Our mini balcony garden

Our mini balcony garden

Here’s a quick run down on our September. We have been….

Liking: Generally having lots of things to see and do and an awesome choice of really nice food places. Also the new plants (see above and below).

Disliking: Getting my first ever food poisoning – NOT fun. And the police being really slow and not getting back to us about the dent in the car.

Watching: More Grimm – its still going. Also we just purchased StarGate Atlantis, so have started on that too. There’s really not a lot on TV worth watching here.

Consuming: I recently made chicken min-roast and chocolate fondants which were awesome. Unfortunately the fondants were gooey on the bottom/top still so didn’t look good, but tasted very yummy. Will have another go with our dodgy oven soon. I’ve also been trying to be healthy after a bad diet during the bid, so cooked successfully with some tofu and have some quinoa in the cupboard to try. On the going out front we have been to Messina Gelato (awesome) and had a 9 course meal for our anniversary which was also brilliant – more about those in upcoming posts!

Buying: Plants for the balcony. We have a collection of six plants now out on the balcony which I really like – not only are they pretty they help draw attention away from the boring flats next door!

Working on: Our second RoadsPlus bid, this time for Queensland. This one goes in at the end of the month, then its back to waiting for the result, so fingers crossed!

Thinking about: Christmas in Tasmania. We booked a trip for Christmas over to Tassie. Matt has a two week mandatory shutdown and I theoretically have a three week shutdown so it seemed sensible to make the most of it. We are going to drive to Melbourne and get the ferry so have that booked. Now we’re planning our route and some places to stay.

Visiting: We were due to visit Canberra but had to postpone that. This month we have mainly been in and around Sydney including the Lane Cove National Park, Middle Cove for some climbing and Ryde waterfront for Matts ~Dragon Boat Race. At the end of the month we are going on a trip tot he Hunter Valley for the day with Matts work which should be good (wine and cheese – woo!)

Looking forward to: October – we have an action paced month including another Hunter Valley trip and the Wolgan Valley which is wombat central – yay!

What have you guys been up to?

View to Manly

View to Manly

We have a book of Harbour Walks and recently decided out to try out the classic, Spit Bridge to Manly walk with Toby.

Its about 11-12km with the extra detours and described as ‘simply one of the best walks in Sydney.’

We got the bus to Spit Bridge and went from there. The walk passes through some very nice beaches, coves, bush, Aboriginal sites and great views. There were loads of places it would be great to go back to when the waters a bit warmer to hang out on the beach and go for a swim.

We saw a dolphin very close up in the Harbour although it was too quick to get a picture of!

We did a detour to the lighthouse which also had great views back to the city.

Lighthouse

Lighthouse

 

Conveniently the walk ends in Manly, where you can get a giant ice cream and catch a ferry across the Harbour, past the Opera House and Bridge back to the city as the sun sets. Manly also has a penguin colony who go into the sea at night to feed. The wardens  cone off the section of the beach where they live and keep an eye out for over enthusiastic penguin lovers like myself who might try and adopt one for a pet! We saw one briefly plop into the sea before we had to catch the ferry – I’ll be going back for another look soon!

Penguins!!!

Penguins!!!

Point Perpendicular and Sea Cliffs

Point Perpendicular and Sea Cliffs

After my epic work marathon, we went down the coast about 3 hours to a place called Jervis Bay for a weekend camping. The area was recommended by someone at work.

It was perfect camping weather, not too cold at night, nice and warm during the day. I was pretty paranoid about spiders and snakes in the tent, but luckily we didn’t see any.

Tourist information about the area and reports from people who’ve been there said you can see wild kangaroos all over the place, including on the beaches, which I was pretty excited about. My roo research has taught me their most active during dusk and dawn, so I was pretty excited about seeing some when I went for my early morning trip to the ladies on Saturday. Sadly, all I spotted was some roo poo and a cockatoo!

On Saturday we went to explore a lot of the local beaches and did some walks. We went to Hyams Beach, which has Guinness Book of Records certified whitest sand in the world. The water was lovely and clear, the bush went down to the beach and not only was the sand white, it was also squeaky!

Hyams Beach

Hyams Beach

About 3pm on a walk we spotted our first roo, which I think was actually a walabee. Unfortunately by the time I got my big camera out it hopped off. That night they all came out though, taking the spot count up to 11 (2 wallabees, 8 roos and a joey.) We saw two roos outside the campsite after dinner, one with a super cute joey in its pouch. Awwww! 🙂

On the Sunday we went on an early morning boat trip out into the bay. It was an ‘eco cruise” taking in some of the main sights including Point Perpendicular cliffs which hit the sea at 90 degrees, and are a good spot for climbing. We saw some climbers on the rock, which of course prompted Matts enthusiasm for a return trip! Up the coast we saw some cool caves and a seal colony. The seals all dived into the sea which was cool to watch, especially the ones which skipped out the intermediate rocks and just jumped straight in from 10m up or so!

Seal diving

Seal diving

On the boat trip we also spotted a whale. There are lots of dedicated whale watching trips you can do, but as the numbers are dropping off now we didn’t go for one of those specifically. It was really cool to see one up close, if slightly worrying sitting in the boat, knowing it dived down and waiting for it to come back up – hopefully not right under the boat!

The Jervis Bay area was really nice, especially out of peak time when it was pretty quiet. I loved seeing kangaroos in the wild and look forward to going back for the inevitable climbing trip.

 

Roos!

Roos!

Middle Cove

Middle Cove

We have a book called Sydney’s Best Harbour and Coastal Walks. A couple of weekends ago we decided it was time to try one of them out with our friends Deb and Andrew. Slightly biased, Matt picked out a walk around Middle Head. It was a 2 hourish, 5km walk, a 10 min drive from our place – with climbing!

The walk is through a nature reserve and around the banks of the scenic Middle Cove. The sign on the way in mentioned wallabies, goannas and echindas, although we didn’t see any of these unfortunately – just a whole load of noisy cockatoos.

The walk was really scenic, it even had a castle AND a bench shaped like a lizard. By the climbing were some communal BBQs, so well do back again and try those out after a spot of climbing I reckon. Considering it was late July, the height of Australian winter, we ended up walking in just our t-shirts at a toasty 19 degrees – not too bad at all!

We went back about a month later to check out the climbing, do some slack lining and have our first Australian outdoor communal BBQ with some other climbers. The climbing was OK, not great but it was a good day, specially chilling out by the barbie, Aussie style. not bad considering it was the end of winter and we mainly sat around in t-shirts!

BBQ

BBQ

View over Wollongong

View over Illawara valley to Wollongong

On our way home from Jervis Bay we went via the ‘Ilawara Fly’.

We noticed a leaflet about it at the tourist info. Not only was it half way home, but it was also covered by our annual Merlin passes, so we got free entry.

You drive up a ultra wiggly windy road in the Southern Highlands up to the Jamberoo Lookout with awesome views back to the coast and Wollongong. We had a quick picnic stop there. 

The Illawara Fly has nothing to do with flying – the name is pretty confusing! Basically its a 1.5km walk including a raised walkway where you end up about 40-50m above the ground amongst the trees, with good views back down the valley to the coast. There’s a tower to climb up and some signs about the local vegetation.

It was worth a visit, but i’m definitely glad we went with our Merlin passes, as its really wasn’t worth the $24 normal entry price for basically a walk with a good view. We also got a free coffee by spending more than $5 on tea and an ice cream becasue of having the Merlin passes, so overall a total bargain!

illawara2

On the walkway

I made some cookies recently. Matt wanted brownies, again. I wanted to do something different, so I went with these. They have a cake like texture rather than being biscuity, so it seemed like a good compromise. They were tasty, and reminded me of my friend Bex’s ‘cakies’ – a cross between cookies and cakes. I personally still find the texture a bit weird, why not give it a try and make up your own mind?

Ingredients (to make about 20):

  • 60g butter
  • 175g plain chocolate
  • 175g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • white chocolate chips (optional)

1. Melt chocolate and butter over a pan of hot water. Leave to cool slightly.

2. Mix flour, baking powder and salt

3. Beat eggs and sugar until pale (about 2 mins)

4. Reduce speed and add chocolate mix and vanilla

5. Add flour

6. Cover and refrigerate for between 1.5 hours and 2 days (I did 2 hours). Resist the awesome smell!

7. Put icing sugar in a shallow bowl and preheat over to 160c

8. Roll the dough into 4cm round balls and roll in sugar

9. Put on a lined tray and flatten with the back of a spoon

10. Bake for 12-15 minutes so centre is still soft

11. Cool on sheet for 5 mins and then on a rack

 

 

 

Wentworth Falls

Wentworth Falls

In July we went up to the Blue Mountains for a weekend, nominally dubbed ‘Christmas in July’. Saturday we went climbing at Mount York and then had a pub dinner with a lot of the climbing club in the evening, staying over at the pub. It was a good night, although nothing actually Christmassy occurred!

On the Sunday it was far too cold for more climbing. After a first breakfast in the pub, we headed for a second breakfast in Altitude Cafe in Blackheath. Becoming more Australian by the day, I had a flat white, and Matt went for the bacon and egg roll. From there we went on for a walk around Wentworth Falls.

We did the Charles Darwin walk, which Darwin did himself. It was nice and quiet, along a small river, which then turned into a big river which went over Wentworth Falls. You could walk right over the top of the falls which was very cool, although obviously there was a big safety barrier to stop you falling off. The path went round the big cliffs each side, under some big under hangs and then up to a lookout, all with really cool views.Most of the time the waterfall was actually going upwards because of the wind!

In all the probably walked for about 3 hours. It was well worth the trip, excellent views. From the falls you can do the 8 hour or so National Pass walk down into the valley and around. We might come back to that another time.

Love this sign!

Love this sign!

 

One night after work we went on a night tour at the Sydney observatory for some star gazing.

There were a few bits to the tour: walking around the museum yourself, 2 telescope viewings, some 3D films and looking at the stars outside.

They had two different telescopes, a fancy high powered new sciencey looking one, and another that was more ‘classic’ and over 200 years old. We saw Saturn and Venus through these respectively. Saturn was cool, you could see the actual rings clearly. In comparison Venus just looked like a star really. I liked being in the towers. They are made of copper and the roof spins around depending on where you want to view – it made me think of mad scientists cackling manically.

The films were good for making you think about the scale of the universe and our significance in it. Our guide was good at explaining things and answering questions – Matt and I couldn’t resist some tricky ones about the shape of the universe and whats outside of it. Mind boggling stuff.

Definitely worth a trip.

The photos didn’t come out too well. We did see some cool lanterns from the Korean Buddism Festival on the way home, so here’s one of those instead! 

Koala paper lantern

Koala paper lantern