Along the Away

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Archive for the ‘ Life ’ Category

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 :-)

Time for another Coastal Walk! To refresh your memory I have set myself the challenge to walk all 37 walks in the Coastal Walks Sydney book in 2014.  This walk is #18 in the book but #5 for me (confusing? yes.) Yikes, only 5, I better get a move on. I walked this one solo on an early Sunday morning, keen to get out into the beautiful day. I started on the track at Waverton, walking in the opposite direction as directed in the book, but it all turned out OK.

The walk is studded with plaques and information notices about the history of the area. North Sydney Council has a handy online reference to this  one of their ‘Plaques Walk‘. The amazing BP Park offers fabulous views of Sydney Harbour as a bonus, but the best part is the feel of the repurposed site. In the 1920’s BP established the site with massive storage tanks for fuel that would come in from the ships. It was decommissioned in the 1980’s and the North Sydney Council transformed the site into something the views deserved.

A framework of steel walkways navigates visitors through the sandstone and concrete, it has such a cool atmosphere.

Moving on, this ‘Coastal Walk’ took me away from the coast for a little while, crossing the train tracks and then back again.

Sawmillers Reserve sits right alongside the train line. It was the site of a sawmill in operation from 1880-1980.

It’s neatly paved and offers a large grassy area perfect for picnics and BBQs.

There are ruins left behind and a ship-wreckage nearby in the water! Full of surprises on this walk.

Blues Point Ferry Depot And here I arrived at McMahon’s Point for this glorious view. As the book points out, it’s the only point where you can stand across from the bridge for a view opposite it’s arch (though I stood a bit further around reserve when taking this photo). Sydney Harbour Bridge from McMahons Point

In a shock turn of events, a long weekend in Sydney dawned clear and sunny, with a brilliant blue sky and toasty warm sun rays slicing through crisp fresh air. It seems like too often our recent public holiday long weekends have been dogged with cloud and rain, so this one was a treat, a perfect day to take on another coastal walk. My twin sis joined me on this one so we decided to pick one fairly local to the both of us – Mosman Bay to Taronga Zoo.

Although starting at the Mosman Bay ferry wharf, almost immediately the walk heads to the street (firstly going up up up) but once you’ve endured this bit of effort then the rest of the walk is a dream with plenty of pretty vistas.

There were a few other people doing the walk but it wasn’t busy. There were more people (and four legged pals) enjoying the sunny afternoon at Little Sirius Cove. Is there any happier being in this world than a dog playing at a beach with other dogs? We stopped to watch a few having the time of their lives running and swimming together. I have a soft spot for Samoyeds (the big white fluffy ones with the permanent grins on their faces), they are such a joy to watch.

Just past Little Sirius Cove is Curlew Camp an artists’ camp that was established in 1890 by a guy called Rueben Brasch who lived there with his brothers and a number of other plein air artists. They lived there in tents painting outdoors and teaching art classes to support themselves. An artist called Arthur Steeton moved to the camp in 1891 when he was 24 years old. He recalled in an interview when he was 73 that they “had half a dozen tents between them and there was a dining tent, a dancing floor and even a small piano.”

There’s more interesting info in this Wikipedia article, I love reading about days gone past in Sydney. These quotes are by Julian Ashton who lived at the Balmoral artists’ camp at the same time:

“I saw Streeton fairly often at this time. He lived in a camp at Little Sirius Cove, Mosman, where he was joined later on by Tom Roberts. He used to do the marketing, and on arriving at the Musgrave Street wharf had to walk around the point and blow a whistle for the boat to come across from the camp. To see him returning on Saturday nights, laden with parcels of bread, beer and beef, and as merry the while as a boy at a picnic, was a delight. In those days the painters’ material wants were few, but their hopes were unbounded.” – Julian Ashton, 1890

“Around the tent climb the Begonia and Clematis and Sarsaparilla the rough winds broken for us by an exquisite fusion of tender gum-leaf. Honeysuckle (like the trees of the old asters). Cotton plants heath and a wild cherry (bright green at our tent door) and the beautiful flood beneath. All is splendid.”

“Tis now 11 O’clock. My tent stands like a quiet glowing lamp on the deep black hill – the sombre night all round – a southerly gale sweeps over the bay the boat bumps against the pier below. All alone in the camp tonight.” – Julian Ashton, April 1891

Seeing as the Sydney Harbour Bridge was not built until 1923, the view across the harbour would have looked so different to the artists in the late 19th century. It would have been dark and still at night, not the glittering, iconic skyline we see today.

There are spectacular 180 degree views at Little Sirius Point; you can sit on the ledge there and soak it all in.

And snap away too of course, such a picture perfect day :-)

The track was so beautiful; nothing beats being surrounded by nature on a gorgeous day.

A heart in the pavement :-)

The walk took us less than an hour one way, that was even with us chatting as we walked and stopping along the way. We had left our car at Mosman so we walked back again which took even less time. It was about 90 minutes return.

And being Good Friday we drove to Balmoral Beach to have fish and chips from ‘Bottom of the Sea’ – the crowd was crazy, we were order number 453 and they were still serving the 390’s when we joined the wait.

Ah well, it was worth it to sit in the sand for a warm Autumn evening’s feast :-)

at Balmoral

What a spectacular part of Sydney foreshore this is! The Cremorne Point walk seemed perfect for a Sunday afternoon stroll as I read in the Coastal Walk book that it’s paved the whole way. I had been having a super lazy Sunday morning but the sight of the blue sky outside beckoned me to get out and do something – this was a good low-energy, high-reward compromise.

I drove over to Cremorne and parked on Milson Rd and walked along til I found an entry to the track. I couldn’t help but pine enviously at the view these houses have.

Cremorne Point Walk

The afternoon was hazy, dreamy, beautiful.

And here it starts, a nice neat triangle route water-side most of the way.

Footpaths most of the way made it super easy.

Can we stop for a moment to admire this totally awesome sideways leaning tree?

The path is lined with grassy picnic worthy spots, I’d only been walking ten minutes but it was too tempting to stop and lay down under the trees for awhile.

Usually I take photos of this view from the other side – it looks just as good in reverse right?

A lighthouse sits pretty at the triangle tip.

A community garden lines the eastern side, there is a plaque there dedicated to the local residents who maintain it.

This walk took me about two hours including an hour laying under the trees time (ha, I told you it was a lazy Sunday kind of day!)

I awoke early one Saturday morning and decided on a whim that the day called for exploration – time to tick off another Coastal Walk.

I hadn’t heard of this walk before, and certainly wouldn’t have expected to find a coastal walk in what I vaguely consider the mid north shore, but after studying the map I now realise that the coastline extends inland quite a bit with a series of bays and inlets south of the northern beaches.

The Harold Reid Reserve is named after a well respected town clerk who served the local area in many functions for over fifty years in the mid nineteen hundreds. It’s located in the suburb of Middlecove and consists of a circuit track around ‘The Sugarloaf’ headland.

I drove to Middlecove, parked my car at the end of Sugarloaf Cres and hit the trail.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Yeah! This was a good decision for 7am on a Saturday morning!

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

I think this may actually have become my favourite walk (but perhaps I will say this after each of them? Possible).

It has everything; well maintained tracks which still retain their natural bushy vibe (I don’t particularly like walking on man-made track structures when bush walking unless they make an impossible walk possible); signposts; spots to sit and admire the view; and friendly locals saying hello (two legged and plenty of four legged ones on leads).

And shadows. Always with the shadows.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

I’m becoming truly obsessed with light. Early morning and dusk walks are my favourite, the light is ethereal, such a treat.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

I love how this challenge has revealed more dimensions than just getting fit. Striking out on unknown tracks have awakened the explorer in me. And the artist as I snap photos and attempt to record the beauty before my eyes. And the worshipper as I experience overwhelming awe and gratitude.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

On the west side there are mangroves, where the water ripples shades of blues and greens and browns, and the trees stick out of the water giving the distorted impression of a flood zone.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

I found a rock to perch on and sat beside the tranquil scene.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Water rippled past. Fish appeared and vanished. Voices wafted from a nearby boat.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Laughter rang from a father and son kayaking north. The cicadas and crickets roared. The kookaburras let loose.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

There is no doubt about it that the Australian bush has been embedding itself deep into my psyche all the more as the years past. I have always loved getting outside for a walk in nature, but lately more than ever I find great peace and connection being surrounded by it.

It’s my happy place :-)

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Look at this bumpy tree branch, so strange, so beautiful! I hugged it – eek! I’m literally a tree hugger, goodness!

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

I followed the sun rays.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

I drank in every view, resisting the urge to jump into the water.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Funny how the water changes colour so; the picture above and below were taken in the same spot.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Being at the water’s edge is good, but so is the climb up worth the effort.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Shadows, oh my heart…

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

The track circling the coastline of the headland eventually led me inland towards this roadway which mirrored the coastline loop on higher ground around The Sugarloaf.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Drape your shadows over me trees!

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

There’s always a reward waiting at the top.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Life on the edge. I’m not afraid of heights but I am extra cautious and move a hell of a lot slower when standing at the edge of extremely high things. I totally felt fine here until I heard the sound of paws behind me and a dog owner wildly calling two dogs to leave me alone. I turned slowly to see two Labradors bounding towards me all happy and joy! At any other moment than one where I’m perched on the edge of an extremely high rock ledge I would be all enthusiasm. Hello puppies! Let me hug you! But I could see only one scenario playing out in that situation. I froze and braced. But luckily the Labs took heed and slowed it down. The owner arrived looking a little frantic, I’m sure she also thought the two of them were going to pitch me off the edge!. But I survived, so all good.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

I sat down after that. Just to be safe, yo.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

Less of a threat is the log lizard that basks permanently in the sun at the lookout :-)

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

I followed the roadway around until I found the track to take me back to Sugarloaf Cres. The path featured this super cute mid-rock stairway which I just squeezed through.

Harold Reid Reserve Walk

And that was the end of the beautiful Harold Reid Reserve track – definitely one to do again (and again).

The very first coastal walk in my 2014 challenge was one nice and close to home – #27 Greenwich.

I went in the afternoon after work, starting at 6pm when the golden sun was throwing long shimmery pools of light across the water – oh how I love that time of day!

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

I walked to the walk (as strange as that sounds) from Wollstonecraft so that added an extra 20 mins to the walking route outlined in the book, which took me an hour just as it indicated it would. That was with some stops to sit and ponder as I suppose those lonely looking benches facing out at the water are calling for.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

The water was in sight almost the whole way, and there’s much to watch.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

It’s an easy walk; partly bush track, some roadside, a few steep stairs but all clearly identifiable and easily done in thongs/sandals or joggers.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

I watched the ferry leaving Greenwich wharf.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

And took every opportunity for sitting and pondering.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

Sydney Harbour was in glorious form. There is no getting tired off this beautiful sight, especially with so many vantage spots to see it from.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

I discovered Greenwich Baths – I will remember this on hot days when I fancy a quick swim but not the drive to the beach.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

Sun light does brilliant things to the nature so that it changes all day every day, from one to the next and every time I notice something new. This tree’s branches caught my eye – so graceful.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

The kookaburra found me along the way as it so often does (more on that another day); it perched high and proud against the brilliant sky, cackling that chorus so attuned with the close of the day.

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

I always inevitably become obsessed with shadows when on a walk – maybe that’s why they take me so long?

Look it’s me!

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track - Shadows

On the wander home, outside the local school, I looked down at my feet and found a D. I looked around and found the rest of the alphabet and then numbers 1-20, but it can be no coincidence that it was D that called to me right?

Sydney Coastal Walk - Greenwich Walk Track

I had had a tumultuous day but the pent up energy and uneasiness I had carried home shed from me as I wandered along. Sometimes solitary walks are just right.

My sister and I made an impromptu, last minute decision to get out of the city for New Years and instead retreat to the beautiful Blue Mountains for a few days.

Don’t get me wrong, Sydney is one of the best places on earth to celebrate the New Year arrival – our harbour fireworks are crazy beautiful. But as I live here I guess I feel I can miss one here and there :-)

Last year a group of friends and I camped out all day at Blues Point so we could watch the fireworks from one of the best views along the harbour. To get anywhere along the water you have to claim your spot early morning on New Year’s Eve and then hope you have good weather all day!

We had this gorgeous view (while sweltering in 40+ degree heat):

Sydney Harbour New Year's Day Eve 2012

But those 8 minute fireworks sure are worth it (for the 6.8 million dollar price tag, yo).

Sydney Harbour Fireworks New Year's Eve 2012

Sydney Harbour Fireworks NYE 2012

It’s a hardcore effort though, not something you want to do every year. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, 2 million people watched the fireworks from along the harbour foreshore this year. Now, given the harbour’s extensive coastline this includes a lot of vantage points in all directions, but far out – that is a lot of people and goes to show why a Sydney Harbour NYE requires an all day stake-out.

This year, both my sis and I were craving something more low key and reflective. A getaway to the mountains was perfect and although last minute, the universe smiled upon us, we found perfect, affordable accommodation with only a few days notice.

And such a sweet place – a cozy rental called Apple Blossom Cottage.

Along The Away - Apple Blossom Cottage, Wentworth Falls

Along The Away - Apple Blossom Cottage, Wentworth Falls

Along The Away - Apple Blossom Cottage, Wentworth Falls

It was homey, clean and well stocked, a little lived-in with borderline grandparent holiday house decor, but we were having a bit of a nana new years anyway, so whatevs, it worked.

Along The Away - Apple Blossom Cottage, Wentworth Falls

After checking out our humble abode we drove to Leura, a charming little village with painted street murals, boutique stores and cozy cafes.

Leura Street Brick Murals

Painted Brick Murals in Leura

Leura Street Brick Murals

I just adored how the real trees standing next to the wall created a 3D effect in front of the mural, and their shadows spilled down over the painting and across the footpath… just beautiful.

Leura Street Brick Murals

We ate lunch at Wayzgoose Cafe and it was yummy and relaxing. We discovered a delicious Ice Tea called Stolen Recipe, both of us tried the Lemon Lime Peppermint – yum! In Woolworths later we discovered they sold litre bottles of it, I have never seen it in Sydney before. A quick google tells me it is stocked at Thomas Dux at Crows Nest, awesome!

Along The Away - Sisters Lunching in Leura

We did that sort of anti-social sister thing where we both sat at the table sorting photos on our phones and didn’t talk to each other. I listened to the entertaining waitress exasperatedly banging around and exclaiming in the kitchen and at the counter. The male waiter kept catching my eye with a smile every time she was particularly dramatic – I don’t blame her, it was 3pm on New Year’s Eve.

Along The Away - Sisters Lunching in Leura

So we settled in and then headed back to our cottage for a relaxing New Year’s eve night in. We listened to music and drank Moet. We watched some BBC Pride & Prejudice – nana New Year’s OK?

We did light sparklers and toasted midnight with champagne, and talked about all our goals and hopes for 2014. We were excited to get up early on the first day of 2014 to get out into the mountains. It was that kind of New Year’s and I loved it.

The best part of the cottage is that it is in Fletcher St in Wentworth Falls – literally a few minutes walk to the Conservation Hut where so many of the waterfall walks start and finish. We did heaps of bushwalking whilst away, I will share some tales and photos soon!

Year of Good Things

January 4, 2014 Gratitude, Life Comments

I saw this wonderful idea pop up on Pinterest – creating a jar where you put reminder notes of the good things that happen during the year. At the end of the year (or when you feel you need to) you read all the notes in one big happy gratitude session.

Like so many Pinterest finds there are many variations once you start looking so I don’t know who to credit with the idea, but here are some of the ones I love:

Jar of Good Things from benignobjects.blogspot.com.au Jar of Good Things from shieldmaidenthoughts.wordpress.com
Jar of Good Things from www.scathingly-brilliant.blogspot.com.au Jar of Gratitude from www.amykingsford.com

So, I’m going to do this in 2014; my jar is already waiting for wonderful things to start happening:

Along The Away - Jar Of Good Things 2013 Along The Away - Jar Of Good Things 2013 2

Actually, I may have already put a Good Thing in there… we are four days into 2014 already!

I also popped in a little notebook for super convenience – no excuses not to jot good things down and into the jar :-)