New Journeys and Time Travel – Bryon Bay, Australia

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Visiting Byron Bay is like taking a step back in time. Some far-flung 70′s movie through a progressive lens, it offers healthy, delicious food, ultra sustainable practices, and smiles from happy strangers.

Needless to say, Byron proved to be the perfect place to begin my journey as a yoga teacher. I am so lucky to have been able to further develop such a strong practice and holistic knowledge with Byron Yoga Centre and their amazing group of passionate and truly inspired teachers. Living at the Retreat Center with my amazing cohort of teacher trainees was an experience that I feel should not, and cannot, be simplified down into words. It was a transformative experience that is only the beginning of a life-long journey.

Leaving the yoga centre and entering into the backpacker’s world was quite a transition, but the only way for us to experience Byron Bay like a true traveler should. The Arts Factory was our quirky home while spending a few days exploring the town, enjoying the local cafes and live music, walking the beaches and Cape Byron lighthouse trail – highly recommended to see some amazing breaching winter whales and playful dolphins! 

Tomorrow, we pick up our (hopefully not too profanely spray painted) Wicked camper van and start our trek up the East Coast.

Byron Yoga Centre

Byron Yoga Centre – Retreat

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Back porch sunsets

Back porch sunsets

Fellow teacher trainees leading class

Fellow teacher trainees leading class

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Break from the retreat center at the Byron Sunday Markets

Break from the retreat center at the Byron Sunday Markets

Amazing people

Amazing people

Best teacher trainers ever

Best teacher trainers ever

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Our hostel in Byron

Our Byron hostel

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Early morning light at The Arts Factory

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Byron Beach

Byron Beach

Tree House restaurant

Tree House cafe

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Cape Byron, Australian mainland's most easterly point

Cape Byron, Australian mainland’s most easterly point

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Cape Byron Bay Light House

Cape Byron Bay Lighthouse

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A pod of dolphins spotted during our hike

A pod of dolphins spotted during our hike

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Lighthouse at sunset

Lighthouse at sunset

Temporary Locals

It’s a strange feeling leaving a place that so quickly became a home. Without even noticing, we became a part of Coogee – not a difficult thing to do in such a small beach suburb. Even Sydney as a whole has started to feel quite small as we now know our way around the city and its surrounding suburbs, encounter familiar faces at our favorite pub, Bitter Phew, and continue to build friendly connections, but Coogee itself has felt more like a home than we ever expected. Knowing local grocer and restaurant owners by name, running in to friends on the street and having a drink or two with our favorite dive instructors at Coogee Bay Hotel have become common occurrences.

And yet, as bitter as it is to leave our temporary home with all the goodness that surrounds us, it is far more sweet to know that we are headed into newer and more exciting ventures during these upcoming weeks and thereafter. Uprooting ourselves once more, we are prepared and beyond grateful for what has yet to come in our Australian adventure.

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Our Scottish housemate, Jimmy, and his faithful dog Mac. Sad to say goodbye to these two.

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Flight and freighter on the Pacific

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…Understandable why they’re called Humpback Whales

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True Blue, the trusty vessel for our Merimbula Marina whale watching experiences

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Cousins in Sydney for Sasha's 21st

Cousins in Sydney for Sasha’s 21st


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View from the Coogee Cliffs never gets old

View from the Coogee Cliffs never gets old

Gordon's Bay snorkeling in the middle of winter. We'll take it.

Gordon’s Bay snorkeling in the middle of winter. We’ll take it.

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Coogee by night.

Coogee by night.

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In the meantime…

 

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My position at The Web Showroom and Alex’s nannying gig have afforded us the ability to go ahead and book flights and a Wicked Camper Van for our fast-approaching trek up Australia’s East Coast. Alex is set to depart on July 4th for Byron Bay to attend her 12-day intensive yoga certification course through the Byron Yoga Centre. I will follow on July 14th. Our trek will stretch from Byron Bay to Cairns, a 1,869km drive along the eastern coastline. Many posts to come detailing this upcoming experience.

In the meantime, we continue to explore all that Sydney has to offer:

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Skaters pull tricks at a beachside skate park in Bondi.

Skaters pull tricks at a beachside skate park in Bondi.

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A Tibetan monk creating a mandala sand painting

A Tibetan monk creating a mandala sand painting

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Our instructor, Tony, prepping for a dive

Our instructor, Tony, prepping for a dive

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Assembling gear

Assembling gear

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A fellow diver soaks up the sunset on our way home

A fellow diver soaks up the sunset on our way home

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Catching the Spurs playoff run at the Coogee Bay Hotel

Catching the Spurs playoff run at the Coogee Bay Hotel

Travel is not free…

 

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It is inevitable that, after settling somewhere for a while – no matter how beautiful, distant and different from home – things start to seem normal again. Totally normal to stroll to the dive shop and launch-spot in the beautiful Gordon’s Bay; to spend a free, sunny day picnicking in the Royal Botanic Gardens; to practice yoga with a view of the ocean. The beauty of our stay in Sydney, however, is that it is completely temporary – and that becomes more and more clear with every passing week, reminding us to truly soak it all in.

As the weather cools and the beach crowds slow, so has our promotions work… meaning one thing to the both of us: time to start looking for more work! Travel is not free, and our East Coast trek is on the horizon.

Richard quickly (naturally) landed a position as a Web Consultant at The Web Showroom: a cool, website design, online marketing and SEO agency in Surry Hills. I thought I’d test my luck with nannying, considering the mass amounts of children in the area, and succeeded in landing a full time gig watching a 3 year-old English girl, starting next week! We are happy and ready to start working more hours to save up for our impending travels while also continuing our promotions ride with Co Yo on the weekends.

But, until then, we try to not get ahead of ourselves and fully enjoy all that Sydney has to offer and all the excitement to come in the next few months.

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Beautiful day in the city!

 

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St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney

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“…We also invite you to hug the trees…” – well, okay!

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Strolling through the Gardens

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100 year old Dragon Blood Tree that toppled over in 2008 - click photo to read more

100 year old Dragon Blood Tree that toppled over in 2008 – click photo to read more

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The Succulent Garden

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Cacti and spiders

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The Opera House was open for a show, so we gave ourselves a little tour! Will definitely be buying tickets to a show in the near future…

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View from our picnic spot

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Escaping the heat within the Art Gallery of NSW

^My not-so-good GoPro videography of Richard blowing bubble rings.

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Stingaree (common Aussie stingray)

Stingaree (common Aussie stingray)

Gus the Groper!! King of Gordon's Bay.

Gus the Groper!! King of Gordon’s Bay.

Bubble-rings

Bubble-rings

Rachel, our dive guide, displaying her master bubble-blowing skills.

Rachel, our dive guide, displaying her master bubble-blowing skills.

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We are SO excited to further our scuba experience with the Pro Dive Advanced Diver course this upcoming weekend.

Yoga on the South Coogee Cliffs

Yoga on the South Coogee Cliffs

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Pacific paddle boarders

I was so happy to spend my 24th birthday in beautiful Australia with Richard, but I definitely missed my friends and family back home!

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Enjoying a bottle of Keith Tulloch wine from The Hunter at Barzura restaurant, with a view of Coogee – great birthday night.

 

I smile at people I pass on the sidewalk, trail, path

even if they won’t smile back or don’t look up – passing by in their

real-life daydream. I smile at everyone because I like to think, 

even if they don’t see it, they will feel it.

“Routine” Lifestyle

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Two months in Coogee has allowed Alex and I to become quite comfortable with our surroundings and settle in to more of a weekly routine. Falling back in to a routine lifestyle, though unavoidable, was a sobering reminder for us to strive to never become totally blasé to the fortunate circumstances in which we find ourselves here or awaiting us back home.

Ensuring we make special, daily efforts to remind us of our good fortune has been an easy way to remain cognizant of the incredible surroundings Sydney has to offer. Whether it be catching an early morning sunrise, hiking the coastal trail from Coogee to Maroubra Beach, seizing a sunny day for a snorkel in Gordon’s Bay, strolling up the road to a local food festival, or riding an evening ferry back from Manly Beach (all depicted below),  it is never hard to find a stunning reminder.

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Panorama capturing setting moon and rising sun

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Painter at Coogee Beach, NSW

Painter at Coogee Beach, NSW

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Gorgeous costal rock with evident oceanic erosion

Gorgeous costal rock with evident oceanic erosion

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Common Garden Skink lizard

Common Garden Skink lizard

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Searching for natural souvenirs

Searching for natural souvenirs

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Close-up of eroded sea rock

Close-up of eroded sea rock

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Maroubra "Baths" and Beach

Maroubra “Baths” and Beach

Maroubra Beach

Maroubra Beach

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Little locals tearing up the waves

Little locals tearing up the waves

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Evening silhouette of a White-faced Heron at the end of our walk back to Coogee

Evening silhouette of a White-faced Heron at the end of our walk back to Coogee

Gordon's Bay offers crystal-clear diving conditions and warm rocks to relax on

Gordon’s Bay offers crystal-clear diving conditions and warm rocks to relax on

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Blowing underwater bubble rings

Blowing underwater bubble rings

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Another incredible Coogee sunset to close our day of snorkeling

Another incredible Coogee sunset to close our day of snorkeling

Salt & Vinegar twisted potato

Salt & Vinegar twisted potato

"The Spot" Food Festival was a short walk up the road from Coogee

“The Spot” Food Festival was a short walk up the road from Coogee

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Manly Beach in Northern Sydney rivals in popularity to Bondi

Manly Beach in Northern Sydney rivals in popularity to Bondi

Sunset ferry ride back from Manly Beach to downtown Sydney

Sunset ferry ride back from Manly Beach to downtown Sydney

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The Boss in The Hunter

IMG_2185We are walking past rows of grape vines and staring up at the stars. Bruce Springsteen is playing from a close distance and we can barely hear which song is on. A little dirty from the dusty roads and mostly blind in the dark, we find our Led Zepplin campervan and climb in, tired from a day of tasting wine, meeting good people, and driving on the wrong side of the road.

Sounds like a dream, right? That’s what we kept saying as soon as we arrived in Hunter Valley – wine country – just under 3 hours from Sydney. An incredible place to visit, let alone an incredible venue for a Bruce concert!

After collecting our accommodations for the weekend, a spray-painted Wicked Camper, we escaped the city and were surrounded by bush-country in what seemed like no time. Driving away from the sky-scrapers and suburbs is a great way to realize how untouched Australia really is – how quickly you feel completely out there.

We spent the day on Saturday visiting a few of the local wineries and enjoying some tastings. The Hunter is renowned for it’s Semillons and Shiraz, and rightfully so. Bruce was also playing on Saturday, but having tickets for the Sunday show meant we enjoyed the many wineries in peace – we were able to fully visit with the awesome people who make the wines (apparently they had been completely slammed during the morning hours by excited concert goers). Needless to say, it was quite a happy venue.

Atop "The Zepp" at our vineyard-side camping spot.

Atop “The Zepp” at our vineyard-side camping spot.

We received two complementary bottles of wine for taking a picture for potential use in Keith Tulloch Winery's brochure.

We received two complementary bottles of wine for taking a picture for potential use in Keith Tulloch Winery’s brochure. (Click photo for winery website)

The view from Keith Tulloch's tasting balcony was incredible.

The view from Keith Tulloch’s tasting balcony was incredible.

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The Pepper Tree Winery

The Pepper Tree Winery

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We spent both nights parked under gum trees facing a vineyard. Upon waking, we had a windshield view of the sunrise streaming through the early-morning clouds, dotted with hot air balloons bobbing in the sky.

Sunrise accented by a hot air ballon

Sunrise accented by a hot air ballon

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More winery/brewery/smelly cheese shop visits later, we are pumped up and ready for the main event: Bruuuuuuce!

Margan Hunter Valley Wines (click photo for winery's website)

Margan Hunter Valley Wines (click photo for winery’s website)

Blue Tongue Brewery

Blue Tongue Brewery

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Pre-concert crafting

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Aussies love Bruce

Aussies love Bruce

Click here for a taste of The Boss’s amazing show. We were blown away – as always!

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Pure Freedom

Palm Beach, Northeastern Sydney

Palm Beach, Northeastern Sydney

To travel is to be free. Exploration of new cultures and places never fails to refresh my memory about the profound awesomeness of our world. With over a month behind us, this experience has been no exception. Further backing this intense sense of freedom is the ease in which we were able to fly half-way around the world and settle comfortably in to a new place.

Australia has also served as a constant reminder of our good fortune.  From the incredible area that we are currently living in to the support of our families and friends, no amount of grateful reflection could do justice to the circumstances in which I find myself today.

This week, Alex and I completed our Open Water Scuba Certification course with ProDive Coogee. This included academic coursework, pool training, and four ocean dives. We were hooked after the first shore dive and have signed up to complete our Advanced Open Water Certification this coming month, which will allow us to dive down up to 30 meters and includes five boat dives (one of which is a night dive). We know this investment will be one that keeps on giving for many years to come, and we are so excited to have joined the scuba community!

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Our whole under water crew following our instructor Michael along the Gordon's Bay Underwater Trail.

Our whole under water crew following our instructor, Michael, along the Gordon’s Bay Underwater Trail.

Feeling weightless

Feeling weightless

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Under water during a rain storm = no storm at all.

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Loving the meditative aspect of breathing under water.

Some more photos from the past couple of weeks:

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Yoga studio overlooking the beach.

Yoga studio, The Living Room, overlooking Coogee Beach.

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HUGE spiders hanging out - walked by them on our way to dinner.

HUGE spiders hanging out – walked by them on our way to dinner.

Mac giving me the eyes.

Mac giving me the eyes.

Richard and some Co Yo samplers.

Richard and some Co Yo samplers on Valentine’s Day.

Richard and Sean out in Sydney.

Richard and Sean out in Sydney.

Richard and Jimmy, our roommate, playing some pool at The Coogee Bay Hotel.

Richard and Jimmy, our housemate, playing some pool at The Coogee Bay Hotel.