I love impromptu day trips. We head out the door on Easter Friday with a rough idea of heading towards Wollongong. And by the end of the day, we have stepped foot on many places that we have never explored before.
The traffic down south is surprisingly pleasant. The last time we tried to get out of the city on an Easter weekend was disastrous. Our destination of Palm Beach quickly became Mona Vale because travelling 20 kmph on the freeway wasn't my ideal way of spending precious holiday time. But anyway, our stars must have been aligned to encounter such light traffic.
The Sea Cliff Bridge is situated about 60 kms from Sydney. Five seconds of Internet research tells me that it was opened in 2005 by Morris Iemma (remember him?) and is one of the seven off-shore parallel to coast bridges in the world (pretty impressive heh?). The Engineer also reminds me that the bridge has been featured in many car advertisements around the world. Well, it is not a bad place to flaunt your red Ferrari if you have one.
The thing I find most interesting is the 373 padlocks attached to the bridge's rails - an unofficial count according to an enthusiastic passerby who proudly declares that he has counted them all. Most are engraved with names of couples expressing undying love for each other - from the newlyweds to the couple who are celebrating their 30th anniversary. However, some are associated with sadder occasions such as the departure of a mate or a beloved grandma.
A quick work on The Engineer's GPS-enabled iPhone takes us to the charming Lee and Me in Wollongong CBD (thanks KittyCate). Lee and Me is 50% cafe and 50% fashion boutique, and I love its decor to bits. Vintage typewriter, pencil sketchings on the wall, paper butterflies, old-school till and wooden crates - I want them all in my house. And it is so relaxing to be sipping Campos coffee on the balcony of a heritage building.
The food is good too. They have ran out of corn fritters, so I get the buttermilk blueberry hotcakes ($13) instead. The hotcakes are fluffy and light. The butterscotch sauce and vanilla bean ricotta are perhaps a tad too sweet for my liking, but are good accompaniments nevertheless.
The Engineer's Wagyu Beef Burger ($16) are served with sliced romas, cheddar cheese, beetroot, mixed leaves and a mustard walnut mayo. The handcut chips are plenty and flavoursome. Would have been perfect if they were crunchier. Note that service is relatively slow but there's no complaint there because this only means more time for taking various snaps around the place.
"So, what shall we do next?", I ask The Engineer. "Hmmm, there's a waterfall around here. Shouldn't be too far away". But on the way there, I catch a sign to the Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk. "Oh, let's do the treetop walk first. Remember to turn left 500 metres ahead".
The 45-minute walk, mostly amongst treetop canopy, is a fun experience. The information sheet provided tells us that the walkway is 500 metres long and costs 6.5 millions to build. My favourite flora there has to be the tree ferns - they look like palm trees from ground level and ferns from 25 metres above.
We finally arrive at Fitzroy Falls in the Southern Highlands at fifteen to five. Nestled within Morton National Park, the falls is majestic against the backdrop of Yarrunga Valley. There are plenty of walking trails past the first lookout point. But since it is too late in the day to trek 1400 metres, we have no choice but to save it for another trip down south.
Perhaps somewhat less impromptu than this one.
LEE AND ME
87 Crown Street
Wollongong NSW 2500
02 4244 0695