I love those holidays, I really do (even the sand, because you can wash it off in the ocean and who doesn't love to wash sand off themselves forty seven times in a two hour beach session?!), but they can be exhausting.
And then there are the holidays that, for whatever reason, just feel easier. The days amble along slowly, full of long book reading sessions, delicious food, easy choices and simple pleasures. Even with kids. They seem to just fall into line with your holiday rhythm and put their best barefoot forward.
Our spontaneous January jaunt to the Byron region was just such a holiday. Notice how I said 'region'? That's because we did something we've never done in fourteen years of visiting Byron and booked three days at a cottage in the Byron hinterland.
The lush green chequerboard of verdant farm lands, avenues of macadamia crops and pockets of rainforest that stretches west of Byron Bay has always appealed to me since we attended a wedding there several years ago. So I convinced my surfer husband to spend a few days soaking up some mountain air before heading back down to the briny blue and hairy armpits of Byron Bay.
We're so glad we did. We all fell in love with it. From the adorable cottage we rented, to the roadside stalls where we picked up a tub of macadamia honey for $2 and bunches of flowers for $1, to the sneaky secret local's swimming hole where we whiled away hot hinterland afternoons under shady gums, we felt like we could stay forever.
|Don't you just want to eat a scone piled with cream under this tree?|
|On our first afternoon, the clouds rolled in and it was magnificent!|
|One of the many avenues winding through the hinterland. I was hooked on the tree canopies overhead and the dappled sunlight . . .|
|Another avenue. More dappling . . .|
|Ah . . . a dappled avenue. Dappled, dappled, dappled!|
|Whoever invented the squatter's chair deserves a scone and a cuppa!|
|Because rustic French doors need fat patchwork chickens hanging from them . . .|
|Our swimming hole. I could tell you where it is, but the locals would kill me and throw me in it. Which wouldn't be pleasant for anyone.|
|A little apprehensive about the whole 'swimming in a river' thing . . .|
|. . . but soon got the hang of it!|
|Lunch at Harvest in Newrybar with our good mates, the divine Susie & Taffy. They were the ones whose wedding inspired me to explore the Byron hinterland. Did I say wedding? It was more like a fabulous three day love-fest and eating frenzy.|
|'Ladies who lunch' - there were adorable, irresistible photographic tableaux all over the cottage|
|My 95 year old grandma Elaine still uses one of these pretty weighted covers over her water glass. An underrated & sorely missed domestic apparatus!|
After leading a dappled mountain lifestyle for three days, we headed 25 minutes down the highway to Byron Bay for our beach fix, leaving behind the shady glades (dappled as they were) and quaint shopfronts of Bangalow.
We stayed at one of those good ol' fashioned resorts where the married couple owner/operators can be seen doing everything from greeting guests at reception to skimming leaves from the pool. It had two tennis courts, a few barbeques and even a games room with a table tennis table which took me right back to family holidays at the army barracks in freezing winter-time Queenscliff when I was a kid, my cousins and I inventing ever more complicated rules for long drawn out battles over the table tennis table.
We drank coffee and ate giant bacon and egg rolls at Top Shop, brought the tone down at fancy-schmancy Wategos with our anatomically correct sand men sculptures, sat in the long rippling shallows at The Pass, and dobbed on The Rudest Waitress In The World who refused to ask the barman to make me a Cosmopolitan, even though it said on the menu "Ask our barman to whip up your favourite cocktail"!
When Byron insisted on getting all tropical on us and raining one morning, we dropped into the local bead shop for some serious hippy time, making groovy bracelets man, and giving our skin a breather from all that zinc cream!
|Flying baby - her favourite game, when the muscly fellas in the family are up to it|
|So many beads, so little arm space!|
|Jack spent nearly 2 hours making the most elaborate bracelet. Which broke. Luckily we were still in the shop and the friendly staff at Bongo Beads helped us put it all back together again in no time.|
|Wategos - the classy Byron beach|
|Our anatomically correct sand man - and so the Barras bring a little less class to Wategos!|
Holiday hugs xo