Grand Pacific Drive

After a few days in the Blue Mountains we are continuing down the South Coast, a coastal strip south of Sydney which extends to the border of the state of Victoria. The region is crossed in its northern part by the Grand Pacific Drive. This scenic route of 140 kilometres follows one of the most beautiful coastlines of Australia. It reveals so many villages and points of interest on the seafront one being the famous Kiama Blowhole, the world's most powerful of its kind. The sea was calm during our visit so unfortunately we only witnessed a mini-splash (the highest is about 25 meters).

Sublime Point Lookout

The most popular place of the Blue Mountains is certainly the view of the famous Three Sisters rock formation in Katoomba. It is beautiful but the development that caters for the tourism of the place robs them of their natural charm. This said a few miles away, further south in the town of Leura, the perspective offered by Sublime Point Lookout (photo), which is aptly named, is breathtaking. It feels immediately amazing, at the same time as feeling like King of the World you also feel so small gazing into the vast and deep valley. This is quite an experience!

Legends, Mysteries And Ghosts At The Jenolan Caves

The Jenolan Caves, located in the Blue Mountains, are of extraordinary beauty. These are probably the oldest caves in the world. The underground network of Jenolan is huge, more than 40 kilometres, and ongoing exploration. Several miles of caves have been made ​​easily accessible to visitors and it is possible to take part in numerous tours. We attended a Legends, Mysteries & Ghosts' Tour, taking us on a night tour for two hours with our guide and our lanterns. It is intriguing and fascinating at the same time. Fortunately during our visit, the ghosts were on strike. The road to access the site is extremely picturesque with many wild wallabies along the way, a first since the beginning of this project. Upon arrival the cave site will take your breath away with its staturesque presence.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Jenolan Caves.

Staying At Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum

At the entrance of the Blue Mountains shortly after Glenbrook, hides a small well-kept secret: Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum located at the former property of the artist. We did not really know much of his work, but Norman Lindsday was a prolific artist. In addition to his etchings and paintings his most famous work is likely to remain The Magic Pudding, a children's book among the most popular of Australian literature from which an animated feature-length film adaption was released in 2000. That said, the real secret is a cottage where you can stay behind the palm trees a few metres from Lindsay's Cafe. To really enjoy the tranquility of the place spending the night there is the perfect way to do it. We were fortunate enough to experience it and highly recommend it to you.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum.

The Blue Mountains

Breathtaking landscapes. Cliffs everywhere. Waterfalls, from the smallest to the highest. Welcome to the Blue Mountains! This mountainous range (highest point at 1,111 metres) at a hundred kilometers away from Sydney is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2000. For the record, the name of these mountains is derived from the blue reflection returned by the remote mountain views, the reflection is generated by the volatile oils of eucalyptus forests which abound in the valleys. It is spectacular and it is not to be missed!

Fit n Fast St Peters

If you are faithful to the blog, you know that Fit n Fast became a new partner of iPhoneography Oz recently. The chain of health clubs invites us to test all its facilities that cross our way around Australia. A new Fit n Fast gym just opened its doors in Sydney during our stay. So we were fortunate to be among the first to use it. It is housed in a great warehouse in the suburb of St Peters. There are no problems with ventilation, lighting, or parking. Of course all the facilities are brand new. The mens changing room is small and has only one shower but it was never a problem whenever we were there. For the rest, we find the same ingredients that we had found in Charlestown. In marketing we call that a good brand consistency! When it is beautiful, clean and brand new, there are no more excuses for not working out!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Fit n Fast.

Attending A Football Game In Sydney

Australia is the country of rugby rather than football (or soccer). Recently we attended a game of the NRL, but we thought we could give soccer a chance by attending Sydney FC game against Newcastle Jets. And what a surprise! The atmosphere created by the fans was as good as what you would find in certain Ligue 1 stadiums. Although the stadium was only half full, we were close to 15,000 spectators. The level of play of the A-League looks interesting and the show offered by both teams was certainly worth the trip. For the record, Sydney FC won 3-2. A modern stadium, a good atmosphere and some goals, all the essential ingredients for an awesome afternoon at the Allianz Stadium!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Sydney FC.

Sailing Sydney

This might be the most famous image of Australia: Sydney Harbour with Sydney Opera House in the foreground and Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background. To get the best point of view, nothing like sailing the waters of the bay aboard a yacht. It is the experience that Sailing Sydney allowed you to live. And what an experience! This is a unique 2h30 opportunity to participate as crew on a real America's Cup yacht in a spectacular setting. For comparison, it would almost be like Fernando Alonso lending you his Ferrari F2012 on Monaco Grand Prix's track. While we are on the subject (Formula 1), none other than Lewis Hamilton boarded the yacht only a few days before iPhoneography Oz did! Boarding is on Darling Harbour not far from the Sydney Aquarium and Wild Life Sydney. This is an unforgettable experience not to be missed which is already among iPhoneography Oz's best of!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Sailing Sydney.

Oceanworld, Manly Sea Life Sanctuary

We visited Oceanworld Manly. As its name suggests, this is an attraction dedicated to the marine world. Do not expect a huge park with dolphin shows but the tour is well worth the visit because it is really instructive. There are some very rare species like this cowfish (photo). Oceanworld Manly is located in the small town of Manly a few kilometers north of Sydney. We highly recommend to spend a day there especially to enjoy some time out on its beautiful beach.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Merlin Entertainments Group.

Wild Life Sydney

The Wild Life Sydney is an animal park, a direct neighbour of Sydney Aquarium on Darling Harbour in the heart of Sydney. The visit allows for meeting most of the animals on Australian soil, the most loved and feared animals like this five meter crocodile (photo), the largest reptile on Earth. According to the schedule, it is possible to attend the animals feeding. We especially enjoyed the discussions with the keepers throughout the visit.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Merlin Entertainments Group.

Sydney Aquarium

After Sydney Tower Eye, let's continue our visit to Merlin Entertainments Group's parks with Sydney Aquarium. It is located on Darling Harbour, one of the prettiest parts of Sydney in the heart of the central business district. The aquarium is the most visited attraction in the city. The figures speak for themselves: 12,000 animals, 650 species. This is a huge amount, among the multitude of species you can get up close and personal with this sawshark (photo) and the Japanese Spider Crab, the largest in the world. Prefer public transportation to get there. Traffic and parking in Sydney is just a nightmare.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Merlin Entertainments Group.

Sydney Tower Eye

Sydney is a big city. To have a 360° view of what it looks like, climb aboard one of the three elevators that will propel you to over 300 metres high at the top of the Sydney Tower Eye. It is the tallest structure in Sydney and the second in Australia (the first being the Q1 Tower on the Gold Coast). This is also the second highest observation tower in the Southern Hemisphere (after Auckland's Sky Tower in New Zealand). The more adventurous can even try the Skywalk experience that provides access to a platform outside. It is possible to buy combo passes for Sydney Tower Eye, Sydney Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney and Oceanworld Manly attractions and save a lot compared to single tickets.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Merlin Entertainments Group.

Attending A National Rugby League Game

We recently attended a National Rugby League (NRL) championship game between two teams from Sydney area, namely Cronulla Sharks and Manly Sea Eagles (defending champion). The NRL is one of the most prestigious competitions of rugby league in the world and the most popular in Australia in terms of attendance, audience and merchandising. It operates on a franchise system in a closed championship (as in the NBA, NFL or NHL). It is composed of sixteen Australian franchises from the east coast and one from New Zealand. The atmosphere is similar to the one you can experience at the Montreal Alouettes or Université Laval's Rouge et Or. A must do during a stay in Australia!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of National Rugby League.

The Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley is located in the country west of Newcastle. Sydney is only two hours away. As its name does not suggest this is one of the major wine regions of Australia (and therefore one of the main tourist destinations in the area). Paradise for foodies, the Hunter Valley is home to many fine restaurants. Do not miss all the tastings available to you: wines, cheeses, olive oils and chocolates. It is also in the region that the Wyndham Estate lies (photo), home of the first Australian Shiraz.

Fit n Fast Charlestown

We are pleased to announce a new partnership between iPhoneography Oz and Fit n Fast, a chain of health clubs located mainly on the eastern coast of Australia. In the coming weeks we will be able to use their facilities in order to review the services offered in their different locations and share it with you.

This week we begin with Fit n Fast Charlestown. The gym is located on the ground floor of Charlestown Square, a large shopping centre in the suburbs of Newcastle, just ten minutes away from the city centre. No problems with parking as the centre has a massive car park (the first three hours are free). Once again, as it was already the case at Ezyfit, we are pleasantly surprised by the facilities and the cleanliness of the place. The equipment is modern and in perfect condition. They even thought to group it into different sections depending on the type of exercises desired, facilitating the workout (quotes printed in large letters on the walls are there to remind you). The membership fees, in our opinion, are excellent value for money. It is also possible to choose a no commitment membership, which is always good to know when traveling! All information is available on Fit n Fast website.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Fit n Fast.

Let's Go Surfing!

All ways are good to reach the beach to go surfing in Australia. It is very common to meet most of the surfers on the sidewalks, their boards in hand. But in Cadel Evans's homeland (winner of the Tour de France 2011), we must admit that some of them are ingenious (photo). The most difficult part must be taking 90° turns when the wind blows. Anyway we trust them!

The Nippers Dance

What to do in Sydney on a Sunday morning? Attend the weekly meeting of Nippers on Bondi Beach. The Nippers? They are children who go to the local day camp. Except that in Australia we do not teach them to do macramé or to manipulate clay to make cups that nobody will ever use (since they explode at the first firing anyway). It is a fun way to learn how to tame the dangers of the beach and the ocean. All this is organized by the local Surf Club. It is refreshing, sometimes funny and says a lot about how the ocean is part of the Australian way of life.

Crime In Newcastle

It is never a nice feeling to be robbed. It is even less when it occurs during a long-term trip abroad and when the thief leaves with 95% of your personal belongings. This is what we experienced (a first time for us) this week in Adamstown, a district of Newcastle reputedly quiet. This lowlife even left with food and petrol! We will make no comment about the New South Wales Police here even if we would have a lot to say about it. Our initial impressions upon arriving in Newcastle were negative (popular city without character). We are leaving it (certainly extremely light) with an evidential confirmation of our doubts. Run away from Newcastle and prefer the surrounding area (Port Stephens, Lake Macquarie) which are, in our opinion, the only valid reason why Newcastle is ranked in Lonely Planet's Top 10 cities to visit in the world.

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Nobbys Beach

You will find Nobbys Beach (photo) in a quiet neighborhood northeast of Newcastle (just steps away from the YHA Newcastle Beach Hostel). From the lighthouse overlooking the bay, you can walk along the 5 kilometres Bathers Way coastal walk. If you are afraid of sharks (which are not a myth in Australia!), it is possible to swim in the Newcastle Ocean Baths, large salt water pools located near Nobbys Beach behind an Art Deco pavilion.

Camping At Lake Macquarie's Waterfront

In what surroundings are you used to camping in? We are not big fans of camping but we have been tempted by the Wangi Point Lakeside Holiday Park. Thus we spent a week at their camping ground enjoying the incredible scenery. The holiday park is located at Lake Macquarie's waterfront, insulated enough from civilization to achieve the status of a holiday haven. But do not worry as supermarkets are nearby and Newcastle is less than an hour away. Unfortunately it rained a lot during our stay which made the few sunny mornings especially energizing. For more information, see the various accommodation types available on the holiday park's website.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Wangi Point Lakeside Holiday Park.

Cloud Porn

The weather has not been kind since we arrived in Newcastle area. As seen on the Sunshine Coast, it can change within a few minutes in Australia. This afternoon it was sunny at the National Surfing Reserve of Merewether Beach (an extension of Bar Beach). Surfers had fun in the waves of the Tasman Sea before massive clouds arrived in a few seconds. Time for them to get out of the water. Here is the result!

Winged Migration

Impressed by the countless exotic birds that you come across in Australia. Parakeets, or multicolored parrots, pelicans (not all of their name start with "P") are as common as pigeons and magpies are in western cities. But until now our favorite is the Laughing Kookaburra, a mythical bird in Aboriginal culture, famous for its endless laughing call. And it makes us laugh! We came across one not too long ago. Its look says it all. Judge for yourself!

Sandboarding Session

We could not resist. After having mentionned it a few days ago during the sand dune safari in Stockton Beach, here is what sandboarding looks like. And this is truly a sport! Sliding down the fine sandy slopes, then making the climb back to the top (usually under the hot sunshine), it becomes a real cardio workout. Sitting (as on a sled) or standing (as on a snowboard), the feelings are similar to the winter sports (only a few degrees warmer). It is imperative to try it while in Port Stephens area because unless you live near a sand dune high enough, the day you will be able to do it again might be far away!

Sunset In Port Stephens

Port Stephens area is located a few kilometers north of the Stockton Beach sand dunes. Geographically speaking it looks like the bay of St Tropez. In fact it is much quieter. It is the perfect holiday destination. The water is calm and turquoise. It is not impossible to come across some dolphins in Shoal Bay. The sunset from Nelson Bay (photo) or Soldiers Point boat ramps are a must see! Finally we start to understand why Lonely Planet has ranked Newcastle in its Top 10 cities to visit in the world.

Amazing Sand Dune Safari In Stockton Beach

Let's continue our investigations to confirm Newcastle's ranking in the 2011 Lonely Planet's top 10 cities in the world to visit. We took part in a sand dune safari in Stockton Beach with Dawsons Tours. Breathtaking! The landscape is incredible and sometimes reminds us of Fraser Island. The area is usually known for beach camping but the small 4WD expedition also provided some unexpected moment. Tin City emerging out of the sand like a mirage (where parts of Mad Max have been made), vestiges of the World War II and sandboarding are the highlights of this experience. Taking part in a safari is a must when you are in the area. Andrew, the Dawsons Tours guide, is in love with the place and does not hesitate to extend the journey if time allows it.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Dawsons Tours.

Thrill Ride On Lake Macquarie

Lonely Planet has ranked Newcastle among the Top 10 cities to visit in the world? Let's go to Lake Macquarie area, a few kilometers south of the city, where one can experience a unique water activity with Jet Buzz. The Cheeky Bee promises a 40 minutes thrill ride on Lake Macquarie where you will experience high-speed slides and turns. But the experience would not be complete without a few 360° spins. The sensations are quite similar to what one feels on a jet ski. But the ride is not only about the adrenaline rush. Boarding the Cheeky Bee is also a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area. Lake Macquarie is quite similar to Lake Como in northern Italy (you know, where George Clooney owns a villa!). If you are lucky enough, you might even meet some last minute guests. Indeed, during our cruise two dolphins joined us playing in the waves created by the boat (photo). A magical moment to put on any bucket list! We definitely recommend Jet Buzz. To get a better idea of ​​the activity, visit the photo gallery of Jet Buzz or watch this video.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Jet Buzz.


We are heading south continuing our route along the North Coast of New South Wales. After Port Macquarie, here is Newcastle. Expectations are high as Newcastle was ranked 9th in the Lonely Planet's top 10 cities for 2011. It will take some time to prove it. Let's start with the most favorite activity of Australians: the beach. The city has a few. Bar Beach (photo) is a huge beach popular among families and surfers. It is located south of Newcastle City Business District. For a quieter time, you should climb some rocks to reach Susan Gilmore Beach, located below a large cliff at the northern part of Bar Beach.

What do you think? Have you been to Newcastle? What's your favourite beach in Newcastle area? Do you think Newcastle deserves its Lonely Planet ranking? Let us know in the comments below!

Petrol "Burger" Station

A few petrol pumps and a garage: from the outside it looks like a petrol station (maybe because it is one!). Yet we are going to talk about a new culinary discovery. Open the door and come in. It is magic: a grocery store (expired products for several months are on sale!), a counter shared between cash registers and grill, and finally, a dining room which looks like a veritable museum of lost items on the Route 66 (photo). But once again (in addition to this stop), the burgers are divine! All this is on the Waterfall Way, in Ebor, midway between Coffs Harbour and Armidale.

Koala Hospital In Port Macquarie

The Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie has koala admissions of between 200 and 300 each year. Sick or injured (from motor vehicles, dogs, bushfires etc.), koalas are now an endangered species. In the healing phase, after a stint in intensive care, these marsupials are moved into the outdoor yards of the hospital where you can witness their daily feeding. They are given eucalyptus leaves and a specially prepared milk supplement. If you would like to contribute, you can also adopt a wild koala for as little as 50 AUD.