Port Stephens Live

Don’t let the lockdown get in the way of some serious outdoor fun – even if it’s screen-based for now.

It all started when we asked ourselves how can we get people out on the boat while they can’t really leave their house? How can we make it as “real” as possible and give them a taste of what it’s like to be out there,” explains Port Stephens whale boat watching skipper Frank Future, who had to suspend operations of his two boats during the lockdown.

And like many others he has come up with a creative way to carry on and come out stronger on the other end. Together with photographer Brent Mail, another Port Stephens local, he has spent considerable time and money on a multi-camera setup to live stream his boat trips. Footage will alternate between Frank at the steering wheel, sharing his encyclopedic knowledge of humpbacks and dolphins, a camera on the side of the boat, close to the water’s edge, and another one mounted on an eight-metrehigh pole at the front providing for a spectacular top-down aerial view.

You can watch Frank, the dolphins and whales in action and even ask questions that he will attempt to answer in real time. The salty spray of seawater aside, it is almost like “the real thing” – and in some ways even better. There are plans to have live streams several times a week, possibly even daily. Weekly chats with famous local fisherman Stinker Clark might well evolve into a regular podcast.

Perfect for sharing

It’s a great way to experience one of Port Stephens’ most spectacular natural wonders, and one you can easily share with friends and family a bit further afield. In true Aussie style, Frank and Brent have opened up the venture to others in the local area.

The plan is to offer similar live streams for quad bike tours or 4WD sand dune trips. If you are after a less bumpy viewing experience, there will be camel and horse riding on offer too. While the idea was initially born out of sheer necessity it has since become abundantly clear that the concept has legs way beyond the current virus crisis. Don’t worry about getting seasick, just log on and give it a go!

For more information, to view some of their videos and to register for live experiences visit PortStephens.live

Story by Cornelia Schulze, photography by Peter Lorimer

Read more in the Winter issue of Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.