A classic boat tour for frequent small flyers – “super speed on”

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We all know how much kids like going fast, right? “Faster, faster” is the catch cry whether it’s in the car, on a bike, scooter or boat. Our own frequent small flyer managed to get her own dose of “super speed” aboard a classic wooden speedboat tour run by Noosa Dreamboats. On this wonderful tour, you can don your sunnies and channel Grace Kelly as you explore the Noosa River and Lake Cooroibah aboard a timeless mahogany runabout, Noosa Dream, which was handmade in Seattle. The tours, run by Michael and Sandy Guthrie, takes punters for stylish chauffeur-driven tours. Image

We road tested the 90-minute “Lake Escape” tour, taking in the multimillion-dollar homes of Noosa Sound (including that of Flight Centre boss Scroo Turner), the beaches of Noosaville and the houseboats of Tewantin. Along the way we explored Noosa’s north shore, cruising by Sir Richard Branson’s exclusive Makepeace private island resort. But it was the classic Queenslanders, with names like River House and Mango’s Landing, that took our fancy. The former sits along the river under a century old mango tree. Michael, a former marketing executive, said this year the owner presented him with a bagful of the prized organic mangoes – the first crop in four years.

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At Lake Cooroibah we took in hinterland vistas and drifted silently amid pristine bushland enjoying the stillness and solitude, surprising given the close proximity to the busy resort town of Noosa. And we also cruised to the river mouth to see Noosa’s abundant birdlife, and fisherman hoping for a prized catch. For our frequent small flyer, her favorite moment was when Michael let it rip and we cruised along at “super speed”, leaving waves in our wake. 

When in Noosa, make sure and take a spin too.The whole family will love it.

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And if you’re looking for affordable apartment style accommodation, in an unbeatable Hastings Street location, check out the newly rebranded Mantra French Quarter – looking fresh from a $5million makeover. It’s right across the road from the beach and from Massimo’s Gelateria – a sure winner with FSF’s.

Fijians ♥ frequent small flyers

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Many of you by now would have read the controversial article on the Sydney Morning Herald where the author’s partner asked a family with a constantly wailing baby to leave the cafe where they were trying to enjoy lunch.

Everyone has waded into the debate but something I just saw on Pure Fiji’s facebook page reminded me of why this is never an issue in Fiji.

Pure Fiji’s FB posting said “in Fiji, one of the cafe staff would have come over, fussed over the baby, taken it for a walk – and all the cafe patrons would have been happy, plus the poor parents would have had a few minutes of peace.”
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I can vouch for this wholeheartedly. On every trip to Fiji I’ve always been astounded that Fijians – whether men or women – are totally devoted to kids and place them in high esteem, often knowing the child’s name but not the parents. I’ve seen grown male waiters kiss babies on the top of their heads every time they passed their highchair, kids gathered up like pied piper at restaurants where frazzled parents are trying to eat their food. We’ve had our own frequent small flyer whisked away on arrival at Jean Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort within seconds of stepping off the transfer bus. The next moment we have seen her either happily playing in the kid’s club or hunting for crabs at the beach with her nanny Joana.

Many cultures have a higher tolerance to children than we do – particularly, it seems to me, in Asian and Pacific countries. And it’s probably in cultures where they still believe it takes a village to raise a child. Personally I wouldn’t want to be in a cafe or restaurant with a child that won’t stop crying. Even our own frequent small flyer can’t stand it. I’ve removed Ella from situations like this more times than I care to mention, but as I ponder this, I realise this has never happened in Fiji where children are understood, doted on and catered for. I guess that’s why so many families ♥ Fiji too.

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Taste of the topics

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The Great Tropical Way – encompassing the magnificent Daintree, the lush Atherton Tableland and the tropical beachside town of Mission Beach – makes a fascinating road trip to take with kids. Indigenous guide Cameron Buchannan, dot paints Ella's arm with clay on the Dreamtime Walk, Mossman Gorge.

Above: Indigenous guide Cameron Buchannan, dot paints Ella’s arm with clay on the Dreamtime Walk, Mossman Gorge.

Daintree

We arrive at the friendly sugar-growing town of Mossman in the Daintree. Our clothes are damp from humidity and it’s nigh on dusk. A chorus of what sounds like a thousand cicadas fills the air, which is sultry and smells fresh and alive. We discard our clothes and wash off the grime of the day’s travelling in a cool, green billabong where it’s believed several families of turtles live. A tiny red kingfisher skims the surface to take a drink and within seconds my four-year-old daughter Ella is tugging at my arm. Right in front of us is a tiny fresh water turtle. We stay as motionless as possible and watch as it is joined by its extended family. Eventually Ella can bear it no longer and jumps in and chases her new reptile friends who quickly retreat in the opposite direction. It’s a magnificent start to our visit to the Daintree and by the time we wrap ourselves in towels on the sandy bank we’re grinning from ear to ear.

“It’s where the rainforest meets the reef, where jungle clad mountains tumble down to the sea”

Our journey starts a few hours earlier in Cairns, heading north to Port Douglas on the Captain Cook Highway along one of Australia’s most beautiful coastal stretches. The 70-kilometre tract takes you alongside the postcard-perfect Northern Beaches; complete with palm fringed, white sand inlets and turquoise colored water stretching to the horizon. Beyond is the town of Mossman, where we’ve come to see the World-Heritage listed Daintree. Over the next few days we swim many more times with the family of fresh water turtles in our own private billabong, tuck into crocodile cheese cake at the magnificent Silky Oaks Resort, and take a Ngadiku Dreamtime Gorge walk at the new $20 million Mossman Gorge Centre.

Lush sugar cane fields near Silky Oaks Lodge, Mossman.

Read the rest of the story on Essential Kids by clicking here and be sure to browse the FSF’s ‘Travelling Tropical Queensland’ gallery here. It is full of stunning must-see places.

Once-in-a-lifetime memories

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Being kissed by a dolphin, swimming in the Never Never River, going on a Dreamtime Walk with an indigenous guide through the ancient Daintree Rainforest and learning about the ocean from Jean-Michel Cousteau. These were just some of the amazing experiences our frequent small flyer had in 2012.

It got me thinking how much travel with children has changed. Sure when I was a kid, my family took us three kids on an amazing trip through Europe and to Disneyland, but we also had our share of road trips, caravan park holidays and weekends at grandma’s house in Budgewoi! And we loved it. But today the world is surely an oyster for the frequent small flyer. 

I recently met Paul James, global brand leader for the Luxury Collection and St Regis at Lilianfels in the Blue Mountains. He put it another way:

“The big shift with generation X, and Y to a certain extent, is they’re marrying much later and having kids much later, and when they have kids they’re not changing their lifestyle for them. They’re also less likely then their parents’ generation to take these children and stick them in another room, because the time they spend with their children is valuable.”

This is fundamentally changing the way travel providers meet the needs of this growing market – whether it’s building multi-million dollar kids clubs and programs, operating hours, children’s menus, nannies, buddies, room configurations, amenities and specific programs tailored to enrich the lives of young guests. As James points out: “We have a rich vein of customers who really want the best and want their kids to have their best too.”

And that doesn’t mean that every holiday with your frequent small flyer has to cost a bomb, or involve staying at places gleaming with marble and gold taps. For me it means sharing an experience with your FSF; whether it’s feeding the ducks, swimming with turtles, building a sandcastle on a beautiful beach or watching someone make noodles at a busy hawker’s market. Some of the experiences travel provides children are life lessons. And hopefully they learn about other cultures, the way people live and that they are one of the most blessed children on the planet! Here’s hoping you have many rewarding experiences with your FSF this year. Come over and share. We’d love to hear about your adventures.

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Vintage Caravans make a comeback

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Vintage caravans are making a fashionable comebacks. Who can remember having a family caravan holiday? Mine weren’t as stylish as these cuties. If you can’t be bothered restoring and then towing one, you can stay in this oh so cool American Airstream trailer at the Atlantic Guesthouse at the Atlantic Guesthouse in Byron Bay. I reckon our frequent small flyer would love a holiday like this!

Kids Paradise

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Kids Paradise

Fiji’s many island resorts truly offer a little tropical bliss for everyone, but especially for families. The first clue is when you arrive at Nadi International Airport, where families are often ushered through ahead of others in the immigration queue. So for special treatment, be sure to bring the kids.

Kids are neither an infringement nor an obligation, but pure joy. Here they can run barefoot and free, build sand-castles while you enjoy a romantic dinner under the stars, experience the magic of their first scuba dive, and make new friends at kids club.

The FSF was very excited when we touched down in Fiji, having already made friends with three kids on the flight. Turns out they were also staying at our first stop, the InterContintal Fiji Golf Resort and Spa….music to FSF ears! Throw in the kids club and pools and  it was akin to offering her open slather on the lolly shop, Toys ‘r’ Us and a Wiggles concert all in one hit!

FSF has a gruelling schedule of kid club reviews while we are here – InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa , Castaway Island, Malolo Island Resort, JMC Fiji Island Resort.

Look out for her updates at Facebook.com/FrequentSmallFlyer. Moce (see you later), FSF.

Need a winter escape to Hamilton Island? For free!

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The Sydney Morning Herald will take you there!

The SMH is giving you a chance to win 1 of 15 trips to Hamilton Island. They have 15 packages, so start entering now @ Sydney Morning Herald – Hamilton Island Competition

Thanks SMH! Good luck everyone!

FSF