This was the holiday that wasn’t supposed to happen. 2020 has been the year of cancelled plans. We assumed this holiday would be cast aside just like so many other things this year but as luck would have it the timing worked out perfectly and we set off on our road trip a couple of weeks ago. This was our first major road trip as a family. We’ve been on plenty in our own beautiful state but have never ventured across any state borders except in an aeroplane. It was so much fun. We made just as many memories driving as we did when we were on the ‘holiday’ part. As usual when we go away I like to write a little blog post about our adventures so I can remember it! Then I can relive the trip whenever I need an escape. So here we go… Eva and Tissy’s Road Trip 2020!
Full disclosure… we had a nearly three hour head start because we spent the weekend before our trip in North East Victoria so we were able to make it a little further than we ordinarily would have on day one. Anyway a good first stop if you were leaving from Melbourne would be Wangaratta but we made it to Holbrook which could work for a second stop too.
Then it was on to Goulburn for an overnight stop in a motel. Goulburn is a big town with plenty of places to restock supplies and lots to see if you had a little more time (like the Wombeyan Caves) but we really just used it as a place to sleep, although it wouldn’t be a trip to Goulburn without a visit to the giant Merino.
We set off early from Goulburn to Gosford. You can skim the very outer edge of Sydney and go through their fancy new Northconnex tunnel so you don’t get too much Sydney traffic. If we’d had an extra couple of days it would have been fun to stay in Sydney but we had just been there last year so it was still nice and fresh in our memories (see my Sydney blog… We caught the train that time!). We stopped for lunch by the Gosford Waterfront where there is a lovely little kids playground right by the water. I totally forgot to take any photos (except the one below) but it was a stunning place to have a picnic and rest.
Then it was only a couple more hours of driving to our final destination! We were staying exactly between Shoal Bay and Nelson Bay at a place called Little Beach. I think it’s technically Nelson Bay. Its certainly not an overly glamorous town like some other holiday spots but that suited us and the kind of holiday we were after. We didn’t really need trendy cafes, shops and restaurants…we were there for the sun and the water and those certainly didn’t disappoint (although there were a couple of super cute shops in Nelson Bay and the amazing Shoal Bay Country Club in Shoal Bay for cocktails and dinner).
Seven Days at Little Beach:
As soon as we unpacked the car we walked down the track behind our apartment complex and were greeted with the most breathtakingly beautiful beach. I couldn’t believe my eyes and luck that we had this paradise practically on our doorstep for the next week. It was actually the ‘other end’ of the Shoal Bay beach away from the town centre so was always lovely and quiet. Often we had it to ourselves. We then walked across the road and down the track at the front of our apartment and were greeted with yet another beach… this time Little Beach, a perfect paddling beach for kids! Two different beaches right on our doorstep!!
Aside from spending nearly every waking minute either in the awesome pool at our accommodation or at the beach we managed to squeeze in a few other activities which I’ll list below…
Stockton Sand Dunes at Anna Bay…
These are the largest moving coastal dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. They were seriously spectacular. The kids had an absolute ball sprinting up and down and climbing to the top of one of the huge ones. We came twice to the dunes. Once to have an explore and then another morning to ride the camels.
A visit to Newcastle
I’ve wanted to visit Newcastle for years and given we were only an hour away and the weather was a little overcast one day we decided to head down for the afternoon. We stopped for lunch at the Beach Hotel across the road from the Newcastle Ocean Baths. Right near the baths is an underpass that the council have had artists paint an amazing aquarium inside. The kids loved it. I loved all of the gorgeous houses and buildings! Some great street art around too.
Nelson Bay Marina!
We had a few icecreams here during our stay! You could walk around the coast on a shared road between Little Beach and Nelson Bay. The council have separated the cars from the pedestrians and bikes so it was a nice, safe walk through quite a bushy beach landscape listening to cockatoos, rainbow lorikeets and noisy kookaburras.
Shoal Bay Township…
This is where you’ll find the Shoal Bay Country Club with an amazing deck looking out across Shoal Bay and gorgeous beachy cool interior to match. If you go right to the end of the main street you’ll find the start of the Mt Tomaree National Park walk. Unfortunately we didn’t do it this time as we thought it might be a bit too steep for Mimi our three year old but it looks like an incredible walk and view from the top. Next time!
Other things we did that I didn’t take pictures of were visit Fingal Bay Beach (yet another beautiful beach a short drive away) and go to the Sunday market in Nelson Bay which to my surprise was a proper craft, homemade food and second hand market. My kind of heaven! Then it was time to head home. We purposely chose to stop at different spots on the way home to maximise the amount of towns we could see on this trip.
Day Nine – first half of the drive home!
We took the slightly longer route via the central coast (only a 30 minute detour) because I was keen to see a few central coast towns like Long Jetty and Terrigal. Terrigal was the perfect first stop to stretch our legs. There is a massive grassy hill that leads to an impressive lookout which really got our blood pumping again and it was so nice to be up so high looking out over the water and breathe in some fresh ocean air.
We then set off for Bowral, our next stop. What a beautiful and historic area. I was so taken aback by the gorgeous neighbouring towns of Mittagong and Berrima too. Berrima would be an equally cute place to stop.
After Bowral we continued straight through to our overnight rest stop, a highway motel in Gundagai. What a cute little historic town Gundagai is. We had a look down the main street and went to the historic railway station too. You can’t go through Gundagai without visiting the famous Dog on a Tuckerbox statue either. Although my kids were more impressed with a giant Koala right next to the Dog on a Tuckerbox.
Day Ten… nearly home!
Our first stop after leaving Gundagai was the Wangaratta Splash Park (aside from a brief detour off the highway in Albury because I wanted to have a peek at the new Astor Hotel which is not quite complete but I’m definitely going back to stay when it’s done!). The splash park was the perfect place to have a picnic lunch and let the kids run around and get wet before the final three hours home.
Then it was time for the last leg home. We clocked just under three thousand kilometres in ten days. I’m so proud of how well the kids handled all of the driving. It was so worth it. Not just for the week in paradise but all the memories we made along the way. Hooray for road trips and here’s to many more!