Archive for ‘family’

September 29, 2017

Sapphire Coast Getaway

I have recently returned from a few days on the beautiful unspoilt Sapphire Coast of New South Wales-approximately 2.5 hours drive from Canberra where I live. Being a teacher, I have the added perk of school holidays so I thought why not? I packed my bodyboard, fins, suitcase, esky, two bags of food, hat and sunscreen with some swimmers and set off on the open road. I climbed over Clyde Mountain, yelled out “Cabbage Tree Creek “when I approached it (a favourite past time on trips to the coast as a child and whenever my parents visit me from Queensland down south.)

Soon I had passed the summit of the mountain and Pooh Bear’s cave and saw the beloved first glimpse of the ocean on the horizon with the thought “I see the sea” (something my dad always said when we passed this spot-he however now lives on the Gold Coast and is 20 minutes from the sea so he doesn’t get as excited about it as when he lived in Canberra which is much more inland. Then I passed a sign for Bateman’s Bay along with its population number, crossed the iron Bateman’s Bay Bridge dotted with boats with the islands out to sea and stayed on the highway until I reached the turnoff for Broulee. I took the turnoff and drove through the quaint seaside village, past my favourite pizza shop just across the road from the beach, over the bridge and to my fvavourite Mossy Point cafe’ where I enjoyed a large mocha.

After that I walked down to the public jetty and took some photos of the blue water lapping gently against the shore. The wind unfortunately was a bit strong and blew my blue and white hat I’d bought from Port Douglas in far north Queensland into the water! I found a part of the jetty near the water level and dropped down into the sand, trying my best to avoid the inevitable purple and white oysters which were lurking beneath the surface-I like to eat them not tread on them! I retrieved my now dripping hat and yanked it back on my head. The two people who were also on the wharf didn’t even laugh!

Then I walked back to the cafe’ and bought some hot chips with chicken salt as the pizza place was closed. I enjoyed the chips on Broulee Beach, where I also sunbaked and read my book. I then went for a bodyboard with my fins and caught some waves into shore. After that I headed back along the highway to a town called Narooma which was about 40 minutes away. I checked into the caravan park there-I had treated myself to a nice cabin with a glimmer of an ocean view. I dropped off my things and headed for the beach by the surf club. I went for a swim and read my book for a while (I do this quite a lot) before heading back to the cabin, having a shower, getting changed and going out for dinner at a place advertised as having a “million dollar view” (it truly does): O’brien’s Hotel.

I had a roosta boosta pizza and a glass of Pinot Grigio (a wine a friend of mind introduced me to and which I now love.) The next day I slept in, had breakfast at the cabin and a large mocha at a quaint little cafe’ my brother and his wife had visited when they came to the coast from Queensland for Christmas. It had wooden whale painted table numbers and had a wonderful view down through the town, with the ocean in the background glimmering serenely in the spring sunshine. After my mocha I did a spot of shopping-buying a couple of summer dresses and some pretty scented soaps. Then I went to the kinema (that’s what it’s called there) and bought a ticket to a romantic comedy later that afternoon called Everything Everthing-a love story between two young people-one of which supposedly cannot go outside as she is allergic to everything and could die.

It had beautiful scenery of Hawaii in the film-a place I would very much like to visit one day and of which my dad has fond memories. After the film, I headed out for dinner to the Narooma Golf Club-probably in the best location for a golf club ever invented-with a beautiful view all the way across the headland and green golf course to the lighthouse perched atop Montague Island a few kilometres out to sea. I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc this time (Pinot Grigio was only available by the bottle and I wasn’t going to drink a whole bottle now was I?) I also had an entree’ of half a dozen natural local oysters and a pumpkin tart with blue cheese sauce which was absolutely delicious.

The next day I followed the path winding its way past the caravan park, across the bridge over Wagonga Inlet and all the way to the breakwall (where apparently seals often bask in the sun), a netted swimming area and another beach. I made my way to the other beach, sunbaked and read my book before heading down the length of the beach on a serene walk with the sea breeze in my hair, the sand under my toes and the roar of the ocean in my ears. I explored the rocks at the end of the beach-waves crashed over some of them.

Then I saw a figure on some wooden stairs leading up the headland. I walked up the stairs too and found myself atop the headland and overlooking an adjacent beach. Then I walked back along the beach, boardwalk and path to the cabin and had lunch there. After that I headed across the road to the Visitor Information Centre as I had seen online that they had a Lighthouse Museum inside the building. It was free! I read about the history of the lighthouse and the lighthouse keeper families on Montague Island and learned that the light in the display original lighthouse from the island actually came from a similar lighthouse in Green Cape in Eden further along the NSW coastline before you hit Victoria (I have visited this lighthouse on my Eden adventure.) You could put a dollar into a machine and put you hand on a hand print and the lighthouse on display would light up, rotate and tell you information about itself. It said all moneys went to the keeping of the museum which is run by volunteers.

After looking at the information centre, I passed two mermaid dolls on the bench outside and headed for a swim at the Narooma Pool-a pool I had often visited with my mother and brothers as a little girl and which used to have mats you could float on. I did some laps there and then had a shower back at the cabin, got changed and headed to the  beach near the surf club where I went for a sunset walk. I did try to find a path leading up to the graveyard on the headland overlooking the beach but couldn’t find one.

I googled the address of the graveyard on my phone and used my GPS to find my way there in my car. I drove past the industrial area of town and down a narrow street shrouded with trees-like a kind of darkening green tunnel. Then I was at the graveyard. It had a great view of the beach at sunset and the moon which was now out so I took some nice photos. I did find it eerie being there alone and it almost being dark though so I didn’t stay long. I drove to a Chinese takeaway restaurant and bought some food and went to BWS and bought two bottles of Pinot Grigio (on special.) Then I watched Indian Summers on my laptop back at the cabin on a DVD boxset I had got from a library in Canberra.

The next day I checked out of the caravan park before 10AM (as required) and headed to a favourite spot of mine-the town of Bermagui. Bermagui was about 30 minutes further along the coast than Narooma and I call it “Bermi” for short now (I’m not sure if the locals do but maybe?) I drove the the Blue Pool-two concrete pools built into the seacliff and surrounding rocks which are filled with sea water. I dipped my feet in as it was a bit windy and the water was rather cold (I was a wuss.) I resorted to reading my book on the headland with chips and chocolate (I’m on holidays) instead before driving back into town and parked outside a  nice cafe’ just across the road from the beach.

I ordered a large cappuccino followed by a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a lunch of a chicken Turkish bread toasted sandwich with salad. I enjoyed this feast with my book in the sunshine gazing at the ocean before me. Then I headed across the road to the beach, lay down my town and you guessed it, sunbaked and read my book. Then I got in my car and set off back for Canberra, stopping off for a visit with tea and biscuits with my grandgrandparents in Moruya on the way.

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June 1, 2017

Birthday Weekend in Sydney!

Last weekend, mum and I decided to both go to Sydney-me from Canberra and she from Brisbane, to celebrate our combined 26th and 50th birthdays and watch Sydney’s famous Vivid show. Mum flew down and I caught the bus up. She checked into the accommodation at the Rocks (beautiful area but rather a lot of stairs and cobble stones) before me and I met her there. I can tell you it was quite an effort lugging my 20 or so kg suitcase up many flights of stairs, but when I got to the rooftop terrace I saw the most wonderful view over Sydney Harbour which stretched out to Manly and encompassed the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

We went out to a lovely restaurant called the Argyle where we had some glasses of white wine and I had a Tigerlily cocktail. We also shared a pizza and caught up on the past two months (since I’d last been up at the Goldy for a high school friend’s wedding.) Then we ventured down to Sydney Harbour and watched Vivid light up the Opera House and surrounding buildings with a theme I could hazard a guess as being the Great Barrier Reef as it included coral spawning. The atmosphere was electric and the crowds were heaving. Then we went back to our accommodation.

The next day mum asked what I would really like to do in Sydney and I said to visit Bondi Beach of course! I told her I was a big fan of the TV show Bondi Rescue which had even got fans in the UK (which I found out when I lived there for a year.) We found out that Sundays have a $2.50 maximum spend on public transport which includes ferries so it was a perfect day to make the trek to Bondi! We scanned our Opal cards (purchasable from many shops and the train station) and hopped on a bus from Alfred Street headed for Bondi Beach. It was quite a busy bus but after all, it was a cheap day for public transport.

Within about half an hour we had arrived at our destination. Bondi Beach stretched out before us in all its aquamarine glory. It had the famous lifeguard tower at one end and a promenade dotted with little cafe’s along the way to the other end. Mum and I walked along the prom to the other end of the beach and had breakfast and coffee at a cafe’ called Speedo’s. I was excited to spot one of the famous Bondi lifeguards on his phone at a lookout outside and even more excited when he came into the cafe’ we were in to grab a coffee. Then mum and I headed back along the beach. We spotted another Bondi lifeguard and this time asked to have a photo. He immediately posed for one-what a nice guy! Then we finished our walk along the beach and started the Bondi to Coogee walk which a friend who used to live in Sydney had highly recommended to me.

Mum and I had worn enclosed shoes and walked past the famous Icebergs Pool and along the clifftop walk. It was beautiful from every angle and we took a fair few photos. It was nice to watch the surfers catching the waves in. We even walked up Bronte’ hill which was a very steep incline but afforded a marvelous view of our surrounds. Then we decided to catch the bus back to Bondi, however it just went to Bondi Junction so we had to change buses there and catch a different one back to Circular Quay. Then we went out again for dinner and drinks, this time the ferry by night to Manly which is about 30 minutes away. It was marvelous to pass the buildings, opera house and bridge all lit up with Vivid. I felt like Rose from Titanic, standing at the front of the large ferry as it glided smoothly across the harbour to Manly’s distant shores. We noticed seagulls gliding on the wind the ferry generated as they accompanied us to the other end of the harbour.

Once we reached Manly, we disembarked the ferry and headed along the promenade to a restaurant mum wanted to take me to: Manly Wine. We were seated at a little table near the windows where we could look out onto the dark ocean and surrounding lights. We ordered our meals and shared a bottle of a delicious Pinot Grigio from Victoria called White Stripes. Then we caught the ferry back to Circular Quay and went back to our accommodation.

On Monday (my 26th birthday) we had a little bit of a sleep in and then headed to Darling Harbour for breakfast which was walking distance away. It was a pretty little harbour and had shops dotted around it and boats floating around it. We spotted a Navy ship which was part of the Australian National Maritime Museum. We visited a shopping centre and had a look at the shops. Then we returned to Circular Quay and explored the Royal Botanical Gardens which were also walking distance away. We sat on the sunny green lawn past the black gates with crowns on them for Government House and watched the boats go by. Then we walked up the stairs of the Sydney Opera House (which is pretty high up by the way.)

We looked at beautiful views around Sydney and took photos. Then we decided to visit Manly in the day time (the last time before last night that I had been there was when I was 18 which was almost a whole ten years ago!) We caught the ferry there and walked along the esplanade for the length of the beach. Then we rounded some corners, passed a “mermaid pool” which was like an infinity pool before the ocean, walked up and around a steep little headland and through leaf tunnels along a winding pathway, before looking inside a quaint little shop selling sea shells and other gifts.

Then I waded in the “mermaid pool” and mum took some photos, including of figures in the stones on the side of the path, like weedy seahorses. Then I waded in Shelly Beach, which is around the corner from Manly Beach before wading in Manly Beach. Then, as the sun went down we headed to a German restaurant called The Bavarian Manly Wharf. This was my birthday dinner! We sat at a comfortable table by a gas fire place as the sun set over the ocean through the windows beyond. Mum ordered a kransky sausage with cheese and I ordered a jaegerschnitzel which was a delicious chicken schnitzel with a delicious mushroom sauce on top. Both dishes were divine. Mum had a rice beer and I had a mango beer which a friend had recommended to me. We said cheers and clinked our glasses as the fire warmed us and the ocean roared in the background. What a fabulous birthday weekend in Sydney! Then we caught the ferry back past the bright lights of Sydney Harbour and past the glowing Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge-what an adventure!

 

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Watch the video of Vivid Sydney

 

Watch the video of my trip on Sydney Harbour

 

 

 

April 22, 2017

Exploring Namadji National Park

20170422_141142.jpgToday I drove past the south side of Canberra and to Namadji National Park. The visitor centre was easy enough to find, was clearly signposted and had plenty of parking.

The lady there was very friendly and knowledgeable as she told us all about the park and its various walks. I left the visitor centre, map in hand and set off around the woodland walk which was immediately outside the visitor centre. It had lots of useful information and a shelter with window panes built like an old style homestead. Apparently there were a few homesteads around which were built by Europeans; some were intact and others in ruins. I also read about different tyes of wildflowers and gumtrees including snow gums which grow higher up and mountain ash which grow lower down.

I wandered off this track and did the Cypress Pine Lookout walk. It was quite steep but very pretty, especially once you got to the lookout at the top! After that I finished the woodland walk and drove to the Aboriginal rock art walk which was a 40 minute drive away. This walk was open and grassy with markers and a number of curious kangaroos.  It was also only reachable by dirt road but it was a fine journey in a two wheel drive-even through little pools of water! The rock art and views of surrounding mountains were magic!

February 7, 2016

Exploring Springbrook National Park

I decided to spend a day up at Springbrook National Park. It’s about a 45 minute drive from the Gold Coast but well worth the journey. I drove up into the mountains and found that light rain and mist were lingering around. This made it seem even more magical. I parked my car and did the Purlingbrook Falls track. This is a 4km track which goes in a circuit to the Purlingbrook Falls and back to the car park. I walked on the pathway which was adjacent to the cliff.

From this path I could see the top of the waterfall cascading down forcefully to the rocks and pool below. I walked past native rainforest plants, wildflowers and tree ferns. I spotted a yellow robin and a couple of butterflies. The rainforest was very peaceful and calming. Soon I was at the bottom of the waterfall. I gazed up at this tower of water before me.

Even just the sound of it was soothing. The water spurted out from orange coloured rocks in a straight white torrent. I gazed mesmerised. Then I made my way back. Afterwards I had a mocha and a brownie at a nearby cafe’ then made my way to the Natural Bridge which was about 17km away. I drove through the green rolling fields of Numinbah Valley adorned with cattle and horses. I remember I did a trail ride here for my birthday a few years back.

Then I was at the Natural Bridge. I parked my car, read the information signs and began the walk. There were a few steps but not too many. Soon I was at the Natural Bridge. This place takes my breath away every time-it’s so enthralling. I looked at the rocks forming a bridge with the waterfall cascading behind and through them. I wandered over to the glow worm cave which this was attached to. Then I did the rest of the walk, stopping at various lookouts on the way.

February 7, 2016

Trip to Brisbane

I recently went on a day trip to Brisbane from the Gold Coast. There I caught the City Cat ferry using my Go Card from Queensland Transport and criss crossed the Brisbane River on my way to South Bank. On the way we passed the Queensland Maritime Museum and I saw the skyline of Brisbane.

Soon we were at South Bank and I disembarked the ferry. I looked at the riverside views, walked past the Brisbane Eye and through the archway laced with wisteria. Soon I was at the Brisbane Museum. I had seen that the Medieval Exhibition was on and I was keen to go and see it. I paid to see the exhibition and went upstairs. At the top I gave my ticket to the cashier and entered the exhibit.

Tinkling medieval music played in the background. The British Museum had lent this museum medieval objects which they would display here until April before they would be returned. I saw swords, figurines and so on. They were awe inspiring to look at and just marvel at how old they were! There were paintings on the walls also. Each object had information about it beside it. I would highly recommend this exhibition.

February 7, 2016

Finding the Blue Pool

I had heard from my uncle that there was a beautiful big ocean pool a drive away in Bermagui. One day I decided to find it…

I drove to Bermagui. This included driving across a little arched one way bridge across water filled with beautiful black swans. This was mesmerising.

Finally I got to Bermagui (it’s about a 45-50 minute drive from Moruya.) I stopped off at the information centre and was given a map of Bermagui along with directions to find the Blue Pool. I drove alongside a beach and came to a tight and steep corner. I turned into it and found myself on a steep downward slope. I parked and walked down the steep staircase to the ocean pool in the rocks below.

The coastline around me was magnificent. Soon I was by two big ocean pools. One was smaller which I assumed was for children and the other was much larger. I put on my goggles and snorkel and clambered down the ladder into the larger pool.

I was impressed with how deep the water was and how big the pool was. It was in a large rectangular shape. On the bottom I saw big fish, coral, seaweed and shells. I snorkelled from one end of the pool to the other. Occasionally big waves crashed over rocks and new sea water drifted into the ocean pool. This was my first time in an ocean pool and it was amazing!

February 7, 2016

Exploring Moruya Museum

I’d heard there was a museum in Moruya, right in town which I couldn’t remember visiting before. It is quite near the library. The building is welcoming with a gorgeous garden with roses out the front. A man who worked at the museum who had been gardening, greeted me, charged me the admission and allowed me to enter the museum.

The museum is set out like an old fashioned house. At the bottom is a parlour, dining room and kitchen. On the first floor is an Anzac memorial room and upstairs is a nursery and another bedroom. Each room was filled with furniture of the time with labels of what everything was and where it had come from. Paintings adorned the walls of historical buildings including the famous Kiora House.

There were old fashioned costumes on manikins, the kitchen had old fashioned soap and packages and jars and an old fashioned oven which ran on hot coals. The Anzac memorial room had manikins wearing uniforms and in the glass cabinet were badges. In the nursery were cradles and cribs. In the bedroom were manikins wearing old fashioned women’s clothing including a bathing suit in black and white, an old fashioned bed spread and so on. This place really is a treasure trove and showcases the history of Moruya and its surrounding towns and is definitely well worth a visit.

February 7, 2016

Voyage to Montague Island

Off the coast of Narooma you can see an island with a lighthouse on it out to sea. That island is Montague Island and I’d always wanted to visit it. I decided one day that I would finally visit, booked my ticket online and showed up at the allocated time on the day to find the boat at the wharf.

I found the boat, the company and the other people day tripping to the beautiful island. We told the skipper our names and he marked us off his paper list. Soon we were off to sea. We powered past the breakwall and people fishing, past other people on boats and could soon see the island in view, gradually getting bigger as we got closer to our destination.

There were both scuba divers and snorkellers on the boat and people who didn’t want to do either. I opted for snorkelling and as the boat anchored a short distance off the island, near a local sea colony, I put on my wetsuit, googles, snorkel and flippers and walked off the metal ladder at the back of the boat.

Coming from Queensland the water was cold but the wetsuit kept me relatively warm. I looked at the depths beneath me and spotted large silver fish, corals and seals! I didn’t want to get too close to the seals but instead marvel them from a distance. They were splashing about in the water or lazing on the rocks at the edge of the island.

After some swimming near the boat we exited the water and made our way on the boat to the main jetty of the island. We docked there and got changed back into our everyday clothes. A New South Wales Parks and Wildlife man was there to greet us and accompany us on a guided tour of the island. He had a list of people who were to go with him as others had opted to scuba dive instead.

We exited the boat and made our way up the path of the island. The man spoke to us about the island and its significance to the local indigenous peoples who had inhabited it for many years. He reminded us to take our rubbish with us as there were no bins on the island. We followed him up the steep, winding path on the way to the towering white lighthouse which overlooked the surrounding coastline.

We reached the lighthouse keeper’s cottage-a beautiful white building with a blue roof looking out across the sparkling blue sea. All around us were seagulls and other sea birds screeching ferociously in the sea breeze. This was their island after all. We walked to the lighthouse which the man opened. We climbed up the winding spiral staircase past narrow windows overlooking the ocean. I was reminded of the children’s television show I’d watched growing up: Round the Twist. We soon reached the top and walked out to the verandah surrounding the top of the lighthouse.

This offered 360 degree views of the island and Mount Dromedary in the distance. Then we descended the lighthouse after taking many photos. The guide then took us on a walk on a grassy pathway which he mows around the island. We found a quaint bay for swimming enclosed by rocks which formed thrones for sea birds perched on them. We came across the family which was staying in the lighthouse keeper’s cottage-they were swimming in the sea. How peaceful it must be to have an island to yourself! Then it was back on the boat and back to the mainland at Narooma after a fantastic time on Montague Island.

February 7, 2016

Trying the Cheese at Tilba Tilba

Tilba Tilba is a quaint little village on the way from Moruya to Narooma. It has a well sign posted turn off. I found a car park and promptly went to visit the bakery for lunch. I had a chicken pie and a delicious chocolate eclair filled with whipped cream. I sat on a bench outside the bakery atop a hill and gazed at my surroundings: the little street was lined with shops on both sides and in the distance were rolling green hills and pastures and even further were distant blue coloured mountains.

I walked inside the shops and looked at the interesting wares: leather belts, clothes, jewellery, shoes, dream catchers, tarot cards, incense sticks, sun catchers sparkling in the sun and so on. I passed a quaint tea room and looked inside an old fashioned general store. I went to my favourite place on the street: the cheese factory. I’d been coming here since I was a child and was keen to buy their sun-dried tomato cheese.

Upon entering the shop I saw there were two varieties of the sun-dried tomato cheese: a hard cheese version and a softer cheese. I opted for the  harder cheese and bought my favourite treat.

February 7, 2016

A Visit to Mogo Zoo

I’d heard there was a white lioness at Mogo Zoo and was intrigued so I went to visit. The zoo is just a short drive from Mogo and is well sign posted so you can’t miss it. I paid my admission fee and entered. I looked at monkeys climbing on the trees inside their enclosures and peaking out at us human visitors.

I passed meerkats with one on senitel duty (on guard) with its tail in the air-looking for any possible hint of danger while the others ate, scurried around or rested. Meerkats are so adorable especially when they run with their tails in the air. A wall in their enclosure was painted to look like an African safari landscape.

I passed snoozing snow leopards, towering giraffes, interesting ostriches and running zebras. I spotted a gigantic gorilla in its enclosure on top of a hill. I could hear it calling too. The sumatran tigers’ yellow eyes followed me through the wire of their enclosure and finally I found the white lioness. She was walking up and down the fence line and rubbing her body against the fence. Other lionesses were cleaning each other and lying sprawled out on the grass inside the enclosure. Lastly I patted some friendly deer. What an experience!