Road trip – first stop Trial Bay

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015

Some of the most surprising places we’ve discovered lately are actually places one of us has been to in another life, another time.

I haven’t visited Trial Bay on the NSW coast for at least 30 years. And I don’t remember it being quite this stunning.

When you’re a kid, you’re into surf, scenery and wildlife. Just not the same kind of scenery and wildlife as now…

This was once my parents’ stomping ground. Their place in the world.

Copyright: Louise Creely


For the first time, I understand why they loved it – with its rugged coastline, wild-flowering coastal heathlands and secluded coves, it is one of the true gems in the North Coast region of NSW.

We are in awe as we take the coastal walk from Trial Bay Gaol to Little Bay.

It’s been the first non-travelling day of our holiday and EB has me up at the crack of dawn, breakfast eaten, and cycling into South West Rocks for espresso.



A short respite and we’re cycling back for a swim, before walking to Little Bay.

Yep, my usually desk-bound butt is feeling it! Perhaps calling this a ‘holiday’ was stretching the point…?

Copyright: Louise Creely

The best thing about road trips, apart from discovering new and amazing places in Australia, is that I always sleep well at night.

But the day is only half done, the tide is rising in the bay and… it’s time for another swim perhaps?

Common Fringed Lily and a scribbly gum...

Common Fringed Lily and a scribbly gum…

Go wild, in a civilised way:

Camping at Arakoon Conservation Area is a great choice if you love nature, coastal walks, pristine beaches and bays, and history – and you like to be a bit civilised too, with showers, toilets and cooking facilities.

Saying goodbye to our kelpie…

Copyright: Louise Creely, 2015On Friday, our escape vehicle was packed and we were ready to head off on our 10-day ‘beat the silly season’ road trip.

Temperatures in Brisbane were soaring, so we were hesitating. Our daughters were looking after our 16 year-old kelpie, Buffy, and we were half-expecting a call…

Buffy’s respiratory issues had been ramping up dramatically over the past two weeks, and the heat always knocked her around.

The call came just as we were about to leave – so instead of heading south, we made a mad dash north to Brisbane.

It was time to say goodbye to our little ‘rarity’. She’d been with us since 2001 and had grown up with our kids.

She was our obsessive foodie, our fierce protector, our friend. And when the time came, she went so peacefully in our arms we didn’t even know she’d gone.

Goodbye beautiful Buffy. Our beach won’t be the same without you…

Copyright: Louise Creely, 2015


Follow your bliss…

We recently went back to Hobart for a few days to sort out an issue with tenants – and to revel in that feeling that we’ve come ‘home’, if only briefly. We’ve wanted to make a move here for six years now, but we  keep putting it off until ‘the time is right’.

Copyright: Louise Creely

It’s a sign (on a building in Hobart). It’s up to us to make stuff happen. We have to create our own story…

Copyright: Louise CreelyThere are moments in your life when you realise you just have to do this thing – plan it, work towards it or just take the leap. Because if you don’t, you’d better get used to living with regret.

And who wants to be 80-something and wishing you took the risk when you had the chance.

The ‘thing’ could be travel, a business venture, changing places or all of the above, like us.

The risk is clear for us – going to a city where we have no jobs (or, in my case, no clients), and missing our family and friends.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Blooming gorgeous…

What I wish for, when we do take that leap, is that our children might not hesitate when faced with a choice in their future – that they’ll be less risk averse and more likely to follow their bliss.

Copyright: Louise RalphBecause sometimes you’ve got to look beyond all the rational reasons and enticing excuses, to the place you need to be and the stuff you need to do to feed your soul.

And here’s another thing… choice is a privilege, and being torn between living in a gorgeous coastal town in northern NSW or a fresh and fabulous city in Tasmania is a blessing, when so many have no choice and no place to call home.

There’s never
a right time to leap…
there is only belief.

Here’s just some of the reasons we love Hobart and Tassie…

Copyright: Louise Creely

Salamanca markets always give me a sense of possibilities – the relaxed, creative energy entices me back every time and inspires the artist in me…

Copyright: Louise Creely

The water, the air and the food are so fresh and delicious! Coal River Farm (top) has just opened and has delicious cheese, chocolate and other treats. It’s just up the road from our favourite Frogmore Creek Winery – and they’ve got a sensational new menu, including these stunning dumplings (bottom left) and perfect riesling (middle). Back in Salamanca, Cargo has the most amazing Hoi Sin Duck Pizza (right).

Copyright: Louise Creely

TRADE at Brooke Street Pier in Hobart is a market space showcasing unique Tasmanian products and experiences – cheese, wine, whisky, cider, salmon, art, design, jewellery and more. You can also jump on a cruise or ferry here, to places like Mona, Peppermint Bay Cruise and Port Arthur.

Copyright: Louise Creely

We love the village atmosphere here – and those stunning blossoms in spring.

Copyright: Louise Creely

…we’ll be back

No more frantic…

Here’s something you haven’t heard (or thought) lately. Much. It’s been frantic and, with the silly season nearly upon us, it’s not likely to ease up any time soon.

I don’t know about you, but I’m over feeling rushed and pushed – and forgetting to breath.  If ‘busyness’ is a badge of honor, I’m taking it off.

I recently snapped my favourite Dr Seuss words, in a shop window in Hobart…

Copyright: Louise Creely

Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So… get on you way!

Thanks Dr Seuss, I think I just might…

SWELL’s up at Currumbin Beach

Jellyfish tree by Melissa Hirsch

Jellyfish tree by Melissa Hirsch

For 10 days each September, Currumbin Beach comes alive with creativity and wonder at the annual SWELL Sculpture Festival.

It’s the perfect way to spend a blissful spring day, with over 60 sculptures stretching one kilometre along the beachfront at the southern end of Queensland’s Gold Coast. The only challenge is to pick your favourite.

Created by artists from across Australia and the world, the sculptures range from hugely spectacular to tiny but powerful, with some coming alive at night (in a good way). And each has a story…

Marie-France Rose has created Cirque du Ciel (Circus of the Sky). One of these gorgeously elegant trapeze artists definitely belongs in my garden.

Marie-France Rose has created Cirque du Ciel (Circus of the Sky). One of these gorgeously elegant trapeze artists definitely belongs in my garden.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Tidelines by Tessa Bergen – reflecting the Surfers Paradise skyline, this piece highlights the changing face of our surrounds and the resulting impact on the natural environment…

#thewall by Leonie Rhodes - we've been making wall art since the days of cavemen. It's a valid, expressive and communicative form of art (and I love it!)

#thewall by Leonie Rhodes – we’ve been making wall art since the days of cavemen. It’s a valid, expressive and communicative form of art (and I love it!)

Copyright: Louise Creely

Ghost fish, googlemon and King Coal hit the beach at Currumbin

Roo Shooter by Jimmy Rix:

Roo Shooter by Jimmy Rix: “Some people do it for sport and some people do it for a profession, but I would like to see our Skippy fighting back.”

Magnificient, a life size sculpture of a line by Ivan Lovett - all made out of chicken wire. It really is...magnificent

Magnificient, a life size sculpture of a lion by Ivan Lovett – all made out of chicken wire. It really is…well…magnificent

Ben Carroll does some quick repairs to his sculpture Relics from Atlantis, which won the SWELL environmental award

Winner of the SWELL sculpture aware, Lost and Found by NSW artist Ingrid Morley, reflects

Winner of the SWELL sculpture award, Lost and Found by NSW artist Ingrid Morley, reflects “the tension and final breaking of the rope and the implied loss as the ‘boat’ breaks away”. Morley says her work is “a metaphor for the significant turning points in life”.

I sea by Guiseppe Filardo

I sea by Guiseppe Filardo

Sea tunnel by Adrienne Kenafake

Sea tunnel by Adrienne Kenafake

These are just some of my favourites – but there are so many brilliant works, it’s impossible to choose. I think the last word has to go to Greg Quinton and his Hills Hoist sculpture: You should always know where your towel is.

always know where your towel is

Note to self: Just start

It’s Monday morning – and that’s always a bit of a blah moment, wherever you are in the world.

If you’re like me, and especially if you often work from ‘the home office’, it’s Perpetual Procrastination Day. I’ve already pulled the coffee grinder apart and cleaned it.

Why? Because our coffee machine isn’t working, but I have an article to write. Confused? Me too.

So here’s my official note to self today, from the pen of Jack Canfield, because it makes me smile – and I thought you might need this piece of advice too…

Don’t keep putting things off, waiting for twelve doves to fly over your house in the sign of the cross before you begin. Just start.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Happy Monday!

Striking market gold at Burleigh Heads

Copyright: Louise Creely

The Gold Coast has long been known as Queensland’s glitter strip, but take a lazy Sunday stroll through The Village Markets at Burleigh Heads and you’ll get a very different view.

On the first and third Sunday of every month, the local state school is transformed into a marketplace with a perfectly chilled festival vibe. While the ubiquitous rows of stalls and food vans seem familiar at first glance, it’s soon obvious that TVM, as locals call it, is no ordinary market.

Founded in 2008 by budding entrepreneurs Marissa Bowden and Sarah Schoeller, this boutique fashion and lifestyle market showcases the work of local emerging designers, creatives and collectors. Clearly word gets around, because the markets are already busy just minutes past the 8.30am opening time.

The Weiner Haus, Hell’s Pocket and other retro vans are already doing a cracking trade, adding their sizzling street food flavour to the markets.

“These are too good, you have to have one,” one market goer says between mouthfuls of German sausage. Like most people here, he has an edgy style that falls somewhere between hippy and hipster.

The market-going fashionistas, many with boho babies and toddlers in tow, blend seamlessly with the artfully presented stalls offering unique fashion, accessories, art, stationary, homewares, vintage wares and even up-cycled furniture.

“There’s such a community feel and people are really positive about your work,” one stall owner says, adjusting her stunningly quirky jewelry pieces.

The tunes of a local musician drift across the stalls, drawing marketgoers towards the shade of the giant fig trees, where they kick back with their favourite street food and soak up the Sunday vibe.

The low-key muso stage is set up near a small play area, which means parents can take time out while their kids are happily occupied and always in sight. While it’s the perfect place to relax, the tolerant crowd tends to laugh and shrug when the occasional toddler invades their space.

Meanwhile, under the long sheltered walkway between classrooms, the monthly pre-loved designer and vintage rack sales are in full swing, as marketgoers avidly search for that elusive vintage gem.

“This is the best market anywhere on the coast,” one local says, her hand resting on a fringed suede jacket on the rack. “You just don’t get this quality and great energy at other markets.”

It’s no surprise then that TVM was named as Gold Coast’s Best Market in this year’s Gold Coast Bulletin poll. It really is the perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday morning on the coast. No bling required.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Surprise yourself – on the NSW Central Coast

Some of the most beautiful places in the world are the ones not too far from home. Especially if you live in Australia.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Lake Macquarie from Mannering Point

We recently took off on a quick road trip from Kingscliff to the Central Coast. We may have been on a mission, to get to a family gathering there, but we weren’t out to break any distance records.

For us, there’s nothing better than meandering along the east coast of Australia. And no matter how often we do it, we always find something to surprise us.

Port Macquarie

About six hours after leaving the Queensland border, we arrived at Port Macquarie… and we were ravenous.

So our first stop had to be the Zebu bar + grill at the Rydges Resort, for a warming ‘some like it hot’ cocktail (think delicious bev in a chilli-rimmed margarita glass), a zucca pizza and some local talent at the open mic.

Then it was back to reality. No resorts for us. Time to give our ‘new’ escape vehicle a test run (because we’re on a quest to simplify our lives, but more on that some other 60 seconds).

Copyright: Louise Creely

First night moments…

For our first sleepout in the troopy*, we stayed at the Flynn’s Beach Caravan Park, surrounded by enough nature and wildlife to make us feel at home.

It was a crisp night with a little (well, a lot) fewer creature comforts than we were used to – like a diesel heater and a mattress that didn’t feel like a couple of planks nailed together! And it was only going to get colder as we went south (you can stop smiling now).

We usually stop at Cassegrain Winery while we’re here, but even we have our limits. Well, it was 7.30 in the morning when we left Port…

Norah Head

Just over three hours south, we arrived at Norah Head, a little coastal village near Wyong that hasn’t been yuppified – yet.

It was the first time we’d been here, so of course EB dragged me straight out to ‘stretch our legs’ along the stunning coastline and up to the beautifully preserved lighthouse – with a few strategic ‘getting lost’ moments added in for good measure.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Copyright: Louise Creely

The lighthouse was completed in 1903, making the once-perilous shipping lane between Newcastle and Sydney safe at last. The lighthouse was fully automated in 1995.

We were ready to crash that night, in the Norah Head Holiday Park, but the bed was proving a challenge. At least we weren’t reluctant to get out of it in the morning, at the crack of dawn. Again.

Lake Macquarie – Mannering Park

Copyright: Louise CreelyAfter a side trip to Sydney, we arrived back up at Mannering Park Caravan Park. It sits on the edge of Lake Macquarie, an hour north of Sydney.

Twice the size of Sydney Harbour, the lake is the biggest permanent salt water lagoon in the southern hemisphere.

The caravan park seemed like a comfortable place to hang out for a few days, but we were in for a surprise. And it started like this… (cue music)

Copyright: Louise Creely

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Copyright: Louise Creely On our second night there, when the campground was completely silent (and our warm, now seriously padded, bed was waiting) we decide to take one last look at the lake.

And there before us was the most majestic sight – a huge burnt orange full moon in a charcoal sky, slashed across by inky clouds, casting a truly spectacular fiery pathway across the lake towards us.

We’d never seen anything like it – even EB was speechless.

Meanwhile, I was muttering about phone camera inadequacies, punctuated by ‘wow’ and ‘dammit’.

Note to self: Pack your ‘real’ camera and tripod next time. No, every time. 

Coffs Harbour

We usually stop in at Coffs for breakfast, but this time we decided to stay overnight in the Park Beach Caravan Park. We soon discovered it was a walking distance (in sensible shoes!) to the restaurant strip along the jetty and marina.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Copyright: Louise RalphIt’s a great place to kick back and watch people promenading and the sun setting, and to spot the plume of a passing whale.

It may have been a quick trip without our usual stops in National Parks, but it made me realise, not for the first time, that some of the most beautiful places in the world are the ones not too far from home. Especially if you live in Australia.

*Toyota Landcruiser Troop Carrier

Sea changing Byron Bay

Copyright: Louise Creely

If you haven’t been to Byron in a while, be prepared to be surprised – and not just by the traffic jam going into the township.

The beach will take your breath away, but not in the usual way.

We’ve been coming here for over 20 years and we’ve never seen it quite like this.

Over the past few months of wild weather, metres of beach have been ripped away, including the fringing coastal heathlands, remnants of which now litter the usually pristine sand.

Copyright: Louise Creely

At the Clarke’s Beach Caravan Park, a place of many memories of crazy camping days with our kids, the stairs to the beach have been trashed.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Stairs to Clarke’s Beach Caravan Park…

It looks like the beach has been totally transformed, ripped away, never to return.

But wait. Long buried fences, uncovered by the waves, are a clue that the dune levels and the beach itself were once at about the same level it is now.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Waves, currents and tides constantly change the shape of our beaches. One day they can be carved away, and days, months, maybe years later, they can be built up again with huge deposits of sand and silt carried in from other beaches along our coastline.

Somehow, Byron’s beaches and surrounds still hold their charm. There’s just something about this place that makes you feel totally zen. And that works for me…

Copyright: Louise Creely

Copyright: Louise Creely

Five for Friday: getting unstuck

Copyright: Louise RalphI’ve been thinking a lot about ‘stuckness’ this week, and what keeps us in that immovable yet frantically busy place where we just don’t have the time to do the things that make our spirits soar.

Perhaps it’s a kind of dysfunctional aspiration, where we’re literally buying into the myth that we have to work our butts off to get money, so we can get more cool stuff – and then struggle to pay off the debts we’re drowning in.

We’re constantly bombarded with messages that tell us if we get this thing or that thing, we’ll be happy.

Except happiness is usually in the other direction – in a life where you live with less, especially less stress. Where you don’t surround yourself with mostly useless stuff, and you don’t live to work so you can consume more useless stuff. And you get time, every day, to paint or write or surf or paddle… or whatever it is that you love to do.

So here’s my five for Friday:

  1. Reflect – instead of being consumed with busyness, take time out to reflect. To think about the things that really make you feel awesomely fulfilled.
  2. Be brutal – when you look at your life and how you live, work out what you really need to survive. Because most of us have a skewed perception of what we need versus what we want.
  3. Take the challenge – if you’re in a ‘stuff’ rut and your place looks like Hoarder Central, start to streamline fast, and then practice living with less. There’s something satisfying about selling or gifting things you don’t need, but someone else might! 
  4. Get real – we often run around frantically because we don’t want to face our fears. Sometimes we’re so smart, we get into more debt or more busyness because then we’ve got the perfect excuse not to make the change… (guilty, we are!)
  5. Make the change – it’s usually fear that holds us back from making those big changes – what if it turns out to be an epic fail? But… what if it turns out to be the best thing you’ve ever done in your life?

Copyright: Louise RalphFor us, it’s about adjusting the aspirations we’ve been sucked into (often willingly yet naively), so we can start living the life we’ve imagined.

With so much less, but ultimately so much more of everything important to us.

Especially time – time to look after our health, to hang out with family and friends, to take on the projects we love, to give something back to our community, and to explore our world… on a shoestring (or a bike).

We’re working on getting unstuck. Starting now. How about you?

Happy Friday!


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