Saturday, March 2, 2013

Saturday Sojourn - Take a Trip to Port Stephens with Coleen Kwan



When I was searching for the location setting of Short Soup I instantly thought of Port Stephens. This large natural harbour is about three hours north of Sydney. The scenery is stunning, the water is pristine, the atmosphere is laidback. It’s a popular holiday destination, with lots of tourists flocking there during the summer season, but it still retains that small town atmosphere.

We’ve been going there every year for twelve years, courtesy of my partner’s parents, who like to escape the pre-Christmas frenzy for a fortnight by the sea. There are lots of different beaches to choose from around Port Stephens. When our children were little we loved the quieter inner harbour beaches where the water was calmer and we could paddle granddad’s inflatable boat around. As the children grew older and more adventurous, we turned to the ocean-side beaches where the rolling surf gave great boogie board rides.


Mount Tomaree dominates the southern headland of the harbour entrance. The walk to the summit is quite steep, but the views from there are spectacular.


Dolphin watching cruises are a popular tourist activity in Port Stephens. I used one such cruise, plus a deserted beach and two lusty young people in one of the scenes in Short Soup.

I’ve been in Australia for **cough** many years. When I first arrived here and travelled around a bit, I was always surprised at how even the smallest country town had a Chinese restaurant. Some were great, others not so much. 
As I gathered ideas for Short Soup, I imagined one of these Chinese restaurants situated in a small town in Port Stephens, a restaurant that had served its local customers faithfully for years, but was slowly going out of favour as more urbanised visitors arrived and tastes changed. I imagined the owners as two couples who’d worked at the restaurant for years and were now moving into semi-retirement, some of them willingly, some not. I pictured the hero as someone who wants to pull the restaurant into the twenty-first century and serve food that reflects the growing cosmopolitan atmosphere of the small town.

Beautiful seaside scenery and Chinese food — a great combination for a holiday and a multicultural romance!
 A story about best friends, childhood dreams, and the healing power of Chinese food…
Toni Lau and Dion Chan were connected from birth — first via their parents’ jointly-owned restaurant, then via their bone-deep friendship. But children grow up, and Toni leaves their sleepy hometown looking for more than it can offer.

Now Toni is back, raw with the knowledge that not all childhood dreams come true. Dion is on the brink of realising that both his own ambitions and his childhood friend have the power to derail all of his hard work. But loving Toni — and winning her love in return — has always been on his wish list. Can Dion really put her on the back burner while frying up his chef dreams? Or is it possible that together they can come up with a recipe for happiness?




2 comments:

Coleen Kwan said...

Thanks for having me on your blog, Jess!

Jess Anastasi said...

No problem, Coleen, it was my pleasure. Port Stephans sounds wonderful, might have to put it on my list of places to visit one day.