Agnes High Tea
A new culinary gem local to Port Stephens is Agnes High Tea located on-site at Murray’s Brewery, a mere 15 minute drive from Bannisters. Dine in the delightful mint green pavilion, choosing from one of three menus; breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea.
Each menu item is lovingly prepared by the in-house pastry chef, including scrambled egg tarts with caviar, eel and caviar tarts, gourmet sausage rolls and quiches. There are also three options for the accompanying refreshments, from sparkling wine to french campaign to a three course cocktail degustation.
Bookings are recommended and are available for Wednesday through to Sunday. Bannisters guests can be transported to and from Murray’s via their courtesy bus, so feel free to let your hair down and enjoy yourself.
Summit of Tomaree
The summit of Tomaree can be seen from Bannisters and is only a 20 minute drive from the hotel. The Tomaree Head Summit walk is a must for anyone visiting the area. You will work up a slight sweat as you hike to the peak of the mountain, some 160 m above ground level, however, you will be rewarded with the most beautiful panoramic views of the Port Stephens coast. Overlook beaches such as Zenith, Wreck and Box and spot islands such as Cabbage Tree, Boondelbah, Broughton and Fingal as well as the Port Stephens lighthouse.
Picnic tables are located at the lookout, making it an ideal place for a picnic lunch. Antipasto and vino can be ordered as take away from the Cheeky Dog to take on your hike. There are also cafes nearby.
Take your time to get to the top and enjoy the beautiful views and native wildlife during your walk. Echidnas and goannas can often be seen along the walking tracks. Between May and October each year whales can also be spotted from the top of the mountain. Taking a pair of binoculars can really enhance your whale watching experience!
Lemon Tree Passage
Located at the tip of the Tilligerry Peninsula, Lemon Tree Passage is a 30 minute drive from Bannisters. Koala ferries can also pick you up from the jetty in front of Bannisters and take you to and from Lemon Tree Passage.
Upon arrival at the water’s edge you will find the Lemon Tree Passage Distilling gin bar and the Poyers restaurant. At the gin bar you will find both gin and vodka crafted from native and local botanicals, which gives each spirit its own unique taste. Gin tasting is available otherwise you can peruse the cocktail menu which offers martinis, negronis, cosmopolitans and more. The outdoor seating area is perfect for soaking up the waterfront views while enjoying your favourite sip. The gin bar is open from 12pm to 8pm Friday and Saturday and from 12pm to 5pm on Sunday.
Just across from the gin bar is the Poyers where chef Ludovic Poyer creates his favourite dishes, showcasing Australia’s seafood and poultry. Guest favorites include truffle oil oysters and duck confit. Boutique wines have been chosen to compliment each menu item. The restaurant boasts not only a waterfront location but also a social vibe perfect for group bookings. The Poyers is open for breakfast and lunch Wednesday to Sunday and for dinner Friday to Sunday.
Broughton Island Cruise
Broughton Island is part of the Myall Lakes National Park and is only accessible by boat. However, this may be what has kept the beaches of the island so beautiful. Moonshadow Cruises, located at Nelson Bay, a quick 15 minute drive from Bannisters, sail to Broughton Island every Sunday from December to April each year.
The Broughton Island cruise takes around 6.5 hours during which time you will sail to the island and have time to swim, snorkel or hike before coming back to the bay. Lunch is provided onboard or you can take it with you to the island. The beach at Esmerelda Cove is especially beautiful with crystal clear waters, perfect for snorkeling and swimming. The island is a breeding ground for birds including the wedge tailed shearwater which makes hiking the island a unique experience. As seats are limited it is best to book early.