• Carolyn Scanlon

Great Lakes and Port Stephens: A budget friendly mini break

Updated: Apr 13

Easter just isn't Easter without a couple of little NSW road trips, in my humble opinion. I don't usually make a habit of retracing my steps, but after discovering this fantastic part of New South Wales' Barrington Coast area this Summer, I had to get back while there was still a hint of Summer in the air.

We headed off at the civilised hour of 8.30, with our first stop being the Bungwahl Rebooted second had market, at the Bungwahl Hall. It was so worth the drop in! We forgot the little one's boogie board, and I figured we might get lucky here. Yep! Scored a perfectly serviceable board for the princely sum of $5. Lots of cute clothes to admire and there was a sausage sizzle out the back. Things were off to a promising start.

We always get excited to check out our quirky budget friendly accommodation and Bungwahl delivered in the form of a converted shipping container on a property full of banana trees. With a queen bed and single bunk above, it was perfect for a short stay for a family of three.

After the bags were packed and swimmers on, we headed off to Seal Rock's breathtaking Number One beach. It might just be the most beautiful beach in the world, with its crystal clear water and gentle waves.

After wave jumping and boogie boarding, we'd worked up an appetite for dinner. This idyllic part of the world can be a challenging place to find a feed after the local cafes close, about 3pm. We ended up driving half an hour to Bulahdelah to a great little no-frills Indonesian restaurant called Warung Peri that sorted out our hunger nicely. Bulahdelah also boasts an IGA supermarket, so we also made sure we had supplies for the second night.

The next day was quite a bit cooler, so the beach didn't look likely. Instead, we decided to start the day with one of the many bushwalks the area has to offer.

We then headed up to Forster for some putt putt golf, for some pure cheesy holiday vibes. Forster Entertainment Centre was heaving, so we were lucky to be able to grab some clubs and hit the Jurassic-themed course.

After a stop for a delicious lunch at Drift cafe at the gorgeous Bluey's Beach, we headed off to one of the most stunning places in New South Wales, in my humble opinion - Dark Point Aboriginal Place. You can feel the site's importance as soon as you reach the end of the short path to the sand dunes. We had some fun with the $5 boogie board riding down the dunes. It is a magnificent place - and you might even spot a hopping mouse!

After another night in the shipping container, it was time to head home. I am one to drag out a holiday as long as I possibly can, so I was hoping to check out the Grandis,the tallest tree in New South Wales, but the park, like some others in the area, was closed due to flood damage. As my hubby so eloquently put it, "those floods have really kicked this area in the nuts".

Our penultimate stop was Hope Estate (vineyard, brewery and distillery) in the Hunter Valley, as my husband and I are both big fans of their sour beers. It's ridiculously beautiful and their products are all top notch. We left with a mixed pack of beer and a fragrant junipery gin. An inspired pitstop!

Last, but not least, we had one last holiday meal in Brooklyn. Fitzies fish and chips has started to become a bit of a last holiday hurrah for us, eaten around the corner by the water, watching the pelicans glide by.

And that was a wrap! If you have a long weekend up your sleeve, the Barrington Coast of New South Wales is full of hidden gems and family fun.