There is a lot to see and discover north of the harbour, and one of the best ways is by bike.
The Stockton bike path stretches from Stockton Bridge all the way around the peninsula to the Stockton pool and the start of the breakwall. At approximately 7km, mostly flat and lightly used, it is a fantastic path to ride with kids.
If you’re visiting from Newcastle side of the harbour, the easiest way to connect with the Stockton bike path is via ferry. Use your Opal card to get over and back. There are bike racks on the ferry and bikes are permitted on free of charge.
If you’re visiting from Port Stephens or Maitland way, park at the car park near Stockton Bridge, located at the northern end of Fullerton Street or at the ferry wharf. You won’t have too much trouble finding a car park here on a weekend and parking is free. During the week when commuters use the car park, you might have to drive along Hunter Street or Wharf Crescent to find a park.
If you keep to the path, you’ll pass three playgrounds including the Stockton Active Hub. It will be almost impossible to ride past this popular playground without the kids begging to stop for a play.
The Pitt Street Reserve playground and Ballast Ground playground, albeit smaller, are also great places to stop for a rest, snack and play.
To the north, the bike track weaves through some beautiful, big old trees and a serene green canopy.
You’ll also get some great views of Stockton Bridge and the harbour.
As you ride around the harbour heading south, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best views of Nobby’s Headland and Nobby’s Lighthouse. If you’re lucky you might spot dolphins frolicking in the harbour, a ship entering or exiting or witness one of the many people who are fishing reel in a catch.
Dotted along the path are fitness stations if you’re interested in balancing out the cardio component of your bike ride with a little strength work and stretching.
If you have the energy, you might like to ride the Stockton Breakwall. Take extra caution, doing so is at your own risk and high winds and high seas can present a danger.
Dodging the cat poop on the break wall is a small price to pay for the excitement on the kid’s faces when they spot one of Stockton’s famous break wall cats peeking shyly from behind a rock. You’ll also see the wreck of the Adolphe and be able to walk out along the purpose-built viewing area.
The Stockton Historical Society has done a wonderful job signposting along the bike path. Their interesting and informative signs allow you the chance to delve into the history of the suburb and the harbour.
You can learn about ‘Pirate Point’, shipwrecks, shipping, the old vehicular punt and more.
I also love this recently erected sign explaining Burrabihngarn and the significance of the indigenous totems and landscape specific to this area. Keep an eye out for it on your ride!
When hunger calls, there’s plenty of options; Lexie’s on the Beach is located beachside. A short walk from the end of the bike track they offer al fresco dining, perfect on a sunny day. The General Washington Hotel is located opposite the ferry wharf and The Boatrowers Hotel, which has a lovely family-friendly courtyard, is located across the road from the bike path on the harbour side. There are also a number of takeaway options in Stockton town centre and, if a picnic is more your thing, you can buy supplies at the IGA located there also. There are three public toilets located along the path.
The Stockton bike path gets quite busy around the ferry wharf and the Active Hub. The path is utilised by riders of all abilities, from tots on balance bikes to serious cyclists. It’s also popular with walkers, people walking dogs and folks on motorised scooters so remember to keep left, ride sensibly and use your bell when required. Most of all, enjoy the fresh air and being outdoors with your family!
Good to know
[Editor’s Note – Facebook reader Geoff advises that this is a great ride but don’t venture off the path as this area often has cats eyes that can puncture your tyres]
Parking: There is free, untimed parking at the carpark located at the ferry wharf. There is also a small, free carpark located at the northern end of Fullerton Street near the Stockton Bridge. Entry to this carpark is via Fullerton Street. Another option is to park at the carpark at the end of King Street at the start of the Stockton breakwall.
Amenities: There are three public toilets located along the path – one at the Stockton Active Hub, one at the Ballast Ground playground and the other at the Stockton North boat ramp.
Distance: The Stockton bike path is approximately 7km in length. Depending on the age and ability of your kids, you may choose to ride part of the path only.
Bring: Water bottles, insect repellent, sunscreen.
Getting there: The Stockton ferry operates Monday to Friday from 5am to 11pm, Saturday from 5.30am to midnight and Sunday from 8.45am to 10pm. An Opal card is the easiest and cheapest ticket option.
Meg is a stay-at-home mum whose interests include gardening, reading, writing poetry and not staying at home. A born and bred Novocastrian, Meg enjoys camping and travelling with her family and weekend road trips to discover new and interesting places. Meg has two energetic kids and is passionate about kids having the opportunity to be outdoors as often as possible.