Thursday, February 25, 2010

We had been scheduled to swim with the Dolphins last Thursday morning but as this picture shows the seas were rough and the sky threatening!

And so we left Forster and headed North up the East coast to Coffs Harbour.

The beach at Coffs - very inviting!

And even more inviting we headed further North to Byron Bay. Another beautiful beach....

We are now travelling with Ian & Kath, our friends who used to live in Surrey, UK and who moved to Australia 6 years ago. Here we are standing at the most Easterly point in Australia.

I should point out that our itinerary has not actually allowed us to laze on any of these beaches! maybe next time.

We are now in the Gold coast, knocked by some as being very touristy it is certainly a buzzing place, especially Surfers Paradise wich does what is says!
We are staying in a rather smart appartment away from the noise, 26th floor with great sea views.

Couldn't resist this one!

From here we visited Tamborine Mountain, quiet, peaceful and very pretty with a little rain forest walk.

Next stop the city of Brisbane, from the River......

A little Australian moment, Kangaroos in the grounds of the local Universaty, apparantly they make good students!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Over this last week we have been travelling up the East Coast. We took the scenic route from the Blue Mountains via windsor and the wisemans Ferry (pictured here crossing the river)to Newcastle, a base to explore the Hunter Valley famous for its wine.

Newcastle provides sustantial employement from Coal Mining & Steel which is exported to Japan who are apparantly stock piling it for future energy use.

The City is certainly one of two halves, or infact three thirds! We were staying in a hotel, with superb restaurant over looking this lovely beach and sea.

A Famous Land mark in Newcastle,Nobby's Lighthouse which guards the entrance to the Port.

Whilst there we met future clients Bob & Christine, who are long time residants here, who will be staying in our gites in May.

The city , the second oldest in Australia has many fine buildings dating back to the late 19th Century. Sadly part of the town which was built in the 1950's & 60's were damaged by an Earthquake some 20 years ago and remain eerily delapidated and empty.

However there has been substantial redevelopement along the foreshore to create appartments and cafe culture.

From here we were ideally positioned to explore the Hunter Valley. This experience, like the one in Marlborough, New Zealand really did not live up to our pre conceived epectations!

Yes the scenery was more dramatic with rolling hills covered with vines, but the wine tasting and buying experience was far less enjoyable and romantic than in France.(With the exception of Tyrrells, one of the oldest Vineyards which we really enjoyed).

Karen clearly seems tobe enjoying the Tyrells selection!

Others seemed to be there purely to produce , exploit and sell. There was not a great deal of passion or knowledge where as in France we have so often met the proprietor of the vineyard regardless of the size of the operation. Tempus Two, a good example of a huge operation not only selling its wine at the Cellar door but hosting weddings and functions.
Which would you fall in love with

or this?

Well if you can't beat them , join them, drink the wine and buy the number plate! I am so gullible!

From here we headed to Forster. We had booked an appartment which turned out to be huge! We are on the 4th Floor, certainly different to home in Provence!

It is a very popular spot with regular holiday makers returning year after year. We had been booked in for a 7am swim in the sea with dolphins, something Karen had wanted to do for some time. Rough seas caused it to be cancelled on our first morning, sadly it was to be the case on the second too! Something for our next visit.
The beaches were beautiful , and from them we could sit watching the Dolphins. This is One mile beach, really quiet and unspoilt.

And the beach at Forster, just 450 metres from our appartment.....

We are now just out side Coffs Harbour, abt 200 miles North of from Sydney. Coffs is larger than we expected none the less beautiful beaches.Next stop is just out side Byron Bay and then the Gold Coast for the weekend with our old friends from Weybridge Ian & Kath who live on the Sunshine Coast.

You don't see this sign in Europe!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We left Sydney Saturday morning and headed West to the Blue Mountains to stay with Scott, Ali and their kids Finn & Lana. We met them when they took a year off in 2008 and spent it in our village, Saint Saturnin Les Apt.

It was interesting to compare the many differences in our life style and cultures, notably the laid back Ozzy style compared to the more formal French and European.

For two days the Three Sisters eluded us, but we saw them in the end!

Fabulous scenery, good food & company, a great weekend.
Now we are off to the beach................

Sunday, February 14, 2010

We spent all day friday walking round the central city, Darling Harbour, the Sydney aquarium & wild life centre. Here are a selection of pictures.

The city monorail was built for city use as well as tourists. It has not actually been successful , maybe partly due to the lack of air conditioning, much needed in summer.

One of the many wharf's forming part of the largest natural harbour in the world. The guy who owns and operates 'The Bridge climb' business lives in the penthouse in one of these buildings worth about 10 million Australian dollars.

Perfect for star gazing, the Observatory.

This wharf forms part of the circular quay.

And the best bits for Karen, furry fellas!

And then there is skippy!

For dinner we went to Spice I am, probally the best Thai restaurant outside Thailand with Michele, Tony & Adam.

Superb food, take your own wine with no corkage charge! Awesome!!

And a nice walk back to the hotel after a serious thunderstorm, no chance of a taxi!

Next stop - The Blue Mountains

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The last three days!
We have both fallen in love with this city! The harbour, the bridge & Opera House, the whole vibrancy of the place is captivating. And with beaches so close there is such a contrast just a few minutes away. Here are a few pictures!

These two need no introductions!

Circular Quay and the city

Our bridge climb!

We walked right to the top 145 metres high

Bondi Beach

Helps one concentrate when having a P!

Another reason we came to Sydney, Michelle used to work with Karen at M&S 30 years ago!