A new cruise tour to Fingal Island and its historic lighthouse, just off the coast of Port Stephens, has been launched by Imagine Cruises and its owner, Frank Future, who was the last caretaker of the lighthouse cottages in the 1980s.
The deserted island lies less than 1km off the coast of Port Stephens. A now submerged sand bar between the island and the mainland was used in Tourism Australia’s famous 2006 ‘Where the Bloody Hell Are You’ TV advertisement which saw Lara Bingle and Port Stephens’ own tourist-riding camels on the beach.
Mr Future, a well-known nature conservationist in Port Stephens and advocate for the protection of dolphins and whales, was stationed on the island in the late 1980s before the 21m-high lighthouse, built in 1862, and the island was transferred from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to the care of the NSW Government. Mr Future used to see whales and dolphins off Fingal Island and dreamt of one day sharing their magic with the public on cruise boats. Frank later launched Imagine Cruises in Port Stephens in 1994, with the company now one of the leading whale and dolphin watch operators in the Port.
“I loved living on Fingal Island almost 30 years ago now – it’s a wild and special place and it became the inspiration for the cruise company I established in Port Stephens so I hope visitors and locals alike join our new tours to explore this magical little island,” Mr Future said.
Departing daily at 10am and 1pm year-round from the Nelson Bay marina in Port Stephens, the new 3½ hour cruise aboard Imagine Cruises’ fast-cat, Envision, takes passengers through the bay and out through the heads south to Fingal Island, with a good chance of spotting dolphins and, during the cooler months, whales. Passengers are able to walk ashore on Fingal Island, which is part of Tomaree National Park, and visit the lighthouse, a former Aboriginal fish trap lagoon and ruins of the nearby cottages, with a nature guide explaining the island’s history, fauna and flora. Swimming in the lagoon is also possible.
The island’s south-eastern point, Point Stephens, was named by Captain Cook in 1770 after his friend, Sir Philip Stephens, an Admiralty secretary in England.
Including tea and coffee at the lighthouse, the cruise tours cost $98 for adults, $88 for concessions, $68 for children aged 5-17 and $290 for a family of two adults and two children. To book call Imagine Cruises on 02 4984 9000.