Adventures from Down Under

Last year was a huge year for my family and I; my now husband and I got married in July, we moved house, and embarked on an adventure of a lifetime; a year travelling the world with our children. Nothing was booked except the first flight out of Spain. This is where I will be sharing some of the highlights with you and bringing new and interesting places in the world to your attention from a different perspective to that of your regular travel guide. 

Right now, as I write I am sitting overlooking Bluey’s Beach, NSW. This area, a few hours north of Sydney, boasts a wickedly rugged coastline and really epitomises a beach holiday in Australia; there is non-stop surf plus huge lakes with calmer waters backing on to the ocean which are full of wildlife. The place is just stunning and naturally diverse. Today we took a boat out on Wallis Lake where the kids went wakeboarding, we all swam, we rode on a doughnut, spotted dolphins, sting rays and all sorts of birds, and just had to stop at a delightful spot called Hamiltons on the waters edge near Forster and Tuncurry, to delve into a well earned fish lunch. Well, not only fish, we had plenty of oysters which are farmed directly in front of you in the lake. It doesn’t get fresher than that. The waters are clean and clear and so refreshing. Evenings are spent looking at and listening to the rolling waves whilst cooking up something delicious on the barbie and relaxing feeling salt and sun drenched and more than ready for melting into bed. 

Sydney has become a playground for the wealthy, however visiting is not just for the rich folk, we found plenty of things to do in and around the city which did not break the bank. Of course if you choose to you can find some of the most luxurious ways to entertain yourself including some of the best restaurants in the world, which come with the most stunning backdrop. Sydney Harbour is mightily impressive, every time the gleaming teeth of the Opera House pass you by a feeling of posterity and glamour washes over you and you know that you really are present in one of the best places in the world. 

During our stay in Sydney we took advantage of all the city has to innocently offer: we rode bikes in Centennial park stopping numerous times to check out the kids’ wet park, the thousands of fruit bats (or Flying Foxes as they are named here), the huge duck ponds which are more like lakes teeming with all varieties of birds and fish. We were also lucky enough to stumble across the set as it was being constructed for the second Peter Rabbit movie coming out this year; looking directly into Mr. McGregor’s garden made us tempted to go and pinch a lettuce or two, Peter style. 

We took in some culture at the art museum as well as the Australia museum on a rainy day which was a perfect way to keep the kids amused as well as teach them (and ourselves) a thing or two about the history, culture, diversity and nature of the country. 

The harbour beaches offer the calmer side of beach life in Sydney, if you can get around by boat then you are really living the finer life of a Sydney sider, we are fortunate enough to have family here with a little motor boat so we explored every curve, corner and cove of this side of the city, stopping to eat a picnic, leap off a not-scary-at-all (!) rock, swim with sting rays, and stop at Watson’s Bay for just one more deliciously fresh fish lunch at Doyle’s. 

We also took to the ocean beaches, Bondi was on the list of course but also we visited Freshwater on the Northern Beaches which has epic surf and great facilities. While in the area we went to the Narrabeen lake near Mona Vale, which backs on to the ocean. Here you can have some fun kayaking in the ‘rapids’, fishing and if you are anything like us just sliding down the sand dunes on a boogie board! 

Very slightly farther north we eventually came to Palm Beach where we took a boat over to The Basin. This is a really special place in nature, which you can visit for the day for a few dollars or camp overnight for a very reasonable price. We opted to camp alongside the wallabies, goannas, the odd snake (don’t be put off, this is Australia), and bush turkeys. We went catching Yabbies, tried a spot of fishing in the lagoon and swam our heads off in the harbour waters. The weather was perfect and the water felt like freshly poured silk. The rocky edges were just more invitations for exploration and clambering. 

Back in Sydney we headed over to Marrickville to check out the strip of Vietnamese restaurants that have popped up there, a few stops on the metro (grab an Opal card and just top it up when you need to), and a few more strolls up and down the street to try and decide which one to eat at; they’re all fantastically fresh, authentic and delicious and on top of that the most easy meal on the pocket so far in our whole stay. 

Next stop was the Blue Mountains, we headed to the sleepy (ish) little town of Blackheath, as well as having the most jaw dropping landscape peeking out from behind the main high street this place has just the most incredible countryside. It is barely possible to describe the intense depth of the surrounding valleys and mountains, they stretch for way further than any eye could see and are steeped in waterfalls, creeks, caves, and historical native sites. We went on some epic walks which blew our minds and eyes! Swimming in icy cold pools under a thundering waterfall, taking stock of our spirituality in an Aboriginal cave was all in a day’s play. Easily reached by train from central Sydney, Blackheath is only a two hour train ride, which once you’re out of the city is really beautiful to see. This was a huge highlight of our trip here, just being immersed in nature and feeling the freedom of life. 

That has been our Sydney experience, it isn't just a place for wealth and overindulgence, it is approachable, easy to navigate, it is enriching, safe, clean, and beautiful, both immersed in and surrounded by the most abundant natural sites and a plethora of entertainment for all the family. 

We love you Sydney. 

Victoria Wood

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