Written by auskiwi on 25 May, 2002
Forster is a small town loacted approx. 3 hours north of the Central Coast, by the Myall Lakes and the New South Wales coast.
While we are here we usaully camp at Booti Booti Recreation Park as it is cheap, $6 per night, and is located…Read More
Forster is a small town loacted approx. 3 hours north of the Central Coast, by the Myall Lakes and the New South Wales coast.
While we are here we usaully camp at Booti Booti Recreation Park as it is cheap, $6 per night, and is located near a fantastic beach which is good for swimming, fishing and surfing. There are also a couple of bush walks you can do if you wish.
We have also stayed in a youth hostel once, which was at the southern end of the main street in Forster, $16 per night and has dormitory and family room style accommodation.
While in Forster we just like to relax and unwind and as a way to help us do this we either hire a small boat for the day or we buy a ticket on a cruise boat and take a trip out on the peaceful Myall Lakes. The Lakes have oyster farms in the small waterways and there ae several island where you can get of at and escape the rest of humanity. There are three or four places that you can hire a boat from if you wish and there are usually a couple of cruises leaving the dock every day.
The lakes are great for watersports such as waterskiing and wake boarding and get very busy during the summer months.
At the mouth of the Lakes and the Ocean there is a bridge span and on the other side of the bridge is a small town called Tuncurry where markets are held, in the park, on the busy weekends.
Written by auskiwi on 12 May, 2002
Just north of Wyong is another large salt water lake called Lake Macquarie. Lake Macquarie is the favorite place to head on a beautiful summers day to pursuit your favorite water sport, whether it be wakeboarding, water skiing, swimming, fishing or taking a spin in…Read More
Just north of Wyong is another large salt water lake called Lake Macquarie. Lake Macquarie is the favorite place to head on a beautiful summers day to pursuit your favorite water sport, whether it be wakeboarding, water skiing, swimming, fishing or taking a spin in your boat.
The shores of the lake are dotted with numerous small towns with boat ramps and parks, with playgrounds and BBQs, by the lake. Some of the larger towns are Toronto, Swansea and Belmont. If you want a lovely drive through the countryside then the circuit around the lake is a must.
Further north you will come to the industrial city of Newcastle. Newcastle is on the coastline, but is also on the mouth of the Hunter River and is the largest populated area in the Greater Newcastle/Hunter Region.
Newcastle is a pretty city to visit and has a great old stone Cathedral with some beautiful stained glass windows.
Scratchley Fort is situated on Newcastles foreshore and is now a museum for the area and still has the old gun barrels pointing out to sea, where they used to watch for Japanese warships and submarines.
Following the New England Highway inland from Newcastle you will come to the old towns and areas of Morpeth and Maitland.
Maitland has many old residences and shops that you can wander around the streets and view.
On the first Sunday of every month Maitland also holds a large open air market at it's race course. You can find everything here, from jams and fruit to antiques and clothes.
Maitland also, once a year in April, holds a steamfest where they hold markets, have steam trains running and other steam tractors and engines, which you can go for rides on, have old vintage cars and hot rods etc on show and have live singers, dancers and the like. It's a great day out for the whole family.
Morpeth is reached by turning off at East Maitland. Morpeth has some great old shops and is situated right on the Hunter River. If you like tea and scones, you'll have to come here to have them. The shops are full of Arts and Crafts of all sorts from home made jams to paintings and dolls.
Morpeth also has an old historic tour you can do that takes you around all the old original residences and businesses.
If you're a lover of great wines then further up the Hunter Valley in Pokolbin, near Cessnock, is the world famous Hunter Valley Wineries. The best way to get around these is to find out from the tourist information office in the area whether there's any tours running. The tours will usually take you to three or four wineries and if you're lucky the local pub.
You can stay with the Pokolbin area as there are a few hotels and hostels, some are pricey, but the wineries are at your doorstep.
We've been a couple of times now and liked The Draytons Winery, The Tamburlaine Winery, The Windarra Winery and the local brewery.
Written by auskiwi on 09 May, 2006
This year, during Easter, our friends Greg, Julie and their 5 year old and us decided to spend a couple of days at the Jenolan Caves.On Good Friday morning, at approximately 7am, we left our home on the Central Coast, by car, to travel for…Read More
This year, during Easter, our friends Greg, Julie and their 5 year old and us decided to spend a couple of days at the Jenolan Caves.On Good Friday morning, at approximately 7am, we left our home on the Central Coast, by car, to travel for 3 hours South to the Jenolan Caves. The Jenolan Caves are located approximately 1½ hours inland from Sydney and where we live, The Central Coast, is approximately 1½ hours north of Sydney.We had, during the previous week, booked 2 rooms for Good Friday Evening at the Caves House Resort so we could actually stay there the night and do a couple of cave tours.Book in time at the resort was 2pm in the afternoon so, as we got there prior to lunch, we decided to go on a couple of the shorter walking tracks that took you around some of the scenic spots in the area.The tracks are free and the ones we went on were:The River Walk - This track allowed you to walk along both banks of the river that flows on the Sydney side of the Main Archway, which is the entrance to the Jenolan Caves.This walk can take you approximately ½ hour to 1 hour depending on whether you decide to go to the Dam or not. The difficulty of the track is moderate.We also went on the track that took us through the Devils Coachhouse, along the valley floor, up the Carlottas Arch and then back down to the resort.This walk took us approximately ¾ hour. There were a number of stairs to scale on this walk and we were breathing hard at the top.There are numerous other walking tracks in the area that lead to many different places and that are of varying grades of difficulty.After our couple of treks we bought lunch at the Bistro, a sandwich and a can of drink—expensive at $5 for the sandwich and $1.50 for the can. That's the problem when your options for purchasing food are limited to one shop.By this time it was 2pm so we checked in at the resort and put our bags in our room and scoped out the resort to locate all the facilities available.Please see the accommodation entry for more information about the resort.After booking in we went and bought tickets for the Ghost Caves Tour. Tickets for all the cave tours can be purchased from the booking office located on the right hand side of the road after you enter the resort precinct via the Main Arch.This tour is conducted at 8pm at nights and runs for 2 hours. On the tour the guide takes you through a number of caves by miners torchlight and all the time he is telling stories about ghostly and unexplained happenings that have gone on within different areas.The cost of the tour was $27.50 per person and the tour was very interesting.The following day, after a peaceful nights sleep, we had a buffet breakfast at the resorts restaurant, booked out of the resort and went and purchased tickets for a couple of other cave tours.The guys wanted to do the River Tour and us girls and the 5 year old went through the Lucus Cave—there was a age restriction of 6 years for the River Cave and the route also entailed people to climb a vertical run of ladder.The price of the River Tour was $27 per person and the Lucus Cave was $15 per person.The guys thought the River Tour was excellent and thought it was well worth the price. This tour took them through the underground caves to the underground river. The photos look great.The Lucus Cave was great too and the guide was very informative and had all the answers to the questions that he was asked. There was also a coloured light show in the last cave.Hard to believe that the pioneers in the 1800s used to venture down in the caves in what they used to wear - especially the ladies.After this tour we got into the car and headed back to our respective homes. Didn't realise how exhausted we were after the couple of days of exercise we had had. Close
Written by auskiwi on 13 Jan, 2009
We had dad over at Xmas 2007 so went to plenty of local haunts, the Australian Reptile Park, the Mangrove Mountain Dam, Wollombi, bush walking, lunch at The Entrance, dinner at The Entrance Bowling Club with friends, dinner at the neighbours on Christmas Eve.We didn’t…Read More
We had dad over at Xmas 2007 so went to plenty of local haunts, the Australian Reptile Park, the Mangrove Mountain Dam, Wollombi, bush walking, lunch at The Entrance, dinner at The Entrance Bowling Club with friends, dinner at the neighbours on Christmas Eve.We didn’t do much for Australia Day this year. Hung around home relaxing and then went around to friends for a BBQ, movie and went to The Entrance to watch the fire works.Feb was non-eventful. We went around to friend’s place for a nice dinner and a slide show afternoon. Since we were the only one’s to turn up with a CD of pictures the slide show was, fortunately, brief. The dinner was very nice and everyone had fun catching up and laughing.Mar was time for the Wyong arts festival which runs around the time of the Easter break. We went along to the Art Exhibition, held in the Wyong Hall, and went along to the photo exhibition at the council buildings.We had a BBQ at our place on the 22nd, just something to do with our friends. Then the rest of Easter weekend was spent relaxing. We went down to a place called Corrimal for the weekend of the Fri 28th to Sun 30th with friends. We drove down on the Fri avro. On Sat we went to Jamberoo in the morning. Jamberoo is a fun park, located not far from Wollongong, which has water slides, pools, go-karts, a cable car ride, etc, not a bad ½ days entertainment just wish it was a bit warmer. In the afternoon we went to the small village of Jamberoo to have a quick look around and to have a couple of drinks at the pub. On the Sun morning, before coming back home, we went to see the large temple complex Nan Tien and spent a good couple of hours there. Great place and free (except for the donations).Apr was birthday month, not that I did anything spectacular for that, friends did have us over for a BBQ on the Sat night (12th).We had the 14th of work, as I have promised myself that I would not work on my birthday again. We didn’t get up to much, went to Erina and Westfield and managed to sort out Dale’s outfit for the wedding.It was someones birthday on the 16th so on the following Sun Dale and his father plus a number of kids went and spent the day at laser ball (sort of like skirmish but indoors and with a laser gun) in Gosford. Everyone had a great time.Went shopping at the DFO (Direct Factory Outlets) at Homebush, with friends, on the afternoon of the 25th Apr.On the first weekend of May the guys went along to see the Crusty Demons show. A show where reckless people perform death defying acts on motor cross bikes, etc. The show was held in Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford.I went over to New Zealand for a week, at the beginning of Jun, to see everyone.I spent 2 nights up in Auckland with my brother before heading back to Oz. Also caught up with other relatives and had a nice afternoon at a pub on the Auckland Harbour Foreshore. On Mon 16th of Jun Dale went to WWF (wrestling for those who don’t know) with friends. They all had a good night.On Sat 5th Jul, Dale and I and friends all went to the drive-ins at Hedden Greta and saw 3 movies, Kung Fu Panda, Get Smart and Hancock, all 3 movies weren’t bad. We sat outside in our camping chairs, in woolen blankets and sleeping bags, with our beanies and gloves on. We were very cosy.On the Sund Dale and friend went down to Sydney for the drags and to go to the MacQuires Car Show.The following weekend we had a dinner with some friends on the 12th, they couldn’t come along to the BBQ we had organized for the following day. We had a great night, with good food and company.The following day we had the rest of the crowd over for a BBQ lunch where we all caught up, with good company, over a table full off food.Around the 16th we went to the showing of Mama Mia at the Hoyt’s Theatre. Great show. One of those movies that you don’t have to think too much about and you can just relax and watch.The 18th of Jul came around and Dale and I found ourselves down in Sydney for the weekend for the Cirque De Soleil Dragion production. We had a great weekend. On the Fri night we went for dinner at the Great Northern Hotel, then on Sat we went along to the show after walking along the Paddy’s Markets and the shopping Centre above and finally on Sun we did another marathon shopping/walking effort.My friend from Stratford, New Zealand, was over for 5 days, from the arvo of the 7th to the morning of the 13th of Aug, and we managed to fit in quite a bit while she was here. Fri 8th Aug we went on a show and tell tour of the Central Coast. Visited Terrigal, Avoca, Erina shopping centre, The Entrance, Soldiers Beach and then Morrisett.Sat saw us up early to get to a soccer game at Berkley Vale and then we headed down to Sydney for the Billy Elliott show, the arvo matinee session, It was great.Sun was Morrisett Market day, then we went on a trip around Lake Macquarie, stopping for lunch at Swansea RSL and then home before going for dinner at The Entrance Bowling Club, buffet meal for $18 per person (as much Chinese food, roast meats and veges, salads, seafood dishes, soups, desserts and hot drinks as you can fit in) and pay $1 for a cup you can keep filling up with soft drinks. Mon we were up bright and early, making our way to Newcastle and then on to the Hunter Valley for a spot of lunch at Harrigans Pub, a walk around the Hunter Valley Gardens shopping centre and a bit of wine tasting at the shopping centre winery cellars and Tempus Two. Bought a couple of bottles of port and a bottle of dessert wine, some chocolate and nice food.Tues 12th August, was for relaxing and a quick trip to the shopping centre before going down to Sydney in the arvo to the hotel at the Airport where we were stopping for the night before she flew out.One Sun 24th we were down at The Entrance bottom pub for our friends birthday get together with the their family’s. It’s always a good day out.Not much happened in the months since. We have kept up our regular Thurs night visits to different restaurants. We go out to different restaurants, pubs or clubs to have a nice dinner, listen to some music and have a couple of drinks.One of our favorite things to do on a Sun is to go to the bottom pub at The Entrance for some nice salt and pepper squid for lunch, a couple of drinks and to do a bit of people watching. Sometimes we decide to go somewhere different and usually end up at the Bateau Bay pub, great for live bands on Sun and the foods not bad, or The Entrance Bowling Club.Some Sun we start out early in the morning and go around the Toukley markets, great for old wares, brik-a-brac and cheap stuff, and then on to The Entrance markets, much the same stuff as the Toukley markets.Nov was time for the Rugby League World Cup, held in Australia this year. We went to two of the games. Scotland vs Fiji held in Gosford, Scotland won, and New Zealand vs England held in Newcastle, New Zealand won.The 22nd Nov kicked of Xmas party season with Dale’s works’ get together at a nice pub near Morrisset in Bonnell’s Bay. We had a nice counter meal, free drinks all night and there was a live band playing – they played all the old Ozzy favorites – so everyone knew all the songs and enjoyed it.On the 29th Nov was our friends birthday. We all got together at the Gosford Racecourse Function Rooms for a night out at Dirty Dicks. For your money you get a live show and a three course meal that goes on for about 2 ½ hours. The show was based around King Henry 8th. Close
Written by auskiwi on 02 Jul, 2007
It was Sunday in mid March and the weather is absolutely gorgeous – what to do, what to do, what to do?We hadn’t been to St Albans yet and I’d heard it’s a great day out – it’s wasn’t far, so we jumped in the…Read More
It was Sunday in mid March and the weather is absolutely gorgeous – what to do, what to do, what to do?We hadn’t been to St Albans yet and I’d heard it’s a great day out – it’s wasn’t far, so we jumped in the car and headed south towards Wisemans Ferry, on the Hawkesbury River.Wisemans Ferry is about a 1 hour drive from Gosford, the Central Coast, along double lane (single lane traffic in both directions) windy roads. Motorbike enthusiasts love this road because of all the sharp corners.When you get to Wisemans Ferry, instead of getting the car ferry across the river, keep driving straight ahead. This road will take you into the heart of the small township of St Albans – one of the very first settlements in the area.About 15 minutes along this road you will pass an old graveyard with graves of old settlers dating back to the 1800s. We jumped out and had a look around – there were quite a few graves, some of them have been overgrown with weeds, with broken headstones, while others have been cleared and maintained by the locals.St Albans township itself is another 20–30 minutes drive past this graveyard. The town has one of the most popular pubs in the area. Many flock here from the neighboring areas (Newcastle, The Hunter Valley, Sydney and The Central Coast) for a great day out. The St Albans Hotel dates back to the 1800s and has been added onto over the years. This is the place you come for a lazy mid-day lunch and liquid refreshment. You can even stay overnight if you wish. For lunch we had two ploughmans lunches which came with an assortment of cheeses, pickles, meats, and bread – more than enough for us – chased down with schooners of lager. They will even cater for parties.St. Albans also has a number of other buildings of historical interest – an old courthouse, old churches, and settlers homes. Maps showing the locations of these building are available in the Hotel as are a number of other tourist brochures. There is an Arts and Crafts shop about 50 meters up the road from the Hotel.We then continued following the road around, across the Hawkesbury River, to the township of Wisemans Ferry. Wisemans Ferry has some old buildings and a old hotel which is also very popular. There are several cafes and arts and crafts shops in and around the township. We are glad we made the effort to make the time to go out there and see this small piece of Australian history. Close
Written by auskiwi on 23 May, 2006
Do you enjoy: -- The company of friends and plenty of potential new friends in a party style atmosphere?- Sipping on a bit of the vino and sampling different wines, olive oils and other local products?- Sitting on blankets on the ground, or at tables placed on freshly…Read More
Do you enjoy: -- The company of friends and plenty of potential new friends in a party style atmosphere?- Sipping on a bit of the vino and sampling different wines, olive oils and other local products?- Sitting on blankets on the ground, or at tables placed on freshly mown lawns, amongst the vineyards?- Listening to live music in the form of bands, small groups or duo’s?- Eating food prepared by some of the best chefs in the Hunter Valley?- Dropping of for a drop of golden lager at one of the trendiest pubs?If you answered yes to all, or even one, of those questions then this is the perfect day out for you.Lovedale Road is a very picturesque road that runs through the Hunter Valley and has many wineries, galleries, restaurants and places to stay. During the weekend of the Lovedale Long Lunch a number of these wineries open their doors to the public for a festive day of wine tasting, fine food and live music.Our day began rather sedately with nine of us having booked a minibus for the day to venture out to the Lovedale Long Lunch. The minibus cost $45 per head and we set of at 9am on Saturday morning for the Hunter Valley Wine Country.After an hours trip north we came to a small town called Kearsley, where we stopped for a compulsory drink at the Kearsley Hotel–two (2) scooners of ‘New’ please–don’t want to start on wine too early in the day. This hotel one of the nicer and popular establishments in the area with a public bar, a dining room, amenities and rooms to stay in. Hence, the hotel had attracted quite a crowd on this morning with many other minivans, heading to the same place, having stopped there for some liquid refreshments.After downing our drinks and having a before (before a few) photo taken–an essential item to compare the ‘after’ (after a few) photos with–we continued on through Cessnock to the first winery on our list, The Wandin Valley Estate Winery.Buses, cars and vehicles of all shapes and sizes were filling up the carpark fast–not just at this estate but at all the one’s we had passed to get there. This event was more popular than any of us had expected or dreamed of, hundreds of people were here in the Hunter Valley for the weekend.One of the first things you have to do when you arrive at the first winery is purchase a wine glass, for $5.00, which you have to take with you to this winery and all the other wineries that are participating in the Long Lunch. Having found out this from our driver, Gordo, we purchased our glasses at the pedestrian entry to the grounds of the Wandin Valley Estate, and strolled across the lawn to the marquee and the combined studio/wine tasting and produce store past the multitudes of people already there.The wine tasting stands were extremely busy with crowds of people hovering around but we managed to find our way to the front and sampled a couple of chardonay’s and then a very nice dessert wine – almost like a port – very nice – had a few of these. The studio housed some pottery and glassware handmade by a local artist and local made olive oils, jams, and chutneys. Taste tests are allowed with small cubes of bread provided.The entertainment at the Wandin Valley Estate Winery was provided by a brass band playing upbeat music and was quite good. We spent some time outside listening to the band and enjoying the fresh air before we continued onto the next place, The Sandalyn Estate.The Sandalyn Estate winery is located of Wilderness Road–a side road of Lovedale–and has the best sculpture of a face on the lawn in front of the building where the wine tasting was held. The wines at this estate didn’t really do a lot for me. Not that they weren’t nice, just that they didn’t have any dessert wines out for sampling...and I like the dessert wines the most. Their olive oils, though, were absolutely delicious. They had a variety of 10 different flavors including lime, chilli, and garlic. The lime was to die for, and a number of bottles were purchased.We noticed a hot air balloon basket sitting not far from the sculpture, and we saw a number pass us on the back of trailers. They must have had early morning balloon ride over the valley–what a way to start the day.Next stop was Emma’s Cottage Vineyard and it’s lunchtime. Each of the wineries had a set menu, with a selection of two (2) main meals and desserts, the food being provided by some of the best restaurants in the Hunter Valley Wine District. The main meals, not large portions but enough for lunch, cost $17.50 each; and the desserts cost $7 each, once again not large servings. Part of the conditions on venturing on the Lovedale Long Lunch is that you have to buy a meal at one of the participating venues. Make sure you get in fast as the queues can get very long and the food has been known to run out on the odd occasion.Our bus decided that the Emma’s Cottage Vineyard had the best food menu out of the bunch: char-grilled lamb shank or a steaming noodle bowl with pork, chicken, and pawns, with veges for the mains; and a cheese platter or a chocolate, date, and hazelnut tart with cream for the desserts. Both mains were very nice, and the tart was delicious.Emma’s Cottage also had the usual assortment of wines, both whites and reds, to taste and for entertainment they had a duo singing popular sing-a-long songs while playing an electric keyboard and guitar. Had a great couple of hours sitting on hay bails, devouring the lovely food and singing along to some old favorites. People were dancing of the lawn in various stages of drunkenness. Some were even in fancy dress.With food in our stomachs and smiles on our faces we boarded the bus again and headed of to our last winery for the day, Cooper Wines.Wow the party was really under way here with heaps of people dancing on the lawns in front of the bands marquee and many more lined up at the door of the building where the wine tasting and produce buying was going on. There was even a line for the toilets, lucky there were plenty of trees for the men and the not so bashful women, and the coffee tent–mostly the drivers of the many forms of transport.Cooper wines had one really nice sweet white wine that I went and got several tastes of called Rhapsody. Everyone enjoyed a drop of this wine, as well as the others that were available.The entertainment at Cooper’s was an all female group who played upbeat, popular songs and they had the crowd moving. They also attracted a large crowd of gay women who had gravitated to this venue in force.At 4pm, the wine tasting stopped for the day but the party kept going. We were on our way to our last stop for the day (Harrigans Irish Pub) before heading back to the Central Coast, just of Wine Country Drive. Obviously we weren’t the only ones with this idea because the pub was starting to fill up, and it wasn’t long before people were spilling out onto the lawn.There was plenty of amber liquid flowing from the beer taps, many different concoctions flowing from spirit and mixer bottles, live music and plenty of people dancing, singing along, talking and having a great time. The first band–a duo–had started playing before we got there and were due to finish in 2.5 hours time (at 7pm) so we decided that we should leave at 7 before the second band fired up, then we would never leave. The band played all sorts of favorite songs–from some old time goodies that everyone could sing along with and know the words to some more recent hits. The dance floor was hopping with people of all ages having a great time. When the dance floor was full to capacity the people took to the tables.It was a shame to have to leave but like I said if we didn’t we would still be there now. It was a great day and we were all disappointed when it had to end.Thanks for a great day Gordo (diver) and friends - the 'after' photos were great. Close
Written by auskiwi on 06 Feb, 2006
I have always wanted to experience some of the celebrations that take place for the Chinese New Year, and Sydney is supposed to have some of the best celebrations in the world, outside China itself that is. So, while we were down in Sydney for…Read More
I have always wanted to experience some of the celebrations that take place for the Chinese New Year, and Sydney is supposed to have some of the best celebrations in the world, outside China itself that is. So, while we were down in Sydney for Australia Day, I thought it would be a great idea for us to attend the official opening of the Chinese New Year, Year of the Dog, to be held in Hawker Central Food Markets, which were in their temporary location in Belmore Park, just outside Central Station, Sydney.
First stop for the afternoon, at approximately 4:30pm, was the Chinese Street Markets held in the Dixon Street Mall, Chinatown. The markets are held every Friday night and stay open until 10pm. During the Chinese New Year, they open for the first few days of the new year. The markets on this afternoon were a vibrate sea of colour, noise, and activity, with busy stalls, a crowded street, and sideshows. Stalls and shops sold anything, from delicious meals and snacks, toys, herbs, herbal medicines, and Chinese lanterns to Chinese antiques and artifacts. It was great fun, and we were tempted into buying some yummy pancake-type snacks with chocolate and cheese stuffed into the centre, and also some seafood dumplings.
Just adjacent to Dixon Street Mall, you will also find the undercover Paddies Markets, great if you're looking for cheap veggies, fruit, knickknacks, clothes, or shoes. We browsed around here for a half-hour, but the street markets were more interesting and had more interesting merchandise on offer.
At 6:15pm, we headed to Hawker Central Food Markets for dinner. We'd heard that there was plenty to choose from, and it was all nice and they weren't wrong. Hawker Central was a temporary site set up with several marques, three holding food stalls, one housed a makeshift pub and the other two were eating halls. A main stage was also set up, with seating, for performances. The food stalls sold just about any Chinese dish you could think of: fried rice, crispy chicken, seafood dishes, etc. Both sides of the stage were beautifully decorated with two stunningly large lanterns in the shape of a dog and a rooster (the rooster being the animal from the previous year). These lanterns were made in China and specially shipped over to Sydney for the festival, along with several Chinese performers.
While we were eating, some of the performers who were participating in the opening were rehearsing on the stage, so we got a bit of an uninterrupted show for a while until the crowd showed up. Once all the dignitaries were seated, the mayor of Sydney and other special guest speakers, the entertainment began, consisting of dancing, a demonstration of martial arts, speeches, and the moment the crowd was waiting for--the Chinese Dragon and Lions dancers, who wound their way up from Hays Street to Belmore Park and continued to wind their way through the crowd performing acrobatics. At the end of it all, a fireworks structure in the form of a dog was lit up to chase away any bad luck for the coming new year.
We had a brilliant time, and what's more, it was all free, except the food.
If you are ever in Sydney during the Chinese New Year, I recommend you try and make it to one of the New Year's celebrations. Each year it is different. Information about what's on during this time can be found on the Internet; I entered "Sydney Chinese New Year" into the browser and it came up with all the sites. There was information to download and print.
Other popular things to do during the celebrations include the dragon boat races, held in Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour; the main parade, which runs from the town hall, on George Street, and ends in Hays Street; the Lantern Festival, held in the casino; a children's festival; and various other arts festivals at a number of locations.
Written by auskiwi on 05 Feb, 2006
The date is January 27, 2006, and the place is Sydney. We awoke in our room at the Carlton Crest Hotel to be greeted by a beautiful sunny day, a great day to see and witness some of the attractions at Darling Harbour, located within…Read More
The date is January 27, 2006, and the place is Sydney. We awoke in our room at the Carlton Crest Hotel to be greeted by a beautiful sunny day, a great day to see and witness some of the attractions at Darling Harbour, located within a 10-minute walk down the road, adjacent to Chinatown.
The first point of interest for the day, and somewhere we'd never been before, was the Chinese Garden of Friendship. If you want a nice, peaceful place to go and relax, this is the best place to go and is the best value for your money, at $6 per adult, $3 per child, and $15 per family, in the centre of Sydney.
At the southern end of Darling Harbour, near the Sydney Entertainment Centre, we discovered the stone gateway to the Chinese Gardens. Upon walking through the gateway and paying the entrance fee, we were transported to another secret world of calmness and serenity.
The gardens were designed in China for the Australian bicentenary in 1988 and is set out in a traditional Chinese landscape. We made our way along winding paths through archways, pavilions, and gardens, and past waterfalls and lakes. The wildlife here is abundant, and we saw plenty of water dragons, skinks, ibis, and small birds along our journey. Seats and benches have been provided in pavilions and along the walkways, so you can sit down and enjoy the peace and landscape. The walk took us about 1 1/2 hours, and if we didn't have other places to go and see, we would have stayed longer.
Hungry, no problem: there is a tea house/cafe where they sell hot and cold drinks, pastries, sandwiches, and other yummy treats. There is also a gift shop where you can purchase a small memento of your visit.
The gardens can also be hired out for functions and weddings, with a number of pavilions or gardens areas to pick from. For additional details, call +61 2 9281 6863.
Then it was back to the real world--Darling Harbour and the not-so-serene chaos that exists there. Our next stop is the Sydney Aquarium, approximately a 20-minute walk north past Darling Harbour's Cockle Bay area.
Sydney Aquarium is forever changing its exhibitions, and it is well worth the $27 adult admission fee.
Entering through the gates we were submersed into an underwater world full of wonder. From salt-water crocs, penguins, and seals to deeper salt-water fish and sharks, from bright coral, reef fish, and reef lifeforms to the murky river waters and the platypus, the Sydney Aquarium had them all.
The aquarium has three large walk-through tanks. The first housed the seals, which has above-water viewing platforms as well as a see-through underwater walkway, which we walked on gazing at the seals speeding through their underwater paradise. The second tank housed the deeper saltwater fish: sharks of many varieties, kingies, rays and other predator fish.
But our favorite was the third tank that provided us with great views of a reef as we strolled around with bright corals; stunningly coloured reef fish, both large and small; reef sharks; and other reef life forms. At one point around the tank, there is an area where the aquarium provides a couple of steps in front of a large viewing window where people can sit and watch the antics of the tanks inhabitants. This is where we sat transfixed for 1 and a half hours before leaving the building and heading to the IMAX.
The IMAX is located at Cockle Bay, approximately a 10-minute walk from the aquarium. The IMAX Theatre has the biggest movie viewing screen in the world, or so they boast. It shows 3-D movies, usually ones you don't see in normal theatres.
We opted to see "Walking on the Moon," a documentary-type film with never-seen-before photos and film footage of the astronauts and their antics on the surface of the moon.
We purchased our tickets, $18 per adult (kids are less, $13 each, and there is a special deal for families, $50), bought drinks and something to snack on, grabbed a pair of 3-D glasses from the ushers, found a great seat in the middle of the theatre, and proceeded on our voyage to the moon, which lasted for 45 minutes.
Another great day in the city full of a variety of wonders, fun, and entertainment.
Written by auskiwi on 30 Jan, 2006
At approximately 9am, on Thursday the 26th January 2006, we tossed our overnight bag in the car and made our way 1 ½ hours south from the Central Coast to the centre of Sydney. After placing our luggage in our room at the Carlton Crest…Read More
At approximately 9am, on Thursday the 26th January 2006, we tossed our overnight bag in the car and made our way 1 ½ hours south from the Central Coast to the centre of Sydney. After placing our luggage in our room at the Carlton Crest Hotel we set of to enjoy some of the Australia Day activities.
First stop was Sydney Harbour so we caught the train form Central Station to Circular Quay, via the City Circle line. The crowd was already big and large congregations had gathered around the regular street performers, scattered around Circular Quay, performing their stunts/shows. From Circular Quay it was a short walk around the ferry terminals to the Opera house and the Royal Botanical Gardens and Domain.
Hundreds of people had already found their way to the Gardens and Domain and had laid claim to some of the good viewing spots. As there were only 2 of us we managed to find a small space in the Domain’s Tarpeian Precinit, just up from the Opera House and to the left hand side of Government House. From this vantage point we could see the boats and ferries coming and going from Circular Quay, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Brightly decorated boats of all shapes and sizes were milling around everywhere. Some were covered with Aussie flags while others had balloons and streamers. The 3 tall ships were busy making their way down the harbour mouth – the starting point of the Australia Day boat race – one of the main attractions of the day. We had missed the ferry race and the boating regatta which were run earlier – the ferry race is another one of the main attractions of the day.
After about ½ hour of sitting in this location we decided to venture around the park further to the Rockery in the Botanical Gardens – located on the harbour just in front of Government House – a 5 minute stroll from our last location. Here we found a great spot on top of a small rock outcrop where we had a great view of the harbour, the Opera House, the boats and the crowd. It was here at 2.00pm the witnessed the Australian Airforce flyover – 4 jets in a diamond shape formation flying straight down the middle of the harbour.
It was time for another move - this time to the Domain’s Yurong Precinit and Mrs MacQuaries Point – a good 20 minute walk around the harbour, past the outdoor cinema. From the top of the hill at Mrs MacQuaries Point you get the best views of the harbour in all directions, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the navy base. At 3pm, the tall ships race started and we watched these majestic ships sail past with the more modern boats and ferries circling them and coming up the rear. It was a great sight to see and well worth waiting for. A half-hour later there was a aerial acrobats show by the airforce where 6 planes demonstrated their specialized skills, flying in many different formations – sometimes upside down.
Australia Day is supposed to be the busiest day on Sydney Harbour – I’d vouch for that.
By this time we were getting a bit puckish so we headed back into the Botanical Gardens to the Gardens Shop and Restaurant, located in a central spot in the Palm Grove Centre near the pond. We bought a couple of sandwiches and drinks and sat near the pond watching the flying foxes in the trees, the wading birds and their babies and the carp swimming around. A great way to escape the crowd.
It was time to head back to the hotel to relax for a while and get ready to walk down to Darling Harbour for the Australia Day fireworks and dinner.
The Carlton Crest Hotel is a short 10-minute walk from Darling Harbour which was great. We didn’t catch up to the crowds until we reached the Sydney Entertainment Centre, located at the top corner of Darling Harbour just down from Chinatown, and then you knew that something was happening. There was a free outdoor concert being held in the park area near the Entertainment Centre – this concert was due to finish when the official ceremony was to begin – about 8:45pm. The people here were overflowing out onto the walkways and into the many fountains and ponds as it was a hot day. Mothers and Fathers were watching children playing in the water or even getting in themselves.
We didn’t enter into the park to watch the concert but instead, continued walking along the pathway to Cockle Bay where the crowd was already massive. Any patch of ground in the vicinity or at the edge of the wharves was already taken – at least they were sitting down so the people at the back could see. It was 7:30pm and food was foremost on our minds – our stomachs were grumbling - boy do we wish we had bought our dinner back at the hotel – the eatery was packed as were all the restaurants that line the bay – a restaurant owners dream. Suggestion - If you decide to go and see the Australia Day Fireworks have dinner before you go or take it with you. We finally got our food – a Kebab, a salad and a drink each – and found ourselves a good position towards the back of the crowd.
At 8:45pm the official ceremony commenced with a parade of working boats - including pilot boats, fire fighting boats, police launches, fishing trawlers and the like – while the navy band played – followed closely by a couple of brief speeches - including one by the Governor General - and a number of Australian artists singing aussie songs. After ¾ hour the fireworks started – wow, what a display – they went all out this year – sky rockets, shooting stars, low level sparklers – no expense spared – and then as quick as it started it was over – what a great way to finish a great day.
Written by auskiwi on 22 Jan, 2006
Two weeks to New Years Eve 2005 and we still have nothing to do!!! Do we go camping, do we stay at home or do we take Sharon and Ian up on their offer of a boat trip and visit to Lobster Bay - Gee…Read More
Two weeks to New Years Eve 2005 and we still have nothing to do!!! Do we go camping, do we stay at home or do we take Sharon and Ian up on their offer of a boat trip and visit to Lobster Bay - Gee that's a hard one - and the winner is THE BOAT TRIP LOBSTER BAY.
Lobster Bay is located in the Bouddi National Park on the Central Coast, NSW - across the Brisbane Water from Umina Beach and Ettalong.
The easiest way to get there is to have your own boat, but there is a track, through the national park. To gain access to the track you have to park your car at Wagstaff. The track is a pleasant walk on a warm day but a bit of a nightmare on a hot day.
With the plan in action on the 31st December 2005 we arrived around at Sharon and Ian's place with our sleeping gear, deck chairs, blow up lilos, beach towels, sun block, gas BBQ (there is a total fire ban on due to the hot summer we had had to date), water, drinks and food - ready for every thing and anything - which was then packed, tidily, into their boat. Their boat is large enough to take 4 adults comfortably and has an outboard good enough to take people on banana rides - this was going to be great fun.
The boat was launched at the Gosford boat ramp and after a half hour trip we had arrived and rearing to go. The weather was fantastic, the white sand silky and soft and the water warm and inviting - we spent the day frolicing around, in and out of the water, sunbathing on the beach, drinking and playing a bit of beach volleyball.
Plenty of other boats were coming and going all day with an assortment of people. Larger boats were chugging past the beach heading to Sydney Harbour for the nights festivities - boy there's some money out there.
All and all the day was great and we were just kicking of - the sun was setting - bright orange against the deepening blue sky, pretty amasing - and the dusky night was coming on with the promise of fireworks, a small snake trapped in the sand pit and plenty of party drinks, food and rejoicing - even if there was only four of us.
At 12am, from Lobster Bay, we could see the fireworks at Umina Beach and those set off from different residences across the shores. Meanwhile we were taking it all in from out deck chairs on the beach. One of the better New Years Eve's I've had for a while.
The following day, New Years Day 2006, we woke up and moved from the boat to the beach where we were greeted by a baby bush turkey - how cute. The day held plenty of promise, endless blue skies all round, but the coolness of the morning provided no hint of what the weather was going to throw at us. By 9.30am we got some clue as the temperatures were already soaring - soaring all the way to 45 degs eventually. Boy was it hot - couldn't sit on the beach, ended up spending most of the day in the water only exiting for drinks and food. There was a breeze but it was hot - no relief there. The water was the best place to be.
And then we saw it start--a whisp of smoke on the ridge across the water. A half-hour later, it was out of control, and then there were the second and third whisps. Then the bushland behind a suburb in Gosford erupted, smoke filled the area, blanketing the area, and the sun was a orange disk in the sky - bushfire season had made it to the Central Coast. Boy, we sure felt sorry for those Bush Firemen and women who had to go out a brave them.
By mid-afternoon, the smoke covered the Brisbane Water and Sharon and Ian were becoming a little concerned that the fire may move towards their house so we packed up our area of the beach, reloaded the boat and proceeded back to the Gosford boatramp.
On the way we decided to have a few banana boat rides, swirling the boat around in a series of erratic circles and sudden spins all designed to make the rider of the banana boat get unceremoniously thrown of into the harbour waters. Definitely a fun way to end great 24 hours.
The bush fires took 3 days to get under control and only one house was lost - no lives - thanks to the bravery of the many fire fighters from all over NSW.