Things To Do In Winter Around Sydney

Winter Wonders Week 8

I am so excited to be going away for a long weekend this final weekend in July, which is partly why I decided to post my July winter wonders post now.  Besides it will be August when I get back so the magic I report on next week will belong in the August update anyway. 

July has absolutely brought out the magic for me with awesome fun and great times out but also some unbelievable weather (at least late July anyway).

I've had no shortage of things to do, things to see and things to blog about.  I've been out and about and definitely not hiding under my doona.  Let me share some of my winter magic with you.


Picture of Girlwendy hiking
Picture of the view from the lookout over WollongongWith all this gorgeous weather (one can hardly believe it's the middle of winter at the moment) I have been itching to get outside and be active.  On top of a few lunchtime walks by the harbour I indulged with a friend on a short hike down the South Coast.  Now this hike may have been short but it was steep as heck and a climb that leaves you jelly legged and breathless. But as you would expect, a grand view of the coast and vast township awaits you at the lookout.  The only thing to do after this climb is to make your way down and grab yourself some lunch and a couple of drinks at the hotel on the beach.  Just a perfect winter day!

Hunter Valley Garden Winter Festival

Picture of the ice toboggan at Hunter Valley Winter Festival
Picture of the ferris wheel at Hunter Valley Winter FestivalHeading North doesn't usually mean ice and snow in NSW but Master 10yo and I decided to do a day trip to the Hunter Valley Garden Winter Festival where they have ice-skating, ice tobogganing and even a man made (small) snow field.  I was worried it was going to be too young for Master 10yo but he assured me the rides were still fun and playing in the snow was awesome.  Of course he loved the ice tobogganing the most.  There wasn't a great deal to do there but we were lucky that it also wasn't crazy busy.  The story book garden walk was really creative and fun for some pics.  My highlight was enjoying the drive in my sports car and dropping in to the dessert bar on the way home where we had a total sugar overload with an enormous ice-cream and a snickers cheesecake. And of course, I couldn't leave without grabbing myself an expensive bottle of shiraz to cellar for a future celebration.  It is definitely one of the best I've tried.  All in all it was a fun day and we enjoyed the drive, Master 10yo didn't even break out the iPad choosing to chat and sing away the time.  Loved it and really glad I didn't get lazy and just do the school holiday movies instead.

Drink Challenge - Competitor No. 9

Picture of the filthy chaiGood God, what was I thinking?!! The name says it all for this competitor 'The Filthy Chai' and filthy it was.  Just plain bloody awful.  Now I like a chai and I like a dirty chai, which btw is a chai with a shot of coffee.  But this filthy chai boldly added a shot of chocolate as well.  The problem with the drink though wasn't that it had all of those elements but that it was somehow watery and had waaaaayyyy too much cinnamon.  It didn't even have cream to add and in fact, I don't think it had too much milk either.  I am not even sorry to give this terrible concoction a 1.5/10.  I couldn't even snap a decent photo of it, shame it was so bad.  If I wasn't driving I would have had the boozy milkshake but that came with a hefty alcohol limit warning so I had to skip that one.

All in all winter so far has been very kind to me and I intend on staying as active as I have been up to this point.  Just one more month of the cold season (of course, August is the windy month so hold on to your hats!) so that means one more month of seeing if we can find the winner of the winter drink competition!!

Get outside and make some memories friends!!

Winters Wonders Week 7

Half way through July already and it's hard to believe how fast winter is going.  I used to judge it soley by how quick the kiddy soccer season came to an end (which seemed like forever btw) but with all of this activity and my search to find the magic in winter, the chilly season is positively flying by.

This last week did not disappoint in the fun factor.  I actually had trouble fitting everything in that I wanted to do.  Here's the low-down on what magic I found.

Art Class - Boozy Finger Painting

Picture of the space at boozy finger painting
Picture of painting table at boozy finger paintingWhen its cold and dark outside and you need something to add a bit of spice to your life, get creative.  Not creative in the 'find somewhere warm and toasty creative' but actually get those creative juices flowing.  Being a Friday night we mixed our creative juices with booze and hit up the local boozy finger painting class.  What a hoot!  So much fun, heaps of energy and we actually created something to take home, as well as our memories.  There are some great workshops out there and some great prices too.  Dare to be different and try something new peeps!

Bastille Festival

Picture of bicycle for Bastille Festival SydneyPicture of pop up beach Bastille Festival SydneyWith the Sydney Bastille Festival on there were options galore to explore.  I went there over two different lunchtimes and checked out as many stands as I could.  Sydney pulled out some cracking winter weather and suddenly the pop-up beach, smack bang in the middle of Circular Quay, didn't seem so out of place!  The festival has grown each year and this year did seem to be twice the size of the last one.  It wasn't as crowded during the day as it is at night and so I was lucky enough to taste a fair few treats along my way.  The cool thing about the festival is how many local venues jump on board and put on special deals to try.  Some of the things on offer included various themed meals and degustations, cocktails, cheese n wine tasting, walking wine tasting tours, chocolate upon chocolate and the pop up winter night markets and outdoor mulled wine cinema.  I sadly didn't get to do any of these due to family commitments but I love that all of this was available to entice us out during the cold evenings.  I could really feel the magic in winter this week.

Drink Challenge - Competitor No. 8

Picture of winter challenge competitor No. 8I have never seen a cocktail with ghost chilli in it before and I'm not sure I will ever see it again (which is not true because it is now very popular to see spicy boozy cocktails and you can buy it already infused) but it got my immediate attention for my winter drink challenge.  For those of you who know your chilli, you will know that ghost chilli is one of the hottest chillies you can get.  So to be so bold as to take very good tequila, then infuse it with whole ghost chillies and then actually serve it up margarita style, some may shake their heads and say I was dreaming.  But no, I wasn't dreaming.  This margarita actually exists and it's so fantastically yummy that I had a couple of them.  The taste of the tequila has taken on the chilli flavour and the heat creeps up on you, the afterburn.  But each sip just makes you want you more.  A divine mix of creativity and boldness, this one is right up there and I have to give it the same as the current leader coming in at 9.2/10.  My photo doesn't do it justice my friends, its one that just has to be sampled.  For this particular one you will need to head to Bellengin and sample some of the local cafes and bars. 

Winter Wonders Week 6

I'm actually a little blown away by how much there is to do during these colder months.  I'm not really sure what I've done in the past (except flown to another country) but obviously I haven't been as present doing whatever it was, as I am now.  I can honestly say 'Wendy's Winter Wonders' has had a positive impact on my winter enjoyment.

Week 6 has seen me out for dinner, taking a walk at lunch around one of the most beautiful harbours in the World and off to the salon where all the magic happens.  Here are the highlights...

Sydney Harbour

I am constantly on the lookout for cool and inspiring winter venues and activities and yet I have only just realised that I am in one of the most amazing and inspiring places at any given time of the year, every week day!  That's right, my very own city.  And not just the city but the Harbour in Circular Quay.  Very spoilt and I'm a little embarrassed to have not included it until the very middle of winter.  I took a walk outside today to check out how the Bastille Festival preparations were coming along (there is a pop up beach in Circular Quay, would you believe?!) and I snapped this very shot whilst soaking up the vibes and the winter sun down near the Opera House.  Yep, check out that sun ...oh and the bridge is pretty special too!

Buffalo Dining Club

What says winter feast like pasta served from a wheel of cheese?  Well that's exactly what we got at Buffalo Dining Club in Darlinghurst on Saturday night when we popped out for a dinner that turned in to a surprise Hens night.  It's only a small, intimate venue but they sure know how to party and how to eat.  We had a table downstairs and pretty much ran a muck with some dancing and singing and awesome fun at the end of dinner before heading out afterwards.  Besides when our group is there, the restaurant is a lovely place to enjoy a  quiet dinner hahaha.  The food, the wine, the service and the venue are all top notch and well worth a visit.  Book yourself a table and eat up. 

Esstudio Galleria

Now this place is one my favourite grooming salons around, in fact the only grooming salon I go to.  With hair, beauty and massage treatments, including a steam room and chairs at the sink that lay flat when having your hair washed, great music, communal tables, wine, or choose from the tea menu, this place absolutely ROCKS!!!  The team here are totally on trend, no colour or style is too much or too little and they have as much fun as the clientele.  Oxy the beautiful, chilled out and full bred staffy who is super friendly and loves to sleep away the day also keeps the vibe real.  Esstudio Galleria is located in Chippendale in Queen St, it is easy to get to and convenient for you to head out to your party, looking a million dollars of course.  Give Jacqui and Aleks a call and do yourself a favour, book in for some winter pampering!


Drink Challenge - Competitor No.7

Enter 'The Dusky Scotchman' ...a real winter contender, a gentleman's drink this one (or gentle-lady's, in my case) and as you would expect, strong.  The first couple of sips was like a quick slap in the face, but in a good way.  Served with a single large ice cube in a heavy glass and a simple but classy garnish, the presentation was spot on.  Obviously you have got to like scotch to like this contender and thankfully, I do.  And enjoy it I did!  The thing I really enjoyed about it (and this may have had something to do with consuming it at 5.30 pm, not 11.30 pm) is it took me a little while to finish and so ended up being good value.  The smoky 10 year aged scotch was impressive and is right up there with a 9/10.


Winter Wonders Week 5

Well I positively froze my butt off today.  Why I didn't wear my new teddy bear jacket still remains a question ...tomorrow I'll be popping that fluffy number straight on before walking out the door.

I was on a tight schedule today and didn't get out to find any winter magic, luckily for me I've been inspired by this blog and have been active in the days leading up to this post.  Only a couple of weeks and we're half way through winter!

Here's a little of my winter inspiration for the week.

Comfort Food

I can't believe I haven't thought to include this sooner.  Who doesn't love comfort food?!  Warm, hearty meals that warm the innards and bring on a food coma.  I'm not usually one to take photos of meals (I'm generally more interested in eating what's put in front of me) but something sparked my inspiration when I was brunching in a warm and cosy cafe the other day.  So I snapped a quick pic (and promptly wolfed down the fritters) with every intention of sharing it as one my winter wonders.  Btw, it was corn and zucchini fritters with bacon and a balsamic tomato relish - yummy!


The  Great Outdoors

In my self imposed winter challenge I have been actively on the lookout for wintry venues and things to do.  Now I admit that I can have a rather non-creative approach sometimes and seek dark (and hopefully underground) intimate bars or restaurants.  I've neglected to share the few outdoor winter  activities that I've done.  Recently I went for a short hike, I kept it local but made sure I checked out a location that I've never been to before.  I can definitely say that I will be back to do it again, next time I am planning on a nice 5km jog.  It was a really beautiful place and the fresh air was a great reminder of how fantastic you can feel after getting back to nature.



Drink Challenge Competitor No. 6

Introducing the chilli hot chocolate!!  What else says wintry drink like a hot chocolate?  Then add chilli powder and voila!  I've got to say this drink surprised me a little.  First I was not expecting the chilli to be chilli powder served on the side, I figured it would be made by melting chilli infused chocolate.  But no, there it was piled high on the teaspoon.  Now I love my chilli and I love it hot but holy hell this thing was freaking HOT.  I used about half of the chilli powder and burned and sweated for a good 10 minutes after.  The whole concept is a bit weird, chilli drinks that is, but it was a damn fine hot chocolate.  It was pretty good at 8/10.  

And so my journey to find the magic in the winter and wholly embrace it continues for another week.  Stay tuned folks...


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