Referred to by Sir Edward Parry, A. A. Co. Commissioner, as Nelson’s Bay. Origin of name controversial. Possibly named in tribute to Admiral Sir Haratio Nelson or perhaps in memory of the boat the "Lady Nelson", in which Governor Macquarie travelled to Port Stephens. Historical points of interest include the original site of the old fishermen’s co-operative and wharf, the Laman Street lamp, the former Methodist Church, the old post master’s cottage in Apex Park, the Seabreeze Hotel site and the cemetery which was dedicated in 1882.
Nelson Bay is the place to be to take advantage of the many restaurants and cafes, fantastic marina and great boutique shopping.
Enjoy one of the many Watercraft vessels that explore the wonderful Port, whether it be a dolphin cruise, (to have a chance to see some of the 160 Bottlenose Dolphins that are residents), a whale watch or a ferry ride to various destinations around the bay.
Desire a thrill? Take a jet ski for a fast and furious spin over the bay waters or ride in an Extreme Jet Boat that will skim the pristine waters of the bay faster than you have ever seen them before!
Want to be one with nature? Take a leisurely kayak tour, on the glistening waters, and you may find you will be accompanied by a pod of dolphins.
Walk to the Inner Light House Tea Rooms for a coffee to take in the amazing view or pop into the Maritime Museum for a touch of heritage, better still obtain the Heritage Walking Map from the Visitors Centre and explore the Port’s history.
Alternatively, walk through Apex Park onto Dutchies Beach where you can enjoy an undercover BBQ or explore on to Bagnall’s Beach, and yes…. your dog can run free on this bay beach!
Feeling lazy? Drive to the top of Gan Gan Lookout for comprehensive views stretching to Tea Gardens.
Derivation of Hannah Bay, and so named according to tradition, in memory of a boat "The Hannah", which was alleged to have been wrecked there. Birubi Point Cemetery and a conical shaped well standing on land owned in the late 1800s by a pioneer called William Eagleton, are two historical interest points in the area.
The departure point of our sand tours where you will discover the 32 km of shifting sand dunes leading down to Stockton. Try a 1-hour sand boarding tour, or a 2-hour discovery tour taking you to Tin City, where they filmed Mad Max. As an option, tour southwards until you uncover the Sygna Shipwreck from 1974, 23 kms south of Anna Bay.
If you have your own 4WD then obtain a beach permit and create your own sand adventure safari entering the enormous stretch of beach at the Anna Bay point or alternatively at Lavis Lane, at Williamtown.
If you are into extreme fun, use a quad bike to discover the dunes on a guided 2-hour tour from the Lavis Lane, Williamtown or for a unique experience, ride on a camel along Stockton Beach
Originally called False Bay. The entrance was often in days of sail and steam mistaken for the entrance into Port Stephens.
The Fingal Spit offers the explorer in all of us, the challenge to cross to Fingal Island to be lead by island tracks to the Outer Lighthouse Ruins. Experience the elements of years gone by and view the Port from a breathtaking angle, as you enjoy a bushwalk like no other you have done. Don’t forget the challenge to return to the mainland before the Port seas rise!
Supposedly named by Governor Lachlan Macquarie because of the sand shoals that exist there.
Offering one of the best walks in the bay, Tomaree Headland walks are located at the far end of Shoal Bay beach. Giving 360-degree views of the Port, this walk will take approx 30-45minutes depending on your individual fitness level, but well worth the walk. Shoal Bay is also well known for its wonderful al fresco dining and great accommodation properties offering spectacular bay views to unwind on your getaway. Hire a bike, possibly a tandem bike, to enjoy the great bike tracks leading to Fingal Bay where you can gaze over to Fingal Spit or enjoy a refreshment on one of our most beautiful, protected and patrolled beaches.
SOLDIERS POINT & SALAMANDER BAY
Soldiers Point was named after the Corporal’s Guard once stationed there. Site of Cromarty land grant. Formerly called Friendship Point. Salamander Bay was named after the Salamander, the first boat to enter the Port. Once proposed as site for naval base and for heavy industry. Mrs Cromatry’s grave situated in Seaview Crescent and Johnny’s Well can be seen near the Salmander Hotel.
Watch the magnificent sunset over the Bay from a beautiful bay beach location or restaurant sipping on a cool drink or warm coffee. Great location for that special dining experience at two fine dining restaurants or for that special occasion. If sailing and boating is your thing, Soldiers Point is a great place to launch the boat and take to the Bay!!!
LEMON TREE PASSAGE & TANILBA BAY
It is a unique area with its own special history, flora and fauna attractions. The first settlers on the Tilligerry, the Caswells at Tanilba House, were granted the land in 1831. Mallabula, “Three Swamps” in Aboriginal, was a collection of fishing huts on the foreshore and near the jetty until the 1960’s. Lemon Tree Passage, originally called Kooindah or “Clear Water” by the Aboriginals, was renamed because of the lemon groves found by early visitors to the area. Tanilba Bay, means “Place of White Flowers”, - assumed to be the flannel flowers that used to thrive everywhere prior to the land being extensively cleared for farming.
Tilligerry Habitat Reserve is the best place to discover koalas in a natural habitat, enjoy a 2-hour guided tour and bush tucker talk or take a self guided walk. It is a haven for koalas due to it being so densely wooded.
Tanilba Bay is the location of one of Port Stephens most historic homesteads, Tanilba House. The convict-built home was constructed in the 1830s for Royal Navy Lieutenant William Caswell, who was given a grant of land at Tanilba Bay as reward for his services to the Crown. It is also believed to be the Port’s only haunted house. The story goes that Lt Caswell employed a nanny to help his wife look after their young children, and it is the ghost of the nanny who has been seen on many occasions near the small bedroom she once occupied. The home is now privately-owned and is still occupied. It is not a grand home in the style of English country mansions, but because it has changed very little since it was built, it gives the visitor a fascinating insight and an accurate idea of how early, relatively wealthy Australians lived a century and a half ago. Tanilba House (circa 1832) will transport you back to the early days of Port Stephens so you can experience the feel of yesteryear!
WILLIAMTOWN / SALT ASH
Newcastle Airport is located here, hosting a great range of airlines. There are flights departing and arriving from Newcastle Airport on a daily basis and is just a 25min drive from Port Stephens with many transport options.
Willamtown & Salt Ash hold many of the Ports attractions from the Williamtown RAAF Base, Fighter World Museum, Oakvale Farm & Fauna World, Go Karts and the Shark & Ray Centre are all close by.
Lavis Lane at Williamtown is the southern end to enter, via 4WD, the spectacular Stockton Beach where you can discover the Sygna Wreck, Tin City and a collection of fishing shacks and World War II relics.
The European history of Raymond Terrace extends back to 1801, when Lt. Colonel William Paterson, sent by Governor King on an exploratory voyage, put ashore on the riverside and rested overnight in this precinct. A plaque marks the spot in Riverside Park. In 1812, again in 1818, and finally in 1821, Governor Macquarie visited this area via the rivers, using the term Raymond's Terrace in his 1818 journal. The original occupants of the land around the junction of the Hunter and Williams Rivers were the Worimi Tribe who roamed along the seaboard and the rivers, hunting and gathering food for their needs. They were deemed peaceful people who sometimes held corroborees within the town limits. They were unable however to build up immunity to the diseases brought in by the intruding white population, which helped to decimate their numbers during the 19th century.
Raymond Terrace has many fine examples of early settlement buildings and a detailed map can be purchased from the Raymond Terrace Historical Society.
Riverside Park is a very pleasant area with shade trees and shelters for a picnic or traveller's reviver beside the Hunter River, and is close to all the town amenities. It is the appropriate site for the well-attended local Australia Day celebrations.
Experience the beauty and diversity of tranquil landscaped gardens at the Hunter Regional Botanical Gardens display of over 2000 native plants. Enjoy bushwalks and theme gardens along with refreshments, Devonshire teas and gifts. Lakeside Park is a recently developed site adjacent to Grahamstown Dam. The Lakeside Leisure Centre consists of an outdoor 50 metre heated pool, an indoor heated leisure pool, kiosk/reception area and amenities plus a Ten Pin Bowling Alley.
The name Karuah is derived from an Aboriginal word. It has several possible meanings. These include ’Wild Plum’, ’Plenty Fish’, ’Big Water Hole’ and ‘Fast Flowing Water’. The Worimi tribe inhabitated the Karuah River Valley before European Settlement. The first contact of Port Stephens Aborigines with Europeans was in 1790, when five convicts escaped from Port Jackson. In 1816, a permit was first issued allowing cutting of cedar in the Port Stephens area. This timber trade increased rapidly with rosewood as well as cedar being felled. As this continued, new locations were sought. In this way, around 1870 Aliceton was formed on the east bank of the Karuah River. It consisted of a sawmill and a few houses for timber workers and fishermen. The first town block offered for sale was in May 1901 following the subdivision of Karuah. With increasing timber felling in the area, more blocks sold. Soon Karuah boasted a couple of shops, a new school and a local Progress Association.
The Karuah River provides a focus for recreational activities such as swimming, fishing and boating. Relax along the waterfront, in Longworth Park with its child's playground and picnic facilities, walk on the wharf or swim in the tidal pool.
Venture under the bridge to relax in Memorial Park or watch as the pelicans and anglers compete for space at the boat ramp. Karuah is often host to pods of dolphins as they cavort in their feeding grounds around the bridge and wharves.
Whilst at the waterfront, purchase succulent oysters from any of Karuah's world famous oyster farms, visit the mainstreet for a bite to eat or visit the Karuah Centre to purchase some local art and craft, have a chat to local people or take a gentle stroll through the wetlands to view the magnificent birdlife and waterlillies.