With everyone holidaying closer to home and enjoying day trips to local destinations, it’s the perfect time to really explore the beauty and fun that can be found not too far from our own front doors. And really, we are completely spoilt for choice with stunning beaches, waterways, forests and quaint little towns all within a short distance, so there’s really no excuse but to pack the car and start discovering our local treasures. One such region close to home is Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest, just north of Newcastle.
And that’s exactly what my family and I did! Looking for a change of scenery one weekend, we packed the bikes, fishing gear and the esky and took off north. Just an hour up the highway, we made our way over the crest into the beautiful Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest region.
Nestled between the beautiful Hawks Nest Beach and the Myall River, this area has been a long-time holiday favourite for many (including us!), but this time around, we decided to explore the area slightly differently – on our bikes!
We parked the car along the foreshore at Tea Gardens, where there is a good range of coffee options to fuel up before our ride (my pick, Tillermans or The Tea Gardens Boatshed) and from here, we jumped on our bikes and followed the flat path along the river edge. The bike path takes you up and over the spectacular Singing Bridge, which links Tea Gardens to the beachside town of Hawks Nest.
The bike and walking path then runs riverside, past a terrific fishing spot and children’s playground at Lioness Park on Moira Parade. With clean toilets, great playground facility and a jetty to throw a line in or watch the boats go past, this was a lovely place to take a break.
Back on our bikes, and we followed the path all the way along Moira Parade which connects to an easy little bush track, where you can walk or ride behind the nursing home and pop out at Corrilla Street. The kids enjoyed the little bush ride amongst the trees and after discovering another playground stop at the entrance to the Jimmy’s Beach caravan park, the kids were keen to give this one a test run too!
When the weather is warm, pack the swimmers and take a dip in the calm waters of Jimmy’s Beach, where you can enjoy the view of Mount Tomaree in the distance and Shoal Bay across the water. The perfect spot for children, there are no waves, so it’s a great spot to throw the kayak in, try your hand at stand up paddle boarding or set up a long lazy game of beach cricket.
Hawks Nest Beach
We kept on riding and the whole family enjoyed the flat, wide streets and footpaths of Hawks Nest, which makes bike riding with younger children a breeze. We headed down the dirt Beach Road, where you can climb over the sand dune at the end and be rewarded with the beautiful view of Hawks Nest beach and Mount Yacaaba. This bushy point is speckled with walking tracks for those that are keen and people often spot dingos along this sandy stretch!
We road back towards the Hawks Nest Surf Club and parked the bikes for a spot of dolphin watching and beachcombing.
The shells that wash up on this magic stretch of coastline are some of the best we’ve seen!
Another great playground awaits just near the surf club – Providence Bay Park. This one is a ripper with plenty of shade, toilets close by, a wide range of equipment for all ages and food and coffee just across the road at The Benchmark on Booner Restaurant.
We also spotted a council hire bike station, so if you forget your own bikes and fancy a wiz around the streets, you can hire one here!
The little main street of Hawks Nest was our next stop, where we picked up a bunch of gourmet picnic treats from the well-stocked IGA and fresh bread from the bakery. There are takeaway options too – so support local and buy what you can!
We then road the final stretch back along the bike bath and cross the bridge and stopped at the top to admire the stretching views along the Myall River and plenty of fishing boats and pelicans in action too.
Back in Tea Gardens, it was time to park the bikes and enjoy our local picnic lunch on the grassy promenade on the Myall River where there are toilets at the local pool and BBQ facilities (or you could enjoy lunch out at a bunch of popular cafes or the pub opposite the river). And no visit is complete, without checking out the interesting Tea Gardens Art Gallery, which displays artworks from local artists.
Our final destination was a stop at the legendary Tea Gardens Ice Cream Shack, complete with orange Kombi inside, to keep the kids smiling! What a perfect day and perfect way to explore this beautiful area.
Want to stay longer?
If you’ve got time to spare, why not take advantage of a whole host of family-friendly accommodation options at Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest and make a weekend out of it? With plenty of holiday houses and units to rent and two terrific holiday parks including Reflections Jimmy’s Beach Caravan Park on the bay and the Big 4 Hawks Nest Beach caravan park which is a stone’s throw from the waves, this water paradise is the perfect spot to set up camp for families.
When Odette Tonkin isn’t writing, she’s chasing after her four kids on their Newcastle urban acreage, surrounded by her veggie garden, chooks and bees! Odette has worked as a newsreader, public relations officer and spent over ten years as a writer and editor at Pacific Magazines, writing for a bunch of magazines including TV Hits, Girlfriend, K-Zone, Total Girl, New Idea and Famous.