We got back from our sixth family holiday last Saturday. We are steadily working our way around Victoria, starting with our 2007 sojourn on the Mornington Peninsula, based at Blairgowrie, then 2008's trips to Phillip Island and Bendigo. 2009 was the year C was born and the year my spine was misbehaving, so we didn't get away at all that year, but it was followed by 2010's adventures in Echuca and Wangaratta. This time we went to stay at a friend's holiday house in Anglesea, a quiet little beach town near the start of the Great Ocean Road (about 40 minutes from Geelong).
There's a lot to be said for holidaying locally as a young family. G and I have enjoyed getting to discover and rediscover some of the brilliant places that our own state has to offer (neither of us had ever stayed in Wangaratta until last year, and he had never stayed in Bendigo except for work, while our experiences of Phillip Island had both been long-ago childhood ones). We've been able to take our own car, which saves a lot of expense and inconvenience. Staying in one place and voyaging out for day trips has been easier on the kids' sleep patterns (after an inevitable first night of shenanigans, they've slept well at each holiday location). All of the longer holidays (Blairgowrie, Phillip Island, Echuca and Anglesea) have involved staying at a house, which has been easier in terms of food - given that I am a Coeliac, even on holidays, I prefer to prepare most of our food so I am comfortable in the knowledge that I'm eating safely. It also means I can do laundry as we go, which might sound mundane but actually helps reduce the amount of stuff you need to take and the scale of the clean-up when you get back.
More that that, I think, not having gone a long way or spent a massive amount of money has just taken the pressure off - we can relax, chill out, have days when we do very little, without feeling like we're "wasting" an opportunity or that we need to force a peak experience out of every millisecond.
Certainly our week away in Anglesea was an example of this kind of holiday. We chilled out, a lot. The kids watched DVDs each morning before a late breakfast, and hubs and I watched movies or read novels at night. We went for walks and collected sticks for the wood heater. I read 2 Trixie Belden novels, cover to cover, to the big kids during the little one's naps. The kids did crafts and read comics they found on the bookshelves and kept holiday diaries. We played Pictionary and card games.
We did do out and about things as well - we drove down the Great Ocean Road and visited the Otway Tree Top Walk, which was a full day's outing complete with travel-sickness vomiting from both the 7-year-old and me (nonetheless, it was actually a good day).
We were lucky enough, despite the cooling weather, to get two great beach half-day water sessions in - swimming at Anglesea front beach, and exploring caves and rock-pools at Point Roadknight. The girls were enchanted with both.
We visited the National Wool Museum in Geelong and, after a lovely lunch at the restaurant there, explored the travelling Science of Toys exhibit and the museum itself (which is well worth the time if you are ever in Geelong with children).
We took several long walks through the Coongah wetlands park, a charming maze of footbridges and gravel paths along the Anglesea River, which was also possessed of a superb playground.
We took G out for a fancy lunch in Torquay for his birthday, and the kids all gave him hand-created cards and presents.
We talked and we played and we laughed and we rested, and we visibly relaxed, all of us. The big girls, who'd been flagging with the demands of the busy term, came back as full of beans as can be. G and I feel better rested and back in tune with each other. C just loved the whole thing, especially having all her family around all the time.
It was a lovely autumn beach holiday.
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