Fruit compotes, coco pops and 1970s motel pools

Every January when my family holidayed on the NSW north or south coast we didn’t travel far enough to stop overnight so we never got the chance to stay in a motel, like the El Dorado at Surfers Paradise where my parents spent their honeymoon.

The El Dorado Motel, Surfers Paradise where my parents spent their honeymoon in 1958.

Photo from the Gold Coast Bulletin, Dec 6, 2013 Gold Coast Bulletin

That is, until 1975, when for the first time we crossed the border into Queensland enroute to Noosa on the Sunshine Coast.  When we reached Ballina, 740 kms north from Sydney, Mum and Dad decided they’d done enough driving for the day and we’d stay in the town over night.

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Photo from Retro Gold Coast on Pinterest Retro Gold Coast

We drove up and down the main street, past lots of ‘No Vacancy’ signs with me in the back saying, “We have to find one with a pool!”

Motel sign on the road to Lightning Ridge

Eventually we drove into a single-level motel a bit like the one below with vacancies and a pool!

Ballina Fun N Sun Motel

Ballina Fun N Sun Motel

A few minutes later we were claiming our beds and ticking our breakfast choices – fruit compote, continental,  coco pops – on the sheet of paper left in our room. And then we headed out to the pool.

Motel pool on way to Lightning Ridge

I don’t remember much of what it looked like but I do remember how exciting it felt to be swimming in a motel pool, something I thought was very glamorous as a 14-year-old.  And still today when I stay at a hotel or motel it feels special when I discover there’s a pool.

Katherine Gorge Campground pool

Nitmiluk National Park camping ground pool, Katherine Gorge, NT.

On our recent trip to the Northern Territory’s Top End, all the places we stayed at had pools but among those I had two favourites. The first one was at the Zen Apartments in Darwin, which had a lovely, long lap pool.

Zen apartments pool 2, Darwin

In the mornings it was great to dive in and swim a few laps.

Zen apartments pool 4, Darwin

At the end of the day we returned to cool off and enjoy the pool at sunset.

Zen apartments pool sunset, Darwin'

My other favourite was at the Anbinik Kakadu Resort in Jabiru, our base during our week in Kakadu.

Anbinik Pool 1, Jabiru

After a day exploring Ubirr or Nourlangie and walking round the Anbangbang Billabong, we’d plunge into this two-year-old pool.

Anbinik Pool 2, Jabiru

In the sunlight the shallow area reminded me of the sandstone of Kakadu.

Anbinik pool 3 Jabiru

And at night the pool turned red, and was where we relaxed after exploring the beauty of Kakadu.

Anbinik Pool 4, Jabiru

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