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Winter Camping in NSW

A couple of weeks ago now I packed up the car and hit the road last minuet for a camping trip with a friend. We did not want to travel far but needed a break from the city.

I asked one of my camping pro friends and she suggested Coledale Camp Site so we decided to check it out.

I keep all my camping stuff in a big plastic box and clean it after every use…this was extremely handy this weekend. We set off Saturday morning and I threw the plastic box, table and tent into the car.

The drive was easy and scenic. We merged onto the coastal road and winded through lots of small coastal towns until we hit Coledale. The campsite is right on the beach and has all the basic facilities you would need. The campsite is close to the RSL and the town making it a short walk for a drink or dinner.

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It was extremely windy when we arrived. We set the tent up battling the wind and then headed into the town for lunch. Most of the cafes stop serving at 2PM but we did eventually find one in Thirroul called Revive 2515. The cafe does sandwiches cakes and wraps. We grabbed a sandwich and got a cake to go. There is also a Coles in Thirroul were we grabbed some last minuet things.

The rest of the night consisted of making dinner a walk on the beach and a fair bit of wine! On the Sunday we ha d a quick breakfast at Earth Walker which very tasty. Then back in the car with a pit stop we planned. We stopped in Helenburgh to see the abandoned train tunnels.

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There are three tunnels in total. I would recommend wearing good shoes as it is extremely muddy. The tunnels are super creepy but make for good photos they look like they have come right out of a American horror movie.

Any of these towns around Coledale are ideal for a weekend escape with your tent. From the inner west it took us just over a hour to get there it was short and pretty drive. It was cold but we had enough blankets to keep us warm and a hot shower in the morning to warm us up.

 

Vivid Weekend Warrior Edition

Its the time of the year when the CBD is packed every weekend with people wanting to get that perfect picture of the sky line lit up!

Vivid Avoiding Crowds

My boyfriend was down last weekend from his project and he had said I don’t like crowds I don’t want to go to vivid. A small min trick later I had him in the Rocks and loan behold we were technically in Vivid but without the crowds.

I am fine with crowds they do not bother me and I love the vivid festival so I really wanted to go especially as he was down from Coffs for the weekend.

We got off the train at Martins place around 5:30 so it was dark and we walked down to the Rocks and through to the Palasides. I showed MC the view from the top of the bar which is a spectacular view of Sydney and its also a different view of Sydney Harbour.

We settled in the pub downstairs near a window and we could see the Vivid lights on the Shangri – La. We were joined by a few friends and had dinner in the pub which is good pub grub. Around 9:15PM we walked around to the the Theatre Bar. Yet again another great view of the Harbor Bridge and Luna Park. It was great watching all the boats on the water with there lights on for Vivid. The bar was very quiet and relaxing.

When you come out of the bar turn left and walk down the road a little way to the steps going up. At the top of those steps is a amazing view of the Sydney Opera House Sails.

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Walking back through the Rocks we got told by a passer by to go up the alley way down the side of the pub ‘ Phillip Foote ‘ there is a Vivid exhibit using 3D graphics….it looks very cool on Boomerang app. Check out the video on my Instagram Keeks9272016

 

Vivid By Boat

I did a boat trip on Sunday with my house mate and it was fantastic. We bought the tickets through Groupon for $38 each. The boat was a catamaran and seated 30 people. You could bring alcohol on board if you wished. The boat supplied soft drinks wraps and sandwiches.

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The boat was massive with room to walk about to get the perfect photo. The route went around to Darling Harbor where we caught the water show then back round to the Opera House and around the botanical gardens. Its a lovely way to experience the lights on the water. The company we went with was Sea Sydney Harbour.

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Vivid By Foot

I am going by foot this week to Vivid with my friends since as MC is not a crowd lover. Once I have gone by foot I shall update this section. Hopefully going to check out the Botanical Gardens, The Rocks and maybe Martins Place!

 

 

 

Kmart Camping….

My last blog was about our time spent in South West Rocks…I thought I might try a few additional post about how we did it on a budget. Also decided to refer to my boyfriend as MC because boyfriend was getting used far to often.

We were both on budgets for the camping equipment as we do not know if we will use it that often and we have a trip home coming up as well as skiing to book. We bought everything from Kmart and I can not fault it. Below is a list of everything we used.

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The only thing we needed which we didn’t have was a proper cool box. The sun did come out and a lot of our food went off before we could use it.

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Equipment we bought for the trip

  • Tent – $109 We bought a 4 person tent which was a pop up. So easy to put up and down. It was also high enough for you to stand in. I did love our side windows as well, it was nice to see the sea in the morning.
  • Foam Mats – $10 These are used outside the tent so you can take your shoes off and not drag dirt or sand inside.
  • Portable Gas Stove – $20 We made diner and two breakfasts on the stove, it was brilliant easy to use.
  • Fleece Blanket – $18 This blanket really kept us warm at night and it made the tent look so homely having it at the foot of the bed during the day.
  • Gas for the Stove – $4 For three cans, we used two over the weekend.
  • Egg Carrier – $4 We only had a few casualties on the way up. 
  • Pot Pan – $10
  • Frying Pan – $20
  • Air Bed – $29 We got the biggest one which didn’t fill up the tent but gave us plenty of room and stayed inflated for a long time.
  • Pump – $6 Key for the bed.
  • Plastic Box – $25 I have stored nearly everything in this box and it made it easier to transfer everything up to the campsite.
  • Pillow – $8 It is shaped like a log and this may have been purchased for a cute factor.
  • Lantern – $30 MC bought this from Aldi. Very handy little purchase that had two small flash lights fold out of the lantern.
  • Pocket Knife – $10 Also bought from Aldi.
  • Table – $19 Well you don’t want to eat and cook on your knees.

Other things we already had /took from home

  • 2 camping chairs
  • Kettle
  • Scissors
  • Tongs
  • Bed sheet
  • Duvet
  • Plates /Cups/Mugs/Cutlery
  • Small cool box with two ice packs
  • Bin Bags
  • Bottles of Water
  • Chopping board

***Also download CamperMate app onto your phone it shows you all the campsites around Australia and breaks them down into price ranges.Lots of not so well known free sites on the app. ***

South West Rocks

Hope everyone had a good and safe Easter!

As my boyfriend is working away we decided to meet somewhere in the middle to avoid flying with the high prices. We decided on South West Rocks. It is about five hours north of Sydney and a hour and a half south of Coffs. We had our new camping gear to test out as well. We bought everything for camping from Kmart . Everything we bought was brilliant everything worked well I would recommend it to anyone getting into camping.

We stayed at Trial Bay Gaol Campsite which has a over flow part. It was one of very few campsites which did not have a weeks minimum stay. My boyfriend got there first and set up the tent as I traveled up with the rest of the gear and food. Worked out very well as the tent was all set up when I arrived. Our spot was surround by high rocks and the sea just at the other side of it. As soon as the air bed was up and the table and chairs set up we had a walk around the campsite. The bathroom was just behind us but we had a short walk to the showers with hot water. We did a quick trip to IGA and then returned o start to cook diner. We had a small gas stove (Kmart) to cook our tea on and we made chicken and pesto pasta. I didn’t do the cooking I was more the assistance passing things to him and getting a beer. After food he went up on to the rocks and had a look I stayed down on the ground cos I get bad jelly legs with heights. It was a early night for us after a bottle of red because we had a day of diving ahead.

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I had been recommended South West Rocks by a friend because it is suppose to be one of the best diving spots in New South Wales. We booked our diving with ‘South West Rocks Diving Centre‘. It would be my first dive after my Open Water course and it would be my boyfriends 16th/17th dive but he hadn’t dived for a few years. We arrived at the shop at 10:30AM filled in the paper work and got our equipment sorted. We grabbed a coffee and met the dive crew at the jetty. We met the people on our trip and we got on the boat. Two very friendly dolphins appeared next to the boat. I don’t think I have ever seen a dolphin in the wild so close!

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The boat ride was 40 mins out to Fish Rock.  We left the river and hit the ocean then the water became very rough. The boat ride was a lot of fun, had to hang on a bit when we hit the waves. Once we had anchored at Fish Rock we got split into groups of five. The first dive was down to the gutter where the Nurse Sharks lived. The dive brief was given then we got our equipment on and I did my first boat dive. We descended down the mooring and swam over to the gutter. We stayed on the edge of the gutter holding on to rocks so the current didn’t drag us. There was three grey nurse sharks swimming around along with school of fish. When we were swimming back to the mooring we swam over a massive Wobbegong shark. We ascended to the surface doing our safety stops and then had our break on the boat. I got extremely sea sick on the boat when had our break. Luckily someone had sea sick pills on the boat and let me have one which helped a lot.

After our break it was time to do the cave dive, which I was nervous about. We had our dive brief where we found out there was a ridge of reef we would have to drag ourselves up and over and pull ourselves down due to strong currents. We could only go in a small way into the cave because the swell at the other side was to big. Once we had our equipment back on with our flash lights we were going down again. This dive was very intense gripping on to the reef so you were not sucked up to the surface. The ridge was tough everyone was flying into each other and hanging on trying to avoid sea urchins. I made it to the cave and the current dropped a little it was pitch black inside. Flash lights where on. In the cave I saw bright pink fish, eels and more Wobbegong sharks. After the cave was done it was back to hanging on the reef and battling the current over the ridge. When we were back on the boat I got a fist pump from our dive instructor as he knew that was only my second dive. My boyfriend even said to me that was one of the toughest dives he has ever done….so I was pretty chuffed with myself.

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That night we met up with the people from our dive trip the Sea Breeze. It was the only pub open in South West Rocks over Easter. Its a lovely pub with a nice area to sit outside and have dinner. The only down side was the line for food was a hour then we had a hour wait on top of that. Safe to say we were ready for dinner when it arrived.

Easter Sunday we went to Smokey Cape Light House after a lovely breakfast at The Heritage Cafe. The views from up there are beautiful. We walked up to the light house and could see Fish Rock from the top. After the light house we headed to check out the Prison ruins Trial Bay Gaol prison near our campsite. The prisons ruins were interesting and they had kangaroos in the grounds. The beach on the campsite was were we spent the afternoon dozing and going for a paddle. We drove into the town to catch the last bit of sun walking around the beaches and had a cheeky drink in the Sea Breeze.

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We decided to not cook that night and headed to the local Indian ‘The Royal Tandoori Indian‘. The food was good but the service was very slow and painful to say there was only us and another couple in there. If your looking for a quick tea I wouldn’t recommend this place. That night we spent drinking wine and talking outside the tent listening to the sea.

On the last morning we had breakfast guests. Our friends where driving back from Byron Bay and they called in for breakfast. My boyfriend made a amazing breakfast with our very little bit of food we had left. The tent came down and we packed up our cars. Before heading off back to Coffs and Sydney we decided to grab a coffee at ‘The Smokey Cape Guest House‘ which was a lovely little cafe hidden away. We shared a cake and I had a tea and he had a milk shake. Once refueled we said see you later and hit the road.

My five hour drive back to Sydney turned into a seven hour drive back, but made it back in one piece and at a decent hour. I have to admit it has taken until this weekend to clean all the camping equipment and pack it up. Going to do two extra blogs about what we took/should have taken, and what we ate.

Coffs x2

I went up to visit my boyfriend again in Coffs. The weather in Sydney had been terrible and it was not much different up there. After a hour and a half delay from Tiger Airways I was off. The landing was a bit bumpy. It was St Patrick’s Day and with that we headed into Coffs to the Coffs Hotel for the night. A lot of green and  a lot of Guinness. On our way home the heavens opened and the rain did not stop all weekend.

Coffs is very much a outdoors place and with the weather being wet it was very hard to find something to keep us occupied. After breakfast we headed to a bowling alley. If you are ever in Coffs Visit here Coffs Coast Kegel 9 Pin Bowling. It is old school bowling. There are games to play with the bowling and the bowls are brought up after every go by string. The place is decorated in airspray art and there was not a sole in there. You can grab a coffe or tea for two dollars off the trolley. It was a lot of fun.  That evening we ate at a restaurant in Sawtell called The Spare Rule. The food was lovely and we had great service. If you want a nice date place in Coffs I would check it out. After dinner the rain was still coming down strong.

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Sunday we headed to the beach at lunch time but the sea was not a good colour with all the storm debris floating around in it. After a walk around the coast line we headed back to the beach opposite my boyfriends unit. The water looked clear here so we had a little dip, we didn’t venture to far as the waves out at sea were wild. The sky was black and I have to say I was not looking forward to flying back to Sydney. I left that afternoon and the sky had cleared a little and the take off was fine. It was nice to see the sun when I landed back in Sydney. I did learn that you can now order a Uber from the airport you just have to go to one of the pick up locations….it is a great relief as I hate getting into a taxi at Sydney airport and having them try to rip you off.

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It was not the best weather to visit Coffs in, but it did mean we got stay in cook meals and be a normal couple for a weekend and as we haven’t got to do things like that in a while I really enjoyed it.

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Rain, Rain Go Away…

The past three weeks in Sydney have been very wet. Being from England I wouldn’t think the rain would bother me… but it did. I found it hard to fill my weekends!!

There are a few activities to get you out the house in Sydney when the weather is not on your side…

Sky Zone – One Sunday we tried out the Sunday deal at Sky Zone; three hours of Jump for twenty bucks. Sky Zone is a trampolining and climbing venue. There are two arenas with trampolines covering the floor and all around the sides. In one area the staff held a dodge ball game. There was also a foam pit area where you can run and flip into a pool of foam. It is a incredible work out and I would be very impressed if you managed the full three hours. You do have to purchase the special jumping socks which are only two dollars and you can use again and again. It does get very hot in there but as you have three hours you can take a break by the fan area and cool off. They do have a small café in case you need to refuel. You can lock all your important bits into a lockers but I would recommend taking your phone for some fun Boomerang videos!

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Burrow Bar / Wofies – My dad was in town and the weather did not improve on the Friday afternoon. I needed a bar that would not be full of happy hour lovers. Burrow Bar was perfect choice. It was busy, it had a good atmosphere but you could also have a good conversation. The bar is down a alley way opposite Wynyard station. After a few drinks we had dinner at Wolfies. Despite the rain you can still sit outside under cover and have a great view of the Opera House. This restaurant is perfect if you have guests. It provides a incredible view and a menu to serve all tastes

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T2 – Yes!! I finally got around to watching Trainspotting. I checked out Dendy cinema in Newtown to watch Trainspotting 2. Incredible movie and lovely little cinema. Dendy also has a bar if you fancy a glass of wine with your film. We grabbed dinner before the movie at Thai Pothong across the street from the cinema. If you like Thai food you have to check it out. The place is huge but always busy. We booked so we did not have to wait in line in the rain. Check out there website here.

 

Tasmania

As both me and my boyfriend have to go home in July all our annual leaves has been used for that trip. We decided to make the most of the long weekends instead. The first long weekend being Australia Day weekend at the end of January.

On Thursday morning of Australia Day we set off to the airport very early to catch a flight to Hobart, Tasmania. Hour and a half later we were picking up our rental car and hitting the road in search of breakfast.

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We found a small suburb outside of Hobart having a Australia Day fair on the water front. We grabbed some breakfast and listened to the live music taking in the hilly surroundings. After a good feed we hit the road to start our drive up the East Coast

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The first stop was Wine Glass Bay. After purchasing our pass for the national park we parked the car and started the short hike up the hill to the look out point. The walk is all uphill but it is a easy climb with a good footpath. The views on the way are amazing and the view from the look out point is beautiful. Once back in the car we headed up the coast to check out Bay Of Fires. The Bay of Fires starts at a small town Binalong Bay with a gorgeous beach. We decided to check out the view points and took a short 10 minute walk. On the way back a large Tiger snake slithered straight in front of me…safe to say  I screamed the place down. My boyfriend came running back checked the path was clear and we carried on back to a car at a accelerated  pace.

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We had dinner at a bistro in St Helens which was nothing to rave about. We had a very limited choice due to everywhere being shut for Australia Day. The last leg of the drive that day was in land to Ringarooma. The drive to the town was full of windy mountain roads through the woods and very small quiet towns. In the last town before our final destination we came across large wooden statues carved into trees. We later found out that each tree had been planted to remember those from the town who died at war. The trees unfortunately started to rot so to save them and the memory of the soldiers they created these statues out of them.We reached our first Air Bnb by about 8PM. Our hosts where a lovely couple who had spent the last two years on their yacht sailing up and down the East coast of Australia. Their home ‘The Bank’ an our room were amazing. I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow after such a long day of driving.

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Our hosts made us a lovely breakfast with fresh fruit and yogurt. They had suggested we go up the end of the town to the top of a hill to see Ralph Falls. We drove up the windy road until we reached the top then it was a short 15 minuet walk to the view point. You walk through a rich green forest with huge trees and come out at the view point which looks over the waterfalls and the valley. Ralph Falls are the highest waterfalls in Tasmania.

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The rest of the day was spent driving down the North coast. The first sop was Bridport where we tried Tasmania Scallops. The beaches in Bridport where gorgeous. I had a lay out in the sun and Mike was a bit braver and went for a dip in the sea. The sea food was a little disappointing as it was all fried and I think we thought it would have been fresh. The next stop was Low Head town. It is a old town that used to have a navy port. We checked out the light house and stunning views around the light house. After having a coffee and a cake looking over the water we did our final stretch into Lauceston. In Lauceston we stayed in the hostel ‘Art House‘. It is another old fashioned building in the city. Lauceston is surrounded by hills. Once settled into our room we walked into the city to explore. We stumbled across a small night market which was made up of food trucks, local booze and odd bits like candles and a book swap. We enjoyed some wine listening to the live music then headed for dinner at The Prickly Cactus. The meal was delicious and the Corona and Margaritas helped wash it down. The next day was a early start so it was off to bed in  preparation for our day at Cradle Mountain.

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Up and on the road at 6:30AM for the two hour drive to Cradle Mountain. It was like being back at home driving through the morning fog. I started to notice the temperature dropping. When we pulled in to the car park at the entrance to Cradle Mountain it was no longer mid 20’s it had plummeted to 8 degrees. Mike went off to spend the day jumping off waterfalls and sliding down them, whilst  I  decided to head to the spa. Before my spa appointment I purchased my bus ticket and headed into the national park and did two short walks. Make sure if you walk on your own you sign in and out of the walking log books. I checked in at Waldheim Alpine Spa for my one hour bath. The bath looked over the Cradle Mountain forest and was extremely relaxing. After my bath I caught the bus to get a good view of Cradle Mountain before returning to the visitors center to wait for Mike.

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He had a very different day to me… Mike met his group and hiked up the canyon where they repealed down into the canyon. The next four hours was full of jumping off waterfalls, sliding down them and floating down river. The last hurdle was hiking back out of the canyon up to the bus. He loved his day out and I think it was a tough one as he slept for a hour as soon as he got into the car. Cradle Mountain Canyoning is the company he booked with.

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The last night was spent at Cooee on the North coast. It was another Air Bnb and after I had done the drive from Cradle Mountain through more windy roads I was ready for a rest. We headed to the local pub for dinner and finally got to taste Tasmania Oysters whist watching the Venus sisters battle it out at the Australian Open. Once we were full we headed to Burnie look out point then down to the bay to meet the penguins. There are Penguin Volunteers there every night and they do a small talk before you go and see the penguins. It was low season when we went so there was only around 30 penguins in the bay. The bay had 4 sets of baby penguins that were 6 weeks old. The babies come out first as they sleep all day then wake up at night and wait for mum to return from her swim to feed them. It was a long process waiting for the mother penguins to appear but it was worth the wait.

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The rest of the night was spent back the Air Bnb enjoying a bottle of wine and a movie.

The last day we had to drive back to Hobart where we grabbed a quick lunch before returning the car. The trip was brilliant, Tasmania is beautiful and I am sure we will be back to explore more of this place.

I have made my first video of our trip…think the camera work can do with some improvement. Anyway check it out click here for the video.

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