Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Ballina, Byron and Bananas

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on January 14, 2011

Hi Everyone,

Yes I know Ihave been very slack but my New Year’s resolution is to get this blog up-to-date so here we go.

We didn’t go too far after leaving the Gold Coast making our first stop in Ballina.  The rain is still following us and i hope we can shake it off soon:( We are staying at Ballina Central Holiday Park, a small park but central to town.


R U lost Joel

Sunshine forecast for a short time today so we headed off to Alstonville to see Amaze-n-place.  It is a great maze and a little different in that the bottom half of the maze is actually tree trunks that have been grafted to form a lattice and the top half of the maze is the hedging of the trees.  We split up, the boys against Joel and I to see who could complete the maze and find the items on the hunt list.  There are 8 different lists so you could spend a few hours here!  There were heaps of wooden, metal and brain teaser puzzles to play with and purchase in the gift shop too. The boys found their way out first but not all the items were found so we called it a draw:)

We went to the Macadamia Castle which has farm animals, mini golf and a huge gift shop and cafe.  The park is definitely aimed at younger children (yep even too young for Wade at 9) so we played some mini golf and tasted and bought some macadamia nuts.

Boulder Beach

Fun in the rain at Lennox Heads

It was still raining the next day so we spent the day touring around the area and decided to head up along the coast road up towards the infamous Byron Bay.  We stopped in at some of the beaches along the coast at Lennox heads and Skennars Head.  These places are small townships but so lovely and beautiful, even in the rain.  We kept looking at some of the houses along the coast road overlooking the sea and each of us picking out which house we’d like to live in etc.  It’s a fun game to pass the time in the car!! We stopped at Boulder Beach for a squiz then onto Seven Mile Beach.  There was a surf school operating there and we saw a huge pod of dolphins right next to the surfers. It was quite an awesome sight. We watched them for quite a while and the dolphins swam around, back tracked and stayed right with the surfers, it was incredible to watch.  Onwards to Byron Bay and up to the light house so we could see some of the views of the bay.  Trick here is that if you go all the way to the lighthouse you have to pay to park up there as it is in

Steps to the Lighthouse

Beautiful Byron in rain

a Marine/National Park and you may not always get a park either.  If the weather had been better we would have parked at the bottom and walked up so maybe next time:) History lesson: The lighthouse was built in 1901, named by Captain Cook after Lord Byron’s (the famous poet’s) grandfather and is the most eastern lighthouse in Oz. It is still maintained and in service today, but mostly used for whale watching.

OMG! The views!  They were absolutely gorgeous even in the rain.  We had to put on our rain coats as we decided to do part of the walk down to the Easternmost point of Australia and further on along the headland. The weather is wet but not that cold, thank god!  The views are just spectacular and I would imagine even more glorious in some sunshine.  We took photos of us all at the Easternmost point of Australia as there is a pole with a screw on it to screw your camera onto, lined up to take a picture with us in the photo and the sign and sea in the background.  We walked down the steps and path to the edge of the headland and got some more breath-taking views.  Wade spotted another pod of dolphins and we watched and followed them around the path and rocks.  A truly wonderful place.  After taking heaps of photos and sucking in all the ambience of the place, we started up the steps to get back to the lighthouse.  The weather had cleared a little and was now quite humid so we took our coats off as we were starting to really get a sweat up.  We decided to dine at the cafe up here and take in the magnificent views.  After lunch there was actually blue skies and I managed to snap off a few shots to see the difference with a bit of sunshine.  We will definitely come back this way next lap around. We headed back to Ballina but took the inland roads to see the hinterland inland.  Beautiful area too with green hills and trees.  Mmmm I could definitely live around this area, it’s just beautiful.

Eastermost Point of Oz

Beautiful Byron

Sunshine at Byron

Hinterland near Montecollum

Enthusiasm despite the weather

Breakwater and Jetty







We left Ballina and headed for Emerald Beach which lies just north of Coffs Harbour. The rain is still with us unfortunately and we decide to stay at the Big4 Emerald Beach Holiday park.  The reception staff would have to be the friendliest we’ve come across (and we’ve stayed at a few places by now!) We park down in the boondocks of the park but we get to see lots of kangaroos and actually witnessed (and caught on video) a fight between a very large male and a young male ‘upstart’. The park is bordered by natural bushland on two sides, hence all the roos. The kids have hired some push-pedal trikes to ride around in the park and are having a ball.  We have our own bikes with us but they want to try the novelty trikes instead-go figure! The park is just a short walk to the beach and we head off for a walk even though the weather is not the best. The boys found an area of the beach which is fed by a fresh water stream and someone had built a mini-dam which was getting washed away.  The boys (and Joel) decided to become engineers for while and try to fix up the wall.  I’m spewing as I have just realised I have lost 70 odd photos of the caravan park, the kangaroos and the beach area here.  Doh! I’ll have to try to work some magic and see if I can recover them:(

Colourful Regatta

Coffs Jetty

The weather is still raining when we go to see the sights of Coffs Harbour.  We manage to get a walk in along the breakwall and also a walk out onto MuttonBird Island Reserve and we try not to let the rain dampen our enthusiasm! It’s about a 1 km walk up, over and around the “hill” and the top gives you 360 degree views of the beach, harbour, mountains and the city.  The weather was just too wet to be bothered to walk out along the jetty so we’ll leave that for next time around.  When we were on top of Muttonbird Island we watched a very colourful regatta set out for a sail and a race.  There was certainly enough wind for it, that’s for sure!  The stairs were under repair as they have been washed away, so make shift stairs of scaffolding mark the start of the trek up the hill from the breakwater wall.

Breakwater and Muttonbird Is


Big Banana










We made sure to visit the Big Banana and get some photos so I could send them to my sister, Dianna, who is affectionately known as Banana-a rhyming family joke:)) – sorry Dianna;) They also have tobogganing, which looks more like a luge ride but alas it doesn’t operate in the wet weather! and the ice-skating rink is only open for a few hours on certain days and we missed it by half and hour.  But they have a great sweets shop there, where we watched them make a few of the boiled sweets and a video that shows how they make the little pictures and shapes inside the boiled lollies. It was very fascinating and of course you cannot got to a place like that and NOT buy anything. So a few kgs later, we were off.

Dressed for the race

F1 Racing team

Wade has been trying to go Go-Karting for as long as I can remember but most places require the kids to be 12 or older so you can imagine his excitement when we found one in Coffs that didn’t require them to be over 12.  Even though it was raining we thought “What the hell, let’s just go and do it!” F1 Kart Hire was the place of the racing showdown! Well, it was Daniel, Wade and me!  They decked us out in wet weather racing suits, gloves and helmets and off we raced.  Well couldn’t really race but we did quite a few laps and the boys and I had an absolute blast! Joel videoed and played paparazzi for us and the guys at the track were really great.  The machines are 2 stroke 100cc karts but they had a bit of kick and the wet track and water hazards made for an interesting ride! It was just great fun and we’ll definitely try it again when the weather is a bit drier.

First falls along road

Tristania Falls

Skywalk family photo

Checking in on FB

Crystal Showers Falls

Dangar Falls & Ebor Volcano








We spent a day driving out to Dorrigo National Park to go to the Skywalk, which was a boardwalk of about 100m out to a platform where it overlooks the treetops, rainforest and mountains.  It was quite pretty but once again I imagine it would be far more magnificent in more decent weather.  The drive up through the mountains and rainforests is just beautiful and we stopped to take some photos of the waterfalls that were right alongside the road.  The roads have a huge drain running under it so the water can fall under the road instead of cutting it off.  We almost witnessed an accident as we watched a “Juicy” van (like a wicked van) with some overseas tourists in it stop on a corner, do a five point turn across the road and blind corner so they could come back to take a photo of a waterfall.  At the Rainforest centre and Skywalk there was a 6.6km walk/hike(the Wonga Walk) and we decided to don our rain coats once again and get some exercise.  We were covered for the most part by the canopy of trees overhead but the last 2kms or so we hiked back in the rain.  It wasn’t freezing cold but it was definitely cooler than anywhere we have been for a while.  The rainforest was magnificent and the smells were absolutely fabulous.  We stopped at the Crystal Showers Falls and the Tristania Falls to take photos and have a drink.  They were beautiful falls and with so much rain falling the cascades were full of water.  We met a few other crazies who were walking the tracks in the rain also:)   We lunched at a great little cafe/gift shop in the Dorrigo township.  The lady at the Cofffs Tourist Centre told us it’s where we could get some “home-made” food which was delicious! We had a look at the Dangar Falls and Ebor volcano on the edge of town.  The Dangar river and cascades fall over volcanic bedrock from millions of years ago – another beautiful fall!  We decided to take the road less travelled back to Coffs and it was an interesting experience.  There were quite a few properties

Wade in the Rainforest

Fog and Mist Mountain

tucked away on the mountain sides but the roads are so windy and slippery when wet, which is most of the time:)  We were very thankful for the GPS (and 4WD) as signage in the back of nowhere was limited.  We were heading down the far side of the rainforest mountain when we found fog/mist which was pretty heavy in some parts but we managed to make it back safe and sound to our caravan.  As beautiful as the drive was, we all said we wouldn’t want to live up there as a quick trip into town would take ages due to the windy roads and even teh locals thinks the people who live up there are “just a little bit different”!  As we were taking our boots off both Joel and I noticed a bit of blood in our socks – upon further investigation we found a few leeches had decided to attach themselves to us and they were big, fat greedy suckers too! Neither of us felt anything bite or even sore, we didn’t notice till we saw the blood in our socks!


They must have been full of our blood as they came off relatively easy but had to make sure they were dead.  The sites bled for a few days too just kept putting on new bandaids.  I found a dead one on the car mat in the front of the car a few days later so we did a sweep of the car to make sure there weren’t any more.

Pack up day today and heading off towards Newcastle.  Depending on the weather and road conditions we’ll see if we can free camp tonight somewhere along the way.

Till next time



7 Responses to “Ballina, Byron and Bananas”

  1. What a great story. It sure is great to see families promoting our town Ballina… happy travelling


    Ballina Website Design

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    • Hi, Thanks for the compliments. I just use a template that comes with wordpress and work it to the way i sort of want it to look. You can devlop as many pages as you want and the content is up to you. Good luck with your site, Cheers Michelle.

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