August 22nd, 2016

Kaiteriteri 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

 

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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 Sydney visit for a few days 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 and Transfer options

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

Sydney Hotels

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 this is your first Sydney visit, a really smart way of exploring the city 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 displaying elegant Art Deco architecture and romantic terrace houses. Next was the Botanical Gardens and close by, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, an exposed rock cut in the shape of a chair. Its 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. But 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. The side streets have interesting shops. Do visit 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 visit includes 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

Travelling Denmark Western Australia

The beautiful town of Denmark Western Australia, won our hearts. It’s lush forest provides the perfect setting for intimacy and the scenery is stunning. We took the Scotsdale Scenic Drive through the Williams Bay National Park and drove to The Greens Pool, a popular snorkelling spot.

Greens Pool near Denmark Western Australia

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 Rocks near Denmark Western Australia

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 Western Australia

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

The Lake House Denmark Western Australia

Saying goodbye to The Lake House was hard…

The Lake House Denmark Western Australia

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!

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July 20th, 2016

Western Australia Highlights near Albany

There’s so much to love on the scenic drive to the Port City of Albany. This part of Australia displays a beautiful contrast with rich red soil and green bush land. For the next few days we’ll be experiencing Western Australia highlights near Albany.

Margaret River Road

Western Australia Highlights near Albany

After travelling through Augusta, Premberton and Denmark, we arrived at Albany. Albany is the oldest settled city in Western Australia and has a rich history. Albany is also very famous for its migrating whales. Massive Humpback and Southern Right Whales only visit in late May to early October. So if you want to see them, you really need to schedule your trip at that time.

We booked into the The Beach House at Bayside, a family-owned hotel with terrific hospitality and a great breakfast! At the time of our visit, the owners were building higher-end apartments just down the road. They should be well and truly completed by now. If B & B accommodation is not really your thing, these apartment would be a great option. Of course, they will be differently priced.

The Beach House Breakfast

Western Australia Highlights near Albany – Whalers Station

The Whaler’s station is one of Western Australia highlights near Albany. So if you want to get an overview of the station’s history, I would definitely a guided tour. In 1978, the last whale was taken at Albany in 1978. What remains, is an historical account of those times.

Original Whaling Boag

Western Australia Highlights near Albany – Whalers Station

Believe me, on this tour, you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck. We were surprised by the extensive use of very clever technology. There’s a great 3-D presentation (glasses supplied). Three large oil tanks have been converted into small theatres. The actual film footage of this bleak period provides quite an impact. But its the display of whale skeletons in a separate warehouse, that’s an absolute showstopper!

Blue Whale skeleton

Western Australia Highlights near Albany – The Gap

Our next stop was at The Gap, located in the Torndirrip National Park, 10kms from Albany. The Gap is a a 24-metre drop to the sea and the Natural Bridge. There’s no better display of the Southern’s Ocean’s awesome drama. Do wrap up warmly, as it can be cold.

The Gap viewing platform

Western Australia highlights near Albany – The Gap

An accessible viewing platform allowed us access 40 metres directly above the foaming torrent below. I’m proud to say that out of the two of us, I was the only one brave enough to step right to the edge. It really is quite daunting to look down.

The Gap viewing shoe

But so worth it!

The Gap Albany

The scenery and rock formation provides a very powerful image.

The Gap rock formation

 National Anzac Centre

The National Anzac Centre is a state-of-the-art interpretative museum overlooking the King George Sound. For atmosphere alone, it is a must-do tour. Each visitor is provided with their own audio technology.  This means that you can just stroll around at your own pace.  It’s incredibly moving to hear the actual letters and diaries of these soldiers being read out. The mood here is both respectful and somber. Each soldier is given respect, no matter what side they fought on.

National Anzac Centre Albany

Western Australia Highlights near Albany – National Anzac Centre

On entry, there’s a continuous reel of real footage showing soldiers marching through a street. The sound of their boots is like a slow beating heart and it is quite haunting.  The lighting within the museum is subdued. Photos were difficult to take, as no flashes are permitted. I was able to get  a photo of this beautiful bronze sculpture.

National Anzac Centre Albany2

After the National Anzac Centre, we headed on back to Albany and just in time to catch the late afternoon sun.  It may be winter here but the temperatures are very mild. I’m loving these beautiful white-sandy Australian beaches.

Albany Beach

 

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July 19th, 2016

Margaret River highlights

Wine Tasting

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 the best wine-tasting experience of the day. Bill’s happy to share his vast knowledge and strong opinions on what constitutes a good wine. 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 a fee charged for sampling the top tiers Voyager wines.

Voyager Estate2

Coffee and Chocolate

The Leeuwin estate nearby is definitely worth visiting and a good place to lunch with a cafe and 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 fascinating 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

Prevelly Beach

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

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.

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Happy Travelling!

 

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