Just an hour south of Sydney, situated in the Illawarra region, you’ll find the coastal city of Wollongong. With a population of over 250, 000, Wollongong is the third-largest city in New South Wales and the tenth-largest in Australia. For a long time, ‘the Gong’ (as locals refer to it), had a bad rep as an industrial, grey city due to it being a major steel city, however, this reputation could not be further from the truth.

Nestled between the ocean to the east and a long stretch of mountainous escarpment to the west, Wollongong is the perfect location for a day trip from Sydney, offering visitors a plethora of activities, including some of the best coastal views along the NSW coast, coffee and brunch spots galore and a lively bar scene to name a few.

However, for those seeking adventure, the area has a lot on offer that will not disappoint. Given its location, and surrounding escarpment, the Wollongong region comes filled with hikes that will suit all levels of experience. Here are my top 5:

Sublime Point Walking Track

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Location: Austinmer
Level: Hard
Time: 1 hour

Sublime Point is a great, challenging walk through rainforest, that offers scenic views of the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area and great bird-watching and whale-watching opportunities.

Starting from Foothills Rd, the track quickly ascends, and a giant staircase will help you to rock jump your way up the escarpment. Eventually you’ll reach a series of ladders, followed by a short, rocky walk which will lead you to the Sublime Point lookout. It’s a tough walk, and not one for the faint-hearted, but the view from the top makes it all worth it!

Macquarie Pass Jump Rock

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Location: Macquarie Pass
Level: Intermediate
Time: 1.5 hours

Make sure you pack your swimmers for this hike! Jump Rock is a swimming hole found at the bottom of Macquarie Pass, on the left-hand side of the road, if you’re driving from Albion Park. Popular in the summer months, the walk to Jump Rock starts from the small car park, where a visible trail will guide you all the way.

The walk to the Rocks should take just under an hour, as the path winds you through luscious rainforest covered in vines and ferns. You might also spot native wildlife and lizards bathing in the sun. You’ll know you’ve made it to Jump Rock when you reach a section of the river that requires you to pass by jumping onto some big rocks. As soon as you’ve made it over this part, turn to the left and follow the water until you see a large swimming area and a small waterfall.

Drawing Room Rocks

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Location: Berry
Level: Intermediate
Time: 2 hours

Above the cute town of Berry lies the Drawing Room Rocks, a short but rewarding walk through the rainforest, that offers killer views of the Shoalhaven. The odd shaped rock formations make for a perfect picnic set-up, and the sweeping views from the top are a dream for any photographer.

You’ll need a car to get to the walking track – just north of Berry, turn into Woodhill Mountain Road. Follow the road for about 7km, then turn right onto Brogers Creek Road. After about 100 metres, turn right onto a small side-street. From here, you’ll soon arrive at a small car park. There are signs that will point you to the start of the walk.

Kelly’s Falls

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Location: Helensburgh
Level: Intermediate
Time: 30 mins

Quite possibly the quickest walk from the car park ever! Kelly’s Falls is just a short, half hour walk from the car park. Simply take the path to the right and follow for a couple of hundred metres. About 50 metres after the fence finishes, you’ll see a small clearing to the left. You’ll also see some rope – use this to help you climb down. However, only continue to climb down if you are able and can climb up afterwards, on your way out.

From here, the path continues for about 10 minutes, until you reach the big waterfalls and lush swimming hole – perfect for a summers day swim!

Wodi Wodi to Mt Mitchell

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Location: Stanwell Park
Level: Intermediate
Time: 1.5 hours

A favourite local hike of mine is the Wodi Wodi to Mt Mitchell. With no signage, this track is a great local, hidden secret that offers a great quick escape into bushland and amazing coastal views!

The easiest way to get to the track is to start at the Wodi Wodi Track entrance on Lawrence Hargrave Drive, about 1km south of Stanwell Park. Following this track, you’ll come across a wooden staircase with a sign that says ‘Wodi Wodi Track’. Follow this route for roughly 20 minutes, until you reach a sign that splits the track into two directions. To the left is ‘Forrest Walk’, to the right is ‘Wodi Wodi Track’. Follow the Forrest Walk track, where you’ll traverse some big rocks and boulders. You’ll know you’re near the top of the walk when the ground becomes sandy. From here, the first viewpoint you’ll come across overlooks Stanwell Park. If you keep walking a further couple of minutes, you’ll also come to the lookout over Coalcliff – just be careful as there is no fencing!

Of course, there are many other hikes in the area that I could write about – if there’s interest, I can do a continued post. Alternatively, if you’re after a good LOL, check out a post I wrote about getting lost on the Wodi Wodi Track.


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Tasmania; often completely overlooked on the tourist map and the butt of all jokes in Australia. Despite being overshadowed by the big mainland tourist attractions, Tasmania has a lot to offer. Whether you’re a lover of the outdoors, photography, food or animals, there’s something to please everyone on this small island state.

Personally, I think the best way to travel around Tasmania is by car. It’s easy to organise; if you’re road tripping around Australia, the Spirit of Tasmania ferries between Melbourne and Devonport daily and you can take your car/vehicle onboard. Alternatively, you can fly into Tasmania (the two main airports are Hobart and Launceston) and pick up a hire car. If you’re short for time, I’d recommend the latter – a lot of the time, the price of sailing vs. hire car is comparable, plus flying means you have more time to spend on the island!

For me, I went to Tasmania seeking adventure. I flew into Hobart, picked up a hire car and embarked on a road trip around the state, where I camped (most nights), hiked whenever I could, enjoyed as much food and wine as my wallet would allow and endeavoured to shoot as many photos as I could. This itinerary will mimic the route I took (starting in Hobart, however, this itinerary can be easily adapted to start in Launceston or Devonport), and includes some highlights from each location, as well as any food, camping, hiking and photo opportunity recommendations.

NB: If you plan on camping, make sure you purchase a parks pass – it’s much cheaper than paying for single entries into all of the national parks!

Day 1 – 3

Hobart

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Stepping foot in Hobart is like stepping back 20 years into the past. The air is clean, and the people are super laid back, friendly and trusting. There’s no angst or rush like you’ll find in some of Australia’s bigger cities; rather, Hobart has adopted more of a happy-go-lucky/go-with-the-flow kind of vibe.

My recommendation would be to try to spend time in Hobart over the weekend, that way you can explore the famous Salamanca Markets, held every Saturday at the foot of Mt Wellington, in the Salamanca District. Here, you’ll discover loads of local food delicacies (make sure you try a Scallop Pie!), artisanal goods and be entertained by local artists.

Otherwise, other areas worth exploring include Battery Point; a nice walk from the CBD through the leafy, heritage-housed lanes to the beachy suburb, trekking up to Mt Wellington to catch the first rays of light and of course a day spent at MONA.

Food and Drinks

The Standard

An 80’s themed American bar, tucked away in the CBD, on Liverpool St. The burgers are to-die-for and the atmosphere is fun and light!

The Drunken Admiral

Of course, no trip to Tassie is complete without a good seafood feed! The Drunken Admiral is one of Hobart’s oldest restaurants and has some of the best seafood you’ll eat in the state. The ship theme also adds a fun element, making it a great choice for groups as well as couples.

World’s End Brewpub

Away from the CBD and in the suburb of Sandy Bay is World’s End Brewpub; a small tavern that specialises in craft beers, ciders and boutique spirits. A fun set up, the bar is decked out with big, cosy lounges and the table tops covered in superhero comics.

Photo Opportunities

Mt Wellington Sunrise

Set your alarm early and take a drive up to Mt Wellington to watch the sunrise over the city. Unfortunately, when we were there, the weather was super overcast and cloudy so I couldn’t get the photo I’d been hoping to capture. However, this wasn’t all bad, as the light bounced off the clouds and made for some really cool effects!

Day 3 – 4

Tasman Peninsula

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A short 1.5-hour drive Southeast of Hobart is the Tasman Peninsula; a small area that packs in a whole lot of scenery and activities. Try to leave Hobart early so that you can spend as much time exploring the Tasman area as possible!

Food and Drink

McHenry Distillery

If you’re a fan of whiskey or gin (or even if you’re not), McHenry Distillery is an establishment you don’t want to miss. The distillery is the southernmost family-run distillery in the world and its southern location allows the maturing-spirit the right conditions to make the most of its time in the wooden barrels. While I’m not a gin or whiskey drinker, I did really enjoy their sloe-gin!

Port Arthur Lavender Farm

While there are other, more well-known lavender farms in Tasmania, we really enjoyed the intimacy of the Port Arthur Lavender Farm. You can wander through the lavender fields, watch a demonstration on how lavender is harvested and enjoy loads of lavender flavoured treats in the cafe – my favourite was the lavender chocolate milkshake.

Adventure

As we were tight for time, we didn’t get the chance to travel into the Port Arthur Historic Site. So instead, we decided to take in the views from above on an Osborne Heli Tour. For a competitive price, we were flying above the Tasman region for 20 minutes, which was the perfect amount of time to take in all of the major sites without being rushed. From this vantage point, we were able to see the Port Arthur Historic Site, Overland Track, the Candlestick, Fortescue Bay and much more. This was my first time on a helicopter, and I absolutely loved it – such a great experience and a cool way to view an area!

Photo Opportunities

Outside of the views offered on a heli-tour, these are some other sites worth seeing in the Tasman area (all are only a small walk from the carpark):

  • Devils Kitchen
  • Tasmans Arch
  • Fortescue Bay

Camping

Fortescue Bay Campground

A beautiful spot to settle for the night, with sites right by the beach. We were really lucky and practically had the area to ourselves.

Price for 1 x tent per night = $13

Day 4 – 5

Freycinet National Park

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Turning off the highway and into Freycinet National Park, you’ll have to pinch yourself as the view of Coles Bay comes into sight. The small village sits beneath huge, granite mountains that overlook the crystal clear waters of Oyster Bay. The pretty town is a great base for exploring Freycinet National Park; the ideal location for swimming, kayaking and hiking to name a few!

Food and Drink

Ge`ographe Restaurant

Offering breakfast, lunch and dinner with a magnificent view is Ge`ographe restaurant. Owned by 2 brothers from Tassie’s North West, this quaint eatery offers all the foodie delights you need from an espresso bar, to wood-fired pizza and fresh, local seafood.

Devil’s Corner Cellar Door

The areas surrounding Freycinet are part of Tasmania’s great east coast wine trail. The mild climate is perfect for fine cool climate wines such as chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and my personal fav, pinot noir. So of course, it goes without saying, we visited some wineries! While we didn’t have the time to visit them all, I did enjoy the Devil’s Corner Cellar Door. My wine pick? … Unsurprisingly, the Pinot Noir 😉

Adventure/Photo Opportunities

In this area, you are totally spoilt for choice when it comes to adventure and photo ops. I’ve grouped the two together, as they work hand-in-hand here.

While there are plenty of water sport options available (kayaking, swimming, boating and fishing), as well as land-based activities like quad biking, my adventure recommendation would be to take advantage of the numerous hikes there are! There are plenty of hikes that cater to all fitness capabilities/hiking experience, so there is a walk to suit everyone. My favourite was the Mt Amos Hike. Be warned, this is a difficult hike, and experience is required! It’s about a 3-hour return walk, along with a track that includes freestyle climbing and very steep inclines. However, don’t let this deter you – the view from the top makes the hard hike well worth the effort. From above, you’re welcomed with an amazing 360degree view of the famous Wineglass Bay (perfect for shooting some photos).

Camping

Freycinet National Park

There are a few beaches you have the choice to set up a tent for the night at Freycinet. We stayed at Richardsons Beach, which was perfect! We had a nice camping spot with a private walkway to the beach… oh and of course the amazing view of the surrounding mountains!

Price for 1 x tent per night = $13

Day 5 – 6

Bay of Fires

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A short 2-hour drive north of Coles Bay is the famed red rocks of the Bay of Fires.

Stretching for about 30km from Binalong Bay in the south to Eddystone Point in the north, the Bay of Fires is well known for its white sand beaches, crystal blue waters and huge granite blocks that are coloured a bright orange by lichens.

As the halfway point in our road trip, we used our time at Bay of Fires to relax and simply enjoy the landscape around us. As the Bay of Fires is quite remote (the nearest town St Helens is a 20-minute drive away), we chose to cook at camp and enjoyed watching the sunset and sunrise over the rocks (perfect opportunity for getting lots of photos).

Camping

There are loads of campsites around this area, ranging from free – paid. After seeking the recommendation of a local in St Helens before driving out to the Bay of Fires, we chose to set up camp at Cosy Corner; a free site with basic amenities and right by the ocean.

Day 6 – 7

Launceston

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After spending almost a week camping (and not always showering), it was nice to spend a night in a hotel room … with a bathtub!

Launceston, or ‘Lonnie’ as locals refer to it, is a riverside city, that acts as a great base for those keen to explore the Tamar Valley. There’s a huge rivalry between the ‘Second City’ and Hobart, whereby Launcestonians argue that their architecture is more elegant, parks more greener and food scene more lively. During our stay here, we took full advantage of the food and beverage scene, see below some of our favourites.

Sights

Cataract Gorge

Despite being right on the city’s edge, Launceston’s Cataract Gorge feels as if it is a million miles away. There’s an outdoor swimming pool, the world’s longest single-span chairlift and Victorian-era gardens where the peacocks roam free.

Eat/Drink

Bakers Lane

Owning what I think is the cutest beer garden in all of Tassie, is Bakers Lane. This bar/restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere, is perfect for dinner and a little boogie after, as it’s open until 3am on the weekends!

Red Brick Road Ciderhouse

Red Brick Cider is a local family-owned and run cidermaker, who specialise in making sugar-free, unpasteurised, unfiltered ciders. The Ciderhouse, located on Brisbane Street, is the family’s small bar, where they sell their drinks. The bar is also a great place for socialising with friends and enjoying other local products over a board game.

Ashgrove Cheese

Located in ElizabethTown, a 45-minute drive west of Launceston (and on the way to Cradle Mountain), is Ashgrove Cheese (aka heaven for the cheese-lovers among us). The milk and cheese factory, which is owned and operated by the Bennett family, has been in operation since the 1880s.

Day 7 – 9

Cradle Mountain

cradle-mountain

Entering Cradle Mountain is like taking a massive step back in time. Covering an area of 63, 000 hectares, Cradle Mountain was protected in May 1922 as a scenic reserve and became a National Park in 1972. 55% of the park’s documented alpine flora is endemic and 68% of the higher rainforest species in Tasmania are present in Cradle Mountain National Park.

As the area is quite remote, you’ll need to stock up on supplies before leaving (I’d recommend stock-piling in Launceston, where there are large supermarkets). We spent two nights in Cradle Mountain, which was a great amount of time for getting in a few hikes and photo shoots, however, more time could easily be spent in this mini-wilderness.

Sights

The whole park itself is a sight to take in. From viewing the ‘baby in the cradle’ from the car park to seeing Lake St Clair up close, with the snow-capped mountains in the background – you’ll constantly be motioning to pick your jaw up off the ground.

On top of the outlandish scenery, there’s also plenty of wildlife to see! We had up-close encounters with wombats and echidnas – although, remember, these are wild animals, so don’t get too close!

Adventure

Again, Cradle Mountain itself is like an adventure of its own. If you have the cash to splash, you could stay at the Peppers Hotel and Restaurant, or if you’re after some time with nature, you can camp. We chose to camp, although there is only one site and it is so well-equipped for tourists, that for us it actually felt like glamping! Having a fully-functioning kitchen with a fireplace was a dream (and came in handy when the temperatures dramatically fell at sundown).

For some outdoor adventure, you’re spoilt for choice. There are several walking trails and hikes. On our first day, the weather was quite miserable and rainy, so we did a few of the smaller walks – which were great and all so different from one another.

Thankfully, on day two the weather had cleared up, so we embarked on a half day hike of Hansons Peak. Starting at the Dove Lake carpark, head left along the lake, where you will walk for 20 minutes until the track splits into two. From here, follow the left side and start going up. While not as difficult as the Mt Amos Hike in Freycinet, Hansons Peak is not a walk for the beginner hiker. There are several parts of the trail where it’s just you, a bare rock face and a rope, so a basic level of fitness is needed.

Photo Opportunities

In case the hikes and natural beauty of the area weren’t enough, there are a few other areas that also make for great photo opportunities.

  • The iconic Boat Shed o lake St Clair
  • The clear skies make for great astrophotography shoots.

Day 9 – 10

Mt Field National Park

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While you can travel directly back to Hobart from Cradle Mountain in only 4 hours, if you have the time, I would definitely recommend making a slight detour through Mt Field National Park – especially if you’re into waterfall chasing (which, let’s be honest here, is all of us).

Waterfalls

Russell Falls

Easy to access, Russell Falls is a short 400m walk from the Mt Field National Park visitor centre.

Horseshoe Falls

A further 10 minutes past Russell Falls in the secluded Horseshoe Falls.

Nelson Falls

A bit of a detour from Cradle Mountain, on the way to Mt Field National Park, is Nelson Falls; surrounded by ancient plant species.

While this itinerary only covers a portion of Australia’s island state of Tasmania, it definitely acted as a great taste-test for me, and has had me wanting to go back and explore more ever since! If you end up driving around Tassie using a similar itinerary to this one, let me know about it! I’d love to hear what else you would include!

 

Interested in road-road-tripping around WA? Check out my South Coast road trip itinerary here!


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Driving down Western Australia’s South Coast, I realised there’s so much more in Australia’s largest state that needs to be seen! If I’m being really honest, whenever I’ve thought of travel around WA, outside of Perth, I’ve only ever thought of travelling around the Kimberley and Broome – what a naive thought!

Travelling from Perth to Denmark, I was constantly in awe of the natural landscapes. This region is so diverse, you go from barren desert, to crystal clear surfing oasis, to dense giant tree canopies in a matter of minutes!

The direct route from Perth to Denmark takes about 5 hours, however if you have extra time, it’s definitely worth making a few pit stops along the way (or overnight stops to allow for maximum exploration). Here are some of my favourite sites from WA’s South Coast that you need to include on a roadtrip of the area:

Busselton

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Just 2.5 hours south of Perth is the relaxed coastal town of Busselton. Known as the ‘gateway to the Margaret River region’, Busselton is a luscious area where sun, surf, gourmet food and craft beer are a way of life.

With over 30km of coast, Busselton is a dream come true if you’re a lover of water sports and activities. From snorkelling and diving, to water-skiing, kayaking, fishing and wind-surfing, these are just some of the activities that are available year-round!

Of course, the major drawcard for Busselton is its famous jetty. Measuring 1.8 kilometres in length, the heritage-listed jetty is the longest timber-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. You can stroll down the jetty and admire the turquoise waters beneath you, or if walking isn’t your thing, there’s a passenger train. If you catch the train, you’ll disembark out the front of the underwater observatory, where you can see what lives beneath the surface without having to don on a wetsuit and diving gear. Just remember to walk a little bit further to the end of the jetty so you can snap a few selfies ‘out at sea’.

Margaret River

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The Margaret River region in WA is most well known for its wine production. In fact, 15% of Australia’s premium wines are produced from grapes in the region. You’d need at least a week of hardcore winery-hopping to make a dent in the 100+ wineries in the area. Or, if you’re not much of a wine-o, there are plenty of restaurants, boutique beer breweries, art galleries and fresh produce stores (think fresh cheeses and chocolates – yum!).

When you’re not over-indulging in all of the food, wine and beer, you can burn those calories on one (or many) of the adventure sports available. With a coastline that spans over 100kms (the Margaret River wine region is the only area in Australia where you can hop from winery to beach to forest to ancient rock dwellings in a matter of minutes), there are plenty of top notch surf beaches for you to choose from. Other popular sports and activities in the region include rock-climbing, abseiling, mountain biking, canoeing and whale watching.

If you’re unsure of where to start your wine-adventure, I would recommend the Evans and Tate Winery. My opinion may be biased – they’re my favourite wine-makers AND they have the cuuuutest wine labels!

Pemberton

An hour and a half southeast of Margaret River is Pemberton; the town of towering timber. Set in Karri Tree Country, Pemberton is home to the world’s tallest fire lookout tree – the Gloucester Tree. If you’re feeling game, you can climb the tree and take in the awesome forest view from the top!

Denmark

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Just over a two hour drive southeast of Pemberton is Denmark; a seriously underrated town on WA’s south coast that hasn’t quite yet reached the radar of tourists. If you’re into Aussie films, you might recognise the scenery in Denmark from the 2017 film ‘Breath’, the movie adaptation of Tim Winton’s book of the same name.

I had no idea what to expect of Denmark, but upon arrival I immediately fell in love. The small coastal town is super chill, popular for surfing, but also many other activities sports and nature enthusiasts will enjoy. If you’re tight for time or not sure where to start, these are my top recommendations of not-to-miss activities:

Elephant Rocks and Greens Pool

Just 15km west of Denmark, you can find Elephant Rocks and Greens Pool – and let me tell you, they are absolutely stunning!

As the name suggests, Elephant Rocks got its name from the rocks that look like a herd of elephants paddling in the shallow waters. Getting to the rocks is easy, it’s a short 10-minute walk from the Greens Pool car park and is signed all the way. You can also follow the staircase down to Elephant Cove to view the rocks from a different perspective.

Adjacent to Elephant Rocks is Greens Pool; a perfect little ocean oasis. It’s the perfect place to spend the day floating in the crystal-clear waters, as the waves of the Southern Ocean are completely blocked off by big rocks. It’s also great for snorkelling, as there are lots of fish around the coral that surrounds the rocks.

Wineries

I was surprised by how many wineries there are in the Denmark region. Although, it makes sense – the Mediterranean-like temperature is perfect for grape harvesting! Again, it would take a couple of days of hardcore-hopping to visit all the wineries, however a standout for me was Castelli Wines. A bit of an underdog in comparison to other big name wineries near by, Castelli’s produced a great cab sav and one of the best sparkling wines I’ve ever tasted!

Bartholomews Meadery

While the roads around Denmark are lined with many different sweet treat type stores, a unique standout for me was Bartholomews Meadery. This family-run store specialises in all things honey: skin care, mead, ice cream and of course honey. There’s a glass beehive where you can spot the queen bee and watch as the rest of the bees do their thing. While I was told the chocolate honey ice cream is the best flavour, my pick was the passionfruit honey ice cream – sooo good!

 

Of course, beyond Denmark there is still a further 1500km of coastline to explore in WA, but for a short 3-5 day break from Perth, a trip to the state’s South West Coast is a must!

As an Australian, it’s always interesting to hear what other people think of when imagining my homeland. Often it seems, people associate Australia with unattainably attractive surfers, red dirt, ‘shrimp on the barbie’ (which is perplexing, considering the fact we call ‘shrimp’ prawns out here) and having Kangaroos as pets (I swear if I had $1 for every time someone had asked me if I ride a Kangaroo to school/work…). Even as an Australian myself, I find that I too have some stereotypical ideas for what each part of the country looks like.

On a recent trip I took to Darwin, I was surprised to see that upon landing, Darwin was more like a tropical oasis – a small city surrounded by breezy blue waters (that you can’t swim in due to crocodiles and sharks – such a tease in the hot weather!) and loads of luscious green shrubbery; not the barren red landscape I’d always imagined it to be!
Despite the fact that I’ve grown up in Australia, it was being in Darwin that made me realise just how diverse and expansive my country is. How was it possible that only hours earlier I was in cold, rainy Sydney and a short 4-hour plane ride later had me in sub-tropical Darwin?

Maybe it was the element of surprise that won me over, or the lack of expectations I had for the city, or maybe even a combination of the two. I found that the more time I spent there, the more I enjoyed being there. The only problem was though, that I was there during the tail end of the wet season, so many tourists attractions were closed. However, this certainly didn’t stop me from having fun!

Whether you’re visiting the Top End during the wet season, or simply want to go where the tourists aren’t in the dry season, here is a list of some of my favourite Darwin activities:

Parap Village Markets

There’s no need to lose sleep over the fact that the Myndal Markets don’t run during the wet season (or are ridiculously over-crowded during the dry season), when you discover the less-touristy Parap Markets. Located just 7 minutes (driving) from Darwin’s CBD, this market, which is held every Saturday, is a great spot to try many different cuisines and nab a few bargains.

Picnic at the Waterfront

Pack a picnic and head out to the Waterfront. Darwin’s Waterfront is a great spot to spend an entire day with the family. With a wave-pool, swimming area, plenty of dining options, grassy shaded areas and views; you’ll be spoilt with options on how to use your time!

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Sunset at Darwin’s Waterfront

Litchfield National Park

Located only a 90-minute drive from the city; a day spent at Litchfield National Park is a must! Experience the outback on the drive out – ten minutes outside of the city, you’ll be driving down red-dusted roads at 130km per hour! Then, experience a whole new level of something else from within the park. Some highlights include the Magnetic Termite Mounds, Tolmer Falls and Wangi Plunge Pool.

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Tolmer Falls

Catch a Sunset

When in Darwin, watching a seaside sunset kind of goes without saying. While most people flock to the Myndal Markets to watch the sunset and gobble down a kebab, some other (less crowded and equally appeasing) sunset watching locations include Cullen Bay, Nightcliff and the Waterfront.

 

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Nightcliff

Stroll in the Park

There are so many parks within walking distance of the city. It’s a nice way to chill out and explore a new area. I particularly enjoyed spending a morning walking up the Esplanade and through Bicentennial Park.

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Bicentennial Park

If come the end of the weekend you still have some time up your sleeve, some other notable activities (that I’ve had to put on my ‘to do when I return’ list) include:

WWII Memorials

Despite being the capital of the Northern Territory, prior to WWII, Darwin was more like a small country town. However, due to its strategic positioning in northern Australia, both the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force constructed bases near the capital in the 1930’s. In the early stages of the Second World War, Darwin played a key role in the South Pacific air ferry route. As the Pacific War broke out, defence in Darwin was strengthened and the city became an Allied Base for the defence of the Netherlands East Indies. Between 1942-43, there were over 100 air raids against Australia. On the 19th February 1942, 242 Japanese aircrafts attacked the town of Darwin, ships in the harbour and two airfields in an attempt to prevent the allies from using them as bases to contest the invasion of Timor and Java. This was the largest single attack ever mounted by a foreign power in Australia, and has been since known as the Bombing of Darwin.

Within the city of Darwin and its surrounds, there are lots of WWII Tourist Sites that can be visited. Including gun emplacements, oil storage tunnels, bunkers, military airstrips and lookout posts. Most of these places are easily accessible and free of charge.

Jumping Crocodile Cruise

A one-hour drive out of Darwin will land you at the location of the ‘Jumping Crocodile Cruise’. A great way to see crocodiles up close, the Jumping Crocodile Cruise takes groups of people down their privately owned stretch of the Adelaide River for a real up-close and personal experience.

Aboriginal Culture

Immerse yourself in the regions indigenous culture. There is so much art, history and beliefs that we can learn from the lands traditional owners. Visit a locally owned art gallery or take a tour of the city with an Indigenous guide.

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To Stay or Not to Stay

Staycation /steɪˈkeɪʃ(ə)n/ noun: A vacation that is spent at one’s home enjoying all that home and one’s home environs have to offer.

 

When I first learned that there were people who actually took time out of their lives to stay at home and do nothing, I thought they were all mad. Why wouldn’t you go out and explore?! – Utilise your spare time experiencing something new. The idea of a stay-cation had never really appealed to me. Any time that I got off was spent going somewhere new and experiencing life and the world with a new set of eyes.

Oh how things change.

Fast-forward some time, to a time where the unfathomable “real world” has made itself uncomfortably comfortable in my every life and has so perceptibly changed the ways in which I view so many things. This year has seen the introduction of the mundane 9-5 slog, which combined with other life-happenings leaves me with little time to myself at the end of each week. So by the time the weekend rolls around, my body feels like it enters a non-conforming state to my active, wanting-to-wander mind. Typically, the mind trumps the body, but for the first time in my life EVER, I let my body win the battle this past weekend. And boy did it feel good!

Everyone has that list of things that they want to get done, but never finds the time (or makes the time) to do it. Enter the stay-cation. Whilst it may seem like the most Nanna-activity ever, once you’ve made the decision to let lazy win, you won’t be disappointed! I put my gallivanting mind to rest for one weekend and had a blast! My first day of freedom was spent doing things around the house that I had never had time to do. I went to a yoga class, potted some succulents and moved the TV into the bedroom (just for the weekend – I swear!) and binged on chick flicks. Day two of the stay-cation was a little more active and saw me head out to my favourite local markets, explore the greenery at Minnamurra Rainforest and indulge in some hot chips at my favourite diner in cute seaside town Kiama.

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Held on the 4th Sunday of every month, the Coledale Markets are a great day that everyone can enjoy. How could you not with this as a backdrop and the ocean at the forefront?!

 

Nature in all its glory at Minnamurra rainforest

 

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Lunch with a view – Little Blow Hole, Kiama

 

Whilst past me would be horrified to hear of present me’s actions (or lack thereof) this past weekend, it did make me realise how important it is to put aside some time for a little TLC every now and then. If you’ve been contemplating taking some time out, telling all your friends you’re busy and doing sweet FA, I’d advise you to do it! Bask in the gloriousness that is contempt laziness in this fast, routine world! If my little revelation hasn’t convinced you, let these 5 points ice the cake for you:

5 reasons why taking time out for a stay-cation is great

 

  1. Been eyeing off a cute pair of pj’s at the shops lately, or just been hanging out to wear your favourite onesie again? This is the perfect opportunity! When disembarking on a stay-cation, remaining in your pj’s is like the number 1 unbreakable rule.
  2.  Drinking wine in bed, eating chocolates and watching endless chick flicks is ok – Hoorah!
  3. Perfect op to research the crap out of where your next big adventure will be …. After you’ve rested up that is.
  4. You’re only going to be at home all weekend, so any reason for wearing make-up, showering or even getting out of bed is diminished.
  5. Remember that time, before life got busy when you actually had hobbies? Now’s the perfect time to rekindle that love for crocheting you forgot you had.

 

 

 

 

Hikes around Sydney – Wodi Wodi Track

For those of you who don’t know, I currently live and have grown up around the city of Sydney, Australia. For a very long time, I took my local landscape and all it has to offer for granted. In fact, a couple of years ago, I had convinced myself into believing that I detested Sydney and that I didn’t belong in Australia; I was meant to be American. A very naïve concept created by teenage-me. However, since travelling extensively alone and with friends over the past 5 years, I have grown to really appreciate my home country and city. Australia is such a vast and unique country with so much to offer!

Like most people do at the end of year, I sat down and reflected upon 2015 and was not happy with how I had utilised the time I had granted to me. It felt as if I’d spent the year in hiding, rather then going out and being the spontaneous, happy-go-lucky girl that I’m known to be. So, whilst I’m not usually a fan of New Years Resolutions, after being disappointed with my 2015 reflections, I decided that 2016 would be the year I get out more. Let my hair down and stop taking everything so seriously! Who cares what people think; who cares if I haven’t started on my career yet – 2016 will be the year that I put myself first. After all ….. YOLO!

So as to get my New Years Resolution into motion, I want to combine my getting out more with the premier of the Tourist in my own City series. TIMOC is going to be a showcase on the great city of Sydney and its surrounds and all that it has to offer. It’ll include things like my favourite markets, beaches, hikes, café’s, bars and much, much more. If there’s anything that you’d like to know about, please let me know!

Drumroll please …… so, for the first post in the Tourist in my own City series, I want to share with you guys one of the many hikes that there on offer around Sydney – the Wodi Wodi Track in Stanwell Park.

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The starting point of the Wodi Wodi Track at Coalcliff, NSW.

Stanwell Park is just over an hour south of Sydney. The super quaint main street is filled with several little café’s and boutique stores. There are a few starting points for the Wodi Wodi. You can either start at the Stanwell Park train station, or if you are heading up from the South, just past Coalcliff station on the left side of the road is a little pull-in where you can park your car and start hiking. I started from Coalcliff. I’d done some research and knew that the hike that goes around the escarpment would take about three hours. Henry and I packed a bag with some snacks (granola bars, dried apricots etc) and filled a 3L water backpack. First note: 3L of water to share between 2 people and a few snacks aren’t enough. If you’re considering doing this hike, learn from my mistakes and pack at least 3L of water per person and a lot more than 2 tiny snacking items.

The Wodi Wodi track is a really great hike if you’re not afraid of going off of the beaten track! You become part of the rainforest-like escarpment in this hike, with the only form of a footpath to follow being flattened grass from previous walkers. Or when it gets a bit confusing, look out for the red ribbons and yellow arrows – they will save your life!

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However, that being said, if you come across a fork near the train line, take the beaten looking path; the nice looking one will lead you to someone’s horse pasture – woops. Also, about half way through the hike, there is one yellow arrow that points downwards, towards rubble. When you see the huge slide of debris, don’t be like Henry and I and try to slay your way through the bush. You will get ticks and leeches (trust me). Instead, be smart. When you see the arrow pointing in a strange direction, and the thought ‘well that seems odd’ pops into your head, listen to it! Look around and you will see another yellow arrow to your right pointing you in the direction of a bush path.

Having survived (just) three months riding a motorbike and camping around North America, I would’ve liked to think that Henry and I had better senses of direction. Although, the several misadventures on this hike would probably lead one to believe that we were a lost cause. (Just for the record, I’m going to put in here that Henry was in charge of direction :p )

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Water! We were so happy to find this little pool and the waterfall that was nearby. We dunked our heads in and it felt so good!

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A nice spot to eat our snacks 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst we did get lost a few times, and the Australian summer heat became unbearable at some points, the views looking out onto the ocean from on top of the escarpment were amazing and made the sweat, leeches and ticks well worth it!

 

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Trying to look excited having just finished hiking for three hours. I was exhausted! But pumped! – We did it!

Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with your significant other, a bunch of gal pals or your dog (we travellers aren’t the judging type), spending a great deal of money on a Hallmark Holiday is not ideal. Especially when there are so many free (and beats the V-day crowd) activities that are loads of fun and can be enjoyed solo, as part of a two-man team or amongst a group.
Forget paying way too much on a fancy dinner; instead pack a picnic and head out on a romantic adventure to one of these top spots in Sydney.

 

  1. Figure 8 Pools – Royal National Park

 

First things first, check that it’s low tide before planning to go out to the Figure 8 Pools. These pools are the perfect place to relax amongst the bush, cliffs and ocean. To get there is about a one-hour walk through the bush from the closest car park. Make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen and lots of nibbles and water!

 

  1. Seacliff Bridge – Grand Pacific Drive

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Such an amazing day! 🌴🌻☀️

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Hop in the car/on your motorbike and head south of Sydney and onto the Grand Pacific Drive. This is one of my favourite drives; I often drive this way home from Sydney rather than the highway. The Grand Pacific drives takes you through the rainforest of the Royal National Park, to the Coastal Escarpment, to many beaches and several lookout points. A highlight is definitely the famous Sea Cliff Bridge where you can often see migrating whales in whaling season. One of my favourite picnic spots on this drive is at Bald Hill, looking onto the Bridge and the escarpment and ocean around it.

 

  1. Mrs Macquarie’s Point – Sydney

 

If you don’t fancy going outside of the city but still want something special to do, then a Sydney sunrise overlooking the stunning Sydney Harbour should definitely fit the bill. Mrs Macquarie’s Point is the perfect location to get pictures of the Harbour (including the Harbour Bridge and Opera House) from the Southern Side.

 

  1. Pool of Siloam – Blue Mountains

 

If exploring the rainforest and finishing under a waterfall is your kind of idea of romance, than the Pool of Siloam at the Blue Mountains is perfect for you. It’s a super easy walk that only takes about half an hour to get to from the picnic area at Gordon Falls Reserve. So you can have a cute picnic lunch before trekking into the rainforest and swimming under waterfalls.

 

  1. Outdoor Table Tennis – Dee Why Beach

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Courtesy of weekendnotes.com

Dee Why Beach is a popular beach on Sydney’s North Shores. It hosts lots of sporting events as well as big New Years and Australia Day events. For Valentines Day, unleash your competitive side and slay your V-day buddy at a round of Table Tennis on the outdoor table tennis set.

 

A couple of weekends ago, I had the honour of attending a close friends wedding in Bendigo, Victoria. For those of you who don’t know, Bendigo is the fourth largest city in Victoria and is approximately 150kms northwest of Melbourne. In the months leading up to the wedding I was super excited for an excuse for a weekend away, thinking it’d be a nice chance for Henry and I to spend some time together before having to go back to work. It was about 6 weeks before the glorious day that we had an ‘oh shit’ moment as we realised we hadn’t booked any accommodation. We quickly hopped online and found a great deal with The Art Series Schaller Studio (highly recommend staying at any Art Series Hotel!) and booked 3 nights in Bendigo, thinking how cool it’d be if we could fit in a day trip to Melbourne.
After pondering the thought of Melbourne for a few hours, we decided to leave a day early and fit in a quick overnight stop in the hipster city. With only a short amount of time spare to spend in Melbourne, we made sure we didn’t waste a second of our time, and soon after arriving we were quickly off, ready to experience as much as we could in such a short frame of time.

Our trip was off to a busy start. I had to work that morning, so didn’t get home until about 1pm. But the second I pulled in the driveway, we quickly filled the car with our stuff, gave the cat a pat goodbye and set off for our nine hour drive. I’ve got to be honest, the drive from Thirroul (Sydney-ish) to Melbourne has got to be one of the most boring drives I’ve ever done! You’re literally on the same highway the entire way and it is just farmland surrounding you until you get about half an hour out of Melbourne.

We drove into Melbourne as the sun was setting (8:45pm!). Such a stunning entry into an equally stunning city – and a great first impression for Henry, who had never been to Melbourne before this trip.

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The sunset that lit up the sky just north of Melbourne.

We quickly checked into our hotel (Fraser Place – also recommend it!) and walked into the city, on the hunt for some food. Being close to 10pm we were thinking that fast food was going to be our only dinner option, but as we walked down Swanston Street we came across quite a lot of Asian cuisine restaurants which much to our glee were still open for business! We ended up googling reviews and chose to eat at China Bar, a 24 hour restaurant serving all different types of Asian cuisine at all hours of the day and night. We ordered steamed pork buns as an entrée, which were DELICIOUS! For dinner I had BBQ Pork (Cha Siew) on rice, which I had with a Lychee Juice. Both were amazing!

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BBQ Pork on rice. So good!

After an enjoyable meal, we strolled down to Federation Square and enjoyed the Melbourne Skyline in the dark before heading back to the hotel.

Although we were exhausted from the previous days drive, we were up at 8am the next morning, ready to pack in a day of sightseeing before heading out to Bendigo. We kick-started the day with a quick walk to the Queen Victoria Markets, where we enjoyed the best breakfast I think I’ve ever had! I had a big breakfast (sausages, eggs, bacon, roasted tomato, toast and a coffee). The meat was super fresh and it tasted so much better for it! After reluctantly finishing my meal (hey, I wanted it to last forever) we wandered around the market for a while. We didn’t end up buying anything – we came close to buying the cutest pair of baby ugg boots ever for a friend who is expecting, although realised that there would be little use for them in Perth – but it was nice to just have a sticky beak around at our own pace.

Being with an aspiring architect, getting lost in any concrete jungle is a given. After our market window-shopping, we walked around some of RMIT’s rather creative buildings that are sprawled all about the city. We even stepped inside the architecture building to scope out a feel.

We then decided it was time to tick another thing off our little ‘to-do’ list and headed towards Hosier Lane. Unfortunately, this took a while. Google Maps lied to us and led us to the opposite side of the city. It was super hot and we were getting tired, so it was lucky that we saw a T2 store where we were. We stepped inside the tea oasis and taste tested all the teas that were available. We were back in game. Eventually we did find Hosier Lane. At first sight, it was really cool but then as we stood closer to the wall all we could smell was piss. We then got super excited when we saw a café selling frozen Zooper Doopers – Winning! Although, our trip to Hosier Lane ended rather quickly when a junkie couple emerged from a dodgy side street yelling at random passers-by.

Disappointed in our premature departure of Hosier Lane, we wandered across the street and found ourselves at Pilgrim Bar, where we each shared a local handcrafted cider and enjoyed the spectacular view of Melbourne right in front of us. It was starting to creep into early afternoon, so we decided to leave Melbourne on a positive note and make our way towards Bendigo.

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Enjoying some sneaky ciders and a view before heading for our next destination.