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La Vie en Roam

Outdoor Adventures in Port Stephens

AUSTRALIA | Tuesday, 21 July 2009 | Views [1789] | Comments [1]

When we arrived in Port Stephens it was dark, and through the rural jungle of bamboo, Melaleuca trees and gardens we discovered Melaleuca Surfside Backpackers – a community of beautiful hand-crafted wooden cabins that welcomes you to settle right in. We were warmly greeted by Jeanette and Pete, two of the owners of Melaleuca, followed closely by their onsite  kangaroo, Josie, and owl, Froggy – who weren’t keen to miss out on the fun either!

A barbeque was already underway as we pulled up and joined the group of local tour operators, backpackers and friends of Melaleuca. With a spread of BBQ chicken, sausages, salads, and Aussie brews, we were introduced to not only the wide array of activities that Port Stephens has to offer, but also their owners and managers, each just as passionate and excited about their businesses and their jobs as the next.

We were educated about the 300kilo stingray currently hanging out at the Shark and Ray Center, the art of camel racing down the beach by the Camel Tours operators, and the allure of the humpback whales cruising around the bay by Frank from Imagine Cruises. And if we could tear ourselves away from the wildlife and hit the sand dunes with sand boards – that was also a Port Stephens must-do!

As if the friendly kangaroo and rustic cabins weren’t enough, we could try all of these activities! We spend the rest of the chilly evening all sitting around the fires on the back deck chatting about Port Stephens,  the importance of travel and exchanging cultures, and stories from the road. Such an amazing beginning to our roadtrip!

After a night spent cuddled up in the “Dirty Sanchez” Kirsten and I awoke early to hit the dunes for a few sand boarding runs with Pete before anyone else was even up for morning coffee. The cold sand, the adrenaline rush of flying downs the dunes, and the views of whales gliding across the bay were the perfect way to wake up and start the day – who needs coffee after that!

We then met back up with Frank from Imagine Cruises to get a more up close and personal encounter with the whales migrating past Port Stephens. The catamaran was equipped with a sonar system, a staff that saw whales a majestic and awe-inspiring creature rather than a job, and even a didgeridoo player that was brought onboard to coax the whales to the surface.  With this combination aboard, we knew we were gonna see some action!

As the didgeridoo bellowed in the background and the captains sailed us out of the bay, the first spotting was of a whale breaching in the distance, spinning out of the water to reveal her enormous presence. We quickly caught up to a few teams of whales and joined their journey, watching as they surfaced, played and showed off their massive tails. Not to be outdone of course, dolphins also showed up and swam right along the boat, almost racing us back to the shore.

It was our first time seeing whales in their natural habitat and they did not fail to impress! Three hours, 6 whales, a pod of dolphins, and a sleepy seal later, we regained our land legs and bid farewell to the wildlife and our new friends aboard.

When we got back to Melaleuca Backpackers, Geoff was there waiting (in all his glory), courtesy of Katrina, who brought him out of Sydney to meet us. We sent the “Dirty Sanchez” packing and loaded our gear into our van-tastic buddy on wheels.

Off to Yamba! Let's see if it lives up to its rep of being the #1 tourist destination in Oz!

Tags: australia, travel, van-tastic, van-tastic adventures, whale watching, world nomads, yamba




Yay Melaleuca. Can't wait for my next trip up there! Best place to stay in Oz!

  Josh Aug 5, 2009 4:26 PM

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