BYRON BAY, AUSTRALIA

So often this young family of mine has travelled overseas in search of relaxation, culture and change.   Not appreciating and realising the uniqueness of our own shores.  “Of beauty rich and rare” sings our nations anthem, and isn’t it so.  I love this country, Australia, but of late I have been so quick to overlook a holiday at home.  A staycation.

So for Ryan and Chloe’s recent birthdays that’s what we did.  We staycation.  We drove a three hours (maybe even less) from our home on the Sunshine Coast to the much recognised town of Byron Bay in New South Wales.  I had travelled to Byron Bay numerous times before, but not in the last 6 years and never with children.   Back then it was all about night clubs like Cheeky Monkeys and dancing on the tables.  What I learnt from our recent trip it that Byron Bay offers perfection for literally every age, every  and every person.

Our Accommodation
Since becoming a Mother I am completely converted to Air BnB as the most convenient and cost effective way to house my travelling tribe. We spent a delightful three nights staying at Camellia Cottage in the centre of the town.  This place is all about location, location, location and offers so much charm too.  With two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen with large living and dining, a laundry, lots of outdoor entertaining space, a fully fenced yard and it even came with toys too!  What more could a Mama ask for!  We honestly couldn’t have wished for a more well equipped, family accommodation.   The price for what you get was fantastic, and we were thrilled to be staying in such a delightful home.  Justine was a treat to liaise with during the booking and stay.  I would recommend Camellia Cottage very highly and hope that we can return one day for another stay.  Click here for the Air BnB link and here for their Instagram page.

Here are some images from the Camellia Cottage Air Bnb listing.

Our Itinerary
We had three nights in Byron Bay and seemed to pack a lot in on paper, but felt relaxed at the same time.  Here’s a look at what we got up to:

Friday

We left the Sunshine Coast in early morning, stopping in at Movie World on the way, then arrived at our accommodation in Byron Bay at about 5pm.  Note: in Summer, New South Wales has a time difference to Queensland.  After checking out the beautiful space we had booked, it was time for pizza from Slice Pizzeria Byron Bay, and live music on the beach.

Saturday
I woke up naturally early and I got the chance to go for a run.  I started from our Air BnB that was located in the centre of town, then ran to the light house and back.  If you can make it this is a stunning way to exercise and get the adrenaline pumping, taking me about 40 minutes including a stop at the top to enjoy the view.

After I returned we packed a bag and headed to Wategos Beach.  We were there 9.30am on Australia Day and were the one of only few groups on the beach.  Superb!  I just love this bay with its white sane and stunning outlook.  We played, swan, built sand castles, counted shells and ate a picnic lunch.

Feeling a salty and a little but crispy we headed back to Camellia Cottage for the little to have an afternoon nap.  Ryan stayed in so I decided to do a spot of shopping where I discovered some new favourites like Auguste The Label, Hope & May and Tigani Lux.

After nap we dined at OSushi for dinner, if you love Japanese it is a must!  The tempura haloumi was a huge hit.  Then it was ice cream at the twilight markets in Train Park, (operating 4-9pm over an extended summer season from October to Easter.)  As well as the yummy treats you will find boutique stalls of local artisans selling jewellery, leather goods, clothing and accessories which focus on authenticity, originality and sustainability.

Sunday
We woke up bright and early on Sunday and drove straight to the Byron Bay Light House, where we took the walk to the most Easterly Point of Australia.  The outlook is breathtaking and the lighthouse a world renowned landmark.

Next it was a bite to eat at Beach Byron Bay.  You can either dine in or enjoy the take away option on their bench seats, we decided on the later.  Then we had a dip in the ocean right out the back of the restaurant.

During lunch nap I sent Ryan off for a massage at Rub in the Bay, which he then highly recommended.

That afternoon another play in our beautiful garden, we headed to The Farm where we enjoyed dinner at Three Blue Ducks.  This restaurant is phenomenal, the perfect match of superb service and delicious food.   Ryan and I eat a vegetable and fish based diet, but still found plenty of options.  The staff were fantastic at handling our two busy bees, which is always a breathe of fresh air for parents.  The restaurant sources as much of the food as they can from The Farm, and everything is just amazing.  Outside of the restaurant there is so much to do on this huge property like horseback riding, farming programs for children, a bakery, picnic hampers, huge play ground, ice cream hut and animals to check out…. oh and the completely Instagrammable sun flower field!

Monday
Ryan’s birthday and the day we headed home.  After a yummy home cooked breakfast in our Cottage, with hit the road heading for the Sunshine Coast, stopping in at Wet n Wild on the way.  I highly recommend buying the three parks annual pass if you are going to travel through this area often.

Now for some holiday spam!

We managed to fit a lot into our three nights in Byron Bay, although the trip was so relaxing at the same time.  This was the perfect adventure to celebrate the birthdays of two of my greatest loves.

For more adventures with my little loves had to Instagram.

Enjoy!

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SECRETS FOR FINDING THE CHEAPEST FLIGHTS FOR YOUR NEXT HOLIDAY!

 

It’s the age-old question. ‘How can I find the cheapest flight?’

Holidays can be expensive, and any money saved is a huge blessing.  We’ve all experienced the tiresome job of searching for the most economical flights.  More often than not we are met with endless search engines, fluctuating prices, hours spent on the phone.  Its short thrifty flight booking can be overwhelming and stressful, not to mention a huge drain on your time!

Our family recently booked a trip to Bali staying at the brand new Wyndham Hotels Resort in Dreamland.  We are beyond excited!  Now it’s time to get our travel booked in, and I’ve spent hours researching exactly how to get the cheapest and best flights.call to action - packing checklist

Seeing as I’ve already done the ‘leg work,’ I thought I would share some of the best and most current information!  So here are some key tips that will save you time, frustration and money when booking your next flight.

– Before doing anything else check if you have any credit card points that can be used.  The cheapest way to fly is for free!
– Be flexible with your dates.  This includes identifying the cheapest day to fly.  Do this by looking at a visual calendar of flight prices for a whole month and finding the cheapest day.
– Use ITA matrix in google it’s awesome!
– Skyscanner is a great tool for research.
– TripAdvisor forums are awesome for discussing the best routes/stopovers and opinions on airlines.
– Sign up to I Know The Pilot for discount alerts.
– Only search 1 adult when researching  best prices (even if 2 are traveling.)
– If traveling to multiple destinations on a 1 or 2 month holiday, depending on location it might be cheaper to just book the return flight,  and to wait until you are in Europe to book the remaining flights within holiday (eg book return flight from Australia to England now, and book remaining flights within Europe once in England.)  Or in other instances it might be best to book all of your flights in advance.  Spend time researching and talking to people to decide what is best for your situation.
– If you don’t feel comfortable booking with the website or company who is offering the best deal, send the details to a Travel agent who will try to find a better price for you.
– Always search for flights in incognito or private browsing mode to see the lowest prices.  It’s not a coincidence that prices sometimes go up after you’ve searched the same flight a few times.
– Check out if it’s cheaper to pay in other currencies.

I hope you can utilise some of the above tips to get your family off on their next adventure. call to action - packing checklist

If you have any tips and tricks for booking cheap flights that you can share comment on my Instagram post here.

Enjoy and happy travels!

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24 Hours at Ocean View Estates

Ocean View Estates is a family owned and run winery and brewery located in the hinterland between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast (45km from Brisbane.)  It’s owners Thomas, Kate and their beloved OVE holds a special piece of our hearts, because six years ago we held our wedding reception there.  After months and months of looking we drove to OVE for dinner and were sold the instant we saw the setting… and double sold after our first bites of our meals.  During the stages of wedding planning and since then we have spent many days on the property enjoying lunches, degustations and winery tours.

This week we were lucky enough to take our children to enjoy a one night stay in there two bedroom cottage (they also have a one bed.)  We arrived late in the afternoon after just over one hours drive from the Sunshine Coast.  Greeted by staff we took the key and drove up to our accommodation.  The two bedroom cottage features a kitchen, living area, bathroom, fireplace and spa bath. Though the best part would be the phenomenal outlook from the balcony.

There is plenty to do at OVE without doing much at all.  The beauty comes from making no plans and simply walking around the breathtaking grounds allowing yourself to “unwind in the vines.”  The staff can organise a packed picnic lunch to be enjoyed with a bottle of their own wine. Or a four/six course dejustation lunch with complimenting drinks.  You can take part in one of the daily winery/brewery tours, with tasting.  If you are feeling adventurous and have the time, a visit to neighbouring Dayboro is a must. The options are endless even down to a scenic helicopter flight landing within the winery grounds.  Some people actually choose to arrive for their lunch/stay at OVE by helicopter or horseback!

Putting its spectacular surrounds aside the highlight of this place is the restaurant which celebrates a slight Japanese and French fusion.  Hands down the best food I have eaten. Head chef Tony Tierney arranges incredible menus season after season, year after year. My top pick is his hot chocolate soft centred puddings, I’ve been eating variations of it for years.

If time is limited, and you can’t pull yourself away for the night, a day trip from Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast is a perfect amount of time to enjoy lunch at OVE.  We have honestly had some of our best family occasions driving through the hinterland up to the restaurant to enjoy the food.

Lastly a note on weddings.  If you are a bride to be, (or a hopeful bride to be,) I would highly recommend considering Ocean View Estates for your special day.  It is a one of a kind property that will set your wedding apart.  Family run with a wholesome feel, Tom and Kate graciously play huge parts in giving their couples the most incredible of wedding days.  Since our special day, six years ago, they have opened a dedicated function room which looks spectacular.  The perfect ceremony spot is offered under a gazebo which sits on the lake.  Couples are given the option of hosting their entire wedding within the OVE grounds if they wish, without even having to move off site for photos.  I still count my blessings that we chose Ocean View Estates for our wedding venue and would choose it time and time again.

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For more information on Ocean View Estates including information on restaurant bookings, overnight stays and wedding packages visit their website or call (07) 3425 3900.

Here’s some images taken six years ago of our wedding at Ocean View Estate.  Photos by Calli B Photography.

*Disclaimer: At times this website contains posts where items and experiences have been sponsored, gifted or blog posts have been paid for in return for advertisement/promotion.  Where this applies it will be clearly stated at the bottom of the blog post. Natalie Sullivan and www.thissweetlofeofmine.blog only endorses brands/items that her family uses, loves and highly recommends. To read the full disclaimer see here

Rivershore Resort – Luxury Safari Tents

The Rivershore Resort sits of the bank of the Maroochy River in our home town, the beautiful Sunshine Coast.  Our family just spent three nights there and to say it was amazing would be an understatement.  The Resort is essentially a caravan park but it is so much more then that.  Offering accommodation options to suit every traveller with powered and unpowered campsites (for a tent or caravan,) ‘ready to go camping’ in bell tents set up by resort staff and of course luxury safari tents.  We enjoyed the latter!

On arrival at the resort we were greeted by friendly reception staff and promptly given a map of the area with information on things to do during our stay.  We were then taken to our safari tent by the General Manager (talk about service!)  He showed us through our tent and then we were left to marvel at our accommodation.  These luxury safari tents really are something else…  The comfiest king sized bed I’ve slept on, a roll out bed and travel cot provided for the kiddies, kitchenette, full suite bathroom featuring a four claw bath, wifi, television, fan, huge deck with seating and a Webber BBQ.  They also offer larger tents but we found the ‘king tent’ to be perfect at 80m2.  My favourite part of the whole set up was the tent walls which could be rolled up allowing us to take in the most gorgeous river views.  It’s really like staying in a hotel suite, they even offer room service!

Outside of our beautiful tent the resort offers so many things to do including a huge 25 x 8m swimming pool with two large waterslides, spa, 8 x 8m kid pool, children’s playground, ‘Kanger Jump,’ Mini Golf, boat ramp/pontoon and other recreational equipment like paddle boards and kayaks.  We spent more then 48 hours there and still left with more things on our list to do.  Our highlight was of course the waterslides because they are phenomenally fun for kids and adults too!

Eating is made so easy with ‘Driftwood’ the resorts own Restaurant and Bar.  Happy hour is a must and we were lucky that they even extended it to two hours.  The bar is fully licensed though BYO is also offered at a charge.  The food menu is extensive with lots of choices for vegetarians and some yummy children friendly meals too.  The restaurant is a destination in itself and I have no doubt we will be heading back for breakfast, lunch and dinner on the weekend.

As well as Driftwood we enjoyed cooking our own breakfast at one of the three camp kitchens which was set up with a BBQ, toaster, kettle and fridge.  I was even able to cook a full breakfast using the facilities provided in our luxury safari tent.

There is so much to do in the area surrounding Rivershore Resort whoever this spot really is a destination of its own.  Our whole family found our entire stay incredible, so much so that Ari was convinced we needed to move in for good!  My husband is an anti camper so this experience was a perfect balance of camp life with the ease of everything being done for us! I found the our stay to be fun but relaxing, I felt like I had really done something fantastic for the kiddies that still allowed my husband and I to enjoy a relaxing, stressful free time.   We will most certainly be back to experience the luxury safari tents again!

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To book your stay at Rivershore Resort call 07 5458 2200 and quote my discount offer below. For more information on the resort visit https://www.rivershore.com.au/

(This blog post was written in collaboration with Rivershore Resort who hosted my family however all opinions are of course my own.)

*Disclaimer: At times this website contains posts where items and experiences have been sponsored, gifted or blog posts have been paid for in return for advertisement/promotion.  Where this applies it will be clearly stated at the bottom of the blog post. Natalie Sullivan and www.thissweetlofeofmine.blog only endorses brands/items that her family uses, loves and highly recommends. To read the full disclaimer see here

Oakwood Hotel & Apartments, Brisbane

Sitting on the river bank of its name sake is our states capital city, Brisbane.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this location the bustling city is a short one hour drive from our home on the Sunshine Coast, (Queensland.)  Filled with museums, galleries, shops, restaurants, a man made beach and the beautiful botanical gardens, Brisbane city strikes a keen balance between city chic and relaxed Aussie charm.

My husband and I recently enjoyed a baby free (YOLO) stay at the Oakwood Hotel and Apartments, located right next door to the Story Bridge in Fortitude Valley.  The hotel is known to boast Brisbane’s best river views so I couldnt wait to check it out!  The Oakwood offers their plentiful yet affordable ‘City Escapes Package’ which gives one nights accomodation, a bottle of sparkling wine, delicious cheese platter and a late midday check out all for just $299.

This place screams relaxaton… on arrival our car was valet parked while we were treated to a glass of bubbles and tasty macaroons.  A modern and tastefully decorted room was waiting for us and featured one bedroom, a seperate lounge room, full kitchen, bathroom and laundry… and of course a huge balcony taking in that amazing river view!  Our complimentary bottle and cheese platter were beautifully set out and too delicious not to enjoy straight away.  The balcony really was the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the city.  Later we took a short walk along the river to Eagle Street Pier where some of the cities best restaurants sit.  We looked at many optins and settled on a Greek feast at George’s Paragon.  After a delcious meal and a few tasty martinis our gorgeous balcony view called.  We wondered why we would stay at a resturant/bar when we already knew we had the best seat in the house back at our hotel…so a night of pretty skies and chatter that was uninterrupted (by a toddler) is exactly what we enjoyed.

After a restful sleep and an epic sleep in (until 8am a huge perk to our adults only night away) we enjoyed the hotels buffet breakfast at their No. 15 Resturant and Bar. There was a large selection of vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes, as well as a gorgeous setting under monochrome umbrellas.  We then spent the rest of the morning enjoying the Oakwood’s facilties including their outdoor pool, hot spa tub and tennis court before heading home.

This fun and vibrant hotel would be perfect for both business and leisure trips.  We thouroughly enjoyed the perks of our ‘City Escape Package’ and can’t wait to head back for more RnR in the future.

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MY TOP TIPS FOR THINGS TO DO CLOSE TO THE OAKWOOD

  • Cruise the Brisbane River on the Kookaburra Show Boat.
  • Shop up a storm at Queen Street Mall.
  • Grab a ‘CityCat’ and head to Eat Street Markets.
  • Climb Brisbane most iconic structure the Story Bridge.
  • Enjoy a stroll to the Botanical Gardens.
  • Eat out at Eagle Street Pier.
  • Check out Chinatown.

For more information regarding the Oakwood Hotel and Apartments Brisbane or to book visit – https://www.oakwoodasia.com/serviced-apartments/australia/oakwood-brisbane or www.instagram.com/oakwoodbrisbane

For more adventures with my travelling tribe search the hashtag #thissweettravellife on Instagram.

*Disclaimer: At times this website contains posts where items and experiences have been sponsored, gifted or blog posts have been paid for in return for advertisement/promotion.  Where this applies it will be clearly stated at the bottom of the blog post. Natalie Sullivan and www.thissweetlofeofmine.blog only endorses brands/items that her family uses, loves and highly recommends. To read the full disclaimer see here