About 6.kms from Pacific Highway on Myall Way, the main road into Tea Gardens and On our way to Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest is a rest stop – Lions Park Lookout. It is on the apex of a hill overlooking the two towns, bridge, off-shore islands and the headlands at the mouth to Port Stephens. At the lookout is an engraving to help identify the main viewpoints.
This picnic area lookout is easily accessible by larger RV’s and has a dump point, which we needed before booking into the site at Tea Gardens Country Club.
By becoming a provisional member for 2 months at a cost of $5.50, we were able to use one of four bays, with power for up to 48 hours at a time. We again had dinner at the Club each night we were there, a great Chinese meal one night and Pizza the other.
We arrived at Tea Gardens with time for a trip down to the waterfront and the Tea Gardens-Hawks Nest Bridge before sundown. Near the boat ramp, a couple were cleaning their catch of the day and entertaining a large flock of pelicans.
And then the most amazing sunset.
Over on the Hawks Nest side, a sign to watch out for Koalas on the road running past a reserve, leading away from the bridge. Having seen a lot of these signs, but not seeing any koalas, we felt that being a reserve, our chances are good in seeing a koala in its natural habitat. We walked along the edge of the reserve and asked everyone who passed us if they had seen a koala. No-one had seen any koalas for years there.
Sighting a koala in its natural habitat still to be ticked off the bucket list.
We can’t speak highly enough of the crew of Amaroo Cruises for their professionalism and friendliness. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise of Wallis Lake and Estuary to the sea for some whale watching, made better by the attentive crew. This was the first time we have been on a whale watching cruise.
We didn’t have to travel out to sea as far as we had expected, before sighting our first pod of hump back whales. There were several pods in the area and we enjoyed a long time watching them. They were watching us too, coming under the water to our boat and surfacing very close to it. Absolute magic!
A whale appeared near the side of the boat, coming out of the water tail first!
And if that wasn’t enough, in came a large pod of dophins moving very fast, rounding up fish. We were waiting for David Attenborough to appear!
We want to go again!
**Postscript: The views expressed on this web site are based on our experience and we do not solicit nor receive, discounts or benefits from businesses we write about.
We enjoyed a cruise around Wallis Lake where there are numerous islands and many shallow areas. The water is so clear, it is easy to see the fish and there is a lot of bird life. Many people were enjoying the waterways as we cruised by, enjoying the sunny day.
The first oyster lease at Forster was granted in 1884. There are many oyster farms and apparently Forster is the largest provider of Sydney Rock Oysters in Australia. Along the banks we passed by many restaurants – no prizes for guessing what they serve.
Plenty of beaches in this area, and on North Street Forster across the road from high rise apartments with restaurants at their base on street level, Forster Beach and home of the Forster Surf Lifesaving Club. This beach links to the southern side of the Cape Hawke Harbour opening to the sea and at the other end, the impressive Forster Ocean Baths. The Baths were opened in January 1936 having been built with labourers under a “Work for the Dole” scheme.
Near the Baths, on the grassed area, we discovered a square platform with an inscription: “Mary (Granny) Roberts – Taught Free Learn to Swim Classes for 25.years. Mary would want you to swim, be safe and be happy.” Another example of the community service by people of this town. Good on you, Mary Roberts.
As we walked along the promenade, evidence of car enthusiasts, no doubt meeting at one of the nearby cafés:
We located the Visitor Information Centre in Forster, a short walk from Wharf Street shops, along Little Street, passing War memorials to those who served.
Behind the Tourist Information building on West Street, is a free-parking, specially marked area on the kerb side for two or three RV’s.
There appears to be a strong community spirit in the area and significantly, next to the Tourist office is the Community Garden, promoting sustainable gardening and it’s volunteer programme encourages people new to the area to join in and meet others.
The twin towns of Tuncurry-Forster on the east coast, are at the northern end of the Great Lakes where Wallis Lake meets the Tasman Sea. Surrounding the towns are National Parks and beautiful waterways.
The towns are joined by a long, concrete bridge over Wallis Lake. Before the opening of this bridge in July 1959, one of the longest pre-stressed concrete bridges in the southern hemisphere, a ferry/punt operated between the two towns for 69.years.
Situated on the Tuncurry side of Cape Hawke Harbour, Tuncurry Rockpool is an enclosed area for swimming, cafe, BBQ facilities and play area. The water is crystal clear and but for the cold weather, would have loved to have gone for a swim. We took the walkway to the end of the harbour and from there, viewed dolphins frolicking near some fishing boats in the sea and a view of Nine Mile Beach.
Sporties at 65 Beach Road, Tuncurry, is a sports and recreation venue that is currently trialing the arrangement of cheap overnight stays for up to 48.hours for self-contained vehicles. The area is at the end of the driveway, near the Club and between a rugby pitch. and tennis courts.
Obviously the Club pricing the camp site at $5 per person per night relies upon campers using their facilities.
We were very happy to have meals at the Club each evening, with a good selection available on the menu at reasonable prices, and good service.
As one would expect at a sports club, there are ample sitting areas and bars with large TV screens and the usual area for machine gambling, as well as offering entertainment there and at its affiliate club – Club Forster at 19.Strand Street, Forster.
Today Mike was determined to catch a fish. We have been watching a number of people taking their boats onto Manning River and catching fish. So RV Yellow Ducky was deployed.
Lee took photos of fish jumping out of the water – always where Mike wasn’t. It was like they were making fun of him, jumping behind him. Locals told us that those fish we’d never catch. True.
It was a long day. Mike caught one fish, a flat-head and of legal size. However by the time he had cleaned it, and fed the neighbourhood pelican the bits, what meat was left we decided the pelican needed more than us.
Hard to imagine, but a few years ago when the Manning River flooded, the floating jetty rose to the top of the three black poles.
Mike purchased our inflatable boat months ago and we finally had the opportunity to try it out on the Manning River, Wingham. We launched from the boat ramp and rowed up river, past the bridge and back. Good news: It didn’t end up being a yellow submarine.