North Haven, New South Wales, Australia
Location: 21 km (13 miles) south of Port Macquarie; 361 km (224 miles) north of Sydney
I have vivid childhood memories of holidaying in this little seaside town on the picturesque New South Wales north coast. My paternal grandparents retired and settled here from Sydney in the early 1960s. Back then it was a sleepy hamlet and a wonderful place for kids to explore their world with a freedom not often enjoyed in big cities.
Catching soldier crabs, eating Dad’s freshly caught fish, sunburnt noses from days at the beach, sleeping on stretchers in the area under the house with my brother and eight cousins (like camping), green tree frogs in my Pop’s garden, walking down the breakwater and my Grandma’s cooking. Happy, noisy, innocent holidays when you’d fall into bed at the end of the day exhausted, surrounded by family. No television – just days of running around and playing with the other kids by the seaside.
The Soldier Crab lives in sandy estuaries and mangroves, and occurs in massive groups that seem to emerge from nowhere all at the same time.
My Dad's brother & wife have lived in North Haven for the past 30 years until my Uncle Lewis passed away last month at the age of 90. This morning we visited my Auntie Joyce, now 84. She still drives, is an avid photographer (only film) and an active member of the local historical society. She'll miss Uncle Lew terribly having been married for 54 years but bravely said…"Life must go on!"
We also visited someone very dear to my heart, my mother's cousin, Jacqueline Easson. After the bombings of Darwin and the sinking of HMAS Kuttabul by the Japanese in Sydney Harbour in 1942, many Australian children living in cities were sent to stay with friends and family in the countryside where it was considered safer.
And so it was with my Auntie Jacqui. Her mother packed her belongings and she went to live with my mother’s family in Bodalla on the New South Wales south coast. Auntie Jacqui fitted in well and my Mum loved having another ‘sister’ sharing life in the little house next to the old Bodalla cheese factory where my grandfather was the cheesemaker. Unlike Sydney, there was abundant food and kids lived quite a carefree life, a little removed from the fear and constant news of the war. The bond formed during that time between my Mum and Auntie Jacqui remained throughout their lives.
My Auntie Jacqui now lives in a nursing home at Laurieton, 3 kilometres from North Haven. At 87, she's quite frail but you could still catch a glimpse of that sparkle that I remember from decades past. Jacqui and my Mum were always a little mischievous in their youth.
Thanks North Haven for the memories!
Tomorrow we head 400 kilometres north.
Catch up in Byron!
18 degrees and more than a gentle breeze on the breakwater at North Haven this morning.