Entries from March 2016


March 31, 2016

Living in a big urban city such as Sydney, it’s easy to get swept up in everyday routine, and to forget about all the wonderful things there are to do on your doorstep. I’ve lived here for sixteen years now, and for years as we’ve returned from holidays and flown over the Royal National Park, I’ve commented that ‘one day’ I’d really love to get down there, and see those beaches for myself. So this Easter long weekend, we became ‘home town tourists’ and did the 11km walk from Wattamolla to Big Marley beach.

Established in 1879, The Royal National Park is the second oldest national park in the world (Yellowstone in USA is the first), its purpose to be a dedicated area specifically for rest and recreation. At the time of its establishment, it was observed that the park should be ‘a sanctuary for the pale-faced Sydneyites fleeing the pollution – physical, mental and social – of that closely-packed city.’ Such foresight! If only they could see Sydney now!

It’s just over an hours drive from central Sydney to the park…We set out from the Wattamolla Lagoon (park your car here) and headed north, over the dam, past Deer Pools, through the bush, popping out at the cliffs (breathtaking!), finishing at Big Marley. I’m so taken with the bush, the smells and all those poddy wildflowers; banksia, hakea, flowering gums and the rest; native fuchsia, tiny purple fringe lilies, grass trees. It’s so good to be immersed in nature.


Take plenty of water.

Apply sunscreen and wear a hat.

Leave early if at all possible. It was pretty quiet when we arrived at 10am to start our walk, but it was chockers when we got back at 2pm. So busy that the road into the Wattamolla carpark was closed, and people were parking on the main road and walking 2 kms down to the water!

Reward yourself with a swim…Wattamolla beach is perfect!

Read up before you go. The track has subtle markers, but I only saw 2 maps with routes on the actual track. (I’ve included some useful links below)

Wear proper footwear. We spotted a young man who had done the 10km walk in flip flops.

Be sensible near the cliffs. There are no barriers, and it’s a long way down.


Take off your wedding band to apply sunscreen, forget to put ring back on, pack up and continue your walk, SANS WEDDING BAND! (true story! We had to leg it back to where we’d stopped for lunch, the whole time praying that a magpie/bowerbird hadn’t spotted it and absconded with it! Luckily, it was exactly where I’d left it. Phew!)

Hike in denim cut offs. Denim rubs! Ouch.

Attempt to swim at Little Marley beach (too much seaweed!) or Big Marley beach neither beach is patrolled, and both have rips.

Royal National Park Visitor Centre
2 Lady Carrington Drive, Audley, Royal National Park, NSW

Park entry fees:
$12 per vehicle per day. Seasonal ticket booths at Bonnie Vale, Wattamolla and Garie Beach are cash only, as there is no power or mobile connection.

Royal National National Park is open 7am to 8.30pm but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.




















March 17, 2016

Some time ago I saw an ad on the telly for Tourism Western Australia that really stuck with me. You may remember it…it was Elle Macpherson, amongst the canopy of a eucalypt forest. The imagery was magical, a supermodel, in a super forest, the colours vivid in that way that colours in WA just seem to be. I made a mental note that I would go there one day. (As an aside, the ad went to air in 1997, almost 20 years later I STILL remember it!)

The Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk is in the Walpole Wilderness area, made up of a continuous chain of 13 national parks and reserves. Within this protected area are some of WA’s most beautiful wild landscapes, including Karri forests and Red Tingles. (Both Karri & Red Tingles are a species of eucalypt, only found in this south west corner of WA, as a result of high rainfall, and temps being cooler here than elsewhere in WA.) These forests are ancient, with some trees said to be over 400 years old!

Admission to the Valley of the Giants grants you access to a steel walkway, that juts out at strange angles, like a super sized Mechano set, and rises into the canopy above, reaching 40 metres above the ground at its highest point. There is a bit of movement to the walkway, which freaked Kinga out, but Wolfie loved it! There were signs advising no more than 10 people on a stretch of walkway at a time which freaked me out!

What really struck me once we reached the top was how peaceful it was, no noise save for the odd bird, just rustling of leaves in the wind, the gentle movement of the forrest. Strange how being so high off the forest floor could be so…grounding! The perspective up there is so unique that you seldom look down. It’s a rare opportunity, being up so high and surrounded by green.

The Ancient Empires Walk is the continuation of the tree top experience, but back on solid ground, on a 600m looped boardwalk, through and around the trunks of the giant tingles. There are felled logs to clamber over, and gigantic, gnarly hollowed out tree trunks to pass through, all of which the kids found terribly amusing!

It is just under an hours drive from Denmark where we were staying to the Valley of the Giants, and the drive along the South Coast Highway is a very pretty one. Keep your eyes peeled for the Old Kent River Winery on the way, look out for a GIANT blue marron (yabby to anyone on the East Coast!) out the front. The folk at Old Kent River have a dam with intensely cobalt blue marron in it, and sell them for $400/kg. We were curious to taste test, but had to satisfy our curiosity by checking them out inside a tub in the cellar door/cafe.

I loved being so immersed in nature, and history too.
This ancient and unique forest is a must see during your stay in the south west!

Entry to The Ancient Empires Walk & Discovery centre is free

Admission to the Tree Top Walk is as follows:
Adults (16 yrs and over) $19
Children (6 to 15) $9.50
Family (2 adults/2 kids) $47.50
Kids under 5 are free

(you can do the tree top walk as many times as you like after paying admission)














March 10, 2016

We were very fortunate to spend Christmas 2015 in Denmark, in the Great Southern region of WA. Denmark is a super cute town, named for the river that runs through it…it has a really great vibe about it; everyone is friendly, and it’s little wonder! The town has got it all; sensational beaches & a river (so lots of water based activities), incredible old growth forests, excellent food & wine…

Our home for 5 nights was the Denmark Ocean Beach Holiday Park, and it was a brilliant base camp. Our cabin was elevated and overlooked the playground and jumping pillow- chockers with kids of all ages during daylight hours, and a feeding ground for roos come evening time! The cabins had pretty good kitchen facilities, so we self catered the entire time, and over the course of our drive had amassed a comprehensive travelling pantry. For all our fresh food needs the local IGA was great. If you happen to be in Denmark and you drive past the information centre and see a man in a white van selling seafood, be sure to pull in! This guy has a great variety of local WA fish and it’s great value! The butchers down by the river on the way into town is also excellent, and smells heavenly, as they do all their smoking on site.

The main drawcard for us was the local beaches…Denmark boasts 100kms of coastline from huge surf beaches (not for me! I’m SUPER scared of waves!) to tidal inlets, and natural lagoons.

Greens Pools is a large sheltered rock pool, perfect for swimming, snorkelling, we even saw a family stand up paddle boarding in it! It is spectacular, with crystal clear water, huge rocks for the kids to climb and swim among, but be warned; the water is FREEZING cold! Somehow, this doesn’t deter anyone, and on a nice summers day it gets very busy, so it’s best to head there early. A short walk east, just over the other side of the headland is Elephant Rocks, thus named because the large grey rocks resemble a herd of elephants wading in the water…sadly it was too far for tired little legs to walk (and big legs carrying all our beach gear!) so we gave it a miss…next time!

Both beaches are located in William Bay National Park, 14kms south west of Denmark, an easy 20 min drive.

Ocean Beach Holiday park is in fact walking distance to Ocean Beach (big waves!) Wilson Inlet (home to about 400 black swans!) and Prawn Rock Channel which connects the two. The channel is very interesting, it changes colour dramatically depending on the tidal flow…with the tide flowing in from the ocean, it is clear as glass, with a strange greenish blue tinge, and the water changes to a tea stained colour as the water rushes out to sea from the inlet (the tea stain comes from tannins in gum leaves that line the shoreline in Wilson Inlet!) It’s a top place to keep an eye on smaller kids & less confident swimmers, and every now and then when the tide is coming in, kids body board up stream, then clamber out and do it again! It’s a lovely spot to go for a walk, and a little floating bridge connects the channel & a footpath that goes all the way down to the ocean.

Next week, we move from the beaches of Denmark, to the Valley of Giants!
We stayed at:

Denmark Ocean Beach Holiday Park
770 Ocean Beach Rd, Denmark 6333, Western Australia

You should try

A Vanilla Slice from the Denmark Bakery (they’re VERY good!)
Denmark Bakery
Shop 9, Fig Tree Square, 27 Strickland Street, Denmark WA 6333

Some locally produced wine from the Denmark Liquor store (it is a wine producing region afterall! We had a great local sparkling Shiraz!)
22 South Coast Highway, Denmark WA 6333














Wet’ n’ Wild, Sydney

March 3, 2016

This week, we celebrated a bit of a milestone event in the Watts household; Kinga no longer swims with floaties! To commemorate this, coinciding with the last weekend of summer, we surprised the kids with a trip out to Wet’n’Wild!

Whoa nelly!
This place is HUGE.

It was so much cleaner than I anticipated (I had imagined floating bandaids, sunscreen slicks & other peoples hair sticking to me! Gross!) and whilst busy, it was not crazy busy. It also seemed very safe, with people leaving their belongs on sun loungers or in cabanas and going off to enjoy the park. We found a spot near the kids area, and left our towels & sunscreen there safely for hours. (we stashed our valuables in a locker)

We LOVED the wave pool the most…and the best part about it is that the water is so nice & clear that you can see your kids in the waves, and yank them up and above the water should they need a breather. Lot’s of space, and no waiting in queues for this attraction. The little kids area was another big hit, with attractions and slides for little folk of all ages, with lots of shaded areas, and access to lockers, change rooms and bathrooms close by.

We had to wait 45 minutes for the river ride, whilst park management scrambled to find extra life guards, and in the end they were not able to open up the entire river as a result of staff shortages. Not cool. The river was overcrowded then, and we bailed. The worst wait was the boys last slide of the day…just under 1 hour for a slide that lasts 45 seconds at best (in fairness someone had injured themselves, so park protocol had to be followed, however we felt better systems needed to be in place to get things moving again.)

Book ahead online! This eliminates the need to queue on arrival; you scan your tickets on your phone, and walk on in. (We queued for 20 minutes, then bought our tickets online, in the queue!) We paid $300 for a family of 4, which on the day did not represent good value for money. For better options, check online, ahead of time!

On arrival suss out which slides have what height restrictions, and plan your day accordingly. Because Kinga is under 110cm she was unable to go on most of the big rides, so I spent most of the day with her, whilst Mez and Wolfie were able to hit the slides together.

Bring snacks…food and drink is expensive in the park. You are allowed to bring ‘small’ quantities of food and bottled water.

Go early, first thing to be first on all the rides…or after 3:30 for cut price admission.

Identify a meeting point, for parents who have to split up to take kids on different rides, or for kids should they get lost.

Bring hats, sunscreen, rashies…(if you forget sunscreen, there are pump bottles at the entrance to all change rooms/bathrooms, and you can buy sunscreen at the wet’n’wild shop too.)

Go with friends! The more the merrier! I think it’d be great to hire a cabana too, and share it among a group.
So, whilst some wait times seemed interminable, the kids seemed to not notice/care and had a ball… And I’ve just seen online that for the final month of the season (March) they have a monthly pass for just $69!!! March Madness! Who wants in?!
The low down…

$64 for children under 110cm
$79 for general admission (over 110cm)
$59 for ‘twilight admission’ (entry after 3:30pm)
$10+ for small locker

Wet’n’Wild Sydney
427 Reservoir Rd
Prospect, NSW 2148















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