Family Travels

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Shoal Bay sojourn

Shoal Bay sojourn

"If you get up early enough and wander to the end of the pier, you're guaranteed a dolphin sighting!" So says (or perhaps boasts) the hotel manager at the Shoal Bay Resort.

So I do rise early and wander across the road to the beautiful white curve of a beach and find the jetty is deemed by local council as unsafe and therefore closed to public access. Undeterred, I find the nearest beach access and stroll along the tide line squinting across the water — sunlight already reflecting off it blindingly even though it's only 6:30am.

I don't see a dolphin, but my eyes are watering from the glare so I don't see much at all really.

We've driven to Shoal Bay from Sydney for the weekend in hope of getting closer to nature — above and below the water. We've researched the best snorkelling areas and easy-enough-for-eight-year-olds bushwalks.

The best time to drive out of Sydney (when headed north) is definitely after dinner. Our Ford Focus makes it here in 2.5 hours using less than half a tank of petrol. In fact I don't have to refuel all weekend which makes it a relatively cheap driving holiday.

The apartments at Shoal Bay Resort are massive — plenty of room for our large family (in fact, plenty of room for a wedding reception). The wrap-around balcony gives splendid views of the bay and the resort's swimming pools, which the kids are rather desperate to try out.

A couple of snorkelling spots come recommended — a great drift snorkel at Halifax Park and the afore-mentioned jetty. The jetty proves the most popular with the kids as there's an abundant of marine life directly underneath and in the surrounding seagrass.

We manage to talk the kids into hiking up Mt Tomaree (perhaps blackmail is too strong a word but we did promise ice-cream). It's a fair hike as well — while only a few hundred metres the trek is quite steep. We're rewarded at the top by the magnificent views, a few good trees to climb and an echidna sighting.

Our weekend is rounded off with lunch at Murrays Craft Brewing Co — surely this is al fresco dining at its best — the courtyard back on to a sloping lawn shaded by tall gums and there's even a box full of outdoor play equipment for the kids including a cricket set.

Live entertainment, wonderful traditional fair on the menu and the beer really is a nice drop. We could easily stay here all afternoon and watch the sun go down.

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