If you plan on overnighting after only 3 hours or so on the road, it will take you 3+ days driving to do this trip.
Having said that, both areas have attractions.
Newcastle has the harbour and the surf with some nice places to eat as well. Would suggest either Crowne Plaza or Noahs as somewhere to stay & Beaumont St Hamilton - 5 min away, has a pletherer of Cafe's & Restaurants that cater to every taste.
Port Stephens is the name of the waterway, most of the Tourism is on the southern side and includes Nelson Bay, Shoal Bay, Salamander Bay - The landmark is a serviced apartment complex in Nelson Bay that has great views, or there are a number of resorts that are all very popular. Plenty of choices eat-wise, with seafood very popular.
Another option might be on the north side of Port Stephens with the twin towns of Tea Gardens & Hawks Nest. Not as upmarket as the southern side, but it's still right on the water - both bay & ocean. The added benefit of
staying this side is that its probably 45 min or so less drive if going straight thru to Brisbane - but also further from Sydney.
Hope this helps
Port Stephens has a much more scenic outlook and relaxed pace. Overnight won't be enough! Plenty of beaches, walks, cafes and restaurants, attractions and activities. You can as much or as little as you want. Try to stay close to the water and keep an eye out for some of the local dolphins (approximately 160 live in the harbour year round). If you have time then also join a 4WD tour on the Stockton Bight Sand Dunes... just spectacular. For eating and drinking in the evening the Nelson Bay is the place to be - there are some great restaurants in town and a few bars at the marina that cater for an over 25's crowd.
I will add Port Stephens to recommendations, particularly the north side.
One of lifes little pleasures is sitting in a riverside restaurant in Tea Gardens as the summer sun sets across the water and enjoying a meal of fresh fish caught in the are.
-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-
This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.
To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html
We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.