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Road Trip!

Andrew Ettingshausen and his family take off on a spur-of-the-moment holiday along the NSW coast.

I hadn't done a decent road trip for 20 years, not because itís not a cool holiday option, but something always seemed to tie us down and a plane trip to an exotic location was an easy alternative. This year we planned to stay home and chill with the kids after a hectic 2011 for all members of the family. A call from a close friend got us thinking about a visit to northern NSW and as we had a few weeks clear we thought, why not? The plan was last minute and simple, jump on a flight to Coolangatta, bunk in with our friends and hit the beach for the week. As Monique was booking the flights I had a brainwave... Seeing we were planning to be up north why didnít I drive up and then we could take our time and do a road trip back home to Sydney.

Less than a day later the five girls were on a flight and I was heading up the highway for my 10-hour journey to join them. I received a call half-way up from Monique to say that she had found a property in Casaurina for rent, and so as not to burden our friends she booked the three-bedroom house, which was a block back from the main beach. Doing things on the hop for us is not the norm but we were not to fussed and decided just to go with the flow. It was great to have a few weeks off without having to be anywhere. No pressure certainly makes for a great holiday and our start to 2012 could not have been better.

Cool in Casaurina
We spent the next five days enjoying the company of friends in Casuarina and the surrounding suburbs of Cabarita Beach, Hastings Point and Pottsville. Casuarina was the perfect place for the kids to ride bikes, with flat ground and terrific boardwalks linking the precinct together. We all hired bikes and they were a great mode of transport to and from the beach. Cabarita Beach has to be one of my favorite spots along this stretch of coast, with the patrolled beach providing hours of family fun. Surfing the waves to the shore was a daily event and the warm water drew us in to cool off from the hot sun. Morning walks along the beach with Monique while the kids slept in were the perfect start to each day and every now and then I would make the extra effort to catch the sun as it sparked a new day.

Taking the big Toyota Landcruiser along for the trip was brilliant. I loaded an Engel 40ltr fridge freezer in the back which, kept drinks, fruit and lunches cold and fresh. Having the extra vehicle room I was able to bring along the beach umbrella, chairs, games as well as my fishing gear. Best of all the weather really turned it on for us.

I brought a pile of fishing gear up with me but in the end a 10-foot beach rod, plus spinning reel and a few chrome lures was all that I really needed. A nice hole close to the rocks at the end of Cabarita Beach had the chrome lures copping a hammering by some enthusiastic tailor. That was enough to give me my fishing kick for the first week.

The week went fast and everyone had a ball swimming, bike riding, barbecuing and, best of all, hitting the ice-cream shop.

Byron Bay Bliss
Rental properties were just about all booked out as we arrived in Byron Bay for the second state of our trip. But good fortune smiled on us as we headed through Byronís packed main street: a three-bedroom house came up on the Stayz accommodation website and an hour later we were moving several bags out of the car into our new abode. The house was in a great spot only a 10-minute walk to the beach and town and 10 bounds away from a popular cafť. We loved Byron Bay as there was plenty to see and do.

We arrived on Byronís biggest fair and market day, so we had a ball shopping, eating and listening to music for the afternoon before grabbing some pizzas to take home to our timber cottage. The week was a joy. We visited the quaint township of Bangalow, a short drive up into the hills. These country towns are terrific, with an assortment of shops and cafťs serving up delicious food and drinks. A few hours cruising about saw us back at Byron, hitting the beach at Wategos for an afternoon dip and a walk up to the famous lighthouse. What a view!

The early bird catches the worm and a 4.15am rise had Monique and I up and ready to tackle the skies with a sunrise hot-air balloon flight. It was spectacular and we greeted the day floating along the coast as the sun edged its way over the horizon. We were home before the kids were out of bed. The pilot of the balloon told us to check out a local spot called Ďwhite beachí. So after heading along a dirt road through the National Park some 20 minutes south of Byron we came to a cliff-top parking spot marking the beach below. Let me tell you the short trek was worth the effort as one of the most beautiful beaches emerged through the trees. A glorious day was spent swimming and catching some sun. Australia is truly the lucky country.

Holidays donít always have to be planned months in advance. As long as you have time and are keen to explore and experience new things then youíre on the right track.


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