We visited the Blue Mountains to celebrate our one year anniversary. We had planned to keep this small because we had sort of celebrated early while we were away in Fiji last month. We celebrated in advance because we knew it would’ve been hard for us to take time off around this period. But it is always nice to do something on the actual day, so we decided to go somewhere for a weekend getaway.
I had heard a lot great things about staying in the Blue Mountains. Both of us hadn’t been there for almost a decade so thought it would be nice and close. We stayed at Hotel Mountain Heritage in Blue Mountains. We chose to stay here because of the view and spa. Unfortunately, the traffic on our way was horrendous. We had to stop at The Bunker Cafe Bar Restraurant in Springwood because we were getting too hungry. The wait was pretty long but the food here made up for it.
We went for our anniversary dinner to Pins on Lurline. Their presentation was very beautiful, and it was so great to be able to see it properly (their restaurant was well lit compared to other fine dining places I have been to). It may sound silly, but I want to be able to see my food clearly; because to me, we eat with our eyes. There’s no point in giving someone a beautifully presented dish if you can’t see what’s on your plate properly!
The next day, we checked out of our hotel and headed to Red Door Café. Someone recommended this to me a while ago, and it has been on my list for about a year (I rarely go out that west). After breakfast, we headed out to see The Three Sisters and Blue Mountains. I hadn’t been here for over a decade, so it felt like I was almost seeing it for the first time again. We went for a long walk, found it to be pretty crowded (I had no idea so many tourists came out so far to see the mountains).
We went to Zen-Sai Japanese Restaurant for lunch. We didn’t have anything in mind and randomly came across it on TripAdvisor as it was rated as #2 for Japanese in the area. In general, I am very biased towards Japanese food but this was delicious.
Overall, it was a wonderful getaway. It obviously felt too short but it was still nice to be able to celebrate 🙂
This was our first time travelling to Fiji for an end of year holiday. We decided to pick Fiji because my partner had initially suggested it for our honeymoon. However, we ended up going to Queenstown as that period happened to be the monsoon period in Fiji and I was advised not to go by a close friend. So, we decided to make Fiji our second honeymoon destination instead!
We travelled to Nadi with Virgin Australia which took around 4.5 hours. We stayed in Lautoka for the first two nights (an hour from Nadi airport). We caught a taxi for all of our travels. I had read some blogs earlier and learnt that tourists are often asked to pay much higher rates (both travel and activities). So, we asked our hotel to provide us with a quote and tried to put our haggling skills to use when getting a taxi (I say ‘tried’ because both of us are very bad at haggling). The remaining taxi fares were reasonable or were fixed rates.
Island life and adventure
During our time at Lautoka, we walked around our nearest streets but did not go out into town. We stayed in Yanuca Island at Shangri La Resort. We had initially thought about taking a day trip out somewhere. But we just fell in love with the resort as the whole island was one resort with lots of activities. I’m not a snorkelling person but I would highly recommend it if you are visiting Coral Coast as it is one of the best places to snorkel in Fiji. I tried kayaking there for the first time and I absolutely loved it!
We stayed at Tanau hotel for the first two nights and travelled to Shangri La resort for the remaining four nights at Yanuca Island. We booked our accommodation on hotels.com. Funnily enough, these weren’t our first choice as we had initially intended to stay at Denarau Island which is the main touristy hub. Back in hindsight, I’m really glad things worked out the way it did because we both found Yanuca Island perfect for relaxation and Lautoka enjoyable for a little exploration. I’d definitely recommend Shangri-La to anyone who is travelling to Fiji for a relaxation holiday and doesn’t wish to move around too much.
Food was probably my second favourite thing about Fiji (island views topped as the first). We ate some really amazing, wonderful food. However, we did not get to experience authentic Fijian cuisine as the menu served at hotels and resorts was very diverse (we ate noodles, rice, sushi, Vietnamese rolls, pizza, pasta, pancakes, wraps, salads etc.). Two of my favourite dishes were trying a traditional rourou (taro) and an okra and potato curry. Taro was definitely my favourite because I used to eat it as a child and have not had it for a long time. Okra, on the other hand remains one of my favourite veggies. Both of our accommodation included breakfast buffets which was great (breakfast is my favourite meal of the day). The breakfast options at Shangri La were pretty amazing; the mushrooms, waffles and pancakes usually made my day. Last but certainly not least, the fruits that topped my list pineapple, coconut water and pawpaw. The pineapple was incredibly sweet there so I’d highly recommend everyone to load up on it.
Everyone speaks English really well so we had no struggles communicating at all. We left knowing the same Fijian words we had started with (‘bula’ is for saying hi and ‘vinaka’ is thank you). As I previously mentioned, the purpose of our trip was relaxation (not exploration), so we left feeling very content. Having said that, I know lots of people who have taken part in adventurous activities including snorkelling, jet skiing, hikes to waterfalls, island cruises, village tours etc. The Fijian people were every so friendly and welcoming, especially at Yanuca Island (they would always wave ‘bula’ to us from far distances and sang us a romantic and a farewell song during our anniversary dinner).
Fiji was absolutely amazing and just the relaxation holiday we needed. But if you’d like to do something more exploratory, Fiji has just as much to offer. Here are 3 tips for any future travellers:
Make sure to plan your trip in advance if you are intending on doing lots of exploring. Fiji has 333 islands, so travelling to some islands can be quite a day trip!
Use cash, if possible. Some places may not take card or charge a transaction fee. We drew out Fijian dollars before we left Sydney.
Fiji is not particularly cheap. Most meals at the resorts will cost around the same price as Australia. Fijian water may also seem to be ridiculously expensive (we paid around $9.50 for a 1L bottle at the resort). But we told ourselves it’s okay, you’re on holidays. Don’t expect all gains; because you lose some, you gain some!
Thanks for reading. Keep scrolling down to see the full journey 🙂
We travelled to Q station for a quick weekend getaway. It was only for one night but it was nice to get away and also learn about the history of this place. I’m going to share a bit of the Q Station story below which is also known as “Sydney’s best kept secret”.
This was a side of Sydney we hadn’t explored before and it was only on arrival when we realised just how big the place was. We had to leave our car at the reception and were dropped off to our room by a hotel minibus.
Q Station is part of the Sydney Harbour National Park. Like many beautiful places, this place also has a dark history. It used to be a quarantine station from the mid-1800s. People were often brought here straight from the ship if they were sick or suspected to have an infectious disease. People were very much segregated back in the old days. There was obviously a clear division between the healthy and the sick, but people were divided based on their class (first, second and third class). The medical staff were divided depending on if you were a doctor or a nurse.
As you can imagine, the treatment wasn’t so great back then. Many were able to return to their normal environment after recovery but many died from virulent strains of influenza, smallpox etc. Some of the residents made carvings on the rocks to pass their time, few of which remain today. Some of the original furnitures have also been kept in the facilities.
While I really enjoyed this trip, a part of me felt sad for the people who were suffering/dying in the same space less than a century ago. Our world has changed so much in the last 100 years, we now have better treatments, infrastructure, technology and better of almost everything! Most of us take this stuff for granted but coming here made me realise just how grateful we should be for the life we all have now.
This photo was taken from the Former Second Class Precinct. These building were planned when the plague hit Sydney in the late 1800’s but by the time it was built, the plague had already passed. The difference between first and second class is that the walls here were lined with rippled iron (rather than timber). The irony is that second class has a better view!
On our way back, we stopped to have lunch at Fishbowl. It was nice to try their famous poke bowls. I really like how veggie packed they can be!
Overall, we had so fun exploring a different part of Sydney. It was intriguing to learn why this place has been called #sydneysbestkeptsecret 😉
We visited Newcastle during the Easter long weekend in April. We chose Newcastle because we hadn’t really planned anything properly to be travelling far distances. Also, two of my close friends grew up in Newcastle which has always made me want to visit this place after hearing stories from them 🙂
Since Newcastle is just over two hours over from Sydney, it was a trip we were able to wing without much planning. All we needed to do was find a hotel to book and drive off.
The Brazilian BBQ at Meet was definitely my favourite food memory. I’m not a huge fan of BBQ places as they tend to lack in other options, particularly vegetables. But this place was absolutely wonderful, they are ever so vegetarian friendly and I was spoilt with so many choices! These pictures barely even show half of what we ate as most of it was brought to us gradually. They are equally as good with their meat. If you live anywhere near Newcastle, I highly recommend you check this out. But make sure you go there on an empty stomach as they only have a set menu to choose from and serviced buffet- you keep your cards up and stay in the game until you are full!
Quad biking at the Sand Dunes was another great experience as it was my first time quad biking. One of the challenges we faced was finding places that were open on an Easter Sunday. We eventually started calling up restaurants before driving over to them. I would highly recommend future travellers to take this into consideration. Other than that, nothing else can really go wrong with a trip down to Newcastle because it has beautiful beaches and pretty good food 🙂 what more do you really need?
Initially, we had thought of far locations like Hawaii and Santorini for our honeymoon. But both of us had leave constraints at the time and going to the other side of the world just wasn’t practical. We wanted to keep it close to save ourselves from the jet lag and long flying times. We were down to two options, Fiji or New Zealand. We ruled Fiji out after learning about the cyclone season in Fiji during summer, and decided we would visit Fiji another time.
A bit about our trip
Where we stayed:
Day 1-6: Hilton Queenstown Resort and Spa
Day 7: Peppers Bluewater Resort, Lake Tekapo
Day 8: Rydges Lakeland Resort, Queenstown
Places visited- highlights
Where we ate:
Stacks Pub (Part of Hilton)
Mee Chinese (Part of Hilton)
Wakatipu Grill (Part of Hilton)
The Ballarat Trading Co
Minus 5 Ice Bar
The Lake Island Café (Part of Hilton)
Minamei Jujisei Japanese Restaurant
Walter Peak gourmet BBQ dinner
Skyline Gondola buffet dinner
Poppies Cafe, Twizel
Kohan restaurant, Lake Tekapo
Finz Seafood and Grill
Saigon Kingdom Vietnamese Restaurant
We were super excited as we landed at Queenstown airport. I will never forget how thrilled we were seeing the beautiful view of mountains as our plane descended! The airport was small and I loved how it just opened up to nature, I really appreciated the beauty of this airport coming from a busy, chaotic city airport like Sydney.
We had organised a car and drove our way to the Hilton Queenstown Resort. On our way, we could not stop appreciating how beautiful everything was looking. It was pretty as a picture! We got to our hotel room and we were even more amazed at the fabulous views our room had from both sides. We had lunch at Stacks Pub and dine outside and enjoy the view, but it was starting to get a little chilly. We started to realise that maybe Queenstown wasn’t going to be that warm after all.
Later that afternoon, we explored our way around the Hilton and walked around trying not to get lost! We were still in awe at how beautiful our surroundings were. The heavy pasta lunch was overly satisfying and carb-loaded so I wasn’t very hungry for dinner.
We had to be up super early for our Shotover Jetboat ride which was located outside of the city. We had a very quick breakfast at Wakatipu Grill and left early to allow ourselves plenty of time to get there. Shotover jet was freezing with the cold morning wind but it was absolutely the most incredible thrilling ride ever! I highly recommend this one- there are other jet boating places but Shotover Jet is said to be ‘New Zealand’s most thrilling boat ride’.
As much as I loved the experience, but I was freezing from the cold-water splashes and wind. We decided it was time to hit the shops for lunch and clothes-hunting. We made our way to the Queenstown CBD, we were expecting a huge mall coming from a big city like Sydney. I had a very interesting dish for lunch which was salmon ceviche. It was great, but I just wish I had something warm because I was still freezing inside from the Shotover Jet.
We explored Queenstown Gardens in the afternoon which was located very much in the heart of the CBD. It was pretty scenic and we both enjoyed the walk. After having a very satisfying dinner at Ballarat Co. We went to Minus Five Degrees Ice Bar. Thankfully, they had hoodies and gloves for us to wear before we enter the ice. It was fascinating to hear that all furniture (tables, chairs) were made from ice, even the glasses cocktail/ mocktails were served in! It was nice to be able to experience a cold temperature I had never been in previously, we lasted about 25 mins.
We took our time getting out of bed this morning as there was no booking to rush to. We started our day with a very big breakfast in the city (to fuel our hike at Queenstown Hills).
Neither of us expected it to be as intensive as it was because we are both pretty good when it comes to walking flat surfaces. The hike itself was not a long duration so we did not expect it to be super intensive. However, what we didn’t realise was that it demanded medium to high level fitness due to steep and uphill surfaces, as we discovered. It was incredibly challenging but overly rewarding because the views got better and better as we hiked up. I do like to call myself as being ‘pretty fit’ so I wasn’t going to give up so easily. We were determined to push our way up and made it to the top! We had each other and the view that kept us going and we loved the stunning view once we got to the top, we felt it was worth it. Luckily, the descend was much easier, we were able to do it in 35 mins (going up took over thrice the time). On our way back, I convinced the hubby that we would hike more this year and work on improving our fitness.
By the time we got back, most restaurants were starting to close or had closed. We were able to find one which was still open and it served perfect as a post-hike meal. We were pretty exhausted so we headed back to the hotel and relaxed for the rest of the night. We had dinner at Hilton’s Wakatipu Grill which was pretty fancy, as you would expect.
We started our day late as our heli tour wasn’t until about 11am. The heli tour had spectacular views, and also came with a surprise (snow landing). We didn’t think there was going be a snow landing so we were absolutely freezing in those few minutes. But the view was probably worth the cold.
We headed to the CBD afterwards for lunch. Unfortunately, it had started to rain so we didn’t get to walk around to explore a lunch place. We settled for what was closest to us which happened to be Japanese. The only Japanese food I have eaten a million times is sushi so I was excited to try other varieties in this cuisine. I absolutely loved the sashimi salmon don.
For the afternoon, we had booked for Walter’s Peak cruise and BBQ dinner after someone local had recommended it to us. It was still raining so it wasn’t very much cruise mood. They took us a to a lovely countryside place for buffet dinner which was pretty nice and we watched an hour of lamb shearing after dinner. It was a great to learn about how it’s done but we both felt the duration could have been shorter. The cruise itself was pretty uneventful, but we made some special memories that night so it’s going to be a cruise we will remember and cherish.
Today was Valentine’s Day. Hubs had planned a Skyline dinner for us ages ago; he made sure he booked well in advance and secured us a spot. We had nothing on until the afternoon so we took our time getting out of bed. We did not want to drive all the way into the city for brekkie so we went for the buffet breakfast at Wakatipu grill again. In our attempt to burn it off, we went for a short hike following the Queenstown trail to increase our capacity for the buffet. We also opted for a light soup lunch because we wanted to save space for our big buffet Skyline dinner.
We took the Gondola up to get to the restaurant. The view from up there was absolutely breathtaking. It was however very cold and windy, so we found it hard to be outdoors for long. The buffet dinner itself was outstanding; I don’t think I can think of a time in my life where I had eaten so much! They had a huge variety and covered many cuisines, I tried to make sure I covered most of them. We were absolutely stuffed by the end and in food coma #thestrugglewasreal.
We had an early start this morning because today was our Milford Sound tour. We were very much excited to be seeing the 8th wonder of the world, but did not like the idea of spending 12 hours on the bus. I had planned on staying awake to watch the scenery but we both fell asleep multiple times. The driver made sure to stop at the scenic spots and gave us time to hop off and take photos.
Milford Sound was very beautiful; the photos I took honestly don’t do justice to how it looks in real life. The ferry ride was very chilly, I tried to spend some of it indoors and be out for some time to take photos. It was a very exhaustive ride back. We got dropped off at a far location from our hotel, we just decided to walk there instead (probably was about 3km). We got back to our hotel just before 9:30pm and packed our bags as our stay at Hilton had come to an end.
We started our journey to Lake Tekapo which is located 250 km from Queenstown. Unfortunately, our navigator decided to take us on a detour and took us to a private road which is sometimes closed off (we realised something was fishy when it landed us at a salmon fishery!) But at least we were able to enjoy the lookout stops on the way and had lunch in a little town called Twizel.
My favourite stop was Lake Pukaki, the colour of the water was absolutely breathtaking. I was expecting to see some beautiful scenary but I had no idea it was going to be in my favourite colour teal, which made it even better.
We checked into our resort in the afternoon which ended up being a two-bedroom townhouse with multiple living areas. I found it quite hard to adjust despite having a much bigger space, perhaps because we had the Hilton Standard in our minds. Since we did not have long here, we wanted to make sure we have dinner at a well rated restaurant. We ended up going to Kohan restaurant which is rated #1 in the region on TripAdvisor. There was a bit of a wait to get a table, but the food was so worth it. The teriyaki salmon I had was very flavoursome. I wasn’t feeling too well (possibly fatigue and adjusting from the luxury at Hilton), so we headed home for an early night.
We started our day with buffet breakfast at the Bluewater Resort. Again, we thought the variety of food choices weren’t enough, but they had pancakes on the menu which kept us pretty happy (both of love pancakes). After fuelling ourselves with brekkie, it was time to hit the road to Queenstown again. We made an effort to stop at the lookouts again, this time Lindis Pass being my favourite.
After reaching Queenstown, we looked around to find a relatively fancy place that was still open for lunch. I decided to be little adventurous than usual and tried Paua shell which is a native food. We checked in to our last hotel at Rydges and took a long nap to recover from the drive- this was one of the best naps I’ve ever had.
For dinner, we explored options on TripAdvisor for a well-rated seafood restaurant. I decided to try something a little different and went for pan-seared tuna which was delicious. To celebrate our last night, we went to a very popular patisserie that we had been eyeing for some time now. The passionfruit cheesecake we had was deeply satisfying and it nice to end our last night on a sweet note.
There was one place on our list where we really wanted to have breakfast. We tried coming here twice before but at the wrong hour. Unfortunately, the brekkie was quite pricey and did not end up tasting as good as I had hoped for. After breakfast, we had a quick look for souvenirs and headed back to our hotel and checked out for the final time. We wanted to leave us enough time to fuel up and return the car.
We got to the airport and had plenty of time so we decided to have lunch before we board. We treated ourselves with burger and pancakes. The compote was very sweet but both of us love pancakes so we didn’t mind. We had a final stop at the airport souvenir shop and caught our plane back to Sydney thinking about when the next getaway would be.
Queenstown is such a beautiful place and I will never forget how I felt when I first the majestic mountains. While our honeymoon ended up being more exploratory than the usual kind, we absolutely loved every bit of it. Also, glad to see our destination made it to top 10 honeymoon locations on Bruised Passport’s blog who happen to be one of my favourite travel bloggers. I’d definitely recommended travelling during summer months (November-February), unless you want to experience the freezing cold 😛
I got very sick two days before my flight so I was feeling rather cynical during the flight. Part of me was wishing I didn’t have to go; I just wanted to be in my bed. But seeing this amazing view as we descend made me pretty excited again. I told myself I will do everything I can to speed up my recovery and enjoy my time here.
We dropped off our luggage at our accommodation (Airbnb). We were feeling very hungry as it was almost 3pm. We ate at Brook St Pier and absolutely loved our lunch with a view. I loved the abundance of mushrooms in my dish!
We walked around the harbour to soak up more views; we all know that first day views are always the best!
We bought some groceries to make dinner and headed home early as it was getting very cold. Luckily, our cute cottage had a fireplace and one of my friends knew how to light a fire. While I tried to rest and keep warm, my girls made the most delicious pumpkin, red lentil and soup. It was one of the best I ever had and just what I needed for my throat!
Initially, we had planned to go to Wineglass Bay which is a long drive from Hobart. However, we decided not go as it would be too hectic to drive for 6 hours on the same day. Our plan B was to catch a cruise but we realised it would be super windy and might make our health worse. This also did not work out as none of us were feeling very well this morning so started our day quite late which left us enough time to have lunch and only see one place. We only had time for brunch and see either Richmond or mount Wellington.
I’m so glad we chose to go with Mount Wellington. The view was absolutely spectacular, so breathtaking! We were freezing- it was about to 6 degrees but the chill felt like 2 degrees (according to our phones).
I had my presentation the next day so I decided I needed to rest my body and stayed indoors that night. I drank lots of soup and tea with lemon and ginger and hoped for an overnight miracle recovery!
Today was the first day of conference and I presented my first ever oral at DAA. To be honest, it wasn’t quite how I imagined it to be. I would’ve liked to have a healthier voice to speak, but at the same time, we can only control so much, right?
On a brighter note, I managed to get through 15 mins without having a cough attack 😛
We felt very tired after a long day at the conference. We went home and had soup + roast chicken. One of my girls had her 25th birthday today. Unfortunately, all of us in the house had a rough start to our day so wasn’t able to do anything during the day. But as we all know that birthdays must end with cake, one of my other friends was able to find this beautiful Belgian chocolate and salted caramel roulade from one of the top patisseries in Hobart. It was very rich but deeply satisfying!
Since my sickness didn’t improve yesterday, I had almost given up. We had our workshop today in the afternoon and I feel like I could have done a better job. I was feeling a bit disappointed with myself but I realised, I should stop beating myself up over it. This is not the end of presentations, there will be many more to come. So it is completely okay if one does not go as planned. We finished a little early and hit the shops. We were walking into town to find a place for dinner and came across the cutest welcome message!
We lookedhard to find a nice place for dinner- this was supposed to be our big celebratory night so we wanted it to be something all of us would enjoy. I had planned to eat some Tasmanian salmon tonight but the sicker me ended up going with risotto when I saw it on the menu. I’m so obsessed with risotto, especially when I am sick. I must find it easy to go down. I’m so glad I did though because it was one of the best I’ve ever had, filled with a decent amount of eggplant, spinach and mushrooms (my favourite).
We came home and had some leftover cake from the previous night. Ending our last night with chocolate made it even more perfect 😉
Our checkout time was around midday so we needed to pack before we left. I always underestimate how long packing takes me. I thought there wouldn’t be much to pack as we had not purchased anything to take home at this point.
The weather was pretty spectacular today, didn’t have to wear my beanie and gloves for the first time!
After the conference was over, we went straight to Salamanca Markets. I had heard about this market from a few people, so was very excited to see an open-style market. Unfortunately, I could not purchase my souvenirs here as there were too many stalls, I found it hard to pick! Also, because some shops did not take card (tip for future self would be to carry cash to places like this!)
For lunch, we decided to try our luck at the famous café we had planned to come two days ago. Luckily, it was a short walk from the markets. Their menu was outstanding- I couldn’t decide what I wanted to eat. In the end, I decided to go with a dish that had salmon so I can get it off my list. This was one of the places on my bucket list and having salmon here just made it even better. I felt very satisfied after finally getting some Tasmanian salmon in my belly. For anyone who’s in Hobart, I highly recommend you visit this place- they have awesome savoury and sweets! You will not be disappointed 🙂
To make up for my lack of souvenirs, I shopped at the airport before I hopped on to the plane.
Overall, the last couple of days have been so incredible and has gone by so quick! I’m honestly so grateful for all the wonderful experiences I’m getting from my PhD journey. I always find conferences to be so great because it opens my mind and helps me put my work in perspective. Now it’s time to go back to work and THINK BIG for Sydney. I’ve always been and will be a Sydney girl, so can’t wait to showcase our city to the rest of the dietitians around the country 🙂
As for Tassie, I know my adventures here aren’t over yet, in fact this is just the beginning! I’d love to come back someday and explore more because this trip has made me realise how much there is to see in this beautiful land.
Travel month: May
Where we stayed: with Airbnb on Barrack Street (historical workers’ cottage)