Looking for pristine white sand beaches to match the Whitsundays, turquoise waters to rival Western Australia, but only have a weekend to spare? Look no further than Hawks Nest, a small seaside town in the stunning Great Lakes region of NSW, just a 2 hour 40 min drive from Sydney.
Our weekend trip to Hawks Nest was a last minute get away after checking out the beautiful sunny forecast ahead, so we booked ourselves into a cheap and cheerful motel, hopped in our car early Saturday morning and off we went. We headed north on the M1 out of the city and cruised on up for a few hours before taking the A1 turning off to Hawks Nest. We had admired the area from afar after a recent visit to Port Stephens (Hawks Nest is just opposite on the other side of the Karuah River), and so were expecting lovely beaches, but we had no idea quite how pristine and beautiful these beaches really are.
Although basic, the motel we stayed at (Ocean Side Hawks Nest), was perfectly positioned right next to Bennetts Beach – a beautiful stretch of white sand with views of luscious Mount Yakaba and John Gould island on the south side.
We then hopped back in our car and drove 5 mins down the road to Winda Woppa to take in the stunning panoramic views of Port Stephens, and have a more laid back swim in the calm still waters of Karuah River. Jimmy’s Beach is another great spot on the same stretch of beach, with equally tranquil and sparkling waters.
If you want to eat out, Tea Gardens is probably the best place to head for dinner (we’ve heard Tillermans and The Boat Shed are good spots), but as the weather was so lovely and we were trying to save the pennies, instead we headed to the nearest supermarket, stocked up on picnic food and a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, and headed to Bennetts Beach for a sunset picnic – the best decision we could have made and an experience we’d highly recommend.
As the sun got lower, the beach became more and more deserted, until we had the beach all to ourselves. After finishing our picnic and a few glasses of wine down, the stars came out in all their glory – a very special sight. We hadn’t seen stars quite like that in a long time, and made for a very romantic evening on the beach sipping wine, listening to our music and gazing up at the stars. It’s moments like that that you count yourself so lucky to be living in such an incredible country, and are able to drive just a few hours from home and find yourself in such a beautiful and isolated spot.
On our final day of Hawks Nest, we decided to walk up to the very top of Bennetts Beach and explore the Mount Yakaba area. After reaching the end of the Yacaba Spit Track, we walked across an adjoining sand pathway to take us to the other side of Hawks Nest. This is an absolute must do – you won’t believe the sight when you reach the end of the pathway. An absolute gem of an area, you’ll be greeted with crystal clear turquoise waters on a totally deserted section of the beach where the river meets the ocean. This is where we spent the best part of our day, just taking in this incredible little spot and saying hello to the local pelicans. There is a hike you can do to take you to the top of Mount Yakaba, but we were so taken by this stretch of beach we couldn’t drag ourselves away.
Before driving back home to Sydney, we finished our day with a quick 20 min drive north to Mungo Brush campground, part of Myall Lakes National Park. The perfect place to finish your day and take a quick lake dip in the gorgeously warm waters of White Tree Bay.
Further north is the beautiful area of the Pacific Palms (Seal Rocks and Blueys Beach), but we saved that for another weekend away – watch this space to read that blog post coming soon.