WEDDINGS, WALKS & WATERFALLS // Byron Hinterlands, Australia

Somehow two weeks have slipped by and I am only just finding the time to sit down and upload the remaining photos from our weekend getaway to Byron Bay! It feels like a lifetime ago now, as I have been so swept up in other dramas in everyday life. But I digress…

After a morning walk on the beach (and coffee, always coffee) in Suffolk Park, we packed up our ridiculously pathetic hire car and hit the road. During some quiet periods at work I had taken it upon myself to essentially plan out our entire trip, so Chris was happy to follow my suggestions along to Bangalow, a nearby inland town. To our luck, the local market was on! It was in a beautiful location, and was absolutely pumping. If only we hadn’t been so cheap and stuck with carry on baggage.

After exploring the market, I directed us on to Minyon Falls. Apparently Nissan Micra’s are not designed for narrow, winding, dirt roads, but nevertheless we made it and were treated to some pretty sweet views.

The waterfall itself was fairly nonexistent, despite being the middle of winter. It has been a fairly dry season, but the viewing point itself was worth the drive.

The main motivation for our trip was a friend’s wedding, which was being held just outside of the inland town of Lismore. Whilst Lismore itself was nothing to write home about (like, don’t even stop there), the location for the wedding was picture perfect.

It was such a beautiful day! Admittedly this was the first wedding we had attended of a friend our own age, so Chris and I were beginning to feel a bit old and question where we were with our lives!

The next day we decided to evacuate Lismore as soon as possible, and hit the road again. Of course, I made Chris pull over at the last minute to get the above photo.

We stopped for coffee in Nimbin, a town renowned for its promotion of alternative and sustainable lifestyles… and weed. I had thought the town might be quirky and fun to look around, but it turned out to be slightly less inviting than we anticipated. After downing our coffee, checking out the local bakery, and being offered weed at least three times, we were back on the road.

And finally, our last stop – Mount Warning. I stumbled across this hike during my research, and it was honestly one of the best hikes I have ever down. I would apologise for the barrage of photos here, but I am not even sorry.

Located about an hour north of Lismore in Wollumbin National Park, the hike is a straight up and down summit. It is about 4kms each way, and the signs suggested it would take about five hours return. With a few drink breaks and a 20 minute break at the top, we managed the trip in just over three hours return.

The hike up was beautiful, though quite steep at times. The incline was continual, and occassional you would get views over the hinterlands through breaks in the forest.

The last 400m to the summit was an almost vertical rock scramble, with a chain along the side to assist with the ascent. Chris and I arrived at the base just as another couple went ahead of us, so it ended up taking a long time to get to the top as we waited for them to go ahead, and for other hikers to come down.

The top features 360 degree views all around the surrounding hinterlands – it was absolutely breathtaking! You could see all the way up to the Gold Coast, across the Queensland border, and back down to Byron Bay. We couldn’t have asked for a better day weather-wise either. If you are ever in the area, this hike is a must do!

After scrambling back down to the car (climbing down the rock face was significantly harder than coming up it!) we took our time road tripping back to Ballina Airport.

Now it is back to waiting for sunshine to come back to Melbourne – fingers crossed it comes into force soon!

– Reanna

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CHASING THE SUN // Byron Bay, Australia

With grey clouds overhead and rain threatening to let loose at any moment today in Melbourne, going through my photos from Byron Bay is reminding that Spring is finally here and sunshine is surely on my horizon.

Last weekend Chris and I packed out bags and knocked off work a few hours early on Friday afternoon to jet away to Byron Bay. We have been planning this trip for months, as we had been invited to a friends wedding in nearby Lismore. We flew directly from Melbourne to Ballina, a town around half an hour south of Byron Bay, which took under two hour. It was probably the worst flight of my life (flight anxiety + missed approach = a hot mess), so by the time we finally arrived at our Airbnb that night I crawled immediately into bed.

Chris and I had both been religiously checking the weather forecast for Byron Bay all week, counting down the days until sunshine blessed our pale Melbourne skins. The forecast looked cloudy and wet, however, when we woke up on Saturday morning we were treated to glorious sunshine! After coffee, we set off to Cape Byron.

The walk around Cape Byron is only around 3-4kms, so we decided we would be fine in jeans and sandals. As it turns out, every Byron local seemed to be out for their morning walk/run in their active wear, so we looked like unprepared tourists!

Eventually the walk comes to the Easternmost point of mainland Australia (the Easternmost point actually being on Norfolk Island). The sea and the sky were both so blue and clear!

Winter is actually a popular time for whale watching in the area, but we were totally not expecting to see any. After standing at the point for about 30 seconds, Chris pointed out a splash in the water. Surely enough, a few seconds later the grey blob appeared, splashing around some more. A whale! It was so truly magical and unexpected, and so quick that I was unable to capture the moment on my camera.

Yes, I forgot to pack sunscreen and ended up burnt by the end of the day!

Alright, I realise now I may have taken an excessive amount of photos along this walk. Everything was just so picture perfect!

The hike itself was relatively easy, with a few hills and steps. I would probably wear runners or boots if I was to do it again, though! Birkenstocks didn’t quite cut it…

Afterwards, we drove into the town and looked around the shops, before wandering down to the main beach. So many people were out surfing, sunbaking, and enjoying the sunshine. Unheard for winter in Melbourne!

In the afternoon we wandered down to Tallows Beach. We were actually staying in a suburb just south of Byron Bay called Suffolk Park, which was a 15 minute walk from the beach and featured some cute coffee shops and a popular bakery.

Of course, Chris decided it was warm enough for a swim! I stayed dry and took even more photos.

We spent the evening exploring a couple of local breweries, which were both disappointing. At least Byron had Uber!

The following morning resulted in more beach time, as we explored more of Tallows Beach.

This is a quick snap of the neighbourhood, Suffolk Park, we were staying in. It was quiet and picturesque, and a five minute drive from Byron Bay.

Don’t worry, there are even more sunny photos to come!

– Reanna

NOT WORK // Coongulla, Australia

I was meant to be in Alice Springs this weekend, cheering along my brother and father at a mountain bike race. But, a few things didn’t go to plan, so the trip unfortunately had to be cancelled this year. That didn’t stop my family from signing up for another local bike race, and I decided to tag along anyway. Anything for a long weekend away from the office, right?

My dad booked an Airbnb for the weekend in Coongulla, a eerily empty little settlement on the banks of Lake Glenmaggie in Gippsland. I say empty, as the area was filled with ramshackle holiday and weekend houses that were largely unoccupied while we were there! Lake Glanmaggie is a popular location for the summer months, but given it was pouring rain on the Friday we were there, it was no one in sight!

I ventured down to the lake on Friday when it stopped raining for five minutes to take a few snaps. Thankfully, the Airbnb we had booked had a fire place, so we spend most of the day curled up on the couch reading and chatting.

Saturday morning turned out to be perfect weather, for both the bike race and for some further lake explorations on my behalf.

The lake is a water catchment for the surrounding area, having been dammed many years ago in the 1920s. However, the water seemed like it has been much higher in decades past.

The embankment was quite rocky, and beautiful. It is pretty amazing what nature can create.

As you can probably tell, I still have no idea what I am doing with my new DSLR camera.

The bike race was a few kilometres away from the lake at Blores Hill. I spent most of the day by the race track, but was able to grab a lift in a ‘spectator shuttle’ (AKA a 4WD troop carrier driven by a volunteer) up to the highest point of the race. It made for some great views, as well as being able to watch some of the more difficult parts of the bike race.

Even just looking at the bike trails made me feel like such an incompetent cyclist!

My weekends for the coming months appear to have suddenly filled up with quite a few weekends away, so I am excited for more adventures away from the city! Not all of them are long weekends, but it is still always great to get away from the grind of Melbourne and get outdoors (or try to, when it isn’t raining!).

Next weekend is another long weekend – Chris and I are off to Byron Bay! I have only briefly stopped there once when I was much younger, so I am keen to explore the area and enjoy some (hopefully) warmer weather.

– Reanna

ESCAPISM // Woodend, Australia

Life has been a strange mixture of highs and lows lately. Some days are wonderful, and I feel so appreciative for so many things, whereas other days were horrible, highlighting the fragility of life. The bad days were beginning to wear me down, so after a spontaneous dinner date last week Chris and I booked an even more spontaneous weekend getaway.

Overall, we only spent around 24 hours away from the city, but it was enough to recharge and relax. We booked an accommodation package at Holgate Brewhouse in Woodend, which included dinner and breakfast. Woodend is only an hour from Melbourne, so it was a perfect distance for our short trip.

The weather on Saturday afternoon was fantastic, so on a whim (again!) we packed up our bikes and took them with us to Woodend in order to cycle out to some nearby wineries. This seemed like a good idea in theory, as the distances didn’t seem far on paper, but half of the roads were unsealed! Nevertheless, we were able to make it easily enough to our first stop, Mount Macedon Winery. This was recommended to me by a work colleague, and it did not disappoint. We just had to hide our crappy bikes from all the bunch of professional weekend cyclists who were also there!

Our next destination was Hanging Rock Winery, which due to my poor planning, ended up being another awful dirt road! We were exhausted by the time we arrived at the cellar door, which was surprisingly busy. After consulting with the owner (and trying some wine) we coordinated booking a taxi to pick us up from the winery, leaving our bikes tied to the gate for the night. This worked out well, as it meant we could buy some bottles of wine!

The winery had some great views of Hanging Rock, which you can see closer up in the photo below (which is taken the following morning when we were collecting our bikes – the weather was far bleaker!).

After a cosy evening at the Brewhouse bar, and a delicious breakfast (eggs, falafel, and beer bread – who would have thought of such a delicious combination?!), we headed up to the famed Hanging Rock.

Hanging Rock is a popular attraction for Melbournians, being only an hour from the city. The walk to the top of rocky mountain/formation/mameleon is only around 2kms returned, and well sealed, so it is super accessible.

We detoured from the path along the way to seek out views and clamber through the rocks.

Hanging Rock is most well known for the novel, and movie, Picnic at Hanging Rock. Shamefully, as is the case with most classic movies or novels, I have never seen or read it, but am aware of the mystery it puts around the place!

Looking over these photos now, it seems I may have gone slightly overboard! I guess I am still a bit click happy whilst trying to learn a bit more about my camera.

I thought the above tree branch looked like a piece of art, or like ripples in water.

The ‘Hanging Rock’ itself can be seen in the above photo – possibly the most underwhelming part of the mountain!

On our way down we were treated to some fluffy, native friends.

After another quick walk around the base of the mountain, we were back in our car and off home to Melbourne. Despite being a short trip, it didn’t feel rushed. Rather, it was a perfect amount of time to disconnect and have a little adventure, but without sucking up our whole weekend and leaving us stressed on Sunday night before the work week ahead.

I am excited for the warmer weather, even though it is probably months away, so we can make more weekend getaways for camping again. Winter will end eventually, right?

– Reanna

RESTLESS // Organ Pipes National Park, Australia

Tonight is one of those wonderful those wonderful nights when you knock off work knowing you have an exciting few days ahead – and even more so tonight as I am heading on my first holiday since starting full time work! Although we are only venturing overseas for ten days, the novelty of getting paid whilst I relax on a beach somewhere has not worn off on me yet.

Working full time these past six months has also motivated me to indulge in far more ‘treat yourself moments’, and last week such a mindset blew out into my spontaneous purchasing of a DSLR camera. Sure, I had been dreaming about the prospect of owning a half decent camera one day. But for some reason two weeks before going on holidays seemed like the perfect time to blow my savings.

However, I have approximately zero idea how to operate such a camera, so in an effort to learn I announced a spontaneous trip on the weekend to Organ Pipes National Park on the weekend. We had been here a few years ago, and I remembered it as being a beautiful piece of nature a stones throw from the city – it was about a half an hour drive from our place in South Melbourne.

The park itself is a small valley nestled beside a busy freeway and underneath one of the flight paths for Melbourne airport. However silence ensues once you descend into the small valley of the park. A small 1km track runs around the valley floor, taking you past three main features, all of which arose from volcanic activity in the area many a millennia ago.

The main feature, surprising enough, are the ‘organ pipes’. The pipes are hexagonal basalt columns, that have formed over thousands and thousands of year as the creek at the base has slowly worn away at the basalt lava.

The ‘Rosette Rock’ is a spectacular formation, with a similar history. I won’t attempt to pretend I know anything about volcanic rock formations here, because I really have no clue!

The final stop was the ‘Tessellated Pavement’, again of similar origins. Chris is obviously in deep thought about the construction of volcanic baltic rock formations. Or merely enjoying the serenity…

Climbing out of the valley after our small circuit of the park had me feeling like I had merely walked around the block. But on the other hand, the simple act of being outside and stretching my legs in the outdoors provided as much to me as going for a 10km hike. Sometimes, being outside is all you need.

And with that, I am signing off the technological world (well, not really, I love instagram too much) for our ten day holiday!

– Reanna

THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES // Bendigo, Australia

Groovin’ the Moo – a day of excellent music, food vans, questionable fashion sense, and all around good times. But posting these measly few photos from a couple of weekends ago has spontaneously gotten me thinking of far deeper themes then a carefree day at a music festival!

The fact that Chris and I were able to have a weekend away (albeit, camping in a caravan park with numerous other festival goers) to attend such a festival is one of those memories that makes me so appreciative of where my life is at right now. Chris and I both work full time in respectable jobs that we managed to get straight out of university. We live in an adorable cottage in a wonderful city. In three weeks we are going off overseas for a short holiday, and we have so many wonderful memories from other trips. Our families are supportive. I feel really quite content.

I am fully aware of our privilege within society, and I am truly appreciative and grateful for all the support and opportunities I have had. I have been working on expressing my gratitude more, and writing it down seems to make it more solid – even if it is on the internet on my little blog!

So apologies for the random *feelings* contrasted with photos of a music festival.

But exciting news – Chris and I are off to Singapore and Indonesia in two weeks for a short trip AND I just bought myself a new camera. Expect an overload of photos after the trip. Stay tuned!

– Reanna

A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE // Melbourne, Australia

Despite living in Melbourne for well over four years now, I still find myself playing tourist on a regular basis. Sure, Chris might roll his eyes when I stop to take photos of something novel in the city, but it is refreshing to see the place where you live through a new light.

Last weekend we ventured down to the strange, yet beautiful, Docklands precinct, to indulge in a dinner cruise. We received a voucher for Christmas, and we were 99% sure we were the only Melbourne locals on the boat.

The dinner and drinks on the cruise were as expected, but the highlight was definitely seeing Melbourne from the water – something we had never done before. The boat left Docklands and went under both the Bolte and West Gate Bridge, before emerging into Port Phillip Bay and heading towards St Kilda.

The views from the Bay were absolutely stunning, even the clouds that were hanging overhead didn’t impact the beauty of it.

Not featured – the dance floor directly behind our table.

Turns out my phone takes a pretty average night time photo – you will just have to imagine how wonderful the city looked at night.

One of the unexpectedly interesting parts of the cruise was going through the sea ports. There were a few container ships pulled up, and they are just as big in person as you would imagine.

Melbourne, I love you.

– Reanna