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,, 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.

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

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 – The area surrounding Bar Beach is thick with tourist accommodation which can be found at

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. 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.  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 – A trip to 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

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 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.”

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 – Being of service to the community is also important to me and I have met some wonderful people in Rotary.  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.