Sunday, January 15

Riviera Living

Last year Garry and I stayed a night at the Ramada Resort Hotel in Ballina while on a short business trip to Mullumbimby. We loved the venue so much it was the obvious choice for a return visit during our Pacific Highway road trip. It was also a convenient place to base ourselves again as we had a follow-up meeting scheduled with the previous owner of our thriving toy company. 18 months into this venture we'd agreed to sell back a small product category that's no longer core to the business.

We spent three nights in Ballina.  This gave us ample time to spend a full day in Mullumbimby meeting the former owner of Artiwood.  The 42km journey had improved significantly since our last visit.  A new dual carriageway section of the Pacific Highway had opened a few weeks before our arrival making the journey easier than ever.  Then, with our paperwork signed and a review of the business completed, we finally headed back to Ballina in the last afternoon.

The last night of 2016 was spent enjoying delicious local fish and chips while looking over the Richmond River. Sadly there were no fireworks scheduled in Ballina so midnight passed without celebration.  However, the following morning during my leisurely breakfast on our riverfront balcony I was entertained by a pod of dolphins chasing a school of fish up the river.  It was magical moment!

We then spent two nights staying with friends on their lifestyle block near Alstonville.  It was a delight to catch up with Adam and Liz. We kicked back with a leisurely stroll around their property and a refreshing walk along the local beach. Adam and Liz really are living the dream. Before we knew it, the time had come to head back south. I also had to be back in Sydney by Friday as I had flights booked for a business trip to Hong Kong the following morning.

We decided to drive as far south as we could then stop for a couple of nights to rest and relax before tackling the traffic heading into Sydney. On a whim we decided to book ourselves into the Ibis Styles at Harrington Waters near Forster. This proved to be a clever decision. It took more than six hours of driving before we finally reached the venue in the early evening. Garry and I were both over it by the time we arrived.

However, the long day meant we'd put behind us all of the Pacific Highway that's yet to be converted to dual carriageway.  We were also excited to watch the car's odometer click over 4000kms.  We drove the vehicle off the lot 15 months ago with less than 5km on the clock. We still think its the best vehicle we've ever owned.

Harrington Waters was truly idyllic. Our hotel room looked out over the Manning River where pelicans and other bird life spent their time fishing directly opposite our first floor balcony. Harrington Rivers was a hidden gem.  Its been quietly transformed into a upmarket retirement community with some superb facilities and features some amazing waterfront homes. Our hotel was next door to a lively Irish Pub where we ate a complimentary breakfast.  A compact nine hole golf course was also within walking distance.

We loved the location so much we actually spent time talking with the local real estate agent about investment properties in the area. We're clearly use to Sydney house prices.  The cost a very decent homes in the area was barely a fifth the cost of our Sydney apartment.  While we're not in the market for a retirement property just yet, the location and its facilities have probably set the benchmark for anything we might consider in the future.

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