Doors of WordPress V5

As it’s Thursday Doors today, courtesy of No Facilities, here are my latest offerings. I love walking around Sydney and finding new doors. I feel blessed to live somewhere with such an array of fine looking doors 😛. Have a look below and let me know which ones are your fave? 👇🏼

1 – Woollahra
2 – Woollahra
3 – Vaucluse
4 – The Rocks
5 – Woollahra

As you can see, many of my Sydney doors are from Woollahra. I love this suburb in the eastern suburbs and it’s right on my doorstep. It’s very quaint with lots of character and charm.

That’s me just finished work for the week. I am sitting on the train home, tired but delighted to be off for a few days. I hope you all have a lovely long weekend and if you celebrate Easter, enjoy the celebrations, enjoy your time with those nearest and dearest and treat yourself to some chocolates.

Take care everyone and thanks for checking out my selection of doors.

Wayne 🐣

Solo Sunday in Sydney 🙋🏼‍♂️

Today I am flying solo. I am off from work and the sun is finally shining in Sydney. It feels strange but exciting to see blue skies after having so much rain. I am dying to get out and about so I take myself off for a really long walk, wanting to soak up as much vitamin D as possible and to increase my step count for the week. I can’t do the Bondi to Coogee walk as it will be packed on a Sunday. So I decide to walk to Watson’s Bay via the residential streets, hoping to encounter as few people as possible. I pass Macquarie Lighthouse and from there I walk to Camp Cove, just past Watson’s Bay. It’s a little beach that is not as well know, unless you live here in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. I take the South Head heritage trail to Hornby Lighthouse and return to Watson’s Bay. Here I take the coastal walk from the Gap Lookout and return home via Rose Bay.

As well as being a beautiful walk and a good distance for gaining the steps, it also gives me the opportunity to take many photos, most of which I can add to my future posts for my Doors of WordPress and my Friday Flowers ☺️.

I hope you enjoy some of the scenic shots from today. This is my happy place. Walking in beautiful weather, with stunning scenery and the chance to see what I can photograph.

Macquarie Lighthouse
Camp Cove – a small beach with lots of charm and city views
Camp Cove kiosk – I love the quaintness of this kiosk and it was the perfect spot to stop for lunch
Views for days when you take the South Head heritage trail to the lighthouse
Hornby Lighthouse
Walking from the Gap Lookout towards Bondi.
The coastal views are stunning.
City views and the Harbour Bridge.
When I passed Macquarie Lighthouse again, I took the residential streets to Rose Bay and then home.

All in all, my walk was about 3.5 hours with a lunch stop. My feet are walked off me but I feel great for having done it and I can now put the feet up at home.

I hope you all are able to have a lovely Sunday wherever you are. Take care and keep safe,

Wayne ✌🏽

Friday Flowers

My Friday Flowers are back again this week! Sometimes I will post a flower of the day on a Friday but if I have a few to share, I will call the post Friday Flowers 🤗. I think it’s a nice way to end the working week, splash a bit of colour through WordPress and it’s a good opportunity to appreciate the little things in life that we can often take for granted. We are still having A LOT of rain here in Sydney and through NSW. I can’t even complain about it as some people have it much, much worse then me. There are severe floods here, people losing their homes, their livelihoods and sometimes even their lives. Plus we still have the war in Ukraine that is in my thoughts every single day. When will it all end? 🙏🏼 .

Please feel free to check out my Friday Flowers below and hopefully they can make you smile and add a little colour to your day ☺️. I will tell you their name and where I have seen them 👇🏼

Scarlet Star – Bellagio Resort, Las Vegas
Flame Vine – Vaucluse, Sydney
Angel’s Trumpet – Wendy’s Secret Garden, Sydney
Pride of Madeira – Vaucluse, Sydney
Chinese Hibiscus – Kogarah, NSW

I have to say, I am in no way a botanist but I have an amazing app on my phone that can tell me about a flower species by simply uploading a photo. I cannot believe how amazing it is that we can learn so much from a photo. The app is called Picture This if you want to have a look for yourself.

It also gives you the botanical names, where they originated and other common names.
It can also identify weeds, birds, insects etc. – simply amazing 🤩

Ps. This is not an advert for this app. I just want to share as I think it’s fantastic if you want to know more about the flowers you are photographing. You can check them out here at https://www.picturethisai.com/

I hope you enjoyed my Friday Flowers post. Have a great weekend everyone and if you’re in Sydney, good luck staying dry 😬.

Wayne ✌🏽

WordPress Monthly Word Prompt – BRIDGE

I do love a good word prompt! I was scrolling through my junk emails and spotted this one from WordPress (swiftly moved to my inbox). I like the idea of having a monthly word prompt and luckily for me, I discovered this on the last day of March 😅.

Coincidentally, I also have a love for bridges. I’m not sure what it is that I love about bridges. It doesn’t even have to be a big or majestic bridge. I like any sort. I love the design of them, I love how many of them travel over water. I love the excitement of seeing what is at the other side of a bridge. Does anyone else have the same sentiment regarding bridges?

Most of you will know what my passions are from my previous blog posts, for example, photographing anything quaint, scenic, architectural etc. and a good bridge definitely falls into these categories. I have so, so many pictures of bridges but I don’t want to bore you all with them today. It is more than enough that I share my doors, flowers and sunset pictures 😆.

However, I will share one of my favourite bridges that is right here in my current city. You can maybe guess it already. Every time I see this bridge I am in awe. It also always reminds me that I am living in Sydney, one of the best cities in the world, in my humble opinion. I think I have photographed this bridge from every angle possible. I have walked under it on numerous occasions, sailed under it, walked over it, travelled over it by car, bus, train and even had the opportunity to climb this bridge with my Dad when he came to Australia. It is of course, the Sydney Harbour Bridge 🙌🏼.

View from Hotel Palisade
On top of the Harbour Bridge with my Dad
View at The Rocks
Harbour Bridge at night

What is your favourite bridge that you have seen so far???

Wayne ✌🏽

Fridays Flowers

I want to share with you today some flowers from a very popular place here in Sydney at The Grounds of Alexandria. Presently they are showcasing their Secret Garden, where lots of people come to take some pictures and pose with the flowers, mainly girls for their social accounts but it is a really impressive spectacle. I’m unsure if the flowers are real or artificial or maybe a combination of both but it really is a feast for the eyes either way. You can see more information about the event here.

Let me know what you think 🤗

A little video to capture your imagination ☺️
This was when I visited the event last year.

Wayne ✌🏽

Doors of WordPress V3

My love of doors continues to thrive. I cannot wait to travel again and see doors from other countries too. However, I do love how Sydney has such an array of door types and fortunately for me, are all in my neighbourhood. If you are also a lover of doors, check out Thursday Doors here. You can take a look at my top 5 doors this week below 👇🏼.

Woollahra, Sydney
Bondi, Sydney
Woollahra, Sydney
Point Piper, Sydney
Waverley, Sydney

Thanks for taking a look and stay safe guys,

Wayne ✌🏽

Doors of WordPress V2

Welcome to my second Doors of WordPress post. I am posting today because it is Thursday today and there is an amazing Thursdays Doors group in the blogosphere that showcases the most amazing doors. You can check it out here https://nofacilities.com/category/thursday-doors.

Please let me know which one is your favourite. I have written the location where I found each door in the caption below the photo. Note they are all from New South Wales, Australia ☺️.

1 – Surry Hills
2 – Bronte
3 – Robertson
4 – Kogerah
5 – Woollahra

The last door is my personal favourite. What’s yours?

Thanks all and keep safe,

Wayne ✌🏽

Sir Joseph Banks Park

If you’re looking to check out somewhere different near Sydney, then this could be your next stop. Situated near Botany, this park has it all, including a walking trail, a sports oval, themed gardens and ornamental animals, a maze, shaded walkways and picnic benches dotted around the park.

If you’re intrigued to know who Sir Joseph Banks was click here.
The tiger pen…you wouldn’t get this close if they were real 😝
Beautiful sculptures
Stunning scenery along the water

This park is a lovely way to spend a couple of hours on a sunny morning/afternoon. It’s always a blessing to find a new spot to discover and explore.

Thanks for taking a look with me,

Wayne ✌🏽

Mudgee – a photo blog

I am excited to show you all a snippet of this wonderful place in NSW, Australia known as Mudgee. First of all, what a great name. It is an Aboriginal name meaning ‘nest in the hills’ which is very apt as it is geographically located within the Cudgegong River Valley.

The reason I have always wanted to visit Mudgee as I have heard that it’s the place to visit for wine tasting. I know we have Hunter Valley nearby (I have so many posts on this) but I was excited to try somewhere new and visit a more rural location. Mudgee, being further inland of NSW and a 3.5 hour drive from Sydney is the perfect getaway. I had heard that Mudgee has a lot of character and is extremely rustic and quaint. These traits are right up my street and boy did Mudgee deliver.

We were only there for a weekend so we didn’t have the chance to explore everything on offer. However, that just means we will have to return one day! I will show you where we stayed and the places we managed to check out, including 3 wineries. Also the people here! The people are amazing here and so, so friendly.

This is where we stayed. This is Perry Street Hotel, part of the Peppertree Hill Group. Gorgeous place to stay and very central location.
The kimonos were a lovely touch 👘

The architecture in Mudgee was fantastic. I love seeing the old style buildings and churches. It adds a bit of character to the place and showcases the history of the area.

Mudgee Town Hall
Mudgee memorial clock tower
⛪️
Regent Theatre 🎭
Even the solicitors office looks impressive

We booked a wine tour with Mudgee Wine Tours and we planned the half day tour. This offered three vineyards to visit and to be honest this was just the right amount. We have done a full day wine tour in the past and it’s a long day of drinking wine 🤪. Others on our tour were carrying out the full day and they were exhausted by the end. Our tour guide was with the most fabulous woman we could have met. Lindy was professional, personable, extremely friendly and honestly made the tour very memorable for all the right reasons. She would interact with the different vineyard staff also which was really lovely to see and to be honest this was a first for us. Most tour guides will simply wait outside and operate mostly as a driver for the day.

1 – Our first vineyard was Walter Wines. A lovely place to visit and we also had the most amazing pies here for lunch.
2 – Pieter Van Gent Winery – really delicious fortified wines with an exquisite interior featuring some awesome old church furnishings.
3 – Bunnamagoo Estate – beautiful area to sit outside
Too good not to purchase 😜

A couple of places where we had drinks and dinner. These are all popular spots in Mudgee and worth checking out.

Kelly’s Irish Pub (why do Irish people always have to find the Irish pubs?!)
Beers at Mudgee Brewing Co – the food was amazing here too
Delicious food at Cade Kitchen and Bar
Breakfast at Alby and Esthers – amazing outdoor space, feels like you’re eating in a secret garden.
Paragon Hotel – Our favourite pub just beside our hotel. Perfect for a wee night cap 😉

We loved walking around the town and even managed to stumble upon a pretty park just by the river.

Quaint stores
A lovely walk along the Cudgegong River.

We also took a ten minute drive outside Mudgee to visit Windamere Dam. It is really stunning and you can also visit on your way home from Mudgee as it’s on the route back to Sydney.

Thanks for checking out my Mudgee blog. I hope you liked the photos and maybe feel inspired to visit yourself one day. It is a truly wonderful place that I would happily visit again.

Wayne ✌🏽

Bloganuary Day 10

I love today’s topic. It’s good to reflect and remember to be grateful for things happening in our lives. Too often we become caught up in our busy daily lives and forget to be thankful for the positive things around us that we often take for granted.

1 – As corny as it sounds, I am firstly grateful to waken up, alive and healthy. Not everyone has this luxury.

2 – Being away this weekend in Mudgee with my amazing partner as we celebrate 15 years together.

3 – I’m grateful that I had a great sleep last night, 8.5 hours to be exact. If I have 7 hours sleep at night, I am doing really well. So to wake up and check my Fitbit that read 8.5 hours sleep, I was delighted.

4 – Grateful to have no rain this morning. It is supposed to be stormy all week, so to waken with no rain and blue skies on the horizon, that makes me really happy.

5 – Thankful for a lovely breakfast this morning and having a walk around Mudgee. It’s a really quaint little town with lots of character. I will be creating a blog of this town very soon.

Mudgee, NSW

I cannot wait to hear what everyone else is grateful for today 🙏🏼.

Take care and stay safe,

Wayne ☺️

Bloganuary Day 2

The Indian Pacific – Sydney to Perth. You can read all about it here. It is a railway journey travelling across Australia and it takes a few days. Maybe not the most conventional road trip but I still consider it a road trip, albeit by rail.

You sleep here, wine and dine, meet other travellers and stop off at a few different locations along the way, all whilst taking in the magnificent views of the Australian outback. It kind of reminds me of Australia’s version of the Orient Express.

This trip is on my wish list big time. Unfortunately, it’s so hard to plan anything like this due to the ongoing pandemic and restrictions constantly changing here. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to experience this amazing road trip by rail.

If I were to travel by car. I would love to drive from Perth to Broome, driving up the west coast of Australia. The only thing is I would like to drive with a few other people. Safety in numbers. Have you ever seen Wolf Creek? 🙈

Thanks for reading guys. I cannot wait to hear what your favourite road trips would be.

Take care and stay safe,

Wayne ☺️

Merry Christmas everyone 🎅🏽

I hope all my blogger and WordPress friends are having a lovely festive holiday period. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, it’s a nice time to meet up with friends and family and have a well deserved break.

Enjoy your time off, wherever you are in the world. Hopefully everyone stays safe and can avoid covid. It’s a challenge these days to avoid coronavirus and escape having to get a covid swab, having to isolate and missing the festivities 🙈. I know a few people who have tested positive and unfortunately have to isolate over Christmas 🥲.

It’s still a little strange for us in Australia as it’s summer time here. As much as I really love the heat and being poolside, you can’t help but miss the cold back home, games with the family, cosy by a roaring fire and a pint of Guinness or cup of mulled wine.

Stay safe everyone and I hope you have a lovely time 🤗.

I can’t complain. The weather has been much better than anticipated. Staying at Peppers Estate in Kingscliff.

12 months and 12 photos (2021)

January

A new year and we started it with a trip to Hunter Valley! This place was amazing for their cheese & wine matching experience at Two Fat Blokes
February

Weekending in the Southern Highlands with friends. We were introduced to this venue Mount Ashby Estate and it was love at first sight. The Southern Highlands has become a firm favourite of ours to visit.
March

Trip to the Gold Coast, returning after 11 years. We stayed at the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort. Stunning hotel and it was awesome to be back and see how the Gold Coast has changed over time.
April

Another great holiday in Queensland. This time was in Noosa for a special birthday ( 1 year later due to Covid) and a long overdue catch up with friends. What a fantastic town with so much to see and do.
May

Celebrating with my good friends for finally finishing our course that would enable us to teach nursing. I’m so glad I completed this and it was a highlight of the year to help me land a teaching job in nursing.
June

The Art Gallery of NSW. We loved this place and little did we know that another (much longer) lockdown was just around the corner.
July

Who was to know that this lockdown would last 4 months! We were limited to a 5km radius from where we lived. Thankfully we could go for daily walks in Centennial Park.
August

My first lockdown birthday and hopefully the last. My one wish was to see the sunrise at Bronte. It was really special 🌅. I’ve seen it many times but it never gets old.
September

Continuing with my daily workouts at home, maintaining my fitness and keeping my sanity.
October – After 107 days lockdown is over (for now). It was so nice to be able to leave our 5km radius and see Sydney come back to life. You always remember you live in Sydney when sitting at the Opera Bar ☺️
November

Getting out and about again. We’re still appreciating what Sydney has to offer. Here we attended the musical Come From Away at the Capitol Theatre. We love being in the theatre so this was a real treat.
December

Cheers to surviving 2021. A great day trip to Hunter Valley and a great wine tasting at Vinden Wines. It’s funny, I started the year in the Hunter and now seems fitting to complete the year here. The wine and many lockdown cocktails have certainly helped 😉

Thanks everyone for having a read. When you look back at the year, it actually wasn’t too bad. We still have our health and the hope that 2022 will be better. Stay safe and sane everyone.

Wayne ☺️

Hunter Valley – in a day 🍷

Hunter Valley, NSW, an amazing place to taste some fine wines. Stunning scenery, boutique wineries, friendly people, what more could you wish for. I have been here quite a few times now and have always stayed at least two nights. I guess because it’s quite far away and it’s the ideal place to have a mini vacation. So when I was asked by my friends and work colleagues to join them for a day trip, I was excited to see what we could experience in a day. At least with the 2.5 hour drive each way, we could chat and catch up with each other 😊.

We had booked a day trip with Teds Tours. A company that specialises in wine tours and has a very friendly mentos. You can click https://www.tedstours.com.au/hunter-valley-tours/tour-packages for more information. Our driver Kris was amazing. He was a great laugh and very accommodating, picking us up from Wolli Creek and taking us there and back, whilst driving us also around three different vineyards and also to the pub for lunch. Nothing was a bother for him and he managed to keep us all within the time limits, no easy feat when everyone has had a few wines 🤪.

The gang ready to head off with Teds Tours

The three vineyards we had the pleasure of visiting were: Saltire 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿, Vinden Wines and Tatler. All three were good on there own merit, however, Saltire really stuck out for us. The scenery was unreal. Delicious wines, fantastic setting, a Scottish heritage and the service was extremely warm and inviting. All in all, this vineyard set the bar high and the staff had a really good knowledge and appreciation of their products 🍷.

Saltire 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿
Vinden Wines

Lunch at The Mighty – this was delicious and I really love this pub!

All in all, this was a great day out. We loved the company, the vineyards and the wines. Would I travel 2.5 hours each way again for a day trip, probably not. However, I would definitely use Teds Tours again, especially if staying in the Hunter in the future. I hope it inspires you to visit Hunter Valley, for a day or a longer stay. You won’t be disappointed.

Thanks for reading guys, take care and stay safe.

Wayne ☺️

Jacaranda season 💜

For this post I want to simply show case these amazing trees here in Sydney. I have been a huge fan of Jacarandas since arriving in Australia over 4 years ago. I think it’s the colour of the trees that make them so special and the fact that I had never seen them before. The season starts around mid October until mid November and it really provides that sense of spring being in the air and a gentle reminder that it is almost summer here.

Although it’s easy to think of these trees being native to Australia, they are interestingly a tree originally from South America, predominantly Argentina. If you want some more info on this tree you can find more info here.

These trees, presumably because of their attractive purple/blueish colour have become increasingly popular with social media people, all vying for that perfect snap or selfie. This is great to see people taking such an interest (me included), however, it can prove difficult at times to take some pictures without any other people photo bombing 🙈.

I will show you some of my Jacarandas snaps over the last few years and where they were taken. The good thing is, there are lots of places that Jacarandas can be found 🙌🏼.

If you’re looking for a grove of Jacaranda trees, McDougall Street in Kirribilli is a popular spot for bloggers and social media people.

McDougall Street, Kirribilli
McDougall Street, Kirribilli

I think the trees found near Como Hotel in Como, NSW, are pretty special, as are those found at Hogben Park in Kogerah. If you’re simply looking for a random tree or two, you can see these in many different streets in and around Sydney. I see a lot of them where I live in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney.

Como


Croydon

You can find them in lots of other Sydney suburbs, for example, Croydon.

I hope you all have the chance to see a Jacaranda this season and if not, at least you can see them here 🤗. Thanks for taking an interest in my love for the Jacaranda tree!!

Take care & stay safe,

Wayne ✌🏽

1 night in Manly ☺️

When you need a break but can’t have more than a weekend off, 1 night will have to suffice. We just wanted to get away for a couple of days for a change of scenery. So we decided on Manly. Although Manly is still within Sydney and easy to travel to, we have never stayed overnight here. You see, you normally would catch the ferry here from Circular Quay and have a day trip in Manly, normally catching a ferry back home at around sunset. There are a few lovely bars and restaurants at the harbour and we would often have a couple of drinks here while waiting on the ferry to come in and take us home. However, when the craic is great and the drinks are flowing, you seem to just watch the ferries arrive and then they depart, without you on them. There’s always time to catch the next ferry 😉. This could go on for about 3 or 4 ferries until we have decided, enough is enough and head back home.

Drinks at the harbour waiting for the ferry ☺️

So this in itself would be a novelty for us to stay here and not have to worry about catching the ferry home. There’s lots to do at Manly and we still hadn’t seen all that is on offer. You have the harbour, bush walks, beaches and rock pools, as well as, amazing bars and restaurants. We decided to stay at Hotel Steyne. It’s a hotel but more so, it is a restaurant and pub, with outdoor areas, a glasshouse bar, whiskey bar and a rooftop with stunning views of Manly beach. It has charm, character and is right in the heart of everything Manly has to offer. We loved this place.

I could not recommend Manly enough for a short stay (more than 1 night would have been amazing) or a longer holiday. It honestly has everything and really feels like a holiday destination. I am seriously looking forward to a longer break but for now, 1 night will have to do 🙏🏼

We caught up with friends from home at The Ivanhoe Hotel.

The beaches and walks are stunning. We didn’t do any bush walks this time but they’re really worth checking out.

Is anyone else planning a night away? Where’s your favourite place to travel for a weekend break?

Thanks everyone for reading!

Keep safe,

Wayne ☺️

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: My 5km radius

Bronte Rock Pool

This week we enter our 15th week of lockdown and hopefully the last, as restrictions will ease here next week. As you may or may not be aware, we have been restricted to moving within 5km of where we live or our local government area. I can honestly say, I have exhausted my 5km radius, having walked almost every area possible 🤣. I want to display a few photos to show you my 5km radius from when lockdown here began and you will see for yourself how diverse a small area in Sydney can be 🙌🏼.

1 – Coastal walks – Bondi to Coogee (or anywhere in between)

Bondi Beach

2 – Centennial Park

3 – Double Bay

4 – Rose Bay

5 – Hermitage Foreshore Walk

This encompasses many of Sydney’s intimate beaches along the harbour with great views of the Sydney city skyline. Includes Milk Beach, Parsley Bay & Nielsen Park.

6 – Paddington

That’s it folks. Thanks for taking a look around my 5km radius. It has been great to be able to show some photos again as it has been a while.

Take care and stay safe everyone.

Wayne ☺️

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 🙂

12 months and 12 photos (2020)

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.

JANUARY

I was starting the new year on a high. We had just completed a cruise holiday for Christmas and I was feeling my best with my weight gain. I was at my heaviest here at 77kg. This was such an accomplishment for me and I was excited to see my progress continue with the gym and eating well.

FEBRUARY

It was AMAZING to have family here from Ireland. When friends and family come to Australia and love it like you do, it’s priceless 🥰

MARCH

The pandemic reached Australia and everyone went crazy for toilet roll. (I think this was world wide). We were in an 8 week lockdown and people were panic buying. It was insane, however, this was just the beginning.

APRIL

Celebrating the main man’s big birthday. We were in lockdown so all holiday plans were cancelled. However, we had a lovely party at home Mexican style 🇲🇽 🌵

MAY

All gyms are closed. Home workouts ensued. They were fun enough but I lost a lot of muscle mass. Sad times after all the work put in but at least I maintained my fitness and you ALWAYS feel better after a workout 🏋🏼‍♀️ 🤗

JUNE

Hooray! Our 8 week lockdown was over and restrictions started to ease. Pubs opened and we went for our 1st schooner in what seemed like an eternity.

JULY

Visiting Madame Tussauds was awesome. Healthcare workers were given free entry to some venues in Sydney and this was one of them. This was a nice touch! Hiya Oprah!

AUGUST

A little local holiday to Hunter Valley for my birthday. We feel really fortunate to have so many great places to travel to within our state.

SEPTEMBER

We’re still travelling local but Sydney never gets old. I love living in this city. To be confined here is not too shabby.

OCTOBER

Trying to see as much of NSW as possible, as that’s all where we can go. This is Ballina. Make sure to stop here before heading on to Byron Bay (see previous blog post).

NOVEMBER

And after being back to the gym for a few months, I am finally getting back to the shape I was in pre Covid. I honestly never thought it would take so long but hey ho, thankful to be in a position to even visit a gym these days.

DECEMBER

Back to Byron Bay for a 2nd time. Our Queensland trip was cancelled again (3rd time now, sooooo over it) but this was the best place to spend Christmas with close friends. Grateful for small mercies and staying healthy.

Happy New Year everyone! May 2021 be better for you than 2020.

Keep safe everyone,

Wayne ☺️

Byron Bay – My top 5 highlights

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.

Best pool ever
Drinks outside the hotel. Such a lovely spot just at the water’s edge.

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.

Ballina Lighthouse

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.

Wharf Bar & Reataurant
Stunning sunset

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.

We loved The Balcony 🤗

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.

Thanks for reading guys and gals.

Wayne 🤗

Malabar Headland National Park

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.

Maroubra Beach
Entering the Malabar Headland National Park

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.

All the best,

W 🙂

Bundeena

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

Follow the beach along to the bushland area and follow the directions to the indigenous engravings. The walk takes you along the coast and boasts some really stunning views.
Follow the beach along to the bushland area and follow the directions to the indigenous engravings. The walk takes you along the coast and boasts some really stunning views.

The engravings here are over 3000 years old.

Wattamolla Beach

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.

W 🙂

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