Hello from Port Macquarie (Port – as the locals call it). Approximately four hours north of Sydney. This little picturesque town lies right along the ocean. There are beaches upon beaches scattered with huge rocks and colorful shells. This town also has great swells nearly all year, so this is a surfers paradise.
We landed here one week ago today. We knew from the moment we pulled into town that we would love it here and want to stay a while. There are many reasons that this town is special to me. The views of the ocean are so beautiful and the waves are constantly rolling in. The roads that are along the ocean have pull off spots that allow us cook our meals or watch the sunrise or see dolphins jump and play through the waves. The local beach (Town Beach), is where we park the van and fall asleep listening to waves crash into the beach. The sun rises at 5:30 am and illuminates the entire sky. I am not sure which I love more sunrises or sunsets, each are equally beautiful in their own way.
Before we arrived here in Port, we stopped at The Blackbutt Reserve Park in Newcastle, NSW. This was about one hour south of Port. The city itself wasn’t impressive to me but the reserve was special. The animals that were there had a very natural environment to live in. We had our first glimpse of the Kangaroo, Koala and Emu – well known Australian animals. We had the opportunity to pet a koala, feed an emu and kangaroo. In NSW, it is illegal to hold/cuddle a koala so for now we got close and were able to pet him. When we get to Queensland (new state), holding/cuddling koalas is allowed, so we will have another opportunity to get even closer. There are also parrots and lizards living here. I am so fascinated by the animals and plan on taking many more pictures as I go and reading and learning about them. So plan on many more posts including animals.
Beautiful sunrises and colorful sunsets, stunning ocean views and friendly people make it very difficult to leave to leave this city. We have met two really nice couples that we have become good friends with, who are also doing exactly what we are doing (one couple even has the same van as us)! The first couple Mona and Chilli (from Belgium) are adorably cute and funny. They make me smile and laugh with their jokes. The other couple Jayke and Tahjlia and their dog-Alvy, are musicians and surfers. They play beautiful music and Tahjlia sings. Alvy is very smart and snuggly, its fun to chase the waves with him.
Chilli has a longer surf board (which is better for learning) and let Jeremy borrow it one morning. The waves were good for learning and Jeremy was able to stand up twice (which is really good your first time) and had a lot of fun. Jayke and Tahjlia gifted us a body board which is going to be what I will learn.
Jeremy’s 26th birthday was on Sunday. Our friends surprised him on Saturday night with a cake and sparklers, licorice and chocolates. Then on Sunday we went downtown to watch the Australian IronMan 2012. It just so happened that this event was going on while we were here. The competitors swim 3.8 km, bike 180 km and run 42.2 km – in that order. We watched 70 competitors sprint through the finish (out of 1,500). This included the top three women, all of whom came in under 10 hours. The race must be completed in 17 hours to qualify for the points which allow you to race in other Ironman. We stood in the finish alley hooting and rooting on the finishers. It was really cool to be part of such an amazing race. Athletically inspiring!
After the race we went to the local observatory. They have a large telescope which allowed us to see Saturn and its moons. We also took a look at the moon. Since it was a full moon they told us not to look through the telescope for a long period or it could damage our eyes since it is so bright. Being down under, we cannot see the north star, and the Little Dipper is upside down to us. But there are constellations that we have here in Australia that cannot be seen from the States. Such as the jewel box or the Southern Cross, which is on the Australian Flag.
After the observatory we went back to the beach and celebrated Jeremy’s birthday with Chocolate cake. Yum. Good friends, good times! We plan on heading north mid-week after we enjoy some local fish and chips and then perform at an open-mic night in a local pub.