Patricia Newell-Dunkley – Photographs by Reginald J Dunkley.

Cyclone Debbie which hit North Queensland and the border of New South Wales in late March is still being felt, as massive cleanups are taking place with insurance claims up to $6.9 billion. The sugar harvest from The Mackay- Prosperine region has been wiped out along with the fruits and vegetables, including mangoes, tomatoes, and capsicum from the Bowen region.

Sadly the Whitsunday Islands were all affected with Hamilton Island and Daydream Island being severely damaged. This beautiful location is working hard to resume providing tourists a great holiday in this aquatic playground. However the Backpacker Hostels around Airlie Beach have bounced back and are already open once more and doing great business.

The Sydney Royal Easter Show is in full swing. First held in 1823 the show is Australia’s largest ticketed event, attracting over 850,000 attendees on average, everyone loves this State Fair. The Royal Easter Show is a celebration of Australian culture, from our rural traditions to our modern day lifestyles. Every Easter the Country and the City join together for fourteen glorious fun filled days.

One of my favourite events is the Dog Show; however there are so many events to view it is hard to decide where to start. From Aviary Birds showing off their magnificent colours, such as the Gouldian Finches, Painted Finches, Diamond Firetail, and many more. These spectacular little birds are normally found in western Queensland, and are great favourites for the home.

There is so much to see and do one is spoilt for choice. The Cat Show, Cattle, Cheese and Dairy Produce, Chocolate, Flower and Garden, Frogs and Reptiles, Goats, Honey, Horses, Pigs, Poultry and Pigeon, Rabbits, Rat and Mouse, Sheep and Fleece, Wine, to mention but a few.

Of course there are the sideshows, and beautiful arts and craft displays. Nobody can go home without a Show bag; these were started in the 1900’s and over the years have increased in size and content. It is all part and parcel of visiting the show and a must have before leaving. Fortunately the weather is perfect with sunny days and cool air, which is necessary for all of the walking and well worth a visit.

Here on the Central Coast this is where I live, north of Sydney and lying on the Pacific Ocean. Once again we have been invaded with holiday makers as the school holidays are with us. Because it is only a two hour drive from Sydney it is a very popular region to visit for a two week break, and there are plenty of hotels, motels, resorts, caravan parks, tent areas, to accommodate everyone.

The Entrance is a resort area offering a range of recreation at the confluence of the Ocean and Tuggerah Lakes a salt water wetland.  It is a hive of activity and the waterfront park hosts a range of family entertainment, and on Saturdays locally farmed produce is available at The Seaside Farmers Market.

One of the most popular features at The Entrance is feeding the pelicans, which takes place every afternoon at 3.30pm.  It was started over twenty years ago by staff at Clifford’s Fish and Chip Shop, and now by Jimbo’s Seafood. The Pelicans would waddle across the road from the park and demand their fish from the staff.  In 1996 it was taken over by the Tour Centre Management and the Pelicans have fresh fish 365 days a year, making it the spectacle it is today. The Entrance is recognised as “The Pelican Capital of Australia”.

Tuggerah Lakes has a 12km cycleway and is perfect for picnics and barbeques along the way. A large range of vessels are available to hire if you wish to sail on the water, catamarans and small powered boats are family favourites.

Toowoon Bay, Shelly Beach, and Bateau Bay, are just south of The Entrance and they all have stunning beaches which are safe for surfing swimming and a relaxed atmosphere.  There is also a magnificent Golf club overlooking the ocean at Shelly Beach, just one of eight in the region.

Wyrrabalong National Park meets the coastline at Bateau Bay and is intertwined with reasonably easy walking trails. One trail leads to Crackneck Lookout which is a prime spot for Whale watching.

Bridging the area between Sydney and Newcastle, the Central Coast region begins at the mouth of the Hawkesbury River and stretches all the way to the Southern end of Lake Macquarie. With a number of delightful villages, as well as an alluring mix of bays, beaches, inlets, lakes, and hinterland, there’s plenty to see and do on the N.S.W. Central Coast.

Another favourite on the coast is The Australian Reptile Park, the only zoo in Australia committed to saving lives with a venom milking programme. It has been in place for the last fifty years and saves over 300 lives yearly. It is a hands-on-zoo and boasts animal interaction and exciting wildlife shows. You can feed the kangaroos, have close encounters with scaly and furry animals, enjoy a walk with Hugo, the giant Galapagos Tortoise. Feed Elvis N.S.W.’s crankiest crocodile and much more including photographs with Koalas.

Here at Shelly Beach I have my own wildlife sanctuary with plenty of Lorikeets, Kookaburras, Magpies, plus my tame Wattle bird and her family in the back garden. The Blue tongued Lizard has reappeared, much to Pixie the Pomeranian’s delight as she sits and watches him from a safe distance (she only has one tooth).  My friend also has a Boobook Owl also known as a Mopoke, in her garden, so hopefully I will have a visit from him shortly. I would love that.

My books “Letters of a Travelling Lady, Wallis the Woman I love, The Complete Guide to Painting and Decorating Porcelain,” are available on Amazon and my website. My Poetry Pamphlet “Flower Power” is with the printer and looks beautiful.

Cheers.  Patricia.