As cool weather rolls in and the big crowds move on, the scene is set for some very special food escapes to Port Stephens – where the order of the day on our coastal food trail and local menus is sublime small-farm produce, artisan beer and our famous Port Stephens Seafood - all enjoyed straight from the source!
Take a day drive and discover flavours of the coast road, touring the farm-gates and food producers of local villages like Bob’s Farm and Anna Bay. Pack a picnic and watch for migrating whales – perhaps beachside at beautiful Birubi, or above the action, on Tomaree Head Summit.
Stay for a few days and indulge in adventurous new food experiences, meet local legends of the Port Stephens food scene and enjoy world-class dining in spectacular settings! Winter is when you’ll find great value accommodation deals and food adventures on offer, for a delicious mid-week break.
The coastal villages of Port Stephens are a pleasant 2 ½ hour drive out of Sydney. Stop and revive riverside at Raymond Terrace with a short walk along the river and a visit to King Street Confectionery - a treasure trove of handmade chocolate & old-fashioned sweets in a heritage shopfront.
Step back in time at King Street Confectionery.
An authentic taste of Port Stephens starts with knowing our local growers and artisan foodies. Salty sweet Anna Bay Tomatoes, fragrant figs from Sam’s Fig & Olive Grove, creamy Bob’s Farm Avocadoes and moorish raw, roasted, chilli-spiced or toffeed nuts from Medowie Macadamias are among locally grown delights, unique to the port. Detour down Marsh Road for an experience of farm-fresh barra, dining out on the deck over lily ponds teaming with big barramundi – about as close to food-source as you can get! Pop-into nearby Murrays Brewery for a taste of their Port Stephens Whale Ale, among 10 distinctive craft brews on tap.
Be it a 'Whale Ale' or an 'Angry Man' Murray's has the right beer for any taste...
Just down the road at Anna Bay, artisan pasta makers Pasta Di Porto have turned family heirloom recipes and fresh local produce into an art form - with more than 80 medals to show for it! And on the third Sunday of every month, you’ll find local farmers and foodies at the local Spectrum Farmers & Artisan Market in a serene garden setting.
We LOVE our fresh seafood. Local fisheries, foodies and oyster growers share the love at our Love Seafood festival in August. A real winter treat, to the fruits of the sea, here at the source, in the company of local growers and food identities.
Oyster season is at its peak in the heart of winter so a feast of plump local oysters is a must! You won’t find fresher than the oysters shucked to order, straight from the rack, at Holberts Oyster Farm in Cromarty Bay where the bar is tended by fifth generation Holbert family growers.
August is the month to celebrate the coastal cuisine
Second only to oysters, the local love of lobster, sweet and fleshy, they are a staple on local menus and abundant in our pristine waters, according to Bob Monin whose family have fished these seas for more than 60 years. You’ll find local lobster among the fresh daily-catch displayed at the Monin’s Nelson Bay Fish Market on D’Albora Marina – right where the fishing boats come in.
Relaxed eateries with spectacular vistas are a local dining specialty! Experience the magic of a fiery sunset from the overwater deck of Little Beach Boathouse; have breakfast with the whales at Crest on Birubi Beach, where it's rare not to spot migrating whales in winter, over hot coffee and Boston beans; or walk the beachfront to The Hemmingway Bar at The Anchorage on dusk for a decadent 5pm whisky tasting and antipasto platter with breathtaking views over the water.
The Hemmingway Bar at The Anchorage the perfect spot day and night.
Winter is the best time to experience the new garden of local wine bar/cafés without jostling for a table! Evviva (Italian for ‘cheers’) is a great place to bunker down after a day of exploring the peninsula and savor some local reds with imaginative tapas-style grazing plates – like the brioche of local lobster and king prawn. A hidden gem is The Little Nel, tucked away beneath The Nelson Resort - popular for its barista-made local espresso roast and flair for ever-evolving fresh-local-produce-driven dishes. The focus is on local, seasonal flavours for pub favourites done exceptionally well at The Seabreeze Hotel, bringing a Santa Monica vibe to the port with its vibrant contemporary interior that opens out to bay views.
Another East Coast icon since 1934 is Shoal Bay Country Club where it’s all about the beachfront location – just made for a lazy afternoon glass of wine, straight off the beach or something more substantial by the massive, alfresco fireplace. Hot-spots for sweet-tooths include Essence Espresso for its country-style cakes and key-lime tart, brownies, blondies and chunky bickies – all hand-made, in-house!
Right down to good old-fashioned fish & chips, dining at Port Stephens is a destination experience that hinges on producer-to-plate freshness of the local product! Catch a 10:30 am fish-feeding frenzy at D’Albora Marina then stroll to Bay Harbour Café at the end of the wharf to select local fish, straight from the trawlers, grilled or wrapped in crisp golden batter with lashings of chips! Our resident pod of wild dolphins playing in the harbour and bold pelicans at arms length are all part of the experience.
If your mouth is watering for a delicious mid-week mini-break, NOW is the time to indulge in several gourmet-days away at Port Stephens.