Taking a holiday with young children can be a bit like putting flat-pack furniture together… At first it feels a little overwhelming just where to start, then everyone has an opinion on what to do next and during the process, there are plenty of times when you could quite easily throw in the towel. But in the end, just like a newly assembled computer desk, with a little care and give and take, a family holiday always seems to come together, creating moments that are irreplaceable. Sharing new experiences with your gang, binds you together – the laughs, the adventures, the memories.
And let’s face it, for most children, a beach is all they need to feel as if they’ve hit the holiday jackpot. Sand digging, shell collecting, wave jumping, rock climbing, wildlife spotting…there’s hours of entertainment right there. So lucky for us, The Great Lakes delivers some of the most beautiful beaches in NSW and on day two of our travels, despite waking to pouring rain, we set out to find some of them.
Heading South, through Forster, I can’t help but notice an evolution going on in Forster’s main drag, Wharf Street. Hip cafes (Tartt and All Things Yum just two that are bursting with hungry customers) are mixed in with modern homeware stores, specialty children’s shops and fashion retailers. This isn’t the surf-shop lined street I remember from my childhood. But with restless kids wanting to “go on an adventure!”, my shopping habit will have to wait, as we follow The Lakesway to Tiona for a visit to the very special Green Cathedral.
The weather is keeping us on our toes but as anyone with children knows, staying indoors on holidays for long stretches of time can only result in tears (theirs and yours) so wind jackets on and we follow the winding path, through the enormous palm trees to an outdoor amphitheatre, a church amongst nature if you will. The Green Cathedral was built back in 1922, for public worship and private devotion by the Recognized Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. Today, it’s a popular wedding spot. The kids are a little scared of the wild winds whipping through the palms but I feel humbled by the roar of nature in this sacred space. I can only imagine how spectacular a bride would look, walking down the leafy aisle on a sunny day.
Onwards we go, with Jenz @ Bluey’s Beach our next stop, to warm our bellies with hot choccies and coffee and indulge my husband’s sweet tooth with a moorish cake from her sweets fridge. Jenny and her husband live above their delightfully eclectic cafe and gift shop, which boasts wares from over 50 countries for sale. The kids are equally impressed, with Jenny winning them over with more marshmallows then their little eyes can believe and a complimentary Loom Band bracelet, which she explains she gives to each visiting child, and are made by local entrepreneurial children whom sell their handmade creations to her. Bless!
With a babe who needs sleep, Seal Rocks is in our sights and as soon as we drive down that newly sealed road, I can feel a collective “sigh” exhale from our jam-packed car. This looks just the place to rest, play and do a bit of nothing. Well, as much nothing as can be expected from a busy seven-month-old eager to be on the move, a three-year-old obsessed with “collecting fairy treasures on the beach and in the bush” and a four and a half-year-old who can’t believe his luck, missing a day of preschool to watch the surfers and dolphins ride the gentle waves of our local surf break. Yes, Seal Rocks sounds like the perfect destination for us.
Indeed, The Great Lakes has already provided us with a collection of special memories and precious family snaps. And the best bit? Unlike a piece of Ikea furniture, there was no Alan-key in sight!
; ) Odette