Fun Day Trips Out of Sydney

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Stanwell Tops

My favourite thing about Sydney is that there are so many things to see that are only just a day trip from the city. There are so many beaches along the coast to visit and the Blue Mountains are less than a two-hour drive away.

Jervis Bay

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Hyams Beach

A great day trip out of the city is Jervis Bay and Hyams Beach. Hyams Beach is considered the whitest beach in the world. It’s about a three-hour drive from Sydney and we took a leisurely drive down stopping at several spots. Starting quite early in the morning our first pit stop was Stanwell Tops (first picture above). If you need to sort out any reminder of how beautiful Australia is Stanwell Tops is ideal. The view was stunning! We sat for a good ten minutes and I went to go get an affogato at the local ice cream truck. The picture explains it all really. The next stop was the Cathedral Rocks in Kiama Downs. We decided to do a bit more exploring here climbing the rocks and walking around the area.  It was a beautiful sunny day so wanted to take advantage of the weather.  Do watch the water as the waves can get quite big around the area.  Our feet were pretty soaked after walking on the rocks.

Or last pit stop before Jervis Bay was the Kiama Blowhole.  It was a bit underwhelming and there were heaps of people. However, it was a good time to get lunch. We ate at the Neptune Café as the Wharf Restaurant had a line out of the door. I got a really good burger. They have gluten free options and as a person allergic to wheat this is always ideal. I loved the quirky décor of the café.

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Kiama Blowhole

After a solid lunch we were off to our final destination, Jervis Bay. We stopped to get food to have a dinner bbq when we arrived at camp. Then we jetted off to make camp. I would defo suggest going camping for a night at least like we did. It was super convenient and close to the Hyams Beach. Also, it was reasonably cheap which is hard to come by in Australia.

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BBQ

We had an amazing group bbq and talked. It was a great night of beers, talking, and dance parties at the beach.

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Hyams Beach

The next day we spent at Hyams Beach and truly the sand is so white. The water was a bit too cold for me so I think I spent a total of five minutes in it. We only stayed a night but you could definitely do two if you wanted. After a few hours at the beach and lunch we jetted back straight to Sydney.

Norman Lindsay’s Gallery

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The grounds at Norman Lindsay’s Gallery

If you’re into art and up for an hour drive out of the city, Norman Lindsay’s Gallery is a great spot. It’s located in Faulconbridge up in the Blue Mountains. After feeling quite drained from city life it was a relief to head out to the Blue Mountains. I had never heard of Norman Lindsay but my partner had gone to the gallery a few times and liked his work. We headed out quite late in the day and took a leisurely drive out. We started the day at the café on site and had lunch before heading to the gallery. The gallery is relatively small and can be seen in an hour. Here, however, is where I learned about the Magic Pudding. I felt at a loss since it seemed like something most Aussie kids grew up with. So it was something eye opening for this American. It was cool to see the original sculptures.

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Magic Pudding

We even got to talk to an artist at the gallery that was currently working on prints and etchings. The staff was extremely friendly and answered as many questions as we had. The grounds are really lovely and honestly were my favourite part. We walked around to look at all the sculptures and fountains outside.

It was so tranquil and by closing time of the gallery we were the only one’s walking around. It was good little side trip up to the mountains to escape city life. I would definitely suggest this little spot for anyone interested in Australian art.

Palm Beach

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Palm Beach

Another good day trip away from Sydney city life is Palm Beach home of the filming of Home and Away. I won’t lie, I still haven’t seen an episode of the show. However, the beach is really beautiful. Honestly, I can’t pass up an opportunity to head to the beach. It’s about an hour drive away from Sydney. My partner and I went a few days after Christmas and surprisingly it wasn’t as busy as I thought it would be. Still a struggle to find parking but a few spots were straggling about so I can imagine it could get busier.

It was the height of summer so it was incredibly hot. The sand was at least ten degrees hotter than the air. This required us to run back to the stairs to head to the car as our feet felt on fire. Don’t forget to apply suncream more often then you think.  We made that mistake applying twice and burnt to a crisp for being out in sun for a total of three hours.  The Aussie sun plays no games.  Luckily, the water was super refreshing and after a short swim we head to get lunch. We ended up at the local fish and chips shop. I had a really amazing seafood salad that hit the spot. Across from the shop was another bit of beach and we watched the boats for a bit before heading back to Sydney.

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Palm Beach views after lunch

 

This is the great thing about Sydney really, there are so many places close by that are worth the trip to see. It is a great city for anyone that likes to explore nature and the beach is never too far away. And sometimes an escape out of the city is necessary to refresh and rejuvenate.

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Melbourne

Street Art, Great Ocean Road, and tons of making friends with animals

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Here’s Caitlin again in the land of Oz. I went to Melbourne back in June of this year. After visiting the city of Melbourne the decision to keep living in Sydney was very hard. Melbourne has less up tight city vibes, more culture, and great coffee (sorry Sydney coffee lovers everywhere). The beaches and my mates are what keeps drawing me back to good ole Sydney. This trip was an amazing weekend getaway and I hope to go back and explore even more.

I went on this trip with two amazing mates and we had a blast. We started with a walk to CBD and a tour of the amazing street art in Melbourne. There is an incredible amount of street art in Melbourne its almost overwhelming. So many unbelievable laneways. Hosier Lane and AC/DC lane are absolute musts. If you seen any photos of Melbourne street art it probably came from Hosier or AC/DC lane. Below is a map of all the locations of major street art. We walked around to at least six or seven of them and it was worth it.

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http://www.thatsmelbourne.com.au/Placestogo/PublicArt/Documents/Street_Art_Map_May_2016.pdf

 

We detoured a little bit on our jaunt and ended up in the Royal Botanical Gardens. We stopped at the Shrine of Remembrance which has amazing city views. Walking there we heard cannons go off and decided to check it out. Mainly because we had no idea that’s what happened there.  I’m a massive history buff so it was nice to walk around the shrine and take it all in.  After this we walked back over the Yarra River and went to lunch at Mamasita. A personal goal in my life is to find amazing Mexican food in Australia and this place was amazing. I had the street style corn in a cup, pork taco, and huitlacoche quesadilla. Any time a quesadilla is on offer as gluten free I have to have it.  It was the best part of the meal by a landslide.

After our little jaunt we went and viewed more street art heading to Presgrave Place, Union Lane, Caledonian Lane, and Snider Lane. With a quick stop into Dukes Coffee Roasters for a delicious latte. We then walked around Chinatown for a bit too and looked at all the delicious Asian dessert shops. We didn’t try any and I actually regret that. Then heading back to our hostel to prep for a night out.

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The next day was spent at St.Kilda Beach to wander and check out the Brighton Bathing Boxes. Neither were as close to each other as we thought so we ended up getting a short uber between each other. In St. Kilda I had one of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had. It was from a coffee cart next to Luna Park from Bean to Melbourne. It was incredible! Apparently they travel around Melbourne so definitely find where they’ll be at. After that we headed to the bathing boxes.  They were so unique and not one the same. Glad we made the trip to take the touristy photo in from of the Australian flag bathing box. After this we headed back to gear up for the early morning call to the Great Ocean Road.

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The early morning wake up call of 7:05 was well worth it to go on the Great Ocean Road. Pictures will not do it justice at all. The 12 Apostles are absolutely worth the trek. Along the way we stopped to feed some birds and view some koalas in the wild at Kennet River. The birds were hilarious to feed. There was so many of them and once you had one eating some feed another one would be right there, too. Also, venturing to the Razorback and Loch Ard Gorge along the way. The beauty of the 12 Apostles was breathtaking. The only downside was making it during sunset. It was beautiful but I think it would’ve been much better a few hours earlier.

The last day was spent at the Melbourne Zoo. We had a flight in the evening so not enough time to really venture too much. The butterfly habitat at the Melbourne Zoo was outright the highlight. Being covered in butterflies flying around was amazing. Honestly, I felt like this Zoo didn’t compare to Taronga Zoo in Sydney at all. It was great to see the animals but Taronga has amazing views of Sydney and much bigger habitats. However, if you’re in Melbourne I would still check it out.

All in all, Melbourne is a great city filled with pleasant people and tons to do. There’s still so many restaurants and coffee shops I want to try. My list was honestly way too big for the amount of time we were there. All the more reason to make a trek back.

Other stuff not mentioned but I totally rate 10/10:

Bars: Naked for Satan and Blackcat Fitzroy

Clubs: Poof Doof (LGBTQ friendly)

Road Tripping In Tassie

Part Two: Tassie

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Freycinet National Park

Last minute trip to Tasmania was the best idea! Planned the trip and booked flights on a Friday and up in the air the following Monday. We were only there until Thursday of the same week so it was intensely jam-packed.   Flew into Hobart, rented a car, and we were on our way to Freycinet National Park and Wineglass Bay. It was little over a two-hour drive but it was definitely worth it. It started out as quite a gloomy day but by the time we got to Wineglass Bay it was completely clear. The walk to Wineglass Bay is a little arduous but the overlook for it is beyond worth it. It’s positively gorgeous and the water is so blue. We walked down to the beach and walked around and sat listening to the ocean waves and enjoying the view.

After all the walking around the park and taking in the beautiful beach we were on our way to Launceston for the night. Following a super early flight and all the driving we were very exhausted by the time we arrived. We ended having dinner at Burger Got Soul and I had a delicious Tassie Tempter on gluten-free bread. I’m still trying to accept the idea of having an egg on my burger.

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Cradle Mountain Boathouse

The next morning we got up and headed straight to Cradle Mountain to do the Cradle Mountain lake walk. It was a very moody and misty day. Luckily we didn’t get rained on until the very end. The lake looked rather mystical that day with the fog and eerie sounds of barely anyone around. I would definitely suggest going on a clear day so you can actually see the mountain however, we didn’t have time to really schedule it out. However, it was a good trek.

Following this we were on our way again back to Hobart. We ended up there late evening checked into the cutest Airbnb in North Hobart, called Pocketspace, and we were off on the search for food. We ended up getting tacos at Sons of Baja. The tacos were not bad but unfortunately I consider myself a taco connoisseur from growing up in Florida where there’s great Mexican food they had tough shoes to fill.

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Bruny Island Neck Game Reserve view

Next morning we were out early again and headed to Bruny Island. Bruny Island was probably my favourite part of the whole trip. We took the ferry over to the Island and we were off to take the Bruny Island Wildlife Cruise. We stopped along the way at the Bruny Island Neck Game Reserve for a spectacular view of Bruny Island. We then had to make sure my mate could sign up for the cruise. After they were signed in we stopped off at Adventure Bay just to sit and take in the beach. The cruise itself was amazing. It last about 3 hours and you get to head into the Southern Ocean and see a bunch of seals. The only downside is it gets quite cold and I really regret not bringing another jacket. I was pretty cold for most of the ride. After the amazing views of Bruny Island we headed back onto the Island for a winery stop. We ended up at Bruny Island Premier Wines. I got a lot of food and I do not regret the food baby afterwards. I started with clam chowder and a bunch of oysters. For dessert I got a cheese plate. I won’t lie the cheese in Tassie is AMAZING! Honestly, the best part. I also had a very good class of Chardonnay.

After we ate clearly way too much we rolled ourselves back to the car and headed off the island back to Hobart. We took it easy for a bit and ended up walking down sto Hobart’s main centre, Battery Point, and having dinner at Monty’s on Montpelier. I had probably the best bbq beef I’ve had in my life. Of course we had to have more oysters so I had that to start.

On our last day we had every intention to go to the art museum MONA but we decided to have brunch instead. We ended up at Providence Café that was close to our Airbnb. It was one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in a long time. Not to mention the owner is apparently gluten free so there’s a lot of different options. I had a great scramble with basil and feta cheese on toast. Also, a great cup of coffee.

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Scramble from Providence Cafe

I really wish I brought Tassie coffee back with me. After a very relaxed morning we headed to the airport to drop off the car and wait for our flight. All in all, it was a whirlwind of a trip but I’m glad I went. The people were lovely, the food was a hit, and it was so beautiful. Not to mention, I ended up having a 30-minute conversation with an employee at the airport, which I feel would never happen in Sydney. I love random talks with strangers. Unfortunately (fortunately), now I want to head back to Tassie and explore more. I’ll just have to plan another trip out there.

Bristol: The Land of Babbers, Brunel, And Banksy

The Harbour

This is Caitlin writing again and I’m so excited for this post!  Now on to my favourite city in England located in the South West, Bristol. It is the sixth most populous city in England and the eighth most populous in the UK. I won’t lie, I went to Bristol Uni and that makes me incredibly biased to this amazing cultural city. I had the best time studying for my master’s in maritime archaeology. I decided to come back and visit. I timed the trip perfectly to be there for the May Bank Holiday. A lot of my uni mates now work so it was great to spend that Monday with them.

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Tepees in Queen’s Square

Bristol is one of those cities that always seems to have something going on. If you want to do something you will find something. It’s incredible! I love the community and close-knit feeling to the city that is Bristol. It has such a great and open vibe to it. It’s not stuffy or overly posh. While I was there a few great festivals were going on: Eat Drink Bristol Fashion 2015 and Food Connections 2015. They were both awesome events. Eat Drink Bristol Fashion 2015 set up tepees in Queen’s Square and served tapas while a live band was going outside. While Food Connections 2015 took over College Green. I love any place that has food stalls and both of these events had plenty of food to try. Unfortunately, the Bank Holiday turned grey and it up raining (it was so England of it to be honest).

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Wills Memorial Tower

If you’ve never been to Bristol there a few iconic places you must at least visit. Wills Memorial Tower is an absolutely stunning piece of architecture. The first time I walked in I felt like I was on the set of Harry Potter. The stained glass is amazing and worth seeing in person. A walk to the harbour is completely necessary. I spent a lot of my time during my degree at Pitcher and Piano down at the harbour. You will always see a great fireworks show there during the Harbour Festival as well. While you’re in the harbour you should go and visit the SS Great Britain. I had many lectures for my degree there and it is a cool museum.

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Stokes Croft road covered in street art

Another thing not to miss is the Stokes Croft area. Bristol isn’t home to Banksy for nothing. There’s always amazing works of street art blanketing the city. I always have to take a walk down Stokes Croft to see all of the new art. It’s what makes Stokes Croft, Stokes Croft. I always start my walk from the iconic Bear Pit and go from there to Attic Bar and along to The Canteen. If there’s one place I love to get a drink in Stokes Croft its The Canteen. I also enjoy No. 51 Stokes Croft. Although there’s many great places to go in the area.

Sunny Clifton

Another area that’s worth exploring is Clifton. It might be the polar opposite of Stokes Croft in every way. It’s a bit more posh and cleaner but the views from the Clifton Suspension Bridge are always worth the walk over. I really enjoy the Mall and the Coronation Tap in Clifton. The Coronation Tap makes their own cider and it’s absolutely deadly and delicious. It’s probably the most potent cider in % of alcohol I’ve ever had and that’s why they only serve it as half pints.

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Most of my time in Bristol was hanging out with my mates I met while living in England. I went to a great dinner at Alma Tavern (http://www.almataverntheatre.co.uk/). A place I’ve never been to before and had a great meal. I also had dinner at one of my favourite places the Burger Joint (http://www.theburgerjoint.co.uk/). Any place that serves gluten-free burgers is a place for me. I’m allergic to wheat and peanuts so this always make a restaurant skyrocket to the top of my list. Another amazing place for food is Townhouse (http://www.thetownhousebristol.co.uk/). There food is positively incredible!! I’ve never been disappointed and £10 for 3 courses is very hard to beat. Also their chocolate nemesis is to die for. It’s vegan and gluten-free and is complete chocolatey goodness. One of my mates and I hit up Brown’s for their great happy hour with cocktails (http://www.browns-restaurants.co.uk/locations/bristol/). I love their drink called “British Royal,” but I love anything with Prosecco in it.

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Banksy’s art on the side of the Highbury Vaults

As a post grad in the archaeology and anthropology department I’ve spent a lot of time at the Hawthorns and the Highbury Vaults drinking way too much Thatcher’s Gold. They are two places I could not miss on my week back in Bristol. Not to mention the department has a weekly lecture and we always head to those two places afterwards. I of course went to the lecture and all I really wanted was to just hug everyone while the speaker was talking on. It’s incredibly hard to maintain relationships over continents but it’s so worth it.

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My university’s crest
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My very unhealthy diet of cheese and Thatchers Gold

For our night out we stopped at OMG Bristol, a gay friendly dance club/bar for my mate’s birthday. It was good fun to get a dance in and hangout with all of my mates. They usually play some of the best music as well however this night wasn’t there best but we still danced our bums off. After that, as a staple of most graduates from Bristol I climbed in the Victoria Rooms fountain as my final send off from Briz.

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Street sign in Clifton

As I said, I will not lie about Bristol being my favourite city in all of England. I love it and miss it every day.

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More Stokes Croft street art

My final day in England was spent in London as I was flying out of Heathrow. I met up with one of my mates who live in Battersea and we went out to the Magic Garden Pub in Battersea. They had a DJ playing amazing electro-swing and now I am completely in love with that genre of music. Not to mention that they had several bands from Bristol playing a mix of roots, reggae, funk, soul, and ska. It included: First Degree Burns and Mango Factory with DJ Jon Bongly and here’s the link to the event https://www.facebook.com/events/436013076547814/.

It was very hard to get on my flight the next morning. Trust me I almost stayed. The thought of how long my passport allows me to stay legally crossed my mind far too many times. However, this was a trip for the record books. I cannot wait to go back already!

Photos of all of my favourite street art in Stokes Croft commences, if you know any of the artists names let me know in the comments:

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