With our fast-paced lifestyle, trying to juggle the demands of a young family, a business and everything in between, it has become so important for us to regularly take time out and reconnect as a family. We’re happy to leave adventurous holidays to the adventurers and take our little family to spots where we can switch off, slow down, breathe and choose serenity, whether it be for a few hours or a few days.
As part of the Kidspot Voices of 2015, I’ve been invited to share three of our favourite family-friendly things to do in our neck of the woods. So, without further ado, we’ll share our little secrets with you ~ here is the Love-family-approved list of our favourite holiday escapes in South East Queensland.
1. Have a picnic beside a rocky creek bed at Cedar Creek
After a busy working week, there’s nothing nicer than escaping along the road less travelled and enjoying some time out. Have a free day in the calendar? Leave the screens behind, pack up a picnic and your family and take a day trip to one of the remote rocky creek beds not far from Samford.
Point your car towards the beautiful Samford Village. Drop into Ironbark Superfoods for some deliciously healthy treats or maybe grab some parent-fuel in the form of takeaway coffees from The Flying Nun or the spunky Ya Ya Bar while the kids run off some energy at the playground, just off Main Street. If you have time, the Urban Dweller is a must-visit for beautiful gifts, homewares and inspiration, but Samford Village is a treasure trove of little shops to explore.
When you’re ready for your next destination, drive along Mount Samson Road and turn left onto Cedar Creek Road. Approximately four kilometres along on the left, you will discover Andy Williams Park and a world of serenity. While it might be a little chilly for swimming during Winter, the creek bed is a picturesque spot for climbing and exploring in, or perhaps just sit back, relax and observe the wildlife. You never know what you might find out when you chat to a kookaburra. Bring a change of clothes, just in case the weather lures you to have dip in the rockpools. Perhaps your children will even let you be still, soak in some sunshine and read the paper for a minute or three while they play ;)
2. Make sandcastles at Moffat Beach
Packing up a young family for a holiday stay can be rather arduous (read: totally painful), but when you arrive at the coast and take in a deep breath of sea air and sink your feet into the sand? Oh, so totally worth it.
In Queensland, we are lucky enough to have a pretty balmy climate so, although it’s a little chillier than usual, we can still hit the beach in Winter. One of our favourite beach spots is Moffat Beach at Caloundra, on the Sunshine coast of Queensland, about an hour north of Brisbane. Moffat is one of Queensland’s many magnificent beaches, and perhaps one of Caloundra’s quieter spots, so perfect for this crowd-avoiding family.
Complete with rock pools to discover at lower tides, Moffat is a great spot for kid-explorations and, when the waves get a little too ferocious for the little ones, there is a creek area a short walk away where they can wade in the calm water. Our big boys love to do a spot of fishing in the creek (one day we even hooked a crab!) and, in summer, they can ride their boogie boards down the creek with the tide. Without the big crowds, it feels like our own little slice of paradise.
When everyone has had enough of the sand, there are two playgrounds, barbecues and a big grassy areas just beside the beach. A strip of delightful cafes and little shops nearby will help keep mum and dad sustained (we love our daily coffees from Pocket Espresso, and Blackwater Trading Co. does a fabulous breakfast). If you need any grocery supplies, a convenience store and bakery are only a ten minute walk away.
Moffat Beach would certainly be perfect for a daytrip to the beach, as it’s not very far from Brisbane, but we generally stay at The Norfolks at Moffat Beach. The accommodation is great for our family, with access to a heated pool, enough room for all of us to co-exist comfortably, living area away from the bedrooms, elevator access to higher levels (handy for prams), kitchen for self-catering, beautiful views and close to all the main things a family with young children needs on holiday (did we mention coffee?). In fact, we often don’t use our car during our stay – which is our definition of a true holiday! For those who feel like more activity, there’s a nice walk with glorious views along the coastline around to Kings Beach.
While Ben and I aren’t convinced that holidaying with small children is ever very relaxing, our holidays at Moffat Beach do come close, which is why we keep going back year after year. It’s a great location for families with younger children, because the beach, playgrounds, big grassy patches and coffee for sleep-deprived parents are all available within walking distance, but there’s plenty to keep the older children busy too. And, if you’re looking for a few more activities, Caloundra has lots on offer within a short drive.
3. Feed farm animals and toast marshmallows at Maleny
We do love being able to hang out at the beach during Winter, but there’s nothing quite like rugging up and toasting marshmallows by a campfire in the chilly months. For the past few years, we have been visiting Solothurn Rural Resort each winter for a farmstay weekend. It’s in Reesville, which is very close to the township of Maleny, and just over an hour north of Brisbane.
A day on the farm officially begins at 7.30am with milking the cow and feeding animals on the farm with the farm’s delightful hosts Farmer Richard and Farmer Anna, often ably assisted by one of their children and accompanied by the farm dogs. All the visiting children are offered the opportunity to try milking the cow, then we walk around the farm to feed goats, pigs, chickens, sheep, ducks and even emus! Sometimes the chickens are kind enough to offer up eggs for the kids to take home to cook for breakfast (just don’t let your child carry it in their beanie like ours did, and end up with scrambled egg ala beanie!). At 10am, we all load onto the tractor for the daily 45-minute ride around the farm to feed the cows. On school holidays, they run an extra tractor ride so no one misses out.
For the remainder of the day, there is plenty to do to fill in time in the country air. For tennis fans (like Nicholas!), a tennis court, racquets and balls are available, or you can have a soccer match on a big grassy field. Charlie likes to hang out in the cubby house with million dollar views, but if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, there is a set of swings, a games room with billiards and table tennis, and even an indoor pool (but not in winter… brrrr). The children are welcome to run about and explore, and they can visit the animal enclosures at any time throughout the day, as long as they promise not to chase the chickens.
There is an amazing golden light that glows over the property in the afternoon, so we like to soak in some rays while sipping on a glass of wine and enjoying some cheese and crackers. The boys love helping Ben setup the campfire outside the cabin, as well as the fireplace inside the loungeroom to keep us toasty overnight.
The accommodation at Solothurn is basic, but clean and comfortable, and there is a simple kitchen and necessary utensils available in the self-contained cabins. We tend to either bring along some pre-frozen dinners, such as bolognaise, or make simple meals while we’re here. There is a barbecue available, but it’s a fair distance from the cabins we tend to stay in, especially in winter.
If you need marshmallow supplies or just want a change of scenery, the township of Maleny is only a ten-minute drive away from the farm. There is a plethora of beautiful little shops to explore along the main street, and places to sit for coffee or a meal. Pick up groceries at the well-stocked and friendly IGA, stop by Colin James and try their amazing gelato, or soak in that bookstore atmosphere at Rosetta Books. There is even a playground for the kids to enjoy and run off some energy.
We have loved watching Charlie and Sam, at 5 and 7 years old, be more independent during their stay at Solothurn this year, wandering off to explore and chat to the other kids staying at the farm. It has been slightly trickier with an ever-more-mobile, but fiercely independent Nicholas who needs significant supervision, but it’s always heart warming to see his leaps in development in new environments. This week has been a great opportunity to switch off the screens, reconnect as a family over board games and doing actual dishes together, and soak in some serenity. The views from the farm are simply breathtaking and there is a level of quiet (well, aside from the noisy kids) that just can’t be reached living in the city.
Going away with a young family always takes a mammoth effort. When considering the task of packing up a mountain of gear, preparing for every eventuality, managing kids and their different sleep patterns in a new location, and then tackling all the loads of washing on our return, we sometimes wonder whether it’s more effort than it’s worth. But the truth is that taking time away with our little family to breathe, reconnect and create childhood memories is so worth it. It’s worth it to watch the fun had between brothers, to see them face challenges and learn new things about themselves and each other. We don’t need to go far to achieve it, but it’s so important to schedule in those mini breaks, for the sake of our sanity and our family relationships.
What are your favourite spots to visit in your neck of the woods?