It’s a cliché and a truism that travel broadens the mind. All the evidence bears it out but it is sometimes difficult to actually explain why it is so. One – and only one – of the explanations is that, after travelling abroad, one is more able to appreciate what’s here in Australia. This lesson was impressed upon us in our most recent timeshare stay at Flynns Beach in Port Macquarie.
My partner and I had recently returned from a four-month trip of a lifetime to Europe, Turkey and South-East Asia.
We had timed our adventure for the northern hemisphere summer so when the weather warmed up we naturally sought out beaches on which to cool off. There were lots of different beaches bordering the Mediterranean. None came close to the beautiful beaches of the Australian east coast. It makes one truly appreciate the luck we Australians have had with the sandstone mountains (the Great Dividing Range) on the eastern seaboard. Sitting on a wonderful – and nearly empty – sandy beach in Port Macquarie it’s easy to muse over the differences. Over millions of years these mountains have eroded, the rivers have washed the sand out to sea and then had the tides wash it all back onto the coastline. The product is the thousands of fine, yellow sandy beaches.
When my partner and I spent four days at Flynns Beach in early September we were visiting for the third time. Even though we are from Wollongong where there are 32 superb, nearly pristine beaches, we like to visit these glorious natural places. There are also other attractions in and around Port Macquarie. On our latest trip we rode the resort’s bicycles to Lighthouse Beach, picked our own strawberries at Ricardo’s, and visited the unique Koala Hospital.
The Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie relies on donations and receives very little government funding. It was begun by a local couple in 1973 and is a great example of community action. The hospital has an intensive care section and several outdoor yards. For visitors, there’s a daily tour at 3 pm. Helen was our guide and showed great compassion for the patients. She’s not the only one. 120 volunteers help to return injured and orphaned koalas back into the wild. They do a brilliant job.
Whilst up north we also played bridge at the Hastings Bridge Club. Bridge is not a game for retirees only but of course retirees have more free time so Bridge Clubs do well in retirement towns like Port Macquarie. At the Bridge Club, Joan enquired if we were staying in town long enough to participate in their annual congress. “Well, that’s very tempting, but we have to go back to work,” we sighed.
“Oh, we don’t do any of that sort of thing here,” said Joan, with only a modicum of irony.