Bondi to Coogee Beach Walk

We reluctantly pulled ourselves off the beach and headed back to Sydney, via bus and train.  Arriving at our AirBnB, we dropped our bags and headed off to do the famous Bondi to Coogee Beach walk, meeting a friend we had met in Argentina in Coogee for dinner.  Days take on a new dimension with excitement when meeting a friend.  We had a reservation for dinner!  It was a beautiful walk that we so enjoyed.

We met Michelle in Mendoza, and ventured out of the city with her in February to do some wine tasting with her in the adorable town, Clos de Chacras.  We have stayed in touch and making plans with her was one of the first thing we did when planning our time in Sydney.  Here's a photo of us in the sweet spot we went for dinner, Coogee Pavilion.  One of the amazing things about this trip is the friends we have made around the world - we can't wait to host some in Seattle!  :)

Pearl Beach

We went from reading our books on the couch, to reading books on the beach.  And that's pretty much all we did, mix in some delicious food, cribbage, and crosswords, while we were at Pearl Beach.  Gillian and Michael were generous (again!) and offered their house for us to use as our trip winds down.  It turned out to be the perfect break we needed.

No more time was needed planning our next destination (it's HOME!) and we weren't driving so all we had to do was sit back and enjoy.  It felt like a vacation and was much enjoyed.

The Blue Mountains

Generosity was again extended our way with an offer of a house to stay in while visiting the Blue Mountains.  Beyond excited to have a bit more space than our little camper van offered, we jumped at the chance to spread out!  My mom's friends, Gillian and Michael have MADE our time in Australia (they are also the ones we stayed with in Melbourne).

We arrived to a quaint little house with a view of nothing but mountains and eucalyptus trees.  The next door neighbors, Virginia and Michael drew up a little map for us with all the top spots. 

We have spent the past 4 days exploring the area and loving the spectacular views.

The first day we visited the Three Sisters, with all the others tourists, for the photo op of these three limestone formations. 

The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters

Next we headed to the insider tip of the Sublime Point.  We were the only ones there to enjoy the spectacular view over our picnic lunch.

The view from Sublime Point

The view from Sublime Point

The afternoon was spent doing the Charles Darwin Walk.  We didn’t quite know what to expect so were blown away by a huge waterfall into the canyon after we kept deciding to “just go a bit further”.  Spectacular. 

The next day we set off for Mount Hay, to do the Lockley Pylon hike.  This walk was amazing because we were able to walk along the canyon and have gorgeous views from both sides. 

Being my mother's daughter, I couldn't help but photograph all the flowers we enjoyed.

 

This morning we walked from town to see multiple view points and the Leura Falls.  We were so blown away that such a great trail was just right outside of town!  The views were amazing in every direction and we picked a spot to return to for sunset (photos to come!). 

McLaren Vale, Day 2

With the gorgeous scenery, approachable and fun tasting room staff, and delicious wines we needed one more day in the McLaren Vale wine region.  After a great night by the beach we headed into Hugh Hamilton, one of the area's most famous wineries.  We were greeted by sheep warnings and sheep on the way to the cellar door.  The black sheep theme ran throughout his wine and other products, a brilliant use of marketing throughout everything offered at their gorgeous spot.  This 6th generation winemaking family was some of the first to plant grapes in 1837.  Our favorite wines were The Floozy, The Mongrel, and The Drama Queen.  Hugh himself even came in to meet us and offered us freshly shucked oysters.  How much better does life get?!  It was a great morning enjoying their wines and the sights from their tasting room. 

Next stop was the Alpba Box & Dice winery.  We were greeted with a hipster vibe and slowly tasted through their wines.  While the whole experience was quite different we didn’t love the wines or the ambiance as much – just not for us.  Still some fun photos and I even took some photos of their creative naming (Golden Mullet Fury) and labels!

Our last stop for the day was Angrove.  Set among beautiful wines with a huge patio to enjoy the view it was a great spot to spend some time tasting.  One of my favorite things they did was showcase the soil samples from where they grow their wine.  It was a really beautiful display.

Loving Melbourne

Lucky us.  We have left camper van living for what has turned into 5 luxurious nights in one of my moms friend's houses in Melbourne.  No longer do we have to worry about where we are going to park the camper van to sleep or where we can take a shower.  We have more room than we have had since May and even wifi internet (also a first since May!).  Life is good!  Gillian and Michael have spoiled us with delicious foods and wines and been so generous to open up their house to us.  I don't think I've ever been so grateful for a place to stay, a bed to sleep in, and a shower to use.  

Our beautiful bed

Our beautiful bed

We have spent our time soaking up the energy that this great city has to offer.  The first day we spent stopping to work on crosswords throughout the cities parks and people watching.  We also got to enjoy a performance from a cirque-du-soleil performer on the streets, him balancing on a 15 foot pole and still having the energy to put down Americans.  This is an international city with just about every personality on display.

Yesterday was the Melbourne Cup, dubbed The Race that Stops the Nation.  Melbourians are granted the day off for horse racing and betting.  We spent the morning wine tasting and lunching with Gillian and Michael and then headed to Federation Square to watch the race with thousands of others.  It was fun to be caught up in a city with so many people!

The afternoon was spent watching those that were at the races stumble back into the city, high heels in hand, and hats a little off kilter after all the drinking.  It was quite the experience and we felt so lucky to be here for the races, even if our budget couldn't allow us to go to the actual race.

We have really learned the value of friendships from this trip - from the work that it takes to make new friends on the road, to how much we miss our friends at home.  Getting to stay with a family friend that knows our history and that of Seattle's makes it so easy to converse and so many stories to share.  Deepening family friendships is also really special.

We just feel so fortunate.  This was just the break we needed before jumping into our last camper van and enjoying our last 3 weeks on the road!

The hike that made me cry

Selecting the photos for this post I had to pause at the beauty that this hike possessed.  It was hard to remember why I had been so shaken - shaken enough to cry and hesitate if I could make it.  But this hike was tough.  It was mentally one of the hardest I have done as we were walking straight up granite slabs with no protection what so ever.  I was on all fours on the way up, trying to focus on each step and not looking at the drop off if I were to fall.  To top all of this off, Eric spotted a snake on the route and if you've ever seen me around a snake you know nothing good can come from it.  Not to mention they are all poisonous in Tazzy!  Rain was in the forecast and I knew this would become the slip-n-slide of death if water fell.

At any rate, my cheerleader Eric helped me make it to the top and it was worth the tears.  The view was stunning and we enjoyed some chocolate rewards before I very, very slowly scooted down the mountain on my butt!