Showing posts with label Bushwalk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bushwalk. Show all posts

Sunday, July 10, 2011

How We Said Goodbye

Repatriation.  After 2+ years working to build a life in another country, we suddenly find ourselves about to return "home".  We spent our last week saying goodbye to all the people, places and things that we loved in Australia.

The kids each had parties at school and needed small gifts to hand out to their classmates and friends. I scoured Pinterest and found this adorable idea for s'more kits.   I tweaked it a bit to fit our purposes and printed our email and skype info on the back.  Such a cute little way to share an American tradition and encourage the kids to keep in touch.

We hosted a party, with sushi from our favourite place Goeman, to say farewell to our Australian, American, Canadian, and British friends down under.  

We went into the city and had lunch at the Opera Bar, and one last hot chocolate at Guylian.  We tracked down our favourite street performers and stocked up on Australian wine to bring back with us.

We walked from Bradleys Head to Balmoral one more time on our last full day in Sydney.  It was the most gorgeous winter's day.  Sydney was wishing us a fond farewell.  It was the perfect way to appreciate the beautiful spot we have called home for the past 2 years.

View on the bushwalk

On our final morning, 2 of my dear friends stopped by to wave us off.  It was emotional.  We loaded the kids (and 9 suitcases!) into the van and I went back to do one last sweep through the apartment.    It was surreal.  I walked through each room trying to take a mental picture.  This was my home.  I want to remember the happiness we felt here.  I want to carry this experience around with me forever.  And as the door to the elevator closed that last time, I knew I would.  I will always have Sydney.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jervis Bay

Last weekend we took a family road trip down the south coast of NSW to a beautiful area known as Jervis Bay.  It's about 200 km (125 miles) from Sydney.  All the brochures state it is an easy 2.5 hour drive.  I guess they mean it is 2.5 hours if you have only adults in the car and you leave at 11:15 am on a Tuesday.  Friday afternoon with three kids makes the trip a lot longer.  About twice as long in fact.  But, after 5 hours in the car, we arrived at this lovely holiday apartment in the town of Vincentia.

There is always a flurry of excitement when we arrive at our destination.  The kids run around, check out their room, open all the cupboards, explore the place and, in general, send me into a panic that something will be broken before we even unload the car. 

Luckily, no knick-knacks were harmed on this holiday!

We were up bright and early Saturday morning and set off to explore the town of Huskisson.  We had an uninspired breakfast at the Husky Bakery- which is only worth mentioning because they had an actual McDonald's playplace in the back of the cafe.

We had just enough time to book a dolphin watch cruise on The Extreme.  We thought the fast 1.5 hour trip would be perfect for the kids.  So we headed to the dock, armed with motion sickness tablets and armbands for the Little Princess.  We were all amazed to see large pods of dolphins jumping and swimming right next to the boat.  Of course, the dolphin watching was overshadowed a bit by the melt down and near panic attack suffered by the Little Princess.  She completely lost the plot (as they say here) and was terrified by the boat ride.  Afterward I asked her if it was all worth it to see the dolphins up close.  Her reply was a resounding, "NO!"  Oh well, I thought it was thrilling.

Jervis Bay is known for it's gorgeous beaches.  Hyams Beach claims to have the whitest sand in the world.  It is nearly pure silica and squeaks when you walk on it. 

The next day we took some time to explore Booderee National Park.  We bushwalked to Green Patch via the Rock Platform and saw lots of Neptune's Necklace in the tide pools.  The views were stunning (Would you expect anything else?  This is Australia!)

We also spent some time at beautiful Murray's Beach.  We saw more dolphins and even a stingray swimming very close to shore.  The water was absolutely crystal clear and still warm even though it is early Autumn.  It was a perfect place to spend the afternoon.  None of us wanted to leave.

But, as the weekend drew to a close we had to load up and head back to Sydney.  I wish we could go back during whale watching season, but I'm afraid that won't happen.  Too many places to see and, sadly, not enough time.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Jenolan Caves

At the end of January we spent a beautiful weekend up at the Jenolan Caves.  It is such an easy and fun getaway from Sydney.  We stayed in the Jenolan Cabins, which were cosy and in such a picturesque spot. 

 Bright red parrots and several wallabies were our neighbors for the weekend.  The kids loved running around the rolling green hillsides.  I was a little nervous about the "eco toilets" but am happy to report that they were not at all unpleasant.  

The only good thing about having a little baby who wakes up before the sun is that you get to see some gorgeous sunrises. 

The landscape in this part of the Blue Mountains is so pretty.

Of course the reason we made the trip was to see the Jenolan Caves.  We took guided tours of two different caves.  The temperature inside was a cool 13 degrees (c).  We weren't prepared for that!  The kids were fascinated by the giant stalactites and stalagmites. 

The Jenolan Caves were magical and we had such a great weekend up there.  Looking forward to many more weekend getaways during our final months in Australia.  So much gorgeous country to see here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spit to Dobroyd and Sailing With Justin Bieber

Since I slacked off and didn't organise a get-away for us while my sweetie is off work this week, we decided to holiday at home and do some of the things we've always wanted to right here in our own backyard.

This morning we got up bright and early and set out to walk from The Spit to Manly.  This is an ambitious bushwalk- about 10k-and we had all three kids in tow.

About 2k into the walk we came to a lovely little beach called Clontarf.  And- BONUS- it had a playground we've never been to.  Summer mission #3- check!

After a bit of a play we were back on the track, heading past Castle Rock Beach and Grotto Point.  The views were typical Sydney views- which is to say they were absolutely stunning.

The track was pretty challenging; especially since I had the bubby on my back and the little buddy spent most of the walk on his dad's shoulders.  Did I mention there were A LOT of stairs.  Yes, there were.

As we made our way up to the Dobroyd Scenic Lookout I began to think that 5.5 km was plenty for one day.  The kids agreed.  And wouldn't you know there was yet another playground behind the reserve.  Make that Summer Mission #4! 

While the kids played we grownups decided to call a taxi to take us back to our car.  The rest of the Spit to Manly walk would have to wait for another day.

But when you're a family of 5 taking a taxi isn't as easy as it seems.  The cab company had a bit of trouble locating a seven seat taxi with an infant capsule.  We waited, and waited.  Finally I made an executive decision.  Send the dad back to the car in a regular taxi, and he'd come back and get the rest of us. 

So off he went.  Of course, when he arrived at the car he quickly realized he didn't have the keys with him!  So, back to the playground he came, picked up the keys, took the taxi back to the car, and finally, came back to retrieve us all.

Now you'd think that would be enough of an adventure for one day.  But no- there's more.  I had arranged for my hubby and I to take sailing lessons this week, and today was the first one.

We were both a bit surprised when we showed up at the sailing school and met our instructor who appeared to be a 13 year old Justin Bieber look-a-like. 

But, I'm happy to report he was actually quite competent.  The lesson went smoothly, we didn't damage anything, and they said we could come back tomorrow for the second installment.

Whew!  Next time I plan a holiday at home I think we will just make plans to plop ourselves on the beach.  In fact,  I think I'll pencil that in for next week.

Lounge Lizard

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sculpture By The Sea

My mom has been here for nearly three weeks helping me with the kids around the clock.  I couldn't let her come all this way and spend the entire time in my apartment doting on her darling grandchildren.  So when I saw that the annual Sculpture By The Sea was on we decided to head to Bondi and check it out.  We lucked out and had beautiful weather.  And we only had the baby with us so it was a nice relaxing morning together. 

It was a challenge to get some good photos
because I looked like this:

 Baby on the front, backpack on the back- a tricky balancing act!

 But here are some of our favourites:

Me and Mom enjoying our day out together!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Palm Beach

Saturday was gorgeous here in Sydney and we decided to take advantage of it and head out for a family bushwalk.  It was our first outdoor adventure since the little guy was born 6 weeks ago, and it went surprisingly smoothly!

Our destination:  Palm Beach to climb up to the Barrenjeoy Lighthouse.  The walk was pretty short, but consisted mostly of steep rock stairs.  Not the easiest thing to navigate while wearing a Baby Bjorn.  But the views from the top were certainly worth it!

Palm Beach is so beautiful, and it seems so Australian.  It's not crowded, there are whales and dolphins just off shore, and the sand is amazingly soft. 

I'm convinced that Sydney must have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and Palm Beach is one of them.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Debra Down Under

Last week one of my best pals from California came and spent 9 days with us in Sydney before heading off on a 2 week Australian adventure. Even though the weather was pretty miserable most of the time she was here, (it is the middle of winter after all) we managed to pack the time full of fun. At 35+ weeks pregnant I think I'm still a pretty good tour guide. Here's what we did:

-South Head Cliff Walk and lunch at Doyle's Fish & Chips
-Sydney Tower
-Hyde Park
-The Domain (and the bats at dusk)
-Featherdale Wildlife Park
-The Blue Mountains, Scenic World, the 3 Sisters
-Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout, exploring The Rocks
-Taronga Zoo
-Queen Victoria Building
-Museum of Sydney
-Darling Harbour, Chinese Gardens, Paddy's Market
-Yum Cha in Chinatown
-Visit an RSL Club
-Bradley's Head, Chowder Bay, Cremorne Point Bushwalk
-Manly to Shelly Beach walk and dinner on the wharf
-Northern Beaches (Palm Beach and Newport)

She returns to Sydney for 3 nights later this month and will do the Opera House, Botanic Garden, Kings Cross, Bondi and a Harbour Cruise as part of her tour.

What other Sydney "must-sees" should I take her to? Suggestions welcome!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hello Hamo

Last week we spent 5 glorious days on Hamilton Island in tropical North Queensland. Hamilton Island is part of the chain known as the Whitsunday Islands. With Hawaii like weather, proximity to The Great Barrier Reef, amazing white sand beaches and stunning views, it is a tropical paradise and the perfect place for a family holiday.

We stayed in a private apartment on the resort side of the island overlooking Catseye Beach. The best thing about the apartment was that it came complete with its own golf buggy- the primary mode of transportation on the island. We drove the buggy everywhere- just because it was so much fun. My dare devil husband even thrilled the kiddos with a few buggy "donuts" in the car park. I was particularly happy that I didn't have to trudge up all the island's hills in my enlarged condition. Waddling from the buggy to the pool was enough for me!

While there we took a full day boat tour with H2OSportz called the Triple Treat. It really was a treat for the whole family. We boarded their boat, The Reef Spirit, and set out for a fun filled day. Our first stop was at the coral reef for snorkeling. We saw many colourful fish and of course all variety of beautiful coral. A few lucky people even spotted some sea turtles. The Little Princess was a pro at snorkeling, staying in the water the whole time. The Little Buddy got geared up and floated around a little with Dad before heading back to the boat with me. He looked so cute in that wetsuit- I can just picture him 10 years from now heading out to surf in a similar get up.

Our second stop was at the unbelievable Whitehaven Beach. The sand on this beach is 95% pure silica and stretches for over 5 km. The sand was so fine it felt like flour and actually squeaked when we walked on it. The kids had fun digging around and the Little Buddy had a chance to show off his newly acquired cricket skills.

Our third "treat" of the day was a stop at Tongue Bay and a short bushwalk to the lookout over Hill Inlet. Our guide was quite knowledgeable and pointed out many interesting things along the way, including the green ants which she encouraged us to taste stating that their "bums" taste like honey and lime. We passed on the ant bums, and headed to the lookout point where we were amazed at the gorgeous sand formations and the crystal blue water at Hill Inlet.

The rest of our trip was spent lounging around at the pool and enjoying the tropical weather. We rented little catamarans one day and spent some time touring the island in our buggy. One morning the kids went to the Clownfish Club (which they LOVED) and my sweetheart and I took a scenic seaplane ride over the Great Barrier Reef. Seeing the reef from the air was breathtaking! You really get a different perspective when you see it from above. My favorite bit was Heart Reef, the most photographed part of the Great Barrier Reef. Isn't it lovely? We also cruised over Hayman Island, Hamilton Island, Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet. The views from the air were absolutely stunning and I am so glad we did the air tour.

We also had some wildlife encounters while on the island. The rainbow lorikeets and cockatoos were everywhere- and pretty persistent when it came to snatching food. I nearly had a heart attack when a beautiful little lorikeet landed on my knee one evening. (I hate birds!). Why is it that animals always flock to the one person in the group who does not want to be near them? We also had several visits from creepy little opossums each evening. They were definitely used to seeing people and got a little too close for my comfort!

Like all good vacations, the end came too soon. We were all sad to say goodbye to the beautiful weather and the relaxing atmosphere. Too bad we couldn't bring some of that Queensland sunshine back with us. It's been raining buckets in Sydney!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Great Ocean Road- Part 2

The final leg of our Great Ocean Road trip started in Port Campbell, a sleepy little town of about 500 people. It is a good place to stay only in that it is very close to the 12 Apostles. Other than that, it doesn't have much to offer. After our experience in Lorne, the information centre in Port Campbell was a real disappointment, but we did pick up a few maps with lookout spots designated on them. And so we were off- on the road again!

There were so many gorgeous, marked places to stop along the road. The photo above shows the "London Bridge" so named before the first arch fell down into the sea. Below: After a short hike down to a near by beach we spotted heaps of penguin footprints in the sand. A colony of Little Penguins lives in this area!

Another beautiful lookout was "The Gorge". My sweet husband hiked down a ton of stairs to see if it was worth the view, and since it was I hauled my big pregnant self down there where a nice Uni student (from Wisconsin!) snapped this family photo for us.

We drove on to a cute little town called Port Fairy for a delicious lunch and then backtracked a bit to Tower Hill, a state game park reserve. There is an extinct volcano at this site, and the Little Princess really wanted to climb to the summit. However, I wasn't really up for that, so we all enjoyed an easy rainforest bushwalk and spotted some wild emus and even a little wallaby along the way.

From there we headed to our final destination; Warnambool. This small city is located along the "Shipwreck Coast" and featured a recreation of an 1800s fishing village called Flagstaff Hill. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to see the village during the day, but we went back at night for a lantern walk and a cool laser show recreating the shipwreck of the Loch Ard. We all really enjoyed the show and left with a real appreciation for the brave travelers who made the daunting journey to Australia in the late 1800s. We would have liked more time to explore Warnambool, but we were up and out early the next morning for an easy 2 and a half hour drive back to Avalon airport and our flight home to Sydney.

We can't recommend this trip highly enough. We all loved it! It was such a great mix of beautiful scenery, amazing wildlife, interesting new experiences, and fun times together as a family. It's a trip we'll always remember.
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