When I picked up a golf club for the very first time a couple of years ago and swung it enthusiastically this way and that, I had no idea that Golf would offer so much more than mere exercise. Indeed, despite the very high level of frustration that can be engendered by a disobedient little white ball, I’ve discovered that there’s a lot of fun to be had both on and off the course!
This was especially true of my first ever golfing weekend away from home which took place in a month or so ago. A girl’s weekend always has much to recommend it but when that weekend includes shopping, lunching, yarning over nibbles and drinks, dinner, dancing and a game of golf here and there, you know you’re on a winner. And even more so when your companions are the Mullumbimby Saturday Lady Golfers, affectionately known as “The Chooks.”
As the name suggests, this is a group of ladies who don’t take themselves too seriously, who know how to party and who are always willing to help a friend. Now the Chooks hold by the saying, “What happens on tour, stays on tour,” so no stories that might have inspired the director of ‘The Hangover’ will darken this post!
Betty, our club captain had generously offered Kerrie and I a lift and so on a sunny Friday morning, I found myself heading for Tenterfield, which is about three hours away from home. Now you wouldn’t want the journey to be too boring, so the Chooks had agreed to meet up for morning tea in Casino. Travel requires frequent refueling after all! A quick coffee and cake, a bit of a natter and a wander around the shopping district and we were back in the car ready to climb the Great Dividing Range. Betty and Kerrie were very familiar with the road but I hadn’t traveled on it for over 20 years. Unlike most of NSW, there had been plenty of rain and and little villages like Tabulum were picture postcard perfect.
It seemed to me that even the bends in the road had been smoothed out and before too long we were approaching our home away from home for the next two nights: Tenterfield.
There was time on that first afternoon for a leisurely walk through town, before returning for afternoon drinks and nibbles at the motel.
A night of dinner and dancing followed. Many of the girls were able to show some very fancy moves on the dance floor. They are definitely ‘girls who know how to have fun.’ Next morning our championship game awaited at the picture perfect Tenterfield golf course.
After our group photo, I was in for a surprise. As this was my first trip, I was presented at the start of play with a tiara as I was the “virgin” of the group. I was to wear the tiara throughout the day’s play and abide by some ‘special rules of play’ which would be revealed as the day progressed!
But the fun didn’t stop there. The following morning after checkout, we all headed to Casino where we would be playing our second round of golf. Again, another lovely day awaited us. Casino is a more challenging course than Tenterfield and I must confess, my beginner skills were tested!
Alas all good things come to an end and after lunch and presentations, we headed home. I am already looking forward to next year’s jaunt.
Until a couple of weeks ago, I thought that landing a hole in onewas an impossible dream. Something only achieved by golf whisperers, players who can actually play the game with some finesse and seem able to coax, caress and cajole their clubs and balls into behaving beautifully, fulfilling golfing desires. Players like my sister, Jenny who after many years of playing A grade and representative golf, landed her first hole in onelast year at Cowra Golf Club. Teeing off on the 5th, a Par 3 with her trusty nine iron, Jenny saw her ball sail toward the pin. However, it was only when she and her group walked down to the hole, that she could celebrate. Her ball was lying there, nestled in the cup! Although she has won many events over the years, she told me that this hole in one was the most special.
But I thought wrong! Even a relative newcomer to golf such as myself, who has enjoyed many mishaps on her golfing journey and who steps up to the ball, swings and hopes for the best, can land a hole in one.
My special moment happened a couple of weeks ago at Mullumbimby Golf Club.
There I was competing in our monthly medal round, hoping against hope that my score wouldn’t blow out too embarrassingly, when the unbelievable happened. It was the 12th hole. A par 3. The hole is bordered by water on both sides and as I stepped up with my driver, I remember having a few, stern, silent words to my pretty blue flowered ball. “Don’t even think about going for a dip in the pond! I know you like to swim but this isn’t the time for fraternising with the geese. You don’t want to get dirty, I only bought you yesterday … Just fly up in the air and you’ll see how soft and lovely the grass is on the green.”
Maybe my ball listened, maybe I followed through properly or Lady Luck intervened … I don’t know. All I know is, I watched as my ball sailed to the left, curved around and landed softly just before the hole and rolled in. Picking up my ball from the cup, I actually felt a bit guilty. I know how many really good players are out there who haven’t been rewarded with a hole in one and here was I with one. It didn’t seem fair somehow.
That guilty feeling didn’t stop me from being absolutely thrilled when I was presented with my first sporting trophy since I was the 16 years girls swimming champion at school, something I achieved through participation not skill.
What has been particularly heartwarming has been my fellow lady golfers’ reactions. They were genuinely thrilled for me. But that’s golf isn’t it? It’s the comraderie as well as the personal challenge that keep us coming back. And persevering. And truly, if I was able to sink a hole in one, there’s hope for all golfers out there.
This Easter, Kenn and I spent a couple of days at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreatin the Lamington National Park. You’ll find this wonderful national park and resort in the Gold Coast Hinterland. Just a couple of hours away from Byron Bay, O’Reilly’s is one of our favourite places to visit and chill out. As we have been making the trek up the mountain since our children were very young, this piece of World Heritage listed rainforest holds many special memories. Who could ever forget Christian’s look of amazement at his first bird feeding session? He carefully measured out the bird seed he had purchased from the cafe onto his hands and before he could catch his breath, he was covered in rosellas. They were perched up and down his arms, on his palms, on his shoulders and even on his head. They tickled and they nibbled as they made themselves comfortable. This was all so cool until he realised that the bird on his head had left a deposit on his brand new hat! Ah what fun!
This time, we were meeting up with our daughter Lyndsay, who was down from Darwin and her Finnish exchange student Lila. We booked directly with O’Reilly’s. They had a great autumn special which included accommodation in a mountain view room, daily buffet breakfast, morning and afternoon tea, a 4WD tour through the rainforest and welcome drinks. A bargain! You can check out their webpage here We arrived around Midday and luckily our room was ready and a lovely afternoon walk beckoned.
Lyndsay and Lila had arrived a day before us and decided to walk the Tooloona Creek circuit. We had walked this track awhile back. If you’re interested in seeing more of this track, See previous post here
We definitely didn’t have time to walk 20kms this time, so decided to walk along the Border Track until we caught up with them on their way home. This involved a gentle uphill climb to the Antarctic Beech Forest.
As the track winds between mossy and ferny boulders, I always feel as if I’m in a Tolkien novel and Gandalf is going to come round the bend.
About five kms along the track, we met up with Lyndsay and Lila and returned to the resort in time for afternoon tea and a dip in the sauna and hot tub.
The next day dawned cloudy and showery. Grabbing our rain jackets, we met Lila who was joining us on 4WD tour. A little bit of misty weather can enhance your outdoor experience if you let it. The tour took us on roads we had never traversed.
And our guide was very informative.
Highlights included the short walk to Moran’s Falls and the visit to Luke’s farm.
Tawny frogmouth on Luke’s farm
The creek which feeds the falls.
The misty lookout
After lunch, Kenn and I walked down to Elabana Falls. This time we didn’t make it past Picnic Rockas there was so much water and every time I put my hand down to balance myself on the slippery rocks to cross over, the leeches attacked! And I hate leeches. Despite the leeches, it felt great to stretch our legs and we didn’t get very wet as the canopy of the rainforest acted as a natural umbrella.
There really is so much to see and do at O’Reilly’s. Usually, we spend our time on completing one of the big day treks but this time we got to explore two of the short walks for the first time. They were to Mick’s towerand the Wishing Tree.
But all good things must come to an end and all too soon we were winding our way down the mountain again. Instead of taking the highway home, we decided to show Lila Natural Bridge which is part of the Springbrook National Park. The road from Nerang to Murwillumbah is beautiful. Much to our surprise, much has changed at Natural Bridge since we last visited several years ago. While the rock pool and cavern are as lovely as ever, you can no longer swim there. To compensate, a new circuit has been built that follows the creek and explores more of the surroundings.
By late afternoon, we were home and taking Lila for her first lighthouse walk. We are so lucky to be able to journey from the forest to the sea in a matter of hours. I hope if you haven’t already experienced the deep serenity of the Australian rainforest, that you get the opportunity very, very soon.
Back in February, I saw the flyer on the clubhouse wall for an Open Day at Murwillumbah to benefit Breast Cancer. My curiosity was piqued. Ages ago, it seems, Annie and I had been told how beautiful this course was and consequently had it on our list of courses we’d like to play. So this seemed a perfect opportunity.
Although we had never been to an Open Day, we figured it couldn’t be too damaging to our self esteem, as it was a Single Stableford event. When one’s handicap is still languishing in the 40s and it’s the rainy season, single stableford provides a measure of comfort when you just know there are going to be a few (and possibly more than a few) mishaps out on the course. And it was for such a good cause! And dressed in a fabulous pink rosy skirt and pink shirt courtesy of my lovely sister, Jenny, I could even fulfill the dress code in style.
So early Thursday morning, Annie and I set off for Murwillumbah. It was showery but we reassured each other that we could see glimpses of blue sky to the north. But as we climbed the Burringbar Range, the blue sky disappeared and showers reappeared. Thank goodness we had decided to use a buggy and just for extra protection we stashed our brollies in the cart for extra protection from the elements.
There were over 100 ladies participating despite the weather, We found we were to play with two lovely ladies from Murwillumbah, who showed us the ropes and soon we were hitting off the tenth. It was a Par 3. Terrific, I thought.
But all was not lost. The course was lovely to play and there was some run.
Soon, we were tackling the front nine. This was more hilly and had some tricky but interesting holes. And it’s also where an alien stole my ball!
How did an alien steal your ball, you might ask? Well I hit a great drive and second shot ( for me that is) on a long Par 4. I had 7 shots for par, so full of anticipation, I closely watched my third shot fall just short, on the edge of the green. Dash it, I muttered to the ball, you could have gone just a little bit further! Confidently, I walked over to the ball, only to discover it belonged to one of the Murwillumbah ladies! My ball had vanished! We looked in the bunkers, we looked over the back of the green, we looked behind and we looked in the hole! No ball! Obviously, taken by aliens! What to do? The Murwillumbah ladies were seasoned golfers of over 40 years experience. Sadly they informed me, it was a wipe.
But the game must go on and the course held more lovely surprises. At one point we drove from one hole to the next through a lovely patch of rainforest.
And all too soon, we were shaking hands on the 9th. It was time to scan our scorecards and while we didn’t win, we didn’t disgrace ourselves either. Lunch beckoned in the clubhouse where our new friends invited us to join them. Lots of stories, lots of laughter, the most amazing raffle and presentations. And it was home time.
As we drove away, the rain started again. We couldn’t believe that we had been lucky enough to enjoy such a wonderful day of golf. Murwillumbah, we will be back!
Feel like a gentle stroll or bike ride along a path offering lovely vistas of a particularly beautiful stretch of coastline? Then the Coastal Recreational Path might be just the thing for you. The path, which is being constructed by Ballina Shire Council, aims to connect the coastal village of Lennox Head from the Pat Morton Lookout to Angels Beach in Ballina. The southern section from Sharpe’s Beach to Angel’s Beach has been finished and as Kenn and I discovered, is well worth exploring.
We accessed the path from the Sharpe’s Beach car park as this was the closest access point to Byron Bay. The first section of the path to Flat Rock winds through picturesque heath land
while offering lovely views of the ocean.
When we reached Flat Rock, we found a viewing platform and of course access to a fantastic beach. For those who enjoy camping, there is also a tent park here.
Then the path meanders through coastal wetlands and instead of smooth bitumen we found ourselves on a slightly elevated metal walkway,
wandering past gnarly coastal banksias.
One of the things I loved about the path were the information boards providing interesting information about how the aboriginal people had interacted with the land as well as some of their dreaming stories.
All too soon, we found ourselves at Angel’s Beach.
It was also lovely to see lots of little ones on the path, cruising along in their strollers or peddling their tricycles with Mum and Dad ambling along behind. The path is very flat, perfect for beginners as well as the more advanced to ride along. We even spotted a toy poodle standing up in a bike basket, paws on the handlebars having the best time.
All too soon we were back in Lennox heading home. Next time we plan to bring our bikes and a picnic. Maybe we’ll see you there!
Are you one of those people that weird stuff happens to? The sort of stuff that has everyone else around you in stitches while you are left stunned, attempting to extricate yourself from an embarrassing situation with a semblance of grace but not necessarily succeeding? Welcome to the club.
For example, you might think that nothing untoward could happen to you on the Golf course. After all, golf is a civilised game where players amble from hole to hole, hoping to hit their balls nicely down the fairway. Even if their ball runs away and buries itself in the rough, or seeks shelter behind a tree or takes a dive into the duck pond or falls in love with a hazard, this might be an unfortunate but not necessarily, an embarrassing situation.
A week or so ago, I took unfortunate and embarrassing to a whole new level. I was having one of those rounds where too many balls ran out of steam right on the lip of the hole.
I know what happened next was probably my fault. I was on a tricky par 3. The green on this hole lies on a fairly steep mound, protected by two deep bunkers to the right and a band of trees to the left. But undaunted, I was determined to make up for the near misses on the previous holes. Teeing off, my ball sailed into the heavens but tracked a little to the left. Mmm, this could be unfortunate, I thought. But down the fairway, I saw that all was not lost. My ball was nestled between two trees with a clear line to the pin. Great, a little chip shot and all will be well. Maybe I’ll be in for par! I lined up. My chip cleared the rough and raced across the green where it kissed the pin and promptly leapt into the second bunker.
Reluctantly, I retrieved my sand wedge and … hit out of the bunker first time. But alas, I hit too hard. My ball raced across the green and disappeared from view down the other side. Definitely unfortunate! Rhonda broke the bad news: it’s gone into ‘out of bounds’ and I had to take a drop. But first, I had to retrieve my ball. I had never hit a ball into this out of bounds area before but soon discovered that the ground fell away steeply to a little creek where I spied my favourite ball lying a pool of water. I scrambled down to retrieve it and was just reaching over to pick it up when I heard an ominous crashing sound. It was my buggy, doing somersaults while nose-diving into the creek! In my haste to retrieve my ball, I had forgotten to put the brake on. Luckily the buggy didn’t land on top of me and didn’t appear to be damaged. But how to get it and me back up? The bank was too steep to push it up, so I had to pull it. With Rhonda holding one hand, the other hand dragging the buggy and digging my spikes in, I inched my way up the bank, bottom slide by bottom slide like a geriatric slug. Eventually, I was up and so was my buggy. Needless to say, Rhonda found it very difficult to keep a straight face. And I still had to play a shot! Taking a deep breath, I nudged the ball forward and finally putted it in. Taking stock of my appearance, I realised that I now, from top to toe resembled a SAS soldier ready for jungle warfare. I wasn’t going to be able to live down this escapade for a while.
To add insult to injury, three days later disaster struck again. It was a perfect spring day and I was hitting cleanly down a long par 5 which has lovely water views on both sides of the fairway. Even though it was warm, I was very comfortable under my new sun-safe umbrella which I’d purchased from the Pro shop the day before.
I was secretly chuffed at how well I was doing and foolishly began to day-dream about my approach shots. Bad, bad move! I didn’t notice that the wind was picking up. While I was navigating a ditch, a gust toppled my buggy over, tearing my umbrella away. My good friend Annie gave chase while I rescued my buggy. Two falls in one week! Maybe I should get a new job – as a golf buggy road tester! But alas, Annie couldn’t channel her inner Usain Bolt and the umbrella raced away. The wind dropped and for about ten seconds, I thought there was hope for a successful retrieval. Then, it changed direction, sweeping my new umbrella towards the pond. I tried to catch up to it but running has never been my forte and I watched in horror as my umbrella pirouetted around the edge and then set sail for the middle. There it stopped before slowly sinking, like the Titanic on its maiden voyage. Very ‘unfortunate’ and now that I look back on it, very funny! It could only happen to me.
For the time being, I’m making do with an old yellow umbrella which has seen better days. On the plus side, It shows no desire to find another home and some shade is better than none! Could this happen to you?
Autumn is a delightful time of year. Here in Byron Bay, it brings warm sunny days and cool evenings that invite you to snuggle down under a doona. While it is still warm enough to swim in the bay without a wetsuit, it’s the season for beach walking.
Lovely as Byron is at this time of the year, there is something missing. I can’t walk through drifts of red, yellow or orange leaves and breathe in the scent of wood smoke. I can’t see avenues of claret and golden ash trees or bright yellow poplars blazing against bright blue skies or taste the tang of early morning frosty air.
Road trip time!
First stop was Sydney and a family celebration. Little Genevieve was turning TWO! And there was the added bonus of spending some quality time with baby Francesca, the cutest little nine week old poppet one could hope to meet. Was it really only two years ago that we joined that wonderful club: Grandparents Inc? So much joy!
Birthday celebrations over, we took to the highway in search of ‘that season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.’ Thredboin the Snowy Mountains, where we hoped to climb to the summit of Australia’s highest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko was our first destination. Autumn was all around us as we stopped for brunch at the Magpie cafe in historic Berrima.
After a short stop in Jindabyne to gather supplies, we were soon settling into our delightful studio at Snowgoose Apartments. From our balcony we watched as the sun began to set behind the mountain and the mist started to rise. Yep, we were in “Man from Snowy River” country, ready for some high country adventures.
The following morning dawned as perfectly as one hopes a morning will dawn in the mountains. However, we had been warned that the weather is very changeable on Kosciuszko, so we dressed accordingly: walking boots, merino thermals, waterproof jackets, gloves and beanies. Yes we did indeed resemble Yetis out for an afternoon stroll!
Unfortunately the main chairlift, the Kosciuszko express was out for maintenance and we had to take the Snowgum chairliftto the top of the mountain. This meant that our trek to the summit begun with a very, and I mean very, steep 500 metre climb to the beginning of the Kosciuszko walking trail. Bleating like an injured mountain goat, I scrambled over rocks and protruding snow gum roots eventually finding myself looking up at the Eagle Nest Restaurant, ready to begin the real trek!
To protect the delicate, alpine environment, National Parks have constructed an elevated walkway for the 7 or so kms to the summit. It really is a very pleasant, easy climb. We noticed that many of the small streams that meander across the plateau, had frozen over during the night and that there were still tiny delicate flowers and mosses snuggling between the rocks.
Soon we had to take off beanies, scarves and coats, it was so warm. And there was hardly another person in sight. We were alone, just us and the mountains and the sky. Coming to a fork in the track, we saw the sign for Charlotte’s Pass. A trek for another day?
Approaching the summit, the views in every direction were fantastic. Although there was no snow where we were, we could see the snow capped peaks of the Victorian Alps to the south.
Soon we were at the summit, celebrating with others enjoying our picnic lunch.
An easy downhill stroll saw us easily meet our rendezvous with the chairlift and we enjoyed our half hour descent. The beautiful weather continued as next morning, we enjoyed the river walk which follows the Thredbo River and Golf Course.
Following the call of the road, we resumed our trip, stopping for morning tea at Lake Jindabyne.
Not only was the lake looking wonderful but there were poplars lining the shore.
Our road trip took us along the Snowy Mountains highway to Yarrangabilly Caveswhere we stopped for lunch and a swim in the thermal pool. Again, we would have liked to stay longer. Caves House, which has very competitive rates, looked very inviting. Although we have explored the caves before, we would have liked to do so again.
The beautiful town of Tumut awaited us. I knew that the town had just celebrated ‘The festival of the Falling Leaf’ so was hoping that the autumn colour I had been hankering for would still be on display. It was! As we strolled along the Tumut River Walk in the late afternoon, I couldn’t have asked for more.
But our road trip was not finished. From Tumut, we traveled to Cowra via Gundagai and Young. Here we were catching up with family and friends. We enjoyed a memorable lunch at the Cowra Breakout, a lovely coffee shop located in Macquarie St and perused the lovely shops nearby. Cowra, too is full of autumn colour.
A visit to the Japanese Gardens is particularly beautiful at this time of year.
That night, we enjoyed a special country dinner. My sister Jenny cooked the best roast lamb dinner I have tasted for ages. It was so tender and so full of flavour that I wanted to be like Oliver in ‘Oliver Twist’ and ask for more! It was of course, Cowra Lamb, a brand that is finding a lot of fans around Australia and overseas.
But all good things have to come to an end. It was time to return home. Usually the thought of the 1000 km plus drive would be a trifle daunting. But the countryside as we drove from Cowra across the Central West of NSW and the Liverpool plains as we headed north was just stunning. Full to the brim with mellow fruitfulness; shining with the colours of the fall.