In early November my friend Lana and I drove to Port Stephens to spend the weekend. It’s about two and a half hours from Sydney although on a Friday afternoon it took us almost two hours just to get OUT of Sydney. Mental note….leave at midday next time!
Port Stephens serves a range of travellers – from the family group, to the corporate group, to lovers. Lana and I don’t fit any of those categories so I’ll add another: laughing, happy girlfriends. Here’s a rundown of what we got up to:
At first glance, parasailing seems like an extreme sport. In reality, it is quite the opposite. Yes, you’re held up quite high in the sky by a giant piece of fabric and a few ropes, but the feeling up there is surprisingly serene. It’s quiet and the views are spectacular. We went with Port Stephens Watersports.
Merretts Restaurant at The Anchorage is off the hook. It is here that I tasted one of the most exquisitely presented and delicious dishes in my life: Confit duck Kromeski, Jerusalem artichoke veloute, parsley gel and apple smoke. This restaurant is reason alone to make the trip. The flavours had Lana and I in shock. Lana even texted her Mum to share the moment.
Another delicious meal was at Catch Restaurant at Shoal Bay Resort & Spa where I had the seared scallops with pear, chorizo and roquette salad. Divine! Greg from the resort showed us around the housing and accommodation site beforehand and we were pretty much ready to give him an offer and move into one of the apartments. Oh, to wake up to those views every day….
3) The beer
We had lunch at Murray’s Brewery on the Sunday and the food was not only tasty, but very well presented. We also tasted a few beers, including an annual Halloween Spiced Pumpkin one.
4) The clouds
I’m a little obsessed with clouds, and Port Stephens did not disappoint my infatuation. The wilderness of a brewing storm against the water made for many beautiful pictures.
5) Dolphin watching
On Saturday we went on an afternoon dolphin cruise with Tamboi Queen Cruises to explore the bay and hope for a sighting. We were lucky and found a small pod who were playing together right in front of us. Most humans love dolphins but Lana’s adoration is next level – she was in heaven.
We had a tour of a stunning luxury yacht, ‘Champagne on Ice’. In addition to fully customisable private events, Blue Water Sailing host luxury cruises, team building events and corporate sailing. Donna told us that some groups don’t even go sailing, they just sit on the yacht, eat lobster and drink champagne. Don’t mind if I do!
7) The friendly locals
Throughout our short visit we encountered many lovely people who made us feel at home. One of them was Angela from Aqua Blu Bistro and Bar. We had lunch and a glass of wine here on the Saturday between parasailing and dolphin watching. Aqua Blu is located right next the marina where all these activities depart from.
I was more nervous about sand-boarding than parasailing, but the scariest moment of the entire trip was when the 4WD we were travelling in went down a sand slope that felt almost vertical. Yes, Lana and I both screamed at this roller-coaster experience!
We went sand-boarding with Port Stephens 4WD who first gave us a little tour of the sand dune area, told us how some of the sand is sent to Hawaii and showed us the remains of whale bones. Then, it was time to sand-board. And yes, I’ll be doing that again!