Well hello Hawks Nest, aren't you just a little jewel on our coast!
Hawks Nest is approximately a 2.5 hour drive north from the centre of Sydney - so it is the ideal weekend away for city folk. This little hamlet on the mid north coast of NSW shares its locale with Tea Gardens and they are connected by the Singing Bridge (apparently when it swings in sings - what a great way to be!).
I'm not really sure how many Hawks still nest in the area but I can understand why they would, because the area is scenically stunning. Hawks Nest is surrounded by both beaches and the Myall River - so it is a water lover's paradise. We visited Hawks Nest Beach with its fabulous blue waters and views to coastal islands as well as Jimmy's Beach, which is just as lovely but better for kids as there aren't any big crashing waves. From here you have views over to Nelson Bay and if you want to leave this little spot of paradise you can catch a ferry from Tea Gardens over to the much more touristy Nelson Bay - but why leave paradise?
Our accommodation for our one night night stay (we regretted not booking for longer) is the very affordable Hawks Nest Motel. The motel contains standard rooms, one bed units, 2 bedroom family unit and spa suites. The motel has had a soft refurbishment in recent years and is very very clean! There is free car parking and you have the use of the pool and BBQ area. Each room contains air conditioning, ensuite bathrooms, flat screen digital TVs and a balcony. The view is over the pool and local residential area, but some do have a glimpse of the Myall river.
We had booked the deluxe spa suite for our stay. The suite cost us $160.00 for the night and it is fantastic that we could make a booking for one night only, as it is very difficult these days to get anything less than a 2 night minimum stay on weekends.
The suite was upstairs and it was large, bright and very comfortable. It contained a huge bathroom with both a spa and a shower; a king bed and two single beds - and there were other beds hidden such as a trundle and sofa bed - so it can actually sleep up to 6 people. I think however if there were 6 of you in the suite, it may get a bit squashy if you stayed for anything longer than 1 night. For larger families I would definitely opt for the 2 bedroom apartment which can sleep up to 8 and also contains full kitchen facilities (but no spa!).
Our suite had a small kitchenette with bar fridge, microwave, kettle, toaster and electric fry pan. If you were only staying a few nights or if you eat out all the time whilst you are on holidays, then this suite would be more than adequate. However if you like to cook a few of your own meals whilst away, then choose the 2 bedroom unit. You can also order a continental breakfast from Reception.
Another option for your meals is to BBQ! There is a newish looking BBQ area right next to the pool. The decent size pool is lovely and clean, sadly it was too chilly for us to take a dip. Groovy metal sculptures are dotted around the sub tropical garden near the pool, which is a clever attempt to draw your eye away from the dull motel exterior.
Hawks Nest Motel is 50m from the Myall River where you can cast a line whilst your kids play in the playground. You can also spend ages watching the majestic pelicans and other bird life as they beg for some fish from the local fisherman. If you have a boat, kayak or jet ski, bring it along as there is a decent boat ramp and car park here. If you are into fishing and catch something, there is a fish cleaning sink in the grounds of the motel. Make sure you pop around at dusk as the sunsets are incredible and if you are lucky enough you may even see a pod of dolphins swim by.
Now for play grounds - I lost count of how many we saw during our short stay. They are almost around every corner - and they are in excellent condition and most of them are built on very clean sand. There are none of your local crummy council playgrounds in this part of NSW. The other thing is the local art work - sculptures, mosaics and totem poles are everywhere - even the local BBQs in the park are decorated!
You have quite a few options for eating out in the area. In Hawks Nest I would recommend Benchmark on Booner. I actually only had a takeaway coffee from here which was excellent, but I checked out the menu etc and it's on my to do list when we return as it looks very nice indeed. Another option is the Hawks Nest Chinese restaurant which is a 5 minute walk from the motel and according to some of the locals it is delicious - they recommend the locally caught fish, steamed with ginger and shallots.
For breakfast I would definitely recommend The Boatshed across the bridge in Tea Gardens. We ate there and it was divine - you are right on the water so you couldn't ask for a better location. For lunch I suggest take away fish and chips from the fish market in Tea Gardens - it is just at the beginning of the singing bridge and it was so fresh and yummy. There are plenty of picnic tables for you to sit on, overlooking the river and you can feed your scraps to one of the resident pelicans.
If you need groceries pick them up at the Coles supermarket in Tea Gardens. Hawks Nest only has a newsagent (which sells limited and expensive groceries), a chemist, florist/gift shop, and an expensive bottle shop. Tea Gardens also has quite a few other cafes and shops which would be worth a look if you are staying longer than a night. You could also check out the Myall Lakes National Park if you had more time as the area is meant to be stunning and it is on our to do list next time we visit.
Hawks Nest is very seasonal. By this I mean in summer it would be busy - almost too busy for a relaxing weekend away. So personally I think the best time to visit is in the other other 3 seasons so that you can really appreciate the scenery and local area. The risk however is that in winter some businesses close down for holidays - so check before you go.