Tag Archives: Norah Head

Banksia Owls

We’ve been working on these feathered friends on and off for a month.

A few weeks’ ago, Ickle and Mivvy collected a whole bag of banksia seed pods on an excursion to Norah Head lighthouse, one of our favourite destinations. The pods were scattered along the roadside and each one was excitedly scooped up and popped in our bag.

Then my creative duo painted a selection of pods and left them to dry on the verandah, for ages. OK, we forgot about them, although one lucky pod did accompany Ickle to school for “News”. This is a weekly slot where each child in Kindy has to present an object or tell a short story to the rest of the class. Ickle announced that she had brought in “a pine cone from Newcastle”. Well. Almost.

Today, it was time to apply the very important finishing touches to our little pets: the wings. Mivvy also insisted, quite rightly, on a beak for her special blue-feathered creation. She chose black embroidery thread for the desired effect.

The Banksia Owls have taken up roost again on the verandah, but I think they’d look quite cute as a table centre … once they’re dry.

BTW, pine cones would be a great alternative if you don’t have any Banksia trees close by.

Whale Dreamers Festival

It’s whale migration season here on the eastern seaboard of Australia, with thousands of these wonderful creatures making their way to the warmer waters up north to breed.

A few years ago when I was still a Sydneysider (or almost!) I went on a whale watching cruise with a friend. We were fortunate enough to see a number of humpback whales up close, and witness a variety of behaviours such as tail slapping and breaching. But I did feel that there was something intrusive about being so close to them on the water.20140706_113812


















The Whale Dreamers Festival at Norah Head* offers a completely different approach. Organised every year since 2006 on the initiative of a dedicated trio of women, it is an eco event and great emphasis is placed on whale conservation and protecting the environment. And the watching takes place from a distance. In fact, Norah Head provides the ideal location for this with its panoramic ocean views from the cliffs by the lighthouse.20140706_114137


















Icklegen and I decided to join in the action at this year’s festival. We turned up early, which was a good thing as there was no parking at the lighthouse and limited slots in our usual spot by the Rockpool Café. We didn’t have to walk forever, as I had feared (now that would have been a challenge with a little one!) Free shuttle buses trundled up and down the access road to the lighthouse throughout the event making life so much easier.P1020276

On arrival, there was a big crowd on the cliff-top, with people peering excitedly through binoculars and very long telephoto lenses. There had been a sighting of a southern right whale a few kilometres offshore. A number of the more common humpback whales were also observed during the course of our visit, as well as pods of dolphins. Alas, we didn’t get to see any whales or dolphins ourselves, but it was enough this time to know they were ‘in attendance’.20140706_102947

We toured around the various environmental stalls, where Ickle befriended a somewhat battered wooden pelican. Then we got creative in the Art Space, a great initiative where, for a gold coin donation, Ickle got to paint and colour in her very own mask. The highlight of the day, though, had to be face painting. My little girl sat very still as a local artist decorated her forehead with a rainbow, flowers and a ziggy-biggy (aka a ladybird), the latter being at Ickle’s specific request.20140706_11083420140706_111521

We checked out the excellent food stalls on-site later on when we got a bit peckish. I opted for a black bean burrito (delicious and very spicy) and Ickle took a fancy to the sausage sizzle. (Well, she is a little Aussie, after all). And we sat in the sunshine overlooking the lighthouse and the ocean, while live music played in the background. And I thought: this isn’t bad for a Sunday afternoon in the middle of winter.20140706_111558


















*The Darkinjung Aboriginal people refer to the Central Coast of NSW as ‘Whale Dreaming Country’, and the whale is their totem.

Norah Head

Norah Head – what a beautiful, beachy place at our end of the Central Coast. An historic lighthouse, tidal rockpool, nature trail, great café, playground in the shade of the trees, and heaps of golden sand…why haven’t we been for so long? I’ve no idea, but we certainly made up for it with our most recent visit.P1010591P1010579

Daddy Ickle was in sporty mode and set off from home on his bike, while Icklegen and I opted for the more leisurely car journey. The route includes some of my favourite stretches of road up here. Elizabeth Bay Drive cuts through some fabulous bushland on the way to Budgewoi, after the Lake Munmorah residential zone. Then, come the rugged sand dunes on Budgewoi Road, as you skirt parallel to the seashore, the ocean itself tantalisingly out of sight. The dedicated cycle track from Budgewoi to Toukley gets the thumbs-up from Daddy Ickle, too.P1010539

First stop on arrival at Norah Head: the rockpool. The trick here is timing, as the water level and ‘bumpiness’ varies with the tides. We didn’t get it quite right on this occasion. The tide was still in, waves were breaking over the surrounding rocks and sweeping through the pool. Hit the right moment, however, and your toddler can happily frolic around in beautifully still water up to her waist.

It’s a popular spot and there were people camped out like sardines along the narrow strip of sand, so we headed around the corner where the beach was virtually deserted. Loads of space all to ourselves, and just a quick clamber over the rocks from the pool. Don’t tell anyone we told you! We made sandcastles, buried ourselves in the sand, dipped our toes in the many little pools hidden in the rocks, and relished being outdoors on such a beautiful day.P1010572

We then had an obligatory stop at the Rockpool Retreat one of those places we’ve been to before (several times) and know we’ll go back to again and again. Great menu, good coffee and cakes, kiddies’ corner, arty feel and décor, relaxing atmosphere…need I say more? It was busy, so we went for a takeaway, which was a little on the disappointing side (chips were undercooked, plus you don’t get the benefit of their presentation when you eat out of a box). But it hit the spot all the same.P1010531

Bursting with renewed energy after his lunch, Daddy Ickle hopped back on his bike and headed for home; Icklegen and I chose to stay a little longer. We looked at the start of the wonderful little nature trail that links Bush Street Reserve with the lighthouse. At around 1 km one-way, it’s a tad far for a young toddler, but easily manageable with her in a baby-carrier, or backpack. Being short on time (i.e. it was almost nap o’clock for Ickle), we got in the car for a quick look at the lighthouse – a stunning landmark dating to the early-1900s, and a great way to end our fun-packed morning.P1010587P1010595P1010593