We have a few very good Australian friends, and over the past 8 years they have all but bribed us to make the trip. Brian and I were always on the same page – if we were going to spend the money and go that far, we would opt to go to Peru, or Tokyo, or somewhere more foreign and exotic (we are actually DYING to go back to Vietnam and Laos). But when Brian booked a big job in Australia, I wasn’t about to let him go by himself. I’ve always known that Australia has an extremely strong design community, and a LOT of great art/design is coming from there. So, I figured I’d get some good content out of it, too (which of course didn’t happen because I have 2 kids that weren’t into shopping, and whom I felt too guilty to really ditch them and browse).
So off we flew to Australia, which was a 15 hours with a 2 1/2 year old and a 5 month old. That part wasn’t a treat, and we certainly weren’t the best PR people for 2 children, but we survived. Both kids were ok on the flight – neither amazing or disastrous. I think we are becoming rather good at traveling with kids (and yes, I’m writing a whole post about it).
Our verdict on Australia? We loved it. Sydney is amazing. Australians are hunky/beautiful, and so nice. And while it didn’t feel “foreign, ” it did surprise me at how different it was from LA – the people, architecture and culture had enough differences that I really felt like I was somewhere new.
Here are the 8 highlights of our Australian trip (in descending order).
8. Bondi Beach
Now, this is Sydney’s most famous beach with that iconic pool on the ocean, which is worth the drop by for sure. Bondi is definitely full of tourists, but it’s also pretty darn fun.
That guy (above) was voted #1 most adorable tourist ever. We had some margaritas at Bucket List, which was an example of how a tourist restaurant can still be well-designed.
7. The Ferry – Traffic wasn’t awesome (where is it?), but getting around on the ferry sure was a fun and lovely way to commute around the city. Somehow I can’t find ONE photo of us on the ferry, instead just shots of the view from the ferry, including the iconic opera house. I will say that trying to take photos with kids, both kids, is just so hard. I think on the ferries I was inside with Elliot trying to keep her out of the sun, while Brian and Charlie were outside on the boat. Charlie was having the time of his life.
6. The Bars – Australians know how to drink. Inside, outside, and do it in a way that is both casual and with yet ritual. There are so many outdoor bars that really puts LA’s drinking scene to shame. The pubs are HUGE, with room after room, all with different bars in them. I think if it were in the states they would inevitably be douchey, but instead they were filled with cool people. We spent a few kid-free hours at Clocks in Surry Hill, which was lackluster from the outside but so fun on the inside.
I’m pretty into this color palette, as I know you know.
5. The Food – It was hard to find a bad meal in Sydney. Maybe it’s because there are no chain restaurants and there are so many fresh ingredients, but we were all so impressed with how delicious the food AND THE COFFEE was. Oh the coffee. I could use 9 flat whites in my veins right now.
We had Easter brunch at this insanely fancy restaurant in Rose’s Bay – perfect for an infant and toddler (opposite). We didn’t know where to go and just landed there, but the food was amazing, the service was lovely, and they were so nice to us even though I’m sure we weren’t their ideal clients.
Please excuse Brian’s “transition” glasses. We were assured they wouldn’t do the exact thing that they are now doing – going 1/2 way dark in any light room.
I went to The Paddington restaurant twice because I liked it so much (and we were staying nearby). We even brought the kids, and this is a good example of Charlie being good, and not throwing a tantrum in a restaurant (keep reading).
4. Centennial Cafe and Park – If this were in LA, it would be slam packed every weekend. It’s a cafe in the middle of the park near a playground. What that means for people with kids is that they can sit, eat, and drink while kids go out and safely play in the grass (no streets around).
3. Gerringong and Berry – These two towns are two hours south, on the coast and they were so lovely. We cruised down there because Brian was shooting a video at Buena Vista Farms, so we brought the whole family. The farm was amazing and pretty much where I’d love to raise our kids.
Berry was amazing and absolutely worth the trip. The highlight was the restaurant Berry Sourdough Cafe. It was such a pretty inspiring design, and the food was quite possibly my favorite food in Australia (or LA). So fresh, delicious, and unexpected. I’m going to order the book to try to make their chicken soup because it was that good. Here is a photo of the restaurant.
I wish I had taken a prettier picture, but what you see here is the remains of the worlds biggest toddler meltdown because I opened Charlie’s muffin for him – you know, took off a chunk and gave it to him. MELTDOWN. It was kinda funny at first, he was so hurt and upset and he just couldn’t get it together. Literally and figuratively. He kept begging me to put it back and I tried but it wouldn’t stay. Meanwhile, he was ruining so many lovely people’s delicious meal by screaming. Then I bought him another one (because I had NO idea how to fix this, and I hadn’t ordered yet, and it was supposed to be the best bakery in Australia so an extra muffin was going to hurt no one), and that didn’t work either.
So we had to leave, and I cried. Literally. I walked out crying. We went to a park, calmed down, talked about why that happened, and came back an hour later. The waitress was really excited to see us walk through the door (opposite), but since she is Australian she was still super nice to us. I ordered and ate as if a bomb could explode at any point – fast and nervous, without one second of relaxing. Despite all that, the food was so delicious that I would make the trip back IN A SECOND. Plus look how cute it is:
That navy and leather had my number. But the food. THE FOOD. So insanely good.
The weather was so-so, and in fact it rained on and off the entire time, which apparently is normal. I don’t really care about the lack of sun – we played at the beach and cruised around the beach, poked at tad poles, etc.
Brian shot at Buena Vista farms which was incredible. It’s a family run farm that has cows, chickens, chicks, and makes its own yogurt, milk, custard, etc. They also had two kids that seemed to have a pretty idealic life.
2. Shopping. Now I didn’t get to go to NEARLY as many stores that I wanted to (see reason, below), but when I did get out it was good. I spent 1/2 day in Paddington (barely), Surry Hill, and Bondi Junction. The highlights were as follows:
This store was in a mall (Bondi Junction), which actually had a ton of great stores. I bought 4 things here that I LOVE. Really good patterns/fit, plus great merchandising.
Citta – This photo below, doesn’t really do it justice, and if this weren’t already the longest post in history I would put in way more photos, but just go to Citta. It’s awesome. Next week I’m going to shoot a bunch of the pieces that I bought for you.
Hay – Hay is a brand from Denmark that I’ve loved for years but isn’t in the states yet. They opened a store in Sydney this year and it’s beautiful.
I want one of those lamps (below) SO BAD. Now I really regret not getting it, but seemed like such a difficult thing to get home.
Downstairs they had such simple beautiful furniture as well.
1. Watsons Bay – It’s beautiful, kid-friendly, (there is a park and a harbour beach), and is just so cute, chill, and colorful.
But the real best thing about the trip was HANGING OUT. We rented a house via Kid and Coe, which are vacation rentals for families. It was WONDERFUL. The house was big, comfortable, indestructible, and full of toys, books, cribs, etc. So we didn’t have to worry about that. The second that Charlie walked in he went to the toy room and spent a few hours just playing by himself, which was a dream for his jet lagged parents.
Those two. OBSESSED with each other. Obsessed. I had no idea how happy that would make me.
The rooms were adorable, too. We stayed in Woolhara, and there were some great quiet and forest-y parks nearby that we took the kids to. We built forts and went on mini hikes. It was so lovely to just be with my kids for a few days.
Unfortunately, and not to bum you out, but Brian got very sick – as in we thought he had listeria he was so sick. As in, I Emily-borderline-neglectful-Henderson was worried that he should be hospitalized.
The first 9 days we both worked, he shot videos and I wrote/work/hung out with kids. We went out to dinner and did have some great times. We were saving the last 5-6 days for the real“vacation.” That’s when we were going to go to the zoo, take some day trips (Blue Mountains?), relax/unplug COMPLETELY, and hit some lunch/happy hour spots I was dying to see. But sadly Brian was so sick that he couldn’t be with the kids (we didn’t know what he had, and we didn’t want them to get sick), so the “vacation” turned into me taking care of two kids and a sick husband. I’m not going to sugar coat it, it wasn’t awesome.
We had so been looking forward to some family time and while, sure, I got some kid-time, it wasn’t exactly what I had pictured. Bitching about how a vacation went awry doesn’t seem like a very good use of my time or your time, but also blogging about the trip and not mentioning that 6 of the 14 days were basically moot seemed unauthentic. We laid around, played in the backyard, and took care of daddy. Once I got over the fact that we were supposed to be on a real vacation in a beautiful country that we’ve never been to, then it was fine. I pretended like we were just home and I tried to do mellow activities with the kids.
We have started laughing about it already. I still think he contracted lysteria, but we don’t really know. He got tested there but the results weren’t in before we left, and frankly I don’t want to find out that he just had the flu because “lysteria ruined my vacation” is a MUCH better story than the flu.
So I had to bring-it parent-wise, and not only be in an extra good mood, but entertain those two little angels. Brian rallied a couple days and tried to get out of the house with us. He put it on for the kids and was father of the year. A 6 day long flu/bacteria isn’t exactly the end of the world, so we tried to keep it in perspective and we were constantly planning our next, actual vacation. That poor dude.
We pulled it together and made it to the Fernwood Wildlife place which was the usual – kinda fun, kinda depressing. We thought it was going to be more “rescue-y” but, not so much.
Charlie had a pretty great time because feeding kangaroos and koalas is clearly fun for kids.
So cute. The house was hard to shoot, but there were a lot of little moments like this that we loved:
Charlie and Elliot had so much to do, and so many toys. There was even a trampoline in the backyard and Charlie bounced, and bounced, and bounced.
On the last night Brian felt better, good enough to take a long walk, go get ice cream, and a dinner. It left the trip on a good note, not because it was an amazing dinner, but because walking as a family for 1/2 hour in a beautiful neighborhood, with a toddler that finds a leaf and runs up to his mommy to give it to her, is a really good thing.
Was Australia awesome? YES. Was the trip amazing? Let’s just say we’ll be back to properly enjoy it next time. I know that we are very lucky to even be able to bring our kids to another country. I didn’t leave the US ’til I was 21, so I hesitated writing about the less than awesome stuff. But regardless of where you are on vacation, when someone gets really, really sick, the truth is it changes the trip a bit.
Dear Australia, I love you and someday (when the kids are older – I’m not doing another 15 hour flight for a few years) we’ll be back. Looking at these photos already makes me nostalgic for the days that we got there that were so relaxing. I LOVE that family so much, especially when everyone feels healthy. This week has been rather busy/rough shooting every day in a location that had a 1 1/2 hour commute, Elliot caught the flu with a really bad fever, and Brian was shooting a video. So lets just say we are looking forward to the weekend more than usual.
TGIF, my friends. May your weekend be full of relaxing, cuddling, and watching of TV (is anyone else obsessed with Catastrophe?). xx testtest