“ Country: Australia / World Region: Australasia / Pacific „
I'd never heard of Port Stephens or neighbouring Nelson Bay, but we were limiting ourselves to New South Wales on our first visit to Australia, and the travel company we initially planned to use offered it as a destination for dolphin watching. We ended up ditching the company (Austravel - complete waste of space) and doing it all independently, but the idea of ending on a day of dolphin watching still appealed. We stayed at a hotel called Salamander Shores. It was a bog standard resort hotel, but with a few obvious advantages: you could book dolphin cruise packages, and they had gardens which attract flocks of parrots. This was exceptionally cool. Port Stephens is up the coast from Sydney, and has lovely beaches and lots of forests which are home to Koalas. They can be quite difficult to see, and almost a whole day wandering through various reserves and seeing none. Then, at the end of the day, we just went for a walk in a little group of trees, and there was one, sitting there, wedging itself in some branches to get a better look at us. There are some wildlife parks in the area, but the thrill of finding the animals beats seeing one in a pen. Besides, we just took a picnic to a beautiful desert beach and ate with about twelve inquisitive pelicans. Some of the most delightful critters are very widespread. As far as the dolphin watching at Nelson Bay went, they claim that more than 90% of visitors see them; we went out on a beautiful sunny afternoon, and saw a few dolphins popping out of the water, considering ourselves quite lucky. But at least a hundred dolphins live in the bay, and we kept circling. Suddenly, the sea erupted and there were dolphins everywhere, evidently attracted by the boat, and they thrashed around and jumped and swam around us for ages. This experience is one I will never forget, though my photographs of the event are a bit interminable for people who weren't there. So, I would say that anyone who ha
s a spare day or so while in Sydney should really consider driving up there. There aren't lots of shops and nightlife is mainly some nice seafood restaurants on by the bay (the fish is out of the sea and onto your plate). It's very relaxed and the beaches were virtually empty on bright sunny days, but the dolphins are just incredible.
"Port Stephens is a large coastal inlet, located about 190 kilometers north of Sydney. It is larger than Sydney Harbour and has a narrow entrance between two striking hills of volcanic origin. The harbour is mostly shallow and sandy but contains sufficient deep water to accommodate large vessels; the Queen Mary docked there during World War II. It is excellent for fishing and recreational boating."