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

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Barangaroo

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Barangaroo Reserve

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Sunset at Barangaroo

Harbour Bridge

Night-time on the harbour

McMahons Point Sunrise

Sunrise at McMahons Point

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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

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Lunar Park

McMahons Point

Harbour Bridge

Manly Sunrise

Manly

North Sydney Oval

North Sydney Oval

Taronga

Lavender Bay

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South Australia 

South Australia

We set off from Sydney at 630pm and drove through the night stopping in Wagga Wagga for a quick bite to eat (unfortunately McDonalds was the only place open at midnight) and then again at the small outback town of Hay. We got to Hay at 3am and decided it was time to have a couple of hours kip. We had quite a big hire car, so managed to rearrange the boot into a makeshift bed settled down to a few hours sleep. Bright and early at 6am we set off again and arrived in Handorf just outside Adelaide just in time for lunch. As you can guess from the name Hahndorf has it’s origins in Germany. Founded by German settlers around 1839, it’s Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. The town is a popular tourist spot and the streets were teeming with them this Good Friday morning. We had a wander around and drank in the German architecture before drinking in the German beer (and bratwurst).

South Australia

We then pushed on to our camp site in Brighton, it was right on the beach, a really beautiful spot but very windy when we arrived! We got the last spot on the site as it was Easter weekend, the wind made it difficult to pitch the tent but we just about managed! We walked along the beach to watch sunset at Brighton pier, we miss calculated slightly and missed sunset right at the pier but had a nice spot on the beach. As it was Good Friday we didn’t have the pick of places to eat but we had a pleasant dinner and ice cream on the walk back.

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The next morning as we had such a short time to see everything we went on a scenic drive into the Adelaide Hills area. We hoped there would be an obvious place to stop and go for a walk. The drive ended at the Gorge Wildlife Park. We decided not to go in as we’ve been to quite a few wildlife parks and we were keen to go into Adelaide city. The train station was a short walk from the camp site which was perfect and we headed into the centre. We walked along the river to the botanic gardens. We perused the different gardens and spent some time at the beautiful lily pond.

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After the gardens we went to the docks for a walk about and in search of a pub Jon had found. We miss calculated slightly and the walk didn’t take us anywhere near the pub (much to Jon’s disappointment) and places were pretty deserted for the long weekend so we caught the train back to the centre and went for dinner at a Mexican restaurant called Zapata’s. Once we were thoroughly stuffed we went for a couple of drinks at a bar and there was live music which rounded off a great day.

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The next day we had an early ferry crossing to Kanagroo Island. We arrived at the terminal around 10ish. After a short crossing we were greeted by an Easter market which was the perfect place to grab breakfast before heading off to the other side of the island. We had decided to stay on a camp site close to the Flinders Chase national park as we would be spending most of our time in the national park. Along the way we stopped at Kingscote to get fuel and Vivonnie Bay for a look at their camp ground and the beach. It was a bit of a scramble through the bush to get to the beach but we made it and the sea was wild, there were a few surfers further down the beach and the guide book claimed this beach had once been voted the best in Australia but we’ve definitely seen better!

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After that stop we continued on, set up camp and then went to Seal Bay conservation park to see the Australian fur seal colony. We were too late to take the guided tour right onto the beach up close to the seals so we went on to the board walk and actually the seals were very close to the board walk so we got plenty close enough. It was great to sea the seals up close, mothers and their pups. They were really sweet and looked very cuddly.

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There aren’t many options for dinner in that part of the island so we had an early supper at Seal Bay Cafe before heading home. It was almost twilight when we arrived back at the camp site. We were getting things out of the boot of the car when something rustled by my feet, I jumped out of my skin thinking it was a snake coming to get me! It was actually a very bold koala striding though our pitch on his way up a tree, where he would remain above us for the rest of the evening. It was a truly special moment.

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The next morning we went into Flinders Chase National Park first to the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch and then for a short hike. Remarkable Rocks are huge naturally formed granite sculptures resting precariously on a cliff edge. They look like something Henry Moore might have dreamt up. After leaving the rocks it’s a short drive to Admirals Arch. Another natural rock formation under the cliff. On our way down we were a little surprised to see lots of seals, relaxing just out of reach of the water.

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The Cape du Couedic Lighthouse stands on the cliff above Admirals Arch so we had a quick look around before heading to the start of our walk. We chose the Snake Lagoon track as this fairly short trail winds through Sugar Gums and mallee before descending into the Rocky River valley. The trail crosses Rocky River and becomes more tricky as it meanders along the river bank to the mouth, ending with views across the Southern Ocean. The beach was empty and foreboding, large waves crashing on the shore and an ominous sign warning of large freak waves! Needless to stay I didn’t want to hang around too long and after Jon took some photos we headed back along the winding river path.

South Australia

We drove a long way down a dirt road to get to Cape Borda Lighthouse we hoped to make better progress when we got to the main road that travels along the northern coast however when we got there the road was tarmac to the east but more gravel to the west toward the lighthouse. The road surface was anything but smooth and we decided to leave seeing the lighthouse and move on to explore the northern coastline. Our next stop was at Stokes Bay. After reading the guidebook we were expecting to drive under an stone arch to get to the beach so we were a bit surprised to get to the beach without driving under a low arch. Were we in the wrong place? We got out the car and walked on to the beach to see a path into the rocks, we followed it to find the guidebook had been wrong, you had to walk through what felt like a secret path under the cliff. It’s a small tunnel (Jon had to crouch but that’s not unusual!) to a beach that was beautiful and quiet and we relaxed on the sand in the sun for while. We drove on to American River as we’d been told it was a nice place for sunset. It didn’t quite work out as we couldn’t find the beach that was good for sunset and we missed the best part in the process.

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After being lucky enough to see a lot of wildlife in Australia we are still waiting to see the elusive Platypus. There are some ponds in the national park where platypus are known to inhabit. Platypus are more likely seen at dawn and dusk, there are some viewing platforms at the ponds so we decided to get up early and try our luck. The visitors centre said the last sighting had been recently at 7am so we were hopeful. We arrived a bit later than we had planned and the sun was almost up but we were the only people there and being as still and as quiet as possible we waited for ages but no luck this time! We then returned to the campsite to pack up. On the way to the ferry we walked up the 500ish steps to the top of Prospect Hill (formerly Mount Thisby) made of sand it gives 360 views of the island. From there it was back on a gravel road to Cape Willoughby Lighthouse. There were hundreds of white butterflies fluttering about the lavender.

South Australia

After the delights of Kangaroo Island our next stop back on the mainland was the Barossa Valley. We arrived in Tanunda early evening and pitched the tent before having a deliciously indulgent meal at 1918 Bistro. The next morning after too much wine the night before we had a late breakfast and then I was designated driver when we went to a few wineries, Jon had a difficult task of taster!

South Australia

On our last afternoon in the Barossa before beginning the long drive back to Sydney we took a short drive to the Barossa Reservoir which is known for it’s ‘Whispering Wall’. The wall is the face of the dam itself, and as the name suggests it displays some bizarre acoustic phenomena. The shape of the dam face causes a parabola effect and voices from one side of the 140 metre wide dam can be heard clearly from the other. We decided this was enough excitement from one day, so headed back to our camp site to rest up for the journey ahead with a relaxing glass of wine.

South Australia

Unlike on the way out we decided to do the return journey in a single (day long) stint. It actually made for a really interesting albeit slightly tiring day, and it was great to see a bit more of the outback that we had mainly passed through during night a week earlier. Plus our first glimpse of wild Emus. As we made our way back towards Sydney our trip was closed out by a beautiful sunset, which seemed like a fitting way to bring to a close another great trip.

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Tasmania: The North East

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It had been a great few days on Bruny island, but we were also excited to move on to the Freycinet Peninsula, where we would spend three days as the penultimate stop on our trip. One thing we hadn’t done during our time in the Hobart area was to visit Mount Wellington, so we decided to stop off as our route took us through Hobart. The winding road climbs to the top of the mountain, where there are spectacular views of the city below. The temperature at the top was fairly bracing though, some good preparation for our trip back to the UK a few weeks later. It was a long but beautiful drive North to Freycinet, with a large part of the route tracking the coastline.

Tasmania

There are some beautiful camping spots along the beach front, but it turned out that you had to enter a ballot about six months earlier if you wanted to secure a pitch for the coveted Christmas – New Year period. Unforuntately we were not quite that organised, so we settled for the campsite in the nearby town of Coles Bay. It may not have been quite as a spectacular location, but it was only a short walk from the beach, and the toilets weren’t nearly such a frightening prospect. We found a nice restaurant in the town which mainly specialised in stone baked pizzas, and settled in for a relaxed evening meal.

Tasmania

The next day we decided that we would embark on one of the more popular hikes in the area, the 15km walk linking Coles Bay with Wineglass beach and Hazard beach. It looked to be a warm day, and we wanted to leave plenty of time for swimming breaks, so we set off early from the campsite and headed for the start point of the walk. The first section led to the lookout on the ridge between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson which provided a spectacular view down to the famous Wineglass Bay below. The walk until here had been packed with hundreds of selfie stick wielding tourists, making the short return walk to catch a glimpse of the beautiful bay.

Tasmania

We were pleased to find that after we left the lookout and began the descent towards the beach the walk became a lot more peaceful. The beach itself was spectacular, and we decided to take a walk along it a short way in order to grab a small section of it to ourselves, and then cool off in the shimmering azure sea. Suitably refreshed we continued on the walk, cutting across the isthmus to Hazard beach on the opposite side of the peninsula. Although the beach here was maybe not quite so picture postcard, the sea was a little calmer, and it made for a great second swimming break of the day. The walk back to Coles Bay tracked the rocky coastline, and the sweeping views combined with a near isolated track made for a fantastic end to the walk.

Tasmania

We decided to make the next day a slightly more relaxing affair, and rather than tackling one longer walk we decided to visit a few nearby places instead. We began still within Freycinet itself, with a drive across to Cape Tourville Lighthouse, stopping on the way for the short walk to Sleepy Bay. The lighthouse offered great views back along the coast to Wineglass bay where we had been the previous day. Next we continued north to Bicheno, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the area for two reasons – the best fish and chips that we’ve had so far in Australia, and the great short walk along the rocky foreshore which made for a pleasant way to walk off the lunch. Although I say ‘fish and chips’, it was actually shark and chips – Maisie was very happy to make the sea a safer place, although I’m not sure Gummy sharks are a great threat to anyone! After our walk we headed back to the South to a tearoom famous in the area for its jams and fruit – Kate’s Berry Farm. It was a tasty end to the day, and probably undid most of the good work from the previous days hike!

Tasmania

We were keen to get up bright and early the next day in order to head on to what would be our final destination of the trip, Bay of Fires. Unfortunately the wine from the night before had other plans, so we rolled out of the campsite later than our checkout time, and several hours later than planned. Fuelled up on some very nice bacon and egg rolls in Bicheno, we continued north, on the hour and a half long drive up the coast. Bay of fires is a large bay and collection of beaches extending from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point. The bay was given it’s name by Tobias Furneaux, who saw the fires of Aboriginal people on the beaches. It is a very popular location for camping, with campgrounds located behind most of the beaches all of which are free to stay on for up to four weeks. The first two be visited were pretty busy so we continued along the coast and were rewarded when we arrived at the site behind Swimcart Beach. Although the facilities were limited, the camping spot with it’s excellent views was the best of the entire trip, and seemed like a fitting way to bring this fantastic trip to a close. The wind was really strong and many of the tents were collapsing, luckily as ours is small it was fine. After pitching our tent we went for a walk along the beach. Swimcart Beach was very exposed and the sea was rough and didn’t look like a safe place to swim. Then we rounded the headland and found the next beach, Jeanneret Beach, a complete contrast the sea was much calmer and it was sheltered from the wind.  Jon quickly popped back for our swimming stuff so we could enjoy the last part of the day and cool off in the sea. For dinner that evening we went back into St Helen’s as we don’t have cooking equipment. We found a tiny Indian Restaurant which served the tastiest curry we’ve had since moving to Australia. Tasmania had been an incredible place to spend a few weeks, and the highlight so far of our time in Australia.

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