On a Westerly Bearing

We set off in our traditional way after work on a Friday and driving as far as possible towards Melbourne before succumbing to sleep. We made it to Albury, approx three hours from Melbourne, at 1am to rest before we continued our journey in the morning. We spent Saturday with friends in Melbourne before heading towards the Great Ocean Road on Sunday.

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Sunset over Aire River West Campground

We drove along the coast to Lorne where we had fish and chips on the beach. As the rain was closing in we carried on to our camping spot in Otway National Park. Aire River West camp ground was our base for a couple of days. A quiet clearing on the bank of the river it was extremely peaceful and relaxing except of the noisy flock of cockatoos living in the tree above our pitch! We were delighted to see we weren’t the only ones staying in the camp ground, 6 (that we saw) Koalas called this camping spot home, two had babies that were extremely cute. They spent their time sleeping and eating and were a joy to observe on the way to the toilets!

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A baby Koala in the trees above Aire River West Campground

After a late start we spent our first full day on the coast by heading back to Lorne. First we had a short walk up to Carisbrook waterfall just off the Great Ocean Road outside of town, we then got a great coffee from Moons Espresso Bar before heading up to Erskine Falls. Although Erskine Falls was more impressive than the last one it was also a lot more busy, people vying for selfie spots, so we didn’t stay long. After Erskine Falls we went to Teddy’s Lookout over the coast road, it was very windy so it was a quick stop, the view was beautiful.

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View over the Great Ocean Road from Teddy’s Lookout

The next morning we said goodbye to the koalas and moved on along the great ocean road to Princetown Recreation Reserve & Camping. Princetown is only a short drive to the Twelve Apostles so a good base for exploring this part of the coast. It was really hot when we arrived and we pitched our tent and relaxed in the shade for a while. Later that evening we went to the Twelve Apostles for sunset and the chance to glimpse tiny fairy penguins leaving the sea for the comfort of their burrows. After walking around the viewpoint taking in the beautiful coastline we got our spot and waited for the sunset. We miss calculated slightly and had an hour and a half to wait until sunset and the penguins wouldn’t arrive until 30mins after sundown. It got progressively busier the closer the sunset, I had to give up my bench after being surrounded by a group with 15 pizzas and 6 packs of beer, they successfully ruined the tranquillity of the setting. The sunset wasn’t as spectacular as some we’ve witnessed but it was still a sight to behold. We then had a fairly long wait before the first group of penguins braved the beach. They huddled together looking to see if the coast was clear and then ran for the dunes occasionally pausing to check for danger. This happened a couple more times before the visibility was too poor and we headed for home.

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Twelve Apostles

Relaxing in the shade we had a lazy morning, it was another roasting hot day. After lunch we drove to a couple of other of natural rock formations, London Arch and the Razorback. Wanting to get out of the sun for a while we we to a local cheese shop. The area is a big producer of dairy products, the area was cleared to make farms after the First World War. Leaving the cheese shop our car failed us, suddenly the low grumbling noise we’d been ignoring since the beginning of the journey became a loud clanking with each revolution of the wheels, we slowly returned back to camp and called in the breakdown services. After an inspection and one of the rear wheels coming off the mechanic diagnosed a broken wheel bearing and we’d need towing to a garage before returning to our journey.

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A Kangaroo on Princetown Recreation Reserve

We were keen to get as close to Melbourne as possible as selfishly we were due to see a band the next day and really didn’t want to miss it. So we took advantage of the 200km rural towing option our breakdown cover offers, much to the disappointment of the mechanic from the night before as he was also the tow truck driver and one man band. If we had been able to get the car fixed locally we would have but no one was able to fix the car for a few days and we couldn’t really afford to be stranded for that time. So the morning after the breakdown the tow truck arrived early for our journey to Hoppers Crossing, a suburb outside of Melbourne. The breakdown company told us there would be enough seats in the truck’s cab for both of us however the middle ‘seat’ turned out to be no more than a wooden box with a seat belt and I can say it was extremely uncomfortable for 100kms before I swapped with Jon. We also had to take the back roads as the tow truck required some new tyres we had to avoid the police which was a little alarming, we were assured they were still safe but on one in particular you could see the fabric coming through the rubber!

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Our camp on Princetown Recreation Reserve

We made it safely and the car was fixed in time to get to our concert, Tortoise, an American alt rock band. Tortoise put on a great show ‘the best live music’ Jon had ever experienced and we had a really yummy Mexican meal before hand. The next morning we had another early start to get back to Sydney and the first leg of our two week holiday was over.

Photo Gallery:

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Split Point Lighthouse

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Aire River West Campground

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Cockatoo on Aire River West Campground

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Koala on Aire River West Campground

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Koala on Aire River West Campground

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Koala on Aire River West Campground

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Koala on Aire River West Campground

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Koala on Aire River West Campground

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Koala on Aire River West Campground

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Koala on Aire River West Campground

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Koala on Aire River West Campground

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Australian Painted Lady Butterfly at Carisbrook Waterfalls

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Australian Painted Lady Butterfly at Carisbrook Waterfalls

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Carisbrook Waterfalls

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Great Ocean Road near Lorne

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Great Ocean Road near Lorne

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Great Otway National Park

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Castle Cove Lookout

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Koala on Aire River West Campground

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Sunset over Aire River West Campground

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Koala and Cockatoo above Aire River West Campground

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Koala above our tent on Aire River West Campground

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Crossing the bridge over Aire River

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The beach near Princetown

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Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo above Princetown Recreation Reserve

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Superb Fairy-wren, Princetown Recreation Reserve

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Superb Fairy-wren, Princetown Recreation Reserve

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The Twelve Apostles

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The Twelve Apostles

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The Twelve Apostles

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Sunset at the Twelve Apostles

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Nighttime on Princetown Recreation Reserve

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Port Campbell

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The Arch, Great Ocean Road

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London Bridge, Great Ocean Road

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The Razorback, Great Ocean Road

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The Razorback, Great Ocean Road

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Princetown

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Princetown

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Princetown

A ‘Summer’ of Camping

Being British, it seems like the right thing to be making the most of the outdoors during the months of June to September. Although in reality, these months are the depth of the harsh Australian Winter. We decided to not break with tradition, brave the sometimes near single digit temperatures and head on some camping trips anyway!

Warrumbungles

Grand High Tops, Warrumbungle National Park

The first trip we made around this time of year was to Coonabarabran a town 450km north east of Sydney, known for the nearby Warrumbungle National Park where we camped over the June long bank holiday weekend. This area of New South Wales is famous for it’s Siding Spring Observatory, one of Australia’s foremost astronomical observatories. The area has little to no light pollution to disturb astronomical viewing, in 2016 it was declared as Australia’s first International Dark Sky Park. It wasn’t perfect star gazing conditions as there was a small moon but we still saw loads of stars. One night we went to an observatory set up in someone’s front garden, we got to see the moon close up and saturn’s rings umongst others. During the day we went on a 13km hike in the Warrumbungle National Park, there were a lot of steps up to the summit of Grand High Tops but the view and the accomplishment was worth it.

Warrumbungles

A Kangaroo on the campsite at Camp Blackman, Warrumbungle

In August we decided to make the most of another long weekend to get out of the city for a few days, but this time we decided to head South to Jervis Bay. Although it is located on the South East New South Wales coast a few hours drive South of Sydney, it is in fact part of the Australian Capital Territory. It serves as the seaport to the federal capital of Canberra, although is perhaps better known as a popular weekend getaway destination from Sydney. In the summer months it can be difficult to find somewhere to stay in the area due to it’s popularity, so it was actually pleasant to visit at a time when we could fully enjoy the beautiful  Booderee National Park when it was relatively quiet. We stayed at Green Patch campground within the National Park itself, and were blown away with the amount of wildlife we were surrounded by. Actually, it was possibly a little too much wildlife, in the case of a Kookaburra who enjoyed a sausage that we had just cooked for breakfast!

Jervis Bay

Keeping warm by the campfire at Green Patch Campground, Jervis Bay

In September we headed to the Hunter Valley for the weekend looking to make the most of a sunny weekend and visit a few vineyards. Having stayed in Cessnock on a previous visit to the Hunter, we decided this time to base ourselves in the village of Broke. We camped for the weekend in the free camping area of McNamara Park within the village itself, and although the facilities were pretty basic, it was a beautiful spot to spend a couple of days, with the added bonus of being a brief walk from a selection of vineyards. On the Saturday we spent a relaxing morning on the campsite followed by and afternoon visit to the Whispering Brook and Margan vineyards followed by a tasty dinner at Nightingale Wines.

Hunter Valley

A walk amongst the vineyards, Broke, Hunter Valley

Later the same month we made the journey up the Pacific highway to spend a few days in Myall Lakes National Park on Mungo Brush campground. After a three hour drive from Sydney on Friday evening we arrived at the campsite after dark an set about putting the tent up in the dark. The next morning we were greeted with the beautiful setting on the side of The Broadwater, one of the three Myall Lakes. We saw Dingos on the campground which was a surprise as we’d only once seen a Dingo before since arriving in Australia, and that was on Fraser Island. We mainly spent the day relaxing by the lake, and took a short walk along the water’s edge to the Mouth of Myall River and back, during which we saw a Red Bellied Black Snake as it darted for cover into the undergrowth. In late afternoon we took a short drive to the massive dunes near Dark Point, clambering to the top to take in the views along the coast.

Myall Lakes

Sunset over the Broadwater, Myall Lakes

Photo Gallery:

Warrumbungles

Wollombi

Warrumbungles

Festival of the Fleeces, Merriwa

Warrumbungles

Merriwa

Warrumbungles

Warrumbungle National Park

Warrumbungles

Siding Spring Observatory, Coonabarabran

Warrumbungles

Grand High Tops, Warrumbungle National Park

Warrumbungles

Grand High Tops, Warrumbungle National Park

Warrumbungles

Grand High Tops, Warrumbungle National Park

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Whitegum Lookout, Warrumbungle National Park

Warrumbungles

Whitegum Lookout, Warrumbungle National Park

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Attempt of Astro-photography using the telescope at Warrumbungle Observatory

Warrumbungles

Milky way captured on Camp Blackman, Warrumbungle National Park

Warrumbungles

Kookaburra, Warrumbungle National Park

Warrumbungles

Warrumbungle National Park

Warrumbungles

Warrumbungle National Park

Warrumbungles

Emus near Camp Blackman, Warrumbungle National Park

Jervis Bay

Sunrise over Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Green Patch, Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Galah above Green Patch campground, Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Too much temptation?

Jervis Bay

Bherwerre Beach, Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Bherwerre Beach, Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Wallaby, Cave Beach, Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Echidna, Cave Beach, Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Sunset over Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Sunset over Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Sunset over Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Sunrise over Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

King Parrot, Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Whale watching in Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Whale watching in Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Honeymoon Bay, Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Point Perpendicular Light Station, Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Crimson Rosella, Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

King Parrot, Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Green Patch, Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Green Patch, Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Murrays Beach, Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Cape St George Lighthouse, Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Sunrise over Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Crimson Rosella, Jervis Bay

Hunter Valley

McNamara Park, Broke

Hunter Valley

Nightingale Wines, Broke

Hunter Valley

Nightingale Wines, Broke

Hunter Valley

Broke

Hunter Valley

Broke

Hunter Valley

Margan Winery, Broke

Hunter Valley

Nightingale Wines, Broke

Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin

Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin

Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin

Myall Lakes

Dingo, Mungo Brush Campground

Myall Lakes

Mungo Brush, Myall Lakes

Myall Lakes

Myall River, Myall Lakes

Myall Lakes

Mungo Brush, Myall Lakes

Myall Lakes

The Broadwater, Myall Lakes

Myall Lakes

Goanna, Myall Lakes

Myall Lakes

The Broadwater, Myall Lakes

Myall Lakes

The Broadwater, Myall Lakes

Myall Lakes

Dark Point, Myall Lakes

Myall Lakes

The Broadwater, Myall Lakes

Myall Lakes

Sunset over the Broadwater, Myall Lakes

Myall Lakes

Mungo Brush Campground, Myall Lakes

Myall Lakes

Swordgrass Brown Butterfly, Myall Lakes

The Other Side of the Bridge

Just over twelve months ago we found ourselves looking for a new place to live due to our tenancy  expiring. Although we had enjoyed a great year spent living in the Eastern Suburbs in our flat in Coogee, we decided that we wanted to experience a different side of Sydney rather than just move to another similar beach suburb, and set about drawing up a shortlist of potential places. We spent some time exploring Newtown, Surry Hills and Redfern, but we were keen not to give up our sea view, so our search began to focus on the harbour. This also had the added bonus of moving us closer to Maisie’s work, as her commute to the Royal North Shore had been a bit long during our time at Coogee.

 

McMahons Point

Sunrise at McMahons Point

We both liked Glebe and we are especially fond of Balmain however this would make both of our commutes a lot longer, so we started to explore the area just north of the harbour bridge. The areas we both really liked were Kirribilli, Lavender Bay and McMahons Point, and it was the latter that we finally decided on.

Manly Sunrise

Sunrise on Manly Beach

 Twelve months on we’re still enjoying our new north shore location, and still finding new places to explore. Favourites so far have been Sawmillers Reserve, just down the hill from our flat on McMahons Point itself. This sleepy park on the harbour side is a hidden gem, and I’m always surprised that so few people seem to spend time there.

 

McMahons Point

Blues Point Road, McMahons Point

Balls Head reserve on the next promontory along from McMahons Point is great for short afternoon walk and also gives the feeling of being out in the bush, even though it is just across the water from Darling Harbour and the CBD.

 

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Kirribilli Wharf

We have also started spending more time in the city, and the Rocks, somewhere we would rarely visit when we were living in Coogee. It’s been fun being a pleasant walk over the harbour bridge or short ferry ride away from some of the more iconic parts of Sydney.

 

Harbour Bridge

Harbour Bridge

Photo Gallery:

Barangaroo

Barangaroo

Barangaroo

Barangaroo Reserve

Barangaroo

Sunset at Barangaroo

Harbour Bridge

Night-time on the harbour

McMahons Point Sunrise

Sunrise at McMahons Point

McMahons Point Sunrise

Sunrise over the Opera House

McMahons Point Sunrise

Blues Point

Sawmillers Reserve

Sawmillers Reserve

Kirribilli to Cremorne

Sydney Opera House

Kirribilli to Cremorne

Neutral Harbour

Kirribilli to Cremorne

Neutral Harbour

McMahons Point

McMahons Point

McMahons Point

McMahons Point

McMahons Point

Lunar Park

McMahons Point

Harbour Bridge

Manly Sunrise

Manly

North Sydney Oval

North Sydney Oval

Taronga

Lavender Bay