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Winter, Whales, Festivals and Fun!

What we love about the Winter period is that we are really lucky to live in an area where Winter clothes normally means adding a pair of jeans and maybe a warm jacket but be ready to change into shorts and a T-shirt sometime in the day. The temperature today is a sunny and a warm 20 degrees and the sun just draws you outside to the beaches, walking, fishing, cycling, picnics or a really good catchup on that pile of books you so much want to read.

So some of the things that happen in the cooler months are listed below:

1. Whale Watching

If you have not been on a cruise to see the whales, we highly recommend it and recommend Imagine Cruises to take you on a trip. Port Stephens has a number of good viewing places from various lookouts and vantage spots as well (all free and easy to access). However, there is nothing like getting ‘up and close’ to see these gentle giants in the waters off Port Stephens headlands. We do recommend you book; even at this time of the year and especially if you are staying in the area over the weekend. And remember to pack a camera…you don’t want to miss this!

One of the best on-shore vantage spots is the headland area at Boat Harbour and whales are often seen there migrating north. This area also has a large dog-friendly park and headland area – perfect for 4-legged friends and for all to enjoy scrambling over the rocks, exploring the rock pools, the views and maybe even a picnic near the beach.

2. The Human Whale

Ever wanted your 15 minutes of fame and break a record? Following on with the whale watching, why not be part of a whale as well? Each year, a ‘human’ whale is formed on the beach and this year it is again at Fingal Beach on 14th July from 10am


Locals and tourists alike form the outline of a 100m long humpback whale, in an attempt to break the World Record. Lots of fun for family, kids and friends. Find out more information here:

3. “Once upon a whale time…..”

For the whale enthusiasts, Jeannie Lawson (whale expert and Pride Of Australia medal winner) will be telling stories about these wonderful creatures on July 13th at Barry Park, Fingal Bay. This park also has a special viewing platform and this is also a free event though it is a fundraiser – make a donation to the sausage sizzle as you listen to Jeannie’s fascinating talk. Talks are on at 10:30am, 11:30am, 12.30pm and 1.30pm. More information is here:

4. Love Sea Food and Tastes of the Bay 

This is one of our very favourite events during the year and will occur during the month of August. Luckily for us, two events have actually combined into one – “Love Sea Food” and the “Tastes of the Bay” festival have now merged. 

Love Seafood and Tastes of the Bay Festival

All the renowned local restaurants and chefs work together to create some wonderful food experiences, all with locally sourced seafood and produce. Whether it is a six-course seafood dinner with matching Hunter wines that you may be interested in or tasting various foods and wine while listening to live jazz, this event has something to suit everyone. Or how about a seafood cooking class? Follow the details here and we will also keep events posted on our facebook site.

5. Sacred Tree Markets

These markets are setup near the foreshore at the Marina and are fabulous! Live music, food vans and many local artisans from the Hunter area have their stalls at this market. Along with that, dogs are most welcome (on leads) and the kids play area is also ‘merged’ into the market area. We have other markets on at various times but some times they are a little ‘ho-hum’ compared to these markets. Sacred Tree Markets are usually on in the school holidays and more occur in the warmer months – I will post dates on our Facebook page when they are confirmed or follow Sacred Tree Markets here:

6. Gin and Jazz Festival 

For some fab vibes and a gin or two, Murray’s Brewery is holding a Gin and Jazz Festival over the weekend of 13th and 14th July. This is a chance to try out their latest gin or if it is not your drink of choice, Murray’s Brewery beer range is well renowned.

Gin and Jazz Festival Murray's Brewery

Murray’s Brewery is also pet-friendly in the grass areas. There is a lovely grassed hill behind the deck area, perfect for picnic blankets and/or picnic chairs and dogs are welcome on leads. Food and drinks can be ordered from the Brewery as normal, and eaten in this area. On a sunny winters day, a picnic with a drink or two, listening to the jazz and blues is simply devine.

Maybe you would like to join in a Gin Masterclass and learn more about distilling? More information can be found here:

7. Simply Enjoy 

Our final recommendation for the winter period is to really explore and enjoy the area. In the high seasons, the focus is naturally on spending as much time at the beach or enjoying water activities. And sometimes, it is even too warm to actually enjoy all the other activities Port Stephens has to offer.

The Birubi Beach sand dune tours are more inviting in the cooler months, as are the 4wd tours and quad biking tours.

Golf anyone? Luckily the area has a number of golf courses where guests are welcome.
Did you know that the Tea Gardens ferry is pet-friendly? Well it is – book direct to secure a seat for you and your pooch.

And finally, just spend time to Simply Enjoy. On my walk last week, seeing a family of all ages (little ones and teens, parents and grandparents) on Shoal Bay Beach, laughing, building sand castles, fishing and just simply enjoying, was such a delight! (not a single electronic device in sight). Seeing a mum and dad sitting with their 3 little kids near Fingal Bay park, making clover flower ‘daisy’ chains and watching another group of family and friends scrambling over and exploring rock pools near Little Beach, brought back wonderful memories of our early childhoods. And we are sure it is the same for you!