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

Family Christmas traditions

December 8, 2021

PhotographyBobby Bense

Creative Direction/EditingHelen Janneson Bense

Location – Fremantle

Creating DIY Christmas Gifts and Keepsakes with the instax mini Link –  instax mini 11 Oh Snap! Instant Photo kit | instax mini Link Printer  instax mini Film

I’m keeping family traditions alive this Christmas and creating new ones as well. I come from a Finnish background where we celebrate a little differently. Firstly, and most importantly, we bake a lot, especially in the month preceding Christmas. Instead of 25th December, we celebrate on Christmas Eve. Now that we are in sunny Western Australia, we have new traditions like spending the day at the beach and enjoying a completely plant based, low waste Christmas. This year we are focusing on giving moments, memories and experiences to friends and family. We’ve been having so much fun creating DIY gifts from the heart using our instax mini Link Printer.

I’ve been teaching my children all of my favourite childhood recipes that my mum taught me. Our absolute favourite Christmas cookies that make the whole kitchen smell like home, are Piparkakku. They are a ‘melt in your mouth’ ginger and cinnamon cookie that remind me of my parents. It’s been such a long time since we’ve seen family and every reminder right now makes our hearts sing. We had such a wonderful, creative time making our loved ones some Christmas cookie gift baskets. Everything from the basket itself was handmade, topped with a little keepsake instant photo  – a reminder of those precious moments together.

Adding prints onto our cookie baskets gave us the idea to create Christmas gift boxes and cards sourcing reusable items we had around our home. We found some brown packing paper, boxes, cotton string, dried flowers, recycled card and began crafting away. Each gift box and card was made extra special, personalised with an instant photo memory that we printed out using the instax mini Link Printer

This time of year brings on so much emotion for me. Christmas together with my whole family is a treasured memory, and sadly something that has become much harder over the past 2 years. While I long to see my family across the globe reunited, I’m grateful for the memories. I’m grateful to have my husband and children to celebrate with, and create some new traditions that will someday be passed down to our grandchildren.

No matter how you celebrate, I’m wishing you all the most wonderful holiday season, full of joy, connection and love.

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

Springtime at Smiths

November 9, 2021

Photography/EditingBobby Bense | Helen Janneson Bense

LocationsSmiths Beach Resort | Yallingup | Castle Rock | Lavender Tea House

To do – Surf lesson at Yallingup Surf School | Picnic at Windows Estate | Cape to Cape Luxury Guided tour | Whale watching | Cape to Cape trek day tour | Lake Cave Tour | High Ropes Forest Adventures

Outfits – Isla Sol Sunset Kimono | Gemini Mint Paisley Maxi Dress | Jasmine Maxi Dress | Spell Folksong Dress

Hats | Picnic | Swimwear

In WA right now we’re enjoying Kambarang, the Noongar season, signalling the return of warmer weather. There’s an abundance of colour, vibrant wildflowers are popping everywhere, reptiles are emerging from hibernation, and Koolbardies (magpies) are singing and swooping, protecting their nests.

What a magical time of year it was to visit Smiths Beach. This makes our sixth visit to Smiths Beach Resort and it was by far one of the most unique and best family trips we’ve had. After months of hefty rainfall nature was exploding with colour, vibrancy, health and beauty. Situated right by a national park, with the most beautiful beach on it’s doorstep, we had front row seats to nature’s magnificence. We woke up to pastel sunrise skies, double rainbows, and watched the golden rays of sunset sparkle over the ocean.

While the weather was oscillating between sunny and stormy, we made the very best of our time. Our children are adventurers and wild at heart like their parents, so we had no trouble motivating them to brave the wild weather with us. From snorkelling to surfing to rock climbing we did it all, rain, hail or shine. Our children are enthusiastic indoor rock climbers and they absolutely love this place because there are so many perfectly formed boulders that are just the right kind of challenge to climb without the need for a harness. Jade is also a keen surfer and had a wonderful surfing lesson with Crystal from Yallingup Surf School, who was such a kind and skilled surf instructor. Yallingup lagoon is a beautiful and safe spot to learn to surf. The kids all had a blast and caught some great waves :)

We always make sure to pack wetsuits and snorkelling gear no matter the time of year and head to our favourite spot, ‘The Aquarium’, a natural, large mermaid pool just a 20 minute hike from Smiths beach resort. It’s great for a snorkel, and the walk itself is breathtaking. You’ll spot wildflowers and wildlife along the way, and have the best ocean views you could dream of. Another spot we love to hike along the cape to cape track is at Castle Rock. It’s also another great bouldering spots for the kids. There were loads of wildflowers on this walk and so many rainbows! It also happens to be a great place to whale watch too, as migrating humpbacks head back south this time of year.

We lucked out with some beautiful sunshine too and enjoyed a glorious picnic by the lake at Windows Estate. It’s a signature Smiths Beach Resort experience that I highly recommend. We were surrounded by nature, soaking up the the ambient sounds of wildlife, warmed by a toasty, crackling fire, indulging in the most delicious plant based feast. It was so cosy and a lovely balance to our adventure filled days. We all had such a fun afternoon. It turned out to be such a great family bonding experience.

When the sunshine came out we headed poolside for some relaxation at Smiths Beach Resort. It’s the most comfortable, luxurious place to return after a day of forest and ocean adventures. Everything is so easy, effortless, the rooms are so well designed, and the beds feel like you’re floating on a cloud. My favourite moment is at sunrise, making tea, popping the fire on, opening the blinds and soaking up that calm sunrise stillness from the balcony, my excitement for the possibilities of the day brewing.

In every season Smiths Beach has something magical to offer. It’s full of experiences for all; wild adventure, relaxation, nature, food and wine, history, culture. Every time I visit I fall more in love with this region of WA and look forward to the next trip!

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

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