What a year it has been. I think most of us will be glad to see the back of 2020. Coronavirus has a lot to answer for…but it hasn’t been all bad. For me personally, it hasn’t been the worst year. It was sad not to be able to go home this year to see family and friends but thank goodness for the internet and learning to socialize online with video calls etc. Here is a look at my year with 12 photos for each month of 2020.
Happy New Year everyone! May 2021 be better for you than 2020.
Returning to Byron Bay has been my dream for a while. Luckily for us, Byron lies in NSW, meaning we were allowed to travel there as it’s in the same state as Sydney. Being able to catch a flight was surreal. We had contemplated driving the 8 hour car journey to Byron, however, the flights were too cheap to pass by and it’s only an hour and a quarter journey. Being in the covid era we were wary of taking a flight but taking the necessary infection control measures, we were hoping it would be ok. Also the case numbers are very low here in NSW with none having been reported in Byron for a looooong time. Hands sanitized and masks on (provided by the airline) we were happy enough 🙂
Anyway, yes we had been to Byron before, 10 years ago and we were intrigued to see the changes, whilst reminiscing and creating new memories. See below for my top 5 highlights of our trip to Byron Bay. Hopefully, they can provide you with some ideas if you decide to travel there soon (seems like everyone from Sydney has either been recently, is there now or heading there soon!!).
1 – Ballina
When travelling to Byron by flight, you will fly into Ballina Byron Gateway Airport. Most people will catch a coach from here straight to Byron. However, we wanted to stay in Ballina to see what this seaside town had to offer. It did not disappoint and therefore is my first highlight. Just a tip, the bus to Ballina town only accepts cash. I haven’t used cash in about a year so this was a hassle trying to find an ATM. (Covid times I’m surprised cash is still being used but thats beside the point). Otherwise, just grab a cab.
We stayed in the Ramada Hotel and I couldn’t recommend this hotel enough. Situated on the Richmond River, the views are spectecular. You can sit outside for food and drinks in a really stunning setting and watch the dolphins swim by. We couldn’t beleive our luck but apparently this happens all the time. The staff are extremely friendly and helpful, rooms are class and the pool area is fantastic.
Take a walk along the North Wall and you will be in awe of the scenery Ballina has to offer, from little bays and rockpools to the ocean on both sides of the breakwall. You can then walk to Ballina Lighthouse and stop for an ice cream at the Lighthouse Beach Cafe.
Best places to eat – The Point Ballina, situated at the Ramada Hotel. Great food, atmosphere and scenery. We also loved the Wharf Bar and Restaurant. This is perfect for watching the sunset and the decor is really cool and chilled out.
2 – Byron Bay town and accommodation
The actual town of Byron Bay is really cool. It has this really unique vibe of being quite relaxed with a great community spirit. It has that holiday/hippy kind of feels about it. You have the beaches, the quaint shops and restaurants and quirky bars, all on your doorstep. There are so many cool hotels and air bnbs to choose from. We went with Aloha Byron Bay, beautiful villa style apartments in the heart of Byron within walking distance to the town and beaches. We loved it here as the apartment was fully equipped with everything you need as well as having a pool and BBQ.
3 – The restaurants and bars
There are so many to choose from. Just be sure to book your restaurants in advance as they book out quickly due to so many people heading to Byron and the fact that social distancing has to be adhered to. Our favourite was the Balcony Bar and Restaurant. I remember going here 10 years ago so its pretty impressive and a testament to its service that it’s still as popular. Great vibe here and the food/drinks are amazing. Be sure to try the oyster shots! We also loved Miss Margaritas. If you love Mexican food then this is the spot and the margaritias are stunning (as you’d expect). Beach Hotel was our go to bar, you never tire of this place. It has a real Byron Bay feel, chilled out and with everything you would want food and drink wise.
4 – Byron Bay Solar Train
This world first solar train only lasts about 15 minutes but it’s a fun excursion that you don’t see every day. It provides a unique way to see some of Byron’s country side and it allows you to experience the antiqueness of an old train but with the modern twist of being powered by the sun.
5 – Cape Byron Lighthouse
I feel like this lighthouse is the heart of Byron Bay. This is a must see. Not only the lighthouse but the walk to get there is really something else. The scenic route to the lighthouse can be tough enough as there are a lot of steps and it’s a pretty steep ascent but it is totally worth it. Otherwise, you can drive to the lighthouse or walk to it from Byron via the main road. The lighthouse is so impressive I think due to its size and stage presence. It is situated on Australia’s most easterly point on top of a rocky headland. It towers over you and it’s situation really allows for some epic photographs to be taken (I’d say the most photographed thing in Byron).
Ok that’s my top 5. There is honestly so much more to do and see in Byron. Pretty much everyone these days is heading to Byron if you’re living in NSW. With all the borders closed, it’s the closest thing you will get to feeling like you are on a summer holiday. Since writing this blog we have returned to Byron again there for Christmas and had the best time again. The vibe here is unreal and the people are so so friendly. Big up Byron Bay! It has been our saving grace through the pandemic.
If you are looking for an awesome way to spend your day off in Sydney then this is the place to visit. Many people have done the Bondi to Coogee walk but have you done the Coogee to Malabar walk via Maroubra? If that’s too long, you can catch the bus to Maroubra and walk from there to Malabar. The beginning of the National Park is only a 10 minute walk from Maroubra beach.
Malabar Headland National Park boasts dramatic coastal views and walks between Maroubra and Malabar beaches, in the east of Sydney. Follow the path within the National Park. There are many steps, areas of bushland and at times rocky terrain so my advice is to wear comfortable footwear. It takes about 20 minutes to reach Malabar Beach along the western section of the walk. The views on the route are incredible. The beach itself is quite small but has lots of character and is a really beautiful spot. From the beach you then follow the path along the eastern section of the park. This can be closed at times so be sure to check the opening times at https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/malabar-headland-national-park. The views on the return leg to Maroubra are stunning and you can often see whales here migrating from May to November on their annual migration route.
Honestly, this is one park you will want to check out. I had no idea it was there, a real hidden gem in the eastern suburbs that’s right on your Sydney doorstep.
Hi everyone. As previously mentioned, due to Covid, we are only permitted to travel within our state of New South Wales (NSW). I’m going to kick off my short trips within NSW with our latest trip to Bundeena. It is just over an hours drive from Sydney and lies within the Royal National Park. Although you are literally only down the road, you will seem a million miles away. You have to drive into the National Park to find this seaside village. Alternatively you can take the small ferry from Cronulla.
This village is really quaint, lies between the beach and bushland and has numerous walks to undertake. My go to website for things to do in NSW is http://www.sydney.com. A simple web address but is really useful for finding the main attractions to see and do and also provides restaurants, bars, cafes etc to check out. For us, the main things to undertake were; checking out the local area, scenery, places to eat etc, explore some of the Royal National Park, see the famous wedding cake rock, explore the walk to the indigenous rock engravings, drive to Wattamolla Beach and stop at the Audley Dance Hall on the return home.
We stayed in a really cool Air BnB, if you want the details you can let me know. We just wanted somewhere cosy and close to all the sights. I really wanted a hot tub (just for the novelty factor 🙈) and the BBQ was a nice touch.
It was really close to the village (10 minute walk) and a 5 minute walk to Jibbon Beach. The local area has a beach found at Berenice Forster Park, just across the road from the main street. It boasts a selection of eateries and a supermarket. Bundeena has a bowling club and RSL, these are the 2 places if you want a beverage (whilst social distancing).
Royal National Park
This park is huge!! There are many walks and trails to explore with varying distances to suit all. With bushland, insane rock formations, ocean views and beaches, this park has it all. We headed to wedding cake rock which is only 3.6 km round trip. I would loved to have explored further but we were racing against time as the sun was going to set in a couple of hours.
Wedding Cake Rock
Amazing landscape piece. Such a shame you can’t get closer but many people have ruined it for others, trying to get that perfect shot. People have lost their lives here trying to sit on the edge. We see this time and time again, those competing for the most daring shot. As a further result the landscape has been compromised and become very fragile. You can even see a large crack in this photo. The area has had to be fenced off as the rock could crumble and fall into the ocean at any time.
Indigenous Rock Engravings
The engravings here are over 3000 years old.
I have always wanted to check out this beach and it didn’t disappoint. Not only is the beach amazing and quite unique but there were also some really breathtaking waterfalls that I had had been unaware of but pleasantly surprised with.
Audley Dance Hall
This is a great spot to stop on the way back to Sydney. The dance hall is a lovely spot to grab a bite to eat and the grounds here are really beautiful.
These photos are just highlighting the spots that we were able to see in a couple of days. There is so much to see and do in and around Bundeena and within the Royal National Park. Hopefully, I will be able to return here one day to explore the area further.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more days trips in NSW.
Hi everybody!!! It has been a while. I haven’t written a blog in about 4 months, sorry for that. To be honest, I haven’t had much to say or write about as there has been no travelling for the past few months (except Melbourne twice but does that even count?!). I have been attempting to lay low and save my pennies/cents for the big year that is to come in 2020. A fellow blogger has been carrying out 12 months and 12 photos and I loved this idea. It’s a great way for me to create a blog and keep me in the game. It’s the first time I saw another blog post and thought, yes, I want to do that. So thanks to Tanja from @theredphoneboxtravels for the inspo. I have picked my 12 photos (not an easy task by the way, if you have a few things going on each month) and added a little caption to each one. I hope you find them of interest 🙂
Hi there! Welcome to my latest blog post. I have been laying low for the past couple of months as I have been travelling a lot and need to build the funds back up again. In addition, we are going home at the end of this week!!! Exciting and definitely worth it, being sensible for the last couple of months 😆. Nevertheless, laying low in Sydney as autumn arrives is not too shabby at all. It has been really enjoyable to take it easy, have lots of home cooking, working out in the gym, early nights and wearing some warmer clothes. Therefore, I thought it might be the perfect time to write about activities to carry out when in the autumn season. Things to do that do not require a lot of money or effort. Appropriate for when trying to save for the next holiday 😉.
1 – Spice Alley
I had always heard of this place and people always had a good word to say about it. I had assumed this was a restaurant. I had no idea that it is in fact what the name suggests, an alley way!! It is an alley tucked away in Sydney’s CBD (very close to Central Station) that offers an array of Asian cuisine. There are numerous kitchens in the style of street food stalls and you could be forgiven for thinking that you are entering a street taken right out of the Asian continent. It is a fantastic place, full of life and the smells of tasty Asian cuisine. This is definitely a place to check out for some authentic street food and something a little different and quirky. A very ‘Instagrammable’ place too (this is a thing now). 💁🏼♂️ You can see the types of food available here.
2 – Gin Lane
If you want to try an array of different gin concoctions then this is the place for you. As part of Spice Alley this place is also a feast for the eyes. Set in an old historic house, the atmosphere is perfect for treating yourself to something a little fancy. The taste, presentation and uniqueness of these gins/gin cocktails is exquisite. The outdoor sitting is pretty cool and provides the sense of sitting in an old backstreet of 18th century London. The happy hours are daily and at different times depending on the day of the week. Find out more at the Spice Alley website above. Unfortunately I don’t have a decent photo to show you as it was quite dark inside and I didn’t want the flash on my phone to illuminate the whole room 🙈.
3 – Vaucluse House
I have always had a love/fascination with old stately homes. Back home in Ireland we have heaps but it was cool to be able to find some here (albeit not as old 🙊). Living in Bondi, I wanted to check out Vaucluse House as it’s pretty close being in the Eastern suburbs too. We took a tour of the home and thoroughly enjoyed the inside, informative knowledge. It was interesting to learn the history of the home and gardens that had once been owned and lived in by the Wentworth family. I won’t go into the details but it is worth checking out here. The gardens surrounding the mansion are really impressive and the tea rooms are extremely quaint if you are in the mood for a scone or something more substantial 😋.
4 – Seven Shillings Beach
After visiting Vaucluse House we took a short bus ride to a beach in the Eastern suburbs that we had not seen before. It’s called Seven Shillings Beach and can be found by walking through Blackburn Gardens at Double Bay (so many names!!). The gardens aren’t that big but are quite pretty and lead to this spectacular beach. I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of this place, let alone see it. It’s a really cool beach as it offers an enclosure for swimming in the sea called Murray Rose Pool. A walkway takes you out to the sea, almost like a jetty but in the form of a walkway and back again to the beach. A really amazing spot to relax with city views in the near distance. There is also a cafe situated here for food with a view. called Red Leaf Cafe. Perfect if you forget your picnic! We cannot wait to return here 😁.
5 – Angel Place
This street is very much a hidden gem of Sydney’s CBD with many locals having never even been. It is home to a piece of art called ‘Forgotten Songs’ by Michael Thomas Hill and features many, many empty birdcages hanging from a great height. It represents all the birds that were once present and even has all of their sounds playing, changing throughout different parts of the day. It’s a real feast for the eyes and is usually pretty quiet if you are looking to take photos without any other people popping up in the picture (a rare find these days unfortunately). We were able to find this with help from Google maps.
6 – Lavender Bay
This place was a find by chance for me. I was strolling around Milsons Point over in North Sydney when I came across this beautiful bay and gardens. Here you can find Wendy’s Secret Garden, apparently Sydney’s worst kept secret 🙊🤣. Here you can find many native flower species, stunning flowers and impressive views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is a simple garden but I found myself strolling around here for ages, it’s so tranquil and feels like a safe haven from the busy every day life in Sydney. You can read more about this garden here and find out why it was created by Wendy.
Thanks a lot for taking the time out to read my blog. Sydney remains an amazing city with so much to see and do, not only in summer but also heading into Autumn 🍂.
Ps. I have just returned from Seven Shillings Beach for the 2nd time and I honestly think it is even better again. My new favourite beach area in Sydney!!!