Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Un-Package Holidays

The best things in life aren't always free.
Usually they're just really, really cheap.
Like our spur-of-the-moment holiday.
I can't even begin to explain how much we needed a break, living with serious illness is incredibly draining and we all desperately needed to get away.
With four days to go before Bella's return to school for term three, Anto and I scoured the web for motel bargains on the Gold Coast.
We settled for a cheap-but-clean place at Coolangatta at $79 a room per night, compared to the average price of $200 a night for a place we'd only be sleeping in.
I'm not precious when it comes to holidays.
I feel so incredibly lucky to get out of the house, that a holiday motel room is simply a place to shower, flop and sleep.
All the fun stuff is found exploring my surroundings, not slumping in some hotel pool bar that serves $7 cola.

 Taken the day we set off I didn't have time to plan outfits, I shoved three pairs of leggings into a bag with a couple of short and long-sleeved t-shirts to layer on cold days.
Lucky I did, we had some of our coldest mornings in more than 100 years on our trip away.

 This is Point Danger on the Queensland-NSW state border, a place Bella and I adore in summer and now, winter.
Yes, this is our winter.
Sickening isn't it?
There's a special place in my heart for beaches in winter, born from many hours spent on New Zealand's wild beaches pretending I was a windswept wench waiting for Harvey Keitel to return my piano keys.

After three days on the coast, we headed for the hills bound for O'Reilly's Retreat at Lamington National Park.
We arrived rather late on Saturday afternoon, just in time to take in the tree-top rainforest walk, learn more about the history of this beautiful, remote spot and slumping in leather chairs in front of a crackling fire.

 This is a replica of the Stinson that crashed in the remote, dense rainforest several kilometres from the mountain-top home of the O'Reilly family in February 1937.
There were only two survivors who were found and rescued by a party organised by the O'Reilly's, 10 days after the plane was lost in low cloud and authorities had given up the search over incredibly hazardous terrain.
The original newspaper reports have been preserved by the family, plus the replica and a 12-hour walk to the crash site are among the tributes to that time when people relied on word-of-mouth to get their news.
The O'Reilly home site is now a low-key resort with many of the original rooms still in use by guests.

Anto told Bella the names on wooden planks on the swinging tree-top walk were of the people who'd fallen off. Haaa!

 Poncho time!
It was nearly dark when we explored the mountain garden and boardwalk, it was easy to imagine those lost, injured passengers struggling to survive the extremes each night.

Back down the mountain in the dark, we decided it was too late to make the hike back to Brisbane so we stayed at The Canungra Hotel, a gorgeous old place filled with charm (and more crackling fires!)
At $65 a night, we couldn't resist staying two nights, exploring the lovely wee town, picking up op shop bargains and marvelling at the peace.

 The original hotel built in the 1930s, where all the guest rooms are still intact, spotless and beautiful.

 I'm waiting for a ghost.

She's waiting for her horse-drawn carriage to arrive.

This is the sort of thing I love to see on holiday: cute cottages with rusty roofs, a thriving vege garden and probably a lot of possum visitors at night.
What's your ideal break?
Love D xo


  1. What a wonderful wonderful vacation! I prefer wintery piano beaches, too. And a haunted hotel. It doesn't get much better than that. You all look so relaxed. Ahhhh...

  2. Such a nice way to end the term break. I've always enjoyed beaches more in the off season, free of tourists.

    The "people that had fallen off"! Ha! Love it.

  3. looks like you guys had fun! You are looking great too :)

  4. Man do we ever need a break, The Canungra Hotel sounds amazing

  5. Looks like you had a fab break. I live close to a big empty beach, and the best time of year is in the winter. Ice forms on the dunes and if it's really cold on the rocks too. I love the area I live in. In means even days out can be mini holidays

  6. I hate having the planning hanging over me for ages, so your impromptu approach sounds fab. Love your photos, especially waiting for a ghost on the stairs!

  7. This looks so peaceful...bliss. Enjoy yourselves xx

  8. It all looks just gorgeous. The seaside is a must for me as I live in the most central part of the U.K which is a nightmare when you love the water.

  9. Talk about a beautiful place to recharge, I'm loving your winter beaches! The family looks happy to be out exploring and I love seeing a bit of what you call home. Chris and I need a get away like this so bad I need to find the motivation to plan something. Best getaways for me are always tropical.
    Lots of love

  10. I feel like I got a holiday just sharing yours! You belong in a place called Coolangatta, cuz you gatta be the coolest vacationer I know! (yeah, I HAD to say it)

  11. Spontaneous getaways are food for the soul! How lovely to see the three of you enjoying a winter beach visit and some forest exploration. You look happy and relaxed.

    My favourite getaway is still New York city - it's not relaxing, but it's energizing, self-esteem-boosting and a whole lot of fun.

  12. the last photo looks a lot like south Georgia! Including the banana tree! Tin roof, rusted

    I love going to visit my BFF for 4 day weekends.

  13. Good for you for taking some time off! I think that you're right--the frills are not important as the actual time off you get to spend with family. My brother in law is from Melbourne and it always makes me so jealous of their winters! I could live with that for sure!

  14. Vell HELLO Dahlink!!!! I didn't know that you had a Tumblr. I Luff Eet!! Now I'm following you!! XXOO

  15. I hope your break gives you all so much new power! xxx

  16. What a fabulous trip and great photos. Seeing the sea is always therapeutic.

  17. Your trip looks brilliant, Desiree, and all the better for being very much needed and done on a shoestring! Your winter beach looks like the UK in summer most years, though it's proving to be a better summer here for once. The tree-top walk and the old hotel look fabulous, and it's so great to see the three of you relaxed and having fun. xxx

  18. mwahaha, such a funny trip, it looks really amazing, the beach, the landscapes and the picturesque places!, I think you've enjoyed particularly all those 30's decoration!!

  19. This looks like such a lovely trip and I'm so glad you got to take it! I know what it is like living with a chronic illness and how if one is able, getting out of the usual four walls and even out of one's own head is very restorative.

    Your family is so adorable, even though I think Anto might be just a teeny bit evil1 LOL but I'm guessing Bella can handle him.

    Right now, my idea of a getaway is a bit of a day trip. I also like to go for a weekend and be able to take my time and do whatever I have the stamina to do or not do that day. While I agree with you that I'd rather spend my money on the experiences and even the food than on the room where I sleep, sometimes, due to my overwhelming fatigue, I spend a lot of time in that room so I have come to appreciate a nice one, though no need for it to be top of the line.

    Hugs for all of you!

  20. Looks like the ideal holiday to me! The beach looks wonderful! Oh to have your winters...

  21. Seriously my favorite break is when my hubby plays hookie and we plan a day in Seattle of walks, food, happy hour, and a sunset. Love taking simple breaks like this. That cottage for 65.00 a night looks so quaint and intriguing. Hope you came back refreshed!

  22. What a fabulous little holiday ... the spur of the moment ones often turn out to be the best ones. My ideal break? Anywhere that doesn't involve my boys asking "what's for dinner?"

  23. That sounds heavenly! You all look so happy and relaxed. I looove your green jacket! xx

  24. What a glorious time you had in my end of the world. I could have popped out to see you. I was Tweed Heads and lived down that end of the coast as a wee little thing. Beautiful memories and good times by the ocean. But given that it's probably surprising I long to be in the locations like O'Riellys and Canungra living on a property. Canungra is about a 20 minute drive from where we live and we often take a drive out and explore. Your holiday would suit me just fine. I'm glad you got to have some time away together.

  25. Oh Desiree that looks like an amazing getaway! I often wish we had cheap, nice hotels out here. I have often wanted to stay in a haunted hotel but they are so expensive in the States.

  26. Such a nice getaway! Better way to finish hols than having a tooth out like Mr Artist just did! But now he has permission to veg in front of TV for the day :-) Loving your poncho! Anto looks rather suave in his leather and stick. Just needs a dashing hat. Bella is sure shooting up, and like my kids probably hates people saying that...sorry Bella! XO JJ

  27. Absolutely perfect trip!! Right now I dream of the beach because I miss it!!!

  28. I'm so so pleased that you had a brief time away from everyday life. Hooray that Anto has been able to get out & about a bit. Hasn't the weather been just perfect!? I've never been to O'Reilly's. Although I do dream of that beach down at Cooly all the time. We're off to our little family duplex at Caloundra for the weekend. Looking forward to a mini break by the beach. Xx

  29. It looks like your impromptu trip did you all the power of good. The guesthouses look fantastic and way cheaper than any equivalent thing here in the UK - cripplingly expensive.
    The beaches are stunning, Curtise is right, it looks like a good Summer's day here.
    I'm hot, sticky and tropical all the way. I'm at my most relaxed when i can strip off and let the sun kiss my hide! xxxxx

  30. Spur of the moment trips are fantastic aren't they. So glad you got to have a break. I'm looking forward to havng that freedom back as my 2 little ones get older. Bella is so pretty and I love her style. I also love that green leather you're rocking on the stairs. I know we're all supposed to love summer but I always have an underlying jeaousy of the weather on your side of the planet at this time of year xxx

  31. A spur of the moment holiday sounds perfect, just deciding then going, gorgeous! whack stuff in a bag and go! your accommodation was so pretty and the beach so beautiful - you all look so relaxed and happy, was the hotel haunted? our honeymoon hotel was, I am convinced about it, my Dad though I was being quite filthy when I told him I hadn't slept for 3 days ha! x x x

  32. Sheeeeesh I need a wee lil vacation too.

  33. Aww...this looks like such a fun mini break! I hope you're all much more relaxed now xoxo

  34. Sounds like really nice getaway! I just started my summer holiday today and we are planning on making short 1-2 day trips around the towns nearby.
    We love to explore interesting places, rather than just lying on the beach, so something historical would be our choise. And it's also lovely to meet friends and let them show some interesting places.

    Hope your holiday got you properly relaxed and fresh!

  35. Oh I wish I could just spontaneously get in the car with my family and take a vacation. I would love to do the kinds of things you did on yours - beaches, forests, peace and quiet, historic hotels and see rusting caravans and just get away from it all. Alas, 2x cats and ill parent mean its just too hard. So good to see Anto out and about - the three of you look so relaxed and happy. xxx

  36. What a great trip this turned out to be, hope you all came back feeling refreshed, relaxed and ready for life. It's so lovely to see you all out en famille, feels like you've all had a new lease of life since moving house. I love to see and hear about different places and these are all so different from anywhere here. What a great rescue story. You look so cute and fresh-faced in these pics and that poncho is fab. Harvey Keitel on a beach: niiice!!! Xxxxx

  37. So nice that hub is doing better and you had this wonderful getaway - Such a beautiful place - I love the beach as well and love the last pic with cottages with rusty roofs!



  38. Hello darling I'm so glad you had a break, looks like it was richly deserved fantastic holiday yay! Have been missing your posts in my newborn twin baby sleep deprived haze, it's great to be back and thanks so much for your lovely words of congratulations x

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  40. you look great. and what a wonderful holiday. thanks for your lovely comments . a big hug for your daughter she is growing into a great young lady. xx lucy


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