Tag Archives: Travel


Sydney in the rain in winter

Even in winter in the rain, Sydney still is a wonderful city to explore.

Balmain Wharf waiting for the ferry, Sydney June 2012

Balmain Wharf waiting for the ferry, Sydney June 2012

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A hidden gem: Culburra Beach

Image of old jetty on the Crookhaven River at Culburra Beach

Jetty on the Crookhaven River at Culburra Beach

Culburra Beach is an interesting place. Three hours south of  Sydney, it seems to be one of the few beach towns that have escaped the sea-change boom. Unlike places north of Sydney like Blueys and Boomerang beaches where fibro beach shacks have been replaced with million-dollar mansions, this place remains a quiet sleepy seaside village. Continue reading

Baby boomers take on the world

Baby boomers skiing in Canada on annual ski holiday

Baby boomers taking on the world one place at a time

The youngest baby boomers – if we use 1960 as the last year – are now over 50. Many are retiring. Most are now free of the responsibilities of raising children. Continue reading

Christmas New Year holidays in Australia

A lone surfer emerges from the water at Woolgoolga in New South Wales

The beach in summer in Australia – it’s an Aussie tradition

The smell of Coppertone Sun Tan lotion was something synonymous with beach holidays when I was a kid. Continue reading

Mollymook in winter

View of North Mollymook beach from Ocean Drive, taken in June 2011

Bright sunny winter's day at North Mollymook Beach

It’s hard to believe sometimes that many parts of Australia have ‘summer’ weather in the heart of winter. Right now in Vernon British Coumbia in the middle of summer the weather is 28 high, 9 low. Here in Sydney, it’s 20 high and 13 low in the middle of winter!

Last weekend, a visit to Mollymook, about a 3-hour drive south of Sydney by car, showed how wonderful the beach is in winter. No crowds in or out of the ocean, stunning sunny days and clear, pristine water to swim in.

The pool at Bannisters resort blends into the blue ocean in the background

The pool at Bannisters at Mollymook, 3 hours south of Sydney

Although refreshingly cool, our body surfing stints were favourite moments – and we had the whole place to ourselves.

News from Mollymook: Rick Stein, famous English chef, has a restaurant at the Bannisters resort. It’s just one of the eating places. Restaurants, wineries, great cafes – Mollymook has become a foodlover’s destination.

Anyone know what this plant is? Never seen anything like it before and it looked truly spectacular.

Strange, beautiful plants at Mollymook

Strange, beautiful plants at Mollymook

Port MacQuarie is truly heaven

View of the Mid Pacific Motel in Port Macquarie: 1960s style in 2011

The Mid Pacific Motel in pure 1960s style has survived the test of time

There are some things in life that you just gotta love. One of them is finding a reasonably priced but very fine motel in a sensational location. Hard to find in these days of high-end luxury buy-outs of the best beach and resort locations. Knock down the ’60s style motels that are comfortable and affordable and replace them with ‘luxury’ accommodation with the mandatory high price tag: that’s the trend.

But here in Port Macquarie in New South Wales (about a five-hour drive from Sydney), the trend has been bucked to some degree. There are many older-style motels – some sitting on the most valuable real estate in the place.

View from the 2nd floor balcony of the Mid Pacific Motel over the Hastings River

The motel is located right on the Hastings River in the centre of Port Macquarie

Take the Mid Pacific Motel – it’s a gem. Perfectly located in the very heart of Port Macquarie on the Hastings River and with all the charm of a 1960s motel. It’s a stone’s throw from the fish co-op, restaurants, cafes, shops, pubs and the Glasshouse Arts centre in Clarence Street, and an easy walk along the riverfront to Town Beach for a surf.

Speaking of beaches, Port Macquarie has some of the most stunning in Australia. If you’re into surfing, Flynn’s Beach proved the most reliable for a good wave over Easter 2011. Rainbow Beach at Bonney Hills, 20 miles south of Port also has a reliable surf break, easy parking and is quite beautiful.

Still feeling energetic after a surf? Take the walk from Town Beach to Lighthouse

Beach along some truly spectacular coastline over headlands and across some pristine beaches like Miners. Allow four hours for the round trip.

Back at the Mid Pacific, what’s so great about this motel? The 60s style motel-style rooms have comfortable beds, tv, kitchenette including fridge, microwave, crockery and cutlery to prepare basic meals, and a separate bathroom. There’s a barbecue area, pool and spa room and under cover parking. What more do you need!

Sunset over the Hastings River from the Mid Pacific Motel in Port Macquarie Australia

Sunset from one of the rooms at the Mid Pacific

The flashing neon sign that welcomes visitors is pure 1960s. For those who remember the TV series, 66 Sunset Strip, the Mid Pacific is in the same genre. The interiors have been upgraded but the ambiance is pure 60s and the location on the river provides guests with some spectacular water views. The sunsets are glorious.

Best of all it is affordable which puts this motel in the price range of most Australians. Motels such as the Mid Pacific symbolize a fairer, more relaxed Australia where people matter ahead of overdevelopment and profit. The friendly welcome from the owners and staff mean that we’ll be coming back.

Christmas in the snow

Fir tree decorated with Christmas lights at Sun Peaks ski resort

Fir tree decorated with Christmas lights at Sun Peaks ski resort, Canada

As much as Australians love their Christmas Days in the middle of summer (though not all the time as one year it was so hot the candles on the table melted), there is something to be said for spending a Christmas in the snow.

The best way to guarantee a white Christmas, is to go to a ski field somewhere in the northern hemisphere. It doesn’t matter which one, and this winter ski season in the north is looking like it’s going to be a ripper. Imagine, warm fires, hot toddies, making snowmen, decorating real fir trees.

Visit Ski the World website, pick a resort and take off for a White Christmas.

Home exchange makes travel affordable and fun

View over Sydney city from East Balmain apartment in Sydney Australia

The view over Sydney city from our apartment in Balmain

A growing trend in the baby-boomer age group (and those a wee bit older) is to organise house exchanges when travelling.

Each winter, Vernon in British Columbia sees an inundation of Australians and New Zealanders who have exchanged homes so that they can enjoy a month or more skiing mountains in the Okanagan Valley and beyond.

It’s a win-win situation as many Canadians want to escape the winter to enjoy the sunshine in Australia or New Zealand while the Aussies and Kiwis make the most of the Canadian ski fields.

It’s possible to swap houses with people from just about any country in the world. And as baby boomers retire, more people are exchanging for long periods of time – up to 12 months. It’s feasible to be away from home for a couple of years as retirees organise multiple exchanges in different countries around the world or within their own country for that matter.

So how does one go about organising a house swap?

There are a number of options that have worked for us:

  • word of mouth – this works best if there is an active home exchange network happening already
  • home exchange websites
  • advertisement in travel accommodation section of newspaper.

Numerous websites now abound on the Internet with listings of thousands of homes in every country of people who want to swap homes.

But it’s not just about the savings in accommodation costs, it’s the experience of becoming part of a community even if only for a short time. Neighbours introduce themselves (and often pick you up from the airport), you meet all kinds of people, you get to live in a home rather than a sterile hotel room, and generally, the locals are very friendly.

House swapping – it’s great stuff!

Contact Susie if you are interested in discussing a house swap in Balmain, Sydney.

You can see more images and get more details about our apartment on the house swap website, First Home Exchange.

Snow one day, surf the next

Skiing in Canada at Silver Star in February 2010

Skiing in Canada one day

Travelling half way around the world in one day can be quite surreal especially if you leave Kelowna in Canada in minus temperatures and snow and arrive in Sydney Australia to a steamy, hot summer.

Manly Beach on a sunny February day in 2010

Sun and surf at Manly Beach in Sydney Australia

The day before travelling home to Sydney, we were skiing in minus 8 at Silver Star. The day after arriving home, we were swimming in the ocean at Manly beach.

I am currently building two skiing websites devoted to skiing,  and www.ski-the-world.info and www.ski-biz.info. If you have a favourite ski mountain, let me know and I’ll include the details in http://www.ski-the-world.info.

One sleep to go!

Packing for a trip to Canada must have Vegemite, a pair of thongs (flip flops to the rest of the world), a good book and some decent Twinings tea.

Stuff to take on a trip overseas must include Vegemite, a good book and flip flops

Travel is one of the great joys in life. The older we get, the more time we seem to have to do some of the things that were difficult when we have young families and large mortgages to pay – doing stuff like travelling.

Skiing is a passion and it has become a business for me too with my new skiing website, http://www.ski-the-world.info which will work with my skiing blog, http://www.ski-biz.info to inform and entertain the skiing (and snowboarding) fraternity around the world.

Tomorrow Bill and I are off to Canada to look at some well-loved and new ski fields, write some articles about the best and not so good resorts and to cover the Vancouver Olympics.

Work should be pleasurable and building websites that are about one of my great passions in life makes work fun.

We fly Air Canada direct to Vancouver – only 14 hours which is great for a trip from Sydney Australia. Then we fly on with Air Canada domestic into Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley to start a ski adventure.

There are some must-haves in the stuff we take. Minimal clothing as our ski gear resides in Canada with friends. Vegemite is essential and it’s always fun feeding it to the Canadians on Australia Day. A good book – essential and flip flops for the hot tub (getting to and from so our wet feet don’t freeze to the floor).

That’s it. Next news will be from Canada.