InstaTravel

Like everyone else I follow a lot of travel accounts on Instagram. When I am at work wanting to escape the desk for a minuet or looking for some travel ideas this is where I go. I think there amazing all of them…but it is always on the back of mind, how real are they?
I have traveled a lot and I decided to try and stay in Australia which meant finding a job, visas and saving money. My travel list was put on hold. I also have student loans to pay back and just general living cost. I am so baffled on how these young people travel around the world for most of the year in what looks like the most glamours way. I think it’s a great life they have but just wonder how they keep it up with the pressure of daily demands.
I have a month off work to explore Nepal and I can’t wait but it has taken a few months to save for airfare and deposits. The rest of these months I am working I will be saving up the remainder of my trip. It also uses all my annual holiday as well. I would like to know how people do so much travel and keep a job?
I do admire how glamours the photos are and the person in the photo looks flawless. I have to say when I went round South East Asia I was so far from flawless more just sweaty and hoped my clothes did not smell.
I would love to know how people do this please get in contact.
Shout out to the instagrams who are working the 9-5 grind but love the travel.
Any information on how that lifestyle works would be great.
Below is me and my not so Instagram flawless photo covered in mud and possible elephant poop!

Nimbin and Lillian Rock

The end of our Easter break was spent visiting Nimbin and Lillian Rock. I had not planned to go to Nimbin but as it was on route to Lillian Rock we decided to stop off. Leaving Byron behind us we headed up into the hills. It did rain most of the drive to Nimbin but it did not ruin the views looking over the valley.
Nimbin
Before I arrived at Nimbin I had in my head that this place would be a hippie, earth loving town which had cookies to share. I’m not into drugs so was not fussed at all about the cookies. I was however excited to experience the laid back hippie town after having such a good time with Byron’s vibe. As soon as we parked up we were straight on to the main street which was full of colourful rainbow and in your face shop signs. The shops looked very hippie but when you walked in they were owned by your average Joe and the shop all of a sudden turned into a novelty gift shop. On one part of the main street people would walk up to you whispering “magic cookies” it felt very dodge as we were just searching for a bottle-o to  purchase a bottle of wine for the night. When we had done a quick sweep of the main street we had seen enough and headed back o the car. In the car park we found a man wondering around the cars peering in and holding a narrow metal rod in his hand. This place did not give me any good vibes at all. Maybe I am old and boring now, Nimbin I will not be going back to visit.
Lillian Rock
We had the afternoon in Lilian Rock. We were staying at a Air BnB which was a farm called Whisingwell Farm. We turned down a dirt track and made our way to the house. We met our host who was lovely. Jenny showed us to our room and around the house. We had an ensuite room and access to a deck with a big BBQ and sink. We settled into our lovely rooms with no TV or internet just the mountain fresh air. The room was full of board games, we played a few rounds of ‘Guess Who?’ At 4PM we joined Jenny and the other 2 gusts for a tour of the farm at feeding time. If you stay at the farm this is worth doing it was a lovely thing to do especially when you live in the city. On our feeding tour we fed the ducks, ponies, goats and held baby ducklings. It was a lot of fun meeting the animals and hearing about how they came to be on the farm. MK and I took a stroll around the farm down to the river…it was short lived as MK saw a snake so we made our way back to the house as the sun set. Once we had made dinner we settled into bed reading and writing before having a early night. It was very relaxing and exactly what we needed before the big drive home the next day. We had purchased a breakfast off Jenny for $5. We were supplied bacon, eggs, tomatoes and bread in a basket. The next morning we cooked our breakfast on the deck and packed up the car. There were a couple of things we did not get to see in Lilian Rock as it rained on and off the whole day and night we were there.
 The last day of our Easter break was spent on the motorway driving back to Sydney. It was a pretty smooth drive with minimal traffic and one giant thunder storm just outside of Sydney. I think we both came back very refreshed from the weekend and ready to hit the city life once again.

Byron Bay (Finally!!)

Easter weekend 2018 MK and I went on a road trip to Byron Bay. I have been in Australia 3 years and had not made it to this famous Aussie Coastal town. I was hoping to bump into any type of Hemsworth whilst up there …but no such luck.
We decided to drive up, which is a 9 hour drive plus a little Easter traffic. MK picked me up after work and we left from out West at around 5:30 and in true English and Irish form we had packed sandwiches for the route.
The first stop of the trip was Coffs Harbour….MK’s old stomping ground last year. We reached our hostel at midnight. We stayed in Central Backpackers and I can’t stress how lovely they were here. There check in closed at 10PM and one of the staff stayed up. They also provided us two numbers in case he was not reachable…these guys where brilliant cos after 6 hours in the car all we wanted was a bed.
Up early the next day we arrived in Byron Bay for 10AM and out first stop was The Farm.
The Farm
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Just before you get into the heart of Byron Bay you come across The Farm. The guys that own this place are the people behind the famous restaurant’s called “Three Blue Ducks”. There is a Three Blue Ducks at The Farm along with a cafe “Bread Social”. Everything is open plan and you can see them baking the bread fresh. We had lunch and a breakfast here…the food is delicious. Along with a good feed we also walked around the farm met the animals and cracked some nuts in the macadamia orchard. The land is so pretty and it’s really well put together. Great place for any type of meal.
Our AirBnB was just out of the main section of Byron. It was very cosy and the finishing touches instantly gave you the Byron vibe. Bathroom, bedroom with a sofa and eating area also a little kitchen as well. The space was perfect and our host was easy to communicate with. The space was actually a converted garage. We got an Uber into Byron’s main street every night which cost us $8.
After we had refreshed ourselves we headed to the beach. Traffic was crazy but we found a parking spot. After strolling the Byron markets MK took me on a walk. We walked along the beach to Fisherman’s View Point then around to Wategos Beach and up to the light house. The views all along the walk are beautiful. It is well sign posted as well no need to worry about getting lost. Not much parking by the light house so if you can manage the walk up its worth it. We also watched the sunrise from Fisherman’s View Point surrounded by the ocean and surfers it was lovely.
The first night we did not eat out as we had bought bread and cheese from the farm and treated ourselves to some nice cheeses. We did go to the Beach Hotel. It’s a huge venue with a few bars a big dance floor and outside area. After a few drinks we called it a night as the drive had caught up with us. We did return to the same place the next night and it was packed. Great atmosphere and DJ. They also had a guy on the drums playing with the DJ which really got everyone going.
We checked out a few sites on the second day.
Killen Falls

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These falls are about 25 mins out of Byron. I had looked online and these falls were not as well-known as the others near Byron. To avoid Easter crowds we went to check them out. On route you drive through a really cute town called Newrybar. It’s worth a stop to check out the shops and Harvest Deli. There was plenty or parking at the Falls. It is about a 15min walk to the base of the falls. There were a few people around in the water. I forgot my swim suit so MK was the only one of us who got to have a paddle. Lots of sharp rocks so be careful and no jumping it’s too shallow….be safe! One more sight we checked out that day was Crystal Castle.
Crystal Castle

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Located 40min drive out of Byron is Crystal Castle. If you believe in crystals and spirituality this place you will love. Also if you like really nice gardens it’s worth a look. Tickets are 30 bucks in. You walk around all these different gardens and there are Buddha’s and crystals everywhere. It was really peaceful. Somehow MK and I lost each other and did the gardens on our own and it really is a good way to do it. This is a quiet place for mediation and reflection.  I loved taking photos in the gardens and MK had a go with one of the crystal mazes. On our last night in Byron we went out for dinner at The Bolt Hole.
The Bolt Hole

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The Bolt Hole is a cocktail Bar and smoke house. They smoke all their own meat. I had booked us a table (recommend a booking). We tried a few of the cocktails all where amazing and we ate the meat sample dish for two. The meat was unbelievable it was insanely tasty. It was a great night I just feel they might have needed more than two waitresses on as between drinks we had a long wait and it kind of lost momentum. Overall I enjoyed it and would go back again to try a few more cocktails. After dinner we headed to the beach and watched the full moon with lots of other people. Once we had our full moon fill we headed to Beach Hotel.
On our last morning before heading up to Nimbin and Lillian Rock we hung out at Wategos Beach. It’s such a beautiful little beach. The water temperature was lovely and we had a paddle whilst watching the surfers. Such a good beach for photos.
Byron Bay was worth the wait. It had the best vibes and positive atmosphere I oped it would. We seem to do a lot but also relax as well. Chilling out was incredible up there lots of reading and journal writing surrounded by epic scenery. Highlight was watching sunrise and a pod dolphins swim by during sunrise.

 

Next blog will be about our trip to Nimbin and night on The Wishingwell Farm.

Jervis Bay Long Weekend

For the long weekend September 2016 MK and I went down south to the Jervis Bay area. We rented a lovely AirBNB in Berrara. It was a house in the back of a property with a outside area to eat and cook. The town is a 30min drive from Jervis Bay The weekend was the first bit of summer weather we had that year.
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We explored the coastal town and we had dinner at The Huskisson which is great pub food and is set looking over the water. The days where spent laying on Hyams Beach or exploring the different areas around the National Park. You can drive round the park in a day and see all the beaches and walk up to the view points. When we went in September it was whaling season and we did see a few from one of the view points. It was a very relaxing weekend we did stumble into a country fair where I held a snake and we got some good food.
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On the drive to and from Jervis you do go through a town call Berry. It is worth a stop to grab a drink at the local pub and grab a bag of the famous Berry Doughnuts. Be prepared to sit in traffic on the way up and down from this place it is never a clear road.
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Hunter Valley

I have been to Hunter Valley three time now and all three trips where very different.
Hunter valley Gardens
I did my farm work not far from the Hunter valley region. I met a friend for lunch at the Hunter Valley Gardens one weekend whilst I was farming. He was on a tour for the day and this was their lunch spot. We ate at one for the cafes and had a walk around the beautiful grounds. There are a few shops to browse and of course wine shops. I did call in at the British Lolly Shop for a few treats to take back to the farm with me. All year round the Hunter Gardens has lots going on the best source is there website with all the up to date information.
Wine Tour
When my Mum and her partner visited us we booked on to a wine tour. We booked with Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tour. They picked us up bright and early from central Station. After a pit stop we were at the first stop the Chocolate Shop. If you have a sweet tooth you will be in heaven in this big shop full of goodies. After the chocolate shop we did two wineries before lunch.  Also at lunch you can check out The Smelly Cheese Shop. Each winery had a tasting and there own unique twist or story to tell. We had lunch then headed off to our last wineries. The great thing was we did not feel pressured to buy wine but were more stressed about choosing our favorite as they were all so good. They always change which wineries they visit. The tour guides really looked after us and it was a great day out with the family.
Weekend Away
The weekend away in Hunter was for a Hens Do. We stayed at the Crown Plaza Resort in a apartment. Bring your swimming gear if it will be warm enough, there is a lovely pool. We had a leisurely lunch at the Broken Back Bar. It was beautiful tapas style lunch with a amazing view and tasty wine. After a tasting we headed back to the apartments to get ready and head to Harrigan’s. The night was spent in the pub which had a live band. A few sore heads the next morning we had breakfast at the resorts cafe and had to head home. It was a great weekend with the girls and not to long of a drive home.

 

Avoca Bech

Avoca Beach is a small coastal town just a hour outside of Sydney.
I visited the town once for a friends Birthday. We booked into apartments in Avoca Palms Resort  which were modern and clean. There was also a pool and small gym on site. Not much use for the pool because you are on the door step of the beautiful Avoca beach.
The town has lots of little cafes and shops for all your weekend needs. We had breakfast at Point Cafe which is right on the beach and always packed. I would suggest booking ahead for this place. There are also huge markets every fourth Sunday the Avoca Beach Markets. They were very busy and full of colorful stands. I did not get to check them out as we headed home that morning.
In Terrigal we ate at a Indian restaurant called Rajdhani . It was one of the best Indian meals I have had in Australia. After dinner we walked up the street to a pub on the corner of the round about. Once that closed there was a courtesy shuttle to a street full of bars. After a few drinks we headed home which was a bit of a nightmare. The taxi services are pretty small and Uber was not available when I went. There was a bit of a wait for a Taxi to get back to the apartments.
For a cheap city escape which isn’t camping this is a perfect place to try during summer. Also on long drives back into Sydney Mk and I have stopped off for a swim and a break from the car as its not far off the motorway.
 
 

Fiji

We spent Christmas and New Year in Fiji. Fiji was perfect for us as it was a four hour flight and neither of us had ever visited the country. A few of our friends had been to Fiji so we got some opinions on different resorts. This would be our first ever resort holiday we were not sure how we would like it… we loved it!

Planning

Just a key note if you are planning  trip to the islands in Fiji make sure you give yourself enough time to fly into the mainland and to get a ferry. The ferry’s leave once a day. We flew into Nadi on the 23rd December and had a night in Nadi before catching the ferry to Blue Lagoon Resort the next day. I would also give yourself a day on the way back too. We did give ourselves a day either side on the main land and it was a relaxing journey back to the airport. The ferry was very rough on the way to our first stop which took 4 and a half hours so I’d advise sea sick tablets and a good book. A lot of people where ill on our ferry. On the way back to the mainland it was a lot smoother ride.

There was three ferry trips in our holiday we booked them all through Awesome Adventures Fiji and had no issues. Be sure to book your free pick up as well to the port and then back to your hotel either side of the trip. The ferry is a big catamaran with seats and tables inside and seats outside on the middle and top deck. Refreshments are available in the inside of the boat. Once you reach your stop you check your bag is getting off and you board a small speed boat to get to your resort. The view going into your resort is something that can not be described. Don’t worry about carrying any suit cases the staff make sue everything gets to your accommodation safely.

Blue Lagoon – Nacula Island

Our first three days where spent on Blue Lagoon and after a bumpy four and half hours we arrived at paradise. In both resorts we stayed in there ‘Budget accommodation’ believe me its the nicest budget room I have ever stayed in. We had to share a bathroom which was no issues with plenty of showers and toilets. Our room was cleaned every day and if you do  not want your bed made you simple put the coconut in your room out the front. The resort has a beach, pool, dining area, and bar.

All the islands have a compulsory eating plan. The food was amazing very tasty and lots of it. MK is one of the biggest eaters I know and he was full… so no one should go hungry. The meals where at set times and there was always a choice at every meal. Every day there would be a list of actives happening. The Dive shop would be where you could find out the cost and sign up for the activities. You have to go with the flow when it comes to the activities as it depends on the weather and numbers…we found asking at the dive shop was the best way to find out if the activity would be running.

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In our three day stay we did the snorkel trip, cave trip and champagne tubing. On the snorkel trip we went out on the boat to a reef. Once everyone was in the water a member of staff jumped in and guided us around the reef. It was a beautiful spot full of colourful reef and fish. We also had a run in with a sea snake ( try avoid them). On Christmas day we decided it would be fun to do the Champagne Tubing. Again we went out on the boat into the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. You get into the sea with your rubber ring and a glass of Champers is passed to you. If you need a refill the boat is not far behind you an they pull you back in and top up your glass. It is something to try it is funny and amazing at the same time. The Cave trip is a 20 min boat ride which in itself is worth the trip it goes past many beautiful islands. You go early in the morning to beat the day trips to the cave which is worth it.  You jump into the black waters of the cave before the guide takes you under a small gap which opens into a huge cave in pitch black. The guide will take you through a few caves. There are plastic tubes in the cave for you to hold on to if your not a strong swimmer. As we left all these day trip boats pulled in so well worth going with Blue Lagoon to avoid the crowds. We had bought duty free at the airport in Fiji and had a drink on a evening on our deck outside our room. The resort is fine with you drinking your duty free and will happily supply ice and glasses.. The resort also let you bring your own bottle of wine to dinner for a $10 corkage fee. On a evening after dinner there would be a movie/ crab racing or music. It is all about relaxing and that you will do on this island.

Christmas day was brilliant. Being so far away from home we didn’t feel to festive but we went to the beach in the morning with our Santa hats on and face-timed our families. At lunchtime we went for lunch and were greeted with a glass of fizz, Christmas songs and festive looking tables. There was a massive Christmas lunch with everything you could think of and even Santa popped in to say hi to the children. It really got us into the Christmas spirit. After a very relaxing three days we got back on the ferry to head to Octopus Resort and we were not show how this could top Blue Lagoon.

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Octopus Resort -Waya Island

A short two hour ferry ride to the next resort. We were greeted on the beach by the staff singing and guitar playing. After a welcome drink and ice cold face towel…which was a amazing welcome to the resort we headed to our budget bungalow. Our room was amazing it looked like something you would find in the middle of the rain-forest. The bathrooms were not as new as Blue Lagoon but were clean which is all you really need in a shared bathroom. We did get to see a villa which was beautiful. It had its own little section of the beach with a hammock and deck out the front of the villa. The bedroom was very similar to our bungalow but it was the bathroom which made the villa. The shower was outside with a beautiful stone mosaic out lining the shower. Octopus Resort has a pool with a bigger deck area around it a bar / dinning area and bar by the beach called the Coco Nut bar. They also have a dive shop were once again you sign up for the activities of the day.

MK and his friend did a lot of diving in Octopus and had a great time on them. They saw reef sharks, beautiful reef  and fish. On the way back from one of the dives they even had a pod of dolphins swim next to the boat. The night snorkel was cancelled but I did get a great review from a 10 year old boy who loved every minute of it and saw lots of fish. We did the cooking class which consisted of you watching the chef cook and you eating the finished result. The recipe is easy and can be done at home and the food was tasty. MK did the mountain hike…which is a hike. He is a keen walker and has no issues with heights. He did say you have to be fit its not a stroll and there is some scrambling at the top. He also mentioned he actually had a little jelly leg at the top as it was so high. His photos looked amazing and you also walk through one of the villages on the island. We both checked out the spa and the view from the spa alone is worth the money. The spa was lovely and would recommend a massage or facial. If you don’t want to do anything then chill on the beach but you must rent a snorkel and explore the reef on your door step its full of fish.

The food again was great with lots of choice and evening entertainment was really good. There was again crab racing, traditional dancing, Kava  night and party night. They are fine with duty free been drank on the resort we would have a glass before dinner on our deck. New Years eve was party night at the resort. There was a live band who were brilliant and at midnight fireworks were going off in the sea and on the beach. The staff got involved with the party and it was a great night we really enjoyed ourselves.

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Both resorts are part of the same company and I honestly don’t have anything negative to say. The staff really make these resorts the most relaxing magical places you will ever visit. It was so sad leaving but we did have 24 hours on the mainland. We checked out the Mud Baths in Nadi which was a funny experience. It is hard to get there if your not on a tour so for $80 FJD we hired a driver for half a day to take us to the mud baths and wait then drop us at the airport. We hired a driver through the tourist desk at our hostel. After we covered ourselves in mud we had to stand in a field in the sun and dry. Once dry we went into the muddy lake and washed all the mud off before having a dip in the natural hot spring. Our skin was so soft after this experience. Then it was back to the airport and back to Sydney.

We both said we would go back to Fiji in a heart beat for another holiday. If you truly want to turn off and relax Fiji is the place to do this.