Author: Jacqueline Langford

Vale of Avoca Lookout in Grose Vale

Looking for a new place to explore around Sydney – not too far to drive to, but rewarding to visit too? One of the spectacular lookouts that I love to escape to, is the Vale of Avoca Lookout in Grose Vale, located in the Hawkesbury region and the Blue Mountains National Park. If you’re driving from Sydney towards Richmond, Kurrajong or Bilpin areas, this is a secluded turn off point en-route, that I’d highly recommend for you to stop by and see. Personally, I wouldn’t drive all this way just to visit this lookout however, it is a great attraction if you’re near, and it’s free to visit too. Vale of Avoca is situated about 300m above the Grose River Gorge, looking out over the beautiful Blue Mountains region and the lower Grose Valley. The best times to visit is on a cool, sunny day – the less windy the better – and you should bring some water, a hat and wear a sturdy pair of walking shoes or boots. I’d also suggest not to …

The Hive Cafe, Berambing

If you’re in the Bilpin or Kurrajong area, or driving from Lithgow, the greater Blue Mountains, or possibly even Mudgee, I’d suggest for you to visit the Hive Cafe, Berambing. This is a small, roadside cafe, offering a light breakfast and lunch menu, with both indoor dining and a handful of outdoor tables. It’s the perfect stop too for those with a pooch as it’s dog friendly outdoors… just the place we were looking for. The Hive Cafe is open seven days a week on Mondays to Fridays between 8am to 4pm, and Saturdays and Sundays between 8.30am to 5pm. There’s ample parking available right in front, which is an easy turn off from Bells Line of Road. They make excellent coffees here, so even if you just need a 10-minute break from driving, this would be my recommended coffee rest stop in the area en-route. The staff are very friendly and accommodating whilst you are accompanied with a dog. The service itself is also personable and warm. And even though the menu is not …

Operation: Fix my Filipino Christmas Star Parol Lantern

For many years, I have fond memories of my Christmases in the Philippines always involving festive family gatherings with never-ending food preparations, fireworks lighting up the local streets, houses filled with bright Christmas lanterns and nativity set decorations, door knocking of caroling… and the many days of laughter, and screams of “exchange gift” when the time was right. Pasko was such a happy time for families getting together and it was true joy when December rolled around each year. Living in Australia, I always wanted to bring those same traditions and festivities to our home during the Christmas period. The celebrations of pasko are not exactly the same in Sydney, but I was determined to include a token Christmas lantern decoration to our house – a Filipino parol. I searched Sydney far and wide to buy a traditional Filipino Christmas parol; calling Filipino grocery stores to ask if they stocked them, seeing if there’s any way I could pre-order a parol for the following year, or even contemplating a more modern, simplistic version not made …

Pop Up Picnic Hampers near Sydney CBD, with Delivery

A great way to organise getting together with family and friends is at a park with a well packed lunch. In light of COVID-19 regulations currently in place, sometimes you hesitate on what’s considered a safe option to come together with others, but a pre-made picnic hamper is the perfect idea, without having to organise the food preparation yourself. As a group of four, we placed an order with Pop Up Picnics for two-sets of the Pop Up Picnic ‘hampers for pairs’, available for pick-up from their head office location in Annandale, Sydney. Or, for an additional AU$20, the picnic hampers could be delivered within a 7km radius from Annandale, which is what we opted to do instead. Delivered on-time and as expected, all picnic inclusions arrived in two large boxes. At the time, we hadn’t read the instructions properly, so we packed our own picnic rugs. But little did we know, everything was already included in the box – and I mean everything. Settling under a large shady tree, we placed our own blankets …

Dog friendly Weekend Stay: Kims Beachside Retreat

I’m always hanging for another road trip – and better yet, when dog friendly stays are on the cards too. Just over an hour’s drive from Sydney’s CBD, you’ll find the beautiful Kims Beachside Retreat on the Central Coast, in the beachside town of Toowoon Bay. This accommodation caters for guests aged 12-years and over only, and is pet friendly. Yes, you read right a boutique beach resort, with suite or villa rooms, that only cater for adults… and allows pets. Can you believe it?! I certainly couldn’t at first. We don’t have children of our own and whilst I have no issues with them (quite a few of my friends have kids), it’s rare to find waterfront getaways that cater for just adults – and dogs can join too. On arrival, there are two main parking bays; the Terrace level car park is generally better parking (it was empty most times we left and returned), however you’re required to walk several steps down to reception and then on to your room. For anyone driving …