My partner and I generally have one holiday per year that does not involve setting up a tent and roughing it. This year we decided to spend a week exploring the area around Nelson Bay, about an hour’s drive north of Newcastle.

Nelson Bay

Image Credit: Hamilton Lund; Destination NSW

Nelson Bay is one of many bays and inlets in the greater Port Stephens area of New South Wales. Christmas is the busiest time of the year in this beachside resort town, where the pace is leisurely but parking may cause a headache or two. The population of this town swells by a remarkable 40,000 people each December.

As a family holiday destination Nelson Bay ticks all the boxes. Most resort and motel accommodation (of which there is abundance) comes with pool facilities, allowing mums and dads to relax, whilst the youngsters burn off some excess energy. The family can also go swimming in locations such as Anna Bay, One Mile Beach, or my favourite, Shoal Bay. Pristine water means that the depth of the water is easily estimated, meaning safety for the littlies. Dolphin cruises and dozens of inexpensive eateries also keep the family satisfied.

Nelson Bay

Image Credit: Gabriele Chapman

The greater Nelson Bay area includes Soldier’s Point, where relaxed breakfasts and dinners can be enjoyed, whilst overlooking the yachts and cruisers one could dream about owning. The Nelson Bay Golf Club offers the energetic an opportunity to hit a few balls, whilst the restaurant overlooking the 18th hole allows the diner to observe wonderful Australian bushland and wildlife such as ducks with families in tow, kookaburras and wallabies.

We stayed at the Landmark Resort, Dowling Street, Nelson Bay. It suited us well, as the walking distance to most places was short. The bowls club and shopping centre were a mere stroll away. AJ’s restaurant is a part of the resort complex, so driving was minimal if looking for an inexpensive dining option.

All in all, our seven days were enjoyable, though it was not the end of our Christmas holiday. There were other tiny towns to explore on the way home to Brisbane.