Travel

Ovolo Nishi

May 5, 2022

PhotographyHelen Janneson Bense

LocationOvolo Nishi | Lake Burley Griffin – Canberra (ACT)

It’s still hard to believe this was my first time leaving WA in over 2 years! This blog is part 1 of my amazing journey, one of the most long awaited family reunions. Before I get ahead of myself, I want to share my wonderful stay and experience at the luxurious, boutique hotel Ovolo Nishi.

Just a stones throw from the airport, ideally located within the Canberra CBD, near iconic landmarks and spectacular nature, Ovolo Nishi has become my number one choice of hotel stay for Canberra, and I so look forward to visiting again.

From the moment you approach the hotel you will be inspired with the creative architecture and design details. The staircase was not only a place of entry, but also a work of art people walked slowly and intentionally, taking in the marvel of this work. I love creative spaces like this that inspire creativity within. I was so impressed by the many special perks of my stay, from the all inclusive mini bar, all day snacks + a loot bag, bike use, included breakfast, free drink at social hour, attentive service, plant based water bottles (yay for no plastic!), to the hotel restaurant Monster Kitchen, which is an all vegetarian restaurant. I loved the cosy, yet expansive feel of the hotel and all the vintage touches. It felt homely and a place I could truly breathe and relax.

By far one of the most unexpected joys was hiring an E-scooter from the hotel and circumnavigating Lake Burley Griffin. I loved the freedom of riding and exploring. I watched hot air balloons floating by against the pastel sunrise skies and experienced the absolute magical stillness by the lake at sunset.

My days were filled with a build up of emotion and anticipation as I stepped that little bit closer to see my family once again. I can’t wait to share part 2 of my journey with you. Coming soon!

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Rottnest Travel Tips

March 15, 2022

PhotographyBobby Bense | Helen Janneson Bense

EditingHelen Janneson Bense

Location – Rottnest Island/Wadjemup

How to get there – Sealink

Outfits Summer Cotton Dress | Off Shoulder mini Dress | One piece swim | Swim cover

Island adventures off the beaten path are my kind of holiday. To end the summer with a bang my family and I took the Sealink eco friendly ferry across to our favorite island getaway spot Rottnest/Wadjemup.

We had a few days to explore which was an amazing opportunity to get up early and circumnavigate the entire island by bike. An adventure I highly recommend. We headed to the West End and found incredible spots for cliff jumping, empty beaches all to ourselves with the most pristine snorkelling and turquoise waters, spotting adorable quokkas along the way. 

My travel tips for Rottnest/Wadjemup – 

  • Take the environmentally friendly ferry option on board Sealink to and from the island.
  • Check the wind direction before heading out. Always go early to beat crowds and before winds pick up in the afternoon. If it’s a strong SW from early in the day then head to the northern side of the island – Parakeet bay, Geordie bay, the Basin. If it’s an easterly or light winds then take the opportunity to explore the coast along Parker Point rd and head all the way to the West End.
  • I recommend a stop at Little Salmon bay early before the crowds and SW winds for some incredible snorkelling. You’ll see a whole lot of this pink cauliflower coral so close to the shore. Just snorkel out towards the left hand side where the buoys are and you can’t miss it. This is the southern most point in Western Australia you can see coral like this due to the Leeuwin current that brings tropical warm waters and coral spawn.
  • Hire an e bike from Pedal and Flipper (located on the island) and explore the whole island. It’s best to prebook during high season. I love to stop and take lots of photos and enjoy each spot so an e bike was a super easy for me to carry all my gear, explore the whole island, stopping along the way. You can also ride your own bike – Bobby and our kids did this as they are absolute machines! Or jump on the hop on/hop off bus. 
  • For the adrenaline junkies ride to the West End along Digby drive for the most epic cliff jumping spot. You’ll take the last right turn before you reach the end, which is not marked. As you ride toward Eagle bay and Mable cove there will be a high cliff to the left. The spot is along this cliff right before you go downhill and reach Mable cove. You’ll need to park your bike on the side of the road and walk down. Often you’ll see other bikes there in high season so it’s relatively easy to find. In low season you may need to wander a little more to find it. As you carefully walk down the cliff you’ll see reef and turquoise water (like the picture) to the right and a narrow channel of water to the left. This channel is where you can get back in after you jump. Be mindful of rough seas and snakes in this area and only jump if you are a confident swimmer and can make it back to the beach, just in case.
  • Take loads of water, food, hat, sunscreen and shade if you can carry it. There are not many facilities as you venture further so it’s best to be self sufficient. The sun can get really hot and drying in summer when you’re out all day riding. We travel wearing reef shoes which make it super easy to go from biking, hiking to snorkelling. Mine fit into my fins to make it even easier to transition.
  • Be mindful of snakes as you venture to the more isolated parts of the island. Bring a first aid kit if you have space and be sure to know the location of the Nursing post on the island.
  • To spot Quokkas with ease just wait for late afternoon/evening and they will be out and about. The Basin, the campgrounds, the pub, and the sports oval are always spots we see lots of them.
  • And lastly enjoy the beautiful nature but please respect the environment, never feed the Quokkas, and take all your rubbish home. We saw horrific amounts of plastic on our trek in some really remote spots too. More than we could even pick up and carry.

Wadjemup is a special place with a long history. It’s important to learn more about it, and acknowledge the traditional owners, so you can show your respect for this land/boodja we walk upon.

If you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to ask. Happy to help you plan a wonderful adventure.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Green Park Retreat

February 28, 2022

PhotographyHelen Janneson Bense

LocationGreen Park Retreat/Margaret River Properties | Sugarloaf Rock | Yallingup

Outfits – 100 Degree Dress | Swim | Hat

Health & Lifestyle Fillup Club Lazy Chair XXL | Naturecan CBD oil products

PicnicWanderer Picks | Turquoise Rugs | Golden Arches Rug | Basket | Cushions | Board

Travelling can be challenging at times, pushing us out of our comfort zone, but it’s there we discover the most precious of gems, both outside and within ourselves.

This was my first solo trip of the year and overall utterly spectacular. It started off with everything falling into place with ease, quickly descending into absolute chaos with my equipment breaking and unexpected winds. After a minute of anxiety I found my calm and present state. Like a wave rising and falling, I was soon back in the trough and flow. That is how travel so often goes, teaching us so much along the way – resilience, patience, presence, connection.

My stay at Green Park Retreat was beyond expectations. This beautifully designed, luxurious 4-bed home is set amongst the stunning Margaret River bush land. I was surrounded by wildlife and bird song. At sunrise and sunset it was the melody that soothed my weary soul. This space is one of the most serene and peaceful places I’ve stayed.

It’s ideally situated between two of my favourites destinations down south – Yallingup and Dunsborough. It was under a 15 minute drive to both spots and pretty much everywhere I wanted to explore. The region is filled with so much to see from world class wineries to art, and pristine lagoons, rock pools, beaches and surf. Green Park Retreat was such a comforting space to return to and unwind after all my adventures. I spent my downtime floating in the pool on my new luxurious and sustainable pool float/outdoor furniture and having lovely picnics in the garden. And for a little extra nourishment I took the opportunity to try out some amazing high quality Naturecan CBD oil products. I can now fully attest to their efficacy, particularly if you have any inflammatory conditions. I’ve noticed almost instant relief of my shoulder/toe aches using the CBD Joint Balm.

On my final evening ready to pack up after a lovely sunset, I noticed the sky begin to glow and turn an orange tone. I was honestly a little worried as there had been some bushfires in the region a few weeks earlier. It had a very eerie feel about it. As I watched, the sky began to shift into all shades of pink and purple. This was like nothing I had ever seen before. At the time I didn’t understand why or how this was even happening. I later discovered that the ash from the recent Tonga volcano eruption was making its rounds through WA skies, creating these long lasting pastel sunsets. While it was clearly caused by such a tragic event, nature was once again surprising me with its raw beauty and reminding me why I don’t need to watch TV.

As my trip came to an end there was still one spot on my radar. I’ve tried to visit Sugarloaf Rock multiple times, to swim in the those beautiful turquoise waters, and it was always so wild and windy. With a whole lot of luck and serendipity on my side, right before I was about to head back home, everything finally aligned. It was calm NE winds and the seas were sparkling and flat. There wasn’t another soul in sight. I was overjoyed and headed for my long awaited swim. It was everything I had hoped for and more. I couldn’t help but smile and giggle out loud like a child. As soon as I hiked back up to the car park I noticed car loads of people turning up and the winds shifting.

Travel is not always so aligned, but it’s always worth the effort for that pure joy and wonder that is absolutely priceless. You never know what treasures you will find. Travel is forever teaching me about myself. It’s bringing me closer to my true nature, reflecting who I am.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Copyright Helen Janneson Bense 2022

Scarborough Staycation

February 9, 2022

PhotographyBobby Bense/Helen Janneson Bense

EditingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationTurquoise Waters Retreat | Scarborough beach | Folk & Merchant

OutfitsOff Shoulder Adele Dress | Gretchen Crochet Crop | Harni Aurora Dress | Swim | Kimono (similar)

JewelryAnanda Soul | Embella

PicnicRugs | Cushions | Glassware | Table | Basket | Large floor cushions + matching rug

When a place holds a piece of your heart…this is definitely what Scarborough is for us. Our summer staycation at Turquoise Waters Retreat had a full circle feel. It’s where we first lived when we arrived in Perth 17 years ago. It’s where our daughter Jade was born. At home. In our little Scarborough apartment by the beach. I spent most of my pregnancy at the beach bodysurfing and it’s no wonder now, 16 years later, that our surfer girl Jade is out there in her element riding the waves.

We thoroughly lucked out with the timing of our stay. As we arrived the mercury rose to unbearable temperatures and we hit multiple heat records that week. Having that divine pool to cool down in was a godsend, especially for night swims. It was such a beautiful vision as the sun set, the pool lights came on reminding me of bioluminescence.

The coastal decor instantly transported us into holiday mode. And so did those outdoor hammocks. It’s the most relaxing spot to enjoy a cup of tea in the morning and a sunset cocktail.

We enjoyed each morning at the local beach, which just so happens to be our old local beach, riding the waves and catching up with our friends. One of the reasons why I LOVE a good staycation. You get holiday vibes and your friends as well.

Turquoise Waters Retreat is perfectly positioned for summer fun, with local beach markets, boutique shopping, and the cutest cafes within walking distance. A must visit is Folk and Merchant for their inspiring outdoor space and delicious vegan croissants. I’m so in love with their mantra – Live, Breathe, Dream + Create.

We had everything we needed, but the most important thing of all, was time together. The most treasured part of my life will always be my family.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Rottnest Paradise

January 11, 2022

PhotographyBobby Bense/Helen Janneson Bense

EditingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationRottnest Island/Wadjemup – Western Australia

To get there/bike and snorkel hireSealink

Outfits – Dress | Swimwear

I still have to pinch myself that this paradise resides within a 30 minute ferry ride from our home in Fremantle. The contrast of azure and turquoise waters will have you mesmerised from the moment your ferry approaches the island shores.

We visit at least 3 times a year, and while I love it in every season, summertime is by far my favourite. The soaring Perth summer temperatures are always milder on the island, and the waters are perfect for snorkelling without a wetsuit.

We spent our day recently aboard Rottnest’s Rolls Royce of ferries Sealink, opting for a more environmentally friendly option of travel. Their state of the art ferries are designed to protect the marine environment and use less fuel per passenger than a small four cyclinder car. It’s become our family’s ferry of choice aligning with our values and has all the modern facilities, luxury and comfort for a smooth and fast ride to the island.

Rottnest is an amazing spot to hire a bike, or bring your own, and explore the islands beaches. You’ll be sure to spot some of the cute local quokkas along the way. There are some incredible snorkeling spots. Our favourites are Salmon bay and The Basin. For a day of beach lounging we love Little Parakeet bay. It’s usually a little quieter, and has the clearest and calmest water for swimming.

It’s always such a special family day for us enjoying the oceans healing magic and exploring the underwater world. I love watching the confidence in my teen kids grow as they challenge themselves with their ocean skills.

Have you been to Rottnest Island? If not then put it on the bucket list as it’s most definitely a bucket list worthy spot, along with so many other amazing places here in WA. If you ever need any assistance building up a dream WA trip, please reach out and I’ll let you know some of the best spots to visit and when.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Turquoise Waters Retreat

November 23, 2021

PhotographyHelen Janneson Bense | Bobby Bense

LocationTurquoise Waters Retreat

PicnicPretty Willow | Alma Handcrafted by Nature Plant Based Gift Box

Healing RecsSensate – Use code HELEN35 for 35AUD off | Sunshine | Barefoot walks | Singing | Digestive Bitters | Ear Massage | Cold showers | Meditation | Deep Breathing – especially before eating | Regular Digital Detoxes

Outfits Isla Midi Dress | Farrah Wrap Dress | Willow Kimono | Lolita Pants | Lace Robe | One piece Swim

JewelryAnanda Soul

When it rains it pours is how the saying goes and it couldn’t be more true for me right now with my current health issues. If you’ve been reading my Instagram lately, I’ve been sharing a little more about my health journey. It can be a lonely one at times. Connecting to others going through similar experiences has really helped me and I’m so grateful for everyone who’s reached out to me this past month.

I thought all my problems started with my broken toe in August, or the gastrointestinal virus I had in June, or the paddling injury that spurred on my frozen shoulder in March….what I’m realising is it’s a little of each, plus the stress of the last 2 years piling on. Plus the fact that I’m peri menopausal and going through new changes that are challenging me in many ways. I’ve had multiple breast scares over the past 8 years and I recently experienced another when I found a new lump. It really put me over the edge. I’ve been back and forth with tests over the past month. While I was given the green light at first, it wasn’t long before things escalated and I found myself talking to a breast cancer specialist facing more testing and more waiting yet again. The waiting anxiety feels like the hardest part of it all, but it is really just the tip of the iceberg considering the journey some take when they are diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m feeling very lucky right now, and very grateful. I received the best news ever last Friday that my results are all clear. I have a healing journey ahead, most likely surgery, but there is a deep sense of relief that we’ve finally and completely ruled out the ‘C’ word.

With such an eventful year I’ve really needed a lot more time in self reflection. You may have noticed from Instagram I’ve taken numerous solo staycays this year. One aspect is for work, which feeds me creatively, but the other is my need to be alone with my thoughts, to get to know myself better, and understand my changing needs. I’m beyond grateful my amazing husband Bobby and our children are able to support me through all of this. It’s most definitely not a viable option for everyone. We’ve always faced certain challenges without extended family support, so we all really rely on the support we give to one another, especially through times like this.

My recent solo staycay was thankfully divinely timed so perfectly around the beginning of my breast scare. I stayed at the incredibly beautiful Turquoise Waters Retreat. A luxurious, coastal styled airbnb located in Scarborough that made me feel so at home. Every detail is considered and every space is both comfortable and photogenic. It’s definitely a fantastic space to take some epic photos and relax. And to set up a glorious picnic! Pretty Willow stopped by and set up the most creative, magnificent and relaxing picnic space to enjoy and unwind. Everything about this stay was exactly what my body, heart and soul needed.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time soaking up the sunshine by the stunning pool. Sun-smart sunbathing is known to improve mood and really helps me regulate my nervous system. It’s something I do in short regular bursts, particularly in the cooler months. I’ve also discovered many other hacks for activating my vagus nerve, which is the switch to the calming part of your nervous system. Music, singing, humming, massages and cold showers are all amazing vagus nerve activators. And so are digestive bitters. Particularly good taken right before meals to ensure proper digestion. Since the vagus nerve is intricately involved in controlling digestive function it’s no wonder we get tummy issues when we are stressed. We need rest to digest!

I’ve also got a new hack that I’m a bit obsessed with. It’s called Sensate. It’s a small device you place on your sternum area that emits infrasonic waves that are synchronised and in harmony with the specially composed hemispheric audio which can be found in the Sensate app. It’s so easy to use and it’s immediately relaxing. Sensate can help to calm the fight-flight-freeze response of your nervous system, activate your vagus nerve, induce relaxation, and over time helps to improve the tone of the vagus nerve….also known as stress resilience. This device is particularly good for those who have experienced trauma and suffer with post traumatic stress. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and it’s helped me amp up my meditation time to be even more effective. If you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, use my code HELEN35 for $35 AUD off.

So while it’s been a year of health hurdles, it’s been a wonderful learning experience, and I find myself growing every day, creating a life that aligns more with my ethos. I’m spending a lot more time in nature, with friends, with family, I’m regularly tuning out of the news and social media, and I’m focused on what I can do, rather than what I can’t. These last fews day I’ve had some small wins with my shoulder which means my dream of getting back on my paddle board this summer is back on the cards. I honestly couldn’t be happier. Finding gratitude when the chips are down means that no matter what life throws your way, you can still thrive, and find ways to enjoy life even when there are immense challenges.

Right now I’m taking it one day at a time, knowing I will heal, and taking extra special care of myself as I navigate this bumpy part of my road.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

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