To experience Port Macquarie’s area.

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I knew that I had made an impression with this fellow – as soon as he saw me, he turned his back . . .

We were visiting the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie, which is free to enter and all they ask is a donation to the work of looking after sick or injured koalas.

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This fellow didn’t mind the camera.

The hospital is a rehabilitation facility, scientific research and educational centre and a tourist ‘must see’.

There are teams on call twenty-four hours a day to rescue wild koalas that may have been injured by a vehicle, loss of habitat due to bush fires, towns expanding, or just are sick and cannot look after themselves. People are asked to phone the emergency services if they find a koala in distress. The Centre handles hundreds of koalas a year.

Recovering koalas are moved from ICU to the outside area where treatment continues until the animal is fit enough to look after themselves. Those that recover fully are returned to their home areas in the wild.
The animals that recover, but are unable to look after themselves are kept in a protected area of the hospital, which is an area that mimics a koala habitat with trees and food. My photographs are of the protected area.
Koalas are now listed as an endangered species.

 Koala Hospital

The above link is copied from the Koala Hospital web site.

The guide who showed us around and explained about the working of the hospital was an ex American army service man who had been in Vietnam during the Vietnam war (or as the Vietnamese call the war – The American war) and during a spot of R&R met and married an Australian. He has been with the hospital for years and was a fund of knowledge about the hospital and koalas.

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Koalas only eat a few types of the 900 or so different species of eucalyptus leaves. The leaves are very fibrous and low in nutrition, and to most other animals, eucalyptus leaves are poisonous.
The leaves that the koala like are low in food value so to conserve their energy a koala will sleep 18 to 22 hours a day.

The koalas outside of the ICU have to be supplied with the correct leaves every day and each koala will eat about a half kilo of leaves a day so collecting the food is a full-time job for those connected with the hospital.

Conservation

The details of feeding the koalas are linked to the above, which is from the hospital web site. Our visit was a very interesting and educational time.

Roto

As we left the koala hospital, we decided to visit the historic Roto House, which is next door to the koala hospital, but it closed due to Covid regulations.

The house was built by John Flynn in 1891, he was a surveyor at the time. Flynn’s family lived in this house up to 1979, and the house is now controlled and maintained by the National Parks and Wildlife Services.

For those who have read my previous blogs of Port Macquarie the original homeowner is the Flynn of Flynn’s Beach.

Later we moved on to Sea Acres a rainforest that has been protected as a living heritage that can stretch back to the dinosaurs.

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It is a rain forest with a difference because visitors do not walk on the ground but an elevated (up to 7 mtrs or 23 feet) boardwalk for 1.3 km (0.8 of a mile) to experience the forest without contaminating the forest.

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All along the walk there are information notices explaining various trees or plants.

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Whatever falls from a tree or plant lies on the ground as if humans had never arrived.

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I hope the above notice is clear – it is one of the educational notices about Brush Bloodwood that grows to 24 mtrs (79 feet). Early settlers used the sap as paint. The tree contains so much resin that it will burn when green.

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Managed to catch a bush turkey searching for food.

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Sunlight struggles to get through. Maureen had seen something in the trees.

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A Strangler Fig.

This tree provides fruit for rain forest pigeons and grey headed flying foxes who eat the fruit in the canopy of the forest.
After eating the fruit, including the seed the droppings of the birds and bats containing seeds that falls into cracks of a tree and germinate.
The Strangler Fig grows down to the ground rather than from the ground up by sending out long string-like roots to the ground. Over time these roots come together and thicken. Eventually the host tree dies from the thicken graft roots of the Strangler Tree and over time the dead tree rots away leaving a hollow strangler fig.
The hollow area that a full-grown strangler tree has created becomes the home of small animals and birds.

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I copied a photograph from Kew Gardens web site for a clearer indication of the strangler.
When the Europeans arrived the east coast of Australia was covered in rainforests similar to the one, we visited.

In 2013 a violent storm hit Sea Acres and a giant strangler fig was destroyed which opened up the canopy. The ‘new’ sunlight encouraged growth of dormant seeds and other plants.
The falling of a giant tree that opens the forest to sunlight is called ‘gap phased dynamics’ as other trees expanded their treetops into the new sunlit area.

Eventually the new growth on the ground will die as the expanding canopy cuts out the sunlight, and the slow growing forest takes over again.

If you hear a cat meowing in the forest it is not a cat but a green catbird

Catbird

The Birpai people are the original custodians of the area around Port Macquarie.

The land and surrounds provided them with food, medicines, tools, weapons, building supplies, art, clothing, and sea food.

Port Macquarie

Macquarie

Lachlan Macquarie 1762 – 1824

Lachlan Macquarie was the 5th Governor of NSW and arrived in Sydney in 1809. He urbanised the convict settlement by creating street and parks and the layout of Sydney today is based on his plans. 

Governor Macquarie encouraged social reforms, and he promoted getting married in church, morality, police patrols, he encouraged the emancipists and convicts whose sentences had expired to live law abiding lives.
A number of these ex-convicts became business men & others were promoted to government positions. Francis Greenway (ex-convict) became the colonial architect & Dr William Redfern who was condemned to death in England for being involved in the Nore mutiny, he was aboard HMS Standard as surgeon’s mate during the mutiny. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and he spent four years in an English gaol before requesting transportation to New South Wales in 1801.
On arrival he was posted to Norfolk Is. where he worked for six years before returning to Sydney. Over time he became the Colonial surgeon and was known for promoting the vaccination against smallpox. 

Governor Macquarie encouraged exploration of the land beyond the Blue Mountains, and it was during one expedition in 1818 that John Oxley followed the Hasting River to the sea and named the area when he reached the sea Port Governor.
In 1821 Port Macquarie became a penal settlement for convicts who had committed secondary offences after arriving in Sydney.

This was the town that we picked for a holiday, but thankfully things had changed in the last 200 years.

perking

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Plenty of free parking for two hours and it was very easy to move the car to another parking place. An easy town centre to walk around with plenty of shops restaurants, and places of interest.

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The above is the museum – the building was built in 1835 – 1840 it was a shop and a dwelling. The picture is from the museum web site because my outside shot was not good enough.

We thought our first stop should be to find out about the history of the town.   

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The soldier on the left is Maureen.

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As we walked through the museum we passed through the history of the town from the early years of the convict period, to more modern times, which included rooms from the early days to those of the 1950 & 60’s, which were familiar to both of us having been born in the 40’s . 

shops

Shops of yesteryear in a recreated street

For $5 each it was well worth the visit, and the time to see all the exhibits was nearly two hours because it was so interesting.

Niceste peopl

We met some of the nicest people. One was Edmund Barton who was Australia’s first Prime Minister after Federation, which was the 1st January 1901.
Edmund Barton, also known as ‘Tosspot Toby ‘, was the local representative for Port Macquarie.
He gained his nickname from the Bulletin magazine of the time, because Sir Edmund liked good conversations, good food and good drink even at the expense of his health.  

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Sir Edmund (Toby) Barton (1849–1920)

The area where Barton’s statue is located is called Conner Hurley Park, which is a beautiful spot for a quiet walk and to sit and watch the world pass you bye. 

Park

Look back

We had a fish & chip ‘tea’ overlooking the sea, with our backs to the building on the right. We had competition from the sea gulls and the pelicans for our fish & chips.
We were grateful for a small boy with endless energy who would chase after the sea gulls, but not the pelicans.

We strolled along the sea wall and came to the ‘painted rock’ area, an area where people can paint the rocks with dedications or comments, as long as the comments are not unacceptable.

painted rock  

Purple

If you look closely, you will see a green car, but I doubt that all the people listed would have been in the one car!
The area is a walk-way along the break-wall along the Hasting River.
The painting idea began as an art competition in 1995 and it has now been allowed to be an outdoor gallery for anyone who wishes to try their artistic talents.

 

Mekong 1

Being on holiday we visited a number of restaurants, but we only went back to one restaurant twice – once in the evening and a day or so later for lunch.
The Mekong Restaurant was very good and they offered a pint (473 mls) of local beer for $7.50, which is an excellent price for a beer in a restaurant, particularly being draft beer. 
I had to have a second glass just to make sure there hadn’t been a mistake . . .
The restaurant offered Thai / Laos food – the restaurant was owned by a couple, the male being Australian and his wife Laos. 

mekong The restaurant overlooks the water, which allows for a nice warm breeze to waft through.

Laurieton

We visited Laurieton, which is about a thirty-minute drive south of Port Macquarie – a quiet small town with a population of about 2000 in the 2016 census.
Captain Cook in May 1770 named the three mountains that he could see ‘the Brothers’ because they reminded him of a similar group of hills in Yorkshire, England.

By naming them as such, he unwittingly named them the same as the local Birpai people, who had a legend that there were three brothers who were killed by a witch named Widjirriejuggi.
The brothers were buried where the mountains now stand.
The youngest brother was named Dooragan, which is the name of the local National Park.    

ship

While in Laurieton I took a photograph of the above vessel in the harbour.
I cropped the photograph and zoomed in, in an effort get a clear picture of what looked like a fishing boat, or an old trader, but perhaps just a tourist boat . . . 

boat 2 

It reminded me of something out of a Joseph Conrad novel . . .

The romance of the sea.  

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