Welcome to wine country LOVEDALE, HUNTER VALLEY NSW

We recently partnered with Visit NSW to explore Regional Country NSW, and what an absolute treat this was. Within 2.5 hrs of Sydney you’ll discover the treasures of the Hunter Valley. Wide open spaces, cool air, friendly folk and more good food and wine than you can poke a baguette at!

With just 24hrs of adventure we explored the Hunter’s Lovedale region and popped together a mini guide for you and your little ones that may come in handy!

After an early flight from the Byron Ballina Airport we collected a hire car from Sydney and headed straight for the wine region (via a quick Bourke St Bakery coffee and croissant). We made it to the Hunter just in time for lunch, perfect!

Nana Kerr’s Kitchen: With an emphasis on homemade and “nana” size servings this rustic restaurant had a all the charm and warmth of a family home. We ordered the gnocchi, Nan’s pie of the day and OMG potatoes with a light red wine it was indeed filling and delicious!

The restaurant is surrounded by organic veggie patches and golden vineyards. Plenty of space to stretch those little legs.

Peppermint tea in the afternoon light inside Nana Kerr’s organic Cafe.

STOMP Wines was our next destination. We met with part owner Meredith who greeted us at this petit cellar door. A relaxed settling catching the afternoon sun (I must admit if I wasn’t pregnant I would have participated in a lot more tastings – thier sparkling presceco was a favourite).

The Convent was our choice of accomodation in the Hunter. This beautiful and truly iconic property had long been a hotel I’d dreamt of staying. The entrance of the property is breathtaking as this lovely heritage building comes into view, set amongst beautiful gardens of roses and lavender.

We enjoyed an Italian inspired dinner in the hotel restaurant that evening. Large rooms allowed plenty of space for baby cots and a comfortable bed and heating for a sleeping in on a cool winters morning.

After a hearty breakfast at On The Deck Cafe and a quick visit to the Hunter Chocolate Shop to buy some gifts for home (which were of course eaten before they were able to be gifted) we headed to the next destination on our Regional country NSW road trip, Mudgee!

You can also look to the Visit NSW website for more information when planning your trip.

Paddock Hall Farm Stay, Staycation

 

Sometimes (especially when your 25 weeks pregnant!) a little slow time at home is just what you need…well perhaps a home just slightly nicer than your own so that still feels like a holiday. A “staycation” if you will.

Introducing a brand new farm stay in Byron Bay’s hinterland region ‘Paddock Hall’. Situated on 20 acres just 5 mins from Lennox head and 25mins from the centre of Byron Bay this location allows you to completely relax amongst flowering gardens alive with singing birds, chooks, sheep and one very cheeky goat!

The property is composed of an open air guesthouse, with a chefs style kitchen, a large king bed and a lovely outdoor rustic bath which takes in a private view of the surrounding paddocks.

The afternoon was spent lazing by the pool in the sun and in the evenings by an open fire. From the local markets we bought fresh gnocchi, parmesan cheese and Church Farm’s passata and served this with tomatoes and herbs from the garden and Jilly’s local organic wine.

We felt like we had spent an evening in the French countryside without even stepping foot onto a plane and we truely never wanted to leave…

Julia, Matty and Delilah Bee wear Country Road clothing throughout. See more of this lovely shoot and our tips to discovering the local area on Country Road’s blog today.

Book Paddock Hall via Air B n B HERE

All photographs by the amazing Lisa Sorgini x

Jordan / A journey of red earth with artist Jedda Daisy Culley

Jedda is hands down one of our favourite artists. Wife to creative Dan Stricker and muma of Zen and Lucian. We follow their family journey into the colourful desert landscapes of Jordan.

How did you find yourselves here in Jordan so far from your Sydney home? The landscape is what drew us to Jordan. I am driven to red earth and wide open spaces. I love to see the full light show of the sky anchored by rusts and reds. The deserts we explored in Isreal were not red like the Wadi Rum. I guess we were on a hunt for the reddest earth.

Zen and I in the Valley of the moon, the red earth was so soft.

The adventure: We walked across the boarder from Israel into Jordan and then drove straight into the Wadi Rum where we jumped in the back of a truck and cruised across the desert sand. We arrived at twilight, a big moon was rising in the Valley, a beautiful sign as the Wadi Rum translates to The Valley of the Moon.

Driving into the Wadi Rum will never leave me. I have rarely ever been so in ore of a landscape. I have to go back. I have to paint this place. I took home a special gift from the valley of the moon; I was blessed to paint this landcape.

Where did you stay? Memories Aicha CampGlamping is a nice way to come home after a long hot day exploring the desert

Magic moon dome where we had traditional Bedouin food

HOT TIPS for any parents who want to do this trip? Travelling though Jordan with kids was a breeze; people are so warm and friendly; They loved to give our kids treats (that was probably the hardest part, filtering the sweets). When we ate out they would just sweep our kids up for cuddles and games. It has such a beautiful family culture. The desert is hot, I think taking light bits of cloth is the best defence against the blazing sun, me and the kids loved making little tents for ourselves to shelter in.

A pony ride into Petra blew the kids minds

Climbing through the Jordanian hills

I love camels they are the coolest I cant stop drawing them, I want to put a camel in every painting. The shape of their bodies rolls with the landscape

Heaven is a place. The water is heavy and soft it craddles you

My face was bright red after this little self spa session

My men getting their mud on

Zen and I finding rocks

Lucian found the moon; the only object for miles became an instant toy

Road stop snack looking out of Amman

FAST FACTS: Jordan is approx a 13.5hr flight from Australia. Epic desert landscapes, hospitable people and ancient ruins are Jordan’s most obvious drawcards, but a closer look reveals that, despite its arid environment, the kingdom is also wonderfully rich in lush oases, from a biblical river to saline soaks and secret canyon pools. Read more about this destination via Loney Planet HERE

Discover the wonderfully creative world of Jedda’s art and family HERE 

Europe / On the road with Melody and Zephyr

Melody is best known as a talented fashion photographer, residing in Byron Bay's hinterland. She and her four year old son Zephyr recently packed their bags and headed to Europe for a journey which would fulfil their hearts and build memories to last a lifetime...

(Hauling my stubborn minded boy down the empty back streets, siesta time in Alicante, Spain)

Europe is a destination which many parents may shy away from, yet you took it on with gusto, and as a single mum no less. Well done you!

It was my first time to Europe, I felt like it would be a pretty easy option to travel solo with my 4yo son, versus a trip to India or Guatemala, but I’m sure some parents are going to correct me on that one! The places we visited, France, Spain & Italy seemed to have such an abundance of small farms, which I really wanted to do some work exchange on to not only get to know some local families but experience everyday life over there firsthand! To share something like this with Zephyr was an amazing opportunity I knew I had to make happen, and it was the perfect timing for me being a freshly single mumma and feeling ready for some soul nourishing adventure with my boy!

(Tiny work truck peeping in Cetona, Tuscany)

(Blooms surrounding in central France)

(Textured everything in Tuscany, the peeling paint, the cave walls, the stone pathways, such a treat to           the senses)

Europe is a large area to cover, tell us which areas you chose and why?
We passed through and spent a day or so in quite a few cities and tiny villages, and then stayed a week or more in some more where we did our farm work exchanges or just camped out for a while and soaked it all in. We had our friends, another mumma friend and her son Zephyrs age join us for the France journey of 2 weeks.

We flew into Paris and spent a couple of days here to wind down from the wild ride of 30 hours of flights with our very excited, almost un-tamable children.

After Paris, off to the pretty French countryside we went, here we spent a week on a farm, in a Sunflower lined village called Cressanges, in the heart of the Allier in Central France. We stayed in a 400 year old rambling farmhouse and did gardening, cooking, painting old barn doors and tending to the many animals the family kept. Oh when I say tending I mean that, the kids were often found setting their bunnies free or letting the goat out of its barn to eat the garden. Time to head off!

Next we went down south to a beautiful area just north west of Nice, at the foot of the Alps (I really wish I could remember the name of the area properly!!!) This was another work exchange on a permaculture property with a lovely couple and their 3 young daughters. Surrounded by the mountains the property was so surreal, sunken into a wedge between the mountains with a big rocky bottomed river running through it and a long rope bridge to walk into the property, some of our most beautiful moments were spent down by this river with all the kids playing. Nice was one city I absolutely fell in love with, the scenery & the general atmosphere of the place was just filled with so much energy and beauty.

(Positano, I feel like I’ve seen a thousand different versions of this same image, a bloggers paradise)

We parted ways with our friends and headed to Florence. Hire car disaster from hell and 3 trains and 3 days later we opted for biking the city and it was so much fun! Defiantly the best option in the cities here!! We just rode around all day and found all sorts of things we never would have come by. Visited the typical tourist sites and were eye boggled at the architecture. We filled ourselves with too many ice creams and carousel rides and had to leave!

(Doorway dreams line every single street in Italy)

(Pizza with mates in the square. Always)

Next stop was Tuscany! Beautiful Tuscany! We stayed in an AirBnB in a ancient village called Cetona in the province of Siena. Just magic here and I would highly recommend Cetona and specially this BnB! Probably the most stunning and interesting village we visited. Some of the oldest settlements in Central Italy were discovered here 40–80th century BC. The houses are build into a cliff face, with views out onto the stunning Tuscan landscape, cobblestone streets only fit for motorbikes wind through the village and meet at the main square which like many village squares, is quiet all day and comes alive at sunset filling with families pouring out of their homes ready to laugh and play. We stayed in a creative journalists home filled with amazing antique artefacts that he had collected the world over, Francisco sure had the stories to tell! I would go back to this town in an instant!

(The day we spent in Nice, full tummies & tired feet, I think we were all quite content by the end of it)

(This was at the mind blowing my beautiful Villa d’Este Gardens in Tivoli, Italy. You MUST google this place at least to have a look if not fly to Italy to visit!!)

We headed to the Amalfi coast, we were missing the ocean and had been dreaming of visiting the picturesque coastline there. We stayed just up the cliff from Amalfi at a village called Agerola. There wasn’t much right here in the village, couple of restaurants and a local grocery. It ended being the perfect peaceful spot for us to rest easy at night in our BnB and instead of driving down the famous dreaded cliff road to the beach we caught the local buses down everyday. One of the strongest memories from this whole trip was that crazy road!!! Anyone who has been there will resonate with this, I think one lady on the bus actually fainted with fright. It was all worth it! Such a breathtaking place to visit. We caught the boat over to Positano a few times and ate pizza and ice cream on the black pebbled shore. It was amazing. On the day we were leaving I got the offer to stay on an organic tomato farm at the top of Amalfi looking over the coast, a work exchange dream! Can just picture ourselves picking tomatoes in an Italian paradise there. Saving that one for next time!

(Zephyr boy with his one eyed kitty he adopted at the farm exchange in central France)

(Making animals friends & setting them free because ‘animals shouldn’t be kept locked up’, uh oh. Central France)

Naples was one rough ride, haha thats all I can say. We had 4 days there, these were filled with hours upon hours of walking alll the streets and tiny alleys until we could walk no more. I just decided we should explore all we can by just having no plans and just walking everyday, call me crazy, yes I defiantly am. I’m grateful we got to see it as we did because we got to see the reality of it, the very gritty streets, feeling a little un-sure in moments and getting lost and feeling in awe noticing their great love of literature, music and art. To get the most out of Naples, it would be wonderful having a local friend guide you and show you what they love about their city. They are extremely passionate about it!

(The bridge to our farm exchange accomodation, nestled beneath the Alps, South of France)

(It was so beautiful playing with the kids down by the river with the beautiful mountains around us. Take me back to this day, any day!!)

We left Italy and flew over to Spain, into Barcelona where I had clearly high ambitions of visiting all the Gaudi sights & the Miro museum, in our only 2 days here. Worst timing as they had a public transport strike the whole time we were there, we took a bike, I wasn’t going to give up, biking it should be easy!! The bikes don’t have baby seats, so I popped Zephyr on the bike rack at the back but we didn’t have anything with us to cushion his bum! Huge fail and we walked a couple hours to the Joan Miro park, it does have a big Miro sculpture which was nice to see but its basically just a big kids park. Defiantly didn’t do Barcelona as I wanted too!

(The warm Spain air making us feel all lovey & relaxed. At our work exchange property in Alicante)

We got a hire car and stayed in a village close to Allicante in the South East of Spain on the Costa Blanca. We did another work exchange here with a woman and her son who is Zephyrs age. She has an animal rescue farm with about 60 animals of all kinds. We spent our days tending to the animals under the scorching Spanish sun! We visited a few small surrounding villages with them and got to play with many lovely local kids in the streets. I did a huge drive down to Marebella from here, it was a rushed trip for a photo job, so I just drive straight there for one night then rushed back. Driving through that deserted countryside (on the A7) was just amazing and all I wanted to do was stop and experience it for a few weeks! So very barren yet fully planted up with olive groves forever, it was just stunning…

(Positano daydreams! Catching the boats over from Amalfi and eyeing the stunning landscapes surround us was such a treat!)

(Long hot days calls for nothing more. I’ve never eaten so much ice cream in my life)

(When you gotta go you gotta go!!! Too many of these moments eventually have you laughing)

Highlights and any tips or tricks for other families who may like to experience this part of the world too…

A hire car is an absolute must! This is the key to your freedom! I found them tricky to secure though even though booking in advance from Australia. Get as much local knowledge as you can & get amongst it, walk or bike ride as much as you can and just enjoy every moment for what it is, even the crazy ones, because travelling with kids is purely one crazy trip.. and thats if you do it right 🙂 Just be open minded and flexible and everything will be a wonderful memory in the end.

(This photo was at the very end of our trip, such a special trip for us!!)

For more of Melody’s beautiful work, follow her adventures HERE

Oceanside Castaway Cottage

If its privacy you are seeking then this is your ideal NZ destination.

This rustic timber bach can be found is tucked high on the Coromandel (North Island), at the top of a private road, on it’s own glistening bay.

Be sure to take all your food and incidentals as the nearest supermarket is a winding 30 min drive away.

There is a fully equipped kitchen and barbeque for you to make some great family style meals on the front lawn.

Allow the slow sun rise across the sea to gently caress you out of bed (if your children haven’t already).

Pack a picnic and take a drive to nearby beaches and coves to indulge in the pristine beauty which this area of the island really offers.

Book this Bach HERE

Delilah wears Nature Baby clothing throughout

See more from the land of the long white cloud in our interactive guide to New Zealand HERE

A handmade treehouse, Waiheke Island

High amongst the trees on the quiet side of Waiheke Island (Cowes Bay) this hand built gem stands tall.

You’ll feel worlds away in this spacious home as the afternoon light warms the hexagon shaped hut.

Pour a wine from a local winery (there are plenty close by), light a fire or recline in the large bath.

You’ll likely hear a few kiwi birds traipsing through the forest floor below too.

Our favourite stops on the island include;

The sprawling vineyards and paddocks full of sheep at Man of War Winery occupy what feels like half of the island. The winery itself is a casual and homely setting surrounded by grassy hills along a waterfront bay.

Poderi Crisci for a long italian style lunch amongst lovely gardens.

Stop by ‘Raw Foods’ to stock up on nice quality supplies.

Vista Tip: It’s best to hire a car and take the car ferry across to the island (book ahead in school holidays). Once you are there take your time to visit remote beaches and unspoilt bays dotted with wooly sheep. Plenty of great roadside stalls to stock up on fresh fruit too.

Book the Treehouse Nest HERE

(tell Wayne The Vista sent you) x

Julia, Matty and Dee Dee wear Baaba knitwear throughout.

See more of New Zealand in our interactive guide HERE

New Zealand interactive Guide

Choose your own adventure in this natural wonderland… Welcome to our brand new interactive travel guide to New Zealand! Download your free guide here.

ENJOY! X

VIEW GUIDE

24 HOURS IN AUCKLAND, NZ (WITH KIDS)!

Brought to you by Mountain Buggy

On a day out in Auckland with kids you can expect art, culture and plenty of great food!
Here are our top tips for a day to night itinerary in New Zealand’s high rise heart.

STAY:
Hotel Debrett 
A central location in Auckland fashion district. Ample size rooms, bath and cozy baby cot.

EAT:
Daily Bread 
Irresistible passeries, donuts, breads and freshly made meals all served at casual, long table settings in a lovely former bank building. We recommend the Le Fish plate with avo for a healthy start and a sourdough apricot thyme danish (as life is all about balance!)

Little & Friday’s
A large indoor and outdoor space with an array of fresh quiches, sandwiches, sweets and good coffee on offer. This iconic cafe is perfect for takeaway too if the kids are napping in the car you can grab something to go. Choose from two locations, Belmont and Newmarket.

Orphan’s kitchen 
Open from breakfast to dinner. The sister restaurant of Daily Bread. A small and busy cafe and for good reason. Choose from fresh baked breads with an array of mouthwatering toppings. We loved the smoke & fire peanut butter with carrot kimchi on sprouted lentil loaf. The team here are great and so accomodating with kids. Here Delilah is, sitting pretty in her Mountain Buggy pod portable highchair, so she can keep up with mum and dad when main course comes around.

Coco’s Cantina 
Pasta, pasta, pasta!! Most kids are huge fans, I know ours is. You can’t go past their spaghetti and meatballs (the children size is still huge) and the homemade baked lasagna. A super fun atmosphere with good music and friendly staff. We headed straight there once touching down in Auckland and it was a great way to start the trip.

Amano 
It certainly felt like we had been teleported to Manhattan apon entering the Amano bakery/resturant. My only regret was that we had more time to stay and enjoy this gorgeous space and Italian inspired menu, we instead grabbed a chicken sandwich and a lemon cheesecake before we jumped on the ferry to Waiheke Island.

EXPLORE:
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki 
I know, I know you’re going to say an art museum with kids?! you must be joking? But with a blend of interactive displays of modern art pieces there was plenty to keep little eyes and minds amused. Street or underground parking is available in close distance to the gallery.

Wintergarden
A short drive from the city you’ll discover this lovely ornate greenhouse surrounded by park gardens. Don’t miss the underground fernery which you enter via the stone courtyard.

There is a cafe within the gardens, yet we opted for snacks in the park so we could stretch our legs and chase some little sparrows about.

FUN FACT:

The Nano by Mountain Buggy is one of the only strollers which you can take on board a flight, fold and store in the over head compartment. It’s as small and compact as your carry on luggage. Just another way Mountain Buggy make travelling with kids easy.

Jump across the ditch and see more of beautiful New Zealand in our new interactive guide HERE

MUKTI / DAY AND NIGHT ROUTINE

If I'm completely honest I was well into my 30's until I started really paying attention to my skin...

The idea of a routine was non existent until the natural collagen started to fade, some pigmentation appeared, and of course those little lines started to creep on in…

I wanted to invest in skin care which I could

a) trust and

b) was recognised as purely 100% organic, good for the environment and my skin.

Now, although still very simple I do keep up a routine day and night – even on the road. My favourite items (and there are many) for my skin from the Mukti range include;

DAY //

VITAL C  ELIXIR – After washing my face with Luke warm water, Vital C is a lovely wake up. I’m not joking when I say it feels like a cool glass of fresh OJ on your face! The best wake up!

AGE DEFIANCE EYE SERUM – I do get rings under my eyes after poor sleep and tend to get dry areas above my eyes so I love the eye serum to remedy this.

ANTIOXIDANT FACIAL OIL 3-6-9 – My skin just loves oil so a fine layer of this before breakfast allows it to sink in before applying any make up.

NIGHT //

2 – 1 RESURFACING EXFOLIANT – made from citrus and fine bamboo the smell is divine. Its fine particles are also soft and doesn’t leave your skin irritated like many exfoliants seem to do. I use a warm washer to remove.

ANTIOXIDANT FACIAL OIL 3-6-9 – this pops the oil back into my skin which it love (especially on long haul flights or cool months)

AGE DEFIANCE NIGHT SERUM – This is a perfect sleep easy moisturiser. Knowing that all through the night your skin will be treated to a sweet hydration.

On the run my two main vices are Rose Blossom Toner Spray which I keep in the fridge for a cool spritz on bare skin and the Tinted Moisturiser with Sunscreen daily as a quick fix, add a little cream blush and a lip balm and I am out the door!

This story, shot on location at Seascape, Annandale
Photography by Matt Rabbidge

SEASCAPE / South Island New Zealand

Featuring clothing by Little Tienda x

In the early days of Autumn, when the snow first fell on New Zealand’s South Islands we discovered quite possibly the most romantic place on Earth – ‘Seascape’ at Annandale.


Located a 1.5hr picturesque drive from Christchurch, this architecturally designed home rests into the cliff face on its own secluded bay. It’s striking appearance sitting somewhere between modernist and a James Bond style lair.



Annandale is a 7,000 acre working sheep and cattle property located on Pigeon Bay. It’s home to four unique homes each as spectacular as the next. Shepard’s Cottage a traditional home with a large open fire perfect for two, Scrubby Bay stretches out on a private beach, perfect for a family escape with a large pool, 3 bedrooms and an extra room for the kids! The homestead, Annandale’s original property is perfect for large events.

Seascape hosts features such as the outdoor fires an hot tub taking in a breathtaking view of the turquoise bay, surrounded by snow capped ridge lines and our only neighbors being a mob of lovely woolly sheep.


The property, nestled on the outer Banks Peninsula feels wonderfully remote. Untamed ocean brushing up against wind swept cliffs reminiscent of Northern England. It’s location is much of the appeal – you are alone out here and that is truly refreshing.


Fresh food will be delivered to your doorstep daily, or you can opt for a private chef who shall cook for you.


Nearby day trips include the French settlement of Akaroa (do try the baguettes from the local patisserie), Lyttleton – home to one of our favorite little bars ‘Civil and Naval’ and the sweet little seaside town of Sumner, perfect to take in a sunset and enjoy some local fish & chips.


Book your most romantic getaway HERE

Julia is dressed by Little Tienda

All images by Matt Rabbidge