The van is with the mechanic getting an engine swap so I'm stuck in Newcastle for longer than I expected. That said, from what I've learnt in my short time here, it's a great place to spend a little extra time!
Today I was lucky enough to get a tour of some great spots by a local legend nick named Johnny Bravo. Probably one of the most friendly blokes I've met in a long time. Around 11am we set off in his 4WD to Port Stephens, stopping along the way to feed the pelicans.
Next stop was Shoal Bay, an absolutely beautiful spot popular with Sydney-siders looking to escape the hustle and bustle. We drove past several caravan parks with literally thousands of grey nomads. Soon after we stopped at the base of a hill to climb to the top. The view was absolutely worth it, and kudos to Johnny's heavily pregnant wife for accompanying us to the top!
From there we headed to the famous sand dunes of newcastle, some of the biggest in the southern hemisphere. Along the way, we took a little detour to check out one of Australia's most popular nudist spots, Samurai Beach. It was a bumpy ride to get there, only accessible via 4WD. It was also the first nudist beach I'd ever seen. To be honest, it's exactly the same - except everyone's naked. I didn't take photos…because…well….you know.
Anyway, then we were onto the sand dunes for some sand boarding! It was absolutely incredible going from beach landscape to something that resembled the Sahara. Dunes hundreds of feet high towered on both sides of us and Johnny took great delight in scaring the shit out of us by zooming up and down the slopes, and repeatedly pointing out spots where people had died doing the same.
We stopped at Tin City, population; 10 people. Also apparently the location where Mel Gibson's Mad Max was filmed as well as the iconic Australian song Land Down Under. After a quick photo we finally got to the part we'd been looking forward to, sand boarding!
I won't lie, I was pretty nervous. This wasn't exactly a OH&S approved activity, and there no helmets. So it was balance or else hit the ground. We quickly learnt that you can't really steer on a sand board, you just kind of try to stay upright and not fall down when you're going really fast. After a couple of goes I got the hang of it and had a great time zooming down the dunes. (Except for that time I fell off going really fast, hit my head and forgot my name for a few seconds).
It'd been a long day and it was time to head back to Newcastle for some ultimate frisbee on the beach and a BBQ at Johnny's place. Till next time!