Travel: A nostalgic visit to Coolangatta
OH COOLANGATTA, how I have missed you. The funny part is I haven't really spent a huge amount of time in the area, but the times I have been there have been memorable.
From the time I reached my mid-teens, my parents would save up to take me and my brother for week-long holidays each year.
On at least four occasions these were to the Coolangatta area.
The standout memory of those holidays is not an event or activity, rather just enjoying being together - whether swimming in the ocean, eating at restaurants and cafes, playing cards in our hotel or wandering through shops.
Things have now turned full circle. I took my wife, Catherine, and daughters Elsie and Maggie on a two-night getaway to the Greenmount Beach Hotel, between Coolangatta and Rainbow Bay.
Without expecting it, I got a real sense of familiarity as we enjoyed the time together.
My daughters are nowhere near their teens, they are aged three and one, but the feeling was the same.
We wandered around the region, we swam in the pool and ocean, we did puzzles and soaked up the lifestyle that comes with staying right next to the beach.
The getaway all started Friday evening, checking into the hotel at about 6.30pm. It was a mad dash into the family room to get our youngest, Maggie, fed and into bed.
Once she was settled, I took Elsie for a short walk to find dinner. Within 500 metres we had options of fish and chips, burgers, fine dining, Indian, Thai and Chinese.
We settled for quick burgers and took them back to eat on our balcony overlooking Coolangatta beach.
Once Elsie was down to sleep, Catherine and I enjoyed a wine on the balcony before calling it a night.
Somewhat surprisingly with the four of us in one room, we all slept well.
Maggie was first to rise, just before 6am, so I put her in the pram and took her for a walk, which was up there as the best idea I had all weekend.
We took off past Rainbow Bay and around the beautiful Rainbow Bay Surf Club, perched right on the shore.
Just past the club, it was stunning to watch the sun rise above one of the most legendary surf spots in the world, Snapper Rocks.
I could have sat and watched for hours, but I had to get back to see the rest of the family for breakfast - a full buffet of hot and cold options. This, of course, was a big hit with the kids.
Once we were fuelled up, Catherine was sick of hearing me rave on about my morning walk and wanted to see what I was talking about. Along the way we stopped at a couple of playgrounds. At Snapper Rocks we splashed in the water, climbed on the rocks and watched the surfers show their moves.
From there we pushed up the headland to Duranbah to see the Captain Cook Memorial - a towering structure on a spot with amazing views. There was a short, steep incline to get there, but Elsie handled it no worries, with the promise of a treat from Café D-Bar.
After taking in the view across Duranbah, we grabbed fruit juices from the popular cafe.
After such a busy morning, we had to get back to the hotel so the girls (and parents) could have a nap.
The afternoon was spent on Coolangatta beach and in the hotel pool, which had a slippery slide. I am pretty sure Elsie wouldn't have braved the cold water if not for that slide.
All that play worked up an appetite, so we went across the road to the Greenmount Beach Club for a relaxed, pub-style feed.
Once again, we got the girls back to the hotel to sleep and we had a wine or three and a game of cards on the balcony.
The next morning, we feasted on the buffet breakfast before hitting the Coolangatta Arts and Crafts Markets.
We were surprised by the size and scope of the market, which had everything from fruit and vegetables to jewellery and clothing.
I asked Elsie on the way home what her favourite part of the trip was. She said "getting to sleep in the same room as mummy and daddy." I will take that as proof she had as good a time as I did all those years ago with my parents.
The writer was a guest of the Greenmount Beach Hotel.