While writing this blog post I am filled with gratitude for the beautiful life that I live and the amazing opportunities and experiences that are thrown my way. Earlier this month i was lucky enough to spend 3 days exploring parts of NSW, more specifically around the Newcastle area with Destination NSW.
On Monday morning we drove up to the Hunter Valley Region from Sydney which is approximately a 90 minute drive (a really quick trip from Home which I love.) Blessed with beautiful sunny weather the drive is picturesque, especially when you come close to wine country with the lush rolling hills and vineyards. Breakfast this morning was at Nanna Kerr’s Kitchen which prides itself on it’s fresh and almost all organic cuisine! We ordered a whole array of food to try out all our favourites on the menu!
We then drove an hour up the road to the Sand Dune Adventures where we began our off road adventure. I was a little nervous about this part of the tour as the guides said that some of the dunes could be overwhelming if you’re afraid of heights (I AM VERY AFRAID OF HEIGHTS!!!). However, it was incredibly fun and only a touch challenging. We scaled some huge dunes on the 4 wheelers and then went sand boarding down the steep sides of the dunes! My shoes were definitely filled with sand by the end! [Fun Fact: Stockton Sand Dunes traditional land of the Worimi people and i was in absolute awe how striking and powerful the sand dunes were.]
By the time we finished our sand dune adventure the sun was almost setting, so we raced to Tomaree Mountain at the end of Shoal Bay to climb to the summit for sun set. We made it just in time to view the beautiful sunset over the ocean and mountains – very rewarding end to an amazing day. I definitely recommend wearing sports gear and a solid pair of shoes for this walk. Even though it’s paved most of the way, it’s still quite a tough walk, especially when you’re racing up to beat the sun – but you will not be disappointed!
After the sun set we checked into our hotel at Nelsons Bay for the night, we stayed at the beautiful Nelson Resort and had a lovely meal at The Gallery at The Anchorage in Port Stevens. Normally there aren’t any vegan options on the menu, however, because we called ahead, the chef was lovely enough to make a red coconut curry for me which was out of this world! I definitely recommend that if you’re vegan and travelling in the Newcastle area to call ahead when visiting restaurants to make sure they can accommodate for you!
Breakfast this morning was at the cafe next to our hotel The Little Nel Cafe. I had smashed avocado on toast (as per usual) and a strong almond latte, Sam (the amazing photographer) had the Quinoa Porridge which also looked amazing. Despite the overcast weather and the drizzly rain we decided to stick to our plans and go paddle boarding. We headed down to Shoal Bay with Shoal Bay Stand Up Paddle Boarding and spent the morning out on the water trying not to fall off and making friends with a local lone dolphin. I managed not to fall into the water which I was very happy with! Definitely a great core workout.
The weather became a little more overcast so we decided to kick it to lunch which we had at Crest at Birubi Beach. There was a very large array of selections on the menu and with the accommodation of the chef i was able to enjoy a delicious vegan salad! Despite the yucky weather, the amazing view at Crest made for a lovely lunch. It’s right on the ocean so we were able to watch the huge waves crashing onto the beach, and some tourists going for a camel ride along the sand!
Next stop was onto Oakvale Farm which was definitely the highlight of today! I was able to hold and feed so many beautiful farm animals; goats, pigs, cows, sheep, and ducks just to name a few! We were also lucky enough to have an opportunity to visit the koala sanctuary there where they have a koala breeding program, and the baby dingoes who were just adorable. I’d 110% recommend everyone going to visit Oakvale, as it was a fun and educational afternoon and supporting a great organisation that cares for abandoned and orphaned animals.
This morning it was time to surf so we rose bright and early and took a surfing lesson up at One Mile Beach with Port Stevens Surf School. I’m still VERY VERY basic with my level of surfing skill, but it’s always a fun challenge and a great workout.
We then drove down to Newcastle to explore Merewether Beach and Baths, and the local cafe culture. Did you know: Merewether Baths are the largest ocean baths in the southern hemisphere spanning 50m wide and 100m long!!
Lunch today was at The Edwards Cafe and is owned by the former bassist of Silverchair – yup very cool. The food here was great but I wouldn’t recommend it if you are vegan, as once again, there were no vegan options on the menu, I was super lucky and very appreciative that the chef was able to alter a salad to fit my dietary requirements!
After lunch it was unfortunately time to wrap up my adventure with Destination NSW and head back home to Sydney!
I had such a wonderful few days exploring the Newcastle area and can’t wait to head back again to visit my fluffy friends and see if I’ve improved my surfing skills!