Australia Road Trip 2016- Phase Sydney (New South Wales)

Australia Road Trip 2016- Phase Sydney (New South Wales)

Australia Road Trip 2016- Phase Sydney (New South Wales)

If there’s a road trip that qualifies being termed epic, this is it ! This photographic project in November 2016 was my longest ever overseas assignment to date. Organised by Jetabout Holidays, in collaboration with Tourism Australia covering both New South Wales (NSW) and Tasmania.  The trip was preceded by an invitation from Qantas on departure day to experience the expansive and lavish Qantas Lounge at Singapore Changi International Airport Terminal 1. The lounge is managed by The Sofitel hospitality group with a host of luxurious features like one of renowned Australian’s leading chefs Neil Perry’s Rockpool menu, local hawker centre-inspired open grill station, a cocktail bar plus a valet service for top-tier frequent flyers. The article of the event can be read here. It was certainly a superb start to the road trip, which totalled 2 weeks from 2-18 Nov, with an estimated driving mileage of some 3000km.  For easier read and referencing, this travelogue will feature the NSW and Tasmania individually.

*All pictures used in this travelogue are copyrighted to Holiday Tours & Travel Singapore and all rights reserved.

A weekend at Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach (Sydney)

This popular beach needs no introduction and is located 7 km  east of the Sydney central business district.  Bondi Beach is one of the most visited tourist sites in Australia. “Bondi” or “Boondi” is an Aboriginal word meaning water breaking over rocks or noise of water breaking over rocks. But whatever the meaning is, Bondi has come to be known the “beach capital” of Australia and a must-visit venue when in NSW. For  photographers, this is location is excellent for watersports, people and journalistic photography. But a word of advise is that locals generally do not like their pictures taken, so do be mindful when capturing their images. The Bondi area has wide range of eateries and amenities you need for a great stay.  Our accommodation at Bondi was the comfortable and conveniently located Adina Apartment Hotel and QT Bondi .

Sunrise at Bondi Beach. The bay is east facing, so if you like sunrise, remember to set that alarm.

Volunteers lifeguards on weekend training at Bondi beach. And they come in all shades of colours.


Qualified lifeguards keeping a lookout for beach-goers at Bondi beach. According to Beachsafe, Bondi Beach has a general beach hazard rating of 7/10, deeming it highly hazardous. Since June 2015, the Lifeguard Service of Waverley Council, North Bondi SLSC and Bondi Surf Bathers LSC have had to conduct a combined total of 635 rescues, administer first aid 1438 times and take 7396 preventative actions. Most of the mishaps or accidental; injuries comes from the surging waves. Stings from marine creatures are fairly common and on rare occasion, swimmers may be injured by shark attacks.

The volunteer lifeguards don vibrant hue swim wears that makes them easy to spot and great photographic subjects.

One of the fave activities of locals seemed to be walking their pets and people watching. Or simply enjoying the great outdoors.

Bondi Iceberg Club swimming pool, a landmark of Bondi Beach for over 100 years. And I believe, probably one of the most photographed swimming pools in Australia.

Artsy outing @ Sculpture by the Sea

This event is the world’s largest annual free-to-the-public outdoor sculpture exhibition and was initiated in 1997, at Bondi Beach. It feature sculptures by both Australian and overseas artists. This artsy exhibition is held yearly during spring from late October to early November for three weeks. So should you be at Bondi during the period, I would highly recommend inserting this event on your trip plan. For those on self-drive holiday, I would advise leaving the rental car in the hotel and take the public transport instead. In fact, plan a day trip , take it easy and walk along the scenic coast route to admire the exhibits along the way, if mobility is not a problem. You can refer here for access to the venue.

Welcome to the largest outdoor sculpture exhibition in the world. Just go with the human flow and you will be soaked in artsy moment like never before.

Dynamics in Impermanence, ( Nicole Larkin) , Link III” by Inge King (2nd from left) , Swing in the Air by Kozo Nishino and The Golden Hour by Cave Urban. The list of artists goes on…about 100 !

Dynamics in Impermanence, by Nicole Larkin. A beautiful sculpture. Great opportunity to test your creativity in how to capture the essence of the artist’s work.

Celestial Rings , by Inge King. One of the many exhibits along the coastal walk.

Dave by Cathyann Coady . Certainly stimulating a romantic setting for lovers.

Weekend Farmers’ Market

The Bondi Farmers Market is held every Saturday from 9 am – 1 pm at Bondi Beach Public School (walk upwards from the Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club) . At the Farmers’ Market, you can buy fresh seasonal fruit & vegetables, organically grown meat & poultry, just-picked flowers, confectionery, homemade jams, farm-make cheeses and honey, seafood, olive oils, herbs, spices and much more. You can also take your breakfast here as there is a wide range of food (including Asian food) and snacks for purchase. This is the venue where a picnic mat will come in handy, as you set up a space at the field to feast on your meals.

The Bondi Farmers market is a very well-received weekend event on Bond. Do schedule about 1-1.5 hours and go early.

Gluten-free cookies and cakes for sales. A gluten-free diet is essential for most people with gluten allergies or celiac disease, a condition which causes intestinal damage when gluten is eaten.

Aussie honey ! A great fave among visitors. Do sample the range of tastes before buying the type of honey you like.

Fruits anyone ? Probably organic.. Great for those going on self-drive trips. Buy some and eat along the trip during meal breaks.

How about a cup of freshly squeezed lemonade ? can’t get any fresher than this…

Behind the scene @ Sydney Fish Market

Day 3 saw us visiting the Sydney Fish Market , bright and early in the morning. This place is an institution in Sydney itself… a must-visit when in this vibrant city. I may not be a avid seafood person, but after visiting the market, my mind was ” if there is one place that I would go to when visiting Sydney again, it would be the Sydney Fish Market !”. Established in 1966 and located on Blackwattle Bay, this is one of the biggest fishing ports in operation (after Japan) and wholesale fish market. And it has a fresh seafood retail section and eateries where you can order fresh seafood and have them cooked on the spot – deep fried, grilled, fried or sashimi style. Just 1 tip here, it might be best to feast on your seafood within the building inner compound as there are plenty of seagulls and pelicans eager to swoop in to join diners seated at the al fresco area.  And they come in packs, not 1 or 2. And they are not toilet trained too. Note – our visit to the Sydney Fish Market being a specially arranged media trip, permitted us to take pictures within the fish market bidding compound. For general paid-guided trip, no photography/video are allowed inside the auction compound.

One the most recognizable logos in Sydney. Certainly confidence inspiring – “The Catch of the Day. Everyday”. A symbol of freshness and quality.

A trio of seagulls eyeing bits of fishes at the market.. And there many other birds too, like the pelicans.

Restaurant owners, fishmongers, seafood suppliers, etc, all bidding for the fresh seafood using a system similar to the Danish floral Christensen system. The auction price starts about AUD5 above the reserved price and every revolution (1 min each) on the bid chart sees the price drops a dollar. Bid too early, the bidder pays a higher price and less profit margin. Bid too low and he leaves with nothing to sell. So stressful !

Freshly caught tunas for sale…notice the head being knocked with hole…it’s done at the time of trawling..to preserve meat freshness and reduce fish suffering.

Wide range of seafood and prices are reasonable, with the usual Fish and Chips or Mixed Seafood Grill costing about about AUD15-30. Australian food portion are typically large, so order wisely if you are watching your calorie intake.

Seafood lovers will be superbly delighted at the wide range of offerings at the retail section. Peter’s Seafood is the largest there and serves great seafood.

Come, join Cindy for some fresh sashimi ? Seafood lovers will swoon at this gorgeous seafood heaven.

Watson’s Bay golden moments

I just had to highlight this beautiful scenic location, just a 15-17 min drive from Bondi Beach. It’s perfect for photography at sunset and usually not too crowded. The direction of The Gap faces east and will be great for sunrise while the Robertson Park, just across the road, is best at sunset to capture the silhouetted skyline of Sydney business District. Watson’s Bay is a mostly residential area with some recreational areas and beaches, including Camp Cove and a legal nude beach located at Lady Bay. Some eateries, cafes and a hotel are located here. The coastal walk with ocean views of the Gap along South Head make Watson’s Bay a popular tourist attraction in Sydney.

The Gap is an ocean cliff on the South Head peninsula in eastern Sydney, New South Wales. The area, which faces the Tasman Sea, is located in the eastern suburb of Watson’s Bay, Beautiful location for landscape, especially at sunrise.

Chill out and enjoy the lovely end of a day at Robertson Park. Enjoy what the locals do.

The splendid skyline of the Sydney Business District. shot from Watson’s Bay.

Golden moments among friends. And best of all, there’s no entrance fee. Just savour nature’s gifts.

Panoramic sights @Blue Mountains

Day 4 saw us packing our bags and head to the Blue Mountains. The very name itself evokes a magical feel.  Scientifically explained, there is a reason why the mountains are bluish. ‘ The Blue Mountains is densely populated by oil bearing Eucalyptus trees. The atmosphere is filled with finely dispersed droplets of oil, which, in combination with dust particles and water vapour, scatter short-wave length rays of light which are predominantly blue in colour’ (Wikipedia). The Blue Mountains is a mountainous region and a mountain range. The Greater Blue Mountains Area was listed as a World Heritage Area by UNESCO on 29 November 2000. It is inhabited by over 400 different forms of animals. Among them are rare mammal species like spotted-tailed quoll, the koala, the yellow-bellied glider, and long-nosed potoroo. There are also some rare reptiles, like the Blue Mountain water skink. There are also some dingos in the area, which form the top predators and hunt for grey kangaroos. We did not stay here sufficiently long enough to explore all that ecosystem but would definitely plan longer stays here in future. Our choice of accommodation at this location was the Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains, MGallery by Sofitel. You get to enjoy spectacular view of the Blue Mountains right at the breakfast dining hall.

The famous ” Three Sisters” viewed from the Scenic World lookout point. Can you spot them ?

The Scenic Skyway, suspended 270 metres above ancient ravines, the ride provides a thrilling experience as passengers take in the view with see-through electro-glasss cabin floor. With 360° views, the 720 metre journey provides the best views of Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters, and Jamison Valley stretching to the horizon.

Riding the steepest passenger railway in the world, the Scenic Railway, at 52′ incline. The Railway experience descends 310 metres through a cliff-side tunnel, emerging into ancient rainforest at the Jamison Valley floor. Operating since 1945, this 5th generation Scenic Railway has thrilled 25 million passengers since opening in 1945.

The Echo Point Look out , best location to view the The Three Sisters and the majestic vistas of mountains, canyons and forest. Simply amazing.

Go back 340 million years @ Jenolan Caves

The spectacular Jenolan Caves are Australia largest and most famous caves.  This is the world’s oldest caves and one of the most outstanding cave systems.  Personally, cave visits are generally somewhat ‘boring’ with rocks everywhere. But after a paid guided visit, I was truly impressed in particular, by how the caves were wired to light up via switches as the cave warden narrates stories and interesting facts of the limestone formation. It’s almost like a light symphony show. Scientists from the CSIRO (Commonwealth Science and Industrial Resource Organisation) estimated that the limestone to date back at least 340 million years!  11 show caves are conducted to visitors everyday of the year.  Definitely a great place to visit when in the Katoomaba region.  Just be advised that the venue can be reached only after a long drive on winding and sometimes narrow road, which on some parts are one way. I experienced superb courteous manner from other drivers so it a safe drive. Just remember to keep within speed limits.

Amazing cave structures..The Jenolan Caves are limestone caves located within the Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve in the Central Tablelands region, west of the Blue Mountains, in New South Wales, in eastern Australia. (Wikipedia)

340 million years old !! that’s how old this place is. Truly awes-inspiring to think the amount time taken to form these structures.

Imagine…many hundred of million years just to reach this stage .

Part of the stalactites called a “curtain”. Beautiful , especially with the back-lighting.

At the end of the cave walk.. we were presented with gorgeous lighted hues within the cave…

“Edge of the World” @Lincoln’s Rock

If the phrase “butterflies in the stomach” sounds familiar to anyone, then looking over the cliff at The Lincoln’s Rock will certainly adds a new dimension. The highlight of this incredible lookout point is the leg-numbing ‘illusion’ “Edge of the World” picture you can get as a travel ‘trophy’. When you look over the edge of the rock, you could see several burned car bodies far down the base of the mountain (possibly from movies stunt sequencers). Certainly a heart-thumping venue not for the faint hearted. This incredible lookout was only officially named ‘Lincoln’s Rock’ in 2013. Before that it was known by a few different names: Flat Rock (it really is a big flat rock!) or Wedding Rock (it’s a popular wedding photography spot) and even Honeymoon Rock.  The view from Linclon’s Rock looks out to  Jamison Valley, which changes colour throughout the day as the sun and clouds move overhead. As there are no safety barriers , visitors with little children are advised to fully supervise them at ALL times.

2nd and final attempt, managed to straighten my arms..sit up right more and right at the edge… but still really scare… for someone who skydived 6 jumps, this is a new ball game cause at least when you skydive., you had a parachute..

Standing near that edge… with wind blowing behind..is quite an achievement already.

Our 2nd dawn outing at Lincoln’s Rock, the actual objective ? Go to the edge of the rock ..dangle those legs off the edge..

Nice sunrise. Not as windy as the previous morning. I like the way the light cast shadows on the rock surface.

Homestay @Old Leura Dairy

This is the first and only homestay of the trip and it certainly warrants a special highlight here as the accommodation was memorable and a refreshing departure from the usual hotel style accommodation.  Upon arrival, we get to retrieve the key to our unit affectionately called the Buttercup Barn, from a ‘secret’ location around the house with direction from the owner over telephone. The cosy house is constructed out of 95% recycled materials, tastefully decorated and furnished with all the fittings you need for a comfortable stay. I even get start my own fire with wood chips and logs in the fireplace, just stave off the 12’C chill.  The dining table even had a bottle of home-made apricot jam that’s with compliments by the owner. The flowering garden just in front of the barn was another highlight that kept us entertained with insect macro and bird photography. I could stay at least a few more days and not feel bored in the lush peaceful surroundings. More information on the other types of Old Leura Dairy accommodation can be referred here.

Our own “home” stay at the Buttercup Barn. Amazing countryside experience ! Love it !

Stairs to loft bedroom. Wonderful cosy ambience that is just memorable.

Cosy countryside living. A refreshing change especially for for city-folks like me.

Bed so comfy, you want to stay in all day long. There’s no air-conditioning here as the Blue Mountains highest temperature is a cool 24’C at its warmest and -22’C in deep winter. Now you know why there is a fireplace in the house.

Honey bee at garden just outside the house front door…a stunning Australian native flower called Echium.

A New Holland Honeyeater bird among the bushes.

Hot Air Ballooning @Hunter Valley

Beyond sweeping vistas of vineyards and fine-dining adventures, hot air ballooning is one of the highlights at Hunter Valley. We were in safe hands as we were hosted by Balloon Aloft , a multi-award winning hot air ballooning company serving the Hunter Valley for over 35 years. The 1 hour aerial flight commences before sunrise so that by the time we were airborne, it’s perfectly timed to take in the spectacle of a new day, right over the beautiful wine region. And where the wind blows, the balloon goes, making landing spot not fixed. But with the pilot’s expert control, it’s usually a safe and low-risk event in the wide open spaces. While we started the day in chilly temperature of 10-12’C before airborne, it was warm (hot even) within the passengers basket, when the pilot blast the fire burners to control the balloon buoyancy. After the flight completion, it’s the usual ritual of passengers helping out in disassembling and storing the balloon with celebration of champagne and hearty breakfast at the famed Peterson House Winery and Restaurant. A must-do activity when in Hunter Valley. Our choice of accommodation in Hunter Valley was the basic but cosy Hunter Valley Resort. Beer drinkers will love their beer microbrewery  – Matilda Bay Brewhouse, which is Pokolbin’s first boutique brewhouse (established 2001) .

The break of dawn, when we commenced on the hot air ballooning. Perfect golden hour for great photo opportunity..

Waiting for the hot air to fill up the balloon.. Australians have great work safety code like a boundary marker, to discourage overly enthusiast passengers (like me ) from going too near the fiery burners.

Flaming up and going up. The four burners certainly warms up the chilly morning air.

Our pilot acknowledging me as I aimed my camera at him. Great guy and skillful pilot.

One of the highlights of hot air ballooning, witnessing the birth of new day. And among serene ambience.

Our balloon reflected on the trees in the warm morning glow. Can you spot another balloon in the far left side , among the among the hills ?

Reflection of our balloon on a pond surface at a farm. The pilot does this purposely for this unique angle.

End of the aerial flight. Time to start helping the pilot and his crew to deflate the balloon. An interesting ‘ritual’ by itself.

Champagne Breakkie ! Best of the menu items. The portion are generous and fill you up till late afternoon.

Christmas Lights Spectacular @Hunter Valley Garden

Every year, the gorgeous Hunter Valley Gardens brings the magic of Christmas to thousands of visitors through the spectacular light-up with millions of lightings on display. This will especially appeal to families with young children on a night out.  Displays include Santa’s Workshop (opens until New Year’s Eve) .This traditional Christmas Workshop is where Santa and his elves are based, right next to the North Pole. Christmas Around the World  where visitors can check out some of the world’s landmarks including the Eiffel Tower, Sydney Harbour scene,  the Coliseum, a giant Earth globe, Dutch windmills and a Scottish castle.  A fun evening out for the whole family under the stars .

Lovely last light pic with the “North Pole” exhibits. Now you can find Santa without going there ..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twelve days of Christmas Light and Sound Display. Children will fully learn the song by visiting this exhibits as the song can play over and over again.

Story Book Garden, stroll through enchanting lighting and mood…

Finally got to meet Santa.. Thought his sleigh needed more than two reindeers ? and where’s Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer?

Kangaroo spotting @Mistletoe Winery Vineyard

No trip to Australia is complete without spotting the Kangaroos. Other than the Koala Bears, this interesting marsupial is top of mind when one thinks of Australia. And we spotted plenty of them at Mistletoe Vineyard , just 5 min drive from our resort. The time to spot them is usually in the early hours in the morning or evening when the  cool temperature are more conducive for their foraging.  The colonies of kangaroos are very alert when you are in their vicinity and it’s best to use a long lens to get better pictures, as they would have hopped away in any attempts to go near.  To get more memorable pictures of them, look for those females with a joey (baby) head sticking out of their pouch or when they occasionally do “boxing” among themselves.

This pair of kangaroos seemed to be at attention and welcoming me. But they are really just being alert and assessing if I am an oppressor. This is the moment to shoot them as they would revert to foraging on grass soon.

Day 8 morning, this marked our last day in New South Wales as we are flying off in the late afternoon to Hobart , Tasmania… so it was nice meeting the Kangaroo colonies at Mistletoe Winery.. loads of them…like 40-50…or more.

It takes 2 to tango..Kangaroos can be combative., this pair was doing a round of ‘sparring” which lasted a few seconds. A Kangaroo can injure a grown up man easily in a close quarter encounter. So do be careful to keep a distance.

When in Hunter Valley , look out for cute letterboxes , made with wine barrels . There are also wine bottled shaped road sign which are definitely appropriate to the region.

Our Hertz car rental …a Nissan Sylphy 1.8L ..with gorgeous cloudscape behind.. Petrol prices in Australia are reasonable but varied among different localities. The GPS will highlight pump stations along the routes but it’s best to top up before embarking to remote places, where pumps are scarce and more expensive.

High seas experience @Australian National Maritime Museum

The museum features a range of seafaring, coastal, naval and cultural themes with artifacts, exhibitions and guided tours. This is an interesting attraction that includes the opportunity to board a decommissioned naval submarine, frigate and a replica 18th century tall ship. The museum is structured around seven main themed galleries, showcasing the discovery of Australia, the relationships between the Australian Aborigines and the travel to Australia by sea, the ocean as a resource, water-based relaxation and entertainment, the naval defense of the nation, and the relationship between the United States of America and Australia. The last gallery was funded by the United States government, and is the only national museum gallery in the world funded by a foreign nation. Four additional gallery spaces are used for temporary exhibits. Three museum ships – the HM Bark Endeavour Replica, the destroyer HMAS Vampire, and the submarine HMAS Onslow – are opened to the public, while smaller historical vessels berthed outside can be viewed but not boarded.  This attraction is suitable for all visitors and should spend about 1.5-2 hours to better enjoy the exhibits. But I would advise the mobility challenged individuals to refrain from entering the cramped interiors of the submarine.

The museum building was designed by Philip Cox, and opened in 1991.

HMAS Onslow (SS 60/SSG 60) was one of six Oberon-class submarines operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Onslow was decommissioned in 1999, and was presented to the Australian National Maritime Museum, where she is preserved as a museum ship.

The main armament of Onslow was six 21-inch (53 cm) bow torpedo tubes, capable of firing torpedoes or releasing sea mines. As of 1996, the standard payload of Onslow was a mix of 20 Mark 48 Mod 4 torpedoes and Sub Harpoon missiles. Some or all of the torpedo payload could be replaced by Mark 5 Stonefish sea mines, which were deployed through the torpedo tubes.

Sleeping quarter of the HMAS Onslow. In a naval vessel, the ‘bed’ the sailor slept in are never their own but shared due to space constraint and rotating shifts duties.

The Q.F 4.5in guns of the HMAS Vampire. Ity was developed originally as a dual-purpose weapon with which to arm aircraft carriers and reconstructed battleships and battlecruisers. It was later developed as a new dual-purpose weapon to arm destroyers, replacing the ubiquitous 4.7 inch gun. Despite the lower calibre, it actually had a heavier shell, resulting in a more powerful weapon.

Wall Art and Graffiti experience @Newtown

Before we leave NSW for Tasmania on day 8 of our road trip, we made a quick to visit to Newtown, a suburb of Sydney’s inner west located about four kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district. Because of its proximity to the expanding Sydney University and the Sydney CBD, along with the comparatively low rents, Newtown began to attract university students in the 1960s and ’70s. The area became a hub for student share-households in Sydney and the development of cafes, pubs and restaurants made it a focus point for many young people. Newtown gained a reputation as a bohemian centre which explains its creative graffiti and “street art” scene. The most prominent of these works are the large murals created in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which were painted on the walls of houses and shops in the area. Spray-painted “tags” have proliferated all over the area in recent years, although more recently the style of tagging has become far more elaborate than the simple spray-can signatures that litter walls throughout the district.  So for some interesting “instagrammable” wall arts , this is the perfect place before heading to Sydney Airport, which is just a short 10min drive away.

That’s what I call Wall Art ! Amazing skill from the artists…

One of my fave wall art, a witty take on a famous slogan. Clean, simple and neat.

Always like an explosion of colours for that extra punch.

A wall art with a universal message . Nice ! Hope the world leaders are looking at this.

Enchantment by Jacaranda Trees

Like to highlight a beautiful tree to readers before I conclude this Sydney and NSW phase of the road trip. As you drive along the beautiful Sydney suburbs,  you can’t help but notice the beautiful purple flowers of the Jacaranda Trees, along the streets and garden of houses. Lots of people think jacarandas are natives, but they’re not. They are native to Brazil, where they are deciduous, not because of cold winters, but because of the monsoonal wet and dry seasons. They briefly drop their leaves at the end of the dry season, then leaf up again when the rains come. As Jacarandas thrive in tropical and warm temperate climates, but they can be grown in cooler areas which get light frosts. But they usually don’t flower as well in these cooler zones, slower-growing and smaller there. As such, you won’t see them much in cooler Tasmania climate. So enjoy them while you’re in Sydney and do take a picture with it as background. Thanks for coming along the road trip so far, do stay tuned for our next phase down south.

Beautiful shade of purple. Certainly a lovely tree to shoot .

Cindy with her fave Jacaranda Tree , at one of the Sydney suburban homes.

A eye balm anytime. Soothing hue that add vibrancy to the cityscape.

A Jacaranda Tree in her full glory.


This trip was organised by Jetabout Holidays. Please check out the website for the various packages to Sydney . For customised itinerary , you can email e_retail@jetabout.com.sg /or to call: 67341818


CONTEST

I have got a bottle of wine from Tyrrells’Wine in Hunter Valley during the trip and would like to give it to ONE lucky winner.

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Collection of gifts from Jetabout Holidays
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