Tag Archive: New South Wales



Why not?  Yeah, it’s cold but NOT “sufferingly cold”. And for Cebu Pacific’s basic return fare (Manila-Sydney-Manila) of only PhP13,000, how can you go wrong? Even inclusive of those add-ons (food, baggage allowance, seat assignment, etc), it’s still a steal at US$350 or so! Again, why not? 

 

Check out these links for the winter time I spent visiting family in Australia:


Of Roadtrips, Train Journeys & Flights

Back In The City (Sydney)

Househunting: Katoomba

A 3rd Visit to Watson’s Bay

Sydney’s Barracks Museum

Lake Conjola Weekend

Flaneur On The Loose

Bushwalking in Lake Parramatta

Mayfield Garden

Coastal Walk from Bondi to Coogee

Gold Coast 


Food Trips

The Grounds of Alexandria

Salt Meats Cheese

Dining: Cupitt’s Winery & Restaurant

Tandoori King

Donto Sapporo


Enjoy, mate!



This is a sequel to last year’s blog summary (IN AND OUT OF SYDNEY). Some favorite sites were revisited and explored further, and unlike the earlier blog, I’ve thrown in a list of food trips (including some from 2013 archives)  for you to consider. Have a good trip, mate!

 

 

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Bondi Beach

 

 

 

Day Trips From Sydney

 

A Weekend in Lake Conjola


PARAGON CAFE: Oldest Cafe in Australia


BERRY As Pitstop On Way to Jervis Bay

 

Blue Mountains’ Many Walks and Lookouts

 

Leura and Katoomba in the Blue Mountains

 

 

 

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Darling Harbour

 

 

In And Around The City

A Few Good Spots Around Sydney

 

Sydney Harbour Bridge 24/7

 

Bondi On The Pacific


Watsons Bay


Powerhouse Museum

 

 

The Friendly Inn at Kangaroo Valley

The Friendly Inn at Kangaroo Valley

 

Food Trips

 

Leura Gourmet Cafe

 

Heritage Bakery


NANDO’s Peri Peri Chicken

 

How About Some Burgers from Charlie?

 

WatervieW in Sydney’s Olympic Park

 

SUSHIRO In North Sydney

 

Two Skinny Cooks from Berrima (2013)

 

The Old Bakery Cottage In Berrima

 

Mira Japanese Resto In Manly Beach

 

Lindt’s At Cockle Bay Wharf

 

Nick’s At Darling Harbour

 

That Famous Robertson Pie

 

The Friendly Inn @Kangaroo Valley

 

 


 One thing I love about Australia is its many hamlets. Small, quaint, charming, enchanting villages either in the mountains or by the coast. I remember the first time I visited Katoomba. Took the train aiming to spend a whole morning viewing the magnificent gorges of the Blue Mountains and doing some bushwalking. I did. But I remember more that one afternoon I walked aimlessly along the streets of Katoomba. No Maccas (McDo) or KFC food chains here. Instead, I found tiny cafes, charming bookstores, arts and crafts stores, and food and delishops.

 

 

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Echo Point

 

My Katoomba Bookstore

My Katoomba Bookstore

 

 

Back in 1999, I stayed in an artist’s home. It’s quite a walk from the Katoomba Train Station, and it didn’t help that there was no heating around the house. Next day’s bushwalking was a struggle that I kept wishing I was on the cablecar with glass floor that kept passing us above the bush. When I had the afternoon to myself, I mechanically walked towards this bookstore that has seen better times. Old, unpretentious, but oozing with that old world charm. At the time, there was a baby grand piano in the center where someone (I assumed he was the owner) was playing some classical tunes. He offered me a cuppa and encouraged me to browse around lugging my cup of my favorite brew. What a relaxing afternoon.

 

 

Cablecar takes you right to Katoomba's iconic landmark -- The Three Sisters in Echo Point.

Cablecar takes you right to Katoomba’s iconic landmark — The Three Sisters in Echo Point.

Bookstore in Katoomba

Bookstore in Katoomba

 

 

Katoomba is truly an artist’s haven.  The oldest cafe in Australia is also to be found here, so lovingly restored and preserved. They even hold movie nights here! And in neighboring Leura, one is encouraged to simply walk around and appreciate the local architecture and gardens. There are bushwalking options leading all the way to Echo Point or to Leura Falls, if that suits your fancy. Or maybe you would like to just stay around Leura Mall and enjoy the flowering cherry trees. Amazing how they have preserved this historic street to include the Leura Post Office which now houses a news agency. Have a meal in one of the restos and coffee shops before checking out the many antique and gift boutiques.

 

 

We had a fantastic lunch here!

We had a fantastic lunch here!

 

 

 

 

Paragon Cafe is the oldest cafe in Australia.

Paragon Cafe is the oldest cafe in Australia.

You'd love dog-friendly Leura!

You’d love dog-friendly Leura!

 

 

And not to forget, take home some of those gourmet jams, dips, marmalades and tea concoctions. You don’t know how a simple jar can “extend one’s holiday”.

 

 

The old Post Office now houses a news agency.

The old Post Office now houses a news agency.

Grab a table at the Solitary Cafe. Just beware your coffee easily turns cold.] Grab a table at the Solitary Cafe. Just beware your coffee easily turns cold.


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It’s Autumn in Berry, Shoalhaven.

We took off early for a family weekend in a holiday home by the lake. Not easy with 6 grandchildren of 2 teenagers and 4 under 10. Chaos cuts across almost everything that involved the 6. Who sits beside whom? Who shares a pie or a platter of scones with clotted cream and jam? Which gelato flavors to order?  Where to park? Where and what to eat? Who else hasn’t peed before the next long drive? 

 

 

 

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A very interesting one-story hotel in Berry.

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Where to have a brekkie in Berry? So many choices.

 

 

First Pitstop identified. The heritage town of Berry in the Shoalhaven region along the South Coast is just slightly over an hour’s drive south of the state capital of Sydney. It is a small town, but packed with many historic buildings as well as a number of curio shops with arts, antiques and crafts. Very charming.

 

 

 

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The main street in Berry is lined with historic buildings, interesting curio shops, many arts and crafts stalls.

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On this store is a big sign that says “POTTERING AROUND IS THE PERFECT PASTIME”. Only in Berry, Shoalhaven!

 

 

Population is only a couple of thousand. The few we met who manned the curio shops didn’t seem to mind our little ones sneaking in and out of stalls, pushing chairs here and there to get closer to a favorite cousin, or to slurp from someone elses’s milk shake. An elderly couple even approached us while enjoying our brekkie, just to say how delighted they were with our little one who took off his hat to fill it up with water from a drinking fountain! (That could only be Xion)

 

 

 

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Cousins!

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The kids loved the scones and devonshire tea from Gourmet on Broughton Cafe. Berry, NSW.

 

 

Earlier on, we debated on whether to try the famous doughnuts of Berry or stick to our fav scones and tea. The nearby gelato and available parking clinched the decision to go for scones. Not a bad thing at all. GOURMET ON BROUGHTON CAFE had enough tables to sit all of us, with the Berry Museum, Berry Memorial and a couple more historic buildings just a few meters away.

 

 

 

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Before long, the little ones easily found their way to the nearby gelato. We also just needed to cross the street to check out the arts and crafts stalls. Many interesting stores here. And the vibe is very “Berry” relaxed. It was so refreshing to be chatting with so many cheerful strangers!

 

 

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We were all packed inside our cars and well on our way when we passed the doughnut shop. Hmmmm. Maybe next time 🙂

 

 

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IN AND OUT OF SYDNEY


It’s rare that I travel without any plan. But that’s what I just did. As soon as I heard my eldest sister needed surgery, I flew to Sydney as fast as I could. The first 2 weeks involved pre-surgery medical procedures. The 3rd week meant life in St. George Private Hospital in Kogarah where my sister had her surgery and subsequent recovery. Thereafter, we waited nearly 2 weeks for the pathology results. It was quite an ordeal but by the 5th week, we were celebrating! All throughout, the family stayed tight and kept faith. We celebrated “being family” as we made excursions to heritage towns and beach spots, visited Abbeys and churches, watched movies, packed picnic baskets, walked through some parks, dined out and in my last week before going home to Manila, partied like crazy. In the midst of adversity, we managed many family outings. This is our story.

 

 

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DAY TRIPS OUT OF SYDNEY

 

Kiama and The Blowhole

The Benedictine Abbey in Jamberoo

Wollongong

A Sunny Break In Watsons Bay

 

 

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Kangaroo Valley

Blue Mountains and Echo Point

Jenolan Caves

A Rizal Park In A Sydney Suburb?

 

 

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Berrima

A Ferry Ride To Manly Beach

Goulburn’s BEST Bakery

Off To CANBERRA’s Cockington Gardens

 

 

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IN AND AROUND THE CITY (SYDNEY)

Darling Harbour

Hyde Park, St. Mary’s Cathedral, The Domain, Bondi & Coogee Beaches, Circular Quay, Etc

Mt. Annan Botanic Garden

 

 

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We’re FAMILY!

FINALLY, SOME MUSINGS & RAMBLINGS


Continue reading


Sydney is NOT the capital of Australia. Canberra is. Rather, Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales. And it is a most charming state capital. Earlier, I didn’t think much of Sydney. While I love the harbour bridge, opera house and adore Darling Harbour, it ended there. This recent trip of mine changed all that.

 

 

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The Iconic Sydney Opera House

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View of Sydney Olympic Park while having breakfast in “Lilies On The Park”.

 

 

This old hag from the Tropics arrived in the dead of a mild winter. Mild, for them. And I came NOT as a tourist but for very personal reasons. All of 6 weeks without stepping foot outside of the state of New South Wales. I wasn’t keen to “tour” around, having visited twice before, and really, not having much by way of expectations. But the family decided for me. After all, we needed the “break”, and we wanted to feel “family”.

 

 

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Kid-friendly. Seniors-friendly. Lake Belvedere in Sydney Olympic Park.

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Finally. BONDI BEACH!

 

 

The last 2 trips, I have not visited Bondi Beach. Many friends asked why I missed it, and I grew tired saying there wasn’t time nor a chance. Next time I was asked, I decided to simply lie. And so my family thought it’s about time I come “clean” and finally dig my toes into Bondi sands. Winter or not! Luckily, we had a sunny break and Bondi Beach was teeming with wakeboarders and swimmers in scuba outfits. So, this is Bondi! Frankly, I prefer the more relaxed vibes in Manly Beach, Watsons Bay and Coogee Beach. But that’s just my opinion.

 

 

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The 9 km walk along the coast. Manly Beach.

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Coogee Beach. Lovely. Even with planes hovering above…

 

 

Once, I was given some “me” time when I met up with my niece in Hyde Park. I decided to go a couple of hours early. Enough time to round up the park and the gardens before visiting St. Mary’s Cathedral where a Filipino priest said Mass. It was tempting to just stay inside the Church given that cold afternoon. Determined not to “waste” the opportunity, I walked till I grew tired and cold. This stab at solitude was most comforting, if you ask me. Plus it allowed me to see and appreciate Sydney in a different perspective. This country puts a lot of importance on quality living considering its many parks, gardens and safe beaches. Whenever I find filtered water stations, clean toilets and train stations, safe beaches and jetties, I gain a newfound respect for Australia. What clinched it for me was really the fact that I felt safe and undisturbed while enjoying my “me” time. Something I failed to do in other cosmopolitan cities elsewhere in the world. (Read: no touts selling their wares, no beggars or bums asking for a cigarette stick, no pushing crowds).

 

 

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St. Mary’s Cathedral

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Hyde Park.

 

 

The only things that broke my “temporary break from society” were those magpies swooping down as if to hit them dumb ones like moí. I took cover in the shaded areas of the park and royal gardens and then sought comfort in one park corner watching chess played out in a giant board.  I found this gem right beside the Saint James Station. 

 

 

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Doesn’t look like winter, right?

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The Domain. Be warned. It can be a long walk!

 

 

When the magpies took leave, I started walking again towards the church. Right outside were a bride and groom likely doing their pre-nuptial shots. Garbed in their wedding outfits, it looked kind of odd to watch them reviewing their shots. Leaving the odd couple, I walked towards the square fronting the church (or is that the back?) and headed back towards Hyde Park. There I waited till my niece arrived. Thankfully, in time before i started freezing. 😉

 

 

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Shall i call this the Church Plaza? Or Church Square?

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I didn’t mean for this photo to come out this way. Seriously. 😉


Today’s one afternoon that’s all ours. No worries. No rush. No serious discussion. We’ve had one too many in the preceding 4 weeks. The gardens and ponds are waiting for us. Today. The empty benches beckon. The ground is carpeted with blooms, signalling the onset of spring. We peeled ourselves off the thicker jackets and got ready for a “walk in the park”.

 

 

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We have passed this Park many times on our way to my nephew’s house. All of 416 hectares between Camden and Campbelltown. Because it is too near, there was no interest to drop in in this botanical garden claimed to be the largest in Australia! But today is a special day. My bags are packed, nearly all clothes laundered clean and stuffed into a suitcase, ready for my imminent departure. I’m down to my last pair of pants and jacket, along with my pair of boots that will all stay here and wait for my next visit. We all wanted to take a leisurely stroll with the kids, even spend some time in the playground, hike up a small hill, sit by the bench near the pond. Act like a family 😉

 

 

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It would be nice to have a LONG walk here next time. Or maybe, given its size, biking is the better option. I haven’t biked in decades but I’m confident I can still do this. I should plan my next visit here real well. Maybe bring a picnic lunch. There are picnic tables and benches by the pond. Yes, that should make for a lovely afternoon.

 

 

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What a relaxing afternoon for us all. A prelude to last-minute repacking and a long flight home. Say hello to Spring. Bye, Winter.

 

 


Bustling with ferry-riding crowds, daytrippers and street buskers, Circular Quay was typically busy the day we visited Manly Beach. Off the train and into the quay, we quickly purchased our ferry tickets while snapping photos of the iconic harbour bridge. A fine example of civil engineering, it only happens to be the world’s 6th longest spanning arch bridge.

 

 

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Circular Quay. 10am.
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They were there back in 1999. Then 2004. Now 2013.

I remember the ferry rides I took the last 2 trips I made to Sydney. Ferry rides are adventures by themselves. The breeze and the scenic views highlight my moments with my trusty, resurrected Canon cam. Letting the winds slap on my face and mess up my hair, I marvelled at how the Sydney Opera House can still hold one’s attention after all these years, and many cam shots. Zooming into the top of the bridge, I felt jealous I wasn’t with this small group hiking towards the top. Must be quite an exhilirating moment as one nears the top, enjoying a 360 degree view of the harbour.

 

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Quite an architectural wonder. Iconic.
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Brave souls scaling the Sydney Harbour Bridge on this windy morning.

The 7 mile journey has been navigated since 1855, but there are now driving options to reach Manly Beach. But I still think it’s best to take one of many regular ferry rides getting here. The Manly Wharf alone has metamorphosed into a lovely food and wine pitstop just before negotiating the 9mile walk along the water edge. Either that or you can cross over from the wharf towards the Corso where you’d find a variety of shops and dining places.

 

 

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Pretty wharf with many dining choices on a broad price range.
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Lovely walkway by the beach, complete with benches, picnic tables and distilled water stations!

Here’s a tip. Once you get here, decide on your lunch place right away to beat the lunch crowds. The kids can be “deposited” in the Manly Aquarium while the adults can while away the time in the airconditioned Museum just right aross the marine sanctuary. Those seeking adventures may choose to do the 9 mile walk, OR if you want to combine exercise with retail therapy, head for the Corso and check out the shops along the way. In my case, I went for the walk. Alone. Needed some ME time. Plus the exercise. 😉

 

 

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The Aquarium is a good option if you have kids with you.
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Don’t you just love this view?

Truly, Sydney’s parks, boardwalks, biking and jogging pathways leave you impressed.  They even have distilled water stations! I felt safe walking alone, and took liberty with the many benches lining the water edge. The few joggers passed by but not without saying hello. My solitude was only broken whenever I hear the ferry approaching or leaving the wharf. C’est la vie! I can live here 😉

 

 

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Just a 30 minute ride, packed with scenic views!
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The Sydney Opera House. Dusk.

Thank you, Reia, for bringing us here!

 

 

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Those boys look happy!
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Thank you, Reia!
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Circular Quay. 7pm.


Missed by the railway route, nearly abandoned, and now wonderfully preserved as a heritage town. The Old Post Office, turn of century old houses like the Harper’s Mansion, the court house, the jail — or should I say “gaol”? — the quaint and still operating bakery cottage. While I’ve kind of read up on this historic town before coming over, Berrima still surprised me. For one, I tasted the best scones ever in this 1850’s bakery cottage, but that’s getting ahead of my story. 😉

 

 

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Don’t you dare miss Devonshire Tea in this 1850’s Tea Room cum Museum.

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Freshly-baked scones, homemade jams, and heirloom tea spoons!

Top of mind to visit in this corner of the Southern Highlands of New South Wales would be Harper’s Mansion, the Court and Jail House, a couple of churches, a few more Georgian houses and public buildings. But if you’ve come here just for Devonshire Tea or to check out some of the family-run cafes, that’s fine. Berrima makes for an excellent day and food trip for couples, families and friends.

 

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Lots of choices. We opted for Two Skinny Cooks. Thank you, Lin, for lunch!

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You gotta love Australia’s sense of history and heritage!

Kids would love the gardens and the maze in Harper’s Mansion. Though the trees reflect winter, the blooms in the gardens signal the onset of spring. A lovely background for the 18th century Georgian mansion which has since been turned into a Museum. The guide “threatened” us with some ghost stories before we toured the mansion, but “no luck”. We must have scared them off.

 

 

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Harper’s Mansion. No ghosts here.

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Gardens behind the Georgian Mansion.

And then, there’s the Court House. And the “gaol”. Complete with cells and jury scenes. Not for kids though. The court scene involved zombie-like characters in a dark room. Walking from the court house, one passes the jailhouse, some brick cottages used by government officials then, the Post Office and surely, you can’t miss the row of cafes just across the street. We didn’t have time to check out the Masonic Temple and the Churches as we lingered over our lunch at Two Skinny Cooks, tried the Maze behind Harper’s Mansion and toured the Court House. Just as well. After all, we can’t miss the afternoon tea at The Old Bakery Cottage before heading home. Priorities! 🙂

 

 

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The Old Court House.

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Here was where the first woman-convict was sentenced to be hanged. Case? Axe Murder of Husband. OUCH!