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Travel Australia with Kids

Tuesday, 3rd May 2011

Parmiss Keyhani - Thursday, May 05, 2011

Our first foray back on the coast was to a caravan park in Forster - nowadays we only stay in caravan parks if we have a discount voucher, but it is nice to have access to unlimited water and power.  The caravan park was right on the banks of the Manning River and quite the watersports destination during the holidays - thankfully by the time we arrived it was all but empty! It rained the 2 days we were there (more excuses for watching DVDs!) but we managed to go into town a couple of times for essentials shopping, not to mention a nice  bit of retail therapy.  It's a lovely seaside town, not particularly touristy, but very friendly locals wherever we went.

Next stop was Taree where we had an appointment to visit the local Steiner school (a pre-requisite for any possible future living destination) - it's quite a small one, only up to Year 6 and composite classes for 2/3 and 4/5, but Kiavash and Tiran  went absolutely crazy to see "their school" (we kept telling them we were only looking!) and have a little play in the playgrounds.  The school left a lovely impression, the town itself...not so much. Nothing glaringly evil to pinpoint, just not a great feeling around it all.

We made a last minute decision to "check out" Crowdy Bay National Park's camping area - the road in was so pot-holed from the recent rains, that it took us the better part of 45 minutes to get to the campspot, so we decided to stay the night.  No sooner had we set up camp (in the pouring rain) than a ranger showed up and served us with an infringement notice for not paying before we had entered the camp area.  Michael explained that we had phoned first and had been told that it would be ok to pay the morning after (since the "pay office" was at a different camping area another 15 minutes away). The "infringement notice" was just their way of tracking all the campers to ensure everyone paid, but not a nice way to do if you ask me.  And on top of it all, it cost $25 a night! So Mike, determined to get the most for our dollar, decided we would stay as long as possible the following day! At least the rain had settled down to drizzle interspersed with breaks in the weather so we had a little walk around the park grounds and the beach.

Our next stop was beautiful Coopernook State Forest (a FREE camp spot) just outside of Taree.  Accessed by dirt roads from the nearby towns and surrounded by nothing but trees (and a few mosquitos!), it was a lovely and quiet refuge. And as there were a handful of other campers (which Michael had chatted to within 3 minutes of us arriving!) we felt quite safe unhitching and exploring the nearby areas.  We headed into the little town of Wingham and the conservation reserve of Wingham Brush which is home to some huge Moreton Bay Figs (which I call Fairy Tale trees as they remind me of the illustrations in the old books, with their huge exposed buttress roots) and a very large red-headed flying fox nursery. Walking along the boardwalk, you had to be careful at times not slip around on any bat poo!  And you could hear them screeching away long before you saw them and we saw hundreds (unfortunately I inexplicably lost most of the photos from this day!!!)

At an afternoon stop in Old Bar (very small seaside town 20 minutes from Taree), the boys befriended 2 sisters on an afternoon beach outing with their father.  Next thing we knew we had been invited to dinner by this lovely family and we found out when we arrived at their house that they had only moved from Castle Hill (really small world sometimes) to Old Bar a week ago!  Talk about hospitality!  The kids played outside in the backyard until dark and we had to literally drag them back home (the poor kids had to go to school the next day - not that Kia and Tiran remember what that was like!!).

The next day was spent looking around for some free camp areas around Laurieton, North Haven and Lake Cathie - no luck with lots of prominent "No Camping" sites around so we headed inland again to Ellenborough Falls (about 50km west of Port Macquarie). Windy roads are a bit of a pain for the driver, but magnificent viewing for the passenger.  Everything was so green!  The Ellenborough River was a short walk from our campsite and of course the boys had to try their luck (which has been non-existent lately).  The drive to see Ellenborough Falls was through more magical farmlands, with parts of the road cut into the side of the ever-climbing hills and pretty narrow.  At one point the road we were following (which the memory app on the iPhone assured us would end at our desired destination) resulted in a dead end, so we had to backtrack and follow the "main" road (slightly wider dirt track!).  Never mind - made it in the end and proceeded to climb down the 641 steps to the bottom of the falls.  The falls are a 200m drop and emit a huge spray at the bottom, so it was quite wet and slippery at the end - beautiful views though.  And with me dragging the chain, took us about 30 minutes to climb back up, where we were met by a couple of hungry and slightly aggressive brush turkeys.  The kids and I took refuge behind Michael as he shooed them away - what a true hero!


Kia and Tiran lakeside - Forster, NSW (28Apr11)View from caravan - Forster, NSW (28Apr11)Kia with his newest masterpiece, the bigger the better - Forster, NSW (28Apr11)Tiran collecting essential raw materials for his masterpiece - Forster, NSW (28Apr11)
It was cold and unheated, but hey it's a swimming pool after all! - Forster, NSW (28Apr11)Creek coming from the beach - Crowdy Bay National Park, NSW (30Apr11)Not the most inviting beach we've encountered so far! - Crowdy Bay National Park, NSW (30Apr11)Checking out the waterways for fishing opportunities - they are all obsessed! - Crowdy Bay National Park, NSW (30Apr11)
Resident mum and joey - Crowdy Bay National Park, NSW (30Apr11)Resident kookaburra - Crowdy Bay National Park, NSW (30Apr11)Not daunted by the weather! - Crowdy Bay National Park, NSW (30Apr11)Overflow channels among the rural properties - Coopernook, NSW (01May11)

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