Back to Byron Bay

With the Labour Day public holiday falling on the first Monday of October in New South Wales, we decided to make the most of the long weekend by doing what we do best – an incredibly long road trip!

For this trip we decided to go even further than our previous trip to Coffs Harbour, making the nine hour drive to Byron Bay, the famous coastal town that is one of New South Wales most popular attractions.

After leaving Sydney on Thursday evening, we stopped for the night in Port Macquarie, before making the second half of the journey early Friday morning.

Byron is most famous for its beautiful beaches, and laidback surfing lifestyle, and after finally arriving we made our way straight to Clarkes Beach, at the eastern end of the town.

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‘Working’ in Coffs Harbour

With Rachael required to spend a day working in Coffs Harbour on one of her many business trips, I decided to book some time off and join her to make a weekend of it.

We arrived late on Thursday night, having made the long six hour drive immediately after finishing work. This was especially challenging given my day had started at 2am watching England’s tense World Cup victory against Columbia.

Despite this we were up early the next morning, finding a great little café for breakfast before I dropped Rachael at work for the day. Feeling energetic, I walked towards the harbour, before following the esplanade around to the southern break wall. With clear blue sky, it was a perfect winter day and I was more than happy with my decision to take a day off work.

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Vivid 2018

Vivid Sydney is an annual festival of ‘light, music and ideas’, which has become one of the cities most popular events since it began in 2009.

Although the citywide festival includes a wide range of events, it is mostly known for it’s light instillations and projections that illuminate the city, and transform its landmark buildings.

Unfortunately, our only glimpse of Vivid in 2017 was from an aeroplane window, as our first night living in Sydney coincided with the festival’s closing night. We were therefore keen to get the full experience this year, and eagerly awaited its arrival.

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Uluru and the Red Centre

With most of our time in Australia spent near the coast, a trip to the outback was high on our list of priorities for this year. We therefore decided to escape the beginnings of winter in Sydney for a long weekend in Uluru. This meant venturing into the Northern Territory, and completing the set of Australian states and territories visited – not bad having only been here for just over a year!

Uluru, or Ayers Rock as it was named in the 19th century by a European explorer, is a vast sandstone rock formation that rises from the desert, and an important sacred site for the area’s Aboriginal people. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is situated within the larger Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The Park is extremely remote, with the closest town of Alice Springs 450km (280m) by road.

After a three hour flight from Sydney we arrived into the Ayers Rock Airport, which is little more than an airfield. We were struck by the sparse landscape as we came into land, with no sign of civilisation in sight. We picked up our rental car and made the short  10 minute drive to the Ayers Rock resort town of Yulara, getting our first glimpse of the vast rock as we arrived.

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Not Just Another Weekend in Hunter Valley

After visiting several of Australia’s wine regions while traveling, and having not visited one for at least a month, Simon planned a weekend away to revisit Australia’s oldest wine region – Hunter Valley. Although this time, I would be coming away with something much better than wine knowledge and a sore head.

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After finishing work early on the Friday and making the short two hour drive from Sydney, we arrived at our accommodation for the weekend, the Déjà vu Estate. Although there was nothing déjà vu about it, we had definitely never stayed anywhere like this before. Continue reading

Kosciuszko National Park

Just a few days after our trip to the Commonwealth Games, we decided it was time for another weekend away, so we booked an even more spontaneous trip to one of the remaining places on our ever-smaller to-do-list, Kosciuszko National Park.

Kosciuszko National Park, which I’m still unsure how to pronounce correctly despite several lessons from Aussie colleagues, forms part of the larger Snowy Mountains region and is home to Australia’s highest mountain – Mount Kosciouszko.

Now I, like many people, was under the impression that Australia was a relatively flat country, however Mount Kosciouszko actually rises 2,228m from sea level, which is almost double the height of Ben Nevis.

The Park is located roughly halfway between Sydney and Melbourne, making it a long drive just for the weekend. We therefore decided to split the journey in two, staying in Canberra on the Friday night, before continuing on our way early the next morning.

The second leg of the journey was through thick fog, and across one of the most remote landscapes we have seen in Australia. Given this, and the considerable amount of roadkill, we were very thankful not to meet any kangaroos along the way.

We finally arrived  into the small town of Thredbo, which although quiet during our visit, transforms into one of Australia’s most popular ski resorts between July and September each year.

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Gold Coast 2018

After hearing that the 2018 Commonwealth Games would be hosted in Australia long before we had moved here, we had often talked about trying to buy tickets nearer the time. However, being so busy with our life in Sydney, we managed to completely forget until just a few weeks before the opening ceremony, when the hype around the Games began to build in the Australian media.

Never ones to miss out on such a big event, we decided to book a very last minute trip to the Gold Coast, which had won the privilege of hosting the games. Unfortunately, there was a limited choice of event tickets remaining, however we did manage to purchase some of the few remaining for the Squash Doubles semi-finals. With both of us enjoying the occasional game of squash, we were keen to see the experts in action, and more importantly how you get four people on such a small court!

After finishing work on the Friday night, we went straight to the airport, and took the short 90 minute flight north to the Gold Coast, ready for an early start on the Saturday morning.

The squash courts were actually located a short train journey out of the city at the Village Roadshow film studios, which are one of just three film studios in Australia. The studios are in the suburb of Oxenford, which is also home to several large theme parks.

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