I celebrated Christmas early this year – in fact I was a Christmas plus one!

My trip up the coast from Sydney was a solid week of exploring, but not before I spent some quality time with my mate Roscoe and his wife Jean and their clan in Port Macquarie.

Port Macquarie officially has the best and most temperate climate in all of Australia, with mild winters and gentle summers plus the ocean is warm enough to swim all year round.

I’d taught with Roscoe during my teaching days back in Darwin during the 1980’s. Be nice!!! 🙂

Darwin, in those days was a frontier town with a relatively small and young population (the average age of 32). As many of the older and long term residents had been evacuated after Cyclone Tracy devastated the city on Christmas day 1974, never to return… This incredibly dangerous cyclone roughly destroyed 70% of the city.

In those days we were just young blokes (men) trying to find our feet in the world, and fortunately there was no better place than Darwin to do just that!

Darwin is situated in Northern Australia, with Jakarta being the closest major city. It consists of only two seasons. A wet season (monsoonal with an average of 71 inches of rain per year) where the humidity and heat that will boil your brain while the dry season is pure paradise, with a cooling sea breeze and an average temperature of 32C (90F)! Each roughly six months long.

Based on my experience it takes one full year or cycle for your body become acclimatized.

There was a lot of sport to play, especially since the weather was so conducive to being outside all the time…

Most days in the dry season I’d windsurf on the harbour after school ended at 2:30 pm. Then depending on the time of year I played Aussie rules football for Wanderers (NTFL), touch rugby in a semi social division (beer league), field hockey (with Roscoe) and/or first grade rugby union with the University Pirates (NTRU).

Given the ongoing and extreme heat we tended to drink quite a bit and it wasn’t always water or gatorade! 🙂 Green cans (Victoria Bitter) was the preferred beer.

As I said we were in our 20’s and loving life! What’s not to like? Endless sports, incredible sunsets, a relatively easy job and lots of social outlets. 🙂

Roscoe is now a principal of one of Port Macquarie’s high schools on the New South Wales north coast. His wife, Jean is a nursing instructor at a hospital in Newcastle (she commutes each week).

When he heard that I was going to be in Australia, and traveling the coast he invited me to stop over.

Last year when they were traveling they had an impromptu stopover in Toronto and we caught up for dinner downtown. They were traveling with their close friends Steve and Trish, who were, as it turns out the hosts for this year’s early Christmas celebrations in Port Macquarie.

Located a mere 300 meters from Roscoe and Jean’s they were gracious and generous hosts, in fact I stayed over in their guest bedroom as R&J had all of their kids and grand kids staying with them.

Wow, to be immersed in a Christmas celebration for two families was awesome! I got a chance to spend time with all of their collective families, in fact there were 28 for our sit down lunch. So much delicious food!

Not your usual Christmas if you’re coming from North America, as its summer and therefore upside down for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere. Did I mention that it was perfect pool weather? Lol!

Given the warm temperatures casual dress is the order of the day, so t-shirt, shorts and thongs (flip flops).

As with all great Christmas traditions, it is no different at Steve and Trish’s place as each year Steve dresses as Santa and everyone, and I mean everyone (including me) got to sit on his lap and open our presents in front of the assembled crew.

Yes, I have the incriminating evidence on my camera to prove it. It was fun being the official family photographer for the event – a mere 500 photos later… 🙂

My burning question is – How did Santa know that I needed another pair of togs (board-shorts), a cool Aussie calendar and a couple of stubbie (beer) holders?

Chatting to Roscoe reminded me of our days in Darwin, enjoying some beers and observing the frivolity and shenanigans all around us. In fact, we went late into the night!

It was clear that I was in the bosom of two loving families enjoying their time together, and who had embraced me as part of their own. A truly magical experience and one I will treasure for a lifetime!

The beauty of my visit is that Roscoe and Jean look and act just as they did back in our Darwin day, little has changed except that they’re now loving grandparents… A true blessing and great to connect!

Until next week as I explore further up the coast.