A Golf Adventure along the Tweed River

Isn’t the Coolangatta/Tweed Heads golf course spectacular? Just walking around it, feet cushioned by emerald green turf, taking in the water views and watching the antics of the abundant bird life is enjoyable. However tackling its many challenges was and is a real golfing adventure!  Last week, Annie and Pam and I took on the challenge of the river course at Coolangatta/Tweed Heads Golf Club.  Although we were just playing a social match, this was my first experience  playing on a championship course and I hoped… crossed my fingers and every other appendage … and  … wished … to play well.

 I had a few concerns as my game isn’t quite what I would have hoped it might be by this stage. When I embarked on my golfing journey, I was full of good  intentions:  I promised myself that I would practice my putting at home between weekly visits to the ‘Coffee Golf’ clinic at Mullumbimby Golf Club ( I didn’t make it to double digits),  pay a visit to the local driving range at Ballina (only visited the range to buy Christmas gifts) and  find time to play a few extra games, perhaps at different courses. (I can count the extra games I played in an 18 month period, on one hand!) So predictably, my progress has been slow, painfully tortoise like!  But I thought, nothing ventured, nothing gained! Miracles can happen on a golf course I assured myself and there was always lunch and good company to look forward to, if I was doomed to disappointment.

It was a perfect day for golf, warm and sunny as only the North Coast can be, with very little breeze.  Soon we were out on the course. Annie and Pam were in Superman mode: their tee shots flying down the fairway like speeding bullets. Mine were more problematical but I persevered and hit a couple that were not too shabby. We discovered that the fairways were so smooth that Annie and Pam in particular were able to hit away with their fairway woods. I was a little more timid and stuck with my irons but all our balls ran and then ran some more. Always an agreeable outcome.

annie at tweed
Annie hitting a great shot  missing the water and the bunker


 Even when I inevitably found the rough, to my surprise, it  was relatively smooth and for once, I hit out easily.  But as we approached the greens, we understood why Nicky, our golf pro, had made us  practice targets with our nine irons and pitching wedges again and again and again.  Every green was surrounded by water and sand!  A lot of sand!  Luckily, each  of us only lost only one ball to the water and generally missed the sand. Yes, it was up, up and away for us.

course hazards
I know what those bunkers are thinking: I’m going to get you!


The course is quite long and there is a fair distance between some holes, but the view you have of the river is worth the trek but I can understand why many choose to cart it.


walking between holes admiring the river
The Tweed River


All too soon, our game was over and it was time for lunch and a well deserved cappuccino at the Golf Club. Alas our day had come to an end. The highway beckoned and before too long, we were home in Byron Bay. Tweed, watch out! In the words of Arnie, ‘We will be back!’


Lunching at the Lighthouse

iconic byron lighthouse
Byron Lighthouse from the new deck of the Cafe

My Tuesday was not behaving itself!  I had intended to have of a lovely morning catching up with my fellow golf enthusiasts for a coaching session with Nicky Rickon, a leisurely coffee and perhaps,  a few holes of golf at Mullumbimby Golf Club. But sadly, it was not to be.  I found myself crawling along Broken Head Road. This was not good. I was going to be very, very late. But my golf clubs were nestled between the odd towel and beach chair in the boot and my feet were wearing socks and sneakers for the first time in months, ready to traverse beckoning fairways, so I detoured.  A few holes at Byron would surely satisfy my golfing itch.

Although it was a very warm morning, there was a breeze so it was with some enthusiasm that I paid my money and made my way to the back nine as directed. I hadn’t played for a couple of months and as expected it took me one or two more shots than usual to complete the my first hole. But to compensate for a less than celebratory fairway performance, I did sink a long putt!  I hit off the second and missed the water. All good. Then disaster. The Ladies Comp  caught up to me. They suggested, nicely, that I hightail it over to the 14th, hit down to the clubhouse and play a few holes on the front nine so that I didn’t get in their way. There was only one problem.  I got a trifle lost and ended up on the 13th. Where was the 14th?  Obviously, my map reading skills need a little fine tuning. Feeling decidedly hot and bothered, I decided to tee off. Then I heard the sound. The sound of an approaching golf cart. I looked up. The lady golfers had me in their sights. There was nothing for it but to pick up my ball and drag my buggy and myself back to the clubhouse.

I felt that I had already walked nine holes but wasn’t ready to give up just yet. “The front nine might be more challenging but is more scenic,” I’d been reliably informed. As I dragged myself down and up, across and back, I  got hotter and hotter. For once, my ball didn’t seek the trees like a ballistic missile. I was stuck in the middle of the fairway. Repeatedly.  Melting. In the tropical oasis that is Byron, I felt as if I was trekking across the Sahara … without a camel! Three holes later, I called it a day. I didn’t want the R.I.P sign at the side of the Golf Club driveway to commemorate me.

Lying on the couch under a fan with an ice pack on my neck, Kenn took pity on me. “How about I take you and Annie out for coffee and maybe lunch?”  My day suddenly brightened. Taking advantage of our new National Parks parking sticker, we decided that lunch on the newly completed deck at the Lighthouse Cafe would be perfect.

deck overlooks the bay
Can you ever get tired of such a view?

view of the deck at lighthouse cafe

 The cafe offers simple pleasures. Coffee, milkshakes, rolls, quiches, gourmet pies and sausage rolls to mention a few and the best ice cream in Byron Bay.

menu at lighthouse cafe
We tried the vegetarian quiche, the gourmet pie and the chicken and pesto roll. Needless to say, not a crumb was left on our plates.  And the coffee hit the spot!
gelati at lighthouse cafe
In the Pink ice cream and gelati. So hard to resist.

Lunch finished, we lingered a little. Rested a little.

the bay
Just dreaming

For newcomers to the bay, information about Lighthouse Tours and the National Park can be found in the Lighthouse Keepers House directly behind the cafe.

lighthouse keeper's cottage
Imagine being a lighthouse keeper here! There is limited paid parking available at the Lighthouse if you do not have a National Parks permit.

Refreshed, Annie and I meandered down the track, past the most easterly point of Australia to Wategoes where Kenn kindly picked us up.

overlooking wategoes
After the morning’s adventures, a strictly downhill stroll to Wategoes was all I could muster.

Lunch at the Lighthouse Cafe was a  lovely and unexpected way to end the morning.


Lady Golfers Rule!

Tackling the front nine at Byron Bay
Tackling the front nine at Byron Bay

I’ve discovered that lady golfers, to quote Lady Macbeth, “are full of the milk of human kindness.”

Over the past year, my golfing journey has had many ups and downs. There have been many days when  my body just didn’t want to do what I was telling it to do. I thought I was following instructions but discovered that what I thought I was doing and what I was actually doing were poles apart.  I was standing too far or too close to the ball and as a consequence was aerating  grass that really didn’t want to be aerated. My grip was wrong ( I realise now that I was holding it in a manner reminiscent of Barney Rubble)  and unbeknownst to me, I lifted my head.  To make matters worse, my feet were always pointing in the wrong direction (no wonder so many of my balls seemed to have a love connection with the trees) and my weight was too far on the back foot. (Just as well that there aren’t any rabbits on the course because I would have wiped them out with my ground hugging torpedoes.) As well, far too often, my swing was too fast or my follow through was on the nose, literally!

We're all getting closer to the pin! Yay!
We’re all getting closer to the pin! Yay!

But  someone once said that the first thing golf teaches you is humility and that’s so true. But I’ve also discovered that it’s the empathy and encouragement that a beginner receives from lady golfers in particular, that gives them the patience to keep practicing, the will to keep on going.

Nicky keeping a watchful eye on us all
Nicky keeping a watchful eye on us all as the storm clouds gather.

Our Golf Pro, Nicky Dickon never gets impatient, never seems to mind repetition and always finds something positive in your game.  The lady members, go out of their way to welcome us and share ‘secret lady golfers’ business’ with us.  My golfing group is always supportive, never noticing the bad shots and always praising the good ones. Their company, as we enjoy our coffee after our lesson, is always fun and adds a wonderful social dimension to my week.

Annie and I remembered to park down the bottom this time! The hill to the club house is very, very steep.
The first hole at Teven Golf Course
The first hole at Teven Golf Course. Annie and I had such fun! Lunch at Lennox was good too.
Playing with Ben and Christian at Byron
Playing with Ben and Christian at Byron


Because of their support,  I have ventured onto other courses, notably Teven and Byron Bay and participated in my first invitational.  There have been  increasingly more days when I seem to be one with the ball. Days when my drive goes straight down the fairway and not into a hazard, my iron shots see some airtime and my chip shots land within coo-ee of a pin, welcoming in my ball with open arms. Par at last!

saying 2


Churning it up in Mullumbimby

Hand made blue cheese
Hand made blue cheese

If our grandmothers and great-grandmother were stranded on a deserted island, participating in the latest season of ‘Survivor’,  I think  they could win. They had skills!  They could chop wood, start a fire, milk a cow, churn the milk into butter and make cheese.

Who wouldn’t love this face?

Whipping up a roast chicken dinner was child’s play: all they had to do was catch, kill, pluck and stuff said bird. Easy … for them. They knew how to turn fruit and vegetables into yummy jam and preserves and create delicious terrines and pates without giving everyone salmonella poisoning  … unlike me.  They were the original domestic goddesses.

Luckily for mere mortals like myself,  dedicated modern day domestic goddesses, like Debra Allard, cheese maker, teacher and dairy godmother, are helping others rediscover these lost arts. I first saw Debbie at last year’s Sample Food Festival which was held in Bangalow, just west of Byron Bay.

Judge Debbie at the R and A Dairy and Cheese Show.
Judge Debbie at the R and A Dairy and Cheese Show, 2015

There she was on stage,  demonstrating how hilariously easy it was to make mozzarella cheese in 30 minutes. When the chance to attend one of her classes arose, run by ACE education in Mullumbimby, I couldn’t wait.

I arrived, accompanied by my good friend, Annie Milic. Our ‘dairy’ for the day was all prepared. Taking our positions behind our bain marie’s, we examined our equipment and recipes. We donned head attire, obligatory for health and safety reasons. Suddenly we were transformed into Smurfettes, ready for any challenge.

cheese making
After reading the instructions, the Smurfettes are ready.

 Our first cheese was goat feta. This was a little complicated, but by carefully following Debbie’s instructions and  keeping a close eye on my thermometer, I was able to navigate my way to curds and whey. The curds were ladled into a large hoop and regularly turned and voila, there was my feta!

My feta waiting for its briny soak.
My feta waiting for its briny soak.

 All I had to do was take my briny whey home and soak my feta for a week. Then it would be ready for consumption. Apparently, it will last up to six months! Will it last that long in my fridge? Probably not!

But the day wasn’t just about making feta. We also made cultured butter which was truly delicious and paneer. I intend making a spinach and paneer curry with it but haven’t got round to it yet.

As well as learning age-old skills, Debbie provided morning tea (scones with jam and cultured butter) and lunch, a ploughman’s feast. There was crusty bread, Bangalow pork roast, home made pickles, salad and a selection of Debbie’s hand crafted cheeses. I particularly liked her take on blue cheese. All in all, it was  a great day and Annie and I will be back for more. Perhaps we will graduate to Brie or Jarlsberg. If you are interested in attending one of Debbie’s classes, you can find details on her facebook page.