Friday, 15 April 2011

Hawks Nest and the Myall Lakes

Hawks Nest, Port Stephens

We started of our trip in the Myall Lakes area in December.

Hawks Nest/Tea Gardens is still a quiet beachside enclave just 3 hours north of Sydney. Bordered by ocean beaches, Port Stephens itself and the Myall Lakes system, there is so much to see and do here you could literally spend a few weeks.

Away from the hustle and bustle of Nelson Bay, across the Port, outside of the holiday season Hawks Nest is just a sleepy seaside village.

I spent many holidays here whilst growing up, in one of the holiday rental properties on Booner Street, within walking distance to Bennett’s Beach, Jimmy’s Beach, the shops and the boatramp. I have to say, things have not changed much since those times, except the addition of a few more facilities in Tea Gardens, including a new shopping complex which houses Bi-Lo – great for the shopping and not too close to impinge on the holiday ambience.

Top 5 things to do and see

Hawks Nest has a main surf beach which is patrolled and has flags, called Bennetts Beach, however this beach runs for miles from Yaccaba Headland at the Port Stephens end, to Little Gibber in the north. The northern part of this is accessible to 4WD vehicles with a beach permit – great for fishing. This run of surf beaches continues 14km north all the way to Seal Rocks.

To the south is Jimmy’s Beach and Winda Woppa which are on Port Stephens, so are flat-water beaches, great for kite or wind-surfing, catamarans, boating in general and of course little kids swimming without the waves.

There are so many places to fish in the Hawks Nest/Tea Gardens area, that even at peak holiday season you can find a place on your own. Whether you’re looking for Tailor, Black Fish, Whiting, Bream, Flathead or Shark, choose your spot, your bait and the appropriate equipment.

  • Beach fishing along Bennetts Beach or Jimmy’s Beach out to Winda Woppa.
  • Go on an ‘outside’ charter or a day trip to Broughton Island and you are sure to come back with some biggies.
  • Hire a canoe or a runabout and fish the Myall River system.
  • Fish from the rocks along the foreshore of the Myall River or walk out onto one of the many sandflats.

Hawks Nest is relatively flat, so walking from where you are staying to the local shops, or beach is usually less than one kilometre. However, over about 300 metres many prefer a bike.

Bring your own bike or hire one locally to explore Hawks Nest, Tea Gardens, Winda Woppa and Mungo Brush – we even met a group that did a cycling day trip to Buladelah and back – quite a trip.

There are a range of walking tracks throughout the area that enable you to see local flora and fauna, and of course you could always just walk the beach!

Hawks Nest Golf Club is a popular getaway for golfers from both Sydney and Newcastle. Bring your own clubs, or hire them, you can hire golf buggies here too. This is an 18 hole course that runs from behind the sand dunes to the north of the township and is a great way to experience nature by way of kangaroos, koala’s and birds.

The club has regular functions throughout the holiday season and on weekends, and you can sign up to be a social member for just $11 bringing discounts on food and drink purchases too.

Dolphin/Whale and Nature Cruises
Catching sight of dolphins is possible even from the beaches, however for something more organised give a boat a go.

Not only do ferries operate between Tea Gardens/Hawks Nest and Nelsons Bay, on the other side of Port Stephens, there are dedicated Dolphin and Whale watching cruises that operate barring stormy weather.

There are also cruises that operate up the Myall River system, or you can bring your own boat, or hire one and do the cruise yourself too.

Holiday options
Hawks Nest really is a family destination, the town is fairly flat and you see dozens of families making the daily walk or cycle to and from the beach. Saying that, it’s also an area full of adventure and one perfect for a couples or group getaway.

When to go?
Seriously, any time of year is good here – particularly for the fishing, golf and cruises. Summer is busies, especially in the school holidays, when the township swells with the addition of over 2000 holidaymakers, still, it seems to cope. Get down to the bakery early in the summer months though, or you might miss out.

How to get there?
Follow the Pacific Highway north of Sydney along the F1 and at the end of the freeway turn towards Raymond Terrace/Hexham, you go over the bridge to the north of Newcastle and continue on through Heatherbrae following the highway north of Karuah. The turnoff to Hawks Nest/Tea Gardens is about 20 minutes north of Heatherbrae and then just a short 10 minutes to the coast.

How long to go for?
Hawks Nest is an easy weekend trip from Sydney or Newcastle – in the summer you could leave after work and still get here before sundown. Many regulars do this for golf and fishing weekends.

If you’ve not been here before allow at least a week, although there is plenty to keep you busy for 2 or 3 weeks or more.

Tourist Information
There are a great range of affordable restaurants and eateries in the Hawks Nest/Tea Gardens’ area, from local Chinese, the Golf Club and Pub to a suite of waterfront seafood restaurants. More than enough to keep you entertained.

There is a tourist information centre at Tea Gardens for Hawks Nest, Tea Gardens, the Myall Lakes and Port Stephens.

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