is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.

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When The Waves threw a cocktail party to launch its three boutique apartments last September, there was an unexpected guest. There, sitting in one of the paperbark trees overhanging the penthouse balcony, was a cuddly koala. Guests assumed it was a deftly placed stuffed toy. But, as it turns out, native visitors of the furred and feathered kind aren’t uncommon at The Waves apartments, located as they are next to a creek reserve just 200 metres from Flynns Beach in Port Macquarie, a renowned wildlife hub.

Within an hour of my arrival into the east-facing penthouse, I spy a kookaburra perched on the roof next door and a water dragon lazing beside the creek and decide that, yes, this is a place to drop out and reconnect with nature.

It’s also a place to reconnect with family. The visitors’ book tells me that groups of up to 20 have taken over all three apartments for family reunions and weddings, and the dining suites in the penthouse’s light and airy loft-style lounge room and on the large private balcony would be perfect locations for convivial gatherings. Alas, I’m solo on this trip, so I light some candles, wriggle into the deep, white leather sofa and make the most of the surround-sound system and super-size flatscreen – and my husband’s absence – by watching the cheesiest chick flick in the collection, Working Girl.

The penthouse’s decor is modern, colourful and coastal, with indoor palms, light teak furniture, floorboards and vibrant contemporary art adorning the walls, including the wooden words “Eat, beach, enjoy, relax”, in the open-plan kitchen, which I take as my mantra for my stay.

There are two bedrooms with great light, comfortable queen beds and colourful bedlinen, and I take the larger of the two. It has double doors opening to a wraparound balcony and a walk-in wardrobe, and is connected to the bathroom directly opposite the full laundry. The bed is comfortable, but the glass-block panels on either side of it function as a natural sunrise alarm.


And then I ate 
I awake delighted to discover that, as part of my bed-and-breakfast package, sumptuous breakfast produce awaits. In the fully equipped kitchen there’s a tropical fruit platter with mango, pineapple, finger bananas and lychees, which I devour with yoghurt and Brookfarm macadamia muesli, followed by local organic bread, free-range eggs, bacon from the locally renowned Wiggly Tail Butcher and freshly squeezed Port Macquarie orange juice. The meal sees me through to dinner at the award-winning Corner Restaurant, just a five-minute drive away, where I feast again on miso-glazed blue-eye cod with almonds, fennel cream, pencil leek and crustacean oil, and a deliciously oozy chocolate fondant.


The deal maker
Proximity to the beach. Just a three-minute stroll down the road is Flynns Beach, which links to the magical nine-kilometre coastal walk. After a quick dip, I set off in the late afternoon as the sun sets ablaze the rocky outcrops punctuating the string of gorgeous white sandy beaches. The walk weaves through these beaches, the Sea Acres Nature Reserve and other nature corridors, and finally pops out at the charming Tacking Point Lighthouse, which dates to 1879. I’m bewitched by the 180-degree views of the coast where, during migration season, you can spot dolphins and whales close to the shore.

Stepping out It’s all about nature during my three-day stay. I manage to fit in some quality time with 26 versions of Blinky Bill at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, which runs twice-daily walk-and-talk tours where you can meet the cuddly creatures and which is a 10-minute walk from The Waves; a guided stroll along the 1.3-kilometre boardwalk at Sea Acres Rainforest Centre, the second-largest coastal rainforest reserve in NSW, extending all the way down to the sea; and a visit to Billabong Koala Wildlife Park, which is the perfect place to take the kiddies, who’ll love the latest addition to the menagerie – two snow leopards.

The writer was a guest of The Waves apartments.




The Waves apartments

Address 19 Flynn Street, Port Macquarie.

The verdict Modern, spacious apartments by the beach.

Price From $480 a weekend for a maximum of six people, extra guests at additional cost. Minimum two-night weekend stay, bedlinen and towels included. Breakfast package available for $20 a person.

Bookings See wavesportmacquarie;

Getting there Both Virgin and Qantas fly daily to and from Sydney; or it’s about a five-hour drive. The Sydney-Brisbane XPT train stop for Port Macquarie is Wauchope.

Perfect for Family chill time.

Wheelchair access To the ground-floor apartment only.

While you’re there From the Pier tapas bar, which has great live music most nights, watch thousands of flying foxes stream across the sunset as they make their nightly pilgrimage to the north shore. Channel Lawrence of Arabia with a camel safari along Lighthouse beach with the kids. Take in a show at the Glasshouse Arts and Entertainment Centre, followed by a drink and a nibble at Blank Canvas Cafe Bar.

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