Have you ever considered a weekend away for your child’s birthday party? I recently did just that and found that I could still create memories without the usual mess and stress involved.
For my daughter’s 12th birthday I decided to take her on an overnight girl's trip. It was the most relaxed birthday party I've ever hosted and the girls all had a wonderful time.
Going away for the party limited the numbers to three close friends and I took another Mum for back up and support. The destination needed to be close to Sydney as it was only one night and I wanted all the entertainment in one place, so once we unpacked we didn’t have to leave for anything.
Only a little over an hour's drive from Sydney I found the NRMA Ocean Beach Holiday Park and it seemed to tick all the boxes, with lots for the girls to do onsite.
The invitations went out and there was much anticipation for this unusual birthday getaway.
On arrival, the girls excitedly spied the jumping pillows, the water park and playground as we made our way to our cabin. We had two cabins and the girls delightedly ran through theirs, deciding who would sleep in what bed and admiring the large spa bath. It was 35 degrees and climbing, so it didn't take long before they wanted to explore the pool area, which was a magnet for all the park’s visitors, or so it seemed!
The girls loved the main pool area and the slide was the main drawcard. They lined up over and over again to enjoy the fun of using it.
They were drawn to the colourful mushroom water features in the quieter paddle pool area, which is for toddlers and younger children. The calmer environment and the fun of the mushroom waterfalls makes it a perfect place to cool off for young families and less confident swimmers.
All that swimming made the girls hungry, but after a quick lunch they were keen to explore Splash Away Bay Water Park. This area was popular with all ages and the large bucket suspended above the water park is the main attraction for the older teens and adults. There is great anticipation as the bucket fills with water and all watch to see it tip and receive a drenching ... that’s if they don’t chicken out and run beforehand! For younger and less adventurous children there are plenty of gentle water sprays from the water features and the shade sail ensures everyone is protected from the summer sun.
As a surprise I had booked pedal cars for the girls. These come in single or double carts and they are really popular, so book these when you arrive. The girls had the double carts as I thought it would be more fun for them to ride as teams, with one navigator and driver in each car.
At the end of the weekend the pedal cars were crowned their favourite activity - the girls loved the little bit of independence it gave them riding around the park by themselves. These were popular with parents and children alike and it was lovely to see the interaction it created in families with even grandpas taking a turn at the wheel. There’s a small fee to hire the cars, but this is even cheaper if you are an NRMA member.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of our stay was that once the girls were tiring of one area, there was always something else to explore. On our second morning we headed to the patrolled beach, which adjoins the park through a short walkway. The ocean water was still a bit chilly but the girls enjoyed wading in the water and they had fun collecting shells and digging in the sand. It was a nice change of scene for all of us and I loved the fact that we didn’t even need to get in the car to enjoy it.
Jumping pillows seem a hit with most kids and it was a good spot for the girls to work off their excitement and unleash their energy before dinner. The park has two jumping pillows, so they’re rarely overcrowded.
I’m not keen on cooking when I am away on holidays but I did take food for breakfast and lunch, only relying on the park’s cafe for dinner. The cafe has a good range of the usual takeaway food like hamburgers, nuggets and chips, steak sandwiches and salads. I found it simple and economical as the girls just ordered what they wanted for dinner, rather than me catering for plates of food that may or may not be eaten.
Although we were away from home, I made an effort to include some party touches throughout the weekend. I decorated the cabin verandah with a simple beach theme; I took a small amount of party food and party favours, which included sand castle building equipment, oversized sunglasses and flower leis. At night they had popcorn and a movie and enjoyed chatting until late.
While this party provided my daughter and her friends with lifetime memories, I benefited too! I had no cleaning up before or after the party and I didn’t spend the majority of the party in the kitchen or organising games. I actually had time to sit with them and relax.
As far as birthday parties go, this was the easiest one we have ever had!
My son uses a wheelchair, so I am always on the lookout for accommodation that would suit us when we travel as a family. I was thrilled to find that NRMA Ocean Beach Holiday Park has truly accessible cabins. The two bedroom cabins are accessible via a ramp, are uncluttered making manoeuvring inside with a wheelchair easy and have an accessible bathroom (a shower chair is available on request). The park has a beach wheelchair available for guest use, which shows a true commitment to providing access for all.