Although it seems like it was an age ago already – instead of two weeks – we welcomed 2019 in with a wonderful holiday to Australia.
When you have small children, holidays aren’t really holidays. They’re just a change of scenery, as the hard work of caring for young ones still has to continue. (Unless you’re smart and booked yourselves in at Club Med where you get nannies.)
Mr G and I reckon our trip to Australia was the first one that felt like a proper holiday since having kids. Our two kids no longer have to be watched like hawks, plus they’re good travellers who take it all in their stride. There’s no nappies to change, naps to fret over, or prams to lug around. Most importantly – they know how to operate Netflix so Mr G and I can sleep in.
The flight from Christchurch is a mere 3 1/2 hours. Mr G rigged up our portable DVD player with a double headset, so the kids were entertained nicely for most the flight. We were even complimented on how well behaved they were on the plane! So, thanks Mr G.
The purpose of the trip was to attend my BFF’s wedding in NSW. I was her bridesmaid and E was her flower girl. We tacked several days on either side of the wedding, with no real plans other than to lie on a beach somewhere in the Gold Coast, and see the Aussie animals up close. But like, from behind the safety of glass at a zoo.
We spent a couple of nights at Ballina, which FYI is pronounced ‘Bal-in-uh’, not ‘Ba-lee-na’, as Mr G and I discovered and were mocked mercilessly for. It’s a lovely spot, away from the hustle and bustle of the GC, with plenty to do.
While there, we swam at Lake Ainsworth (over the road from Lennox Head beach). It is a fresh water lake, surrounded by tea trees which infuse their goodness into the water. The water is much darker as a result, but makes for a rejuvenating swim, and has even been known to help people with their skin conditions. My own skin felt fantastic after a dip there!
Then it was on to Armidale for the wedding.
I don’t have a photo of the bride for privacy, but she looked like a screen siren from the 30’s – just gorgeous. It was a privilege to see her marry her lovely fella ( I *may* have shed tears at the ceremony, and *possibly* sobbed buckets as they danced to Etta James’ “At Last”).
After the wedding we headed back to the Gold Coast, stopping at Dorrigo National Rainforest and Woolgoolga Beach along the way.
We spent the rest of time staying at Southport on the Gold Coast. The GC wasn’t high on my list of places to visit. I expected to hate it, as it has a rather brash and tacky image over here in New Zealand. To my surprise, I found it rather beautiful.
We kept costs down by shunning most tourist attractions. Our kids are quite content happy with going to the beach or a playground, so we’ll save the theme parks for when they’re older.
We were only a few minutes from The Rockpools and Broadwater Beach. The Rockpools is a great splash pad area for younger children and toddlers to cool off; complete with squirting octopuses, crabs and even a waterfall. A minute’s walk from The Rockpools is the beach and a really cool playground. We had a marvellous time and it’s all free.
My beautiful friend D, who lives in Adelaide, came over especially to see us. I cannot tell you how much that meant to me! I met D in London, and she and I and our friends had many, many adventures together. D brought her adorable baby with her, which is no mean feat. Travellers with babies, I salute you! It did my soul good to hang out with them both for a couple of days.
We all went to the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, which I was dying to visit. Wow, what an incredible place! My kids are animal mad, and thanks to a great kids tv show called The Wild Kratts, they have become quite knowledgeable about all sorts of animals – especially Aussie animals. Seeing their faces as they looked (and even held!) at crocodiles, snakes, Tasmanian devils, koalas, and kangaroos in real life was something I won’t forget. My children are STILL talking about it, weeks later.
It was definitely a highlight for me, and I’d recommend the sanctuary to anyone visiting the area. I learnt a lot about the care and conservation of the animals, and the animals certainly looked well cared for, in good facilities.
We had a great day chilling out at Burleigh Heads beach, and enjoyed a good meal out at the local RSL club – a very Aussie experience.
We enjoyed the wonderful beaches and warm weather so much that we are already plotting to return. I can finally understand the pull of the GC for many kiwis. There’s plenty to do, the beaches are gorgeous, and the water isn’t freezing like it is back home!
Thanks GC, hope to be back soon.