The surf was up at Port Maquarie (pop 45,700) when we arrived.
We parked Ripley in a neat spot at the Breakwall Holiday Park which as its name describes, sits next to a breakwall smack besides the confluence of the Hastings river and the sea.
We have always wanted to stay at this park, because it is located right in the the middle of things at Port.
Until recently it has not been dog friendly, so instead we used to wander past it on our way over to the breakwall, admiring peoples rigs and talking about one day buying a camper van so we could travel more.
There is a walking path out to the end of the breakwall and over the years people have painted pictures and messages on the rock faces along its length.
Some of the pictures are pretty base, but others are quite artistic and have taken some time to produce. Commemorating everything from family holidays, group fishing trips, and marriage proposals to personal tragedy, it is always interesting to take some time to walk along reading them, and to try to note which ones have been overpainted since the last time we were here.
I used to come to Port Macquarie on holiday trips with my family back when I was a kid. I was pretty interested in astronomy back then and to my delight there was a small observatory located in the towns Rotary Park. I remember going along to hear a talk by this really old man one night. In my memory he looked like an old Sir Richard Attenborough. He sat all scrunched into a tweed jacket on a tin chair at the front of the room and spoke passionately of the stars and the planets. My eyes were Jupiters.
Beside him sat a large orrery.
Model planets and moons hand painted with tiny meteorite craters and cloud bands and ice caps. Each impaled on its own concentric brass scaffolding that orbited slowly and proportionately around a central yellow orb. I thought it was even neater than the telescope.
Mr Attenbourough had a walking stick, and every time he mentioned a planet he would hook it roughly around the relevant planet and yank it forward for our inspection.
I can happily report that the observatory is still there and is open every Wednesday and Sunday for public viewing and a talk. Unfortunately it was closed when we were there. Im pretty sure the man is stardust by now but I really hope that orrery has survived.
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