Pierces Pass

Pierces Pass

Just after Christmas we had Jane and John Short (Matts parents) to visit, which was excellent. A few days later Hannah Short arrived too, and stayed on a while after Jane and John went on to New Zealand.

We had a lot of mini-adventures together. Here’s some of the highlights. You too could do these fun things if you come and visit us! ūüôā

When they arrived we had a second Christmas with a lot of exciting presents, including a number of jars of marmite, a Christmas wasjig and a flying drone with a camera on it. After an introduction to Tim Tams we went for a short walk from our place to Balls Head Reserve, with good views over the city and spotted some birds and lizards. On the way back we stopped for some lunch, and then Matt and I headed off to the supermarket for some supplies while our guests had a nap to get some decent sleep for the first time in 36 hours!  That evening we went to the revolving O Bar Restaurant for dinner with some excellent views over the city and nice food.

O Bar

O Bar

On Day 2 we took a day trip to the Hunter Valley wine region, about 90 minutes north of Sydney. We started the trip with a ‘Hunter 101’ tour at First Creek winery. It was really excellent value. For $15 each we got a personalised tour all around the winery for about an hour, learning about all the different equipment. We got to go and see the bottling area too, as there they bottle a lot of the wine for the other vineyards. Our tour also included a cheese platter with our tasting which was massive, and had some very tasty cheeses. I bought some wine, and with the tour we got $10 each off some wine, so the whole personal tour and the cheese cost just $5 each! Matt picked up some UK beers, we visited the Smelly Cheese Shop for lunch and went back there later for some delicious ice creams. We visited quite a few different wineries and took the scenic route home through some nice countryside (no kangaroos though).

First Creek Winery

First Creek Winery

The next day Hannah arrived in the morning. After picking her up we went on a ferry ride across the harbour to Watsons Bay, and had a nice lunch by the sea. My fish platter was massive and yummy. Because of the time of year it was the busiest we had ever seen it, so we got a fairly early ferry back (after standing in a very big queue!) Back in the city we walked around the Opera House and stopped for a nice refreshing cold drink in the Opera Bar, overlooking the bridge and Opera House.

Opera Bar

Opera Bar

We popped back home, collected some things and then went out for the evening to have a picnic and wine at the Outdoor Cinema, watching the preview of The Imitation Game. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan During during WW2, trying to crack the Enigma machine. We went posh for the Gold Grass tickets in a prime spot and with bean bags. I totally thought this was worth it! There were lots of bats flying around like last year which was cool, and they even made it into the movie a few times!

Fruit bat

Fruit bat

The next day was New Years Eve. In the morning we headed up to Ku-Ring-Gai National Park and saw kangaroos and a lyre bird at the nature reserve area. We also walked around the mangroves and saw lots of small mud crabs, including orange ones, green ones and purple ones. We had a yummy lunch down by the marina, including a massive box of massive prawns, and made a few souvenir purchases in the gift shop.

It was New Years Eve that day, so we headed home and went out to Garden Island where Matt works for an excellent view of the fireworks over the harbour.¬†There’s more about that in another post, here.

After a late night we had a bit of a lie in the next day, and a lazy morning with some bacon and egg sandwiches cooked on the barbie. We took a drive up to Palm Beach and Barrenjoey in the afternoon, but it was so busy we couldn’t park and annoyingly had to drive all the way back home again, via a quick supermarket pit-stop. Back at the flat we had a BBQ including some camel burgers (not that exciting), played board games and ate some awesome pavlova that Jane made.

Outdoor cinema

Outdoor cinema

The following day we went on another day trip, this time to the Blue Mountains. We have a bit of a tour route going on there now, which is getting gradually refined. On MKII of the trip we started with morning coffee at a lively cafe in Bilpin, and then headed to Pierces Pass for a walk of about an hour, with amazing views down the valley. We tried to take the loop track back, but it turns out it doesn’t go (or we didn’t find it), so that bit won’t make it into MKIII of the tour! Next up we drove via Harley Vale, which was very scenic, to Govetts Leap lookout over Bridal Veil Falls.¬†From there we headed into Katoomba via Cliff Drive and a few more lookouts, including over a lot of areas damaged by recent bush-fires which was sad. We had some lunch in Katoomba (including kangaroo burgers), and visited the Hattery where John got a genuine kangaroo leather bush hat. After Katoomba we headed for the mandatory stop at Echo Point with all the coach trippers, looking out over the Three Sisters, and visited the gift shop where I found some more Aussie Christmas decorations for my collection. From there we went to the lookout at Sublime Point, which I’d not been too before, which was much quieter. Then for the final stop in an action packed tour we headed to Wentworth Falls for another short walk to the falls, and saw another lyre bid as well as a crimson rosella.¬†

The next day Jane and John had to leave for New Zealand in the morning. In the afternoon we went for a snorkel at La Perouse (Bare Island), where they filmed Mission Impossible. It was¬†also very busy, and I discovered my snorkel mask strap had snapped – grr! ¬†Its meant to be one of the best spots in Sydney but we didn’t managed to see very much and the water was surprisingly chilly – I think it was even colder than about 6 week previously.

On Sunday we finally finished the wasjig! Then Hannah and I went into the city and looked around the Rocks Market, the Rocks Discovery Museum and Darling Harbour, including the yummy Guilyian chocolate cafe. We passed the evening playing some more board games (Smallworld and Muchkin) and eating kangaroo meatballs.

 

Completed wasjig

Completed wasjig

On Monday evening we checked out the new burger place in the city, the Burger Project for dinner. Their burgers were pretty good, with a nice sauce on them. I was slightly disappointed becasue on some reviews it said the chips came with vinegar and they didn’t – boo! I think for me Grill’d is still better because it has more burger choice, but if you want shakes and ice cream after your burger than the Burger Projects the place to go. From there we headed over to Kings Cross to try the new Messina Dessert Bar. Its next to the ice cream shop and you can create your own sundaes and cones with lots of toppings and sauces. It was pretty exciting, so i’ll do a separate post on that.

Macaroons!

Macaroons!

On Tuesday Hannah made me a yummy risotto dinner and we had a move night with the film Divergent, which was really good. ¬†The next day I wasn’t working so we headed up to¬†Chatswood to do some¬†shopping and run some errands, rewarding ourselves with some yummy dumplings and food from Din Thai Fung. When we got back we made some salted caramel macaroons from the Adriano Zumbo packet, which turned out pretty well for a first attempt. Once it got dark we went down the Blues Point to check out the cool view and play around with some photos using my tripiod and flash. After all the activity we were pretty tired so had to chill out in the hot tub before bed!

We have Lizzie Short visiting in April, so will get some fun stuff lined up ready for that!

 

Blues Point

Blues Point