South Coast NSW. Tripping along

Breakfast with a view is always a good idea. It sets you up for the day.

We picked up a car and headed off – south past the airport.

Down towards Cronulla , an area referred to as ‘The Shire’. It’s a beach area with comfortable bungalow style houses and access to the beach via a long Boulevard.

Onto the road through the National Park and then we wound down towards the Sea Bridge Cliff drive. This road is an engineering feat. It’s about 700mt long and goes out over the water. It’s not attached at the bottom of the steep rock cliffs as there are the dangerous boulders will break loose and roll onto the road.

It’s a cameramans delight! The clouds in the sky made it more dramatic.

We had to stop at the Scarborough Hotel for a reviving coffee and were tempted to share the gorgeous home baked carrot cake. Definitely no lunch needed.

Then the trip took us past little seaside places of our childhood. My parents had their honeymoon at Kiama and our family had holidays at Gerringong, Steve’s family at Austinmer, Erowal Bay and Huskinson. So we had a little trip down memory lane.

We continued south past Berry, Molleymook, Batemans Bay. Then into Moruya, took a left turn and onto Bingi. There’s no town there. It’s a National Park with some acreage land with home. Built in secluded spots. Jan & Stuart live there in a house designed by Stuart.

The floor of the outdoor terrace is actually the top of an enormous water tank. The mosaic floor has been designed as a map of the area with their house shown as the white pebble circle in the photo above. Quite stunning.

There are big kangaroos grazing just outside and if you ignore them they’ll ignore you. You don’t want them coming over and boxing you!

We walked through the trees to the beach. It’s secluded and very special.

Home to many birds, you have to respect their habitat. We climbed up the hill to the side and spotted The Pinnacles sitting in isolation on a small beach.

Dinner was prepared by Stuart a man of many talents. He’s an architect but paints wonderful scenes of the area and designed built and ran The Rivers at Moruya, a great restaurant- the first to get one hat on the South Coast.

The night was dark, the frogs croaked the kangaroos stood on hind legs boxing and we slept in peace.

Passing Time in Bali

It’s amazing how time passes when you’re not doing much!

Bali is super relaxed.

A day goes like this:

Wake up when a 3 year old Zali or 4 year old Jack appear at the bedroom door. Chat in bed. Share a story or play a game.

Prepare for breakfast- walk to the restaurant. Share the delicious breakfast and the chat, the hat swapping and some games.

Back to the villa for a swim and playing games together.

Then have a walk to another area we haven’t explored . Catch a buggy to the gate or for exercise walk! Walk!

The streets aren’t the easiest places to walk so we manoeuvre the ups and downs of the pavements which have a gold star in a red square every few metres.

Today we walked and explored the W hotel by the beach. It’s beautifully done – from the tree lined drive way

to the restaurant with a lovely pool area. Just right for a G&T!

The graffiti/ street art livens up the buildings

We usually have a sleep in the afternoon before heading out for dinner.

Last night we went to Bikini.

What a great restaurant. I’ll do a whole separate post on the restaurants we visited.

Tonight we walked down a long drive to Potato Head Beach Club. What a scene! It’s a great place to relax with a drink and watch the sun set.

We sat on the lounges near the pool. The dress seemed to be Bikinis 👙. The smaller the better. But we maintained our standard and dressed up, not down!

We watched the sunset with a cocktail in our hand and talked about the great week we’ve had together.

There was a large sculpture at the entrance which depicted the waste all salvaged along the shores of Bali’s west coast. 5,000 thongs or flip flops as they are known in some countries!

Another lovely day.

Tomorrow we pack and leave late at night.

Exploring Seminyak

Living within a resort complex protects you from the big noisy outside world. Each time we leave Peppers Resort the senses are assaulted!

Last night we walked to the beach area. Up and down the broken foot paths, dodging motor bikes and scooters , waving a ‘No’ to taxi drivers, admiring the little altars set up along the paths and greeting the smiling Balinese people as we walked. They don’t harass you to ‘come in and look look’ like in China!

We had a really lovely early dinner with the children who were well looked after by the wait staff at La Lucciola.

It’s by the beach in a very pretty setting- if you avoided the smells from the creek we crossed arriving at the restaurant.

The cocktails were great and the food delicious.

After dinner Sam took the children back to the villa and Clare, her mother in law Denise, my sister Catherine and I continued around the streets to watch and explore and do a little shopping.

I had forgotten my hat! So I bought a new one quickly at the markets in the afternoon.

We found a lovely dress shop called Misty. The girl in the shop knew she’d would have a good sale when we all walked in! We all had a little try on and I bought two new dresses and Catherine one . Perfect for Brisbane’s sunny weather.

We continued walking – up and down avoiding the holes and broken concrete and made our way back to our villa.

This morning another lovely breakfast to celebrate Denise’s birthday. The charming staff came out with a little cake with a self lighting candle that just couldn’t blow out. The kids loved it!

We checked out the Spa next door planning our massages and facials and Catherine and I decided to walk back to the beach to check out the beach scene in the day light.

Just a little disappointed- the sand is a black colour and the surf a little rough. But we had a walk as the clouds gathered.

The entrance to the beach was impressive as was the lifesaving tower!

There were boats and deck chairs but it was probably too early for most people as the beach seemed quiet. Perhaps everyone sits by their resort pool?

We stopped by a modern looking cafe run by a German man. If you’re looking for some fresh, clean, healthy food this place would suit. Check out Clean Canteen on Petitenget. Delicious salads.

We walked along the quieter lane leading back to our resort. There are some great looking places to stay here away from the crowds.

So our afternoons are spent on deck chairs by the pool. It’s a lovely way to relax.

Beautiful Bali

Yesterday I repacked my bag after returning from Vanuatu and flew out of Brisbane into Sydney, then onto Bali!

Yes another lovely holiday coming up. This one will be a more relaxing holiday – no long distance swimming.

Coming out of the arrival hall I was greeted by a smiling Arys a lovely local man.

I’m staying at the Peppers resort in Seminyak with my niece and her family, their mothers ( my sister Catherine) and now me!

The resort at 11.30 was very quiet – unlike the streets around Seminyak which were awash with bikes , cars and groups of people wandering around.

I crept into the Villa and into the pavilion bedroom I’m sharing with my sister Catherine.

The villa is made up of 3 separate pavilions around a pool and lovely shaded cabana. And an outdoor bathroom! Bliss.

Breakfast this morning was in the central resort area by the pool and was served by the smiling Balinese. Fruits, eggs, pancakes ( not for gluten free me!) Now we are sitting by the pool chatting and playing with Jack and Zali.

I could get used to this.

Celebrating our Swimtrekking Success.

Our celebration – end of Swimtrekking dinner was held at the Waterfront restaurant. This time the atmosphere was right, the staff friendly and everyone was in a great mood. Naturally the fish curry was terrific.

Yves gave us a great farewell message followed by Lizzie giving out the awards.

There was Coral Colleen who seemed so attracted to coral cuts; pocket rockets Jenny & Wendy; no complaint Shean despite his shoulder injury; calm caring yoga Carmel; action-woman Kathy and action-man John with calm eyebrow raising Margaret !

Our youngest swimmer Bec for her fun approach- the comedian who is happy to write any letters of comments of complaint!

Tarzan Frankie for her spectacular rope swing into the lagoon and Pavarotti Ralph; kickboard Steve kicking ass everyday; a swim converted Greg who surprised himself with his strong swimming and maybe even enjoying it! Native dancer Maryanne; nurse Monique (a true Vanuatu local of the Watt family) for cheerfully dabbing all our coral cuts, and smiley Soosi for her never give up attitude soldiering on after injury, and Janice – most improved swimmer, who was awarded half price if she returned on another swim holiday.! I was awarded the best group organiser with a ‘joie de vivre.’ Thank you Lizzie for a wonderfully delivered awards ceremony.

We reciprocated with our group thanks and gift to the guide team especially Yves who put the trip together. To Lizzie the friendliest most helpful guide around and to Matthew the local who added so much local knowledge to each day and kept us safe.

Then the group had a huge surprise for Steve and I. He was named King Neptune and me, Amphitrite – his wife.

They had made crowns of thanks for us for pulling them together for this wonderful adventure.

As much as we loved our crowns we can’t take them home to Australia so gave them to Matthew and his wife for safe-keeping on the island Vanuatu for our return.

Definitely a swimtrekking success. One we’ll never forget.

A Fun Last Swim in Paradise. Vanuatu. Land of Smiles.

The last day is a mix of renewed energy, a dash of tiredness, extra chatting and lots of laughs.

No yoga this morning and I missed it! I really need to get into the habit of doing my own yoga. I know many of the moves Carmel does with us. So it’s over to me! Just do it ! Who out there reading this does their own yoga practice each day? Leave me a comment in the box to inspire me!

Onto the bus which this morning we hijacked and stopped at Tanna Coffee for a last day hit.

This morning we’re going to Lelepa Island 🌴. Another Survivor island spot. This time the guides found a better launching spot. Not a jetty! But not quite as much coral to hobble over. I’ve taken my reef shoes to all my swimming holidays and hardly used them. Here we walk around in them most of the day. The beaches are gorgeous but quite rocky with white pebbles.

Today another choice. Difficult decisions so early in the morning. 1. What type of coffee do I want and 2. How far do I want the swim. 5km? Or half that?

There were 4 of us who took the challenge today. Once again Kathy, Ralph and myself were joined by the machine man John. So with lovely Lizzie guiding us we set off.

The 4 members of the 5km challenge.

Yesterday’s 6 km challenge team. I did both challenges !

Oh how beautiful it is to swim these waters. Clear beautiful blues with a garden of coral underneath buzzing with fish life and an extra bonus every now and then. Today it was a stingray. Big and round with a pointed tail.

On and on we swam – most of it smooth swimming. Kathy took the challenge further and took her fins off. John added bigger fins for better glide but took awhile to adjust. Rule #64 on swimtrekking. ‘Don’t change your gear over on a longer swim!’ But John persevered and swam strongly.

We caught the larger group toward the end of their swim which turned into a 4 km for them and we finished strongly before climbing aboard the boats and heading for our aptly named Survivor beach.

Lunch was a feast prepared by our guide Matthew’s wife, mother and sister. It was beautifully prepared local foods. Fish, chicken, salads, fried banana, fried taro pieces and rice coconut balls. Then the most mouth watering fruit. All delicious.

We sat under palms on rocks and tree stumps and thought how lucky we were to be experiencing this special part of Vanuatu.

Then was time to wind our way through the trees climb up the hill and find the most amazing sandstone caves. These caves are very important to Vanuatu and have protection from hoards of tourists. You must come with a guide.

This is in Chief Roi Mata’s Domain. We had heard about the chief when visiting Hat Island’s small burial place a few days ago.

And it was magnificent. There are 400 year old cave drawings in this cathedral sized cave. Acoustics made it magnificent for singing and Ralph ( our Tatty Tenor) didn’t disappoint.

Back to the beach for some swimming and snorkeling- or just lazing.

John decided he wanted to up his swimming distance to join the ‘6km club’ so headed off on his own. Only problem – instead of following the coastline he headed straight out. He was stroking along – blissfully unaware of the shouts from the guides to stop and return.

He was headed for rip which could possibly carry him off to Hat Island in the distance.

Everyone on the beach yelled to him but perhaps he thought we were cheering him on? Finally he stopped , turned and made it safely back. Then he received what he called an “ administrative reprimand “. The guides are serious about safety and definitely didn’t want a last day mishap!

For the last time we entered the boats each one carrying flags. An Australian one on one, Vanuatu flag in the next and one of each on the third. No French flag! Getting ready for Australia v France in the football.

Our last stop was the cava hut where Matthew told us the reason cava is drunk by the islanders.

We indulged and agreed it wasn’t for its taste! But for its numbing, calming qualities. Better than alcohol which can lead to aggression and bad behaviour.

So feeling slightly sedated we had our last bus ride along the island.

Long day, long swims in Vanuatu. Survivor!

Another gorgeous start to the day with yoga on the beach in front of our Bures, looking out to the water. If only it could always be like this.

Breakfast is good as the little hot spot for wifi so the group are happy to sit at the little tables for 2 or 4 checking emails, messaging family or like me writing a blog.

Today we are swimming along the coast to one of the beaches used on the Survivor TV series.

The first challenge for us was entering the water. Not easy over rocky coral especially if you had fins on instead of reef shoes. We made quite a spectacle of ourselves as we congo lined our way into the deeper water.

We finally made it and were rewarded with sighting of an underwater collection of giant clams.

We set off feeling refreshed after our slower day yesterday. I was on tow rope duty pulling a little inflatable safety device.

We swam with the tide – stopping regularly to regroup and swap stories of sea life we spotted on the reefs below us.

We became turtle hunters following Mathew because he is so good at spotting things.

We swam and we swam. A few got leg cramps but before we knew it we were at our Survivor beach. About 3.2km. And about 1.5 hrs

Getting out of the water was another challenge not wanting to risk a fall on the coral so most took it slowly.

Lunch was under a big grove of shady trees then a nap on the little rocks or in the amongst the leaf litter. Bliss. Rest time before another afternoon swim.

Yves brought out a few flags to get us in the mood for the first football game for Australia tonight !

Our guides offered us a few afternoon options. Another 3 km swim with fewer stops , a half hour swim or a leisurely boat trip.

I took the challenge and decided to do the 3 km swim along with Kathy, Jenny, Ralph and Colleen guided by Lizzie.

We creamed up put our reef shoes on and swam away from the coral. Did an acrobatic change to our fins and off we went.

It was a good comfortable pace and we had a few stops to regroup and finished about 10 mins earlier than the earlier swim 🏊‍♂️ the morning. Exhausted yes, exhilarated yes, but well worth it. So today that make 6.2 km !

The rest of the group had a bit of fun on the island before setting off. They painted their faces and posed for photos!

Soosi, Wendy & John.

The second group pulled in on their boats just after us.

Meanwhile Matthew caught an octopus.

Feeling quite pleased with our days efforts we all changed into our ‘eveningwear’ in the grass beside the buses. No mod cons. Swim trekking is a great leveller.

We took off for the beach bar. We were all ready for beer and assorted cocktails, wine and something yum to eat. Fish curry was popular as was pizza.

Yves, Monique, Wendy and I took a quick ferry ride across the harbour to Hideaway resort. We had looked at it as an option for accommodation. But the bunk beds put us off. Even though the island is lovely. Not for us!

Then the highlight of the night – the fire show. It was on the beach with the water as a backdrop. Some very athletic looking men and women hurled fire sticks into the air catching them and doing various tricks. Good music added to the show.

It finished around 8 and everyone was absolutely exhausted. So time to return to our comfy Bures at Breakas. What a day.

A sleep in.

A slow start.

Yoga!

Day 4 of a SwimTrekking holiday is always hard. Tiredness is setting in. So Yves gave us a slow start.

Carmel gave a group of 7 of us a lovely stretching yoga.

Then a more leisurely breakfast and a quiet read in the hammock.

A visit to the town of Port Vila where we split into little groups of market wanderers and coffee drinkers. Hard decision. But the people at the markets were so friendly and not at all pushy when trying to sell their products.

There were the usual things. Colourful happy pants, sarongs, shirts, kids clothes and woven bags, hats and fans. And flowers , the most beautiful colours. And bunches of peanuts. All sold – or not with a smile.

Steve, Wendy & Soosi we’re taken with the iguana jewellery- but they were real slightly sedated iguanas.

As 12.30 arrived we heard tooting if horns and banding of drums as a parade started through town.

The World Cup is starting tonight and football is huge here so people are showing their support. There are local Vanuatu flags, French flags and Australian flags. Loyalties are split for the Australian v France game.

Our next stop is at Yves’ uncles house he is an artist. Emmanuel Watt. He lives in a house that is both gallery and home. He’s a charming man – a French speaker ( no English) so Monique, Yves sister did the translations.

His main art is sculpture. He takes wood he finds and turns into a representative piece. So clever. His works have been exhibited in New York, Paris, London, Brisbane just to name a few.

He showed his pride of Yves achievements by have a laminated article and photo of Yves completion of the English Channel. There is so much pride in this beautiful Watt family.

This sculpture depicts the volcano

Our last stop on this ‘down day’ was the Blue lagoon. It’s a fun lagoon- very pretty with a couple of ropes high in the trees for only the most game/brave/silly to try.

Guess who was first up the tree. John! He may be 70 but he is fit and brave. He did a few big jumps before being joined by Bec. Yes they both took on the challenge on the jumping castle the day before. Shean might have had a go but he was carrying an injured shoulder.

Frances D was amazing. She brought it home for the girls with height and distance. Bec was another champion with her ‘walk on water’ style.

Dinner was a small disaster. Reefers restaurant in the waterfront did not live up to its reviews. Food ok but expensive and a problem with the bill and lack of efpost which had ‘just shut down’. Apparently there is a back story to the owners. Anyway warning. Don’t go there.

But we smiled through it on the bus. Used humour to recover. Had a debriefing with Ralph.

So off to bed!

Melanesia Day.

Beginning a new day with a quiet yoga session is a treat on a swimtrekking holiday. We are lucky to have Carmel from Brisbane offer us yoga.

We did 20min on the beach yesterday and this morning another session facing the ocean. Downward dog never looked so good.

Muscles are starting to become sore so massage kindly offered by ‘Healing Hands’ Jenny and Yoga by Carmel are helping. Thank you ladies.

Breakfast, a briefing on the days program and away we went. A slightly shorter trip today. Through the town centre and up to the lookout and a secret road to the water. Into the boats to Hat Island which does indeed look like a hat!

Reef shoes are needed today for the walk across the low tide rocks into the boats and away.

This island is a special one in Vanuatu. No villages here at all. But there is a very old cemetery. It’s a significant one.

We arrived at the beach, left our things then continued along the coast for a few kilometres. The ocean is a darker blue and a little rolling. Very inviting.

So off we went. Our group is bonding both in and out of the water. Some like to zip to the front following the leader. Others lurk at the back really enjoying the views of the reef. I prefer to hover mid group – in my own space with a swim buddy. Today it was Margaret. We were keeping a steady rhythm – until we turned a corner of the island and it became lumpy and challenging.

We swam over coral reefs with lots of little fish flitting about. A multitude of blues and purples and pink tipped coral. Bright blue starfish, schools of black & white or yellow fish 🐟.

And Kathy, Soosi and I got out in our

S, M, L matching swimmers!

Back to the beach for lunch. A walk to the ancient cemetery led by a local through a rocky grassy path shaded by pandanus before turning right into the island. Matthew one of our local guides offered a gift to the dead in friendship.

A little nap was needed then before the final swim of the day.

All up we swam 2.7km in the morning and 2 this afternoon. Quite an effort.

Matthew caught a turtle during our swim. What an experience

It’s a really amazing experience here with Yves , his sister Monique and the people of Vanuatu. It’s as much a cultural experience as it is a swim trekking holiday.

Tonight is Melanesia night. Starting with Kava. It’s a full on week and everyone is getting tired!

Yves with his sister Monique

So Yves has scheduled a late start tomorrow morning.

We’ll have yoga at 7.30, breakfast then a rest before a visit to the marketplace in town. Then in the afternoon a visit to a lagoon.

A Beach Break Refreshes

What do I have to show after nearly 5 weeks at the coast?

Not a lot……….

But Steve and I have settled into a very low key pattern of R& R.

We had a lovely Christmas Day with our good friends Carmel and Peter Harrison and their three daughters and their partners.


I made my famous trifle!


And met Victoria’s beautiful dog. He’s in training to be a guide dog and is more than attached to Victoria.


Since then its all been about swimming, a little walking, sitting on the beach chatting to friends , coffee dates, afternoon drinks and a few lunches and dinners. I must admit to being very lazy and not doing too much in the way of entertaining friends here!

After every everything that happened last year I figure we needed the rest.

So what are my favourite things about the coast? Here’s my

Top Ten

1. Watching the sun rise over the water before the heat of the day.

2. Walks along the coastal path. Passing other walkers who offer a cheery ‘good morning’

3. Swimming. If it’s calm out the front I swim in the ocean. If not then I head to the Caloundra Aquatic Centre. Swimming clears the head. Almost like meditation.

4. Reading. Who doesn’t like taking time to read. I’ve churned through the books these holidays. I’ll do a seperate blog post on books I’ve enjoyed.

5. Umbrella hopping! There are always lots of friends here over Christmas and it’s great to spend time on the beach chatting. Moving from one group to the other.

6. Eating prawns and other delicious summer foods – especially with friends. Yotam Ottolenghi salads have been a feature this year.

7. Discovering a new summer drink. I’m afraid to admit my current favourite is still an Aperol Spritz. It’s always ‘summer in a glass’. And tastes better when shared with friends on the new verandah at the surf club

8. Coffee at Coofee Cat –  a retro style cafe a minute walk from our place. Good coffee and always a paper to read.

9. Riding around summer style in the new mini moke. It’s Steve’s new car and has been great over summer for heading to the pool or out to lunch. It’s always attracts comments from the young and not so young.

image

10. Afternoon naps. And watching the tennis or the cricket. Very Aussie way of spending time at the beach.

 

What are your favourite things to do on holidays? Please use the comment box to let me know.