There’s plenty to do in Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia
Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia – Learn to surf
Why: It’s part of the contract of coming here in the first place that you have at least one surfing lesson. Unfortunately, those blonde-haired types make it a lot easier than it actually is. First you need a bit of timing, to catch the wave at the right point. Then you need a bit of co-ordination, so that you can get yourself up on the board as it starts to speed towards the shore. Finally, you need a lot of balance and a bit of luck if you’re not going to end up splashing straight back down into the water again. The sense of achievement when it actually works, though, is something special.
Who with: Port Macquarie Surf School (02 6585-5453) are more than happy to put you through your paces, with prices depending on how many people there are in the group, how many lessons you book, and how long a lesson you have.
Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia: Things To Do – Ride a camel.
Where: Lighthouse beach
Why: Despite being possibly the most uncomfortable creatures on earth, camels have an undoubted novelty value, and tottering around on the back of one on a long, deserted beach is a great laugh. And if you think that this is the sort of thing best saved for the Arabian desert, well think again. Australian camels are the real deal; the only wild population in the world is here, and some of them are actually exported to the Middle East. There are enough remaining to give you a very sore bottom on Lighthouse Beach, though.
How much: A twenty minute ride with Port Macquarie Camel Safaris (02 6586 5996) costs $17.50. Pick-ups and drop-offs from town are all part of the package, and the first ride of the day is at 9.30am.
Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia: Things To Do – Whale and dolphin cruises
Why: Whales are the biggest creatures on earth – yes, even bigger than Kelly Osbourne after a cake binge – so seeing them up close gives you an incredible sense of scale. On a whale watching cruise, it can take a fair old while to spot them (despite their size), but when you find one or two that are willing to play ball, it’s magical. Most of the time, you’ll just see spouts of water, or great grey lumps in front of you, but when they properly leap out of the water and show a bit of tail, then you get to see what magnificent beasts they are. As an added bonus, the sea around Port Macquarie is a bit of a dolphin hotspot, and there’s a high chance that flipper and his mates will accompany you back to the harbour.
How much: Cruise Adventures (1300 555 89) do a variety of cruises, starting at $15 for 1 ½ hours.
Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia: Things To Do – see koalas
Where: The koala hospital, Lord Street
Why: That’s sick as in poorly, rather than pulling the legs off spiders, incidentally. The poor inhabitants of this hospital have succumbed to all manner of problems; some have been attacked by dogs, some by cars, some by bushfires. Others have been affected by Chlamydia, fallen into swimming pools or have simply turned up on the doorstep after being released. Whatever they’re in for, every patient has his or her own story faithfully noted by the gang of volunteers who run the place without any government funding, and if you turn up at 3pm, you get a free guided tour at feeding time.
How much: The guided tour is free, although they do encourage you to make a small donation to help keep the place going.