Life Lately via Instagram

InstagramI’m sorry I’ve been slack with posting these past few months, but I’ve been busy doing what travel bloggers do best, TRAVELLING! If you follow me on social media, you would’ve seen I visited Laos and Thailand, road tripped from Los Angeles to Seattle, and spent some time in Canada, especially touring around Tofino. It’s been a great few months full of new discoveries, experiences, and (good) challenges. And I can’t wait to share all these travels with you soon (stay tuned)!

However, my biggest update of all has to be that Alex and I moved to Melbourne this month! I can’t express how excited we are! Those close to me have noticed a complete shift in me since discovering the news. This move has been a long time coming!

Previously, I expressed my struggles since moving to Brisbane. I’m someone who is greatly affected by my surroundings, as I have a strong sense of place. Simply put, what brings me joy, such as meaningful work, family, and culture, doesn’t exist for me in Brisbane.

Nevertheless, considering Melbourne is my favourite Australian city, I can easily find my joy here again! Melbourne is full of culture, which means meaningful work for me. It also reminds me of my hometown, Toronto, which is much needed after experiencing years of homesickness.

Though our larger travels might slow down, as we attempt home ownership, I’m excited to experience more local travels (post to come soon). So for now, here are some of my recent travel photos from Instagram. But feel free to follow along on my next adventure @jauntandflaunt. And a big thank you to all those that hosted, guided, and supported us throughout our travels and relocation.

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Fun in the Sun, the Sun Smart Way

Sun SmartIt’s time for another sun safety reminder! Yes, I’ve become that annoying friend who always says, “Don’t forget sunscreen”, “Let’s find a shady spot”, and “You should ask your GP about a skin check”. But this reminder a much more exciting. I’ve teamed up with my life long friend, who’s also an amazing photographer, Kieran Darcy, to share the sun safety message. Kieran was especially supportive and surprisingly inspired during my melanoma diagnosis. So when she asked to collaborate on a sun safety themed photo shoot, I couldn’t help but say, “OF COURSE!” And now that we can share the finished product, I can’t help but give Kieran a big THANK YOU!

The photo shoot took place at my favourite spot in the whole world, Georgian Bay, in Lake Huron, Canada. It’s a place where we’ve both spent many days of our youth under the summer sun. Every summer before this, since I was a baby, I would have either played or lounged in the sun, for the most part without any sun protection. I now honestly regret my audacity for the sun.

What also made this photo shoot special was Kieran not only captured great photos of their own, but the subtly that sun safety can be. You would be surprised how easily sun safety can transition into your everyday life. For example, we still enjoyed some fun in the sun, but under the shade of a tree and during sunset, when the sun is least strong. Additionally, instead of prancing around in my itsy bitsy bikini, I kept covered with my favourite go-to sarong and sunhat. But what you can’t see in these photos is that my body and face are slathered in SPF 50 sunscreen, even under my makeup.

I hope you keep this in mind during the upcoming summer. Though melanoma is scary, sun safety doesn’t have to be. We all have the capacity to form a healthier relationship with the sun. Not only am I an example of this, but my friends and family are as well, who delightfully informed me during my recent trip home that they decided to be more sun smart after hearing my melanoma story. How heart warming is that?! Look below for all the amazing photos from Kieran and check out @kierandarcyphoto for more inspiring photos.Sun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartSun SmartPhotos by Kieran Darcy.

Discover the Enchantment of Byron Bay

Byron Bay, New South Wales, AustraliaFor anyone travelling to Australia, usually Byron Bay is at the top of the list of places to visit. This hippy town has enchanted visitors, hippy or not, for generations. It is hard to explain, but one usually feels immediately relaxed on arrival. With chain establishments few and far between, “Byron” (as the locals say) has an identity of its own. I usually visit for a few days at least once a year, as Byron often gives me a bit of a recharge. I have my go-to favourites, but on my most recent trip I discovered a few more places worth exploring.Byron Bay, New South Wales, AustraliaThe Byron at Byron Resort and Spa, Byron Bay, New South Wales, AustraliaStay
The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa: I’ve mentioned my love for this resort before, but it deserves another mention. Located a bit out-of-town, this is the ultimate spot for relaxation.
The Atlantic Byron Bay: A perfectly designed guesthouse in the centre of Byron Bay.
Byron Bay, New South Wales, AustraliaByron Bay, New South Wales, AustraliaByron Bay, New South Wales, AustraliaSee and Do
Byron’s beaches are probably the best aspect about this small town. With a handful of beaches, you can visit a different beach each day. Check out Belongil Beach, The Wreck, Main Beach, Clarkes Beach, The Pass, Watego’s Beach, Cosy Corner, and Tallow Beach, all have their own special quality.
Water Sports
Where there are beaches, there are water sports. You can try anything from surfing and stand up paddle boarding to kayaking and scuba diving.
Cape Byron Walk
Starting at Captain Cook’s Lookout near Clarkes Beach, this 3.7 km loop takes you along Australia’s most easterly point. It’s perfect for spotting whales and dolphins, along with basking in Cape Byron Lighthouse.Byron Bay, New South Wales, AustraliaNewrybar, New South Wales, AustraliaFederal, New South Wales, AustraliaShopping
Believe it or not, Byron is known for amazing shopping. The many boutiques stock brands and pieces hard to come by anywhere else in Australia. Additionally, many famous Australian designers got their start in Byron, like Spell and Tallow.
Though Byron offers more than enough for a relaxing vacation, you’ll be tempted by the beautiful hinterland surrounding the town. It is worth driving the country roads and grabbing a bite to eat in Newrybar, Bangalow, and Federal.
Dependent on your timing, you might be able to catch the Byron Bay Market, during the first Sunday of the month, or the Bangalow Market, during the fourth Sunday of the month, for artisan creations and yummy food.
Harvest, Newrybar, New South Wales, AustraliaOrgasmic Food Byron Bay, New South Wales, AustraliaDoma, Federal, New South Wales, AustraliaEat
Top Shop: This cute café serves their own freshly bottled juice, along with my favourite berry bowl!
Mokha: A café overlooking the main strip for a classic breakfast and good smoothies.
Orgasmic Food Byron Bay: A hole in the wall Egyptian café, serving the best Egyptian falafel.
Beloporto Burgers: Another hole in the wall for quick fix burgers with all the fixings.
Byron Fresh: This cute café close to Main Beach is perfect for people watching while enjoying good food and drinks.
The Balcony: A Byron institution, enjoyed best during happy hour.
Asia Joes: This little Asian fusion restaurant is fun, especially with your own BYOB of wine.
Italian at the Pacific: This is my favourite restaurant in Byron, serving great Italian food in a lovely setting.
St Elmo: A nice wine bar specialising in Spanish tapas.
Miss Margarita: This Mexican cantina has quickly become a Byron institution.
Harvest (Newrybar): This restaurant is the perfect treat for a local lunch.
Town (Bangalow): A cute café best enjoyed on the back patio.
Doma (Federal): I can’t help but wonder what a Japanese café is doing in the middle of the Australian hinterland. Though I’m happy I discovered this anomaly.Byron Bay, New South Wales, AustraliaByron Bay, New South Wales, AustraliaGo
Located just south of the Gold Coast, Byron Bay is a two-hour drive from Brisbane. Alternatively, flights operate from Ballina Byron Gateway Airport to Sydney and Melbourne.Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

A Guide to my Favourite Australian City, Melbourne

Melbourne, Victoria, AustraliaI take any chance I can get to visit one of my favourite cities, Melbourne. Every now and again Alex will have some business in Melbourne and I’ll fly down to make a long weekend of it. I’ve visited this city enough in the past three years to feel somewhat like a local. Well, it’s also encouraging that the locals make you feel like one of them. I revisit my favourite cafes and restaurants, along with exploring familiar laneways. But during my most recent trip, with my travel blogger hat on, I did some research, asked around, and found some new establishments, along with local favourites. Here’s my guide to my favourite Australian city, Melbourne.
Degraves Street, Melbourne, Victoria, AustraliaStay
Punthill Apartment Hotels: With three prime locations within the city centre, these reasonably priced contemporary apartments are perfect for any stay in Melbourne.
Adelphi Hotel: For the ultimate boutique hotel experience in the centre of Melbourne.
Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne, Victoria, AustraliaSee and Do
Melbourne and laneways are synonymous. I could wander the laneways for days, and I usually do when I visit. I always frequent Degraves Street for a particular Canadian breakfast (though I haven’t encountered this breakfast in Canada), eventually working my way northeast, discovering new cafes and boutiques along the way.
Carlton Gardens and Melbourne Museum
North of the laneways, you’ll find Carlton Gardens and the Melbourne Museum. The gardens surround the famous Royal Exhibition Building, a hallmark of Victorian architecture, and the contemporary Melbourne Museum. This is one of my favourite museums in Australia, with the best animal exhibition I’ve seen.
Just northeast of the Museum, you’ll find the trendy area of Fitzroy. Wander up and down Brunswick Street for cafes, restaurants, and even rooftop bars.Melbourne Museum, Melbourne, Victoria, AustraliaQueen Victoria Markets, Melbourne, Victoria, AustraliaQueen Victoria Markets and South Melbourne Markets
No trip to Melbourne is complete without visiting these markets, at either end of the city centre. These historical 19th century landmarks cater for all your shopping needs, from produce to home wares. But my favourite is the night markets, occurring one night a week during the summer, serving any food imaginable that is thoroughly enjoyed with some sangria!
St Kilda
A quick tram ride from the city centre will drop you off at Melbourne’s famous beach community. Though the beach here struggles to rival other famous Australian beaches, a walk along St Kilda Pier is worth it to see some penguins and seals. From here, head to Acland Street for pastry shops galore. Pace yourself, you’ll want to try a pastry from the dozen or so shops.
Chapel Street
This street in South Yarra has always been my go-to shopping destination. With a classic high street feel, you’ll find brand name shops amongst boutiques and cafes.South Melbourne Markets, Melbourne, Victoria, AustraliaAcland Street, Melbourne, Victoria, AustraliaShopping
Speaking of shopping, I was happy when a local friend of mine informed me of Melbourne latest and greatest shopping centre, the Emporium, just north of Bourke Street in the city centre. It’s probably the best shopping centre I’ve visited, with every shop imaginable, and a food court that almost seems refined.
There’s even more to discover when the sun goes down. My best advice would be to get the Broadsheet App and bar hop the secret bars listed, trying a cocktail at each one. You might feel lost trying to find a bar down a dingy laneway, but trust me it’s all part of the experience to find that one door with the smallest of signs that opens to a world of fun.
Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
Melbourne is the sporting capital of Australia, particularly the Australian Football League (AFL aka Aussie Rules) capital. If sport is your thing, try to catch an AFL game or cricket match at the MCG. I’ve been dragged to this stadium more times than I would like, but a sporting arena with the capacity of over 100, 000 is a sight to be seen.MCG, Melbourne, Victoria, AustraliaMelbourne, Victoria, AustraliaEat
Industry Beans: Hipster coffee central, serving yummy food and tea as well, in an industrial setting off of Brunswick Street.
Journal Canteen: Tucked away off Flinders Lane overlooking Degraves Street, this rustic café offers daily specials with a home cooked feel.
Oriental Tea House: I’ll never forget the Sunday morning my mom went ballistic for dim sum here, a perfect start for shopping on Chapel Street.
Little Creatures Dining Hall: For good craft beer and classic bar food in the heart of Fitzroy.
Chin Chin: Serving Asian fusion, this restaurant is the hottest ticket in town. One catch, no reservations, so you’ll have to wait an hour in their basement bar, which isn’t so bad with cocktails as good as their food.
Hutong Dumpling Bar: Known to serve the best dumplings in town, this establishment is perfect for late night laneway bites.
Florentino Grill: This is a recent discovery of mine, even though it is the oldest restaurant in Melbourne, on Bourke Street. Alex enjoyed dinner here twice in one week, taking me back after his first time here with colleagues. I was warned to prepare myself during the day for the epic 5 courses to come. This Melbourne institution is the best for Italian fine dining.
Ombra: Next-door, included in Grossi’s food empire, you’ll find this salumi bar, perfect for pre dinner snacks and drinks.
Pellegrini's, Melbourne, Victoria, AustraliaDrink
Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar: Just down the street from Grossi’s establishments, you’ll find another local institution for some of the best coffee in town.
Naked for Satan: There are some great rooftop bars in Melbourne and this is no exception. On Brunswick Street, it offers great views of city along with great drinks.
Double Happiness: No trip to Melbourne is complete without a trip to this tiny bar. Nestled in a laneway, the cocktails are enjoyed among Chinese communist propaganda décor.
Eau de Vie: For the best cocktail experience in Melbourne, this bar is hidden down another laneway.
Berlin Bar: And the hidden laneway bar tour continues to this unique experience. Half of the bar is themed as East Berlin and the other half as West Berlin. Your overall experience depends on where you’re seated.
Naked for Satan, Melbourne, Victoria, AustraliaGo
Melbourne is one of Australia’s largest hubs, easily accessible by many international airlines. Once in Melbourne, it is best to stay in the city centre, as most attractions are within walking distance from here. Alternatively, trams and trains can take you to the surrounding suburbs, but sometimes taxis are cheaper and easier for most visitors.Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

5 Things to See and Do in Coffs Harbour

Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, AustraliaWhile living in Australia, I strive to see as much as I can in the definite time I have here. My Australian boyfriend often remarks that I’ve seen more than him. My recent trip to Coffs Harbour was one such incident. I’m lucky that my housemate during my study abroad semester in Brisbane EIGHT YEARS AGO (I can’t believe how old we’re getting) is a Coffs Harbour local, and invited our other housemate and I down to “Coffs” (as the locals say) for a long weekend. I’m also very lucky to still call these women friends, which goes to show you good friendships last despite time and location. It was my first time to Coffs, and I honestly felt like a kid in a candy store. I was impressed with the beauty around me, along with so much to do! You’ll want to add Coffs Harbour to your itinerary while exploring the East Coast of Australia after reading this.
Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, AustraliaSee and Do
This is the centre of activity in Coffs. Not only does the Jetty itself offer a nice walk around the harbour, but also expansive views that will make all your Instagram followers jealous. You’ll find a few eateries around the Jetty, along with the Sunday market, and the beach is perfect for cooling off in the summer heat.
Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, AustraliaMuttonbird Island
One morning we laced up our runners and challenged ourselves to walk Muttonbird Island. It essentially looks like a large hump at the end of the Jetty. With one paved path running from one end of the Island to the other, when there’s an up, there’s always a down. The struggle uphill was worth it for the view at the end of the path. And depending what time of year you visit, you might see baby muttonbirds nesting along the path.
Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, AustraliaSawtell
This town located next to Coffs Harbour is a favourite among many locals, with a cute main road just blocks away from the beautiful beach. We often stopped here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, only to walk off our full bellies along the beach.
Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, AustraliaBellingen
I’ve never been to a small town like this one before. My art history nerdy side came out as I marvelled at the architecture of the various buildings lining the main road. Perfectly intermixed among some of Australia’s oldest shop fronts, you’ll find art deco, as well as mid-century modern buildings. My favourite was the Hammond & Wheatley shop, but the scenic 20 minute drive through the hinterland was enough to make we want to return.
Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, AustraliaNever Never Creek in the Promised Land
The locals might be upset that I’m sharing this secret spot of theirs, so proceed with caution. The location lives up to the name. Take a 15-minute drive from Bellingen and be transported into a land only thought to exist in fairy tales. That’s all I’ll say, you’ll have to see it for yourself.
Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, AustraliaEat
Old John’s (Coffs Harbour): Located just down the road from the Jetty, good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I particularly like their wall of doors!
Latitude 30 (Coffs Harbour): Go here for the best view from the Jetty at sunset with a few drinks and nibblies in hand.
Café TREEO (Sawtell): A local favourite for breakfast, making us return for more!
Sea Salt Fish & Chips (Sawtell): Another local favourite, serving Australia’s version of fish and chips. Trust me it’s good!
Franks Bar and Restaurant (Sawtell): A art deco inspired diner, best for sharing pizza and sangria.
5 Church Street (Bellingen): An eclectic establishment known for live music, and yummy food and drinks.
Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, AustraliaGo
Coffs Harbour is located about half way between Sydney and Brisbane on the East Coast of Australia, about five hours drive in either direction, making this an ideal overnight or two stop on an East Coast road trip. Alternatively, Coffs Harbour Airport operates a few flights daily to Sydney and Melbourne.Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia