Sometimes, you need to leave a place to realise just how special it is; and it’s not that I didn’t always love Crescent Head, but when you live in an area like the Mid North Coast of NSW, you tend to take it for granted.
So, while we’ve been home doing the caravan renovation, Crescent Head has become a little haven for us. Somewhere we can escape for some family time, get some relief from the heat, and take in the awesome coastal views and kick back enjoying the outlook while the kids enjoy the creek.
Things to do in Crescent Head.
If you’d like to enjoy a beer or wine with a great view, there’s the tavern or the golf club, there’s great rock pools. If you’re looking for a camp ground, then there’s the super convenient caravan park right on the beach, or you’ve got Racecourse camp ground, Delicate Nobby or Point Plomer camp grounds that are all great too, with differing facilities.
It’s worth heading to Big Hill to do the rainforest walking track. Spend a couple of hours and enjoy the beautiful views from the headland. To get there head along Point Plomer road until you get to Big Hill, which should be about 15 kms, and the walk leaves near the picnic area.
We had lots of fun watching the Santa Surf on Christmas Eve, and if you’re ever in the area over the Christmas period then it’s definitely a must-see! Great atmosphere and lots of fun. I think we might even let the kids participate if we’re back again for Christmas.
You can spend your time fishing, surfing, swimming and just relaxing. There’s always a great friendly atmosphere in town, and don’t forget to follow the road up through the houses to the water tower where you can look out.
Facilities Near Crescent Head.
You’ll find everything you need in town, there’s a small supermarket and all supplies you will need for camping or a day trip. Kempsey is close by with major supermarkets and Big W and Port Macquarie is about a half hour drive south with major shopping complexes, movie theatres and more beaches.
Really, if you’re after some time out, in a beautiful, peaceful part of the coast, where there are secluded natural wonders just waiting to engulf you in peaceful, sun-filled bliss, then a visit to Crescent Head should definitely be high on your list of priorities. I really think we’ll miss it when we leave the area again soon.
You’ll rarely hear me call Kempsey home. I wasn’t born there, but I did live there through my teenage years, and I met Matt there (during our highschool years), but for little fault of it’s own, Kempsey has never really felt like a positive place for me.
It was where I got my first job, my first boyfriend and completed highschool, and where I always felt I’d “escaped” from, as soon as highschool was over.
I’ve begrudgingly returned back on many occasions, swearing it was a place I’d never live again, stopping in only to visit family.
You know what’s sad about that?
Kempsey and the Macleay Valley Region is an amazingly beautiful place.
We’ve been back in the region longer than we’d planned, and we’ve been making the most of it. We’ve been heading to Crescent Head regularly and I love that little town; it holds memories of my teens and it’s a stunning place to let the ocean soothe your soul. We’ve been swimming in the river; the same one I spent many summers cooling down, even though the water levels are really low at the moment, the kids had a great time, and we’ve experienced some wonderful community events.
But, while I’ve always felt quite a negative attitude to Kempsey, I’m glad I’ve had the chance to have my mind changed, and I’m happy to eat my words!
The Macleay River Festival.
We’ve taken the time while we’ve been here to get out and about and enjoy some events within the community, and what can I say, but I am so glad to see such positive events taking place in Kempsey. I’ve written before about the joy I feel in learning about Indigenous history in this region and others, and after doing some reading I found this festival was a celebration of the river, of Indigenous peoples appreciation of the river, and also the joy and importance the river has in contemporary society today.
Kempsey was settled on the land of the Dunghutti, “of which there are four tribes Dangaddi, Dainggati, Thungutti and Djunghatti” (Macleay River Festival, 2014)
The river is a central part of Kempsey; it sustains life, it brings devastating flooding, it is mother nature at her most beautiful. It was wonderful to see, that in the spirit of the river, the community of Kempsey connected, together, celebrating, as one peoples.
The festival was inspired as a celebration of the river, the area and the Indigenous peoples that have called Kempsey home for thousands of years. From the festival website:
“festival aims to showcase the spirit and diversity of culture and experiences in the Macleay.”
Well, what can I say, but the festival was an amazing success. With an amazing mix of culture, art, markets, music, comedy, local performers and a relaxed laid back atmosphere that families could enjoy, we all had a wonderful time.
While Kempsey may be an area that has had it’s problems, and suffers many of the same issues that other low socio-economic towns experience, seeing the community togetherness and celebration was heartwarming and a positive sign that the community can strengthen and create a wonderful culture of togetherness and joy in the natural beauty the region offers all people who live here.
Kempsey Twilight Market
We returned back to Riverside park in Kempsey to watch the fireworks that were some of the best we’ve ever seen for the Kempsey Twilight Market. The markets are always a wonderful mix of food, craft, clothing and art as well as nick-nacks and entertainment. I did a little clothes shopping, and even in the rain, crowds gathered to watch entertainment from local school students, and the fireworks seriously went for what seemed like forever and the kids were over the moon.
So I have to admit, I’ve admitted, I’ve been a bit rough on Kempsey all these years…..
When you’ve spent years being stubborn and being negative about a region, sometimes it pays to give it another chance. There is lots about Kempsey that’s great, and I’m glad we’ve had the opportunity to see it all with fresh insight.
So, if you’re visiting the Mid North Coast of NSW, then be sure to stop in and visit.
The best kinds of days are those you think are going to be good, and instead they end up being great. Today was one of those days. We were treated to an afternoon of Aboriginal culture, music, art, craft and great conversation with some wonderful, amazing hosts. We took part in Sea Acres Rainforest Centre’s “Aboriginal Art in the Rainforest” activity.
I’m beginning this blog post with a big hello to Aunty Rose, who took details of our blog with her today so she could take a look. Hi Aunty, and I hope you enjoy looking around the site. Then, another huge thank you for being so welcoming today to local artists Aunty Debb Robinson, Aunty Leah Bale, and Russell Moran you all ensured we had a wonderful afternoon full of both education and lots of fun!
As some of you will know, I returned to University a couple of years ago to do my degree in Indigenous Studies. This decision was driven by my respect and passion for the amazing Aboriginal culture, hunger for knowledge and understanding, and the ability to ensure that I can be a positive part of ensuring that Australia does not lose this amazing history, and above all that my children grow up with respect and knowledge.
My belief is, that no matter what your cultural background, it is important for every Australian to embrace Aboriginal culture and celebrate the stories, beauty and spirit of the lands on which we all live here in Australia. So, when I get the chance to celebrate, share and learn about our home region with my kids, I always love to do the activities at Sea Acres Rainforest Centre.
We received a welcome to country from Russell, and did some singing along with Aunty Debb, who is a great singer. Then we were treated to the Kamilaroi people’s story of the “Emu in the Sky” which gave me goosebumps. The Emu in the Sky story shares knowledge of the changes to the milky way, and the connection of the appearance of an Emu amongst the Milky Way and the breeding cycle of the Emu on the land. These changes would signal to the Kamilaroi when they could collect emu eggs, and when they must stop. We also learned how the Koala lost his tail.
No matter how many dreaming stories I hear, I am forever in awe of the connection of the plants, the waters, the stars and planets and the animals on the land. Everything is so connected, and I wish people in general understood and appreciated this more.
The kids really enjoyed doing painting activities of native animals, the boys in their usual style chose to paint geckos. They still miss our pet reptiles and are forever on the hunt for snakes and lizards while they are out exploring so it was an easy pick.
My personal favourite part of the day was the weaving workshop. Our first visit to the Northern Territory was the first time I saw weaving, and from that moment I was in love with the earthy beauty of bowls, bags, floor mats, wall hangings and all of their variations, woven by hand.
I have longed to learn the art of weaving, and I was overjoyed to get the chance to learn, alongside the kids and it was so much fun. Aunty Leah was telling us of a weaving project that stands as tall as herself, which took her three months to complete. Our first efforts aren’t particularly neat, but we’re definitely going to try harvesting our own Lomandra and getting in some more practice. It is a lovely, calming activity and my soul was as happy as I thought it would be, finally gaining an understanding of the process.
So, if you’re ever in Port Macquarie or surrounds during the school holiday period, then I can highly recommend taking part in any of the cultural activities on offer. We’ve been before and we’ll return again if we’re in the area.
A huge, huge, huge thank you again to Aunty Debb, Aunty Leah, Aunty Rose and Russell. I had a great day chatting to you all, and the kids had a wonderful day learning and doing the activities.
Our passion for exploring the best things to do in Australia, began in our home state of NSW. The first places we explored together as a family, were all reasonably close to home, and they are still some of our favourite things to do today. We’ve been away for 6 months, but returning back to familiarity brings with it a sense of contentment, and belonging.
So, in the spirit of being back on familiar turf for a while, here’s our favourite things to do in NSW with kids.
1. Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo & Taronga Zoo Sydney
We lived in Dubbo for around 8 months as we prepared for our long term travels, and Taronga Western Plains Zoo became our second home. Full of open spaces where animals of all shapes and sizes roam, we’d often pass the time by driving around the zoo, taking in the precious and often funny antics of the animals. One of our favourites at Dubbo Zoo are the Meerkats who never fail to make us laugh.
When we’re visiting Sydney, we also love spending the day at Taronga Zoo Sydney. The Gorillas are our favourites, there, or perhaps the seals, who put on a wonderful and cheeky show. Be sure to allow yourself a full day to visit either of the zoo’s, take hats and sunscreen on hot days, because getting out close to the animals ensures you make the most of it during your stay.
2. Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an experience that our eldest son still talks about over a year later. It’s high on the list of must-do things for both the younger kids once they turn ten, and it was a brilliant Father/Son bonding activity.
The great thing about the bridge climb is that they have options for different tour lengths and different times of day, including evening climbs that allow you to see the sunset and glittering lights of the city. I can’t wait to take enjoy a mother/daughter moment when our gorgeous girl turns 10 so that we can share the experience together.
3. Camping at Copeton Dam
Copeton has to be one of our favourite camping destinations in NSW. We love the beach and the coast, but escaping to inland NSW offers a getaway of space, quiet and a sky full of nighttime beauty with stars that bound as far as the eye can see. We’ve written about our love of Copeton before, and nothing has changed. We’ll be visiting again this year without a doubt, as Matt has been camping there since he was a child.
There’s lots of wildlife, fishing and just a great chance to kick back and enjoy nature. While we’re bush camping kind of campers, if you’re more interested in caravan park style facilities, then those are available too.
4. A day at the Big Banana.
If you’re looking for a day full of fun options for the family, with activities that offer fun for all ages, then The Big Banana is the place to visit on the North Coast of NSW.
With ice skating, tobogganing, water slides during warmer weather, and lots of other things to see and do, a day out here offers an awesome experience.
This is a sponsored post but opinions are my own.
When we saw that Gundagai was up ahead, on our travels between Sydney and Melbourne along the Hume Highway, it just wasn’t an option to drive past without a stop in at the “Dog on the Tuckerbox” statue. The statue is at Snake Gully, which is around 8 kilometres (or 5 miles of course) from the township of Gundagai.
The strange thing was, that I was the one who was excited, and in my excitement soon realised that the kids had absolutely no idea “what” the Dog on the Tuckerbox statue was, and why it was of any significance! Perhaps that was a parenting failure on my part, or a sign of the times, I’m not sure, but a quick google search quickly had me streaming song renditions on the car stereo for them to hear the musical brilliance crafted in honour of this true blue Aussie icon.
Jackson set to reading the dog on the tuckerbox poem, to help make some sense of what the fuss was about. I took a closer shot, hopefully you can read this old version of the poem from the photo.
The History of The Dog On The Tuckerbox
The dog on the tuckerbox was unveiled in 1932, as a tribute to Australia’s pioneers and an old poem originally penned under the name ‘Bowyang Yorke’. The poem was later modified and promoted by Jack Moses, seeking much popularity around the country. The story of the poem is based on the life of the bullocky drivers who would sometimes need to leave their bullocks when they got bogged in a creek in the area. They would then seek help, and you guessed it, leave their dog to guard their tuckerbox.
What Is Available At The Dog On The Tuckerbox Centre?
The centre has lovely open spaces to sit down and take in the area, if you have a dog, they are allowed on leash to stretch their legs too. There’s a cafe on site, we grabbed something to eat here, but the options were pretty limited and not really great choices for budget conscious families so had we known there was a bigger service centre just down the road, we probably would have gone there instead, although Matt really enjoyed his hamburger.
It’s definitely worth a stop in, you can throw a coin in and make a wish, I believe the funds go toward supporting the local hospital which is a great cause. The best thing is that you get to say you’ve made a visit to an Aussie Icon, and if you’re children are as clueless about this part of our history as mine were, then it’s a great time to educate them. I have such fond memories of singing the song as a child, so I’m still overjoyed at getting to see the memorial in real life.
If you’ve been following our hunt for the best family activities in Sydney, you’ll know we had a great time exploring Sydney things to do with kids, and experience things we’d never had the chance to do before. Something we hadn’t considered doing before was bike riding in Sydney with kids. We were really excited to visit the awesome people at Manly Bike Tours who provided us with the perfect bike setup, so every family member could have a great time.
I’ll be truthful, I don’t think I’d really ridden a bike since school and I felt pretty wobbly when we started out. Matt and the kids were really confident, and Byron was tucked nicely behind Matt’s bike on a tag-along bike so that he could enjoy the ride, but not get too tired or have an accident. He enjoyed being on the tag-along, but something tells me he would have been a better rider than his poor mum :).
Anyway, wobbles were soon forgotten and we headed off along the Manly Esplanade, and WOW! It was gorgeous! I soon forgot that it had been years since I’d enjoyed the freedom of bike riding and started to navigate my way amongst the walkers, joggers, couples and children scattered along the esplanade enjoying the warm, sunny afternoon. I was really surprised at how relaxing the experience was, and to be honest got totally disappointed when the couple of hours we’d allocated to spending here was coming to an end.
We chose to stick to the Esplanade, which is a safer option with the kids, rather than navigating streets and crossings. When you pick your bike up from Manly Bike Tours, it’s a short walk through the corso over to the esplanade. It’s important to note that you need to walk your bikes through the corso as no bikes are allowed to be ridden in there. Helmets are provided, and you can see by our photos that little carry packs are located on the front of the bikes that allow you to carry items such as your mobile phone etc.
The Where and How of Bike Riding with Kids in Manly
Our bikes were provided by Manly Bike Tours. They offer a huge range of bikes for adults and kids including tag-alongs and bike trailers for littlies. The team provide maps and will give you a run down on where is the best track to take based on how challenging you’d like your ride to be and the ages of your kids.
Enjoy Manly with Kids
While this wasn’t something I’d considered doing before, hiring a bike and exploring Manly was a really special way to experience the Manly Esplanade, and show the kids another side to Sydney. I totally fell in love with Manly while we were there, as it had been years since we’d visited. We stayed there the night and enjoyed an evening wander through the corso, had dinner down on the wharf and despite being exhausted by a morning at Taronga Zoo, we took the time to soak up the warm, salt filled evening, and finished up with a treat of Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream when we wandered home to our hotel and then relaxed in the spa!
Next time your looking for Sydney things to do with kids, then be sure to head over to Manly, hire a bike and explore the amazing area, we promise you won’t be disappointed, even if you start out a bit wobbly on the bike like me 🙂