Pleasant ways to experience the New Year

How channelling your inner goodness can lead to a balanced life


2018 was a year I found balance and then lost it. It’s easy to do. You get caught up in work, family, projects and before you know it – the gains you have made are sliding away.

So how do you keep hold of that positive space where everything is simple, relaxed and enjoyable?

The answer is to do something you love. And experience nature.

Nature is grounding. Nature is also soothing. Notice how people frequent beautiful places – the beach, the bush, lovely walks. These places give back to us in spades.

Living on the Sapphire Coast means there’s many stunning places to ground yourself. My favourite lately has been Panboola,  https://www.panboola.com/, which is a gorgeous wetlands conservation project with bicycle paths, picnic areas and bird watching hides. Strolling around the many paths quietens the mind so that you can simply appreciate the surroundings.

Panboola has a magical effect on me. I found it easy to become so engrossed in the beauty before me that I did not see a huge kangaroo jump the fence behind me until he grunted, indicating I should leave. Not arguing, I backed away, out the gate only to be surrounded by his friends. Missing the peak of a stunning sunset, I determinedly marched through the group and hastily returned to my car. But not snapping the gorgeous photo on this page.

The lesson learned – find something you love = balance.


Why I didn’t want to go home

Ever wondered how you can feel free again? An unplanned trip can clear your mind and give you that essential me time.

I remember that day five months ago.

I was swanning on the verandah, feeling free and unencumbered. The boy had left his nest comprising of footballs, guitars and Play Station and started uni three weeks before.

“Oh yes!” I replied to the solicitous phone calls, “I’m missing him dreadfully!” Smiling, I surveyed my pristine house which no longer contained a trail of plates and cups or wet towels.

I reflected on how I would spend my extra time. More photography? Get fit? Hmmmm.

Then the phone rang.

“I’m moving down too!”

My mother was coming!

Five months blurred by as I organised the move. My last trip back to the city was a week ago. I had spent a week packing and cleaning mum’s house when the boys told me not to come home. They had caught the dreaded bug.

So I took my time returning.

Stopping overnight at Bateman’s Bay I experienced a restorative sunrise and a very weird sculpture.

After visiting the museum, I stopped at Mogo for a cuppa and a stroll in the shops. Then I stopped again 15 minutes later at Moruya which is changing. Interesting new shops can be found to wander into on the main street. Then the luxury of deciding where to stay for the night.

An hour later I was in Bermagui, a serene little seaside town complete with harbour and plenty of spots for photography and surfing. I was so relaxed I just made it to sunrise.

Alone on the beach, clicking away with my Olympus you can understand why I didn’t want to return to a house containing sickly males and used tissues.

The Sapphire Coast provides plenty of opportunities to escape the winter ills with cheap and available accommodation.

It also provides a sense of freedom.

Reward yourself and take an unplanned road trip.


Paddle board for peace

How paddle boarding can turn you into a fit and peaceful nature lover

No – I’m not talking about changing the world. But you might just find that paddle boarding will give YOU peace.

Picture this – paddling up the river where the aqua water is so clear you can see the bottom. The bush is sliding past with only a curious kangaroo to see you. Frightened fish wizz away while lazy stingrays slide silently under your board. I’ve seen the majestic eagle swoop down and scoop up his lunch not five metres away and we are reminded of the first inhabitants of this great land as we float past reminders of their presence.

You can stop any time you like and explore the bush. There is only you and nature.

Apart from paddling down rivers there are a variety of places on the Sapphire Coast that are suitable. If you are staying in Merimbula, the obvious choice is the lake. Top Lake is less inhabited and you can stop and have a coffee and a really good meal at Sunset Kiosk. https://www.facebook.com/toplakeboathiremerimbulaandsunsetskiosk/

Access to the lake is also found at Fishpen and Spencer Park. There are other access points but be careful of walking on mangrove shoots which are essential to keeping the waterway clean and for oyster production.

If you like the challenge of waves, Bar Beach (see picture above) is a favourite spot as well as Pambula river mouth. The river mouth near the Coraki Drive carpark has nice gentle waves to learn on.

The nice thing about paddle boarding is you can start at any age. Why not hire a board for a couple of hours from Mitchies Jetty in Merimbula, The Broken Oar at Pambula Beach, or Tathra Beach and Bike http://www.mountainbiking.com.au/stand-up-paddle-boarding.

Give paddle boarding a try – it’s a great way to discover the Sapphire Coast.



Chillax at Bar Beach

You don’t have to go far to find a relaxing spot on the Sapphire Coast.

The tourists have gone home and I have one of my favourite spots back.

Bar Beach at Merimbula is close to the town centre but unspoilt. Spectacular views can be seen from the upper car park and you can absorb the ambience of the tiny beach – a perfect spot to swim. When the waves are going off, board riders and paddleboarders take advantage of the long rolling waves which peter out over the bar.

I love the relaxed vibe of yesteryear especially when the shacklike café is open in the summer months. I’ve eaten the best chocolate chip muffin there and the coffee is good.

What I like most about this place are the views. You can see down to Mount Imlay, along the river, past Fishpen and to Lake Merimbula. Unspoilt views to Pambula river mouth ensure your peaceful break.

If you are lucky you will see dolphins cruising past and sometimes, the occasional seal. Even though it is close to town, birds can be seen hunting for dinner and I have observed an eagle circling above.

So where can you stay to take in this tiny place of sheer goodness? The caravan park at Short Point is a 10 minute walk away – https://www.big4.com.au/caravan-parks/nsw/south-coast/nrma-merimbula-beach-holiday-resort. The area surrounding Bar Beach is thick with tourist accommodation which can be found at https://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/south-coast/merimbula-and-sapphire-coast/accommodation.

If you do want to follow my suggestions, leave your hassles behind, respect the environment and enjoy the best of the Sapphire Coast.


Sick of being dropped in on? Check out the top surf spots on the Sapphire Coast

Surfing safari on the Sapphire Coast

Things are on the move in our capital municipalities and coastal cities. Change can be exciting but it brings with it more people wanting to do the same thing as you. Now there are larger numbers of people competing for the same wave and unless you have a long lunch break, there are few times  you can tackle a wave alone.

The Sapphire Coast has many beautiful, quiet places where you can spend the day in the surf without constantly looking over your shoulder at the competition.

Mimosa Rocks National Parks will have you thanking your lucky stars you found it. http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/mimosa-rocks-national-park Dirt tracks will lead you through the whispering trees to lagoons, beaches and bush. Needing a break from the surf? You can always go fishing or birdwatching.

The facilities are also good at Ben Boyd National Park. https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/ben-boyd-national-park  You can camp, try a different beach every day and observe the wildlife. Kangaroos and eagles can be seen at Haycocks Point, but remember, they are wild animals so don’t attempt to get close.

My favourite place is Blithy inlet. Secluded and serene, its pure atmosphere refreshes every cell. At sunrise, watch the tide return over pristine sand ripples. Spend the morning swimming and relaxing on the pristine beach. In the afternoon, walk in the bush and realise that the simple things is what life is about.

Perfection is finishing off with a snooze on the sand to the sound of the whispering waves.

Aaahhhh the serenity.


Amazing places to try right now!

Autumn Splendour on the Sapphire Coast

Everybody has their favourite season. Mine has always been summer. I love the touch of a balmy breeze on a hazy afternoon, the refreshing tingle of an early morning swim and the long, light days which fade gently into night.

But there’s only so many salads you can eat – right?

I’m over the latest style of salad which comes in a bowl and you have to put it together yourself. Or more annoyingly, tip it out of a jar onto a plate so you can devour it. There is only so much quinoa a girl can bear!

Roll on autumn with its just right temperature where you can hide your wobbly bits in a forgiving pair of jeans. At last you can bring out the casserole dish in which the leftovers taste even better than when it was freshly made.

It is also a brilliant time for photography. The sunrise and sunset colours are intense and with the backdrop of changing leaves – a drive to this area is a must.

Autumn makes the Sapphire Coast a desirable place to be. Driving down country roads you can observe the golden light which starts from 3pm. See the changing leaves in Candelo and have a wonderful lunch at Two Blokes Café – https://www.facebook.com/2BlokesFood/. A trip to Bemboka (http://www.sapphirecoast.com.au/the-region/towns/bemboka/) is relaxing with rolling hills, a pie shop and café and if you are in the mood – continue up Brown Mountain to Nimitable. The village is reviving and has many interesting weekend events which can be found at http://nimmitabel.nsw.au/.

Let’s face it. We all need a change and autumn provides a perfect opportunity to walk, hike and just simply enjoy the changing countryside around you.


I see art everywhere!

How your surroundings can enrich your life

I never thought I had an artistic bone in my body. I’m sure the school art teacher had my name on a list titled, “Students never to be offered a place in elective art.” I bet the teacher had a big star beside my name to emphasise my lack of ability and candidature for the course.

But that has not stopped me from developing an appreciation for art.

Photographing the Sapphire Coast has been a wonderful journey into enjoying natural art which is seen in rock formations, textures of windblown trees, composition of landscapes and the amazing hues of colour seen in the sea.

I cannot drag my eyes away from the blues which change in intensity depending on what part of the coast you are located. The Pambula River has clean, green colour while the water off Short point is a deep sapphire blue.

The Sapphire coast has a thriving artistic community who love to show their work. Pambula’s Artessence gallery shows paintings, pottery, jewellery and photography. Twyford Hall in Merimbula hosts artists groups while the attached gallery is often booked out with exhibitions. Don’t miss out on the Bega Regional Gallery https://gallery.begavalley.nsw.gov.au/cp_themes/default/home.asp with its exhibitions. I couldn’t believe my good luck to find the Archibalds there – without the crowds. For something affordable and simple,  Black Daisy in Pambula has, “The exquisite work of local artists and artisans plus a selection of divine homewares.” https://www.facebook.com/blackdaisytrading/

Whether it’s natural or man-made, the Sapphire Coast offers opportunities to satisfy every artistic adventure.

Start yours today!


How opening up to new experiences can enrich your life

Joining groups on the Sapphire Coast can be a positive process

It has been one year since we moved and I am happier than ever! A relaxed lifestyle, reduced stress levels has contributed to creativity.

My pastimes have new pastures to explore. The endless vistas to photograph, new geography to navigate and groups to join helped me along the way. Finding a supportive photography community, @sapphiresnappers, was essential. I have attended worthwhile workshops with the Writers of the Far South Coast – https://www.writersfsc.org.au/. Being of service to the community is also important to me and I have met some wonderful people in Rotary. https://www.rotaryd9710.org.au/~pambula/Home.html.  It is important to belong and these groups helped me to adjust to my new environment.

What do I like most about the move? The peace. Waking to the sound of the ocean is relaxing. Listening to the early birdcalls without any traffic noise is blissful. Not being able to hear your neighbours is soothing to the citified nerves. Watching for Eddie the eagle, who regularly flies by to check out our cat, waiting for Eric the echnida to rid our yard of those pesky ants and observing the habits of the kangaroos that rustle through the bush in the afternoon brings us closer to nature.

Let’s face it – moving can be disastrous but by opening myself up to people, places and photography I have a more satisfying way to live.

Why not consider the groups you can join to learn something new – it may change your life.


Rules for seeing the sunrise

Can experiencing a sunrise improve how you feel?

I have been watching the sunrise for 24 years. It started when I was travelling to work so after changing jobs I continued getting up early. Now, as a photographer, I watch every second, observing the natural world around me in an effort to get a great shot. That ritual provides balance and appreciation in my life, something you can achieve too.

Rules for seeing the sun rise

Don’t be a lush! Drinking heavily will affect your experience

There’s nothing worse than a hangover for preventing you from getting up early. Go easy on the red, or the bubbles, set your alarm and commit.

Mimic Greta Garbo – Find a place where you can be alone

There’s nothing worse than making polite conversation when you want to chill. Being alone is good for you. It reminds you that you don’t need to rely on others and gives you that essential time to reconnect with yourself and nature. In fact, psychological theorist Erikson recognised the importance of nature based intervention by using this method in counselling.[1] So find a safe place where you can be uninterrupted and wait for the magic to happen.

Be at one with your surroundings

Turn your phone off – you don’t need reminders or texts for the 20 minutes it takes for the sun to rise. Allow yourself this time to experience the scene. Listen to the sounds of nature, feel the breeze drift across your face and watch the glorious colours unfold before you.

[1] Burns, G.W., “Nature Guided Therapy” Taylor & Francis, USA, 1998, p.15.




Tips for busy travellers to the Sapphire Coast

Some of the best sights can be found by pulling over and watching the moods of the Sapphire Coast


I have finally learnt my lesson. I have a habit of living in my head. We all do it. Afternoons can be the worst. You’ve rushed from work, picked up the kids, dashed to the soccer fields. Made a quick trip to the supermarket. Home to put the chook in the oven. Fed the dog. Watered the one surviving indoor plant and all the while thinking of something else. What you have to do this evening, tomorrow or have finished by the end of the week.

And all the while you missed something important – like what is actually going on around you.

I have visited the Sapphire Coast since 1986 and I have never actually seen it. Always in a rush, or too exhausted to take in the scenery, I never noticed the beauty surrounding me.

Like how the waters of Lake Merimbula has many mood and colours and how clouds create atmosphere.

How restful it is to sit for ten minutes and observe the changing light, reflections and colour.

Some of the best sunsets can be seen from the many vantage points around Merimbula, whether you are strolling the boardwalk at Top Lake or sitting near the pelican sculptures at Fishpen.

So if you are a busy traveller or just flat out with the daily grind, allow yourself time to appreciate the scenery. And don’t forget – some of the best sights can be found by pulling over and watching the moods of the Sapphire Coast.


The Easiest Way to Enjoy Life on the Sapphire Coast

To walk it is to love it

Ever felt overwhelmed by life? Has the enormity of the task hit you? Or are the changes you have made are huge?

That is how it was for me.

We had moved recently, the house was organised, husband happy in his work and the teenager adjusted (as much as they can be). All the busyness had slowed down and the realisation hit me – I didn’t know anyone.

I was used to walking down the main street and being greeted by people I knew. Sometimes it could be a little annoying being stopped for a chat when you had quickly ducked out.

But no one stopped me here.

Time to get out and walk! I had always enjoyed walking at dawn. You get to meet fellow dog lovers whilst witnessing a beautiful sunrise.

Sometimes, you simply need to take time out from reality and just be.

The Sapphire Coast has some of the best walks in the country. You can walk around the edge of Lake Merimbula whilst witnessing takeoff of the daily flight to Sydney or experience the spectacular scenery of the light to light walk over 3 days. https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/light-to-light-walk

Walking gives me experiences that helps with changing mood. I’ve seen whales steam their way up the coast, heard the early morning screech of galas and disturbed snacking roos. Who can feel negative after that?

After one of my first walks around Lake Merimbula I realised how lucky I was to be starting over. No preconceptions, no judgements. Simply be.

How refreshing.


Why you should take a leap of faith

To explore is to live.


For me, moving to the Sapphire Coast involved a huge leap of faith. I had to believe that leaving what I knew would be better. This meant overcoming the obstacles my mind naturally produced.

Like the obvious. I left the city for a country area considered rural and remote. I certainly felt isolated during the first few months when I bumped down gum tree lined roads to get to the supermarket.

Yet the locals reassured me we had done the right thing. They were so welcoming after they found we had recently moved that I knew we would soon belong. Being accepted is an important part of feeling valued and gives a great feeling of self-worth.

The more I explored my new postcode, the more I belonged.

I started with my immediate area and gradually branched out. I had no plan, which made my exploration more like an adventure. I just went where the whim took me. And the more I discovered, the more alive I felt.

Something simple, like taking the dog for her daily run, became the next step in the adventure. Together we saw wild life you would never see in the suburbs and we experienced the open skies and bare beaches of the Sapphire Coast normally reserved for travel stories.

Now it’s your turn.

Choose a place to discover.

Feel the freedom of being somewhere different.

Explore and feel alive.


The best way to discover hidden gems of the Sapphire Coast

Explore. Discover. Immerse yourself…

Imagine walking around a corner and finding something that makes your heart sing.

It had been a busy fortnight of unpacking and the faithful mutt was fed up. Her mournful chocolate eyes followed me relentlessly as I dealt with boxes and belongings. Today, the reproachful stare was enough to move me into action.

I followed the unfamiliar road in the early light, careful to avoid the kangaroos. The dog, grateful for her release, sprinted joyfully down the beach, her grin becoming wider each step. The beach was hard packed white sand, making walking easy.

Following the murmuring shoreline I came across a mound of red rocks. And then I made the discovery.

A few steps further on was a natural beach, about 10 metres wide, protected by a cliff and surrounded by water. On one side – the mouth of the Pambula River and the other, the ocean. It’s a favourite spot for local paddle boarders and sharks.

Mesmerised by the colour of the water, I turned to see Old Man Rock. His features, clearly seen by the rising sun which also heightened the orange tones of the rock. I sat on the sand, throwing the ball occasionally to keep the dog happy, and took in the ambience.

Peace. Serenity. Alone.

Sometimes the best gems are found when you just let life happen.

No research, no planning, just let it be.



A Sapphire Coast Welcome to 2018

This is the post excerpt.

This is my very first post of a brand new blog. This blog will not only explore the beauty of the Sapphire Coast but will also will also reveal a little about me and my experiences on moving to the area.

I am writing this on New Year’s Eve and thinking back over the past year. My husband had applied for a job in the Bega Valley and this time last year, I sat comfortably in the lounge room, feeling assured that we would never move.  I gazed at the familiar scene out my front window and felt secure in the knowledge that friends would soon come over to eat and watch the annual fireworks.

The small seed of doubt grew as they were told of the possibility of us leaving. How could you leave everything you knew? What about your friends? Family? How was your son going to be able to finish his final year of schooling?

Yet there was something exciting in considering the possibility. The opportunity to start afresh, to discover new areas to photograph, to begin an adventure in our middle aged years was inviting and just a little bit exciting. The thought of starting life again, just like I had at 18, appealed. The desire to reinvent myself outweighed the usual, stale New Year’s resolution of weight loss, gaining new qualifications, saving money. Those dull promises that I knew I would never keep was being swept aside in a blink, as the prospect of a possible new adventure loomed.

So as you sit there on New Year’s Day, tired from the frantic festivities of the night before, think about what new adventure could be yours for the taking in 2018. What areas are you going to explore about yourself and the world around you? How are you going to set some time aside to appreciate the natural beauty the world has to offer?

2018 is a year that I will share the beauty of my new world – the gorgeous Sapphire Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Join me on my adventure in nature and observe my experiences in learning to live in a small country town.