Melbourne: being cultured but also a cheap skate.

Travelling and living in a city can get expensive, paying for your hostel, food, activities, coffees etc all adds up but luckily there are lots of free things to do in Melbourne (thank god). We’ve made a point of taken full advantage of the free things that are on offer in the city!

Melbourne is full of art and photography galleries and we decided to check out the NGV – National Gallery of Victoria. It’s located near Federation Square right in the heart of the city centre – you can’t miss it! Luckily for us there was a great exhibition on in the main hall. The exhibition was by Patrick Pound and was a collection of old photographs that the artist had put together over the years.
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The photographs were grouped together by similarity – dogs, people with cameras, shadows, selfies, sporting events etc. It was so good to see all these old photographs from all over the world and from different decades with the same subject matter. It was great to see how the fashion and trends changed throughout the years and also the changes in the cameras.
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We stayed at the exhibition for about an hour and it was great to look around. You can find out more info about the exhibition here www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/patrick-pound

After exploring the NGV we decided to take a little walk around the city, we’ve been walking most places rather than catching the trams, it saves money (yes!) but it’s also a great way to see the city, when the sun’s out it’s nice to have a stroll and discover new places.
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Another day we decided to check out the Shrine of Remembrance, the sun was shining and the shrine is set in a beautiful garden so it was the perfect day to pay a visit!
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The gardens were beautiful and when we went inside the shrine it was full of flags and memorabilia, a crypt and a medal gallery.
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There was also a great balcony that you could go out onto and the views from there were amazing! You could see out over the gardens and the city. Seeing the trees with huge skyscrapers behind them was really cool, I could have stayed up there for hours watching everything that was happening on the street below!
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It’s not until you’re on a tight budget that you realise that there’s actually so many free things to do in cities, we tend to head to the city’s info centre and the staff are so helpful, they give you leaflets and maps of all the things going on in the city and there are so many free things to choose from which is great!
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Melbourne really is a great city to visit and with so many free activities to do it’s a city that suites all budgets, plus if you go to a free museum or art gallery and it’s not for you, it doesn’t matter because you haven’t lost anything! Win, Win!

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Melbourne: first few days and first impressions.

Two years ago my best friend and I were sitting in a coffee shop in London dreaming our lives away, I had just decided that I was going off travelling and was desperate for her to join me. We always talked about going on a big trip together (usually when we were drunk and loving life!) and last week it finally happened – we would finally be travelling Australia together! I was due to fly to Melbourne and meet Lucy, who had been travelling around Japan, on the 2nd of April but Cyclone Debbie had other ideas and left me flooded in Lismore (you can read about that here!).

After switching my flights around (thanks Jetstar!) it was finally time to meet Lucy in Melbourne, which was super exciting because I hadn’t visited Melbourne before and it was Lucy’s first time in Oz! Lucy came to meet me in the city and there were lots of tears and hugs and we couldn’t believe we were finally reunited after 7 months apart – the longest separation to date! Now the fun could begin, lets explore Melbourne!

Spoiler alert – we’re both pretty shit at organising stuff so neither of us had done any research into what to do in Melbourne but luckily, like any city, there is always something going on! Our first day was spent walking around in the sunshine checking out the street art around Hosier Lane.
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Visiting the lanes of street art in Melbourne is high up in all the guide books as something to see and I have to say I really enjoyed walking around and seeing it all. I’d heard mixed reviews about it but I really liked it, it’s colourful, you can take great photos there and best of all it’s free!
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The following day was freezing and wet so we decided to take the tram to Fitzroy – the hipster part of town. We looked around the shops, grabbed a coffee whilst planning the rest of our stay and had dinner at Smith and Daughter, a great vegan restaurant. Being a Sunday alot of places were shut…! (see told you we’re shit at organising!)
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Fitzroy is great and we both really liked it there, lots of trendy coffee shops and cafes, vintage shops, unique bars and now home to the biggest vegan shop in the WORLD! We were freezing cold and it was raining so we took shelter in a really nice bar where we drank cider and made friends with a huge dog that looked like a bear!
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We loved Fitzroy and were sad that so many places were shut because it was a Sunday so we got up the next day and went back there, this time the sun was shining and it was great to walk around. We looked around the op shops (charity shops to you english folk) had lunch in a vegan cafe and just enjoyed walking around without being freezing! (Seriously Melbourne, your weather is crazy!)
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One thing that I instantly love about Melbourne is the colour of the city, there is street art around every corner and it gives the city such character. Fitzroy has a real charm about it, lots of little quirky shops and it reminded us of the more hipster parts of London which we both think is a good thing!
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I’d heard mixed reviews about Melbourne, I know people who absolutely love it there and people who have visited and come away unimpressed. I for one really like this city, I will admit there isn’t loads to do and it doesn’t have huge ‘tourist attractions’ but it does have huge charm and character. I love the artsy feel of the city and the colour and vibrancy that is here.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt reminds me alot of London, especially Fitzroy, I also love that fact that even though you’re in a big city it’s very green, the city is lined with trees and there are lots of parks and open spaces to chill in, plus it has beautiful botanical gardens. So far Melbourne gets a thumbs up from me!
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Any suggestions of where to visit in Melbourne? Any must have sights to see?!

Stuck in a Natural Disaster Zone… thanks Cyclone Debbie!

Debbie… sounds like a nice name right? How about when you add the word Cyclone to the front of it?!…I had 6 days to kill before I was planning on meeting my best friend in Melbourne, all flights and hostels were booked and I was super excited! I thought I could cram a quick farm visit in before I jetted off, so I went to stay at Sugarshine Farm Sanctuary in New South Wales (you can read about this amazing place here)

I had been at the sanctuary for 3 days when it started raining…and continued for 24 hours solid. After checking Facebook we soon realised that places around us were flooding, badly. Lismore, the local town was seriously under water and I must admit it was scary to see those images and know the rising water was in the next town! Luckily for us we were safe on the farm, we are high up so didn’t get flooded. The poor animals were grumpy because they had to chill in the barn all day but they were safe…thank god.

We took a drive into Lismore the day after the rain started and we were shocked to see the state it was in. Cars underwater, home flooded, boats driving through the town, helicopters flying overhead, I could not believe my eyes. We drove to a look out and you could see the full extent of the flooding, as far as you can see there was water, it was unbelievable and just reminded me of scenes in a movie. We drove back to the farm thankful that it was untouched, we were safe and so we’re the animals. Many homes had to evacuate and leave their pets behind with the water level rising, I can’t imagine how tough a decision that would have been for some families.

The following day we drove back into Lismore to help with the clean up, some of the water had subsided and people were starting to assess the damage done to their properties. Seeing families throw their ruined possessions onto a huge pile they’ve made on the street was heartbreaking. It was awful driving past house after house, all doing the same thing. We spent the whole day helping out that day and it was rewarding to see the difference a few helping hands can make.

The following day we headed back into Lismore to help out some more. This time we headed to the local pet shop which is owned by an elderly woman. It was overwhelming when we first pulled up, there was mess everywhere! A huge pile of damaged goods outside and a shop that was covered in mud and water. We spent all day moving damaged stock, taking fixtures and fittings off the wall, moving fridges and freezers, pressure washing the floor and removing the mud.  The lady had managed to get the cats and birds to safety but sadly the fish tanks overflowed and washed away, it was the saddest things seeing all the empty tanks. It was a huge job but thankfully there were many people helping out. This is what struck me the most – people are great and wanna help each other.I was taken back by people’s kindness and generosity, watching everyone come together to help each other out was great to see and be a part of. People were going around donating tools and new wellies to people who were helping in the clean up. Others were going round with cars full of food that they’d prepared and were handing it out. There was even a lady and her neighbour who had cooked a huge batch of curry and were dishing it up and giving it out to the volunteers, this was so incredible to see! (and it was really yummy!)3ECD669300000578-4367028-An_aerial_view_of_floodwaters_engulfing_central_Lismore_New_Sout-a-21_1490958114892.jpgBeing flooded near Lismore meant I couldn’t catch my flight to meet my best friend in Melbourne and meant that my flights and hostels would have to be cancelled and at first I was a bit bummed BUT after helping with the clean up I was happy that it had happened. I was happy to have seen Lismore, luckily I had lunch in the town one day so I got to see it before the flood took over. It was devastating to see the damage that had happened to this place but so heartwarming to see the community come together and lend a hand to get families and businesses back on their feet. I left Lismore 3 days ago and was sad to go, it’s hard knowing that it’ll be a long time before the town is back on its feet again but I know the community spirit will get them through and help the town rebuild. It’s funny how times like these really bring people together, it was an emotional week but one I wouldn’t change, I’m so glad I was there to meet the wonderful people of Lismore and lend a hand. 

Where’s David Attenborough when you need him?!

During my recent visit to Ballina (which you can read about here) I was lucky enough to witness something really special. Now I’m a huge animal lover and nature fan so things like this excite me a lot. We were leisurely strolling along the beach when I spotted a sweet dog (there is always a dog that needs to be stroked) that was playing in the sea, obviously I went over to stroke the dog and noticed the dogs owner filming something in the sea. As I looked out to see what she was filming, suddenly my eyes focused on hundreds of tiny little soldier crabs scurrying along the shore!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
They were coming from the sea and then burrowing into the sand in front of us, it was incredible to see and seriously looked like something from Planet Earth! They were everywhere, as far as you can see. Tiny little blue robots scurrying across the sand.
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We were the only ones on the beach so it was incredible to just sit and watch the crabs do their thing, I had never seen anything like this before and it was so special to watch. Nature is the best!!
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Look at this little guy burrowing into the sand, he looks like something from a sci-fi film!
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I bloody love nature, being able to sit and watch little things like this is incredible and I love seeing new creaures that I’ve never seen before just going about their business.
Below is a video of the crabs being awesome…

I LOVE NATURE

Beautiful Ballina

During our time in Byron we would often catch the bus to different places that were near and our last stop was Ballina. Ballina is about an hour bus ride from Byron Bay and has great shops, cafes and an AMAZING beach (which was pretty deserted the day we went!)

Upon exiting the bus at Ballina it soon became clear that the town had an OAP vibe to it, we were pretty much the only three people on the bus that were under 60, there was even a huge mobility scooter shop…and after walking for miles along the coast that day I wish I had one to ride back on!
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It seems like every beach we visited during our stay in Byron was just a beautiful as the last, the sea is a beautiful turquoise colour and the sand is so light that it actually squeaks under your feet.
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We walked for miles and miles (…my Dad loves a walk) along this beach and the view hardly changes, just turquoise sea and white sand.
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Walking along the beach we met the odd dog walker (I swear the dogs are so chilled out and happy in Australia!) but that was it, we pretty much just had the beach to ourselves and it was lovely to just walk along taking in the views.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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It was great to visit Ballina for the day, to be honest we spent the majority of the day walking along the beach, we weren’t bothered about shopping we just to see the sights. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to see the Ballina Big Prawn, which is, you guessed it, a massive fake prawn!

If you’re staying in Byron or near Ballina in NSW I would take the trip there, the beach is beautiful and it has a really chilled out atmosphere. If you’re after a beach like Byron’s but without the crowds Ballina is a great choice!

Things I ♥ Thursday

So after waking up to the awful news that London had suffered a terrorist attack while I slept I wasn’t in the best of moods today. The whole thing left me feeling really…SHIT (as I’m sure it did everyone else)

This morning a song came on Spotify that I hadn’t heard before, it grabbed my attention and it reminded me how good it is when you discover something new that you fall head over heels in love with (I listened to the song 6 times in a row…) so I’ve decided to compile a list of things that I’m currently loving because A) I’ve had a shitty day and B) I love making lists…

This is the song in question – there aren’t many songs that I listen to straight away that really excite me but I LOVED this the minute I heard it. It’s by an australian band called Gang of Youths and I’m now going to download everything they have because this song can only be listened to so many times on repeat…
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Salutations by Conor Oberst is one of my fav things at the moment because…well it’s Conor Oberst so this will always make me happy!
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There has been alot of hype about Carnage and I was so excited to see it and it bloody well lived up to the hype let me tell ya! I frikkin loved it! Being vegan myself I’m always excited for anyone funny to talk about the subject because I think vegans get judged as being uptight or preachy and this film is great because it pokes fun at the subject (and vegans!) while still treating the viewer to harsh facts about the meat and dairy industry. Plus it’s absolutely hilarious, I laughed my head off! I can’t sing it’s praises enough. Give it a watch!

I have also been loving…
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I was super excited to see that Love was back on Netflix! I watched the last episode of season 2 today and it was great. It’s a comedy/drama about Mickey and Gus who are two thirty something’s who meet and try to sort their complicated lives out. It’s an easy watch and really funny too, it’s very real and I like it because it’s something a bit different.
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Now last but not least, one of my favourite things in the entire world and something that I’ve fallen back in love with in the last week, the How Did This Get Made podcast. This. is. great. It’s hosted by Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas and they review bad movies, like really bad movies. It’s bloody hysterical and well worth a watch if you like funny people talking about shitty films, it’s also good because they have tonnes of episodes so you can binge on them until your heart’s content!

Finally…this video of Ryan ‘sexy face’ Reynolds and Jake ‘the hottest of them all’ Gyllenhaal being funny certainly brightened up my day.

What have you been loving lately?! Any recommendations?

My day at Sugarshine Farm Sanctuary – my idea of heaven!

Anyone that knows me knows I’m a HUGE animal lover. I love ALL animals and I’m lucky to share my home in the UK with lots of them, which means I miss them all terribly while I’m travelling. As well as running over to every dog I see in the street, the beach, the city etc to get my animal fix I’m also trying to help out at animals sanctuaries along the way to meet new people and obviously get lots of cuddles with gorgeous animals!

During my family holiday in Byron I was on Facebook and saw a post from Sugarshine Farm Sanctuary who are based in New South Wales, they were asking for help with their new rescued calves. They had just taken in 5 new babies and needed help bottle feeding them….erm, I’m sorry, is this real life?! sign me up!!
After some quick googling I saw the farm was only 40 minutes away from our Byron apartment, I contacted them and said I’d be free that week to help them out. As it turned out my brother also wanted to come and help out too!
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Sugarshine is a haven for many animals – pigs, calves, goats, sheep, hens, ducks, turkeys and pet dogs all live together in harmony – this place is a paradise! These animals have been rescued from the meat and dairy industry, taken in from previous owners or from other sanctuaries that have sadly had to shut their doors. The farm is run by Kelly, who set up the sanctuary and an incredible team of people who volunteer their time to help the farm and the animals that live there.
Now brace yourselves…cuteness overload coming your way in…3,2,1
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These are the babies! They are the most adorable things I’ve ever seen. These babies are products of the dairy industry, they were taken away from their mothers at birth so that the milk for them could be used for humans…that’s right, the milk that should be bringing up these baby cows is being sold for human adults. Sounds weird right?!  Yeah, that’s because it is.
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Feeding these beautiful babies was an absolute privilege and me and Jake couldn’t believe how lucky we were to be given such a job! These babies are so gentle, they nuzzle and butt your leg to try to get milk and as cute as this is it’s also heartbreaking at the same time, they should be doing this to their mother, not me.
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Being vegan I know the lives that these babies would be facing, you can read my blogpost about the dairy industry here (no gruesome photos just facts that you should know) Many people don’t actually know that cows only produce milk when they are pregnant, the same as us, that milk is only for their baby, it breaks my heart to think that we deny mother and baby cows the chance to be together just so we can take her milk for ourselves, look at those babies, how anyone can mistreat them is beyond me.
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We also got to cuddle some little chicks who had been bought in by a family that had rescued them and taken them to the centre. Unfortunately they weren’t able to catch the mother but there was another mother hen at the farm who took in these little babies too. Animals are great!
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The farm is also home to lots of goats, who have all been rescued from various different situations. During my visit I also got to bottle feed some little babies that had recently joined the farm, they were so gorgeous! While we were raking the yard the little ones were following us around for cuddles, it was adorable!
The farm is also home to many pigs…
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The smaller pigs are still being bottle fed, they are so adorable. I fell in love with one in particular who’s named Olive, she is just the sweetest little thing. She comes up and nuzzles your leg because she wants a bottle! It was the cutest thing.

I absolutely loved my day at the farm, meeting all these beautiful animals and wonderful people was great. I felt such a sense of happiness while I was there, helping to feed the babies and hear all the amazing stories of how Kelly rescues these lovely animals. Being surrounded by such compassionate people really is infectious and makes me want to do more to spread awareness for the animals who sadly are still victims of the meat and dairy industry and need us to spread the word about the suffering they face everyday. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPlease, if you love animals and hate to think of them suffering please, just spend 5 minutes reading some of my previous posts on animals in the meat and dairy industry – I have written posts on cows, pigs, sheep, goats and chickens (just click the word and it’ll open up the post for you) It’s not enough for us to close our eyes, shy away from photos that are hard to look at, I get it, they are awful but sadly they are the truth – the truth of what’s happening to these poor animals, they have done nothing wrong, they are innocent, they do not deserve this. If the thought of someone inflicting pain and suffering onto an animal upsets you, you shouldn’t be paying for someone else to do it for you. Please, please educate yourself so you know how the food gets to your plate, it’s the least you can do for the animals.img_8489Please follow Sugarshine on Facebook www.facebook.com/sugarshinesanctuary/ – I mean who wouldn’t want to look at cute baby animals on the internet!
Visit their website www.sugarshinefarm.com.au/ where you can donate and sponsor the animals there from as little $5 or £3 – c’mon that’s the price of your morning coffee!

For more info reagrding veganism please ask me any questions, I’d be happy to help!

You can also check out these great links

https://veganuary.com/starter-kit/ – This website has lots of info and even a free starter kit that has amazing info on how to get started on a vegan diet. Tips on how to eat out, recipes, a list of suprising UK vegan foods like Oreos, Ritz Crackers, McKipling Tarts, Bourbon Biscuits, Skittles and much more! Check it out!

You can also watch documentaries on Netflix such as
*Vegucated – this is a great, funny, light hearted documentary – a great one to start with, you can also watch it on Youtube here
*Forks Over Knives – watch the trailer here
*Cowspiracy – watch the trailer here
*Blackfish – watch the trailer here
*Earthlings – not on Netflix but you can watch here

Think vegans just eat salad? Think again! A ‘Moo Free Burger’ review 

Being vegan it can be tricky to find good, honest ‘fast food’ style grub. Now don’t get me wrong I like a spinach and chickpea curry as much as the next vegan but sometimes I just fancy something a bit more ‘normal’….like a burger with all the trimmings!!

My prayers were well and truly answered when I recently took a visit to Moo Free Burgers which is in Northlakes, Queensland. I had wanted to check this place out for ages but it was an hours drive away but when I was staying on the farm in Dayboro it was only a short bus ride away! Prayers. Answered.
Myself and Mo, another volunteer from the farm were giddy with excitement when we got to Northlakes at 8.30am! We couldn’t possibly wait until lunchtime and told each other that ‘No, 10am wasn’t too early for a burger and chips!’We had the VBD and the Off Da Hook burger and they were both amazing! After taking a token Instagram worthy photo of our food we tucked in. The VBD burger was full to the brim with vegan bacon, caramelised onions and the mustard mayo was amazing! The Off Da Hook burger was my favourite, the Fishless Fillet was incredible and in a strange way bought back distant memories of the taste of McDonalds chicken nuggets! These burgers were incredible! As you can see from the following photo – I was excited. The resteraunt is run by a vegan company called Charlie’s, they also have fruit stalls, a vegan pantry, a juice bar and best of all a vegan desert shop. The guys at Charlie’s actually visited the farm while I was volunteering there and made a cute little video about it

They also have the farms charity pots on their counters too.  It’s always amazing when you discover a great vegan resteraunt and even better when you know the owners actually care about making a difference and take the time to acknowledge, support and work with animal charities, raising funds and spreading awareness!
Thank you Charlie’s for your amazing food but most importantly thank you for given a damn!

Info on Charlies and their different brands
https://www.facebook.com/charliesveganbrothers
https://www.facebook.com/moofreeburgers
https://www.facebook.com/Veganyumm
https://www.facebook.com/rawsqueeze
https://www.facebook.com/charliesveganpantry

Broken Head Beach = Paradise

Living in Byron for 2 weeks means we’ve had our fair share of beach days, the beach at Byron is beautiful and I thought it couldn’t be topped until we discovered Broken Head beach which is about a 10 minute drive from Byron.
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The view was absolutely incredible, we walked along a path that was surrounded by trees and suddenly we’d get little glimpses of the view and it was amazing! The sea was so blue and beautiful.
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We walked down the hill to a little section of deserted beach and it was absolute paradise. Just us as a family down there, swimming in the sea, sunbathing, taking photos, climbing on the rocks, building rock towers and skimming stones in the sea. It was such a lovely relaxing day!
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The cliffs on the beach were so beautiful to look at, to see where the sea had carved out shapes in them and the different colours of rocks that were built up on top of each other were amazing. All the little muscles and snails were so cute too!
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This was one of my favourite days I’ve had since I’ve been away, it was so lovely to be surrounded by my family in a beautiful part of the world and this beach was one of the most amazing I’ve ever been too, I feel so lucky!
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Which other beaches are there in Australia that can’t be missed?!

Minyon Falls – a lovely, lovely waterfall.

When you travel around Australia you’re spoilt with waterfalls and mountains to visit and today we chose Minyon Falls which is about 20 minutes from where we’re staying in Byron Bay and let me tell ya, Minyon Falls is a beauty!
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The waterfall descends more than 100 metres but because there hasn’t been much rain recently there wasn’t that much water when we went but…it was beautiful none the less!
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The view was incredible and you see could see for miles from the top. When you looked at people on the ground they looked like little specs!
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When you see sights like this it’s easy to see why people fall in love with Australia, having this on your doorstep must be amazing!
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Any suggestions for other natural wonders that can’t be missed in Australia?!