which is only doable at low tide when a sandbar emerges from the water and forms a sand bridge.
Box Beach was our first intro to the Port Stephens seashore – wow!
Definitely warmer than Wellington!
Since the tide was starting to come in, we had to scale some rocks to get to Fingal Spit.
“Look up here!”
The view from atop the rocks was great. Here’s Fingal Spit:
And here’s the view back toward Box Beach:
I loved the view out to sea – here’s Tomaree Head on the left (which we climbed the next day – pics to come), Mount Yacaaba in the middle and one of the offshore islands to the right.
Having conquered the rocks, we headed toward the sand bridge, which looked to be swiftly disappearing. That’s Shark Island stretching out in front of us:
Since it was a weekday in winter, almost no one was on the beach. I can imagine how busy a spot like this gets during tourist season, so we were really lucky.
The Three Amigos, or as we call our imaginary band, “Doc and the Kelseys.”
At last, we were at the spit. You could see the sandbar through the water, but the tide was coming in pretty quickly.
We waded out to see if we could make a go of it, but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the risk. We weren’t wearing swimsuits, and I didn’t have a waterproof case for my camera either. Plus, an island that has “shark” in the name might not be one you’d want to be forced to swim back from.
Rather than scale the rocks back the way we’d came, we thought we’d try to find a route up the dunes and through the bush. Before finding a trail though, of course we had to have some fun on the dunes.
Andy decided to do a roll.
Don’t worry – he walked away uninjured.
Kels and I went with the safer option of just jumping.
I definitely look a bit skeptical in that photo, but I walked away in one piece.
Since we planned to go sandboarding later in the day, we left our sand action at that and continued on. The views over Fingal Spit and Shark Island were great.
I love spending time with someone who takes almost as many photos/snapchats/instagrams as I do. Hint: it’s not Andy.
Having come quite a way up the dunes, we luckily found a path through the bush that lead back to our car.
Just as we neared the parking lot, Andy spotted a kookaburra. Such cool birds!
He gave me a view of both his good sides, and didn’t seem at all bothered by our presence. No laughing, though.
We’d heard that you could see whales from shore if you went to the right area, so we made for Boat Harbour with high hopes. We weren’t at all disappointed! Humpbacks and right whales swam and breached offshore as they migrated north, passing our vantage spot both alone and in groups, some with calves.
It wasn’t easy to get a good shot, and none of the photos do the experience justice, but here’s an idea:
Kels got this next one, which is my favorite.
It was a truly incredible experience, being able to sit on the headland and see whales in all directions. I’ve been on some epic whale watches in the past, but this was entirely new. We could’ve sat there all day, if we didn’t have other things planned.
It was hard to tear ourselves away, but we were getting hungry and had already picked Murray’s Brewery as the place to go for lunch.
We got a tasting flight of beers and ordered a sharing platter for two. When we saw the size of said “sharing platter,” both Kels and I burst out laughing. It had all the meat anyone could dream of, from smoked brisket to ribs. It could compete with some of the best barbecue I’ve had in the USA (Not your ribs, Dad. Those can’t be beat).
We couldn’t finish it all (the food – we had no problem with the beer), but we did our best!
Up next, sandboarding and more incredible views!