Sunday 9th July
The first stop on our coastal getaway with North Coast Holiday Parks was the deeply charming Hawks Nest. Our first impression was in fact equally as charming when we met the lovely Tracey who was nothing short of amazing with our children, even wooing them with activities and hats. As modern parents maybe we shouldn’t mention the cheeky lollies and ice creams but there is still something so poignant about a family holidays that take us back to our own child hood complete with regular visits to the corner store. We were certainly in that nostalgic place!
After easily navigating ourselves to to our cabin (mostly from the 6 year old walking next to the car directing) and excited shouts of ‘who will sleep where’ in our very sizable two bedroom cabin, we rushed to unpack so that we could explore the beach. Passing the friendly evening routines of the long term vans, we rounded the corner past the games room (which of course needed a quick explore too) and past the front gate with a walk up the small hill taking us to a breathtaking view of the sun setting over the lurid green waves curling to the fresh sandy beach that is Hawks nest. We breathed in the salt air as the kids ran around exploring and running across the sand.
After the mandatory selfies and a kick of the ball followed by some shell collecting, we headed back up the beach to the park where the kids had another play. After being in a car so much, the joy of just being together and walking around was a pleasure. Nowhere to be, nothing to do.
Walking back to our cabin through darkening skies I explained to the two year old in my arms the unique twilight call of a flock of black cockatoos.
Back in the cabin the kids had some more time with their activity packs, games and books that they were given. In between jammies and showers I prepared dinner on an extremely capable oven as we snacked on some smoked salmon (even a brave 6-year-old tried something new) and settled into a pretty refreshing homely environment.
It was then time for some fresh air and sleep.
Monday 10th July
Knowing that you don’t have to be anywhere at any time seems to do something for the soul when it comes to sleep, because when the 6-year-old came in to do a puzzle at 8 something in the morning I was in a seriously restful state!
We agreed to leave the puzzle for breaky and grabbed the soccer ball for an early morning walk and a kick. After some more shells for the collection and a good dose of fresh sea breeze, we wandered back home to find the rest of the cabin slowly rising. After breakfast we packed up and headed off to Bennetts Beach for some serious dune jumping.
With about two and a bit hours to Bonny Hills we went on the hunt for café to break up the trip. There’s nowhere better than a detour into Forster to pop into the famous Beach Bums café for a terrific coffee and the most amazing buzzing beach view to boot.
A super easy run up to Bonny Hills meant we arrived at the park in time to enjoy a simply inspiring sunset whilst walking through the park and across the rocks where we discovered rock pools and plenty of sea spray to end a really nice travel day.
Tuesday 11th/Wednesday 12th/Thursday 13th July
Bonny Hills is one of the most amazing locations we have seen on a family holiday, with the deck of our cabin overlooking the crystal-clear ocean a real bonus. Our journey north meant that sadly we were only at the park for one night, though park managers Michelle and Dean weren’t in a hurry for us to check out. This allowed me some ‘Dad Time’ to organise the car while the rest of the family got some time on the amazing Rainbow beach.
I met the family on the beach for a decent dose of sun and sand before grabbing coffees and saying our reluctant goodbyes.
After a stopover in Port Macquarie for a quick lunch and Green Smoothies we headed to Coffs Harbour where we were due to meet friends travelling south from Queensland. And what better place for the travelling parties to spend a few days on the Coffs Coast than Moonee Beach - a charming, perfect blend of bush, beach and tidal sand flats. Over the next few days we called this paradise home, with the kids running between cabins, plenty of early morning and evening bush walks, beach games and well deserved Oyster and Champagne sessions for the Mum’s. The kids loved hand feeding the local parrots over breaky on the deck, spontaneous dance performances in the kitchen and great times shared with friends.
We also headed for brunch at the nearby Sapphire Beach as well as venturing to Coffs Central for a day at the Big Banana, to discover the underground coffee of the ‘Dark Arts’ and to fossick for the supplies needed to keep the holiday exciting for the kids. Even though it was only three nights, our stay at Moonee Beach felt much longer and none of us wanted to leave.
Friday 14th July
I had been excited to show my family the amazing hideaway of Seal Rocks all week. Our late afternoon arrival was spectacular, driving along the 24km bush lined road we soon found ourselves at the breathtaking vista of Seal Rock Beach – the salty air thick enough to create visible depth between the headlands to the north and quiet bay to the south.
We spotted a few scattered souls on the beach such as fisherman getting ready for an evening session, couples scouring the rocks and squeaky-clean sand and families sifting through perfect shells. Eager to join them, the ritual of unpacking and cabin discovery became a quick one as we grabbed our towels and rushed to change into our beach attire. Even in winter the appeal of a beach is too much for me (especially with -7 degrees temperatures awaiting us at home in Canberra.) Though the water temperature wasn’t hypothermic, I will admit the freshness was a bit breathtaking, so I wasn’t bodysurfing the waves for too long!
Joined by my family enthusiastically ripping off their shoes and rolling up their pants to jump amongst the waves, I could see this was going to become a great family memory even whilst I was still caught up in the moment. Maybe it’s the lack of time we all seem to have together but when we do, as a parent being able to witness the whole family calm and relaxed is truly a sight to see. Thanks Seal Rocks - you certainly helped us achieve this afternoon with ease!
Saturday 15th July
Sadly, Saturday was the end of our road trip, but even with a quiet overcast day there was a sense of inspiring freshness in the air. We opted for a slow pack up so that we could enjoy one last solid breakfast on the deck of our cabin, with bird noises and the smell of sea air providing the perfect atmosphere.
Since we were due for a long and melancholy trip home we decide to go for a walk to check out the amazing views found at Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse - the exercise was probably a necessity for us all!
Paul Chapman is a Canberra based photographer and Director of the dedicated Architecture, Real Estate and Commercial Photgraphy Studio Developing Agents. Paul and his family stayed courtesy of North Coast Holiday Parks. To learn more about his business head to http://www.developingagents.com.au/.
This blog post provided by: Bonny Hills