Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Valla Beach Holiday: Koala Quests, Disco Buses & Whales Galore!


We've just returned from a short Mid North Coastal adventure!

It was so good to have a break from the wintery Melbourne gloom.

We flew to Newcastle north of Sydney, hired a car then drove to Port Macquarie. 
We stayed one night in Port Macquarie, then travelled up to sleepy Valla Beach which is 35 minutes south of Coffs Harbour.

Alot of my family all made the trek as well for a fun family reunion.

We stayed in the same tourist park together, kind of taking it over, and had bbqs, singalongs (there were 4 guitars and 3 guitarists!) and visited the local tourist attractions.

In Port Macquarie, we drove straight to the nearest mall for a quick lunch before finding the caravan park we were to stay at.

You could say I was literally in Port Macquarie for just 5 minutes before I met a kindred spirit...

As I walked in through the entrance from the carpark there was a table filled with crochet and knitted goodies!

Of course I stopped!

My attention was immediately taken by some chunky collars made in star stitch!

I looked up and saw the stall holder behind the table.

Red Haired Amazona: "Is this..."

Stallholder: "It's CROCHET darl..."

Red Haired Amazona: " stitch?"

Stallholder: "Oh! You know crochet?"

Red Haired Amazona inwardly chuckles!

Then we chatted for a few minutes (actually it was closer to an hour) while the boys found other amusements, then went back to wait in the car.
I bought the star stitch collar in a gorgeous navy blue with a bone button.  When I got home last night and put it on, it was deliciously warm!

The stallholder Chris has a Facebook page called Beanies & Bits.  She also collects granny squares from anyone who wants to donate them, then sews them into blankets for the local Domestic Violence Support Group.  This is a cause close to my heart, so if you live in the area, please get in contact with her to see how you can contribute!

The next day before we left for Valla Beach, I wanted to check out a local Tea shop called World Par-Tea.  


Out the front of the shop was this handsome creature!

World Par-Tea
Komorebi Koala outside World Par-Tea in Port Macquarie

I asked the lovely shop assistant about him and she said he was one of the Hello Koala Sculptures and gave me this brochure...

As well as lots of gorgeous teas, tea pots and mugs (yes I did indulge!), they had a selection of Hello Koala magnets.  I spied this one:

Oh My Glob!!!

Hello Koalas

Red Haired Amazona blurts out in the middle of the shop: "Are you serious? Is this real? We have to find this!!!"

Helpful shop assistant (who was also pouring me a sample cup of Vanilla English Breakfast tea) handed me this brochure, then I knew the quest was afoot:

Granny Square Koala

Wauchope (pronounced War-hope) was only 20 minutes drive away. We agreed to stop by for a look on our way to Valla Beach.
But first there were a few more koalas to visit.  There are 50 beautifully painted koalas on the Hello Koala Trail, but sadly we didn't have time to find them all.

If you'd like to check them out, visit the Hello Koala website. It looks like a similar idea to the Shaun the Sheep sculptures in England which my friend Vicki from Off The Hook visited in London...

First we decided to visit the Rainforest Boardwalk in Sea Acres National Park.

Area map
Sonofagun No. 2 knows where we are!

Where we met this lovely fellow in the Information Centre...

Crusader Koala
Crusader Koala!

The rainforest was lovely and lush. All around us we could hear the constant chatter and song of birdlife. 

Sea Acres Rainforest

 But whilst we would sometimes see a flash of wings, they were extremely hard to photograph. The only creature who stayed still long enough for a photo was this Rock Wallaby basking in a pool of sunlight...

Rock Wallaby
Rock Wallaby

So we journeyed onto Wauchope.  Outside the local community centre we found our third Koala. I loved his beautiful Aboriginal designs.

Hello Koala Sculpture Trail
Guula Koala by the Wauchope TAFE Visual Arts Students

And then finally outside the Wauchope Hospital, partly hidden behind construction fencing, I found the most beautiful creature I had ever seen!

Granny Square Koala Wauchope
Granny Square Koala

Yes. She is definitely my favourite! The Granny Square Koala.

Hello Koala Sculpture Trail
I am so in love right now!
I took several photos while 2 construction workers sitting on a bench a metre away gave me amused looks.

We then continued on towards Valla Beach.

After settling in to our yurt at Valla Beach Tourist Park, we decided to visit the Coffs Harbour Butterfly House.

Amazona Butterfly
The rare and beautiful Blue Amazona Butterfly

The Butterfly House Coffs Harbour
The Cairns Birdwing
The Ulysses Butterfly
The next day we drove up to Bellingen.  A beautiful little town known locally as 'Bello'. And lucky us, it was hosting the Bello Winter Music Festival that very weekend! 

There were buskers, bands, market stalls and general shenanigans such as the Lollipop ladies...

In order to cross the road, you had to disco dance across the crossing. Or break out whatever dance move they told you to!
bello winter music festival
The centre of town in beautiful Bello

Sonofagun No. 2 and I climbed aboard the Magic Bus.

Disco and Funk blared out of the speakers.  Everyone was given a piece of some kind of funky clothing to wear like a sequined hat, feather boa or big green sunglasses. For just $2 you could ride as many times as you liked all day up and down the main street of Bello. The Zebra suited driver even drove it down a side street down to a cul de sac where he did several 360s declaring it was a big bussy mirror ball!

magic bus
The Magic Bus is headed for funky town
Random friendly busker dude playing some beautiful guitar
That afternoon back at the tourist park, my cousin Amy from the blog Mrs Smyth Made This and I sat down for a brief but awesome crafting and blogchat session while everyone else played cricket.

This photo was taken by Amy's future photographer toddler!  I think she captured my best side.

Mrs Smyth is making this...  and my rainbow granny stripe blanket is in the background.

You know, Coffs Harbour is quite interesting.  I was particularly taken by this painted traffic signal box.

Coffs Harbour

A Windmill Motel. Sure, why not!

No trip to Coffs Harbour is complete without a visit to the Big Banana!

No false advertising here. They really do grow bananas at The Big Banana!
And so finally it was time to return home. I could have stayed longer. There is so much to see and do on the Mid north NSW coast. The weather was beautiful.  I snapped heaps of photos of birds...

And flowers...

On Tuesday morning we headed back to catch our flight from Newcastle.  My sister recommended we stop at South West Rocks on the way to see the Smoky Cape Lighthouse.  She said she had seen a whale.

It was a steep climb up the hill...

But it was worth it!

Whales at South West Rocks
There were so many humpback whales!

We saw tail flips and lots of humps breaching the waves. Water spouts galore!

Here are 2 photos of the same two whales as they were closest to the shore, but all around we could see signs of whales frolicking. We identified about 6-7 groups or pairs in different locations around the point.

If we didn't have a plane to catch, we would have camped ourselves there all day to watch.

If you are interested in checking it out for yourself, I found a link with some information here.

Check out some of the lovely craft bloggers at Handmade Monday!

The Red Haired Amazona


  1. Wonderful photos and a very entertaining read.

    1. Thanks Mothership! I'm so glad your magic bus photo came through!

  2. What a wonderful holiday - you sure covered lots of the tourist attractions and painted a beautiful picture of the gorgeous mid north coast. xox

    1. Thanks Dorothy! I still wish I was back up there!

  3. Wow it looks amazing ! A windmill hotel, fabulous! The koalas reminded me of Shaun the Sheep too:)

    1. I did actually show the shop assistant in the tea shop a photo of one of the Shauns and she thought it was awesome! Sheep sculptures in England and Koalas in Australia!

  4. Sounds like you had a wonderful holiday, so many lovely colourful photos! I especially like the koalas :) x

  5. What a super holiday. Granny Square koala is great.

  6. FABULOUS "TOUR"!! Love the Pics!! [especially the rather artsy Toddler one!] -- So glad that you found Granny Koala! She's a lot bigger than I would have expected...

  7. What a wonderful trip and that patchwork Koala is the best.

  8. Wow, such a beautiful place to see and so many things to do.

  9. I love the koala trail, there was a bus one in London a while ago.

  10. Oh wow, what a great hollybob, tea, crochet and wonderful flora and fauna, I love all your photo's. Seeing the whales must of been amazballs. It's great that you got to see 'granny square' :) We had a similar thing with horse sculptures in Newmarket and Ducks in Liverpool :) It's always great to spend time with family. x

  11. South West Rocks ... Mollymook ...Narrawallee ...we have the same taste in beaches