A Whale of a Day in Port Stevens

Today I was off on an adventure with no idea it would include camels, mountains, and a whale or two. Earlier this week, one of the professors at the university asked if I had plans this weekend. When I said I didn’t, she offered to make some for me and would pick me up on Saturday. As I am always up for an adventure, I said sure and was ready to go bright and early today.

We left Newcastle and headed up towards Port Stevens. Heather told me that many people from Sydney like to vacation in Port Stevens in the summer so we would be enjoying the offseason. We took the scenic route up to Port Stevens and stopped in Lemon Tree Passage for morning tea. We went to a little park to allow her two kids time to stretch their legs and have a quick snack. It was a cute little park complete with sea gulls to chase and a couple sleeping pelicans. The pelicans here are strange looking to me. North Carolina has brown pelicans and Florida has white pelicans. Australian pelicans are also white but so are their beaks so it looks like they’ve faded from too long in the sun as you can see here.

Once morning tea was finished, we left the park we headed out to Birubi Point. The beach is backed by the larges, contiguous sand dunes in the southern hemisphere. According to their website: “the Worimi Conservation Lands form the largest sand dune system in Australia, covering an area of 4,200 hectares”. That’s a lot of sand. For those of you who know me well, you know I’m not a big fan of sand but I wanted to check them out anyway.

They were beautiful and people were enjoying them in a variety of ways. Some people were in giant dune trucks. Others were in little dune buggies or going sand boarding. And still others were traveling by camel. Check out the sand and camels:

We spent a little time exploring the beach and the tide pools. Like many water babies I know, it was hard to keep the kids out of the ocean once we were there. However, a bribe of ice cream seemed to work pretty well. So we left the beach and headed into town. We had been given a recommendation of a little Italian deli that made great gelato but it appeared closed. So we went to the Sandyfoot Cafe for a quick lunch before heading off to climb a mountain!

Mount Tomaree

Mount Tomaree is located in Tomaree National Park. It came highly recommended for us to try today. The trail starts off easy enough and was quite lovely.

However, to get to the summit, you have to climb several stair cases and a bunch of steps.

Even so, we were up for the challenge. It is quite a beautiful trip up the mountain. There is a side trail you can take to see some old gun placements but we were on a bit of a schedule so we just headed to the top. The kids were troopers and made it all the way to the summit. The views were gorgeous:

From the other side, you could actually see where the water coming from the bay was mixing with that from the ocean. There’s a dark line and the water from the bay is some what brownish to the left.

It was a lovely view. In fact, they have it set up so you can do a Google Map Tour of the summit. So if my photos aren’t enough to tide you over, you can check that out here. We were able to see a lighthouse from the top as well as several secret beaches I’d love to have time to check out.

However, we had to leave Mount Tomaree and head to Nelson Bay to catch a boat. So we raced back down the mountain and sped off down the road.

Whale Watching

We didn’t really speed as the marina was just a couple kilometers down the road. Heather was nice enough to book us on a whale watching cruise for today. She had never been on one before and this was finally the push she needed to head out. We went out on the Envision. It was a nice sized, red boat. Big enough to get us out there quickly but not full of people. There were just 3 groups of 4 people each on board. There were even some other kids to make friends with. We left the docks and headed out towards the ocean. We passed the cafe, Mount Tomaree, and some of the islands I had been eyeing. With in just a few short minutes we had found whales. This is the very first photo I got:

No kidding. We were fortunate to see several whales breaching. We also saw lots of exhalations and spouts of water shot into the air as they cleared their blowholes. A couple even “waved” at the boat:

We also got some tail action.

This time of year, the most common whale is the Humpback (my nephew’s favorite, living animal). Several people told me it was not uncommon for me to see one from the Memorial Bridge like I did on my Newcastle Adventure.

We spent a good amount of time with the whales before heading into the bay to look for “seals”. They were really sea lions and they were enjoying some afternoon sun.

The sea lions were very lazy with only one sitting up long enough to yawn.

So we ventured further out in search of dolphins. Unfortunately, the dolphins must have had a date elsewhere because we weren’t able to find any. However, we were treated to a lovely sunset.

So we headed back into shore and ended our adventure with a little more time at the playground. It was a great day at the coast. Super thanks to Heather for the wonderful day. Have you been on a whale watching cruise before? Were you lucky enough to see any?

You can click on any of the photos in the gallery to see them enlarged.

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