A Touch of France in Nelson Bay

It seems simple enough. 25 ℉ at home, or 25 ℃ on sunny Nelson Bay on the east coast of Australia. So we opted for a Blue Christmas in a lovely naturist B&B in the hills above Port Stephens, just under three hours north of Sydney.


I had already heard through the grapevine that we were going to love our stay in this upscale naturist inn, and my correspondence with Stuart, the owner and innkeeper, led to the realization that he is also the manager and editor of TAN Magazine, the sole remaining naturist periodical in Australia.


This is particularly impressive since Stuart didn’t have his own naturist epiphany until around 2009 when he discovered the joy of a late-day visit to the naturist beaches near Sydney after long, stressful days in the corporate world. Just a few years later, he would take advantage of the early retirement parachute, and that’s when he and his wife Lucia became innkeepers. Naturist… innkeepers.


As it happens, (and if I got the story right,) Stuart and Lucia are the third managers of Le Chateau Naturiste, which gained its name, along with bits of French memorabilia, from a previous owner who fancied herself as a naturist and a Francophile. Our room was spacious and tastefully decorated, with a door leading directly onto the veranda, which would become my branch office for the few days before Christmas. While the untimely cloud cover made it a bit chilly for a dip in the pool, it didn’t prevent us from a long walk on the nearby Samurai naturist beach.


Lucia was quite literally a bit under the weather during our stay, but Stuart was a wonderful host, tending each day to breakfast, and most interested in our evening debriefings (no pun intended) as we explored the environs of Nelson Bay. His enthusiasm for naturism is infectious, as is his commitment to contributing to the positive mainstream image of the naturist cause. Should you pay a visit, be sure to ask him about his television appearances. Remarkable stories, told by a great story-teller.


We are starting to amass a fairly substantial list of naturist destinations that enjoy warmer climes while ice and snow adorn the plants and trees of our home in the eastern US. My hope, each time, is that we might find a place where we can enjoy January in the same naked glory we enjoy July in France, Spain, or Croatia. While not quite as expansive as the sprawling naturist centers of Europe, Le Chateau is most certainly a step in the right direction.


I should mention that this is our first stop on our naked odyssey through Oz. You can see the rest of our itinerary here, or simply check back as I muse about our meanderings down the eastern coast of Australia.



Cloudy and 100% Chance of Naked on Samurai Beach

Timing is everything – and ours wasn’t quite right.

We stayed several nights at Le Chateau Naturiste (Blog entry coming soon!) with hopes of figuring out the naturist scene in and around Nelson Bay, or more specifically, the celebrated Samurai Beach.


As many have noted, the first point of business is getting there – and… getting out! Samurai Beach is adjacent to the textile One Mile Beach, separated by an outcropping of rocks that become all but impassable at high-tide. The other way in is on a sandy track from the highway, with a small sign that indicates 4WD is required. Our kind host (Stuart, from Le Chateau) suggested that we leave our car at the parking at One Mile Beach, then he would drive us in to Samurai, which involved a maneuver of letting the air out of the tires so even his 4WD wouldn’t get stuck in the sand. That was the moment I decided, “I will never drive a car – 4WD or otherwise – to Samurai Beach.


This being the week before Christmas, the beach was very quiet. Most people we encountered were nude, but they were far and few between. I had also read complaints about the 4-wheelers that race up and down the beach, along with the gawkers who have ruined many a stay. Neither were an issue for us.


It is perhaps a 15-minute walk from one end of the beach to the other. On the far end, you find an even more treacherous road (says the citified naturist from the US of A) that leads into a small campground with perhaps a dozen or so camping rigs, along with signs about carrying out your rubbish and bringing along your own portable toilet. Stuart tells us that people settle in here for the better part of the summer – up to 6 or 8 weeks at a time. There’s something else that’s not likely to make it onto my bucket list. Only a few miles from all the amenities of civilization, yet almost impossible to get there.


We knew the tide was coming in, and also knew that if we waited too long, scrambling over the rocks would be supplanted with a long walk back out to the highway on the sandy track. Nope! Clothes on and a-scrambling we went. As is typical, we thought the neighboring One Mile Beach to be a lot nicer than the famous nude beach behind us, which always begs the philosophical musings – “What’s the big deal with donning a swimsuit? Is this really necessary?”


Should you put Samurai on your list? Yes.

Should you plan your visit around high and low tide? Yes.

Should you bring a beach umbrella or some such thing to protect yourself from the sun? Absolutely, as there is no natural shade to be found on the beach. For that, we welcomed the cloud cover.

Does Samurai live up to it’s reputation? You bet! Hope to get back there one day.


Chillin’ at Cobbler’s Beach

Beating the wear and tear of jet-lag is always a challenge. For me, it means staying awake all day to begin adjusting to the new time zone. No small feat when traveling from California to Sydney, Australia. So we kept things on the move, meandering our way down the Darling wharf, grabbing a ferry out to the Taronga Zoo, then walking over the hill (from the zoo) to Middle Head Park where we found the path down to Cobbler’s Beach.


Quite stunning that after walking through what must be some of the priciest real estate in all of Australia, past opulent mini-mansions and BMWs, that you suddenly find yourself in what appears to have been a military compound surrounded by strikingly beautiful wilderness area. Just minutes from suburbia, we found the path down to Cobbler’s Beach.


It was late afternoon by the time we arrived as some were already packing up to leave for the day. But Cobbler’s Beach is well situated for late day sun, both on the grassy knoll and the sandy beach that lies below. Seems there were many regulars there on this day, predominantly male, but not in an uncomfortable way. A friend tells us that had we arrived a bit earlier, the coffee boat would have come through – selling beverages to those who queue up in the water. Apparently the coffee boat guy works from beach to beach in the Sydney Harbor. Sorry we missed that.


Our 90-minute stay afforded us enough time for a brief snooze in the afternoon sun before heading back up the hill to catch the 5:21 bus (Number 244) back into downtown Sydney. Seems a whole new “after-work” shift was just arriving in our place; once again, something that seems to be a daily routine of sorts at this pleasant little beach.


As so it goes – our introduction to naturism in Australia. The first of many visits to “nudie beaches” down under. Thanks Cobbler’s Beach. You set a high bar. What more could you ask for from your first day in Sydney?



Getting naked down under

Getting ready for an Australian Nakation. About a half-dozen stops as we make our way down the east coast – mostly at naturist friendly inns.

After a couple days in Sydney, off to Nelson Bay and a stay at Le Chateau Naturiste


Then by plane to Cairn for several nights at Mai-Tai Resort; not strictly naturist, but outdoor showers and a clothing optional pool.


We’ll make the next to legs by train, with a stop near Airlie beach at the remote Seclude Naturist Retreat



Then an overnight rail journey to Brisbane to check out the dashing new naturist place near Byron Bay.


And finally, a stop a one of the best known naturist places in Australia, BoBrene


I’ll be working on the blog, and posting on Twitter as we go. I’m told naturism can be challenge in Australia; especially in Queensland – but we’re gonna give it our best shot. At least it’ll be summertime!