Adventure, baby!

NSW

24 Hours Kid-Free In Canberra

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Canberra is often overlooked as a quick weekend away from Sydney and surrounds. Once known as the place you visit on school excursions, Canberra has come along way and is now alive with innovative art exhibitions, hip restaurants and spectacular scenery.

I usually make trips like this as a family, but on this occasion I was desperate to see an exhibit that I knew my preschooler wouldn’t be keen on, so my parents kindly watched her for a night so the husband and I could skip on down to Canberra and check out the James Turrell exhibit at the National Gallery of Australia. We only had 24 hours to spend in the city, we had a tight itinerary that allowed us good food, nature and culture.

Silo Bakery #Canberra via christineknight.me

Lunch: Silo Bakery
This little bakery is so popular that bookings for lunch are advised, and if you’re dropping by for one of their famous pastries, get there early or you’ll go home empty handed. The bakery is on the pricey side (our meal of two dishes, two tarts, two coffees and a tea came to $66), but the food is absolutely delicious – making it worth the money especially if you’re not in Canberra very often.

We ordered: Jamon, squid ink salami & tomato bread ($24), Tarte Flamiche ($20 Flemish-style leek & cheese pastry on an endive salad), Rhubarb pastry, Banana Carmel Tart.
Silo Bakery: 36 Giles St Kingston ACT 2604. Hours: 7am to 4pm Tuesday to Saturday

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Lake Burley Griffin #Canberra via christineknight.me

Afternoon stroll: Walk around Lake Burley Griffin
We stayed in a central hotel, just a short walk from Lake Burley Griffin. Our hotel also had free bikes for customers to use during their stay, which would have been perfect to ride around the lake. We walked instead, and enjoyed the late autumn colours, the swans and generally peaceful stroll around the lake as we walked towards the National Art Gallery.

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Cultural visit: National Gallery of Australia
I love art, so it never seems like an odd thing to do to drive down to Canberra just to see an exhibition. The National Gallery of Australia gets a lot of spectacular exhibitions that don’t come up to Sydney, such as the current one, James Turrell. The National Gallery also has a great permanent collection worth seeing, with an impressive Sidney Nolan collection, as well as modern art works by masters like Degas, Monet and Dali. The permanent collection is free to see, as is the sculpture garden outside. The Turrell exhibition we saw, his retrospective, was nothing short of spectacular.
National Gallery of Australia: Parkes Pl, Canberra ACT 2600

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Eightysix #Canberra via christineknight.me

Dinner: eightysix
This little restaurant is so hot right now that by 6:30pm it was jam packed (highly suggest you make a reservation). The food is upscale modern Australia, with innovative dishes like the Daffinois & Dukkah Wafer, $6, Steak Tartare with Wasabi, $24, Duck Bun (with hoisin & hot sauce $8), Pumpkin Tortellini with Rocket, $30. Delicious food, excellent service. Not cheap, but high quality and worth the splurge. The cocktails were magnificent – my $30 Honey Blossom i had was so potent I had a slight buzz the following morning. We stayed for dessert and had the Margarita, $14, (which was a sour sorbet and meringue piles on top), and the Banoffie Pie, $17,  which was the perfect mix of sweet pie crust, caramel and whipped cream, interestingly topped with pretzels.
eightysix: 11 Elouera St, Braddon ACT 2612. Hours: Mon 6pm-10pm, Tue-Sat 12pm-2:30pm, 6pm-11pm, Sun 9am-3pm, 6pm-11pm

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East Hotel #Canberra via christineknight.me

Accommodation: East Hotel
We stayed at the East Hotel in Kingston. It was very well located, modern and clean. The hotel had fun touches like complimentary bikes, refreshing lemon water and jelly snakes in the lobby, and a variety of family-friendly amenities like Xboxes and boardgames – it was unfortunate we were travelling minus the child and didn’t need to use them. Each room at a small but functional kitchen area, so you could stay here longer and buy groceries to cut down the cost of eating out.
East Hotel: 69 Canberra Avenue, Kingston ACT Australia 2604

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Breakfast: East hotel
We were going to head to a different cafe for breakfast, but were short on time so had breakfast at hour hotel. It turned out to be a good deal. As guests of the hotel it cost us $15pp to have a hot breakfast including made-to-order eggs, baked beans, hash browns, bacon, sourdough, coffee, tea, pancakes. The food was fresh and delicious, and it was so easy that we were happy with our decision.

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The Gingerbread House: Kid-Friendly Cafes, Katoomba, Blue Mountains

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On our recent Blue Mountains drive we stopped off at The Gingerbread House for afternoon tea after several recommendations from friends. It’s the sweetest cafe, housed in a beautifully restored 100-year-old church. As you can guess from the name, The Gingerbread House is all about sweet things – milkshakes, Serendipity ice-cream, cakes, cookies & gingerbread. They do have light savoury food, by the way, but it’s the sweet things they’re well known for.

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The Gingerbread House is owned by the creators of Josophan’s Fine Chocolates, so they obviously know a thing or two about the sweet things people go crazy for.

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Inside the church is an adorably styled gingerbread house containing a sweet shop filled with lollies, and a mix of small and large communal tables. You can also sit outside and soak up the sun while the kids play in the gingerbread cubby house.

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On our visit, we enjoyed a chocolate gingerbread man, a vanilla malt milkshake, a slice of chocolate cake with salted caramel frosting, an affogato with Serendipity caramel ice cream, and a scoop of Serendipity ‘Death by Chocolate’ ice-cream (which has just been awarded Champion Premium Ice-cream at the Sydney Royal Cheese & Dairy show).

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The cake was mine, and I found it to be just the right mix of dense, moist chocolate cake, with thick caramel frosting for my taste. I loved the milkshake (nice and malty), as did Cheese, who stole mine off me. Alec enjoyed his affogato (said the ice cream was great) and Cheese devoured her ice cream (as the official “eat the rest of the cone when the kid is done” person, I can confirm that the chocolate ice cream was really, really good, too!).

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The Gingerbread House is delightful and delicious – the perfect stop for a treat on your next drive to Katoomba.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: Yes.
Kids’ menu: Yes.

The Gingerbread House Cafe
56 Lurline St (Cnr Lurline & Waratah Streets),
Katoomba NSW 2780
Phone: (02) 4782 6958
Prices: $
Hours: Daily 9am-5pm
Get Directions

Linking up with Grace and Bron.

Happy Birthday To Me! A kid-free weekend in the Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley Spicers Retreats via akissgoodnight.coThis year, there was only one thing I wanted for my birthday – a break. Mum and Dad very kindly agreed to watch Cheese for the weekend so Alec and I could have a few nights to relax. Our first kid-free weekend in three years!

Hunter Valley Spicers Retreats via akissgoodnight.co

We drove up to the Hunter Valley for the getaway. I booked us a room at the Spicers Vineyard Estate – a beautiful little retreat in Pokolbin. Our room was large, with a fireplace and spa. Our package included two breakfasts and a dinner in their restaurant, Botanica, and complimentary minibar.

Hunter Valley via akissgoodnight.co

The property is set in 25 acres of vineyard and bush, and we took a leisurely stroll around the boundary each evening at dusk. Which, by the way, is the perfect time to see the wild kangaroo families as they come out.

Hunter Valley Pokolbin Chocolate Company via akissgoodnight.co

During our stay in the Hunter we dropped by the Pokolbin Chocolate And Jam Company, the Smelly Cheese Shop, two of the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company locations and two wineries: Tempus Two and Audrey Wilkinson.

Audrey Wilkinson Winery Hunter Valley via akissgoodnight.co

I adore moscato, and chose these wineries based on their production of the sweet wine of my choice. The Audrey Wilkinson cellar door is a bit off the main track, but worth the extra drive. St up high on a hill, the view out over the wine country is spectacular.

Hunter Valley Muse Restaurant via akissgoodnight.co
Muse Restaurant

Since we were child-free, we indulged in a LOT of food, including two dinners out: Muse Restaurant on my birthday, and Restaurant Botanica the following night. Muse was the perfect restaurant for a fancy, special night out. It was like a fine dining establishment in the city. Delicious creative dishes (I had a kale risotto with winter vegetables), with a friendly, relaxed vibe.

Restaurant Botanica was more relaxed, and perfect for a Sunday night dinner. The food was simpler and perfectly prepared. After the previous day of rich, complicated food, the elegant and slightly more traditional fare at Botanica was exactly what our stomaches craved. Dessert was donuts and cinnamon ice cream. Absolutely a treat.

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The last mention on our food extravaganza is Sabor In The Hunter, a dessert bar that popped up while we were away. For lunch (!) one day, Alec and I indulged in the Medley Tasting Plate, which included Opera slice, Mini Lemon Curd meringue in a sweet pastry, Strawberry mousse & mixed berry compote topped with Strawberry, Mini Gianduja layers and a caramelised nut triangle tart. Indulgence complete.

Sabor In The Hunter via akissgoodnight.co

The really great thing about the weekend was being able to spend time with Alec and just take a breath. We talked more than we’ve talked in years, and had energy to focus on each other for the first time in what felt like forever.

Spicers Hunter Valley via akissgoodnight.co
In-room breakfast at Spicers

The three days/two nights was the longest I’ve spent away from Cheese so far. We called in regularly and spoke with her and my mum – she was absolutely happy and chirpy the whole time, running my parents off their feet while charming them simultaneously. When we arrived back home I felt like I had more energy to spend on her than I usually would, the break away really refreshing me.

So it was pretty much a perfect birthday.

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Brunch & Play at Cafe 2773; Glenbrook, Blue Mountains

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A drive to the Blue Mountains makes a great city escape. On our most recent expedition, a friend recommended we break our journey this time at one of her favourite finds, Cafe 2773 in Glenbrook. The cafe is almost exactly halfway from where we were starting our journey in Sydney’s south-west, and our final destination (Katoomba), so it seemed like a good idea to try it.

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi brunchwithmybaby.com

2773 was everything I’d been promised. The cafe seemed like the type of place I would frequent in the Inner West, which was somewhat surprising to find in a tiny little town on the outskirts of the mountains. Despite it being an absolutely freezing day, the cafe was packed. Diners braved the outdoor tables, prevented from getting frost bite by a few heat lamps. We requested an indoor table because it was frigidly cold, and only had to wait about 15 or 20 minutes for one to finish up and be cleared. If the weather had been finer, the perfect place to dine with children is actually outside, at a table overlooking the playground area.

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi brunchwithmybaby.com

While we were waiting, E kept warm by running around the little play area like a maniac. A few steps past the play area lay some pens with piglets and chickens — another great entertainment device not unlike the famous Grounds in Alexandria.

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi brunchwithmybaby.com

The menu at 2773 focuses on use of local organic produce, with an extensive selection of local beer and wine. And, as a plus for parents like us who love great food, 2773 pride themselves on being a family-friendly venue for the local community to enjoy.

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Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi brunchwithmybaby.com

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi brunchwithmybaby.com

We ordered E the kids’ Egg On Toast (usually comes with bacon and sausage, $10), and a Babyccino, $1.60. After we ordered her food we realised we hadn’t even asked how it would be cooked, so asked our server when she came back for our orders. After we were informed it was usually fried and asking if she could have it scrambled instead, it was no problem to have our order changed, despite it being pretty much done.

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E’s babyccino came with sprinkles and a freckle chocolate on the site. She was so delighted. Chocolate for breakfast!

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi brunchwithmybaby.com

Alec and I ordered Green Tea (China Jasmine) $4.00 and a Latte $3.90, and the same meal: the design your own breakfast option. Our choices were: Toast (sourdough 2 slices, $4), 2 Eggs (poached, fried or scrambled, $7), Spinach ($3), Roast Tomato ($3), Avocado ($3), Haloumi ($3).

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Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi brunchwithmybaby.com

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi brunchwithmybaby.com

Cafe 2773 #glenbrook #bluemountains #sydney #Australia #kidfriendly #restaurants vi brunchwithmybaby.com

Our food was absolutely delicious. Perfectly poached eggs, soft sourdough with crispy edges, a giant hunk of haloumi cheese. What really topped of our already fantastic experience was the staff. Our server came over multiple times just to check on how E was doing and to make sure she couldn’t bring us anything else to make our dining experience even better.

A truly wonderful breakfast, and we will make it our regular stop when driving to the mountains from now on.

Last Bite: Great food in an environment where kids can run free. 

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No but there is a low shelf/table in the ladies that could be used in a pinch.
Kids’ menu: Yes.

Cafe 2773
19 Ross Street,
Glenbrook, NSW
Phone: 02 4739 5908
Hours: Mon-Wed 7.30am-4.30pm, Thu, Fri & Sat-7.30am till late, Sun 7.30am-5pm

2773 Glenbrook Cafe on Urbanspoon

The Gingerbread House; Kid-Friendly Cafes, Katoomba, Blue Mountains

On our first family trip to the Blue Mountains we were looking forward to stopping in at The Gingerbread House which has gained notoriety for its whimsical fairytale setting and its attention to detail in being child-friendly. We chose the Winter Solstice to mark our journey as Katoomba is filled to the brim with people celebrating from all walks of life, a parade down the centre of town and its overall festival vibe.

All I can say is that we are lucky we chose to arrive early at The Gingerbread House because no sooner had we claimed our table in the sunny outdoor courtyard did all other vacant tables evaporate and space was a premium. Jenson and Isla had fun exploring the generous outdoor playground which was exceptionally maintained with a large cubby house and play equipment whilst we waiting for our morning tea.

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Jenson playing in the cubby house, Photo by Katia Barker
The Gingerbread House - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Katoomba, #Sydney via brunchwithmybaby.com
Isla at play, Photo by Katia Barker

Our order of scones (choc chip with a hint of ginger with jam and fresh cream $7.50), fresh baked muffin (raspberry and white chocolate $4.50) and kid’s milkshake ($3) arrived quickly and was mouth-wateringly fresh. The food and drink were demolished quickly so Ross and Isla played outdoors whilst Jenson and I went about exploring the magical candy emporium.

The Gingerbread House - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Katoomba, #Sydney via brunchwithmybaby.com
Ginger & Choc Chip Scones $7.50, Raspberry & White Choc Muffin $4.50 and Kids Milkshake $3.00

Jenson was like, well, a kid in a candy shop, with eyes as big as saucers and was more than happy in helping select a treat for each of us. He proudly carried these off for take-away.

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Candy! Photo by Katia Barker
The Gingerbread House - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Katoomba, #Sydney via brunchwithmybaby.com
Like a kid in a candy shop, heaven! Photo by Katia Barker

The Gingerbread House is perfectly situated for a long lazy cafe session with plenty of kid-friendly options from toast to sandwiches and those with a sweet tooth are well-catered for with cakes, muffins and ice-creams on offer. We barely took advantage of all the dining options, and skipped coffee this time as we already had our hit but will definitely be back again to sample the delights further.

Last Bite: The Gingerbread House ticks all the boxes for a kid-friendly cafe and should be on everyone’s must do list for a visit to the Blue Mountains.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: Yes.
Kids’ menu: Yes.

The Gingerbread House
56 Lurline Street (Cnr Lurline & Waratah Streets),
Katoomba NSW
Phone: (02) 4784 2031
Prices: $-$$
Hours: Daily 9am-5pm
Get Directions

Huskisson Bakery & Cafe, Kid-Friendly Cafes, Huskisson, Shoalhaven, NSW

A trip to Huskisson is not complete unless you stop at the affectionately known Husky Bakery for something delicious. The draw card is the extensive pie menu where you actually get large chunks of meat in the pie – however we stopped in for a quick morning tea in between visits to the beach and the nearby park.

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Husky Bakery Outside, Photo by Katia Barker

On previous visits we got take-out, but today, with nothing much on the agenda we opted for dine in and were surprised at how kid-friendly the Husky Bakery really is! Whilst you can’t really go wrong with a sweets display full of fresh and fun options, the Husky Bakery has really catered towards the younger crowds. There is a long covered eat-in area out the back with several highchairs available for use, but the best bit is the full size playground set – also under cover for the kids to run riot whilst the adults enjoy a coffee or two.

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Half of the delights available at Husky Bakery, Photo by Katia Barker

Our food choices were simple but very fresh and the coffee hot and tasty. Ross went savoury, with a Spinach and Fetta Roll ($3.60) but I could not go past the sweets and ordered a Mini Lemon Meringue Tart ($2.80). Cupcakes were right at child eye-level and it worked, Jenson ordered a bright pink Cupcake ($2.80).

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Spinach and Fetta roll $3.60, Photo by Katia Barker
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Lemon Meringue Tart $2.80 and Piccolo Latte $3.00, Photo by Katia Barker
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Jenson sat sit for just long enough to take this photo with his cupcake $2.80, Photo by Katia Barker

Isla wasn’t in the mood to sit quietly or still for very long, and we’d run out of our emergency supply of food for her so after our last drops of coffee were gone, and Jenson had descended the slide a few more times we made our exit down one of the two handy ramps.

Last Bite: The Huskisson Bakery and Café is a must stop location for anyone visiting Huskisson with kids, even if just passing through town to head further south. They know what kids like and have well-catered towards their needs, especially with the burgeoning camping crowds in summer when there is a freak downpour! Get in early and claim your table near the playground, as this place gets busy!

Highchairs: Yes
Stroller Storage: Yes
Easy Access: Yes
Change Tables: No
Kids Menu: Not dedicated, but what kid would turn back a cupcake (or lamington) it’s Un-Australian!
Huskisson Bakery & Café
11 Currambene Street, Huskisson, NSW 2540
Phone: 02 4441 5015
Price: $
Hours: Monday – Sunday 6:30am – 5:00pm

Pilgrim’s Wholefood, Kid-Friendly Cafes, Huskisson, Shoalhaven, NSW

We decided to take a cheeky mid-week Spring break down to the sunny holiday spot of Jervis Bay for a few days and Huskisson is a family favourite of ours. Finding kid-friendly cafes beyond fish and chips was a new experience we were willing to take on and Pilgrim’s Wholefood was an excellent start. Tucked along a retail corridor the interior of Pilgrims encapsulates a beach side cantina feel with a little bit of Sydney hipness.

Pilgrim's Wholefoods - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Huskisson, #NSW via brunchwithmybaby.com

Being a devoted meatatarian I was impressed by the modern menu, which is made up solely of vegetarian options utilizing local fresh produce. The wait staff helpfully offered up the most popular choices (both burgers!). Ross selected the Bliss Burger, $11 (mixed grain pattie with fried onion, avocado, cheese, tabouleh, sprouts, special sauce & peanut sauce on a wholemeal roll) and I opted for the Millenium Burger $11 (Curry lentil pattie, fried onion, avocado, lettuce, beetroot, cucumber, sprouts, tahini sauce & sweet chilli sauce on a toasted wholemeal roll). Jenson had a Kids Burger, $8 (mixed grain pattie, fried onion, cheese, sprouts & special sauce on a toasted wholemeal roll).

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The Millenium Burger
Pilgrim's Wholefoods - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Huskisson, #NSW via brunchwithmybaby.com
The Bliss Burger $11
Pilgrim's Wholefoods - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Huskisson, #NSW via brunchwithmybaby.com
Kids Burger $8

We all opted for cold drinks and Jensons’ Kids Banana Smoothie, $4.50, was generous in size and arrived first, which is always smart when kids are dining. The adult Thickshakes, $7, each are served in traditional chilled metal cups and hit the spot on a warm day.

Pilgrim's Wholefoods - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Huskisson, #NSW via brunchwithmybaby.com
Isla enjoying some of Daddy’s Strawberry Thickshake $7

The adult burgers were both delicious and satisfying and didn’t need any accompaniments such as chips, although they were a little messy. Jenson tried his burger but wasn’t really into the non-traditional flavours. It would be more suitable for a child who is either a little more worldly with their eating, or can accept that a burger can be something other than meat, cheese, tomato, lettuce & sauce! Never mind, more for us to snack on!

Pilgrim's Wholefoods - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Huskisson, #NSW via brunchwithmybaby.com
Jenson and his Banana Smoothie $4.50

Pilgrim’s Wholefood is a little bit of everything with typical breakfast fare in the morning (although still all vegetarian), burgers, wraps, pies & salads and coffee during the day with Mexican cuisine at night. This could allow you to return three times a day and have a different culinary experience each time. The café is spacious with long rustic wood tables built for sharing with a few smaller tables dotted around and has a small retail corner for local designer clothes & art for purchase or browse whilst waiting for your food.

Last Bite: Pilgrim’s Wholefood brings the Sydney vibe to the beachside town with unique vegetarian wholefoods, stylish interior and things to look at and poke around for the kids. Takeaway is also an option if the café is buzzing and you need space with a kid-friendly park directly underneath the shop.

Highchairs: Yes
Stroller storage: Yes
Easy access: Yes
Change tables: No
Kids menu: One or two options, might be best to ask for a custom sandwich or wrap if child is a little picky!

Pilgrim’s Wholefood
Shop 5/57 Owen Street, Huskisson, NSW 2540
Phone: 02 4441 6118
Price: $$
Hours: Mon-Sun 9am-3pm, Thur-Sat 6pm-9pm

Byron Road Trip 2010

We had a fantastic road trip up to Byron Bay over the Chrissie break. After Christmas Day in Stockton, we drove to Shoal Bay for Christmas night. We found a delicious pizza shop open and gorged ourselves on sweet, sweet pizza.
The next morning we met Alec’s dad and his wife for lunch, before drive up to Port Macquarie for the night. An early start had us on the road to Byron. We spent the next five nights in Byron, walking on the beach, eating, bush walking to a waterfall, walking up to the lighthouse and reading. Exactly what we needed after a stressful end to the year.

Hunter Valley Day Trip

Masa was keen to see the Hunter Valley, so we decided on a small tour group so we would all get to enjoy the wine. We visited three boutique wineries and the Smelly Cheese Shop. The wineries were all fabulous, and we bought some wine at all of them. The cheese shop also had some great food, and we left with multiple local cheeses and gelato.

Group shot!
Wine dog Stella.
 
At out last stop for the day – what a view!