A five-star Rosh Hashana

The check in procedure at the Coconut Resort in Cairns concludes with a buggy ride around the park to introduce the facilities and services: two swimming pools, mini golf course, playground, two jumping pillows, water play park, tennis courts, outdoor cinema, cafe,shop, bike path, giant chess set, water aerobics, pool side massage... We know we are on a winner because it takes the kids at least two hours to start complaining they are bored instead of the usual one.

With temps hovering in the low thirties and school holidays adding to the crowds, we settle into an ensuite site for an indulgant eight day stay. And with so much on offer, its a wonder we venture into Cairns proper at all. But we do - to stroll the city esplanade and enjoy the lagoon pools, playground and night market; to replenish supplies in the shopping malls and weekend fruit markets; to take a day trip into the rainforests and a morning amble in nearby township Gordonvale; and to stalk the post offices for our much anticipated, much appreciated parcels of goodies from Nanna Laima and Nana Jenny (thank you so much!!).

Budge catches the Grand Final at Cairns' Cazaly Stadium (but fails to find a footy to kick on the grounds at half time, despite much effort); while Sam fits in plenty of long cycles into the town centre each morning in the quest for exotic fruits, and a couple of shorter pedals with Rikki in tow. Sweet too are our Rosh Hashana celebrations, where we scoff home baked apple muffins and round challot before joining Chabad RARA (rural and regional Australia) for a short evening service and a looooong post-service Kiddush. Rikki insists on sitting in the very front row then promptly falls asleep; Benji is intrigued by the black suited, black bearded yeshiva graduates running the service, convinced they MUST be twins ("even their shoes are the same, mum!"); while Jack celebrates so hard with the parve kosher biscuits that he chunders - more than once - when we get home. Bless that ensuite bathroom! The Cairns Coconut Resort has earned itself a five star rating (the only park in Australia to do so) and the illustrious reputation of spoiling its guests for all future van park experiences. But we had been warned. Ce la vie!

Apple muffins, apple in honey and round sesame-seed-topped challot. Shana Tova!
Benji at his preferred swimming pool - with mini water slide (and heated spa). Not to be confused with Jack's preferred pool - with giant water slide - on the other side of the park.  
The gang descend on the water play park - where Benji will watch from the sideline for ages before summoning enough courage to face the bucket loads of water that splash down.
Hanging our at the (man-made) lagoon on the Cairns Esplanade. The beach lies beyond, spectacular yet unswimmable due to stingers.
In a peculiar twist on the rosh hashana theme, Sam mixes avocado with honey to create a mask that can sooth a sunkissed face and scare the living bejessus off the kids when she emerges from the ensuite bathroom.