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Last week in Port Macquarie I was blessed with beautiful, WARM sunshine and was hanging around in shorts and a singlet top! What an amazing place we live in that it can be mid-winter and have such an experience.
My travel buddy Ari and I took full advantage of the weather and got down to the beach.
As we dawdled along the breakwall we also got to enjoy some local artwork. Every rock along the path had been individually painted by a different person. I was bummed I didn’t have any paints so I could add my own creation to the collection, but I didn’t see much room left to do so!
Some of my favourites.
We visited the Koala Hospital which had free daily tours and feeding. It was great seeing so many Koalas up close and to be educated on how we are endangering on of our native icons. The top three reason Koalas are admitted are: road accidents, dog attacks, or disease; most commly Chlamydiosis (also known as ‘wet bottom’). The hospital’s aim is to rehabilitate every koala that comes in and release it back into the wild. They are a non-for-profit organisation, receive NO government funding whatsoever, the majority of staff are volunteers and the $300,000 a year costs are covered by donations from the general public.
The Port Macquarie Observatory is open to the public two nights a week, so Ari and I went along to hear their presentation and look at Jupiter through the telescope. The main speaker was very engaging, with lots of pop culture references and Dad’s jokes to help the kids relate to the facts about the solar system. Much more interesting than any of the ways I was taught about it at school (except when we dressed up as each of the planets in kindergarten). We also got to look at 3D photos of Mars – I think Ari and I were more excited about the glasses.
Before heading off from Port Macquarie I went along to check out ‘Bago Magic’ – the drama program for disabled and able-bodied people co-ordinated by Mariet, my host in Wauchope. Everyone sat down together at the beginning to discuss the what they’d be working on, and what really stood out to me was how comfortable and relaxed everyone was. It was like a big family and all were accepted exactly as they are. There was lots of laughing, chatting and camaraderie. I was so moved to see this dynamic, and to know it has such an empowering effect on all those attending. THIS is the hidden gem of Port Macquarie. I stayed to see them rehearse the play they are working on (written by one of the other co-ordinators) and could see that everyone was serious and focused about the roles they had, whilst still having a ball. And check out their sets and costumes! SO much better than anything we had at my High Schoo plays.
The stunning weather continued right through our stay in Bellingen. Set in a valley with the Dorrigo mountains in the background, it’s a place where life slows down and you stop to appreciate the beauty of the countryside; which I found very difficult to capture on camera. Here are my attempts at it.
We attended the Grower’s Markets on Saturday morning, which involved sipping espresso, being wooed by a local musician, reading and lying in the glorious sunlight and having a Shiatsu massage. Bliss.
That afternoon we drove out to Dorrigo National Park and hiked to Crystal Shower Falls.
And the best part was that you could walk BEHIND the waterfall!
Which made the 30 min UPHILL walk back worth it. The forest there is so dense and lush that the sunlight doesn’t filter down to the ground level, leading to an etheral, timeless experience. Couple this with what sounded like a strangled cow calling out through the forest and it was actually a bit spooky! Apparently what we were hearing was a native bird?!
In the evening we went to see The Mid North, a local Bluegrass/Americana band. This is not normally my sort of music but I’m always up for trying something new. I was expecting the usual scene of Uni students and party-goers when we arrived but instead was met with the room packed out with families. Kids were running around everywhere having a great time whilst the adults were chowing down on fried chicken, corn cobs, beans and rice (they had a themed menu for the evening). The waiters were even dressed up in overalls and flannelet shirts as part of the gig! The band knew how to work a crowd, their music was infectious, the whole room buzzed with their up-beat energy. By the end of it everyone was dancing in their chairs or trying to dance in any space they could find around the tables – including the staff doing do-si-dos and heel clicks in the kitchen! If you’re ever in Bellingen be sure to check these guys out, you’re guaranteed a memorable night.