estuarine lake in New South Wales, Australia
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Oceania > Australia > New South Wales > Hunter > Port Stephens (New South Wales)

Port Stephens is a coastal area surrounding the Port Stephens Bay, just north of Newcastle in New South Wales.

Understand edit

The area is very popular for its breathtaking coastal scenery, protected waters at the bay, good fishing, and the opportunity to watch whales during the migration season and the resident dolphins. A popular town for tourists is Nelson Bay although Shoal Bay also gets equal attraction.

Get in edit

Map of Port Stephens (New South Wales)

By car edit

The most convenient means of transport into the area is by car. From Newcastle, just take the B63 north, and go for about 45 mins to an hour, depending on where in Newcastle you are. The B63 is mostly just a suburban road, but north of Salt Ash, there is a 100km/h speed limit, with two lanes each way making it feel like a motorway.

By train edit

If coming from Sydney, then the train to Newcastle is a good option in terms of speed and cost. From there, Port Stephens is a 30-minute drive by taxi or otherwise bus options are available.

By plane edit

Newcastle Airport is only 30-minute drive away via B63 and has connections to many large cities on the east coast. Sydney Airport is about 2.5 hours away by car.

Get around edit

As with most rural destinations in Australia, your best option is usually by car. The area can be cycled however.

  • 1 Port Stephens Ferry Service, Victoria Parade, Nelson Bay, +61 4 1268 2117. You can visit Hawks Nest via the ferry service, 1 hour each way Adults: $26 return, Children: $13 return, Under 5 years: free.

See edit

  • 1 Stockton Sand Dunes. Kilometres of sand which is easy to explore on foot but watch out for 4x4s racing around some areas. This is where Mad Max and parts of that ubiquitous Aussie anthem 'Down Under' were filmed.
  • 2 One Mile Beach. Named after the town One Mile rather than the other way around, is a stunning place to visit whether you surf or not. Atmospheric views down the peninsular and dramatic swells abound here. There's a car park just off the beach and a small store that sells refreshments.
  • 3 Mt Tomaree. A 2.2km return walk will lead you to the summit of Mt Tomaree, where you will find fantastic views of Mt Yacaaba, as well as Cabbage Tree, Fingal, Boondelbah and Broughton Islands, and the Point Stephens Lighthouse.
A view of Mt Yacaaba from the summit of Mt Tomaree.
  • 4 Gan Gan Lookout, Lily Hill Road, Nelson Bay. This lookout offers fantastic views of the Nelson Bay region and its surrounds.
  • 5 Point Stephens Lighthouse, Fingal Island. Located on Fingal Island, this lighthouse is accessible from Fingal Bay by walking across Fingal Spit, however a much safer option is to go by boat/kayak.
  • Shark Island. A beautiful stunning island with unspoilt beaches. Only accessible during low tide via Shark Beach.
  • Tomaree National Park contains various points of interest, particularly in the parts of Port Stephens that are still covered in vegetation.

Do edit

Whale watching edit

Whale watching cruises leave from Nelson Bay and are well worth it in the seasons that humpbacks pass by (May to November). You may also see dolphins and penguins. There is a variety of vessels and price ranges to choose from at the marina.

  • 1 Moonshadow-TQC Cruises, Shop 3, 35 Stockton Street, Nelson Bay, +61 2 4984 9388. Specialises in dolphin and whale watching. The whale watching cruise runs at 10:00 and 13:30 for 2.5 hours. And if you don't get to see whales, they offer a second whale-watching trip for free within the following 6 months. $63.
  • Imagine Cruises, Nelson Bay, +61 2 4984 9000. The whale watching cruise operates at 10:30 and 14:00 and lasts for 3 to 3.5 hours. If no whales are sighted they offer a second trip for free. $60.

Dolphin watching edit

There is a colony of resident dolphins that can be seen from the beaches or from the popular cruises that leave from Nelson Bay. The best season to watch dolphins is from the end of November to May.

Scuba diving edit

Nelson Bay has some of the best shore dives in New South Wales and attracts scuba divers keen to photograph the varied macro sea life at the sites of Fly Point and Halifax. The following dive shops offer gear rental, tank refill, and diving courses.

Camel riding edit

Camel rides are available on the vast dunes of Port Stephens.

Swimming with sharks and stingrays edit

  • 2 Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters (Shark and Ray Centre), 2 Jessie Rd, Anna Bay, +61 2 4982 2476. 9AM to 5PM Daily. Swim with sharks and stingrays here. The stingrays here have had their barbs trimmed, so there's no need to worry.

Buy edit

Eat edit

  • Sienna's Pizzeria Bar and Restaurant, 1 Trafalgar Street, Nelson Bay, +61 2 4984 4900. Excellent Italian food. The site is licensed and BYO with $5 corkage. $30.
  • 1 Red Neds Gourmet Pie Bar, 3/17-19 Stockton Street, Nelson Bay (Look for the statue of Ned Kelly), +61 2 4984 1355. Daily 8am-4pm. A popular place for its gourmet pies.

Drink edit

Airport edit

  • Hunter & King Coffee Co., Departures.
  • Nine Bays Espresso, Arrivals.

Sleep edit

A panorama of the Milky Way at Fishermans Bay
  • 1 Botaba Bed and Breakfast (B&B Accommodation in Port Stephens Boat Harbour), 32 Andrew Close, Boat Harbour, +61 2 4981 9018. Botaba Bed and Breakfast is surrounded by native bushland. 'Adults only' with 2 rooms, each with private ensuite facilities and direct access to the garden. Fluffy bathrobes and natural body products are provided . Cooked breakfast each morning.
  • Melaleuca Backpackers, 2 Koala Place, One Mile Beach (Formerly 33 Eucalyptus Drive), +61 2 4981 9422. Quirky backpackers hostel with lots of character and lovely owners. Dorms $28-35.
  • Samurai Beach Bungalows - Port Stephens YHA, Cnr Frost Rd and Robert Connell Close, +61 2 4982 1921, . Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 10AM. A beautiful little hostel with a pool, bikes, a unique bush kitchen, and Wi-Fi available. Has the feeling of being in Asia with lovely statues scattered around the garden. They have a few different room styles from dorm rooms to privates with both shared and private bathroom. Located about 5 km out from Nelson bay in a peaceful garden setting. $30–170.
  • 2 The Anchorage, Corlette Point Rd, Corlette, +61 2 40363561. Luxurious five star bay resort overlooking Corlette Beach and the port. Features fine dining, 2 bars, day spas as well as speciality packages for families and couples. ~$500 per night.

Connect edit

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone all have minimum 4G in Port Stephens. Some have 5G in certain spots.

Go next edit

This rural area travel guide to Port Stephens is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.