Tag Archives: travel with kids

Catching the Spirit of Tasmania: Melbourne to Devonport via Bass Strait.

While you can fly to Tasmania, we decided to catch the ferry…the Spirit of Tasmania. This meant we had our own car, without the hassles of a hire car.

I should also point out that there are no passenger trains in Tasmania, so driving is the way to go. That is, unless you have any crazy ideas about circumnavigating Tasmania on foot. Tasmania might fit into a tiny 1cm square at the bottom of Australia on the map, but it’s much, much larger than you think and I blame that on the hills. It’s seemingly been scrunched up and I’m sure it you rolled it out flat, it would be twice the size and potentially even larger than Victoria.

We decided to do a day sail on the way over and, we’ll be travelling overnight in a cabin on the way back.

cars-boarding-spirit-of-tasmania

Drivers were told to line up literally bumper to bumper to conserve space. I was relieved Geoff was driving as I have no sense of how much space is around the car!

Usually, you have to get to the wharf at 7.30 AM for a 9.30AM departure. However, being our Summer school holidays here, it’s the peak time to visit Tasmania and the ferry was chockers. We’d received a text notifying us that due to high volumes of traffic, they were starting to load at 6.00 AM. Not wanting to take our chances and leave anything to fate, we woke up at 5.00AM (in the middle of MY night!!) and pulled up at 6.15AM.

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It was only a short drive to the wharf and we soon spotted the Spirit of Tasmania. A former North Sea ferry, it was absolutely ginormous. …and it needs to be.

goodbye-melbourne

Leaving Port Melbourne.

Perhaps, you haven’t heard about that notoriously rough stretch of sea called Bass Strait, which lies between Tasmania and “the Mainland”. However, here’s footage of waves crashing over the deck and this seemingly giant ship at its mercy… A Treacherous Crossing. Apparently, a number of cars broke free on that trip and were damaged. Bass Strait is not for the faint-hearted…especially, when it’s having a bad day!

Of course, we didn’t show our daughter any of this footage before we left and kept very, very quite about the furies of Bass Strait.  Had she had her radar out, she should have been suspicious. Silence and absolute avoidance is a dead giveaway, that there really is something to worry about.

However, I suspect that she was also caught up in the throws of avoidance. We said nothing. She said nothing. Then, the mighty moment came and we were driving the car into the bowels of the ship (or was it the stomach cavity?) At this point, the little voice did make a few discreet inquiries and wasn’t overly sure of herself but being part of the family, she had no choice. She was onboard. There was no escape.

As my Dad used to say to me, such experiences “put hairs on your chest”. That’s all very well if you want hairs on your chest, but what if you’d rather go without? As a kid, I never quite managed to ask him that and perhaps that’s now a question for when we get home.

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I hoped my “Titanic” pose  wasn’t prophetic!

We had booked our seats fairly last minute and so we could only get one reserved seat. This meant we were travelling cattle class, which was quite fine for a day trip. We took turns napping in our single seat and spent the rest of the trip on level 7. That is, except for the kids, who wandered around a bit.

geoff-and-kids-on-spirit

I did venture out on the deck a few times…mainly to take a few photos. I enjoyed being out in the open soaking up the real sea experience. However, as my hair was beaten from side to side and I wasn’t entirely stable on my feet, I didn’t stay out on the deck for very long.

By midday with 6 hours still ahead, I was totally over looking at blue sea and was desperate for a “land ahoy”! While there is some novelty value in being out at sea, I found the experience similar to driving down the freeway staring at gum trees. It started to feel monotonous.

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I’m not sure about exact times, but possibly around 5.00 PM we started to spot the Tasmanian coastline in the distance. Although we still had quite a way to go, not to mention however long it took to download the car, it was a relief and the coastline looked rather picturesque.

At this point, I should also let you know that we had a very smooth journey. Indeed, the staff said it was the smoothest sail they’d had in months. Given how our daughter felt about rough seas and hearing our friend’s talk about sea sickness and taking precautions (which we didn’t have), it was a relief.

It might have been around 7.30PM by the time we drove into Devonport. Found an open supermarket and loaded up.

We were in Tasmania.

Yippee!

xx Rowena

Coles Bay, Tasmania with Little Man…a Flash Back.

Today, we’re not only travelling back in time, but also to another dimension.

Well, at least, I think Tasmania’s another dimension.

In November, 2005 my husband, our year old bolt of energy, the inimitable Little Man and my rather pregnant self, went on our “before the new baby arrives” holiday to Tasmania. My husband, Geoff, was born and raised in Scottsdale, North East of Launceston  and can trace his lineage back to John Newton convict who spent a bit of time at notorious Port Arthur after a stint on Norfolk Island. I think the rest of his folk were free settlers.

Coles Bay

Anyway, it’s my husband’s 50th birthday next week and rather too late in the planning, I’ve been playing archaeologist ploughing through the archives digging up memories.

That’s how I came across this series of photos taken at Coles Bay.Coles Bay is located on Tasmania’s East Coast and is a 2.5-hr drive (192 km) from Hobart and a 2 hr 20-min drive  (173 km) from Launceston.

Coles Bay Lighthouse Walk

 

To be perfectly honest, its been 11 years since this adventure and I can’t say I remember exactly where these photos were taken. I can’t remember a lot about the trip to be honest. I’ll blame baby brain and exhaustion chasing the Little Man. The Little Man was also waking up about 3-4 times a night and that didn’t help keep the brain operational either.

So, rather than being about Coles Bay, this is the view of a misty-eyed parents whose Little Man turns 13 early next year and these photos now feel so incredibly precious and I’m filled with passionate love for this uber-energetic, flash of blond curls.

 

It makes me smile seeing Little Man up on my shoulders. It was such a long time ago and it’s been a long, long time since he was able to sit up there without killing me!! Indeed, these days he’s working very hard trying outgrow his Mum and Dad and I’m just lucky I’m tall because I think he’s already caught up with my Mum.

Geoff & Little Man at Coles Bay

That said, I did label these photos as the Lighthouse House Walk. There is a stunning but rather rugged walk down to the incredibly photogenic Wine Glass Bay. However, we thought it was too much for me at the time and so we took the Lighthouse House Walk, which is wheelchair-accessible if you need it.

 

What I haven’t forgotten about this trip, was the usual difficulties of trying to round up the Little Man and get him back into the car. I’m sure most parents share such memories, which might do your head in at the time but become part of family legend as time goes by.

I really love this shot:

coles-bay-jg-hometime

Time to go Home.

Have you been to Tasmania? Or, perhaps you’d like to share about your special family holidays.

xx Rowena

Sydney Harbour with Me & My Boy

Rewinding just a little to the Sunday before last, which was better known as Sunday 9th November, 2014…

While my husband was battling with computers, cables and unpronounceables at work from the very wee hours and our daughter was singing her lungs out rehearsing for her grand appearance at the Sydney Town Hall (see previous post), the boy and I took off to Circular Quay and decided to explore Sydney Harbour by ferry.

They worked hard. We played hard.

The view back towards Circular Quay as the ferry pulled out. You can see the train station in the foreground.

The view back towards Circular Quay as the ferry pulled out. You can see the train station in the foreground.

We had a special Family Fun Day Ticket which allows unlimited trains,ferries and buses anywhere in the Greater Sydney Region for the ridiculously low price of $2.50 each. I really like to push these tickets to the limit and jam as much action as I can into one day. Feels like payback for the ridiculous prices you pay on public transport the rest of the week.

Ideally, we both wanted to head to Manly which is still Sydney’s ultimate ferry destination. However, we had to be back at Town Hall by 4.30PM and I didn’t want to take any chances. Of course, I hadn’t done my homework and had no idea how long a return ferry trip to Manly would take or how often the ferries went or the details of the ferry timetable.

This meant that we needed to stay within Sydney Harbour.

From: Circular Quay, Sydney NSW To: Darling Harbour, Sydney NSW 2000

 

For our first ferry trip, we decided to catch the ferry to Balmain. We boarded the Scarborough,  a catamaran style ferry which was built in 1986. I guess 1986 isn’t quite what it used to be because the ferry had that nostalgic, aged feel about it, especially when it creaked and groaned on departure. I also had to wonder whether the wharfie was a bit under the weather. Took him a few goes at times to get the rope around the bollard. It was after all a Sunday.

The Scarborough was quite a suitable name for a boat when you’re going on an adventure. The ferry was named after one of the ships in the First Fleet. On 13 of May 1787, the First Fleet set sail from Portsmouth, England. Led by Captain Arthur Phillip, this historic convoy  carried the first European settlers to the new penal colony of New South Wales.  Read more here: http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/discover_collections/history_nation/terra_australis/firstfleet.html

Mister sitting very still behaving himself.

Mister sitting very still behaving himself.

Mister was exceptionally well-behaved on our trip. He must have got wind of what happens when you run a muck on the Scarborough. When convicts Philip Farrell and Thomas Griffiths aboard the original Scarborough were suspected of an attempted take-over of the vessel, they were transferred to Sirius where they received 24 lashes, before being transferred to Prince of Wales.  http://firstfleetfellowship.org.au/ships/hms-scarborough/

Of course, Mister sat very still.

Although I cut the nose off the cruise ship in this shot,  you can see the Bridge in the background and get an idea of where we went.

Although I cut the nose off the cruise ship in this shot, you can see the Bridge in the background and get an idea of where we went.

Leaving port, we were awe struck by the huge cruise ship, which was docked at Circular Quay. These huge cruise ships seem to be part of the furniture these days but they still look humungously huge like they’ve been taking growth hormones of some sort. They’re just absolutely massive. I’ve never been on a cruise and I’m sure they have their appeal and I really would like to go someday but not on one of these massive cages. They remind me of those awful ships which transport live sheep to their deaths. I really don’t fancy being stuck on board any kind of boat with so many people. As impressive and glamorous as they might appear on first impressions, I’d much rather find a deserted island somewhere in the South Pacific and veg out for a bit.

A different perspective...going under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

A different perspective…going under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

After leaving port, the ferry rounded Millers Point heading west underneath the magnificent Sydney Harbour Bridge. This was when I truly started taking more photos than even the most snap-happy tourist. I might be Sydney born and bred but the Sydney Harbour Bridge has never lost its “wow”!!. I just love what we lovingly refer to as “the old coathanger”. Opened in 1932, the Bridge needs no introduction and it remains breathtaking beautiful. An architectural icon which screams out: “Sydney”! The Bridge also has a special place in my heart because I used to see the Bridge while I was having my blood transfusions at Royal North Shore Hospital, right at the very top at level 12. I used to focus on the flags flying at the very top while they were getting the cannula in. That could really hurt. For more info on The Bridge:http://www.sydneyharbourbridge.info/

A Crane-eye's view of Sydney. Bangaroo.

A Crane-eye’s view of Sydney. Bangaroo.

 

This provided us with very much what I’d describe as the backend view of Sydney Harbour and there was an entire jungle of cranes  frantically building at Barangaroo.

 

Mister in front of the Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour. You can see a Tall Ship in the background.

Mister in front of the Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour. You can see a Tall Ship in the background.

As we approached Balmain, I couldn’t really see anything which was readily accessible and so we decided to stay on board and headed around to Darling Harbour and viewed the magnificent Tall Ships moored at the Maritime Museum.

Then we stopped over at Luna Park where it’s huge enough smile flashes rows of pearly white which look like they need urgent dental treatment. Luna Park is not only famous for its smile but also its Ferris wheel and other assorted rides. Even though I’m well and truly too big for it, I still love the carousel and rising on a horse. To read about our trip to Luna Park in 2012 click here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/walking-to-luna-park/

 

The Luna Park Face viewed from the ferry.

The Luna Park Face viewed from the ferry.

It is hard to believe just how many fabulous sights you can take in on a 30 minute ferry ride…especially for the grand total of $2.50 each and the day wasn’t over yet.

 

As we returned to Circular Quay, the ferry gained speed and for a creaky 30 something year old creaky wooden structure, the Scarborough made good speed and white water was churning out the back of the ferry. Perhaps, we could’ve tried a bit of water skiing…!

 

Leaving Balmain Wharf with more than a splash.

Leaving Balmain Wharf with more than a splash.

 

It turned out that the  Scarborough was taking a different route across to Neutral Bay, so we decided to stay on board.

This trip took us East away from the Bridge and out past the Sydney Opera House. Talk about amazing! Like the Bridge, the Sydney Opera House needs no introduction and it’s iconic white sails are well and truly Sydney.

Sydney Opera House viewed through the front of the ferry returning from Neutral Bay.

Sydney Opera House viewed through the front of the ferry returning from Neutral Bay.

This ferry trip also took us past Kirribilli House, the Prime Minster’s Sydney residence  and Admiralty House, the Australian Governor-General’s Sydney Residence. I visited these grand, historic buildings at an open day a few years ago and had hysterics watching children roll down the steep green hills towards the Harbour. I couldn’t help wondering if the Prime Minster ever tried rolling down the hill to clear their head when they had a particularly difficult situation to sort out. I’d really love to roll down the hill there myself and intend to head back for a return visit with the kids in tow. That way when someone sees a middle-aged woman rolling down the hill like a 5 year old, they’ll be praising my parenting skills instead of declaring me a lunatic and locking me up.

Admiralty House,Kirribilli.

Admiralty House,Kirribilli.

After our second ferry ride, we headed back to shore and indulged in what seems to be a mandatory ice cream cone at Circular Quay. Although these lusciously creamy ice creams are simply irresistible, they inevitably drip like crazy all over me and it was just as well Mister was wearing dark pants which camouflaged the drips.

Floating lanterns at the Thai Festival, Circular Quay.

Floating lanterns at the Thai Festival, Circular Quay.

Next, we briefly explored a Thai cultural festival outside the Museum of Contemporary Art.

By now, however, it was time to draw our adventure to an end and catch the train to Town Hall to meet up with Geoff and Miss.

We arrived at Town Hall 30 mins early so I decided to take Mister to his favourite toy shop which is in the Queen Victoria Building. They have a model train set up in the window, which has been a fabulous babysitter in the past while Mum and I have enjoyed a coffee at the cafe next door.They also have an excellent collection of model train things for sale.

No sooner had we walked in the door and Geoff had been sprung. Like father, like son, they both adore model trains…or any train for that matter. Geoff had also arrived early and was filling in time or should I say, he was probably planning to buy out the shop before we ran into him. It was hardly a coincidence!

And look who we also ran into…

Mister and the old big red fella

Mister and the old big red fella

Mr Claus…also running a little early, don’t you think?!!

No Place Like Home

How much do we take for granted? I mean really take for granted. Don’t even notice that it’s there?

For example, when was the last time you stopped to think about the air you breathe? Did you actually appreciate that perfect blend of oxygen, carbon dioxide and whatever else was thrown in the mix?

Yeah, right. You probably think I’ve been sniffing way too many roses!

It’s school holidays and we are “glamping”. This is what’s known as a glamorous way of going camping. We are in a house but it’s waiting to get furnished so we’re making do.

This whole experience is making me appreciate just how much goes under the radar and unappreciated in life. What we take for granted.

Right now, my dog who is stuck outside thanks to my Dad’s “no dogs inside” ruling is probably putting himself at the top of the list. I’m not exactly sure whether he has realised that he is a dog and that dogs are indeed not people. He’s a smart dog so he’s probably worked that out but he no doubt feels superior. After all, he sticks to the rules, is caring and loving and would give up his life to protect his family. The kids won’t even make their beds without a “why me?” The dog knows he is the most popular member of the family…the most loved!! I’m sure he can’t understand why us mere mortals are allowed inside and he’s not!!

But that’s his gripe not mine. Right now, I’m appreciating chairs. I’m not fussy. I’d love anything with four legs that isn’t a stool.

Anyway, we’re staying at my parents place. They’ve just bought it and the only furniture is what was left behind by the previous owners, which means we have quite an eclectic assortment of things and many of the things you just take for granted aren’t here.

Like a chair.

Well, there are some chairs but they’re the dining chairs and there are some chairs in the boatshed but it’s very, very wet today and unlike the dog, I’m not going out there.

Geoff watching the car racing from the comfort of the bean bag.

Geoff watching the car racing from the comfort of the bean bag.

So I am currently sitting on a stool hunched over the desk and Geoff is sitting on a beanbag watching TV. This afternoon, I went into Avalon and had a hot chocolate at Bookacino, a bookshop cafe. All I wanted to do was sit in a chair and read the paper but there was only one table and chairs and so I had to wait for what seemed like eternity for two girls to stop chatting so I could flop into the chair and relax. A chair has never, ever felt so good!

Cooking is also going to be interesting. So far, all I’ve cooked here has been rather evil bacon and eggs…a fry up. It’s been over 10 years since I last cooked bacon and eggs but there was something about going away for the weekend that made me feel like loads of artery-clogging fat and cholesterol. A heart attack on a plate!

There is only one saucepan without a lid here and one frying pan…some French looking thing which only just managed to fry the eggs and bacon. It’s not what you would call a family frying pan. You know…one with sides so all the stuff doesn’t fall out. There’s no way this swanky little French thing is going to handle one of my meals. It’s a bit like trying to squeeze Miss Piggy into a g-string.

So cooking meals could be tricky. I am considering whether I should turn this state of affairs into a cooking challenge. Become a one pot wonder. Perhaps, I should just be realistic and pick up my electric wok when I pop home tomorrow. I might even visit the op shop. I incinerated two saucepans recently so this might a good idea. These were good non-stick saucepans too…wedding presents. However, with my track record with burning rice, I’m surprised they’ve actually lasted this long. We’ve almost been married 14 years!

The other thing I take for granted is going into my pantry and the ingredients are all there. Every small little thing I generally need to make a meal or bake is already there. We’ve had to shop from scratch down here. I don’t really plan on doing any baking (especially as we don’t have a mix master or baking tins let alone ingredients) but I still had to have flour in the house just in case. Be prepared.

Being in a near empty house has been quite a new experience for me. Our place is cluttered and becomes more and more cluttered as I compulsively buy things from the op shops. I have such good luck there and I get bag loads of fabulous books for the grand total of $10.00,. I buy designer clothes for a couple of bucks. Geoff will tell you that I also collect tables but that’s another story for another day.

So it feels quite strange to be in a near empty house.

It feels stranger still to have hooks on the walls without any pictures. I collect antique wooden picture frames. I paint and I’m also into photography. All this means is that we don’t have anywhere near enough wall space for everything to go up. I don’t rotate what’s up there either so that even though we have an over-abundance of works, many of the same pictures have been up  since we moved in 12 years ago.

I am always trying to fit more and more stuff on our walls and so I find it almost distressing to come here and see these empty picture hooks just sitting there going to waste. It’s like a red flag to a bull. I want to stick something, just about anything up there. I can’t cope with blank empty walls. Those hooks are screaming out for attention! Pick me! Pick me! What’s wrong with me? Aren’t I good enough?  It’s almost as painful as running fingernails down a chalk board. Ouch!

I have stuck one photo up and I noticed that my brother stuck one of his paintings on the wall too but it’s not our house.

Just being in different house makes us realise how much we take for granted. After only one night, our daughter is already asking to go home. It doesn’t help that it’s raining here and it’s been too wet to go outside. She’s also one of those people  who love their own bed, their own space and firmly believes “there’s no place like home”.

On the other hand, I tend to take our home very much for granted. It needs so much renovating and it was bought as our first home and was never intended to be our last. But things could always be worse…much, much worse!! Today, our daughter asked me what is special about our house and I told her that it has us in it.

That should be enough!

It’s our home!

Postcard from Coffs Harbour

When it comes to visiting Coffs Harbour (or “Coffs” as it is known), I must confess that we are fairly recent converts.

Coffs was little more than a quick food or petrol stop roughly halfway between A (being Sydney) and B (being Byron Bay), although I did stay there overnight on my epic solo journey up to Queensland. However,  I considered Coffs as more of needing a bed to break the journey, not as a destination in itself. You see, when compared to the bright lights of the Gold Coast and the peace and serenity of Byron Bay, Coffs Harbour had a bit of an image problem. Moreover, for me Muriel’s Wedding, an Australian film classic set in the fictional coastal town of Porpoise Pit, didn’t help. Coffs Harbour wasn’t Porpoise Pit and yet…

That has changed. Coffs Harbour has now become a favourite stop-over. If we didn’t have family further up the road, we would definitely stay longer and I have no doubt we’ll be back.  There is so much to see and experience.

The Big Banana

The Big Banana

Although there is so much natural beauty in and around Coffs Harbour, Coffs Harbour is probably best-known for the Big Banana www.bigbanana.com. This is a big, smiling yellow banana perched beside the Pacific Highway.

For some bizarre and unexplained reason, Australian tourist towns have had a passion for big things and seem to compete with each other for the kitchiest objets d’embarrassment. I mean these things have an incredible cringe factor…a bit like having Dame Edna Everage as our national ambassador.

We have stopped off at the Big Banana a few times and the kids both peer out the window looking for it whenever we drive past. Even I feel a bit of childish excitement when I see it. Although these days, there’s also a sense of relief. The Pacific Highway seems to stretch on forever and the Big Banana now means that we’re more than half-way to Byron Bay, our usual holiday destination.

However, we didn’t stop at the Big Banana on this visit.

Seal Kiss

Seal Kiss

Probably the next best known tourist spot in Coffs Harbour is the Pet Porpoise Pool www.dolphinmarinemagic.com.au/ It is absolutely fabulous and we went there last January on our first overnight stay in Coffs Harbour. We had such a fabulous time being able to get up close to the dolphins and seals without the huge holiday crows you get at Sea World on the Gold Coast. This was personal, intimate and we weren’t jammed into a sardine tin supposedly “having fun”. I would really recommend going.

I was very pleased with this photo after capturing many a empty splash, missing the moment completely!

I was very pleased with this photo after capturing many a empty splash, missing the moment completely!

But we didn’t go there on this trip either. We wanted to do something different.

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We booked into budget accommodation at the Clog Barn. We have been driving past the Clog Barn forever but have never stopped off before.

Wearing clogs in Coffs Harbour

Wearing clogs in Coffs Harbour

I was tempted to buy a pair of clogs yet succumbed to the beautiful blue and white Delft China and bought a cow milk jug and an ornament with a boy and girl kissing. It was great to have a genuine piece of Holland from Coffs Harbour. I couldn’t afford or carry around this sort of thing when I was backpacking through Amsterdam over 20 years ago.

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The proprietor was very friendly and suggested we go to the Fisherman’s Co-op for dinner (which was excellent by the way).

One thing I really like about travelling is that you find these little spots where you experience something unexpected, breathtaking that may not be completely off the tourist track but is at least a little bit lateral.

That was Mutton bird Island.

Muttonbird Island is attached to the mainland and to get there, you simply go to the Jetty at Coffs Harbour and follow the walk across the breakwall.

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From a distance, it’s hard to believe this little patch of ground is the summer host to over 20,000 Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, or Mutton Birds. It looked almost uninhabited when we were there aside from a few walkers and joggers. However, a closer inspection of the ground beside the walking track revealed a series of holes or nests and very definite ankle-spraining territory.

Climbing up the hill.

Climbing up the hill.

What struck me most about Mutton Bird Island, however, was the steep hill. With my muscle disease, I usually can’t manage steep but I was feeling uncharacteristically energetic and took up the challenge.

shearwater chick

shearwater chick

We started walking up the hill. About halfway up, Mister calls out: “I’ve found a chick”. I was pretty impressed because these chicks live at the back of small burrows and they aren’t the easiest things to find. We even managed a photograph!

We kept walking up the hill. We still hadn’t actually seen a Shearwater at this point or even heard the much anticipated cacophony but the sunset was starting to look absolutely breathtaking.

Sunset Viewed from Mutton Bird Island

Sunset Viewed from Mutton Bird Island

Being a keen photographer, I have seen and photographed many sunsets, especially as I’m not much of an early bird and it’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen the sunrise. This sunset was pure orange with undulating volcanic hills in the background. I took so many photos that my trigger finger must have been close to getting RSI (repetitive strain injury). I felt such peace and serenity absorbing this incredibly beautiful sunset that it somehow became a part of me, somehow absorbed into my soul.

Ferris wheel at Coffs Harbour

Ferris wheel at Coffs Harbour

Walking back, we couldn’t miss the lights of the Ferris wheel back in town. Even though it was getting quite late, we had to have a turn. My inner child remembered riding the Ferris wheel year after year after year at the Royal Sydney Easter Show and there was this magnetic attraction. It wasn’t cheap and we baulked at the price but relented. I’m so glad we did because there is something so special and timeless about the Ferris wheel that takes you back to your childhood and a sense that you never really want to grow up.

Ferris Wheel

Ferris Wheel

The view across the fairground was dazzling. Our daughter, who has quite a fear of heights, was pleased we’d dragged her along and also loved the view.

The View from the Ferris wheel.

The View from the Ferris wheel.

After succumbing to the Ferris wheel, the kids also went on a pony ride.

The swimming pool at the Clog Barn

The swimming pool at the Clog Barn

The beaches around Coffs Harbour are very beautiful but we didn’t get there on this trip. Instead, the kids were really looking forward to swimming in the pool back at the Clog Barn. That suited me just fine. The sand could stay at the beach. Swimming in the pool also opened up the opportunity for me to play rough and tumble games with the kids where the water helped to support their weight. Mister is often reluctant to practice his swimming but I challenged him to some races and we both got moving. I benefitted from a few laps myself. Strangely, Miss was feeling quite scared of the water despite years of swimming lessons so it was great to encourage her in and build up some confidence as well.

Model of Anne Frank's House

Model of Anne Frank’s House

After a swim, it was time to pack up and leave but we visited the miniature Dutch village before we left. This was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me. I flew into Amsterdam back in 1992 on my epic backpacking holiday after I finished university and spent a week there. The village even includes a model of the Anne Frank House. There was also a garden railway. Above all else, I was really struck by the friendly, chatty ambience. It was a lovely place to stop off.

Posing in front of a model of Gouda Town Hall.

Posing in front of a model of Gouda Town Hall.

Before we leave Coffs Harbour, I’ll just mention another popular spot we explored on our last visit.

Close encounter with a butterly.

Close encounter with a butterfly.

Mister and the Butterfly

Mister and the Butterfly

That was Butterfly House www.butterflyhouse.com.au. I’m not quite a butterfly fanatic but I am an enthusiast and it was amazing to experience so many butterflies at close range. I From memory, I had been a bit disappointed with the photos, however, when I finally found them (somehow they had been completely misfiled) I was pleasantly surprised. They were actually very good. I’d definitely recommend a visit and I would like to go back. Being surrounded by so many butterflies, we were in paradise.

Miss with a butterfly

Miss with a butterfly

From Coffs Harbour, we drove up North to Brisbane.

Our next postcard will come from the Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich.

PS It seems we timed our trip well. We enjoyed bright sunny days in Coffs Harbour well before the floods.