It's so beautiful, you won't even know you're exercising
If you like to start your day with an invigorating walk and stunning coastal views, then you will find what you're looking for - and more - at the scenic Nelson Bay. I recently wrote an article about a coastal walk which began at d'Albora Marinas in Nelson Bay, then continued right around the headland to Little Beach. I then became curious about what would happen if you walked in the other direction - was there a path that went around the coastline the other way?
The short answer is yes - to find it, just walk up the stairs behind the marina and turn right, past Apex Park and up the hill, and you will find yourself on another coastal walk to Dutchmans Beach and then onto Bagnalls Beach. You can walk as far or as little as you like - Dutchmans Beach is a short 10 minute walk away, or if you walk to the far end of Bagnalls Beach it can take half an hour. Either way, you will experience the beauty of this natural, scenic coastline by foot - which is the best way to explore any new holiday destination.
The scenic Bagnalls Beach. The black dots on the water are dozens of swans bending down to eat the seagrass on the ocean floor
At the start of the walk there is a sign to read about the Bridle Path, which explains the early-settler history of the region and how a track along this coastline was used by fishermen, miners and squatters in the late 1800s, as they made their way back from Nelson Bay to their beach shacks at Dutchmans Beach. If you enjoy learning about local history and the names of native Australian trees, keep an eye out for signage along the path, especially down low.
If you are walking on a hot day, start as early as you can to avoid the humidity and heat from the sun, as it rises over the town. The joy of this particular walk however, is there are a lot of trees and shade over the path, which brings the temperature down and creates a tropical feeling to the walkway. The pathway continues on along a ridge above the ocean, with glimpses of bright blue through the trees, as kookaburras laugh overhead.
After a short walk along the headland you come to Dutchmans Beach, which is a vision of pure white sand and crystal clear water before your eyes. The reserve behind the beach has toilets, BBQ areas, picnic tables and a playground for the kids, further along the beachfront. Ensure you look out for cyclists, who also enjoy this scenic, coastal route.
Continue walking past the white sands of Dutchmans Beach
The walking path then continues around to the next bay along the Port Stephens coastline - Bagnalls Beach. I have to admit that this beach is one of my favourites here in Nelson Bay, as it always has over 20 swans bobbing on the water, with their long necks stretched down, feeding on the seagrass meadow underneath the water. It really is a place of grace and natural beauty, which looks different every time you visit.
If you are walking your dog on this walk, take him down to the sand and give him a run off-leash. Bagnalls Beach is a popular dog-walking beach with plastic bags provided, to keep the beach and walkways clean. Low tide is the most popular time to visit, as there is more sand at the back of the beach for the dogs to run on.
Bagnalls Beach Reserve, at the back of the beach, has toilets, a small playground and picnic tables, if you want to stop for a rest. If you are happy to keep going, you can choose to walk along the dog-walking beach and meet a few pooches, or continue on the shady path behind the beach. This cool and shady route is an ideal walk on a hot day and is also appreciated by the local dogs and dog-walkers that use this beach. When you get to the last reserve behind the beach, feel free to walk on and explore the area of Corlette, or return the way you came.
As the days become hotter in the summer months, this walk has become my favourite walk in the area. The shade is welcomed and the amount of trees along the path also means a wide variety of local birdlife can be seen. Another reason why I enjoy this walk so much is the view you get at both Dutchmans Beach and Bagnalls Beach, when the trees thin out and the idyllic scenery comes into view. It takes my breath away every time.
Why don't you strap on the walking shoes, charge up your camera and go for a walk this weekend? With such a stunning coastline to explore, there is a photo just waiting to be taken at every turn...