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NSW Coastal Adventures

Water emits a healing melody - from babbling brooks to crashing waves. It grounds us and cleanses our souls, as with intention we take in the energies of the sun & moon, water and land. Nurturing our deep connection with this Earth as nature ourselves. In the core of our DNA from our ancestors and cradling us in the womb before we ever took our first breath, water plays a significant role in our wellbeing on a whole level. 

Although we do not live close to any beach, I often feel the pull to the ocean for a kind of solace that isn't on offer at home.
We have beautiful bodies of water nearby that I love to visit and swim in, however there is an unparallel comfort by the sea. I hold reverence for all the sources of water and the different energy they hold. 

Over the years we have embarked on many road trips up and down the NSW coast.
From 1 weeks to 5.5 weeks being our longest. We deeply look forward to these family adventures. Basking in wonder and just being in togetherness. 
Fresh off our recent adventure, I am feeling inspired to share some of the wonderful locations we have stumbled upon along the way, over these years of exploration. While there are still many locations we have not explored, I have compiled a list of the ones we have. There's always so many gems to discover and places to explore deeper. 

One of the most wonderful benefits for home educating families, is the opportunity to travel and visit establishments during school terms to avoid the busy crowds and peak time prices. While we avoid school holidays for these reasons, sometimes there will be other opportunities on offer (such as tours, workshops or particular activities or festivals) that are only available during school holidays.

The majority of the time we have gone on these adventures is either side of summer school holidays, in November-December or February. We have gone during January as well and it is definitely a lot less peaceful! The other thing to keep an eye on when traveling coastal is tide times! 

To simplify our findings I will share from the North to South, NSW coast and a few places inland. Many of these places offer some great adventure packages and tours like snorkelling, kayaking, whale and dolphin watching! Worth looking into what they can facilitate with your family's interests. I will also add any places I am aware of at these locations but have yet to visit, into the notes.

Kingscliff Markets on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month, full of lovely vendors. Some beautiful beaches to visit such as Kingscliff Beach and Cudgen Creek Beach

Crystal Castle - I first went to Crystal Castle when I was 13 and it immediately blew me away with awe. Taking my family here many moons later, seeing the changes and new additions... it is just as magical as it was back then.
Nestled in the Byron Bay hinterland, Crystal Castle has been a source of wonder for those that visit it. Housing some of the most incredibly large crystal pieces in the world, stunning gardens and rainforest across 10 hectares, a labyrinth, Damanhur spiral, crystal store and their Lotus Cafe serving organic food and beverages from the Castle's own food garden and local suppliers. 
Sit at a rose quartz table beneath a mango tree whilst your children have fun in the playground. Touch the World Peace Stupa, join in a crystal sound healing meditation, or get your Aura photo taken. There's an array of opportunities to spend the day relaxing at Crystal Castle. 
Day and Annual passes available.

Byron Bay
Byron Bay is one of those places that has become so over-run with tourists that many have a love-hate relationship with it. This is one place you definitely want to avoid during peak times as it honestly is pretty unbearable. Even during our last visit weeks after school holidays had ended it was pretty busy compared to other off-peak times we had visited. Be aware of paid parking.
Beaches to visit here - Wategos and The Pass
Wategos Beach has grass patches right before the beach that are perfect for you to set up a picnic with stunning views, without worrying about sand getting in your food. There are toilets, BBQ facilities and beach shower. 

The Pass is popular for surfing and has beautiful clear shallow waters for young children to play in at low tide. Climb the stairs to Fisherman's Lookout.

Cape Byron Lighthouse - Visit and tour inside if open or visit the cafe near the car park. You can take the Cape Byron walking track (be prepared for a lot of stairs) and stop at multiple lookouts along the way including the most easternly point of Australia. This walking track is a grade 3 difficulty 3.5km loop. If you only want to do a portion of the walk with kids, down to the most easternly point look out and back is a good but manageable workout with the stairs. This location is known for watching for sea creatures. We have seen sea turtles, sting rays and sharks there. A great place to take binoculars or camera with zoom lens.

The Farm - The Farm in Byron Bay is a chemical and spray-free, working farm with micro-businesses on site, in a community that aligns with one another. It is a beautiful place to visit and take the kids. Tour the farm and see the animals, the sunflower field and gardens. There is a playground, produce store, cafe and restaurant. Dogs are welcome if on a lead.

Minyon Falls - 29min from Mullumbimby (42min from Byron Bay), in the Nightcap National Park. The rainforests here are a part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. There is a picnic area, creeks and walking tracks. There is a lookout to the waterfall. The waterfall itself descends more than 100 metres over rhyolite cliffs which were once part of the Tweed Volcano.

The Bangalow markets are a must if you happen to be in the area around the right time. They are on the 4th Sunday of each month. This is a large market with a vibrant array of small businesses and handmade wonders. 

Notes: Also in the area is the Byron Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (formerly Macadamia Castle. 

Lennox Head
Lake Ainsworth - A great spot for swimming, kayaking and paddleboarding. The thing that makes Lake Ainsworth stand out is that it is surrounded by tea trees. The lake is booming with healing benefits due to the oils from these trees, which give the lake its tea appearance. First hand we saw significant results in eczema clearing up on our daughter's skin after swimming in this lake. 
Check to make sure there is no blue-green algae before you visit. 
Across the road from Lake Ainsworth you will find Lennox Head Beach.

Killen Falls - Located at Tintenbar (a 15min drive from Lennox Head), this waterfall has limited parking but is an easy track walk to the creek and falls. Be mindful of freshwater stonefish.

Australian Seabird and Turtle Rescue Inc - The headquarters of this incredible organisation that now has North and South coast branches. They rescue, rehabilitate and release shore and sea birds, sea snakes, sea turtles and sometimes unexpected and rarer patients like penguins! They are only open to the public during school holidays, where you can take a tour to learn about the work they do and see their current patients.

Keep an eye on their socials for sea turtle releases where the public are invited to witness turtles that have been rehabilitated and ready to go home to the wild.

Notes: The Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum may be of interest.

Evan's Head
Evan's Head is a great place to stay if you're looking for a quieter coastal town of the Northern Rivers. Swim at Evan's Head Main Beach and take a walk along the North Break Wall. 
Check out Razorback lookout and watch the sunset from the Evans Head bridge.

Evan's River - a great place to play and swim with children. Play at Evan's Head River Beach.

Note: Evans Head Living Museum and Evans Head Heritage Aviation Museum may be of interest. Go to Bundjalung National Park - lots of campsites and WWII concrete bunkers along walking tracks.

Visit the Yamba Ocean Pool for a swim (plenty or shade and picnic tables close by). Play at the Yamba Beach, right by the ocean pool. 

Emerald Beach
Stop in at the Emerald Beach reserve for a swim at the beach. There's a small playground, toilets and a wonderful view of South West Solitary Island Nature Reserve. 

Coffs Harbour
The Clog Barn - See their wonderful model Dutch village with working windmills and railway, that has been handmade by the owner. Visit the coffee house, watch clogs being made and explore the gift shop.

Solitary Islands Aquarium - A small aquarium located at Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre with local species, touch tank, interactive activities for kids, hands on displays to learn about local biology and geology, and a theatrette to watch local marine videos.

Coffs Harbour Jetty - Close to the Marina you will the Jetty, walk along and if you are lucky, you may spot some sea creatures. We were lucky enough to spot sting rays and multiple sea turtles during an afternoon visit. You can swim at Jetty Beach or check out the South Solitary Island Lighthouse Optic that is on display in-between the Jetty and the carpark.

Notes: Reptile World, Digger's Beach, The Big Banana Fun Park, Sawtell Island Walkway, Bonville Head Lookout and Sawtell Memorial Rock Pool.

The Honey Place - You can take a photo in front of the big beehive out front, see working beehives and learn about bees. Taste a range of natural Australian honeys, explore the gift store and take a break at the cafe.

Valla Beach - Off Valla Beach road - this is a precious beach where sea turtles' nest so take care to avoid the sand dunes. Come at low tide to explore the rock pools to the left side and see the large rock structures. There is a rock pool large enough to swim in! 

Nambucca Heads
Shelly Beach - As the name states there's a lot of shells at this beach. It is a great place for boogie boarding. There is plenty of shade from the trees, a beach shower and toilets by the carpark. Check out the Captain Cook Lookout nearby for a stunning view.

Art Rocks - Walk along the V wall and see the vibrantly decorated rocks. Further along the V wall is Pilot Lookout.

Scotts Head
Forster Beach - Park near the Scotts Head Surf Life Saving Club. There are toilets, a playground and picnic benches. Forster Beach on one side and Little Beach on the other. We went low tide in an afternoon with beautiful calm waves to float around in.

South West Rocks
Horseshoe Bay - There is a small beach with public toilets, a kiosk and a playground. Close by are many places to eat including some delicious gelato and sorbet!

Trial Bay Gaol - Take a tour of the old gaol ruins. 

Trial Bay Gaol Beach - Through the campgrounds as a day visitor, head towards the boat ramp where you will find parking spaces.  You are likely to see kangaroos through the grounds and there is a public toilet and beach shower available. The entrance to the beach here provides all day shade from the trees. At low tide there's a stretch of puddly sand banks that are great for toddlers to run through and play in. The water is clear a great for watching small fish swimming around. There are calm waves to swim through and some bigger ones to boogie board through. This is one of our absolute family favourite beaches. When you're done drive from the carpark along the seafront around the old gaol for spectacular views of the turquoise waters.

We've been lucky enough to see a pod of dolphins' swim through during a Nov-Dec visit.

Notes: Little Bay, Black Creek Bridge (go high tide - supposed to be a beautiful swimming spot, looked terrible at low tide).

Port Macquarie
Koala Conservation Hospital - This incredible facility is dedicated to Koala conservation, with a wild koala breeding program, an on-site treatment clinic and intensive care unit. It is free to the public to visit with the option to donate, adopt a koala or purchase from their gift store to support their work. You can see the koalas that live at the facility due to injuries that would prevent their survival in the wild. There is a fenced off part for the koalas that are rehabilitating ready to be released back into the wild, but you might be to see them if they are climbing trees. Before you go, explore the Koalaseum - a fantastic koala museum with tactile learning experiences, microscopes and displays. 

Notes: Sea Acres Rainforest Centre and Rainforest Boardwalk, Harry's Lookout, Tacking Point Lighthouse, Watonga Rocks, Billabong Zoo Koala & Wildlife Park.

Kiama Lighthouse - Check out the lighthouse and Pilot's Cottage Museum.

Blowholes - Kiama Blowhole (located near the lighthouse) and Little Blowhole located at Marsden Head.

Beaches - Easts Beach, Kiama Surf Beach, Kendalls Beach (playground nearby).

Notes: Bombo Headland Geological site, Cathedral Rocks, Minnamurra Lookout, Kiama Seaside Markets. Kiama Ocean Pools: There are three pools you can swim in - the Kiama Ocean Pool located near Black Beach Reserve, the Blowhole Point Rock Pool, and LA Natural Pool.

Jervis Bay
Beaches - Jervis bay is known for its incredible beaches including the whitest sand in the world at Hyam's Beach - a stunning location both for the sand and water! Callala Beach, Nelson's Beach (dog friendly), Greenfield Beach, Chinamans Beach and Green Patch Beach are all wonderful too.

Plantation Point - Located in Vincentia, Plantation Point has a children's playground and exercise part, toilets and BBQ facilities, a nature reserve and access to Nelson's Beach.

Booderee National Park - Purchase a pass online at the entry gate. There is a campground, Botanic Gardens, access to beaches and more.

Notes: Huskisson Sea Pool, Jervis Bay Mangrove Boardwalk, Jervis Bay Maritime Museum, Moona Moona Beach Playground (Picnic and BBQ facilities plus a great spot to swim in Moona Moona creek), Cape St George lighthouse ruins.

Mollymook beach - Very popular swimming location with a playground, toilets, basketball court, Beach Hut cafe and Gold Club nearby.

Ulladulla Sea Pool - visit this ocean pool for a swim!

Gondwana Coast Fossil Walk - Ulladulla is an area rich in fossils. You can book tour guide walks or get a map from the information centre. Go at low tide. 

Fossil House - This is the oldest house in Ulladulla (built in the 1850s), with a collection of fossils found locally, interstate and overseas. Free entry.

Rotary Park - Playground, toilets, memorial lookout.

Warden Head Reserve - Visit the lighthouse, do a coastal walk to Rennies Beach lookout. Follow the stairs down from the lighthouse to the beach and check out a few rock pools at low tide. Not an idea swimming beach.

Notes: Burrill Lake Aboriginal Rock Cave, Giriwa walking track, Sunrise view.

Murramarang National Park
This beautiful National Park is a pleasure just to drive through. Head to Pebbly Beach. There are holiday houses and a campground. Buy a pass at the machines at the carpark. There is a picnic area, beach shower and toilets. We have been here so many times over the years and 9 times out of 10 there are kangaroos by the beach. There's also a lot of rainbow lorikeets, king parrots, satin bowerbirds and lyrebirds in this area. At low tide you can walk along Pebbly beach and check out the rock pools.

Mogo Wildlife Park - A popular stop for this area. Home to a variety of protected animals from around the world. 

Mogo is full of boutique gift stores and cafes and artisan food and beverage stores.

Killer Whale Museum - A small but informative museum of the whaling history in the area, particularly the relationship between indigenous peoples and orcas. Check out their website for exhibition information.

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