Travel With Me: Melbourne and Sydney

If you’d asked me which country was at the top of my ‘To Visit’ list anytime over the past six or seven years, I would have said Australia without hesitation. The south and east coast in particular, it’s a place I yearned to explore and a lifestyle I dreamed of immersing myself in.

When we touched down in Melbourne on the 21st July after a slow seven-hour flight from Singapore I almost cried with happiness. You know when you crave something for so long and the wishing and waiting takes over your brain a bit, and then you actually get what you want and don’t really know what to do with yourself? That was me, excited childish squeals included.

The cold 11-degree air hit us as soon as we loaded off the plane – a bit of a change from the 32°C heat in Singapore we had gotten used to!

Our apartment at The Jazz Corner Hotel was perfect, fit with a gorgeous kitchenette where we made dinners and chomped down on Cheerios every morning, and a massive living room / dining area. It was also in a great area near Latrobe Street – follow this road down through the shopping parades and past dozens of cafes for about 15-20 mins and you get to the Yarra River (Melbourne’s equivalent to the Thames).

We hit up some lovely touristy spots while we were there – a morning walk around the Queen Victoria Market, a browse through the shops in Melbourne Central and a football game at the Etihad Stadium on our first day. We admired the art at the NGV, took a walk down Hosier Lane to enjoy the street art and made a trip to see Parliament and the Melbourne Museum. We also spent an afternoon wandering through two funky inner suburbs, Carlton and Fitzroy, where we indulged in a pastry and one of the best chai lattes I’ve ever tasted at Le Gourmet Cakes on Brunswick Street.


One of my highlights though was the Eureka Skydeck 88 – the highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere at 92 storeys high (the public can only get to floor 88 though!). On our final night we waited until the sun set then made our way to the tower so that we could take in the lights of the city from above. To say the view was spectacular would be an understatement and I’ve been daydreaming about it ever since! The Skydeck gives you a 360° view of the city and beyond – it’s so high you can see part of the iconic Great Ocean Drive on a clear day (more than 100 miles away!).
After four nights exploring and enjoying what Melbourne has to offer we hopped on a short flight to our next destination, Sydney!

I visited this city around 12/13 years ago with my family. My dad travels a lot for work and we often tagged along with him if school holidays allowed for it. That year we toured New Zealand (another country I’m desperate to return to for a long road trip) and hopped over the sea to Sydney for a couple days while we were ‘in the area’. Unsurprisingly I don’t remember a lot from the trip but I do recollect looking at the Opera House from across the water in absolute awe. The city definitely made an impression on little me.

Almost as soon as we dropped our bags off at our Airbnb in Darlinghurst we headed back out and ventured to Circular Quay, home to the stunning Sydney Harbour. We ended up returning to the water almost every day, using it as a base from which we caught ferries to other parts of the city or to enjoy dinners with stunning views.

We did so much walking on this leg of the trip which made our diet of cookies and carbs all the more satisfying. As well as having our fill of Sydney’s beautiful CBD (including the gorgeous botanical garden) we managed to take a couple of day trips to the outskirts and beyond…

The Blue Mountains

This is going on my list of “Favourite Days Ever”. I’d heard about the Blue Mountains in passing a few times but had never originally added it to my mental itinerary for our time in Sydney. Thankfully Jacob suggested we go one day and I’m so glad we did.

We caught a train from Central Station to Katoomba, a quaint little town sat on the edge of the mountain range. We stopped for a hearty brunch before walking for about 40 minutes to one of the most beautiful views my eyes have ever seen.

From the viewing platform at Echo Point we could see the craggy Three Sisters (an oddly shaped rock split into ‘three towers’) and Mount Solitary nestled amongst miles and miles of eucalyptus trees. The oil from the trees diffuse in the air and combine with dust particles and water vapour to scatter light rays that appear blue – hence how this amazing landscape got its name!

After lapping up the views from various vantage points and platforms we followed a dirt trail round the side of the mountain for about an hour, past waterfalls and rockfalls and more stunning views, to Scenic World. Here we caught a carriage down the steepest railway in the world (it was almost vertical, I was pretty much standing in my seat as we zipped down the track; this is about as rollercoastery as I’ll get 😂). We then followed a wooden boardwalk through the forest at the foot of the mountains, learning about the area’s coal mining history as we went, and then caught a cable car back up the mountain – more amazing views!

After spending lots of time in big, built-up cities it was lush to spend a day appreciating nature’s own beautiful creations.

Manly

Manly is a super popular town a ferry-ride away from Circular Quay. We caught the boat fairly late in the day and with just a couple of hours of sunlight left we opted to head to the National Park just East of the main town area.

We initially started heading for North Head (beautiful views of the Sydney skyline, also meant to be a great spot for diving!) but with a 1.5 hour round trip to the jetty we aimed for the City View platform, about a mile or so nearer.

The journey took us through some deserted, slightly eerie barracks and down a long metal walkway through burnt bush land (perhaps a forest fire from the previous summer?) and eventually we reached the platform where we took in amazing views of Manly, Sydney’s CBD and clumps of skyscrapers from other towns as the sun glowed.

Bondi

I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen Bondi, its beach or its beautiful Iceberg swimming pool plastered over my Instagram feed but I knew I had to visit to see what all the fuss was about.

Unsurprisingly it was just as pretty as all the photos portrayed and I got so excited when the sand and sea came into view as we walked through Bondi town.

The town itself is adorable, full of indie coffee shops and restaurants with tanned beauties munching on avo toast and sippin’ wine outside. Despite it being winter in Aus, there were hundreds if not thousands of people lounging on the beach or on picnic blankets on the grassy banks behind the sand.

We spent most of our day on the beach, dipping our toes in the freezing water now and again and lounging on the sand. I’m sad we didn’t get to see the Bondi Icebergs but we just completely forgot while we were there, too eager to enjoy the beach and the town’s cute lil rows of shops. Just another reason to go back, eh? 😏


Sydney’s going on my list of favourite cities – it’s bustling, it’s safe, it feels alive! Our stay here only made me want to come back and spend even more time experiencing what it has to offer. For the time being though we’d had our fix of cities and were reeeeally excited to be heading off on a beach break to Country Number 3 – a place I never imagined I’d ever get to visit let alone spend a couple of weeks enjoying.

Next stop… Fiji!

Travel With Me: Singapore and Tioman Island

We’re about a week and a half into our summer adventure and what a week and a half it has been. We’ve been able to tick two places off our bucket list so far – the wonderful, bustling Singapore and much more tranquil, palm-covered Tioman Island, both beautiful in their own ways.

Singapore is a built-up business hub if ever I saw one, strewn with both high-rise skyscrapers and plants and green spaces that would leave London feeling jealous. It’s fast-paced and commerciallydriven but this feels diffused by the incredible nature that they’ve let grow it’s way through the city centre.

We visited a handful of touristy spots, from the magical nature domes and attractions at Gardens by the Bay, to the lights and smells and energies of Chinatown, to the incredible views of the city centre from the topic of Marina Bay Sands (to name a few).

Singapore and Gardens by the Bay

Despite the sunstroke I got as a result, our three hour exploration of Fort Canning Park on our last day was one of my highlights. A beautiful park situated 10 minutes away from our cute Airbnb in the Somerset area, you get views of the scrapers as well as a nature fix. We got lost trying to find the exit (it’s enormous) but sometimes it’s only by not knowing where you’re going that you stumble across the most exciting sights.

Singapore and Fort Canning Park

On Sunday, from a quiet Kovan bus station at six in the morning we rode a coach across the Malaysia-Singapore border to Mersing, one of a handful of towns where you can catch a ferry to Tioman Island. The ferry ride itself was pretty horrible – the winding, bumpy roads to the jetty made me feel super travel sick and the ferry definitely did not help.

Three hours later though we were finally stretched out in our new resort room with views of palms and a river through our double floor-length windows. We ordered room service (having not eaten for 24 hours) and relaxed a little by the pool before dinner.

It feels like such a long time since I’ve been able to sit with a book and switch off, and being surrounded by palm trees with the sounds of the sea coming from just beyond our feet made the experience even more magical.

We booked a snorkelling boat tour on our second full day, keen to find out which creatures lived in the shallow seas around Tioman and its neighbouring islands. We made four stops to snorkel and one stop at a village for lunch. The sea both amazes and terrifies me so I wasn’t the best snorkelling buddy for Jacob when the waves got super choppy towards the end (and then my seasickness definitely pushed me down to World’s Worst Snorkelling Buddy) but the fish we did manage to see were utterly beautiful. Coral Island lives up to its reputation as one of the top snorkelling places to visit in the area and Monkey Bay had lots of gorgeous colourful species.

Swimming with the fishies on Tioman Island

As I type I’m sat in my new H&M bikini nursing a food baby from our buffet breakfast, enjoying views of beautiful Renggis Island and listening to the waves kiss the shoreline and palm leaves rustle in the breeze. Heavenly.

By the time this post is up we’ll be back in Singapore en route to our next dream destination, a place I expect will be very different from Tioman 😈

Hope you all have a magical ‘n summery weekend!

Love,

Holiday Packing Tips: How To Travel Like a Pro

Got a beach holiday coming up? Chuck some bikinis, sandals, sunscreen and your cutest summer dresses into a suitcase and you’re set. Off skiing for a week or to explore a chilly city? The general rule of thumb will be layers, layers, layers. But what are you meant to pack if you’re hopping between both warm and cold countries on one trip, and how are you meant to fit it all into one measly suitcase?! Hopefully these holiday packing tips will help answer that question!

In a matter of days I’ll be sitting on a 13-hour flight about to begin a two-month tour of Australia, Fiji, Singapore and Hong Kong. This trip stems from six years of daydreaming and five years of saving; I’m still pinching myself in utter disbelief that I’m about to spend a couple of months exploring countries my soul has yearned to visit for so long.

Hopping from climate to climate this summer? These holiday packing tips should help!

It’s not often one finds themselves with an opportunity to up sticks and ignore ~normal adult life~ for a while so Jacob and I jumped at it, keen to use these summer months to tick as many cities off our bucket lists as we could.

While warm weather was initially one of our top priorities, it soon dawned on us that if we wanted to get a proper taste of Australia we’d need to put up with some slightly less pleasant temperatures. Now, their winter is not like our winter in the UK but Google tells us it can still get pretty chilly in Melbourne and Sydney, the first few cities we’re due to visit. So, we’ll be hopping from 30 degrees sunshine in Singapore to single-digit temps in southern Australia, then back to the high twenties in Fiji onwards!

So, with (almost all) the boring admin out of the way I’ve been focusing on the fun but perhaps even more stressful part – the tRaVeL wArDrObE 😱👠👙✈️🌏

I’m not naturally a minimalist – I need options and I need lots of them. Cutting down my outfit choices to fit inside a suitcase is a painful process but one that’s necessary to avoid excess baggage fines at the airport (and leave enough space for extra gems and souvenirs I pick up along the way 😏).

Whether you’re off on your summer hols and have no idea where to start or, like me, you’re struggling to pack for multiple climates, hopefully these holiday packing tips will help make it all a little more bearable…

1. Roll ‘em up

I’ve tried folding, I’ve tried laying things out flat and I’ve tried stuffing them into every corner available but the clothes packing technique I’m convinced is the best – in terms of maximising space to take even more stuff with you – is rolling! 🌯

One of my favourite holiday packing tips - roll, roll, roll!

One of the simplest holiday packing tips I’ve picked up, rolling your clothes and stacking them on top of each other in your case saves space and is more likely to prevent wrinkles and creases (if you roll ‘em right, that is).

Having little clothes-sausages rolled up next to one another – as opposed to folded in piles – also makes it easier to see where things are so you won’t have to throw all your clothes out of your case in exasperation when you can’t find that cute crop top you really want to wear for dins one night. 

2. Put a sock in it

Socks ain’t just for feet – they’re great little multitasking tools and are the centrepiece in one of my favourite holiday packing tips.

  • Stuff them into shoes to keep them stiff and avoid a squashed pair of booties when you unpack.
  • If you’ve got glass bottles of perfume or can’t bear to leave your fragile travel candle at home, slip them into thick socks for an extra layer of protection during transit.
  • They work as great transporters for other delicate little bits and pieces – necklaces, big earrings, hair grips and ties, safety pins, plasters, keys, the list goes on…
  • Travelling with different types of currency but don’t want to bring lots of wallets you know you won’t use? Stick cash into socks to separate them out (and help disguise your money if someone decides to rifle through your bags!).

Stick fragile objects into socks for extra protection during transit3. Use packing cubes to organise your suitcase

If you want to take your organisation game to the next level, pick up some packing cubes. Separate your socks from your undies, vests from your t-shirts and shorts from your skirts with a couple of handy suitcase organisers. If you’re staying put in a hotel / hostel / Airbnb for a while, just transfer your packing cubes straight to the chest of drawers or whatever storage you have available in your accommodation.

If you like the idea of sectioning off your stuff but don’t want to invest in special suitcase cubes, just grab a load of plastic bags and separate your clothes and accessories that way. 

Another great holiday packing tip? Stuff a black bin bag in the pocket of your suitcase – if you ever find yourself standing in the torrential rain with your luggage, pop the bin bag over your case and protect it from getting soaked. Covering up your case also deters any wondering hands from going through the pockets when you’re standing around in airports or waiting for transport.

And when it comes to picking your outfits…

Possibly one of the more challenging holiday packing tips, make sure the clothes you pick can adapt to different climates and occasions4. Think about adaptability

Does that dress look great with bare legs and a pair of thick black tights if the weather gets chilly? Could you layer up with an extra jumper or two instead of bringing a bulky coat? Will you overheat in those black skinny jeans if you travel to a warmer country or would it be more comfortable to wear a baggier, straight-leg or flared pair instead (extra air flow ‘n that)? Does that mini skirt work with both comfy trainers and a pair of sky-high heels?

You’ve got limited space (and probably limited time if you’re leaving packing until the last minute like me) so opt for clothing that can be dressed up or down, layered when it gets chilly and look good with lots of other pieces in your suitcase.

5. Opt for a neutral colour palette

It’s not just about picking clothes that take you from day to night or hot to cold – if they don’t compliment each other then mixing and matching is going to be a challenge.

Try limiting your travel wardrobe to a handful of neutral tones and one or two bright colours. Bringing pieces that look great with lots of other items means it will be longer until you need to start repeating outfits. For my adventure this summer I’m sticking with black (of course), grey, white, pastel pink and red for that pop of colour.

6. You really don’t need all those shoes

My shoes reflect my mood – if I’m feeling sassy ‘n confident I’ll go for some chunky heeled boots; a more relaxed day calls for Vans or Converses, and I’ll wear strappy sandals or heels when I feel like channelling a summery vibe.

Although we’re off to some huuuumid places I can’t bear to leave my boots at home. Thankfully they’re pretty easy to dress up for drinks or dinner in the city, and I’ll wear them on plane journeys to save weight in my luggage. 

For day-to-day exploring I’ll bring my Vans and for the hiking we’ve got planned in Fiji and Aus, I’ve got my running trainers. Just a pair of super light slip-ons or strappy sandals for the beach / pool (I’ve still not decided which 😆) and I’m all set!

Pick your shoes carefully when you're packing for your holiday!7. Layer up on the plane

It doesn’t matter whether you’re landing in a hot or cold country – if you’re bringing a bulky coat or heavy jacket / jumper with you, wear it on the plane.

It can get chilly on long flights and coats work as excellent blanket / pillow alternatives if the airline is too stingey to pass them out.

8. Pick your makeup wisely

Pick your makeup wiselyOne of the most challenging holiday packing tips for me to follow, I often can’t help but take a “just in case” stance when it comes to picking which cosmetics to bring with me on my travels. This year, however, I’m determined to be super strict on myself.

Face: I tend to wear foundation every day so I’ll be bringing a couple of bottles with me. My recent fake tanning frenzy meant I needed to get some darker shades so I did a panic-purchase in Boots and went for Rimmel London’s Lasting Finish Foundation. I’ll be bringing Benefit’s Hoola Lite for bronzing and Rimmel’s Insta Duo Contour Stick for contouring. I’ll also be taking two highlighters with me – one liquid (which can be mixed with foundation for a really beautiful dewy look) and the other a powder that I can keep in my bag.

Eyes: Whether you’re going away for a week or a month, you shouldn’t need any more than two eyeshadow palettes – one for neutral shades, the other for brighter fun colours. I’m not really one for a vibrant blue or green eye so I’ll be taking Urban Decay’s Naked Heat palette for summery day looks and for the perfect smokey bronze eye, I’ll use my new MAC Mischief Minx palette (one of the best sets I own atm). I can’t leave the house without lashings of mascara on so I’m also bringing a couple tubes of Maybelline’s Lash Sensational Mascara – one normal and one waterproof for those days spent in the sea. 

Brows: I’ve stuck to the same routine for years and can’t see it changing anytime soon. I’ve tried pomades and pencils but since getting MAC’s Eyeshadow in Coquette brushed over my brows by my makeup artist pal back in 2015, I’ve not turned back. I use an Eco Tools slanted brush to apply the powder, similar here.

Lips: As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m not a big lipstick-wearer. I love how a bright pink or coral or red lip can transform an outfit but I’m often just not brave enough to rock such vibrant colours and gravitate towards a smokey eye instead. However, I’m certain there will be evenings when I won’t have the energy to blend and buff and build an eyeshadow look – and lipstick will be the perfect lazy alternative. I’ll be bringing five lip products with me – a pinky nude cream (NYX’s Soft Matte Lip Cream in Abu Dhabi), a deep red (MAC Lipstick Matte in Diva), a hot red (Rimmel London’s Fire Starter – my absolute favourite), a universal lip liner (I like Rimmel’s Moisture Renew Lip Liner) and a gloss (probably Benefit’s Dandelion lip gloss).

Pick your makeup wisely!

Stick “holiday packing tips” into Google and you’ll probably find lots more hacks and advice for fitting as much as you can into a tiny suitcase but hopefully my ramblings above provided a little bit of inspo!

Whether you’re off on holiday or enjoying what your home country has to offer this summer, I hope you all have a lush one 🌞🌄🕶

Love,

skitch