Exploring Port Macquarie

A couple weeks ago we went to Port Macquarie for Phil's 4th Ironman triathlon.  I am always looking for an excuse to explore, so this was the perfect opportunity to check out the area.  We flew into Newcastle.  No, scratch that.  I flew into Newcastle.  And then I picked up the camper van and drove the 2.5 hours by myself to Port Macquarie.  Because, you see, we missed our flight that morning.  We got to the counter 4 minutes after check in closed, and that was that.  We booked ourselves on the next flight, and then realised that with it arriving in Newcastle at 1:30, everything would have to line up perfectly to get Phil checked into the race by 5 pm.  Then we realised we would have to wait for his bike at baggage claim and catch a cab to get the camper van and the writing was on the wall, he wasn't going to make it.  Considering the entry fees, the plane tickets, camper van rental, and vacation time, we had to find a way to get him checked in for that race.  I finally realised that I didn't need to get there by 5, just Phil.  We found a flight that went through Sydney straight to Port Macquarie, and 75,000 frequent flyer points later Phil was booked on a flight to arrive at 1:30.  All of this was before 7 am.  So I had a nice long wait at the airport and a nice long (but scenic) drive up to Port Macquarie.  Finally though we both made it, all checked in and ready for the race.
The next day Phil racked his bike and then we drove the bike course.  It was crazy hilly, and I could tell Phil was not looking forward to two laps of that road.  We stopped at a couple spots on the way back to enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery.  Then to calm his nerves we had a nice lunch at a local brewery.  What better way to prepare for a race than a beer.  The resident great dane was also a treat, he was giant and appreciated a good scratch behind the ears.  We had a low key afternoon before dinner and an early bedtime.

The day following the race was a definite highlight.  We took a short drive to Lighthouse Beach where we road camels along the surf.  Funny enough, camels don't really like surf.  The tide was in pretty far, and when the water hit their legs they all started stomping around.  Our camels sat down and we climbed on top, then held on tight as they unfolded their legs and stood up.  They seemed perfectly content walking down the beach and were very photogenic, smiling for all our pictures.  Fun fact - Australia has the largest population of wild camels in the world.  They were introduced in the mid-1800s as a mode of transport and were released into the wild as cars became more popular.  At its largest, the Australian camel population surpassed one million!
After our camel adventure we went back to Port Macquarie and had a leisurely lunch at a local winery. Then we started the drive back to Newcastle, where we spent the night before flying back to Melbourne.
Pelican in Dunbogan
Pretty
Beautiful Shelly Beach
Aussie flowers and beaches - love this combination!
Beautiful people, beautiful beach
Sunset in Port Macquarie
Say cheese!
Parade of camels
Phil riding Obama the camel
Not sure what my camel's name was - George perhaps?
Group shot


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