Lover of exploring, family, food and fun! Find me on instagram: @australianrecipesbythebay
Published January 15th 2022
Meet the locals - on land and at sea
If you love animals, or your children do, then you are always on the lookout for fun experiences where you can connect with the animal world. Here in Port Stephens, we are blessed with an abundance of natural wildlife - there are koalas in the trees, kangaroos graze on our local golf courses, echidnas can be seen walking out of the bush and there are emus in the fields on the way into the region. As well as these natural sights, there are also animal encounters at various venues around the suburbs, to enjoy an "up close and personal" experience with wildlife.
Keep reading for ways that you can enjoy the animal world on holidays, in the Nelson Bay and Port Stephens region. If you visit in the school holidays, book in early to secure your spot!
Meet new friends at the Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary. Image: Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary Facebook
Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary is a new property that opened up in 2020, to help look after our local koalas who are injured by bushfires, car accidents, dog attacks or illness. This beautiful new property has a walkway so you can walk around and see the koalas in the trees and you can even stay at the sanctuary, in family-sized glamping tents. Entry costs $25 per person, with all the money raised directly contributing to the preservation of local koalas in Port Stephens. See here for details.
Oakvale Wildlife Park needs to be at the top of your list if you have small children. This family-friendly venue has a baby farmyard petting area that toddlers and pre-schoolers love, as well as a little train ride that can take you around the property. There is also a path around the park where you can walk around and meet the resident animals. If you visit in summer, pack the swimming costumes and towels so the kids can play at Splash Bay, which is included in the price. See here for details. For a full article on this family-friendly venue, see here.
Sahara Trails Horse Riding offers horse riding for beginners and advanced riders on their property at Anna Bay, or along the beautiful Birubi Beach. This is a wonderful way to appreciate their beautiful horses and explore the region. Prices start from $55 for a child and $60 for adults on the 30 Minute First Taste of Horse Riding walk. See here for details.
Oakfield Ranch Camel Rides operate 20-minute camel rides over the Stockton Sand Dunes at Birubi Beach. The Stockton Sand Dunes are part of the Worimi Conservation Lands and they are the largest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. It really does feel like you are riding through the Sahara Desert! The camels also walk down to the water to wade in the surf, so you also get a splash at the same time. You don't need to book - just meet them at the lower car park at Birubi Beach and wait for the camels to be ready. Ride prices are $35 per adult and $30 per child. See here for details.
Take a camel ride through the dunes and along the beach with Oakvale Ranch!
Moonshadow - TQC Cruises and Imagine Cruises both offer dolphin watching cruises, as well as whale watching tours between May to early November. This is a wonderful opportunity to get out on the water in Port Stephens and out through the heads, to experience the marine life that is thriving in the area. See the websites for Moonshadow - TQC Cruises and Imagine Cruises, for more information.
Irukandji Shark & Ray Encounters are located at Anna Bay and they have an outdoor pool where visitors can view the sharks and rays and learn all about them from a marine guide. Children will enjoy wading in the shallow water of the lagoon and feeling the texture of stingrays as they swim by. There are also options for getting in a wetsuit and snorkelling with them, for a personal encounter. Prices start from $38 for an Irukandji Entry Pass, which includes a Shallows Encounter and shark food. See here for details.
Hunter Valley Zoo Wildlife Park is located 1 hour and 15 minutes from Nelson Bay, in the Hunter Valley region. Spend the morning exploring the range of animals at this zoo, with lions, giraffes, meerkats, birds and Australian animals. The zoo offers Encounters, so that you can get close to your favourite animal inside their enclosure. Entry tickets cost $25 for children and $35 for adults, with family passes available. Take a picnic, as food options are limited. See here for details. For a full article on the zoo, see here.
If you love animals, you are spoilt for choice of things to do around the region. The question is - where will you go first?
Meet a range of animals at Hunter Valley Zoo, more than 1 hour from Nelson Bay