We hired a car and drove from Sydney up to a place called Wanderer’s Retreat in Port Stephens (about a 3 hour drive away). If you check the site you’ll see that you can stay in a luxury tree house in koala country with beaches a short walk away and more plant and animal life around you than you can shake a stick at. We were there 5 nights and it was absolutely beautiful. It must be the most beautiful place we’ve ever stayed and I’d go back in a flash! Just along the road was Nelson Bay and this shot from a hill above shows the sort of place we were staying:
One thing we noticed is that no two houses look the same (we made the same observation in New Zealand when we were there). It makes such a change from all the clone-houses you get in the UK where imagination is a missing ingredient.
It was around this point that I was completely eaten alive by mosquitoes. I was too busy looking out for snakes, scorpions and spiders to think about them but 25 bites in one day, each of them coming out in a large, super-itchy blotch an inch across certainly got my attention! So the next day, after getting some antihistamine and very strong cream, we took a ferry across to Tea Gardens (strange name for a village I thought) and had a look around – far less action-packed I know but I was suffering! We weren’t alone:
And in fact a few dolphins decided to put in an appearance in the harbour:
When we got back to the tree house we had a run on the beach (I love being by the sea!) and then I got into a nice bath full of cold water to calm the mosquito bites down. And it worked!
Every day we’d been walking around looking up into the trees for a glimpse of one of these elusive koalas with no success. But luckily on our final day we managed to see three of them – and they’re so cute!
Apparently they’re not very active during the day but I didn’t mind, that made them easier to photograph. Its child was climbing around the other side of the tree and was even cuter, although was clearly camera shy. The thing about Australia is that there’s an incredible depth of plant and animal life that we Europeans can only dream of. And to have these furry little beasts living in trees where you live must be so cool.
It rained really heavily one night and into the next morning. As we drove back to the house after a shopping trip I heard this noise and thought the car was breaking down. I stopped and opened the window to be hit by a wall of deafening noise! Turned out it was Cicadas that are incredibly ugly and even more incredibly noisy insects – but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss hearing them now!
I also miss scenes like the one above. Port Stephens is a beautiful area and we only scratched the surface.