August 22nd, 2016

Kaiteriteri to Apple Tree Bay

A hike in the Abel Tasman National Park is sure to chase the blues away and the Apple Tree Bay walk is perfect for time-short travellers.

Apple Tree Bay

Grab a backpack with a few supplies and extra clothing and start walking from Marehau. Very soon you’ll cross a bridge from where you’ll see White-faced Herons getting ready for take-off.

Apple Tree Bay bridge

As is often the case on New Zealand bush walks, the scenery constantly changes. One minute you’re looking over the flats…

Apple Tree Bay scenery Pam

..then you’re meandering through dense native foliage, pass beautiful little grottoes like this.

Apple Tree Bay waterfall

The Apple Tree Bay walk is not that strenuous. There are plenty of opportunities to stop for a break and gaze at the views. Remember, there is always the option of returning by water taxi.

Apple Tree walk view

As the trail descends, your expectations will be rewarded with a golden beach and beautiful Adele Island beyond.

Adele Island2

Adele Island is a beautiful predator-free island with many native New Zealand birds. It’s pristine status is a testament to the efforts of a privately funded project incorporating the Department of Conservation and volunteers. These volunteers are taking a well earned break for lunch.

Apple Tree Bay volunteers

Don’t know what this guy’s excuse is:

Apple Tree Bay sleep

The Apple Tree Bay walk is a great ‘taster’. Kayaking is another popular way of getting a close encounter of this beautiful region. Either way, I guarantee you’ll return refreshed. Okay, one last look.

Apple Tree Bay5

 

Happy travelling

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August 3rd, 2016

Sydney Visit for a few days

After visiting Perth and the Margaret River area in Western Australia, we had a quick 3-night stay in Sydney to check out hotels for our clients. With 4.3 million people, Sydney’s population equals the whole of New Zealand!

Sydney City blog

Sydney airport is only 10kms from the city and a 20 min drive. There are taxis and the efficient Sydney Airport Train Link. We decided to try out the Royale Limousine service that some of our clients use. After a midnight flight we just wanted to relax. It was a seamless transition.

Royale Limousine2

We chose a hotel located in the central city so that we could be within walking distance to Sydney’s fantastic cafes and the subway stations. Most of the key hotels are located near the ferry terminal, the Sydney Harbour bridge and the Sydney Opera House.

Sydney Opera House

What to do in Sydney

As Travel Agents, we’re always trying to walk in the shoes of our clients. It’s a neat idea to use the ferries to go over to Mainly or take the train from a central station. We started from Martins Place, took the “T4” train to “Bondi Junction” then bus number “333” to Bondi Beach. All up, 30 minutes.

Bondi Beach4

If you’re a first-time visitor, a really smart way to explore Sydney, is to join a half day tour with a local tourism operator. We used Australia Luxury Escapes as they cater for small groups. We shared an air-conditioned mini-bus with just one other family.

Sydney panorama blog

Our first stop was at The Rocks to view Sydney Harbour Bridge, the suburb of Potts Point with elegant Art Deco architecture and romantic terrace houses. Next was the Botanical Gardens and close by, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, an exposed sandstone rock cut in the shape of a chair and the best look-out point to view the harbour.

Mrs Macquarie's Chair Sydney

By joining this tour, we gained some idea of the city’s layout and received vital local information which came in very handy in the days to follow. Lunch at Sydney’s Yacht Club at Rushcutters Bay was an event.

Sydney Yacht Club3

People living within 5kms of the club do not have access unless they have a membership, but the rest of us do. However you will need to produce some form of identity such as a Driver licence or passport.

Sydney Yacht Club

The last stop on this tour was Bondi Beach and although we’d visited the day before, its beauty still provided an impact. It totally lives up to its name as one of the most beautiful surfing beaches in the world!

Sydney Bondi Beach blog

Surfer dudes love Bondi Beach. It has a cool beach vibe with quaint cafes and side streets with interesting shops, such as Russkis Deli which offers food from around the world. The public swimming pool on the Bronte Coastal Walk sits right next to the ocean and on the other side, is a superb restaurant.

Bondi Beach public swimming pool

Some might say the ultimate Sydney experience is climbing and walking the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  But if you’re sensitive to heights, just admire it from the harbour side. Its a magnificent structure.

Bridgeclimb.com

Bridgeclimb.com

 

So much to do, so little time. You really have to sort through the wishlist carefully.

 

Happy travelling

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July 27th, 2016

Denmark Western Australia

The beautiful town of Denmark won my heart. It’s lush forest provided the perfect setting for intimacy and the scenery was stunning. On arrival, we took the Scotsdale Scenic Drive through the Williams Bay National Park. We stopped at The Greens Pool, a popular snorkelling spot.

Greens Pool

From The Green Pools, we took a short walk to Elephant Rocks area. These rock formations really do look like elephants retreating into the water.

Elephant Rocks2

Denmark has a great choice of secluded cottage and villa accommodation so if you like immersing yourself in natural surroundings, I’d definitely have a 2-nighter here. It was recommended that we lunch at the The Lake House winery restaurant.Michael’s eyes almost popped out of their sockets when our platter arrived. It was chock-full of artisan treats. Best platter ever!

The Lake House Denmark

We took a while over our coffee, basking in the sun and enjoying the tranquil views…

The Lake House Denmark2

Saying goodbye to The Lake House was hard…

The Lake House Denmark3

But we’re still working as we’re travelling so it was time to return to Albany. And you know what, the treats kept coming. Arrived back at our suite in the late afternoon to delicious homemade baking.

The Beach House at Bayview3

Don’t you just love generous hosts!

 

Happy Travelling

 

 

 

 

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July 20th, 2016

Albany Highlights Western Australia

The bushland scenery in the Margaret River Region is lush and beautiful.  The road on the way to Albany is incredibly pictuesque with the red soil contrasting with the greenery.

Margaret River Road

After travelling through Augusta, Premberton and Denmark, we finally arrived at Albany, our base for the next 4 days. Albany is the oldest permanently settled city in Western Australia and is well known for the migrating whales that come here at certain times of the year. We’re staying at The Beach House at Bayside, a traditional boutique family-owned hotel with old-fashioned values, terrific personalised service and a great brekkie!

The Beach House Breakfast

One of the star attractions of Albany is the Whaler’s station. We joined a tour to get the full overview of the station’s history. Thankfully, the last whale was taken at Albany in 1978. What remains is an historical account of those times. Here’s the original whaling boat, the conditions of which were pretty basic!

Original Whaling Boag

On this tour, you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck. First we were taken back in time to the audible sights and sounds of the processing factory. It was a grisly business. There was a terrific 3-D presentation (glasses supplied) and 3 large oil tanks had been converted into theatres displaying slideshows and actual film footage. But what about those massive whale skeletons!

Blue Whale skeleton

Our next stop was at The Gap which is situated in the Torndirrip National Park, 10kms from Albany. The Gap is a a 24-metre drop to the sea, and the Natural Bridge. Here you can see the awesome power of the sea and sensational views of the Southern Ocean.

The Gap viewing platform

A new universally accessible viewing platform allows visitors to stand 40 metres directly above the surging seas and I’m proud to report that out of the two of us, I was the only one prepared to go right to the edge.

The Gap viewing shoe

So worth it!

The Gap Albany

The scenery and rock formation is stunning.

The Gap rock formation

The National Anzac Centre is a sobering experience but I would not have missed it for the world.  It is a state-of-the-art interpretative museum overlooking King George Sound. With the clever use of individual audio technology, you can actually walk through the personal experiences of various soldiers. Respect is given to all the soldiers of this war.

National Anzac Centre Albany

When you first walk in, there’s a continuous reel of actual footage showing soldiers marching through a street. The sound of their boots is like a slow beating heart and it’s haunting.  The lighting within the museum is subdued and photos were difficult to get (no flashes allowed) but I was able to get one of this beautiful sculpture of a soldier and his dependable horse.

National Anzac Centre Albany2

Back to Albany in time to catch the late afternoon sun.  It may be winter here but I’m loving these mild temperatures and of course those beautiful white-sandy beaches Australia is famous for.

Albany Beach

 

Happy travelling.

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July 19th, 2016

Prevelly Beach Margaret River

Bill Bailey’s a straight talker and doesn’t believe there’s any romance in wine, just “bloody hard work”. Family-owned Brown Hill Wines is a scenic 12 km drive from Margaret River and if you want to meet the Patriarch behind the brand, don’t expect a purpose built tasting room, What you will get, is handcrafted premium wines consistently scoring in the top nineties.

Brown Hill Estate3

For us, this was by far the best wine-tasting experience of the day. Bill’s more than happy to share his vast knowledge, but be prepared to have your own opinions on wine shot down in flames. Next on our list was the beautiful 300 hectare Voyager Estate property.

Voyager Estate

The building inside is large with a restaurant, tasting area and lounge with a crackling fire. It exudes style. There is a complimentary tasting option, but if you want to taste the upper tiers of  Voyager wines, there is a charge.

Voyager Estate2

The Leeuwin estate nearby is definitely worth visiting and is a good place to lunch as they have a cafe as well as a full restaurant option.  A one-stop option for coffee and chocolate can be found at Margaret River’s Yahava Koffeeworks and Temper Temper Fine Chocolate. The Yahava Koffeeworks is a gem for coffee and tea lovers. The coffee beans are roasted and blended on site.

Koffeeworks margaret River

The Temper Temper Chocolate shop and factory was a large and warm place to browse on this wet and windy day. It specialises in sustainably farmed cacao from over 24 origins.

Temper Temper chocolate

The hot chocolate looked dark and rich. You’d be spoilt for choice in this shop, with every variety on dispay.  The Madagascar chocolate was my fav.

temper temper chocolate2

I think my eyes are getting a little too bright – chocolate overload.  Time to head back to our base at Prevelly Beach and take our last walk for the day. Love this wild and beautiful beach.

Prevelly Beach Margaret River

Back on the road tomorrow, this time to through Augusta and Pemberton and onwards to the port city of Albany for a 4-day stay.

 

Happy Travelling

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