TWEED HEADS, NSW

TWEED HEADS GETAWAY

Up bright and early we headed to the border and we said a fond farewell to Queensland. 
In waving goodbye to Queensland we also waved goodbye to an hour. New South Wales operates on daylight saving time. Even though there have been calls for Queensland to follow suit it seems a referendum has been greeted with opposition from the rural community.  Our destination was dog sitting at Tweed Heads for a few days.

Extending across the vast bowl of the Wollumbin Mt Warning Caldera, The Tweed Region is characterized by it’s of local communities.  Outside the main centres of Tweed Heads, Murwillumbah and Kingscliff, the quirky charm of the region is revealed in quiet country hamlets, historic river ports and seaside villages.

This is where you can pull up a barstool at a local pub and share a story or two with the locals; or chat with artists at a weekend market; or stroll around an orchard as the farmer plucks native finger limes and Buddha’s hands fruit straight from the tree for you to taste and find out what they are.


After settling in we headed for an afternoon scenic drive to Coolangatta.  Once you’ve hit Coolangatta and her neighbouring Greenmount Beach you’re at the end of Queensland’s Gold Coast as we know it. Duranbah and Tweed Heads sit around the corner, but technically that’s New South Wales. Technicalities aside, visitors flock to the border town of Coolangatta for its change of pace.

From here, you can look back towards the Surfers Paradise skyline in the distance and the entire coastline and feel, well, a little smug in the knowledge you’ve slowed down a bit. That’s not to say it’s boring. Sharing a boundary with Tweed Heads in New South Wales, you’re in the Twin Towns zone. For one, the surf here is spectacular, particularly off the northern corner of Coolangatta Beach, the headland around Greenmount, Snapper Rocks into the southern corner of Rainbow Bay and of course, the world-class surf break of Duranbah. D’Bah, as locals call her, is the one place you can be guaranteed of a swell when the rest of the coast is quiet.

 Meanwhile, the corner of Greenmount offers a protected spot for a swim.
A lovely walking trail wraps around Greenmount Hill connecting Greenmount Beach to Rainbow Bay from which you can head up the hill to the exotically named Point Danger and plant one foot in Queensland and another in New South Wales at this lookout which is also a great place for whale watching. Named after the schooner Coolangatta which was wrecked here in 1846, this suburb exudes an old-school beachside charm where you can still find a milkshake in a tin cup. It combines this with world-class oceanfront hotels, restaurants and clubs, the most popular of which is Twin Towns Services Club, home to local and international acts



Up bright and early for a scenic drive to Murwillumbah to catch up with a friend.  Identified as being in the top ten of the most desirable places to live in Australia, based on natural beauty, property values, welcoming locals and good infrastructure, the picturesque township of Murwillumbah is located in the centre of the stunning Tweed Valley on the far north coast of New South Wales. Quick “Hi” we were back on the road to Byron Bay Beachside Markets.

Held four times a year in early January, Easter, July and late September, the Beachside Markets are a make it, bake it, grow it market held on the Byron Bay foreshore east of the Surf Club. It was a perfect location to experience some of the most original products by one of the worlds’ most famous beaches.
The market showcases a diverse and exciting collection of high quality art, sculpture, ceramics, glass, home wares, fashion, craft, toys, clothing and music created by local artists and designers as well as an array of services offered by our health and well being practitioner

The focus and emphasis of the Beachside Market is on authenticity and fosters both originality and sustainability. Echoing worldwide popularity and the growing demand for direct-from-the-artist-to-you handmade, high quality product. This Artisan Market provides an unparalleled opportunity for local artists, creators and healers to showcase their talents.  With over 200 stalls stretching over half a kilometer of beachfront at Byron Bay Main beach, this market is the perfect location, right on the doorstep of one of the worlds’ most famous beaches and destinations to experience some of the best and most original products and services.



Kim had a blast while I took the dogs up the outside of the markets and onto the shops in the main street. 1 dress and 2 tops later we headed back to Tweed Heads.
The next day was bright and early again for dogs to have a swim and run. It’s a dog’s life at Palm Beach Spit (known also as Currumbin Spit)

everyone loves this place, it’s a dog owner’s paradise for exercising your dog, just follow the councils signage and you and your pooch are going to have a great time.
Much of the area is geared for them. Walk them, let them run or perhaps have a dip in the lagoon in the designated area. It’s an amazing place to observe the antics of dogs and their owners resting in the calm waters of the lagoon on a hot summer day.



That afternoon we headed to Kingscliff. Shopping, there are boutiques aplenty for Kim.  Up and down Marine Parade was a wonderful array of great shopping with everything from designer clothes through to swimwear through to kids’ clothes and surfwear.

A favourite, Heart of the Home, had a fantastic selection of homewares and clothes.  It is truly easy to while away some time browsing before being tempted by everything from homewares, candles and jewellery to some great fashion pieces.
Fantastic designer fashion pieces can be found at Anna & Ruth and everyone is talking about On Kliff’s reversible jeans.

These are just two of the many fashion stores on Marine Parade and it certainly wouldn’t be too hard to spend a few hours wandering up and down the strip and being tempted by the great fashions, homewares and everything in between on offer, while I got to wait outside with the dogs.

Early the next day we did a drive around Tugun to Coolangatta checking out the beaches and surfer on the breaks. Back to Tweed we started packing the car and heading back to Brissy.

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

MELBOURNE

WE HAVE BEEN TO MELBOURNE A NUMBER OF TIMES. THIS IS FROM OUR LAST TRIP.


Melbourne is a steaming melting pot of cultures from around the world.  The weather is unpredictable and can be downright horrid at times, but it’s still easy to see why we love Melbourne. After all, we rate Melbourne our second favorite city after our home town of Brisbane.  Melbourne is Australia’s second biggest city and the capital of its second most populous state, Victoria. Melbourne is a self-proclaimed capital of fashion, culture, sport and food. It hosts the Melbourne Cup horse race, the Formula One Grand Prix, the Australian Open Tennis Championship and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Melbourne bends over backwards to impress its visitors. A trip to Melbourne is not so much about seeing, as it is about tasting, trying, looking and listening.



We have been to Melbourne a few times and this time around we stayed at The Vibe, Carlton. The Vibe was a colourful, contemporary hotel which was a 3-minute walk from the Levers Street tram stop, 11 minutes’ walk from the Melbourne Zoo and 3 km from the food stalls of Queen Victoria Market. The hotel had an airy restaurant/bar and an outdoor pool.



The next day we woke late and chilled by the pool in the morning. Lunch time we headed to Melbourne Zoo to enjoy restaurant quality meal in unique wildlife inspired venue for Christmas Day Lunch. The special was a 3 hour premium beverage and 3 course lunch and a visit from Santa. We then toured the manicured gardens and worldwide habitats that are home to a wide variety of animals. Late back to hotel we ate light and explored the brochures on what to do next.




The next day was only going to be one thing, Boxing Day Shopping. It’s no secret that when we hit a new city, country or small town for that matter, Kim likes to check out the shops. It’s in her genetic makeup, I’m sure. 
There’s something way more relaxing about the browsing that takes place away from home. You’re not really shopping with a specific occasion or wardrobe addition in mind. You’re shopping for the fun of it.

We headed to Little Collins Street to check out shoes, then the boutiques on Flinders Lane, onto the arcades and little side alleyways, to the Bourke Street Mall which was the best place to shop as stores are aligned on each row of the street in the heart of Melbourne’s City, perfect for lunch at a Café in Causeway Inn On The Mall and the afternoon at Collins Street … the Paris end, of course. 





It was getting late and we were getting hungry so we headed to one of our favourite restaurants, the +39 Pizzeria.  We have been here quite a few times.  Every time the standards remained very high, and never fail to disappoint us.  It didn’t matter which night, they were always busy.  The staff there was all so friendly.  I even picked up how to speak a little Italian there, and ordered my pizzas in Italian.  The guy who served us had a great sense of humour, he pretended that he didn’t understand English, and made me order our food in Italian.  That was quite funny.  Kim loved the prosciutto.  It was served with fresh Mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, it was delicious!  She just can’t get enough of it. Belly’s full, we headed back to the hotel.





The next morning we headed on the tram and into the CBD again. Our first stop before it got too crowded was the Eureka Skydeck. While Sydney has its famous attractions like the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Melbourne is content with its atmosphere and cafe culture. But if there’s one attraction you’ll see in every guidebook, it’s Eureka Skydeck. This residential building is the 14th tallest in the world, at 975 feet (297.3 meters) and happens to have the best view of Melbourne. The Skydeck, located on the building’s 88th floor, has views of the surrounding area with telescopes telling you what you’re looking at. The Edge experience is an extra fee, but it allows you to go onto a glass platform that is clear on the bottom and just out above the city. Those with a fear of heights should maybe skip this one, but it makes you feel like you’re sitting, or standing, on a cloud above Melbourne. Eureka Skydeck makes for a great rainy day activity or a nice escape from the fast pace of Federation Square. 



We then rode the tram to Victoria Parade, where we get off at the Queen Victoria Market. We spend a couple of hours at the market and grabbed some coffee and a snack at one of the many eateries within the market. After a couple of hours at the market, we took the circle Tram via Docklands Drive and Harbour Esplanade back to Flinders Street Station. We crossed the road to Federation Square and headed straight to the Melbourne Visitor’s Centre (clearly signed) and book a couple of day trips. We then took a leisurely stroll back down Southbank along the Yarra River, and headed back to the hotel. 































The next day was a Puffing Billy steam train ride, lunch at a Yarra Valley Winery and an afternoon at a wildlife park. We took in the delights of riding iconic Puffing Billy steam train through the forest, a delicious spit roast lunch at Fergusson Winery and finally, spending time at Healesville Sanctuary, home to over 200 species of native animal.



Puffing Billy with Healesville Sanctuary was a wonderful full day tour to experience the lush rainforest of the Blue Dandenong Ranges as we rode on the original steam locomotive they affectionately call, Puffing Billy. Culinary joys today included our special Aussie style Bush Billy Tea for morning tea, a delicious spit roast lunch at a winery and sweet samples for dessert from Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery. Then we walked off the day’s treats at Healesville Sanctuary where we were taken on a guided tour of Australia’s native animals. A long and rewarding day.




Today was going to be a little quiet day. We began the day in the bustling centre. We took another visit to the bustle of Queen Victoria Market. We then checked out Southbank’s huge casino complex and string of riverside restaurants, bistros and bars. Moving on we visited the unique galleries and museums in the cultural hub of Federation Square. We hit the shops again in the historic Melbourne General Post Office, QV laneways and other alleys and wrought-iron arcades. Then back to the Hotel for an afternoon relax and swim.






The next day was a trip to Sovereign Hill. Sovereign Hill in Ballarat is one of the best outdoor museums you can experience. With a colourful history relating to the discovery of gold in the region back in the 1850’s, you too can capture the excitement. We traveled the stage coach route of the 1850’s along Western Highway to Ballarat, steeped in history with the discovery of gold. We toured through the gracious town with its exquisite gardens, noble statues and magnificent architecture. Then we passed by the Eureka Stockade, site of the 1854 miner’s rebellion. Spend the rest of your day at Sovereign Hill where Ballarat’s first 10 years after the discovery of gld in 1851 is re-created. 






We tried our luck at gold panning in Red Gully Creek and headed underground on the Red Hill mine tour, then visited the Gold Museum.

We had a late start to the day, followed by some chillin by the pool. Tonight was New Year’s Eve at the Valley. We got to ring in the New Year at Moonee Valley with fun, entertainment and horses. There was amusement rides for the kids, a live band and premium night racing. Plus, we got to see the 9.15pm and the midnight Melbourne City fireworks from a great vantage point at the Valley. We celebrated New Year’s Eve with a 4 Course Dinner and a fun night of celebrations and live entertainment in the exclusive Committee Room. Hands down, one to the best night we have ever had. We are looking into doing it again in the future.
Nice sleep in the next day, followed by some pool time then back on the plane back home to Brissy.


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LENNOX HEADS, NSW

 

LENNOX HEADS

 

Another trip down Northern NSW again to Lennox Heads. The weather was superb and we had good company exploring the Heads, Beach, Lake, Café’s, Byron and Markets
We stayed in a modern two storey cabin boasting an impressive covered entertaining deck. The property was positioned on the eastern slopes of Figtree Hill.
Despite its many attributes, Lennox Head is often overlooked, as it’s located roughly 20 minutes south of iconic Byron Bay and 10 minutes north of the much larger town of Ballina. I’m sure that’s just how the locals like it too, particularly as it’s also home to interesting history, pristine beaches, fluffy meadows, tea tree lakes and a town packed with good cafes and shops.
Situated at the northern end of town is Lake Ainsworth, a tea tree-stained dunal lake that’s named after early settler and sugar cane grower James Ainsworth. It’s a superb spot for a swim or, a canoe and it’s great for kids as it’s virtually always calm. The lake is considered by many to have healing properties. It’s also a favourite with stand-up paddle boarders and there’s picnic and BBQ facilities near the shore.
At the southern end of Seven Mile Beach, out the front of Rayner Lane, lies the remains of an old tea tree fence. This was built sometime in the early to mid 1900s by Fred Hutley to stop the sea spilling into the lake during tempestuous weather
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Saturday morning we found WilliamsBurg perched quite aptly on the corner of William St and another street that I can’t remember the name of (but if you’re super curious it is the one that runs along the beach front) of Lennox Head. We made our way inside, sat down, looked at menus and ordered some breakfast. After visiting WilliamsBurg for the first time we declare on other social media that there was not one single thing about our experience that I did not love. The bacon and egg burger were to die for.
We dropped into the Lennox bakery and ordered and couple of rolls for lunch, drove to the caravan park and picked up permits and beach passes and headed to Seven Mile Beach for a day of fishing, swimming and relaxing. The dogs had a blast, the fish weren’t biting and later in the afternoon the wind picked up so we headed back.
That night we headed to Lennox Head’s original pizza and pasta restaurant for dinner. Wings, garlic bread, pasta and pizza were on the cards. All fabulous and was a great night out.
The Sunday we headed into Byron Bay’s Community Market, which is held at the Butler Street reserve. It is one of the best in the region. Covering several acres, the market offers a vast array of handcrafted wares, locally-grown produce, and artworks of every kind. It’s best to get there early and allow a few hours to take in all the stalls, indulge in some fresh food and culture. We left the girls explore and the guys with the dogs headed into town to find the best coffee in Byron. An espresso bar, Barefoot Brew Room was tucked away down a small laneway in central Byron Bay. Coffee found, time to pick the girls up and make way for breakfast. We dropped into Twisted Sista. I won’t go into it because it’s not worth rating at all. Too expensive, crap food, crap service. We then headed and made and afternoon looking and the hang gliders at Pat Morton lookout.

 

Monday morning we dropped into Lime Café, Lennox Head.  This innocuous little cafe was a real gem. Service was friendly and attentive. Breakfast was amazing (serves were actually too big) but perfect poached eggs.  We then took the scenic drive past Potsville, Kingscliffe and back home. 

 

BALLINA, NSW

BALLINA


We had decided to go to the Childer’s Festival, but a last minute change of plans, we decided to head to Ballina for four days.

Ballina is a bustling holiday town and home of the Big Prawn, one of Australia’s iconic big things. Situated at the mouth of the beautiful Richmond River, Ballina is also blessed with gorgeous beaches and great surf.

The streets of downtown Ballina are lined with stylish cafes and restaurants, classic country pubs and modern clubs that offer first class dining and entertainment. There are pools, parks and entertainment centres offering loads of fun for the kids, and you can visit museums, galleries, expos and festivals bursting with the vibrant works of local craftspeople. There are antique and curio shops and, for the dedicated shopaholic, a mind-boggling choice of boutiques and designer stores.

The coastline is a beach lover’s dream with sheltered coves, vast ocean beaches and some of the world’s finest surf breaks. The beach fishing is legendary and if you wet a line from the North or South Wall, you’ll be in for a reel treat!!

With a quick couple of hours on the highway we took a detour and dropped into The Macadamia Castle, which has been the area’s most popular activity destination for over 40 years. We then headed back on the highway and over the South Ballina barge to Ballina Beach Village. 



The Ballina Beach Village, Dolphin Bay at South Ballina is a relaxing eco destination and was dog friendly. We were able to take our dog Shari into a cabin.


We unpacked the car and decided to let Shari have a good run at the nearby dog beach. Patchs Beach is located 15 minutes south of Ballina and 5 minutes from the local township of Wardell.  The area is a popular seaside getaway and is famous for its ocean and river fishing with full 4WD access. Shari loved it and enjoyed the open space and meeting a couple of doggy friends on the way. We headed back after a couple of hours and played with Shari in the park, then cooked up and Barbie dinner.

The next day we were up bright and early with a drive to Ballina’s Big Prawn, which is one of Australia’s iconic big things.

Built in 1989, the Big Prawn has undergone a makeover and was reopened in July 2013. It now has a tail, and is situated adjacent to Bunnings Warehouse on River Street.


We then took a drive up to Lighthouse Hill and spotted some whales and dolphins swimming by. After a couple of photos of the lighthouse we headed back to the Spit at the dog friendly section. We saw many dogs running around and playing in the water, Shari was over excited on joining them. We let her loose and she bolted to see each dog as many times as she could. We spend a good couple of hours letting her run, because she wouldn’t come back to us anyway. Finally she tired enough to catch her and put the lead back on and we headed back to the car and into the centre of town so Kim could look at some shops. 



The main street is small enough and with a couple of boutiques to interest Kim into buying a couple of things. We then headed to the side by side main Shopping Centres, but no interest in them what so ever.  Back to the caravan park late afternoon, Kim played with Shari and I took a drive to the south wall. Great fishing spots with plenty of people lined up catching Bream, Whiting.

The next day we headed first to Lighthouse Lookout to spot more whales before heading to Boulder Beach. Boulder Beach can be found on The Coast Road, between Ballina and Byron Bay. There is a gorgeous headland where you can sit at sunset and watch the guys catching some waves in the water below. It is an unusual beach as the foreshore is covered in black, smooth boulders, which is an interesting element to add to your photos. At low tide you can explore the rock pools below the headland which also is a great spot for interesting foreground elements in photos. Generally this is a great spot for sunrise but it can be really beautiful at sunset too. 

We then headed to the top of Lennox Point, Pat Morton Lookout, which had extensive views especially to the North stretching up Seven Mile Beach.  We did a bit of whale watching and dolphin spotting. It is the best vantage point for watching the surfers at its famous right hand break. Many of photos we headed down into Lennox Heads. 

We bypassed the town and kept going onto Byron Bay. Byron is one of our favourite spots and we try to get there at least twice a year.  It is really a fabulous holiday destination for everyone. There is something to cater for everyone’s tastes. Although I have to admit when we go it is all about the beach, the pub and the organic donuts!  This is broken up with bouts of shopping for Kim. 


There is nothing better than shopping on holidays for Kim. New shops to explore and you usually have the time to browse at a leisurely pace, while Shari get pats waiting patiently outside. Shopping in Byron Bay doesn’t disappointfrom the array of unique shops and boutiques along Jonson, Lawson and Fletcher Streets, to the Arts and Industry Estate. 


After a few hours we headed back to the car and made our way back to Lennox Heads. Lennox Head is a quiet seaside village situated at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach between Ballina and Byron Bay. It’s named after the headland that stands sentinel at its southern gateway.

Lennox Head has a great coastal village atmosphere, with a main street full of boutiques, cafes, restaurants. We dropped into the markets first then back to the main streets for a look at the boutiques. The surfers know Lennox Head for its internationally famous right hand point break, and the hang-gliders love the place for the sensational views when they take off from Pat Morton Lookout. From the main street we spotted the hang-gliders and headed to the lookout.

Late afternoon we headed back and packed up, then next day we headed back to Brisbane. Was a fantastic weekend to get away from the traffic and noise. The soft sound of the waves breaking in the distance made the best nights sleep in ages. Looking forward heading back in a couple of months.


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