SOMETIMES all we need is a quiet place to recharge the batteries. No pressure to put fish on the plate for the evening meal or having to entertain the rug rats.
Hawks Nest, on the northern shores of Port Stephens and the Myall River, offers just what the Doc ordered.
Hawks Nest is on a peninsula so whether you are looking for beach for fishing or for surfing, or a sheltered bay with clean, sandy beaches for relaxing, you will find it all here. There is also a very healthy estuary bounding the town’s western side.
It’s 190km from Sydney or only 90km from Newcastle, just follow the Pacific Highway past Karuah, then turn right at the sign. The town is only 10 minutes from the highway, and is linked by the Singing Bridge (so named because it becomes tuneful when the westerly winds blow) to Tea Gardens, at the mouth of the Myall River. Once across the bridge, turn right at the T-junction and you have arrived at one of the most peaceful retreats I have visited.
The place got its name from a large hawk’s nest atop a lone cabbage tree palm on the top of Yacaaba headland. The nest was used as a navigational marker for early sailors. The village has a small shopping centre where you can purchase provisions including fresh meat, fruit and vegetables, groceries, daily baked bread, alcohol and fresh bait.
There are two caravan parks, one at each end of town and offering different waterfront features. Jimmy’s Beach Caravan Park on Coorilla Street is adjacent to a delightful protected sandy bay directly north from Nelson Bay. You can see Nelson Bay from the beach. Children can swim and play sandcastles all day and during the evening you can wet a line for flathead, bream, whiting and even the odd jew that could be patrolling the bay. There are also some heavy duty sting rays in the evenings, and they can give you quite an adrenaline rush when they strike.
The caravan park is in a bushland setting and has all the usual facilities. There is a playground outside the park, which is used by day trippers and contains several barbecues and tables – an ideal picnic area.
Campers from the park also use this area as it is next to the beach. The caravan park also has a selection of cabins from basic to luxury, as well as powered and camping sites and a kiosk for basic supplies.
Hawks Nest Caravan Park is in the centre of town, right at the surf beach.
This park is a lot bigger and offers a larger range of facilities. The prices for the two parks are similar and both have vacancies most of the year but in Summer holidays it is standing room only.
Across the road from the town caravan park is an art gallery and a motel which has a very good restaurant. There is also a bistro and dining room at the golf club, adjacent to the back boundary of the Hawks Nest Caravan Park. Park guests are provided with a key to the back gate so that they can enjoy an evening out and then can walk back to camp. This is the first Caravan Park that we have visited that actually has facilities for fishing clubs and they are made more than welcome here.
At the far end of the main beach is Yacaaba Headland, a volcanic peak 250metres above sea level and a national park. Access to the lookout is possible via a walking trail and some of the abundant wildlife that you are likely to see include dingoes, black cockatoos, goannas and dolphins.
The main dolphin area is on the Jimmy’s Beach side of the headland. North of the headland is Cabbage Tree Island, which is also called John Gould National Park, and Boondelbah Island, the only known nesting areas for the Gould petrel. National parks in the area are filled with wildlife and koalas are a common sight.
The local business folk are as genuine as they come and are only too happy to help out. At the sports store, where you can buy all your fishing needs, we managed to get a broken rod tip fixed within an hour and they even sell NSW and Queensland Fishing Monthly magazines.Reads: 1974