A Travellerspoint blog

Our stay at Sammie Star's on the Sunshine Coast!

Coolum Beach, Crocodile hunter, Aussie World and Noosa...

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Late on Saturday afternoon we arrived at Sammie's house at Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast. On the way we passed all the attractions on the Gold Coast, which Izaak woke up and saw at the last minute and started begging to go to one. However after we arrived a Coolum, we decided that Aussie world was a better option- about a third of the price and albeit a third of the rides, they were still very good quality and probably more age appropriate. Our favourites were 'Plunge' a log river ride (makes me think of Noojee- Hey Lisa :) ), Rock n Roll Rebel (similar to alpine express but in a dark disco room) and the Octopus. And we were pleasantly suprised by Mozzie Muster, an older, simple looking ride that spun the fastest! We were left a bit shaken by the Wild Mouse Rollercoaster- the oldest in operation on Australia, originally built in 1935 and carefully restored. You could only ride in single file and Izaak went first. I watched him from my carriage and he wasnt smiling, he looked pale and worried! I soon found out why. It was a very rough ride with EXTREMELY sharp corners at which Im suprised neither of us suffered whiplash or neck injury. Steer clear of this one if you ever visit! Overall it was a good day. Aussie world is located next to an Ettamogah Pub (not the original- an imitation) which was a beautiful old building. Dad again stayed outside while we were at Aussie world and seemed quite content to wander the shops and pub.

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He had his turn today when he took Izaak to Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo while I completed assignments for uni. They both seemed to really enjoy it. There was a wildlife safari bus to transport them around the zoo and I was shown a video of Izaak hand feeding an elephant! Apparently they also witnessed crocodiles tear apart a dead wild pig and Izaak was excited to see lots of snakes and lizards- his favourite! They also spotted Bindi and Bob who were filming a new documentary. large_P4240126.jpg large_P4240129.jpg DSCF1667.jpg DSCF1659.jpg
I wonder what its like for those kids growing up having been born into such a life!! WoW!
Sammie's and Jud have been excellent hosts and with her artistic flair and hippy nature they have the coolest house and garden. There is a banana and a mango tree in the backyard and lots of birdlife visit in the mornings. The house is a short walk to the shops and beachfront which I have made the most of today and last night. Izaak and I enjoyed the beach at sunset.
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We also were FINALLY able to find a church to go to on Sunday. Id been thinking of getting a tattoo with "Love Never Fails" on it while I was here(sshh dont tell Mum) and when I looked up local churches online this one in Noosa had those exact words on the front of their website. I took it as a sign and made for Noosa Sunday morning. It was a great church with a good message and amazing stories told by a local surfer who had just gone to Africa to support the locals. They also had a nice outdoor cafe with super cheap, healthy and tasty lunches and coffee. I got a hommus and salad wrap for $4! The peope were friendly and I made friends with an english lady called Jane, who had moved over 5 years ago to be near her daughter. They also had a 2nd hand bookshop. Excellent place, I was really happy, it was a sight for sore eyes, truly :)
Besides this we have just been enjoying the warm weather in Coolum. Oh yeah, on the first night we went shopping in Mount Coolum, it looked huge! Sammie then told us that it is the 2nd largest single rock in Australia (Ayers Rock being the first). Tomorrow we are going fishing and Ill be checking out the Eumundi Markets near Noosa. Of course we will pause to remember those who have given their lives for our country at 11am.....Lest we forget xx www.aussieworld.com.auwww.australiazoo.com.auwww.noosacoc.org.au

Posted by Sheena Coughlan 04:52 Archived in Australia Comments (4)

Beautiful Ballina-Byron, New South Wales

The stunning NSW north coast

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From Warialda we had a picturesque drive through the countryside to the coast. I was particularly drawn to Grafton, NSW, however we were on a mission to get to Ballina before dark to pitch the trailer tent. Ballina wasnt quite the beachside haven I'd expected but wasnt bad. It has an excellent chinese restaurant! However Im beginning to feel way over indulgent on this trip and am aiming to eat out and spend less and live a bit (well a lot) more simply and sustainably like we do at home. Everything adds up and although we have a bit of spare cash at the moment there are so many wiser things to invest in other than our stomach's and that is something Ive been strongly convicted of on this trip so far. Especially since I had a dream (nightmare!) that I had a literal food baby growing inside me the other night. My stomach was at full term size when I woke up!! That definately put me off all the over indulgence...
Anyway, back to Ballina....we didnt spend much time in Ballina itself. The day after we arrived we went to a castle themed wildlife and play park 'Macadamia Castle' which welcomed us out the front with a giant knight.
Inside the castle was a cafe and giftshop where we had breaky and bought some macadamia nuts. Izaak got to hand feed some birds, alpacas and lambs, including bottle feeding a lamb- they were so cute!! After we left the castle we checked out the infamous Byron Bay.
It was my favourite place so far. The beaches were stunning; wild crashing waves, sand beaches framed by lush rainforest and mountainous ground. We found marine life in the rock pools including a spotty crab, some little guppies and an angel fish!
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After this we went into town where I spent most of the day getting Centrelink stuff done while Dad and Izaak went to another beach. The shops in Byron were awesome and it was probably best that I didnt have a chance to do much shopping. I did, however, get to check out the natural food shop where I was excited to see my shampoo and conditioner which Id almost run out of just inside the door. By the time I got all my official stuff out of the way it was time to head back to Ballina. It had rained most of the time we were in Ballina but it was still nice and warm compared to further down. The next morning we quickly packed up and headed off for our next destination.....Queensland! :)

Posted by Sheena Coughlan 04:22 Archived in Australia Tagged beach family Comments (0)

Pit stop at "Rancho Relaxo", Warialda NSW

Mush's farm in northern NSW

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We have been at Dad's mate Mush's farm since Saturday night. It took us 7 hours to get here from Orange. The token name for the farm given by 'the boys' is "Rancho Relaxo" and like Orange, it lives up to it's name. It has been a peaceful and relaxing few days on the farm.
When we first arrived and said hello to our friendly host Russell, we walked out onto the big verandah of the early 1900's farmhouse and almost immediately spotted a green tree frog, which, it turns out, are not an uncommon site on the farm. It was a bit ironic as last year when we visited Andrew in Broome we were pleasantly suprised by the discovery of the same in his toilet on our first night there. Much to our horror, Pop stepped on the frog and totally squished him within moments of our spotting him. However, although slightly dazed and confused, the frog survived and became our friend for the next 40 mins or so.
On Sunday we relaxed on the verandah and soaked in the warmth of the sun, starkly in comparison to Orange.The farm is beautiful and comprises of 600ha of undulating land dotted with natural bushland. The air was still on Sunday, other than the sounds of birds and nature and the sky was a brilliant blue with billowing clouds. In the background silently lies an ancient volcano which has ensured that the local soils are rich and fertile. The farm hosts merino sheep and is also home to four kelpie's who do the rounding up. Izaak has been super excited to have an opportunity to ride the quad bike every day! The first time he got on it with Russell he started it himself, and did the driving. Every other time I have taken him out and although Ive tried, I still havent mastered all its functions and am a little too heavy handed when first accelerating, however Izaak is showing me how to use it and is already an expert rider. He accellerated smoothly when taking off and riding and remembers all the start up and shut down procedures (I still dont have a handle on them!). It could help that it is the same model his grandparents own which he often rode with his Dad a couple of years back.
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Besides enjoying time on the farm, we have checked out the local township of Warialda, which is extremely quiet but has nice features. The local bakery was our favourite place. We also took a trip yesterday out to a nearby fishing spot, Copeton Waters, which is much larger than our Bendigo spot, Lake Eppalock (it is huge). It was a beautiful spot with a cafe and kids waterpark, similar to that in Broome, when you first enter the parklands, along with a giant jumping pillow. The food and service was pretty poor but it served its purpose in feeding us. The park was literally packed with small kangaroos, which sat quietly grazing alongside families camping and fishing. Unfortunately we didnt catch a fish and failed an attempt at starting a fire ( in a fire pit of course!) but it was an enjoyable day and a beautiful place all the same.
The other thing we have begun while here is homeschooling. We started yesterday to coincide with the beginning of the Victorian school term. Izaak completes a bit of maths, spelling and phonics and then has been working on his scrapbook of the trip. Izaak has taken to it quite well and Im enjoying spending time helping him with his schoolwork.
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We were hoping to visit a nearby fun park that has been highly recommended called "Green Valley Farm", which we planned to visit today but the weather has been too wet. We head off tomorrow to our next stop on the trip, somewhere on NSW north coast. Hopefully the weather will permit us to visit Green Valley on the way........(later in week) We ended up staying an extra day and did visit Green Valley Farm, just out of Inverell. It was well worth the trip! It was like a step back in time to a 1950's amusement park. All the rides were handmade, solid in construction and manually operated. There were giant metal rocking horses, giant see-saws that were spring loaded, a manually operated roller coaster, a GIANT slide and what seemed to be a manually operated version of the round-up (90s carnival ride). It also had a great cafe and was home to a wildlife park and water park, although the weather didnt permit us to check them out. Amazing place though! We were also priveleged to be taken to see the famous 'Cranky Rock' by Pop. Not sure why the name, but it was a beautiful place. Looks like a good fishing spot for future reference too! We then stayed one last night and headed off to our next destination on the North Coast....

Posted by Sheena Coughlan 03:08 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Our trip to the colour city; Orange, NSW

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Orange was nothing like I expected but more than we could have dreamed or imagined. It's labelled 'the colour city' and certainly lives up to it's name. The purpose for coming here was to study at Charles Sturt Univestity where I am doing a distance course in ecological agriculture with residential schools once or twice a year. The uni itself is set on a 550 ha sheep and cattle farm with undulating hills, a well established vineyard boasting some of the top wines of the region and a colourful and charismatic bunch of people working and studying there. The campus restaurant 'Banjo's' has some of the most nutritious and flavoursome dishes Ive ever experienced in a school cafeteria! And at student prices!
Each day we were provided with two healthy, homemade options to choose from such as grilled fish with lemon and pepper, wedges with sour cream, spinach and potato pizza and all including beautiful side salads such as seeded mustard potato salad and a lentil garden salad. On Fridays there is all day brunch including spinach, mushrooms, bacon, scrambled egg with pesto and berry danishes. All this in a uni cafeteria for $10 including juice or soft drink :)
Dad and Izaak seemed to have fun while I was at uni too, enjoying the surrounding parks, playgrounds and waterways. Orange has top notch playground facilities including a hugh adventure playground. And when I say Orange is cool it certainly is...literally. Anyone would think I had researched the weather prior to coming but I just assumed it was warmer since we were moving north from Victoria. I was highly mistaken. The days ranged from 13 to 17 degrees which is similar to Victoria this time of year, however the first few nights ranged from minus one to zero degrees!!! This was quite a shock to the system, particularly since our accommodation was the camper trailer Dad purchased for the trip being canvas walls!! However the cool crispness added to the atmosphere and made the warmth of bed and homestyle dinners all the more enjoyable. It also forced both Izaak and I to have early nights as it was too cold to stay up, so we were well rested. Dad, however, stayed up later sitting in the ute with a quite beer and the radio for company.
The food in Orange was amazing!! The first night I wanted something more nutritious than takeaway so we settled in at Fare Dinkum Family Restaurant...it was definately a good choice. And reasonable priced. I got rosemary and pepper crumbed lamb cutlets on a rocket salad and Dad got a seafood crepe. Izaak ordered the usual kids nuggets and chips. The flavours made my taste buds happy.
On the last night in Orange we decided to try the Metropolitan Hotel's balcony restaurant. Another great choice! I had a crispy seared chicken breast with asparagus and garlic prawns on roasted root veggies. Dad had a beef n reef. This place didnt have typical kids meals but had a more nutritious version so Izaak got cumbed chicken tenderloins with chips and VEGGIES!! One of the few places Ive been to that serve veggies with the kids meals and for the low price of $10. As you can tell, Orange is the prime choice for eating out.

In addition to the food, the city landscape and architecture almost compared to the beauty of the surrounding farmland and hills. It reminded me of my hometown of Bendigo and nearby Ballarat with its colonial and victorian architecture but was very affluent and metropolitan in its cultural style. I would have loved to have had more time to explore the cityscape, however my time was taken up by uni, although this in itself was a highly enjoyable experience and is not at all regretted.

We concluded our trip on Saturday with a visit to the farmers market. Another colourful array of fruits, vegetables, plants, meat, pastries and homemade drinks and preserves. Instead of my regular coffee I tried a warmed apple juice with lemon, cinnamon and ginger. It was amazing!! I know Ive used that word a lot in this blog but it sums up the experience in Orange, especially the culinary side of it. I left the farmers market with some grass fed and saltbush grazed lamb, pistachio nuts, organic kale, garlic and thyme, free range eggs, choc hazlenut slice and elderflower cordial. And while we were there I enjoyed a hazelnut scroll and Izaak was wrapped to get a giant homemade pretzel for $1.50!! Dad got his usual coffee and egg n bacon roll but was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of bacon on it! But for $6 he got what he paid for :)

Overall Orange was a colourful, cool, crisp farm gate of culinary delights and aesthetically pleasing architecture which I look forward to exploring more when I am due to attend my next residential school later in the year.

Posted by Sheena Coughlan 21:01 Archived in Australia Tagged food agriculture family Comments (0)

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