Sculpture by the sea

Every year, thousands of people flock to the coastal walk between Bondi and Tamarama beaches to check out the art installations as part of Sculpture by the Sea. The path that hugs the coastline between these two beaches is spectacular, overlooking the deep blue ocean, golden sands, and steep cliffs, and it is always popular with walkers and joggers.

The day we chose to visit this year was baking hot. After a big breakfast at a Bronte beach cafe, we strolled north to Tamarama where we were greeted by this massive installation on the sands.  Very striking and spectacular from above!

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We had a look at some of the other sculpture installations on the beach, and dipped our toes into the refreshingly cold water.

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I particularly liked this one above, with pieces of trash masquerading as jellyfish. As a diver and beach goer, the amount of human-produced garbage that ends up in our waters is staggering, and it can have a devastating effect on wildlife.

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Due to the heat and the jostling crowds, we lost all motivation to continue onto the full length of the walk. From outings in previous years, this event is definitely a highlight, marrying art and the beautiful Sydney seascape, which is a perfect introduction to art for an ignoramus like myself!

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A weekend escape to the Sunshine Coast

It’s customary when you’re suffering through the shivering throes of winter to book a getaway to a sunny destination.  In Australia, that sunny destination for us Southerners has traditionally been somewhere in the state of Queensland.

As it turned out, this was the mildest winter ever in Sydney, but the White Russian and I took the opportunity anyway to spend a weekend on the Sunshine Coast.  We flew into a Maroochydore, hired a car, and drove to Noosa Heads to check out the beach!  Yes, this is winter in Australia…

sunshine coast queensland beach

At Noosa Heads, we walked along the busy shopping strip of Hastings Street, checking out the little boutiques and galleries.  When lunchtime rolled around, we were eager to seek out something other than your run-of-the-mill diner.  We headed to Bistro C, which overlooks the beach, and has a great, buzzy vibe.

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We indulged in a few wines over lunch (a weekend away counts as a holiday, right?), and our waiter was very knowledgeable about the wine list, which featured a reasonable selection by the glass from wineries around Australia and New Zealand.

My Asian-inspired coconut chicken salad wasn’t cheap at $25, but it was a tasty mix of tastes and textures from the coconut marinated chicken, shredded tofu, and crunchy cashews, brought together by a salty and sweet nuoc cham dressing.  The WR ordered the whole spatchcock, which was compromised before I am able to get a shot of it!

coconut chicken salad bistro c noosa

I couldn’t go past the dessert special, since I’m a sucker for anything with caramel.  The banana caramel tart was deliciously creamy and rich, served with candied pecans, but I think it needed a little acidity or something to offset the incredible sweetness.

banana caramel tart bistro c noosa

Despite our lack of reservation, our waiter and all the other staff are very accommodating and friendly.  We’ll just know for next time to book beforehand for a better chance of getting a seat with a view of the gorgeous beach!

noosa heads beach

Bistro C Beachside Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Fun in the Filipino sun

For many years, I’d heard of the great diving in the Philippines – beautiful reefs, lots of fish, and loads of historical wrecks.  I recently managed to get there to experience it for myself, along with my brother, his girlfriend, and our mate Steve.

We went to the dive centre of Puerto Galera, which was a 2 hour drive from Manila airport to the port town of Batangas and then a 1 hour ride on a bangka boat to La Laguna beach in Puerto Galera.  We arrived at our amazing resort, Out of the Blue, where we had a villa right at the top of the hill that had great views over Sabang Bay.

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We didn’t dive on our first day there, but took the opportunity to unwind with cheap beers, mangoes, and massages.  One thing I didn’t expect was the number of older, foreign men with young, pretty Filipino women.  Call me naive but I had thought that this was a dive destination, not a seedy, girlie destination!

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Thankfully, the diving was fantastic and it was well worth the trek here.  The diving was relatively easy here, with mild currents at most, but the reefs were colourful and teeming with fish.  We even saw a few turtles!

divers on a boat

On our last day in Puerto Galera, we took a day trip around the island in our own private jeepney, one of the flash buses common to the Philippines that were former US military vehicles.  We went to check out the stunning views from the mountaintop Ponderosa golf club, White Beach, and a lunch at Tamaraw Falls.

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After we’d had our fill of diving, we island-hopped to the premier beach holiday destination of Boracay.  I usually find top rated beach destinations a disappointment whenever I go on holidays because we simply have amazing beaches in Australia, but this was one beach that definitely lived up to the hype.  Walking across the beaches of Boracay is like a heavenly dip in powdery, silky soft talcum powder, and the water is a beautiful turquoise blue.

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Boracay is a fun holiday destination, with loads of restaurants and bars, sunset sailing, and checking out the local seafood markets.  We had one night out on the town with a pub crawl group, where we met lots of great fellow party people from the Philippines, the US, Saudi Arabia, and a few other Aussies too.

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For great diving and beaching, and a cheap Asian holiday destination, I would definitely recommend the Philippines.  It’s a laid back country with friendly locals, and has the advantage of being an Asian country where English is widely spoken. I’m looking forward to heading back to the Philippines sometime to check out more of the country’s spectacular diving and beaches.

Hello summer – we missed you!

This weekend finally felt like the start of summer, with glorious blue skies and temperatures rising above 30C.  After a few weeks of chilly nights and the occasional rain, it actually felt as though summer had finally arrived.

Of course, it wouldn’t be summer without music festivals, and my first of the season kicked off in pumping style yesterday at Stereosonic.

And it wouldn’t be a dance festival without the requisite hard-bodied, topless men covered in tattoos, who have no doubt been spending the last few months priming their shoulders and guns for this occasion.

With a headline like Tiesto, and other amazing acts such as Calvin Harris, Martin Solvieg and Avicii, we all had a great time and ended up quite sore from all the dancing!

Today’s sunny weather called for the beach visit, and even when we left at 6pm there was still a big crowd at North Bondi.  Summer is finally here!

‘Gators and tacos

I spent my last few days in Miami soaking up the sun and hanging out with the fantastic people that I met at my hostel.  There are always some interesting characters that you meet when travelling – the strangest person I’ve met so far was an American bloke who fancied himself as a bit of a Che Guevara, anti-establishment type.  He was in Miami to buy a yacht so that he could sail to Cuba, despite not knowing at all how to sail.

But mostly, it’s been great meeting people from all around the world that I will probably never see again, but thanks to Facebook, we can keep in touch and perhaps cross paths in the future.

 

I also took the opportunity to visit the Everglades national park, since I’ve always fancied going on a ride on those air boats!  The trip to the Everglades was quite fun, getting up close and personal with alligators, seeing on of the park guides jump on top of a 6 foot ‘gator and the air boat ride out into the marshlands, zooming sideways over the shallow swamps and spotting turtles, little alligators and a few different varieties of birds.

I am now in Mexico City, enjoying the constant sounds and rhythms of this populous city.  There is music blaring constantly, drum beats, vibrant colours, and smells of street food!  I tried my first street taco yesterday at only M$10 each (less than US$1), which was was packed full of flavour and heat.  Being constantly surrounded by this amazing food, I think I will struggle to leave Mexico any less than 5 kilos heavier!!