230. Sunday 18th December 2011. Port Macquarie, Camden Heads, Forster and places in between…

Monday 12th December 2011

Lots of photos again this week.

There was some heavy rain during the night. So heavy in fact, little rivulets were running under WWWGO causing me to wonder if the road at the low end of the street would be flooded in the morning. I woke at 6am and was surprised to see half a dozen cars in the car-park, workers from the council depot. By the time we left at 8am the car-park was filling up. “Onwards” was the cry from our lips as we drove through the Monday morning work traffic of Kempsey. It was raining again and a cold wind was blowing as we travelled the 60 Klms to Port Macquarie where it was too wet to explore the beaches. Instead we went to a laundrette and did a load of washing. Just as we were finishing Tony called to say he had lunch ready. After lunch he took us for a drive to some local beaches and down the coast to Lake Kathie (pronounced Cat Eye???) and Bonnie Hills. (Hmmm! The house prices are a mix of little old shacks with fantastic view to grand palaces worth $1million plus in the same street built on two or three levels to get the same view the little shacks have) Then it was back to their house where Dawn cooked us a steak dinner and we chatted until the yawns and droopy eyes arrived.

It was a cold night and needed an extra blanket on the bed.

Tuesday 13th December

Tony went to work in the morning and a weekly game of lawn bowls in the afternoon.

It was quite cool for this time of year so we mooched around WWWGO while I pulled out the Black Box and re-calibrated the settings. In the afternoon we did a little shopping and got an LPG gas bottle swap. When not on shore power we use LPG to run the refrigerator. Tony and Dawn are seriously researching caravans and tow vehicles so they can get on the road for a few months next year.

Wednesday 14th December

Christmas is beginning to rush up at us. Although we have only 400Klms to travel and could easily do that distance in a day we still have family and friends to visit. We have made a tentative appointment with an RV repairer in the Sydney suburb of North Rocks. They will assess the cracks in the fibreglass and make an appointment to carry out the repair work as well as fit the inverter and repair the no longer functioning electronic igniter on our stove.

Today was overcast with a cool wind blowing. The sun made a few teasingly brief appearances, forecasting what days could and should be like at this time of year.

Tony n Dawn had prior commitments so we said our farewells, promising to catch up, somehow, somewhere,  somewhen in 2012 when they will hire a motorhome to test out the lifestyle for themselves.

Before leaving Port Macquarie we visited historic ROTO House  http://www.midcoast.com.au/~rotohous/

ROTO House. Home of the Flynn Family.

and the Koala Hospital. The hospital looks after up to 20 sick or injured Koalas at any one time. The photographic and informative display panels tugs at the heart strings and underscores the marvellous work the hospital staff does in returning sick or injured Koala’s to the wild or giving them a safe home to spend the  remainder of their years.

http://www.koalahospital.org.au/

This is a beautiful Koala christened Kaylee by the Koala Hospital staff. Koala's need strong arms to move around and although Kaylee only has one leg she should soon be well enough to be re-habilitated to the wild.

We drove less than 40 Klms along Ocean Drive to Camden Heads to visit friends of the CO-PILOT, Lionel & Maryanne P. They sailed across the Pacific Ocean in 1985 in company with the CO-PILOT and her family in their respective sailboats. On arrival we were whisked next door for Happy Hour with the neighbours and a Swiss couple who are staying with them.

Maryanne, Lionel and Donnis

We had a happy two hours with them before returning for a chicken curry, a shower and off to bed. We can hear the surf not far away and are looking forward to a walk to the beach in the morning.

Thursday 15th December

It was a BIG day for us.

Before breakfast Lionel n Maryanne took us on a bracing 5 Klm bush walk to Perpendicular Point

Perpendicular Point

then through the bush to Pilot Beach

Pilot Beach at Camden Heads

where the bravest amongst us went for a swim.

Although not included in the photograph with Maryanne & Lionel, Donnis was brave enough to go for a swim.

After a huge breakfast Lionel drove us on a 400 Klm round trip taking us to North Brother Mountain about 400 metres above sea level and overlooking Camden Heads, Camden Haven, Laurieton, Bonnie Hills and North Haven and along the coast to Port Macquarie.

View from North Brother Mountain, overlooking the "Haven" area including Laurieton and Camden Heads.

Lionel, Maryanne and Frank at North Brother overlooking "The Haven" area.

Maryanne & Donnis at North Brother

Then we travelled to a bush camp and picnic spot called Swans Crossing in the heart of tall timber country. We had sandwiches and a beer for lunch. Then we travelled on narrow timber truck tracks to the highest point in the State Forest where a Trig Point and Fire Lookout Station are located.

Highest point within Kerewong State Forest.

The position was about 1,000 metres above sea level and set atop a large group of rocks with a sheer drop all around.

View from the fire observation point in Kerewong State Forest.

I am normally nervous of heights and I felt exposed and apprehensive moving around. The compensation was the incredible 360 degree views. The tiny perch atop the rocks included a Trig Point

A Trig Point in Kerewong State Forest.

A cave-like gap between two rocks. The narrow gap led to a sheer drop.

and a Compass Rose to pinpoint a bush fire.

Then we drove on through spectacular hills and valley’s finally emerging into rolling green hills of the dairy country around Comboyne where we had a surprisingly good coffee in a coffee shop which was once a wood fired bake house.

Old bakery with old Honda and even older "old fart" outside.

Outside we met a man dressed in black who drives around on an ancient Honda motorcycle with sidecar.

Old Honda with sidecar. Only a kickstart model. No electric start on this vintage.

Both black of course. He told us he has 300 motorcycles on his property along with 48 twin tub washing machines, twenty cars and oh my goodness the list goes on. He loves a good chat while enjoying his mud cake and a strong cup of coffee after which he rolls himself a cigarette and sits back to talk. His jacket proudly carries badges declaring he is a member of the Old and Rooted Motorcycle Club.

Finally back at Camden Heads we had a late dinner and talked on until late….beyond the yawns and droopy eyes stage. We finally dropped into bed at midnight.

Friday 16th December

Another walk this morning. This time it was down to the river and along the Riverwalk Pavement. Then a walk along the beach and back to the house for breakfast. After saying our goodbyes to Maryanne and Lionel we were on the road by 11.30am and arrived at Allan & Rae’s Forster, NSW home a little after 1pm. We went for a walk along  the southern Forster breakwall and saw several dolphins frolicking. With my sharp eye I saw a fishing boat coming across the bar at the entrance to the river and noticed some strange black shapes at the prow. It was several dolphins riding the bow wave.

Dolphins riding the bow wave of a fishing boat.

More and more dolphins joined the group and we realised the reason for so many coming from all parts of the harbour. The fishing boat was heading to the Fish Co-Op wharf to unload. The dolphins obviously were expecting a handout of fish parts. Seeing dolphins in the wild is not an everyday occurrence but to see them riding the waves was something special to watch.

Saturday 17th December

Al & Rae drove us around to look at the beachside towns north of Forster. Towns such as Harrington,

Harrinton Trig Point.

Redhead, Blackhead, Halliday Point

Halliday Point Surf Beach Pool

and Crowdey Head. We were taken by the history of Harrington but more so by the old lighthouse at Crowdey Head. The lighthouse is still in place but only the foundations of the keepers cottage remain.

Crowdey Head Lighthouse

We also saw a Trig Point at Harrington and Crowdey Head.

Crowdey Head Trig Point

For some reason these trig points are interesting to me. Perhaps we have not noticed them in our travels before but after seeing three of them in as many days, I have begun to look for them. http://www.waymarking.com/cat/details.aspx?f=1&guid=18b359b3-84e5-42f9-bbcf-c40ae533c962&wo=True&wst=1&sg=03fa963d-acc5-47f7-9ae8-7f94ddcf18f9&st=2

Tonight we had a barbecue with Al & Rae’s son Brian, his wife Grid and their children Josh and Mindy.  Well, no longer children. Josh has finished high school and is already enrolled in University at Armidale while Mindy is 16 and still has another year of schooling. It was our first chance to catch up with all this side of the family after many years when they were overseas working in the UK.

Sunday 18th December

Still at Forster.

The sun came out late in the morning but the breeze was cool increasing to strong cold gusts in the evening.

In the morning we walked along the headland at Bennetts Head to the main beach at Forster. After lunch we walked over the Forster – Tuncurry bridge and along the northern breakwall and back. About 2 hours in all. The water was clear and with the different bottoms, sand, weed, rock and different depths, the colours were incredible. While crossing the bridge we saw several 2m Hammerhead sharks patrolling beneath us. We also saw a number of dolphins. Further around the breakwall a small boat with mum, dad and four children was motoring. We could hear squeals of delight and noticed dolphins were coming from every direction. The more the boat people cheered and squealed the more dolphins arrived. It was just as exciting for us, standing on the wall. Watching the dolphins interact with the family in the boat.

Tomorrow we resume our journey south.

Happy Christmas to everybody.

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