Hello everyone and welcome to another week of doors! Today is Friday here in Northern Ireland, so I am a day late with my doors, however, the weather yesterday was unbelievably good and I didn’t want to waste a second of it. When the sun shines, there’s no rain and the skies are blue, you have to make the most of it in Ireland.
I thought this week I would share some of my favourite church doors. I have so many photos of churches as I love the architecture and history of these buildings and thankfully they quite often have beautiful doors. Let me know if you have a favourite this week.
As I plan to move back home to Northern Ireland (at least for a few months) I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on both countries and delve into the pros and cons of living in each country. I had been thinking of these a lot over the past few months when trying to make a decision about where to live. As an expat, these are things we think about, pretty much on a daily basis, as sad as that sounds. In this post I will look at the pros and cons of Australia and in my next blog post I will look at Northern Ireland.
Australia Pros :
– The weather. It’s pretty much warm for most of the year. Winter here can be cold enough but only lasts for about three months give or take.
– The lifestyle. It’s very chilled out here in Australia, especially in Sydney where I live by the water. The sunshine makes people happy, the coastal walks, dining outdoors, exercising etc. I think just being outdoors is so good for our mental health and well-being.
– The opportunities. Australia is the land of opportunity. There is plenty of work available here and you can process quickly. Even the fact I have been teaching here has been a huge opportunity that I wouldn’t have been given back home.
– The money. The fact is, I earn a lot more as a nurse here than I ever will back home. That can be said for many jobs here. Yes the expense of living is much higher here but you can still manage to save money here and live a really fulfilling life.
– The health system. It is amazing here, with a mixture of public and private, it works really well. I feel so fortunate to be in a country with such a fantastic health system, unlike America where it costs a fortune and many people can’t afford or the NHS that is really struggling and has been for many years now.
– The activities. There is always something to do, especially in Sydney. There are an abundance of bars and restaurants, plenty of bush, beach and ocean walks, lots of experiences, seeing the sights and famous landmarks etc etc, I could go on forever here.
– The sheer size of Australia. There is also so much to see and do all over Australia, therefore, you don’t really ever need to leave Australia if you want to see somewhere new. I don’t think I realised how big Australia actually is until I lived here for some time. It is unbelievably huge with each state completely different from the next and offering so much that really is a feast for anyone living here.
Australia Cons :
– The weather. As much as I love the weather here, it can also be a negative for Australia, especially the past three years. The bush fires are becoming more aggressive, wiping out so much land and killing millions of animal species. 2019 was horrific, so I dread to think how the next bush fires will be. Then we have the other extreme, flooding. The last two years we have had the La Niña weather event, bringing catastrophic amounts of rainfall. This is also predicted to last well into next year. The only silver lining with the rain is that it prevents the bush fires. I feel also with global warming, that the weather here, sadly, will be seeing more and more extremes of weather disasters.
– The distance. Personally, this is my biggest issue. It never used to bother me before covid. I always felt that if I needed to be home, I could always hop on a flight and be home within 24 hours. However, since being in lockdown, we haven’t been home in over three years. We suddenly feel very far from home. We are literally at the other side of the word. With lockdowns, it appeared to the outside world that Australia was very much cut off from everywhere else in the world. Family and friends are very important to me and if I can’t see them, that’s a big problem.
In conclusion, you can see I have many more pros than cons. I absolutely love Australia and its people. It is a magnificent country with lots to do and great opportunities but I don’t have my family here. I feel extremely far away and for that reason, I will be going home for a few months to see how it goes.
Keep an eye on my next blog post where I will write about the pros and cons of Northern Ireland. Thanks for reading everyone and have a pleasant day.
This tour was part of our Field of Light tour. After the lights, we headed upwards to the vantage point. There we were offered some tea/coffee and biscuits to watch the sunrise (this was needed due to being so early 😉). Needless to say, the sunrise was unreal. Even though we had witnessed a sunset, seen Uluru up close and from afar, this sunrise still managed to massively impress us. Take a look for yourself below.
So we have now come to the end of my Uluru blog mini series. I hope you all enjoyed the pictures and are maybe now inspired to visit Uluru for yourselves. As I mentioned previously, we travelled here for a weekend break and didn’t quite get to see everything on our list, although I am overjoyed with what we did manage to see. If you plan to visit for yourself, there are a couple of other excursions you could try. Dining under the Stars is supposed to be amazing and was on my list big time. I’m sure it’s beautiful to eat in the middle of the desert with a clear sky above. Can you imagine how bright the stars must be? Also a camel tour around Uluru would be pretty epic, riding through the desert. Although part of me is slightly wary of this, could this be considered cruel to camels?
Anyway, hopefully you can do all the things you would like when and if you travel there. Not every excursion suits everyone. I for one am extremely happy with what we have seen and done and we have absolutely made memories to last a lifetime.
This light show, created by Bruce Munro is a feast for the eyes!!! I had heard about this from my barber who had said how amazing this is. I looked it up online and knew that I had to see it for myself. It is a light show, made up of 50,000 glass lights, that lights up a massive area the size of more than seven football fields. With Uluru in the distance and as the sun rises, the lights create a real spectacle that is something truly out of this world. It has to be seen in the dark for obvious reasons but it is absolutely worth the 4.30 am wake up call. We booked this as a tour that also included a sun rise tour that will be featured in my next blog post. Please enjoy my photos below taken from this truly magnificent experience.
We had already booked a sunset tour but we really wanted to get up close and personal to Uluru. We had initially booked to have a BBQ after the sunset with some interesting bush tucker but sadly for us the weather had been pretty wet the week before (great for the National Park as rain doesn’t happen too often). Therefore, the BBQ had to be cancelled as they could not have it due to the area being saturated. This actually worked out well as we could then swap our BBQ for a day tour of the scared sites at Uluru. This enabled us to see Uluru up close and learn about its history. It’s one thing to see Uluru from afar but when you have the chance to touch the sacred rock formation, it was a welcome addition.
We booked our tour with AAT Kings and it offered a walking tour guide of Uluru and a sunset experience with drinks and nibbles. I have to say the tour was really good but for us, having the chance to simply see and touch Uluru from up close was the main event. You really do feel how majestic Uluru is and you can’t help but become engrossed in your surroundings.
After seeing Uluru up close, it was time to head out and see the views from afar. This way you can really see how the light changes when it hits Uluru as the sun sets.
As the sun was setting, local Indigenous people sit nearby displaying their incredible art work, hoping to sell a piece. They were all outstanding creations of art and we had to buy one. Such an amazing location to buy local art and support the local community.
This was honestly such an unbelievable experience seeing Uluru up close and at sunset. It’s difficult to even put into words. I hope you all have this opportunity to visit Uluru but until then, I really hope you can enjoy the photos ☺️. Thanks for reading.
This was the first excursion we did when arriving to Yulara. This was a surprise for me as it had not even been on my radar to see Uluru from an airplane. I was told five minutes prior to being collected by the pilot. My remarkable partner had it all secretly planned.
We travelled with Ayers Rock Scenic Flights and yes you read that correct, we were collected by the pilot. This was certainly a first for us. We were taken by minibus to the airport where we boarded a very small airplane, a four seater Piston-powered aircraft (that’s as much as I know) and we had a safety talk with our amazing pilot.
I have been in a few different aircraft that holds up to ten people but never one that has just four seats. This was very exciting. You have to wear a headset that enables you to talk and listen to the pilot, whilst also listening to her communicate with the local air traffic control team. Then up, up and away.
The views even taking off were out of this world. I have never seen the ground so red and dusty. It’s amazing to be in the desert with not much at all around you. There were some green plants however, as there had been much needed rain just days before. We could see the town of Yulara, the hotels, the workers’ accommodation and an even fancier hotel away from everywhere else, where William and Kate had stayed. Our pilot was a great tour guide, giving us a run down of the area and history.
Then when you see Uluru, it’s just magnifique. Such a feast for the eyes. From the air it doesn’t look as big as on land but it fairly stands out in the middle of the desert. You can also see Kata Tjuta, another rock formation about 25km away from Uluru, which is just as formidable but somehow understated.
Honestly this is such an experience to see from the air. Whether you choose a plane or a helicopter, it will be worth your while booking a trip in the air. You won’t regret it. it’s not as scary as you might think and the turbulence was very minimal. The pilot talks to you throughout and you’re busy taking in the scenery to be anxious or worried about the height you are at.
Some advice for you that I learned after. You can only take and post pictures of Uluru from one side. On the back of Uluru are some culturally sensitive sites that you cannot take pictures of or post on social media. I had learned this when doing the tour on foot, however, I had never considered that fact when I was snapping away from the air. Granted I had this experience before the tour on foot so I was ignorant to this information. I have so many photos and videos but unfortunately cannot show them here from this angle. I will show more in the next blog post when we carried out the tours on foot.
Let me know what you think about seeing sites from the sky?
I feel very lucky that I have the opportunity to live my ideal day many times a week or month living here in Australia, mainly due to the weather and lifestyle. Even if I am working, I will take the opportunity to carry out activities that I enjoy before or after work.
I will break down an ideal day for me if I am on my day off, that is, not working.
• Wake up after a good sleep about 6am. Make myself a coffee and walk/run to the gym for a strength workout at 7am. An hour later I will come home to shower.
• I then love to have a good breakfast. Sometimes I will head out with my partner or I will meet friends for a catch-up over breakfast.
• After this, I love to go for a walk. Either along the coast, taking in the beaches of the eastern suburbs or around Centennial Park or even more so, a new place to walk. I love finding new spots to explore and taking many, many photographs. Maybe even go for a swim.
• Try to stop for lunch somewhere quaint or perhaps take a packed lunch. I am happy with either ☺️.
• Come home for a lovely home cooked meal and have a couple of glasses of wine or if I’m free in the evening, head out to meet friends for a few sociable drinks after having eaten.
• Finally, I would round the night off with a big cup of tea at home and have a reasonably early night, say 10 or 11pm. I am all about a good nights sleep.
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.
I cannot wait to hear what everyone else is grateful for today 🙏🏼.
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.
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 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 🍷.
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.
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.
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 🙏🏼
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?
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 …
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 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
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.
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.
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.
Hello there. What’s the craic? I have been debating for a long time whether to start blogging or not, mainly down to the time that may be required. However, I feel it is something that could be fun, therapeautic and provide a platform to interact with others from all walks of life. I’m very new to this so please bare with me.
So a little about me. I’m a man in my near mid thirties and I come from Northern Ireland. I had been living in Belfast for the last decade but my ambition was to 1 day return to the land down under. Having already spent a year in Australia on a working holiday visa, I soon acquired the desire to return in the future. 7 years later a lot has changed in my life and I have reached my goal of becoming a permanent resident. It has been a lengthy process with many highs and lows, however, it has been an incredible journey that is still continuing to this day.
Please follow me on my Australian adventure and I will aim to keep you updated and entertained.
Thanks a lot,
When I saw this landmark I knew I was in Australia! 👌🏼