Port Stephens: A one-stop shop to immerse in the outdoor Aussie lifestyle

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AUSTRALIA boasts glamorous cities, exclusive resorts, and elegant fine dining. But some of the best experiences of a holiday down under are those involving the outdoors. You don’t have to go to the outback though.

The area of Port Stephens is only a couple of hours drive north of Sydney but is a perfect getaway for those looking to experience the alfresco Aussie lifestyle without the rigmarole of camping. Here’s what’s in store for the (even mildly) adventurous.

Four-wheeled fun

Every other vehicle you see in these parts is of the four-wheeled variety. Take one cruising on the sands of Stockton Beach where 32km of white dunes provide ample opportunity for your own beach barbecue away from it all.

If your transport is less robust, take an organized tour, a camel ride, a quad bike, or even a sand board to appreciate the desert-like wilderness.

For a more local experience, take a bumpy drive through the bush to the stunning Samurai Beach, a nudist hangout and a fabulous spot for a bit of topless cycling or bottomless fishing.

Water wonderland

Port Stephens is blessed with 26 beaches which means a lot of crystal blue waters to wallow in. You’ll be surprised how often you have whole swathes of sand to yourself. There is excellent diving and snorkeling at Little Beach.

Birubi Point is good for catching a break and if you’re surfing at One Mile Beach, don’t miss the kiosk’s awesome burger. Nelsons Bay is the central hub for the region and boasts a delightful marina where many boat charters will take you out on the high seas to spot dolphins and humpback whales.

Learn sailing, kayaking, jets skiing or deep sea fishing here and you’ll probably spot a few for yourself.

Walk on the wild side

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Bushwalking (basically the act of perambulating anywhere without concrete) is a highlight of any trip to this region. Potter up to the Lighthouse where you can keep one eye on the ocean and the other on your excellent eggs Benedict at Inner Light Tea Rooms.

There are many trails in the area so pack a picnic and a swimming costume and you’ll easily feel like you’re in the wilderness in minutes. You’re sure to encounter a bit of local wildlife such as huge monitor lizards or koalas lazing in gum trees.

Hunt and gather

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There are numerous touristy seafood restaurants at the marina in Nelson’s Bay but give those a miss and head to Holbert’s Oyster Farm where you can enjoy super fresh prawns and oysters with a chilled bottle of chardonnay at picnic tables overlooking the water.

If you’re not a fish fan then visit local markets for home grown macadamias, figs, olives, avocados and craft beers and chow down at a quintessential Aussie “sausage sizzle”. If it all gets a bit too outdoorsy, indulge in some waterside fine dining at Little Beach Boathouse.