Weekend wandering: Teewah Beach with Salty

A few weeks ago we upgraded from our “tarp mahal” tent camping set up to an off-road camper trailer. “Salty,” as she (the camper trailer) has been christened, was welcomed into the family with grand plans to take her to the beach as soon as possible. However, life got in the way and Salty sat forlornly in our backyard, providing a bed for my dad to sleep in during his recent visit, and a cubby house to play in on the weekends, but no off-road adventures or ocean breezes. That is, until this past weekend. Salty, packed and ready to go for the past six weeks, finally made it to the beach.


We cruised up to Teewah Beach in the Great Sandy National Park. Salty was in fine form, happy to be out of the yard and finally feel the sand between her All terrain tyres. As we arrived at our camp site, I left my hubby and Salty alone for some quality bonding time. There was some cursing, and the odd pole thrown at the ground in frustration, but they eventually found a way to get along. As the sun disappeared behind the coloured sand dunes rising up behind our camp site, Salty was set up and ready to relax.


Salty had hoped to see a whale or two swim by, but sadly the whales had stopped for a break further north for the weekend. There was still plenty of entertainment, including a few championship games of totem tennis, giant jelly fish spotting, and hammock swings.

And after a big day of sunshine and sea breezes, Salty warmed up by the campfire, before we all turned in for the night.


All too quickly Salty’s adventure to the beach was over. We packed her back up with gear and hooked her up to the Landy. Salty, a very happy camper – covered in sand and salt – daydreamed about her next adventure to the beach the whole drive home.

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Weekend Wandering: Our Front Yard

Summer has come early.


After a long few months of study, surgery recovery, and hubby on night-shift, we came out of winter hibernation this weekend and ventured out into the sunshine for a weekend enjoying all our gorgeous little community has to offer.

Tucked between Bribie Island and Caboolture, the coastal-village of Beachmere has the charm of any other costal township without all the people or traffic. At low tide the sand and mud flats extend out and provide miles of beach to run and explore. Soldier crabs and worms huddle around the edges of shallow pools, the soldier crabs shuffling away before disappearing into the sand. 


Along the white sandy beach there are shells to collect and drift wood to climb. Then castles or pictures to create in the sand, decorating each creation with seed pods, leaves and the other treasures collected while walking along the beach.

When playing at the beach in the sun gets too much, the Beach Shak Cafe is the perfect place to chill out and enjoying a cold drink, a bite to eat and listen to the live local music on offer every Sunday. Or better yet, grab an ice cream, head across the road and let the kids burn off some energy in the playground, while you relax in the shade.

Weekend Wandering: Bribie Island

Dear parents everywhere,

I salute you! You guys are the most amazing people in the universe.

Yours in complete awe,

Emma x

This past weekend our house was home to three little ones all under the age of six years. Two sisters staying for a few days and my friend and her little one visiting overnight. After a big day on Saturday, Sunday started with a 5am wake up call after a dummy was thrown out of the cot. 

I like my sleep. I don’t function well without it, and it appears neither do little people. By 8am the world was ending. Toes were crossing imaginary lines into someone else’s “side of the couch”, doors were shut leaving one out of the shenanigans going on inside the room by the other two, and the toothpaste was the wrong colour. There were tears and cries of “it’s not fair”. And there were screams of “no”, although, in the end I’m not sure what the no’s were about.

It was time to get out of the confines of the house! Time to get some sunshine and chill out. We loaded three children into the car, protesting that they didn’t like the beach or swimming, and headed to Bribie Island. 

Bribie is a great spot to visit with kids. On the eastern side you can 4wd and camp along the beach. On the western side the beaches are protected from big swells and a perfect place to fish or for little ones to swim. There are shops and cafes, and, on weekends, markets to explore. There are playgrounds or shady patches of grass to spread out on and enjoy the view. 

We found a little patch of grass under a eucalyptus tree, in Bongaree, and spread out a picnic blanket. Within sixty seconds all three kids were pulling on swimmers and racing towards the water. So much for hating the beach!

  
We found soldier crabs and chased fish in the shallows. We chased seagulls and buried our feet in the sand. And after they’d splashed around in the gentle waves rolling in off the boats and jet skis going past out in the channel, three smiling children laughed together and enjoyed a picnic overlooking the beach. 

  
My 36 hour experience with three young children gave me a new found appreciation and respect for parents everywhere. You guys are amazing!

Weekend Wandering: Sunshine Coast

My days as a solo traveller are a thing of the past – well, for the time being anyway. The way I travel has adapted to become more inclusive of my new family. Instead of flying off to some distant location with very few ideas of what I’ll do once there, now I negotiate how many stuffed toys are required for a weekend camping trip. Family travels are squeezed in around work and school, so the destination must be close to home to make the most of the limited time. Which has inspired me to start a new little series on the blog… Weekend wanderings: because travel is anywhere outside of home, no matter how long or short the trip. So on Friday afternoon we headed north to Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast for a weekend of family-friendly fun.

Learning how to catch waves with Dad

Learning to catch waves with Dad

After our two camping trips earlier this year to the Yuraygir National Park, camping in a designated spot with limited space felt a little claustrophobic, however, having an amenities block with clean flushing toilets and hot showers on demand does make life a little easier. The key to any good camping destination though is the distance to the beach, because its the sound of the ocean you want to fall asleep too and not the sound of traffic on the main road. Tucked in behind the dunes, we could head to the beach before the heat of the day kicked in, or the kids could ride bikes and play around our campsites. And at the end of the day we took chairs and drinks down to the beach to relax in the shade and admire the view.

SONY DSC

During the day we escaped the stifling stillness of the campground and went to Bli Bli Wake Park. A feature in more than a few memories from our not so distant past. Instead of jumping on the cable for a wakeboard, dads and daughters explored the aqua park. Jumping, slipping and sliding along the inflatable playground, splashing in the water and squealing in delight. When 50 minutes was up and they stumbled out of the water with big giddy smiles, we retreated to the shade of the deck and reminisced about summer days spent working and riding at cable parks and living to wakeboard.

Sliding at the Aqua Park

Sliding at the Aqua Park

Whether you are camping for two days, two weeks, or two months, on the last day – as tents begin to collapse and you try to remember how to pack the car so everything fits back in – mumbles and overtired cries of “I don’t want to go home” and “I wish we could stay here forever” escape both adults and kids. And we all plot and plan our next miniature escape… or how to turn the weekend wandering into a permanent lifestyle.

 

 

Vitamin Sea: Yuraygir National Park

“The cure for everything is saltwater – sweat, tears or the sea.”

The sweetest words I’ve ever heard from a doctor: “you need salt. Eat it, swim in it. Just add it in any way you can into your life.”

For months, we’d (my new hubby and I) tossed around the idea of packing up and heading off camping over the Christmas/New Year holidays. I’d had a relapse of CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) start a few months before and other circumstances kept changing around plans for Christmas, so we flipped back and forth on the idea several times… that is until my new Doctor told me to get some Vitamin Sea. Decision made.

Sandon Beach, Yuraygir National Park

Sandon Beach, Yuraygir National Park

Yuraygir National Park encompasses the coastline between Yamba and Coffs Harbour in New South Wales with the Solitary Island Marine Park covering the ocean/waterways from Plover Island (Sandon River bar north), out to the Solitary Islands and south to Coffs Creek. We spent 12 days camped at Illaroo South Campground under the shade of Eucalypts and Banksias just behind Sandon Beach. A perfect little spot to easily access supplies from Minnie Water, the 4wd beach access track to Sandon, the road to Wooli or Grafton, or simply do nothing but move between beach and campsite hammock all day.

There is something about camping that suddenly makes lethargy and sloth-like behaviour socially acceptable. For 12 days it was perfectly normal to go bed when the sun went down at 8/8.30 at night and sleep for 10-12 hours. It’s fine to nap at least once during the day, if not twice, even if you only woke up an hour before hand. If you brush your teeth and had a swim in the ocean that day then you are clean. If the sun was out and you end up with hot water in your solar shower then maybe you’ll wash in fresh water too, but not for long, as you have to conserve the water in your jerry cans until you can be bothered driving out to the tap to refill your water supplies. Hair washing is definitely out of the question (well it’s not, but I was glad for the excuse not to wash hair as it’s one of those mundane tasks that lately requires between 30 minutes on a good day and over 2 hours on a bad day to recover from). For 12 days I didn’t feel guilty if I was tired. I didn’t feel as if I should be doing more. Instead, I simply enjoyed ‘being’.

For 12 days I also switched off my phone. There were no power points, laptops, TVs, microwaves, or washing machines. I disconnected from the technological world and reconnected with the natural world –  the real world. We loaded up all of our fishing gear, which we had very little idea how to use, and dropped a line in the Sandon River. My hubby puffing out his chest and feeling manly when he caught a Silver Trevally. I’m a hunter. A provider. See – he said, waving the fish towards me. After taking it off the line though neither of us knew what to do next. Slit its throat. No, just put it in the bucket with water. How do you gut it? Where do you start filleting from? We caught two more fish over the following days and ended up gutting them and baking them whole on our camp fire. It was just easier. Our campfire became our main source for cooking. Baked potatoes, baked fish, damper, garlic bread, and caramelised whole sweet potatoes. Then we’d sit around the fire reading and warding off the sandflies and mozzies through the plumes of smoke blowing onto us.

All the gear, no idea. The waterways in the Yuraygir National Park are some of the cleanest waterways in all of Australia.

All the gear, no idea. The waterways in the Yuraygir National Park are some of the cleanest waterways in all of Australia.

In the early afternoon, Black Cockatoos screeched overhead dropping empty Banksia pods on the ground. Soft thuds on the sandy grass. Goannas slowly creeping around camp, their tongues flicking out smelling for scraps of food and insects seeking shelter under the edge of our tent. I came across a baby whip snake on the path back from the toilet one night. Burnt orange and brown scales blending into the ground below. I thought it was a shoe lace, left behind by one of the kids that race around the campground on their bikes, then the end moved and a tongue poked out, head tensed into a compressed ‘S’, body ready to spring forward.  Who needs TV when Mother Nature puts on a show 24/7.

Yuraygir National Park is home to the Coastal Emu with 100 roaming through the park. Signs warn you to slow down – Emus active. But we saw none. I suppose them disappearing into the bush is no different to us heading bush to get away from the Christmas craziness. I can’t stand people lately. I prefer silence, well apart from the soundtrack provided by Mother Nature. The dolphins, on the other hand, seemed to love people. Surfer’s anyway. There is something quite meditative about watching dolphins frolic in the waves. I also felt a lot safer in the knowledge that hubby wouldn’t be eaten by a shark with a pod of dolphins chilling beside him.

Dolphins playing in the waves off Diggers Camp

Dolphins playing in the waves off Diggers Camp

More than anything, disconnecting from the material/technological world and reconnecting with the natural world reinvigorated my desire to write (something I haven’t wanted to do or been capable of doing due to mass brain fog over the past few months). I started taking photos and reading again too. Some days lying in the hammock reading until the sea breezes gently rocked me to sleep. My dose of vitamin sea may not have magically improved my energy levels, but it did inspire the creative juices to start flowing again. I could happily live in a tent beside the ocean for the rest of my life, but until that moment comes when I can shut off from the ‘civilised’ world, my mantra, my goal, for the new year is to slow down, to reconnect with nature and myself, and to simply be present. Busy is no longer a part of my vocabulary.

 

Byron Bay

I love visiting Byron Bay. Every time I go I tell myself I need to visit more often, but inevitably life takes over and there are a multitude of excuses that prevent me from making the return trip. But for those few days that I am immersed in the blissful chilled-out haze that seems to have permanently engulfed Byron, I remember why it is one of my favourite places on earth…

Tofo, Mozambique

If you’re the kind of traveller that loves a good backpackers party then you can’t go past Tofo. With gorgeous sandy beaches, surf, scuba diving, and a bunch of other fun activities on offer it is a backpackers Mecca. But it’s once the sun starts to dip beneath the hills that the real activities of Tofo unfold.

Dj’s, bands and plenty of drinking, plus chances are that Tofo is the place you will run into every other traveller you’ve met in Mozambique. If you’ve had enough of small fishing villages and getting to hang out with the locals then Tofo is also a good stop over. It has definitely been taken over by the tourism bug. You’ll get charged more for everything here, alcohol, souvenirs, accommodation, and the locals are not quite as friendly to deal with as other destinations in Mozambique. The influence of the Western world is visible here in locals capitalizing on the tourism industry, and so they should. There is money and job opportunities to be had and it should be locals benefiting from this.

If you are after a relaxing travel experience where you can immerse yourself in the culture with the locals of Mozambique, then Tofo is not the ideal location. But for a good time with plenty of sun, beach, and backpackers then Tofo is it.

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