Day 2: Puttering Around Port Stephens

Location: Port Stephens, New South Wales

One of the things I love best about camping is waking up in the morning with the light filtering through the fabric of the tent. It’s such a lovely diffused light and goes a long way in making up for the fact that you can no longer feel your feet from the cold. Now I didn’t expect the same kind of light to come through my curtains this morning, but I was waiting for something similar to convince me to leave my warm blanket.

When I finally did decide that the sun was just not going to appear (and it was seven o’clock by this point), I got up, had what I can already see is going to be my morning struggle with the door*, and was completely floored by what I saw. Instead of the warm morning light, the entire camp grounds, right in the middle of Glenwood Valley, was filled with a thick mist. And walking in that mist, were several beautiful horses. I guess the paddocks connect up or something, but either way it was absolutely amazing watching these shadows move closer and form into horses.


20110703-004 Horses in the Mist (4)


I grabbed my camera pretty quickly but there was no need as that mist wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The horses didn’t seem to keen on playing with me, being much more focused on their breakfast, but they were happy to have their photo taken and one horse (there’s always one) was curious and stuck their nose right into my camera for a sniff and scratch on the head. (See how I’m back to loving the horses now that I’m safely on the ground?)

It had been my intention to get an early start today to take advantage of the morning sunlight to take some photos on the property – which was such a scenic place, but the mist apparently had other ideas. The entire valley was filled with it, and I do mean the entire valley as I had to drive up and through it to get back on the freeway. Made for quite the daunting drive weaving around the mountain but slow and steady wins the race – even if they’re a little damper for their efforts.


20110703-014 Glenworth Valley (1)


You wouldn’t know it, but these photos were taken from the lookout at Glenwood Valley. I really regret not stopping on my way in because you could see just how deep the valley went. It was as though you would never get to the bottom and now it’s entirely filled with mist.

The drive from Glenworth Valley to One Mile Beach, Port Stephens was rather uneventful, and apart from a quick stop in at McDonald’s to upload some photos and yesterday’s post I drove right through. There may have been much loud singing going on but since there was no one to complain I figured I was rather safe. Not the best road trip singing I’ve experienced (for that I need Lisa) but fun all the same. I also took to counting out all the bridges I crossed, getting louder and louder each time. By the time I crossed my eighth bridge of the day I swear the next car over looked a little concerned. I’ve decided that if anyone wants to do a study on the psychological effects of solo travel, then I’d make an excellent case study – two days and I’m already a little nutty... though I imagine it’s more likely that it’s just my natural tendencies towards insanity going ungoverned.

I’d booked in at Middle Rock Hotel Park for the night and thought it best to figure out where that was before I went a-wandering. Thankfully for me it was easy to find and in the middle of it’s low season, so the attendant was quite helpful in showing me the park and making suggestions as to where I should go. She also made a point of clarifying some of the confusing one-way streets that I would apparently encounter. One in particular was known to trip people up and was said to be quite complex. I took no small delight in hearing that it was called Magnus Street, though I do believe I managed to cover it nicely.

One of the places she recommended I stop in at on my way towards Nelson’s Bay was the look out on Gan Gan Hill, which was in fact only a few minutes away. I am so glad that she took the time to mention it because it was well worth the short detour. From this point you could see out across the entirely of Port Stephens. It was also quiet popular (I guess that attendant told everyone!) as in the twenty minutes or so I was there I saw another five groups come and go.

20110703-031 Gan Gan Hill Lookout (1)

20110703-032 Gan Gan Hill Lookout (2)

From there I headed down to the marina at Nelson’s Bay thinking I’d get some chips for lunch and sit on the beach. The marina was quite a bit fancier than I had anticipated but I managed to find a fish and chips shop within my budget and it was the nicest fish I think I’ve ever had. It was attached to a fishing company however, so it’s freshness no doubt played a large part. The marina was rather busy owing to the ‘Sculptures on the Shore’ exhibit they had on, but I just grabbed a few postcards and headed down along the wharf to enjoy the sun.

Half way through writing my first postcard (wait for it Lisa, you’ll see!) I looked up and there, not fifteen metres away from me, was a dolphin! I’ve never seen a dolphin this close up in the sea before, and there it was! What’s more, it had the gall to showboat around, ducking and weaving among the waves in front of where I and another small group were sitting. It went back and forth for a good ten minutes or so before an incoming boat (ironically, a dolphin watching cruise) scared it away.


Knowing nothing could top that excitement, I dashed back to the van before my parking expired and spent the rest of the afternoon puttering around looking at the some of the other beaches in the area – for example, Duchman’s Beach which was only just around the corner from the marina and had next to no people there, much more peaceful (again, thanks to a local’s tip).

Back at the park I decided to jump in early and use the amenities. There’s nothing worse than jumping in the shower after someone else has just been in there. I don’t like it at home and at least then I know who it was who was there. I don’t want someone else’s hot shower air! Anyways, I think it shows great forethought, right? Jumping in early like that. Shame that good thinking didn’t extend to other practical matters – you know, like remembering to pick up your towel. Thankfully I had remembered my change of clothes, and my day’s pants (already a little worse for wear with mud on the knees and a decent collection of sand) became my makeshift towel. I’m choosing to believe that I was being efficient and simply MacGuyvering myself a campsite exfoliate and I don’t want to hear anything to the contrary. You hear that, Courtney?

Thankfully the rest of the evening went off without a hitch. I didn’t particularly feel like cooking so I had picked up some fruit at Coles on my way hole. I cut myself up a bowl of fruit salad and tried to share some pineapple with one of the four Kookaburra’s who had taken up residence on the nearby tree, but he was rather disdainful of my offerings. Oh well.

*there may also have been two or three minutes when I legitimately thought I had locked myself in the van and would have to call for help. This is taking my tendency to lock the keys in the car to a whole new level and I could only imagine what that would do to my already floundering reputation with NRMA.

Kilometres travelled: 171 (251 total)

Bridges crossed: 8 (14 total)

Number of times hitting head on campervan: 3 (5 total)

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