Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Barossa Valley, South Australia


A wine weekend escape is fabulous – and intensely hot in the summer! Recently when my fella and I travelled to the Barossa Valley in South Australia, ย my romantic idea of cycling through the vineyards faded quickly after our one (and only) trip down the road from our hotel! Suddenly biking and drinking in temperatures reaching around 40 degrees (Celsius – so roughly 100 – 110 degrees Fahrenheit) didn’t seem wise much less romantic. An air conditioned vehicle became our chariot. Apart from the scorching sun, the area is stunning – which is hopefully evidenced by some of the photos below. Everyone we encountered was friendly, helpful and seemed passionate about what they do. I loved hearing about each winery’s history, the stories and its people. One of my favourite tidbits came out of Yalumba, who honour an individual who has made a significant contribution by acknowledging them on the label of each release of their renowned Cabernet Sauvigon / Shiraz blend, The Signature. That wouldn’t be a bad little mantelpiece.

The beautiful backdrop and pleasant people enhanced the experience but it was mainly about discovering divine wine and food. Some of our favourite spots included Villa Tinto, Langmeil, Charles Melton and Artisans of the Barossa (collective of seven small wineries under one roof). For dinner, I highly recommend 1918 for the atmosphere, lovely service and fresh food, prepared with care and thoughtfulness. Lunch at Maggie Beer is a treat – look out for the turtles in the pond out back. If you need to have a short break from wine, Barossa Valley Brewing makes for a decent retreat.

Another amazing Australian experience – here’s a short highlight reel:



Everything in the Barossa seems to be made with love.


Beautiful setting at Yalumba

View from Novotel

View from private balcony at Novotel

Cellar door at Charles Melton

View from Charles Melton cellar door

Turtles at Maggie Beer

Lunch with the turtles at Maggie Beer



Sculpture By The Sea


Imprisoned caterpillars, a skeleton walking a balance beam and giants made of staples. Sounds like characters from a fantasy novel but these are actually some of the things you will find at the annual spring exhibition, Sculpture By The Sea, another favourite event for Sydneysiders. I am continually impressed by the focus of cultural events in Sydney, one trait that makes this city such a special place. SBTS is a treat for photographers and while I went along equipped with my little point and shoot, the exhibition presents plenty of opportunities for even the most amateur photographer (ahem.. me) to play around with. Cameras aside though, the purpose is to get outside, take in the fresh ocean breeze and enjoy art.

Lorikeet invasion


Remember the classic Hitchcock film The Birds? I felt like I was in a much more pleasant and not so deadly version of that the other day. I was working at home when I glanced outside to see one beautiful rainbow lorikeet perched on the balcony railing. Generally, I’m not a big fan of the bird family but the colours on a rainbow lorikeet are remarkable. When I quietly stepped onto the balcony to snap a photo of the little fella (or lady) I noticed this particular bird wasn’t very shy. Suddenly, I found my balcony invaded with rainbow lorikeets, most of which seemed to love the camera. In addition to their playful personalities, I was also struck by the contrast of their vibrant feathers against the grey, stormy skies in the background. A little while later when the rain had stopped and the clouds began to disappear, so did the lorikeets into the concrete jungle.

Rainbow lorikeet

First there was one.

Pair of rainbow lorikeets

And then there was two.

Group of lorikeets

Suddenly an invasion of rainbow lorikeets.

Pair of lorikeets (love birds)

Huddling for warmth

Lorikeets looking mischevious

This pair looks like they’re up to no good.

Another pair of lorikeets

The one on the left is showing off his Blue Steel look.

A lake, a cave and a world away


The beauty of the Blue Mountains never gets old, even after several visits. Seeking a peaceful weekend escape that wasn’t too hard on the budget and close enough to Sydney, Matt and I booked a secluded studio that overlooked Lake Lyell, near Rydal (past the main hubs of Katoomba and Leura). We arrived in the evening – perfect timing for spotting nocturnal wildlife, which we were fortunate enough to pick out a wombat who stood still long enough for us to take a picture. Alas, I did not get the night setting on my camera on before the little fella wandered off into the darkness. Not a rare sighting perhaps but exciting nonetheless as neither of us had seen one in the wild – especially significant for Matt who was born and raised in Australia. Showing up in the dark also meant being able to take in one of my favourite parts of travelling to the countryside – the promise of an unpolluted sky that’s packed with stars. I am easily transfixed by the sight.

The following day was dreary but even under the blanket of grey, the scenery was refreshing. However, when it’s raining in the Blue Mountains it can be a bit tough to enjoy outdoor activities, which is one of the draws of visiting the area. One popular indoor attraction around those parts are the Jenolan Caves, which I never made a point of visiting simply because I didn’t think it would be very interesting. The rainy Saturday finally made me ‘cave’ in (terrible pun which was definitely intended) and I’m glad I did. Much to my surprise the caves were quite beautiful and fascinating. The mere history of the caves is enough to wrap your head around. In one of the photos below (third from bottom) is the Angel’s Wing and while the picture might not do this wonder much justice, consider that the wing grew at a rate of 1cm in 100 years. At least this is what the tour guide claimed. It’s not an exact science or formula but does illustrate that it took this formation a really, really long time to grow. A bit mind-boggling actually.

As the rain limited our excursion options, the rest of the weekend was filled with indulging in food, wine, beer and a cosy studio warmed by a log fire. Not entirely a bad way to spend a chilly winter weekend in the Blue Mountains. Before we knew it, the weekend was coming to a close and we were already on the road back to Sydney. A short escape but thanks to a lake, a cave, and a wombat, we felt like we were a world away. Here are some of my favourite shots, which kind of make me wish I could be transported right back.

Lake Lyelle - view from studio

Alpacas strolling by

(Above) Our neighbours out for a stroll

Lake Lyell
Temple of Baal - Jenolan Caves
Angel's Wing in Temple of Baal

Temple of Baal - Jenolan Caves

Jenolan Caves

Australian Women Writers Challenge


As we near the end of another year, I join the likes of many other people trying to figure out how to make their next year more satisfying whether that is through losing weight, doing more volunteer work or one of the million resolutions people can make.

One of my personal challenges for myself in 2012 is to simply read more and diversify the genres that I read. It was shortly after I made this resolution I came across the Australian Women Writers Challenge, a challenge to read and review works by Australian female writers. Having lived in Australia for over four years I realized that I really have not picked up as much Aussie literature as I should have but this will change. In addition to generally picking up more magazines, books and newspapers next year I have signed up (so it’s official) for the Stella level of this challenge, aiming to read at least three books written by Australian women and review at least two of those, which you will find in due course on this blog. I would like to think that over the course of twelve months I can manage to read more than three but I figure that if I can achieve anything more than this will be a happy bonus.

I have been trying to compile a list of what I should read. In addition to signing up for the Stella category I have identified myself as a a ‘Dabbler’ in which I will try to reach out to a variety of genres. Normally I lean towards memoirs and fiction. I would really like to try to read sci-fi / fantasy because this is just one genre that I believe I have not given much of a chance. My partner being a fan of science fiction and fantasy writing has suggested I read and review something by K.E. Mills and /orย  Sara Douglass. I also happen to have a Charlotte Wood book The Children on my bookshelf which has been sitting there, unread for the last couple of years so will pick that one up and quite likely wonder why it took me so long to read it (I have a tendency to pick up second hand books at the markets therefore have loads of books on my shelf that are just awaiting to be read!) Also adding to my list of potential reads will be something by Emily Maguire. Emily is one of the writer ambassadors for Room to Read and I have met her a few times. She is a lovely lady and I have read some of her excellent work in the Sydney Morning Herald plus would love to support her since she is so generously contributing some of her time to Room to Read (including helping me put together our bi-monthly newsletter).

I am certain there are heaps of possibilities out there which is why I think reading three books will be no problem and I hope to exceed that. If you’d like to learn more about the challenge and perhaps even sign up, follow this link or click on the image below. What are your favourite books written by Australian women? I would love to hear your suggestions! Until next time, happy reading!

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