Tuesday, 29 April 2014

CATHRYN & ALEX'S AUSTRALIAN ROAD TRIP | PART FOUR, NEWCASTLE, SMOKY CAPE LIGHTHOUSE & COFFS HARBOUR | PERSONAL

The road trip blogposts are coming thick and fast at the moment. The reason for this is that I'm absolutely loving looking back at all of the photographs and remembering the amazing things that we saw along the way.

This post charts our journey from Newcastle, where we literally stopped for a spot of lunch and our first view of the gorgeous Pacific Ocean in a few days, up to Coffs Harbour, home of the Big Banana (not pictured because its a bit naff)!!! Between Newcastle and Coffs, we decided to stop at Port Macquarie one morning for our daily coffee fix and a surf before taking a total punt and heading for a nature reserve that was right on the coast, which we found in our trusty road atlas.

This punt took us to Smoky Cape and one of the most beautiful places that we saw on the whole of our journey. They say that you get out of life what you're willing to put in, and that was certainly the case here, as the lighthouse proved a little bit tricky to find and we drove quite a few kilometres out of our way to get there, but boy was it worth it! What I remember most about this amazing place are the fantastic colours of the sky and the sea, and how they seemed to be constantly changing with the wind and the ebbing of the tide. That, and the fact that we saw kangaroos bouncing around on the cliffs just a few feet from where we lay sunbathing on the beach.

Australia is a funny place really, you can talk to so many people while you're there who will say "you have to go to Coffs Harbour, it's great" or "make sure you visit so and so when you get to NSW, you'll love it" and you can get there and feel really underwhelmed and wonder what all the fuss is about. The truth is, the best places that we saw along the way were the hidden gems, such as Smoky Cape, which we found all on our own and without recommendation from others. I guess we were willing to put more in and knew that by doing so we would get more out of our trip.

I think we could all do with getting in the car and just driving somewhere totally new sometimes, the spirit of adventure and the freedom of an open road is a wonderful thing if you truly embrace it and let it guide you. It's good for the soul.

To be continued...

Sunday, 27 April 2014

CATHRYN & ALEX'S AUSTRALIAN ROAD TRIP | PART THREE, THE BLUE MOUNTAINS | PERSONAL

Part Three of our Australian road trip finds us in the Blue Mountains, NSW. The drive up from Sea Cliff Bridge was pretty nondescript to be honest, taking in a variety of motorways, industrial estates and small suburban Sydney towns...to say it was uninspiring is pretty fair. However, this just meant that the view which we were greeted with when we pulled up at Wentworth Falls was magnified a hundred times over! The view from the top of the falls was breathtaking...seeing the cliffs, valleys and Eucalypts  stretching out before us for as far as the eye could see was unreal.

The temptation of paddling in one of the pools about 150m below us was too strong to resist, so we decided to tackle the decent (and climb back up) in sweltering 30+ degree heat. There were times when we regretted our choice but they were all forgotten when we looked up the cliff face and saw the falls coming down in front of us. We sat with our feet cooling in the fresh water whilst we soaked in the beauty of the nature that was all around us.

The beauty of the Blue Mountains really is something you have to witness yourself to truly appreciate.  Whilst the majority of people rave about the Three Sisters and other such landmarks, Cathryn and I both agreed that trecking through the bush to get a view of 'The Wall' (the Aussies really aren't that great at coming up with original names for things), which you see in the bottom 5 photos, outweighed any other panorama we saw there. It really was spectacular!

Another sight that we'll remember for a very long time is the evidence of the terrible bush fires that destroyed large areas of the forests, including some communities, just a matter of months before we were there. Seeing the charred trunks of trees as we drove and walked through the landscape was something that we hadn't anticipated seeing and it really did remind us that Mother Nature really is the mistress of us all.

To be continued...

Click the following links to see Parts One and Two 


Monday, 21 April 2014

CATHRYN & ALEX'S AUSTRALIAN ROAD TRIP | PART TWO, JERVIS BAY TO SEA CLIFF BRIDGE | PERSONAL

Happy Easter Monday everyone! Seeing as I have a rare morning off today I thought it would be a great time to share Part Two of our Aussie road trip with you all.

After visiting Jervis Bay and Cave Beach, with their pristine white sands and crystal clear waters (see part one here if you haven't seen our photos of those gorgeous places yet), we found a campsite situated in the woods and next to a beautiful river. We really lucked in and probably had the best pitch in the whole site!

The thing with sleeping in the camper was that we would be woken early everyday, the sun would creep through the windows at around 05:30 - 06:00, so we had no choice but to start our days and get back on the road by about 07:30 each day. We didn't mind this at all though as it meant that we could happily stop for 20 minutes or so whenever the fancy took us to stretch our legs and enjoy some of the wonderful beaches and scenery that we were discovering along the coast.

Sea Cliff Bridge, like Jervis Bay, was another point on route which we decided that we absolutely had to see. The bridge runs parallel to the cliff and is one of only 7 bridges in the world which does so. As with almost every place we stopped on our trip, we were blown away by so many things other than the actual reason why we chose to visit/stop there in the first place. In this instance, we were staggered by the views of the coast and the dramatic waves crashing against the cliffs, the abundance of absolutely gorgeous houses which lined the cliff face and the fact that a local cormorant was taking a dip in the open air sea water swimming pool.

Australia truly is a beautiful place and looking back at the photos reminds me just how lucky we were to have been able to live there for a while. If you have ever toyed with the idea of going, all I can say is do it! Make sure you give yourself time to really explore it and you'll be rewarded with breathtaking scenery on a daily basis.

To be continued...

 

Monday, 14 April 2014

CATHRYN & ALEX'S AUSTRALIAN ROAD TRIP | PART ONE, GEELONG TO JERVIS BAY | PERSONAL

I find it so hard to believe that almost three months have past since we returned to the UK. I honestly cannot tell you where the past few weeks/months have gone, they literally appear to have evaporated into thin air. As we are fast approaching the second third of 2014 I think its high time that I blogged the first instalment of our Australian Road Trip photos. It is shameful how long it has taken me to do this, please accept my apologies. So here we go...

When Cathryn and I decided to move home we agreed that it would be a real shame to leave Australia without seeing more of it before we left. We knew that we would never forgive ourselves if we left without diving on at the Great Barrier Reef, so we decided to hire a Jucy camper van and drive from Melbourne, all the way up the East Coast.

We collected the van the same day that our personal belongings where collected from the gorgeous house we had called home for almost 2 years, which also happened to be the same day that we handed back the keys to that gorgeous house. Once we handed the keys to the letting agent and closed the front door we stopped in the driveway and looked at each other, and what, until that morning had been our home and took a deep breath. We knew that we were not only embarking on an adventure but also starting a new chapter in our lives.

We climbed into the camper, and nervously pulled out of our street, drove through the familiar sunny streets of our quiet neighbourhood, past our favourite coffee bars and shops, wiped the odd tear from our eyes and reassured one another that we were doing the right thing.

We left Geelong with no plan, no itinerary, no idea of where we would sleep that night. Armed with a map and just the name of a place, Jervis Bay (which someone had told us had the whitest sand in the world), we hit the road, headed for the first stop on our adventure and quite honestly never looked back.

Looking at these photos transports me straight back to sitting in the van with Cathryn, watching the ever changing landscape roll past the windows, and all the fantastic colours that came with it, listening to our favourite songs on the radio and feeling totally free for the first time in our lives.

To be continued...