This ride has joined my list of all-time favourites; it is varied, safe, and scenic the whole way. The best feature is that you can ride almost the entire way through reserves and parks close to the waterline.
I began opposite Shoal Bay Holiday Park, about an hour’s drive north of Newcastle. I got on the ebike and headed west, with first stop the Nelson Bay Lighthouse. It’s a steep climb but worth the views.
A few kilometres further along the waterline is the relaxed fishing village of Nelson Bay. I paused to watch a line of tourists waiting for a photo of a marlin that had been freshly caught. A short way on is the village waterfront with several cafes and eateries if you are ready for morning tea.
As soon as you leave Nelson’s, you will find a bush cycleway; when it runs out, there is an endless strip of land between properties and the waterline that you can follow.
Salamander Bay is especially pretty. Several sections of the ride is on grass and sandy patches, so wider tyres are very helpful.
Soldiers Point is the northern-most tip of the area and that is where I turned back. You can either return through suburbs without views or simply backtrack. I know which is prettier.
When I reached Shoal Bay I kept going east, along the base of Tomaree Mountain and past the Tomaree Lodge. There is a steep road up to historic military posts which are popular for whale watching. Typical: when I got there some people told me that the whales had been breaching but disappeared as I arrived.
This is such a great ride; the scenery is sensational and the whole 44 km was completed in 3 hours. Why would you do it any faster? I’ll be back.