Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Relaxing at Hunter Valley

After having a few stressful weeks at work, I decided to take a mini break with family. I was looking for a beautiful and serene place near Sydney, where I can relax and my kids can have fun. The search landed me on Talga estate, Rothbury at Hunter Valley. The Talga estate promised beautiful surroundings, modern rooms with attached spa and space for my kids to cycle or move around freely. The tripadvisor ( rate Talga estate as 4.5star; hence, I went ahead and booked the villa for three nights. 

My additional motivation was to explore Hunter Valley’s well-known wineries and have the opportunity to taste their award winning wines. Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine producing region with more than 100 wineries in the region.

Fabulous Estate

We reached the estate on Friday evening about 7:30PM. The estate is about 150 Km’s from our home in the northern suburb and less than two hours drive through F3 Freeway. About 95KMs on freeway, we took exit at The Freeman’s drive and passed through the historic town, Cessnock in the heart of wine country.

rooms at villa

The accommodation matched our expectations and was the same as described on its website ( It was clean, modern and luxurious. The owners, Laila and Michael  provided for all our needs for the next three days from breakfast to toiletries.

Night view of the estate

Another view during clear night

Great Morning Views

Next day, we woke up to pleasant picturesque surroundings. The back door of the villa opened to a large pomegranate orchard, with a wonderful mountain setting as its backdrop.  Surprisingly, it was not too cold for the month of July and we took a morning walk around the estate. On the way, we saw Kangaroos hoping around. My kids just loved the sight of the Kangaroos. The estate also has a water body big enough to use a boat, but more suitable for fishing.  The surroundings and walk were already having a de-stressing effect on me.

View from back door of the villa

Kangaroos at Talga estate 
Last pomegranate of the season
Flowers with morning dew

The owners own two dogs Fonzy and Harry, and an adorable cat Ginger. Both the dogs were very friendly and playful. On my kid’s request, Laila set the dogs free to play. Both the dogs ran around with my kids all over the estate. It was fun watching them play and having fun.

Harry and Fonzy having fun
Fonzy was always in play mode


Harry followed my son all over the estate

Chocolate and Lunch

About midday, we started our tour to local area. The first stop was at the Chocolate Factory. The Chocolate Factory (CF) has three outlets in Hunter; at Lovedale, Peterson winery and at Hunter Valley gardens. If you are with kids, the CF is usually a good place to start your day J.  Later we visited a few wineries; I have listed some of these at the end of the blog for you.

We had our lunch at Amandas at The Edge (, probably the best restaurant in the area. It was highly recommended by Laila and has outstanding reviews on the web. The Amandas also has a dedicated vegetarian menu, which is like gold for us. The food tasted awesome, had a fantastic view of the vines and all of that on a sunny afternoon. We thanked the chief chef Sara for brilliant preparation.  I highly recommend following dishes:
     Crispy spinach & fetta filo pastry pinwheel with stuffed bell peppers & salsa verde
     Vegetable & chick pea coconut curry served with Jasmine rice, mango chutney & riata 

We went back to the estate and had leisure time for the rest of the day.

Sheep on the estate

Views and More Great Food

My son cycling
Next day, we took it easy while the kids enjoyed cycling and playing with the dogs all over the estate. We decided to lunch at Lillino’s restaurant ( Lillino’s is an Italian restaurant with a Sardinian/Mediterranean influence and a breathtaking view of the valley. The food was amazing from entree to desert. I highly recommend the in-house prepared Tiramisu and award winning wines of the winery.

Cellar door of Audre Wilkinson winery
After the lunch, we visited the Audre Wilkinson winery. The winery offers a magnificent uninterrupted 360o view of the valley. If you are in Hunter Valley for holiday, this winery is a must visit.

Views from Audre Wilkinson Winery

Views from Audre Wilkinson winery

Audre Wilkinson winery

There is a lot to do in this region, for example horse riding, balloon aloft, scenic helicopter flight or visit to the Hunter Valley gardens, However we were tired and left some of those for our next visit. We will definitely be coming back and will again stay at Talga Estate with our lovely hosts Laila and Michael. Till then good-bye Hunter…

Suggested wineries to visit: 

Tempus Two ( Probably the best-looking winery in the area. Also famous for music and events, held in their roman-inspired amphitheatre.

Mcguigan ( One of the most awarded wineries in world. Award winning whites (Semillons) and cheese tasting

Peterson House ( Best place for sparkling wines

Audre Wilkinsons (  for
  • ‘NV Vin de Vie’: Musk perfume with floral notes rise from the glass, lifted by complex aromas from 11 year old Brandy Spirit used to fortify this desert wine. And
  • Best views of hunter region

  • Wonderful views
  • Reds  and
  • Awesome Italian restaurant

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Magnificent Berowra Waters

Berowra Waters (BW) is probably one of the best-kept secret around Sydney. Berowra Waters is the small river settlement north of Sydney and less than an hour from city.  The Berowra waters is surrounded by famous Ku-ring-gai chase
national parks. It is a perfect union of natural bushland and aquatic, with spectacular national park to the east, the Berowra valley regional park to the west, and the Hawkesbury river to the north.
Berowra Waters is a wonderful spot for a great day out on a warm sunny day with friends and family.  It is less than an hour from Sydney and just off the F3 freeway.
BBQ Boat

You can plan many activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, bushwalking or just casual dining on the waterfront.
My favourite activity is to hire a barbeque boat (BBQ boat) and sail down the beautiful Hawkesbury River. If you just want to go out in water for couple of hours, you can also hire canopy aluminium boats (Tiny’s).  There is no licence required and activity is safe for kids as well. You can hire a BBQ boat at

Great Views

Scenic flights

How to reach

If you are coming from Sydney, start on F3 and take second exit to Berowra.  Then follow the signs to Berowra waters or tourist drive 11.  At the end of Berowra water road, there is a vehicle ferry which will take you to the other side of Hawksberry river. The ferry works 24 x7, however please check any maintenance shutdown before starting from home.

Berowra Waters : bird eye view
Please let me know, if you enjoy the place by clicking 1+ hear. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Day Trip from Sydney - Mangrove Mountains to Wiseman Ferry

Google map
Mangrove Mountain to Wiseman Ferry route
I decided to kick off ANZAC day with exploring some new roads near Sydney and trust me it was a great decision. I plan to cover Mangrove Mountain to Wiseman Ferry; the road is 50+ kilometres  and need approximately 1.5 hours of drive time; however if you live in North of Sydney a round trip will be approximately 180 kilometres and 3.5 hours of driving.Click here to see the route in Google map.

I along with my kids head off north along with F3 and took exit at Calga after approximate 50 minutes of drive. We than progressed on Peals ridge road for approximately 20 minutes to reach Mangrove mountain. The drive was pleasant and one can observe lots of farm life, fresh fruits and vegetables on the way.

Rusted Engine at a Farm

Beautiful Country Side
We soon started on our journey from Mangrove Mountain to Wiseman Ferry. For the first few kilometres the road was rough but soon it has improved. The journey to Wiseman Ferry includes few very twisted winding roads, they are exciting and fun for driver. At times your driving skills will be tested if you are trying to keep the car on top end of speed limits. I'll definitely not recommend the trip the people who get motion sick very quickly. Soon, the road runs next to a river and you can see the mangroves all through the way. The scenery and beauty on the both side of the roads is unmatched.

We soon reached Spenser, a small village where we break for lunch. It was a small village restaurant plus bottle shop. It has almost everything you look for a small trip, including beer, wine, chips, ice cream, ice etc. you name it they have it. We enjoyed lunch, sitting next to the river. The ambience was calm soothing and pleasant. 

View from Spenser Village

 We soon head back to road and started enjoying the views and drive and came across this beautiful spot below :


Directions from Wiseman Ferry
As you keep driving you will come across Wiseman ferry, please see the map on right. The ferry operates 24 x7 and will ferry your car. As

you cross the ferry there is a beautiful park with all the facilities. It is a fun place to pass the time and enjoy with family before you head home. While driving back to home one should not miss Hawkins lookout  it a beautiful view of the river below.

View from Hawkins lookout

Please try out the route and provide your comments and feel free to add your experience as well...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Day trip to Glow Worm Tunnel and Pierces Pass

Last Friday, I was looking for an opportunity to break away from my busy work and all of a sudden I noticed a beautiful picture on my colleagues desktop. I did not waste a second to ask him the details and I was set for my next adventure.
History of the tunnel

We planned a day trip to visit “Glow Worm tunnel’ at Wollemi National Park, near Lithgow. The tunnel was originally part of Wolgan Valley Railway, the line opened in late 1906, while the last regular train ran in the 1930s, the line was dismantled in 1940. The tunnel is approximately 400 meters in length and curves through almost 180 degrees and therefore it is very dark and a small creek runs through it creating ideal conditions for “glow worms”.
There are couple of ways to reach the tunnel, we travelled to Lithgow through magnificent Bells Line of Road. From Lithgow we followed Inch street and then turning left to Atkinson street and following approximately 30Kms of gravel road. It is not advisable to travel this road of a night. We left our car at the parking area and had an easy and enjoyable 5 Kms walk to the Glow Worm Tunnel along the original railway formation. During the walk we passed through unusual rock formation.

Sign Post to tunnel
Beautiful rock formation

The tunnel was dark as Egyptian night and one should be careful as creek was flowing through the middle of the tunnel. We were carrying our flash lights, however we have to switch off the flash lights to see the glow worms. It was a stunning formation resembling the milky way in no moon night; thought bit extra bright. It was a marvellous experience.

Glow Worm tunnel entrance
Glow Worm tunnel entrance

 Look at the picture above a bit carefully to see the glow worms:
Glow Worms

We headed back to Sydney through Bells lines of road. While passing through Mt. Tomah Botanic garden we decided to take a break at Pierces Pass. The entrance to Pierce pass is on the right of bells line of road.We left our cars at the parking and walked for 1.2 Kms. The views of the Grose Gorge from the top are incredible  Pierces Pass leads to the Grose River and eventually to the Blue Gum Forest.

Track from Pierces pass
Grose river vally 

Views from Grose Gorge  

The round walking trip from the car parking was two hours and worth every bit of effort. The local area is also famous for its apples, fruit stalls, galleries, craft and antique shops.

It was a great outing for us involving healthy forest walk (bush walking), stunning rocks, exquisite glow worm formation, and finally beautiful panoramic view.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Southern Highlands - Take a day trip or short break

The southern highlands is a great place to relax, escape and unwind with amazing gardens, magnificent lookouts and many natural wonders to explore. It is only a 90 minute drive from Sydney and makes a fantastic destination for a short break or even just a day trip.

decided to head to the Highlands to take a break from my daily routine and spend some time with my son. On a side note I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and have fun in my new toy Skoda Fabia VRS135A brilliant car or shall I say, a small rocket!


We travelled to Mittagong from Sydney and visited the Information Centre. As usual, the friendly staff helped us to map out our itinerary for the days adventure. We started with the lookouts at Mt Gibraltar.The view of Bowral and Mittagong was breath taking not to mention the beautiful drive as there.
Views from Mt Gibraltar.

Lookout at Mt Gibraltar

We then made our way to Bowral, a very unique and beautiful town. Bowral was the home town of Cricket legend Sir Donald Bradman so of course we started at 'International cricket hall of fame' . This is a must visit for anyone who has any interest in Cricket. We stopped off for lunch at Kookabar Cafe, a great friendly European style cafe with peaceful ambience and delicious food.

We were fortunate enough to be in Bowral during spring, also known as tulip time in the region. Corbett garden is the home of tulip time and it presents a beautiful landscape filled with many varieties of tulips.

Corbett Garden, Bowral

Corbett Garden, Bowral
Tulips @ Corbett Garden, Bowral

Corbett Garden, Bowral
Corbett Garden, Bowral

Tulips @ Corbett Garden, Bowral

Of course, as with any short trip, we ran out if time. We said goodbye to the sea of vibrant tulips and fresh country air and made our way home. If you happen to start your trip a bit earlier in the day or if you are travelling during Summer be sure not to miss Fitzroy falls, at Moreton national park.