Saturday, March 22, 2008

Port Stephens Tour

It was a good day for a tour; it was a bad day for a tour. It was the long Easter weekend. Too bad it had been raining the past few days.

GF and I met up at Central station around 6:45am, then walked to the Sydney Entertainment Centre where the NCT bus was supposed to leave at 7am. From the city centre, we went to Chatswood to pick up more people.

Programme for the day is as follows:

  • Australian Reptile Park (Gosford) - $22.00
  • Divers Luck Winery (Port Stephens) - $3.00
  • Dolphin Watch Cruise (Nelson Bay) - $19.50
  • Seafood Lunchbox - $12.50
  • Four-Wheel Drive (Anna Bay) - 19.00
  • Sandboarding (Anna Bay) - free
The morning was pretty uneventful, except for the fact that our tour guide kept forgetting that GF and I had already paid our expenses in full. Turns out when we gave him our payment, he marked the wrong person's entry. And now the other person is claiming that he had also paid. I'm pretty sure we had already paid, so I'm not budging. After a while, the tour guide came back to our seats, and wanted to confirm that I'm not lying to him. Geez, as if I'd lie in front of GF.

After about an hour or so of driving, we arrived at the Australian Reptile Park. GF and I didn't join the tour anymore as we're not really into reptiles. Killed time at the lobby and the souvenir shop. It drizzled a bit; hopefully it stops by the time we get to Anna Bay. Next stop is the Divers Luck Winery, supposedly the first and only winery in Port Stephens. One of the staff gave us a short overview of how they make their botique wines. Three dollars gives us a sampling of two white wines, two red wines, and port. Felt a bit tipsy after all that drinking. That's actually not good because next up is our noontime dolphin-watching cruise at Nelson Bay. The weather's not cooperating, too, as the winds are pretty strong, resulting in some choppy waves, adding to my seasickness. I went below deck to pick up our seafood lunchboxes. Again, the tour guide asks me if I have really paid for the expenses. Unbelievable. I had to look around to see if there's a hidden camera somewhere. The seafood lunchbox is no good. At $12.50, I really expected better. After sailing here and there for an hour, our skipper gave up sighting dolphins and brought the ship back to port.

Now, for the highlight of the day. After more driving, we got to Anna Bay. I'm quite surprised with the change of landscape. On one side is the Birubi Beach. On the other side is desert as far as the eyes can see. Undulating sand dunes with clumps of vegetation here and there. There are even camels that you can hire to take you around. In our case, we used a 4WD coach to bring us to the sand hills for sandboarding. The hills are about 30 meters high, and the slopes are pretty steep. If that's too much, you can try the gentler slopes at the side. There are boards littered about. You pick one up, sit on it, and off you go. My first run down the slopes is quite fast and exhilarating. The good thing is that you can slow down your speed by using your hands as brakes. It gets a bit tiring after a few tries because you have to climb all the way to the top. GF was content to just watch and take pictures from the sidelines.

Three hours and some Bee Gees and Teresa Teng concerts later, we're back at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Late dinner at Ramen Kan to finish the day.

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