Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Look Back At Our Summer 2017-2018

The days are getting shorter and the temperature is getting colder. It's that time of the year again. Winter is definitely just around the corner. 

Autumn had been a bit low-key this year. Most days it felt like it was just an extension of those cool summer days. Other days it actually felt as if it was still summer. That's how I felt anyway. I often felt warmer than my usual autumn feels but it might be because I was pregnant. 

Summer had been a good one. We were able to take the kids to a number of beach spots this time around. Soon as summer hit from the start of December 2017 up until school holidays ended we tried to go whenever there was chance. This was to compensate for last year's summer vacation. We rarely had the chance to take the kids somewhere because of my busy schedule. By the time I took them to Umina Beach in May, it was already too cold. And of course, we're not so sure if we'll get the chance to travel often again after the baby's arrival so I wanted the kids to have as much fun and happy memories now.

Shoal Bay

We went there during the second week of December for 2 nights, Wednesday and Thursday. Our stay at Ramada Hotel had been a superb experience and according to the girls, it was the best holiday house we ever went to. Shoal Bay is 3 hours travel from Western Sydney suburbs so it's not recommended for a day trip. 

As for the beach itself, can't say that this was the best. The water current was too strong. There was a noticeable big drop on the shoreline from where the waves hit and I just didn't feel confident leaving the girls unattended. And they couldn't even get past the shores.

The angry waves crashing on the shore

Demi drying out on the white sand :)

Newcastle Beach

After Shoal Bay, we headed to Newcastle Beach on Friday to stay there for another night. We'll be heading back home the next day so it would be good to cut back the travel time by 30 minutes or so as Newcastle is closer.

Last time we took a trip to Newcastle beach, we stayed at Jesmond Executive Villas but the hubby wanted to try a new place so we headed to Shortland Hotel next. The Family Room with private bath looked decent enough on the website so we decided to give it a go. 

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When we got there my heart sank. It was very gloomy and dirty and I thought there's no way I am gonna let the girls sleep there. It looked roomy on the photo but it was actually very cramped. So Jesmond Executive Villa again it is.

Newcastle beach is one of my favourites for the girls. The Ocean Bath is perfect for them as it is enclosed. It is very safe even if you just watch them from afar. They always go rockpooling there catching little hermit crabs and collecting shells.

The girls searching for hermit crabs and shells
Top view of rockpool: source
The adjacent open beach is also good but we didn't go there the last time we went. The afternoon wind was quite chilly so we just stayed in the Ocean Bath. The last couple or so years we went there, we had an enjoyable time. 

Photo was from previous year's trip. The water is still shallow even at a distance.
Clontarf Beach

On 25 December, we joined a group of friends and headed out to Contarf Beach for a day trip. It's close to the city, just an hour or so away from our place so travel was okay.

The beach was okay. The kids can play safely within the area enclosed by a net fence. There are no waves as it's not open shore. It also has a good camping site where adults can relax on a picnic mat while looking after the kids.

However, I do not find the water very clean. The swimming area is surrounded by boats and the place looks very commercialized. The beach is good only for a quick trip. 

Children enjoy making sand pits and chase each other around the fenced area.

Adults relax on the grass area within close watch of the children.
Palm Beach

Palm beach is a few minutes farther than Clontarf. We went there with the same friends on 1 January. It is the last beach on the peninsula so there's 2 sides of water that can be accessed.

On one side, it's enclosed by land so there are no waves. The water was murky though so we went to the other side instead.

The enclosed side which is good for camping but water's murky
The other side faces the open sea and looks more like a sandy beach compared to the first side, which was better for picnic or setting up tents. On the open side, it was very windy so it was impossible to set up tents but the water was very good for swimming. The waves were moderate and the shore not too deep. The kids had fun on this one. 

Beach access

The girls preparing for the next hit of waves

Chasing each other around

More running! :)
Bellambi Beach

On the 15th of January, we headed to Bellambi beach after work. The beach was recommended to us by a friend from church. Just like us, they have young children so they like child-friendly beaches.

Bellambi beach has a small lagoon where the children could safely swim around. This was what we were after when we went there. Initially, our friend was supposed to come with us but I left work a bit late so they couldn't make it anymore. It's a good 1 hour or so away we thought it would be perfect when we got there. However, it was one of those cool summer days so around 4 pm, it was too cold to swim already. There were a few surfers on the beach and a few people just walking on the shore. The seagulls had beaten us to the lagoon so the kids just played and ran around the shallow water that connects the lagoon to the beach. Dear and I also walked barefoot on the water. It was refreshing.

The small river leading to the lagoon. There was a lot of seagulls when we got there.
The kids looking for clams with Daddy's help
The dedicated Dad digs for the clams when the girls ask him for help (hehehe...)
There's actually a lot you can do in Bellambi. There's a rock pool near the carpark and a playground for kids. On a windy day like our trip, it was also good for selfies! (Hehehe) A couple of hours is more than enough to enjoy the place then it's time to go home.

The pool
Playground near the carpark - before going home
The picturesque background is good for taking photos
Taking advantage of the windy weather - selfies! :)
It's good for a day trip but a warmer weather would have made our trip better.

Caves Beach

Now this has become my favourite beach after we have found out about it. It was our friend from church who told us about it and we went with them on the 22nd of January after a short day from work. 

Travel is a bit far from West Sydney, almost 2 hours so it's adviseable to go there early in the morning. It's worth it though. There are picnic tables and public grills but they're located a good distance from the beach itself. As you can tell from it's name, there are several caves along its coastline. The girls went in with their friends accompanied by the adults but I stayed back because I was pregnant and I was afraid to slip or trip. 

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What I liked about Caves Beach was the water itself. The waves aren't very strong or even if they were, the shore is very shallow so the kids can safely enjoy as the waves splash them around. Even I enjoyed this bit just sitting on the sand and wait for the waves to crash :)

An hour or so after and we all finished the day with a picnic. The girls and their friends walked around the beach and Daisy found a clam (she was addicted to clams around this stage ever since she spotted one in Palm Beach). 

We headed home just before sunset and got home before it was dark. Too bad I forgot to take photos. For more photos of the beautiful place, check out this site.

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Indeed, it was a beach-packed summer and I am grateful to have taken the girls to these places. They were all nice places but making these memories with my family is what makes it all worthwhile. ❤❤❤

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