If you didn't know already, last week I left Australia and jumped back across the ditch to good ol' New Zealand. I've been living away for three years so coming back home after such a long time away is always a nice feeling.
I had a great time in Australia and abroad and there are definitely things I will miss and some things I won't. I've compiled together a few lists for Australia and New Zealand stating these certain things (you will notice the majority of it is food-related)... Without further ado:
Things I will miss about Australia:
Awesome cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast (big, iconic and such cool city vibes)
The better weather (hot summers and milder winters)
Zing shop (epic geek store and basically where I spent all of my money)
Golden Gaytime ice cream in a tub (genius idea and yum as flavour)
The beautiful wildlife (kangaroos, koalas, platypus, wombats etc.)
The friendliest of locals
Mostly nicer roads with 110 km speed limit
Larger range of concerts and events on
Schnitz and Grill'd burgers (both sooo good)
The abundance of year-round cheap tropical fruit (watermelon, mangoes, pineapple etc.)
More and cheaper flights
Things I won't miss:
Snakes and spiders
Annoying flies that don't bugger off
The expensive price of beer and spirits
The accents (lol no offence)
The loud and noisy birds
Certain bureaucracy making things more difficult than they need to be
Things I'm looking forward to in NZ:
Seeing my friends and family
Going on awesome summer road trips (beautiful surroundings in all directions)
Homegrown Music Festival (an epic day out with the best New Zealand bands across five different stages)
Tip Top hokey pokey ice cream (the best ice cream in the world)
Doing some scenic hiking
2018 goals: Hike Mount Ruapehu's Crater Lake
The snow season (I have my first ever Mount Ruapehu season pass for next year woohoo!)
Having a big pot of NZ green mussels
Listening to the Rock FM radio station (I haven't listened to the radio for 3 years because Aussie stations suck)
FEJOAS (A delicious seasonal fruit that is uncommon elsewhere)
Kiwi onion dip and Bluebird chips (best combo ever!)
Being able to buy beer and wine from the supermarket (so much more convenient)
Burger Fuel (delicious gourmet burgers)
Being back in the land of Middle Earth with LOTR spots and memories all over the country
Things I'm not looking forward to:
Colder summers and the wind
Earthquakes (eeek I'm terrified of them)
The narrow and windier roads
Being even further away from the rest of the world
Those are just some reflections, all in good fun. I have been back now for almost a week and I can confirm I have already gone crazy for many of my favourite foods that I had missed! I can also say that I left Australia on a piping hot 34॰C day and I'm currently sitting writing this in jeans, socks and a sweatshirt... no place like home!
This will probably be my last post before Christmas so I wish everyone a safe and very Merry Christmas. I will definitely have at least one post up before the New Year so I'll hopefully catch you then. Happy Holidays!
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.
Pin it! :)
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?
Being based in Canberra - the capital of Australia this year, one of the things I was most excited to do in the area was indulge in the surrounding award-winning wineries. The Canberra District Wine Region is home to 140 vineyards and over 30 cellar doors, creating distinct top quality Australian wines.
My husband and I wanted to jump on board a proper wine tour, one where we can learn all about and be expertly shown around some of the very best wineries Canberra has to offer, with transportation and a nice lunch included.
Vines & Wines is a leading Canberra Wine Tour group that was exactly what we were looking for in a perfect day out of wine-tasting.
They handpick their favourite wineries in the region to visit, all of which showcase fabulous wine and warm Australian hospitality.
Here is what we got up to on their Lake George Uncorked Tour:
Winery #1: Mount Majura Vineyard
We were warmly greeted on Saturday morning and picked up directly from our house at 9:45 am by Elouise, the lovely owner and our guide for the day.
There were three other local girls on the tour so it was a nice and small cosy group. In the van, we were handed the day's itinerary with our schedule and information about each winery we were going to.
Elouise gave us an overview of the Canberra wine region as we drove to our first stop, which was less than ten minutes from where I lived.
Mount Majura Vineyard was one I had been meaning to visit all year! The outdoor area at the foot of the vineyard was beautiful, filled with seating that would be perfect for wine tasting on a warm day and enjoying one of their delicious cheese and regional tasting plates on offer.
We headed inside to the tasting room where there was a table already set up for us. They have an impressive range to try, from sparkling wine and dry whites to reds and dessert wines. There was a sheet provided with tasting notes and we learned a lot about the differences between each kind.
We tried a total of 13 different wines! They particularly specialise in Spanish varieties such as Tempranillo. There was not a single wine I didn't like and my husband and I happily walked away with a couple of bottles to take home. I know we will certainly be back for more and to try their platters next time!
Winery #2: Contentious Character
Our next stop was about a twenty-minute drive away, out further in the countryside. Elouise taught us a bit more about the region on the way, and how Canberra has a perfect cool climate for wine-making. This is because they have a much longer season (about six weeks) than other regions, due to having warm days but cooler nights, which leads to more developed flavours.
We arrived at Contentious Character Vineyard, which is set in the hills with a spectacular view. The stunning scenery can even be enjoyed from inside the large and open tasting room and restaurant.
Our group stood at the counter to sample 13 more delicious wines, from whites and rosé to reds. They were very different from the last vineyard; each winery has their own distinct characters and skills, along with different elemental properties and terroirs.
It was now lunch time which we were all very excited about. We got to pick our favourite wine we tasted to have a glass with our two-course lunch. The main course was a selection of shared plates, which each and every one of was divine. The artisanal bread, in particular, was seriously the best bread I have had in the southern hemisphere.
We also enjoyed fresh lamb ragu pasta, a smoked ham hock salad, a beetroot, feta and walnut risotto (incredible!) and a chicken and roasted vegetable dish.
All incorporated gentle notes of their own wines which complimented and brought out the flavours.
I chose the 2015 Pinot Gris to go with my lunch and it was a stand-out meal for me during my time here in Australia. I was extremely impressed by the freshness, quality and flavours of every dish and I am already planning my next visit back!
To cap it all off we had a choice of two desserts and everyone in the group chose the brown sugar blondie with salted caramel ice cream. It was very sweet and decadent!
Contentious Character was probably my favourite vineyard of the day, the surroundings were gorgeous, the food and wine were fabulous and it had a great atmosphere, full of people enjoying a fun Saturday outing.
Winery #3: Summerhill Road Vineyard
We slipped into a bit of a food coma on the way to our next stop, Summerhill Road Vineyard. Owned by a couple following their dreams of buying a vineyard, we were lucky enough to be able to sample their wines outside amongst the vines which was a really cool experience.
I loved their story of the past owners giving them their tractor and dog to seal the deal, which is now a part of their label. The vineyard produces Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Pinot Noir which are all handpicked. My husband and I especially loved their 2017 Riesling.
Winery #4: Gundog Estate
Last but not least, Gundog Estate Cork Street Cellar was our final stop of the day in the small quaint town of Gundaroo. We sat on stools around the tasting station in the historic stables, turned boutique winery.
The girls indulged in a shared locally sourced cheese platter which looked amazing. If I wasn't still so full from lunch I would have loved to try some too. Gundog Estate produces a large range of wines from Semillon, Riesling and Rosé to Shiraz.
I particularly loved their dessert wine NV Muscat which tasted like Christmas in a bottle! As well as wine tastings and platters, they have a gourmet pantry selling local products that are perfect accompaniments for their wine.
Sadly, our tour had come to an end, and we were dropped off at home at around 4:30 pm after an excellent day out, our arms hugging a box of delicious local mementoes to fill our now, not so empty wine rack.
Price: $165 per person, which includes all tastings, transportation, two-course lunch with a glass of wine and a friendly expert guide.
My husband and I both had a fantastic time on our tour and it was my favourite day I've had in Canberra this year. Elouise was the perfect host and guide, she was always happy to have a chat, answer any questions and share her knowledge. She and her husband have been running Vines & Wines for three years and the passion for what they do really shone through.
The whole day was extremely well organised and each stop was highly enjoyable. I loved how different all four wineries were from each other and they offered a good variety of tastings. As well as having a guaranteed good time it is also a great educational experience (if you want it to be!).
Vines & Wines Winery Tours are perfect for everyone from the wine novice to the serious connoisseur. It is ideal for all occasions from a couple new to the area wanting to explore the beautiful Canberra winery region (like us), to a fun outing with friends, be it a birthday or hen's party, or simply an enjoyable Saturday out, filled with top quality wines and a delectable lunch.
I couldn't recommend this tour more if you are passing by the capital of Australia, it's one not to be missed!
I had a splendid weekend with my partner in crime in Sydney catching a show, sightseeing and enjoying delicious food. I also got the chance to play with my new camera - the Sony RX 100 iv, so below is a mixture of photos from that and my S7 phone, as well as a little vlog I have already made for YouTube. This was our third trip to Sydney already this year, except the last two times were just for specific things on that evening (a Puscifer and a Guns N Roses concert) and we didn't actually get to see much of the city.
This time we were going for Aladdin the musical on Broadway and we decided to stay for a couple of nights so this time we could actually enjoy some sights! (Hey that rhymed). It had been five years since our first trip together to Sydney (and our very first overseas trip as a couple!) and I was determined to see again the magnificent Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, St Mary's Cathedral and explore the largest city in Australia some more.
Coming from Canberra, this time we decided to catch the bus, as the previous times we had driven and found it to be quite a nightmare. The traffic and driving around the city centre is rather terrible and as we were staying at an Airbnb, parking costs as well would have been through the roof. We went with Murrays Coachlines which was not badly priced and it was a pleasant enough journey (it still took four hours though because of the traffic).
Managed to catch a snippet of sunset from our Airbnb balcony
We arrived at around 6 pm on Friday evening and it was a 20-minute minute walk from the central train and bus station to Darlinghurst where we were staying. After dropping our things at our Airbnb we ventured out for a much-needed beer or three in the Kings Cross area.
At around 9 pm we headed to Potts Point to Fratelli Paradiso which was an Italian restaurant recommended by our AirBnB host. It was very busy but after a short wait (another beer) they managed to squeeze us in. Highly recommended if you are in the area, the food was exquisite and not badly priced. I had the Tagliolini pasta dish and we shared a tiramisu for dessert.
Not the best picture - but I assure you it was delicious!
After good food and a bottle of red, we had one last nightcap at a bar before venturing back at around 1 am.
The El-Alamein Memorial Fountain
Despite a late night, we were up bright and early for a full day of adventuring ahead. We had a most excellent brunch that kept us going for the rest of the day at a lovely little Italian cafe down the road Cafe & Cucina.
We had a big Italian-style breakfast each which was delicious (and needed). Their coffees were perfection and they also made fresh pasta dishes and their front cabinet was full of pastries, sandwiches and Italian treats - I would absolutely be there every weekend if I lived in the area! Fueled, we headed towards the harbour, about a half hour walk away. We stopped briefly at St Mary's Cathedral for a peek inside which was at the halfway point.
The Westfield Tower
Next we powered on to the Opera House and Harbour Bridge which were just as impressive as ever. This time we actually went for a small look inside the Opera House where there is a gift shop and cafe. I would love to see a show in there and do a proper tour some day.
We then walked around to the other side of the harbour to The Rocks Market which is a great little market on every weekend. We browsed through the stalls before walking back towards the city centre. After a stop in Dymocks and Topshop (where I fell in love with some shoes and have since purchased them) we headed back to our accommodation for a couple of hours rest.
Queen Victoria Building
Beautiful fountain in Hyde Park
Walking past St Mary's again
Once our legs had recovered we got ready to head out once more for the evening. We enjoyed a couple of beers before finding a dinner spot before the show.
We passed the Capitol Theatre where the show is held along the way
We headed to Chinatown and stumbled upon this popular Korean BBQ restaurant Yang San Park. We ordered a mixed meat platter and a seafood pancake to share and it was so incredibly tasty. The service as well was great and by the time we left there was a long line to get in! Definitely a must-visit if you get the chance and you like Korean food.
At 8 pm it was show time! It was very musical - a lot of singing and dancing and the actors were very good. They turned it into more of a modern day comedy so it was quite entertaining.
We were both knackered after the show so we pretty much walked straight back and went to bed! On Sunday our bus home was departing at 12 pm so we were all packed up and headed out by 10 am. We stopped for a nice breakfast at Basket Brothers where I indulged in French toast with dark chocolate, maple syrup and strawberries. Aside from being obviously very sweet - it was actually so very delicious! I had to stop myself from eating the whole thing.
That brings us to the end of our weekend adventure in Sydney. I hope you enjoyed the photos and little snippets of what we got up to. I'm heading back again for the fourth time this year in April - so by the end of the year, I'm sure I will be more of an expert! Eventually, I will make a travel guide and top places to eat type of post once I collect more information and become more knowledgeable.
Here is the video I made for my YouTube channel if you would like to watch it:
This year- as usual, has flown by in the blink of an eye and boy has it been a good one! (Aside from all of the celebrity deaths- let's not even go there). I thought it would be a nice way to finish up by having a look through and doing a quick summary of my year and some of the things I got up to.
As well as reading this blog post I made a YouTube video of my 2016 extras and highlights which you can watch here if you're interested:
I lived in the beautiful Gold Coast, Australia for a year. I got a FitBit and started working out for the first time in my life and loved it! I saw Jimmy Carr the British comedian live in Brisbane in January and the Indiana Jones live performance by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in February.
Koala kisses in Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast
I started this blog, I started my YouTube channel. I flew to New Zealand to spend Easter with my family in Coromandel and also visited my friends in Wellington and went to my favourite Kiwi music festival Homegrown.
Coromandel, New Zealand
Kumara chips at the beach!
I got a new S7 phone which was a million times better than my old phone! I became more interested in beauty, makeup and skincare. I travelled to Melbourne for the first time in May for a wonderful long weekend there.
I went to Brisbane Oktoberfest and had VIP tickets to the Warner Brothers Movie World Fright Nights Halloween event which was so fun.
Just an excuse to dress up in my dirndl again!
I also spent the year planning and organising my wedding which in November we flew to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands for and I got to marry my best friend in tropical paradise!
Beautiful view from our room in Rarotonga!
My best friends and I on my hens cruise
In December we spent an incredible two weeks in Vietnam, travelling to Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Halong Bay which was a bucket list dream come true!
Street vendors in Hanoi
Having a wonderful honeymoon in Halong Bay!
On our way back we stayed in Brisbane for Cirque du Soleil- the most incredible show I've ever seen and then arrived back home just in time for Christmas! My Christmas was wonderful- I always have a great time because Gareth and I always spoil each other and so do my family- we had a big group Skype call, and I just love the food, Christmas movies and having fun with loved ones.
Some of my amazing presents - Merry Geekmas!
This year even though I lived overseas I still got to spend time with my family and friends whether that was in New Zealand in March, them visiting me here, or meeting up with them for my wedding in Rarotonga- so I feel incredibly lucky for that indeed.
Cocktails with my sisters in Raro!
Although I only started this year 2016 has already brought some awesome blogging and social networking opportunities as well. I joined with Fat Joe, a publishing network for my first proper paid blogging work. I entered and won my first blogging competition for Dream World Travel. I became a Social Soup ambassador and have the opportunity to be sent and promote products of my choosing through my Instagram account- the most notable of which is my first free hotel stay! I also signed with BBTV which is the #1 YouTube partnership network in the world. I am in no way successful yet in what I do but I feel like I have my foot in the door and that I'm hopefully heading in the right direction. In all, it has been a very busy but amazing year, but as always the prospect of a fresh new year is always so exciting to me.
Jumping for joy at Surfer's Beach
I have brand new goals and bigger and better dreams than ever before; and the majority of them are for this travel blog. I have so much to write about and I want to expand my categories and fill all of them with the best information. I want to write more about my experiences, how travelling has changed my life, about food and best places to eat, more hotel and tour reviews. I wish to grow and get my name out there as a fantastic source of travel information. This year I have reached over 33,000 page views and next year I want to more than triple that! I would love to start working with more companies and write reviews for them and become known as a professional travel blogger. Nothing excites me more than travelling and to make a career out of that is my ultimate dream. So bring on 2017 to continue making that come true!
This is my final post for the year so I'm signing off here! It's also my 50th blog post which I thought was a good round number to finish up the year with. In the New Year I will be continuing parts two and three of my Vietnam travel diaries and plenty more as well including hotel reviews, travel tips and best places to eat. I also have my three Vietnam videos which I'm currently working on the first one now for YouTube. I will be a very busy lady in January as I'm also moving and setting up in a whole new house and state. We are moving and driving down to Canberra- the capital of Australia which is about 1200 km's away but we are stopping twice overnight along the way as we will have our cat with us who does not like car rides! We are stopping in Ballina and Port Macquarie which are both on the coast in New South Wales so it will be nice to have some breaks on the big road trip and visit some new places in Australia as well.
Finally, a big thank you to all of my readers- I have enjoyed so much blogging this year and it has become such a passion of mine. Your support means the world to me so thanks to my loyal readers and those just stopping by and I hope to see you again in 2017.
Happy New Year and best wishes for a safe, happy and fun holiday!
Australia is a nature-lovers paradise- being an enormous country made up of bush, wildlife, desert, sandy coastlines and coral reef, but it also offers many excellent modern and vibrant urban cities too. The main capitals are very different from each other, but what they share is a warm welcome, easy precincts, great food, wine and events as well as plenty of access to nature and wildlife. As mentioned in my Adapting to the Aussie way of life tips post, Australia is incredibly large- and not one that you can fully explore over a few weeks, not even a few months! If you are heading here just for a short time, here are the five biggest and best cities to choose from if you need some help deciding!
Sydney is Australia's largest city- with a population of 4.5 million people. It's the capital of the state New South Wales and it offers many delightful activities and things to do. It is most well-known for its sparkling harbour-front where you can find the iconic Sydney Opera House with its distinctive sail-like design. Sydney offers great surf beaches, beautiful public gardens, fine dining, opera, coastal walks and plenty of history. It's also home to the most high-rise buildings in the country. Check out the Sydney Travel Guide for more information.
Sydney Opera House with the bridge in the background.
Top 10 things to do:
Talk to the animals at Taronga Zoo, with 2,900 exotic and native species.
Take a tour and go backstage at the Sydney Opera House.
Climb the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge at dawn or at dusk.
Walk the Bondi to Coogee beach coastal trail.
Dine at Sydney's finest restaurants- some of the best in the world.
Enjoy shopping in the city with many large malls and boutique stores.
Discover a convict past by taking The Rocks walking tour.
Sail on the beautiful harbour- one of Sydney's best travel experiences.
Explore the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Take a day trip to the famous Blue Mountains.
My partner in crime and I visiting Sydney in 2012.
The second largest city in Australia with a population of 4.3 million people, Melbourne is the coastal capital of the southeastern state of Victoria. Famed for its trendy vibe, cafe culture and graffitied laneways, it’s a popular spot for young professionals and students alike. Head to hip St Kildafor a taste of the seaside or base yourself in the heart of the city to enjoy plenty of street markets, gigs, shops and museums. It is a very multicultural city, with 40% of the population born overseas. It has the highest Greek population in the world outside of Athens! The city is overflowing with many delicious choices of cuisine and offers great foodie experiences. If you stay in Melbourne holiday apartments, you can explore the South Bank and take a tour of the galleries. Melbourne is home to the most skyscrapers in the country. For incredible city skyline views, head to the Eureka Skydeck 88, especially at dusk. I made a YouTube video from my time there if you're interested: Melbourne Travel Vlog.
Looking across the Yarra River
Top 10 things to do:
Explore Melbourne's arty laneways and beautiful architecture.
Experience life at the bohemian St Kilda Esplanade.
Get cultured at Melbourne's iconic museums.
Shop designer boutiques and cool local labels.
Cheer at world-famous sporting events at legendary sports grounds.
Sip on a cocktail at a trendy rooftop bar.
Dine at Melbourne's best restaurants, again some of the world's best.
Take a day-trip to nearby wineries, surf beaches and forests.
Head outdoors to plenty of beautiful parks and gardens.
Shop local at Melbourne's amazing markets.
Exploring the famous graffitied laneway Hosier Land
The third largest city in Australia is Brisbane, with a population of 2.2 million. It is the capital of sunny Queensland and it's a place I always enjoy visiting. The climate is subtropical and offers a modern and pretty riverside city. Head to the cultural precinct of South Bank where you can find museums, theatres and galleries along with great food spots, markets and a man-made beach. Looming over the city is Mt. Cootha, the site of the beautiful botanic gardens. The shopping, nightlife and restaurant scene in Brisbane is excellent and there are countless fun things to do.
The view from Kangaroo Point
Top 10 things to do:
Climb Brisbane's iconic story bridge and abseil down.
Walk through the popular and entertaining South Bank.
Head to the (man-made) beach in the middle of the city.
Go on a chocolate or craft-beer walking tour.
Dine at Brisbane's best restaurants with stunning riverside views.
Soak up the art at GoMA and the Queensland art gallery.
Enjoy a "Paddle & Prawns" experience on the Brisbane River.
Shop at Brisbane's The Collective Markets.
Relax at Nightfall's luxury wilderness camp.
Go 4W-Driving and dolphin watching at North Stradbroke Island.
Brisbane's Story Bridge
The fourth biggest city in Australia with a population of 2 million, Perth is the capital of Western Australia, and the only one located on the Indian Ocean. The city sits where the Swan River meets the southwest coast and sandy beaches line its suburbs. The large riverside Kings Park and Botanic Garden on Mt. Eliza offers sweeping views over the city. Perth oozes confidence and has an abundance of hip wine bars, sunny beaches, spectacular green parks and glittering skyscrapers, funky neighbourhoods and beautiful colonial architecture. If you're wanting to head to the Western side of Australia, Perth is a must-see city that has it all. Check out the Lonely Planet Perth guide for more information.
Top 10 things to do:
Wander and enjoy the views of Kings Park- one of the world's biggest city parks.
Visit the historic seaside port of Fremantle.
Hit Perth's small bars and enjoy the craft-beer and wine.
Discover Perth's museum, gallery and zoo.
Explore the diverse precincts with hip cafes and cutting-edge restaurants.
Chill out or surf at Perth's best beaches.
Feel an adrenaline rush with the many adventure activities on offer.
Catch a ferry to Rottnest Island and meet Quokkas- a cute marsupial only in WA.
Sail Perth's beautiful river and coastline.
Take a day trip to the Swan Valley winery.
I know the 5th largest city is Adelaide, but for my final top city I just had to choose the Gold Coast- because that's where I live! Also it's a very popular holiday destination, for Australians and especially for New Zealanders. Gold Coast is the 6th largest city with a population of over 600,000. It's a metropolitan region on the east coast, one hour south of Brisbane. It is famed for its long sandy beaches, surfing spots and elaborate system of inland canals and waterways. It's also home to Australia's best theme parks including Dreamworld, Movie World, Wet n Wild and many more. Inland are plenty of beautiful rainforest hiking trails and waterfalls found in Lamington National Park's mountain ridges and valleys, home to rare birds and plenty of native wildlife. Along with the fun parks, warm weather and beaches the Gold Coast has a great restaurant scene, hip bars and excellent shopping, making it the perfect holiday destination.
Top 10 things to do:
Spend the day tanning and swimming at the pristine sandy beaches.
Take up a surfing lesson and have a go at one of best surfing spots.
Go thrill-seeking at one of the world-class theme parks.
Explore the Gold Coast's lush World Heritage rainforests.
Get up close with a croc or cuddle a koala at the many wildlife sanctuaries.
Jet ski, surf and scuba dive in the sparkling Pacific Ocean.
Shop at the best boutiques, markets and outlet shopping centres.
Graze at the best restaurants and cafes overlooking the crashing waves.
Head to the top of the Q1- the tallest building in Australia for incredible views.
Spot some humpbacks and dolphins on a whale watching tour (May-Nov).
I hope you've now got some good information on Australia's best cities! Let me know in the comments if you're heading here sometime soon- or if you've already been! All of Australia's cities are incredible and unique and if you're heading Down Under you won't be disappointed.
Thanks for reading,
Pin it! :)
*This post contains affiliate links and some images that are not my own.
As you can tell from my blog, I love to travel about! Originally from New Zealand, I've been fortunate enough to travel all over, most recently exploring Europe and South East Asia. But I currently call the Gold Coast in Australia my home base and next year I have one more year in Canberra, Australia. Having spent nearly a full year here already I thought I could share some lifestyle and culture tips for those wanting to move to Australia themselves, or even for those travelling here for the first time.
Sometimes experiencing a new country so different from your own can be a bit of a culture shock. The people, customs and language are unfamiliar and not always easy to understand. Fortunately Australia is a very welcoming and relaxed country, and I'm sure once you get used to the 'Aussie lifestyle' you will love it.
Australians, much like Kiwis are mostly very laid-back and friendly, they like their BBQs, sports, having fun, a cold beer, tattoos, a good banter and swearing! I really enjoy living here. Because it has such a large economy there seems to be a lot more opportunities, which is probably why it is such a popular country to relocate to! Here are some tips to help you adapt more easily to the Aussie way of life.
Learn some Aussie lingo!
Depending on how far away you are coming from, some words used in everyday Australian life may throw you a little. As a Kiwi, many of these words are normal to me. Lesson one- Australia is commonly referred to as 'Straya'. People tend to greet others with the everyday "Hello," but "Gidday" or "Gidday mate" is the very Australian way to say it. One of the most commonly used words in their vocabulary is: mate. Australians will call everyone mate, whether they know them or not. Do not however, assume that being called "mate" means that they like you! There is key nuance in how long the letter 'a' is stretched out for. If it's a "maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate" stretching on for a while, they love you. If it's a short, sharp "mate"- they might just be about to punch you! The Aussie accent tends to exaggerate their vowels a lot which is why many people come of sounding rather 'nasal-y' or 'whine-y' to foreign ears. Another common word is: "crickey" or "crickey dick," which is a way to express surprise. They use the word "bloody" a lot, usually in front of other words to emphasise them, for example:
"Bloody right!" "bloody struth!" "bloody oath!" "bloody hell!" and so on. There is quite a lot of vocabulary differences so here is a handy link of more phrases that may help you online. I would recommend watching Crocodile Dundee if you want to get a feel for the stereotypical Australian way- and also it's a really good movie!
Here are some more examples in the image below:
Australia is predominantly a clean and safe country and the Aussie lifestyle is largely centred around family life outside. The country has around 50,000 kilometres of spectacular coastline, which includes over 11,000 beaches! You can see why more than 85% of Australians live within 50 kms of the coast. Beach and BBQ’s are heavily featured in weekly activities as well as having an active lifestyle. Australians love their sports- rugby, cricket and surfing are hugely popular, alongside hiking, running and general outdoors activities.
Australia has over 500 national parks which cover 28 million hectares- that's a huge amount of unique and protected nature and wildlife! Some well-known animals include kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, echidnas, platypus, wombats and loads more. As well as finding them in the wild there are many great wildlife parks and sanctuaries to get acquainted with these creatures for yourself. You can even hold a lot of them like the koala, baby crocodiles and even snakes (friendly ones).
Me holding a koala at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
I recently went whale watching in the Gold Coast which was such an incredible experience! I had always dreamed of seeing a whale in the wild and we saw many Humpback whales and even dolphins.
Just try avoid the snakes and spiders! Australia is well known as the country with the most deadly wildlife and things trying to kill you! But no need to worry- they are pretty rare in the city centres. Below is a fun depiction of Australia, all in good humour:
Chat with strangers
Time to overcome your fear of talking to random people! In some countries, especially in Europe chatting to a stranger may seem like a very weird thing to do. I even got frowned at just by sitting next to someone on a busy train in Switzerland... But Australians love to talk. It’s actually one of the best things about the Aussie lifestyle. Everyone is so friendly and is happy to help if you need it. It's considered very normal and even polite to smile, nod and say hello when passing in the streets and to have a friendly conversation at a store with say a supermarket clerk or a shopkeeper. I've had conversations with people from all over the world who rave about how Aussies and Kiwis are incredibly friendly, and they had many stories to share while they were backpacking of being invited in to homes for a place to sleep and offered food. It really warms my heart and makes me happy to hear things like that. I've travelled solo quite a bit and have found that so many countries do go about their own business and avoid eye contact at all costs. So it may take some getting used to at first, but just embrace it and enjoy it!
Don't stick to one state
Not many people realise just how huge Australia is- it's the world's sixth largest country! The sheer size of its natural attractions and landmarks are truly impressive. There are sprawling national parks and deserts that are larger than whole countries combined. Just the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland is bigger than the UK, Holland and Switzerland combined. So don't just stick to one state and think that you've experienced all of Australia! (There are six of them). Take the opportunity to explore far and wide as much as possible. Most Australians fly between states and many cities because of the huge distance between each of them. Catching a plane is like catching a bus anywhere else. It’s easy to do and helps getting around much easier. The classic error many first-time visitors make is trying to 'do' Australia in two or three weeks. It's far better to pick two or three areas to tackle well, rather than attempt to tick off all the highlights in one visit. Otherwise, I'm sad to say most of your visit will be spent in transit.
Sydney Opera House, New South Wales
Uluru or Ayers Rock in Northern Australia
If you are planning on making a permanent move to Australia one of the first things to consider is the healthcare system. You need to pay insurance in order to get treated by the doctor and in hospitals, so it’s important to make sure you're covered. If possible it's advised to get insurance in place before you turn 31, otherwise you might have to pay a health care loading fee. However, of course if you move here after that age this can’t be helped. Thankfully you are credited some of the premiums back so it’s a worthy investment to make. Medicare provides access to a range of medical services, lower cost prescriptions and free care as a public patient in a public hospital. All eligible Australian residents and certain categories of visitors to Australia can enrol in Medicare and access these services, so do research it and try to apply as soon as you can.
To finish up and round off- here is a list of very Australian things that everyone loves, and are definite things you should try yourself whilst here! Pies (meat pies, that is, especially with a side of T (tomato) sauce!) Wine (Australia produces excellent wines, both red and white) Beach (tan, swim, surf, the beach is one of the most popular places to be on a nice day) Lamington (a sponge cake usually filled with cream and rolled in coconut- mmm) BBQ (snags aka sausages, prawns, lamb- everything goes well on a barbie!) Vegemite (A spread you have on toast with butter- you must try it at least once!) Beer (A mandatory beverage to conquest thirst in the avo sun, especially with said bbqs) Thongs(aka jandals or flipflops- are the most popular footwear to walk around in) TimTams (the best chocolate covered biscuit ever- trust me!)
I hope this has helped you get a feel for the Aussie lifestyle! Thanks so much for reading and as always leave a comment on your thoughts and if you have any questions or anything to add to this as well!
*This post was a collaboration and contains images that are not my own.
Australia, where I am currently living is world-renowned as a fantastic destination for surfing. This is due to it’s vast and varied 50,000 km coastline offering both steady swells and fantastic point breaks. The stunning clear waters, colourful reefs, and white sandy beaches also add to it’s great appeal. If you asked people from all over the world what kind of people/stereotypes they would say about Australians, many would answer with words like- tanned, blonde hair, surfy, and beachy. Because it's absolutely true! Many Australians consider surfing as a way of life, it' such a fantastic thrilling sport and hobby. More than 85% of Australians live within 50 kilometres of the coast; it is right on their doorstep. With an estimated 18 million surfers globally, today the sport attracts a wide range of people of all ages. If you’re eager to catch the best waves possible, here are three of the top Australian surfing destination you should consider.
Yallingup, West Australia
Yallingup is a small resort town that is situated in the Margaret River region of Western Australia. Famed for its wineries, it has also become one of the West Coast’s most popular surfing destinations. The first surfers arrived in the 50's and it has been growing in popularity ever since! There are several breaks here, which vary from gentle to gigantic. This makes Yallingup an accessible surf spot for both experts and beginners alike. There is plenty of fantastic accommodation in Yallingup close to the beaches to wake up in the morning, grab your board and go! If you want a break from surfing, you can explore life underwater too. Snorkeling is another amazing activity to try while you are here, and there is plenty to discover. The beaches, limestone caves and nearby national parks are also worth a visit. While you might want to spend your entire trip surfing, there are plenty of other things to keep you busy and make the most of your Australian visit.
To the south-east of Australia, you will find the state of Victoria, one of the country's most populated regions. Located on the coast is the quaint town of Torquay, which is home to the famous Bells Beach. With surging surf, this beach is for the more experienced riders. In Torquay dose up on your surf culture, as many consider this the place where Australian surfing began, which gives it enormous importance. Each wave you catch will feel like a step back in time, and the surf is known to often reach five metres and more. The Rip Curl Pro surfing competition is also held here, which brings professional surfers from all over the world to it’s shores. It's one of the most sought after titles on the World Championship Tour. As well as riding the waves yourself, you can also enjoy watching as a spectator too. Try to book well in advance to avoid disappointment, especially if you wish to come for the Pro surfing competitions!
Snapper Rocks, Queensland
Along the Golden coast of Queensland (close to where I live) in eastern Australia, you will find the picturesque Snapper Rocks. It is a point break, which as of 2007 forms the first part of the man-made ‘Super Bank’ surf break. This has become world famous for having the most consistent, hollow and long lasting waves- making it every surfer’s paradise. On a good day over 500 surfers can be counted over the 2 kilometre distance. It’s for this reason why many Australian surfing competitions are held here and why many pro surfers make it their local haunt. The swell is known to reach heights of eight feet and has the power to carry you for the whole two kms! If you want to try this sand bottomed break first hand, start booking now! It's a destination not to be missed.
Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, these Australian surfing hotspots are an absolute must. As the famous Australian saying goes "So what the bloody hell are you waiting for?" -grab your board and your passport to discover them for yourself and the many delights of the land Down Under!
Thanks for reading,
*This post is a collaboration and contains images that are not my own.