Three in one – Beach, Bay and Lakeside fun
David Thorndike gives luxury camping a crack at the newly re-opened Jimmy’s Beach Holiday Park at Hawks Nest, NSW.
Discover the natural beauty of Hawks Nest and the peaceful calm bay perfect for kids at Jimmy’s Beach.
If you think that camping isn’t for you, that it is a bit too rough on the comfort side of things, or that it just looks like plain hard work, then you need to try the latest camping style taking over holiday parks in a big way. It’s called ‘glamping’ and it is camping with everything you need to keep you cool, clean and comfortable, and without the hassle of putting up tents and sleeping on the airbed! We are staying at the newly re- opened Jimmy’s Beach on the mid North Coast of NSW at Hawks Nest and this place is the bees knees as far as family camping locations go.
And that’s not just because of our luxury camping, sorry ‘glamping’, accommodation, though the wife and kids are tickled pink to see that we are staying in a 30’ long covered canvas tent that includes a private ensuite with shower and toilet, a double posturepedic ensemble for mum and dad, as well as double bunk beds for the kids, a kitchen including upright fridge/freezer, microwave and of course a sink, a four seater lounge suite facing the television, ceiling fans and even a covered front decking with an outdoor dining setting.
This place has all the space of a hotel suite but with the added benefits of being able to roll the canvas window flaps up and enjoy a fantastic breeze blowing over you while you sleep, just the ticket for those balmy summer nights by the beach.
Speaking of the beach, if your family is addicted to the water as much as mine is, then you will love Hawks Nest. One of the best (and also one of the safest) white sandy beaches you will find anywhere in NSW is Jimmy’s Beach. Just a 100 metre stroll out the back of our tent brings us to this idyllic, calm northern shore of Nelson Bay, with a view that stretches across the water to the town of the same name. There are no breaking waves here and if you have little ones who love to splash around but are not yet confident in the water, this is the perfect place.
Jimmy’s Beach continues in both directions for over 500 metres from the access point behind the holiday park, and there is plenty of room to set yourself up for fishing, swimming, paddling or just relaxing on the sand and building castles with the kids. The one down side is that there is no natural shade available so make sure you pack an umbrella or pop up shelter so you can spend some time out of the sun as well.
If your kids are older and like to surf or swim in the breakers, then the patrolled surf beach is just a ten minute walk through the other side of the park. And if boating or paddling is more your thing, there are two fantastic choices with Nelson Bay right in front of you and Myall Lakes only a few minutes up the road.
Having a safe protected beach right behind the holiday park is fantastic and we take full advantage by walking between the two several times a day for meals, naps and just to get out of the sun for a little while. The water’s drawing power is too great however and we can’t stay away for more than a few hours before we are either back in again, or enjoying an evening stroll along the edge watching the last rays of the sun sparkle on the water.
Even though we are staying in the Taj Mahal of tents, there are plenty of facilities here at Jimmy’s Beach for those who prefer to camp in their own caravan, camper trailer or tent at one of over 100 sites, many of which are still sporting new grass from the make- over. Walking around the park, we are especially impressed with the number
of free gas BBQ’s, as well as the huge undercover camp kitchen, complete with hot water, sink and microwave as well as half a dozen large family picnic tables. There are also two great amenities blocks, a laundry and a permanent campfire pit, where you can sit around and toast marshmallows with your fellow campers and enjoy looking up at the stars.
Our hosts, Barry and Karen, are two of the friendliest down to earth people you will meet, and over the course of our two night stay we run into them a few times, stopping to chat about the park, the weather and the town. Local knowledge is always the best source of information, and I ply Barry for a couple of the better places to throw a line in, and also for his recommendation for a feed in town. Yes, even though we have a kitchen, we’re on holidays and eating out means no cleaning up!
If you’re looking for a peaceful activity, you can’t beat koala spotting, and Hawks Nest has a thriving colony in the local bushland. In fact Barry tells us that they had one in the park just a few weeks back, but he’s moved on again now. It’s also worth taking a full day to catch the ferry across to Nelson Bay and go on a whale watching cruise, although a word of warning, you do go out to sea on this trip, so if you get queasy easily, make sure you take a couple of motion sickness tablets first.
Also top of the list while here should be a drive up to Myall Lakes. There is a great swimming and picnic area at Mungo Brush, where the water is knee deep out to about 50 metres from shore, so once again, its great for young kids. There’s plenty of shady trees, toilets and BBQs, so plan to spend at least half a day here. And for those with 4WDs, there’s beach access on the other side quite close to here as well, but be sure to pick up a permit first from the local newsagency, and make sure you check the tides.
04 01 A day trip to nearby Myall Lakes 02 Out the front of our luxury tent 03 Play equipment next to Jimmy’s Beach 04 Jimmy’s Beach is the perfect spot for a family swim
05 05 Simple fun out of the sun 06 The inside of our luxury tent accommodation 07 Looking out over the main surf beach at Hawks Nest