More than Dolphins, Live Barramundi & Big Lunches

More than Dolphins, Live Barramundi & Big Lunches

It all started at the Little Beach Boathouse Restaurant, because we’d decided this short holiday in Nelsons Bay would be organised around having our main meals “out” at lunchtime. So shortly after our 12 noon arrival, we ordered our meals and sat relaxing, taking in the view.

DSC04821This is Little Beach, Nelsons Bay

Maggie ordered “Market Fish” – Blue Eyed Cod. Mine was Crisp Pork Belly. Delicious food, friendly service and great scenery: definitely worth going there for lunch and dinner.

IMG_5157View from just outside the Little Beach Boathouse Restaurant’s front door

DSC04989Little Beach and the Boathouse Restaurant from a boat

We stayed in a holiday apartment overlooking the Nelsons Bay Marina.

DSC04606View of the Marina from our apartment

Late each afternoon we enjoyed drinks and snacks on the balcony. The weather was a little misty, with periods of rain on the first two days.

And apart from organised activities, walking along the shoreline provided exercise and enjoyment.


DSC04801It’s MAGIC

 … the boat’s name that is, but also the scene.

Day 2 commenced with visitors

DSC04668Rainbow Lorikeets

Then a stroll through the Community Arts Centre in Nelsons Bay, plus a tour of the  Barramundi Farm, south west of Nelsons Bay, rounded out the morning.

Barramundi are interesting fish. Despite being carnivorous, they have no teeth, so they suck in their food with substantial force. A Barramundi whose “eyes are bigger than his belly” can choke, because he has no way to chew or expel his prey if it becomes lodged in his throat.  I have deliberately mentioned this in relation to male fish, because Barramundi are born male and change to female after maturing (approx. 4 to 5 years of age) and it is mostly immature fish that misjudge their ability to consume prey.

To demonstrate the Barra’s eating technique the tour guide drops food pellets, one at a time, into a tank of large females.

DSC04705The splash shown above, and the accompanying loud bang, is not caused by the fish’s body movement. It is created entirely by rapidly sucking in of food, air and water, followed immediately by the forceful expulsion of air and water through the gills.

DSC04790.jpgThree live “Barra”, netted to show the size at which they are sold for the table

The tour finished right on time for us to have lunch at the farm in the “Cookabarra” Restaurant. We both ordered whole baked “Aussie Barra” with salad and chips. Mmmm!

Day 3 we embarked on a dolphin watch cruise, aboard the MoonShadow V trimaran.

DSC04624MoonShadow V to the left

As we motored across the bay in search of dolphins, several seagulls decided to hang in the wind above our heads, just in case someone on the boat left food unattended.



Then this happened

DSC04862Shhhh … don’t tell anyone, the dolphins went that way

Too late, we found them.


As this group of three dolphins moved into shallower water the captain decided to take us east towards the bay entrance, in search of a larger pod.

DSC04907Tomaree Mountain is the southern headland of the bay. The Port Stephens Lighthouse can just be seen in the background on Shark Island

DSC04916Yacaaba Head is at the north of the bay entrance …. and there’s a fin just breaking water (see the small “white cap” centre frame)

DSC04927We couldn’t move closer to this “eastern pod” for fear of being pushed onto the rocks

When the dolphins moved away we headed back. And with dolphins out of site the paparazzi focused on birds and selfies.



And you won’t believe it, we arrived back at the Marina just in time for lunch at the Wharf Cafe.

Maggie ordered an Antipasto Plate, while I chose Seafood Spaghetti (a large, tasty serving).

That afternoon we decided to check out the view from a higher balcony, Gan Gan Lookout.

DSC05010In case you were wondering where Gan Gan Lookout is, in relation to every other place on earth, …..

DSC05024Looking across “the bay” and out to sea, through the bays entrance formed by Mount Yacaaba (left) and Tomaree Mountain (right)

DSC05025West towards Lemon Tree Passage

DSC05026Gymea Lilly

Between Sydney and Brisbane, many regional towns have been bypassed by the Pacific Highway (in certain sections also called Pacific Motorway, The A1 and M1). We decided to visit two of the bypassed towns near Nelsons Bay.

DSC05028The Bridge over the Karuah River

We stopped briefly at Karuah. It’s a small settlement, but the bridge (built in 1957) and the Karuah River have significance. The river is “born” near Gloucester NSW and flows 101 kilometres into the bay at Port Stephens, through Nelsons Bay and Shoal Bay to reach the sea.

At Bulahdelah we stopped for coffee and then decided to go east to Seal Rocks, despite the deteriorating weather.

DSC05033The detached headland, Seal Rocks Beach #1

It may not appear to be windy, but at times it was difficult to standup against the wind.


DSC05042Water crashing through the narrow channel, Beach #1

DSC05055Seal Rocks Beach (presumably #2)


“Performance by the Stick Tribe” – The tall, skinny conductor to the right is attempting to control the action; the short, bushier figure near the centre appears to be mocking his leader; while the remainder gossip and laugh their way through the windy performance.

Well, it’s almost lunch time and there’s not a restaurant in site. The ONLY option – drive back to Nelsons Bay to the Little Beach Boathouse.

We just made it before 2pm, to encounter the end of the noisy Saturday lunchtime crowd. But seated by the window we relaxed, tuned-in to the scenery and contentedly awaited our meals.



The End…

We’ll … it’s not the final end …. there’ll be more in another few weeks, but it was the end of that short adventure….. Can we move on now?

Oh yeah, the meals. What did we order? Maggie chose Prawn Cocktail as a “main”. I ordered Spicy Lamb Backstrap with Veggies.


  • Susan Harrison
    Posted at 17:22h, 25 September Reply

    I loved your photos….especially the “stick conductor ” . Very picturesque place and I’ve never been to Nelson Bay. Although have been to Karuah and Buladelah.
    Your lunches sounded yummy and a very memorable part of a lovely getaway. Xx

    • alistairstravel
      Posted at 18:18h, 25 September Reply

      Thanks Susan, I hope you have the opportunity to spend time in Nelson Bay, Shoal Bay or one of the other suburbs in Port Stephens. I’m glad you like the Stick Conductor. I did wonder if anyone would get this one. Yes all of the lunches and restaurants were good , but the Little Beach Boathouse is definitely my favourite.

  • Peter Stanton
    Posted at 20:47h, 25 September Reply

    AD…absolutely superb photos and so well written…where do I sign to go NOW

    • alistairstravel
      Posted at 06:07h, 26 September Reply

      Thank you Peter. Hope you have the chance to to go.

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