Category Archives: short breaks

Hanging out at the Farm Gate Market

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

Criterion Street art

There’s nothing better than a lazy Sunday morning in Tasmania. And stumbling across a vibrant farmer’s market in the heart of Hobart city is, quite simply, a treat for the senses.

While I was checking out some street art, EB wandered off (as he does) and discovered the Farm Gate Market in Bathurst Street. What a find!

The markets opened five years ago with just 12 stallholders – and the simple philosophy  that ‘if you can’t eat it, drink it, grow it or meet the producer, then you wouldn’t find it at the market‘.

IMG_1524Now it’s one of the top ten Farmer’s Markets in Australia and it’s easy to see why. If you love fresh produce and delicious treats plus a little local flavour, this is the place to be.

We’ll be living in Hobart next year (if all goes to plan), so there’s no prizes for guessing where you’ll find us on a Sunday morning.

Here’s just some of the deliciousness…

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

Magic mushrooms…

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

Lovin’ the horse float!

 

 

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

Bury me standing? Yes please

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

Who knew all that about garlic?

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

All this fabulous freshness feels like France

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

And down the road, you’ve gotta love the winter streets of Hobart


Port Arthur then and now…

Copyright: Louise Creely

It’s been two decades since that gut-wrenching day in April 1996 when a single gunman opened fire in a small, relaxed cafe at the Port Arthur historic site in Tasmania. In those moments, he stole lives – physically and emotionally – and forever changed a nation.

Copyright: Louise Creely

The cafe site has become a peaceful place to remember the 35 souls lost and 23 injured in the massacre…

His heinous act kicked off a push for gun laws in Australia, cementing the resolve of the then-Prime Minister Mr John Howard and his government to make the change happen.

Many Australians have never lived in a time when pump action and automatic rifles were on the streets – and could be bought in a corner store with your milk and bread.

While those terrible moments will never be forgotten here, today the focus has shifted back to the convict era and the former penal colony of Port Arthur remains a fascinating tourist destination.

Copyright: Louise RalphEstablished in 1833 as a timber-getting camp, Port Arthur played a significant role in the story of European settlement in Australia.

But long before Europeans arrived, the Pydairrerme people were the traditional custodians of the land, finding food for the body and the spirit in these wild places.

Over time, their pathways became roads and endless bushland was replaced by sandstone buildings created with convict labour.

The Isles of the Dead where over 1000 military, free settlers and convicts were buried between 1833 and 1877.

The Isles of the Dead where over 1000 military people, free settlers and convicts were buried between 1833 and 1877.

While Port Arthur is renowned for breaking many men, some gained useful skills they would take beyond this place into their life as free settlers.

The penal settlement finally closed in 1877 and, while it became the township of Carnarvon for a while, by the 1920s stories of convict days were bringing in the tourists.

Eventually,  the site was renamed Port Arthur and, over the years, the once crumbling buildings have been beautifully preserved, and the stories artfully captured.

On entry to the site, you’re given a playing card and invited to find your character, then follow ‘your convict’ through the twists and turns of their story.

This cleverly designed interpretation brings their world to life…

Copyright: Louise Creely

art of stone…

It’s a fabulous trip into the past, but don’t pass by the natural wonders of this magnificent coastline. Here’s just a taste… and if you’d like to go, it’s a short road trip north-east from Hobart or jump on a Tasman Island Cruise for the perfect day trip. Bon voyage!

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

A stunning example of tessellated pavement at Eaglehawk Neck where the rock has fractured to create a mosaic tile look

Tasmans Arch is all that's left of the roof of a large sea cave, carved out by the waves over thousands of years

Tasmans Arch is all that’s left of the roof of a large sea cave, carved out by the waves over thousands of years

 


Take an art break… at Tweed Regional Gallery

Copyright: Louise Creely

Pursuit (2004) by sculptor John Petrie at the Tweed Regional Gallery

If you’re living or staying on the coast in the NSW Northern Rivers region and you’re feeling a little ‘beached out’, it might be time to head inland to Murwillumbah for a change of scenery – and to visit a simply stunning regional art gallery.

The Lonely Planet describes the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre as ‘exceptional’ and ‘an architectural delight’ – and you won’t be disappointed.

While it wouldn’t be out of place in a major city, the gallery sits with elegance and attitude in the hills overlooking the Tweed River.

Copyright: Louise Creely

View from the deck…

From Wednesday to Sunday you’ll see an amazing collection of works in a variety of media, along with touring exhibitions of national significance across six exhibition spaces.

The Yellow Room - a plaque at the gallery describes how Ollie painted in different rooms of her home studio, 'following the light around the house as the sun moved across the sky'.

The Yellow Room – a plaque at the gallery describes how Ollie painted in different rooms of her home studio, ‘following the light around the house as the sun moved across the sky’.

And then there is the incredible Margaret Ollie Art Centre.

Here, the celebrated Australian painter’s home studio has been meticulously recreated from photographs taken within 10 days of her passing in 2011.

All that art can work up an appetite, but that’s covered here too.

Step into the Gallery Cafe for some delicious food and bevs, before heading off to soak up the vintage village atmosphere in the township of Murwillumbah.

It’s a perfect way to spend a lazy summer’s day. No sunscreen required.

 

 


First stop, Surry Hills

Copyright: Louise Creely

Last weekend we took a quick trip to Sydney to try out a tandem touring bike (as you do), to catch up with family and, the unplanned bit, to fall in love with Surry Hills.

Located on the city fringe, adjacent to notorious Kings Cross and right near Central Station, Surry Hills was once a bit of a slum area.

Today, it’s a melting pot of cultures, with a delicious retro, arty, entrepreneurial flavour – a happening place that has a village feel and a real sense of community.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Sunday breakfast in Surry Hills

Wander along its tree-lined streets window-shopping, then stop for a coffee (or vino) to watch the world go by.

It’s the perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon – and you’re likely to be served by switched-on wait staff, who are easy going and up for a chat.

If you’re keen to see some great parts of Sydney on foot (I’m with EB, so keen or not…) take a stroll past the Domain to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, then walk along the foreshores of Farm Cove to the Opera House, and back through the city to Surry Hills.

Of course, you can always take the civilised option and jump on a train to Circular Quay to catch a ferry around the harbour… but this 1.5 hour easy walk is worth every step.

The ‘civilised’ option comes later at one of our favourite restaurants, Longrain. It’s just down the road from our hotel and a perfectly delicious way to end a great stay in Surry Hills.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Fort Denison is a former penal colony and defensive facility

Copyright: Louise Creely

A swim with a view – a battle ship docked at the Garden Island Defense Base


Coastal wanderings – Crowdy Bay National Park

IMG_0376

I’ve worked out what it is. I’m a natural woman. Not the Woodstock, flower power flavour of natural (although there have been moments…), but natural in a bushland, beaches, rocky coastlines and wildlife kind of way.

I know there are those for whom ‘natural wonders’ equal five stars and a sea horse swizzle stick in their cocktail, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But for me, I feel the most at home in a national park somewhere.

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015It’s where I feel my chest expanding and I can finally breathe – even while scrambling up or down precarious rocky slopes (and that’s saying something when you have asthma!)

We’ve just arrived at Kylie’s Beach camping area in the stunning Crowdy Bay National Park.

It’s a favourite place of ours, even though the beach is particularly windswept today and the water is so icy it makes your feet ache.

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015

Australian author and poet Kylie Tennant’s writer’s retreat.

Instead of braving the icy waves and strong rip for too long, we head off along the coastal track.

Along the way, we pass the restored hut that was once the writer’s retreat of Australian author and poet Kylie Tennant.

At the peak of the hill, we leave the trail to wind our way down to a rocky, windswept headland.

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015

Here, the waves disappear into sea caves and burst through an arch into an amphitheatre carved by time and tides.

As we enter the impressive amphitheatre, the ground moves with a thousand crabs that swiftly disappear into secret places among the rocks and seaweed.

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015Back at camp, a wallaby and her joey feed on fresh spring grass.

The joey looks at us curiously, then nuzzles into mama’s pouch for a milky snack. Eventually, she bats him away and hops off, leaving him to feed on the grass alone.

Above us, a kookaburra perches on a branch, watching us sipping our crispy chardonnay.

It soon leaves to check out other campers who may have meaty treats to share.

A red aphid-like bug lands on my arm… and there’s a black fly in my chardonnay.

There’s a song in that, EB says.

All around us, bush creatures wake to hunt, mate and play under cover of darkness. The roll of distant thunder is oddly soothing and the waning moon is rising.

Ah, this is perfection – and, for me, this takes five stars to a whole new level. Just sayin’…

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015


Hanging out in Port Stephens

Copyright: Louise Creely

The most striking thing about Port Stephens, on the NSW coast, is the pristine beaches curving around each bay and cupping the gorgeous aquamarine waters.

Somewhere out there in this huge marine park are dolphins, turtles, sponge gardens, fish and more. While there are dolphin tours for all tastes, I was keen to get in there with them in their natural environment with Dolphin Swim Australia.

Talk about bad timing – and a reminder to book ahead if there’s something you really want to do on your holiday – the boat was out of the water being prepared for the tourist season. So… no wild dolphin swims for me.

This didn’t phase EB. He was itching to get me up a hill somewhere and, on the hottest day so far (of course), we headed up to the Tomaree Head Summit. There are a lot of stairs and a lot of locals panting up and down them with their earphones firmly wedged in place.

If you like to do more than just sweat up and down hills, the panoramic views are worth the effort.

You can also see the historic gun emplacements and other reminders that Australia was once ready to protect its shores from invasion.

In World War II, this natural harbour was an ideal entry point for hostile forces, intent on attacking the aerodrome at Williamstown and, more importantly, the Newcastle steelworks.

Steel was a vital wartime commodity, so Fort Tomaree was built here in 1942. It was a perfect vantage point, with 360 degree views covering the coastlines, headlands and surrounds.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Port Stephens is a great place for a family holiday, with beaches the kids (and you) will love.

I admit I was a little disappointed at not spotting a single dolphin, even from the headlands.

But we did have gorgeous early morning swims, and lots of walking and cycling. So I’m leaving fitter than when I arrived…and that has to be a good thing.

Next stop… Crowdy Bay National Park. 


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.


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


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