As summer in Australia comes to an end, Steve and I ventured north for a quick overnight trip to Bannisters- Port Stephens, it’s just under 3 hours north of Sydney CBD. Steve’s kids had given us a voucher for Christmas in 2018, and the voucher has been staring at me from my planning wall in our office all that time. As Steve is off to Japan skiing next week on a boys trip and will miss my birthday, Steve thought he’d better plan a quick trip to score brownie points! Needless to say it was actually me who booked it all and he just turned up. While he is away, It’s also his birthday, so I figure those brownie points are actually mine!!!

We took my new car up the freeway which was a dream to drive, as riding the motorbike on the crappy freeway between Sydney and Newcastle is not my favourite thing. Too many aggressive drivers on this stretch of road to enjoy the scenery, not to mention road works. It’s an easy drive and we arrived around 3:00pm just in time for check in.

The Bannisters group have spent ‘squillions’ on redeveloping the old Salamander Shores building and as they say -“brought that retro feel of the 70’s into the build’. They sure have done a fabulous job. Having stayed at Bannisters in Mollymook on the south coast of NSW previously, already at check in, I can tell this is my new favourite.

An elegant Veuve Clicquot airstream caravan sits at the back of the foyer and we are offered a glass of bubbles whilst were check in. James offers to collect our luggage from the car and park it for us…… It’s such a nice touch.

Our room is lovely, an ocean facing ground floor room, with a sliding door to a deck and lounge chairs, that connects with the beach below via short walk or the terrace pool deck. It’s modern and I love it ! Beautiful French linen, gorgeous cushions that remind me of Morocco with the little metal disks that sparkle in the desert and a barn style sliding door to the bathroom with beautiful Kevin.Murphy products to enjoy.

Comfy Bed- just a gorgeous space!
Ocean View Room- did I mention it’s dog friendly ?

The pool terrace is lovely. Loads of seats, pool lounges and day beds. Food and drink choices a plenty with the perfect amount of service! There is a water station, with chilled fruit flavoured cold water and a suncream and towels! None of that sign towels in and out thing, nope take 3 if you want!

The pool is crystal clear and cool, so take a breath and just get in. It was divine. The pool has a low side and a long step, handy for little kids. The far edge of the overflow pool is the deep side. The view is lovely out towards the rest of Nelson Bay, which seems so far away from where we are. There is a beautiful sandy beach below to stroll along and a jetty you can fish from.

Sunset drinks
Espresso Martini- signature runaway drink! There is no X is espresso Steve!

Down below us is a newly renovated pub- The cheeky dog, which is part of the complex, so no need to bring your wallet, just charge it to your room! They have loads of beers and on-tap wine and margaritas advertising- the tap pouring is saving 1000’s of glass bottles from landfill. The pub has a great feel- very modern with amazing looking meals including wood fire pizzas, it also has a sports bar. It would be a great family venue and as dogs are welcome outside on leads, the fur babies can join you too! Apparently the mosquitos are bad here…. they love me- but a G & T and repellant fixed that!

As Rick Steins Restaurant is also here, we book in for dinner. Plenty of seafood and as there were so many yummy entrees, Steve and I shared a few of these and then shared an awesome fish and chips as a main.

Keeping Steve happy with no sun glasses on ! No wonder I have squint lines on my face !

The restaurant has a little more relaxed vibe than the Mollymook restaurant, with an open plan industrial feel it’s really nice, watching the sunset from the restaurant.

Drinking his name sake

The buffet breakfast in the restaurant the following morning was amazing. Grab a newspaper, use their wifi and enjoy the morning sun, either indoors or outside on another terrace. The buffet had lots of choice or you can also add eggs anyway for an extra $10:00 and order coffee from the barrister who use Allpress coffee. Hell yes!

Check out is 11:00am and we were encouraged to stay for the day and enjoy the terrace which we did. Saturday papers, gorgeous travel magazines and some lovely music playing it was a wonderful way to spend Saturday before we cruised back down the freeway and home.

Will we go back ? Absolutely and next time, we’ll stay 2 nights, it’s really an awesome spot out of the Nelson Bay madness. Might take the dog next time and maybe the kids and co!

Mrs Wong xx