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A ramble in the rhododendrons

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The last weekend was a damp, cloudy day right in the middle of a chilly winter. Yet I was treated to a dazzling and precocious glimpse of Spring. For I was at the Illawarra Rhododendron Gardens. Not the best of times to visit. Or so I thought. Yet, even in the middle of winter, the floral extravaganza was a pure delight. The gardens comprise largely of undulating temperate rainforest in the shade of Mount Keira. It is only in one corner of the garden, towards its entrance, that you will find shrubberies, well-manicured lawns and a duck pond. But at […]

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Postcards from Kiama

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About 120 km south of Sydney lies the beautiful coastal town of Kiama. A superfast expressway makes it not only a quick, but scenic drive as well, as you zoom past the shoreline full with expansive Pacific views. Timeless Kiama Like many other coastal havens on this side of the NSW coast, Kiama has its fair share of aboriginal history, overshadowed by two centuries of Caucasian settlement. Yet, unlike other townships, Kiama to me, seemed like a small, quaint jewel box that contained within itself a sense of timeless nostalgia. It is perhaps not hard to imagine that the natural […]

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Snorkeling @ Bushrangers Bay

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For snorkelling Sydney-siders, the city’s crenellated shoreline has brilliant spots – Gordon’s Bay, Colin’s flat and Shelly beach to name a few. However, if you desire to get far from the madding crowd, without driving to exhaustion, the Illawarra region has a sparkling option – Bushranger’s Bay. Roughly 120 km from the city, it takes about 2 hours to drive to Bushranger’s Bay via Wollongong and Port Kembla. Called ‘Allowrie’  (apparently translating to ‘pleasant place by the sea’) by the once local Tharawal indigenous tribes, Lake Illawarra was named Tom Thumb’s lagoon by Matthew Flinders after his boat, Tom Thumb. I […]

The blue tree - trying to raising awareness to preserve dead trees that are invaluable as birding sites

Mt. Annan Botanical Gardens – A photo essay

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If you have ever wandered about in Sydney, the Royal Botanical Gardens in the heart of the city must have been on your tick list. As it should be. While quite popular among locals and tourists alike, what is less known and even lesser frequented are its affiliate cousins far from Sydney. There’s one at the Blue Mountains (the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah) and then there’s one at the threshold of Sydney at its south-western  frontier – the Australian Botanic Garden at Mount Annan. Claimed to be the largest botanic gardens in the country, Mt. Annan aims to […]

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The colors of Cronulla

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It was a Saturday evening, and I was eager to catch some sunset colors. While the northern beaches of Sydney get a lot of attention and fanfare, the southern beaches put up no less a fight. As I found out on visiting one of the southernmost beaches in Sydney – Cronulla. The waterside beaches – particularly the North Cronulla and Cronulla beaches are stacked with swanky stores, while the trees and beautifully maintained parks and walkways are quite reminiscent of its northern cousins such as Manly. Rock pools, long stretches of sands, large rolling waves being conquered by countless surfers […]

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Blushing Bowral : A photo essay

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Last weekend I was at the little town of Bowral in the Southern Highlands to visit the Bradman Museum. However, beyond cricket fanaticism, it was also a case of  being lucky : to be at the right place at the right time. For the trees in the town were all touched by the palette of Autumn, blushing in shades of yellow, orange and red. Except for a few evergreens defying the tide of time beyond the equinox. Yes, Autumn is here, and one can already feel the nip in the air.   The colors were not yet rioting – give […]

‘Thar she blows!’: Whale-watching around Sydney

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Come winter, and Australia’s coastline becomes a migratory superhighway for the whales of Antarctica. These blubberous behemoths thrive in the cold waters of the Southern Ocean, but not their calves which do not have substantial fat to insulate them. Therefore, when winter comes, the whales migrate northwards to warmer climes to calve – c’mon, everyone deserves a tropical vacation once in a while! Naturally, cities like Sydney and Brisbane become hotspots for whale watching on the eastern coast, with operators diligently and enthusiastically offering cruises to get closer to these peace loving cetaceans. Having been around in Sydney for three […]

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The lake in the valley: Camping at Lake St. Clair, Hunter Valley

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Once in a while, man comes close to nature as an artist. He recreates the landscape into something more beautiful, more picturesque than the canvas that he inherited. No, not ugly towers nor decapitated glades, but something raw in nature, something close indeed to the earthy world. These were precisely my thoughts when I was standing in front of the dreamy blue expanse of Lake St. Clair, hidden in the Hunter Valley. Far from the intoxication of the vineyards and the usual busloads of trumpeting tourists, there lies this little jewel for those who seek a bit more.  A man-made […]

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A weekend at Port Stephens

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Having ventured quite afar into Shoalhaven – the southern part of Sydney, we decided to venture north this time to yet another naturally endowed bay in the fecund coast of NSW – Fingal Bay in the Port Stephens area. We decided to camp in the Fingal Bay Holiday Park, tantalisingly close to the Fingal Bay beach – a beautiful semicircle of a beach culminating in the locally famous Fingal Spit. But more of the destination later. The journey is worth mentioning. Woy Woy and the Ettalong beach Bundled in two cars, we took the Pacific Motorway straight out of Sydney […]

On the way to the Lighthouse

A weekend in Shoalhaven – II

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Day 1 The next destination for the day was Culburra Beach – a sleepy yet rejuvenating town, south east of Nowra, and just north of the Jervis Bay National Park. It is a quintessential watery paradise – to its north lies the Crookhaven River, to its south is Lake Woollumboola, while its east is wrapped by the magnificent Pacific, dotted with myriad sun-and-sea laden sandy stretches happily justifying the name of the place (Culburra is aboriginal for sand) We first headed to the Culburra Beach Motel located at the heart of the town. I met Gail who runs the place […]