LENNOX HEADS, NSW

 

LENNOX HEADS

 

Another trip down Northern NSW again to Lennox Heads. The weather was superb and we had good company exploring the Heads, Beach, Lake, Café’s, Byron and Markets
We stayed in a modern two storey cabin boasting an impressive covered entertaining deck. The property was positioned on the eastern slopes of Figtree Hill.
Despite its many attributes, Lennox Head is often overlooked, as it’s located roughly 20 minutes south of iconic Byron Bay and 10 minutes north of the much larger town of Ballina. I’m sure that’s just how the locals like it too, particularly as it’s also home to interesting history, pristine beaches, fluffy meadows, tea tree lakes and a town packed with good cafes and shops.
Situated at the northern end of town is Lake Ainsworth, a tea tree-stained dunal lake that’s named after early settler and sugar cane grower James Ainsworth. It’s a superb spot for a swim or, a canoe and it’s great for kids as it’s virtually always calm. The lake is considered by many to have healing properties. It’s also a favourite with stand-up paddle boarders and there’s picnic and BBQ facilities near the shore.
At the southern end of Seven Mile Beach, out the front of Rayner Lane, lies the remains of an old tea tree fence. This was built sometime in the early to mid 1900s by Fred Hutley to stop the sea spilling into the lake during tempestuous weather
.
Saturday morning we found WilliamsBurg perched quite aptly on the corner of William St and another street that I can’t remember the name of (but if you’re super curious it is the one that runs along the beach front) of Lennox Head. We made our way inside, sat down, looked at menus and ordered some breakfast. After visiting WilliamsBurg for the first time we declare on other social media that there was not one single thing about our experience that I did not love. The bacon and egg burger were to die for.
We dropped into the Lennox bakery and ordered and couple of rolls for lunch, drove to the caravan park and picked up permits and beach passes and headed to Seven Mile Beach for a day of fishing, swimming and relaxing. The dogs had a blast, the fish weren’t biting and later in the afternoon the wind picked up so we headed back.
That night we headed to Lennox Head’s original pizza and pasta restaurant for dinner. Wings, garlic bread, pasta and pizza were on the cards. All fabulous and was a great night out.
The Sunday we headed into Byron Bay’s Community Market, which is held at the Butler Street reserve. It is one of the best in the region. Covering several acres, the market offers a vast array of handcrafted wares, locally-grown produce, and artworks of every kind. It’s best to get there early and allow a few hours to take in all the stalls, indulge in some fresh food and culture. We left the girls explore and the guys with the dogs headed into town to find the best coffee in Byron. An espresso bar, Barefoot Brew Room was tucked away down a small laneway in central Byron Bay. Coffee found, time to pick the girls up and make way for breakfast. We dropped into Twisted Sista. I won’t go into it because it’s not worth rating at all. Too expensive, crap food, crap service. We then headed and made and afternoon looking and the hang gliders at Pat Morton lookout.

 

Monday morning we dropped into Lime Café, Lennox Head.  This innocuous little cafe was a real gem. Service was friendly and attentive. Breakfast was amazing (serves were actually too big) but perfect poached eggs.  We then took the scenic drive past Potsville, Kingscliffe and back home. 

 

BALLINA, NSW

BALLINA


We had decided to go to the Childer’s Festival, but a last minute change of plans, we decided to head to Ballina for four days.

Ballina is a bustling holiday town and home of the Big Prawn, one of Australia’s iconic big things. Situated at the mouth of the beautiful Richmond River, Ballina is also blessed with gorgeous beaches and great surf.

The streets of downtown Ballina are lined with stylish cafes and restaurants, classic country pubs and modern clubs that offer first class dining and entertainment. There are pools, parks and entertainment centres offering loads of fun for the kids, and you can visit museums, galleries, expos and festivals bursting with the vibrant works of local craftspeople. There are antique and curio shops and, for the dedicated shopaholic, a mind-boggling choice of boutiques and designer stores.

The coastline is a beach lover’s dream with sheltered coves, vast ocean beaches and some of the world’s finest surf breaks. The beach fishing is legendary and if you wet a line from the North or South Wall, you’ll be in for a reel treat!!

With a quick couple of hours on the highway we took a detour and dropped into The Macadamia Castle, which has been the area’s most popular activity destination for over 40 years. We then headed back on the highway and over the South Ballina barge to Ballina Beach Village. 



The Ballina Beach Village, Dolphin Bay at South Ballina is a relaxing eco destination and was dog friendly. We were able to take our dog Shari into a cabin.


We unpacked the car and decided to let Shari have a good run at the nearby dog beach. Patchs Beach is located 15 minutes south of Ballina and 5 minutes from the local township of Wardell.  The area is a popular seaside getaway and is famous for its ocean and river fishing with full 4WD access. Shari loved it and enjoyed the open space and meeting a couple of doggy friends on the way. We headed back after a couple of hours and played with Shari in the park, then cooked up and Barbie dinner.

The next day we were up bright and early with a drive to Ballina’s Big Prawn, which is one of Australia’s iconic big things.

Built in 1989, the Big Prawn has undergone a makeover and was reopened in July 2013. It now has a tail, and is situated adjacent to Bunnings Warehouse on River Street.


We then took a drive up to Lighthouse Hill and spotted some whales and dolphins swimming by. After a couple of photos of the lighthouse we headed back to the Spit at the dog friendly section. We saw many dogs running around and playing in the water, Shari was over excited on joining them. We let her loose and she bolted to see each dog as many times as she could. We spend a good couple of hours letting her run, because she wouldn’t come back to us anyway. Finally she tired enough to catch her and put the lead back on and we headed back to the car and into the centre of town so Kim could look at some shops. 



The main street is small enough and with a couple of boutiques to interest Kim into buying a couple of things. We then headed to the side by side main Shopping Centres, but no interest in them what so ever.  Back to the caravan park late afternoon, Kim played with Shari and I took a drive to the south wall. Great fishing spots with plenty of people lined up catching Bream, Whiting.

The next day we headed first to Lighthouse Lookout to spot more whales before heading to Boulder Beach. Boulder Beach can be found on The Coast Road, between Ballina and Byron Bay. There is a gorgeous headland where you can sit at sunset and watch the guys catching some waves in the water below. It is an unusual beach as the foreshore is covered in black, smooth boulders, which is an interesting element to add to your photos. At low tide you can explore the rock pools below the headland which also is a great spot for interesting foreground elements in photos. Generally this is a great spot for sunrise but it can be really beautiful at sunset too. 

We then headed to the top of Lennox Point, Pat Morton Lookout, which had extensive views especially to the North stretching up Seven Mile Beach.  We did a bit of whale watching and dolphin spotting. It is the best vantage point for watching the surfers at its famous right hand break. Many of photos we headed down into Lennox Heads. 

We bypassed the town and kept going onto Byron Bay. Byron is one of our favourite spots and we try to get there at least twice a year.  It is really a fabulous holiday destination for everyone. There is something to cater for everyone’s tastes. Although I have to admit when we go it is all about the beach, the pub and the organic donuts!  This is broken up with bouts of shopping for Kim. 


There is nothing better than shopping on holidays for Kim. New shops to explore and you usually have the time to browse at a leisurely pace, while Shari get pats waiting patiently outside. Shopping in Byron Bay doesn’t disappointfrom the array of unique shops and boutiques along Jonson, Lawson and Fletcher Streets, to the Arts and Industry Estate. 


After a few hours we headed back to the car and made our way back to Lennox Heads. Lennox Head is a quiet seaside village situated at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach between Ballina and Byron Bay. It’s named after the headland that stands sentinel at its southern gateway.

Lennox Head has a great coastal village atmosphere, with a main street full of boutiques, cafes, restaurants. We dropped into the markets first then back to the main streets for a look at the boutiques. The surfers know Lennox Head for its internationally famous right hand point break, and the hang-gliders love the place for the sensational views when they take off from Pat Morton Lookout. From the main street we spotted the hang-gliders and headed to the lookout.

Late afternoon we headed back and packed up, then next day we headed back to Brisbane. Was a fantastic weekend to get away from the traffic and noise. The soft sound of the waves breaking in the distance made the best nights sleep in ages. Looking forward heading back in a couple of months.


//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=ra-59a0a83bbefaf8c1

CANBERRA, ACT AUSTRALIA

CANBERRA, ACT AUSTRALIA



Canberra is a city that’s often skipped by people who visit Australia. I think it’s not wrong to assume that some people don’t even know that Canberra exists, focused as they are on Sydney, Melbourne or the golden beaches of the east coast. People who do visit Canberra, however, are usually surprised by the amount of landmarks, monuments and museums in the city. Just like the vast majority of capital cities in the world, Canberra is home to the country’s national museums and parliament. Though unlike most capital cities, Canberra is a completely artificial city, in the sense that everything in it was planned. Canberra was designed in 1912 by the architect Walter Burley Griffin who pictured it as a garden city that would be able to house about 25,000 people. Nowadays, it is home to many gardens, a huge artificial lake (Lake Burley Griffin) and tree-lined avenues; its population has grown to 300,000.

We stayed at Alivio Tourist Park, in one of their villas. They were only 4kms from the Canberra Centre, surrounded by bushland with great facilities and a great Café and Bar. In hindsight I would stay in the CBD next time around. We didn’t do much because we arrived late afternoon and decided to chill by the pool and read up on what to do for the week.






Next day arrived and our first stop for the day was a tour of the Australian Institute Of Sport.  We were really looking forward to the AIS and it didn’t disappoint.




When we toured the complex we were fortunate enough to see some professional athletes training. There were 7ft volleyballers practicing their spiking, swimmers doing laps (including Olympic gold medalist Alicia Coutts), the U18 Soccer team were stretching in the gym and the Australian men’s Gymnastics team were doing a mock competition. Our experience was rounded off with a session in ‘Sportex’, a hands on interactive room loaded with sports memorabilia and activities.

The next day after breakfast we jumped on a bus and strolled through suburban Canberra until we reached the Australian War Memorial. The walk took about 30 minutes. It was very interesting walking along the wide tree-lined roads with their one storey houses. The one thing that was really irritating though, was that a lot of the streets either had no pavements at all or just one on the one side. This really is a city for the car (not very green). Everything is really spread out and you can’t walk from one thing to another easily (no pavements and long distances). Anyway, we made it to our destination.

The Australian War Memorial is Australia’s national memorial to the members of all its armed forces and supporting organizations who have died or participated in the wars of the Commonwealth of Australia. The memorial includes an extensive national military museum so it is more like a cross between the Imperial War Museum and the Cenotaph. The Australian War Memorial was opened in 1941, and is widely regarded as one of the most significant memorials of its type in the world.

The Memorial is located at the northern terminus of the city’s ceremonial land axis, which stretches from Parliament House on Capital Hill along a line passing through the summit of the cone-shaped Mount Ainslie to the northeast. No continuous roadway links the two points, but there is a clear line of sight from the front balcony of Parliament House to the War Memorial, and from the front steps of the War Memorial back to Parliament House. We took some photographs from this end, having already photographed the War Memorial from the other end yesterday.

The Australian War Memorial consists of three parts: the Commemorative Area (shrine) including the Hall of Memory with the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier, the Memorial’s galleries (museum) and Research Centre (records). The Memorial also has an outdoor Sculpture Garden. We made our way through the sculpture garden taking some photographs on the way. Kim’s favourite was the Simpson & his donkey Sculpture. John Simpson Kirkpatrick enlisted in the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance as Private Simpson on 25th August 1914. He took part in the landing on Gallipoli on 25th April 1915 and became famous among Australian troops for his bravery and compassion. Under continual shell fire he used a donkey to carry water up Shrapnel Gully, and to bring wounded men down to the beach on Anzac Cove from the firing line on the ridges above. After less than 4 weeks in action he was fatally wounded on 19th May 1915. Although he was known on Gallipoli by a variety of nicknames, most of the soldiers who witnessed his bravery knew him as the man with the donkey, without ever learning his name. Simpson has come to embody for Australians the spirit of self sacrifice in war.



The other statue which particularly caught our eye was by Ray Ewers. In 1954 he was asked to create a sculpture to commemorate the sacrifice of Australians in all wars. ‘Australian Serviceman’ symbolizes determination, courage and a spirit of achievement as well as hope for the future. It was unveiled in 1959 in the Hall of Memory and removed to the Sculpture garden in 1993 to make way for the construction of the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier. Around the side, next to the administration building there was an interesting collection of Australian war memorabilia including the barrel from the Amiens Railway Gun, the gun mount and bridge from HMAS Brisbane and a Centurion Tank. Outside the memorial there was also a naval gun from HMAS Australia.

We entered the main building passing by the Menin Gate Lions. These medieval stone lions once stood on either side of the Menin Gate in the walls of the town of Ypres in Belgium. Ypres was destroyed in the war, and these lions were recovered from the ruins of the Menin Gate. During the First World War, Allied soldiers passed through the gate to the battlefields around Ypres, where over 38,000 Australian troops were killed or wounded. The gate became the site of a memorial to the soldiers of the British Empire, including over 6,000 Australians who were killed around Ypres and have no known graves. In 1936 the Burgomaster of Ypres presented the lions to the Australian Government as a gesture of friendship between that town and the people of Australia. They commemorate the service of the Australian soldiers who helped to defend Ypres in 1917.



Once inside we found we were just in time for a free guided tour. First we went outside to the commemorative area which is situated in the open centre of the memorial building. We entered a narrow courtyard with a memorial pool surrounding an eternal flame and flanked by sidewalks and shrubbery, including plantings of rosemary for remembrance. Our guide took us up to the  cloisters where we had a great view down to the two Parliament Buildings. In the cloisters is the Roll of Honour, a series of bronze plaques naming the 102,000 Australian servicemen and women killed in conflict. The plaques include names dating back to the British Sudanese Expedition, the Second Boer War, and the Boxer Rebellion. The entire long wall of the western gallery is covered with the names of the thousands who died in World War I. The eastern gallery is covered with the names of those who died in World War II and more recent conflicts. The roll shows the names only, not rank or other awards, as “all men are equal in death”. Visiting relatives and friends insert poppies in the cracks between the bronze plaques, beside the names of their loved ones that they wish to honour; many continue to be inserted by the names of those who died in World War I, and a few even appear by the names of those who died in the 19th century campaigns. We walked past the names of those who perished in the First World War. Many of the names are marked with poppys which can be purchased from the shop. Members of staff carefully replace any poppys which have fallen to the ground. I spotted a few names from research our family history on the plaques.

We continued on to the heart of the commemorative area which is the Hall of Memory, a tall domed chapel with a small floor plan in the form of an octagon. The walls are lined with tiny mosaic tiles from the floor to the dome. Inside lies the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier. The remains that are interred here were brought back from one of the graves in a European Cemetry marked “Known Only to God”. Three of the walls, facing east, west, and south, feature stained glass designs representing qualities of Australian servicemen and women. At the four walls facing northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest are mosaic images of a Sailor, a Servicewoman, a Soldier and an Airman, respectively. The mosaic and stained glass were the work of the one-armed Australian muralist Napier Waller, who had lost his right arm at Bullecourt during World War I and learned to write and create his works with his left arm. He completed his work in 1958.



We moved on inside the building which changed from an area of remembrance to a museum with exhibitions from various conflicts in which the Australian forces were involved. Unfortunately the World War 1 exhibit was being re-done so we couldn’t see it and all the stuff associated with the disaster at Gallipoli. We were guided around all the Second World War stuff, with aircraft and sound and light shows. We had a late lunch and then went back and looked again at some areas and returned late for a swim and barbeque dinner.

The next day we woke for a long day of touring. We got picked up from our accommodation in a private car and we began the day with a trip to Mount Ainslie to view the city and learn the history and planning by Walter Burley Griffin. Rising up behind the Australian War Memorial in Canberra is Mount Ainslie. At its peak, Mount Ainslie Lookout offers a beautiful view of the Nation’s Capital from above. Canberra’s layout has been planned from the very beginning, and as you cast your eyes out over the landscape you’ll see how everything fits together in the city’s unique design.

Next on the agenda was the Australian War Memorial. We bypassed this because we did it yesterday and gave us a chance to spend more time elsewhere.

We then took a drive down Anzac Parade and over Commonwealth Bridge, past the The National Library, Questacon and along Commonwealth Place. We then arrived and toured the Old Parliament House, (now known as The Museum of Australian Democracy) to view the past Prime Ministers office and other areas of this historic building, then up Federation Mall for a one-hour tour of Parliament House.

Parliamentary was sitting, so we got to bypass the massive line and head in and see Question time from the speaker’s gallery, then toured The Great Hall, Marble Foyer, and onto the Senate which was also sitting at the time. We both really enjoyed the experience.

We then visited the National Museum of Australia, for one hour and saw some of the nation’s interesting exhibits, and marvel at the buildings very unusual architecture. Back home late we decided to check out the greyhound track down the end of the street. We only stayed for a few races because Kim got in trouble with a local trainer by whistling to the greyhounds as they walked past to go in the boxes. She was more interested in patting and playing with them.

The next day we spent a day at the races.

The day after that we had a great time with the private tour of Canberra, we decided to do another one. This time it was a local wine tour.

We took an easy 20 minute drive north of the Canberra’s city centre, to the quaint historic village of Hall. Among the hills of Hall you can find boutique vineyards and winery cellar doors, historical buildings and cottages dotted across the countryside, as well as the Memorial Avenue of Trees and vibrant Sunday markets.  We spent the day exploring the wineries scattered throughout the Hills of Hall.

1st stop was Brindabella Hills Winery, named after the spectacular Brindabella Range, which provides the mountain backdrop of Canberra, Brindabella Hills Winery is perfectly positioned on a ridge above the Murrumbidgee. Taking cues from regions around the world with similar climates, Roger and Faye Harris planted their vines in 1986. Now, with winemaker Brian Sinclair at the helm, they produce seven types of wine including Pinot Gris, Sangiovese and Shiraz.

On the road again the next stop was Pankhurst Wines. It may be tucked away, but it’s definitely worth seeking out this little slice of heaven. Run by Allan and Christine Pankhurst, you’ll find a delicious selection of classic Canberra District varieties and local favourites such as Sparkling Cabernet and the Box Tree Red, which blends Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Cabernet for an easy-drinking table wine. Stock up on chutney, sauces and sparkling juices made by the Pankhursts from their grapes or take a seat on the barrel furniture under the trees and enjoy a picnic.

Next stop on the agenda was a stop at Surveyor’s Hill Vineyards. With 25 acres of vines on a 225 acre property, viticulturist Leigh Hobba grows all the grapes that go into the 11 varieties of wine, including the popular Autumn Gold, a low-alcohol, sweet drop made from late-harvest Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. There’s also a range of seasonal produce for sale, including fresh eggs and preserves made from the property’s orchard and olives. If you’re feeling spritely you can take a stroll to the top of Surveyor’s Hill, which was once a volcano.



Next stop was one of Murrumbateman’s premium cool climate family owned wineries and sample from our Estate Range of wines, whilst browsing our exquisite range of hand-made and hand-painted ceramics, exclusively sourced from Italy.  We unwinded over a glass of wine and treated ourselves to a delicious meal at Flint at Shaw Vineyard whilst gazing over the vineyard.



Last stop on the tour was Mount Majura Vineyard, which is a dynamic boutique winery and vineyard. Their cellar door features a unique seated tasting allowing an interactive yet relaxing tasting experience.  Mount Majura is a leader in the Canberra District for Spanish varieties such as Tempranillo. Their single vineyard site of red clay loam soils containing limestone also produces quality Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Graciano, a Cabernet Blend and Shiraz.


The next day we were lucky to be waking up on a Saturday and decided to head to the Bus Depo Markets, then onto the Gorman House Markets. It was a short stroll north of the city, at the city’s arts centre. We spent a couple of hours or so at the markets and we got to see a different side of the city to the politicians and public servants Canberra is known for. Kim browsed at great vintage clothes, antiques, crafts, second-hand books and all kinds of food stalls.

We then headed back to the main CBD. At first glance Canberra looks to have been paved solid with chain stores and malls, but a few alternative places have stayed alive in the cracks. Landspeed Records, in Garema Place, does a great line in indie music and sells some vintage clothing on the side. Cowboys & Angels, in Bunda Street, has local and international designers and definitely specializes in quirky. At Craft ACT, near the Canberra Theatre, we saw exhibitions from jewelers, ceramicists and textile artists, with many selling pieces through the centre’s shop, while Mooble, in Bailey’s Arcade, has natural, ethical and organic products, including a damn fine organic gin and hemp clothing that won’t make you look like a hippie.

 

We had dinner in Dickson, Canberra’s Chinatown to the north of the city. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, but only a fool would go anywhere but the Dickson Asian Noodle House. I tried the laksa (a spicy Malaysian coconut milk and noodle soup).  We still had some energy, so we slumped into a couch at nearby Trinity and down a Szechuan beekeeper cocktail for dessert.

Some other highlights were:







Canberra Zoo

Australia’s only combined zoo and aquarium.  The National Aquarium displayed a wide range of marine life, from the tiny denizens of the reefs to huge sharks. In the neighboring zoo, we can viewed all the important species of Australian fauna as well as exotic species as such as lions, tigers, cheetahs, bears, and more. We did the animal encounter are which allowed us to go behind the scenes and interact with cheetah, giraffes, sun bears, and red pandas, among other creatures.

 


 

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

At Tidbinbilla, We took an hour’s drive from Canberra to Tidbinbilla to Australia’s role in space exploration at the Canberra Space Center in the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, one of only three in the world. We got to see the largest antenna complex in the southern hemisphere, explored models of different spacecraft, and learned about the foods astronauts eat on the space shuttle. Just south of there, was the excellent Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, was a great place to see wildlife such as grey kangaroos, rock wallabies, emus, and koalas.