Before we hit Brisbane we stopped into Yamba, for an overnight to catch up with family that was camping at Dolphin Caravan Park.
It’s quiet, the breaks are known to be some of the best in Australia, and you are not fighting for waves. Of an evening you can chill out and give your body time to rejuvenate to prepare for another day of surfing. There are no wild night club hot spots here, no wild drunken debauchery or louts tearing up the streets. It’s early to bed here and early to rise to greet a usual warm, sunny day. It’s a one street town of cafes and restaurants sitting under shady trees that are chilled out, yet classy, and boast delicious meals.
We can vouch for the Wato’s fish and chips on the corner. Not your usual fish and chip shop with Pluto pups and frozen calamari rings. Whatever is cooked here is made from scratch: potato and sweet potato scallops, mouth-watering calamari and then there are the seafood dishes that you’ll never find anywhere in another take away chipper: seafood laksa and coconut curry.
Sunset is said to be the magical time to be sitting on the deck watching the sky wash over in orange and pink hues. Yamba is of course famous for seafood, particularly prawns. If you climb up to the lighthouse hill of an evening and look back down the river you’ll see the lights of the trawler boats prawning for the evening.
You have 16 pristine beaches to choose from in the area. We walked from the breakwall past Turner’s Beach to Main Beach. The surf looked clean and like it was breaking nicely to my novice-surfie eyes. Why the waves were empty of surfers then I do not know, but if you love catching waves, then you should just bypass Byron and forget the crowds and surf here.
There was no one around, the walk was stunning and we had the beach to ourselves when we arrived. If all of that isn’t enough, Yamba also has pods of friendly dolphins and is a hot spot for whale watching. The town has the look and air of a place that is modernizing itself. It’s modern and classy yet still retains that old-world feeling to it. It’s the slowness, the gentleness of its people who stop to say hi and chat to friends and strangers on the street.
It’s also the old buildings like the iconic Pacific Hotel that sits on the cliff faces with the best views in town for a schooner. It has the look of a place in desperate need of a reno, but doesn’t look like it would happen to soon, and you don’t really want it to. And then the movie theatre, just one old building with a small shop front, its sound and atmosphere worth experiencing. The next day we rose and jumped back in the car to head for home.
Five and a half hours on the M1 we hit out designation, situated 10 kilometres north of the Sydney CBD; Chatswood which is a shopping and foodie hub. Days could be spent eating in Chatswood, tasting all there is on offer; however, we only had a few hours.
After a little pre-visit research we hit Chatswood Chase, which is a large upscale shopping centre located at the eastern edge of the Chatswood central business district on Victoria Avenue. The centre features a major three level David Jones department store, Kmart, Coles Supermarket, Harvey Norman plus over 120 specialty stores, most of them upmarket and fashion oriented. The centre is situated over four levels. It’s an unofficial scientific fact that shopping makes you hungry, so it makes sense that Chatswood’s cluster of shopping centres. We started the food crawl with a shot of coffee at the train station-side Steam Engine cafe. Run by self-confessed coffee geeks, it opened on the first day of September and is serving up serious Toby’s Estate coffee, a custom blend and various single origins.
We headed to Khao Pla, which has been the hottest meal ticket in Chatswood since opening in July last year. Highlights from the Thai menu include sticky tamarind pork ribs and chilli-hot sashimi scallops. Sweet, milky Thai iced-tea is the key to taming the authentic chilli-levels. New Shanghai is another ever-popular option – both the aforementioned Lemon Grove branch, and the more upmarket Chatswood Chase site. The most sought after dish on the extensive menu is excellent pan-fried crab and pork buns.
After having a look we headed to the main street along the beachfront, which is Campbell Parade, where we found a range of stylish surf and fashion shops, outdoor cafes and bars. It’s a popular meeting place for Sydney’s cafe society. The main streets leading back from the beach are Hall Street, Roscoe Street, Curlewis Street and Beach Road. Hall Street has cool fashion and designer labels while Curlewis Street has many art galleries.
Being a Sunday, the grounds of the local public school hosted the Bondi Beach Markets, a flea market where you may pick up some bargains including locally produced jewellery, handicrafts and vintage clothing. Empty wallet later we headed to find a bit to eat.
We took a walk up the steep, higgledy-piggledy streets of The Rocks sprawl out to the western side of Circular Quay and the viewed the imposing steel arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We then wandered around the harbour foreshore, from the iconic Opera House on one side to just beneath the bridge. We visited the Pylon Lookout
Kim had to explore the boutiques and I killed time in some of the galleries. We were lucky that we came on Saturday, as the markets you’ll find everything from stylish, hand-crafted jewelry to gourmet bush tucker condiments.
During our walk to the Mrs Macquarie’s Point, we had to take some detours as there was construction work going on. The walk ended in, what seemed to be the end tip of the island.
We didn’t see the chair (actually, we didn’t bother to look for it), we saw people looking over the bay gawking at the Opera House, photographers setting up there tripods and some just taking a stroll. There was a cold breeze flowing from the bay, it was strong enough to knock our tripods off but rather pleasant enough for us to stand and enjoy it and take in the view ahead.
It’s one of the best places to see the panoramic view of the Sydney’s iconic performing arts venue with the Harbour Bridge in the background.
The theme of the initial exhibition is Australia’s Navy in Peace and War, and it emphasises the operational Navy over its history and Navy’s people, who have always been central to what Navy is and represents. Kim ran amuck playing with the periscope which overlooked the harbor while I chatted with the volunteers. One of the volunteers helped pass of a few photos of my dad’s ships he was posted to. We took a walk around the grounds and jumped back on the ferry to Watson Bay.
We made a decision to head for drinks at the Blu Bar on 36 at the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney. As the name suggests, the cocktail lounge is located high above the city, on level 36 of the prestigious 5-star-hotel, allowing guests to enjoy breathtaking views of Darling Harbour, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Sounds too expensive? Surprisingly it isn’t. The beers are all priced around 10 AU$ and glasses of wine start at 12 AU$. Just make sure you get there straight after they open at 5 pm, in order to get the best seats directly in front of the windows, which usually are taken very quickly. So we stayed in this marvelous place for quite a while, drinking cocktails, soaking in the fantastic views and watching the sun go down over the city. Was a beautiful spot to relax, after a busy day of sightseeing was definitely one worth visiting.
Today we decided to head into the CBD. First stop was Sydney’s Paddy’s Markets at Haymarket is located just beside Chinatown’s main street Dixon Street, on the ground floor of the Market City Building. Paddy’s Markets is one of Sydney’s largest markets with a wide variety of goods ranging from fresh produce to souvenirs and cheap imported clothing and accessories. Paddy’s Markets is a great place to get cheap souvenirs, clothes, imitation bags and gifts. You can get lost in the rows and rows of shops all selling similar stuff. As Paddy’s Market is popular with people like us, tourist, remember to bargain with the storeowner to avoid getting ripped off. Nevertheless, it is an excellent one-stop centre to get all the souvenirs you need to gather dust back when you get home.
Woke up nice and early and packed the car and started heading back to Brisbane. Our next stop was going to be Coffs Harbour. Follow Blog under Coffs Harbour.