Pebbly Path takes on Byron Bay and the Northern Rivers with kids!
How FUN is travelling with toddlers in a car for 9.5 hrs from Mudgee in regional NSW, all the way to Hastings Point just north of Byron Bay?! *SAID NO ONE EVER*!
Well we just did it - my husband and our 5 and 3 year old kids in tow. It was actually so fun, and I genuinely came home relaxed which is rare for a family holiday if you ask me. We ate delicious food at some incredible family friendly places (also rare in my experience) and had some fabulous cocktails (because are you even on holidays if you're not drinking margaritas at 3pm?) So if you're looking for your next fabulous family friendly holiday that doesn't skint on the adult-friendly bits, wander down our Pebbly Path!!!
We drove Mudgee NSW to Hastings Point NSW, which is about 9 hours, and thus too far for the kids in one go. On the way there we stopped in Tamworth for lunch, at Jo Maguires Pub - the food was genuinely great pub food, a huge menu, and a brilliant play area for the kids. BINGO! Next stop - staying the night at Armidale Tourist Park. Our cabin was clean and sufficient, but the real reason for staying was the pool, games room, and bike riding area within it. Kids burnt a heap of energy, and the adults had a semi-pro game of table tennis (and are subsequently thinking of investing in a table for home now ha!).
Breakfast was a thriving woodfired bakery café, the Goldfish Bowl, where the sourdough, coffee, and danishes were akin to what you'd find at the best in Sydney. We ate in, and bought extra for car snacks. 11/10 do recommend.
Lunch that day was at the famous The Farm Byron Bay, home of MasterChef royalty Three Blue Ducks. We didn't sit down the whole time, because the kids were too busy running around the farm mooing and baaing and oinking at the animals, looking for bananas growing in the plantation, and playing with other kids in the big playground. A $20 sandwich (ouch) was purchased which the kids then refused to eat, but I thought it was delicious (despite it being in 17 bits by the time I got to eat it).
WE STAYED AT Hastings Point caravan park- AKA The North Star. In short - the perfect spot for a family holiday. The water park was a huge reason we went there, and it was by far the worst part of the whole holiday, but I still rate it 10/10 for a family holiday. The amount of people in the pool, kids jumping in off the side, the noise of all the water rushing and kids yelling - my actual idea of hell. 0/10 relaxation was had. However, we went 3 or 4 times with the kids, and they LOVED IT. Hard to be too upset when you saw the look on their little faces :) AND to make up for all the stress - they had happy hour, 2 hours, EVERYDAY, and despite it being a caravan park, the cocktails were BANG ON! My pick was the mango daquiri. The restaurant also had really good food, which was a completely wonderful surprise. We ate there 3 times, the kids LOVED it, and the kids meals even came with some carrot and cucumber sticks with cheese, alongside the usual fish and chips and pastas, which I appreciated. I had the prawn and chorizo pasta every time, and it was really really good. What a WIN!
Back to the swimming..... Luckily for me, the Hastings Point beach and estuary were 5 mins walk away. ABSOLUTELY recommend getting a beach trolley (ours was about $60 from kmart) so everything we needed for the entire day went in it, and they kids could ride in it when they started the inevitable whinging on the way home. The water was c-r-y-s-t-a-l clear, and no waves as it's between the mangroves and the beach, where the fresh water river mixes with the ocean.
The Hastings Point General Store, 2 mins walk from the beach, is an ex-stockist of Pebbly Path! I used to be upset about it, because I really wanted to have them as a stockists for all the holiday makers, but when I got there myself, I realised why it didn't work. There is no air con inside the shop, and the humidity was bout 96% - possibly the worst combo for a chocolate product. So while they no longer stock Pebbly Path rocky road, they DO have DELICIOUS burgers and coffee, better than a lot of places I've burgered at. I recommend the barramundi burger for lunch, and the iced latte on soy milk anytime *chefs kiss*. We went there A LOT!
So, more about the kid-friendly restaurants and cafes we visited. I won't bother with any we didn't like, as I'm not here to tarnish names, so below are the places we LOVED in no particular order:
- Husk Distillery: ok if it WAS in particular order, these guys are at the top. The place is STUNNNNNNING. I mean #smallbusinessgoals. They started 10ish years ago, and now have this amazing, purpose build space, with cellar door, restaurtant, tasting room, kitchen garden, HEAPS of room - the kids played soccer on the lawn in front of our outdoor seating and ran down the hill about 200metres to see the cows grazing in the paddocks. Bliss. The food was INCREDIBLE, the service was INCREDIBLE, the gin and rum cocktails were INCREDIBLE. I can't believe I've been to Byron 4 times and this is the first time I've managed to get to Husk Distillery, and we went on our last day! Won't make that mistake again. It's kid friendly, delicious, relaxed and upmarket - what's not to love? BIG shout out to their French bar manager who gave us an impromptu tour of the entire distillery, and who was an absolute delight to spend half an hour with.
- Spice Den - Casuarina: went here on a Friday night with my bestie and her husband, and got ourselves a babysitter for the kids. The locals recommended the Gold Degustation, which we did, and were stoked with. Everything was full flavoured, rich, and downright amazing. Nil complaints. Got kicked out at closing time because we were loving it there and didn't want to leave!
- Kingscliff Beach Hotel: we went here twice, because it was so good and it had a great indoor kids play area, which came in handy when we had 150mm rain in 24hrs. I had the chilli prawn linguine which was super spicy but I loved it, and the fish tacos which were very yum, Phill's fave was their burger - he said it was very possibly the best burger he's ever had, which is seriously a big up, because the man loves burgers! Service here was excellent as well, as was the Rose. The kids LOVED playing on the beach here, while the tide was going out, and there were lots of little pools of warm water to splash around in. Top shopping pick for the entire trip was here at Oxley & Moss, which I spotted from the car and said "pull over! that's my shop!" and I was absolutely right - I spent bulk money here and could have spent a lot more.
- The Balcony Bar Byron Bay - Morton bay bug pasta, ceviche, oysters, burrata, cocktails, all incredible. I went there twice (one date with an old nursing friend, and once with the fam, and not my first time either, I always go here on a trip to Byron). It's hot upstairs and noisy and busy, but the kids got little puzzle and drawing bags for free, which kept them entertained until we took them to:
- In The Pink Gelato. I had it on good authority that this was THE BEST gelato in Byron - which is a big call cos there are a LOT of gelato shops. But my business coach is Suzanne Hoyne (tell her I sent you) and she lives there, she's tried them all, and she told me they were the ones. We were not disappointed! The kids got the belgian chocolate & the boysenberry cheesecake, I got the pistachio (my standard order) and my husband got the Toblerone which was packed with real pieces of said chocolate.
Our best family day out: Crystal Castle. I've never been before, actually it holds a bit of heartbreak for me from my past, and TBH maybe I wasn't ever in the right life stage to go before, but we went this time. I've been really focussing on my mental health lately (ok, forever, but i've finally found something and someone who is perfect for me) and now I'm trying to hone in on daily rituals and intention setting and connecting. So off we went. I don't think my husband would ever feel the need to go again, but the kids and I LOVED IT. They got a little crystal beaded bracelet each that they adore, they ran around the huge gardens looking at all the crystals (I thought there was just the one, there are HEAPS)! Henry (mister 5) even came and did the sound healing session with me, and was quiet the whole time (shock, horror, amazement, bewilderment). He and I got separated from the other two, and so went to the intention tree, wrote down one gratitude and one intention and tied them to the tree. This is where we connected the most the entire holiday, and he told me (because he needed me to write them down for him as he can't write yet) that his gratitude was for his mermaid birthday party we did last year (#nailedit), and his intention/wish was for all his friends and family to be with him all the time. I mean come on, that was special. Sophia (miss 3) thought the reflexology area and the fishy pond were the highlights. 15/10 do with your kids.
Back to North Star Holiday Resort at Hasting's Point. By far the best part of this place is the huge area for kids of all ages to ride and scooter around, with extremely minimal risk. The place is teeming with kids on bikes, so cars are travelling even slower than the 10kph speed limit inside the resort. My 5 year old has a big boy bike that he rarely rides due to a lack of confidence, but he was on it ALL the time here, as he had fantastic flat paths and roads to ride on. He rode straight after brekky and after dinner until it was too dark to ride anymore. He gained so much confidence and practise that he rode to the Hastings Point General Store on the last day! The equally best thing was the FREE KIDS CLUB! Holy heck what a dream to have a free kids club within the caravan park!!!! It was an absolute godsend on the days is poured with rain - allowing us even just an hour or so to regroup, listen to a podcast, switch off, or go for a swim in the ADULTS ONLY POOL (#bliss). 15/10 do recommend this place for a family holiday. We stayed in a lovely spacious cabin, but there was everything from camping, caravaning and so on, and they ALL have access to the pools, kids club, restaurant, happy hour, day spa, etc etc.
Getting home: we decided to take the coastal road home, an extra hour in total, but allowed us to feel like our holiday wasn't over just because we were leaving Hastings Point. We stayed at the Rydges Port Macquarie, which was sea-side and had a lovely pool that overlooked the water. We walked along the esplanade and saw all the beautifully decorated rocks forming the walkway, which people had hand painted. I have no idea why, but they were really awesome and the kids also loved spotting their favourite artworks. We had a couple of bluddy expensive cocktails at the Rydges bar, which were absolutely delicious, and then headed to Zebu restaurant inside the hotel, which was... the perfect way to end our holiday. We decided to give ourselves a night off parenting - and set the kids up at the fancy restaurant with the ipad. They had a spaghetti bolognese each, which smelt so good I almost ordered it myself. However I splurged on the seafood linguine, which Phill also had, and we agreed that it was one of the best ever. I wish I could have bought it's tomato bisque in a bottle to take home. The service was exceptional, with friendly, attentive, professional staff who were still fun and not stiff like many fancy restaurants. The kids weren't ready for bed, so we hit the esplanade post-dinner and found ourselves at a huge playground where they raced around like crazy until after dark, with heaps of other kids. The corso was busy with families having fish and chips on the extremely soft grass, watching the kids play, and the local fishermen catching things from the jetty. There were dogs and people going for their evening walks, festoon and fairy lights on every palm tree, and honestly we might come back for a holiday when we're not willing to travel the 9 hours to Byron.
All in all, it was 10 days away with the family that I would 110% do again and again. In fact, the bookings for Hasting's Point tourist park open in February for next Christmas holidays, and we might just rebook.