Retired Newcastle Knights' halfback Andrew Johns is arguably the greatest footballer to have played rugby league. And if he's not the best player in the history of the game, he's certainly the best of his era. In 2008 he was included in Rugby League's Team of the Century. The legendary footballer was forced into retirement due to a recurring neck injury. He chalked up 249 first-grade games for the Knights, 21 State of Origin matches for NSW and 26 Test matches for Australia. That's some record.
Andrew, who is also known as Joey, is still involved in the game he loves and which he started playing at four years of age. Since retiring, he has time to spend with his family at places he enjoyed while growing up, and Jason Dundas joined the champion to check out some of those places.
Andrew recently walked from Newcastle to Sydney raising more than $2 million for the Black Dog Institute, raising awareness of bipolar disorder. He was joined on various legs of the six-day walk by celebrities, sports personalities and politicians.
Just an hour from Andrew's home town in Newcastle is the naturally beautiful Port Stephens area. It's not a town in its own right; rather, it's three areas made up of Tomaree Peninsula, Tilligerry Peninsula and the Golden Bight, all surrounding the bay.
The blue water paradise is popular with visitors all year with 32km of clean, white beach attracting rock and beach fishing and all other water activities.
Tomaree National Park
Andrew has great memories of family caravan holidays at the Tomaree Headland. The 2318-hectare park has fantastic rocky headlands, dunes, melaleuca and angophora forest and heath which is alive with wildflowers in spring.
The views are sensational and you can walk to Fingal Island to explore the grounds of the Port Stephens Lighthouse.
There are loads of great beaches to choose from and if you visit BookPortStephens.com.au you will see which are best for serious surfing and which are more suitable for family fun.
Andrew developed a love of surfing at Zenith Beach, which is best surfed with a north-easterly swell. It's very exposed and it's safer to leave it to those used to heavy conditions.
The Bight is home to the wreck of the Sygna, a Norwegian bulk carrier which smashed into the coastline in 1974. Winds of 185km/h sent it to its demise and half of the ship is still there at Wreck Beach.
Bub's Fish and Chip Co-op
When you fancy a meal of the freshest local fish and chips, follow the crowds to Bub's. The eat-in and takeaway shop at the end of the marina in Nelson Bay is the retail arm of the fishermen's co-operative. It's been there for 17 years and enjoys an excellent reputation with locals and tourists. It has been awarded the best fish and chips in New South Wales, which is no mean feat.
Shoal Bay Resort & Spa
On the beachfront and near spectacular volcanic headlands, Shoal Bay Resort & Spa has a complete range of suites, apartments and villas with rates and facilities for budget travellers, families, couples and convention guests.
Its Aqua Spa offers hot and cold pools, a 25m lap pool, gymnasium and 12 treatment rooms. Catch at Shoal Bay is their award winning restaurant and Sandyfoot Café & Bar offers al fresco dining. Mermaids Bar & Grill beachfront bistro serves great value meals, cocktails and there's entertainment to boot. Country Club Hotel has been a popular spot since the first beer was poured there in 1954.