For those who follow this blog, you probably already know that I made a sea change in 2017 and moved to the Mid North Coast NSW.
I also started another destination website up here about the Mid North Coast and North Coast of NSW. I have managed to keep Sydney Chic pumping along, especially with contributors who write for the website.
My sea change was a wonderful step for me, and if it wasn't for the COVID menace I would still be in Sydney on a regular basis, however that stopped a lot of regional air travel and quite frankly, I'd rather stay in open spaces during this plandemic (that is not a typo by the way).
I have had a couple of moves up here from Forster Tuncurry and then to Coolongolook after my father passed away last year, so I could get the house ready for sale. It eventually sold and now I am living in a delightful part of NSW, Tea Gardens. I've gone from living on a remote property to popular tourist town again.
Be warned though, it is bonkers here in holiday season so if you can visit out of those really busy times then you may find it even better.
Hawks Nest is a sleepy little village until Christmas when it turns into one of Sydney's most popular holiday destinations. The neighbouring village, across the Singing Bridge, is Tea Gardens. It is a tranquil paradise with a wonderful path beside the river. In peak season, Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens become crowded with tourists and holiday makers, but they will never outdo the Pelicans!
The Singing Bridge
The Singing Bridge connects Tea Gardens to Hawks Nest and is named due to the sounds the railings create in strong South/Westerly winds. Pedestrians need to be careful during busy times as the path is constricted making it difficult to pass each other. However, the view is spectacular and I have spotted a mother dolphin swimming with her bub directly under the bridge.
Jean Shaw Koala Reserve
The Jean Shaw Koala Reserve is located on Kingfisher Avenue (corner of Ibis Avenue), just across the Myall River and just behind the Singing Bridge. The koalas are endangered due to road kills and dogs. They particularly like munching on Swamp Mahogany. I remember years ago when I visited Hawks Nest the koalas were seen wandering around the streets; I am yet to encounter one since I moved up here in September.
Jimmy's Beach is sensational and, stunning! When I first discovered this beautiful beach, I was in awe. This tranquil beach is a picture of paradise, with calm waters, water birds and views to Nelson Bay and other towns in Port Stephens. The beach is wonderful to swim in, but it can have a strong current so caution is needed as with any beach swimming. The views are spectacular. On the Southern end of the beach there are a few tracks that take you across to Bennetts Beach. You may come across dingoes on these beaches.
Bennetts Beach is the main beach of Hawks Nest and has a surf life saving club. On some parts of the beach 4WD vehicles are allowed, but you must have a permit. This is a long beach, I don't particularly like walking on it because the sand can be hard to walk on. In saying that, I love this beach with the views and aqua water. The view to Mt Yacaaba is beautiful and you need to walk along the beach if you wish to climb this Mountain. There are a lot of sand dunes along Bennetts Beach as well that provide fun for kids.
Hawks Nest Golf Club
Hawks Nest Golf Club is a beautiful space adjacent to the beach. The Club offers modern Clubhouse facilities and a magnificent Championship rated 18 hole course of 6079 metres of pleasant walking. The club welcomes all standard of players.
Mt Yacaaba Hawks Nest
If you like a challenging hike with spectacular views, then grab your hiking boots and make your way to Yacaaba Headland walking track. The trail leads up and across the northern headland of Port Stephens, in the southern reaches of Myall Lakes National Park. The walk starts off easy for the first 1km then the remaining 500m turns harsh, and it is a steep rocky climb. I had to use both arms and legs to ascend up. This was a very special day for me as it was the first anniversary of my dad passing. I climbed a mountain for my father and at 58 years of age that was pretty spectacular if I do say so myself!
Now, moving on to Tea Gardens, where I live.
To arrive at Hawks Nest you must first pass through Tea Gardens. The Singing Bridge separates the two villages. Located along the banks of the Myall River, Tea Gardens is a pretty little village offering a tranquil getaway. The village is surrounded by waterways and parks. One of my favourite things to do is make a cup of coffee from my Nespresso machine and take a few steps down to the water and watch the sunrise (the first photo in this article).
So let's explore...
The Tea Gardens Hotel
A popular pub for locals and visitors (just across the road from me so very convenient). They do a great bistro and pizza, and on a nice day the garden area is perfect for lunch! The hotel has water views and it also has accommodation. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, best to come 'off peak' season to really experience the beauty of Tea Gardens without all the crowds.
The Tea Gardens Art Gallery is definitely worth a visit and not just for the beautiful art and craft, there is a stunning garden as well.
Tea Gardens Police Station and Court House
This quaint little building brings a smile to my face, especially with the pelican sculpture on top of a pole with handcuffs in its mouth. I am still to actually see a police officer in this area though! Surely they are about?
Early in the morning I wake up to the acquisitie smell of bread baking and, I am talking early in the morning. I rise between 4.00 and 5.00 a.m. anyway so it is a great way to wake up, along with the abundance of birds singing their hearts out. I love to buy scones and local jam, to have a delightful Devonshire Tea on the balcony at home.
Vitamin Bead is in the same building as I live. Adrian (pictured) started Vitamin Bead 25 years ago and the boutique also offers online sales. Vitamin Bead Tea Gardens is a popular boutique offering; fashion and homewares.
Circle of Friends
I have been a fan of Circle of Friends for years. I can't even remember how many. I have quite a few statement pieces in my home from Circle of Friends, and here is one of them below.
Tea Gardens also offer a few stylish restaurants, a fishing co-op, fish n chip restaurants, real estate agencies, boating and bait. As well as the Information Centre. Tea Gardens also has a swimming pool.
Things to do in Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens
Things to do include fishing, kayaking, taking the ferry across to Nelson Bay, swimming, camping, bushwalking, visiting the art gallery or appreciating a beer at the pub.
Myall Lakes shopping centre offers a Coles supermarket, bottle shop, chemist, post office and a few speciality shops.
In Spring, the flannel flowers are abundant in the bush and along the roadside on Mungo Brush Road, as well as many other plant species.
Mungo Brush campground is not far out of Hawks Nest on the Mid North Coast NSW. It is a wonderful place to take your caravan, campervan, trailer or tent. There are 72 campsites to choose from, including: caravan, tent, camper, tailer and sleep next to the car, but be warned, in summer, you will have to battle mosquitoes. Mungo Brush campground offers a close walk to the beach, lake views, kayaking, fishing, bushwalking in the stunning rainforest and relaxation in nature.
I drive out to Mungo at least once a week because it really is spectacular and I love being in nature.
Dingoes can often be seen roaming around Hawks Nest and Mungo Brush, and visitors are asked not to feed them. You are not doing these wild dogs any favours by doing so, and in fact, you are promoting a problem. I have had a few encounters with these characters. Once I went bushwalking alone (I know dumb) and came across a few of them. I can tell you that was the scariest thing in my life and I will never do that again. I got out of that situation and the very next day I was driving up to Mungo Brush again, and this lone dingo was on road. I stopped and quickly took this snap, however this time I had a car to give me the upper hand!
Dark Point Aboriginal Place
Without a doubt, Dark Point Aboriginal Place is the most sacred place ever! You can read more about this Aboriginal place here.
Please be respectful when you visit and take your rubbish with you including the things you slide down the dunes on.
To finish, Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest is a delightful holiday area not too far out of Sydney.