Australia has always been a stunning, mysterious and awesome place to me, floating halfway around the world. One day, I would say, one day I will visit that wondrous place. Some years later, I met my husband. It is with him that I have finally been able to take that journey! So these next two posts will chronicle my experience in beautiful Australia with my hubby, Jeremiah – the Australian American!
The first leg of our journey began – actually, let’s fast forward. Hours spent at LAX and on the first flight need not be noted! Suffice it to say we slept, ate and tried to stay comfy! And spent 5 minutes in beautiful Fiji before hopping on the next flight to Sydney.
When we finally landed in Sydney, it was the biggest breath of fresh air! The ocean breeze and stunning views as we pulled up to the Hotel Bondi at Bondi Beach were enough to make every moment of that long flight worthwhile! Our little room had a view of the ocean and was within walking distance of many cafes, shops and restaurants. It was perfect. Our first stop was to find lunch, and Jeremiah knew exactly what he wanted. A pie! The quintessential Australian diet! Sold in any bakery you come across, as well as gas stations, sporting events and even some nice restaurants, this ‘pie’ is basically a meat pie filled with your choice of additional ingredients (mushroom, potato, pepper, bacon – you name it) with ‘sauce’ (aka ketchup) on top. And you’d better learn to eat it like a pro early on, as it is a hand’s on meal and if you fail it will end up in your lap and running down your elbows!
After lunch we took a much needed nap and got ready for first night out in Australia. The next two days were spent exploring some of Jeremiah’s old haunts, visiting an old friend and exploring some of the fantastic neighbourhoods of Sydney. Watson’s Bay is a charming spot overlooking the harbour, with the best fish and chips I’ve ever tasted at “Doyle’s at Watson’s Bay on the Sydney Harbour“. From there, we headed over to Newtown, the grungy, hipster district of Sydney. With a hotel on every corner (in Aussie speak, when they’re referring to hotel it is actually a pub, but most do not have any rooms for rent)! Back in the day, every hotel had a pub downstairs. Nowadays, the pubs remain, but only occasionally do the rooms for rent still exist. But the namesake remains. I.e. “We’re going for a drink at The Lord Dudley Hotel.“
“Is that the pub on the corner? Can I get a room there?”
“Not unless it’s 1850…”
“Do they have chips?”
“The packet of crisps or the thick cut French fries?”
“Either or. But stick to the pie…”
You get the idea…
Our second (and final) day in Sydney began with a surf and swim at the beautiful Bondi Beach and then was spent in the funky neighbourhood of Balmain where we had ‘brekky’ before catching a ferry across to to Manly Beach. Speaking of breakfast, I cannot stress enough how glorious the coffee in Australia is. It puts American coffee to shame. I’ve never tasted coffee that is so delicious. No wonder nearly every Starbucks in Australia has been shut down! But I digress…
Our ferry route that day took us through the harbour, under the glorious Sydney Harbour Bridge and passed the beautiful and famous Sydney Opera House. The ferry is a cheap and perfect way to get a killer view of Sydney in all it’s glory. Manly Beach is an expansive, inner city surf beach with lots of pubs, shops and cafes – and of course, a brilliant spot to catch some waves or simply watch the surfers, if that is more your speed! Manly is the North Sydney alternative to the South Sider’s Bondi Beach. After catching a spot of dinner at a hotel (there it is again!) with an old friend of Jeremiah’s, we tucked in for the night at our (actual) hotel to rest before our big drive along the coast to Melbourne.
Again beginning our day with a surf and swim, we began our drive shortly after breakfast and were soon swallowed up by the beautiful, rolling hills and national parks of the Southern New South Wales Coast. With stops for a coffee, pie or just some fresh air, we found ourselves in the quaint little beach town of Gerringong and taking in the white sand beaches of Jervis Bay. I think one of my most enjoyable stops (at least the kid in me was over the moon!) was at Pebbly Beach, where I befriended a mob of wild kangaroos! Talk about giddy with excitement! I think my hubby was giggling at me the whole time. Check out my baby kangaroo selfie!
After six hours of driving and exploring, we finally rolled into our little home for the next two nights at a cute 1960s caravan park in the lovely Bateman’s Bay. Dinner was late that night so we ended up at the old Soldier’s Club nearby. For those of you who don’t know, the soldiers club is a great place to get cheap meals, cheap beer, play the slots and occasionally catch some live entertainment. It’s also a national support network and fundraiser for retired war veterans, so you know the time and money spent there is going toward a great cause. We were famished and ready for our buffet as we rolled upstairs, only to find that they were closing up the kitchen for the night. But they didn’t want to leave us empty handed, so as the grills were turned off and the gorgeous T-bone steaks were put away, they spooned up the dregs of Chinese left in the bins and found the one lone chicken schnitzel sitting under the broiler. Luckily, cold cheap beer and a beautiful view of the bay washed away any sad feelings over our mishmash of a meal. After a game of pool (Australian rules!) and a turn at the slots (“pokies”) we were ready to turn in for the night. Back to our little caravan and a deep sleep!
The next morning we awoke bright eyed and excited to spend a day at the beach. We found the incredible Brulee Beach. Golden sands, clear, blue water, calm enough to swim in with lovely waves for my husband to enjoy for a surf…one of the most perfect beaches I’ve ever seen, and it went on for miles and miles…The last leg of our afternoon was spent lazing down a river on SUPS (Stand Up Paddle Boards) and taking in the jungle like beauty around us. Stunning trees, marsh land and birds of many descriptions gave us plenty to take in as we paddled our way along this winding, green river.
Beat from our glorious hours in the sunshine and water, we eventually made our way back to our little caravan and washed up for a quiet dinner and a movie. Sleep came quickly and happily.
Now, as I write, we are on the Hume Highway to Melbourne via Canberra (CAN-bra) and are very excited for some family and friend time and the next leg of our adventure.
Stay tuned for next week’s post as we venture into Australia’s cultural and sporting capital and along the majestic Great Ocean Road…