Esperance is located on the pristine Southern Ocean coastline and is often described as “out of the way” but it is well worth the effort to get there.  It is surrounded by National Parks and many really beautiful beaches of pure white sand and crystal clear water in the most vibrant of turquoise hues.

We stayed in town where the foreshore meets the CBD and it is easy to walk to the many restaurants, shops and artisan galleries.  The iconic sculpture of a whale tail is surely the most impressive along this stretch of coastline.


Just around the corner is the historic centre where old houses have been converted into galleries and gift shops and it is a really lovely place to wander and perhaps purchase an unusual gift to take home. What a great use for these historic buildings – keeping stories of the past alive.

The Great Ocean Drive is purported to be one of the most beautiful drives in Australia and it seemed that at every bend there was jaw dropping scenery.  Towering cliffs, rugged bush, red rocks dropping into powdery white sand really does present an artists’ palette and even the most sceptic would agree that this is quite incredible.



Twilight beach is one of the most photographed in the area but each beach had its own special brand of beauty.





Many of the beaches had access via wooden walkways and stairs and safe swimming from either the flat rocks or the sandy beach is possible.

Beyond is the Recherche Archipelago with more than 110 islands offering perfect spots for diving, swimming, snorkelling and fishing.

Then, wearied by all this scenic beauty but not to be outdone, we drove out to Cape Le Grand National Park where we had been told of more jaw dropping scenery.  This is possibly the most spectacular of the Southern Coastal National Parks and is about half an hour east of Esperance. The park’s rolling heathlands are home to pygmy possums and western grey kangaroos – and these can often be seen lounging on the white sandy beaches or skipping through the campsites and carparks and socialising with visitors.


We gasped when we saw Lucky Bay – it is honestly the most beautiful beach I have seen so far.



Nearby is “Whistling Rock” so named because the wind whistles through the gaps and makes quite a musical sound.


Massive rock outcrops form a chain of peaks and Frenchman’s Cap was named by surveyor Alexander Forrest during an expedition in 1870 because it resembled the hats worn by French troops in the 1800’s.


Around 20 kms of coastal track link many of the spectacular coastal sections and rock fishing is popular from several of them.


This is truly a fabulous part of the country to visit and we are told that wildflower season is magnificent with flowers of all types, including dense thickets of banksia, putting on a display.  I guess we will just have to come back!







It is winter here – although you wouldn’t know it.  The sun shines every day and because we haven’t had as much rain as normal, the bougainvillea and other flowering shrubs are all magnificent.

Next week we will feel differently I know – we are off to South Australia for ten days of food and wine plus exploring the Murray River but first we are off to Port Lincoln to visit the tuna farms and the wonderful Coffin Bay oysters.  It will be very cold down there, so we made the most of this glorious weather at the weekend.


A friend came over for the day on Sunday – to give his boat a bit of a run but also to have a walk with us and lunch at Picnic Bay before we all returned to town on the boat.


The walk to Picnic Bay is beautiful, especially at this cooler time of year.  It starts along the beach and finishes on this cliffside boardwalk with stunning views of the rocks and hoop pines before winding through a bush track into the little settlement.


At the top of the boardwalk, nestled in the rocks is an unusual painting – we call it “Scotch on the Rocks” and it was done at least thirty years ago by some creative person who had a vivid imagination.  The colours are somewhat faded but you can still make out the tam ‘o shanter and the eyes and mouth.


Beautiful views of Rocky Bay are always breathtaking and this time it was low tide.  There is a craggy path down to the beach and it is often deserted as it can only be reached on foot or by boat.


Then down along the bush track there are glimpses of the city of Townsville and the port.


Occasionally you can see a koala in the wild – you have to really look hard as they make the eucalypts their home and in places the leaves and branches are very dense.

After a beautiful lunch at the Picnic Bay Hotel and a leisurely wander back, we gathered our things, hopped on the boat and cruised back home.


This is Castle Hill and the Strand beach with the marina rock wall in the foreground.  We are back after a relaxing weekend.  Now to prepare for the ten days of birthday celebration.  I ask you – who celebrates for ten days straight?


The moment we drove off the vehicular ferry onto Bruny Island, we felt we had stepped back in time.  This is a stunning island and what is more surprising is that it is the size of Singapore in area which has a population of 6 million or so and yet on Bruny there are only 650 permanent residents.

The road to Adventure Bay, where we had booked a house for a couple of days, is well sealed and the drive takes about 40 minutes.  Along the way found boutique produce such as cheese, wine, chocolates, fudge, salmon and a berry farm which was, sadly, closed as it was out of season.  Undeterred we made our first stop at the oyster farm – this is pure heaven for oyster lovers.  Workers were busy shucking as we got there, visitors were guzzling them down with buckets of wine and there were lots of sauces and accompaniments to tempt every palate.

Tasmania 2015 - 5 of 5Next stop was the Cheese Factory – where tastings were offered and the smell of wood fired sourdough bread was inviting.



On a little further and we found the chocolate and fudge shop – there the chocolate coated coffee beans won out but the choice was endless.


The scenery along the road is breathtaking and it is rare to pass another vehicle.  Adventure Bay is towards the southern end of the island and we had to pass along a narrow isthmus which, apparently in days gone by, the local aboriginal tribes crossed regularly hunting for wallabies, fish and penguins.  Now there is a well constructed walkway to the top of the hill affording magnificent views but also providing safe passage as this is also a penguin rookery.



It’s a long climb – but worth it once at the top!


I was very moved by the tale of an Aboriginal woman called Truganini. A plaque at the top of the hill commemorates her life which was forever changed by the white invasion.  Her tribal connection went back 30,000 years and yet the arrival of white man brought violence and brutality.  At the age of 17 Truganini witnessed the stabbing murder of her mother by men from a whaling ship, Sealers captured her two sisters, Timber getters killed the man she was to marry and she was repeatedly raped by the men, her brother was killed and her step-mother kidnapped by escaped convicts.  Not surprisingly her father was devastated and died within months.

Following the loss of her entire family, Truganini worked as a guide and interpreter for George Robinson who had been appointed by the colonial government to persuade the Aborigines to peacefully give up their land.  Promises were broken, people were exiled and many died of disease of despair.  Eventually, Truganini spent many years at a settlement on Flinders Island before dying at the age of 64 in Hobart.


It is hard to imagine those dreadful days when today there is peace and serenity everywhere.


We arrived at the tiny settlement of Adventure Bay and found our house not far from the beach, up on the hill in a quiet little community.  Wallabies greeted us at the top of the drive and then scurried into the bush.


The house is cosy and it wasn’t long before we had a log fire burning and a spread of delicacies picked up from the Deli in Hobart and local stores along the way, all washed down with fine Tasmanian wine.  A perfect start to our little stay on Bruny Island.



We spent the few days of the Easter break over on Magnetic island this year.  It has become a tradition for Townsville locals to flock to the island for the Easter school holidays and the place was buzzing.  It was a very social weekend and wonderful to see friends and families all come together in a community spirit.

In the early mornings we like to walk to a beach at Arcadia called Alma Bay.  Often we are the only ones there and whilst one swims, the other does yoga – what a great start to the day.


Walks and wildlife are part of Magnetic island culture and during the cooler months we enjoy the interaction with nature.  This weekend was no different, although the weather is still hot and muggy.  Tourists and children love to go to the rocks at Arcadia and look for the little rock wallabies – some of which are bold enough to approach if you have fruit, vegetables or the wallaby pellets you can purchase in the local store.  Jacqui had an assignment to photograph these cute creatures and so, armed with cameras and wallaby pellets we set off to see what we could find.


They didn’t disappoint and even managed to pose for us before scampering away.


The children came over for a day and instead of giving them lots of chocolate eggs, I decided to present them with craft and a soft bunny along with some baby eggs.  This was a great hit, although they did hide themselves in a cupboard to devour all the eggs before they were caught out!

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Easter is all about chocolate – and lots of it! We pretended not to notice the eggs had gone!  Later I was asked to bring a dessert to a luncheon we were invited to on Easter Saturday and not being known for my creative abilities in the sweet department, I was somewhat dismayed.  However, after a little research and a lot of positive thought, I managed to created this delicious Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake


It turned out exactly as the picture, was easy and fun to do.  I was also complimented many times but the thanks have to go to the Philadelphia Cream Cheese website for the inspiration.  Go to:

Finally the few days came to an end and it was time to go home – but not before another lovely sunset from the deck with wine and nibbles!



We left Christchurch on a beautiful sunny day and flew to Auckland where we picked up a car for our little exploration of the North island and in particular of the Bay of Islands.

Our hotel in Auckland was in the city and a short walk to the Viaduct Basin where the Marina is located along with lots of shops, restaurants and a couple of maritime museums.   We weren’t totally up to date with what was happening in the city and were excited to find all the yachts competing in the current Round the World Yacht Race had arrived in Auckland at the weekend.  There were displays and film shows, information kiosks and sponsor marquees all over the area and we had a wonderful time wandering around and discovering much more about the Race and the people who compete.  As well as that we managed to find a restaurant serving New Zealand Mussels in large bowls with the requisite fries and a chilled glass of wine so we were very content!

We decided to spend a day on Waiheke Island which is a short ferry ride from Auckland and is, in fact, a suburb of the city with a population of 10,000 of which 2000 commute to work daily.  For us it was interesting as Magnetic island is much the same in that there is a resident population and people commute.  There the similarity ends.  Waiheke is much larger with several communities and a number of vineyards as well as accommodation ranging from backpacker to luxury spa hotels.

View of the city from the ferry

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There are lots of lovely beaches and the main settlement of Oneroa has a number of restaurants and gift shops which we browsed through.  We struck gold with our choice of restaurant for lunch, The Oyster Inn, situated in the main street is relatively new and has a wonderfully innovative menu with a range of seafood choices.  It is very popular for dinner and their marketing slogan is “Come for Dinner and Stay for Breakfast!” as they offer three rooms on site.

Next day it was time to head north.  We chose the coastal route through Whangarei and Oakura Bay to Russell which took much longer than driving to Opua where there is a car ferry across the bay to Russell.  It was a long and winding road but we were in no hurry and enjoyed the magnificent countryside and forests.

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Yachts in the harbour at Whangarei – it was crowded with boats from  all over the world.


Beautiful beaches along the windswept coast but a bit too cool for us to dip into!

We finally reached Russell which took our breath away – a really beautiful little town with hillside houses and lots of restaurants along the foreshore.  We had booked into a B&B, Bellrock Lodge, and what a beautiful place to stay.  Again we struck gold!

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The view from our room.  It was peaceful and certainly invigorated the soul.

Magnetic Island – My Island Home

Situated just 8km off the coast of Townsville, North Queensland is my “island home”.  The place where we escape on weekends, spend holidays and enjoy the company of friends and family.  Where we indulge in the luxury of reading, hiking, swimming, cooking unusual dishes and where time really means not much.  We can do what we like, when we like.          210711114530magnetic-island

This beautiful island has 23 bays and beaches and much of it is National Park surrounded by Marine Parks with some beautiful fringing coral and sea life.  In winter we watch whales on their migration north from Antarctica and dolphins and turtles abound.

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Huge granite boulders, hoop pines, eucalypt forest and patches of rainforest are found and of course, the resident wildlife is always there ……P1010682 IMG_4524 IMG_4458 IMG_4478 IMG_4850 IMG_8354 IMG_4949 IMG_4869 IMG_4859 IMG_4494Rosellas flock at dawn and sunset and greedily gobble up seeds thrown by residents.  The curlew looks on haughtily but doesn’t dare intercede.IMG_4451One morning a young kookaburra hopped onto our verandah and expected his breakfast – which he got – pieces of bacon which he slapped against the railings attempting to “kill it” before devouring.

IMG_4520 IMG_4515 IMG_4838 IMG_4845There are some beautiful walks through the National Park, including one to the “Forts” – a series of structures which were lookout forts during the Second World War.  This is where you will often see koalas in the wild.  Textures and colours of trees and leaves never fail to amaze me.P1000759 IMG_4854

And finally the sunsets – always magnificent and there is nothing better than to enjoy a sundowner at the end of the day watching the sun sink into the horizon declaring the day is over and a new start awaits in the morning.

Welcome to my Island Home !