Don’t just drive the Great Ocean Road, take a Helicopter instead.

Don’t just drive the Great Ocean Road, take a Helicopter instead.

Taking a helicopter ride over the cliffs of the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had.

Trust me, if you decide to do it. It will be one experience you will never regret.

I’ve always wanted to take a ride in a helicopter. And like so many other things noted on my bucket list; like a trip to the Antarctic (I’ll get there one day), a helicopter ride was one of my top 10 things to do in life.

From the ground, the Great Ocean Road is little slice of heaven along the Victorian coastline. Surrounded by epic blue waters, incredible surfing locations, white sandy beaches and chic coastal towns serving up some pretty amazing coffee; it really is paradise on earth. But when given a choice to not only experience this stunning landscape on the ground, but to also experience what they are like from the air, by helicopter; how could I refuse.

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up, up and away.

And boy did this experience deliver. What a buzz.

From the moment you take off, the thrill and excitement of being in a helicopter is like none other. You can actual feel the wind underneath you as you are carried up, up into the skies above. It’s a strange sensation and completely different to flying in a plane. Probably as the take off and landing is very different, seeing as you ascend and descent vertically  compared to the horizontal method a plane uses.

Of course being surrounded by windows which are right next to you, in front of you, behind you and underneath you (yes, underneath you) adds to the whole experience of souring through the skies. You literally feel like you’re being carried with the breeze, drifting along the coastline. I imagine this is how a bird feels when it flies. Amazing.

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I’ll also let you in on a little secret (which probably won’t be much of a secret now that I have blogged about it).

The main company who hosts the helicopter rides on the Great Ocean Road is called 12 Apostles. What you might not know, is that they have 2 separate locations located along the main road. If you are coming from the direction of Geelong, then you will come across their first location on the right of the cliffs, across the road from the Twelve Apostles Visitor Centre.

This site is always jammed packed with tourists. From your self-driven tourists to local tourists and bus loads of foreigners. If you chose to go there, be prepared to wait. A very long time. Normally the ques here goes as far back as the car park.

However, if waiting is not your thing and you prefer a more intimate experience with your helicopter ride, continue along the Great Ocean Road a further 15, maybe 20 min max to their second location (which is on the right of you). This location not registered on the map, and nor will they provide an address for it on their website. But trust me, it’s there.

It only has a very small sign on the road, so you will need to keep a keen eye out. It will be a small grey-ish shed looking building, with one helipad. There aren’t any other buildings around the area, so when you see it, you will know.

Have fun.

 

Why I prefer Thredbo to Perisher

Why I prefer Thredbo to Perisher
(picture of Seamans Hut in Mount Kosciuszko, c/of Chockstone Photography)

Don’t get me wrong Perisher Blue is a beautiful ski resort. But there is just something magestic about Thredbo Village.

And although Australia isn’t really known for it’s snowy white mountains and rocky alps, Mount Kosciuszko in New South Wales definitely delivers our fair share of snow that one special time of year, in Winter.

So, why do I prefer Thredbo to Perisher?

Normally when I take a holiday to go visit the beautiful snowy alps of Mount Kosciuszko, it is always to ski. From first lift ride to last lift ride, I barely take my skis off the snowy ground to even break for lunch. I love and breath the sport. So much so, I’ve even got the war wounds of my obsession to prove it. From sprained thumbs to dislocated knees, I have many ski injuries from head to toe.

However, not so long ago, a group of decided to go to Thredbo for a non-skiing holiday. It was my first time going to the snow without any skis in tow.

It felt strange at first. Watching all the happy skiers go up and down the mountain, over and over again, whilst I played in the snow with my nephew; building snowmen and creating snow angels. But you know what, I had the best time. And I walked away from the snow, without any injuries. Winning.

I’ve have always loved Thredbo. It reminds me of some hidden ski resort nestled into the rocky mountains of the Swiss Alps. The problem was, being so devoted to spending hours on the ski slopes, I never really gave myself the chance to absorb what Thredbo Village had to offer.

The village itself is nestled into a rocky cliff side, which faces the ski fields of Thredbo. The layout of the village ensures you have a mountain view from pretty much anywhere you stand and everywhere you stay. Interlinked with pebble stone pathways, you can spend hours wandering through the streets in search of all that Thredbo has to offer. From Bavarian Beer houses, a corner shop, giftware and clothes shopping to a variety of five star restaurants to casual eating cafes, serving up some pretty incredible locally grown coffee. All surrounded by beautiful wood log cabins, exclusive mansions and breathtaking hotels.

Compared to Perisher Blue, I would have to stay, Thredbo Village has to be one of the most picturesque towns in the Australian Alpine region.

In stark contrast, Perisher Blue is located on the other side of the mountain. And although it boasts some beautiful snowy settings, the resort itself is located in the heart of the ski fields. Which means, you are restricted to what you can do outside of skiing. There is no village to wander at night, in search of the best mulled wine and no option to do a bit of gift shopping at leisure.

For me, Thredbo Village has grown to be a one of the most atmospheric towns in all of Australia. with it’s charming European mountain feel, it boasts a world of character not commonly seen in many alpine villages in Australia.

Here’s a few of my favourite activities to do in Thredbo:

Stroll through the village and enjoy some shopping and great food, whilst admiring all the many beautiful buildings. As you are on a cliff, wear comfortable shoes as you will need to use a lot of stairs to get up and down the mountain.

Rent a Holiday Home or chalet instead of booking into a hotel. This way you get to enjoy the full alpine experience of what it’s like to live in an alpine village.

Apres Skiing is fast becoming the thing to do after a day of skiing, especially in Thredbo. Basically it means, ski all day and head straight to the bar for drinks. Try the Bavarian Beer Hall at The River Inn, the Schuss Bar, Rekorderlig Cider Pop Up at Thredbo Alpine Hotel or The Denman Apres Bar and enjoy a wide variety of mulled wine, European beer or schnapps.

Cook your own Steak in the House of Ullr, located in near the centre of the village is a uniquely different restaurant as you get to cook all your own food, whilst listening to a live band on stage.

Play in the snow and leave your skis at the hotel. You won’t believe how much fun can be had. Take the chair lift up to Eagles Nest and enjoy the beautiful sights Mount Kosciuszko has to offer. And when you have finished building the world’s best snowman, enjoy a delicious feast at Eagles Nest Restaurant, Australia’s highest restaurant with an incredible 270° view of the mountains. It’s amazing.

Schnapps tasting at the Wildbrumby Schnapps Distillery. Located 22 min away from Thredbo Village, you can enjoy a delicious German inspired menu which you can accompany with a wide selection of Schnapps flavours.

Night Skiing is a must, as long as the weather permits.Ski fields are lined with stunning lights to guide your way back down the mountain. And the best part, you get to look back over Thredbo Village at night, a magical experience in itself.

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Thredbo Village at night
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House of Ullr
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Frosty the Snowman
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Wildbrumby Distillery
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Sequoia Penthouse
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One of the many rental properties
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Candlelight Lodge
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Me and new best friend
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The shopping zone
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A cute little fella
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Thredbo Alpine Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best Acai Bowls in Sydney

The best Acai Bowls in Sydney

I’ve tracked down some of Sydney’s best Acai Bowls, according to me.

I fell in love with the Acai Bowl when I travelled to Hawaii in 2014. Except this isn’t a blog about Hawaii. That will come later on, after I have shared all my Australian travel secrets with you. But I will give you a little background first, to why I fell in love with the Acai Bowl.

Now, I know what your thinking. This is a travel blog. Why is she going to blab on about Acai Bowls. Well, I have sourced some of the best Acai Bowls in Sydney. So, if you happen to share my love for Acai Bowls and are looking to travel to Sydney, read this and you will know exactly where to go.

Before we left for our 7 day whirlwind vacation in Hawaii, my sister-in-law; who travels to Hawaii often told me I must try an Acai Bowl when I get there. In-fact, I’m sure she told me it should be the first thing I do, before I do anything else. Period.

So, I did. We landed at 8am, checked into the hotel and went in search for the nearest cafe serving a delicious Acai Bowl. And boy was she right. After flying just under 10 hours, not having had the chance to shower yet (as the hotel room wasn’t ready for us yet) and with the morning tropical island humidity already at its peak, it was exactly what I needed to fight the jet lag. Now I know why my sister-in-law told me to eat one as soon as we landed.

Since then, I have been obsessed with them. Not only have I searched high and low all over Sydney for the best ones. I have now resorted to making my own at home, for those lazy weekend days when you don’t want to leave the house.

Here are my top 6 cafes in Sydney that serve the best Acai Bowls:

  1. Calipress in Bondi
  2. Heart & Soul in Cronulla
  3. Mootch & Me in Brighton-Le-Sands
  4. Bare Naked Bowls in Manly
  5. Bills in Surry Hills
  6. Sadhana Kitchen in Enmore/Newtown

Of course, these cafes are not limited to just Acai Bowls. They also boast a wide range of delicious wholefoods and clean eating menus.

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Delicious Blueberry and Acai Bowl. I didn’t like the photo I took of the Acai Bowl at Calipress when I was there last (too much light and image was not very clear). So I replicated it at home and this what it looks like. Enjoy.

There’s a German village in Adelaide!

There’s a German village in Adelaide!

Hiding in the Adelaide Hills, in South Australia is Australia’s oldest surviving German Village.

I’ve been to Adelaide a handful of times and until now I had never even heard of this amazing place. So, of course, the moment I found out about it, my partner and I packed a bag and off we went to see it with our own eyes. In-fact most people don’t even know it exists. Unless you’re a local that is.

Hahndorf was established and settled by Lutheran migrants in the early 1800’s and since then it has become Australia’s very own slice of European antiquity.

Hahndorf really caters for both tourist and locals alike. If you like browsing through gift shops or enjoying a pint (or two) of German beer, or simply prefer to wander the old streets admiring historical and colonial buildings of the 19th-century, you won’t want to miss out on a day trip to Hahndorf when you next visit Adelaide.

Now, if you’re a foodie (like me), then you will absolutely love it in Hahndorf, as it’s a foodie haven.

I drive my partner mad when we travel, as food plays a huge part in my daily travel itinerary. Often, you will find us cafe and restaurant hoping, for sometimes up to an hour, until I find a menu I’m satisfied with.

So, of course, the first thing we did when we arrived into Hahndorf was find a good feed in order to fuel us up for the sightseeing. And what better place to start than the German Arms Hotel. We ordered the Trio of German Wursts, which consisted of: Bratwhurst, Cransky and Weiswhurst Sausages with a side of purple sauerkraut, homemade potato salad, a giant pretzel and all topped off with homemade Bavarian mustard. It was delicious.

However, if you’re looking for less of a hearty style pub meal, there are plenty of other options as Hahndorf is loaded with everything from Restaurants, Pubs, Cafes, Bakeries and of course German Cake Shops for the sweet tooth. I recommend a visit to Chocolate @ No.5, trust me, you won’t regret it. Best Chocolate in Adelaide.

Don’t worry, if food isn’t your thing, there is plenty to see and do in Hahndorf. The buildings are particularly interesting, each with their own unique story of an era long since passed. Make sure you take the camera and allow plenty of time for your visit, as there are little ally ways of hidden wonders and suburban streets lined with stunning old oak trees, dotted with some of the cutest residential properties to sticky beak at.

If you want more information on what’s happening in the town of Hahndorf, visit their website at: www.http://hahndorfsa.org.au/ for a full listing on what’s on offer, including any German Festivals they have planned throughout the year.

hahndorfgerman-village-4german-village-6Hahndorf Village

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Frightful experience at Sydney’s Q Station

A Frightful experience at Sydney’s Q Station

What better way to spend your Halloween evening, than with a midnight tour of The Old Quarantine Station in Manly, Sydney.

Like many, I love a good ghost story. However, I do sit on the fence when it comes to ghosts and I’m probably a little agnostic when it comes to the topic as I neither believe nor disbelieve. But, when I visit old castles in Europe or any old colonial buildings scattered across Australia, I do often pick up on strange feelings of energy that can’t quite be explained.

Is it just energy left over from years of history? Or is there actually something resonating through the walls, trying to make contact?

Whatever it is, with all the places I have ever visited, none of those experiences came close to what I felt when touring the old Quarantine Station of Sydney.

Now referred to as the Q Station, it is located in North Head of Many and is a series of heritage-listed buildings which have now become part of the Sydney Harbour National Park. The complex operated as a quarantine station from 14 August 1832 to 29 February 1984.

The station was created as a means of ensuring anyone arriving from Europe to the new colony of Sydney; who was potentially carrying any contagious disease, were kept in quarantine until they were deemed safe for release, to prevent any spread throughout the new colonies. Unfortunately, for many poor souls the station became their final resting place.

The emotional state of these lost souls resonates deep within the walls of the Q Station as you wander throughout the property.

I did mention earlier that I felt something whilst on the tour, that I had never experienced before. This occurred when we entered the top hospital quarter, where many patients who were suffering from tuberculosis had been treated.

Now, I am no expert when it comes to ghostly encounters and it’s not as though I physically saw a ghost. But, when we entered the top hospital quarter; where many patients who were suffering from tuberculosis were being treated, I did feel an overwhelming sadness that this was the last place I would ever visit.

Within a few minutes of entering the building, I felt the need to sit on one of the old hospital beds (which I normally never would have done). As I sat, I felt my legs go numb. I wasn’t even listening to the guide, as he told tales of the old Q Station. In-fact everything around me was very quiet. Next to me was a window with a clear view of Sydney Harbour, which provided a glorious view of the twinkling lights of Sydney city, including the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

I couldn’t bare the sadness, I was almost in tears at the thought that this was it. I would never see Sydney and this would be where I would die. It was a strange sensation.

Finally, I managed to fight back a little and told my partner I needed to get out. He picked me up off the bed and took me outside for fresh air. The moment I was out the doors, I was back to feeling normal. No more sadness, just relief that I got out.

Our tour guide came out to check if I was okay and it was then that I learned many people who visit this part of the station have experienced exactly what I just did.

I don’t know if what I felt was some ghostly presence trying to communicate with me, their last moment of life at the Q station. Or whether the sadness came from awareness of how horrible it must of been, for those who travelled so far for a new life in Australia and never made it out of the quarantine station.

Whatever it was, it made for an interesting Halloween evening and one I will never forget.

The amazing property of the Q Station
The amazing property of the Q Station