Thursday, March 16, 2023


Australian Sojourn – March 2023 • Part 4

I’m currently in the New South Wales coastal town of Port Macquarie, which for the Birpai, the Indigenous people of the area, is known as Guruk.

I was last in Guruk three-and-a-half years ago when, in August 2019, I returned from the U.S. for my Dad’s funeral. I’d previously been back in April 2019, at a time when Dad’s health was failing.

My parents moved to Port Macquarie from our hometown of Gunnedah in 2002. Mum still lives in Port and we’ve been enjoying our time together since I arrived from Melbourne (via Goulburn and Sydney) on Monday, March 13.

As I mentioned, the area around Port Macquarie (Guruk) and the Hastings (Doongang) River has been home to the Birpai Aboriginal peoples for tens of thousands of years.

Traditional Birpai life changed forever with the mapping and naming of the area by Surveyor-General John Oxley in 1818. Three years later in 1821, Port Macquarie was founded as a penal settlement for convicts sentenced for secondary crimes committed in New South Wales. The region was opened to free settlers nine years later.

Above: Tacking Point Lighthouse, Port Macquarie – Wednesday, March 15, 2023.

Port Macquarie was declared a municipality in 1887, but the town never progressed as a port owing to a notorious coastal bar across the mouth of the Hastings River. South of the river, over twenty shipwrecks occurred in the Tacking Point area before the lighthouse which still stands today was designed by James Barnet and built in 1879.

Paul is a young French backpacker whom I met on the train from Sydney to Port Macquarie. When we arrived in Port, Mum and I gave him a lift to the backpackers hostel at which he will be staying for the next few weeks. On Wednesday, March 15, I picked him up and drove him to a number of places of interest in the area, including Tacking Point Lighthouse (above) and Grants Head (below), which we climbed.

Above: With Mum and some of her Port Macquarie friends – Wednesday, March 15, 2023. From left: Chris, Cec, Mum, me, Cheryl and Geoff.

NEXT: Mooloolaba

For previous Guruk/Port Macquarie-related Wild Reed posts, see:
Family Time in Guruk . . . and Glimpses of Somaliland (2019)
Return to Guruk (2019)
On Sacred Ground (2019)
Guruk (2019)
Guruk Sunrise (2017)
Guruk Seascapes, from Dawn to Dusk (2017)
Last Days in Australia (2017)
Return to Guruk (2017)
Port Macquarie (2016)
Port Macquarie, Wingham, and Ellenborough Falls (2015)
Port Macquarie Days (2014)
Christmas in Australia (2010)
Town Beach (2010)
Swallows Ledge (2009)
Port Macquarie (2008)
Everglades Exhibition (2007)

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