This post is sponsored by Ballina Lakeside Holiday Park.
What’s the most stressful part of a family holiday for you? Is it the packing, the forgetting something or the kids not sleeping because you’ve relaxed the rules and they’ve eaten too much junk? Yep, me too.
But you know the MOST stressful part for us? The travel. Those awful early morning car trips to the airport, trying to keep the kids happy and quiet in small seats, navigating new terrain (and nearly ending your marriage because ‘someone’ can’t read a map – yes, that’s me), and the list goes on.
If we could eliminate travel altogether, that would be a great holiday for us. So we did.
We had a staycation (as opposed to a va(cate)cation). We holidayed just 20 minutes from our house, and we loved it! On the first night we were treated to the most amazing sunset, as you can see above. This spectacular act of nature slowly formed as we watched from the balcony of our two bedroom waterfront bungalow. It was the perfect start to our holiday.
In the morning the view was just as beautiful. We were greeted by a bright sunny day of clear blue skies and perfect ripples on the lake. Sigh, what a wonderful, peaceful way to wake up!
Since we were holidaying close to home, I didn’t stress about packing. Can you believe I only took one small bag with all our clothes and toiletries? Me neither. The things that took up the most room in the car were Miss P’s two blankets and all the special food we need for Miss Fussy Eater and Master Baby-Led Weaning. I like to have healthy stuff for us all on hand so that we don’t succumb to the crap from the vending machine – and we didn’t!
Other than that, I didn’t worry about leaving things behind because we could just duck back home if we really needed to. If you’re a little further from home, never fear though. The town of Ballina is only a 5 minute drive with department stores and other shops for anything you might need (beach towels, deodorant, knickers!). There is also a shop onsite at the park for more emergency items such as bandaids, batteries (gosh I hate battery operated toys!) or a cheeky chocolate bar fix.
The reason I took all our own food is because there is a fully equipped kitchen in the cabin. And when I say fully equipped, I mean it.
Some places I have been to think that all you need in the cooking department is one frying pan, a very small saucepan and a chopping board. Not even a sharp chopping knife!
That is not the case here. There were plenty of:
Perhaps most impressive was the plastic tub with a lid labelled BBQ Kit that had a spray can of oil, tongs, scraper and cleaning cloth. How clever! I cannot tell you how annoying it is to go to a holiday park that has BBQs and then not have all the tools you need, not to mention forgetting cooking oil. This is a really considerate feature of the cabin. Further down is a picture of it, so keep an eye out.
Special mention must also go to having a little bottle of washing up liquid under the kitchen sink, with proper scourer and cloth. This sounds silly, but I hate the waste of those liquid sachets, or worse, no washing up liquid at all. Again, management are really thinking about what is needed to have a good stay.
Now, I’m sorry, but I have NO pictures of the kitchen as I didn’t do ANY washing up until just before checkout on the second day. It was my way of having a holiday! That’s why I’ve given you such a good description, because I didn’t think that a sink full of dirty dishes would be very indicative of the facilities!
Let me distract you with this lovely photo of the living room instead. The comfy L-shaped lounge was perfect for the whole family to sit on at the same time while still having their own space.
There was also a dedicated dining area with generous sized table.
We used the two bedrooms a bit unconventionally.
Hubby slept in one room with our 3.5 year old daughter. All sheets, blankets and towels are provided in the cupboards in the cabin for your use, but I took along Miss P’s doona and comfort blanket to make it feel more home-like for her. Of course her precious bunny came too!
Little Mr 9 months and I slept in the other room. He is still breastfeeding throughout the night so I put him at the top of the bed between two pillows and I slept at the end of the bed.
Not exactly a romantic getaway, but it worked really well for our family, and meant both children slept all night without waking each other up! If you are a parent then you will know that is a holiday win!
There is also a dining table and BBQ on the balcony which has a large awning. A great feature that means you can cook and eat outdoors, even if it’s raining too!
The awning meant we could keep the pram set up and parked outside so it didn’t take up to much room in the cabin.
We stayed for two nights, and on the first afternoon we went for a walk along ‘North wall’, which is where the river meets the ocean. There is a great pathway all the way to the edge of the ocean, with the option of the beach or the calmer bay area (Shaws Bay) for swimming or walking along the sand.
We were lucky to catch the end of a surfing competition and we stopped to watch for a while.
When we got back to the cabin, hubby got to work on dinner (yay! Mums night off!).
Earlier in the day we did the short trip to town to get some sausages from the butcher and some baguettes from the french bakery (L’Ultime Patisserie). We made gourmet hot dogs with caramelised onions and local lemon myrtle mustard.
Oh, and we also picked up some tarts when we were at the bakery. The kids kindly stayed asleep while we ate dessert. Bliss.
On our last morning we decided to go out for breakfast. The Ballina Surf Club is only 10 minutes walk away and the Lighthouse Cafe is on the top level with fantastic views. Just meditate on that picture above for a minute – stunning, isn’t it?
We always order Miss P’s babycino first, and this one did not disappoint! The marshmallow on the side was gone before I could whip out my camera to take a photo.
You must always be sure to drink every last drop of a babycino, tilting the glass to drain it thoroughly.
I had the vegetarian breakfast and it was huge! Notable features were the proper home made hash brown and grilled bread, complete with blackened char marks. Nice.
Hubby had the full fry up. There was so much bacon he offered me some. Enough said.
Back at the park, we were amazed with how many things they’ve got in place to keep kids entertained.
Hot on the top of Miss P’s list was the incredible water park. She’s a fan of splish-splashing and rock pool exploring, but it was just a bit too cold for the water slide or fun sprinklers. Check out more photos here.
The adult pool is right beside the water park so if your kids are big enough to be trusted alone you can take a dip at the same time with one eye on them.
If swimming isn’t your thing, then you could try:
To the left of the photo above of the pool is the camp kitchen. A large space with many BBQs and tables and chairs where you can go at any time of the day or evening to cook. Perfect for large groups, although we didn’t need it on our trip.
We really could not believe that we had such an amazing holiday destination on our doorstep, and are so happy to have been contacted by the park to go and check it out. We will definitely be recommending it to any friends that come to stay up this way. It’s great for families, couples of any age, those with caravans and even if you are travelling with a dog, as there is a dedicated section by the river that is dog friendly.
Do you live on the northern rivers or maybe in south east QLD? Consider a holiday closer to home where you can simply drive a few hours and be done with it. Ballina Lakeside Holiday Park is such a fantastic all-in-one option so you can actually relax on holiday.
That’s not excluding those that live a little bit further away – come and discover the northern rivers – you will absolutely not want to go home! And if you do, be sure to drop me a note, I’d love to catch up with you :)
The Fig & Cherry family stayed as guests of Ballina Lakeside Holiday Park. They stayed in a two bedroom waterfront bungalow cabin. For more information and rate details visit the Ballina Lakeside website.