‘Looking Past the Pandemic’ with Leah Doeland from Port Macquarie, NSW

Keeping travel dreams alive and setting goals has never felt more important. We can all agree that 2020 has been an unfortunate year so far, and almost every facet of daily life has been wrought by this ongoing global pandemic, the start of which now feels like forever ago. The arts has been one of the hardest hit areas, so The AU Review has kickstarted a Q&A series “looking past the pandemic”, encouraging creatives from around the world to share their travel hopes, dreams, and the thoughts or things that are getting them through 2020, while also highlighting essential experiences in their own country.

Leah Doeland (Port Macquarie, NSW)

Leah Doeland is one of many artists participating in ArtWalk this October, planning a live painting as part of the art and culture festival which takes over the CBDs of Port Macquarie, Wauchope and Laurieton. With NSW travel still very much open for exploration, various showcasing galleries and “the longest footpath art gallery” should be heaving with art lovers for the duration of the festival, from 1st to 8th October. As a contemporary landscape artist, Doeland should be bringing a lot to the ambitious creative festival.

We caught up with Doeland to look past the pandemic.

When travel opens up completely, the first place I’m going is…

My hubby and I are really looking forward to taking the kids on an adventure to visit family in Darwin. We are hoping to head there mid next year and be in Darwin to enjoy all the festivities of Territory Day cracker night. The top end has so much to offer, amazing national parks, rich food culture and I hear that the jumping crocodile cruise is a must.

One of the must-see spots in Port Macquarie is Sea Acres Rainforest Centre.

Three spots in the Port Macquarie-Hastings region, which I think everyone should visit at least once in their life…

Port Macquarie has the most delightful costal walk that wraps its way around our picturesque coastline. The full walk is a 9km stretch; however, it is so easy to break it up into a few shorter walks and enjoy it over a series of days.

Sea Acres rainforest centre is worth a visit, its located near the centre of town, has a 1.3 km board walk, education centre and café too. This little piece of paradise is one of the local places that I draw inspiration form for my art practice.

Ellenborough Falls is a 1.5hour drive from Port Macquarie. At 200 meters, it is one of the longest single drop waterfalls in the Southern Hemisphere. The falls can be enjoyed from the viewing platform at the top, or if you’re feeling energetic, you can descend all 614 steps to the bottom and look forward to the butts and thigh workout on your way back up.

Drury Lane is one of the most popular spots in Port Macquarie

Whenever I have a visitor in my city and I want to show them a good night out, the first
place I take them is…

We have a few remarkable restaurants in town, two of my favourites are LV’s and Drury Lane… both serve locally sourced, seasonally fresh, delicious food. I also love that the menus change regularly, and they’re both conveniently located in the town CBD.

We’d end the night at…

No evening out (in the eyes of my family) would be complete without a visit to Blue Cow Gelato. My kids are really adventurous and like to try a different flavour most times; however, I’m a ‘Black Hawaiian’ and ‘Chocolate’ double scoop in a waffle cone kinda girl, I don’t see the point in trying to improve on perfection!

Most memorable thing I’ve eaten on the road…

I am a lover of coffee. I drink WAY too much of that delectable liquid gold… so here’s my tip of the day, when you’re in need of a caffeine fix (and something tasty to chew on) head into Four Espresso Café, I promise, you won’t leave there disappointed!

 The one international destination I’m yet to visit but have always dreamed of…

Oh wow, just one? Our Earth is such an amazingly diverse place filled with spectacular scenery, a multitude of cultures and the options as to where I’d like to explore next are endless… We sponsor the education of two little boys in Nepal through an organisation called IMM (International Mission Ministries) I am yet to have the pleasure of meeting the boys and their families, so I think I’ll choose Nepal as my ‘Yet To Visit’ destination.

The three things or thoughts that are getting me through this pandemic…

We are so blessed to live in a western country where our homes are big enough to comfortably house us during lockdown, where we have ample access to medical help, the supermarket shelves were running low on toilet paper there for a bit but Aussie comradery saw my neighbourhood sharing rolls around as needed and none of us went without…

The pandemic has actually been a good time to reassess the way we do life and I have personally taken the opportunity to make some changes to my work life family life balance.

I’m really enjoying extra time with my hubby and kids, we’re being intentional about making shared memories and learning new skills… I’d say that’s a positive!

Lastly, I’m looking forward to upcoming events. Some events look a little different this year such as Port Macquarie ArtWalk. I love that this year the event will take place over an entire week and as a contributing creative, I will get a chance to experience the festivities as both an artist and as an onlooker. To catch me in action, I will be exhibiting at Four Espresso Cafe and live painting at both Four Espresso Cafe and at Arthouse Industries during the week of October 1st – 8th.

For more on Leah Doeland you can follow her on Facebook here. For all information about the ArtWalk program head to artwalkpmq.com.au.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.