Mornington Peninsula, Australia

After a day exploring Wilsons Promontory, we headed back towards Melbourne to spend a day exploring the Mornington Peninsula.

First stop was the Red Hill Markets, which are open on the first Saturday of each month. They were some of the best food and craft markets that I have visited to date. Browse Red Hill Racecourse for a selection of hand made crafts and fresh produce. Don’t forget to grab some lunch from the numerous food vendors, and don’t leave without buying a jar or two of jam from the jam ladies, who have been at the markets for thirty years.

The Mornington Peninsula is also a fantastic wine growing region, specialising in pinot noir and cool climate chardonnay. Many of the wineries are small family run enterprises, rather than large commercial wineries, and are all located within the small area of the Mornington Peninsula, so it’s easy to visit a number of them within a day.

Another must do is a drive around the suburbs of Sorrento and Portsea. These two suburbs, which are located on the tip of the peninsula, are gorgeous, with lovely streets and beautiful homes. We did a coastal walk, locally known as the Millionaires Walk, which runs along the cliff front homes. The views are spectacular, as are a number of the homes.

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Getting there:
The Mornington Peninsular is about an hour to an hour and a half’s drive from Melbourne CBD. Alternatively, you can take the car ferry from Queenscliff, near Geelong, which takes you to Sorrento. This is a good option for those arriving from Avalon Airport.

Grab fish and chips in Sorrento and sit by the water’s edge. You’ll know where the fish and chip shop is – it will be overflowing with customers at midday.

Our favourite winery was Foxeys Hangout. It is a great place for lunch, with a view onto the vineyard below. The Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are great and good value for money.

Wilsons Promontory, Australia

Back in October last year, we spent a long weekend exploring Wilsons Promontory and the Mornington Peninsula. We were initially planning to go to the Yarra Valley, but a friend from Melbourne suggested visiting the Mornington Peninsula, as there are also wineries there and the landscapes are beautiful. When researching the Mornington Peninsula I came across some photos of Wilsons Promontory and thought it looked stunning. I had never heard of Wilsons Promontory, but thought it looked worthwhile visiting. Once we decided to go there, I mentioned it to a couple of our neighbours who are originally from Melbourne. ‘Oh, The Prom,’ they said, as if it was somewhere I should know of. Apparently everyone in Melbourne knows of ‘The Prom’ but we in Sydney have no idea of its existence.

Located about 200km south-east of Melbourne, it is a good 3 hour drive to reach Wilsons Promontory. It’s not quite close enough to do as a day trip from Melbourne and I’d recommended at least one or two nights, either camping or staying in the cabins at Wilsons Promontory, or staying in a town close by. We would have liked to stay in the cabins in the national park, but they were all booked out. So we stayed in Foster, which was about an hours drive away.

There are some stunning walks to do and some beautiful beaches to visit at Wilsons Promontory. Also keep an eye out for the wildlife, namely emus, kangaroo, wombats and a number of native Australian birds. We did a few of the shorter walks, as we only had a day there, but we saw enough of The Prom to be very impressed with it. And I’d definitely recommend visiting if you are in Melbourne and have a few days to spare.



Getting there:
You’ll have to pick up a hire car from Melbourne and drive the 200km to Wilsons Promontory, as there is no public transport.

We stayed at Llarrinda Bed & Breakfast, in Foster North, which we booked through Airbnb. It was one of the best Airbnbs we have stayed in. The room was great and the views towards Wilsons Promontory were stunning. Our hosts, Larry and Linda, were great and very chatty, and Linda put on a beautiful breakfast. Ask her for her date scone recipe – they are to die for.


Sydney Walks

A little aside from the usually travel post until we head to Burma over the Christmas/New Year period. Over the past few months we have been enjoying the great outdoors and doing a bit of exploring a little closer to home. Benefiting from the beautiful Spring weather, we have been spending our weekends doing a series of walks around Sydney. Here are a few of our favourite (and some of the Instagram photos I took along the way).

Royal National Park

Located south of Sydney, this National Park has a plethora of walking tracks to explore. The coastal walk, starting at Bundeena, takes you along weather beaten coastal vegetation and spectacular rugged cliffs. Depending on how long you want to walk,  you can walk for about 1.5-2 hours and turn back in the same direction, or you can complete a loop, going all the way to Wattamolla Beach.  Stop at the information centre at Audley when entering the National Park and ask for a map. 10404249_10152281427530544_7336009455081714731_n

West Head, Kur-ring-gai Chase National Park

Again, this is another National Parks which is dotted with spectacular walks. Ask for a list of the walks from the information booth upon entering the park. This guide explains each walk, its duration and level of difficulty. All the walks are clearly sign posted along the road, so they are not difficult to locate. Don’t miss West Head Lookout, with it’s spectacular views onto Pittwater and Palm Beach Lighthouse. 10003988_10152293879745544_8810428419472530380_n 10423750_10152293950215544_6420437849163333322_n

Spit Bridge to Manly

Start at either Manly or the Spit for this stunning coastal walk. Walking between The Spit and Manly is about 10km and takes about 3 hours to complete. Download the Manly Scenic Walkway map from the Manly Council website before you go. Buses connect Manly and The Spit if you’re too exhausted to return the same way. 10484509_10152108524760544_1408797141693708907_n

Double Bay to Watsons Bay

I’m not sure if we’re crazy or not, but we spent one Sunday walking from Double Bay to Watsons Bay and back, and arrived home utterly exhausted. Walking along New South Head Road, follow the promenade at Rose Bay continuing until you get to Kincoppal School. Go along Vaucluse Road/Wentworth Road/Fitzwilliam Road, stopping at Nielsen Park and Parsley Bay. Continue along Hopetoun Avenue until you get to Watsons Bay. This walk takes you through some of the exclusive eastern suburbs – we spent the day admiring the houses and gardens we passed. 10527298_10152409464925544_781127559665545944_n

Bradleys Head Walk – Taronga Zoo to Chowder Bay

Another must do walk when you’re in Sydney is the Bradleys Head Walk from Taronga Zoo to Chowder Bay through Sydney Harbour National Park. This well maintained walkway gives up spectacular views of Sydney city and its world renowned harbour. If you still feel energetic after your ice-cream stop at Chowder Bay, you can continue the walk to Balmoral Beach for some fish and chips. 10580016_10152269360020544_6687051038959203806_n

Bondi Beach to Clovelly Beach

This popular walk is popular for a reason – the walkway is fantastic and the scenery even better. Try going in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds. The crowds usually thin out by the time you get to Bronte Beach. If you have time, spend a while exploring the historic graves at Waverley Cemetery (an incredible location for a cemetery!). For a few weeks, usually in October/November, this walk is also the site of the fabulous Sculptures by the Sea exhibition. 10644671_10152224908520544_2387103584722432799_n

Newport Beach to Avalon

This is my local – walking from Newport Beach, over South Bigola Headland, along The Serpentine to AJ Small Lookout and then on to Avalon. When in Avalon stop for a bite to eat at Nourish Cafe (serving fantastic healthy food. A great place if you’re on a vegan, gluten free, sugar free or raw diet). 10670246_10152342513800544_932375545179395327_n

La Perouse

I’ve lived in Sydney almost my entire life, and I think this was the first time I had ever been to La Perouse. I was so impressed with Little Bay Beach and Frenchmans Beach – it’s almost like a little world unto its own (other then the airport/port botany eye sore). There are a few short walks you can do to Congwong Bay and Cruwee Bay. photo

Palm Beach Lighthouse

From the carpark at the base of the headland, take a short walk along the beach on the Pittwater side of the Peninsular until you reach to path to the light house. There are two routes you can take, the narrow path, or the paved fire track. From the top, you have a 360 degree view over Palm Beach, Pittwater and the Central Coast. Stop at The Boathouse for a coffee overlooking Pittwater for an afternoon snack on your return, or a couple of drinks at Cranky Fins.

The Fleurieu Peninsula, Australia

After a day exploring the Adelaide Hills, we went south of Adelaide to explore the stunning Fleurieu Peninsula – it stunning coastline, beautiful national parks and the fantastic wineries of McLaren Vale.

First stop was Newland Head Conservation Park, stopping at Parsons Beach to take a hike along the coastal track, which forms part of the Heysen Trail. The coastline was absolutely stunning and the ocean so turquoise and clear. We walked over headlands and along beaches, before heading north-west to Port Willunga for lunch.

At Port Willunga we stopped at the Star of Greece restaurant and bistro for some fish and chips (not minding the calories). We were so impressed with Port Willunga Beach – it reminded me of somewhere in the south of Spain. The yellow cliffs which hug the beach are spectacular – the place was stunning! After lunch, wandered along the beach, which was busy with weekend holiday makers.

Next stop was Mclaren Vale for some wine tasting. We were overwhelmed by the vast number of wineries located in such a small space. McLaren Vale was not quite as scenic as the Adelaide Hills, but we were in some luck and visited some quaint little wineries on beautiful estates.

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The Star of Greece restaurant at Port Willunga. Fantastically situated about the beach, with a sunkissed view of the expansive ocean below, it’s difficult to drive past without stopping for lunch and taking in the view. If you’re after something a bit kinder to the wallet, there is a take-away fish and chips stand just outside the restaurant entrance – there really isn’t anything better than sitting on the beach enjoying a delicious lunch.

Our favourite winery in McLaren Vale was by far Dogridge Wine. Located in a little tin shed, beside a creek, you can sit outside in the shade of the guntrees, take in the scenery and enjoy the fine wine. Our favourites were their Wylpena Chardonnay and the PUP Sauvignon Blanc.

Adelaide Hills, Australia

For the October long weekend, we spent three days roadtripping around the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsular. We we so impressed by the beautiful countryside, rugged coastlines, delicious food and spectacular wines.

We spent three nights in a quaint bed and breakfast in Hahndorf – an original German settlement about a 30 minute drive east of Adelaide. From Hahndorf, the Adelaide Hills district is easily accessible. We spent time doing some walks – notably the Mt Lofty walk – a 8km round trip down and back, which was strenuous to say the least, but the view from the top was amazing. We sampled wine, ate great food with some amazing backdrops and just enjoyed the undulating green landscapes.
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Getting There:
From Adelaide airport, we hired a car and drove south east along the M1 motorway. All towns are signposted at the respective exits.

We stayed at Amble Over Bed and Breakfast. Located just of the main road in Hahndorf, it’s within easy walking distance of all amenities, yet still quiet. The apartment was clean and spacious, with a beautiful view onto the paddocks behind. Rates start at about $220 per night for the apartment and breakfast.

Lunch at Hahndorf Hill winery – lovely platters of various pates and cheeses enjoyed with great wine and a lovely view from your table. Platters start at around $20 per person.

Our favourite wineries in the Adelaide Hills were Mount Lofty Ranges (who do a lovely 2012 Pinot Noir) and Somerled in Hahndorf town, who have a beautiful selection of delicate cool climate wines.

Litchfield & Darwin, Australia

We spent our final day in the Northern Territory exploring Litchfield National Park and checking out Mindil Beach Markets in Darwin. After an early start, we sadly departed Kakadu and drove towards Litchfield National Park. Although Litchfield has some spectacular waterfalls and waterholes (all crocodile free), we were somewhat disappointed due to the plethora of people visiting the park. Unlike Kakadu which was sparsely populated with tourists, because of Litchfield’s proximity to Darwin, less than an hour’s drive south, it was busting with day trippers escaping the Northern Territory heat and bathing in the cool waterholes. We stopped briefly at Florance Falls and Wangi Falls, but found more ‘private’ waterholes along Walker Creek and Tolmer Falls. After a few hours of exploring the park, we headed towards Darwin to visit the sunset markets at Mindil Beach. These markets are on twice weekly, Thursday and Sunday night, starting at about 4pm and finishing at 9pm. Although not the best markets for handcrafted goods, there is a huge array of international food on offer, which you can take-away and enjoy whilst taking in the stunning Darwin sunset. We had an amazing time in the top end and would very much like to explore this fascinating area of Australia further. Untitled-23 IMG_5033 Untitled-24 IMG_5040 IMG_5041 IMG_5051 Untitled-25 IMG_5062 Untitled-26 IMG_5080 Untitled-27 IMG_5087 IMG_5102 Untitled-28 IMG_5108 Untitled-29 Untitled-30 IMG_5134 Untitled-31 IMG_5146 Untitled-32 IMG_5136 IMG_5167 IMG_5184 IMG_5188 IMG_5194 Untitled-34Essentials:

Getting Around:
Hire a car. If you’re thinking to take the less accessible parts of Kakadu and Litchfield, make sure you hire a 4WD. Cars can be picked up and returned from Darwin Airport.

Mindil Beach Markets. A huge selection and the prices are great – we bought vege laksas for $8 and they were delicious.

If you can find some original Aboriginal artworks, the top end is the place to buy them. Many galleries support local artists and art cooperatives. We purchased a bark painting at the Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Kakadu.

Kakadu, Australia – Day Two

Our second day in Kakadu National Park was just as good as our first. After our laid back breakfast in our bush bungalow in Jabiru, we headed out for a long drive to Gunlom – a spectacular infinity pool, free from crocodiles. The majority of the drive was on the nice sealed Kakadu Highway. But from the turnoff to Gunlom, it was 4WD territory. A sedan could handle the first part of the unsealed road, and although the latter part didn’t require the 4WD capacity of the car, the road was extremely uneven, which required the height clearance of a 4WD to pass.

Gunlom plunge pool is located at the top of a mountain, and it’s a steep and strenuous 45 minute walk to the top. But it is worth the hard work and effort, as you arrive at a beautiful waterhole with a spectacular view as a backdrop.

After Gunlom we headed back north to Cooinda to embark on a sunset Yellow Water cruise. If I had to give a Kakadu highlight, this would probably be it. The two hour cruise takes you down Yellow Water were you see a plethora of birdlife and the odd crocodile or two. The river and the surrounding vegetation is spectacular, especially against the orange and purple hues of the top end sunset.

Back at our bungalow we had a BBQ dinner of local barramundi to top off our day.