• Samantha Wortelhock

The Last of the Red Wine


I’ve had some time off. I took my boys and our faithful poodle-cross, Duncan, to Wooli; a small fishing hamlet nestled on a sand spit just north of Grafton on the north coast of NSW. Our home for three nights, I knew, would be sublime because it’s owned by a friend I class as one of the finest nest builders I know. The aptly named, Gull Cottage, was a picture and a dune away from the beach.

We packed light. Always do. The only baggage I had to handle were the rods that flickered right of my vision in anticipation for the fly, reel and fish.

Duncan, the poodle-cross, was quite vocal outward bound. He knew something was up. The atmosphere in the car was very Enid Blyton and he was particularly licky that morning.

To be practical, I had forewarned Wooli Public school that I was coming … so after I set the threesome down at the break wall and before check-in, I popped in to discuss murals. My first thoughts strayed to the kids and how it must be so hard for them to stay on task, sandwiched as they are between the Pacific Ocean (where humpbacks breach and dolphins practically beach) and a river so pristine it’s known to be the cleanest waterway in NSW. Wooli is far from the madding crowd … so why would they want to join it? So, with that in mind I have determined to open the gates and let the water in, visually speaking. I’ll get back to you on that one when I return with the crew.

Over the four days the boys fished, put their quarry back and they labelled Duncan the Rockweiler for being so agile. They played chess, screens having been banned before get go. We ate yummy locally caught seafood and I cooked too. We walked the rugged coastline, listened and watched myriad birds and their song and had the most exquisite and simple of holidays.

A planned business trip to the Gold Coast awaited me the day after our return. If Wooli is my comforter then The Goldie is a hot electric blanket in summer. It may be on my doorstep but I avoid it like a fever. Two massive schools: Coomera Springs and Benowa. I need the work, it’s far from home but it’s a hub that promises plenty. As I drove along the freeway I was anxious and longing for the rods in the back.

What I experienced was like finding treasure on a desert island. Two young, visionary male Principals greeted me at their gates. One has built an outdoor classroom, at it’s centre a sign that points students in the direction of places like Nevernever, The Emerald City, Wonderland, Narnia and Hogwarts. He wants me to paint a bookshelf with portals in between the tomes that lead to those destinations, taking imaginations on journeys of discovery. The other Principal wants me to bring Lamington National Park to Benowa and with it dozens of King Parrots. The students’ new uniform has been based on King Parrot red and green. Boy do I have some bold imagery in mind for that flock.

I have, at last, found peace in Goldie Locks. I step onto the Yellow Brick Road Monday.

#WooliPublicSchool #GullCottage #CoomeraSprings #BenowaStateSchool #kingparrots #journeysofdiscovery #LamingtonNationalPark

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