7 May 2012
Each town or region that we visited in New South Wales gave us a unique experience, and each one provided a little something different from the last. At the time, I wasn’t able to ultimately decide upon which one was my absolute favourite (because they were all pretty awesome!), but I started to think about it once I returned home.
What was the one place that I had the most fun in? What was the one place that each time someone asked, “what has been your favourite part of the trip so far?,” I would give as an answer without a second thought?
It wasn’t even that there were simply one or two activities that really stood out to me, it was the entire experience. It was what we did, where we stayed, what we ate, and the overall atmosphere of our time spent in the charming little coastal town.
To start things out, on the day of our arrival, we hopped aboard the Thundaraft Jet Boat and headed out into the Bay. We hadn’t even been in town for more than fifteen minutes, and we were already out on the ocean. This spoke a lot to the lifestyle that is lived in Port Stephens.
However, this wasn’t your average boat ride. As we made our way out of the harbour, we were coasting along at a relatively smooth pace. But, then we hit the open waters. It wasn’t smooth anymore.
The waves only grew from that point forward, and soon we were edging our way toward the menacing white caps. The boat was gaining both speed and air at the same time, and we were already bouncing off of our seats.
By the time we reached the big waves, I was fully soaked and felt like some sort of flying squirrel. I had been screaming in a strange mixture of terror and excitement, and couldn’t get enough of the liquid ramps and suspended flights. I had been craving action, and the jet boat definitely supplied it.
The next morning, we woke up bright (except, not really, because the sun had not risen yet) and early to make our way to the Stockton Sand Dunes.
At the edge of the dunes, we boarded a large Hummer that would take us out into the sandy hills. It easily seated ten people, and we were zipping around the dunes in no time.
When the hummer finally came to a stop, I was pretty amazed at what I saw in front of me. I couldn’t believe that we were still in Australia, because it suddenly resembled the Namibian desert.
Every way I looked, the sand was rising up in front of me, almost swallowing the sky. The dunes were taller than I ever could have imagined, and they never seemed to end in the distance. It honestly felt like I had stepped into another world, and I never wanted to leave it.
The next couple of hours were spent exploring the dunes, and climbing to the tops for a better view. While the boys were playing around and jumping down the sides of the hills, I couldn’t help but sit down and just stare at it all.
After we had our fill of endless sandy landscapes, it was time to speed things up a little bit. It was time for my absolute favourite activity of the entire trip; sand dune quad biking.
Being no stranger to quad biking, I was excited to start driving. What I didn’t realize was how different it was going to be on the sand, and by different, I mean better. As soon as my tires touched the sand, I felt the slipping motion and gripped onto the handles.
I started zipping around the dunes, and the quad slid through the sand like a knife through butter. I couldn’t seem to get enough of the speed, and continually overtook anyone that drove in front of me.
I plummeted down nearly vertical 100 ft and launched off sand ramps over equally steep uphill slopes. It was a blast.
After a day in the dunes, it was nice to head back to the water. As we arrived, it seemed that a decision had been made; I would be going parasailing.
As someone that is terrified of the ocean, I was skeptical. I knew that there was no way to get out of this with staying dry, and I was scared of what was hiding below the surface. But, I put on a brave face and strapped myself into the parachute.
Getting dunked into the water wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It was only brief, and actually quite refreshing. Soaring up in the air was even better. I could see the Bay in all directions, and loved the feeling of flying.
Before leaving Port Stephens, we had one last boat ride, this time with dolphins. We went on a Dolphin watch cruise boat, which was equipped with a bar, two floors, and a water slide! I was able to see my very first wild dolphin, which was then joined by about a dozen of his friends.
Each experience in Port Stephens was pretty amazing. To top it all off, my nights were spent in a cute little two bedroom apartment with a huge balcony and comfy living room. The fridge was full of wine, and I felt right at home.
Port Stephens was my favourite place in New South Wales.