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If a ‘real’ holiday is out of the question, why not find adventure in your own backyard? That’s exactly what haven’s Belinda and her family found on a day trip to Byron Bay recently.

We all know that old saying, “A change is as good as a holiday”. When you don’t have the time or the budget for a full-blown holiday, a change of scenery, a change of routine and a change of pace is all you have to find.

We found our “change” one Sunday in Byron Bay. We got up super early for a usual Sunday (there’s the first change!) and hit the M1 bound for the main Byron Bay bus stop and our date with the Mojosurf bus.

img_1390Mojosurf has been teaching newbies the art of surfing since 1998. And where better in the world to learn to hang ten than beautiful Byron Bay. The laid-back vibe always hits me as soon as I drive past the “Welcome to Byron Bay” sign on the outskirts of town that tells drivers to “Cheer up, slow down, chill out”. Roger that.

On this particular Sunday morning, Mojosurf was tasked with teaching Miss Almost-8 and Miss 10 to surf. For two water babies who spend a lot of time on Stradbroke Island snorkelling, swimming, kayaking and hanging at the beach, they’ve actually never tried surfing. After donning supplied wetsuits, completing a few stretches and some land-based practice on their beginner boards, the pair and their instructor Fiona hit the small, safe waves of The Pass, located between Clarkes Beach and Wategos. The beauty of learning to surf in the Byron Bay area with Mojosurf is that there are so many beaches to choose from. The experienced team uses their local knowledge to ensure you get a small safe beginner wave, calm and uncrowded, for your first lesson.

A few expected crashes and dunks later, it was only a matter of minutes before Fiona had both girls up and riding their boards. They were actually surfing! The look of excitement and amazement and pure joy made the early start and the almost two-hour drive from Brisbane instantly worthwhile. Fiona spent the next hour or so helping the girls perfect their technique before hunger and thirst brought them back to shore. When they eventually tired of surfing, we climbed nearby Fisherman’s Lookout which provided amazing views of the adjacent beaches and the ‘real’ surfers out back. All in all, our Mojosurf lessons were a real hit with both our grommets wanting surfboards for Christmas!

img_1442For a change of pace after the buzz of the beach, and to answer the call of hungry tummies, we visited Farmer J’s organic farm in nearby Skinners Shoot Road for their new ‘Pick to Plate’ lunch. Jason Saville is “Farmer J” and his farm offers visitors the chance to learn all things organic farming – from making compost and collecting eggs (some 250-odd hens call Farmer J dad), to exploring the organic veggie garden and harvesting various salad greens for the amazing lunch that Farmer J prepares for his guests. On our visit, Farmer J served up an amazing prosciutto-wrapped fig with feta, on top of the girls’ fresh-picked salad greens and an organic omelette stuffed with shredded beetroot, bean sprouts and more. Plump blueberries, a sprinkling of our fresh-picked chives and a glass of cold-pressed fruit juice completed our amazing lunch.

While it’s a get-back-to-your-roots kinda learning experience, don’t forget to ask Farmer J about his own background. He’s done everything from professional dancing and interior design to working as a landscaper, chef and now organic farmer. Farmer J’s organic farm, set up just last year, sees Jason’s life come full circle as actually he grew up farming.

“I set up Farmer J’s with the intention of teaching and inspiring,” Jason explains. “I really want people to get back in touch with the food they eat and the land it comes from. Our Pick to Plate lunches and organic workshops allow people to understand where their food is coming from, how it’s grown and how they can do it themselves at home.

“As a chef it’s an absolute dream come true being able to pull beautiful, fresh produce straight out of the ground and then cook it up for customers. There’s nowhere in Byron where people can get a lunch as fresh and sustainably sourced as Farmer J’s.”

With full tummies after lunch, the kids were invited to pot their own seedlings to take home. And it seems Farmer J’s messaging has struck a chord with our girls. Their thyme and mint seedlings are being nurtured at home with the girls eager to get them to a size where we can pick some leaves to include in an upcoming meal.

All in all, Byron Bay provided a welcome change to our normal family Sunday routine and was just the tonic we all needed. Change is definitely as good as a holiday!

Visit www.mojosurf.com and www.farmerj.com.au

Belinda Glindemann

Belinda Glindemann  

Belinda knew she was destined for a career in communications and publishing from the age of 11 when her Year 6 teacher introduced her to poster projects and glitter pens. She completed her journalism cadetship in the Whitsundays and went on to hold various newspaper and magazine editor roles across Brisbane in a media career spanning more than a decade. When Belinda's not writing for haven, she runs her own PR agency, kid-wrangles two young daughters and drinks way too much sweet tea.