Shoal Bay Country Club
This recently refurbished Port Stephens stalwart delivers holiday vibes in droves.
Almost every coastal town of a certain size has a pub overlooking the beach. But they're not all like Shoal Bay Country Club. The much-loved local has been around since the 1930s and, after being sold to The Eastern Group in 2016, it received a much-needed $6 million facelift. The refurb was unveiled in early 2018, revealing a light and airy venue that takes full advantage of its epic vantage point of the bay and has an unmistakable Mediterranean feel — think a predominantly white and wood palette with pops of aqua blue and bright yellow.
The venue opens bright and early at 6.30am with breakfast served in the downstairs cafe, Mermaids. Start with a coffee or Lean Green smoothie before diving into sweet potato and carrot fritters, buttermilk waffles or smashed avo with feta and lime. Then, from 11.30am, the kitchen and patio swing open their doors for lunch and dinner with an extensive menu of pub classics on offer, including schnitties, beer battered fish and chips and wagyu beef burger. There are plenty of options, too, from charcuterie boards and mac 'n' cheese balls to buckets of prawns and seafood platters. Oh, and there's no getting past the Napoli-style woodfired pizzas, served with kale basil pesto and fior di latte, peri peri chicken or garlic prawns. For drinks, you can enjoy cocktail jugs and a wine list largely populated by Aussie and NZ drops.
Expect live music starting from 6.30pm in the courtyard on Friday and Saturday nights before DJs take over to keep the fun going into the wee hours. On Sundays, there's live music in the courtyard all afternoon, plus crab races, poker and $5 drinks from 7pm. If you're keen for all the action but not for the crawl home, Shoal Bay Country Club runs a courtesy bus covering Shoal Bay, Fingal Bay, Nelson Bay and Corlette. Alternatively, the venue is linked with the Ramada Resort, and it also has its own luxe two-level, four-bedroom penthouse.
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