E.G. Waterhouse National Camellia Gardens

I happened to stumble across these gardens when working in Caringbah, within the Sutherland Shire recently. I was trying to walk somewhere pleasant and increase my step count when these gardens appeared like an oasis in a desert. It was such a awesome surprise to find. I just wanted to share some pictures of the gardens and the nearby Kareena Park Reserve. Here you can find an abundance of camellias and other flowers, a quaint tea house, numerous bird species and many sleepy flying foxes. This is the perfect spot for a picnic or simply getting lost in nature. If you want to read about the history of the gardens you can click here.

This is somewhere you should check out if looking for a day trip out of Sydney to see something a little different. It honestly made my day to spend some time here and I felt I should share with others who may not have heard of this spot.

Take care and thanks for reading 🙏🏼

Wayne 😊

Sydney lockdown is officially over 🙏🏼

We made it guys! After 106 days we are now officially out of lockdown. Boy it feels good…but also a bit nerve wrecking. It’s so nice to have our freedom again, seeing people out and about, hustle and bustle everywhere. However, you can’t help but think, the virus is still out there. I’m still in favour of social distancing and trying to be as safe as possible. Although I’m double vaccinated, I’m still keen to avoid contracting coronavirus 😬.

People of Sydney, or anywhere in the world that has lived through a lockdown (I’m sure everyone has), what was the first thing you did when the lockdown was lifted???

For me, it was work as usual. Being a nurse, we didn’t have any time off during lockdown. Yes I am forever grateful to have been in employment and have some sort of normality. At least we could see our work colleagues and chat about the ever changing pandemic days whilst still earning an income. However, I’m sure I speak for many nurses, it would have been lovely to have a couple of weeks off at home. Not annual leave or being off sick but just days at home to chill out and reset. Alas it wasn’t meant to be and that’s ok.

Finishing work, it was really amazing to see people out on the streets, seeing people sitting through cafe windows enjoying their soy caps and shopping malls with shop doors finally opened again. There was a real buzz around Sydney today and it felt good, albeit a bit strange. The first thing I did was go to the gym. As much as I was slightly nervous, I couldn’t wait to get back to training and seeing friends. Finally I could lift a heavy weight again 🏋️‍♂️ and maybe feel the burn the next day 😅.

I hope you all enjoy the next few days/weeks of having no lockdown. What are you excited to do/see? I personally can not wait to be able to travel again ✈️.

Thanks for reading guys and stay safe 🙏🏼

Wayne 😜

Lockdown week 10 🤦🏼‍♂️

How are you all keeping out there??? What’s happening with covid where you are? We remain in lockdown here in Sydney, Australia. This is week 10, with another few weeks to go. Lockdown will start to ease here when we reach 80% vaccination rates. Currently we are at 70% which is amazing in such a short space of time (we were slow to begin vaccinations).

I’m getting on with everyday life. Working, walking, exercising, eating, drinking, sleeping and repeat. I’m still grateful for the little things, fresh air, good company, nice scenery, the ability to still work etc etc. When you look at how Afghanistan is doing, how can we not be grateful for what we have. I honestly think about Afghanistan on a daily basis. Heartbreaking. It’s even sadder that people around the world (myself included) will get on with life and Afghanistan will slip from our minds on a regular basis, unless we see some fresh news via the media. I hope the people will get some freedom/relief from the current struggles. I don’t know how that will happen 🤷🏼‍♂️.

Anyway, I just want to remain connected to those in the blogging community. Stay safe for those that are dealing with lockdowns/covid and try to see the good things we have in our lives. Others are not so fortunate.

Wayne ☺️

STEPtember 👣

Hi everyone and happy first day of spring 🌾. As you may be aware, we are still in lockdown in Sydney. Therefore, I thought this would be a good time to participate in STEPtember, as walking/exercising is the only thing we can really do at the moment 😝. I’m aiming for 15 to 20,000 steps a day. If anyone wishes to donate for supporting those with cerebral palsy, I would be really chuffed ☺️ Link posted below. Stay safe everyone and look after yourselves 🙏🏼

https://www.steptember.org.au/fundraisers/waynecooke

Blogger Interview With Wayne

I had the honour of being interviewed by a fellow blogger that I really admire. Thank you Pooja of Lifesfinewhine! This is my 4 year blog anniversary and it feels fitting that this should appear as my 40th blog post. I am delighted to have made it this far and I am still thoroughly enjoying being a small part of the blogging community and connecting with other like minded people. Have a read of my interview with Pooja below 👇🏼

I would like to thank Wayne for stopping by lifesfinewhine- he has one of the best travel blogs I’ve had the pleasure of reading so be sure to stop …

Blogger Interview With Wayne

Lockdown 2.0

Hey everyone! I thought I would write a quick blog post without any photographs and just let the writing do the talking (so to speak). Seeing as we cannot travel yet again, this won’t be too difficult. I actually have no photos to showcase interesting places recently. We can’t even travel locally now as we have been in lockdown since Monday. I think everyone here, in Sydney at least, knew this day would come again.

With the vaccination rate being one of the lowest in the world, this was bound to happen. Covid cases have jumped dramatically from 1 known case. The only way to curb the increase is to go into another lockdown, maintain strict social distancing and wear a mask. Other essential things to practice include hand washing, coughing and sneezing into your elbow and wearing your mask correctly 🤦🏼‍♂️.

The number one thing people can do here in Australia is to become vaccinated. It hasn’t helped that the media has continually reported on the negative aspects of the vaccines, for example, the blood clot incidents from AstraZeneca. Scare mongering people and creating a fear of the vaccine. Every medicine/vaccine will have some side effects. The odds of receiving life threatening side effects are minimal (yes of course there is a risk with anything). If a person was not vaccinated, would said person have worse outcomes with receiving the virus itself? Who knows 🤷🏼‍♂️.

The lack of travel is understandable and of course we can live without it for a short time. The main thing is for everyone to be safe and healthy. My only concern is when will be return to some sort of normality? There are so many questions that cannot be answered as yet unfortunately. When we will be able to travel internationally to see our families? Will the Australian border be closed forever? Are the states in Australia more divided than ever before? Will we all be vaccinated this year?

Anyway. That’s my little rant 🤣. I hope everyone will abide by the rules, become vaccinated, stay safe and look after each other. This may get worse before it gets better. I am still forever grateful to be in the position we are in here in Australia and feel thankful to have a premier who has done good by NSW #gladys 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

The Southern Highlands

Hey guys and gals. I have wanted to write a blog for so so long regarding the Southern Highlands. Having been there three times now, it’s safe to say we have fallen in love with this area. For those of you who may not know where this is, it’s an area of NSW about 110km south west of Sydney. By car it’s an hour and a half away or you can catch a train to a number of towns within the highlands and takes about three hours. The highlands is a district that is centered on the commercial towns of Mittagong, Bowral, Moss Vale, Burrawang, Bundanoon and Robertson, as well as the historic town of Berrima. There are also some smaller villages that include Burradoo, Sutton Forest, Colo Vale, Avoca, Yerrinbool, Exeter and Welby. As you can see, there are quite a number of towns and villages that make up the highlands. I will showcase the ones that I have been fortunate enough to see and highlight some key places that I enjoyed that you may want to check out for yourself. When I talk about the highlands to friends here in Sydney, they all have heard of Bowral as it is the largest town there, however, there is so much more to see and do in the other smaller towns and villages. Please check out my highlights below. Any towns or villages that I have not mentioned are simply due to the fact that I haven’t explored them as yet but they will definitely be on my to do list.

1- BERRIMA

Leafy, historic and full of character, this is a town not to be missed. The main street of Berrima is extremely quaint and has a lovely rustic feel. Lots of quirky shops with hand made goods. If in Berrima be sure to check out Gallery Whitewall Arts Projects. Lots of amazing art on display, some of which is really well known all over NSW.

2 – BUNDANOON (BUNDY)

The village of Bundanoon is located on the edge of Morton National Park. It’s a really lovely and welcoming village, steeped in history and offering character in abundance. The local pub, The Bundanoon Hotel is a great spot for a drink and pub lunch/dinner. As the name suggests, you can also stay there. We have stayed before and loved it. Staff are also extremely friendly. There are many walks and trails, small or larger if you prefer within the national park. This park is massive. We took a short walk to Echo Point where the views were outstanding. Fitzroy Falls is a very popular feature of Morton Park so be sure to check that out too. I feel like Bundanoon is New South Wales’ best kept secret. I can’t even put into words the love I have for this town. It is also home to the famous Brigadoon Festival where you can see plenty of pipe bands, heavy weight championships and all things Scottish. It aims to bring tourists to the area and raise funds for local charities. This is an event that I cannot wait to experience when it comes back next year.

3 – MITTAGONG

This town is known as the gateway to the Highlands and is a good place to begin exploring the area. It has some funky stores and nice places to eat, with Hendriks being a highlight for us. This is a really cool place, Hendriks cognac and wine is a warm and cosy bar that also serves delicious food. Be sure to try the jaffles (see below). For those that have never heard of these (myself included prior to this), a jaffle is a toasted sandwich traditionally made in a jaffle iron (like a toastie maker). This did not disappoint. The fillings you can have are stunning and very filling.

The largest town of the Highlands and is considered the entertainment and business hub. I liked it because it had a lot to offer, yet managed to maintain its character and charm. Dirty Janes was a highlight. This antique store in is home to over 50 different dealers who sell vintage and eclectic items that you may not find anywhere else. This store is huge and you will simply enjoy becoming immersed and meandering around the many, many stalls. Next door is Plantation Café. This café just has a right feel about it. It’s bright and warm, sells amazing coffee and is situated on Green Lane (which lives up to its name, plants everywhere). Next thing to check out is The Mill. It’s basically a really funky outdoor community hub that has vendors in their own spaces, doing their thing and doing it well. The large area has been transformed from an old timber and hardware supplier from the 1850s. You can find cafes, restaurants, an amazing ice cream store and a few unique stores where you can buy some perfect gifts. You can also hire out spaces if you have an event happening. This space is pretty awesome!

A charming town with lots of stunning scenery. Also known for being the setting for the movie Babe! First place to stop and see for us was The Cool Room Emporium…and who doesn’t love a good emporium!? This is a really cool place if you’re looking for a gift, perhaps something a bit more unusual. There is a real mix of old and new items, from clothing to books, home wares to toys. The building and grounds are pretty spectacular and provide that country Aussie, rustic feel. Next door to the emporium is the Robertson Cheese Factory. If you’re a lover of cheese, this is totally worth checking out. Here they specialize in local and imported ”off the farm” cheeses, as well as providing more sweet items such as fudges or homemade jams. 7km from Robertson you can find Budderoo National Park, home to the well known Carrington Falls. This waterfall is really impressive at any time of the year and has become a very popular tourist attraction.

6 – MOSS VALE

Known as the agricultural hub of the Highlands, this town has grown a lot and has some really cool places to check out, including cafes, restaurants etc. This is one town that I am eager to see more of. We were only able to check out this one place but boy it did not disappoint. I don’t even know where to start with this place. It was absolutely stunning. It is called Mount Ashby Estate and it brings a taste of France to the Australian countryside. Enjoy a glass of wine sitting around the French Farmhouse tables, sample some delicious cuisine and have a stroll around the vineyard for some epic insta worthy photos. There is also a furniture store on site known as Sally Beresford Antiques Shop. This shop show cases restored antique furniture items from Europe. These items are very stylish and definitely worth checking out.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing a little more of the Southern Highlands. It really is such a special place in NSW and deserves to be visited. If you want some local insights to the Highlands, check out The Fold Southern Highlands here Home Page | The Fold Southern Highlands. It also has a really helpful App that you can download for free from your App store. Also have a look at Visit NSW, it’s a really good place to have a look for anywhere in NSW and it’s my go to site for new places to visit. New South Wales, Australia | Official NSW Tourism Website (visitnsw.com). You can also check both of these out on Facebook or Instagram too.

I will be 100% heading back to the Highlands as soon as I can too, to see what else there is to be discovered in this amazing region.

Take care and thanks everyone for reading,

Wayne 🙂

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