It's a family affair. When you can stay with family or friends while travelling, we highly recommended that you do. Not only will you save on costs, but you will gain new and stronger connections, get clever local insight, and have a whole lot more fun.
Les and Aunty Stephanie's house in the Tamborine Mountains, located south east of Brisbane in the gold coast hinterland, is like something from a fairy tale. The house is Tudor Revival in style with a steeply pitched gable roof, decorative timber work and black casement windows set into white walls. It is perfectly set with rich red brickwork on top of the apex of a huge lush green plot of land with a winding long driveway that leads up to the house, delicately lit by lanterns in the night. The house is framed by huge pine trees and the land is spotted with beautiful gardens and an orchiard at the rear. Little bunny rabbit ornaments are hidden at the base of the garden beds and bird baths attract life and theatre. It is a children's wonderland, and we are spending Christmas here!
My parents are also visiting and so we are feeling very lucky to be surrounded by love for the Christmas period. We are also very happy for the kids! We are trying to teach them that Christmas is not about how many gifts you receive, but rather celebrating with family and cherishing quality time. The kids run towards Nannie and Grandad and give them big hugs. River looks over at Aunty Stephanie and says "Hey I remember you! You're Nannie two" We call my Aunty Stephanie 'Nannie two' for the sake of the kids and so when River then turned to Les (whom he had never met before) he said "And you're Grandad two...right?" We all got a good laugh out of it. Yes River.... He can be Grandad two. I think about how lucky our kids are as the list of Grandparent figures for them is quite long.
Inside the house my Aunty Stephanie has decorated a lush big Christmas tree with sparkling crystal ornaments and a beautiful angel on top. This means so much to us because our caravan is very limited on space and we had decided not to buy a tree or any decorations this year. I can tell Reece is feeling quite 'un-festive' as he cuts out a cardboard Christmas tree with the kids. The lounge room was decorated with candelabras, the fridge was full with a big Christmas ham, Stephanie was handing out the gin and tonics and the house wall full of cheer. We were so happy to have arrived and set up our little mobile home under a tree in the back garden for the next nine nights. Time to unwind with a drink.
Mount Tamborine is such a beautiful place to visit. It feels like we are driving up through rainforest into the clouds. We drive passing by old fashioned looking pubs, wineries and street cafes until we reach the small picturesque town. There are purple and white agapanthus lining the road sides and houses that balance right on the mountains edge over looking spectacular views to the gold coast below. While we are there we mostly spend time with family but we do venture out to visit some of the lookouts and tourist attractions. We visit Knolls lookout, Cedar Creek, the botanic gardens and even try our hands at a game of golf with my Dad. Reece and I love playing golf, and we've missed hitting 9 holes with my dad.
Santa didn't forget to visit us and on Christmas morning the kids opened up some gifts under the beautiful tree. Living in a caravan on a full time basis means being really organised and selective when it comes to additional items. Luckily Santa understood and got the kids practical gifts they would use on this trip. Body Boards!!! For the rest of Christmas Day we all head over to the family Dairy farm. Set on 790 acres near Beaudesert / Kerry, the beautiful dairy farm is now owned and operated by Les and Stephanie's adult children and their families. After lunch we all enjoyed a private tour of the dairy farm including a little pat of the new calves. I think we all have a new respect for the amount of work, love and care that goes into producing award winning cow's milk.
On a day trip with my parents we pass through the Numinbah Valley towards the Springbrook National Park and visit Natural bridge. I would defiantly add this to my must visit list for this region. A beautiful easy walk takes us all down into the open caves, through rainforest terrain and flowing waters. On a drive along the Beaudesert Nerang Road we stop for a swim in the Nerang River and add another waterhole to our 'swam' list.
Back in 2008 My uncle Allan (Who is much older than my mother) married a beautiful lady named Linda and we have since become followers and friends on social media. Although I haven't seen Allan or Linda in many years, thanks to Linda keeping things up to date on social media I feel as though I know what has been happening in their lives. When we arrive at their Gold Coast canal home Linda has put on a spread of food for us and both Allan and Linda are extremely welcoming. Allan tells us of how he and Linda are loving dancing and music very much these days and I stepped up to show him that even my generation know some moves. I won't forget having a quick cha-cha-cha on the deck overlooking the water with my uncle. We do the rumba and waltz but clearly I only know the basics compared to him. Allan stops to sing us all a song.
"Moon River, wider than a mile
I'm crossing you in style. Some day
Oh, Dream maker, you heart breaker....."
Singing to us with confidence and love, and without any music.
On another adventure with my parents we visit the beautiful Burleigh Heads, Tweed Heads and Tallebudgera Creek. This entire area, Currumbin and Kirra Beach is just so beautiful. There are some good looking caravan parks right on the water's edge at Tallebudgera that if we had more time I would consider checking into for a good week and just taking it all in. We stop for a long late afternoon swim there.
I have never met my cousin Katie. (That I remember) which sets us off on a day trip to Darlington. To me the drive is pure Queensland country side on single lane long straight
bitumen roads with white gum trees lining the edges and huge dull green paddocks covered of course with cows. Katie is the artist type, which seems to run in my family and has a gorgeous wooded studio overlooking the river that run through the huge property.
The kids think the studio is the most fantastic cubby house and Katie doesn't mind. You can tell Katie has worked with children all her life and she supplies the kids with paint brushes and water to decorate the hot concrete verandah that runs around the country
style house. We have lunch and swim in the pool.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, it's a family affair. Queensland is a part of me, because it is a part of my mother. This is where my mother grew up and became who she is, which is part of who I am. Having this opportunity to visit the area, with my husband and the kids by my side, having my parents join us, and meeting with lots of my relatives has been a massive personal journey. It was just a small insight into the life of my mother and her family but I will forever cherish it.
The adventure continues...