Having spent the first part of our Christmas & New Year trip in the hinterland, we started to miss the ocean a little. And so from Dorrigo we went straight to the coast, to Nambucca Heads, where we spent New Year's Eve on a similar trip two years earlier. Although we hadn't booked accommodation, this proved not to be a problem - we quickly found a room, nothing too special, but with a view of the sea. Moreover, it turned out, that the owner's wife was Polish!
Nambucca Heads is a very beautifully situated village - what adds to its charm is the river flowing into the ocean here, which creates islands and sandy lagoons resembling a little the Whitsundays in the north of Queensland. It is a very popular place, especially among families with children, because the river provides calm water without waves.
From Nambucca Heads we moved along the coast in the direction of South West Rocks, a picturesque village, which we had also visited two years ago. Luckily we had more time to explore this charming area this year, so we got to the Smoky Cape, with its beautifully located lighthouse, complete with two cottages on the cliff, where you can stay! There we met a large and very hungry goanna (great Australian lizard similar to the South American iguanas - hence the name given by the first European settlers), which circled around us apparently counting on leftovers from our lunch, which we were having while enjoying views of the surrounding beaches.
In the area of South West Rocks there is also a very interesting monument - the Trial Bay Gaol. Opened in 1886 year, it served as a prison camp for people of German descent living in Australia (including Australian citizens), who were treated as enemy aliens during the war and interned to places such as Trial Bay Goal. The prison is very well preserved, so you can feel for a moment as if you travelled in time.
South West Rocks itself is also a very nice, if rather small town. The focal point here are huge stones at the edge of the sea surrounded by turquoise ocean against the background of a beautiful sandy beach. It seems the perfect place for an extended stay, with lots of cafes and bars located close to the beach and the surroundings full of interesting places to visit.
From South West Rocks we moved further south, to Port Macquarie, stopping along the way to spend a night in a traditional pub in the village of Kempsey. Port Macquarie is also quite a nice town - there are a few nice beaches and some interesting buildings, such as the historic Roto House, with an adjacent hospital for injured koalas.
The following night we spent in a small town called Laurieton located about . 40 miles south of Port Macquarie. Just before dark we went for a walk around the Kattang Nature Reserve, which offers several trails with views of the ocean and coastal cliffs. The most famous of these is the route to Perpendicular Point - a rocky promontory thrust into the sea with vertical cliffs reaching more than 40m. We didn't have too much time to enjoy the beautiful views as it soon started to get dark and besides, the wind was blowing with such a force, that we almost lost our heads
The Laurieton area also offers several other local attractions, such as lakes and parks, which makes it a pleasant place to stay there for a few days. Just before leaving, we visited the church St. Peter the Fisherman, with its scenic gardens, designed by the former parish priest and amateur sculptor, inspired by the places he visited on a trip to Italy. We also got to the viewpoint at the top of the North Brother mountain, which boasts panoramic views of the coast, and to the information point in the nearby town of Kew with a memorable huge ax suspended on stilts.
Our last stop on this trip was Timbertown in the vicinity of Port Macquarie, which we didn't get to visit two years earlier. On the way, we stopped at a nearby winery, Bago Vineyards, where in addition to wine and local cheese tastings, you can also listen to jazz and wander in the maze.
Timbertown itself is an attraction geared towards children - it is a place, which is supposed to re-create a town from the time of the first Australian pioneers. There you can ride a train or horse-drawn carriage, see several historic wooden houses (historic = ca. 150-years old), visit the forge and the sawmill, or see a team of bullocks hauling a huge trunk of a tree. Overall, this heritage village has a pleasant atmosphere and with some effort you can imagine what the life might have looked like at the times of the first settlers in Australia. And if you have children you can be sure that it will be a huge attraction for them!
And this was how our Christmas and New Year's trip ended this year. Sorry for the delay in the publication of this post - we have been incredibly busy lately. Fortunately, it looks like, the next couple of months should be a bit better, so we are hoping to write more often again!