Kids Travel

“Road Trip Activities #3 – Challenges”

Just before we took off, our friends got equally excited with our plans and started giving us challenges to do. The straight forward ones were to visit the compass points of the mainland, swim in the coldest water (Lake St.Clair), climb the highest mountain, etc. Then the kids started getting more from their friends, things like catch a fish in every state, spotting different animals (e.g. Tassie Devils), learning to tie different knots, sending pictures of patting a safe native animal, and the list went on.

It gave them something to focus on, kept them in touch with their school friends back home, and made them think about where they were at any time, adding to their education, as well as ticking off the lists.

What does everyone else out there do to keep the kids occupied and interested as you move around?

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Categories: 4WD, Adventure, Animal Action, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Challenges, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Road trip, Travel, Travel Adventure | Leave a comment

A trip to Europe – Some tourist snaps

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An overdue trip, rushing to see too much in too little a time. London, Oxford, Raglan, a tiny corner of France, and a glimpse of Switzerland. Lots of people to catchup with ….. we gave it a good go but it was not the relaxing immersion approach that Fifty Toes prefers to take when travelling.

Categories: Explore, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

“Road Trip Activities #2 – Beachcombing”

With three inquisitive young children there’s nothing better to keep them occupied that a few hours beachcombing on a remote beach.

The excitement of finding some fascinating creatures in rock pools, animal tracks on the sand, sea-bird eggs concealed immaculately by their coloured camouflage alone, would find us relentlessly exploring one beach after another. Sometimes we would find a sad carcass abandoned by the ocean, seals, crocodiles, turtles, sea-dragons, even a dolphin, but more often a treasure would left for us to marvel at, the chambered nautilus shells, colourful starfish, shark’s eggs and shipwrecks.

Unknown objects often had to be researched and extended the education process.

Collections were often converted into natural works of art too, a sea-shell Christmas tree, kids art projects for school, or just random creations.

Categories: australia, Australian Outback, Beach, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Natural World, Road trip, Travel, Travel Adventure | 1 Comment

Wave Rock, Hyden, WA

As a kid growing up in the UK, the picture books I had of Australia displayed magnificent photos of places with magnificent rock formations like Uluru, Kata Tjuta, and Wave Rock. When you actually visit these places the impact is often greater, particularly spiritual places like Uluru and Kata Tjuta, but despite not being in a rush I felt I had waited long enough and was drawn directly to Hyden, and Wave Rock at the western end of the Nullarbor. When many folk reach the township of Norsemen they usually head north towards Kalgoorlie, or south to Esperance. Our map found what turned out to be a beautiful dirt road heading straight for Hyden so off we went. Along the way we found pristine quiet campsites by the side of mountains, and one called the breakaways with gorgeous rock colourations, even a “mini” wave rock (yes, there are more than one).

The rock itself did not disappoint from sheer height alone, and despite being a busy tourist spot, it was clean and never seemed overcrowded. The kids tried out their best surfing stances on the rock face, and with a lifelong dream met we sat and contemplated where to go next.

Categories: Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Natural World, Road trip, West Australia | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A rubbish experience for the kids

Fifty Toes Walkabout kids love their nature but in some of the most remote places we visited they were horrified to find, what should have been pristine beaches, covered in rubbish. The rubbish primarily consisted of man-made plastics, ranging from thongs, toothbrushes, bottles and their caps, to cigarette lighters and the much more sinister ghost fishing nets. These nets float freely through the oceans, either dumped or lost by trawlers, often stretching for hundreds of metres, even kilometres sometimes. They catch anything above a certain size that comes in their path. When they finally wash ashore they cover the rocks like vast blankets.

Much of the debris we found originated from Asia or from passing ships, brought to our shores by prevailing winds.

Amongst the piles of rubbish it was not unusual to find dead animals, particularly birds and turtles that had either consumed too much plastic (as it is often mistaken for food in the water), or become entangled in ghost nets. Most upsetting was the discovery of a recently dead dolphin on one beach.

We like to leave places in a better state than when we arrived and the kids decided that they wanted to clean up the beaches. In Cape York obliging Parks and Wildlife rangers provided us with bags and within 30 minutes we had filled more than six sacks (as much as we could carry), with much more remaining. The same beach had had many tonnes of rubbish removed by a team only a couple of months prior.

In Cape Arnhem there was so much we decided to target specific items on 3 beaches. The first day yielded over 100 thongs, then the next day 331 cigarette lighters, again just the tip of the iceberg.

The kids had so many questions about the origins of the rubbish that it stimulated some interesting discussion, and hopefully it has made them more aware of the consequences of using “throwaway” plastics everyday. You can teach that in a classroom but the impact of hand-on experience is far greater.

Categories: 4WD, australia, Australian Outback, Beach, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, Kids Travel, Offroad | Tags: | 1 Comment

Australian Animal Roadsigns

A fun game to distract the kids, on long drives, is to spot new animal road signs. There are loads of them out there, but my favourite was in the Daintree National Park, where the Cassowary population is under threat from local traffic. Speed humps have been installed everywhere to reduce car speed, and one particular sign advertised the presence of speed humps and cassowaries. With great humour an artist labelled the sign with “Before” and “After”, the latter being the hump drawn to look like a Cassowary that was hit by a car, and the comment to “Slowdown, Chill out, not Flat out”. Look through the gallery to find it.

We’d love to see any other animal road signs photos you may have encountered on your travels – send them with a comment on where you saw them.

Categories: Animal Action, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Road trip, Travel, Travel Adventure | 2 Comments

Treachery Camp and Seal Rocks

Treachery Camp is a privately owned property a kilometre down an unsealed road from Seal Rocks. I think I’ve been going there for over 20 years now so the chance to have a quick weekend getaway was jumped at – a Dads and kids weekend.

Approximately 4 hours north of Sydney, Seal Rocks is a little village with caravan park, and general store, just north of the Myall Lakes National Park. Twenty years ago it was quite an adventure to get to but the improvements to the Pacific Highway in recent years, plus completion of a sealed road to Seal Rocks in the last two years have opened the area up to everyone.

Because of this the camp was busy, much busier than I was used to. We found a large spot near the billabong, in a forest of paperbark trees, which in prior years I would have avoided for an abundance of mosquitos. The billabong itself was barely a puddle left, and full of tiny fish, but the marks on the trunks of surrounding trees belied days when it was over 1m deep.

Camp went up, the boys went off exploring, the campfire started and Simo set a high standard with his curry for the first meal. The boys found sticks and the obligatory marshmallows over the campfire saw the night draw to a close.

First thing Nick braved the surf at Treachery beach but after breakfast we headed for the more protected waters at Seal Rocks where the boys swam, paddled and tired themselves out. A friendly Kookaburra visited my rear tyre and coughed up it’s equivalent of an owl pellet – full of beetle shells, leaving it on the tyre.

The big sand dune between camp and the beach is a huge draw card for the kids, as they run up and down in the heat of the sun. Some of them even got an introduction to sandboarding by a man who makes them, and soon enough the youngsters were speeding down the dunes extolling the virtues of the board.

The short walk to Treachery Head offers magnificent views back to Seal Rocks lighthouse, and Lighthouse beach to the north, with Treachery beach to the south. In calmer conditions in the past I have watched whales and dolphins playing in the waters just off the headland here.

I had heard dingos inhabited the area but had never seen one at Treachery before. Maybe it was because we were close to a place called Dingo Flats but we had a few visits by very wary dingos cruising past looking for an easy snack – none around six very active hungry boys! Then there was the obligatory snake sighting, a red-belly black snake cruised through the camp followed by the curious boys, careful to keep just enough distance to be safe.

And when they weren’t exploring the boys resorted to the irritating but totally harmless current craze of bottle flipping

I was surprised how crowded it was but even then our stay was pretty peaceful in the magical forest and all the mosquitos, it turned out, had moved to live in the toilet block! Still beautiful but changing fast.

As we drove back to the Pacific Highway we diverted the 5km to see the 400 year old Grandis tree, once claimed to be the tallest tree in NSW, but since exceeded by some remote tree back in the Blue Mountains.

 

 

Categories: Adventure, Australian Outback, Beach, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Natural World, New South Wales | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Return to Noosa

Almost a year after we last left Noosa with heavy hearts the promise of a joyous family occasion saw us departing Sydney in the early hours and heading north for my cousin’s wedding. The plan was simple – drive the 1,060km up the coast in the first day, the kids sleeping for a good 4 hours before dawn, a few stops to stretch legs, swap drivers, grab a quick snack, five nights in three locations then return more sedately via the inland road, taking two days, and allowing time to fossick for sapphires in gem country.

Our first stop was the relative luxury of the Noosa Islander resort and catching up with cousins and their families, who are usually scattered around the globe. The kids took over the pools and spas and we made the obligatory walk out to Hells Gate in the National Park. Only minutes from the main street in Noosa the National Park always presents fantastic opportunities to see Australian wildlife at it’s best. Our British visitors were not disappointed witnessing dolphins swimming close to the shore, dozens of turtles, and even a pod of 4 humpback whales less than 100 metres from the shore. We indulged in the pleasant waters of one of the beaches then looked for Koalas in the Eucalypt forest of Tea Tree Bay.

A short ferry took us across the Noosa river to the North Shore where we enjoyed two days escaping the very popular triathlon and celebrating my cousins wedding. Lots of dancing and merriment – the chocolate fountain was a favourite with the kids and the day passed all too quickly.

We found a baby frogmouth on the ground and a call to Australia Zoo was made. A pick-up was suggested but we didn’t witness it.

Then as the week came to a close an invite to stay on a houseboat for a night changed our plans and we extended our stay a little longer. We fished, swam in the river, caught up with family for a little bit longer, and looked out for Richard Branson on his island in the river, Makepeace island. He wasn’t there!

A peaceful night on the boat, then home the next day – the extra night meant a long drive back in one day and no fossicking this time.

 

 

Categories: Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Fishing, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Location, QLD, Queensland, Road trip, Travel | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Coloured Sands

Sands from our trip

Sands from our trip

I found a bucket full of zip-lock bags in the garage at the weekend. Each bag was carefully filled with coloured sands from our trip.

The kids were excited to see them resurface, many of which had been squirreled into recesses in the trailer for some time. As we each only had limited space all got quite skillful at determining what they wanted to keep, and if required, tough decisions would be made to keep something or substitute it for a new arrival. Very precious finds would also be posted home every now and again!

The sands had made it and with some suitable jars a very attractive display resulted.

There is a saying that if you take sand or soil from a place you will be destined to return one day. Maybe that’s why so much came back with us!

Categories: Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Natural World, Photography, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: | 6 Comments

The most junior Ten of the Fifty Toes gives his 5 minute trip summary (#4)

What were your three favourite places and why?”

  1. “Twelve Mile Lagoon in Lakefield National Park, Queensland because this was where I caught my first barramundi on my own. Dad helped me pull it up the bank but I caught it myself. It was 60cm long and tasted delicious”
  2. “Lake Wabby in Fraser Island, Queensland. We could run down steep dunes into the deep water and the water was lovely and warm. It was raining but I didn’t want to leave”
  3. “Swimming with Whale Sharks in Exmouth. I was a little bit scared of swimming in deep water at first, but when I finally jumped in I couldn’t believe how big and beautiful the whale shark was. They are the biggest fish in the oceans. People think they are whales because of their size but they are harmless giants that only eat plankton”
“What was the best thing you took on the trip?”
“Probably my fishing rod. If you don’t have any food you can use it to catch fish for dinner all you need is a lure or some bait. Unfortunately though I did break a couple of rods on the trip, one because a big bream snapped it, but I still landed the fish and ate it”
“What did you miss most, or just couldn’t take with you?”
“I missed Grandma while I was away. I really missed not having a bike, so we had to borrow other kid’s bikes off them whenever we could. There were lots of nice kids on the road who shared their bikes with us”
“Would you do it again?”
“Yes I would, because I would love to keep fishing and snorkelling on the reefs. I never get bored swimming or fishing.”
“How did schooling on the road go?”
“Great. I loved the work, especially the Maths books and I even got a Maths award from my teacher whilst on the road?” (Editors note – he had no problems finishing the work whenever he got it and was the model student. The other two were more of a challenge!)
Categories: Adventure, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, Photos, Road trip | 3 Comments

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