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Jurien Bay - A Weekend Away

Jurien Bay - A Weekend Away

One of the easiest weekend roadtrips from Perth is Jurien Bay/Lancelin! Beautiful calm beaches, the golden Pinnacles and pristine sand dunes – this wee slice of the Coral Coast has it all. Here are our top five activities for a weekend trip (two nights): 1. Watch the sunset at the Pinnacles This has to be one of the most beautiful spots to watch the sun go down. We suggest packing a picnic and taking your time here – usually the colours are best once the sun has gone and that beautiful pink glow has arrived! And if you’re not short of time, wait around and watch the Milky Way rise. (Best in Winter months.) 2. Watch the sunrise at the old Jurien Bay Jetty Pack yourself breakfast and spend the morning here – the crystal clear water will blow you away! 3. Camp at Sandy Bay Campground This wee gem is managed by the local shire, and they’ve done such a great job setting it up. $20 for two adults per night and you get to camp right by the beach (but with just enough wind protection from the dunes!). You can explore the neighbouring sand dunes, swim at the beach or simply sit back and relax. It truly is perfection. 4. Watch the sunrise over the sand dunes Roll out of bed (at Sandy Bay) and wander over to the sand dunes to watch the sun come up. There’s something so magical about watching the sky go all sorts of colours against the powdery white sand dunes. 5. Frolic, spin and play in the incredible sand dunes at Lancelin. If you’re adventurous hire a sand board and slide to your hearts content! Like the Pinnacles, this also makes for a pretty epic spot to watch the Milky Way rise! Our suggested weekend itinerary: Friday (Perth -> Pinnacles -> Sandy Cape) Leave work early and watch the sunset at the Pinnacles. Continue on to Sandy Cape and set up camp (note you will need good lighting as this will be in the dark!) Saturday (Sandy Cape) Wake up early and watch the sun rise over the sand dunes. Spend the day relaxing/ (catching up on sleep) at the campsite and watch the sun go down over the ocean with a picnic. Sunday (Sandy Cape ->Jurien Bay -> Lancelin -> Perth) Wake up early and head to Jurien Bay to watch the sun rise over the picturesque old Jetty. If you’re organised, pack breakfast and have a morning swim here. On your way back to Perth, stop in at Lancelin for some sand dune fun. Have you visited this beautiful part of Australia? We would love to hear what you think! #awaywithCJ #pinnacles #perth #photography #roadtrip #sunset #sunrise #travel #blog #travelblog #westernaustralia

Kalbarri Roadtrip Guide

Kalbarri Roadtrip Guide

Located roughly six hours North of Perth, Kalbarri is a beautiful road trip destination. It boasts towering sea cliffs, calm swimming beaches and a range of scenic hikes. Because it is a bit of a drive from Perth, we recommend going for a minimum of three nights. Our five favourite things to do in Kalbarri: 1. Check out the incredible Pink Lake at Port Gregory Pink Lake is about 70 square kilometres in size and gets its unbelievable colour from bacteria being trapped in salt granules. We think a drone is best here so you can really capture the colour and size of the lake. CJ TIP: We find Pink Lake looks “pinkest” on cloudless days and is best mid-morning! 2. Spend the evening relaxing at the beautiful Coastal Cliffs Our favourite coastal spots are Island Rock Lookout and Pot Alley (it looks like a massive stack of pancakes!). It can get pretty windy (so check the forecast) but we love sitting here and watching the waves come crashing in. 3. Watch the sunrise at the iconic Nature’s Window Because this incredible rock formation is so well known, it’s unlikely you’ll get to watch the sunrise by yourself so we suggest arriving early! Most people actually prefer sunset at Nature's Window as it is silhouetted in the morning, but if you can pull the exposure down or even better, take two photos and blend them - you'll be laughing! CJ TIPS: The best time of year for when the sun lines up with the window is between the end of October and the end of February (but you will want to be careful if you're hiking in the Summer as it can get very hot in Kalbarri). Try and arrive early and if you can, avoid weekends! 4. Go for a hike in the National Park Our favourite is the Loop Walk – an 8km return walk that will leave you speechless with the scenery. If you’re short of time, we suggest walking down to the riverbank (this was where we thought the landscape was most impressive) and then coming back up. Z Bend is a shorter walk (2.5km return) and will also spoil you with incredible cliff faces. 5. Watch the sun rise and set from your own secluded spot in the National Park There are so many beautiful spots to watch the sun come up and go down, so don’t just try and get to Nature’s Window! A few of our favourites (which are much less busy!) are the lookout at Z Bend, up top on the Loop Walk (about 5 minutes past Nature’s Window) and the opposite side to Nature’s Window. Have you been to Kalbarri? What were some of your favourite things to do? #awaywithcj #kalbarri #westernaustralia #travel #blog #travelblog #roadtrip #itinerary #natureswindow #pinklake

24 Hours in Collie

24 Hours in Collie

The best thing about roadtrips is that they can be as big or as small as you want. We recently had just over 24 hours free and decided to spend it exploring Collie. We’d never been to this part of the Southwest before so we were pretty excited to see what was in store for us. Where and what is Collie? Collie is just over two hours South of Perth, basically directly in line with Bunbury (but inland of course!). It is a coal mining town characterised by National Parks, dams, rivers and lakes. What did we do? 1. Black Diamond Lake Our first spot was the famous Black Diamond Lake with its sparkling blue water. As soon as we arrived we couldn’t believe the colour of the water – definitely the bluest we had ever seen. We spent a couple of hours here, ogling the water and dipping our toes in. (We were a bit hesitant to fully swim as there are health warnings for the Lake). CJ TIPS: Bring a floatie so you can spend the day relaxing on the crystal clear water! We think the lake would be brightest on a cloudless day and early in the morning. 2. Honeymoon Pool Completely different to Black Diamond Lake, Honeymoon Pool is a serene and shady spot surrounded by big, beautiful peppermint trees. A gorgeous spot to sit and read your book, go for a dip or wonder why folding fitted sheets is so damn hard. CJ TIP: We think Honeymoon Pool is best in the early morning – if you’re trying to get a picture here it can get shady pretty quickly so try come within an hour or two of the sun coming up! 3. Potters Dam Our top pick! We spent most of our time here for two reasons: firstly, it was right by our campsite and secondly, it was much less busy than Honeymoon Pool and Black Diamond Lake (you could easily find your own secluded spot.) We picnicked, swum and watched both a beautiful sunrise and sunset here. CJ TIPS: Pack your floatie for here too! Potters Dam would make for a great milky way shot if you’re planning on visiting during the Winter months. Where did we stay? We camped in Wellington National Park right by Potters Gorge. It was beautiful bush camping and only a two minute walk to watch the sun rise and set over the Dam. There are loads of other National Park campgrounds in the area, including Honeymoon Pool. Can you suggest a weekend itinerary? Saturday (Perth -> North Dandalup Dam -> Black Diamond Lake -> Potters Gorge) Leave Perth in the morning so you can get to Black Diamond Lake as early as possible (on your way you can stop in at North Dandalup Dam for a swim). Spend a few hours at Black Diamond Lake – have lunch and go for a swim (or float)! Once you’ve had enough of the beautiful blue water, head over to Potters Gorge and set up camp for the night. Relax by the dam - have a picnic and then watch the sun go down. Sunday (Wellington Dam -> Honeymoon Pools -> Serpentine Falls -> Perth) Wake up early and watch the sunrise over the dam. Head to Honeymoon Pool for some relaxation and a swim. Return to Potters Gorge and pack up camp (if you haven’t already. ) Start making your way back to Perth in the early afternoon (with one final stop at Serpentine Falls on the way). Have you been to Collie? What was your favourite activity? #awaywithcj #collie #westernaustralia #roadtrip #camping #sunrise #sunset #itinerary #travel #blog #travelblog

Australia - Vanlife Essentials

Australia - Vanlife Essentials

When we packed for our year-long roadtrip in Vinnie, he was almost packed to the roof. Two days before we left we had a huge meltdown and tried to do a big cull. Here’s what we needed (and what we didn’t)! SET UP 1. Good stove – we had the Lido junior installed in Vinnie (with double burner and grill), but on hikes we used our Trangia or Jetboil. 2. Lighting – we installed lighting in Vinnie but found head torches super useful. Quite often we had to set up camp in the dark (as we stayed out watching the sunset) and having both hands free was essential. Also getting to a look-out or viewpoint for sunrise meant hiking in the dark – making head torches very handy! 3. Fridge – we have an upright Engel, mainly as it came with Vinnie. It’s much easier to take food in and out of but in the hot weather we found it was a lot more power hungry than the standard chest fridges. 4. Solar Panels/Power – we installed solar panels on Vinnie’s roof before we left, however they were only 80W in total. We ended up buying a portable 200W set on the road so we could free camp as much as possible. Since returning to Perth, we have replaced the solar panels with a thin flexible 200W panel and bought another 200W portable set (this time a lightweight set - 3.5kg only). Our previous set was closer to 15kg. 5. Inverter – absolutely essential, especially with how often drone batteries need recharging. Make sure you spend a little bit extra for one that outputs a genuine sine wave. We didn’t and it cooked the battery on James’ laptop (oops). 6. Dual battery system – given the amount of driving we did, this was a lifesaver for both charging the auxiliary battery and preventing any draw from our main battery. An absolute must have. 7. Water and water containers – we actually ran out of time (and money) to install a permanent water tank under Vinnie so we carried 15L containers from Bunnings. We were always cautious to fill up with water before going really remote. 8. Chairs/Table – we had a fold out table with two small benches and used this most days. The fold out aspect made it compact and we found we didn’t need individual chairs as well. MECHANICAL 9. Toolbox – we took all of our basic tools and certainly didn’t regret it. Corrugations caused several of our panels to rattle off and having our tool box meant we were able to fix most simple mechanic issues ourselves. 10. Spare tyre + other common parts – fairly obvious but we always carried a spare fan belt, tyre and accelerator/clutch cables. 11. Spare oil + petrol – we checked our oil religiously, at least once a day, however that may have been more related to Vinnie’s 41 year old engine. We also carried a 10L jerry can on the roof but only really used it in Karijini National Park. EMERGENCY 12. Lighter – we did a one day “bush survival course” and trying to rub two sticks together to get a fire going was nearly impossible. It was nice to know we wouldn’t have to resort to this if we got stuck. We really recommend the lighter from Dusk – especially as you can get free refills if you’re a member! 13. PLB – thankfully we never had to use this but for peace of mind, especially in remote areas, it was well worth it. 14. First Aid Kit (incl. snake bandages) – we recommend a larger kit to keep in your van/home and a smaller one to keep in your day pack. We made sure we went on a first aid course before we left on our trip and while we were very lucky (we only ever had minor burns, cuts and grazes) it was good to know we were prepared. Earlier this year in Karijini we also witnessed a traveller slipping and falling – knocking himself out and nearly drowning in the gorge. We were thankful for our first aid training and quite surprised how few travellers had first aid kits on them. Definitely a must. ENJOYMENT 15. Picnic blanket – everywhere you camp becomes your new “garden”. We loved having breakfast, lunch and dinner on our blanket anywhere and everywhere. 16. Camera (and equipment) – it wasn’t until this trip that photography became a passion for us. Items we always carry (in addition to a camera and lens) are: a tripod; set of filters; lens cleaning kit; and phone (for info on the sun and weather). 17. Compact board games – we really love games and couldn’t resist taking a few away with us. Our favourites which are nice and small - cards, spot it/Dobble and catchphrase. 18. Notebooks/Diaries/Journals – we had so many weird and wonderful thoughts and ideas on the road and it was great being able to record them. I know you can use your phone/laptop but sometimes it’s nice to put pen to paper. 19. Speaker/Radio – we had a questionable Chinese head-unit installed and when it (eventually) broke down (week 29 on the road), I (Char) was forced to listen to James’ on-going renditions of Adele’s 'Hello' and even better, his gripping conversation starters “Where do you think moths go when there’s no light”. 20. Sentence a day journal – we love this. We used the book from Kikki K and really enjoyed recording our daily highlights. It’s so lovely looking back and seeing what made us smile. Here’s a few snippets from 2016: June 16 – “Finally getting to see a platypus!” July 12 – “Scoring the bargain of a lifetime and getting eight avocados for $5” November 27 – “Finally doing a load of washing” NECESSITIES 21. Wiki camps – this app was honestly a godsend. Can't recommend it enough – it consists of user ratings and details for camp spots, caravan parks, day use areas etc. I don’t think we went a day without using it. 22. Toilet paper + shovel – pretty self-explanatory. Cue the cute couple chat, “Where’s the poo shovel at babe?” 23. Sunblock and sunnies – travelling Australia, this is a must. We like LeTan for sunblock. Mostly because of that video on YouTube where the French man says I’m Le Tired. 24. National Park Permits – we found it much more cost effective to get seasonal/ annual passes for the States/Territories that had permits (rather than paying for daily entry). 25. Lists – we love lists - we created a daily list that had all of our Vanlife checks like the oil, pop top being securely down, gas being off etc., but also generic grocery lists, hiking lists, meal ideas etc.). If you think some of these would be handy, let us know and we will do up a blog! 26. Breathable washing bags + sachets of fabric softener – we usually went quite a long time without doing our washing and found it handy to put our dirty clothes in a breathable bag with a couple of fabric softeners so it didn’t smell out Vinnie. 27. Back up supply of tinned/canned food including Cuppa Soups – more often than not you won’t be able to nip to a Woolies or a Coles so it pays to have a back up supply. Plus, some days you’ll be so knackered boiling water for your cuppa-soup will be the most you'll be able to manage. Trust us. 28. Dustpan and broom – we used this at least six times each day as it was impossible to keep the dust and dirt out. HANDY ITEMS 29. Mosquito coil holder – we bought a clever little contraption at the Kuranda markets (near Cairns) which let us use all the broken bits of coil. (If anyone has any tips on how to not break mosquito coils let us know). 30. Reusable bags – we always needed these! E.g. for grocery shopping, carrying our clean washing, packing for day trips at the beach, showers etc. The options are endless. Highly recommend! 31. Jandals/Thongs/ slip on shoes – waking up in the middle of the night needing to use the loo urgently and then spending five minutes doing up your laces. Not ok. 32. Electrolytes – a couple of times we miscalculated a few hikes in hot weather (oops) and it was so handy having these there to save us. 33. Pop up kettle – what a space saving revelation. Slightly painful to forego a whistling kettle but worth it for the space. 34. Rag towels – in cold weather everything got wet overnight and it was nice not having to worry about how dirty these towels got. CJ TIP: Get a dark coloured rag towel (like grey or black) so you physically can’t see how dirty they get. 35. Ant powder – too many times we would park up for the night and find ants had climbed up Vinnie’s wheels and sought out our food cupboard. If we saw any sign of ants we spread a tiny amount of powder around the wheels and it worked a treat. Bonus - also useful for when they’re ruining your romantic picnics. 36. Mini Spirit Level – we kept this in the front of Vinnie so it was within easy reach when we pulled up at a campsite. It proved to be extremely helpful in ensuring we were level so our food was uniformly cooked, we weren't sliding on top of each other in bed and our food didn’t come tumbling out of the fridge. CHARLOTTE'S TOP FIVE ESSENTIALS 1. Wet wipes – especially useful when you can’t wash your face. 2. Hot water bottle – I get cold easily and have endometriosis so it’s great for tummy pains on the road. James bought me an awesome metre long hot water bottle for my birthday (it’s so long I can tie it around my waist). 3. Hat – sun smart and also hides your unwashed hair. 4. Dry shampoo – showers are far and few. The dry shampoo was to me, what the head torch was to James. 5. Collapsible cheese grater – do I really need to say more – space saver and happiness generator. JAMES' TOP FIVE ESSENTIALS 1. Coffee – an all round essential (not just van life). 2. Keep Cup – for your coffee. 3. Milk powder – in case you run out of fresh milk (for your coffee haha). 4. Powerbank – we used this on hikes, when we needed to charge batteries/phones etc. 5. Condi’s Crystals – we used these heaps to treat water and also kept a small container in our first aid kits. WHAT WE HAD TO BUY ON THE ROAD 1. A smaller table – which we used for showering/ non food stuff. 2. Collapsible bucket – for washing dishes. 3. Second water container – for the Northern Territory/top of Western Australia. 4. Frying pans/ pots with removable handles – removing the handles meant these took up so much less room than our regular frying pan and pots. WHAT WE WISH WE DIDN'T PACK 1. Bikes – it was a lot of effort to attach and reattach these to the bike rack given how little we used them. They also got super scratched, scuffed and dirty with all the dirt roads we dragged them through. 2. BBQ – we started out cooking expensive barbeque meals (nothing like a roast on the Weber) but eventually switched to cheap options (hello 80c tin of baked beans). Given there are so many free barbies around Aus we probably wouldn’t bother again. 3. Our big awning/tent – we only set up our awning with enclosed walls a few times in the first few months. Even though the set up probably only took us 15-20 minutes, we decided to ship it home since it was big and heavy and we weren’t using it much. 4. Folding chairs – we bought some very comfy (and very expensive) folding chairs but they just took up too much room. We couldn’t justify them with our compact table and bench chairs. 5. Our expensive frying pan with a big handle – it barely fit in our cupboard (a.k.a kitchen). We were stoked to discover a frying pan and pot combo with removable handles – it saved us so much space. If you want more information or have a question on our vanlife essentials, let us know in the comments below! #awaywithcj #vanlife #essentials #vanlifers #volkswagen #australia #homeiswhereyouparkit

Perth's Top 5 Sunrise & Sunset Spots

Perth's Top 5 Sunrise & Sunset Spots

1. South Perth Foreshore - sunset Our favourite spot to sit and watch the sun go down in Perth! Boasting beautiful views of the city skyline and green grass galore – South Perth foreshore is the perfect place for an evening picnic. Find yourself a secluded spot along the banks of the Swan River and get ready to watch some magic. CJ TIP: Pack mosquito spray! 2. Kings Park - sunrise While Kings Park has beautiful views no matter what time of day it is, our favourite here is sunrise. We usually try and grab a spot near the State War Memorial, but a little bit back by Kaarta Gar-up is also great! CJ TIPS: The best time to visit is during Winter as the sun rises directly behind the city then (assuming you're standing at the State War Memorial). Check when prescribed burns are happening and try and tee up your sunrise to coincide with this! You’ll be blown away with the beautiful hazy sunrise in front of you! 3. Como Jetty - sunset For just a simple timber jetty - the photo options are endless here! This is another great spot for sunset, particularly on a cloudy day. We love waiting until dusk so we can see the jetty lights start to twinkle. We recommend arriving nice and early as it can get pretty busy! CJ TIP: Try and visit at the end of September or March, as this is when the setting sun directly lines up with the jetty! 4. Lesmurdie Falls - sunset Perched up in the hills, we love visiting Lesmurdie falls for sunset. Be sure to do the lovely Foot of the Falls trail, as the scenery is beautiful at both top and bottom. Up top you can shoot into the sunset (which is both gorgeous with and without clouds) and down bottom you can shoot the last light hitting the falls. We usually visit in the weekend and (by some miracle) have never found this gem packed. CJ TIP: The falls are best after a big rain! 5. Boat shed - sunrise And last but certainly not least, Perth's infamous blue boat shed. We prefer shooting the boat shed at sunrise for two reasons; firstly, it’s much less busy (we have driven past at sunset before and seen lines of people) and secondly, there’s a higher chance the clouds will light up behind it (compared to sunset). Each time we have visited at sunrise there have only been 1-3 other people there (if you can avoid going during the weekend you’re onto a winner). CJ TIP: While there is never perfect alignment with the sun rising here, December and January are the best months (when the days are the longest). Where are your favourite spots to watch the sun rise and set in Perth? #awaywithcj #pinnacles #perth #photography #sunset #sunrise #travel #blog #travelblog #westernaustralia

Top 12 Kimberley Experiences

Top 12 Kimberley Experiences

Earlier this year we got married (woo) and loosely decided we would take our honeymoon over the winter months. But as the months rolled by, we found ourselves constantly looking at maps, blogs and travel sites but still unsure of where we wanted to go. Hawaii? The Maldives? Fiji? None of them were really us. Then one weekend while were away in Vinnie, James said something that just made a whole lot of sense. “We are the happiest when we’re away in Vinnie”. And it got us thinking. Why couldn’t we roadtrip for our honeymoon? We love driving, camping and having the freedom to make our own itinerary. It made sense. So we started thinking about where could go and immediately thought of the Kimberley. We felt we missed the Kimberley on our 2016 roadtrip, as you really need a 4WD to experience it (it’s one of those places a Kombi just doesn’t cut it). Within half an hour the two of us were sitting there with huge grins on our faces – excited at the prospect of getting a 4WD and roadtripping the Kimberley. Our trip and top 12 experiences We took a glorious two weeks off work and set off on our way, bumping along in our 4WD. On our trip, we experienced the Dampier Peninsula, Broome, the Gibb River Road and Purnululu National Park. After some very tricky deliberations, we have finally determined our top 12 Kimberley experiences. 1. Sunrise at Mitchell Falls Waking up to see the rising sun hit the cliff walls of Mitchell Falls was nothing short of magic. We sat there for an hour or so, taking it all in. Live for the moments you can’t put into words – and this was definitely one for us. 2. Walking along Piccaninny creek at Purnululu National Park (the Bungle Bungles) In our opinion, the most beautiful walk in the Kimberley. Every way we looked, we were spoiled with uninterrupted views of the incredible tiger striped domes. 3. Sunset at Bell Gorge We loved Bell Gorge’s symmetry – the way the waterfall and mountain behind it lined up so perfectly. We actually visited the gorge at both sunrise and sunset but think our favourite would have to be sunset. As the sun was setting, it hit the mountain and gorge walls - making for an incredible glow. 4. The hike to MacMicking Pool in El Questro Gorge We loved this hike because of the adventure it entailed. Getting to the start of the walk included a pretty deep creek crossing and as our 4WD didn’t have a snorkel, we opted to walk through the mud instead. After wading through the mud and doing an extra 2km to get to the start of the walk, we then scrambled over rocks, avoided a sneaky little snake and swam across a very chilly waterhole. But once we arrived at MacMicking pool we were speechless. It was a little slice of paradise. We spent the morning here, eating breakfast and admiring the falls. 5. Free camping along James Price Point This was our first night in the Kimberley. And while it resulted in 89 mosquito bites for me (Charlotte), the striking Kimberley Colours made me forget all about the itching. We couldn’t believe a campsite perched on top of the red Pindan cliffs with uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean was free. 6. Sunset at Branco’s Lookout We definitely had clammy hands en-route to this lookout! The drive here was a bit hairy to say the least – the creek crossing took us a full 10 minutes and we felt like the climb was almost vertical in some parts. But we arrived to see the most incredible landscape. The towering red gorge walls against the blue Pentecost River and the rolling Cockburn ranges in the background. We felt like we were staring at the heart of the Kimberley. 7. Milky way at Purnululu (Bungle Bungles) While we were at Purnululu, we were lucky enough to watch the milky-way rise over the Bungles – both from inside and outside of Cathedral Gorge. We spent the night sharing a cuppasoup, batting off the mossies and sitting in awe. 8. Sunset at Cable Beach We did a Cable Beach sunset last time we were in Broome and honestly, we didn’t really see what all the fuss was about. But after this visit, I have to say I’m a changed woman. And James is a changed man too. So really we’re a changed couple. We loved taking the 4WD onto the beach and picnicking on the tailgate while we watched the sun go down. Except the sunset was so mind blowing, we found ourselves jumping up and down and spinning around… all the while not realising some rude seagulls had stolen our cheese and crackers. 9. Sunrise swim in Manning Gorge Waking up early, we rolled out of bed, pulled ourselves across the water in the wee tug boat and made our way to Manning Gorge for sunrise. We had been at Manning the day before for an afternoon swim and there was something so lovely about returning in the morning without another soul in sight. 10. Sunrise in Tunnel Creek While this morning outing did result in us getting chased by a crocodile, it was still definitely one of our highlights. And don’t worry – it was a freshie (we didn’t realise our head torches had been directly shining in his eyes). We loved spending the morning here, watching the rising sun paint the cave walls a bright orange and reading about Jandamarra. 11. Sunset at Gantheaume Point Overall I would have to say Gantheaume Point is most striking during the day (rather than at sunrise or sunset – so you can fully appreciate the contrasting colours of the cliffs and the sea). But we had a wonderful evening here – we lay in the sun reading our books, had a picnic on the cliffs (yep I just heard it too – I talk about picnics a lot), and then watched the most beautiful sunset. 12. Picnic at Windjana Sitting on a rug, watching the freshies swim about while the orange gorge walls towered above us. This was our first night on the Gibb and we wouldn’t have changed a thing. Have you ticked off any of these Kimberley experiences? #awaywithcj #honeymoon #travel #westernaustralia #kimberley #blog #travelblog

The cost of Travelling Australia for a year!

The cost of Travelling Australia for a year!

In 2016 we set off for a year long road trip in our 1975 Kombi Van - Vinnie the VW. Vanlife was something the two of us had always dreamt of doing, and yet simultaneously, something we knew nothing about. Our idea was to start our big lap in Perth, heading East first. We had no set plans, just a list of places we wanted to visit, people we wanted to see and experiences we wanted to have. We were incredibly excited! We saved up $40k for our year long roadtrip and hoped that $800 per week was a reasonable budget. Unfortunately 44 weeks into our trip, Vinnie decided he had had enough and broke down in Kalbarri, roughly 600km north of Perth. We were so close to finishing our big lap! But hey, everything happens for a reason right?... Although we're still trying to figure out what that exact reason was! So here's what we learnt from 44 weeks on the road in Australia! OUR TOP NINE COSTS 1. Petrol - $ 6.7k Our biggest cost was easily petrol - costing us $6,748 for our 304 days on the road. Our cost of filling up ranged dramatically from $92c per litre to $2.02 per litre, with the cheapest being Adelaide (SA) and the most expensive being Kings Canyon (NT). While this was an unavoidable cost, we always tried to fill up in major cities or towns and carried a jerry can as a backup. 2. Food - $5.1k We counted 'food' as any supermarket/grocery shops (IGA, Woolworths, Coles, Farmers Markets and Aldi). Our total food costs were $5,131 which included 155 supermarket shops (oh my hat - that equates to a grocery shop every second day!!). At the start of our trip, we were eating roasts, extravagant quinoa salads and steak sandwiches but after about ten weeks on the road we subbed these out for cheaper alternatives - soup, baked beans, wraps etc. One rule we also self imposed was that soup had to be on the menu at least once each week. This was a great way to keep costs down (tomato soup costs $1.10 on special) and we ended up having 56 cans of soup throughout the year! We also started using the catalogues pretty religiously and splitting our shopping between stores e.g. buying our spreads and meats from Aldi, toiletries from Coles and canned food (a.k.a soup) from Woolies (no wonder we went 155 times!). 3. Accommodation - $5k Our accommodation costs were very close to our food costs. When we first set off on our roadtrip, we were living the luxe life. Staying in caravan parks most nights, we were never far from power (to plug into) or unlimited hot showers. We stayed in caravan parks for 149 nights which cost us $4,503. Once we got a bit more vanlife savvy, we invested in some proper solar panels and learnt how to free camp, we started swapping out our fancy caravan parks for the side of the road. All together we spent $4,976 on accommodation for the year and this included 66 nights free camping and 45 nights in National Parks (these ranged in price from $3.30 to $12.00 per person). 4. Car repairs - $3.9k If you couldn't tell, our roadtrip finished rather abruptly with Vinnie breaking down in Kalbarri, WA. In our weekly budget of $800, we included a cost for maintaining/servicing Vinnie. While this cost was definitely higher for us as we chose to travel with a 41 year old vintage vehicle, it's extremely worthwhile building a maintenance section into your overall budget. On our trip we had four services done, 10 windscreen cracks fixed and ended up purchasing an array of different parts (two new starter motors [don't ask why we bought two], an alternator, four new tyres and the grand finale - new pistons, valves and heads [this set us back roughly another $4.5k not included here]). 5. Miscellaneous - $3.7k It's not much use calling this cost miscellaneous so let us provide a bit more detail! Our miscellaneous costs included alcohol, gas refills for cooking ($173 for 11 refills), pharmacy purchases, new clothing ($965) and laundry ($98). Even though we tried really hard to keep this figure low, it just seemed to add up. Looking back, perhaps we could have bought less fridge magnets. 6. Sightseeing and experiences - $2.7k This was a tricky one for us - we wanted to experience as much as possible on our roadtrip, but we didn't have a huge budget for paid activities, nor did we really enjoy group tours (cue the anti-social meme). We thought about what was really important to us and what we physically couldn't do ourselves. For example, we were tossing up a sunrise helicopter ride at Uluru, but when we really thought about it we realised we would be just as happy sitting on our picnic blanket and watching the sunrise from the ground. This of course will be different for every person, but we found it a useful way to think. In the end, we spent money on roughly 30 excursions/activities/tours. Of those our favourites were: Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb (* this was shouted by our wonderful parents - Deb & Dave); Mt Isa Rodeo; Whitsundays boat tour; Cobbold Gorge tour; and Uluru Field of Lights. 7. Equipment - $2.5k Our equipment costs involved new camera gear, solar panels, bikes and other camping necessities (e.g. kettle, bbq equipment and pots and pans). In hindsight, we didn't end up using our bikes as much as we thought we would and definitely wouldn't bother taking them with us again. 8. Transport - $1.9k This cost mostly included us shipping Vinnie to Tassie on the Spirit of Tasmania ($884 return). Other costs here included ferries to various islands, public transport and the ridiculous tolls in Sydney (which even though we tried our very best to avoid, still ended up costing us $90). 9. Eating Out - $1.5k We aren't huge 'restaurant' people - awkwardly we often prefer McDonald's to fine food. Like our miscellaneous costs, we tried really hard not to indulge in eating out. But sometimes it was worth it - like getting a steak for James' birthday, trying Australia's best burger in Canberra (Brodburger) or feasting on Darwin's world famous Laksa at the night markets. HOW WE CUT OUR DAILY COSTS IN HALF! If you compare our daily costs at the start of our roadtrip (SA) to the end of our roadtrip (WA), we cut our costs from $144 per day to $68 per day. The two most important changes we made were: 1. free camping; and 2. cost-effective eating. We stopped paying for caravan parks and started free camping as much as possible. We also stopped eating gourmet dinners and started hitting the mi goreng hard. We realised food wasn't as important to us as the sights we wanted to see so we were happy enough to make this sacrifice. We appreciate that this may be different for others! TOP FIVE LESSONS WE LEARNT 1. Laundry is expensive and unavoidable We spent $98 on washing around Australia. We were very lucky to have friends and family scattered around the country who let us do bulk washing when we stayed, but we still cried every time we had to get our wallets out for washing. We were also really lucky to find a few campgrounds that had FREE washing machines. Safe to say we stayed a while when we found those gems. Hello clean sheets, towels and clothes! CJ TIP: Have your own washing powder ready to go so you don't have to pay the ridiculously high caravan park/campground price for it! 2. Tupperware containers for portioning meals We learnt to buy our meat in bulk and then split it across five different meals - for example with mince we would make nachos, burritos, spaghetti bolognese, wraps, tacos etc. It was a good way to keep meat in our diet without getting sick of eating the same meal for a week. CJ TIP: Pack tupperware containers so you can split your meals or meat into different portions easily. Bonus tip - make sure the frying pan handle is on securely so you don't spill your spag bol everywhere. 3. You might not need that coffee! At the start of the trip James was purchasing coffee on the regular. Every new town/city/place we visited was the perfect opportunity to "test out their coffee". Eventually (eight weeks in), I may have gotten a wee bit cranky about the cost of this and had a bit of a go at James. Sorry James. In the end, James bought 32 coffees in the first eight weeks (costing $132.85) and just 23 coffees in the remaining 36 weeks (costing $111.80). Obviously my go at him was quite cost effective... 4. Social media can be incredibly positive We met so many incredible, kind hearted and generous people through Instagram. We couldn't believe how many people messaged us on our trip with suggestions of spots to visit, things to see or even crazier, welcomed us into their home for a night or two. Quite often we focus on the negatives of social media, but this was a huge positive for us. 5. It's ok to pay for accommodation Sometimes it's nice to splurge and park up for a week not having to worry about when and where you can shower, if you'll have enough solar power with those rain clouds coming in or whether you're parked in a dodgy spot. We know a big part of vanlife is living on a budget, but it's a-ok to pay to stay. We hope this helps if you have any questions please let us know! #awaywithcj #vanlife #travel #travelblog #blog #costs #vanlifediaries #realvanlife #budget #costoftravelling #australia

Adult Acne - how I fixed mine super quick!

Adult Acne - how I fixed mine super quick!

Not one of our ‘usual’ blogs, and a bit petrifying to upload, but I’m hoping by sharing, it might help someone else suffering with ‘adult acne’. While adult acne may get points for alliteration, that’s about the only positive I can think of. And let’s be honest… that’s not much of a positive really. Earlier this year I (Charlotte) started getting hemiplegic migraines (migraines with aura) and as a result, had to farewell my beloved contraceptive pill Diane. (If you suffer from migraines with aura you shouldn’t take a combined contraceptive pill as it increases your risk of stroke). It sounds silly but I felt like I was saying goodbye to a lifelong friend. Diane and I had hung out every day for more than a decade. (Disclaimer – I started taking the pill when when I was pretty young due to my endometriosis). I knew Diane was responsible for my clear skin, and as I was saying my farewells I thanked her for giving me relatively clear skin for the past 10 years, including on our wedding day (Jan 2018). Unfortunately, when I came off the pill, my skin wasn’t too happy and started breaking out horrendously. More populated than Sydney, my mouth/chin/jawline area became a pimple paradise. The same spots would break out repeatedly (I called these boomerang pimples) and I started getting really big, inflamed pimples on my neck which I’d never had before. They were super swollen and sore and if I accidentally bumped them or brushed them, my eyes began to water almost instantly. Yes I was a 26 year old girl crying because her pimples hurt. Not surprising, my confidence started to take a hit and I refused to leave the house without makeup on. I felt like I looked dirty. It sucked. It really sucked. After a few weeks of getting increasingly frustrated, Googling remedies non-stop and then resorting to wearing more and more concealer I decided my skin just wasn’t going to fix itself. I booked in to see my doctor and tried everything - different antibiotics, face and skin products and Epiduo (a prescription topical gel). Epiduo contains two acne-fighting ingredients – adapalene (which basically prevents your pores from becoming blocked/future break-outs happening) and benzoyl peroxide (which fights the bacteria that creates acne breakouts). I used this for six or so weeks and saw no results other than super duper dry and sensitive skin/lips and of course, a set of newly bleached towels (including my mother in law’s). I remember sitting in work meetings with really dry lips, and trying to work out how to apply lipbalm without hurting all the pimples spread across my lips. And I could feel my colleagues trying not to stare at them, but it was too hard not to. I couldn’t even blame them. It was like I was wearing a glittery shade of ‘Acne Galore’ in swollen, inflamed red. Plastering on the foundation and concealer: Eventually, the doctor’s last recommendation was Roaccutane (prescribed by a dermatologist). And while I have seen absolutely amazing results with Roaccutane, It wasn’t something I personally was keen on. James and I had already decided we wanted to travel this year (2019) and in our eyes, we thought it would be too difficult to constantly avoid- sunlight if we were living in Vinnie (our kombi van). Plus the other side effects.. So as one last scratch on my seemingly unlucky scratchie ticket (definitely a saying), I decided to try a dermal therapist in Perth. I had seen Karen Bowen before for milia removal, and heard she was incredibly passionate about treating acne. I booked in for an initial consult at Karen Bowen and in this, we discussed my skin concerns and the products I was currently using. Much to my dismay I learnt that while all my pretty Clinique products were lovely on the surface they were doing absolutely nothing for my skin. As a result, I switched from using a cleanser, toner, serum and SPF moisturiser to an acne specific cleanser, anti redness/inflammation serum, pigmentation serum and enzyme repair lotion (with SPF in it). It was also strongly recommended that I have 3-4 treatments of the (aptly named) ‘acne package’ which Karen had customised for acne sufferers. I was told the acne treatment comprised of four components (all in one session): Radio Surgery – a tiny sterile needle that transmits a high energy current into the plugs to pull them out; IPL – to remove scarring and redness; Medical medium depth peel – to remove the outer layers of skin; and Bioptron medical light - to promote healing of the skin. I’m not going to lie I left the clinic feeling a bit low. It was unrealistic, but a teeny tiny part of me was still hoping that perhaps changing my cleanser or moisturiser would be enough to give me my old skin back. I think I’m forever an unrealistic optimist. After thinking about it for the next few days, I decided to take the plunge and book in with Karen herself the following week. What did I have to lose? Only my boomerang pimples really. If I used two words to describe the first treatment, I would use ‘emotional kamikaze’. Rollercoaster doesn’t really cut it here. Karen was more patient, caring and empathetic than I could possibly articulate, but I really struggled. I found the radiosurgery really painful. Essentially, radiosurgery involves cauterising each of your pimples (both ones that you can see on the surface and those that are still forming under the skin). It felt like the process took all of eternity and with every spot that Karen zapped, I got increasingly exasperated that I had to have this done. After Karen finally finished the radiosurgery (and I had survived), I just lost it and burst into tears. And unfortunately, it wasn’t even those pretty black and white French movie style tears, but more the hysterical tears where you sound like a drowning horse frantically trying to neigh. I think everything just built up inside me – I got uncontrollably frustrated that at 26, my skin was so bad I had to resort to zapping it. Karen was unbelievable, calming me down and telling me to take as long as I needed. After taking a bit of a break and drinking some water, we got back into it and went onto the second step of the acne treatment – IPL (intense pulsed light). I’d never had IPL before, and while this was painful, it was a walk skip, hop and skiddattel in the park compared to the radiosurgery. Karen was great, icing each spot before zapping it, and asking how fast/slow I could handle. The IPL helps with the inflammation and redness so it’s especially great in preventing and minimising scarring. The third step was the triple medical peel, which to me, felt like I was getting a very rapid sunburn. My skin tightened almost instantly and every movement felt like my skin was on the verge of cracking. Karen put a fan on my face for this part and asked if I could handle the heat as she recommended keeping the peels on overnight (if possible). Still mildly embarrassed from my drowning horse-like breakdown, I was determined to prove the fighter in me and said I could definitely keep it on overnight (thankfully the heat starts dying down quite quickly so you don’t actually feel it at all after a while). The fourth and final step is the medical light called Bioptron. This was my favourite step – no pain, no product, no nothing. Just you lying down and relaxing under a healing light. The Bioptron is used to promote healing in burns victims and is based on nobel prize winning technology. When James came and picked me up (I had been with Karen for about 3.5-4 hours) I was looking a bit crazy and dishevelled. The medial peel was still on my tear-stained face (it’s bright yellow so you really channel your inner Lisa Simpson) and bits of blood and scab were starting to form from the radiosurgery. Karen gave me strict instructions and told me what to expect – a lot of peeling, flaking, dead skin darkening and crusting which typically lasts for 1-7 days. Days 1- 2 after first acne treatment: Days 3-5 after first acne treatment: On Day 5 of the treatment, I was instructed to use the deep thermal cleanser (this product is absolutely amazing) as it would remove all of the dead skin on my face (last photo above). And oh my blimmin’ hat of all hats, it was mind blowing. My skin was (to me) looking incredible. I was ecstatic. I went to work on cloud nine. I still had marks/scarring from the pimples but there were hardly any bumps. I couldn’t believe it. Results after the first acne treatment (taken roughly two weeks afer): While I was still on a high, I decided to book in for my second session. (I scheduled this so it was two weeks after my first session). The second session was a lot better – I needed much less radio-surgery and I think because I knew what to expect I managed the pain much better. Again, Karen was so empathetic, always checking in if I needed a break, if she was going too fast, too slow, if I needed water – anything and everything. Her level of care is second to none. I did think the IPL hurt a bit more than I remembered, but still definitely doable and when we got to the peels, Karen asked if I could cope with an extra medical peel which would further promote healthy skin renewal. I said yes, and afterwards we put me under the Bioptron light once again. I left the second appointment so much happier and positive about my skin. I even napped while I was relaxing under the bioptron. It was magic. Days 1 - 2 after second acne treatment: Days 3-5 after second acne treatment: (definitely flaked a lot more due to the extra medical peel but the results were well worth it). While I would have been pretty happy with my results after the second treatment, I decided I hadn’t come all this way to half-ass it, and returned once more for a third and final acne treatment. And it felt like it was all over and done with in the blink of an eye. The radio-surgery and IPL were still painful, but I think when you know how worthwhile something is, your tolerance increases. Perhaps like child birth? (but on a completely different scale!!!!) All together, I ended up seeing Karen for three acne treatments in the space of four weeks and the results were mind blowing. While I still have some scarring to work on, the bumps and pimples are 97% all gone. My main worry was that with my spots being hormonal, they would continue to re-introduce themselves but surprisingly that hasn’t been the case. I don’t really know why, but I’m guessing my plugs were so bad they were causing the same pimples to resurface time and time again? And once Karen cleaned them out, there hasn’t been anything to resurface. Days 1-5 after third acne treatment: I’m so grateful to Karen Bowen and the staff at her clinic. The departure of my adult acne has seen the welcome back to my confidence. I’m now able to leave the house without plastering on the concealer and foundation. Heck I’m now able to leave the house without any makeup on. I’m now able to sit in meetings at work and maintain eye contact with my colleagues without them staring at my swollen spots. I’m now ready to spend the year road-tripping. No make up - the end result: So if you’re in the Perth area and are suffering from acne (or have any other skin related concerns) I really really highly recommend you pay Karen Bowen a visit. It might seem expensive, but I guess in my opinion, I was willing to pay to get my confidence back. If you have any questions about any of this, please let me know – I’m more than happy to answer! :) #awaywithcj #karenbowndermaltherapist #karenbowen #acne #acnetreatment #acnescars #acneproblems #pimples #acnefree #acnesolution #adultacne #skinresults #blog #beforeandafter #body #transformation #care #beautybasics #makeupfree #perth #natural #skincare #grateful #love

Our top 5 Must Do's in Golden Bay and Nelson, New Zealand!

Our top 5 Must Do's in Golden Bay and Nelson, New Zealand!

1. Sunrise and Sunset at Wharariki Beach This has been our favourite New Zealand beach to date!! Beautiful big sand dunes, playful seals, glistening golden sand and of course, the Archway Islands. I think what we loved most about the beach was its size. It seemed absolutely endless, and with endless opportunities to explore too. When we visited at sunset, there were probably another 15 people there but it didn’t feel crowded in any way. And in true CJ style, we of course loved it so much we came back for sunrise the next day. And shut all the front doors, there wasn’t a single soul at the beach! We couldn’t believe it. The walk to the beach takes about 20 minutes from the car park and is quite lovely – crossing over rolling farmland and taking you down the big dunes onto the sand. Once you reach the beach you want to head left to see the Archway Islands (I only say this in case you might be like us and head right!). Note – the tides are really big here so if you are looking to get a shot of the Archway Islands reflecting in the sand, you will want a low tide, and preferably one that’s going out. 2. Sunrise and Sunset at Split Apple Rock. Isn’t it funny how one rock can leave you speechless. Can just grab you. And have your undivided attention. The Maori legend we read was that a giant seabird laid an egg here and then two gods – the Sea God and the Land God claimed the egg as their own. A battle then ensued and caused one of the Gods to slice the egg open, and because neither of them wanted only half an egg, it turned to stone. Which makes me wonder, why do we call it split apple rock, rather than split egg rock? We visited this marvel at both sunrise and sunset, and it’s hard to know what we preferred. At sunrise, the rock is more silhouetted whereas at sunset you can see more detail. At sunset we were also beyond lucky as we got to witness the super moon rising between the two apple slices. (Side note – I can't believe everyone sees Pacman rather than my pearl and oyster theory!). The walk down to the rock/beach will only take you about 10 minutes and there is a portaloo at the bottom. If you’re wanting to swim out to the rock, you should only do this at low tide – but note, you will need to be a relatively confident swimmer as even at low tide, the current can be quite strong. 3. Driving through Whanganui Inlet
This was an unexpected gem for us and we loved it so much, we ended up spending the entire day parked up here. The scenery is just incredible and for some unknown reason, it’s incredibly quiet. Over the eight hours we spent here, we only saw about seven cars. You guys probably think I'm crazy - always telling you how many people are at places, but we personally find it useful to know how busy a place can be so - mostly so we don't get shocked! There are quite a few little pull offs where you can park up for the day and have your own private beach access! Note – the tides change dramatically here, so if you’re wanting to get aerial/drone shots, you will want to do these at high tide! We parked up on the east side of the inlet, along Dry Road. 4. Wainui Falls and mini Wainui Falls We really enjoyed the walk out to Wainui Falls – weaving its way along the Wainui river, the track takes you over a swing bridge, up a few wooden stairs and through lush native forest. The walk takes about 30-40 minutes one way (1.7km), and it’s pretty incredible coming around that last corner and seeing Wainui falls for the first time and feeling their powerful spray. But what we enjoyed even more than the walk and Wainui Falls itself was the little waterfall just downstream. It’s funny, if we hadn’t looked up and around (which we often forget to do), we wouldn’t have even spotted this cute little waterfall. So what do you guys prefer? Wainui or Mini Wainui? (I don’t know the name, but if you do, let us know and we’ll send you a post card to thank you for your efforts!!). 4. Te Waikoropupū Springs (Pupū Springs). Discharging an INCREDIBLE 14,000 litres of water per second (that’s 18.7 THOUSAND Pump Water Bottles!!!), Pupū Springs are certainly worth a look at. And easy to look at too, given their visibility is about 63 metres!!! And for those looking for another conversion, that’s approximately 37.5 Charlottes! Clearer than your glasses when you first pick them up from Specsavers, we think Pupū Springs is the perfect spot to visit during the early morning (when the sun isn’t too harsh). We came about 20 minutes after sunrise and had the place to ourselves. Make sure you allow ample time to read the information and respect the cultural significance here (these are healing waters - so no swimming). All up, 40 minutes to do the walk and read the signs is plenty! There are some lovely picnic benches at the start of the walk too. We will leave you with our favourite quote from here “The waters of Te Waikoropupū represent the lifeblood of Papatūānuku (earth mother) and the tears of Ranginui (Sky Father)”. 5. Riuwaka Resurgence This was another unexpected gem for us! Right before you take the Takaka Hill (if you're heading towards Takaka) the road splits in two, and you want to take the road to the left. It’s roughly 7km along this road until you get to the track/car park for Riuwaka Resurgence. Follow the track for about five minutes and you’ll end up at the most beautiful pool – Crystal Pool. With the mossy rocks, the crystal clear water (see what I did there?), and the native forest, it really feels like a fairyland. Please note Riuwaka is of cultural significance but you are able to swim there (as long as you enjoy the cold water!). What's your favourite thing to do in the Golden Bay area? Something I also love to do (and I do every time I visit!) is get a picture at the Aroha Nui mural in Takaka. I love its bright and cheerful vibe. As always, if you have any questions, fire away! Aroha Nui, Charlotte & James #awaywithcj #travelblog #nzblog #aotearoa #newzealand #nz #nzmustdo #goldenbay #travelphotography #sunrise #sunset #travelcouple

Three amazing spots to watch the sunrise in Christchurch New Zealand. Our top picks for 2020!

Three amazing spots to watch the sunrise in Christchurch New Zealand. Our top picks for 2020!

Arguably the best way to start the day is by watching the sun slowly come up. Or by getting breakfast in bed. Probably the ultimate start to the day is in an outside bed where someone brings you breakfast while you can watch the sunrise from underneath your cozy duvet. But if you don't have a bed perfectly positioned for sunrise viewing (or a person to bring you breakfast in bed), here are three gorgeous spots in Christchurch where you can experience a bit of sunrise magic. Now, last Summer we wrote a blog on our favourite spots to watch the sun rise and set in Christchurch, but this time around, we have done a little more exploring and have picked our all-time favourite spots for watching the sunrise in Christchurch. The brother blog to this (our favourite sunset spots in Christchurch) is here if you are looking to watch a sunset in Christchurch too! Alright, without further ado, here are our top three spots for watching the sunrise in Christchurch New Zealand. 1. Shag Rock/ Rapanui Rock Now commonly known as 'Shag Pile Rock' due to the Christchurch Earthquakes, this place looks a little different, but in my opinion, is equally as beautiful as its previous appearance.For a bit of background, Shag Rock used to be a prominent sea stack, but post Quake, it now (as you guessed it) more just resembles a pile of rocks. From experiencing the earthquakes myself, I have to say I find Shag Rock the perfect reminder of Christchurch's resilience. That even though things might feel a bit broken, or look a bit different, they can still be just as beautiful. Just as beautiful, but even stronger. Shag Rock Quick Info: Jandals suitable Best at sunrise with lots of high cloud. You can check the high cloud forecast here Approximately 20 minutes drive from the Christchurch CBD To read our guide to Shag Rock, including GPS coordinates, our camera settings, and how to be careful when Google Mapping to the rock!!! (you don't want to end up on the wrong side of the estuary), check out our CJ Way to Shag Rock here. 2. New Brighton Pier No surprises that this made the top three, but can you blame us!? This is one of my favourite favourite places in the whole world to come and watch the sun rise. It's absolutely beautiful and to me, feels like it has its own mini community. When you visit, you'll find yourself saying good morning countless times. To people exercising, strolling along with a hot coffee in hand, or perhaps, like you, just sitting there and watching the sun come up. It is 'Christchurch' in one spot. Beautiful. Community. And Normal. Normal sounds weird, but it's a spot that's filled with your every day, regular Janes and Joes and I love it for that exact reason. It's down to earth. New Brighton Pier info: Jandals suitable Best shot with a drone or camera If you can time it with a low tide, you can get some beautiful reflections in the sand Arrive early and you might get the lights on on the Pier (these look great as sparkles) Approximately 15-20 minutes drive from the Christchurch CBD To read our guide; the CJ Way to New Brighton Pier click here. 3. Hoon Hay Scenic Reserve This is a beautiful wee gem for sunrise, and excellent because it's still relatively unknown. Meaning you can basically guarantee a sunrise here all to yourself. It's also wonderful because it's only a ten or so minute walk from the car (unlike many other spots in the Port Hills). We have visited Hoon Hay Scenic Reserve at both sunrise and sunset and found sunrise much better as the sun rises over the Lyttelton Port side. That said, if you did nab a sunset with lots of cloud, a reverse sunset would be pretty beautiful here. Hoon Hay Scenic Reserve Info: Jandals ok for walking up but you might prefer sneakers (approx. 10 minute walk) Approximately 25 minutes drive from the Christchurch CBD Nice for a reverse sunset too (if cloudy) To get the GPS coordinates to Hoon Hay Scenic Reserve and directions on the path you need to follow to get up top, check out our CJ Way to Hoon Hay Scenic Reserve here. We hope you enjoy watching the sunrise in these beautiful spots. And if you're looking for spots to watch the sunset in Christchurch, check out our Top Spots to Watch the Sunset in Christchurch Blog! Hope this helps, and like always, if any questions, please ask away! Charlotte and James xx #christchurch #newzealand #awaywithcj #sunrise #sunrisespots #nz #chch #travelphotography

Vanlife  - the truth

Vanlife - the truth

While you’ll often see pictures of the two of us happily watching an explosive sunset, swimming in crystal clear waters or hiking in a beautiful national park, there’s a lot that happens behind the scenes when you’re living in a van. Here are our top 15 van life 'truths'. 1. Car issues - our yearlong roadtrip included 41.5 push starts, a new starter motor, alternator and various windscreen repairs. While we kept telling ourselves “it’s all part of the adventure” – we’ve realised maybe it’s not as cost effective to travel in a vintage vehicle? 2. Bumping our head on the same bolt every single day as we got into bed (it’s actually kind of impressive we managed to hit it so consistently. And no I’m not sure why we didn’t come up with some kind of quick fix). 3. Packing and unpacking. We underestimated just how much time we would spend rearranging, repacking and reorganising. 4. Sweeping our van/home at least six times per day. And yet somehow it still remained covered in dust and dirt?! 5. The real shower situation - a loofah + soap + a pump water bottle. And to make things more interesting, add in a swarm of wasps who apparently need your shower water so badly they aggressively circle you. Cue the alarmingly frantic naked dance/run. And while you’re here - showering without your jandals / thongs also becomes a thing of the past rather quickly. 6. Encountering creeps like the one that put his phone/camera underneath Char’s shower door. 7. Encountering lovely people like the one that randomly and very generously shouted our petrol at the service station. 8. Magpies stealing our food. And it was always the good stuff. Like the bacon we waited two weeks to buy cause it was finally half price. 9. Ants becoming our nemesis (after magpies of course). We had an absolute antventure finding them spread through all of James’ clothes drawers. 10. Being holed up for two days due to a sudden storm. And then finding out we had some serious leaks in the roof. Hello duct tape. 11. Becoming the most frugal version of ourselves. We scoured the weekly supermarket catalogues, watered down our milk and tried our best not to hysterically cry when we saw how much our laundry would cost. In fact here we are drying our fresh laundry on a public fence in a bid to avoid paying to use a drier. 12. Constantly questioning when the road was last graded. And then pulling over and finding a range of screws, nuts and bolts that had rattled off Vinnie. 13. Playing a game of matching up the screws, nuts and bolts to Vinnie and then eventually resorting to “we’ll just drive and see if he breaks down”. 14. Carrying toilet paper more often than our wallets. 15. Really, truly questioning whether the expiration dates on our food were accurate or more just “recommendations”. 16. Getting really sick from eating our out of date food. (haha we had to include a 16th)! What do you think? Can you relate to any of these vanlife truths? What have we missed? #awaywithcj #vanlife #vanlifers #bts #realvanlife #homeiswhereyouparkit #volkswagen #kombi #vanlifediaries #blog #travel

Top 5 National Parks in WA

Top 5 National Parks in WA

One of our favourite things is National Parks, and what’s better than those in our own State! It wasn’t easy, but we’ve come up with our top five National Parks in Western Australia (WA). 1. Karijini National Park This is hands down our favourite national park, not only in WA but in all of Australia. A park characterised by sparkling waterfalls, breath-taking gorges and vibrant red cliffs – this place blows us away every time we visit. We have been lucky enough to visit three times in the past three years and each time we’ve been, we’ve fallen in love with different aspects. The cheeky dingoes, the vivid red rocks, the turquoise waters, the rolling Hammersley Ranges. To us, Karijini has it all. It is our definition of paradise. Karijini National Park - the snapshot Where is it? Pilbara region, ~1,380km North of Perth. Top activities/ spots? The entire Dales gorge area (Fortesuce Falls, Fern Pool, Circular Pool and the Rim walk). Sunset at Oxer lookout. Kermit’s Pool. Knox Gorge. Mount Bruce (sunset is amazing). Hammersley Ranges. Spa Pool. When is best to go? April – October. Essentials? Swimming gear. Shoes with good grip. Camera. How long do you need? 5-7 days Accommodation style? Camping (either at Dales Campground or the Eco Retreat). CJ TIPS: Check when school holidays are on and avoid visiting during this period (if you can)! Monitor the weather - if there has been a big rain recently the beautiful water in Karijini can turn brown. You can’t book Dales campsite online so it’s first in best dressed. Starting at Fortescue falls car park, combine Dale’s Gorge walk (along the bottom of the gorge) with the Gorge rim walk (along the top) to catch all the sights. There are several unofficial lookouts along the rim walk that make for the perfect sunset location. 2. Purnululu National Park – World Heritage Site We recently visited Purnululu National Park (the Bungle Bungles) on our honeymoon and instantly fell in love. It was such a special place and one we really struggled to do justice on the camera. The park is split into two sections – the North and the South and each has its own campground. We camped in the South side (at Walardi) as we found most of our time was spent here (the South side is where the bee-hive domes are). This truly is a park like no other. Purnululu National Park - the snapshot Where is it? Kimberley region, ~3,000km North of Perth. Top activities/ spots? The Piccaninny Creek walk (this was our highlight) – lots of great photo spots along here, especially for sunrise and sunset. Echidna Chasm (you want to time this for exactly half way in the day so around lunch). Cathedral Gorge (especially beautiful at night). When is best to go? April/May – September. Essentials? 4WD and Spare tyres for the road. Good walking shoes. Sunhat. Camera. How long do you need? 2-3 days. Accommodation style? Camping (Kurrajong in the North or Walardi in the South). CJ TIPS: Call the Kununurra Visitor Centre and ask when the road was last graded. A lot of people say the road in is the worst in Australia (we can’t comment as the grader had just been through when we visited – we were very lucky!). We think the ideal time to visit would be right after the wet season – the gorges would have fresh water and Cathedral Gorge might even have a small waterfall if you’re really lucky! Book your campground online (and do it early!) – we preferred Walardi as it was a smaller campground and was closer to the beehive domes at Piccaninny creek. Arrive at Echidna Chasm earlier than midday as both chasm walls only light up for a short period. 3. Kalbarri National Park Kalbarri is a beautiful (and easy) road trip destination from Perth. The National Park boasts incredibly different landscapes ranging from towering sea cliffs to ancient inland gorges. We have visited the park five times over the last few years and are always finding new things to see and do. While there is no camping in the National Park, there are plenty of accommodation options in the nearby townsite. If you want to read more on Kalbarri, click here. Kalbarri National Park - the snapshot Where is it? Midwest region, 620 km North of Perth. Top activities/ spots? Nature’s Window (sunrise). Loop walk (especially the rocks by the river). Z bend walk. Coastal cliffs for sunset, especially Pot Alley and Island Rock. When is best to go? Spring for the wildflowers; or Autumn for comfortable weather (warm enough to swim, but cool enough to hike). Essentials? Good walking shoes. Sunhat. Camera. How long do you need? 3 days. Accommodation style? No camping in the national park. A range of accommodation is available in the townsite (only a short drive away). CJ tips: The flies can be pretty horrible in Kalbarri (usually worst around March and September) – some people find a fly net worthwhile. Apply for a drone permit early if you plan on flying here. 4. Cape Range National Park, Exmouth When WA's beautiful landscapes were being dished out, Cape Range National Park managed to get more than most. The sparkling Ningaloo Reef, the dramatic Charles Knife Canyon, the rugged limestone ranges and one of Australia’s top rated beaches – Turquoise Bay. It makes for the perfect place to soak up the sun and relax. Cape Range National Park - the snapshot Where is it? Gascoyne region, ~1,240km North of Perth. Top activities/ spots? Snorkelling along the drift. Yardie Creek Walk (best at sunrise). Mandoo Walk to see the black footed wallabies (best early or late in the day). Turquoise Bay (during the day and at sunset). Charles Knife Canyon (sunset). When is best to go? Winter and/or Spring (try and plan your visit to coincide with whale shark season). Essentials? Swimming gear. Underwater camera. Sunhat. Camera. Snorkelling gear. How long do you need? 4 days Accommodation style? There are a range of campgrounds in the National Park. We personally like to stay at Kurrajong or Yardie Creek. CJ TIPS: Be really careful driving here – of all the roads we have travelled in Australia, this had (by far) the most Kangaroos on it. It can get very windy camping in the park – try and check the forecast before you go! (One night I brushed my teeth and as I spat out my toothpaste, it blew right back in my face). Book your campsite online (and early) – this is a very popular camping destination. BYO snorkelling gear so you don’t have to pay to hire it each day! 5. Mitchell Falls National Park, Kimberley We only spent one night in this paradise, but one night was all it took to make it into our top five. Nowhere else in Australia compared to this beautiful and rugged four-tiered waterfall. We chose to walk both to and from the falls (it takes roughly 2 hours each way but a lot of people like to walk in and then helicopter back). You can book your helicopter flights at the campground. Mitchell Falls National Park - the snapshot Where is it? Kimberley region, ~3,600km North of Perth. Top activities/ spots? Big Mert Falls (ideal at sunset). Mitchell Falls (ideal at sunrise and during the early morning). Little Mert falls for a swim. When is best to go? April/May – September. Essentials? 4WD and spare tyre. Camera. Swimming gear. How long do you need? 1-2 days. Accommodation style? There is one campground in the National Park. CJ TIPS: You are not allowed to swim under Mitchell Falls, but if you’re hot you can swim above the falls. The crossing near the helicopter pad is a good little spot. Look for the incredible rock art under Little Merten Falls (follow the main track and take a left after climbing down a big boulder). The road into Mitchell Falls can be a bit tricky – taking up to 3-4 hours to do 85km. Take it slow and be careful. We recommend some soothing music for when you get frustrated with the corrugations! Which park would you choose to visit? #awaywithcj #westernaustralia #nationalparks #topfive #travel #blog #travelblog #roadtrip