Tag Archives: Exploring

Fairgrounds Festival….. like a local.

Festivals have come and gone over the last 10 years, for a multitude of reasons I am not here to get into …. (maybe you could pay your artists?) ….. and what have we learnt from the rises and the falls? The highs, and the very low, un-financial, lows? That bigger is not necessarily better.

CUE: Fairgrounds Festival!

Set to take place on December 2 & 3, in the picturesque town of Berry,  affectionately known as Bezza by local surfers from Shoaly Heads, or the Town of Trees by wannabe local tree/sea changers. Well known for some godforsaken reason for its Donut Van (I don’t get it, never have never will), knick-knack shops, and pies (completely understand this one).

13781941_10153642793262377_2547925058716535161_n.jpgCork marking the footy lines at the Showground – Fairgrounds Location Shot. 

The festival begins, as per the website http://www.fairgrounds.com.au, on Friday night where musical acts will commence performing at 5pm. Fairgrounds will reload and back up for a full Saturdays worth of festive madness from 12pm.

So with those hours of the weekend taken care of by pure musical genius, I’m here and happy to tell you just how to take on the rest of your Fairgrounds weekend – like a local.

1. Coffee

We mere humans are like sheep when it comes to lines and crowds. I don’t know what side of the brain is responsible for it, but we see a line and we join it? We see a crowd and think ‘Well, it must be good!’ – WRONG.

There is one place, and only one place, to refuel in Berry. And there wont be a line – because they have their shit together and move fast!

Il Locale Gelato

Not your average ice cream shop. Owned by mates Damo and Josie, with baristas Lily and Laura, they smash out coffees like nobodies business. This isn’t the place for a ¾ soy latte with 1.25 shots of coffee. This is for people that need coffee as their elixir of life – quick fast and straight to the point.

15139578_10153946052207377_419307447_n.jpgIl Locale Gelato

A no fuss, all delicious breakfast menu is also available, as well as pies, sandwiches, an array of sweets; Mr Kombucha and locally cold pressed Juices. Not to mention it is a gelato shop and they are Berry’s own Messin – what, if not better! Minus the lines, fake French accents and house music.

And for all the foodies out there, the situation with the milk – low homogenised locally produced milk from The Pines in Kiama is used in all their coffee, gelato etc. Creamy AF

Il Locale: https://www.facebook.com/illocalegelato/?fref=ts

2. Booze

There are two pubs in Berry. The Great Southern Hotel (The TOP), and The Berry Hotel (The Bottom), and before all you tourists start up there is a slight incline between the two to justify the local naming.

The Top has a great deck and swing chair, it’s a great place to sit and drink in the sun and people watch. The Bottom has the old country rustic charm that a pub 2 hours from Sydney should have. I’ll leave it for you to decide.


But my biased favourite is ‘The Bottom’.

At the Coach House Restaurant at The Bottom, I pick the Greek Chicken Burger as the lunch option, and the Beef or Salmon Fillet for dinner.

But the real and unknown deal here is the Sunday breakfast. It’s fast, it’s affordable, it’s delicious, and again, usually without a line up of 100 hungry punters.

13413605_10153556880577377_3723412020107557330_n.jpgThe Beef Fillet

As tourists, I expect you to visit both pubs and decide for yourselves. I’m biased, I used to work at The Bottom, and my friends own it.

Like each of the establishments Facebook pages to stay up to date with the goings on over the Fairgrounds weekend.

TOP: https://www.facebook.com/TheBerryHotel/?fref=ts

BOTTOM: https://www.facebook.com/Great-Southern-Hotel-Berry-741549265953198/?fref=ts

3. Food

We take our Asian takeaway pretty seriously in the town of trees, but there are only two options that I can stress to you: the need to indulge in over the Fairgrounds Weekend.

The Bowlo Chinese, I believe, is the favourite local haunt. The food is fast and fresh, and cheap. Service is always fast and fresh, and meals can be accompanied with Bowlo priced beverages, and a meat raffle. Sign me up – well you may have to, or at least sign in as a visitor, but don’t let that put you off.

Highly recommend the: Spring Rolls, Lemon Chicken, Small Special Fried Rice, Deep Fried Ice Cream with Chocolate Topping and a James Squire 150 Lashes.

10675716_10153114295042377_4085090325730547837_n.jpgDeep Fried Ice Cream at The Bowlo!

LEAF – Love Eating Asian Food – not even kidding.

This place is to die for. Service with a smile was actually born here, I’m sure of it. Have a seat in their courtyard and prepare for an absolute feast.

Words cannot describe the flavours you are about to experience. Thai, Vietnamese, you name it South East Asian, LEAF delivers it – incredibly and artistically. Their wine list also features a number of local drops!

A favourite amongst locals and tourists, you may have to book ahead.

15087010_10153946055462377_1418672026_n.jpgVietnamese Pancake @ LEAF.

Highly Recommend:

Spring Rolls, Mummy Prawns, Pang Na Moo, BBQ Pork Bun, Penang Curry with Chicken or Duck, Vietnamese Pancake – my god delicious, Choo Chee King Prawns, Cashew Nut Chilli Jam, and Signature Fried Rice.

Washed down with a Sunday Afternoon from Two Figs Winery – CHEERS.

In preparation, like their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/leafinberry/

 4. Adventure

When you arrive in Berry, and along the way, provided it’s daylight, you’ll notice just how scenic the place is. Berry’s next door neighbour is Gerringong ‘Where the Mountains meet the Sea’, and so, the seaside at Seven Mile Beach is only a short 8min drive east from the centre of Berry. To the west of town you stare directly at Mountains. It makes the place humid in summer, the days short in winter and above all, picture – bloody – esque.

Where there are mountains, there is adventure. Challenge yourselves to the LK hike up to the Drawing Room Rocks, aka Tables and Chairs. The hike takes 2.5 hours return and is 4.5km round trip. And, I’m not giving you any more information than that.

You’ll need a car to get to the track. Search #drawingrooms through Instagram and use Google Maps to get there. You’re on an adventure, I’m not spoon-feeding you directions and laying petals on the path so you can find your way back. The view from the top is unbelievable.

10151776_10151999791857377_3141993616124873392_n.jpgDrawing Rooms – 2013


Drawing Rooms – 2014

Be mindful, you’re in the Australian Bush, there are snakes and spiders – Whistle Dixie.

5. Chill

As stated above, Mountains to the West, Beach to the East – say are you in Berry?

There are waterholes….and I’m not directing you to them as they are local secrets. You want them – you find them. For the non-adventurous punters I present to you – 7 miles of beach.

5432_10153322893012377_2853133783364168059_n.jpgSecret Waterhole.

Within 8 driving minutes from Berry, aptly named ‘7 Mile Beach’, it stretches from Gerroa at the north end, to Shoalhaven Heads in the south.

Generally speaking, if you like your beach days calm, head to Gerroa, and if you’re looking for waves, Shoalhaven Heads.

There is a Berry Beach and I’d advise you not to swim there. You can walk to either of the other two beaches from Berry Beach but it is a completely unmanned and isolated beach. Perfect for walks, sunbaking and wading up to the knees, and that’s about it.

1480496_10151729818617377_908901362_n.jpgThe Entrance to Berry Beach.

Gerroa, to the North end of 7 mile, is my personal favourite. It’s perfect for a swim, a sunbake, and has some of the brightest little creatures calling its rock pools home. A small café and a small takeaway are located within walking distance of Gerroa beach, whereas Shoaly Heads and Berry Beach – you’re on your catering own. Always thinking about food. The waves are generally flat and bay like at Gerroa, the water – almost always clear. And 9 times out of 10 you’re protected from any southerly busters wishing to spoil your sunny summer days.

15085585_10153943525152377_3422462923497926869_n.jpgSeven-Mile Beach from Gerroa.

On a parting note:

  • Bring some food in case of munchies – there is no Maccas, 7Eleven or Kebab Shop, don’t argue there aren’t any.
  • Taxi’s may as well be non-existent. So plan ahead. Have a designated driver, wear appropriate shoes to walk home in, or stay close by. Berry is relatively flat, so a 6km walk when tanked after a great effort at the festival, should be manageable.
  • Treat others the way you like to be treated. Don’t be a dick to hospo staff, don’t litter and have some respect for the place and the people, and they’ll show you the same back.
  • If the suns out, pick up an Akubra from The Berry Barn ;).

I think that sums it up. Berry is a great place, and Fairgrounds Festival is looking set to match its greatness.

See you at Fairgrounds. Or the pub, most likely the pub the night before. Cheers!

11230216_10153056930847377_7892448531325466318_n.jpgRe-Enacting FAME on the Main Street of the Tiny Town.



I think I had the most fun writing this blog post, Part V of the holiday tips. So great reminiscing on the different adventures we’ve had and thinking about how we had them, and found them! There’s always so much to do and so little time to do them in when you’re holidaying. Always ALWAYS draw up a rough, if not complete, itinerary before leaving home, and do your best to stick to it. And try out these other tips…

Hashtags: I cannot get enough of searching the #hashtags of destinations on Instagram. People don’t post on Instagram when they’re having a shit time, FACT. So if you want to see awesome local sights at your destination – Instagram is the way to go. You’ll be surprised with what you find.


Obsessed with street art – found this gem in the dusty backstreets of Tamworth, cheers Instagram. 

Tripadvisor: The only thing Tripadvisor if useful for is feedback on tours and activities, and even then I use it cautiously. If I literally have NO idea of what to do in a destination I’ll turn to Tripadvisor. Always remember that 80% of the reviews are negative, and 70% of people don’t post here because it’s time consuming – they’re usually snapping away on Instagram (see above). 

Nature: If you’re looking for natural experiences at your destination try Google searches with just the suburb and then the experience you are after, for example: Mullumbimby Waterfall. Mix it up as well – Mullumbimby Waterhole, Mullumbimby Creek, Mullumbimby River, Mullumbimby Bushwalk, etc. Whatever you find you should be able to send through Google Maps to get the directions.


Re-enacting the 90s Herbal Essences TVC at Milla Milla Falls – FNQ.

Geocache: If you have walking children and you don’t know what I’m talking about you need to reconsider your parenting goals. To put simply, all around the world there are Pirates that bury treasure and log the treasure on an app called Geocache. The app acts as your map, and compass, using GPS to take you to the X that marks the spot. Yep, a real life TREASURE HUNT. When you find the buried treasure you log it on the app and in the treasure box, and sometimes there is a little gift for you, sometimes there is not. I cannot explain how amazing Geocaching is. The treasure is buried in both the Bush and the City – it may even be in your neighbourhood. The app is free for the first 6 months (or it used to be) and then is a small fee per month. It will give you hours of entertainment, and will get you out exploring your destination.


A secret Geocache location on the South Coast of NSW.

Bicycles: I have to preface this with the fact that I graduated from training wheels on my 18th birthday and am in no way a cyclist. Regardless, I still believe cycling is the absolute best form of transport whilst on holidays, if you’re not in the Swiss Alps. My fiancé and I try to make a point of getting on a bicycle wherever we travel (time allowing). We’ve cycled through Melbourne, Cairns, Gold Coast, and Singapore. Some major cities – Singapore – have cycle tour companies, these are great to help you navigate and weave through the traffic. Bicycle hire is usually cheap and will get you moving quicker than walking, but still immersed in the local atmosphere.


Melbourne, VIC.


Cairns, QLD.

Meals: Social media is great for catching a bargain. Most local pubs and clubs have their lunch and dinner specials listed on their Facebook page. Check these out ahead of time and you’ll find the $10 steaks and perhaps even the trivia night details. And never be afraid to ask the locals – if you’re having a schooner at the local pub and you spot a local ASK THEM THEY KNOW and they’re usually happy to refer you to their favourite.

Most parks in coastal areas have BBQ facilities. Buy what you need and have a cook up! Just remember to pack the necessary utensils. And, if there aren’t any BBQs, there is always the Roast Chickens for $8.99 at Woolworths, a few salads and bread rolls! It’s all about thinking outside of the square. Fish and Chips from the local takeaway, lettuce/tomato/bread rolls from Woolworths, fish burgers on the beach for four on the cheap. Winning.

Groupon / Livingsocial: You just never know what you’ll pick up on these websites. Just change your postcode and search away. Sometimes you’ll snap up dinner for 2 or 4 for under $50, and even sometimes entry to theme parks for families at highly discounted rates.

I’m sure I could go on. But that’s all I have, for now, in the way of holiday tips!

NOTE: Whilst I’m away I try to stay on track with my lifestyle, the same as I have it at home. Travelling can be adapted to suit your lifestyle too, just plan ahead and don’t let anything stop you.

Any tips you’re willing to share? Comment below!


Stay tuned for updates here and on the ‘gram @crystaljanes_lalaland

CJ x


Do you know your State? Like really know your State?

Jump straight into it. I’m from NSW, grew up in Campbelltown, C-Unit – no, I don’t know Kerser, moved to Cambewarra, on the South Coast NSW, at 21, then to Nowra, then to Berry and lived there for 5 years fulltime. I moved to Darlinghurst for a year, and now I live part time in Arncliffe and part time in Berry, and have done for almost a year.

I’ve lived and travelled this state extensively; it’s the great state. We have the best beaches, nightlife (it still exists – even with Mike Baird doing his best to kill it), bushland, waterfalls, swimming holes, coastal tracks and rainforests. You don’t need to go far in this state to have a sweet quick trip away, SO GO, and take these driving holiday tips with you.



A Spring night in Katoomba.

Cars: Always take the business car, am I right? 90s or what? Just hop in Dads company car and we’ll head up to Coffs or the weekend. As if you haven’t done this, and as if you won’t do this if you can! 

Petrol: Fill up your petrol ahead of time and watch the petrol prices. In Sydney your best day to fill up is a Tuesday. Work out your area and fill up in preparation. Save up your petrol vouchers and do some Google research to make sure there are outlets where you can use them along the way.

Food: Pack an esky, even if it’s just for water, a bottle of water at a servo is generally $4! Rip off! Map out your food stops. Don’t just charge on through picking up dirty servo sandwiches and sausage rolls! Some service stations charge $6 a sausage roll and $7.50 a sandwich! Pull into a regional town, find a small business with fresh local produce and dig in. You’ll pay less, eat healthier, experience and explore more and inject some money into a regional area. Winning.


Chocolate covered frozen bananas at the Big Banana – Coffs Harbour.

Maps: Map out your drive, and let Google maps keep you on the right track with up to date travel and traffic times. This snuck us through a heap of traffic between Raymond Terrace and Gosford on the Easter Long Weekend – cheering.

Entertainment: CD’s – pahlease! – get on Spotify, make your own playlist, sign up to premium – and you can download your playlist and take it with you so you don’t have to use your data. Alternatively, Podcasts – usually free, and will provide your with hours of entertainment – check out Serial, Conversations with Richard Fiedler, The Message, Women of the Hour with Lena Dunham – you may even learn something.

And Glenn’s favourite – drive when the footy is on. You can listen to your favourite teams play on your drive and get into it! Well I can’t, I need to see it, but he sure as hell can!


On the Captain Cook Highway in FNQ. An actual scenic drive!

Commit: The number one need when embarking on a driving holiday is to commit. Know how long it’s going to take and be expectant of this, and make sure your fellow passengers are on the same page with this too. In the lead up to the trip don’t lie to yourself saying ‘It’s all good it wont take that long!’, instead say, ‘Yeah, it’ll take forever, about 10hours, but that’s ok, we’ll stop at X and X along the way and check them out, I’ll take 4 hours worth of podcasts and fix up my playlist, and just ride it out.’ It’s all about the mindset.


Tamworth from above. This driving holiday took forever.

Any tips you’re willing to share? Comment below! 

> In the next post I’ll share my tips on Holiday Activities <

Stay tuned for updates here and on the ‘gram @crystaljanes_lalaland

CJ x




I got sick (really sick, read prior blog on GUT health and Kombucha) in Thailand whilst we were staying in a 4.5 star resort. The resort stay came with a breakfast buffet daily and an acre of beautiful pools and spas to play in. Day no.3 of bringing up my small intestine, I’d had enough of being cooped up in my room watching the Australia channel, and I forced myself out to the resort pool, found a banana lounge close to the toilet. And you wouldn’t believe it? the rest of the Resort had the same idea! and the fellow travelers had the same bout of South East Asian Norovirus! We were all eating at the same buffet breakfast, sitting at the same tables in the restaurant, wiped with the same cloth by the same waitress (I witnessed this), swimming in the same poorly chlorinated resort pools, sitting on the same pool lounges, and our rooms were being swept and mopped with the same broom/mop/water by the same housekeeper (witnessed again).


Here is me and my brave face at the Resort in Phuket.

NOTE: I’m not saying this attributed to me being sick, but I can’t see how it would have helped. And watching this happen around me didn’t make me feel better either, nor did it justify the resort price tags that went with the stay.

Lesson learnt.

And so, I give to you: CJ’s Accommodation Booking Rules.

Rule 1: Accommodation is for sleeping and showering. If you can do both safely, then it’s a yes from me. Unless you’re intending to sit by the pool and read, AND your destination is in the desert, there is no need to waste money on swim up bars and cabana boys. Sitting beachside should always be 100% preferred, you get the breeze, the people watching, the waves and the salt water, and it generally wont cost you a cent. For road trip holidays, question whether accommodation is necessary, and if so what type. Sleeping in the car is my favourite option for 1 night away – my fiancé does not agree but in winter I absolutely love it. If taking this option, or a camping equivalent think about the necessities. For me, it’s a toilet, power and usually a shower. As per older blogs I suffer from a mild self diagnosed form of IBS and when I need the toilet it is all ‘Move bitch get out tha way!’. I can’t live without my phone – o power to charge is a must, and generally so is a shower – depends on an array of circumstances. Remember sometimes accommodation is for parking your car too. On a recent trip to Newcastle we were researching accommodation on Air Bnb and ALL, I kid you not – ALL, available accommodation came WITHOUT car parking. We would have had to park our car KM’s away. Research this and filter it in your accommodation search if need be.


Sleeping in the car at the Snow in 2014 –  I forced Glenno to play ‘Resuscitation!’ with me on the Ipad until we fell asleep.

Rule 2: If you don’t eat Breakfast like a king at home, you probably don’t need to while you are away. Woolworths and Coles exist outside of your own hometown! – grab a Chobani and make use of the in room tea/coffee facilities. Don’t forget to sample some of the local cafes for breakfast too. Accommodation breakfasts are generally priced above $22/pp, whilst breakfast at a local cafe can cost between $12 – $20 and the food is (generally) turned over quicker. And, there are no fellow travellers coughing their way through the buffet line, picking up the cereal spoon with their ecoli-ridden hands.


Salmon Rye at The Dip Cafe in Byron Bay on our Bluesfest trip- delicious!

Rule 3: Bedbugs are just bad luck. Don’t read Trip Advisor reviews that whinge about bed bugs and take the review as a true statement. Scabies – probably a different story, and yes they are different insects! Bedbugs can travel between hotels and hostels in luggage, sleeping bags and even on fellow travelers. If you check into your accommodation and start to think you’re under attack, and you’ve got another couple of nights to go, speak to the hotel reception – they may be happy to move you or bomb the room for you once housekeeping has attended. Otherwise – Woolworths (crazy I know!), and leave the do not disturb sign hanging so you don’t kill the housekeepers.

Bedbugs will leave 3, that’s THREE, small bites close together – sometimes in a row – and I’ve had them mostly on my chest. Be sure to bomb your possessions before taking them back into your own house, and, if it’s too late for that, bomb your house. They’re generally no biggie once dealt with appropriately.

Rule 4: Check the Location. Do your research and find out how far away your hotel is from the action. Google maps is great for this – put your hotel name in and map to supermarkets, pubs, shops, beaches, etc. Remember to change the transport mode around from walking to public transport, and if you go with that accommodation, store your maps for when you get there. And DON’T be an idiot and rely on Taxis! In some parts of AUS there are NO taxis – Sydneysiders I know this idea is foreign to you but trust me, no Ubers either! Don’t get stuck, blind, in the middle of nowhere, with no transport, you may have to sleep it off in the gutter – witnessed on South Coast.


The Kam Leng Hotel in Singapore – loved the location of this place, even though it was out of the tourist hubs it was super fun feeling like an expat Singaporean local.

Rule 5: If you are going to a small Australian town call the local pub – and call them at a reasonably quiet time, say Tuesday morning. Most small locally run pubs and hotels in Australia are NOT advertised on Expedia / Quickbeds / Last Minute, etc. and most still have the same affordable price tag on their rooms. You can research them all you like on the Internet, but I strongly advise you to pick up the phone and have a chat, even if you’re not sure if accommodation is offered at said pub they may be able to point you in the right budget traveller direction!


The Middle Pub in Mullumbimby where we stayed for Bluesfest 2016. Clean rooms, a $15 menu and we came back from Bluesfest early one night and a live blues band was playing with a piano accordion! 

That’s it.

Have you had bedbugs? Have you been stranded in the ‘country’? Can you recommend any sweet café’s to try for breakfast whilst holidaying?

Comment and let me know.


> In the next post I’ll share my tips on Booking Flights <

Stay tuned for updates here and on the ‘gram @crystaljanes_lalaland

CJ x