Combine cruising, wining and dining?
We thoroughly enjoy joining the Free Spirit Cruises from Forster. It sets off at around 10am. Morning tea is served as it to cruises up Wallis Lake and the Coolongong River. The light lunch with desert and tea/coffee served on board is very pleasant. When we reach the end of Coologolook River a bus is waiting to take everyone on the 10 minute drive to Great Lakes Paddock Winery.
The hosts at the winery are great. They make the tasting expereince very personal. The wines are accompanied by local cheese, jams, chutney, biscuits, meat, so it is more than just a wine tasteing event. We like their wines, and it is good to know they don’t have an inflated price tag.
Afternoon tea is served back on board on the return trip. We have done the tip several times as it has been so enjoyable.
If you are up for a challenge, head north up the A1 towards Port Macquarie and turn left to reach Bago Vinyards and Maze. This is the largest hedge maze in NSW. It will test out the navigation skills of kids (and Kids at heart). You can bring your own picnic, or sample local cheese and meats, along with wine tasting.
A little further up the highway is the Cassegrain Wines & Restaurant. The Cassegrain family began making wines in France in 1643. For over 30 years they have combined their French heritage and traditions with Australian technology to produce authentic styles of wines, full of flavour, yet soft and elegant.
Return via Long Point Vineyard & Gallery in Lake Cathie. It is a charming traditional vineyard. Try their famous Agent Orange liqueur, or their alcoholic ginger beer, and enjoy the local art and sculptures.
At the Beach
The Tuncurry Rockpool swimming enclosure is one of our favourite local spots. It’s ideal for an early morning stroll as it’s only 1.5kms from Fairholme. It’s a spot that has it all. You can swim or head to the adjacent park and enjoy a picnic or cook up a storm on the BBQ whilst the kids burn off energy on the park’s playground.
Alternatively, we sometimes relax with a coffee, snack or ice cream from the kiosk. If you are lucky enough you may even see dolphins frolicking in the channel.
From here you also have access to Nine Mile Beach. If you love surfing, the detached bar creates the potential for good beach breaks under most swell conditions. The North Wall, at Tuncurry breaks over sand bars off the wall during big east to northeast swell.
If you prefer a more central location, Forster’s Main Beach is only 2.2km (5min) away. It stretches from the break-wall to the Forster Ocean Baths. It is also walking distance from Forster’s town centre and generally has very mild surf conditions which are suitable for both beginners and experienced surfers. This is a protected beach which makes it ideal for families.
You may also like to try the beaches at Pacific Palms. Head south on Boomerang Drive to discover Elizabeth ('Lizzy') beach. It faces north, offering protected swimming. Popular with families, as it is the only patrolled beaches in this area. (At the southern end, Shelly Beach is so secluded that clothing is optional!!!!)
Boomergang beach has a reputation as the best surf beach in the Palms, where competitions are regularly hosted. Blueys beach is another good surf beach.
It is worth exploring the dirt road which heads down to Cellito, just past Pacific Palms. Cellito beach is accessed from a board walk. Its turquoise blue waters and white sands stretch before you.
Forster Fishing Charters
Our family enjoy fishing while on holiday, although we rarely do it at home. On a recent visit, the trip to the fishing grounds was made more enjoyable by the Captain who provided a detailed and entertaining explanation of the day's program as well as the fishing and weather conditions.
He also provided some interesting commentary on Forster's history whilst slowly cruising through the stunning Wallis Lake where we could see through the clear-blue water to spot sting rays, bream, flathead and all sorts of other fish. A bonus was a visit by a pod of dolphins.
While under way we trawled lures for tuna and kingfish. With a max of 13 customers there is ample room to fish or sit and relax (inside or out) and plenty of personalised service with lines being baited, re-rigged and fish removed from the lines if required. The first drop over some reefs brought up flathead. With two hooks per rod every drop produced one if not two flatheads!
On the journey back to port, Captain Robbie expertly filleted the fish and evenly divided them among us. We ate the most delicious, fresh flathead that night and even froze enough for another meal.
Tip: If you are concerned about getting seasick then try one of the estuary fishing charters instead.
Some friends had recommended the Horse About Tour in Tuncurry. The adventurer in me thought we’d give it a go. What a great day out it turned out to be!
It started with a quick walk around the paddock and a bit of coaching. I instantly connected with my horse called Buckie. The track wound through the bush on sand tracks, close to trees and bushes for around 50 minutes and then it opened up onto Nine Mile Beach. Once on the beach Buckie and the other horses picked up their pace. The beach run was an awesome half hour plus! The horses were even allowed to swim in the ocean! We were also rewarded by seeing another pod of dolphins.
This was certainly a great family experience the kids will never forget and I’ve had to promise them that on our next trip to Fairholme we will either do the sunrise or sunset trek.
Alternatively, head to Seal Rocks, and walk up to the Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse. Its a must do. it is one of only two lighthouses in Australia with an external staircase. Completed in 1875 it was built to warn ships of the rocky cost line. If you are into diving, the SS Catherun did not escape the rocks and provides an exciting diving experience.
The head to the Grandis picnic area north of Bulahdelah on the Pacific Highway. A short boardwalk takes you to the Grandis, the tallest tree in NSW. The magnificent flooded gum towers above you at over 70m.
No holiday is complete without spoiling the home cook. There are so many wonderful cafes and restaurants at Forster/Tuncurry, so why not try some of our suggestions. If you discover some of your own that’s worth mentioning let us know.
An ideal location to start the day with a delightful coffee, snacks, salads and burgers is at Beach Bums Café on Beach Street. Itis open daily (weather permitting) and overlooks Main Beach. It’s so popular so you need to be early to get a table.
We were looking for somewhere to have breakfast and found Bee on Boardwalk at 32 Memorial Drive, Forster and decided to give it a go. Bee offers great brekky selections at great prices, amazing service and unrivalled views of Wallis Lake. There’s ample parking immediately outside the Café so this place will tick all your boxes!
If you like fresh seafood, then you must visit Beach Street Seafood in Forster’s town centre. You will be impressed by the range on the menu, the great atmosphere and friendly service. Nothing is pre-cooked, you order and they cook it! For desert, the Banana Dream or Deep Fried Ice Cream is a must try!
PS: Their Tuesday night special is Buy 1 Fish ‘n’ Chips and get 1 for only $5.00.
On the other hand, if you love oysters as much as we do, then the only place to buy them is directly from Graham Barclay Oysters corner Mark and Little Streets Forster. Our trip to Foster/Tuncurry always includes a treat of oysters. We buy a few dozen and head back to Fairholme where we sit on the balcony overlooking Wallis Lake. Fresh oysters accompanied with one of the specially selected wines from Great Paddocks winery ….ahhh…such is life!
We also found amazing quality food at affordable prices at 242ate Café Bar and Frill @ Club Forster. Their Meze plate and penne marinara is one to consider.
If you want to leave the car behind, then Hamilton’s in Tuncurry is only a skip and hop away from Fairholme. You may have seen it on your left as you drove into Point Road. In addition to the restaurant, we have also bought dinner from their take-away menu.
Why not make Thursday a day of fun and games? You can start the day off by visiting the Big Buzz Fun Park.
We found the park to be a bit old, but it is fun for the kids as there is a lot to do. We all had a great time on the water slides – they are super fast. The go karts and tabogan rides were popular too. A swim in the pool at the end was a great way to finish before lunch. Entry fee is a bit pricey so to save some money we brought our own lunch. However, next time we will bring sausages and rolls and make use of their BBQ facilities.
On a hot day we can easily spend all day at the Fun Park. However, the last time we went the weather turned so we headed off to Forster Tenpin Centre. We loved how they’ve intergrated the tenpin with the new Jurasic idoor putt putt and laser tag. The bowling lanes are incredible under protechnics especially if you choose a ball that glows in the dark! We highly recommend this venue.
As the littlies started to get restless we then decided to visit Forster Kids Spot. They ran wild with the mega climbing maze; ball swamps; jumping castle; tunnels; soft play equipment; slides and many more activities. Needless to say that night they slept like babies!
If you don’t have kids. Jump on line and take a look at all the magnificent walks available in the area.
The National Motorcycle Museum at Nabiac is a fascinating place to visit. There are over 800 motorcycles on display. We have called in there on our way back home. Even if you are not usually into motorbikes, it is worth a visit.
Mt Mograni Lookout will capture your heart with the most impressive views of the Gloucester Valley and the sacred mountain ranges laying on either side. The best time to get photos is before midday when the sunlight illuminates the eastern side of the Buccan Buccans.
Gloucester is only about 1 hour from Tuncurry. It is located at the junction of the Gloucester and Barrington rivers. Great for coffee and interesting shops, it is also famous for being home to Captain Thunderbolt the colonial bushranger, who relived gold prospectors of their finds.
The Barrington Top National Park is on the World Heritage list. Rising from near to sea level to 1500 meters, the subalpine area regularly gets snow. This ancient volcano provides areas for bushwalks, bike riding, trout fishing and whitewater rafting.