Australia

a budget day in the ‘gong

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Sydney is meant to be heading into autumn but certainly has not felt like it. We have been getting a steady 30 degrees Celsius every day with the lovely humidity to go with it (except maybe for today – with the welcome cool change)

When we woke up on Saturday, the day was too gorgeous to waste on anything other than a day trip somewhere. So we chose a drive south to Wollongong; an easy 85 km drive from home.

Our one-day itinerary, mixed a bit of culture and a bit of nature, was not only glorious but “budget” too 🙂  … winning!

So here is a list of the free things to do in Wollongong in a day (and on the way too).

* Lookouts

A “road trip” wouldn’t be right without viewpoint stops. It does not matter how often we do these types of trips, we always make sure we stop to take in the shoreline that maps out this side of Australia.

Stop at Sublime Point Lookout, Bald Hill Lookout or both and soak in the excellent views. Both are great vantage points, delivering 180 degree views of the coastline.IMG_0072_2

* Drive the Sea Cliff Bridge

Either on the way down, on the way back or both directions, choose to take the 665 metre Sea Cliff Bridge route. You can walk, drive or cycle across this bridge – feel the South Pacific Ocean breeze in your hair. It is always certainly a highlight for us when we head South.IMG_0071_2

* Nan Tien Temple

Include a visit to the largest temple in the Southern Hemisphere. The grounds are beautifully manicured and provides a sense of serenity. Visiting here actually made us feel like we were overseas. It took us immediately back to the temples in Japan and China.IMG_0020_2

* Beaches

Any budget day anywhere probably could easily include a visit to a beach (if they are accessible) and it is no different when you head south from Sydney.

The soft warm sand between our toes was enough for us to forget that winter was coming. Sydney was not ready to say goodbye to summer. In and around Wollongong, there are numerous beaches to go to. But remember swim at patrolled beaches and between the flags for your safety.

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* Botanical Gardens

Another great little free spot to escape the hustle bustle of urban life, with plenty of paths to weave around and explore the many different garden collections on display. Ideal to leisurely stroll through and absorb the natural surroundings. See if you can spot the various birds and butterflies.  There is a big playground area for children and also picnic areas perfect for a BBQ or a picnic.IMG_0045_2

Although it’s a pretty jam-packed day, it was enjoyable and affordable.

It is so easy for us to forget that we don’t have to travel far and wide to experience a getaway. There is so much to explore so close to home.

Have you got a favourite day trip from home? 

Share with us in the comments.

 

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tearooms at vaucluse house: review

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Nestled in the lush, green gardens of Vaucluse House is the Tearooms.  The quaint and stylish eatery on the estate provides a tranquil setting to enjoy a lovely lunch, brunch or high tea.

Seeing as we were in the “neighbourhood” following our climb of 100 steps up then down in Macquarie Lighthouse (which really is hardly anything), we were famished for a hearty lunch.

Upon arriving at the Tearooms, the staff politely and promptly greeted and seated us. We couldn’t help but admire the layout of the room and the table settings. What stood out were the fluorescent pink light shades above the tables – definitely didn’t blend with the rest of the room but somehow seemed to work!

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We ordered right on midday which was when the lunch kitchen opens and the food arrived fairly quickly.

The lunch menu wasn’t expansive but there was enough variety to choose from. Le chose the vegetarian pasta: fettucine with mushrooms and artichoke. It was full of flavour and the pasta was cooked perfectly. The portobello mushrooms were so juicy and flavoursome.

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David ordered a 10-hour slow cooked lamb pie which was served with potato puree with roast parsnips. The potato puree was more like mashed potatoes and the roast parsnips were like hot chips (and we are NOT complaining). It was all delicious. In comparison, David’s lunch was a lot heavier than Le’s.

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The rest of the party that joined us for lunch were all very satisfied with what they ordered.

A beef burger:

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Fish and chips with pea mash:

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Atlantic salmon:

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The serving sizes were ideal for lunch and filled us up perfectly – the only shame was that we couldn’t try any of the dessert menu 😦

While we enjoyed our lunch, a group of ladies sitting nearby were having high tea… we couldn’t help but get a little food envy!

Missing out on dessert and high tea was too much for us, so we settled our bill and went to burn off lunch by walking around the well-kept grounds of the estate.

This is definitely a lovely spot on a beautiful day to eat and explore a part of Sydney’s history. Visiting here made us feel like we had a “little getaway” from the hustle bustle of Sydney.

 

 

 

a visit to australia’s oldest lighthouse

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It would be tough to pick that it was winter from the blue skies, the sun shining and the 21 degree Celsius day. It was perfect conditions to visit a lighthouse; Australia’s oldest lighthouse, Macquarie Lighthouse. IMG_0070IMG_0069

From Macquarie Lighthouse situated in the eastern suburb of Vaucluse, there is a stunning view of Sydney Harbour and of the Opera House, especially on a clear sunny day like today.

Apparently from the Opera House, the lighthouse can be seen – we will have to check it out next time we are that way.

Every 2 months, the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust runs 20-minute guided tours (with lovely and entertaining volunteer guides) to go up the lighthouse. Today happened to be one of those open days!

We booked the tickets 2 weeks ago to ensure we got the time slot we wanted. And for $5 per person, it was well worth it to be able to climb the 100 steps for a magnificent view of the ocean and of Sydney Harbour…IMG_0092 IMG_0097 IMG_0098… and also learn a little more about lighthouses and Sydney history.IMG_0104

Hope you all had a lovely weekend, we sure did! 

 

weekly photo challenge: early bird

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We’ve been a little quiet on the blog the past fortnight as we have been on a family road trip to Victoria (and back), internet was not very stable at some stops.

But we are back and luckily, we were able to catch an “early bird” moment to share. For the first time ever, we witnessed a beach sunrise.

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This was taken at Pambula Beach, down the South Coast of NSW, Australia.

Are you more of a sunrise or sunset person?

Share your thoughts with us.