Exploring Shoal Bay, Port Stephens

Start: Shoal Bay Holiday Park
End: Zenith Beach / Mount Tomaree summit
Time taken: 2 hours
USP: Amazing wildlife, incredible views, empty beaches
Distance: 5km round trip

Google map of the start

The first weekend of October is a long one here in NSW. Three days to escape the city and dive into the countryside. Normally confined to exploring by train (which isn’t a bad thing in Sydney), we took the opportunity to join a group of mates, rent some cars and head North, to Port Stephens and the Shoal Bay area. Only 2.5 hours out of Sydney, if you’re lucky with the traffic.

We just managed to secure the last two pitches at the Shoal Bay Holiday Park. Not a remote campsite by any stretch of the imagination, but an amazing base for checking out the area, with some great walks straight out of the campsite.

Shoal Bay and Zenith from Tomaree

One of the best walks in the area was Zenith Beach and Mount Tomaree. They’re both located at the far east of the Shoal Bay headland, around 30 minutes walk from the Holiday Park along the inside of the harbour and past plenty of shops for grabbing coffees and snacks.

Nick and dolphin

Zenith Beach is a small crescent of yellow sand, sandwiched between two high headlands and backed by scrubby sand dunes. On our first arrival the bushes in the dune were hiding a raucous flock of Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo and as we approached the water, a small pod of Dolphins cruised past. Not a bad start!

Nick Zenith Beach

We visited the beach numerous times over our stay and it was never crowded, with plenty of space to call your own. A few of our group swam out along the northern headland armed with snorkels and came back with stories of Port Jackson sharks (check the footage below). An explore along the southern end of the beach revealed Sacred Kingsfisher and Sooty Oystercatcher.

Kat overlooking Fingal at sunset

The track up Mount Tomaree begins right next to Zenith Beach and is best done at sunrise or sunset. Partly for the amazing views and also to make the numerous steps and slopes more bearable in the cooler air temperatures. It’s a well paved and sign posted walk, but there is a lot of ‘up’ to get through before you reach the amazing panoramic views at the top.

Mount Tomaree looking at Zenith

Along the way you pass through a Gum Tree forest full of Fig Birds, Pied Butcher Birds and waiting for you at the top, circling Peregrine Falcon and White Bellied Sea Eagle hitching a lift on the thermals. From the top you can see for miles and miles. The hinterland stretching away into the distance, white waves crashing onto Zenith Beach and the stillness of Shoal Bay.

Peak through the trees

All of this wildlife and beauty within 30 minutes of the campsite puts it pretty high on our list of places to return to.

Zenith Beach, Port Stephens :: Port Jackson Shark from lngbrder888 on Vimeo.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    Looks like a fab long weekend!


  2. beryl claughton says:

    I hate to admit it but your latest Adventure Hat trip to Zenith Bay and Port Stephen beats the Cow and Calf rocks. It looks spectacular. I had an awful day on Monday. I was with Jo Thompson, a friend since 1965 at her apartment block when she had a massive heart attack. A gentleman neighbour and I did CPR and mouth to mouth for about 25 mins before the ambulance came, but all to no avail, sadly. I knew she was dead but felt we just had to keep going, just in case…….What a lovely way to go for her, I hope it happens to me the same way, but it’s a hell of a shock for whoever is with you. She has been a super friend and I will really miss her. 16 of us were going to the Lake District on a Bridge w/e on Friday and have decided to still go, too late to cancel and Jo wouldn’t have wanted us to, but I;m not looking forward to it one little bit. Your Mum and Dad’s new house sounds wonderful doesn’t it? I can’t wait to see it. Have fun lots of love XXXX

    Virus-free. http://www.avg.com


  3. katiemayor says:

    One of my favourite spots! Nice post. Thanks for sharing x

    Liked by 1 person

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