Park Play, a Pub and Plodding through the Past

A very lazy day planned for today started with Immy climbing out of bed, walking straight out the door insisting that she has to go and visit her new friend that she and Fletch played with yesterday. Thankfully, we convinced her and Fletch to wait until they had eaten and got dressed before heading to the other side of the caravan park to find their little mate. Little did we know at that same early time that this mate (also named Fletcher) woke and said to his mum “ok I need to go find my new friends Fletcher and Immy now.”

The rest of the morning was spent hanging around and enjoying the caravan park. The kids were off with the other Fletcher and his siblings, whilst Amanda and I kicked back and relaxed. There was a bit of rain overnight, so I was not surprised to see them come back with clothes soaked through from splashing in muddy puddles. They demanded we dry them up quickly as they had to get to the indoor play area to meet their friends, and it is here I met their parents and discovered we could have let them all meet at 6:30 this morning and have a sleep in ourselves.

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Already a better putter than me!

We played a spot of mini golf next door to the Big4, which usually costs to play, but the owner let the kids have a casual hit thinking they would get over it quickly. This was the case with Immy, but Fletch was determined to get a hole in one on as many of the holes as he could. After the golf was the jumping pillow again. Immy has impressed us with how brave she has become with being in and around the bigger kids. Previously Amanda or I would have to hold her, as she demanded that we bounced for her, but now she flies up, being bumped and bounced by the bigger kids without even flinching. Just as it got to full capacity with kids, the heavens opened and it began to pour with rain. All the kids scattered off, back to their respective campsites, with the exception of our two who seemed reinvigorated by the rain and having the pillow to themselves. Eventually the rain got so heavy they could not get back up to the top with the water flowing down making it to slippery to do so.

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More like a Slip’n’Slide than a Jumping Pillow!

Thankfully, the weather turned for the best and we went into town and enjoyed a warm and pleasant afternoon. We walked around town admiring the historic buildings all with a plaque stating the year of construction and what it was originally built for. We went back to the record and bookshop and I decided not to buy the record player as I think it had since been glorified in my dreams. From there we walked along the boardwalk at the wharf looking at the sailboats and fishing trawlers. It is quite a nice spot and would benefit from more cafes or bars along the river for people to stop and enjoy the scenery.

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Port Fairy Wharf Boardwalk

The next stop was one I had locked in before we even left home and that was to have a beer at the oldest licensed pub in Victoria, The Calendonian Hotel. It has been kept mostly in its original state from the outside, still a simple single story building with white wash walls with a couple of tables outside, so it was not hard to imagine folks rocking up on horseback for a couple of drinks back in the mid 1800s. It helped that Immy was fast asleep and that Fletch had a new puzzle to complete, so that Amanda and I could relax and ponder not if, but how many times her Poppa Tommy would have drank there as a young bloke growing up in Port Fairy.

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A brew or two at ye olde Caledonian

After that, the adventuring was done, but the holidaying continued. As we drove back into the caravan park we passed the kid’s new friends as they left making me feel a little guilty about having that second beer, so that they were not able to say a proper goodbye. Fletch being a trooper says “don’t worry I’ll just go off again and find a new friend.” Sure enough for the rest of the afternoon we found him talking with other kids and playing with them. In the evening, we kicked the footy around and had another play on the jumping pillow before bed.

So not a lot of adventuring today, but a great day none-the-less as we relaxed and enjoyed seeing the kids mingle and play with other caravan park kids. Obviously, this too enabled Amanda and I to chill out and even have a cuppa and read our books in peace. The Big4 here in Port Fairy is a ripper for kids, small enough to let them loose with confidence and plenty of things to do for all ages. As someone who loves history Port Fairy is a mecca of historic buildings and rich in aboriginal history throughout the surrounding area. However, the history that struck us most was finding Amanda’s Poppa’s home, where he was born and grew up, still standing and one of the heritage listing buildings.

This was the final post covering our adventure to Port Fairy, so be sure to head back and check out Part One: Foul Weather, Family Heritage and Footing it Through a Volcano and Part Two: Lady Island Lookout, Lighthouse and a Lava Flow Beach to get the full story of our getaway.

 

The best place to follow Josh’s adventures with his family is on his Instagram site @josh.duthie. You can see this post and more Adventures of Duth by clicking the link below.

www.instagram.com/josh.duthie

Lady Island Lookout, Lighthouse and a Lava Flow Beach

A traditional early start of 6am, thanks to Fletch, so he and I went for a quick walk around the park only to return and find that the Immy had woken early too. After breakfast, the kids and I went for a proper feather finder walk. It was quality time with the kids chatting away about everything and nothing, but alas, no feathers had presented themselves until I saw one just out of reach on the other side of a fence in a paddock. As I gripped the fence to slink through the wires I was given the shock of my life, literally, as it was an unsigned electrified fence. We did end up finding a few feathers as well as some tiny blue eggshells to add to their nature collection.

The Crags gorgeous rocky coastline

The morning was a rainy cold 10°C as we made our way west of Port Fairy to visit The Crags. The Crags themselves were pretty neat with the Lady Julia Percy Island, flat as a pancake, off in the distance. The weather didn’t perturb us as it produced high waves and sea spray that swirled into the air improving the view of the jagged rocky coastline. We didn’t linger long and decided to head back into Port Fairy to check out the lighthouse.

cofPort Fairy Lighthouse on Griffith Island

The lighthouse is located on Griffith Island and if you take the track to the left, as we did, you will find an easy walk half way around to where it is situated at the southern point. Fletch was full of energy and insisted on pushing Immy in the stroller for most of the walk, at least when he wasn’t distracted by the striped fish swimming just off the track. Immy on the other hand seemed exhausted and quite unimpressed by the whole endeavor. I have an affinity for lighthouses and love seeing new ones, so I was just as excited as the kids to see it when it came into view. We lined up to go into and up to the top of the lighthouse, only to find out there is a charge of $5 each per adult and $1 each per child to enter. We didn’t have our wallets with us as it is not signed anywhere about the charges, so we had to turn tail and head back.

Griffith Island

It was nice to stop at the lighthouse though and watch as the waves, some quite high, smashing into the rocks and imagining a tall ship making its way east through the carnage in ye olde times. Luckily, we got talking to one of the locals and she advised against continuing around the island, as the second half of the trail was not suitable for prams, or tiring kids. I’m glad we came back the same way though as we saw a wallaby just off the track snacking.

IMG_2790_editedKilarney Beach exploring the volcanic rocks

After lunch in town, we came back to the camper for a play at the indoor playroom, whilst I set up the bed end flys ahead of the forecasted storms for the next day. Ironically, the sun was shining down at this stage, so to make the most of it we headed to the beach. East Beach was rough with the tide almost completely in, so we went for a short drive to Kilarney and visited the beach there instead. This was must nicer for the kids with a long rocky outcrop about 20 metres out to sea parallel to the shore breaking the waves. The rocky outcrops also littered the beach, to which Fletch spent most of his time climbing and jumping around, whilst Immy scoured the beach for treasure for her nature collection.

That evening, we went for a swim in the indoor pool at the Big 4 Port Fairy Holiday Park where we were staying. Afterwards the kids went off cutting laps around the park with Immy in her push trike and Fletch pushing her. This was the highlight of the day, watching them from our camper chatting and running around with the other kids and even bringing one back to introduce to us as their new friend. Coincidentally his name was Fletcher too and together kept doing laps of the park chatting away, giving Amanda and I a much needed spell!

cofCaravan Park Pals

I find camping is the best way to put yourself and your kids out of your comfort zone. Immy is a confident, tough and brave little lady and will have a crack at anything, but Fletch on the other hand is a conundrum. He tends to over think things far too much, which at times holds him back. So when we asked him to go for a bike ride he was so anxious of falling off he refused to even get on, although he has ridden it many times before. Yet he is happy to jump into a pool without floaties and swim and charge into the water at the beach as it crashes into him, without a second thought. It is encouraging though to see his courage grow, which is why I love caravan parks as it gives him and Immy more opportunities to grow as they mingle with other kids.

This is the Part Two covering our adventure to Port Fairy, so be sure to head back and check out Part One – Foul Weather, Family Heritage and Footing it through a Volcano to see how we started our adventure.

Continue reading Lady Island Lookout, Lighthouse and a Lava Flow Beach

Foul Weather, Family Heritage and Footing it through a Volcano

Our first trip for months in the camper and we were champing at the bit to get on the road, even with the weather forecast being raining and windy. Port Fairy was the destination a place neither of us has been before, yet very high on our list of places to stay. The trip was broken up into a few segments with our first stop at Hoppers Crossing to meet our friend’s new baby, to Immy’s maternal delight. We stopped only at Mortlake thereafter before arriving at Big4 Port Fairy Holiday Park late in the afternoon.

It had been blowing a gale the whole four hours from Lilydale and Port Fairy was consistent to say the least. Gusts of up to 50km/h made for a fun time setting up the camper and the annex. With difficulty and I’m sure great hilarity to those nearby watching, we finally beat the weather gods and thankfully had the annex setup. With the two young kids of 5 and 3 the annex gives us a nice space in the evenings to relax, so it was important for us to get it setup. The evening we spent in the caravan park with the kids playing on the jumping pillow, catching up with other travelers and settling in for an early night.

img_2725.jpgAir in a big bag = The best invention

The early night intentions of then waking fully rested for the first day of adventuring did not eventuate. The wind through the night was even worse and although Amanda and I obviously slept we both felt we were up all night with the banging and flapping of canvas and random paraphernalia being flown around outside. Thankfully for us though we had the annex setup so all of our belongings were sheltered and even better the kids were none the wiser to the weather’s foul temper during the night!

With the exception of Fletch spilling a whole bowl of cereal onto the camper couch and floor, the morning was uneventful and relaxing. We eventually made our way into town to the local market, which didn’t have any hot sauce, so we left quickly and walked around the centre of town to check out the place. Our eyes are always drawn to opp shops (thrift shops) and antique stores, but what I did not expect to find was a record/book store. I spent far too long in there sifting through boxes of records and chatting with the owner about all manner of music and literature and was amazed that I did not spend any money…at first. There was a record player that called to me as well as a series of Tin Tin comics that I serious need to have!

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Amanda at her Poppa’s childhood heritage listed home

About town there is a number of historic buildings, which I absolutely love, but none better than the home Amanda’s Poppa Tommy grew up in. Number 1 William Street is now a lovely heritage listed Air BnB, but to her it was the house he was born and grew up in. A number of times as we walked past a street of old bluestone houses we commented how little Tommy would have been running past these houses as a young fella and now our kids are doing the same.

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Blustery South Beach

With the wind still blowing, albeit a little less than the day before, we settled for a quick drive around the waterfront and coast stopping for a couple of pics looking out to the raging south sea. Lunch, then a play back at the caravan park and I left to visit a garage sale across the road. I managed to pick out some kids books and a wicker basket I knew Amanda would love because I am a great husband and had nothing to do with a record player and comics flooding my every waking thought.

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Tower Hill Crater Lake

In the afternoon we decided to visit the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve as the kids have been obsessed lately with volcanoes in there imaginative play. In their mind, I know they would have imagined a conical mountain with a lava flow spilling over the top, so it was hard to convince them that the lakes and surrounding hill rim was the volcano. Even I was amazed at how big the crater was as we drove our way around it to the visitor centre.

Plenty of animals to see on the many walks at Tower Hill

It is extremely picturesque, which is a testament to the work that’s been done there since restoration started in the 1960’s. We went on a couple of the walks, first the Lava Tongue Walk through the wetlands. I was not expecting to see much wildlife as it was overcast and cool, so when we found not one but two copperhead snakes just off the boardwalks we were all pretty excited. As we returned back to the visitor centre we saw the first of many emus, which was exciting enough until we then saw two koalas nestled up in some nearby gumtrees.

cofThe view from the top of Peak Climb Walk

The other walk we did was the Peak Climb Walk up to the top of the centre hill of the crater. Fletch ran ahead with Amanda in toe and they disappeared to have some bonding time together, leaving Immy and I trudging along at 3-year-old pace. This gave me some quality time with my little lady and also slowed me down enabling me to take in the surroundings in a lot more detail. A great example was spotting a kangaroo off in the scrub that I would have otherwise missed. She surprisingly walked the whole way up the steep inclines telling herself how strong and good she was and that Santa would be so happy with her! Naturally, I emphatically agreed, as I did not want to have to carry her up to the top. The view was worth the climb, with the lakes, volcano rim and coastline in full view.

cofBambino’s awesome woodfire pizza.

Back at the caravan park the kids loved playing in the indoor play area for the 5 and unders’ before enjoying some woodfire pizzas by Bambino [Side note: if you see these guys, stop and get the Damo’s Special! You’re welcome].

 

This is Part One covering our adventure to Port Fairy, so be sure to stay tuned for Parts Two and Three to see what else we got too.

The best place to follow Josh’s adventures with his family is on his Instagram site @josh.duthie. You can see this post and more Adventures of Duth by clicking the link below.

www.instagram.com/josh.duthie

 

 

Getaway with the Grand Parents – A Round, Reptiles and the Rail

Day six in Port Douglas was Thursday and Dad and I rose early to get in a round of golf at the Mirage Country Club. The normal club rules applied of course with one addition…to forget about your ball if it is in or near the water as the crocodile warning signs are deadly serious. His emphasis on the word deadly was enough to make me buy extra golf balls as I knew I’d be saying goodbye to a few! The course was fantastic and being first to tee off that day gave us the freedom to just cruise around at our own pace and take it all in. The round finished up with me winning, Dad played a shocker and I playing only very bad, but it was nothing that a few late morning beers couldn’t fix back at the clubhouse.

cofGolf – The more shots you play the more value for money the round.

Meanwhile Amanda had taken the kids into town with Mum and did a spot of shopping. Mum treated herself to a massage and we met Amanda and the kids back at our townhouse for lunch. The afternoon was open so we spent the rest of the day at Four Mile Beach in town. This time we explored the rock pools at the near end of the beach finding crabs and fish galore as well as many shells for the collection.

That night Amanda and I had a date night, which is a rare event for us. We started back at the marina at Hemingway’s Brewery (for some more of that porter) before moving to Zinc for dinner. It was delicious and we had great service. I highly recommend dining there.

sdrFeeding the wallabies

On Friday we were a week into our trip and in the morning we visited the Wildlife Habitat. We walked around the different habitats feeding the wallabies and the pesky ducks, found the crocodiles and cassowary before going back for the koala talk and photo. Amanda got to hold the koala (for a price) although for only a brief moment, but she said it was worth it. We also went to the crocodile talk and the kids got to pat both a baby fresh water croc and an amethyst python. It was at this point Fletch decided he wanted to hold a croc for himself.

After lunch we went back for the 1pm photos and he and Immy both got to hold the baby croc. Fletch surprised me that he didn’t get overwhelmed and was great at following the directions of the keeper and photographer. I love snakes and decided I wanted to hold the python and the kids excitedly joined me as Amanda kept her distance. Luckily it was not as busy as it was for Amanda with the koala and the kids and I both got to hold our respective reptiles for a little longer.

Kid loving reptiles Reptile loving kids

At lunch one of the eclectic parrots came up to Dad, climbed his arm and sat on his shoulder. With his sun baked farmer skin he would not look out of place in a pirate movie conversing with his little green mate. Also walking around was a lady with two lorrikeets and they sat on Amanda and then Dad’s arms. Fletch and I unfortunately missed all this from being stuck in the toilets, the less said here the better.

Pirate Grandpa and Croc watch Immy

The kids were wrecked and we tried driving around to get them to sleep after dropping Mum and Dad back at the townhouse. They were heading to the beach and we just wanted the kids to sleep. As irony would have it they always fall asleep when you don’t want them to and they will never sleep when you need them to. So during our drive, whilst looking at local real estate, we found a playground and stopped there to let the kids loose.

The playground had a beach entrance so Amanda went back to get bathers and we ended up spending the rest of the afternoon exploring the far end of Four Mile Beach. This looked more like a beach for the locals rather than us tourists, so much quieter and also more treasures to find. As we walked along the water only ankle deep you could find plenty of fossilised coral as well as hundreds of crabs. We also found a hermit crab in an amazing shell, as well as a starfish. The kids happily splashed and chased some fish too.

IMG_2224_editedImmy loving the water

For dinner we spent our last night at Hemingways, our favourite. Drewboy was playing an acoustic set, a mix of originals with some killer covers, whilst we enjoyed the epic sunset with some drinks and pizzas. After dinner the kids ran around the marina checking out all the boats.

sdrPort Douglas Marina from Hemingways Brewery

Our eighth and last day we got away a little later than we would have liked, I think we were too reluctant to leave as a whole. We had decided to go to Kuranda up the Skyrail and back down on the Heritage train as Mum and Dad had not done this before and last time Fletch really liked it. The views from the Skyrail are great as you sail over the rain forest. On this occasion it was much drier than before, obviously the drought stretches as far as the tropics! As we’d hoped the kids enjoyed it, but Mum could not wait to be rid of the Skyrail (I don’t think she could see the forest from her sudden plummeting demise into the trees).

cofImmy sees a jungle whilst Nonna sees her crash landing site

Because we left so late we didn’t allow enough time to get around and explore Kuranda properly and from memory we had the same problem last time we visited. The town is great with its markets and bazaar, but we only saw these at a glance on this occasion.

The train back down was great for Fletch as he looked out the window at the amazing views and the occasional glimpse of the diesel engine and carriages as we rounded a bend. Immy on the other hand was a bit bored and so were the rest of us I think. I put it down to being the last day of the holiday and being tired and a bit somber about having to leave.

The airport and flight home were done without drama, which is nice to say. We were all in the same row on the plane so Immy slept between Mum and Amanda and Fletch between Dad and I.

It was a great trip and a place I feel constantly drawn to. One local we spoke to, who had moved from Sydney years ago, mentioned that people only visit Port Douglas three times and on the fourth the move there. We have been there twice now and we were already looking at real estate. All I know is that we have to go back there, especially with my parents!

 

This was the final post covering our adventure to Port Douglas, so be sure to head back and check out Part One (Markets and Mossman) and Part Two (The Reef and a Roadtrip) to get the full story of our holiday.

The best place to follow Josh’s adventures with his family is on his Instagram site @josh.duthie. You can see this post and more Adventures of Duth by clicking the link below.

www.instagram.com/josh.duthie

Getaway with the Grand Parents – Markets and Mossman

A while back we came across cheap deals for flights and we decided, off the cuff, to book a trip to Port Douglas and convinced my parents to come along too. I haven’t been on a holiday with my folks since I was a kid, so we had a slight concern about how would we travel together? Luckily my parents are amazing with our kids, so as we’d hoped there was no issue whatsoever and we all had a great time! In fact I’d go as far to say the trip was improved by us all being together. So what did we do and how did it all work?

There is not a lot to cover for the first day (Saturday). We had a late morning flight from Melbourne, so we stayed at home, whilst my parents stayed at a hotel near the airport. Once we had arrived in Cairns Fletcher, now five years old and fully aware of what a holiday is, went crazy and hyperactive with excitement. The first 15 minutes of our drive from Cairns was him yelling on repeat, “WE’RE GOING TO PORT DOUGLAS YAY!” That tune was broken by the sudden sight of the first palm tree of the trip, to which he started screaming, “YAY SUMMER TREES!”

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Kids a bit excited to holiday with Grandpa

The kids were desperate to swim in the pool, so much so that Fletch plunged in with reckless abandon even though the water was freezing cold. Immy a little less reckless would only go waist deep. That evening was just setting up our respective townhouses, we were in No. 1 and mum and dad were a few doors up at No. 6. Pizza at our place from The Pizza Shop, which was a nice break for Dad who had the kids climbing all over him in their manic excitement. Needless to say it was difficult getting the kids to sleep this night.

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Port Douglas Market – Every Sunday

Day two was Sunday, so we walked to the markets to check out the craft and get some fresh food. The day heated up quickly, so morning ice-creams were in order, fresh mango flavoured sorbets, YAY Summer Ice-creams! Every market I visit I sniff out the hot sauce stands and thankfully there was one. If you are a fan of hot sauces get onto Michael at Fenglehorn Sauces these were some of the best I’ve tried. Even had a taste of my first reaper/ghost chilli mix sauce, which he has concocted brilliantly. The delayed burn gave me a real kick, but it was easily rectified with a frozen banana dipped in chocolate!

We stopped at the Central Hotel for a couple of drinks and to discuss our finds from the market and decided the day was too good to waste, so the beach was voted as the best option for the afternoon. Four Mile Beach was busy, but we found some free benches (as in unused they’re $20 a pair), where my parents spent most of their time lounging and enjoying the sun whilst we splashed with the kids. The kids are now getting much braver when it comes to the beach and aren’t flustered by the waves anymore, taking themselves out deeper, which in turn makes it more enjoyable for us not having to deal with anxious kids.

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Couple of lovely mermaids in the shallows
A simple BBQ at No.6 was a perfect finish to the day. A proper chance for the kids to rest after all the excitement of the previous 30 hours, but more importantly a chance for me to try my new hot sauces! Fletch still caught up in the excitement about having the grandparents there decided he was sleeping at Nonna’s this night, which he almost did until the very last minute.

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Mossman Gorge-ous!

Monday, day three, and the kids had now started a morning routine of heading to Nonna and Grandpa’s as early as we’d let them to wake them up. They insisted on going there by themselves pushing for as much independence as possible, of which we were happy to oblige. Off to Mossman Gorge today to walk the bush trail from the main Centre there, it was one of the highlights from our previous trip and we were keen to do it again. Fletch was very excited to lead the way with map in hand and when that boy is on a mission it’s best to get out of the way and let him go. We first stopped at the swimming hole where I had to climb over every rock with Fletch, whilst Immy, seeing water ripped her shoes off and slowly inched her way closer and closer to the water’s edge looking to see if we’d stop her before finally splashing into it with glee. Amanda went with her into the freezing water and Fletch soon joined them once we got back from the middle of the river traversed by rocks.

Our water loving lady and rock climbing lad

The main walking trail beckoned and we marched into the 2 km round trip track. Turns out the walk is likely a lot longer once you peel off to the many side trails, and even if it is only 2 km it feels further with the hills and uneven track. In saying that our kids walked probably 85% of the way, which was amazing! Adding to this Fletch insisted on climbing the many boulders and rocks along the way. With the kids it took us about 2 hours to finish, but we were in no hurry and we let the kids set the pace as they explored the sights, sounds and touch of the rain forest. Along the way we stopped at the large boulder overhang and many of the amazing strangler fig trees. The kids loved the “jungle” and had their imaginations in overdrive. They were in “dinosaur land.”

Our little cave dwellers and an ancient strangler fig

That evening in Port Douglas we stopped for dinner at the Central Hotel and the kids enjoyed running around the stage in front of the movie screen. At one point a little boy took a fancy to Immy and Fletch seeing that she was a little uncomfortable with the attention ran over and put himself between her and the advancing boy. Fletch held out his hand to Immy and she happily took it and he then lead her away back to us. It was so nice to see him looking out for his sister and that he wanted to help, especially as he had noticed before any of us. As a dad I can now rest a little easier knowing I have eyes on the ground for future boy control.

 

This is part one of three of posts covering our adventure to Port Douglas, so be sure to stay tuned for Part Two (The Reef and a Roadtrip) and Part Three (A Round, Reptiles and the Rails) to get the full story of our holiday.

The best place to follow Josh’s adventures with his family is on his Instagram site @josh.duthie. You can see this post and more Adventures of Duth by clicking the link below.

www.instagram.com/josh.duthie

Port Macquarie – Leaving a mark

We felt a little sad to be leaving Nelson Bay, the place had left such a good impression on us all. Reflecting, post trip, we classed Nelson Bay as the little sibling to Port Douglas, with very similar marina, town centre, beaches and chilled vibe. We weren’t sure how we could top our stay there, but we had to move on and Port Macquarie was our next destination.

The day we left was super hot and we found a great location to stop and break up the drive at a little place called Johns River, which had a playground covered by large sails for shade. Nearby there were calves, which Fletcher ran to see, but in his excitement scared them off into the paddock. After another uneventful trip, which with the young kids is a blessing, we arrived at the Port Macquarie Breakwall Holiday Park, our home for the next two nights.

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Halfway along the painted rocks

The weather was less than pleasurable and we had to set up in the heat and wind, our first real challenge with the awning. Rather than wait around for the weather to calm we jumped into the pool to cool off before heading into town along the renowned painted rocks by the waterfront. Visitors for years have been painting pictures or leaving their mark in one way or another. Some families have been coming for decades adding something each year, whilst tourists from all around the world leave a piece of their homeland in art form. It was great to see, bringing some life to an otherwise drab rock wall.

Each Saturday evening the food trucks come down to the beach front and we were keen to grab some grub. However, the few that arrived then quickly left again as the weather turned for the worse with the wind picking up significantly. This forced us back in to the camper to cook our first meal on the stove.

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Town Beach hangs

The next day the weather was perfect! We spent most of the morning at the nearby Town Beach, which was abundant with shells for the kids to hunt and amongst these we even found a number of small crabs and sea snails. At one point a dozen yachts sailed out past the breakwall giving us a spectacle by happenstance. Five days into our trip now and we were all completely relaxed having shed all the weight and expectations of day to day life and this morning, specifically, was the first time I’d been living in the moment for a long time.

Sandcastle empires were raised and felled and after almost 3 hours on the beach we went into town to meet a friend and get some lunch. Plenty of options in town for lunch, but of course we picked a place that had food we knew the kids would eat! Our friend met us at the Westport Park where there was room for the kids to run and, you guessed it, a playground. Other than the water front itself the main feature of the park was a large tree at it’s centre. Kids were clambering all over it and Fletcher, who lately has been obsessed with copying what the ‘big kids’ are doing, insisted he climb it too. However he was a bit short to do it himself, so I lifted him into the tree and he was able to make his way around from there.

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Just a couple of monkeys

Not thinking it completely through we realised he could not get down himself, nor could I reach him where he was. So into the tree I went. I can’t remember the last time I climbed a tree, but it was a lot of fun to be doing it again with Fletcher, who thought it was hilarious. As we sat perched on a branch together I suddenly felt the decades since my last tree climb and I looked to the ground and wondered if it would hurt more to jump from the branch or to try squeeze and stretch myself to get back down the way I came up. I did ‘Dad-up’ though and we both got out of the tree easily.

Port Macquarie Lighthouse

That afternoon we went to the lighthouse and took in the views with rocky outcrops and a secluded beach to one side and the long stretching beach to the other side. It was a quaint lighthouse with little grandeur to speak of, but the views were spectacular. On the way back to the caravan park we stopped at the Sea Acres Rainforest Centre and went around the rain forest boardwalk. It was near the end of the day so we rushed around the forest, but we were there by ourselves so it was quite peaceful, especially when it started to drizzle with rain through the canopy. The kids loved the koala sculptures scattered around the boardwalk all painted in a different styles, but the highlight would have to be the large striped goana we saw climbing down a nearby tree.

To finish off our stay here we went to the rocks and painted our names whilst the kids painted big blotches of colour. Leaving our mark gives us something to look for when we visit again, as Port Macquarie sure left it’s mark on us.

Hmm too corny to leave it on that note, so stay tuned for Part 4 of our trip as we next head to Coffs Habour.

Also if you have just found our adventures via this post, I encourage you check out Part 2 of this trip covering our stay in the even better Nelson bay. Or you can start from the beginning of this trip and read about our purchase of the camper and our first leg to Sydney in Part 1.

The best place to follow Josh’s adventures with his family is on his Instagram site @josh.duthie. You can see this post and more Adventures of Duth by clicking the link below or following #adventuresofduth.

www.instagram.com/josh.duthie

Nelson Bay – Dolphins & Dunes

With our first night in the camper a success we reflected on how fantastic the Lane Cove River Tourist Park in Sydney is located being only a 20 min drive to the city, but still located in a quiet bush land setting. Also conveniently located near the major freeways for getting in and out of Sydney.

That morning the ladies slept in (Immy had a late night, way too excited to settle), so Fletch and I went for a walk around the park where we found some large black bush turkey tail feathers, so started our daily morning ritual of hunting for feathers. These bush turkeys were at all the caravan parks, the bin chickens of NSW muscling out the ibis that we commonly have in Victoria.

Successfully avoiding any peak hour traffic we hit the road at around 10am and were out of Sydney in no time. We only had the one stop at Ourimbah rest stop where I had the best hot chocolate of my life and saw a very large python in a palm tree. There was a little play ground there that the kids went crazy for after being trapped in the car. Before long though we were in Nelson Bay, with little fuss from the kids making for a pleasant drive.

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Python at Ourimbah Rest Stop

In Nelson Bay we stayed at the Middle Rock Holiday Resort who slotted us near the pool and kids play area, which was great. We were able to get the awning out for the first time and it was a challenge trying to set it up, I got a little frustrated, spat out a few four letter expletives until I finally relented and watched an instruction video. What is it with blokes and not reading the instructions!? Amanda very smartly had decided to leave me to battle with the awning and took the kids for a walk around the park. At the camp kitchen she was startled to see a two metre long goana just cruising through. Fletch sprinted back to get me and I admit this dude was massive!

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The goana

Now with the camper and awning all set up (it was so easy) we went into town to check out Nelson Bay. We found the marina and walked around, watched a yacht being launched from the dry dock to the delight of me (Amanda and the kids couldn’t have cared less). We booked a dolphin watching cruise and the kids played on a little beach and playground there. That night we settled in even more relaxed than the night before ready for a big day of exploring in Nelson Bay.

With only the dolphin cruise booked, we took our time in the morning and with the ladies sleeping in, because Immy still loves a late night wake up or two, Fletch and I decided to find the beach from the caravan park. The beach track was probably only 500 metres long and was through some nice bush land that eventually opened up to some large and expansive sand dunes. The beach itself was gorgeous! Seriously one of the most picturesque places I have visited. Fletch was pumped to finally be at a beach, the kid loves the water! We took it all in quickly and headed back to see if our ladies had risen, which they had.

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Fletch on One Mile Beach at dawn

In town we went straight to the Moonshadow TQC cruise boat, which had an all female crew, something you don’t often see and of course they were absolute legends.  Specifically one lady named Evie who was amazing with our kids. It took awhile to find the dolphins and we didn’t get overly close to them, after all we don’t have control over what direction they swim, but the cruise was nice and Evie spoke to us and the kids about the dolphins and the other wildlife in the area too. Part of the cruise was being able to go into the water in a drop down net so you can “swim” with the dolphins. Surprisingly Fletch and Immy were pretty keen to get in and of course we were the first and for a time the only ones on the boat who jumped in!

In the net cruising back to the docks

One thing we didn’t anticipate was that they drive back to the marina with the net still down and you in it. It was fine for the most part as they were going slow and we only had a couple of swells that bashed us. Fletch and Immy clung on tight as we tried to keep ourselves positioned high in the net making sure not to get too low and be swamped by the swell. I did have a moment of questioning “are we good or bad parents for doing this to our kids?” But it was only a fleeting thought as Amanda and I are all about putting ourselves and our kids out of our comfort zones. After all, no great tale starts with, ‘Staying on our couch’. It made for a really fun trip and the kids had an awesome story to tell, especially as the dolphins came in pretty close at one point.

With lunch and ice creams finished at the marina, some guy with a bucket of pellets came over and explained they were about to feed the fish off the jetty. We followed him the the water’s edge and the kids got to feed the swarm of fish and the seagulls who were fighting them for the food. We spent the remainder of the afternoon in and around the caravan park. First taking the ladies to the sand dunes and the beach (One Mile Beach) we found that morning. Unfortunately the beach was windy and choppy so we didn’t spend very long there, instead going back into the sand dunes, which were more sheltered. The kids ran a muck and we climbed one of the higher dunes opening up even better views of the beach and surrounding area. Nelson Bay is renowned for its sand dunes and we were both taken back by how large and expansive they were and these at One Mile Beach were not even the main attraction!

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The sand dunes of One Mile Beach with a rare photo of me (on top of the dune).

The rest of that day was spent in the pool and eating at the restaurant/bar making it feel more like a resort than a caravan park. Our first meal dining out was one of the very few times the kids properly sat and ate quietly leaving us to enjoy our dinner! I could have packed up then a happy man, but alas there was much more to see.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of our trip as we next head to Port MacQuarrie.

Also if you have just found our adventures via this post, I encourage you check out Part 1 of this trip as we set off on our first ever trip with the camper trailer.

 

The best place to follow Josh’s adventures with his family is on his Instagram site @josh.duthie. You can see this post and more Adventures of Duth by clicking the link below or following #adventuresofduth.

www.instagram.com/josh.duthie

Why do WE Adventure

My wife Amanda and I have always been the adventuring type, through our twenties exploring various parts of the world, trying to cram as much as we could into every year before we decided to start having kids. Not that we thought kids would put a stop to this, but prioritising places we thought we wouldn’t like to take young kids. In our minds’ the perfect trip is to go to new places and see and experience as much as we can, often pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone.

I’ve always categorised getaways into either holidays or travels. A holiday being a relaxing trip that is usually to a single destination where you can recharge the batteries by doing almost nothing (this includes even just staying at home). Then there is travelling where your trip takes you from place to place with the aim to take in as much new sights/sounds/tastes/etc in the time you have away. It is obvious to us that we are definitely the traveling type more than the holidaying type.

Growing up my family went on the quintessential yearly road trips more often than not to the same destination. In addition, my friends from school would often end up at these destinations too, which at the time was great, but in hindsight probably lead me into the travelling mind frame I have now. Don’t get me wrong though I loved those family holidays, we always did awesome stuff and I have great memories associated with those trips, but I have this obsession now with seeing as much of our world as possible rather than visiting the places more than once.

Most important now for us as parents is to expose our two kids to the world, starting with our own backyard taking them to all the cool places around Victoria and Australia. We recently bought a secondhand Jayco Flamingo Camper Trailer that will allow us to escape more regularly and to show the kids a more basic way of living, which is an awesome experience in itself not only for them but for us too!

In short adventuring is about making the most of your time off work, it is about learning new things from the place you go and the people you meet. It’s about educating ourselves and our kids about the real world, not just the one we create in our little bubble and getting back to nature and the basics to get perspective in our day to day life. It’s about bringing us closer as a family as together we experience all the amazing things this world has to offer. It’s about real life problem solving and working together to find a resolution to a unique issue that is completely outside of anything we would have to deal with in normal life. In all though it’s mostly about how happy and free we all feel when we are adventuring together, which is one of the greatest feelings in life!