Location: Manning Valley/Hastings District
Date: April 2012

April 26, 2012. The new Taree courthouse has caused quite a bit of controversy, for quite a few reasons. You can read what the local media had to say about that.

When I started photographing the early renovations in February 2011, I had no idea what to expect. The 130-old courthouse had always appealed to me as an attractive legacy from Victorian times, and I suppose I subconsciously anticipated some kind of architectural tribute to that era; an extension of  the current facility in keeping with the style of the original. Yeah, right. What I witnessed emerging over the next 14 months was a $5M monstrosity. But as it grew, I kept hoping that what I saw was somehow not indicative of the final design...that we were being misled...that the ugly duckling would be magically transformed into something that complemented the original courthouse. 

That didn't happen. The Ugly Duckling persisted and eventually became the Ugly Swan. Everyone I spoke to agreed that the new building was a monstrosity; totally out of keeping with its immediate surroundings, and not the slightest bit compatible with its adjacent relative. Well, there was one bloke who spoke to me as I photographed the almost-finished building. He asked what I thought of it, and I replied, "The same as everyone else." He said, "I think it's very good. In fact, I think it will win quite a few awards." I agreed, "Oh yes, I think it will win awards." "Oh, so you agree with me then?" "'s just that I think the people who give out awards for such things are all mad." He laughed, wished me a good day, and went on his way. I was pretty sure I detected an American accent.

Click here for the photo album.

April 15, 2012. After my final blast of radiation therapy for mouth/neck cancer at Port Macquarie hospital, I checked out of the Rotary Lodge on Saturday morning and drove south. I turned east off the Pacific Highway about half way back to Taree and headed to Crowdy Bay National Park just to take a look around and grab a few pics. Once I get my slide-on, I'd like to spend an overnighter or even a few days at the camping ground there for a bit of Odyssey "practice". It's a beautiful spot, and the weather was absolutely perfect.

The road from the highway into the park is atrocious, half dirt, half gravel, potholed and grossly neglected, and I suspect maintained (?) by local council. But once inside the park, the road is maintained by National Parks and Wildlife, and is in great condition despite being dirt (compacted clay). There is an alternative route via Ocean Drive, which runs along the coast between Harrington and Port Macquarie. The park is pretty extensive, and I didn't get to see all that much of it, but what I did see is impressive (if you prefer the quiet life). The place is 'Crowdy' in name only... pristine beaches stretch for mile after mile with hardly anyone in sight. Mind you, the weekend before was Easter so there would have been a few more people around, but even so, no more than a few score at most.

After a wander around the park camping ground and local beach, I drove further south to Crowdy Head where there's a village and a surf lifesaving club. I stopped there to take more photos but  my Fuji S7000 developed a problem with the zoom. I'd spotted a most cooperative kookaburra in a tree and got a bit excited with the zoom, which stuck, and I couldn't free it. Fortunately, I managed to get a couple of good pics of the kooka before the camera bit the dust.

Ten minutes further south is Harrington but I didn't stop because the camera was out of action, so I rejoined the highway and drove back to Taree. By the way, the cancer treatment seems to be coming along just fine. I'm due back at Port Macquarie in six weeks for an assessment. Hopefully, before that I'll have the stomach tube removed. I'm desperate to get back to eating NORMAL food! I've included two pics at the end of the Crowdy album of the special mask that I had to wear during the radiation therapy. Talk about claustrophobic! But that's all over now, and I get to keep the mask as a memento. Click here for the photo album.


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