Last weekend I got to spend three days with my host family’s parents in Woolgoola for Easter. We spent 8 days in Woolgoolga at Christmas, and there is nothing quite like it. It’s small, but it’s the kind of place where you get a real, local Australian experience. The town of Woolgoolga itself is surrounded by beaches besides just Woolgoolga main beach – there’s Red Rock (my favorite), Safety Beach, Coff’s Harbor and what is locally known as “the lake”, a small inlet off of main beach. As you drive through town, one of the large sports field frequently has a few kangaroos just basking in the sun – can’t get much more “Australia” than that! I still remember the first time I told Bob, Brett’s Dad that he could wake me up early in the morning so I could see the kangaroos that come around at about six am. How I spent my weekend this time around:
After the four hour drive south from Brisbane, I was greeted by tiny Mabel asking me to visit the horses. Mabel is nearly two and very verbal, but it impressed me that she remembered how I usually carry her up to the paddock and we visit with the two horses Brett’s parents keep there! It’s something I’ve done with her since our first visit to Woolgoolga in September. So, not five minutes from getting out of the car, I scooped up Mabel and carried her up to visit the horses.
I grew up in the city, so getting to walk about a hundred feet from the front door to the horse paddock is pretty amazing to me. Despite loving to “watch him”, Mabel gets a bit shy, but I love getting to pat their noses and feed them apples. We made at least two visits a day up to visit our friends. It’s easily one of my favorite parts of being at the house. We even saw a wallaby with a baby joey in it’s pouch up in the paddock!
I arrived on a Friday afternoon, so once I was settled in it was nearly time for dinner. One of my favorite things about being in Woolgoolga is that Brett’s dad regularly has fresh fish, oysters, prawns – the whole seafood shebang! We had freshly caught reef fish from a trip he’d been on the week prior, and it was incredible.
Saturday morning was an adventure that first called for coffee! Bluebottles is somewhere my host family frequents – they’ve been there for breakfast, lunch and dinner and especially our daily take away coffee. Local cafes are huge in Australia and finding a good one in any neighborhood is rarely hard. In addition to coffee Bluebottles has great potato wedges and chips, and of course take-away pastries.
Next was a Sikh parade (called the Indian Vaisakhi Parade) that was a celebration of the establishment of the Khalsa order in 1699. Violet’s grandma wanted to take her since the parade is something that’s been happening for years in Woolgoolga, which has a very large Sikh population. There were tons of Australian locals waiting along the small Woolgoolga streets for it to start, and we ended up at the very beginning due to a bit of confusion! As a result, we got to watch the entire procession, drive over to a friends house, grab some refreshments and then watch it again from the friends’ balcony! It was a very unique experience, and afterwards there was free curry and lamingtons in the beachside park on the main-drag of Woolgoolga. We grabbed a few lamingtons and some Rooh Afza milk but had to skip out on curry because the line was so long! Part of the Sikh culture involves feeding the community freely, and it made for a really memorable event! While we didn’t know much about the Sikh community or the reason for the parade, we certainly appreciated being able to watch and learn about their values and traditions. Definitely a one-of-a-kind Woolgoolga experience!
Saturday evening for me was babysitting and watching Finding Nemo with the girls, and then hiding eggs for them for Easter morning! The Thompson’s aren’t religious, to Easter was all about chocolate eggs and hunting. In Australia they don’t use the plastic eggs that I’m accustomed to as an American – they just hide the foil-wrapped chocolate ones instead! I love America’s variety of easter candy so I think the plastic ones will always be my preference. 😉 The girls definitely enjoyed hunting Sunday morning though! Mabel got super into it and was disappointed when we had to take her basket away for safe keeping.
We spent Sunday morning, post-egghunt on Woolgoolga main beach. It was busier than I’ve ever seen it, but it was a gorgeous holiday so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised! The surf was really strong, but I couldn’t resist hopping in the water for a short swim. For someone who is used to Easter having a 85% chance of clouds and rain, it was lovely! I learned how to swim in the ocean after living in California for college, so luckily I do okay in the Australian waves. The waves don’t look so big in the pictures – but there were people surfing and everything!
We had seafood for dinner Sunday evening and Monday morning it was time to head back to Brisbane. I stopped in at Rustic for some amazing French toast with fresh figs and cream for breakfast, along with a last coffee. I also walked Woolgoolga beach for one last time, although I’m hoping I get to make another trip before I go home in two months. Though it’s a quiet town, it’s the perfect place for me to find some solitude, enjoy the company of family and relax. Especially because I’m so overwhelmed with having to go home soon.
Until next time,
xoxo, Laura Kate