By Jessica Jane Sammut
It’s tough to pinpoint the exact moment that planning a holiday with kids gets tough. It’s somewhere between the toddler years – when they’re pretty much thrilled to be doing anything remotely different to their usual routine – and the ‘tween’ phase – when they decide you’re totally uncool and must be avoided at all costs.
It was with that in mind that I took on the massively high-risk task of planning a week away for my fam-bam: hubby and me, and our two boys, Zac, 10 and Finn, 7. I asked girlfriends, I scanned forums, I Googled the heck out of it. A sneaky look into my browser history would likely turn up such gems as: What place will entertain boys? Is there a pool? Do they serve mojitos?
And you know what kept popping up? BIG4 Sunshine Resort.
Located at South West Rocks on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Sunshine Resort is everything you never knew you always needed in a family vacay.
I may be a mama of boys, but let’s get one thing straight: I like my holidays served up with a healthy dose of mama-time. It’s my break too, right?
With that in mind, we booked into the Ngurra Lodges at Sunshine. You’ve gotta see these babies to truly appreciate their radness. Their facades have been covered in decals of the surrounding bushland so that they literally ‘disappear’ into their surroundings. It’s as cool as it sounds.
But it’s once you step inside the two-storey lodge that the real magic happens. I’m talking leather couches, modern artwork, three TVs, gorgeous kitchen and full laundry facilities because, you know, #boys.
The two-bedroom Ngurra Lodge has a King-size bed in the master bedroom (#winning) and a King-size bed, plus set of bunks in the second bedroom. We let the boys work out their own sleeping arrangements in their room – I’m pretty sure they switched and swapped the entire time we were there.
Days are jam-packed at Sunshine and the kids literally could not fit more activities in if they tried. From the moment they’d inhaled their breakfast (gotta love self-contained accommodation that lets you BYO food – it’s a win for the budget) and they had spied the native kangaroos hopping around outside, they were off. Entire mornings were spent at the resort’s uhhh-mazing waterpark, Shipwreck Island, and afternoons were an energetic mix of go-karts, canoes, stand-up paddle boards, putt-putt golf, tennis and bike-riding. It’s simple family fun at its best.
And you know what I was doing while those boys of mine were being entertained so hard? I was sipping that mojito on the terrace of my villa, chatting to the kangaroos (yep, they are literally that close) and mentally high-fiving myself for booking the mother of all family holidays. And knowing my babies were having a blast throughout the week also gave hubby and I some breathing space to reconnect, too.
My fave whole-family activity though, was a visit to nearby Trial Bay. The water is super-clear, and it’s also super-shallow for about 80 metres. The lack of waves means it’s super-safe for kiddos, so while the boys were tackling each other offshore (#boys) I was reading a book and turning myself a golden shade of brown. My tip: go of an afternoon, tuck into a BBQ dinner and watch the sun go down – it’s one of the few places in NSW that you can watch the sun set over the ocean. How cool is that?
Sunshine Resort ticked all my vacay boxes. While some days the boys were so knackered from a day of activities that we whipped up toasties for dinner and kicked back on the couch with a movie, other nights we shoved our sandy feet into shoes and headed to Full Circle; the resort’s own restaurant. Three words: Pulled. Pork. Nachos.
I think the sign of a good holiday is when you go home feeling refreshed, reconnected and satisfied that you got what you paid for. But you know what I think the sign of an awesome holiday is? When you get home and the kids ask when we’re planning on going back. I’ll be booking Ngurra Lodge – and my mojito-drinking spot on its terrace – for our next family holiday, for sure.