Jenolan Caves, NSW

Picturesque, depicting a bygone era, Jenolan Caves House is one of Australia’s historic relics. Maintenance plus considerable changes over past years, has kept this interesting building retaining its grandeur from the early days as well as remaining modernly functional. Originally designed and built n 1897, this “wilderness” resort was designed with high society Sydney siders in mind. They would travel out here for rest, relaxation and to rub shoulders with the elite of their era.

This building replaced the privately owned small original accommodation which was ravaged by fire. Unfortunately the owner at the time, Jeremiah Wilson, could not afford to replace, which resulted in the NSW government resuming the land, employing English architect Walter Vernon to design and construct a wilderness retreat for the elite.

Ceiling heights within are huge, chandeliers and antique lighting still hang in some places, stairs take you to many nooks and crannies, with lounges dotted closely around the building. Between our room and the lift, there were two original decor lounges. You can visualise socialites in their finery, stopping to rest and converse in these lounges. Maybe discussing the events of the day, perhaps forming ideas on the expected progression of the state of NSW or Australia itself.To cater for the financially elite of society, The Caves House featured a grand dining room, billiards and a coffee room. Built using limestone from the nearby caves complex, the first stage of this building cost the NSW government at the time 30 000 pounds. Today this would equate in excess of 4 million dollars.

Located in a gully, close to to the Grand Archway of the main caves complex, the hills behind rise up to around 1700ft above the buildings.

The caves complex is an incredible mix of limestone caves, formed centuries ago. Aborigines found the caves, prior to the Europeans who first discovered the area in 1838. The entrance on each side of the caves complex is impressively huge. There are a number of different caves within. Some require higher levels of fitness, whilst others may only have a moderate few hundred steps included in the tour.

We chose the Imperial Cave tour on this day. One of the options of this tour is an additional 66 steps down and then back up again. I should probably mention these steps for the main part are steep and narrow. But, to do so, is well worth while. Check out the incredibly clear water flowing through the bottom of the cave.You can drink this water, there are taps around the shop and complex where you can fill our water bottle with this clear, natural H2O. Guides on the tours are informative, have a sense of humour and are ready to reply to any question you may have.

Natural rock formations are incredible. They change throughout every cave.

Should you be visiting the Blue Mountains of NSW, you need to include a nights stopover here and give yourself time to immerse your soul in the grandeur as well as the incredible wow factor of the area. Don’t forget to enjoy a pre dinner drink in the bar, as well as dinner in the grand dining room. It’s all part of the experience and very worthwhile.

If you haven’t yet visited, I highly recommend you do so. It can be incredible what experiences nature has provided on our own door step, don’t ignore it.

More photos are displayed on facebook/dinelivetravel, instagram/dinelivetravel as well as other platforms. Enjoy your caves experience, it is quite soul reviving.

Bathurst – Supercheap auto 1000

The air is filled with the smell of high octane fuel, the roar of high powered V8’s fills the air. Such an assault on your senses fills you with the thrill of anticipation. The intensness of this race is increased with drivers mannipulating their powerful sleek machines, at incredible speeds, around this most challenging Motorsport track, Mt Panorama.

Every year Motorsport fans flock to the mecca of Supercar racing. All with one aim in mind, to support their chosen driver or team and have them crowned, King of the Mountain. Hold over 4 days, there is so much to see and do, you will wear yourself out with excitement. Shootouts for grid placements, all different types of races, eventually culminating on the Sunday with the gruelling 1000km race.

Campers fill the camping spots, some have family traditions of attending every year. Others decorate their camping site with signs, banners or anything they can find.

We were lucky to secure a house for our group a mere half hour from the track. Bathurst Tickets for our group included the paddock pass. If you’re a fan, be sure to make the trip worthwhile and add on the paddock pass. You never know who you will rub shoulders with!Bring in your own deck chairs and set up your camp for the day wherever suits. This year the return trip up to the top of the mountain on the continuous bus service was a mere $5. It’s worth it. You haven’t really been to the mountain unless you have been up the top. The atmosphere is surreal up here, staunch supporters have their own generators and TV’s to keep up with commentary.

The views from up here, back down the mountain, are phenomenal. Watching the race year in and out not the TV, does not do it justice. If you’re a fan, you need to schedule at least one trip to the mecca of Motorsport.So many view points to watch this epic race. Helicopters constantly circle, some TV crews, others give you a birds eye view of this incredible experience. In between the first and last two laps, you could score a trip in the chopper covering two laps for a fairly reasonable $90.00. Each lap covering a touch over 6km. Quite the experience. For me though, the top of the mountain was enough for the view.

Marvel at how the drivers handle those corners at such impressive speeds. Not only that their distances between each other are so close. They complete each lap in around 2.5 minutes. Pretty amazing when you see this track in real time.

Souvenirs, food, drinks, everything is available here. Sometimes those lines are long, but pick your moment and you can be served quickly. A little note here regarding the Red Rooster food van inside the Coopers Complex. The staff in here were amongst many at this venue, under the pump, yet held it together in noteworthy style. Well done to all the staff on the Bathurst site. Without your dedication to the cause this great event would come to a standstill.

Cleaners are constantly circulating the huge number of portable bathrooms, to ensure they remain at a reasonable standard of hygiene. Not sure what their schedule is, but these guys need a medal. Seriously, I saw some of the bathrooms they would have to deal with.

So many photos so many stories, yet this was the last year of Ford Falcons, the last year for Craig Lowndes driving as the main driver and possibly the last of the V8’s only. To witness Lowndes win this race was a truely heart pumping experience, no matter which team you follow. After 25 years, he deserved to go out as The King of the Mountain. Don’t forget the F18 who puts on the most impressive flying display, pre race. I was sooo lucky to be right place right time!

Would love to hear your feedback! Are you now keen to visit this Australian annual epic experience?

And for the record if you visit Mt Panorama during the off season, the speed limit is 60km. With around 40 residences on this mountain, I’m sure they dont want to have any of you chasing stars in your eyes and exceeding their speed limit and peace. Please respect that.

Scenic World – Blue Mountains NSW

The day may be dull, with fog and rain circulating through. But, nothing can dampen the sheer impressive beauty of this stunning scenery. No matter what the weather, take the time to stop in and explore the incredibly breathtaking scenes the Blue Mountain area has to offer.

At Scenic World, you can experience three heart stopping rides. The skyway has you suspended 270 metres above the ravine below. A glass bottom through the middle as well as the glass encased box gives you 360 degree WOW moment views.

Glide past the Katoomba Falls, check out the Three Sisters standing proudly near the cliffs edge.

Rides here are unlimited. Pay your entry fee then enjoy as any trips as you like on the worlds steepest railway, the cable car, or this suspended skyway.

Book tickets online or pay at the gate, around $43 per adult giving you that unlimited ride and experience.

Check out the angle of these seats on the worlds steepest railway! And yes thats the front of the seat pictured! Once seated on here, you are transported out over the edge of the cliff to roll down the rails into the enticing valley below.

Turn around and look at where you came from. That incline is unreal, and it is the steepest passenger train incline in this entire world. I’m not a heights or steep incline person, so for me, its a pretty big deal to do these things. In hindsight, I would have left this ride until last. Why? Just because the heights and steep slopes down are a big ask for me. I did feel if I had done both skyride and cable car, I would have dealt with the train much better, but, thats only my opinion.

Based on the recommendation of the entry staff, we took the railway down to the bottom of the gully, followed by the interesting and informative walk through to the forest to the cable car.

Not going to give away all the secrets here, as you really do need to experience this railway for yourself. Take some time here, go on the rides as many times as you like in the day. There is no limit and you don’t pay per ride. just scan your bar coded wrist bandThe area is seeping in history. As you make your way from train to worlds steepest cable car or vice versa, take a moment to check out all the historic features dotted along your walk.

Walk to the exquisite Katoomba Falls, its not too far from where the Skyway delivers you to the other side of the Jamison Valley. The incredible height of this flowing water will simply impress and amaze.

Just a brief touch on this incredibly breathtaking area of the world. Only because you need to go and experience this. The totally Jurassic feel of this forest and surrounds will have you checking out every corner for an approaching dinosaur. Enjoy!

Snapshot on Newcastle, NSW

As you fly into Newcastle airport, golden sands and clear blue waters stretch languidly beneath you. On this occasion the smoke haze from the many fires burning left a low fog, cloud impression as smoke drifted across the sea.

Only a very brief flight from Brisbane, it sure beats a 10 hour drive each way when time is limited.

Newcastle is morphing into its own true destination. Like a shy child who has found their identity, this seaside jewel is stretching its wings proudly for the world to see. And I believe we should be looking. There’s a light rail system being installed at the moment throughout the city, which, when finished, will be an added bonus to the area. Add that to all the construction and you can see this place is really growing. Its been a couple of years since we last stopped by here. This time, unfortunately was a very brief, less than 24 hour trip. Taking advantage of my Accor Plus membership, a booking at the fairly new Novotel Newcastle beach was organised. Take a look at this view! Shame in many ways we just didn’t have the time to sit and enjoy. Maybe next time.

And what a nice touch! On check in, Accor Plus members are given a little gift bag, containing drink vouchers, wifi and water. Very cool, just unfortunate we could not utilise those drinks vouchers on this occasion.

But, should you be looking to fill in some time, or enjoy a leisurely meal, highly recommend the superb Bar Petite. Right next to the Novotel, with charge back to your room, this bar was a fantastic place to catch up wth friends. The day we flew in cold winds left you searching for inside warmth, and we found it at Bar Petite.Their large share board was not only superb, but also filling. Delicious, garlic baguette, mince in lettuce cups, duck pieces, bratwurst sausage, and even sauerkraut, we enjoyed this intensely appetising foodie experience. Chef did well to produce this delectable delight.

With a lovely smiling, helpful and knowledgeable staff member, tending to our every need, this really was a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.We would definitely return to this bar next time we visit Newcastle. It certainly filled the spot for us with the hotel restaurant not opening for lunch.

There’s plenty of comfortable seating choices too, with couches or rustic wooden tables to choose from. Too cold on that particular day for the inviting little outside area, otherwise would have been a lovely spot to sit.

Our day ended with a function at Paymasters, an easy downhill walk from Novotel. We were upstairs in the awesome little function room on offer, sporting a long balcony and views across the harbour.

Staff were really helpful and I’m sure they would have been worn out, by the end of the evening going up and down the stairs. Not a bad way to get your steps up for the day!

Should you be considering a function in Newcastle, be sure to drop by and have a look. They have the restaurant downstairs as well, where you too could try some of these delectable dishes if you would prefer.

Our meal started with interesting little platters, full of focaccia, olives, dips and among other things, the most deliciously tasty popcorn ever!

Main meals followed with many tempting dishes on offer.Given we eat wth our eyes first, the presentation left you simply salivating. This steak meal was an absolute joy to eat. Every morsel was quite a treat.

Should you be visiting Newcastle, drop by these venues for a meal, drink or comfortable stay. Lasting memories are formed from places like these, dont be shy, drop on by!

More photos from this trip are on facebook/dinelivetravel and instagram @dinelivetravel. Enjoy!

Novotel Sydney Darling Square

This sleek, refurbished establishment relaxes you instantly with its incredible spacious feeling. Enhanced by the fabulous floor to ceiling windows and giant sized bar shelves, the lobby and restaurant/bar areas are quite welcoming.

Our room was nicely appointed, with all the comforts of home. No balconies, but this is Sydney. We were here to explore and enjoy so in all honestly, we never would have had time to sit on a balcony and watch the world go by.

We had stopped in for a couple of nights to indulge in the delights of Vivid Sydney. As a loyal Accor Plus member, it was an absolute delight to have not only complimentary water delivered to the room, but a personalised tin of sweets as well. A nice, simple, yet welcoming touch.

That extra little step you take to make your loyalty guest feel welcome makes the recipient feel quite special. Well done 👍.

Buffet for breakfast was more than adequate. A selection of hot and cold foods, including pastries and delightful little bottles of yoghurts and muesli. Don’t forget the surprising bread and butter pudding included in the usual hot range! Enjoyable, as well as adding an interesting flavour to breakfast.

The other dining choice for lunch and dinner is The Pump House. On this damp weekend, we did not even have to get wet, just head down the hallway that connects the two venues, and you have an awesome pub atmosphere complete with massive chairs and beautiful fire. Guess where we ended each evening!

The locality of this hotel was simply perfect. With Darling Harbour restaurant and retail complex, Paddy’s Markets and the Chinese Gardens a mere few minutes traffic free stroll from your door, you really don’t want for much.

Facilities have all been revamped, with a very nice, comfortable indoor pool area and sparkling gym. Towels are provided at the pool, you don’t need to pack your own towel, even better when you’re travelling.

Any future visit to Sydney, we would not hesitate to stop in here. Staff, and I mean all staff, went above and beyond to make us welcome. Thank you Novotel Sydney Darling Square (ex Rockford), we hope to return someday!

Check Dine Live Travel on facebook for more photos on this trip!

Cyren Bar Grill & Seafood – Darling Harbour, Sydney

This expansive corner restaurant dominates the Darling Harbour frontage. Choose your ambiance with generous comfortable booths outside, or dining space with an elevated view on the verandah above. Plenty of room inside with stunningly designed interiors, should you prefer. There is plenty space around the tables, nice not to be crowded against your neighbours. We always prefer places where you are not banging chairs against other patrons. Added to which, even on a dull day, there is still plenty to see.

With plenty of helpful, friendly staff on site, the operation ran like clockwork.

Enjoy a coffee or drink whilst you soak in the atmosphere and peruse the menu choice.

Lunch options included a $35 menu, consisting of entree, main and certain beverages.These two entrees were filling enough on their own! Team them with the following two mains and you have a very substantial meal.All of these dishes were quite simply delicious. The soft meat simply melted in the mouth and I’m told the crispy skin salmon was also a winner.Lobster Mornay was another delicious dish today. Soft, mornay lobster flesh dominated the plate and I’m told was a beautiful meal.

We visited for lunch, however if, you have an opportunity to stop by in the evening, I’m sure the lights of the city and harbour would be mesmerising. Particularly if Vivid Sydney is on from mid May to mid June each year. Darling Harbour has its share of intriguing lighting to light up your night.

Definitely consider Cyren whilst you are in the Darling Harbour area, it’s definitely worth a visit! There’s always something happening in this area of the city.

Sea Sydney Harbour – (Cruise) Sydney NSW

Visiting Sydney Vivid is well worth the trip. And, once there, make it even more worthwhile with a harbour cruise. We pre-booked an enticing sounding cruise, Sea Sydney Harbour. Limited to about 30 people on each catamaran, you really should give this company a go! Pickup is from Millers Point Wharf, so you avoid the hustle & bustle of Circular Quay, yet in no time at all you are bobbing around under Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Frank & Ty were our crew on board the Kirralee, happy to assist in any way they could. Even the persistent rain showers couldn’t dampen the enthusiastic ripples of excitement wafting over tonight’s customers.

Anticipating the switching on of the lights, we waited below the imposing steel of the worlds tallest steel arch bridge and the sixth longest spanning single arch bridge, as the wash lapped gently against our boat. Once those lights started, the incredible display began, with an array of colours lighting up the night sky.

The level of imagination behind the displays is awe inspiring. My particular favourite, the droplets of water depicted over the Sydney Opera house sails. Surrounded by an ever changing, moving canvas, it can be hard to know where to look.

No problems if you’re feeling peckish, this crew will make sure you have an enticing platter to nibble away at, as well as a soft drink or water to wash it down. Alternatively, take your own alcohol, there are no corkage fees here – bonus!

Frank & Ty did everything they could to get us as close to the action as possible. Their attention to looking after their patrons was above and beyond expected. Added to which their knowledge of the area was fantastic. So good you didn’t even notice the rain which was trying hard to interrupt proceeding. As the boys pointed out, the rain created beautiful glitter sparkling through the light rays. Hard to capture on camera but trust me, it was there!

Would love to do a New Years Eve cruise with Sea Sydney Harbour, that one has been on the bucket list for a long time! However, if you are contemplating any sort of cruise in the city of Sydney, check with Sea Sydney Harbour. As long as you enjoy life, you will love their attitudes!

Dineon19 Taree RSL & Golf Club

Whilst road tripping recently, we stopped off for lunch at Dineon19 located in relaxing surroundings with vistas across the Taree Golf Course.   In this NSW town, the RSL & Golf Club are combined, which is quite simply, a good idea.

The wide verandah boasting inviting table settings, wraps around the outside of the bar and restaurant. A wonderful looking  place to relax as you enjoy the surrounding greenery, punctuated with the odd golf club onto a ball, or birds singing.  

The  procedure here to sign in as a visitor is quite sophisticated for this smaller town.  Your licence is scanned, which in turn prints out a day pass for you.  Having visited many clubs in other areas, this was the first time we had seen this system.  Quick, simple and effective.


Members prices and non-members prices are quite clearly listed in the large menu. After choosing your meal, head up to order and pay..   

We surprised how quickly the meals came out as the venue had a steady stream of patrons.  My choice today of the vegetable satay, not only looked appealing, it really was.

The vegetables were tasty, not overdone, nicely cooked.  Tender enough to eat, marrying beautifully with the creamy satay. 

Hubby today chose one of his signature choices, lambs fry & bacon.  Again the presentation of the dish was very appealing.  

I was impressed with the tea, for such a simple green tea, the presentation and thought into this wa appreciated.

No doubt the locals aware aware of what a treasure they have available in their area, however if you are visiting or passing through, take the time to stop and enjoy not only food and beverage on offer but also the wonderful relaxing atmosphere, coupled with friendly helpful staff.   We will certainly stop in the next time we head this way.   

Two Tails Wines Bed and Breakfast – Nana Glen NSW

Prior to the Easter break, we made the decision to stop midway on our return from Newcastle area to Brisbane.  Unfortunately when you travel at Easter prices tend to go through the roof.   The Ibsis Budget we stopped in for a brief break on the way down, was worth the small amount we had paid for the night, but not double the price expected for Easter Sunday.  Hello google, lets see what we can find.  

Presto, up came a B & B in the Coffs Harbour Hinterland.  Loved the look of the room with the chandelier and warm inviting feel.   We touched base and as the room was vacant on that night, so it was decided to give our first B & B experience a go as it all sounded so reasonable.

Arriving at the Winery late afternoon, just in time to catch a wine tasting, we immediately clicked with the owners Madonna & Barry, who were so genuine, inviting and welcoming.

Now keep in mind. Hubby had been a bit like, oh winery well what will I drink??   Not being a wine drinker, except the odd sweet wine, we had thought a trip to the pub might be necessary to satisfy his thirst.   Apparently not.   The selection here is fascinating.   Dry wines to sweet, including blueberry, raspberry and wonderful fortified wine called Lizards Blood.

By the end of the tasting, Hubbys seclection of choice was more than mine!  Oh well, looks like we will have to drop back down this way to keep the wine fridge topped up.   Best thing was, of the ones I tried, there were no bad choices.   

Have to mention the bubbles, wonderfully light small bubbles, very easy to drink.   Love to enjoy some bubbles on occasions and both of the Two Tails Bubbly Wines have now made the favourite bubbly list.This small vineyard is a credit to the owners, with neat tidy rows and vines.   Take a stroll around when you stay there, Madonna & Barry have no problem with that.   Definitely they have a little slice of paradise here, and its pretty awesome.

The room has a large bathroom including spa bath, nice tidy kitchenette with a bar fridge, microwave, electric frypan, toaster, jug and basic kitchen essentials.   Breakfast was waiting in the fridge for the next morning, with bacon eggs, bread for toasting, even a couple of cereals there if you desired as well.  Everything was neat tidy, clean, and very inviting.

The large country style verandah outside the door, has a BBQ as well as outside dining setting and a small coffee table setting.   We were offered the choice of sitting on the wonderful verandah outside the winery door as well.  Next time, I think we will, it certainly looked like an awesome place to wile away some time whilst kicking back enjoying a vino or two.  Not that there was anything wrong with the the verandah at the house, a nice relaxing place to watch the world go by.

If you give plenty of notice, check the website as your welcoming hosts give you some bbq dinner options.   We decided a couple of weeks prior to have  T-bone steak meal each.  Great decision that one.   The Tbones were huge, fantastic butcher quality steaks.   Complimented by the tasty salad and fresh buns, not forgetting a drop or two of the Two Tails Wine and you have a restaurant style meal.   Even better maybe as you get to cook that meat to your suit your palate.   All the condiments were provided too so you can stop here without bringing food at all.   

There are a couple of local pubs too, and two interesting looking cafes close by.   Certainly wont go hungry or thirsty in this area.  

We really cannot recommend this place highly enough.   As our first B&B experience with the owners onsite, it was simply fabulous.   Your hosts are friendly intriguing and we enjoyed sharing some time with them.   Certainly an excellent choice of venue to which we will return.

Even if you cannot stay, at least drop in and check out the winery.  If you really dont want to try any wine, Barry has a fridge of beer varieties at the cellar door as well as some non alchohoic drinks.   There is something here for everyone.

Perhaps you’re wondering where the name came from, Two tails came about because of the two tailed lizard.  Plenty of interesting facts to find out.   

Keep an eye out for updates on the two new rooms, restaurant, annual music festival, and oh so much this go ahead winery has to offer. Keep in mind the affordability of this venue..in no way is anything overpriced.

Enjoy your time and have a chat with the hosts, Maddona & Barry.   We had some hilarious conversations.  Thank you both for a fabulous experience.    We are definitely coming back!

Ibsis Bdget – Coffs Harbour

To live is to explore the world around us.  Too many are caught up in everyday routines, or staying with the familiar.  Why not, change tact every now and then.

With Easter on the horizon, we set off on a road trip from Queensland into New South Wales.  Nothng better than a few days away. Road tripping,  love it.

To break up the 9-10 hour trip, we decided to stop about halfway, at Ibsis Budget Coffs Harbour.  Reviews had slammed this place as being budget accommodation.  I’m not sure what these people missed but I’m pretty sure that was obvious in the name!  We were arriving late night, leaving early morning and to be fair, I’m not prepared to pay good or top dollars for a place you when don’t have time to enjoy the amenities on offer.

Ibsis Budget it was. Yes that came from Accor Plus membership , but here you cannot use your points, or gain points. No problem, to be honest for about $80, two people, room & breakfast, we are not complaining.  Although many have.

Om a side note here, Accor have their basis covered. For sure.  From basic accommodation to the best, they have it, and would have to say, good thnking.

The room is basic, as we expected.  In saying that it was sufficient.  Bed, TV, private bathroom, even basic coffee facilities and bar fridge.  We needed no more, particularly when you roll through the door late at night just to sleep and freshen up.

Not only sufficient, clean, tidy and the added plus of friendly helpful staff.  Even a phone call to check how we were travelling before they closed reception at 10pm.  Don’t panic if you do go over reception time.  They will call you, give you a code to enter a locked box outside, which will have your room key in it.Plenty of car parking, yes you probably look out onto a carpark, no balconies here, but as I said, we were just passing through for a few hours. It really doesn’t matter.

Buffet continental breakfast.  Again not sure why some expected a full cooked breakfast or a kitchen to open, as it was clearly advertised. Certainly again sufficient to top up after your snooze and refresh.

You cannot top service or cleanliness.  The young lady on reception and gentleman on buffet, were both friendly outgoing, helpful and very down to earth,   Most impressive service for budget accommodation.  Well done.  

Sure, I would not recommend staying here for a holiday, however, to break a road trip with a brief stopover,  highly recommended.