In the last couple of months, I’ve changed sceneries. Trading up the bustling streets of Adelaide and night work for rolling hills covered in vineyards. That’s right, I’m working at a winery. I’m not the… More
Three breakfasts’ for Jordan and one for me, and we’re back on the quad bike. Via the quicker way back to Port Vila, we bypassed ‘Evergreen Cascades Waterfall’ that had been spoken about a lot by some of the locals and people in the Havannah resort.
It wasn’t cheap to enter the cascades area, but once we got a wristband, it was approximately a twenty minute hike on a guided trail to the top. Luckily we took the reef shoes provided by the resort, as they came in handy when we started crossing the streams.
The water was crystal clear blue. The sound of the water and immersing ourselves in the dense forest was so peaceful. There weren’t too many people either, which made the trip really relaxing. Jordan was hilarious! He was climbing the rocks up the waterfall and exploring the waters and rocks. It was a really worthwhile trip.
We even got to eat some local fruit – do not ask me what it was because I have no clue! The kid was all the way up in this tall tree. The only reason we saw him was because the other person he was with told him to come down. He climbed down the tree so skill fully with his teeth gritting the bottom of his shirt, which was full of fruit. We said “hi” and he offered us his only ripe fruit and then said goodbye. It was just pure kindness.
We made one more stop at a coffee shop before returning the quad bike. I had been really enjoying the ‘Tanna Coffee’ back at the resort, so we stopped off at their factory on the way back to Port Vila. Their tables in the cafe were made out of pallets (brings back some memories from the wedding) and the place smelt of rich and bitter aromas. They were also selling art and homemade candles, soaps and moisturisers. One of the guys that worked there was really excited to show us the process and how they make the coffee that they sell, which was really cool. Of course we left with coffee, but nothing to actually prepare it in.
Unfortunately it was nearing our 24 hour hire and we had to catch the free shuttle back to the resort. We filled up the quad bike – not that we used very much petrol at all, it just needed to be filled up when we returned it. And enjoyed the city driving. Somehow navigating back through Port Vila, we found the hire place and dropped off the quad bike.
Back at the resort, we had a sunset snorkel and then had dinner out on the jetty over the water. After some delicious coconut pumpkin soup and a drop of chardonnay, we came back to the villa to see flower petals scattered all over the room, a bottle of wine and fruit platter. We spent the rest of the night relaxing and talking about the wedding and our amazing honeymoon.
Monday morning consisted of a quick brekkie and a trip into town on the free shuttle. On the way in, it started to get busier on the roads and there was a lot more people outside on the streets. We past a lot of stalls and a couple bigger fruit and veg markets. There was also quite a bit of construction of new buildings/hotels.
The bus driver dropped us off in the middle of Port Villa. We wandered off into the streets. The shopping was very different to back home. There wasn’t really any clothing shops or really any cafes, just a lot of buildings. We stumbled upon a huge building that was filled with a hundred stalls selling local styled clothing garments, homewares, art, henna and hair services. I was so excited to get my hair braided as I hadn’t had it done before. I started with a section on the side but then proceeded to get my whole head braided. Whilst Jordan waited patiently, I played hand clapping games and magic tricks with two kids – I’m guessing they were the children of the lady who was doing my hair.
After a bit of looking around, we made our way to the farmers market. It was huge and a central part of the city where a lot of people came to sell their produce. There were also stalls selling gifts, art, clothing, flowers and food. I loved seeing all the hand woven baskets. So skilful to hold that much weight!
Starting to get peckish (how unusual), we sat down at a tavern that served wood oven pizza – and also because it had a really groovy sugar skull stuck to the side of building. We were served by a very friendly chef, as we listened to covers of old school rock songs. Once finished, we grabbed an ice cream and began our climb up a giant hill to find a mysterious (very difficult to find) bike/car hire place.
Nearly dying of dehydration (not really, but it felt like it) we made it to the hire place to hear that all of the quad bikes had been hired out by some people on the cruise ship that had come in, but were soon to be returned. We went and checked out the supermarket across the road (air conditioned) and had fun looking at the different products. We left with an iced tea.
Back at the hire place, we hopped onto a bright red quad bike after Jordan got a safety run down on how to use the bike by someone half his size (hehe it was kind of funny).
Jordan jumped on the front to drive and I hopped behind him with the bags and camera. We spent a solid half an hour trying to get out of Port Vila with a very colourful (Dora the Explorer type style) map and hit a number of dead ends – we must have said ‘that trail we blaze’ about three or four times (Eldorado, anyone?). It was nice when we finally got out of the hustle and bustle, it was starting to get confusing driving on the wrong side of the road (on the left) and going around roundabouts; “Jordan! Give way! Give way! Give way to your left! GO!”
The one thing that was a definite on the map was the one road that went around the island. It was bitumen for the most part and went through the costal towns.
At first there was a lot of green jungle. It reminded me of a scene out of Avatar. It was magical. We pulled the quad bike over and took a couple happy snaps. There were barely any cars. And the only one that actually did past us, stopped and asked if we were okay and if we needed any help #whatevenisthisplace.
On our adventure, there was this crazy time where we past a very friendly group of people, waving and yelling out something we couldn’t hear, as we neared a bridge. Thinking nothing of it, we continued, weaving around fallen down palm trees and debris. Right as we were crossing the bridge, we saw a bit of a gap. As we got closer, we realised that it had been damaged, most likely in a storm/cyclone, and hadn’t been repaired, thus the palm trees to stop cars and trucks from crossing – not helpful when your riding a small, powerful quad bike. We were so close to crossing the bridge, but decided that we’d best not as it was quite a drop down into the gorge and we wanted to go back to Australia in one piece. Giggling, we made our way back to our friendly group of locals. They directed us down a detour that put us back on our path.
One of my favourite things about driving around Vanuatu was the people. I haven’t had so many waves in my direction – like ever. There were kids running up besides the quad bike, holding their hands out for high fives, people in the cars coming the opposite direction flashing their lights and waving, even people deep into the town that you wouldn’t even think could see us were saying hi. Literally, every single person we past, without a doubt, waved and/or said hi. It was really warming and we felt super comfortable exploring their island.
It was quite an ordeal to find petrol. There were no petrol stations in any of the towns that we could see. Starting to get a little worried, we asked some friendly people that pointed us in the direction of a small shop. It was the last building, right on the outskirts of the town. It was filled with approximately two of every basic need. Tampons, chocolate, tuna, and even pizza shapes – yes, we did get some for the road. We asked the shop assistant for petrol and he nodded, turned and headed out the back door. He returned five minutes later with a large glass bottle and proceeded to fill up our quad bike – the last place we would’ve thought to look.
Oh and that’s just some cute piccy’s of Jord drinking some cocktails.
After a refreshing nights sleep, we headed to breakfast with a motivation to do some exercise. We filled our bellies and borrowed some tennis gear. It was hot. We pumped ourselves up with some Pnau, Chameleon in particular, and some pre-workout (yes – I packed pre-workout in my suitcase, so what) and started hitting back an forth. It didn’t take long for the sweat to start pouring off of us. Soon enough, it was time to hop on a boat and head to a deserted island for a picnic.
The resort organised us boat transport to the island, with a small esky of baguettes, some nibbles, a rug and an an icy cold bottle of wine. After Jordan had his fun on the swing, we had lunch then went for a walk through the jungle. We even ran into some locals with machetes (not scary at all). We tried doing some snorkelling but unfortunately, there wasn’t too much to see on this side. So we lazed on the beach awaiting our boat.
Once back on Efate, I grabbed my backpack and new hiking boots and we walked down to the closest village. There were nice big houses closest to the resort, but as we kept walking, the scenery changed. Besides the many goats that were tied up to trees and roaming chickens, there wasn’t much else happening. Perhaps it was the time of day or maybe season, but it was surprising. We hadn’t yet seen how poor Vanuatu actually was. Most of the buildings were tin or looked to be only half completed (maybe in light of the recent hurricane). But I was shocked. As we started to enter the village, we met up with a staff member that worked at the resort. He had cut through on a different pathway. He walked with us and took us through the village, pointing out his home, church and other places. It was most enjoyable talking with him and learning about his community and culture.
Cutting back through on the dirt path, Jordan spotted some humongous trees and decided to attempt climbing one. I was actually quite impressed how far he got!
Now back to the restaurant for some more seafood and maybe a mango daiquiri or two.
Ha-lloooo Paradise! Greeted every couple metres as we entered The Point Restaurant, we were excited to eat a breakfast fit for a king. We weren’t disappointed. Coffee, juice, fresh seasonal fruit, pastries and breads, eggs, hash browns, the lot! I was surprised we didn’t sink to the bottom of the ocean when we went snorkelling.
The resort provided snorkelling gear, flippers, kayaks, paddle boards and whatnot for the guests staying at the resort, which was great since we didn’t bring any! We spent the next couple hours swimming around the reef and jetty’s spotting schools of fish, sea turtles and coral all colours of the rainbow.
That afternoon we booked into a couples massage at the resort, thinking we’d start the honeymoon off relaxed and calm. It was relaxing alright! I could hear Jordan start snoring half way through (he was pretty tired). The day bed was a great collapsing place, where we ordered lunch to the room and a bottle of wine and gazed off into the great blue.
Being the little adventurers we are, we got into some shorts and reef shoes (courtesy of Havannah) and wandered down the beach. The new portable speaker we bought worked a treat. I stuffed it into my backpack and followed Jordan, as he picked up every single big rock looking for crabbies (crabs). He even found some weird looking fruit that we took to dinner that night to ask the locals about. He told us that it was inedible (perhaps even poisonous) and kids like to crack them open into segments and try to put it back together, similar to a puzzle.
That night we guzzled down a fishbowl for two and decided to order soup as a starter, as we had filled up the night before on dips and breads and were unable to eat dessert (nooo). Anyway, back to the soup; oh my goodness gracious me. Spiced Coconut Pumpkin Soup. Amazing! (spoiler alert: we had this soup every night for the rest of the trip – yes, it was just that good).
Good morning husband, good morning fluffy blankets, good morning stars, good mo… 5.20am! I better get in the shower!
As you can imagine, in a lulled state, we just made the plane to our honeymoon. Five minutes later and they wouldn’t have checked us in. You’d think from both of us catching a multitude of planes over the years, we’d have learnt. Obviously, not the case.
We went via Sydney with a couple hours stop over for eating, drinking, and more eating, then made our way to Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu.
The airport was mind blowing. Never in my life had I been to an airport like this. As you can see, airport security was fairly relaxed and paid no notice to us photographing and posing on the tarmac. Inside the terminal, the line moved steadily through the custom security staff stamping passports. A glistening formed on peoples foreheads and upper lips as we waited patiently in line, to once again form another line. Oh it wasn’t that bad! But it was hot and cramped.
Once through customs and security, we made our way to Adventures in Paradise desk, whom then transferred us via shuttle to the Havannah Resort. On the thirty minute drive to the resort, William, the driver, did not stop talking the entire way. He knew all kinds of fun facts about Vanuatu and the island we were staying on, Efate. He pointed out every village, tourist spot, sign post and rock (haha). No, but honestly! He made us feel really welcomed and it was great being able to see some of the island and learn more about their culture.
As soon as we pulled up, we were greeted by some of the lovely ladies who worked at the resort. They took our bags and walked us to the reception area / The Point restaurant, passing the most lovely trimmed gardens, colourful, vibrant flowers and luscious green shrubbery and trees. Once at the Restaurant, we were handed coconuts, a couch and a gorgeous view.
After a couple signed documents and two full bellies full of coconut water, they escorted us to our Villa. She took us up the normal path, then veered off down some stepping stones, which lead to our front door for the next five days. Now this was absolutely incredible. Inside was bohemian, yet modern, with lovely timber furnishings and shutters on all the windows. At one end of the villa was the bathroom amenities with an open shower and skylight, and at the other, two giant doors that opened up onto our very own deck, plunge pool, hanging day bed and a view of the beach and vivid turquoise waters. This was literally paradise.
Once settled into the Villa, it was getting late and our tummies were grumbling. We walked the fifty meters down the pristine footpaths to The Point restaurant with our complimentary cocktails for two voucher (newlywed benefits, hells yeah!) and relaxed for the rest of the night.
We were so sleepy and exhausted from the weeks leading up until the wedding that we slept straight into the afternoon. It was so nice to spend time together where it was so quiet and peaceful. Our tummys were starting to grumble though, so we soon walked straight out of the hotel and into a tram that took us to Rundle mall. Wandering about, we stumbled onto some burritos and Boost juice, the perfect mid-afternoon breakfast. We also grabbed a groovy portable speaker to use on our travels.
Later that night, we went for dinner at Coal Cellar and Grill, a restaurant at the bottom of the Hilton. We had been there once before and shared a tomahawk steak and it was incredible. Once again, they didn’t disappoint. We were seated in a lovely, quiet booth and greeted with two glasses of Moët et Chandon Rosé Champagne on the house. The steaks we received were absolutely to die for. They went down well with a glass of Ochota Barrels single vineyard grenache.
We finished the meal off with a creme brulee and then went upstairs to relax and re-pack all of our things for the early flight the next morning.
Holy Moly, I’m a married woman! What an absolute extraordinary day we had and how crazy blessed I am. It was honestly the best day. I cannot wait to receive our photographs and video. Dan Evans was amazing and some of the best parts of the day were spent disappearing off into the estate with Jordan, basking in the glory of the day in complete love, whilst he photographer us. Nathan Story did our videography, expertly capturing each moment in our candid state and everything in between. Click here to check out the sneak peak video of the day. Please check them out if you’re in need of either for your wedding, as they did an awesome job and made us feel super comfortable and relaxed, half the time we didn’t even know they were there. Here’s a shot from the day:
On another note, the wedding couldn’t have gone better. The weather was exceptional, not a cloud in the sky, and it wasn’t hot neither cold. It was perfect. My bridesmaids and I were driven in a kombi to the venue, Glen Ewin Estate, where I was walked down the aisle by Daddy-o and saw my incredibly handsome prince charming, all blubbery and cute, waiting for me. Jude Blayney, the pastor at the church I used to attend with my family when I was in school, conducted our ceremony. It was really personal and we felt so comfortable. I think the pre-marriage sessions that we had with Jude prior to the wedding really helped these feelings and helped us to understand each other more. The ceremony was definitely a tearjerker, but what an incredible ambience there was.
The reception followed with good food, good wine and terrible dancing. The speeches actually went considerably well and we felt very loved by our family and friends that surrounded us. One of my favourite things was the pure surprise and shock that swept across Jordan’s face as I got up to sing a song as my speech. This was followed by our first dance to a special song (as heard in the movie ‘About Time’) ‘How Long Will I Love You’. It was magical and we had an absolute ball.
Up until we had to leave, we filled the night up with Verve Clicquot, corny photo booth snaps, mouthfuls of salted caramel cheesecake and enthusiastic dancing to our favourite song, ‘Come on Eileen’. We were farewelled through a human tunnel of arms, high-fiving and hugging as we past on by. Once by ourselves, we couldn’t shut up the entire drive back to the hotel and even once checked in we spent hours talking and talking. We didn’t get to see each other for a whole day, a lot can happen!
After such a crazy day, I had forgotten to eaten, or perhaps was too nervous to do so. We decided to start our honeymoon off by walking down Gouger Street in our wedding attire to our favourite Chinese Spot, Ying Chows. We ordered with our eyes and veged out back at the hotel in our white robes to a magnificent feast. It was a wonderful end to an extraordinary day.