After retiring from a very long teaching career, my new career is: travelling, blogging and writing from the beautiful northern end of the NSW coast.
You can follow my journey at maureendurney.com/
Life is Good!
Published August 31st 2016
Get The Kids Out Of The House Without Paying A Fortune
Having been a teacher for more years than I can remember, I know what happens to any budget that comes within coo-eee of school holidays - it maxes out in a matter of seconds. What used to be affordable becomes very unaffordable the minute the holidays start. Travel, accommodation, activities - all increase in cost, leaving families wondering how they'll manage to entertain the kids for two weeks.
But what if the budget can't be stretched? What do you do with the kids to make their holiday enjoyable, while ensuring you don't break the bank? Luckily, if you live in or near Murwillumbah, we've got you covered for a couple of activities - rain or shine - that won't cost a cent, if you plan ahead.
If you're a Brisbanite or Gold Coastie, the drive to Murwillumbah is a treat on it's own, as long as you factor in any stops you'll need to make. With a bit of planning the kids could have a fun day, and you could have some down-time; after all, it's better to get the kids outside where they can run off their exuberance than have them underfoot all day, constantly reminding you they're 'bored...'.
Do you have enough in-car activities to keep the troops entertained if you can't stop - or if you are stopped for roadworks or traffic holdups? Is the shortest way the most scenic way? What is the best option for bathroom and/or refreshment stops?
Photo by Charlesjsharp - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27354030
If you're near Currumbin mid-September you could stop and look at the Swell Sculptures Festival. Or you could take any of the beach exits and let the kids have a splash in the surf, if you don't mind wet, sandy feet in the car afterwards.
When you exit the Highway onto Tweed Valley Way, watch out for an exit to Tumbulgum (pronounced - Tum-BUL-gum, not Tumble-gum), and consider a scenic detour (the exit is on your right). There are great little cafes if you need a coffee re-fill, otherwise, just enjoy the view as you drive alongside the river. You could point out Mt Warning and explain that it's a remnant of the ancient Tweed Volcano that erupted about 23 million years ago. The mountain holds traditional significance for the Bundjalung people, who ask that visitors don't climb the mountain out of respect for their heritage.
Instant activity; just ask the kids "What might live in this tree?
On to Murwillumbah, and Knox Park is where you'll stop and let the kids run, climb, swing, skateboard and stretch to their heart's content. The park has been recently upgraded and local kids have given it the thumbs up, so it must be good. Meanwhile, you can relax with a book and coffee while the kids wear themselves out. There is plenty of space to put a picnic rug down, or you could stretch out on one of the benches. Bring some sausages to throw on the BBQ for lunch, and you've got a great day out for not much more than the cost of the petrol to get there.
The shade in Knox Park will keep the kids sun-safe while they play
If your juniors are past the playground stage, they could nose-and-tailslide for hours at the skate park, right beside the playground. You'll be there on the sidelines if needed, but the kids can let loose and have some fun while you relax. The thing that sets Knox Park apart from the rest is the natural environment it's in. Safe enough for the little ones to have a bit of independence while you watch from nearby, and perfectly shaded by the huge trees in and around the equipment. It would have to be the most practical playground I've seen in a long time. And judging by the length of time my friend's six kids spent there recently, I'd reckon the kids knew they were onto a good thing. It was a perfect setting; the adults catching up on old times, while the kids played until it was time to eat. A perfect outing!
If it's raining, skip Knox Park and head further out of town to the Tweed Regional Gallery. There are no-cost guided tours, but if you want to conduct your own, why not prepare a list of questions or activities to help the kids get the most out of their visit. A pre-visit discussion about the protocols of visiting an art gallery might be helpful as well. And the re-creation of the house that Margaret Ollie painted in will give you an insight into how one artist lived. If you have a SmartPhone, you can download the Tweed Shire Council App that will keep you up to date on what's happening at the gallery, and around the region.
The view from the Tweed Regional Gallery is stunning, whichever way you look at it
The kids can access the iPads in the gallery that will have them creating their own artistic masterpiece, while you relax. And they don't have to leave their artwork behind because it can be emailed for them to access and print at home. If the budget permits, a milkshake or snack at the cafe would be a nice way to end a perfect day, coupled with the amazing view of the river and the mountains. The gallery is open Wed - Sun; 10am - 5pm. While it provides a good alternative to outdoor fun if it rains, it's good enough to factor in as the main activity in any weather. The menu prices are a little more expensive than other cafes so you might need to consider that in your overall budget for the day.
iPads provide the perfect tool for kids to be creative at Tweed Regional Gallery
There's a link to the Tweed Regional Museum on the Tweed Shire Council App, if history is more your thing. You could possibly fit in the Gallery and the Museum if the weather isn't good enough for the outdoor activities. The Museum opens at 10am and closes at 4pm, Tuesday to Saturday (don't forget to adjust for Daylight Saving Time).
And if you live too far away to take advantage of these great spots, do some research and find similar venues in your local area. Most places have at least one park where the kids could run free and wear themselves out, as well as indoor venues and activities for wet weather activities. It's just a matter of finding them. Whatever you do, enjoy the holidays and bless the fact that you don't have to worry about school lunches and ironing uniforms for a few weeks.