Along the Away

travel, dream, create, inspire, appreciate

Archive for June, 2014

In a dramatic change of behavior I have just leisurely enjoyed a coffee at Sydney International airport while waiting for my boarding gate to open. I texted some friends, talked to my mum on the phone, instagrammed a ‘yay for me!’ shot.

Ready to board

After packing for my last overseas holiday in 90 minutes before a mad dash to the airport I really made an effort to be a bit more organised this time – and it worked!

I have an intentionally packed backpack checked in. I have magazines bought after a browse through the airport newsagents. I was not fielding work calls at the boarding gate this time.

I am in actual fact writing this on the plane while waiting for everyone else to get seated.

On the Tarmac

Bye Sydney! Take me to New Zealand!

Pink Sky Aeroplane

Finally! An overseas adventure is on the cards! Yippee!!

I am off to New Zealand on the 23rd June for four weeks. FOUR GLORIOUS weeks of exploration around what I have heard, countless times, is a truly beautiful country.

I am starting off in Auckland where I will catch up with a travel friend, Leah, who I met when travelling India. Then I’m going to head north to the stunning Bay of Islands – I plan to go on the Rock the Boat overnight cruise while there to see the islands from the best vantage point, plus mosey around with my camera and soak up island living.

Then back to Auckland to travel south through the North Island and down to the South Island. I will fly back to Sydney from Christchurch on the 18th July.

Things I am super excited about:

  • Overnight boating in the Bay of Islands.
  • Hiking Fox Glacier (first time exploring a glacier).
  • Hanging out, cafés and art in Nelson, what I have heard is a kinda groovy town.
  • Soaking in thermal baths!
  • Milford Sound.
  • Queenstown fun.
  • Giving skiing a whirl.
  • Being on the road, meeting interesting people.
  • Getting a massive nature hit and being outside all the time.
  • The crisp cool air and mountain views.
  • The SNOW!!
  • Using my new camera – excited!!

Of course I’ll be blogging as I go. Finally some decent travel action for this travel blog… It’s been too long.

So right now I am juggling tying up last minute work stuff, other projects on my hands and conducting some very important, all consuming online shopping for things I need in my travel wardrobe (I don’t often travel to cold places). This hat is still under consideration (initial reaction from my housemate was a bit cautious).

Donna Winter Hat

I am intentionally winding down toward holiday mode. Too many holidays have started out in the brink of exhaustion in recent years, this one I am committed to starting raring to go… Countdown is on :-)

I recently spent almost three weeks away on a work trip. No I’m sorry I did not jet-set to New York, I wasn’t hopping around Europe, or navigating Asia. I was on a road trip around the same state I live in, New South Wales, visiting 16 bus depots scattered down the coastline from Yamba in the north, down to the Central Coast and then Western Sydney. I should explain that by day I’m the Marketing Manager for a public transport company hence so many bus depot visits! I love my job and any opportunity to escape my desk for awhile is welcome (even if I don’t need my passport).

Australia is not a bad deal, particularly sticking so close to the coastline. It was hard work, but I did take a few pics while away that I wanted to share.

Here’s a symbolic shot of what I spent a lot of time doing (but I’m one of those people that doesn’t mind being in transit watching the world pas by so it was not so bad):

In Grafton there is a bus route that runs through the stomping ground of a family of kangaroos – there are about 40-50 that hang around the farmland and golf course there.

In the town centre there is beautifully painted street art along the seating and road infrastructure. The local indigenous culture is represented in many of the artworks, they really add a beautiful atmosphere to an ordinary main street.

While out taking photos for our company blog we visited a beautiful boardwalk at Urunga. I snapped this lone pelican, sitting out on the rock thinking about life (or dinner).

We called into the groovy town of Bellingen and had a really awesome meal at 5 Church Street, a funky cafe with friendly service and live music from a young woman strumming a guitar and singing on a small stage. It was pouring with rain but cosy inside; I had the most delicious strawberry lemonade there.

We rolled into Coffs Harbour pretty late but still walked down to the jetty to get some fresh air and stretch our legs. I tried to take some pictures but the iPhone camera after dusk is not at it’s best. Plus it was raining.

Coffs Harbour Jetty

We stopped in a very cool cafe called Old John’s, reminiscent of the funky, hipster cafes popping up all over Sydney but which I found were fairly absent outside the city. I was still pretty full from eating in Bellingen so it all aligned to be one of those perfect scenarios where one is already satiated on the main meal front and can skip straight to dessert with plenty of room to commit to the cause. I had an awesome iced coffee and a rhubarb panna cotta with persian fairy floss. Yep.

There was a stack of boardgame boxes in the corner, unfortunately they must be meant only for show as so many of their pieces were missing. Luckily Snakes & Ladders doesn’t require many pieces – my colleague and I played a round (I lost) and then a few rounds of customised Trivial Pursuit (I won).

We landed in Port Macquarie over the weekend which was truly excellent timing as I have friends who live here. I was able to check out my friend’s latest project, a community garden called The Lost Plot. It was a hive of activity as it was having it’s big grand opening the following weekend. The area had recently had a bucket load of rain so it was MUD-DY! But that wasn’t getting in the way of all the workers putting in paths and finalising the garden’s layout. It was really cool, both my colleague and I felt the green thumb itch while there; the smell of the fresh soil, the dogs running around getting muddy and happy, and all the volunteers gathered in a whirl of community spirit! It was really inspiring and started to germinate a seed of thought I had for community gardens at my company’s work sites…

After visiting the community garden we went with my friend to Wauchope to check out a hip cafe there called the Living Room. It was a laid back space with a healthy, nourishing menu (including meals and liquids – the ‘I Am Love’ smoothie was divine, as was the carrot pineapple cake :-O)

I loved this sign behind their counter ;-) I do like the sentiment (but I do also like free Wi-Fi…)

My absolute favourite thing was the tiles on the toilet floor (I didn’t take my iPhone in there when I went, I had to come out and get it and go back to snap the pic, that’s how much I loved it.) When I own my own place, I am going to have floors just like this!

Kookaburras turn up everywhere around me; they are my spirit animal, I always pay attention when I see them because I’m sure it’s for a reason.

Port Macquarie is an exceptionally pretty part of the world. On Sunday morning I went to Lighthouse Beach with my friend, it’s a dog beach so we took her lovable energetic dog Zali with us. It was such a beautiful morning, the kind you’re glad you’re not in bed missing out on :-)

 

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In the afternoon I went in search of a quiet coffee and on the recommendation of my friend went to Quay Lime Cafe on the Marina. It was really peaceful sitting on the deck reading a magazine (really loving the Renegade Collective mag), sipping my coffee.

  

We moved on to the really small town of Laurieton where our local colleagues told us to take a drive up North Brother Mountain, part of Dooragan National Park for a view of Camden Haven Inlet with the Camden Haven River winding between Queens and Watson Taylors Lakes.

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It was a beautiful view in the late afternoon. I saw a snake on the ground near the entry of a the Laurieton Track but it darted away before I could photograph it (interesting side note: I don’t mind snakes just keep spiders away from me).

We started driving south to our next stop, Heatherbrae but took a wrong turn for a little way. A happy accident though as we ended up at the bank of the Camden Haven River where we saw river dolphins surfacing! We watched the sun setting behind North Brother Mountain where we had just been.

NSW roadtrip

The last stop of our road trip was on the Central Coast. We pulled over to take a photo of Wallarah Point Bridge at Gorakan and spotted this group of pelicans lounging about!

Central Coast Pelicans

Our next stop was Sydney – back home again! Such a great opportunity to see a bit more of the state and the areas my company operate in.

The best thing about road trips is they kinda sort themselves out – you’re bound to stumble across something awesome :-)