Making our way back to the ocean our road trip continued along the Central Coast of New South Wales. The Central Coast encompasses the area from Sydney to Newcastle in the north, beginning at the Hawkesbury River and stretching all the way up to the southern end of Lake Macquarie. The whole region is full of quaint little towns mixed into the natural bays, beaches, inlets, lakes and hinterland area, offering the perfect places to relax, unwind and slow down the pace.
From the Blue Mountains we made our way straight up to Port Stephens and the Anna Bay area. Port Stephens is the main town in the Anna Bay region, which is also made up of Fingal Bay, Shoal Bay, Nelson Bay and Salamander Bay. The whole area is full of deserted beaches at the end of tight four-wheel drive tracks with crystal clear water and spectacular views.
Here are some of the best things to do in Port Stephens and the surrounding area that you won’t want to miss.
Tomaree Head Summit Walk
Some of the best views of Port Stephens, Fingal Bay and Shark Island can be found at the summit in Tomaree National Park on the Head Summit Walk. The walk to the summit it’s too long, with the whole round trip only being 2.2 kilometres, but it is on a steep incline the whole way so be prepared.
The summit stands 161 metres above Port Stephens and provides outstanding views of the whole coastline. Between May and October it can be a great place to spot passing whales and dolphins so take some time out to relax and look over the ocean before heading back down. From the summit you can see views of Yacaaba Head, Cabbage Tree, Boondelbah and Broughton Islands from the North platform and Zenith, Wreck and Box Beaches and Fingal Island from the South platform.
Tomaree Head Summit || Parking at Zenith Beach Carpark on Shoal Bay Road
One of the best ways to explore Anna Bay is to just pull into any dirt or sand track that looks big enough to fit a car and see what you find at the end. This is how we found Little Rocky.
It was a complete accident, but is definitely one of our favourite places to have ever stumbled across. I will do a complete post on Little Rocky next because I love the pictures and want to share about it in a little more detail, so make sure you check out that post in the next couple of days for a full breakdown!
Two kilometres off Gan Gan Road is Sumuari Beach. At the end of yet another 4X4 track around Anna Bay is a secluded bay of water that happily allows driving on the sand of the beach. Samurai Beach is also a national park and a cheeky clothing optional beach. So be prepared, there will be nudists around!
Samurai Beach is also a perfect option for beach camping. The beach itself is a beautiful pocket of soft flat sand and gentle small waves kissing the shores. Cars happily drive around the shore with ease, enjoying the wonderful sense of freedom that beach driving offers and is foreign to people from Melbourne like us!
At the far end of the beach, keeping to themselves you may find a nudist colony enjoying the warm days with a BBQ and music. For those of you who prefer a more modest approach to beaches Samurai beach probably isn’t for you, but if you don’t care about a little nudity it can provide a much quieter alternative to Stockton Beach and a great place to spend the day!
Gan Gan Hill Lookout
A little easier to get to than the Tomaree Head Summit is Gan Gan Lookout, which is known to be Port Stephens’ highest and most accessible lookout, offering views of the whole of Port Stephens all the way to Myall Lakes in the north and Newcastle in the south.
It feels like the views from this lookout extend forever in every direction, with new upgrades adding an additional viewing platform to the south and even wheelchair accessibility.
Gan Gan Hill Lookout || Lily Hill Road, Nelson Bay
You could spend days getting lost on the sand tracks and discovering secret beaches along this part of the Central New South Wales Coast. To make the most of this dynamic region make sure you give yourself enough time to really explore everything it has to offer.
If four wheel driving and exploring isn’t really your thing, there are also countless easy to access beaches to kick back and relax on and enjoy the long summer days. Make sure you also try some local seafood from the area, you can’t get any fresher!
To find out more about the Central Coast of New South Wales, make sure you check out the Port Stephens tourism website.
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