Leaderboard ad

Passionfruit ads

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Weekend away in Wollongong - the perfect family destination

Ah, Wollongong - how I love you!

Over the Easter long weekend, our family took the plunge and took a family holiday. Actually, it was our first time away from home as a family.

What took us so long, you ask? Well, we were a little panicked about how it would go - would our three year old twins sleep somewhere other than their own beds, for example? Would they experience enough 'fun stuff' to not get bored. Because as any parent knows: bored = slightly 'feral' children.

When choosing our first destination, I knew it needed to be not to far from the Sydney suburbs. For us, it's not so much the very important message of 'stop, revive, survive' - more one of: how many kilometres can we do before there are tears and tantrums. Ours.

Wollongong was the obvious choice. Close. Water. And things to do. But it'd been so long since I'd ventured to 'The Gong', as it is affectionately known, that I wasn't sure what to expect.

I did remember, however, that the only hotel I would want to stay at - the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach. More on this wonderful hotel later.

The drive on day one of our two day escapade was easy enough - about an hour's drive south from Sydney's suburbs. After a drive through the gorgeous coastal scenic route, we stopped off at the Southern Gateway Centre, a new tourist complex which is a destination in itself. Think sweeping views of Bulli Tops and beyond, a swank restaurant in Altitude 1148, and a gift shop with the friendliest of staff - knowledgeable too... a phone call to Rachael there when we were heading in the wrong direction (don't ask) had me at ease, and got us there in a jiffy.

You can also you can pre-purchase tickets and get big savings to local attractions including Jamberoo Action Park, SkyDive the Beach, the Illawarra Fly and whale watching at Jervis Bay.

Best part? It's open seven days a week, every single day of the year. I must admit we were happy to stay and enjoy the spectacular coastal views from the external viewing platform for almost an hour.

We then headed across to the Wollongong city centre, and after an obligatory kiddie Maccas stop, we checked into the Novotel Northbeach Wollongong.

Management there were kind enough to host the four of us for this travel story, and right from the outset they were the friendliest staff I've ever encountered at a hotel, with an added touch of what I came to know as 'Gong Attitude'. That is, everything is served up with an extra dollop of kindness and hospitality.

The hotel is also recognised for their sustainability initiatives, with some of them including:

* Paper, cardboard, polystyrene boxes, wax boxes, paints, solvents, e-waste, cooking oil, glass, tin, building materials, light globes, candles, linen, furniture, toners and plastic wrap are all recycled.

* Over 450kg of food from the hotel's restaurant Windjammers is donated to Oz Harvest every year to feed the disadvantaged - just amazing

* Organic waste is sent to worm farms

* Two 3,000 litre rain water tanks capture water for filling the pool and for irrigation

* Over 350 LED lights have been installed in public areas of hotel

We were in a beautiful, ocean-view room (it's amazing how simply staring out into the sea in the distance can have an immediate calming effect - suddenly, I left my Sydney stress behind) which overlooks the recently converted decked terrace area. It's so lovely for weddings and the like.

The hotel also won three Australian Bridal Industry Academy Awards in 2010: winner of 'Hotel Reception Venue', '1st Night Honeymoon Accommodation', and 'Function Coordinator'.

So after a well rested sleep (the kids slept in portacots provided by the hotel - they were out like a light in five minutes flat!), and a hearty meal at the Windjammers breakfast buffet (what is it about those hotel brekkies? So very good - the rice pudding concoction was too divine) we headed off to explore even more of Wollongong.

First stop was a walk to the nearby lighthouse. Such a lovely stroll with the kids. On the way back we soaked up the view by plonking ourselves on the grassy hill near the commemorative war cannon.

Next, we reluctantly checked out of Novotel Northbeach Wollongong (but we aim to be back soon!) and headed off to the Nan Tien Temple at Berkeley, which is just a 15 minute drive from the hotel.

It was gorgeous, yes... but venturing there with three year old twins is a recipe for slight mayhem. We didn't leave feeling all-Zen like at all, but that may have been because we may have interrupted a wedding about to take place, took photos inside the temple (and perhaps we were not meant to), and one of the kids ran on the temple's altar. Oops.

Next on the daytrip list was Kiama. I knew it had a blow hole, knew it was a short drive (under half an hour) and knew we needed a space where the kids could run around and see something they hadn't before. Tick, tick, and tick.

The Kiama blow hole is an ideal family spot. Although, when you think about it, it's... just a hole sprouting water. The fascination levels are extraordinary, and I must admit I did get caught up in the excitement. Until... I didn't - because kids can only watch natural water jets for so long. And adults, for that matter.

After staying to enjoy the Kiama township with a spot of lunch, we set off again towards Sydney.

Our stay was exhilarating, relaxing, and one we are eager to repeat, even for a day trip.

Wollongong - we heart you!

For more details on Novotel Northbeach Wollongong, see: http://www.novotelnorthbeach.com.au/ or call +61 (0)2 4224 3111

For all info on what to see during your stay in the region, see:




or http://www.welovethegong.com.au/

No comments:

Post a Comment