Monday 20th June.
Despite the overcast, rain and blustering, cold westerly wind I drove from Port Macquarie to Newcastle Crematorium at Beresfield. I had allowed three hours for the journey and even stopping for fuel and a coffee break I was still 90 minutes early.
As people arrived it was clear the small chapel was not going to hold all the mourners. Apart from family, relatives and friends, Bobby had a wide circle of people who respected him. After the chapel was filled it was standing room only – outside in the cold. Bobby’s daughter Libby, ably assisted by her brother Grant, gave a moving eulogy. Bobby was a member of the National Rifle Association of Australia and at one stage was coach of the junior team which toured overseas. Mourners from the club and other business customers from Coonabarabran joined family and friend s to pay their respects.
Libby commented that sometimes her father was a Grumpy Old Man but we loved him. Judging by the tears, the 12 grandchildren also loved him.
After refreshments at Beresfield Bowling Club I drove back to Port Macquarie arriving well after dark. Within minutes I laid down and fell asleep for a couple of hours. It was a long day, including 6 hours of driving and an emotional event.
Tuesday 21st June.
I decided to stay another day so I could be refreshed for the drive back to the Gold Coast. I drove around looking at some of the many beaches around Port Macquarie.
Town Beach is adjacent to the breakwater and marina wall. This wall is different to most I have seen elsewhere, almost every stone face is painted with a memorial or endless love sonnet or even just a memento of a visit.
There is a great deal of beach erosion, a legacy of the violent storm experienced all along the Eastern Seaboard of Australia a few weeks ago.
It was here I watched the cargo ship, “ISLAND TRADER” enter the narrow seawall opening into the Hastings River and marina and canal residential community. The ship carries supplies to and from Lord Howe Island almost 600 Klms offshore. LHI is part of NSW and therefore part of Australia. Port Macquarie is the closest NSW port to LHI.
Shelley Beach has a memorial to Harry Thompson who arrived with his family in a caravan in 1960.
Perhaps the best explanation of the story is from this Flikr Page.
“In 1960 Harry and Jean Thompson moved from Warren in western NSW after winning the lottery and buying a caravan. Being from the bush, with no experience of the beach Harry got bogged in the sand at Shelly Beach at Port Macquarie on the NSW mid North Coast.
The Thompsons decided there and then that they had found their spiritual home and thereafter made their caravan their permanent home at beautiful Shelly Beach,
The Thompsons were long time unofficial caretakers of this idyllic Port Macquarie beach and in the process became legendary as they successfully garnered the support of Port Macquarie residents in their effort to resist many vigorous attempts by the local Port Macquarie – Hasting Shire Council to evict them from their self proclaimed beach side home.
Harry Thompson, died on 31st January 2000 at age 83 and the community began fund raising for a memorial, now evident at the northern end of Shelly Beach in the form of a wooden sculpture of Harry and interestingly, his caravan. The area has become known as ‘Harry’s Corner’ and a walking trail with 254 steps, all laboriously built by Harry, leads to a nearby lookout now known as ‘Harry’s Lookout’
Such was the fondness with which Harry was held he was elected citizen of the year in 1983 and in 1999 was proclaimed ‘Mayor of Shelly Beach’
In 2009 an unbelievable mindless act of vandalism saw the sculpture of Harry decapitated. Fortunately local builder and friend of Harry, Ted Sala, came to the rescue and repairs were made and Harry once again stands a silent sentinel watching over his beloved Shelly Beach.”
I also visited secluded Miners Beach now an unofficial nudist beach, and given the weather today very few people were seen, all dressed of course.
Most of the beaches on the south side of Port Macquarie are at the base of steep cliffs much dressed in native vegetation including the wonderful Banksia’s.
A walk has been established from Town Beach all the way through the beaches as far as the Tacking Point Lighthouse.
Nobby’s Beach is on this walk but does have a one way access road as well.
At Flynns Beach
I watched boogie board riders in shallow water in front of the cliff face.
At the end of my journey was Tacking Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built high on a rocky headland in 1879 and is listed on the National Trust Heritage Register. The light house was built due to the large number of shipwrecks in the area. There were twenty shipwrecks between 1823 and 1878. The lighthouse was only 8 metres tall due to the height of the headland itself. It is similar in construction height to Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse which also sits on a high headland at Seal Rocks South of Forster.
Late in the day I went to Lake Cathie (Locals pronounce it Lake Cat Eye which is probably a derivation of the original, Lake Cat Hie. It depends on which local you speak to and how long they have been a local). Calling it Lake Cathie alerts locals that you are an uninformed visitor.
Wednesday 22nd June.
Another long day of driving home. Although there were lots of stop/slow roadworks I still managed the trip in 7.5 hours. Once home I fell asleep and woke in time for a light dinner and watch round 2 of the 3 round State of Origin series. Queensland won round one and only needed to win on their home ground to win the series for 2016. Despite strong defence by NSW and some good tries to both sides, Queensland won 26 to 16 and making them series winners ten years of the last eleven. The third round in NSW in three weeks was a sellout before tonight and the game will be just as tough despite it being a “dead rubber”.
Saturday 25th June
Astute and regular readers will recall I broke my wrist in an ummm, bicycle accident on 2nd August 2015. I required wrist surgery to install a T piece stainless steel plate. For 10 months I have been doing regular physiotherapy and taking strong nerve pain medication. I was on 300 Mg of Lyrica twice a day (the maximum advised does is 600Mg per day) and another pain medication, 10 Mg of Endep at bedtime. Although the medical profession say the medication is not addictive it is not something which you can just stop taking as there will be withdrawal symptons. One of the many side effects is weight gain. In my case about 10 Kg. I am pleased to report that I have stopped physiotherapy and now using the hand in regular daytime functional uses rather than the regime of particular exercises to regain use of the hand. What I am most pleased about is I started a slow withdrawal of the medication and I have not had any medication for two days. No constant pain and I am sleeping.
However, although the last two nights sleep have been a little troubled and have woken a few times during the night.
Silly repetitive dreams.
I mention these two drugs in case readers ever find themselves on Lyrica or Endep and need to know the slow process of coming off the drug.
Sunday 26th June
Yesterday evening and again this morning it was quite cold with overnight temps down around 10 degrees. Yeah Yeah I know. It only begins to get cold at minus 10. Remember we live on the Gold Coast and spent the last 30 years living in the tropics. Anything less than 23 degrees is cold!
Now for something totally different.
I drove to Murwillumbah about 70 Klms from home. The town is just over the border in NSW and is situated on the mid reaches of the Tweed River
in what is surprisingly called the Tweed Valley. Once upon a time the original Pacific highway ran through here, following the Tweed River into Tweed Heads and on into Coolangatta Queensland. The town is not large in terms of size or population but it does have an impressive art gallery called, Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre.
Apart from the impressive paintings and sculptures it also includes a re-production of Margaret Olley’s home in Paddington, Sydney. The rooms have been re-created using photos and includes all the bric a brac, furniture, clothes, magazines, books, painting materials, weird statuatry and assorted junk which was in the house at the time of her death. It also includes the stove top, oven and the kitchen sink. The windows also include the original tissue thin ragged curtains on the original house. The gallery sits on a hill overlooking the lush pastures of the Tweed
while in the distance is the looming presence of Mt Warning (named by Captain Cook when he sailed along the coast in 1770) and other peaks which were formed by a massive volcano twenty million years ago. The other peaks are also
the remains of the volcanic caldera. There is much to see in the Tweed Valley and surrounding peaks, National Parks and caldera farmlands.
I will save a return visit for when Donnis is home.