Entries from August 2016

CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL, AUBURN, NSW

August 18, 2016

The Japanese have a word for everything…’Hanami’ loosely translates as ‘flower viewing’ but really means much more than that. It refers to enjoying the transient nature of cherry (sakura) blossoms; these beautiful blossoms can only be enjoyed for a two week period, highlighting the beauty and fragility of life!

The Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan is a huge deal, so much so that the Cherry Blossom ‘Front’ is forecast each year, in previous years by local meteorologists, and now by private agencies. It occurs in late March/early April.

A little closer to home, we can all enjoy the Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival, held annually at the Auburn Botanic Gardens. This year, the festival kicks off on Saturday the 20th of August and runs that weekend, and the following weekend finishing up on the 28th August. It promises Japanese food and cultural experiences such as Ikebana (flower arranging), Origami and Kendo (martial art) demonstrations along with live music.

Despite having lived in Sydney for 17 years, I had never been to the Auburn Botanic Gardens. Kinga and I headed out to check it out before the weekend and were pretty pleased with what we found. The park is super seventies, (which makes sense as it was indeed opened in 1977) and evokes a sense of nostalgia, as it’s so much like parks my folks used to take me to as a kid. It is a top spot, particularly for families with younger kids, and it’s pram and wheelchair accessible.

It features a traditional Japanese garden (where the cherry blossoms are located) a scented garden, a rose garden and an excellent equal access playground. Animals are always a hit with the littlies, and at Auburn there is a retro Aviary (located across the road from the Botanic gardens main entry) and a sweet fauna reserve, featuring plants and animals that were indigenous to the Auburn area prior to its development…native geese (with black and white striped goslings, super CUTE!) wombats, roos and wallabies…even an albino wallaby! At 10am and 2pm on weekends you can watch the keepers feed the animals.

The gardens are free to enter during the week. During the festival it is $5 per person, residents of Cumberland council, children under 16 and cosplay and kimono wearers get in for free!
Auburn Botanic Gardens
Chiswick Road, Auburn
9am -5pm
Saturday 20th & Sunday 21st August
Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th August

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DAYLESFORD & HEPBURN SPRINGS (SPA COUNTRY), VICTORIA

August 11, 2016

I have a soft spot for Daylesford and Hepburn Springs. It was the very first place Mez and I holidayed at when we first started seeing each other, seventeen years ago! My brother-in-law and sister-in-law were married there, at a beautiful Tuscan styled villa…very romantic!

Spa Country is an hour and a half drive north west from Melbourne, located at the foothills of the great dividing range…Mez had been working in Melbourne, and being school holidays we took advantage to visit family, and leave the kids with Mez’s mum (thanks Nanny!) and run away to the country.

Here’s what we packed in to our 48 hours…

WE SPA’D…

On the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa website I found a deal for lunch, a massage and unlimited access to their ‘sanctuary retreat’. Starting with a light Ploughmans style lunch, we killed some time sampling mineral water straight from the source. There are several pumps set up, and you are welcome to try them all out. We noticed that several ‘grey nomads’ were filling up loads of water bottles; how thrifty! After our final pump, ‘Sulphur Springs’, we head back to the Bathhouse, where we have several hours of free time in the sanctuary retreat before finishing up with our massage. This is a private bathing area, with multiple baths of varying temperatures and mineral compositions, and you’re welcome to move between them as you please. At first I’m concerned that we’ll get bored, but floating around and chatting is so relaxing, time flies. We finish up with an hour massage, and it feels it’s over almost as soon as it’s begun; the mark of a great massage!

Hepburn Bathhouse & Pavilion Café
Mineral Springs Reserve Road
Hepburn Springs

WE ATE…

We ate very well! Local restaurants and cafes really champion their local produce, and with all those minerals in the water it’s no wonder everything tastes so alive. We had breakfast TWICE at Larder, it was that good! An interesting array of breakfast foodstuffs, and perhaps most importantly, excellent coffee. I could have happily spent an afternoon at The Belvedere Social, going through their menu and wine list! A very cool spot in the centre of town, serving the best of local. Dinner at The Farmers Arms is a must; its a beautiful old pub on the road in to Daylesford, the servings huge, the food is hearty and delicious.

The Larder
57A Vincent St, Daylesford

The Belvedere Social
82b Vincent St Daylesford

The Farmers Arms
1 East Street
Daylesford

WE WALKED…

Spa country is surrounded by bush & forest, and it seems such a waste to me that it’s not better known for its walks. We did two, and the whole time we were walking we only came across wallabies and echidnas! Breakneck Gorge to The Blowhole took us a couple of hours, (just over 6kms return) and is an interesting mix of gorges, rocky outcrops and bushland interspersed with prickly pear cacti (leftovers from Swiss Italian migrants who settled in the area from 1850) We also did Breakneck Gorge to Golden Springs (4.5 kms returns) in an hour and a half.

We stayed at:

Breakneck Gorge
booked via DayGet

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