Meeting my supporters is always a thrill. I love to say thank you in person, exchange a hug, smile into each other’s eyes.
Supporters often open their homes to me when I pass through their town and I often detour so we meet.
One of my big supporters is Heather from Fishermans Reach. Over a year ago I received a lovely message offering assistance and support in Stuarts Point when I walk through and lots of messages of encouragement. It took longer than expected to get there and meeting Heather and Bob on their patch of Paradise was a highlight.
The night before I stayed at Scotts Head and slept in the recreation hall. I stopped early because there was a section of road walking ahead I wanted to avoid at dusk and used the hall so I could pack everything away dry for a quick dawn start.
When I reached Grassy Head Holiday Park for a rest in the shade the owner gave me a Cola. I don’t normally drink soft drink, I think it is one of the most unhealthy things we can put in our bodies, but when it’s hot and I’m sweating like crazy and my body is craving sugar and caffeine I enjoy the guilty pleasure of Cola or Solo. I have staved off many coffee withdrawals with Cola.
I was getting closer to Heather and Bob’s, I couldn’t walk fast enough. Meeting Heather was something I had been looking forward to for more than a year. On the way she had posted on social media that I was in the area so I was getting lots of friendly local waves and toots. Later Heather posted a request for any boaties who could run me down the Macleay Arm and across the river the next day. A quick snack on lillypilly fruit foraged from beside the road gave me a spurt of energy.
The bushland is beautiful through here! 2 little dogs ran out yapping to greet me on the driveway. Heather and Bob warmly welcomed me to their patch of Paradise. I do not exaggerate when I say Paradise. Some years ago they bought this land after an aquaculture farmer’s dream failed. The tidal ponds now attract a wide variety of wildlife, especially birds. The lawn brings in wallabies and bandicoots.
But the most amazing part of their bush block is the diverse recovering ecosystems. On their land they have tidal mangroves, tea tree swamp, rainforest and tall dry eucalypt forest. We went for a walk through and every moment I was in awe of each and how perfectly they merged.
Understanding the conservation value of their land Heather and Bob work hard to encourage recovery of native plants and maintain a constant battle to remove introduced species. Their hard work rewards them daily as they wake each morning to bird song, the flow of tidal water through the ponds, clicking and slashing from healthy mangrove habitat and bushland more beautiful than many of us will ever lay eyes on.
The cultural value of this land and region to the First Nations of Gumbaynggir and Dunghutti is important to Heather and Bob. Over the years they have made themselves familiar with the stories and songlines of Yarrahappini and the coast, actively supporting conservation projects and strengthening culture within the community.
No matter how may times I am a guest, being invited into someone’s home, being nourished by their cooking and conversation, given their trust, their stories, their company, is something I will never never take for granted.
And the call out for someone to take me to South West Rocks across the estuary was answered by Alan. We saw dolphins on the way!