Made it to Melbourne

Oskar and I were going to take the coastal road from Sydney to Melbourne which would have been 14 hours and split over a 1 nites stay. But after 2 hours of hauling the trailer that carried the coach boat, worrying about the bad transmission during ascents and not even seeing water views from the road we decided to take the express route. Once on the highway, driving was easy. Unfortunately when it got to 1 in the morning and we were looking for a hotel to crash in there was absolutely no vacancy. We pulled off at one of the few and far between gas stations to ask the gas attendant if he knew of any. His reply was that this was the busiest strip of road in Australia and we had no chance of finding a bed to sleep in. So we drove for a couple more hours then pulled off and slept in the car... yuck. We left Sydney at around 8pm and arrived Melbourne 11am.

Since we arrived a day early we did not have a hotel room booked for that evening. We really lucked out and got a great room at "Cosmopoltan Hotel" in St. Kilda. The service was incredible, staff happy, and our room (for 120 AUS) was the nicest I've stayed in for the price. King size bed with soft sheets, a flat screen tv, modern clean furnishings and a slick bathroom fully stocked with luxury soaps, gels, and shampoos. Wireless internet was 15 bucks a nite, parking was free, and there was a restaurant in the base of the hotel that provided room service. I'd highly recommend anyone visiting Melbourne to book a room at The Cosmopolitan. http://www.cosmopolitanhotel.com.au/
The neighbourhood is St. Kilda, which I absolutely love. Melbourne itself is a great surprise. Arts, Culture, and the quality of food/coffee as if you were in Europe.

So we were lucky enough to sleep 1 nite in The Cosmopolitan. We are now housed in the hotel down the street "Easy Stay" on Aucland street. A big disapoint after our great experience at the Cosmo. Staff at Easy Stay were short and curt. They were strigent on check-in times... We arrived 1/2 an hour early and they wouldn't let a check in. They charged 8 bucks a night for parking. Internet was available if we plugged into the phone line and had a AUS IP address (no) then they charged 75 cents per call/connection that you made. Our room was disapointing with white wash walls, no design attention, and starchy sheets. The bathroom was nice with enviro-friendly pumps for all shaving cream/soap/moisture/shampoo. The street noise was awful and our view was of a white-washed brick wall. Double Yuck, Considering that this hotel was the same price as the Cosmopolitan.


Avoca Beach

5 minutes drive from Terrigal is Avoca Beach. An incredibly beautiful beach, clean pristine and only a handle of people were there when we visited. Marsh land on oneside which reminded me of the Florida Everglades and great surfing ocean on the other made this my favorite beach that we have visited since coming to Sydney.
Less developed than Terrigal interms of a downtown with restaurants, its a brief drive and a doable bike ride down to Terrigals' center. Well worth a visit.


Located about 1 1/2 hours north of sydney is the town of Terrigal. A low key beach town where many sydneyer's have cottages. It was a great getaway weekend from the city. Beaches were less dense and fresh seafood served by the waterside was quite reasonable.
"Onda" Ristorante Italiano along the water (150 Terrigal Drive) offered a great lunch special with 2 courses and a glass of wine for $40 dollars. For the Primi, I had the Rosemary beef skewers with rocket, Pukara estate olive dressing & parmesan. And for the Secondi, I had the Char grilled line caught swordfish with pearl bocconcini, vine ripened tomatoes, asparagus & lemon dressing
Both were very good.
For more information go to http://www.onda.com.au/
Oskar and I had wanted to do the lunch special at their other restaurant"The Cowrie"(109 Scenic Hwy), but they were fully booked... So I would suggest making a reservation. Their website is http://www.thecowrie.com.au/
Pictured below is one of our meals from a casual seaside restaurant. Grilled seafood platter with salad and local oysters.

Sydney Skyline

Pictures taken from the Ferry that goes from Mosman Wharf to Circular Quay/The Rocks, Sydney.

Royal Botanic Gardens

Great respite from the city. Fill up on greenery, fragrant flowers, and plenty of benches to sip your latte. The gardens also feature movies in the park during the summer.

Art Gallery of NSW

Daytrip to downtown Sydney...Highlight of the day was our visit to the Art Gallery of NSW. Highlight of the gallery were the fantastic original oil paintings by Brett Whiteley. All three are pictured below. More of his work can be viewed at his website:
A few weekends ago I visited Brett Whiteley's Gallery in Surry Hills and was impressed with the space and the high quality of the current show. It was an exhibition of finalists of "Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship". All of the artists are between the age of 20-30. The winner of the show Nathan Hawkes, created 12 small grayscale paintings of icebergs. They were quiet in comparison to the large scale colorful canvases surrounding his work.

At the Art Gallery of NSW the aboriginal art was also quite interesting, unfortunately the gallery doesn't allow photos of the aboriginal art. The cafeteria in the base of the gallery was good. I tried the tapas plate with various dips, olives, and bread. Great for the price.
Please excuse the poor quality of the pictures below. The Art Gallery of NSW doesn't allow flash in the Gallery so I had to make do with the existing lite.

Then:Military Barracks, Now:Art Studios

Took a hike up to these former military barracks, now artist studios, Headland Park-Georges Heights. The site offers beautiful views of Chowder Bay, yummy treats at "the barn" cafe, and some new art at the gallery and various artists that have there studios there. For more information about the tenants of Headland Park click on

Balmoral at Nite

Went down to the bay to take some nite shots during a nite time storm. Unfortunately I wasn't quick enough to capture the lightning lines. Beautiful nonetheless. I'm going to miss this place when in a couple of days Oskar and I are moving South of Sydney to Bondi Junction.


Blue Mountains

Visited the Blue Mountains this weekend. The eucalyptus oil from all the trees is what makes the mountains appear so blue. Located about an hour west of Sydney, we stopped through the 2 towns of Leura and Katoomba. In Katoomba we popped in at The Micheal White Gallery. Micheal White is a landscape painter tht grew up in the Blue Mountain region. He is self taught and incredibly talented. I fell in love with his paintings and can't wait to go to his next opening in december. You can see his work at http://www.michaelwhiteart.com/

Pictured below are the famous three sisters. "The Aboriginal dream-time legend has it that three sisters, 'Meehni', 'Wimlah' and Gunnedoo' lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe. These beautiful young ladies had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry. The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters causing a major tribal battle.
As the lives of the three sisters were seriously in danger, a witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe took it upon himself to turn the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. While he had intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, the witchdoctor himself was killed. As only he could reverse the spell to return the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle for generations to come." (referenced from http://www.bluemts.com.au/tourist/thingsToDo/threeSisters.asp)
The Three Sisters are 922, 918 & 906 metres tall, respectively. That's over 3000 feet above sea level


Taragona Zoo

Took a hike over to Taragona Zoo on Sunday. Usually I'm not one to visit a zoo, but because of many recommendations I decided to. Price tag of 40 bucks was hefty but once in, I was glad that I came. I should note that there are some ways to get discounts; ordering tix online saves 2 bucks a ticket, using a mastercard to pay for the tixs saves you 15%, or if you are a student you get 17 dollars off ticket price). Not only did the zoo boast incredible views of downtown sydney, the opera house, and bridge, but the amount of animals and facilities were impressive. My favorite exhibits where the birds, apes, and seeing a koola was neat as well.
All the koolas were asleep, but it's to be expected since they sleep 20 hours and eat for 4. The aboriginals thought that the koolas slept this much because they were drunk from the formented eucalyptus leaves, but not true. Apparently eucalyptus leaves are very hard to digest, so their bodies shutdown to digest their food.

I had to put this last photo in. Oskar was trying to get a picture of the stuffed koala but caught what looks like a very naught act.

Curl Curl Beach

Drove North this weekend and checked out some other beaches. Beautiful with surfers everywhere.
After stopping at Curl Curl Beach (pictured below) we drove to the North Head of Sydney Harbor and spotted 2 Humback Whales, either a mother and child or male and female, cause one was quite a bit larger than the other. It was exciting since it's my first whale sighting in Sydney. They can usually be seen here from May - October then migrate down to Antartica.


Growing Roots in Sydney

Made it safetly to Sydney and have settled in Oskar and Mine's new accomodation in Balmoral(house pictured below), just north of Sydney. We are a half a block away from the beach, cafes/restaurants, and art classes just up the hill. Needless to say, I'm in heaven. Instead of pigeons and rats they have parots and spiders. I haven't seen any spiders yet, but I have seen some really incredible birds. Like this colored parrot pictured below. He and his partner were collecting seeds from the tree in our front yard. I've also seen a really large white cuckatoo (which made loud screeching noises) and a couple of kuckaberras (not photographed below).

I've started my art classes at NSA, Northshore School of Art and am really happy with it so far. My teacher has given loads of information on local contemporary artists and some history on native art. I'm going to ART SYDNEY next weekend which should give me a really good grasp on contemporary art in NSW. Looking forward to it. She also told me about these long weekend trips that drive you into the desert, camp, and paint/photograph desert scenes; which sounds incredible. I'll look into that.

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