I got this book for Christmas last year and really enjoyed reading it. Lonely Planet shares their top 500 places in the world to visit and it is super inspiring. (I visited the Twelve Apostles this year because of it!).
Similar to the Lonely Planet's Ultimate Travel, this New York Times Bestseller is another motivating book that I would love to receive as a gift myself this year! (Hint, hint!).
Pin it! :)
Those are twenty gift ideas for the wanderlusters out there, whether a family member, friend, colleague or yourself, I hope you have some fun and practical sparks of gift-giving inspiration for the upcoming festive season.
Let me know which travel-themed goodie is your favourite and if you have any other suggestions - comment below!
(The products are all linked in the titles if you would like prices and more information).
Canberra was recently named by Lonely Planet as the third best city in the world to visit in 2018, which is a very impressive achievement for Australia's modest capital city.
I have no doubt the rising restaurant and hospitality scene has an important part to play in what makes Canberra so outstanding.
As many know, I love nothing more than to explore a new city's culinary delights and trying the very best it has to offer, and a walking food tour is a perfect way to do just that.
Read on to find out all about the fantastic foodie gems we visited and the unique and mouth-watering dishes we tried:
The ultimate foodie tour
Our group's meeting point and first place to visit was BentSpoke Brewery, a popular pub for a drink and meal alike in the heart of Braddon.
Amelia, founder of Eat Canberra and our guide for the day met us outside and warmly greeted us. Our table was reserved upstairs and everyone introduced themselves.
Amelia introduced the food tour and told us a bit about herself and our first location. They brew their award-winning beers on site and do a modern twist on the classic pub menu.
First, we had a choice of two sampler drinks, either two kinds of beer or their apple cider and ginger beer. I opted for the latter but also tried the beers, all of which were distinctively delicious.
Our first eats for the day arrived and certainly ensured the tour started with a bang!
We sampled their Smoked Mac 'n' Cheese Balls which were crumbed and served with roasted corn and chilli salsa jam, along with their Hop Potatoes, which were hop and malt dusted chips served with brewery-made sauces.
Their dishes incorporate hints of their own beer to compliment the flavours, making them extra tasty. The macaroni and cheese balls were absolutely fantastic and are one of my favourite things I tried that day, which is saying a lot. The accompanied chips were also very good and hard to resist reaching back for more when you know there's going to be a lot more food to come!
I will without a doubt be back to try more of their menu in the future.
Stops 2 & 3
After almost a full hour at the first stop enjoying the food and good company of fellow food-lovers we were next off to a nearby food hotspot The Hamlet.
The Hamlet is a paradise for foodies with a collection of food trucks offering street food from multiple cuisines. Here we got to sample from two different little eateries: 10" Custom Pizzeria and Mr Papa.
We began with the Pizzeria that has been accredited by the pizza association in Naples, which means you know it's going to be good.
We tried two kinds of their woodfired pizza: a vegetarian Haloumi and potato which is their most popular and Romana, a special with mozzarella, smoked pancetta, cherry tomatoes and red onions topped with shaved parmesan. Both of them were heavenly and took me right back to Naples! It's definitely the best pizza I've had outside of Italy.
Second, we had two items from Mr Papa's menu, who do traditional Peruvian street food. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw a whole tray of Chanchitos coming towards us!
The sandwich is pork belly, sweet potato and salsa served on a crusty bun. The meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender and the flavour combinations were very delicious.
We also indulged in their Alitas chicken wings which were sticky and finger-licking good and we even got to try Chica Morada which is Peruvian purple corn juice - which I rather liked!
It was great to try something new and out of the ordinary and I can't wait to go to Peru one day and try more local delights.
We were off to our next destination Tipsy Bull, a local gin bar with over 80 varieties of gin on offer who also do "Friendly fine-ish dining."
We were each presented with a beautiful Seasonal Gin Sour cocktail which was incredibly fruity and delightful. It tasted to me like peaches and cream and the entire group couldn't stop raving about how delicious it was!
It was accompanied by a tapas sharing plate of Betel Bites which was caramelised pork belly, cashew nuts, chilli and lime on a betel leaf. It was a sensational pop of flavour in your mouth and the perfect amount.
I was starting to feel the teensiest bit full prior so it was nice to switch things up a bit and enjoy a nice cocktail and small bite. The entire tour was very well paced and balanced.
As a side-note, I ended up coming back to the Tipsy Bull straight after the tour and enjoyed one of their G&T's!
Floating on a food cloud we were off to a Canberra favourite Akiba, an Asian-fusion restaurant with compelling food and cocktail menus. I loved their modernly designed interior and the atmosphere was noticeably great.
We got to pick a cocktail of our choice and try two different popular menu items. I ordered a passionfruit vodka that was refreshing and zingy.
To eat we enjoyed a moreish pulled beef bun with kimchi and peanut soy which was soft and exquisite, a very comforting food.
We also had their prawn and chicken dumplings with a ginger and black vinegar dressing. They were light and delectable and the flavours shone through brilliantly.
It was a fantastic stop and I had some very enjoyable chats with the other members of the group.
Our final savoury stop of the day was at the delightful Sanya Bar, who specialises in authentic Beijing-fusion tapas and street food with an edge.
They also have an exciting cocktail menu of which we got to try Revolution. This was a delicious Beijing mule drink with vodka, peach liqueur, ginger beer, mint and lime with my favourite part - a pang of chilli.
Everyone really enjoyed the cocktail and the unique decor of the bar. Their artwork across the walls and even the ceiling was made up of tiny little tiles which is super cool.
On the menu for this stop, we got to try something we had all never tried before: Crispy Banana Chicken Wings. They were crunchy and tasty but it was quite strange to me having mashed banana with chicken; it was like it was both savoury and a dessert - so unusual!
Again, I really appreciated trying something I wouldn't normally pick off a menu and it's another little gem of a place that I will definitely come back to in the future.
Our final place to visit was the sweet and sensational Frugii Dessert Laboratory, the only non-chain dessert place in Canberra. Their products are made by them in-house and with all natural ingredients.
There is something to please everyone with ice cream, gelato and sorbet, chilled and frozen dessert, chocolate, drinks and caterings for any dietary requirements.
From the freezer, we got to try a selection of different flavours on the menu including Lemon Myrtle (probably my favourite one - absolute heaven!), Dark Chocolate, Black Currant, Vanilla Bean and Salted Caramel as well as some very interesting limited edition ones like Blue Cheese and even Bacon! We were also offered a Durian flavoured one but nobody was quite game enough.
They were all so creamy and delicious and the flavours really stood out. I'm pretty sure they are right up there with some of the best ice cream I have ever tried.
We also got to try the Hazelnut mousse choux accompanied with a squirt tube of Frangelico which was a-ma-zing.
This little dessert shop was the perfect place to finish and everyone was fantastically full and content after a brilliant afternoon eating our way around the highlights of Braddon.
I couldn't have imagined a better food tour, Eat Canberra ticked all the boxes and went above and beyond. We got to try such a great variety of incredible dishes and tastings and discovered a multitude of fantastic eateries. Each place visited was well thought out from start to finish, with prompt service and unique and exciting cuisine.
What made the tour all the more special was our amazing guide Amelia who is so talented and passionate about what she does. She comes from a hospitality background, studied journalism and communications at University and has more than six years experience working in marketing, communications and events roles. She combined her passions when she started Eat Canberra which she impressively runs all by herself while managing multiple side projects.
Her infectious enthusiasm and love for food shone through and she was a delightful host with a wealth of knowledge to share. At each place, Amelia interacted with each and every person and ensured everyone was having a great time. All throughout the tour she stopped and pointed out recommended places along the way such as excellent Italian food, Indian, burgers and more. She also happily answered any questions we had about Canberra and the best places to eat.
As well as the Braddon Walking Food Tour, she also has a second Sweet Tooth Tour, especially for dessert-lovers! (I am so keen to join one day soon!).
Eat Canberra food tours are perfect for visitors and locals alike. It's a great way to be introduced to the city, for a special event or occasion, to discover more or show off what a fantastic place Canberra is for food-lovers.
I only wish I had done this tour sooner as I cannot wait to return to all of these foodie gems and hotspots again (and I sadly only have three weeks left here!).
Needless to say, I didn't even need to have dinner that night! The tour is excellent value for money with the diverse and generous servings included and all of the highest quality. It was a fun and satisfying afternoon in great company and I highly recommend Eat Canberra to all.
Be sure to follow along on their Facebook and Instagram for the latest Canberra eatery news and events, drool-worthy pictures, tips, recipes, guides and major food inspiration.
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Pro tip: If you plan on doing one of Eat Canberra's tours (which you should), don't have breakfast and wear stretchy pants!
Last week I flew to Melbourne to tick off one of my big Bucket List goals here in Australia: to see the incredible Twelve Apostles and the scenic Great Ocean Road.
The Twelve Apostles were recently named in Lonely Planet's Ultimate Travel as number 12 out of 500 of the top sights to see around the world - which is a pretty big deal!
Doing some research, I came across Go West Tours - who were voted this year as the number one Great Ocean Road tour and is Melbourne's most highly awarded tour operator.
They offered everything I was looking for on a memorable day trip with many top sights and stops along the way to the Twelve Apostles in an all-included day trip from Melbourne.
I had such a fantastic day on the tour and it lived up to my very high expectations! Read on to find out what we got up to on this remarkable 14-hour road trip.
All aboard & Torquay
I was warmly greeted and picked up bright and early at 7:20 am, right on time by the lovely tour guide Michelle. The mini-tour bus was already half full and we promptly whipped around town and picked up the rest of the passengers. It was a full group that day but with the bus holding a maximum of 24 passengers, the group was relatively small and cosy.
Once all on board, Michelle gave us plenty of tour information and what to expect that day. She also entertained us with interesting facts about Melbourne as we drove out of the city centre.
About an hours drive away was our first stop at Torquay, a cute little surfy beach town at the very start of the Great Ocean Road. What's cool about Torquay is that it's the birthplace of the famous Australian surf brands Quicksilver and Rip Curl.
We spent half an hour there for morning tea. There were three types of yummy cake to choose from as well as tea, coffee and milo. We got to take our time and enjoy it on the beach watching the surfers which is something I love to do.
The Great Ocean Road
We were now on the Great Ocean Road, an Australian National Heritage that stretches 243 kilometres along the south-eastern coast of Australia. Michelle told us about the history of the road and how it took 14 years to complete. The 3000 men employed were ex-war servicemen from WW1, making it the longest war memorial.
We had a quick stop at Memorial Arch for a photo opportunity. It decided to bucket down with rain, only temporarily thank goodness.
We passed through some really cool beach towns such as Lorne, and amusingly Michelle played some Beach Boys tunes which put a smile on all of our faces!
The drive along the coastline was absolutely spectacular and it stretched on as far as the eye could see. Clear skies opened up for us and the water was a beautiful mixture of blues that literally sparkled. We had another quick stop for a photo at a stunning spot overlooking the water.
Lunch, Koalas and a Rainforest
It was now time for lunch and the chance for a bit of koala spotting! We stopped at Koala Kafe in Kennett River, where there are wild koalas that live in the area. We got to pre-choose our lunch and a drink on the bus from a large selection of choices and when we arrived it was conveniently ready and waiting for us.
I opted for the fish burger and chips and it was very fresh, filling and tasty. We then had time to walk around and see one of Australia's most loved animals. I managed to spot a couple of them sleeping at the tops of trees. There were also plenty of Australian native birds hanging out around the park.
We were treated to more beautiful coastal views stretching along the highway before making a quick pit stop at Apollo Bay. While the bus was being refuelled we got to look around the local information centre where I picked up a few souvenirs for the trip (I love to collect fridge magnets and postcards).
It was time to leave the Great Ocean Road for now and head more inland to our next stop. We went for a lovely twenty-minute rainforest walk called Mait's Rest, located in the Great Otway National Park. It was a very cool contrast from the rest of the sights we were seeing that day.
It was so lush and green and also very nice to have a walk after that lunch! The native wildlife was beautiful, it reminded me of where I'm from in New Zealand.
Next, we got to sit back and relax as it was an hours drive to the next but most anticipated stop:
The Twelve Apostles
We were dropped off at the Twelve Apostles Visitor's Centre and eagerly followed the signed pathway leading to different lookout points and viewing platforms.
The iconic Twelve Apostles are magnificent limestone rock stacks off the shore of Port Campbell National Park. They tower 45 metres above the Southern Ocean on Victoria's dramatic coastline.
We got to spend a full forty-five minutes here so there was plenty of time to really soak in the surroundings and enjoy the incredible formations that have been there for 6000 years. Since their discovery, only eight now remain due to erosion and the forces of nature. The most recent one collapsed in 2005.
It was extremely windy and being a very popular tourist attraction there were quite a lot of people around but that didn't spoil the atmosphere at all. There was still plenty of chances to get your photograph taken with no one else in the shot.
They are a truly wondrous sight and I absolutely loved seeing them in real life. Big bucket list tick!
Gibson's Steps & Loch Ard Gorge
Next up, we were dropped off at the nearby Gibson's Steps which led to a beautiful beach to see two of the apostles from ground level.
It was pretty special to see them from a different perspective.
Our final stop along the Great Ocean Road was Lock Ard Gorge, and Michelle told us this was her favourite of all the stops. She told us a historical story first about a famous shipwreck here in 1878.
The picturesque gorge is home to a beautiful bay with clear, blue water and it is absolutely breathtaking. There are three easy walks you can do to see the area's natural treasures and the gorge from different views, including walking down to the hidden beach.
It was incredible to see these natural rock formations and the power of nature up close. There are detailed signs along the walks that share the fascinating stories about the area's history, geology and natural features.
I couldn't believe it was 5 pm already - the day went so fast, probably because it was so enjoyable! It was time to head back towards Melbourne, stopping for a bite to eat in a small country town along the way.
We got to witness a beautiful Victorian sunset out of the window and see the Melbourne city lights come to life before we were each dropped off home at the end of a long but very excellent day.
Times: Pickups are between 7 - 8 am, drop-offs are between 8:30 - 9:30 pm
Dates: The tour runs daily
Reviews: 4.5/5 stars from 1910 reviews and a certificate of Excellence on Trip Advisor.
Price: $130 pp, including pick up, drop-off, morning tea and lunch.
I honestly couldn't have enjoyed the Great Ocean Road tour more. The entire day was very well organised, well thought out and executed.
What made the tour all the more special was our guide Michelle, who was an absolute star. She remembered every single person's name, which was very impressive and interacted with everyone all throughout the day. She was enthusiastic, approachable and demonstrated great safe driving.
Go West has been taking guests on tour since 2000 and are clearly leading experts in their field. I can imagine all of their guides, not just Michelle, are professional, warm and friendly, showcasing true blue Aussie hospitality.
There was a large range of people on board from all around the world, from couples, a family, friends to solo travellers like me. One couple from Brazil was even on their honeymoon!
Even though you do spend many hours sitting down travelling, there are plenty of opportunities well spaced out to walk and properly stretch your legs; it didn't even seem like we were stuck on a bus for that long!
Go West offer a number of fantastic tours from Melbourne and I would have loved to do them all if I had the time (especially their Yarra Valley food and wine tour).
Driving right alongside the scenic Great Ocean Road and seeing the Twelve Apostles and other natural wonders was a huge highlight of my time here in Australia and an unforgettable experience. I highly recommend Go West to everyone!
If you would like to see a bit more I made a short travel vlog from my day trip for YouTube:
Hands up who has now put the Twelve Apostles on their bucket list??
The second most populous urban area in Australia, Melbourne is an incredibly cool cosmopolitan city. It is a melting pot of cultures, has a vibrant cafe and food scene, grand architecture of old and new and has a strong sporting, university and arts culture.
Melbourne is very well-known for its laneways full of impressive street art and graffiti. While some may not appreciate it as art, I think these artists are incredibly talented and many pieces tell a story or message.
I thoroughly enjoyed wandering the streets and stumbling upon alley after alleyway of colourful and interesting works of art.
Below is a collection of my favourites, found mostly around Hosier Lane, Acdc Lane, Market Lane, Stevenson Lane and Duckboard Place.
Do you like street art and do you know of any other cool cities around the world that also shares a passion for it?