Our Summer Holiday 2013 started at the beach at the Big 4 Holiday Park at Bonny Hills not far from Port Macquarie. We then headed to the Byron Bay hinterland to Gaia Retreat and Spa and then finished at Stanthorpe in country Queensland staying with friends.
The holiday starts with a warning. When packing, do not place the Stingose spray next to the vitamin B12 mouth spray. Whilst the Poisons Information line advised that a spray of Stingose into ones mouth was not going to require a hospital visit, aluminium sulphate does not taste particularly pleasant and also does not contain any vitamin B12, and B12 does not make the sting go. And so let our holiday commence…
Bonny Hills is a locality just south of Port Macquarie. It is a quiet coastal spot. Maybe it was so quiet because school holidays had not yet commenced in NSW which was just fine with us. The Big 4 Bonny Hills Holiday Park is set in a lovely bushy area right on the beach. Being so very close to the ocean, we were somewhat made wary by the incessant crashing waves and salty wind. We enjoyed some beach walking, pelican viewing and the mangroves by the river. A meal was enjoyed at the North Haven Bowling Club with the option of participating in a giant raffle event. Someone shouting out numbers while eating actually aids digestion. We were disappointed to discover that the local pizza place, with the big sign out the front proudly notifying everyone that they were open 7 DAYS A WEEK, actually excluded Mondays (note – never trust the big friendly painted sign taking most of the front wall and instead always check for the small A4 laminated sign before waiting out the front for the shop to open). So we had dinner at the Laurieton Golden Inn Chinese Restaurant instead. After two nights, our coastal exposure was complete.
Gaia Retreat and Spa
Gaia Retreat and Spa is co-owned by Olivia Newton-John and is located in the Byron Bay hinterland (she finally made it to Xanadu). Our 3 days of relaxation was just amazing. We participated in yoga at 7.30am every morning. George’s hamstrings were commented on by the yoga teacher, something along the lines of “oh my goodness, I have never seen such tight hamstrings”. The organic, plant-based whole-food meals were divine, including the chocolate jelly and poached cherry dessert. And I thought wobbly desserts were not my thing! Our massage, accompanied by a tropical storm, was refreshing. We enjoyed the pool, spa and sauna each day. Oh yes, we surrendered to the simple elegance and were blissed-out all the way. We did go to the gym just to ‘get physical’. My body did indeed talk but I think that was the result of too much plant-based foods (knowledge of Olivia Newton John pop songs required).
- Excellent local cafes (the Brinx Deli being especially good)
- A family-run apple orchard – Sutton’s Juice Factory, Cidery, Distillery and Shed Cafe (their apple and ginger juice was deliciously zingy)
- Local wineries including the Twisted Gum Winery (we marvelled at the smoothness of their Shiraz which we enjoyed with our Christmas lunch)
And on the ninth day we drove home along the grand New England Highway. A friend who had cycled over 1,000km mostly along the Bicentennial National Trail, met us in Stanthorpe to share the drive home. The men had meat pies in Deepwater and a decent coffee at Burnet’s Books in Uralla. We encountered a freak hail storm near Tamworth with hail the size of large marbles requiring us to pull over and wait out the deluge. After a brief rest stop at the First and Second Fleet Memorial Gardens in Wallabadah we made it home in just under 10 hours.
In summary, a well-balanced and enjoyable summer holiday! We hope you are enjoying your summer holiday too (if you are located in the sourthern hemisphere and actually have some time off work).
Here is a short film of our holiday.