Failing to find the surf we were hoping for at Seal Rocks the mission continued as we drove up the coast. We went through Pacific Palms only to find the beaches were too advanced. Boomerang Beach looked awesome but I was happy to just watch as the surfers rode massive waves within centimetres of submerged rocks.
By the time we made it to Forster we’d pretty much given up on surfing. The beaches here were more the swimming type. So instead, we just enjoyed hanging out in the little town and even had a go at hand washing our clothes.
We seemed to get a lot of strange looks, hasn’t anyone ever seen 2 people doing their washing before?!
We also checked out the Cape Hawke Lookout. After climbing up 400 odd steps through regenerating rainforest we found ourselves at the bottom of an 8 metre tower. Up the tower you can get above the trees to see a 360 degree view of the surrounding area, worth every step.
Crowdy Bay National Park
The plan now was to make our way towards Port Macquarie while avoiding the Pacific Highway. We went first to Crowdy Head, a really pretty settlement with a lighthouse and sweeping views of the Crowdy Bay National Park. From here we were able to miss out the highway by driving through the park along a good unsealed road.
Along the way we took our time stopping at beaches and enjoying the scenery and lack of people. We eventually reached civilisation again at Laurieton, where there were 2 good lookouts to check out.
Firstly the Camden Head Lookout, which gave a high up spectacular view of the coast line. Way off in the distance we could look back at Crowdy Head and the whole of the national park we’d just driven through.
And then the Laurieton Lookout, also known as the North Brother Lookout. You can reach this place by driving 5km along a steep winding road inside the Dooragan National Park. Once at the top of the lookout there’s various little walks and viewing platforms around the place.
By the time we reached Port Macquarie it had been days since I’d done any surfing. I was feeling agitated and frustrated, I just wanted to get in the water and expel some energy!
Luckily Port Macquarie has a good few surf beaches to choose from and I was able to get my fix. First we tried Lighthouse Beach. The currents here were quite strong and it probably wasn’t the best conditions for a couple of beginners, but we had a good time and afterwards went up the lighthouse where there was a good view of the beach.
The next day we tried Flynn’s Beach which is much more suited to beginners. Early in the morning a group of kids were dressed in their pink outfits doing lifeguard and water safety training, this seems to be a big thing over here! Which makes sense considering most of the population live on the coast.
Once they were done we got in the water before things got too busy. This was probably the best day we’d had in ages. We’re now at that point in surfing where we want to try and catch ‘green waves’, as in waves that haven’t broken, and these ones were nice and small to learn on with not too many people about. The main thing I was worried about was taking out the 2 kids who kept choosing to body board right in front of me!
Of course there’s more to Port Macquarie than surf beaches. It’s actually a really nice city. As you drive around the roads are quite high up giving great views over the headland and down onto the beaches and coves below. Everywhere you look there’s palm trees, and the city centre seemed to offer a good number of shops, restaurants, bars etc.
One place definitely worth visiting is the Koala Hospital. It’s not a zoo or a wildlife sanctuary, this is purely a place that takes in sick or injured koalas, nurses them back to health, and then releases them back to their original homes. The hospital take in koalas from all over New South Wales, sometimes driving for 3 or 4 hours to get to them.
Unfortunately there’s the odd permanent resident who can’t be released for one reason or another, but at least they’re looked after well and given big proper trees to climb.
We arrived at 3pm for the daily talk where we got shown around the hospital, met a few of the koalas who weren’t too sick, and learnt loads of stuff about these unique animals. And yes, it’s true what they say in ‘The Inbetweeners’ movie, koalas do get chlamydia, although I don’t know if you can actually catch it from them….
Anyway, we found out that the only paid employees were the manager/vet, and the leaf collectors (they can’t risk not having enough leaves), other than that every single person there is a volunteer, which is pretty awesome. The hospital is free to visit but they appreciate donations or you can buy stuff in their shop. I ended up getting a few koala cards to send home.