autumn camping | wollondilly river

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Wollondilly river

There is something so remarkably satisfying about immersing yourself into nature. All that fresh clean air, lack of technology and being in the outdoors simply refreshes and recharges our souls.

On Saturday we woke at the crack of dawn to head out of Sydney, a couple of hours south in the Southern Highlands near Mittagong, to spend the night camping with a few friends.

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the road trip south

The six of us rallied for breakfast at a cute little cafe called The Shaggy Cow in Mittagong, before a quick shopping trip to the local Big W for last minute supplies before heading into the wilderness.

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Tunnel mushroom bruschetta at The Shaggy Cow

The “road” to Wollondilly River Station is barely a dirt lane, big enough for one car, that snakes precariously around a mountain range down into a lush green valley. I’ve never felt so yuppie city slicker in our little camping convoy with two silver Audi’s and a new Jeep Cherokee, but we had so much fun and didn’t miss the comforts of home too much! Neen & Jared had never camped before, while Ian & Pete are seasoned veterans, Jay loves the outdoors and I dug deep into my childhood camping repertoire and managed not to whinge once! We all had the most wonderful time setting up our camp site, meandering along the rocky banks of the river, sitting by the fire mesmerised by the flames, flitting between chatting & sitting in comfortable silence, cooking on the open flames, toasting marshmallows, drinking hot apple cider and making up stories about the crazy Station owner!

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our little camp site

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the fire pit

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the boys; (L-R) Jared, Pete, Jay & Ian

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relaxing around the fire

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Harley & his new camping buddy Max

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view over the valley

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red cliffs

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rock face

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view over the valley

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Harley by the fire

After 36 hours of sun, fire, nature, camp-fire cooking, mulled wine, no running water or showers, giggles, good company & pit toilets we returned back to the land of mobile coverage & internet! Vowing that next time we’re going for a few extra nights!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

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retreat

I realise how fortunate I am to have such good loving friends.

This post isn’t about all of them but two of them in particular; The Jacksons.

I’ll have you know I’m one of those sickening couples; high school sweethearts with the same best friends since way back when.

I was friends with Ian before I knew my husband Jay. Our friendship bonded over teenage angst and rebellion; think Nirvana and life conversations. We’ve grown & matured since then but still have an incredible comfortableness within our friendship. He’s like my brother. And fortunately he happens to be my husband’s best friend.

Jay & Ian
Friday night shenanigans; Jay & Ian

As it so happens, Ian also married a high-school sweetheart, someone whom, even though we went to the same school, I wasn’t friends with until about 7 years ago. Janine is this incredible woman; happy, beautiful and smart with an abundance of positive & passionate energy that I just find absolutely joyful. I had an epiphany the other day that she’s one of my best friends (something which I find too childish to tell her!).

I’m gushing, I know, but after a wonderful weekend filled with deep & meaningful conversations, lots of laughs, swapping of intellectual ideas and just enjoying each other’s company with good food & wine, I’m thankful to count them as people who I love & cherish.

We started Friday night with drinks at Baxter Inn followed by dinner at Almond Bar.

Old Fashioneds @ Baxter
Old Fashioneds @ Baxter
the super sweet Jacksons
the super sweet Jacksons
doing what I do best...posing while I drink Old Fashioneds
doing what I do best…posing while I drink Old Fashions
my love Jay
my love Jay wondering where his drink is!
trio of dips @ Almond Bar
trio of dips @ Almond Bar
Mixed Platter to share @ Almond Bar
Mixed Platter to share @ Almond Bar

Ian & Neen stayed Friday night and we switched houses Saturday. Jay & I drove the 1 hour drive out west towards the Blue Mountains to their gorgeous mountain hideaway.

Casa de Jackson
Casa de Jackson
sunning ourselves on the porch
sunning ourselves on the porch
tall gum trees
tall gum trees
Harley
Harley
amidst the Aussie bush
amidst the Aussie bush

We lay in the unseasonably warm sun, drinking hot chocolate and reading. Later we drove 20 minutes up into the mountains to Wentworth to visit the German bakery (pretzels & pies!). Saturday night we ate suburban Chinese takeaway and watched the All Blacks vs Wallabies in front of the open fire.

cozy fireplace
cozy fireplace

Today (Sunday) we went for a long bush walk; perfectly rejuvenating for busy city dwellers.

man & beast; Jay & Harley overlooking the gully
man & beast; Jay & Harley overlooking the gully
the view; Blue Mountains
the view; Blue Mountains
Harley the cavoodle
Harley the cavoodle

Now we’re back at home readying ourselves for another busy work week.

I hope you all had a wonderful relaxing weekend.

signature - melly xox

the byron lizard bowls

this is the story of two pretty ceramic clay bowls, one little lizard & a $50 bet…

My friend Ian bet me $50 that I couldn’t catch this little Eastern Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii) that lived near the pool at the Byron Bay beach house

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After it lead me (& Harley) on a lizard run around the yard and deck area, we finally cornered it at the bottom of the pool. No time for shame as I stripped to my undies to get it underwater!

After releasing it into the wild, my well earned $50 bought these cute little handmade ceramic bowls, aptly dubbed “the lizard bowls”, that Neen & I found at the Byron markets.

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Cute aren’t they!

 

in full bloom

delicate rays of sunshine, blue sky, green grass and sunlight twinkling on the harbour waters.

today it felt like spring was inching it’s way forward….

Kate Spade Belle Boulevarde Vase USD$125
floral necklace from Make Believe
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wedding table bouquet

flowers for this wedding table by NYC florist & stylist Beautiful Blooms

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Belvoir Fruit Farms real fruit juice soft drinks & cordial; stocked in Australia by Thirst for Life

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Kate Spade - Gwinnette Lane Cake Plate $70

Bibury Court, The Cotswolds

I took this photo when Jay & I stayed at the Bibury Court Hotel when we were in England in 2007 for James & Nat’s wedding. They shot their wedding photos on the grounds of the manor, which is amazingly restored from the Tudor times.

tell me in sweet fragrance sweetheart dress
this cute floral dress is $US65 from Ruche
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notepads
spring time notepads from shop twig
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Donna Hay seasonal recipe
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tulips in springtime

nothing inflates the soul more than a picnic on the grass under a blue sky with friends & family

amazing david attenborough

Next on my list during Melly’s Fan Week…..Sir David Attenborough….Can you believe that this brilliant man is 84 years old? 

I first started watching him on the “Life” series & “Living Planet” doco with my Dad when I was a little girl in the 80s. Under his influence, my love & respect for animals and the environment was nutured and I became a ‘Greenpeace Warrior’! 

Sir David Attenborough was born in London in 1926. He has two brothers and two sisters (who his parents adopted after WWII). His elder brother is the well known actor and director Lord Richard Attenborough. David received a degree in Natural Sciences, married Jane in 1950 and had 2 kids (his son Dr Robert Attenborough is a lecturer at Australian National Uni in Canberra). He was Knighted by the Queen in 1985. 

His defining career, as we know it, began after he left the Navy and joined the BBC as a producer (his employers discouraged him from appearing in front of the camera because he had big teeth). Through his work at the BBC he met a curator at the London Museum and they collaborated on Zoo Quest which at the last minute Attenborough had to present on camera as his partner was sick. So began his brilliant career as a documentary host. He presented political broadcasts, archaeological quizzes, short stories, gardening and religious programmes. In ’64 he took over BBC2; helped introduce colour TV to Britain & brought Monty Python’s Flying Circus to the world! In ’79 he wrote & presented the 13 part Life on Earth doco-series. This doco-series changed the way Wilderness & documentary filming was done. He followed it up by Living Planet in ’84 & Trials of Life ’90. In the late ’90’s & early Noughties he made two of my favourite series Life of Birds and Life of Mammals. He continues to be actively involved in creating and presenting  naturalist documentaries. He is actively involved in charity work; being patron of both World Land Trust, which buys rainforest and other lands to preserve them and the animals that live there, Optimum Population Trust, a group seeking to cut the growth in human population, and ARKive and organisation that promotes the “Conservation of the World’s Threatened Species, Through the Power of Wildlife Imagery” http://www.arkive.org/ 

I admire him because not only is he the ultimate professional (crawling around on his hands and knees in the insect infested mud in the Amazon, still managing to sound like a proper authoritarian) but he inspires fascination with the natural world around us. He’s intelligent, has experienced the real world, seen things only a handful of people have witnessed close up and takes a camera along for the ride; not for self-gratification but to share his knowledge of the natural world so that generations of viewers can adopt respect for our environment and put into practice actions that won’t devastate our natural surroundings but will sustain them for future generations. He’s in his 80s and still gets excited like a school boy when he sees animals and nature in its element. It’s taken me years to understand my beliefs on a spiritual level and like Sir David I am also an agnostic, so I find his beliefs and authority on things of this nature fascinating and enlightening. 

He would have made one hell of a science teacher! 

Sir David Attenborough