Cruising NSW: Port Stephens – Toowoon Bay

Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
Trip End Nov 15, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Friday, February 24, 2012

Wow! Where do we go after the spending time at the adorable hamlet of Seal Rocks?  We were getting closer to Sydney and places were becoming more and more commercial again.  We were keen to spend time around Port Stephens however we didn't want to be right in the hub of it.

Finally deciding on a park at Lemon Tree Passage, we were rewarded with a fabulous location right alongside Tilligerry Creek.  As with so many places on our journey along the coast the water had been affected by the heavy rains and the normally crystal clear waters were now a dark shade of brown.  Whilst initially we were keen to drop the kayaks in for a paddle we found that it was just a little too windy, honestly, we swear it had nothing to do with the documentary we watched on bull sharks frequenting the area!

We hadn’t long arrived when we noticed a sign off to the right of the park indicating a 'Koala Boardwalk’ and having already found a koala perched high in a tree behind our site it wasn’t long before we were off in search of more koalas.  Not far along the track a fury little creature caught our attention, sitting nice and low in the tree we were able to have a clear view of him. Not only was this a great walk in which to spot koalas but in general as it followed the edge of the creek to the marina and the main part of the village.

Lemon Tree Passage was a great base for exploring the Port Stephens area.  We fell in love with Fingal Bay, such a gorgeous little secluded bay where we couldn’t resist walking around to the sand bar which at low tide makes access to the headland possible.  We hugged the coast driving around through the bays of Shoal, Nelson and Salamander before stopping at Soldier Point for some lunch.  We were pleased to find that the area had not become as built up as we had expected and was still delightfully casual. 

At our camp we were thrilled to be surrounded by nature, watching the tide roll in while Kookaburras swooped down on unsuspecting worms, tall trees stretching northward, their dark green foliage rustling softly in the breeze.  We couldn’t even complain when we were woken during the night by the grunting and hissing of the koalas, we just loved it.

Toowoon Bay on the Central Coast was our next port of call (so to speak) and our time here was all about family.  We had arranged to meet both my sisters and their families here to celebrate our grandmothers 98th birthday.  All living in different states (and territories) we don’t often get the chance to get together so what better excuse than a birthday, and a very special one at that.  Our grandmother is the most delightful of ladies.  Warm, gentle and generous of heart, she has always had such a positive influence in our lives and we all feel so privileged to have her in our lives.

So here we all were on the central coast.  The site we had at Toowoon Bay was a cracker, perched atop the headland with views over the beach, along the coast and out to sea, a Norfolk Island Pine sitting to one side, it was picture perfect.  My sisters, Tiffany and Louise along with their families had an apartment a few minutes away.  It too had superb views and having a massive deck was the perfect place to meet and have dinner.  At low tide we could also walk along the beach to the apartment which made for a great start to the day as it involved walking around a couple of calm little bays, over an outcrop of smooth flat rocks and past inviting sea baths.

Grans birthday was celebrated with a picnic lunch at one of her favourite waterfront reserves.  Whilst it was a little windy the sun came out and glistened across the water making for a lovely scene as the pelicans and seagulls hovered in the hope of a hand out.  It was really nice to have our nephews and nieces together along with my sisters and brother in law.  The day seemed to pass by so quickly, before we knew it we had sung Happy Birthday (we would like to apologise to anyone who may have been in earshot at the time!), Gran had cut the cake and it was time to pack up. 

On our last night at Toowoon Bay the weather turned and there was the most amazing storm.  Perched atop the headland we had front row seats as the sheets of lightning cracked across the ocean and the thunder roared with such grunt that the earth trembled below us.  During the early hours of the morning the wind really picked up and our awning was taking a thrashing.  We had no choice but to brave the storm and go outside to roll it in before it was ripped from its hinges.  The rain was torrential and we stepped out of the van into ankle deep water, in no time we were both saturated.  All we could do was laugh and after drying off we drifted back to sleep with the heavy rain pounding the roof of the van.

For our last stopover north of Sydney we backtracked slightly to visit our dear friends Di and Paul in East Maitland.  Having purchased an amazing house built in 1847 and steeped in history we were not only keen to catch up with them but to see their new home.

We felt the magic even as we passed through the gates of Englefield, the stories it must hold within its boundries are priceless.  As Di gave us the grand tour our eyes couldn’t help but dance around each room, so full of interest and intrigue.  Thick stone walls, high decorative ceilings, intricate cedar woodwork, large fireplaces, add to this a few dazzling chandeliers and you get the picture of the grandeur.  Di and Paul have a knack for putting things together and they have really done the home justice filling it with exquisite antiques and wares that fit with the heritage of the building. 

Our guest room was magnificent with a large open fire place, high ceilings beautiful cedar woodwork and furnished with antiques… The soft furnishings were so luxurious with an array of textures, crisp white linen softened with pastel pinks, however it wasn’t until we crawled into bed that we truly appreciated the luxuriousness of the bedclothes… how can we ever get back in the caravan?!

During our days at Englefield Di kindly showed us around the local area.  On one of these occasions with Paul unfortunately feeling poorly Rod was left to fly solo with the girls as we headed out to the Hunter Valley Wineries.  It was a glorious day, the sun was out in force and it was just perfect weather for the convertible.  So here we were cruising the wineries in this most gorgeous black Saab, sinking deep into the soft cream leather seats, the wind in our hair and Katie Perry booming through the speakers, we couldn’t help but smile, Rod was having a ball!

Our evenings were spent chatting over bubbly as the sun faded and night took hold, every meal was an event, with Di being such a fabulous and talented cook, it once again highlighted my famed kitchen paralysis.  Each night we dined in the formal dining room (which was about three times the size of our caravan), candelabras creating a soft ambiance, silverware clinking on the gorgeous china plates as we savoured every mouthful. 

Along with catching up with Paul and Di we were also so happy when we got the chance to catch up with their daughters Kate and Sarah as well.  They have both grown into the most delightful ladies and as always it was a pleasure to spend time with them. (Thanks for the hair cut Sarah!)

All good things must come to an end and it was time to continue our journey south.  After another mouthwatering breakfast we packed the van, (trying to sneak Missy the dog in as well but she wouldn’t be in it – maybe she knows about my cooking!) and before we knew it we were saying goodbye.

-          Thank you Paul and Di for your hospitality, as always it was fantastic to spend time with you both, nothing beats good company and sharing bubbles with friends!

Highlights Port Stephens to Toowoon Bay:

-          Koalas… so cute!

-          Lemon Tree Passage a lovely tranquil location

-          Spending time with our adorable grandmother

-          Catching up with Tiffany, Louise and their families

-          Our camp at Toowoon Bay

-          Spending time with our other family… the Scherrs and staying in their new abode

-          Sharing bubbles with friends!
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Kym on

Hi folks, Rod I was intrigued by the comment that wind was going through your hair whilst in the SAAB. What hair were you talking about and can you explain how you were sitting to achieve this

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