Friday, January 9, 2015

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

It was 4:30pm on Thursday and Mr H was in a mood for a long walk. Lucky for him, Sydney is home to many long walk routes. All within an hour's radius from where we live too. After short listing some routes, we chose the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. This walk is a combination of several shorter walks: Bondi to Tamarama, Tamarama to Bronte, Bronte to Clovelly and Clovelly to Coogee. You could start and end at any of these points. Not interested to walk? You can jog/run. In fact a friend of mine shared that this route was her training spot when she was training for running events held in Sydney.

We decided to start our walk from Coogee and end at Bondi instead. Only a 45 minute bus ride away from Newtown, it was 6:00pm when we arrived at Coogee Beach.

Start point: Coogee Beach. Even though it was 6:00pm, some were just arriving to get some sun. Quite a number of surfers were seen in the waters. With waves are not as big as Bondi, perhaps this is where students come to practice.
Just before this, we were walking on grass. A few steps later, it was all sandstone. Such a different landscape.
A bit tricky to walk along the rocks. Proper shoes are recommended. At the edge of this cliff is a steep drop into the sea. Make sure you stay inside the fence.
Thompsons Bay aka Gordon's Bay. Many years ago, this was a nude beach.  Do not know if it is now. Did not see any nudies that day.
This beach somehow reminded us of Parsley Bay, except this beach was longer and not as wide. There's also a salt water pool nearby. It did not look very clean tho. Besides, why swim in a pool when there's the open sea?
It was very windy and sand particles were getting into my eyes. Quite difficult to take a selfie with the strong winds.
Mr H trying to keep his eyes open long enough for the picture. Not easy with winds & sand. 
Waverly Cemetery - this location was used during the filming of Mel Gibson's 1979 movie, Tim.
I wonder what's the story behind this sculpture. Definitely not left behind from Sculptures by the Sea 2014.
Approaching Bondi - rough waves all the way.
End point: Bondi on a summer day: bright and sunny. It's 8:00pm
Interested to walk here?
  • Proper walking shoes are recommended as it could be painful to walk the distance in slippers. 
  • Do not forget your sunscreen, sunnies and a cap as there is hardly any shade available.
  • Bring your own water bottle. You can refill them along the way.
  • Public toilets are also available along the way. Closing times differ according to time of year.
  • Bring a camera (real or phone). Too many gorgeous moments to give it a miss.
  • Bring your swimsuit. The waters can be really inviting.
  • Allocate 2 hours (walk only) or more if you intend to stop and swim.
  • Paths are wide enough for strollers and pram but could be a pain as there are many steps along the way.
  • For more information on this walk, check out: The Bondi to Coogee Walk

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Return Visit to Blue Mountains

It was a non-working Saturday for Mr H and he was itching to get out of the city. With several possible destinations, we found our way back to Blue Mountains. Our first stop was Mount Blackheath Lookout. 

The drive here brought us through small farms and orchards. Some parts of the road were dirt roads - making us wonder if it this would be a problem for our car. We made it to the lookout without much issues. It was just us there and makes you wonder how popular is this site.

From the car park, it is about a 5 minute walk to the lookout itself. The view, well truthfully did not take my breath away. It seemed "normal" compared to the views you get from Govetts Leap or Three Sisters. A quick tour of the area would bring you to a "take off ramp" and a quick check on Google revealed that it is a popular take off site for hang gliding and para-sailing.
Keen on a picnic? Picnic tables provided. The area opposite the rubbish bin will lead you to the take off ramp for hang gliders/para-sailors.
It was a cold morning (for me at least).
View from Mt Blackheath Lookout. Reminded me of a golf course.
Not wasting much time at the lookout, we made our way to Tea Rooms at Megalong Valley. Having first brought here by our tour guide many months ago, we thought it would be nice to go back for scones and blueberry jam. Their savoury options were not bad either. The place was busy being the long holiday weekend AND school holidays. It was a pleasant wait tho, enjoying the crisp cool air in the garden, watching the birds fly in and out of trees. I was hoping for a glimpse of a kangaroo or two. No such luck.
We found our way back to Megalong Valley Tea Rooms.
After filling up our tummies, it was off to Govetts Leap for another spectacular view of Bridal Falls. We took two different bush walk trails this time, leading us to another lookout point of the falls. We did not venture far, walking about 15 minutes each way.
Bridal Falls from Govetts Leap.
This lookout point is a 15 minute walk from the car park.
Our final stop was Three Sisters. Even though this was our third time at this attraction, we were still awed. After spending some time reliving our previous two trips here, we said our goodbyes to the sisters and headed back to Sydney.
Farewell Three Sisters, until we meet again.
Two hours later, we were back in Sydney. It was only then we realised that Blue Mountains is not that far from Sydney after all. If you do not have much time to spare, a day trip would suffice to explore the must-sees.

Read more about our previous Blue Mountains trip here - Touring the Blue Mountains.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Welcoming 2015

Planning to welcome 2015 began at least 2 months before the day itself. Wanting to get the best view of the fireworks show, multiple visits to 2014 Sydney New Year's Eve - Vantage Points were made. After evaluating all the vantage points - accessibility, ticketed or non-ticketed, food available for sale etc, 4 locations were shortlisted. Eventually we settled for Bradleys Head - The Mast Precinct as the perfect location to watch the fireworks. It was not too expensive ($60 per person), we could get there via public transport and most importantly, the crowd is limited to 2,500 people. This sure beats fighting for space among 30,000 people at the Opera House.

The morning was spent preparing picnic fare enough for our group members (7 of us in total) to last until midnight. Not forgetting our Malaysian roots, I made nasi impit & kuah kacang and my late grandmother's style of fried meehon. Besides that, I had packed along two packets of chips, 12 packets of drinks and a bar of chocolate that we did not eat because it melted. I was in no mood to clean up any potential chocolate mess.

If you can fold your chocolate, expect a mess.
Wanting to book secure a good spot, Mr H and I made an early start to Bradleys Head via train to Circular Quay > ferry to Taronga Zoo. The crowd was already building up even though it was only 1:30pm. There was a mad rush to board the first available ferry out from Circular Quay as if the fireworks were going to start in 10 minutes (we had another 10 hours to go). We patiently waited for the next available ferry that was due to come in 5 minutes. This ferry could also carry 400 people so there was ample room for everyone.
2:00pm at Circular Quay
We alighted at Taronga Zoo wharf and made our way to Bradleys Head - The Mast Precinct's entrance. Special signage were supposedly made available to direct us to the location. Perhaps we were too early as we did not see any signs and followed the crowd instead. Thankfully we were in the right direction. It would be a bummer to find out we were heading the wrong way after 20 minutes of walking up hill, lugging our picnic gear! 

Since we had chosen a family friendly area, our bags were checked to ensure no one brought in any prohibited items (e.g. alcoholic beverages, glass, sharp objects, tents etc) at the entrance. We then walked another 10 minutes before reaching the event location. 

It was only 2:30pm and yet the best spots were taken! And to think we were early. Finally we settled ourselves on the road as all the grassy spots were not available. We lost the final good grassy spot by a few seconds.

Our spot by the round-about.

If you duck and angle yourself at a position, you get a nice view of Harbour Bridge.
We laid our picnic mats and took a nap while waiting for the others to arrive. The place was getting crowded by the hour. Maryam and Cindy arrived about 5:00pm followed by Shana and Belle. It was only 6:00pm. 

We made the best of our wait time by entertaining ourselves with several rounds of Uno, listening to the live performances and walked around to scout for the best possible spots for us to run to when the fireworks are on. Looking at the other visitors, it was quite obvious they are experienced "party-goers". They came prepared with beach chairs, beach towels, umbrellas and even ice boxes to ensure they have cold drinks the whole time!
One of the identified nice spots to go to for the show. The boats are all parked for the perfect view as well. You could see the people partying inside.
Keeping ourselves occupied with several rounds of Uno.
"Movie director" waiting for the show to commence.
Possibly our last couple picture for 2014
Shana & Belle came all the way from Malaysia to catch the fireworks show.
By 9:30pm, the skies went bright with colourful sparkles. The family fireworks had gone off. We made a dash to the top of the steps for a better view. Unfortunately everyone else had the same idea. Lesson learnt, we choose another location for the 10:30pm fireworks. Alas, despite standing in a better location, the fireworks itself was disappointing. 

10:30pm Fireworks - a quite disappointing preview to the main show.
There was still 1.5 hours to go before the midnight show. During this time, we brainstormed on where we should stand for a better view. Ten minutes before midnight, we made our way to the chosen spot. Since everyone had planned to leave right after the fireworks, most of the people who had staked out the site had packed their stuff away. This gave us room to stand without blocking anyone. Yay! Results as below. 
The finale did not disappoint - we got a clear view too.

The last 30 seconds of the 10 minute show.

After 10 minutes of spectacular show, it was time to go home. We made our way back to base, packed our things and walked towards the bus stop. It was not until an hour later we managed to board a bus that would take us to Wynyard Station. Although it was full, we wanted to be on it as we did not know how long the next bus would be. From Wynyard Station, we took a train to Newtown. We finally reached home at 3:00am. Such a long day it was.

Our bus ride home - after an hour's wait.
Overall it was a wonderful experience spending new year 2015 in Sydney with family and friends. Would I do the same again in future? YES!

Happy New Year from Us in Sydney. May 2015 be a prosperous one for you.