Travel is not simply “business or pleasure” anymore. In fact, I don’t think it ever really was.
You have the standard motivations: travel for work or travel because you have the money to check out a place at your leisure. Then there are Family Trips– when you are using a holiday to visit family. Your level of enjoyment / relaxation is totally dependent on your relationship with family.
Somewhere in between is the travel you do for events – sporting, music, social. The type of travel where you are heading off to do something you love but it requires effort and work from you.
This was our recent weekend away.
Umina for Nipper State Championships.
Luckily for me (and the sanity of my family), the weekend was not a physical activity on my behalf. Our eldest child was participating. This translates to Husband and Eldest Child spending their days on the beach in Competitor mode; Myself and two younger kids entertaining ourselves around the area.
And Umina makes it fairly easy to entertain yourself.
Umina is just a little north of Sydney. If you leave around lunchtime, hold your tongue at the right angle and sacrifice a small matchbox car to the appropriate travel gods, you can make Umina in 1hr 30mins from the Sydney CBD.
If you are silly enough to leave around 3pm (like we did last year) it will take you 3-4hrs, and at least 20 years of your sanity. That’s just to leave Sydney and make it to the Motorway.
Umina is off the National Highway and on the coast. It’s one of those coastal towns that seems to still function despite the relaxed air surrounding it all. Very popular for weekend getaways, with B&Bs and resorts everywhere.
For accommodation, we chose to camp. As in, pitch a tent camping. We didn’t do the whole Wild Kratts style; we stayed at the Ocean Beach Caravan Park at the southern end of Umina.
The caravan park itself was nice – we chose a powered site so we could still charge phones at the end of each day (great trick we learnt travelling around NZ – that Backpack Fairytale is still in the writing).
Inside the park, the camp site itself was really well located: across the ‘road’ from a sheltered BBQ / Picnic area; 50m from a Camp Kitchen (with two fridges and four microwaves); Another 50m on that to the bathrooms, laundry, and small water-play area.
There’s also a big leisure pool with waterslide, spa, and toddler play area. Plus a playground and two jumping pillows. Best of all was the beach literally 50m from our tent
Seriously – I really felt like there was no reason for me to take the younger kids anywhere else!
Well, except the weather was around 32 degrees Celsius. The 2yo was really tired and hot (but couldn’t sleep in the tent during the day as it was too hot). There is very little shelter around the campground – no fear of falling branches but you also lose any protection from sun and wind.
So we took the opportunity to explore further afield.
Just south of Umina is Pearl Beach and Patonga. Sweet little coastal towns with fishing trawlers and dinghies strewn across the beach. A few little art galleries and plenty of park areas for the kids to run around.
Inland of Umina (by about 5 minutes) is Woy Woy, with a bit more of a town centre and a few more cafes if you’re so inclined.
To the north is Ettalong (with a huge Mantra Resort) and Gosford, before you hit Terrigal and The Entrance. We didn’t venture that far north this time but I have been to Terrigal and The Entrance a number of times before. They are equally lovely; the 3pm Pelican swarm at The Entrance is always fun to watch.
So far, you may have noticed I haven’t discussed the actual beach yet. I like to save the best for last.
This year Umina Beach was fantastic. Last year was awful – parts of the beach closed during the competition. This year definitely made up for it.
We arrived Thursday afternoon, in time for S to fit in a training session while N and Z played around close to the shore. Even at 4pm the water was deliciously refreshing with soft waves rolling in without kicking up too much sand.
And the sand… oh, the sand! Growing up on beaches in North Queensland, I have been sorely spoilt with splendour. You can tell so much about a place by the quality of sand on its beach. Too coarse and you can’t enjoy the rest between swims (don’t even get me started on the rocks in Italy); Too fine and you start worrying about the strength of the waves that crush the sand to a fine dust.
The sand at Umina is LOVELY. Absolutely lovely! It is not squeaky, and I’m good with that. You want a little bit of texture. But it doesn’t scratch your legs or cling to your body. It was truly lovely.
That’s not to say it wasn’t hot in the middle of the day during the Champs (I’m sure B would easily tell you how draining hot sand can be). But I thought it was lovely.
Of course, it is important to remember we were only in Umina for the State Champs; It was not a free choice of ours (thus back to my original discussion about the various reasons for travel). Would we go back to Umina for a simple weekend away – Maybe. There are so many other places we want see within the ‘close to Sydney’ radius. Bega Valley is supposed to be nice for camping…
Would I recommend Umina to others? Absolutely! I think it’s perfect for a family who just wants to escape with a tent for the weekend, without too much hassle or rigmarole. Pitch a tent, wash off your worries in the water (pool or beach) and if you get bored, venture ever so slightly over the hill.
And if you’re travelling to Umina for something else, then you’ll love this little bonus Backpack Fairytale as much as we did.