Kiama's Hoddle's Track Bushwalk

Sunday, September 16, 2018
Hoddles Track Bushwalk Entrance
Hoddles Track Bushwalk Entrance
Hoddles Track Entrance
Hoddles Track Bushwalk Kiama
Hoddles Road Track Farmland
Hoddles Road Track Farmland
Hoddle's Track - Unsealed farm tracks 
Hoddles Track Private Property
Letter Boxes along the track
Hoddles Track Private Property
Walking Past Private Property and Farmland
Hoddles Track Dam and Utility Vehicle
On the right a dam with a small jetty with a rusty utility vehicle
Hoddles Track Dam and Utility Vehicle
Hoddles Track Dam and Utility Vehicle
Hoddles Track Bushwalk Kiama
Hoddles Track Kiama
Beautiful building on the left marked 'Private Property'
Hoddles Track Bushwalk Sign
After a steep incline, a T-junction with the Hoddles Track sign
Hoddles Track Illawarra Lookout
Turning left at the T-junction, to see a beautiful view on the right
Hoddles Track Illawarra Lookout
Hoddles Track
Barren Grounds Nature Reserve
Reaching Barren Grounds Nature Reserve
Hoddles Track Noorinan Mountain
Hoddles Track Noorinan Mountain
Noorinan Mountain Cliff edge
Hoddles Track Illawarra Lookout
Hoddles Track Illawarra Lookout
Hoddles Track Lookout

Hoddle's Track to Noorinan Mountain. Starting Point at cnr of Hoddles Road and Foxground Road, Kiama, NSW Australia. Completed 1st Sept 2018
Wearing: Asos Top, Timberland 6 inch Boots, 5.11 Tactical Wyldcat Pants, Vans Backpack, Fitbit Versa Watch
Photos taken by myself and Hai

With 16 posts to go until 2018 is over, I decided to blog about a recent Hiking adventure instead of reaching into my photo archives. Two weeks ago Hai and I wanted to take advantage of the first day of Spring weather and hike the Hoddles Track in sleepy Kiama.

We followed the walk guide 'Hoddle's Track and Saddleback' on page 204 from the book 'Best Bush, Coast & Village Walks of The Illawarra'. Below are a few points from the "At a Glance" section:

Grade: Medium
Time: 3-4 hours
Distance: 9.5km return
Ascent/Descent: 450m / 450m
Conditions: Hoddles Track is steep and eroded; take care near unfenced cliffs

1. We parked the Jeep at the corner of Hoddles Road and Foxground road in Kiama. As you drive down Foxground road which is unsealed, the entrance isn't as obvious as I thought. We approached a open wooden fence with an old green sign overlooking farm land.

2. Hesitant at first (it looked like private property), we walked over easy hills with the path lined with kangaroos and cow's manure. It then became obvious then we were on the right path. The path stretched out towards the trees, which starts to ascends and I found myself out of breath. We then passed through gates lined with letter boxes giving us indication that we were going to pass some houses.

3. Soon on the right, we took notice of an old utility vehicle that had rusted away on top of a small hill. Next to it was a sad little dam with a tiny jetty.
We kept walking and we reached open farmland again, passing by some cows chewing on grass.

4. A lonely wooden building appears on the right labelled 'Private Property'. It looked abandoned, inside were some chairs and a few chest of drawers. However distracting us was this beautiful weathered wood bench that overlooked the beautiful sea view. As I sat down I could see joeys and kangaroos grazing at the bottom of the hill and I suddenly felt small and insignificant.

5. The track climbed steeply and through some gum trees. It really puffed us out as we took 10 minutes to reach the top. I kept muttering to myself "when is this bloody hill going to bloody end" until we reached the T-junction. A nice grassy area with a track sign that said "Hoddles Track" appeared before us and I rested to eat my snack.

6. We took the left path towards Noorinan Mountain, past a crumbling wall on our left. To our right, there is a spectacular lookout with a view of rolling hills of Jamberoo and Minnamurra that leads to the sea. We continued upward passing some marked posts painted green and the 'Barren Grounds' sign to continue upwards.

7. We veered left, and kept climbing over fallen tree trunks and up the crumbling path. Above us the cliff rocks tower. We eventually reached a stone on the ground with an arrow etched in pointing right. We suspected that a hiker was trying to indicate that you could climb the cliffs for another view. But we knew it was not part of the official path so we continued on straight.

8. We eventually reached a slightly open area with a big boulder sitting on our right. Momentarily confused on which path to take, Hai then found the path towards our left. We climbed through the narrow path flanked by grass tress and could hear the sea waves crashing. We carefully found a rock with an arrow etched into it pointing up. We climbed up and the ground became sandy. Finally we reached a rock platform with a beautiful view over Foxground and to Saddleback Mountain.

We ate our lunch (pork rolls and cheese and bacon rolls) and then made our way back. Thankfully it was alot easier and quicker to descend the steep path, making the return trip feel alot shorter.


For us, we had set ourselves a 2-3 hour time limit so we only completed the track up to Noorinan Mountain and back, instead of going right at the T-junction to Saddleback Mount (as indicated by our Guide book). It instead took us about two and a half hours, 5.6km return and around 11.6k steps (according to my handy Fitbit).

Hai and I were using this hike to celebrate our anniversary which was between the 2nd (our official first date) and the 5th (our wedding day date) of every month. Usually we eat out at a nice restaurant but this time decided to hike, because it had been so long since our last one. And the weather was bloody beautiful that day, reminding me that Australia is still wonderfully unique; despite our year long hiatus.
Next roadtrip/hike planned: another visit to Laurel Hill to visit the Sugar Pine Trees, with friends Betty, Erin and Jaye.

Three Williams Cafe: Celebrating Truffles Menu

Friday, September 7, 2018
Three WIlliams Sourdough Crumpet with Truffle Ricotta
Three WIlliams Sourdough Crumpet with Truffle Ricotta
Three Williams Roasted Duck Angel Pasta with Truffle
Three Williams Celebrating Truffles Menu
Three Williams Crispy Truffle Skin Chicken
Three Williams Three Cheese Sauce Truffle Waffle Fries
Three Williams Three Cheese Sauce Truffle Waffle Fries
Three Williams Roasted Duck Angel Pasta with Truffle
Three Williams Truffle Ice cream Dessert
Three Williams Truffle Ice cream Dessert

Celebrating Truffles Menu at Three Williams Cafe, 613a Elizabeth Street, Redfern NSW
Photos taken by myself, using a Canon 70D DSLR

Finally. I have the time to blog about everything I didn't have the time to while I was planning my wedding. And I'm back, baby.

As I sit here watching re-runs of Kath & Kim (great show by the way) and laughing at how bogan the characters are, I am sitting on my couch in my gym clothes editing photos that have been sitting in my computer for months.
And now that the wedding is over, I had set myself a goal - to Blog my entire backlog before 2018 is over. Then, I made a list and I wrote down about 30 promising blog post ideas.... and that scared me.

So, yes. I have to be realistic. There are 17 weeks left in the calendar year and I know my backlog will get bigger even if I kept blogging consistently. So I've decided to blog once a week (at least) until 2018 is over. And hopefully this will push me to blog passionately again. I had only written up to 30 posts over the last 2-3 years.

Three Williams Cafe
So, from the 2018 archives, I present to you: the 'Celebrating Truffles' menu by Three Williams Cafe.
A close friend of mine, Lisa had found out about this on Facebook and convinced her husband Sang,
Hai and myself to go. We both recently got married and decided we needed to splurge a little and treat our appetites.

Three Williams is tucked away in sleepy Redfern on Elizabeth Street. Inside the warehouse interior setting, it's bustling as you walk down the flight of stairs to your table and smells of freshly ground coffee.

As friends, we did the smart thing and ordered different dishes so we could share and try everything!
After perusing the menu, we settled on: Roast Duck Angel Pasta with truffle, Truffle Crispy Skin Chicken Breast, Sourdough Crumpet with truffle ricotta and honey, the Three cheese truffle waffles fries and lastly, the Ice Cream dessert on chocolate cake topped with (you guessed it) truffle.

It was clear this menu was popular as everyone around us only ate the dishes adorned with fresh truffles. My highlights were the Angel Pasta - buttery, fresh and creamy with perfectly cooked duck. And the Ice cream - what I thought would be an unusual combination turned out to be delicious. Creamy ice cream infused with truffle, sitting on layers of chocolate cake disc, oozing hazelnut cream, caramel popcorn and gold crispearls.

It was a luscious meal generous with truffle. It was well worth the trip down. Three Williams cafe is known for seasonal menus, so we knew we had to go before thy changed it up again.

It was great getting to catch up with Sang and Lisa - who had their wedding close to ours. After our meals we lingered with our coffees and we talked about the new 'territory' - that is - the married life territory.
Which I realized, as my bestie Betty calls it - "its like being on a permanent holiday".
 I have spent my days working and gymming as always, but I get to come home to my husband and a loving dog. We cook food together when we can, bicker about what to cook, or Hai cooks for me before I come home. We watch Critical Role or whatever is on TV that night and snuggle on the couch or bed. We also plan hikes, plan D&D sessions, sometimes bicker about the dishes, or bicker about clothes on the floor. But I wouldn't have it any other way; Married life is good.

Looking forward to posting another blog post next week. 16 weeks to go.

Our Wedding Reception at Silver Pearl Restaurant

Friday, August 31, 2018
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception Kmart Lightbox
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception Bridal Table
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception DIY Donut WallSilver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception Naked Cake
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception Bridal Party
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception Bridal Entrance
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception Bombonieres
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception Bombonieres
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception Bridal Entrance
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception David La MC
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception Dance Floor
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception Champagne Tower
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception Garter Toss
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception Dance Floor
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Menu
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Games
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Bridal Table
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Bridal Table
Silver Pearl Restaurant Wedding Reception

Reception at: Silver Pearl Seafood Restaurant, Cabramatta
Photos by: Clarzzique Photography & Videography
Make up & Hair: Style Me Wedding & Events
Wedding Cake by: NC Sweet Zone
Wedding Corset by: Tran (Wedding Dress Maker - 0411456125; Fairfield NSW area)
Wedding Skirt by: Jurgita Bridal (Melanie Skirt) and Asos Bridal (lining customized by me)
Floral Crown(s) by: Made with Love Designz
Floral Wrist Corsage by: Curious Floral 

After a year and a half of wedding stress, Hai and I had finally made it to the Ultimate Party - our wedding reception!
It was held at Silver Pearl Seafood Restaurant on 5th May 2018. We chose this place for a number of reasons - we grew up in the area, many friends of ours have had their weddings in the Cabramatta region, and we love the fact that we get a ten course meal and an option to supply our own alcohol.
It was a wonderful night, and bloody oath, me and Hai worked so hard towards this.

So, below is a brief  breakdown of how we planned our special night. I hope it can serve as a brief guide to newly engaged couples out there.

Booking the Restaurant
A year before our day, we approached the restaurant owner, who we called 'Auntie Ping'. We had simply walked into the restaurant during the day as they were busiest at night. She was a very fiery, passionate and efficient lady and we quickly paid our non-refundable $1000 deposit to hold the venue for the night.
We went through the wedding package, which works around how many guests/tables we wish to invite. Each table holds 10 people. Auntie Ping mentioned that a good amount is 20 tables (200 people) and can accomodate upwards of 40 tables (400 people or more).
There was wedding packages for 25-29 tables or 30+ tables. We had opted for the 30 table package.

The Wedding Package
Silver Pearl was really flexible. We settled and paid the bill on our wedding night.
The total amount was based on the wedding menu, multiplied by how many tables we had, as opposed to per head.
And because we picked the 30+ tables option, Silver Pearl provided the following:

- Orange juice and soft drink
- Printed wedding invitations (unlimited)
- Wedding Cake*
- Wedding car and chauffeur *
- Wedding Singer*
- Wedding MC*
- Live Wedding Band*
- One Security guard
- One "free trial table" where up to 10 people can come in and taste test the Wedding Menu (this is negotiated with Auntie Ping)

*An amount was refunded to you if you didn't go with Silverpearl's options/or provided your own

The 25-29 Tables options provided all that I listed above, except the MC and Wedding Band were not provided, and possibly no free trial table.

Silverpearl had four menus to choose from, all with different price ranges. I don't want to disclose too much because prices change every year, so the price ranged from around  $890 to $1180 per table at the time we had booked. We also had the option to swap out dishes as we saw fit. We chose the below menu:

1. BBQ Suckling Pig and Jelly Fish Platter
2. Steamed Baby Scallops
3. Chiu Chow Spring Rolls
4. Live Lobster with XO Sauce (with complimentary noodles)
5. Fish Maw Seafood Soup
6.Seafood in Bird's Nest
7. Steamed Live Silver Perch
8. Silver Pearl's Chef's special fried rice
9. Sweet Red Bean and Lotus Seed Soup (can't swap out)
10. Fresh Fruit Platter (can't swap out)

We had made a special request to get the Suckling Pig and that bought the price up because Auntie Ping had to book one pig per table and the price can vary from each butcher.
Our Vegetarian menu were 5 course and they cost $30 per head. Non-seafood dishes were $20 per head, and that was Crispy Chicken and Rice. This was added to the Bill.

Alcohol/Donut Wall
I loved the fact that Silver Pearl allowed us to provide our own alcohol (but served by RSA trained barstaff and waiters of course). Hai and I had our dear friends provide a contact that provided a good deal for us.
We had 31 tables in total so we bought 30 bottles of Hennessy VSOP; 31 bottles of Red Wine; 31 bottles of White Wine (we put down one of each per table) and 15 cases of 24pk Asahi Beer . This proved to be enough for our 310+ guests and we had quite a few left over (around 6 bottles of Hennessy, 8 bottles of Wine and 3 cases of beer).

Hai made our Donut Wall! He is so talented. He spent around $200 for the wood, spokes, spray paint, and Donut signage (this we bought from Ebay). I had then gone to Donut King to buy 130 ice donuts and 70 mini donuts. They were a huge hit with our guests!

Wedding Cake
Hai and I wanted to keep our cake order simple. We didn't go with the complimentary cake from Silver Pearl because we wanted to have more choice for flavours. We opted for a 2-tier Red Velvet semi-naked cake from NC Sweetzone. Ngo was so easy to work with and such a talented baker! She was able to buy and prepare native Australian flowers and decorate it to our liking. We left our Cake toppers (a One Punch Man and Avatar Korra nendoroid bought from Japan Toys) at the venue and Ngo placed them on top before we arrived.

Our lightbox that displayed our hashtag #HiHaiAndNatNat, we had bought from Kmart and displayed it where the guests signed their names.

For the light up letters, we had a good friend of ours from Vegas Night Productions provide us ones that displayed "H<3N" and they stood perfectly at perfect height in front of the Bridal Table. Vegas Night Productions had installed it the night before and picked up the letters the next night.

MC - David La
We hired David La, a humble MC that was recommended to us by Auntie Ping. He spoke English, Chinese and Vietnamese and was very organised. He went through our itinerary with us and memorized it all. One of the best things he did was gather our family and friends that were to be announced and put them in a area ready to walk out when ready. It saved alot of time and avoided awkward moments of pausing and waiting for family members to fumble from their chairs.
And to hire him was very affordable. I won't disclose the exact cost because David may change his rates in the near future but I can say it was under $400 for his services.

Brief Itinerary

6pm - Guests Arrive; sign the Guest Book and find seats
6.30pm - Photos with the Guests
7.30pm - MC announcements and guests are seated (Our MC waited for about 90% guests to arrive, and also asked for our permission to start - so this start time can vary)
7.45pm - First course served (the Kitchen is on standby to start serving food as soon the MC starts)
Family Acknowledgements, Bridal Party Entrance, Wedding Toast
8pm - Wedding Band Starts
8.15pm - First Dance
8.30pm - Hai's Sister Speech; Maid of Honour and Best Woman Speech
8.45pm - Wedding Band Plays
9pm - Wedding Games hosted by Friend (Dice Drinking Game + Lip Sync Battle)
9.30pm - Maid of Honour and Best Man speech
9.40pm - Cake Cutting, cake is then served at Dessert Table, Donut Wall is open
10pm - Groom & Bride Speech
10.20pm - Bouquet Toss & Garter Toss
10.30pm - DJ starts, Dance Floor lights dim
11.30pm - Wedding Reception finishes

While this all happened, we had close friends counting the Red Pockets in a secure room (they were finished by 7.30pm!); Hai and I toasted every table with a drink; and our Photobooth was open.
We designated one of our groomsmen to be our "Runner" - someone that was in charge of keeping everyone on schedule and could make decisions on our behalf. This really helped as he coordinated with the MC and Auntie Ping to ensure the night ran smoothly without stressing us out too much.

Other Details
Auntie Ping did not tell us about this at all, but there was a Champagne Glass Tower available to us. It was complimentary, so it was a nice touch. After the family was announced and we had the toast, our MC ushered us over and Hai got to pop the champagne bottle and pour into the top glass making a nice waterfall effect and created an opportunity for people to cheer.

I chose the chair ribbon and napkin colour scheme. Auntie Ping had a great variety of colours to choose from - such as blue, pinks reds and gold. I decided to go for a more sophisticated look and opted for silver chair ribbons and grey and white napkins. Auntie Ping said it was very elegant.

One great service that Silver Pearl provided was lending us items for our Vietnamese tea ceremony. I was freaking out because tea ceremony stuff is a hassle to get and it cost money. Luckily we just asked Auntie Ping and she was enthusiastic to show us the Bridal Room. And in that room, behind the massive curtain were mountains of Red Trays (for the food offerings) and their lids, tea pots, candle holders, table clothes and other nick nacks. We borrowed 8 trays, a tea pot with cups, table cloth and candle holders. We then went to Eastland Supermarkets to buy the right sized "Phoenix" candles with crazy gold designs.

For my garter - I ordered a custom Star Wars garter with black lace and white ribbon from Fluer Rogue Designs. It was so beautiful and Cristina is so lovely and talented.

Thank you Silver Pearl for an amazing Reception. Together with the Civil Ceremony, it was indeed the best day of our lives.

Any questions? Or you want to talk about any wedding stress?
Email me - :)

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