Sunday, 14 October 2012


Yesterday I spent the day with Mum ooing and ahhing over a very special garden called "Sunnymeade". It is so beautiful, and such a surprise to find nestled into the Strathbogie Ranges. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.





Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Heading home

The road trip home from holiday is always a feeling of mixed emotions. But the main one is I DON"T WANT TO GO BACK TO WORK! As my mother says, "you need to earn the money so you can spend the money." Sad but true.
Anyway the trip home took us through Bathurst, Orange, Cowra, Young, Junee, Cootamundra, and Wagga Wagga.
The country side was just so pretty with the Canola crops and the Paterson's Curse in flower (beautiful for a weed), and the various shades of green from the hundreds and hundreds of acres of crop. It would be amazing to see from the air at the moment.
Below - Sorry for the bug splat on the windscreen, but its all part of the road trip experience. Love the contrast of the yellow Canola against the gold of the hillside.

Below - One of the great things about travel is picking up on the regional peculiarities. What is it with NSW country towns and "gangster parking"? Their all set for a quick getaway.

Below - I love the way country towns try to advertise their claim to fame. You know " Home of the .....(insert person / animal / vegetable / event here)". In Young it's "Cherry Capital Of Australia" that welcomes you to town.

How long can the holiday glow last?

Monday, 8 October 2012

From Deep Under Ground to High On The Hill

There is so much to do around the Blue Mountains area if you are prepared to drive out of the way a bit, so we jumped in the car and headed off for a day of exploring.

Jenolan Caves are well worth a visit, if you haven't been in a cave system before. There are heaps of caves to explore on a tour. There is also some smaller self guided tours that you can do. Being school holidays the tours were heavily booked, and we had a wait of just over an hour to get on a tour. We were a bit concerned when the tour descriptions said things like "light show" or "coloured lights", so had to pick a tour with the least man made distraction. We've visited Buchan Caves a couple of times, and it was interesting to compare the two.

So after an hour underground, we headed to Oberon for some lunch before making our way to the Mount Tomah Botanic Garden. It is so beautiful. There is 252acres of gardens set on top of the mountain looking back towards the coast, and on a clear day you can see Sydney. You could so easily spend a whole day there, so I'm going back next spring with my sister and Mum.

The Rhododendrons, Flowering Cherry Trees, Camellias and Waratah are out at the moment, and are just spectacular.

We also dropped by the Rhododendron Garden at Blackheath, but was short of time to explore. So this is on the list to see better when we have a "gardening girls" weekend away next spring.

Left - Blackheath Rhododendron Garden
Right - View from visitor centre at the Botanic Garden

Such a day of contrasts!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Blue Mountains Escape

After spending a day in Sydney centre and harbour area, we decided that there really wasn't anything that we "just had to do" in Sydney. So we headed west.

It's so easy to see why the early explorers were hampered by the Blue Mountains escarpment. It really would have been a massive barrier to overcome.

To be honest the first impressions of the Blue Mountains area was not great. There is road works going on all over the place, so the noise of machinery is everywhere. The tourist dollar is obviously the main income source, with every opportunity taken to sell you something. Once upon a time there would have been individual villages along the ridge line, but now they just merge one into the next.

Top - The famous Three Sisters in Katoomba was interesting, but the enjoyment was definitely impacted by the loads of tourists. Yes I get the irony of this comment. I was one too, but it is really hard to appreciated the wonders of nature when all you can here is human chatter, calling out, buses, cars etc.

Bottom - This is what was directly behind me when I turned around from taking the top shot, and this was late in the day!

So with some trepidation, we continued along the escarpment to our accommodation in the "village" of Blackheath. It was a last minute booking made through Wotif that we made before leaving Sydney, and was a total unknown.

What a find! Mounts Boutique Hotel is a small private hotel, with the most comfortable bed I've every slept in. The people were really friendly and couldn't do enough to make us comfortable. We also ate at the Italian restaurant that is part of the hotel, and both really enjoyed our meals. In fact we were so happy to stay here, that we booked in for an extra night. The photos below give you an idea of the feel of the hotel, our room, and the garden. There is also a park right beside with a playground for the kids.

Once we had booked into the hotel, we went exploring Blackheath. So glad we did. The day had started off with us feeling a little less than impressed with the Blue Mountains area, but after taking a walk around Blackheath, we started to warm to the area. Unlike Katoomba and some of the other "villages" closer to Sydney, Blackheath had the feeling of being a real community rather than just a "tourist destination".

We wandered through Victory Theatre Antiques. It's a great idea, where lots of different antique dealers have a "shop" in the old theatre.

Left - There is something for everyone. Maybe it is the age we are, but we both found things that we new from our childhood.

Right - I thought of Claire over at Sweet Birdy Love when I came across this nifty use of old blankets. I did have to look twice though when I read the price tag. Would you believe $65 for the cushion!

Before heading back to the hotel for the evening, Mr noticed a sign to Govetts Leap, so not knowing what to expect we turned off. So glad we did. We were the only ones there, and it was really beautiful to have the light of the setting sun hitting the rock face.

So after what started out as a day of being less than impressed by the Blue Mountains region, we had changed our mind. I think it's all about taking the time to get away from the main tourist attractions, and just explore a little.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Exploring Sydney

So Day 1 in Sydney was the most perfect day you could ask for. Beautiful weather, fantastic scenery, great food. You get the idea.

Top Left - We spent a couple of hours at Hyde Park Barracks in the morning. I've been researching my family history recently, so to walk around the Barracks and read it's history really helped to put some context to what I had been reading. Well worth a visit if you get to Sydney.

Top Right - We headed down to the harbour, and walked through part of the Botanical Gardens. I couldn't resist the contrast of the statue of Captain Arthur Phillip against the sky line of modern Sydney. Wonder what he would think of the what has developed in 224 years.

Bottom Left - Our hotel was at the top end of Hyde park, so we stepped away from the traffic and into the lushness of the park. There was a photo exhibition hung for public viewing, and was a real mix of images. Something for everyone, including the little boy that caught sight of "his bunny" pegged to a clothes line in one image.

Bottom Right - This is one of Mr's shots. After spending the afternoon out on the harbour we wandered around The Rocks, and the bridge just sits commandingly at the end of the street.

Top Left - There is so much activity on the harbour. Just hope everyone who is in command of a vessel know the rules! We didn't want to do the "touristy boat trip thingy", so took the ferry over to Manly for a seafood lunch by the ocean.

Top Right - There were groups of climbers up and down the bridge all day. It seems to be "the thing to do" when in Sydney.

Bottom Left - Another iconic Sydney image, and it really is an impressive building. So unique.

Bottom Right - Sailing past the harbour heads, I was reminded of sailing though them on a cruise ship in the late 80's. I didn't have fond memories. That was when I found out I get sea sick!

So could I live in Sydney? I'm not sure. If I could live on the harbour, then maybe.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Taking Time Off!

It is so easy to get caught up in the rush, rush, rush of life. So I decided it was time to take a break from blogging and spend time doing other things. So with inspiration of taking a small holiday (another sort of "break" I guess), I felt time was right to jump back into blogging.
Mr and I haven't had a "real" holiday for years. Being self employed, it's hard to set aside a block of a couple of weeks to pack the bags and head off somewhere. I keep telling myself that when this contract ends, then I'll take a really good break! So we've made do with road trips and weekends away.
With school holidays here in Victoria, Mr and I decided to head north to Sydney for a few days. I've only been to Sydney for work, and never had the chance to do the touristy things.
So we jumped on the Hume Highway and headed north. The highway drive can be pretty boring, and rather than support the multinational giants that dot the highway stops, we head into the towns if we need petrol, toilets, coffee, donuts (you get the idea).
Top left: Holbrook is a totally land locked town, so it makes me smile to see HMAS Otway sitting proudly in the middle of town. It's a popular stop, and the kids (both old and young) just have to climb on board.
Top right: Goulburn was celebrating it's annual Lilac Festival, and this was the dog show. No fancy breeders prancing around a show ring. Just a group of kids with their four legged best friends, having a blast. Just what a community festival should be all about!
Bottom left: The architecture in Golburn is really interesting. Being the first inland city settled in Australia, there is a wealth of colonial architecture. With the boom of sheep and wheat, you can see the building development that took off at that time too.
Bottom right: Between Golburn and Yass, you can't miss this bank of windmills. Solar energy,  wind energy, wave energy - why don't we make more use of these in Australia? I don't get it!
So after 6 hours on the road we made it to Sydney, but more on that tomorrow.
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