Tahlee

I visited a quaint little village at Carrington, Port Stephens called Tahlee, which stills contains the original historical Tahlee House and other artifacts. Tahlee has an interesting history as it was part of the early settlement in Port Stephens. Tahlee – was known as ‘the sheltered place above local waters’ by the indigenous people. The Australian Agricultural Company, (AAC) bought the land and built the house and other establishments in the 1830-1840’s. There were about 500 people in the settlement and a school.

The Church

 The old original church  built by the convicts around 1845 still stands, with the original bell, and was used to inform the community when a convict had escaped.

                    

 

The Residence
Tahlee House was originally built by convicts in 1826 as the residence for the Commissioners of the ACC.  A Boat Harbour was built to protect small boats from strong winds and it is still there today.

Sir Edward Parry lived in the House for about 10 years, and Captain  Phillip Parker King lived there in 1840s.The house and the estate was sold 1854 for 2500pounds. It caught on fire and burnt down leaving only the walls in 1860. In 1880’s  Robert Hoddle Driberg White bought it for 850 pounds and rebuilt it adding the billiard room and ballroom. The original fireplace is still in the house along with original furniture. Some of the rooms are kept to its traditional era and they have tours through out the estate. 

               

There is an original cannon in the front lawn.

 

 Tahlee Bible College

The Tahlee Bible College was started in June 1959 after purchasing unused buildings, such as the picture theatre, accommodation huts.  It is now on the heritage list.

 

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Kayaking with Jelly Blubbers

Kayaking with jelly blubbers all in a days work. One of the things I love about living near the coast is the many different activities that are available to do. Not only do I love hiking around the bush, mountains, trails, rocky outcrops, beach and sand dunes, but I also love kayaking around the waterways.

Port Stephens is full of magical pristine waterways, oceans and beaches. As a result of the fantastic water and beautiful environment, the marine life is abundant and special to say the least. My hubby and I went kayaking through mangroves around Taylors Beach and then around to Lemon Tree Passage. It was such a lovely day paddling on the water. This area of the bay is just so private and secluded and so pretty. There are always plenty of boats moaring just off shore.

Whilst we were minding our own business we came across a school (?) of jelly blubbers or jelly fish. It was a buzz paddling through them and watching them bobbing and swimming along.

I was lucky enough to have my waterproof camera with me, so I took a few shots. I decided to put the camera under the water and just shoot. These are what I ended up with.

I hope you enjoy them

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The view from the top of Tomaree Peak

Tomaree Summit, Port Stephens in Australia.

Tomaree Summit

N.S.W. National Parks

This is the view from Tomaree peak, some people call it a mountain, but after hiking around the Himalayas in Nepal, I can not call this little peak of 161m a mountain. So, to me it’s a peak.

 Facts on Tomaree Peak

Tomaree Peak is one of two peaks at the mouth of the majestic harbour of Port Stephens, in Australia.  It is part of Tomaree National Park and is a tourist attraction of Shoal Bay.  Tomaree Peak has a historical place in the area, as it was use as radar station and look out during WW11. There are relics of the war throughout and along the tracks on the peak.

The Hiking Experience

Climbing the peak can be a real challenge in some parts. Although it is a short walk up to the summit  about 1-1/12 hrs return, it is steep and does have many steps. It certainly tests your fitness level. Though the real hiking experience for me, is exploring the whole peak, from side to side, front to back and top to bottom. Exploring the whole peak will take about 3 hrs.

The Fisherman’s Track 

Following on the fisherman’s track around the front of the peak is a lovely bushy walk, this section takes about 1 hr return. This track can be slightly dangerous at times, as it is along the cliff face of the peak. Hiking around here includes climbing under fallen trees, up and over rocks and branches. So you will need to have a good back and knees.

The views along this part of the track are just stunning. First, there are the three beaches; Zenith, Wreck and Box. The ‘Spit” flows after Box and leads out to Fingal Island and the Lighthouse. As you climb further around the front of the peak, the views continue with a few islands and then Yaccaba Peak, the other Peak guarding the entrance to the harbour. Once you get to the end of the track, which is under the look outs and face of the peak, you can rest on the huge rocks, and watched the sea life such as whales and dolphins and birds.

I have seen whales from this point, dolphins, a fever of stingray. Just magical.

The view North from Tomaree Summit, shows Yaccaba Peak.

Yaccaba

Yaccaba Peak, Port Stephens, Australia.

Steps and track

After returning to to the path the hike then goes around until you reach the steep metal steps. Once you start your incline, you will be tested physically. This part of the walk is challenging but reaching the top will be so rewarding. Along the way, you’ll seen stunning views of Shoal Bay, the harbour and along the tops of other hills, and the 3 beaches.

The Summit

From the summit,  you’ll appreciate unparalleled views of unspoiled Port Stephens and its coastline.  Many people say it’s one of the best coastal views they have ever seen. The views look back over Shoal bay, the harbour that stretches for miles and miles, and the inner lighthouse. Then looking westward along the coastline you can see 3 little spectacular beaches hidden among the rocky outcrops. These beaches then lead onto a little strip of sand that is called the SPIT. On clear days you see to Newcastle and at times Sydney.

The Spit

The Spit is a very dangerous piece of sand to cross as it is susceptible to the tides and weather conditions. At high tide this SPIT gets completely covered with water and people have been known to get swept off the sand and die, 15 people have died on the spit.

3 Beaches and Spit

Zenith, Wreck, Box and Spit

Views

Looking beyond the spit you can see as far as Newcastle and on a clear day you can see Sydney, which is probably about 150Kms via the water. From the summit you can also see the many hilly peaks and National Park and each one of these peaks has it’s own treasure of views.

Tomaree National Park

View South over Tomaree National Park

When looking directly south from the top look out you will see Cabbage Tree and Boondelbah islands – which are the settling destinations for the Gould’s Petrel,  a rare bird that is vulnerable to extinction.

Then looking North you will see the other Peak called Yaccaba, and Tea Gardens and Hawkes Nest.

Gun Emplacements

Once you climb back down and reach the path, turn right. Along this path you see relics of the war and some of those spectacular sights from another perspective. This path will take you to the Gun Emplacements and then back down through the back of the Lodge. The Lodge is now a home for disabled people. During the war it was the base for the troops from the US and Australian Army.

To the Point

Once you have reached the car park turn right onto the public path and walk around out to the point. Here is more relics of the War such as torpedo tracks. The views along here just as special.

That is what I call a fantastic few hours of hiking with incredible views and experiences and it is definitely a work out. So, if your in this area make sure you put on your boots, pack a day pack, get a GPS or compass, let someone know where your going and get out there and explore, you will not regret it.

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Rock Pools

Rock Pools are one of the greatest things to find and explore when hiking along the coast. They are just fantastic, especially on a hot day after you have been hiking for a few hours, and ready for a rest and cool off,  talk about refreshing. You also need to remember that they can be dangerous, some harbour little sea creatures that can bite or sting. Also keep an eye out for that freak wave, and be careful to avoid injuries and accidents.

Deep Rock Pool

Deep Rock Pools

Anna Bay Coastal Rock Pools

 

What are Rock Pools?

Rock pools are areas of water that are trapped in among the rocks along the coastline. These rock pools are usually filled with sea water that has been delivered during high tides or rough seas. The water fill in the holes and stay there until they evaporate. They vary in sizes and depths and water quality, they are just so much fun. Sometimes small gaps between two major rocky outcrops directly into the ocean create great rock pools and they can be very big and very deep, deep enough that you can jump into off a high cliff. The water can be quite cold and if the seas are big enough they can be very rough going,  the waves can push you onto the rocks around the edges if your not careful.

Your own Spa

However, they create an atmosphere of seclusion and luxury, a feeling of having your very own private pool or spa at the beach or in the ocean.

Under water

Under water

A sunset sets the ambience

Watching the sun rise or sunset, around or in a rock pool, is another one of those magical moments, when you are glad you got into hiking in the first place.

Sunset at the Rock Pools

Anna Bay Rock Pools

 

Evidence of life

Sometimes the pools contain little creatures and shells that make it even more interesting. Sea plants often grows in the shallows of the rock pools. The pictures are shallow rock pools with sea plants and life in them. These are various types of seaweed and fish and shells.

Sea Plants in shallow rock pools

Sea Plants in shallow Rock Pools

Hiking Gear

On this day it was hot and it was in the middle of summer. I wore my hiking boots and hiking socks, as I always want a good grip and protection for my feet and ankles. As I walked around the rocks I had to balance and stretch, and my feet were placed in between ledges and I was sure glad to have good sturdy shoes. Snakes and Goannas are known to hang out on the rocks, sunning themselves. I wore my sturdy hiking shorts and a t-shirt. I applied sunscreen and hat.

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Diamond Head Camp Ground.

My family and I had a weekend camping in the Diamond Head National Park, in NSW Australia. Diamond Head is on the coast north of Port Stephens and sits in Crowdy Bay National Park. It was a great weekend and this spot was just perfect for a relaxing camping experience.

The camp site

I would recommend Diamond Head camping ground to tourists, or anybody wanting the real Australian coastal camping experience. It is right on the beach and the beach can be seen from some camp sites. The camp site is in the Crowdy Bay National Park and therefore bushy. We had Kangaroos and Goanna’s wandering around our campsite the whole time, they were quite tame. The amenities are clean and suitable, though the showers weren’t hot.

Tents

We took our two room tent that is quiet big, big enough for two queen size mattresses, and room to walk and store our gear, it was very comfortable. My adult kids took their 1 man and 2 man tents and soon regretted it. At first their tents were a bit squashy and both complained of being claustrophobic, especially after they put in their small mattresses. The tents got very wet at night from the dew and condensation, and each time they bumped the walls, they got wet and the tent stuck to them a bit. Then as the morning started to heat up, the tents became very very hot, and they came out red faced, sweating and growling. Not happy. So next time we are going to take bigger tents.  

Other gear

Many people were using solar grids to provide electricity and lighting. We took our solar shower and had short but warm – hot showers.

The fire

We had our open fire and cranked it up, so that the flames were high and glowing red and orange. Of course, we melted marsh mellows and told stories. What a wonderful family connection time. The evenings were still and fresh and the stars were plentiful and clear. The moon was nearly full and provided plenty of light.

I felt safe and comfortable at this little camping ground.

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Coastal hiking the view from Tomaree Summit at Port Stephens, Australia.

Tomaree Summit Coastal Hiking

N.S.W. National Parks

My love for coastal hiking has kept me fit and healthy, in mind , body and spirit, it has been great for my over all health. One of those things I love about coastal hiking, is exploring and witnessing the spectacular natural beauty . In Australia there are many beautiful places to hike and explore. These blogs will show  you many of those spectacular little places, that are well known and not so well known.

My Love of Coastal Hiking Gets me Outdoors-

What is better than getting outside and checking out the great outdoors?  I always need to get outside,  to see as much natural beauty as I can. I find being in nature very therapeutic, it has a holistic impact upon my whole well being.  Whenever I travel or visit others, I always take the opportunity to go for a hike or walk. That means putting on my shoes and getting out there. I walk in the rain, wind, sunshine, I walk early morning or evening. I really enjoy  walking at  different times of the day, and witnessing  the changing visual impact. Going out at different times of the day can create a totally different experience, such as it can bring out different creatures and birdlife.  The daylight and the shadows create completely different images and alter the hiking experience.

Rainforest

Rainforest

The Weather – 

I certainly enjoy physical impact of the weather and how it influences the experience of a hike. I really enjoy rain, it often adds a cleansing feeling and at times a refreshing relief to a walk. The wind can be a welcomed relief, after climbing and stretching and pulling yourself up and around beautiful trails.  When I am walking through a forest, and see the sun rays beaming through the trees is just awesome. I like the physical challenges of climbing down and around a rocky outcrop is challenging and rewarding. Walking for hours along a secluded beach is very relaxing and great for stress. Walking along the coastline at sunrise or sunset is yet another one of the special experiences. Such things will take you to many beautiful sites and create spectacular experiences.

Rough Coast

Rough Coast

Lower Costs than a Gym membership – 

Another thing that I really love about hiking is that it costs NOTHING! Once I have bought my shoes and gear, then I am set up. I like that there are no fees,  memberships, sweaty stinky gyms and noisy crowded areas. It’s simple, effective, challenging, rewarding and free.

trees on a beach

Trees on a Beach

Incorporating your Hobbies-

  I enjoy photography, and I will always be taking photos whilst I am hiking. Incorporating some of your hobbies into a hike is easy, such as photography, bird watching, fauna and flora research. So, here you will see some of my amateur photos of the coastline, ocean, whales, dolphins and tracks and other wildlife. I do hope you enjoy them.

Check out my website CoastalHikingGear to find all the coastal hiking gear you will need for your hiking experience.

 The Spit
To get to the lighthouse you have to cross the spit by foot, or go by boat or kayak, the lighthouse is not always accessible.
The spit is a very dangerous piece of sand, it has claimed 15 lives since the lighthouse was built. It is a stretch of sand that joins the mainland to Fingal Island. This stretch of land is covered by water as the tides come in and go out. So, if you decide to cross the spit at the wrong time, your chance of get caught in the strong currents and channels and swell is high. The spit can be very dangerous and quite unpredictable and care should be taken if you intend to cross it.

I finally crossed the spit after many years of apprehension. I wanted to explore the old relics of yesteryear, Point Stephens lighthouse and old homestead of the light keeper. Once on the island the walk is easy and straight forward. There are a few tracks to explore on the island.

Point Stephens Lighthouse on Fingal Island.
Fingal lighthouse is also referred to as the outer light as there are two lighthouses in Port Stephens, the inner lighthouse is positioned at the end of Shoal Bay beach in the harbour. The outer lighthouse was built in the 1860’s and is made of sandstone that was quarried from the Hawkesbury River and brought up by sailing ships, put onto punts and take ashore to be dragged by bullocks across the spit and up to where the lighthouse stands today. This must have been a massive task back then, 1860’s. The lighthouse was powered by a lantern and many years later a generator provided electricity, then in 1989 solar was introduced to power the lighthouse.
The Keeper’s Residence

The keeper’s residence housed 3 families. The kids (11) went to school in the lighthouse. It must have been hard work for the mums watching the kids, as there was water everywhere, rocky outcrops, snakes in the bush and ticks. Let alone the weather as it would have been a very windy place to live and at times extremely cold. Also, it is quite isolated and a long way from any help in an emergency.

The Views

The coastal views from the island are pretty amazing. You see for miles north and south and east. There are spectacular rocky outcrops and rock pools and small beaches to visit.

Worth a trek, it’s only a short walk once you have crossed the spit.
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Hiking The Annapurna Trail

Last October my friend and I joined a hiking group and started hiking the Annapurna Trail, in Nepal. The trek was a great experience, with plenty of very steep rugged goats trails with hundreds of steps.  The trail was basically like a highway for 100’s of people with their animals either going up or down the mountains. Many elderly people and women with babies used the trail everyday as their usual route. It made me realise just how lucky we are and how fantastic an opportunity it was to experience such an amazing country. The hike was certainly a work out.

Nepal’s Holy Time

We visited during Nepal’s Holy time and all of the Nepalese people headed to the mountains to offer their goats and pay their respects to the Holy Man. The Holy Man was situated in a temple on top of a very very high mountain that had its own cable car. So, goats were in the cable cars and in the buses, on the buses, on the streets, in the gardens, on the back of motor bikes, they were everywhere. The roads were congested with every single Nepalese person either going up to the mountain, or coming down and this went on for about a week. We visited the holy man and received a blessing.

Failing Infrastructure

Due to the earthquake in 2015, many country people moved into Kathmandu and other bigger towns. This had a major impact upon the infrastructure around these areas and caused blockages in all areas. There was evidence of poverty, land slides, pollution and over population. But, the people were lovely, very nice and kind, soft in nature and very helpful. The infrastructure in the city was inadequate to cope with so many people and tourists. 

Natural Beauty

Hiking the Annapurna trail showcased the natural beauty of Nepal, it was a picturesque place. The greens were green and the sky blue as blue, the houses were painted white and blue and stood out against the background. The people wore colourful clothing and married women wore red. The snow capped mountain range was something. The white snow against the blue sky was so photogenic. It certainly deserves the title of a majestic mountain range to say the least. When we were leaving Katmandu airport we could see the mountains popping up through the clouds.

Layers of Clothes

I was so glad that I had layered my clothes. The mornings  were freezing cold and cloudy, and I needed all of my layers including gloves and a beanie. Then the sun would come out.  As the warming the air and I had warmed up from climbing and trekking, so I had to take layers off.  Then the wind would pick up and it got cold again as we went further around the mountain. So it was a case of peeling off the clothes and putting them back on, throughout the day. Painful, but necessary. 

I found a video on youtube that shows most of where I went and the Annapurna Circuit.

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The Drip Walking Track

The Drip Walking Track is another lovely bush walk just outside of Mudgee. Rangers of the National Park  have been through recently and maintained the tracks. It is a relatively easy walk, clean and a very picturesque area.

The walk is about 3kms return and takes about 1.5hr, or longer if your into photography. The track  follows the cliff face along the Goulburn River. Parts of the track lead you through ferns and past many rocky cliffs and ledges and massive boulders. The erosion of the rocks have created small cave like openings along the river. Eventually, the track will bring you to the base of a large sandstone cliff, The Drip. The cliff drips clear spring water down along the rock face pooling at the bottom, in amongst the many fallen boulders and smaller rocks. As a result of the continuous moisture, there are lovely bright green ferns and grass growing on the rock. It has a really nice ambience down in there.

Aboriginal Heritage

This area is about 200 million years old (or older).  I can’t help but imagine how the early aboriginal people could have lived here. It appears  relatively safe and protected, with plenty of food and clean water, and so pretty and clean. The temperature would have been extreme. It gets freezing cold there in winter and way too hot for my liking in summer. It’s lovely this time ( August) of the year.

River Bed Exposed

The river is Goulburn River. The river is very dry and the sand bed is exposed and easily walked along, therefore it allows for easy access to the other side of the river and rock formations.  One local said the river was the lowest he had seen it in 20 years. This area is going to need some rain before summer gets here, or its going to be a difficult summer for the people and the animals.

We came across Wombat burrows that are scattered throughout the valley floor, hidden next to fallen rocks and cliffs. Some of these  were quite big and deep in some areas. There were Wallaby’s that jump passed us as we disturbed them. There was plenty of bird life such as kookaburra’s and others I didn’t recognise.

The bush can be very quiet and isolated in parts, and therefore easy to get lost if you decide not to stick to the tracks. Sound echo’s easily along the river bed and against the sandstone cliffs.

Stinging Nettle

There was one irritant and that was the Stinging Nettle. It’s a little bush plant that looks harmless until you brush past it or touch it and then, it stings!!! big time!  Therefore ensure you have your long hiking pants on and good shoes and socks. That saved me heaps as I had to walk through them at times. If you have allergies, maybe you should pack an antihistamine, just in case.

I highly recommend this walk and score it 8/10.

 

Fern Tree Gully

I thought I’d share my last hiking experiences with you. Hubby and I went to a true country town of Australia called Mudgee. There we found some beautiful county hikes. One hike called  Fern Tree Gully Reserve was about 1 hour out of Mudgee. It was the typical Australian  bush with rocky outcrops and gullies. Very pretty and relaxing, only noise was the birdlife. The hike was for about 1.5hrs and was relatively easy. There were people of all age groups, old to young kids managing the terrain and slopes.

Picturesque

Fern Tree Gully is a profoundly picturesque rainforest. There are strolling tracks that bring you down into the cool, green fern tree studded valley floor. The walk then leads around the edge of the large rock walls and cliffs where you can get a great view of the valley. A circle walk takes you through a variety of plant groups from the Western Dry Sclerophyll (gum tree)  to rich rainforest in and around a  restricted gorge of sandstone rocks and cliffs.

These cliffs can be as old a 200 million years old or more. These areas certainly give me a sense of being connected to the early aboriginal people. I could easily imagine them standing on the cliffs, rocky ledges and hunting through the bush.

Wildlife

I saw a Lyre Bird and Scrub Turkey’s, Black Cockatoo’s and Wallabies. I’m sure that as the winter season ends and spring arrives thee would be plenty of snakes. This area looked good for brownies (Brown Snakes) and red bellies.

This would be one area to ensure that you did if fact wear long hiking pants and long sleeved shirts. I wore both and was glad I did, not for the snakes, but the branches scratching on my legs and arms. I wore hiking shoes and thick hiking socks and am glad I did, it just gave me a sense of safety whilst I was roaming the native bushland.

 

Definitely worth a hike if your ever out that way. My score is 8/10