19 December Wednesday
Wednesday morning at 5:15am, we left Woori Yallock for the longest consecutive number of nights in the motorhome since buying it in June 2011. We return mid January to a new year of work and taking happy clients to great destinations.
Wednesday, our journey takes us across to Seymour before the long trip up the freeway to Sydney. There is only the Holbrook bypass where the final works are being done to complete the divided highway from Melbourne to Sydney. We stop at Glenrowan for breakfast and then Gundagai for a rest before Yass where we fill up the vehicles and have lunch. Sharlee is driving her Peugeot 308 with us and has become accustomed to our ‘back-end’. Lyn takes over driving the motorhome from just north of Goulburn through to Camden. Without stopping in Sydney we arrive at the Hawkesbury River rest area for evening meal and find that ‘it is probably quieter’ at the Ourimbah Rest Area 20 kms up the highway. Luckily, there is a spot for us there as it is a popular sleeping area for many on the long haul up the Pacific Highway.
Thursday December 20
After breakfast, we drive on to Coolongolook and have morning tea with Darlene for a couple of hours. From here we are ‘on holiday’ and so start calling in to sea-side spots along the way. Let’s try Port Macquarie and we end up booking in to the seaside caravan park for the night.
Friday December 21
In the morning, it is our 40th wedding anniversary and so Lyn and I take off for an early morning walk and find a great restaurant for breakfast. The meal is one of the best ‘travelling’ breakfasts we have ever had.
We don’t need to arrive at Darlington Beach Carvan Park until near mid-day, so we take it late out of Port Macquarie for the 3 hour drive to Darlington Beach. Arriving at Darlington, we are greeted by our son Jay & Cassie and our four grand children, Caleb, Isaac, Elisha, and Naomi. They are helping their mum and dad set up their pop-top caravan for the next 10 days habitation. The sites are very large, lots of lawn and wild-life; kangaroos, goannas and plovers. We are a short walk to the beach and a 9 hole golf course. There is a lawn bowls ‘court’ (I don’t know what it is called – help), swimming pool with two water slides, games rooms, restaurant and shop. There are regular activities through the day for the kids and our air-conditioner is a valuable item to take an afternoon nanna nap.
I have been accused for bringing so many clothes – mainly because when I am at a holiday spot, I rarely wear clothes – just swimmers. And so ‘everyone’ is hearing about my full top cupboard. (See picture) Lyn is aware that it is hard to get a photo of the hanging space used in the wardrobe.
We have owned the motorhome for over 18 months and we are still finding things that it can do or should be done or it cant do, how things work and how we should treat it. Yesterday afternoon while taking a shower, Lyn said that there was lots of water leaking onto the ground from near the tow bar. ‘You better come see what I mean – when you’ve finished your shower’. When Lyn started her shower, yes, all this water was falling from near the tow bar and light fittings. I get under the van and have trouble working out where the end of this hose should attach to – no where. When Lyn came out after her shower, she asks if I have opened the tap for the drainage pipe – good thinking, sexy. Yes, lots of water came out when I opened the tap – now thats the first time we have ever had ‘over flow’ of the grey water tank. Oh boy, I hope I don’t do that to the ‘black’ water tank.
The hammock was in a great spot until we read the camp rules, “No clothes lines or hammocks to be tied to the trees without ‘tree-savers’. I went to the office to get some ‘tree savers’. They said, “You cannot tie a hammock to the trees. This is an ecology friendly park.” When I took the rules back to reception, they said they had never read that. “Oh!”, I said. “Perhaps we know more than reception.” So we bought some offcut rubber matting from Clarkes Rubber today and have some ‘padding’ between the rope and the tree. It will come in handy for many things later on – even to helping us if ever we get stuck in sand.
Saturday 22 December
We are treated to a visit from some friends we made on the Tour through Italy back in May. Kevin and Julie live in Grafton where Kevin drives the XPT for NSW Railways and Julie is the Head of one of the Aged Care Facilities. Julie trained at the ‘San’ Hospital where Jay trained (but not at the same time). Her trifle is a hit for lunch.
Tuesday 25 December
At 5:15am, I realise I haven’t completed the ‘Santa’ job by placing all the presents under the tree beside the van where the grandees are ‘sleeping’. I get the presents from the ‘hidden’ compartment in the motorhome and move them to under the tree. The grandees are awake but don’t hear my movements – no glass of milk for Santa, either.
Our tradition for opening Christmas presents is to have breakfast, wash and dry the dishes before anyone can lay their hands on their surprises for the day. The youngest, Naomi, starts the trend of selecting a present which is not hers, and giving it out. When Caleb received his package from us, he was completely speechless other than, “Do I have to?” He will be doing a 5 day Surf Groms Level one course in learning to ride a surf board and some rules of the ocean. He looked stunned, and said later “I had butterflies in my stomach”. Great to see as grandparents.
Christmas Day was a beautiful day here with clouds coming over late in the afternoon. At 11:00pm, a storm dropped 35mm of rain in the area. Sharlee got a little wet in the tent.
Wednesday 26 December
Boxing day was uneventful other than spending most of the time on my back watching the Boxing Day Cricket Test. Time spent in the pool is always fun with the kids too – they really enjoy Pa and Nan with them in the water. Little Naomi comes down the big slide with ease and, although she can’t swim a stroke, she is happy to be in deep water treading and dog paddling to shallow water. Isaac enjoys the water slide too and gets a kick out of the experience.
Thursday 27 December
December 27, Thursday is Caleb’s first day at ‘Surf Groms’, a program initiated by Surfing Australia to teach kids ways to enjoy the surf and to get them standing on a board. Instead of the school taking place at the campground we are at, we have had to travel the 5km into Woolgoolga where it is much less open and the surf is less boisterous. Caleb is all excited as he arrives to his great great adventure. After half an hour on the shore learning a few simple tips, the kids enter the surf with the 5 or 6 coaches. The surf is ‘tame’ but the kids are able to feel the way things are when you are on a board. Many of them stand up with ease. Caleb had a couple of runs all the way into the beach and says at the end of the course, “I am looking forward to tomorrow.” When he sees himself on the video Pa has taken, he is of course, a bit overtaken that it is he who is learning to surf; lucky lad.
Later in the afternoon, we all tried our hand at tennis. It is so long since my racket has come out of it’s pouch that the ‘leather’ handle is peeling off in hunks. Sharlee’s new racket bought back at 2012 Australian Open is better than mine – no question.
Friday 28 December
Just a quiet day. Nothing exciting. The little girls did an ‘art’ class run by the camp. They went and collected rocks from the beach, came back and painted them up in bright colours while Caleb did his day 2 at surfing.
In the evening, we booked a table at the Bingo night. Surprisingly, Lyn won a ‘5 across’ prize and the final ‘full house’, while Sharlee won a ‘full house’.
Saturday 29 December
Today is ‘moving day’. Jay and Cassie move to another camp ground in Woolgoolga after the Day 3 surfing lesson and we move the motorhome to another site here at Darlington Beach. We move to Woolgoolga tomorrow for one night. The kids get entertained riding the karts around for a while before leaving.
We take a long beach walk in the afternoon to get some more Vitamin D and build up the tan. Then it’s ‘lazz’ until we go to an Indian buffet tonight.
After leaving Darlington Beach, we stayed a night at Woolgoolga to see Caleb through his Surfgroms course. We hadn’t visited Valla Beach for 3 years so we spent 4 nights there and saw many of the ‘old’ faces that camped there with us when we used to go for 10 summer holidays straight and stay in a ‘tent. It used to take us 4-5 hour to both set-up and pull-down. Now? just 20 minutes – great life indeed.
Not knowing where we were going to stay along the way back to Melbourne, we had to take what we could. It was great to get to know the area of Forster/Tuncurry during the 5 nights we were able to get into there. We realised that we were camped next to a guy that we last saw in Honiara in 1973, and another family that we had worked with in Port Moresby in the early 80s – totally by coincidence.
Although we had a bush fire just 2km away from the camp at Forster Lakeside Campground, the weather was really good while we were there. Lyn started here ‘training’ there as she has nominated me as her trainer for the year. We did a 20km cycle ride down towards Pacific Palms one morning but were unable to get her to make it a daily routine. You never know, this idea may fall apart or, it may be just the thing. We both agreed that this is a great location to retire and put it on the ‘list’ to look at in 5 or so years.
From Forster, we drove down to Newcastle and met up with a friend Lyn had made on her trip to Egypt and Jordan back in 2010. She is a ‘home-based’ travel agent. Then we moved onto the Central Coast and found Shelly Beach south of The Entrance and just sat there for 4 hours watching the tennis and taking a walk along the beach. The weather was overcast and cool since the hot blast NSW had received the day before. That evening, we ‘free-camped’ at Ourimbah.
We had arranged to meet a past workmate at Wahroonga on Thursday, and so after some shopping at Tuggerah, we had lunch with Leon and Fay Olsen. It was also great to walk around Wahroonga pointing out buildings that were of significance to us. Sharlee was taking notice of the place she was born and lived, when in a cradle. Lyn said to her, “thats where we were married, but you weren’t around then.” Amazing!
When you are not far away from having to be home, the last days seem to drag and so after a night at Mossvale with Sharlee following behind in her car, we sped on down the highway and arrived home around 5pm on Friday night 11 January, 2012
What a great holiday we had, spending time with family and resting at different spots along the north coast of NSW, catching up with friends and sucking up the sunshine where we could. Our next trip in gr8l1f will happen in a couple of weekends time when we ‘get back to the beach’ probably down Geelong way.