This post features photos and information on Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens which are situated on the northern shores of Port Stephens. The northern headland at the entrance to Port Stephens, now known as Yacaaba, was originally named by Captain Cook in 1770 as Cape Hawke at the same time as Port Stephens was given its name. It’s part of the Great Lakes Shire and although it’s within sight of Shoal Bay, many people favour one side of the bay over the other and barely know much about the other side.
A vintage-style timber ferry is operated by Port Stephens Ferry Service and runs between Nelson Bay and Tea Gardens, and the trip takes about an hour. Be sure to keep a watchful eye for dolphins, which often ride the bow wave within metres of the ferry. Tea Gardens is the main commercial centre of these two suburbs and is where the ferry ports on the western bank of the Myall River.
Hawks Nest is on the eastern side of the Myall River and connected to Tea Gardens by the arching Singing Bridge. As you cross the bridge you may notice the koala signs on the side of the road. They signify a small koala habitat area on the left hand side of the road.
For its size, Hawks Nest has a large beachfront as Bennett’s Beach lines the eastern coast and extends in a very large sand spit joining to the distinctive Yacaaba Head. Yacaaba offers a fairly steep climb for anyone willing to take on the challenge, but it is reasonably short and sweet, being only up to an hours round trip (depending on how fast you walk!). The path starts at the base of the headland on Bennett’s Beach.
Four-wheel driving is permitted on certain sections of Bennett’s Beach. There is also an expanse of sand dunes you can discover on foot. Bennett’s Beach is the main surf beach in Hawks Nest, and is patrolled by volunteer lifeguards in the summer months just in front of the Surf Life Saving Club.
Jimmy’s Beach & Winda Woppa
Jimmys Beach extends west from the southern side of Yacaaba Head to form the sandy peninsula known as Winda Woppa. Jimmy’s Beach is a fantastic swimming beach with sections of absolutely still, calm waters for wading and paddling.
Remember to keep watch for dolphins as they are commonly seen on both beaches, but tend to come in especially close to shore on Jimmy’s Beach. Dingoes are also occasionally spotted on both Bennett’s and Jimmy’s Beach, so keep an eye out and remember never to feed them.