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

A VERY FOGGY ADVENTURE // Katoomba, Australia

I have a continually developing list of places I want to visit in Australia, and the Blue Mountains is definitely near the top of it. As soon as I discovered that the mountains could easily be accessed from Sydney by train, I squeezed it into our itinerary for our recent trip. Coincidentally the day we planned to go coincided with my birthday, so I spent weeks dreaming of celebrating my birthday in front of the epic views of the Blue Mountains.

Our day had a rocky start from the beginning, with rain setting in over Sydney. When we arrived at Central Station we were informed that the Blue Mountains line was undergoing track works, so we would spend the second half of our trip on a bus. I was determined to remain optimistic, but as our bus drove into Katoomba substantially later than it was scheduled to arrive, our doubts were confirmed.

Katoomba was covered in the thickest layer of fog I have ever seen! We could hardly see more than a few metres down the road. The above photo was at the Echo Point look out, and instead of panoramic views all we could see was white!

I’m sure the Three Sisters are out there somewhere…

Despite the disappointment of it all, Chris and I kept in good humour about the whole experience. We were hysterically laughing by the time we arrived at the viewing platform, as were some of the hundreds of other poor tourists who had made the trek from Sydney with us!

We managed a bit of a hike from Echo Point to the falls, before throwing in the towel and heading back in to town for a well deserved beer. We were thoroughly drenched when we reached the pub, so much so that we made a last minute dash to a Rivers outlet to buy new shoes!

Our original plans were to stay in Katoomba all day and head back into the city after dinner, however we caught an early train back and treated ourselves to momos and wine instead. At least Sydney put it on at night!

While it was disappointing to not be able to see anything in Katoomba, it was still a fun, although very damp, day. As someone commented on a photo I put on facebook, it was a ‘very authentic’ Blue Mountains experience. What we could see looked beautiful, so I am all the more excited to go back another time, and maybe spend a few days hiking in the area. As Chris and I were discussing on the plane home, at least we weren’t visiting Katoomba from overseas with a slim likelihood of return – Sydney isn’t far away!

– Reanna

NOT QUITE YOUR REGULAR PROGRAM // Sydney, Australia

Life has been particularly chaotic these past few weeks, and with good reason – Chris and I have moved from our beloved North Melbourne to South Melbourne! It has been almost a month since we moved, and whilst it was no great feat (two people living in a small apartment thankfully only meant a small truckload of belongings), settling into a new house, new area, and going to Ikea far too often has made for weekends doing nothing almost being unheard of.

Additionally, February coincides with Chris’ birthday, my birthday, and our anniversary all being within one week. We usually try and go away around this time, and so last weekend we shipped ourselves off to Sydney for a quick long weekend trip!

We flew in Thursday evening, which we planned in order to have a stress free start to a trip. However after a horrible plane ride (for me), congestion at Sydney airport, and me leaving my bag in our Uber (I got it back!), we were utterly spent by the time we arrived at our Airbnb in Surrey Hills!

Thankfully we started fresh on Friday morning with a walk to the Botanical Gardens.

We walked out to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for some great views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the city.

Despite the gloomy looking weather, it was actually quite muggy and warm!

As we had been to Sydney before, we were happy to take a slower pace for the day. We essentially just wandered through the city, talking and occasionally stopping for snacks and coffee.

It certainly seems a lot gloomier than I remember now that I look back at these photos!

One thing I like about Sydney is all the old buildings in the CBD. Sure, Melbourne has its fair share as well, but it is certainly a different look.

Eventually we made our way over to the Sydney Fish Market. We had a great time eating there last time, and we managed to get there early enough to avoid the throngs of tourists that arrive at lunch time. It is a beautiful spot to eat and drink wine! Beware of the birds, though.

Full of wine and food, and feelings a bit lazy, we caught an Uber back to our Airbnb for a rest. Turns out our apartment had some pretty killer views!

Eventually we regained some energy and walked back down to Circular Quay to catch the ferry to Manly. This was one of the Sydney ‘must do’ attractions we missed out on last time, and the views certainly did not disappoint. My camera skills, on the other hand, were terrible, so please enjoy the one half decent photo out of the fifty odd that I took!

Despite still being cloudy, it was definitely warm enough for the beach. I was skeptical at first, but it ended up being a lovely afternoon to play around in the water for awhile.

That evening we stayed in Manly for dinner and some drinks at the 4 Pines Brewery, before catching the ferry back to the city.

There was a pretty stunning sunset on the way back, and the views were just as good a second time around.

Being the party animals we are, I think we ended up in bed at a reasonable hour, despite our incredibly chilled out day. But it was exactly what we needed!

– Reanna

COASTAL // Sydney, Australia

On our second full day on Sydney Chris and I decided we should partake in even more walking. However, this time we kept out of the CBD and walked along the coastline from Coogee to Bondi. It is quite a popular walk, for both tourists and locals alike (so many fit, tanned people out running).SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Random shrine overlooking Coogee.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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There were a lot of semi-natural pools and baths along the coastline. The one below at Coogee looked a bit unsafe!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The weather wasn’t as picture perfect as Tuesday, but despite the grey clouds it was still a nice temperature. The wind along the coast did make it a bit crisp though.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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More semi-natural baths, but this time turned into a swimming pool. There were a few locals swimming some laps.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The coastline was spectacular, with plenty of amazing rock formations of various shapes and colours. The ocean honestly makes me a bit anxious, but I can always appreciate the beauty of it when I am not in it!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Windswept photo overlooking Bondi Beach.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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I am sure Bondi Beach would look completely different in the heat of summer!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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After lunch we caught a bus back into the CBD and climbed up to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. A footpath runs across the expanse, offering great views of the city. We decided not to do the famed climb along the pylons due to the hefty price tag.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfterwards we also wandered back around to the Opera House to check it out closer during the day time. It truly is such a unique building!

We are now in Canberra! Our weekend is being taken up by a model United Nations conference, so I don’t imagine I will many photos to bombard the internet with!

– Reanna

AUSTRALIAN ICONS // Sydney, Australia

I can’t remember exactly how many times I have previously been to Sydney, but such visits had typically been road-rage fueled drives on the way back from family holidays with no actual stopping to see the sites. I also stayed for two nights at the end of 2013 for a conference, but I didn’t see anything other than the King St, Parliament House and the University of Sydney where I was staying.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHence why Chris (who has also never really been) decided it was high time we check out the city. With the bridge and the opera house, it is pretty iconically Australian.

We arrived Monday afternoon, so with the remaining couple of hours of daylight we walked from our hostel in Glebe Point to the CBD for dinner. Afterwards we wandered down to the opera house, and to our surprise fireworks began as soon as it came into view!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOn Tuesday Chris went to have brunch with a friend, so I spend my morning catching up on a bit of work before walking around Glebe Point and enjoying the sunshine. Much sunscreen was applied.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI met up for lunch with Chris at the Sydney Fish Markets. We weren’t really sure what to expect, other than what I had seen online recommending it for a picnic lunch. It turned out to be the perfect place for food, if you like seafood!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESYou could choose your fish fresh and take it home, or have it cooked up for you. Alternatively all the fish mongers also had a restaurant addition that sold seafood precooked, mainly deep fried, or covered in cheese. I didn’t realise how expensive some seafood could be, half a small lobster covered in melted cheese would set you back between 20 and 30 dollars. Needless to say we didn’t get that!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIn the end we purchased a ‘BBQ plate’ from one of the restaurants (‘It only serves one’ said the lady who served us. Yes, one superhuman) and some fresh seafood sushi. The tables outside seemed to have a liquor license, as the bottle shop inside sold plastic cups when you purchased a drink. It was such a perfect day to sit outside and enjoy our delicious lunch in the bustling atmosphere.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter eating our fill we headed into the CBD for a free walking tour. They are the same company as the tour Chris and I took in Melbourne a couple of months back. It is always a great way to see the city and learn about the history of a place. Plus, you get to learn about quirky little things you probably wouldn’t otherwise, such as this statue of a dog (modeled after one of the Queen’s old pets) that talks, asking you to throw money in the fountain!

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The weather was perfect again, though it began to fade later in the afternoon.

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I loved this little laneway full of bird cages. Recordings of the songs of various native birds that used to live in the area prior to the building of the city are played, changing from day to nocturnal birds in the evening. The names of all the birds were also engraved in the concrete path. It was a beautiful, but also a reminder of what we have lost through our growth as humans.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The last part of the tour ventured down the Rocks, the historic precinct of the city. It was a funky little area of old style buildings, laneways and pubs, with a great view across the bay. Quite a contrast to the convicts that used to live in the area during the days of early settlement.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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More touristy harbour shots.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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For dinner we caught the train out to King Street, which feels like Sydney’s attempted answer to Brunswick (don’t worry, Brunswick still wins in the hipster/alternative games). We had planned to check out the local Lentil as Anything, but we found a massive line waiting at the door! Our hunger was a bit stronger than our curiosity, so we settled for one of the other numerous eateries in the area.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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On our way back home we checked out an enormous second hand book shop I remember looking at when I was in town for a conference. We didn’t buy anything, but it is amazing just to look at the sheer amount of books in the building.

Today we have one more full day in town, before hitting the road again tomorrow!

– Reanna

ROADTRIPPIN’ // Batlow, Australia

The mid-semester break couldn’t come quick enough this term, but due to the newly created ‘Grand Final Day Long Weekend’ the break didn’t come until 9 weeks into the semester. But a break is a break!

Chris and I have always intended to travel during our week off, even just locally or interstate, but it never happened. Normally we end up sitting at home studying, but this semester we decided to swing ourselves into action and plan a roadtrip. Plus, we are headed to Canberra on the end weekend of the break for a model United Nations, so we thought we may as well make a trip our of it!

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The main part of our roadtrip is Sydney. While it is possible to drive there in a day from Melbourne (about nine hours I think?) we decided to break it up over two days and take our time. Our first stop was for lunch at quaint old Beechworth. I had stayed here a number of times when I was younger and had fond memories of the little town, namely the bakery and the sweet shop. While we didn’t indulge in such foods this time, we enjoyed walking around to stretch our legs and have lunch at a little cafe.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIf you have never heard of Beechworth, you have probably had their famous honey! Chris and I made ourselves feel a bit ill by partaking in the free samples of all the honey flavours. Chocolate honey, anyone?

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter Beechworth it was back on the road for a few hours. I quite enjoyed the drive, as the scenery was beautiful and constantly changing. One moment we were in lush green field, then arid hills, and then in eucalyptus forests.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESOur destination for the night was a sleepy little town off the highway called Batlow. Dad recommended it to us based on their delicious local cider. After a bit more research we decided it sounded pretty good, with just enough in the are to keep us occupied for a night. We didn’t book accomodation in advance, but ended up staying in this little motel owned by a lovely couple.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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After a quick walk to see the sights of the town (admittedly not a lot) we put up our feet to enjoy the sunshine and a local brew. The area is renowned for apples, and apparently we were about two weeks early for the annual apple blossom festival!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The next morning we went for another walk to stretch out legs before another day on the road. It was so wonderfully peaceful walking among the trees. You never truly realise how noisy the city is until you get away from it.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Much to my delight we encountered a group of BABY GOATS on our way back to the motel. I had commented on the adorableness from a distance, but when we got closer the started bleating and ran up us. For a while we thought they were actually going to follow us back, but they eventually turned around. Far too cute.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Before hitting the highway we made a slight backtrack to check out the famed Sugar Pine Walk. We weren’t really sure what to expect, but it was definitely worth a look. The walk is more of a central path running up the middle of a sugar pine plantation planted in 1928. It was an oddly eerie area, yet apparently a lot of people get married here!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter that it was back on the road to Sydney! It wasn’t overly exciting (lots of long, straight highways!), with the highlight being our lunch at a town called Yass. A cheese plate and grilled veggie platter for lunch? Yass please.

We made it to our hostel in Sydney with relative ease, which we were surprised about considering the horror stories of navigating the city we had been told. We checked into our hostel last night, and are off for more exploring today!

– Reanna