DAY SEVEN (CHRISTMAS DAY 2018)
COFFS HARBOUR TO NELSON BAY
Opal Cove Resort, Coffs Harbour This was the accommodation booked for my friends by the Swiss Travel Agent. The Resort has a beachfront location and facilities include 9 hole golf course, heated swimming pool, 3 floodlit tennis courts, gym, sauna, games room, etc, all most appropriate if staying for more than one night. This, for us, was a whistle stop tour to give my friends from Europe a taste of the Australian countryside between Brisbane and Sydney so it was another one night stop. After exchanging Christmas greetings and gifts we breakfasted in their room enjoying cereal, fruit etc purchased the previous evening when stocking up for our Christmas Day picnic lunch. They had collected me from Surf Beach Motel which is situated close to the centre of Coffs Harbour.
Coffs Harbour is a city on the north coast of New South Wales. Coffs Harbour owes its name to John Korff who named the area Korff’s Harbour when he was forced to take shelter from a storm in the area in 1847. It is known for its beaches and the Big Banana monument and amusement park. It is one of the largest urban centres on the north coast, with an estimated population of 70,000 (2017). Coffs Harbour’s economy was once based mainly on bananas but has now been superseded by blueberries as well as tourism and fishing. It is located where the mountains tumble down to the sea. In the waters off Coffs Harbour Marina is the Solitary Islands Marine Park, home to abundant wildlife, seasonal whales and coral reefs. Just east is the Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve with its large population of wedge-tailed shearwater birds and learning centre. Sadly, we didn’t have time for exploring. We walked around the Marina on this beautiful sunny morning before driving along the Pacific Highway in the direction of Port Macquarie.
Port Macquarie is a town at the mouth of the Hastings River. It is known for its beaches, wildlife and penal colony past. St.Thomas’ Anglican Church was built by convicts in the 19th century. A coastal walk from the town centre to the 19th century Tacking Point Lighthouse offers views over waters, home to whales and dolphins. Driving through this town on Christmas Day was quite an experience as it was deserted – no traffic and very few pedestrians – everything was closed. We did find a cafe that was more closed than open, but the owner cheerfully made coffee for us and there was a toilet for customer use.
Lake Cathie is a town about 15 minutes’ drive south of Port Macquarie. It is a popular holiday destination because of its tranquil location. Its main feature is a tidal lake fed by the ocean daily. Several times throughout the year the lake is closed over by shifting sands and becomes dark in colour due to the tannins in the local flora. Tourism centres on the lake as it is a popular swimming and fishing spot all year round especially when the lake is open. It was now time for us to locate a place to enjoy our picnic Christmas lunch. As we drove we suddenly spotted a table with shade cover, just what we were looking for.
On arrival in Nelson Bay we first located my accommodation at Dutchies Motel in Christmas Bush Avenue (a very appropriate name on Christmas Day). When making the booking I was given precise instructions on location and where to find the key as there was nobody in attendance. I left my belongings and we were on our way to Mantra Resort, booked for the girls. After check-in, the three of us walked down to the Marina. It was now about 6 o’clock so the sun was low in the sky as we walked out on the breakwater. Returning to Mantra we enjoyed a meal where we aimed to eat leftovers from our freezer bags, perishables needing to be consumed before we travelled further the next day.
Back to Dutchies to my bed in Room 5. The beautiful waterfront location was very special. We each have different expectations when making bookings and, during these one night stops, I have realised how important it is to me to enjoy, and have memories of, the surrounding area.