Home' Hunter Its People : Hunter Our Backyard June 2011 Contents 44
scattering of offshore islands.
The mainland has impressive places to visit
including native flora gardens and the Tilligerry
Habitat Activity Centre, which offers guided
The aquatic reserves in and around Port
Stephens are unparalled not only for their
beauty, but their variety and the ease with
which they can be accessed. Fly Point and
Halifax Park are great spots for scuba diving.
The Blue Water Country Music Festival is a
week-long event in June in many venues across
the area, featuring country music, cruises, bus
tours, bush poets, boot scooting and square
Port Stephens Mayor Bob Westbury says the
whole area offers a ''treasured lifestyle''.
''It is something I know people do not take for
granted,'' says Westbury, who first moved to the
area 16 years ago. ''It is something we need to
nuture, this environment, and particularly so
for our children so they can enjoy it all.''
NO matter what phrases are used to
describe the sheltered bay of Port
Stephens, the word ''paradise'' seems to
Blue water paradise, water lover's paradise,
angler's paradise -- not to mention ''stunning
marine wonderland'' -- ensure this oasis within
an easy drive of most parts of the region has the
best possible light shone on it.
Why shouldn't it? The dolphin capital of
Australia has plenty going for it, just ask the
crowds who swarm to the location year round.
The lifestyle is so appealing it is not just
visitors who take advantage of the abundance
of aquatic and land activities, it's a popular
destination for retirees and those wanting
second or holiday homes.
Its proximity to Sydney, just two-and-half-
hours drive away, means an influx of tourists,
particularly during holiday season, and the
area has risen to the call with no end of things
to see and do, whether it's diving head first into
natural splendour or taking part in the many
and varied activities on offer.
More than 85 per cent of the population lives
in towns and suburbs on or near the southern
shores of the port, with most people within three
kilometres of the water.
Raymond Terrace, in a predominately rural
area with semi-rural and new residential
developments, is also in the local government
area, with most of its population around its
shopping and business districts.
This area also lays claim to providing the
region with its major source of fresh water from
the man-made Grahamstown Dam, which has a
131,800 megalitre capacity.
Parts of Port Stephens, particularly Raymond
Terrace, are on the main route north and
traffic once flowed through the town centre,
only changing in 1998 when a by-pass diverted
traffic to the Pacific Highway.
State Emergency Services local controller
Alan Williams, who has lived in Port Stephens
for most of his life and attended Nelson Bay
High, believes the area is of ''great natural
beauty which provides a country feel but with a
"I love living in Port Stephens. It offers you
an opportunity to be central to some of the best
beaches in Australia and within 40 minutes of
some of the best vineyards in the world.
''The people are friendly, inviting and very
accepting -- you always feel welcome. Even if you
don't live here, when you visit, it's like coming
home,'' says Williams, who has been the local
controller since 1998 and was awarded the
Emergency Services Medal for distinguished
service to the State Emergency Service, Road
Crash Rescue and Traffic Offenders programs at
this year's Australia Day ceremony.
One of the reasons the location has become
popular is because it is home to creatures of
the deep that are rare to see in other places.
Port Stephens has the tag of ''dolphin capital of
Australia'' thanks to 140 bottlenose dolphins
that make their home in the waters of the
bay. There are plenty of chances to see these
wondrous mammals as dolphin cruises run
regularly, not only for dolphins but to see
whales, as it is the premier spotting area along
the NSW coast.
Fleets of fishing boats and pleasure craft are
a common and picturesque sight in the bays.
Anglers can hire boats to explore the waters and
reefs or customise fishing trips with deep-sea
The area caters for its seasonal population
boost with any number of accommodation
venues from hotels, motels, serviced and non-
serviced apartments, caravan parks, flats, units
and hostels. Restaurants, cafes and take-away
food shops, many with fabulous views of the
water, are dotted along busy sections of the
waterfront and shopping, particularly boutiques,
offers an appealing mix of merchandise.
The area has some impressive surf beaches
including One Mile Beach, the clothes-optional
and secluded Samurai Beach, and the majestic
sand dunes of Stockton Beach.
Tomaree National Park, a 20 km strip of
scenic, rocky coastline between Anna Bay and
Shoal Bay, is known for its easy bush walks
with spots for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking,
surfing and picnics, and Tomaree Headland
offers spectacular views of the bay and a
Paradise, says the dictionary, is heaven, the final abode of
the righteous. Around the Hunter it's called Port Stephens.
Run to paradise
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