Home! Saturday, 4 October 2014

9,798.90 kilometres travelled (Gareth is annoyed we fell 200kms short of 10,000) – this equals 1/4 of the Earth’s circumference if you wanted a useless fact to go with that.
1,592.22 litres of petrol
5,857 photos and videos
24 set ups and pack ups of the caravan
2 replaced caravan tyres
5 replaced bike tyre tubes
10 incredible weeks

After a leisurely last breakfast we headed to Moe to pick up our beloved Coco! We were all nervous about how she would greet us, but she went crazy! Phew, she remembers us! A big, big, GINORMOUS thank you Kaz & Trev, particularly Kaz who loved and cuddled Coco for those 10 weeks. Knowing she was loved made being away from her so much easier.

We spent the afternoon in Moe catching up with Mum and doing lots of washing. Had to take advantage of this beautiful sunshine to dry the washing.

We arrived home just before 6pm. It is nice to be home with all it’s comforts (although, we’ll always take a bed in the caravan by the beach any day).

We have been asked so many times what was our favourite place or favourite thing, but we all find that so hard to answer. We have seen some breathtaking scenery, visited some beautiful places, had some amazing adventures, met lots fantastic people. It is without a doubt one of the greatest experiences of our lives to date. We have all laughed, loved and learnt so much about our country and each other. If you have the opportunity to do a trip like this with your children – DO IT! We live in such an amazing country, it needs to be seen and explored. And we have some great history and what a fun way to learn about it by actually experiencing where it all happened.

This blog was originally started as part of Hannah and Emily’s homework. It ended up becoming a great way to document and remember our holiday and something we can keep forever (well as long as the internet is around!) and something we all enjoyed contributing to. We received lots of comments from family and friends about how much they loved reading it and we have also somehow developed a big following on it from overseas! We like to get about in the caravan a bit, so we have decided to keep this blog going so we can write about our future trips – be it weekends away or wherever we venture to in the caravan. If you don’t want to continue to receive updates, please feel free to unsubscribe. Obviously, the updates won’t be everyday like they have been for the past 10 weeks.

Thank you to all who read it, commented on it and enjoyed it!

Over and out, for now –
The Mollards

A note from Amanda:
I always like to have the last say and I can’t finish the blogging of this trip without mentioning what a great husband I have. I’ve always known he was one of the best. These past 10 weeks he has worked tirelessly to ensure everything was perfect for us girls. The way he teaches, plays, laughs, consoles, encourages and loves our two girls is beyond words. Thanks G, for working so hard for us and loving us the way you do. xxx

Lakes Entrance, VIC. Friday, 3 October 2014

The whales and seals waved us goodbye from Potato Point this morning.  If you get a chance to holiday on the East or South Coast during whale migration season, do it! They are taking their calf back to Antarctica and teaching them how to play, breach etc.  So cool to watch.

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It was a decent drive today with a stop via Eden for lunch.

We have travelled all through Outback NSW and Queensland and saw only one snake.  Today, about 15 minutes before we hit Lakes Entrance we spotted a Red Belly Black snake sunning itself on the side of the road.  Eeek.

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We are staying in a cabin at Lakes, so no set up of the caravan (and believe it or not the cabin was cheaper than half the campsites we’ve paid for!!)  We have been for a walk along the waterfront and had dinner at the Sportsmans Club.

Everyone is piled into the big bed watching TV (no TV for 10 weeks and the girls are excited!)

Very cold in Victoria!  Already longing for the sun again.

Homeward bound tomorrow.

Ax

Potato Point, NSW. Thursday, 2 October 2014

A very relaxing day around camp today.  Gareth snorkelled off the beach whilst the girls and I enjoyed the wildlife that roams around the park and relaxed.

We cooked dinner in the camp’s woodfire pizza oven.  They supply the pizza oven, wood for the fire and the dough and you supply your own toppings.  Delicious pizzas!  We were supposed to lose weight on this trip, but we have enjoyed way too much good food.

Spotted whales off the beach as we were cooking our dinner.

Finished off the day with a roaring campfire. Loving this place.

Last pack up tomorrow as we start the journey back to Victoria.  We are excited to see Coco and our family and friends (particularly as we got news that two of our gorgeous friends got engaged!!)

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Potato Point, NSW. Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Arrived at Potato Point not knowing what to expect.  I had found this small coastal town months ago and tried to book in for Christmas, but it was booked out, so thought I’d try for our trip home.  WOW!  This place is beautiful.  We have scored a perfect beachfront site and practically have the place to ourselves (very surprising given it’s school holidays, although the lady said the place fills up for this weekend as it’s a long weekend in NSW).  It is the perfect last stop – although this place really makes me want to stay just a little bit longer.

After set up we did a quick drive into Narooma (about 20 minutes south of Potato Point) for supplies.  Then we lit a campfire and toasted marshmallows and sat around that until well into the night.

Lots of wallabies and kangaroos around, who are very friendly.  Even though these animals are considered a pest in some parts of the country, we just love them!  I want to take a joey home (along with a dolphin, whale and seal).  Pretty cool pet collection that would be.

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Shellharbour, NSW. Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Another cracking day at Shellharbour – a beautiful 32 degrees!  It started with a surf and swim at The Farm.  Followed by an afternoon of swimming at South Beach back at camp.  We spotted whales in close to camp.  In the evening we headed to Lake Illawarra Jetty with biccies and cheese for the sunset.  Finished off the day with dinner at Ocean Beach Hotel in Shellharbour Village.

Heading off tomorrow for our last set up for the holiday.  Shellharbour has been yet another amazing stop in an ever growing list of beautiful East Coast Australian towns.

Em surfing at ‘The Farm’

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Han swimming at South Beach

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Shellharbour, NSW. Saturday, 27 September, Sunday, 28 September & Monday, 29 September 2014

We’ve been a bit slack with the old blog the last few days.  A mixture of not doing too much other than relaxing and a case of couldn’t be bothered! 😉

On the Saturday we drove to Kiama (about 15 minutes from Shellharbour) to check out the caravan park that we are staying in after Christmas.  Very happy with it and we are very much looking forward to coming back up here.  We also had to check out the Kiama blowhole whilst in town.

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We then spent the afternoon at the caravan park.  The girls and Gareth attempted to surf at South Beach, but it was like a washing machine.  The girls then attempted to swim in the ocean pool, but it was too cold.  Gareth snorkelled off the rocks in front of the park.  He saw lots of fish and rays.  Apparently they catch sharks in there, so I’m not sure it’s the best snorkelling spot.

On Sunday morning, Gareth snorkelled again off the beach here and the girls finally got to hire a Go-Kart (they’ve been asking at every park we’ve been at).  Mid morning we went to a little market on the foreshore just up from the caravan park (bought a bedside table for Hannah that we now have to transport back to Melbourne!).

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It was a very windy afternoon, so we didn’t get up to much other than the girls watching a movie and Gareth and I watching people try to batten down their annexes and awnings in the wind.

Today (Monday), the girls did a private surf lesson at “The Farm” at Killalea State Park.  The Farm has been declared a ‘National Surfing Reserve’ and is very popular amongst locals and I can see why – what a stunning beach with perfect, clean waves!  The girls have been doing a great job with their surfing the past couple of weeks. We thought we’d give them a private lesson as they’ve learnt all they can with the group lessons (and it only cost a tiny bit extra!) and just needed a bit of one on one coaching to get them paddling onto their own waves and reading whether to surf left or right of the wave.  Their instructor was awesome and by the end they were riding the green of the waves and he even thought they were ready to try fibreglass boards.  Gareth had a great time out there whilst the girls were having lessons.  So much so, we will go back tomorrow.  I think I need to make it my goal to look ok in a wetsuit and take up surfing.  Seems I have a family who cannot get enough of it.  The girls and Gareth saw our first snake for the trip as they where walking to the surf van – a huge red belly black snake.  Hopefully the one and only we see.

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Hannah
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Emily

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After lunch and a crabbing session on the beach, one of the regulars who caravans at the park told us about a great snorkelling spot about 5 minutes away, so off we went to Bushranger Bay in Bass Point Reserve.  It’s a Marine Sanctuary and wow! it was stunning.

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Lots of little gems around Shellharbour.  We are so excited to be coming back to the area at Christmas to explore a bit more.

Apparently there were whales right outside this morning and we missed all the commotion.  The other park goers promised to yell “whale” if anymore came by so we could come running. And luckily enough we’ve had a few whale calls since we’ve been back from snorkelling.  None as close as this morning, but hopefully tomorrow we get lucky with them being in a bit closer.

Ok, for not much happening that turned into a long post!  That’s enough for now!

Cheers,

Amanda.

Shellharbour, NSW. Friday, 26 September 2014

Left the very beautiful and scenic Port Stephens for Shellharbour. Had a nice drive down through highways carved through big rock walls on each side.

We are right on the beach in a small, quiet park. Perfect for our last week of holidays before reality sets in for us all. 😩

Haven’t done much exploring yet as I’ve spent the afternoon nana napping (no sleep last night as it was too wet & windy!)

Apparently they get whales off the beach here, hopefully we get to see them whilst here. Weather forecast is looking great so I think there will be plenty of beach time and relaxation on the agenda for this stop.

South Beach

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Ocean Pool at the park

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One Mile Beach (Port Stephens), NSW. Thursday, 25 September 2014

Another fun day in beautiful Port Stephens.  We headed off to Anna Bay and hopped aboard a 4WD bus which took us over the sand dunes to some bigger sand dunes that we got to sandboard down.  The highest peak of the dunes was 65 metres.  And what fun it was!!  Despite the ‘Hill Attendant’s’ advice to keep your mouth shut so you don’t get a mouth full of sand, it was hard not to scream (me anyway) and giggle (me again) your way down the dunes.  We stayed for a couple of hours and gave our legs a good workout hiking up the dunes to come back down again.   Lots of fun and lots of sand in all kinds of places when we had finished.

Rain set in for the afternoon but that didn’t stop us exploring Port Stephens a bit more.  We headed up to Gan Gan lookout, which gives you a 360degree view over Port Stephens.  Despite the weather, it was amazing!

After this we headed to the marina where we once again boarded the Moonshadow boat for another dolphin cruise.  Yesterday’s cruise was jam packed, today’s cruise had a lovely 15 people on board – and we were lucky enough to spot dolphins this time!  They come right up to the boat and were even surfing along with the boat when it picked up speed.  I wish I could post videos to this blog because it was a pretty cool sight!  It was a great afternoon cruising through the waters of Port Stephens again.

On the way back to the Marina we spotted a baby dolphin (calf) playing in the Marine Sanctuary, so once we were back in the car we drove around there.  It was still there but had been joined for a couple of other dolphins.  Port Stephens is a dolphin haven!  What an incredible afternoon we’ve had admiring these mammals!

We finished the night off with a delicious Thai meal in Nelson Bay, have been craving this since leaving Melbourne!

Tomorrow we leave Port Stephens for our next adventure, but we will definitely be back here soon.

Over and out,

Amanda

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Hannah, Gareth & Em sandboarding

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Moonshadow Skipper Em
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Moonshadow Skipper Han

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One Mile Beach (Port Stephens), NSW. Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Today I got up early to watch the sunrise over One Mile Beach. It put on a pretty good show as you can see below. Then came phase two of Emily’s birthday celebrations with some parasailing at Nelson Bay. The weather was perfect and we had a ball. There were two other groups on the boat that went up before us but we got the best ride right over the top of the beach, so close that we were waving and talking to the beachgoers. Then the boat driver dumped us in the water right up to our chests because mum told him to. A quick lunch and then onto a boat called “Moonshadow” for a dolphin cruise. We didn’t find any dolphins but still had lots of fun riding in the water on the boom net and there was a twister water slide as well. We get to go again for free tomorrow afternoon because we didn’t see any dolphins. Back at camp before dinner we managed to come second in the parks trivia night and then spoilt ourselves again with a big feed of fresh king prawns and calamari. More adventures tomorrow to finish off Emily’s birthday week.

Gareth

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One Mile Beach Sunrise
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Parasailing over Nelsons Bay & Shoal Bay
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Boom net fun on the Moonshadow

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One Mile Beach (Port Stephens), NSW. Monday, 22 September & Tuesday, 23 September 2014

We had a very long drive from Coffs to Port Stephens due to way too many road works and a truck fire closing half of the highway.  We’ve hit road works ever since leaving Cairns.  Over them!  Could have stopped at many of the coastal towns along the way, all so beautiful.  Look forward to being able to explore Northern NSW more at some point in time.

Arrived mid arvo to beautiful Port Stephens.  We are staying in One Mile in a great park that backs onto One Mile Beach, which is a beautiful beach!  After a swim in the pool once we’d set up we went to the park’s entertainment centre for some bingo!  Han won a game, prize was a Coles Myer voucher, so she was pretty chuffed!

Tuesday (today), we went into Nelson Bay (main town in Port Stephens) to check out the marina and book a few activities that we want to do whilst we are here.  LOVE this place!  It is beautiful and there is so much to do.  It doesn’t seem overly busy either given it’s school holidays.  We only have a few days here so will definitely be back here for more holidays!

Afternoon was spent at the beach.  The girls are off to a movie night at the park tonight – whilst Gareth and I eat dinner, just the 2 of us! Haven’t done that in a while!

Cheers,

Amanda.

Marina at Nelsons Bay

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One Mile Beach

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Pool at the park

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