Life is a Highway

I like to book trips so far in advance that even the nine-month notice period of a wedding invitation wasn’t enough to curb an overlap. We had booked a glamping experience on the south coast of NSW for three nights (Monday to Thursday) and had initially planned to drive down from Sydney over the weekend, stopping in with friends and family along the way. The wedding was on Sunday…in Geelong. So, we kept our accommodation and started the drive on Thursday…

Thursday: Sydney -> Canberra
Friday: Canberra -> Paynesville
Saturday: Paynesville -> Geelong
Sunday: Geelong
Monday: Geelong -> Tanja Lagoon Camp
Tuesday: Tanja Lagoon Camp
Wednesday: Tanja Lagoon Camp
Thursday: Tanja Lagoon Camp -> Sydney

While it’s no secret that I love a road trip, this was a particularly wonderful one. Apart from the thrill of spending the night with a wonderful friend (Paynesville), having the privilege of witnessing one of my dearest friends tie the knot (Geelong) and getting to spend my best friend’s Birthday with her in one of the most beautiful locations (Tanja Lagoon Camp), we got to drive some of the most stunning landscapes in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, and Victoria.

Turning off the Hume Highway to Queanbeyan in the gorgeous glow of golden hour; making our way down a deserted Monaro Highway early in the morning; weaving through the country with sprawling fields of golden canola; winding up the coast with turquoise waves crashing on pristine white sand. Just perfect.


Lapping Up First Light at La Perouse

I have been searching for any opportunity to practice on the DSLR, to the point that creating one ended up being the best option. An early morning at La Perouse seemed like a good way to work on settings and composition with rapidly changing light. Luckily, it yielded some good shots.

A Saturday on the South Coast

Every now and then, I’ll tag along with one of my friends who likes exploring areas of Sydney (and beyond) that have randomly popped up in one of her social feeds. We never know if the effort is going to be worthwhile but, at the very least, the adventure will make for a great story.

One Saturday, she picked me up at 5am and didn’t drop me home until 7pm. Everything in between was soaking up the south coast of NSW, including sunrise, beaches, hikes, cliffs, rocks, ocean, waterfalls, and sunset, as well as some of the most beautiful roads and scenery:

– Sea Cliff Bridge
– Port Kembla beach
– Nellie’s Glen
– Kiama Blowhole
– Bombo

We hugged the coast, we went inland; we saw the ocean stretch on for miles, we saw trees stretch up for metres; we saw the ocean creating salty spray and crashing waves on the rocks, we saw freshwater winding its way through the forest and cascading down in beautiful waterfalls; we saw the sunrise out of the ocean, we saw the sunset behind the mountains.

It’s hard to believe that just 60-90 minutes out of Sydney lies such varied and stunning scenery. From the beautiful engineering feat of the Sea Cliff Bridge to the gorgeous colours from a sunset at Bombo quarry, this was a gorgeous day. Who says you can’t wanderlust after your own backyard?

Intensely Inspiring Iceland

On our last big trip, Iceland was probably the country I was looking forward to most. I’d been to the UK and the USA previously and we weren’t spending long enough in Singapore to treat it as a real destination.

At first, it seemed like an interesting stopover between London and New York City but the more I investigated, the more intrigued I became. So many stunning natural wonders and phenomenon made our measly five days seem like a joke compared to how much time it would take to fully explore this Nordic island nation.

We chose to drive ourselves as tours would have either meant a less intimate experience, a more expensive trip, or the frustration of not being able to do things at your own pace. After spending five days driving in terrible weather and in the snow (with no prior experience of icy conditions), I don’t think we would do that again. It was an amazing way to see the many beautiful sights Iceland has to offer but it’s worth investing in a driver or a professional tour guide to avoid being utterly terrified on the open road.

At one point, we were crawling down an 80km/h main road at 30km/h because the snow was thick on the ground and still falling, visibility faded in and out with the fog, and the wind was blowing a gale. But then we’d look out the window and see white mountains with streaks of blue where waterfalls had frozen. We’d drive over bridges where clear water was trickling underneath and tiny icebergs were floating with it. We’d see bodies of water frozen over and wonder how thick the ice was and if it would hold our vehicle, should we go sliding down the embankment.

The weather in Iceland changed so quickly and so drastically that I’m glad we didn’t get any further from Reykjavik than Vik because I’m not sure if we would have gotten back in time for our flight. One morning was glorious and sunny, hours later the rain was pelting down and just hours after that, there was a thick layer of snow across all the green meadows we had driven past earlier. The extremes meant we got to see how beautiful this country was in sun and in snow. Absolutely spectacular.

My top five moments from our five nights in Iceland:

  1. Seeing dark and angry waves foaming and crashing beyond just beyond snow-draped plains.
  2. Standing in the warmth of the Blue Lagoon with a silica mud mask under a starlit sky as snow started falling.
  3. Basking in the wonder of Gullfoss, a spectacular waterfall surrounded by ice and snow in the waning light of day.
  4. Winding our way through mountains, roads, and fields draped in snow before reaching the summit and seeing the ocean, dark clouds looming overhead, and the light of the setting sun illuminating it all.
  5. Spending the night in a bubble in the middle of a forest as snow fell on the pine trees around us.

Gliding Down the Great Ocean Road

Two years ago, I finally visited the Great Ocean Road with some friends. While I was most interested in the destinations I had pinned out (Cape Otway, 12 Apostles, Lorne, Apollo Bay), I didn’t expect that one of the greatest pleasures would be in the drive itself. Lush green meadows, tree-lined roads, sheer cliffs on one side and ocean (in the most spectacular shades of blue) on the other.

As an avid explorer, I very rarely return to places I’ve already been but, this past weekend, I did just that and found myself back on one of the most scenic drives I have ever taken. Just an hour south of Avalon airport, the rural country roads give way to breathtaking scenery and the views from the car areΒ almost as wonderful as those from the stops along the way.

Last time, we focused on the road between Lorne and Port Campbell. This time, it was Geelong to Lorne. We stayed at Aireys Inlet, did some paddle-boating in Anglesea, stopped off at Queenscliff, Barwon Heads, and Bells Beach, and trekked along the coastline in between.

Given my affinity with lighthouses, I was most excited to be staying right beside Split Point Lighthouse, which Australians of a certain age may recognise as the one made famous by Round the Twist. Our holiday rental featured sweeping coastal views from each bedroom, as well as the kitchen/dining/lounge area and outdoor deck, which made for plenty of photo opportunities.

In our two nights, we saw stunning sunrises, sunsets, tidal changes, and had one beautifully clear night, on which I captured my first ever starlit sky. And, following on from such a fantastic stay, we’ve decided this will be our annual retreat. It’s serene, stunning, and simply spectacular… After all, what’s the point of discovering amazing places if you can’t go back to enjoy them?