A recap of my adventures in WINTER 2023

I love exploring in the winter. Weekends away, blustery coastal walks, sunny road trips, long lunches and of course hanging at home and snuggling with the cat, cosy under a blanket. This was our first winter on the Central Coast and I found it to be quite mild. A two week holiday occurred in the middle of winter, perfect for a trip to sunny Queensland and a few days in Auckland, New Zealand with a good friend!

Read on for my adventures…


Since the Covi-19 era Vivid Sydney light show has come back bigger and brighter than ever, pun intended. In 2023 a friend and I paid a small fortune to go ‘Dark Spectrum‘ – a light installation in the old Wynard train tunnels. In large groups you are ushered underground where you walk through about seven separate tunnels or rooms, each with a different light theme. Combined with objects, robots, displays and music, it makes for a very cool experience. Top tip – book before you go to secure your time slot and pay less.



After emerging from the tunnels, we walked around to Barrangaroo and on to the Rocks. Vivid is a great time to explore Sydney, there are light displays and installations set up everywhere. In The Cutaway at Barrangaroo we found a buzzing food hall – Vivid Fire Kitchen, so it was a great time to refuel with some South American kebabs from Hoy Pinoy and warm drinks.

We continued walking around The Rocks, under the bridge and towards Circular Quay. There is so much happening during Vivid you could definitely visit a couple of times, focusing on different areas of the city each time.

Just when we felt ready for some more food we stumbled across a cheese festival ‘Bon Fromage’, made even more enjoyable with wine tastings and a cranking DJ set! Wine, cheese and dancing? Sign me up! We then meandered along the harbour back to the train station. A very enjoyable night!



I have been exploring some new lookouts and walking tracks here on the Central Coast. A few kilometres from home is Crackneck Lookout, with a walking path in both directions that meanders through a section of Wyrrabalong National Park. On the long weekend I started at Shelly Beach and trekked up to the lookout, which had just reopened after renovations. The best thing about going that way is that you get to walk downhill on the way back!

After the first section you get to stop and see the view of Bateau Bay beach.



Late Autumn and early Winter have the best sunsets here in NSW. I can’t comment on the sunrises, as I never get up that early! We often walk to the end of our street to the lake. With the angle of the sun moving a tad in Winter, we often catch a lovely sunset over the water. So peaceful!



Once a year I get to take students on a three day overnight excursion. Usually it’s to Camberra! I’ve never really been a fan of Canberra since I seem to go to all the same places in the Parliamentary triangle, but this was the first time I actually found out about some new places and wanted to return and explore them! High on the list is the National Arboretum, which we visited at night in about zero degrees – A cool experience though. We also are  always really rushed through the war memorial, so I would like to go back one day and visit properly, without a class of 12 year olds trailing me!

The view from Mt Ainslee never gets old, and it was even better at night. The short visit was complete when you throw in some of the usual favourites – Parliament House, Questacon and the Australian Institute of Sport. A fun few days!



Before we new it, it was time for our annual winter trip to Queensland! The weather is so mild that you can still swim in the pool and ocean. It’s such a great place to go for a mini break mid Winter, we aways stay with my in-laws at Alexander Headland on the Sunshine Coast.

It’s also mild enough (but not too humid) for many outdoor walks. Last time I discovered this lovely park.



My second overseas trip of 2023 was to New Zealand! A quick few days with a good friend and a couple of new adventures. We visited the Hobbiton Movie Set which was suprisingly fantastic and well worth the visit. Even if you are not a huge fan of the LOTR multiverse, you can appreciate the charm of Hobbiton, the cute hobbit holes built into the hill, the tavern, waterwheel, lake and countryside. Despite the rain we had a really enjoyable visit.

The drive into Hobbiton reminded me I was back in lush, green New Zealand!

After Hobbiton we visited Zealong Tea Estate to have a delightful high tea overlooking the tea plantation. What a lovely spot! Not far from Auckland either, the grounds, cafe and gift shop at Waikato are a perfect place to stop.



I had never been over to Waiheke island so we took the ferry over for a day trip. It was much larger than I expected! With a milder climate than Auckland, Waiheke island is perfect for day trips and weekends away as you can explore the cute villages and many wineries on the island. Either take the passenger ferry from Auckland harbour or take your car over on the car ferry.

We took the bus to the end of the line at Onetangi beach for a long lunch. Luckily for us the sun came out for half a day! We then caught the bus back to the main strip of shops at Oneroa Beach for an ice cream and a window shop before heading back to Auckland.



Once back at work in August I headed inland to Wollombi for a girls weekend away. Being on the central coast now, it’s only an hour or so from my house. Part of the lower Hunter Valley district, Wollombi is a small historical village that is popular with day trippers, wine buffs and motorbike riders, who love the winding roads in and out of the valley. We stayed on a farm in a delightful Airbnb property, enjoying sunsets, cows and a roaring fire. Add cheese platters and mulled wine = good for the soul!

The drive into Wollombi is very scenic, with farmlands, National Park and some stone remains of the Great North Walk, the road built by convicts in the early 1800s that linked Newcastle and Sydney.

On the Saturday we booked an all day winery tour to check out some cellar doors, good produce and to have a lovely cafe lunch. Our favourites were Stonehurst Cedar Creek and Millbrook Estate, where we had some lovely liquers too!

Lunch was at the popular Laguna Trading Post, a few km out of town from Wollombi.

After a relaxing two nights at our accomodation, the Old Byora Vineyard, we headed into Wollombi town for breakfast and a wander aorund. We grabbed a meal at Myrtle and Stone Cafe.

I just loved the old post office with the mail boxes for the local residents!



Last year a new venue opened on the Northern Beaches, The Palms Nursery and Eatery at Terry Hills. It’s visually stunning with its light-wrapped tree, extensive nursery grounds and fancy restaurant. It feels like they were trying to recreate the atmosphere of the The Grounds at Alexandria. I had my first visit at night, but I feel it could be better appreciated in the day (well except for admiring the beautiful fairy lights!).



Another round up of Winter activities! Next we move onto warmer weather and Spring, perfect for some more adventures.

Stay tuned!


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