A Taste of Grill’d Burgers

There must be a burger craze going on in KL recently, for there are plenty of new burger joints mushrooming around and about town. Looking at all these lip-smacking burger pictures got Saucer and I craving for burgers too! So one day, we decided to have burgers for lunch at Grill’d. Priding themselves to serve delicious and healthy burgers, Grill’d has a fuss-free menu with quite decent prices too. Going there on a weekend was not to stressful either, with tables easily available, probably due to the fast turnover of customers. I mean, how long can eating a burger take? :)

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Burger and chips from Grill’d

Ordering at Grill’d means going to the cashier and pointing out what you want, then paying before you’re given a table stand with a number on it. When the food is ready, it would be served to you by a wait staff. While waiting, one could help oneself with a bottle of drinking water placed at the back of the restaurant.

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Self-service drinking water

Before long, our orders arrived. Saucer had the Moroccan Lamb burger that came with a grilled 100% grass fed lean lamb, roasted peppers, tzatziki, salad and relish. We were also allowed to choose the type of buns to go with the burger, either the traditional wholemeal sesame bun, gluten-free bun or panini. Saucer had his burger with the traditional wholemeal bun, which was nicely toasted and still warm when served.

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Moroccan Lamb (AUD$12.90)

Saucer gave two thumbs-up for this burger! He loved that they paid attention to detail. The bun, for example, tasted like it was freshly baked. The crust was crispy and inside it was warm and fluffy. The lamb was lean, tender and juicy without overpowering gaminess. What I loved the most was the combination of roasted peppers in the burger, that seemed to have brought the flavours to the next level. I thought that made a whole lot of difference, as my burger didn’t have it, and ended up sort of paling in comparison.

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Nicely grilled lamb

As for me, I had the first item on the menu, which I suppose was also the most popular one - Simply Grill’d. It was made from grilled grass fed lean beef, salad, relish and herbed mayo. I opted for the panini bun, which was tasted really good. I loved the crusty exterior and warm, fluffiness within, making this burger stand out from the rest. The lean beef was pleasantly tender and juicy, while the herbed mayo gave it a nice flavour and fragrance. Best of all, it also came in a good size – nothing too huge that gets you feeling sick after too much of it, or too small that leaves you still feeling hungry. It was the right size, both of us agreed. However, if you still feel that the burger is too big to handle, there are knives provided on every table for the convenience of customers.

Grilld burger

Simply Grill’d (AUD$9.50)

The Hot Chips were available as a side order, and seeing that it’s quite popular among other tables, we decided to have one too. And we didn’t regret it. The chips were thickly cut (as how good chips should be), fried to a crispy finish and generously drizzled with herbs.

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Regular Hot Chips (AUD$3.50)

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Knife wrapper

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Cutting across the Simply Grill’d burger

True to their promise, Grill’d has indeed delivered gorgeous burgers with good quality ingredients without putting our health at risk. We definitely enjoyed our experience here, and wouldn’t think twice about returning for the many other burgers listed on the menu.

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Dining at Grill’d

Grill’d (at Macquarie Centre)
Level 4 (next to Max Brenner Chocolate),
Entrance via Herring St
North Ryde,
2113 NSW, Australia.
Tel No: 9888 7700
Opening Hours: Daily (11am – 10pm)
Website: www.grilld.com.au

Grill'd on Urbanspoon

My Kind of Breakfast

I’m sure by now you would agree with me that dining out in Sydney is not cheap. Almost every meal costs about AUD$10 per dish, and that is in a food court. In a restaurant or cafe, prices would most certainly be more than that. Which is why I was extremely excited when I found out that I could have a nice and satisfying breakfast for less than AUD$10 each! Located in Carlingford Village, North and South Gourmet doesn’t look like a very appealing restaurant from the outside. If not for the decent crowd we saw inside, we wouldn’t have gone in to try. And boy, were we glad we did!

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My ideal breakfast

Serving breakfast until 11am, North and South Gourmet had a continuous stream of customers heading in and out of the restaurant in the morning. Once we were seated, we were handed a menu filled with a mixture of English and Chinese characters, detailing the different set menus available for breakfast. We almost couldn’t believe it when we saw that the set meals were priced at $6.50 each, including a drink! That’s probably the cheapest meal we found so far in a cafe or restaurant. Without further ado, we ordered a set meal each, which came with a bowl of congee, a choice of noodles or you tiao or cheong fun and a hot drink.

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Pork and Century Egg Congee

Both of us ordered the Pork and Century Egg Congee, which came in a few minutes. The congee was piping hot and smooth, just how we liked it. There was also a decent amount of lean pork and century egg bits inside which gave the congee much flavour. Our little gripe would be that the lean pork was a tad too salty, but I suppose it was deliberate to sort of flavour the congee at the same time.

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Decent amount of century egg and pork slices

The You Tiao or Chinese crullers that came with one of our sets were hot, freshly fried, crispy on the outside and fluffy inside. A plate of you tiao on its own would have cost about $3-4 elsewhere, so we were overjoyed that these were included in the set. I mean, a meal of congee would not be complete without you tiao, don’t you agree? :)

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You Tiao / Chinese crullers

For our second set, we opted to order the Fried Soy Sauce Noodles. These looked exactly like the noodles we used to have in Hong Kong. In fact, this complete meal really reminded me of our breakfast at Hong Kong, where noodles and congee always went together. Ah, memories! The noodles were plain and simple but that’s how they’re supposed to be – nothing fancy and nothing special. But that’s how I like them to be!

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Fried Soy Sauce noodles

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Set 1 – Congee + noodles + drink (AUD$6.50)

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Set 2: Congee + you tiao + drink (AUD$6.50)

Finally for drinks, Saucer had the hot Milk Tea, which turned out to be quite strong and fragrant, while I had the Soya Bean, which was not too bad. In fact, we initially thought we would be charged extra for drinks since these were listed as Chinese characters in the menu (which we couldn’t read) next to a $1 sign, but apparently they’re part of the set. There’s a only a surcharge of $1 if we had opted for cold drinks.

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Milk tea

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Soya bean

Overall, we thought the breakfast sets here were definitely good value for money, all things considered. The environment was not overly crowded that you would feel rushed to finish your meal, which was perfect for a relaxing family outing during the weekends. Needless to say, we’d definitely be back whenever we’re craving for something hot and comfy in the morning, or whenever we felt like eating congee!

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Dining environment

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North & South Gourmet at Carlingford Village

North and South Gourmet Carlingford Village
Shop G2, 372 Pennant Hills Rd
Carlingford, NSW 2118
Australia
Contact No.: +612 9871 2819

Most Scenic Vineyard in Hunter Valley

So far, we have been to several good vineyards in Hunter Valley including Wyndham Estate, Tyrrell’s Wines, Pepper Tree Wines and Tower Estate Winery. But I have to say that the one that offers the best and most picturesque view has to be Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard! We were there once during our trip to Hunter Valley last year, and we went there again last month when my family was here. The view, as usual, was absolutely breath-taking.

Audrey Wilkinson vineyard

View from Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard

HunterValley

Driving to Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard

The drive to Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard was about 10 minutes from Tempus Two Winery grounds, where a number of restaurants, including The Smelly Cheese Shop, are located at. There is a stretch of about 500m of gravel road on the way there, so don’t be puzzled if you think you’re on the wrong track. Pretty soon, you’d come across a huge signboard telling you that you’ve reached the vineyard.

Audrey Wilkinson vineyard

The huge signboard

HunterValley

We’re there!

What I love about Audrey Wilkinson’s vineyard is how close you can actually get to the grape trees! They’re surrounding us at all angles, and at such close proximity too. Sure, you’re not allowed to go in and pick the grapes, if that’s what you’re wondering, but you could go close enough to take a picture with it. And if you go during spring or summer season, you might even spot some ripe and juicy grapes hanging from the trees!

HunterValley

Grape plants during end of winter

Audrey Wilkinson vineyard

Gorgeous view of the vineyard

Audrey Wilkinson vineyard

Another view of Audrey Wilkinson’s vineyard

When we were there, the weather was simply perfect! Bright blue skies with some clouds, warm sun and cool breeze made us just want to lie down on the green grass and savour the moment. When we’re done admiring the scenery, we made our way to the wine cellar sitting majestically on top of the mountain.

HunterValley

Audrey Wilkinson wine cellar

Audrey Wilkinson wine cellar

Entrance to the wine cellar

Since we went during a public holiday, the wine cellar was pretty busy but not overly crowded. We took a short tour around the wine cellar and saw a group of people attending what looked like a wine appreciation class at one corner, having fun. There was another corner dedicated to the process of wine-making, with plenty of information and wine-making tools on display. It was good that we could go and stuff ourselves with educational information while waiting for the wine-tasting counters to be available. :)

Audrey Wilkinson wine cellar

Wine-tasting counter

HunterValley

Multi-award winning wines

HunterValley

One of the prized wines on display

Audrey Wilkinson wine class

Wine appreciation class in order?

Audrey Wilkinson wine cellar

Wine-making information area

Audrey Wilkinson wine cellar

Place to sit down and have a glass

HunterValley

Wine barrels and table tops

Pretty soon, we saw an empty spot at the wine-tasting counter and made our way to it. As usual, we were presented with a list of wines and were asked to pick the ones we wanted to try. We started with a couple of white wines, to a red wine and ended with a sweet dessert wine. I remember loving the taste of the Muscat, but only because I have a soft spot for anything that is sweet! :)

Audrey Wilkinson wine tasting list

Wine-tasting list

HunterValley

Love this pretty bottle

Both Saucer and I agreed that this vineyard offers the best view of all in Hunter Valley, and we’ve been to around ten of them! So if you have to choose a selected few vineyards to visit, make sure Audrey Wilkinson is one of them! Even if you don’t drink, this is a good place for photographs.

Audrey Wilkinson vineyard

Final view of Audrey Wilkinson’s vineyard

Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard
DeBeyers Road,
Pokolbin (Hunter Valley),
NSW 2320 Australia
Phone: (+612) 4993 3600
Email: wines@audreywilkinson.com.au
Cellar Door direct phone number: 02 4998 1866.
Business Hours: Daily except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Weekdays (10 am ~ 5pm) Weekends (10 am ~ 5pm)
Website: www.audreywilkinson.com.au

The Perfect Hainanese Chicken Rice

Everyone’s definition of perfect is different, so when I claim this to be the perfect Hainanese Chicken Rice, I really mean it’s perfect for me. My version of the perfect Hainanese Chicken rice is that the rice is flavourful, fragrant, not overly oily, fluffy and not soggy. Saucer had the cravings for Hainanese Chicken a couple of weeks back, and asked if I could make it. Make it? Why, I had never made it before, so I was caught by surprise. But being a person who welcomes challenges, I took it upon myself to give it a try. The first time I did it, the chicken was slightly undercooked with more pink areas that I’d like and the rice was too dry. The second time I did it, the chicken was slightly better, but the rice was still not up to par. And they said, third time’s a charm, and it was! This time, the rice turned out to be exactly how it’s supposed to be, and not even Saucer could find a fault with it. And hence, the recipe has to be recorded for my future records. :)

Hainanese Chicken rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice

There are 3 main components to a complete Hainanese Chicken Rice dish, and they are the chicken, the rice and the chilli sauce. Most recipes require a whole chicken to be poached in order to prepare this dish, but since there were only 2 of us, I only cooked half a chicken at a time.

Ingredients:

a) For Chicken

  • 1/2 a chicken (free range preferably)
  • 2 stalks of scallions
  • 1/2 bulb garlic
  • 1 piece of ginger (about 2 to 3 inches long)
  • Sesame oil
  • Salt
  • 3 tsp of garlic and shallot oil
  • Coriander

b) For Rice

  • 2 cups of rice
  • Approximately 40-50g of chicken fat/skin
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • 1/2 garlic bulb chopped
  • 1 shallot chopped
  • 1 piece of ginger (about 2 to 3 inches long) sliced
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 cubes chicken stock (1cm x 1cm cube ~ 4g each) – I used Continental chicken cubes
  • Pinch of salt

c) For Chilli Sauce:

  • 5 red chillies
  • 3 bird’s eye chillies
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 piece of ginger (about 2 inches long)
  • 2 pcs lime

Hainanese Chicken

Hainanese chicken

Steps:

a) For Chicken:

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Make sure the water level can cover the whole chicken when it’s dipped in.

2.Marinate chicken with salt and sesame oil by rubbing them in liberally on the surface. Remove excess chicken fat (especially near the chicken bottom) for cooking rice later.

3. Peel the garlic cloves, chop the scallions into about 3cm length and slice the ginger before putting them all into the boiling water.

4. Once the water is boiling hot, place the chicken into the water and let it boil for about 5 minutes.

5. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the chicken simmer inside the hot water for about 30 minutes (or more depending on the size of chicken). If you’re worried about the chicken being too pink (like me), turn on the heat again after about 15 minutes, and turn it off once the water starts boiling.

6. Remove the chicken from the pot and transfer to a big bowl filled with ice water. Let it soak for about 5 minutes.

7. Drain the ice water and chop the chicken into pieces.

8. Drizzle chicken with garlic and shallot oil and soy sauce. Garnish with coriander.

Hainanese Chicken rice

Chicken rice

b) For Rice:

1. Wash 2 cups of long grain rice and drain.

2. On a frying pan, heat the cooking oil and chicken fat. You can find plenty of chicken fat near the chicken bottom.

3. When the oil is hot and chicken fat starts to melt, throw in the chopped garlic and shallot and sliced ginger. Fry until lightly browned.

4. Pour in the rice and stir fry for about a minute.

5. Add in sesame oil and dash of salt. Fry rice for another minute or two.

6. Transfer rice into rice cooker.

7. Melt the chicken stock using the soup from the chicken in a). Use in total 2 cups of soup for the rice.

8. Give the rice a good stir when it’s cooked before serving.

Chilli sauce

Chilli sauce

c) For Chilli sauce:

1. Blend the red chillies, bird’s eye chillies, garlic and ginger until fine.

2. Add in juice of 2 limes.

3. Add in about 3 tbsp of chicken soup from a) (or more if you prefer a more liquid texture).

Hainanese Chicken rice

Perfect chicken rice – fluffy, flavourful and fragrant

Finally, serve all 3 components together for a completely satisfying Hainanese Chicken Rice meal. The chicken was smooth, tender and juicy, and the chilli sauce had a nice kick to it. Remember, the trick is not to completely boil the chicken in boiling water or it will turn out to be hard and dry! I am keen for anyone out there to try out this recipe, especially the chicken rice, because both Saucer and I absolutely love it!

Hainanese Chicken rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice with the works

Hainanese Chicken Rice
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
For Chicken
  • ½ a chicken (free range preferably)
  • 2 stalks of scallions
  • ½ bulb garlic
  • 1 piece of ginger (about 2 to 3 inches long)
  • Sesame oil
  • Salt
  • 3 tsp of garlic and shallot oil
  • Coriander
For Rice
  • 2 cups of rice
  • Approximately 40-50g of chicken fat/skin
  • 1 tsp cooking oil
  • ½ garlic bulb chopped
  • 1 shallot chopped
  • 1 piece of ginger (about 2 to 3 inches long) sliced
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 cubes chicken stock (1cm x 1cm cube ~ 4g each) - I used Continental chicken cubes
  • Pinch of salt
For Chilli Sauce:
  • 5 red chillies
  • 3 bird's eye chillies
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 piece of ginger (about 2 inches long)
  • 2 pcs lime
Instructions
For Chicken (a):
  1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Make sure the water level can cover the whole chicken when it's dipped in.
  2. Marinate chicken with salt and sesame oil by rubbing them in liberally on the surface. Remove excess chicken fat (especially near the chicken bottom) for cooking rice later.
  3. Peel the garlic cloves, chop the scallions into about 3cm length and slice the ginger before putting them all into the boiling water.
  4. Once the water is boiling hot, place the chicken into the water and let it boil for about 5 minutes.
  5. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the chicken simmer inside the hot water for about 30 minutes (or more depending on the size of chicken). If you're worried about the chicken being too pink (like me), turn on the heat again after about 15 minutes, and turn it off once the water starts boiling.
  6. Remove the chicken from the pot and transfer to a big bowl filled with ice water. Let it soak for about 5 minutes.
  7. Drain the ice water and chop the chicken into pieces.
  8. Drizzle chicken with garlic and shallot oil and soy sauce. Garnish with coriander.
For Rice:
  1. Wash 2 cups of long grain rice and drain.
  2. On a frying pan, heat the cooking oil and chicken fat. You can find plenty of chicken fat near the chicken bottom.
  3. When the oil is hot and chicken fat starts to melt, throw in the chopped garlic and shallot and sliced ginger. Fry until lightly browned.
  4. Pour in the rice and stir fry for about a minute.
  5. Add in sesame oil and dash of salt. Fry rice for another minute or two.
  6. Transfer rice into rice cooker.
  7. Melt the chicken stock using the soup from the chicken in a). Use in total 2 cups of soup for the rice.
  8. Give the rice a good stir when it's cooked before serving.
For Chilli sauce:
  1. Blend the red chillies, bird's eye chillies, garlic and ginger until fine.
  2. Add in juice of 2 limes.
  3. Add in about 3 tbsp of chicken soup from a) (or more if you prefer a more liquid texture).

Golden Lake Seafood Restaurant

Last weekend, Saucer and I went into gardening mode. Since early in the morning of Saturday, we spent our time clearing weeds, sweeping, loosening the garden bed and planting new flowers on our front lawn. It was quite a nice way to spend time together, not to mention the gorgeous weather that wasn’t too sunny or cold. We ended up working until past noon, and realized that we were famished! A short search on the internet revealed a Chinese/Malaysian restaurant that had good reviews from the locals, so that was where we headed to for lunch. Golden Lake Seafood Restaurant is located in the Norwest shopping centre where Coles is.

Special fried rice

Our filling lunch

We reached the restaurant some time after 2pm and found that it was going to close at 2.30pm! What a close shave. Thankfully, the manager welcomed us with big smiles and showed us to a table by the window.

Table by the window

Table with a rose

We ordered the Hot Pot Beancurd and Vegetables, seeing it was raining that afternoon which was perfect weather for something steaming hot. The dish came brimming with vegetables such as broccoli, lettuce, snow peas, siew bak choy, carrot and baby corn. That probably filled up the quota of my vegetables intake for the next 2 days! LOL! Of course, there were several pieces of plump tofu spotted too. Everything was mixed in a fragrant and tasty gravy that made this dish such a comfort to bite into.

Hot Pot Beancurd and Vegetables

Hot Pot Beancurd and Vegetables (AUD$13.80)

We also ordered a dish of Spicy Salt and Pepper Pork Ribs, which was essentially deep fried pork ribs with chilli and shallots. The pork ribs were well-marinated with each piece bursting with flavour and crispy too. The batter covering the pork was not overly thick and not doughy, which was good. I would have preferred the dish to be more spicy in general since it’s supposed to be spicy. Perhaps adding some chilli powder into the batter? That would have made this dish hot! :)

Salt and Pepper Pork Ribs

Spicy Salt and Pepper Pork Ribs (AUD$15.80)

I had cravings for some fried rice that afternoon, so we ordered a large Special Fried Rice to share instead of having white rice. The difference between special fried rice and the normal fried rice was the addition of char siew / BBQ pork in the mix. The normal fried rice would have just prawns, ham and chicken slices, which I thought was good enough. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite enjoy the fried rice since we didn’t find it to be fried with enough heat of wok (wok hei). Also, the BBQ pork was different from what we have in Malaysia, where the skin would usually be slightly charred or burnt. I guess this means the next time we visit, we’d stick to the normal white rice.

Special Fried Rice

Large Special Fried Rice (AUD$8)

Golden Lake Seafood

Lunch for two

Lunch in general was above average, and huge in portions too! The fried rice was able to fill up to 4 rice bowls for each of us, so we were more than stuffed. We also ended up packing a third of the pork ribs back home since we really couldn’t stomach them anymore. They were still good the next day after some stir-frying. We had a nice experience in this restaurant, where the staff was pleasant and environment was quiet with a nice view. We’d most probably be back!

Golden Lake Seafood Restaurant

Golden Lake Seafood Restaurant

Golden Lake Seafood Chinese Restaurant
Norwest Marketown
Shop 35, Norwest Boulevard,
Baulkham Hills,
NSW 2153 Australia.
Tel No.: (02) 8850 6822
Opening Hours: Daily for lunch, daily except Monday for dinner

Golden Lake on Urbanspoon

A Road Trip to the Southern Region NSW

When my parents and relatives were here a couple of weeks back, we spent most of the weekdays at home since Saucer couldn’t get off work. So when the weekend came, we took the opportunity to bring everyone down south for a day trip to several NSW attractions. Our first stop was to Bald Hill in Stanwell Park, where one could get an amazing view of the Tasman Sea and Wollongong in the distance. It’s also the site for hang gliding and para gliding, when the wind conditions permit. On our way there, the sky looked dark and cloudy, and I was worried that we might be able to catch any hang gliders. Thankfully, the rain stopped by the time we reached and we spotted quite a few hang gliders already flying in the sky!

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Hang glider up in the sky!

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Towards Bald Hill, Stanwell Park

It was a sport for the professionals which was also offered as a course to visitors or tourists. Obviously, we were not daring enough to go up so high and feel vulnerable in the sky, so we just stood and watched. :) It’s amazing how these hang gliders and para gliders looked so calm and steady even at the edge of such a high cliff. I mean, what if something goes wrong and the aircraft doesn’t stay up? I even managed to take a video below of a para glider launching up into the sky. It was beautiful.

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Hang gliding in the distance

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Paragliders

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Paragliders launching area

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Getting ready to glide

Video of para glider taking off

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witch and Saucer at Bald Hill

After about half an hour of watching and admiring the gliders, the clouds suddenly gave in. It started with a drizzle which we thought would pass, but it went on and on, gradually becoming a continous shower. That was when we decided to make a move and drove to our next stop. We were headed to Nan Tien Temple, a place I’d been to once before. It’s claimed to be the largest Buddhist Temple in the southern hemisphere, and it’s very well-maintained too. The temple grounds were spacious and filled with visitors but thankfully not overcrowded.

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Towards Nan Tien Temple

Since we went during the period of Chinese New Year, there were still decorations of CNY around such as plenty of lanterns and red packets. There was also a huge tree with golden leaves near the shrine, where one was supposed to write one’s wish on a red ribbon and throw it onto the tree. When lunch time came, we had the option of having vegetarian food either at the dining hall or at the ala carte restaurant on ground floor. The queue at the restaurant was horrendously long, and we were hungry, so we decided to have lunch at the dining hall instead. There were only two options available, either a plate of plain rice with 3 dishes or fried noodles with 2 dishes, plus a complimentary vegetable of the day. It cost $12 a plate, which wasn’t cheap considering the portion was just average and the dishes weren’t great. But they did serve the purpose of filling our tummy for the day.

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Smiley Happy Buddha

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Wishing tree

After spending a couple of hours in the temple, we decided to make a move back home. This time, we took the coastal road with the view of the Tasman Sea on our right. It was indeed a beautiful drive, dotted with beaches along the way. We stopped at one in Austinmer, where the wind was blowing fiercely and the air was cool. My family found it amazing that there were people swimming and surfing even in the freezing cold wind!

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Austinmer Beach

Further up the beach, we drove past the Sea Cliff Bridge, which had a breathtaking view of the Tasman Sea. There was also a footpath along the bridge, so we parked our car nearby and took a walk up the path. Along the bridge, you could spot some lovers putting padlocks on the railings of the bridge too.

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Saucer at Sea Cliff Bridge

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Sea Cliff Bridge

Even though the weather was partly gloomy and rainy during the day, we were fortunate that the rain stopped whenever we reached our intended destinations. Our timing was perfect! By the time we reached home, everyone was exhausted. It was a day well-spent, so we took a long good rest to get ready for yet another road trip up north the very next day.

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View of the Tasman Sea from Sea Cliff Bridge