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Pub Crawl : Hobart

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What better way is there to see the city and meet some locals than with a pub crawl? We didn’t have any company this time around, unlike our crawls in Mount Gambier, Kalgoorlie Boulder, Geraldton and Darwin, but we still had a great time exploring the pubs and beer gardens of Hobart.

 

Hope & Anchor

This was our first pub for the day and our lunch stop to fuel up for the next few hours. We started with a couple of beers to sip on while we looked around the pub. Built in 1807, it is possibly the oldest pub in Hobart, so there was plenty of cool historical stuff to look at, especially upstairs!

 

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Fluke &Bruce

We were entitled to $5 schooners of Cascade Draught at the Fluke and Bruce Hotel because we were staying at the YHA hostel next door. So that’s where we had our next drink after we’d checked in.

 

This spacious pub had an old charm that came through despite the renovations. There were a few antique images on the walls and the carpet and ceiling were somewhat period, but it maintained a clean and modern feel with the new lick of paint and Ben Harper playing atmospherically.

 

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Customs House

The Telegraph Hotel was closed so we skipped it and went to the Customs House instead. It had a fairly standard exterior for a corner pub but the interior was much more modern than expected.

 

At this point of the evening, Juz moved onto neat rum while Dave continued his beer quest with a Cascade Stout. They had a copy of the Herald Scum so we sat out the front and did the Superquiz.

 

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The Whaler

Previously known as Knopwoods Retreat – a popular place for a meal and a tipple – the Whaler got a change of identify at the end of 2015.  The name honours Hobart’s whaling history and even the location’s history as it was the place where whalers would return to get paid and have a drink.

 

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The Whaler is located on the Waterfront in the Salamanca Precinct. It’s quite a small pub on the inside but it increases its patronage with an outdoor area at the front. It might be an old pub but the renovations have caused it to lose a little bit of its charm. The stained glass window murals above the bar were a nice touch though.

 

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They have a great selection of local Aussie beers and ciders. Dave enjoyed an Ella Pale Ale while Juz tried the Ron de Jeremy rum.

 

The Brick Factory

Just outside of our next pub, we were halted by a South African from Melbourne who wanted to take a picture of Dave’s dreadlocks with his interesting black and white camera. We had a brief chat about photography, travel, and his vocation as a storyteller for schools before we went our separate ways.

 

The Brick Factory is a beautiful and classy place for a drink. The front section is a spacious bar area with booth seating, but as you head towards the Grape Bar at the back, the ceilings start to fall and it has quite a cellar feel, complete with Chesterfield lounges and lots of wine in cabinets.

 

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They have a huge selection of all sorts of spirits, and Juz sampled the Diplomatica rum, which had rich molasses flavours and a honey nut aftertaste. Dave had a dark lager, which got better as it got few degrees warmer.

 

Waterman’s Beer Market

This was an accidental stop on our way to the Victoria Hotel, which ended up being closed anyway. The Beer Market mainly serves beer, but they also have limited wine and spirit options. They have 12 beers on tap, which are frequently updated. Juz hopped back to beer with a Van Diemen’s White Ale while Dave got a nice and hoppy ale.

 

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Outside, they had a great little beer garden covered in Astroturf, with various nooks and crannies and giant games like Jenga and Connect 4. Dave found the urinal hilarious and was a little unsure about using it at first. It’s a one-way mirror that looks out at the beer garden.

 

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The New Sydney Hotel

This place was rumoured to be popular with the locals, and it was evident when we walked it because it was fairly packed. We ordered our drinks at the bar – Dave got a beer and some water to cure his hiccups while Juz got another rum but missed the name. She thinks it might have been Matusalem.

 

Outside in the beer garden, which was more like an alley decked out with stools, there was a huge 2 metre square fire pit with a hills hoist above it, connected to bike chains and cranks. We questioned their intention and they simply said, “to cook meat”. We wish we could be around to see that.

 

 

The Winston

It was clear that this was a local favourite. Located about 20 minutes on foot out of the city, The Winston is an American influenced bar with a great menu of drinks and food.

 

Because this was our last stop, we had dinner. Dave ordered the novel Winston burger with deep fried bacon, grilled chicken, and dill ranch sauce between two waffles – served in a dog bowl. He also got a beer, but currently cannot remember what he got because at that stage of the night, he was a little trolleyed. Juz ordered the buffalo chicken burger with blue cheese sauce and fries, as well as some buffalo wings and onion rings to share with Dave. For drinks, she had a Dictador rum.

 

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We walked home after our huge dinner, got settled in the hostel and chilled out for the rest of the night.

 

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Food & Wine : Hobart & Surrounds

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Tassie has an abundance of local food, wine, beer and whisky, we tried our best to visit as many as we could! There are a few places located in a the heart of Hobart, but there is also the Coal River Valley out to the east, and to the north west is the Derwent River Valley.

 

If a place was within 30 minutes of Hobart, then we included it in the surrounding area. We started our tasting trail to the east of Hobart in Richmond.

 

The Wicked Cheese Company

This was the first stop of our tasting tour of the Hobartian surrounds. The Wicked Cheese Company was established in 2007 and is an award winning cheesery. They use both goat and cow’s milk to create a variety of cheeses such as cheddar, brie and camembert. The outlet also sells various local produce like sausages and chocolate. We picked up a Mediterranean terrine to munch on later.

 

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Nearby is the historic Richmond Bridge, which was built in 1823. It’s the oldest bridge in Australia that’s still in use and is a popular stop with the tourists.

 

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Frogmore Creek

One of our favourite wine tasting sessions happened at this beautiful award winning cellar door. Even if you’re not into wine, you can still enjoy the architecture of the cellar door, great views of the winery or peruse the local produce available for purchase.

 

We were lucky enough to be just in time to grab one of the last bottles of 2008 Mardi, a delicious sparkling white wine with hints of orange and brioche – a little like a Panettone. We also loved the 2015 Riesling, with serious pineapple flavours.

 

Of the reds, we enjoyed the 2012 Pinot Noir. It had spent 10 months in French Oak and had luscious fresh berries, a hint of cedar, and smooth, silky tannins!

 

We walked away from Frogmore Creek with a bottle of the pinot noir and Mardi sparking. When we were strolling through Salamanca Markets, we saw a Frogmore Creek stall and got to try a few other wines. We learnt that Josef Chromy used to be their winemaker, which is why both wineries have a Ruby Pinot Noir – a delicious sweet wine with blackberry flavours and creamy cashew.

 

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Sullivan’s Cove Distillery

This distiller is located in Cambridge and while the exterior doesn’t seem like much, once you’re inside, you just want to sit down on the beautiful lounges and sip on a whisky while you watch the afternoon go by listening to some relaxed tunes like Neil Young.

 

Sullivan’s Cove Distillery take pride in their drops, and the convict symbol on their label is a historical footnote of the first drop point for convicts at Sullivan’s Cove. They also said that their whiskies are distilled with conviction.

 

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We forked out $25 to taste a dribble of three whiskies, and an additional $10 for Juz to taste the gin.

 

All their whiskies are aged 12 years minimum before being taste tested. Instead of ageing for a certain amount of time, each whisky is tasted every 6 months or so to ensure that it’s at its peak.

 

Of the whiskies that we tried, our favourites were the award winners. The American Oak was sweet with hints of banoffee and vanilla, and the French Oak was full of toffee and fruit cake flavours.

 

Cascade Brewery

Cascade Brewery is the oldest brewery in Australia. It was established by convict Peter Degraves, who was not happy with the quality of beer in Hobart. He was released from goal in 1831 and set about brewing beer, and by December 1832, the first Cascade beer was sold.

 

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We would have loved to go on a tour of the brewery but all we had time for was a stop in for a tasting session by the beautiful gardens. A paddle of four beers was only $12 and you can choose any four beers you like.  We opted for the Lager, Draught, Pale Ale and Stout – all flavoured with Pride of Ringwood Hops but with varying degrees of crispness, bitterness and flavour.

 

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Larks Distillery

Located in the heart of Hobart, this popular Whisky bar has an incredible selection of spirits. We stumbled across the cellar door by accident during our evening walk around the Waterfront. We loved the atmosphere of the place – it was almost like finding a cave of wonders.

 

We settled ourselves at the bar and got the tasting paddle that included three little nips for $20. The bar staff were really friend and happy to talk about the spirits that we were tasting.

 

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The first was the 43% Classic Cask, which was a bit rough. The second on the paddle, the 58% Cask Strength whisky was gorgeous. Yes, it also had a good burn but it smelt like maple syrup and the taste had hints of coffee liqueur.  The final little nip was a Whisky Liqueur. It tasted a little like Jaegermeister, which probably explains the secret herbs and spices in the recipe. While it was a little medicinal, it was sweet and syrupy.

 

Derwent Valley Estate

We needed to waste a little time so we stopped in at the Derwent Valley Estate for a tasting. Our session was hosted by a nearly deaf old codger who emitted an air of playful petulance and loose authority. We tried to be playful too but it was a little awkward because he couldn’t hear our jokes.

 

We made it through a tasting and walked away with the Rose – smooth and sweet like strawberry jam, but we would have loved to take the buttery but peachy 2014 Chardonnay home but it was simply too pricey to justify the purchase.

 

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Drink : East Coast Tasmania

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There isn’t a lot down the east coast other than beautiful coastline but there are a few places to sample a drink. We highly recommend the Ironhouse Point Centre and Gala Estate. Both are wonderful locations with a great selection of drink for tasting.

 

Ironhouse Point Brewery, Vineyard and Distillery

This massive complex by the sea is a combined restaurant, convention centre and hotel. They have a separate tasting station away from the bar and restaurant, so tasting sessions are more intimate and focused on tasting instead of just drinking.

 

We were surprised to find that not only did they do beer, but also wine and vodka. We tried everything, despite it being 10 o’clock in the morning.

 

First off the bat was the Grape Vodka, triple distilled for extra smoothness. It was basically just grappa, but good.

 

Beer tasting followed. There were six beers on the paddle – a wheat beer (4.7%) with soft unripe banana and clove flavours, a lager (4.7%) full of Cascade hops and a subtle honey flavour, our favourite – the Belgian Fox – a golden beer with coriander in the grist and flavoured with fruity Motueka hops.

 

On the more flavourful side of the paddle was the Belgian Pale Ale – a sweet beer with a good, smooth balance of bitter malt flavours, the Pale Ale (5.2%), a bronze beer with heaps of hoppy bitterness, and the Porter (5.2%), a very dark beer with lots of coffee and dark chocolate flavours that was surprisingly not too bitter.

 

Ironhouse Point did their first brew in 2007 and opened the complex in 2009. If you’re after a souvenir, pick up a growler for $7 and pay an additional $18 to fill it with your favourite beer.

 

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We then moved on to the wines. They had a few white wines, as well as a pinot noir because it’s the best stuff to grow in the Tassie climate. Our favourites included the Sparkling White, a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. It had heaps of supple apple flavours but was still very light and crisp. We also loved the Pinot Noir, a wine matured for 3 months in the bottle, with heaps of fruity plums and dark cherry flavours. It was a smooth, light and hesitantly dry wine.

 

The most interesting wine of the day was the Sauvignon Blanc. All we could taste was ASPARAGUS! This was highly unusual for us! The wine was clear, crisp and acidic with some grassy tones as well.

 

Devil’s Corner

This winery is owned by Brown Brothers so we were expecting some great things from this place. The Cellar Door overlooked the valley to Moulting Lagoon and adjacent to it was a lookout. Both the cellar door and the lookout building seemed to be made from shipping containers – and while this may be trendy for some, we heard that some of the locals don’t like it.

 

As predicted, we did enjoy a few of their wines. The NV Sparkling Cuvee was lovely, light and easy to drink with 70% chardonnay and 30% pinot noir. They had a great selection of Pinot Noir and we found something we liked in each one. Of course, with our expensive tastes, the Resolution Pinot Noir 2014, which spent 9 months in French oak for smooth mouth feels, cherry tart flavours and complexity and structure, was a winner, as well as the Mt Amos 2014 Vintage, a rich coloured wine with 12 months in French oak and a dryness that washes away quickly.

 

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Freycinet Vineyards

Our tasting session was hosted by John the comedian. He immediately congratulated us for being there to taste the wine, and because we didn’t introduce ourselves, Dave was dubbed Jason and Juz was Olivia. We called him Bruce.

 

This winery had a great and interesting selection of wines. We highly recommend a visit if you want to try something off the beaten track.

 

Our favourites included a 2013 Louis Riesling/Schӧnburger, with 85% Riesling and 15% Schӧnburger grapes. It still had about 18 grams of residual sugar to give it a hint of sweetness, while still maintaining a light and crisp flavour. A white wine that Dave actually liked! We bought a bottle.

 

We also enjoyed the Riesling and Chardonnay, but once we got past the reds to the 2011 Botrytis, we were in heaven. This was the last botrytis they had made since in 2004, and it was bright yellow with honey and apricot flavours. And with 200g of residual sugar, it was rich, thick and syrupy.

 

Gala Estate

One of our favourite wineries, not just because of the wine but the history of the cellar door.  There was an old man named Theodore Castle who lived in that house. He had a simple life – cooked on a cast iron stove, didn’t have electricity, and kept busy by fishing and hunting for kangaroos. He died in 2009 and in 2010, Gala Estate bought the property and gave it a new life.

 

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The small yield of wines produced by the Gala Estate are high quality and worth the stop. They have a marvellous 2012 Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay that has creamy and yeasty qualities, perfect to pair with a nice brie cheese.

 

They also have a great selection of Pinot Noirs, our favourite being the 2011 First Vintage – silky and fruity after 12 months in French oak. If you enjoy a sweet wine, give their late harvest Riesling a go as well. It only has 85.2 grams of residual sugar so it’s not overly sweet, but it is still full of honeysuckle and apricot flavours.

 

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Spring Vale Winery

We were the first through the cellar door to try wines that day.  We highly recommend trying their 2015 Gewürztraminer with exotic fruit flavours and a persistent, peppery finish, as well as the Sticky Gewürztraminer, a sweet dessert wine that might not be available much longer due to its popularity.

 

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City Profile : Launceston

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Launceston is the second largest city in Tasmania and the 3rd oldest city in Australia, but it still has a lot of firsts – such as being the first Australian city to have underground sewers and be lit by hydroelectricity.

 

History

The area was first explored by George Bass and Matthew Flinders in 1798 but the settlement of Launceston was not established until 1806. It was originally called Patersonia, but the settlement was renamed after Launceston in Cornwall UK, where the NSW Governor Captain was born. Launceston grew and became an export centre. Churches, schools and pubs were built, and sporting groups were established.

 

In 1871, there was a minerals boom when tin was discovered at Mount Bischoff. There was also a spurt of gold mining in 1877 and over the next 20 years, it grew substantially. By 1889, Launceston was officially a city.

 

These days, it a charming place to visit, and being so close to Tasmania’s premium wine growing region, the Tamar River Valley – it has its own culture and focus on local food and drink.

 

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Places of Interest

Cataract Gorge

Perfectly contrasted next to the city, Cataract Gorge offers a lush recreation area and swimming pool surrounded by beautiful 100 year old gardens, wallabies and peacocks, walking tracks and cafes that serve Devonshire teas.

 

 

On top of all of this, you can ride the longest single span chairlift in the world. Pay $12 one way or $15 return and see the gorge from 30 metres above.

 

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Boag’s Brewery

No visit to Launceston is complete without a tour of Boag’s Brewery. The great thing about this tour is that it ends with a cheese pairing. We never thought to pair cheese with beer but the combinations offered are outstanding.

 

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City Park

Located in the heart of the city, this beautiful and ornate park is just behind the historic Albert Hall and provides a recreation centre for the locals. Whether it’s a group training session or a relaxed yoga class, it seems City Park is a popular spot for many and was once called the People’s Park.

There is also the John Hart Conservatory, the pretty Jubilee Fountain and the Macaque Monkey House – but we didn’t see any monkeys.

 

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Tamar Valley

North of Launceston is the Tamar River Valley, Tasmania’s premium food and wine region.  We only visited three wineries because we were time-poor – we have to recommend Tamar Ridge for its great selection of sparkling wines and pinot noirs.

 

The Tamar River runs through the centre on the region and there’s only one point along the river that you can cross – Batman Bridge. It’s a nice bridge with a picnic area on the eastern side of the river.

 

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Further north is Beauty Point, where Seahorse World is located. Go on a tour and learn about the various breeds of seahorse.

 

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On the east side of the river is a free camp area at Lilydale Falls. It was fairly crowded as it’s one of the closest free camps near Launceston. We met two Aussies, Josh and Anna, and shared stories about our travels and car disasters.

 

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Food  & Drink

Amelia Espresso

We were actually looking for another cafe called Messiah but stumbled across this place and caffeinated ourselves here instead.

 

It’s a small place with only a few places to sit, but the duo behind the counter were friendly and knew what they were doing because the coffee they produced was fantastic. The coffee had a citrus tang and they are experts at frothing soy milk.

 

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Alchemy Bar & Restaurant

Always on the hunt for a bargain, we checked out Alchemy Bar for their $14 lunch menu. The joint seemed funky enough – a big bar that looks out onto the street, with a dining area out the back. The decor was eclectic and mismatched but overly bad in taste.

 

The lunch menu had a great selection – fish and chips, lamb salad, chickpea burger – we went with the chicken parmigiana and pulled beef burger. The parma was a succulent piece of chicken panko crumbed and topped with ham, cheese and sauce. It came with shoestring fries and a well dressed salad. The pulled beef burger was cheesy but could have used a bit more sauce to moisten the beef, and more pickles for extra tang, but overall it was good.  It came with well-seasoned fries too.

 

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Tour : Boag’s Brewery

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A visit to Launceston wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Boag’s Brewery.

 

We pulled into the Boag’s Centre for Beer Lovers and were immediately fascinated by the beautiful Georgian building. Located across the road from the brewery, this building was built in 1826 and used to be a hotel licensed by women. It was originally called the Lame Dog Hotel, then the Gold Lion, and finally the Tamar Hotel before Boag’s adopted it. Exploring the building is quite a treat in itself – check out the original wallpaper on the ground floor.

 

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Our guide for the day, Don, has been doing tours for around 10 years. He began the tour in the Centre of Beer Lovers, talking about the history of the brewery and the main ingredients that go into beer – water, malt, hops and yeast.  He then guided us downstairs and outside to cross the street to the brewery.  As soon as you are out the front of the brewery, you can smell the sultry scents of malt in the air. The brewery takes up the whole block and all the steps of the brewing process are performed onsite.

 

The History

Boag’s beer all started back in 1853 when James Boag arrived in Australia with his wife and three kids. He got a job in a brewery, and after a year, his son James Boag II was born. When James Junior was old enough, he worked in a brewery too.

 

In 1883, father and son teamed up and bought the newly established Esk Brewery, forming J. Boag & Son. They didn’t stop there though – by 1900, J. Boag & Son had bought most of the other breweries in Launceston, and owned the entire block.

 

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During this time, James Boag III was born, James Boag I died and James Boag II was managing the business, up until 1919 when he died too. James Boag III took over the family business and was managing director until 1944. His contribution to the community through sporting and business activities made him a well loved and respected member of society.

 

As of 2008, J. Boag & Son has been owned by Lion – an Australian arm of the Japanese conglomerate – Kirin.

 

 

The Process

The making of Boag’s beer starts with the main ingredient – water. They source theirs from the Tamar River, which is pure soft water – low salt and mineral content. If a brewery wants more minerals in their beer for extra bitterness, then the water is burtonised by adding salt and minerals before brewing.

 

The second important ingredient is barley. The majority of the barley that goes into Boag’s beer is locally grown and is malted in Devonport. For a batch of beer, they use about 8-10 tonnes of malted barley.

 

The next ingredient is hops, and it just so happens that Tasmania is an ideal place to grow hops! More than half of Australia’s hops are grown in Tasmania because of the excellent growing conditions.

 

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The main ingredient that makes beer what it is, is yeast, and for each batch of beer, Boag’s use a tonne of the stuff.

 

Each batch of Boag’s beer makes about 49-50 thousand litres and they can do 7-8 batches in 24 hours. Once the mash has been cooked and hopped, it goes into fermenting tanks with the capacity to hold 200 thousand litres. The beer stays there to bubble away for around 7 days, depending on the brew. Ales prefer a more aggressive fermentation, while lager likes a low and slow fermentation, which is why it goes into maturation tanks for around 2-3 weeks.

 

The maturation tanks at Boag’s brewery have the capacity to hold up to 1.6 million litres of beer. Annually, Boag’s Brewery produces approximately 75 million litres of beer – that’s 200 million stubbies!

 

When it’s about time for the beer to be bottled, it goes through rigorous sensory testing. The testers are the only people who are allowed to consume alcohol onsite, and testing is done first thing in the morning to ensure a clean palate. The sensory test isn’t just beer tasting, it also covers the aroma and appearance.

 

Once the beer is ready, it’s filtered for cosmetic reasons, because for some reason, people like to be able to see through their beer. Boag’s beer used to be chill filtered, but these days they use diatomaceous filtering, which makes it anti-vegan because it uses the fossilised skeletal remains of single celled aquatic plants called diatoms. It’s then packaged without any preservatives, but is pasteurised to ensure that it’s safe for human consumption.

 

In terms of reusing and recycling, Boag’s is concerned with sustainability, just like most large breweries around Australia. The steam from the kettle is captured and reused, and CO2 produced in the fermenting tanks is collected and used to push fluid through pipes for cleaning. Also, the spent grain from the mash is transported to local farmers to feed their cows.

 

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The Tasting… and Cheese Pairing!

After the tour of the brewery, we went back to the Boag’s Centre for Beer Lovers for some beer and cheese pairing. Deadset – this was our favourite part of the tour, because not only did we never think to pair cheeses with beer, but the pairings were so complimentary that Juz now likes smoked cheese, when previously she loathed it.

 

Boag’s Premium & Triple Cream Brie

Boag’s Premium is a fantastic beer. It’s only available in stubbies to maintain its classy image. The beer is really light and crisp with great balance of hops and malt. It’s a lager that tastes like a pilsner. It was paired with King Island Heritage Triple Cream Brie – a complimentary light cheese to go with a relatively light beer. The buttery, salty cheese was absolutely delightful with Boag’s Premium.

 

XXX Ale & Vintage Cheddar

Locally referred to as Boag’s Red, Boag’s XXX Ale is more robust than the Premium and has a bigger hoppy burst. It was paired with Mersey Valley Original Vintage Cheddar, which has a lovely salty tang. The bitterness of the hops with the tang of the cheese combined perfectly.

 

Wizard Smith Ale & Smoked Cheddar

This darker beer is made with crystal malt and mild hops. It has an almost fruity smell and taste, and would normally be paired with robust flavours like lamb and game. Therefore, it would only make sense to pair it with a flavourful cheese like King Island Stokes Point Smoked Cheddar. This pair blew our minds.

 

The story behind the beer was quite interesting. It was named after a guy called Wizard Smith, a drayman who delivered the beer and looked after the horses for Boag’s. In 1929, there was a flood and he risked his life to save the horses. In return, Boag’s granted him lifetime employment and this pale ale was named in his honour.

 

The XXX Red Ale and the Wizard Smith are exclusively available in Tasmania – which is a shame because they are two fantastic beers. We bought a case of Wizard Smith before leaving Tasmania just so we could enjoy it back on the Mainland.

 

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The Essentials

Boag’s Brewery is located at 69 Esplanade in Launceston, but the Boags Centre for Beer Lovers is at 39 William Street.

 

Tours of the brewery run every day – bookings are essential and fully closed shoes must be worn. You can book yourself in by contacting the brewery on 03 6332 6300, or book online via their website: https://www.jamesboag.com.au

 

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Flavour Trail : Between Devonport and Launceston

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The drive from Devonport to Launceston is a tasty trip – make sure you stop at every location to get a true feel of the local produce of the region. Each place is worth a visit, and there is something that caters for everyone.

 

House of Anvers

This was our first stop out of Devonport and we were thoroughly impressed. The House of Anvers Chocolate Factory was established in 1931 and resides within a Californian bungalow on 1.1 hectares of gardens. The site offers chocolate tasting, viewing of factory operations, a museum about the origins of chocolate, and a delightful cafe.

 

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We went straight to the tasting station and tried the hazelnut truffle, rum and raisin truffle and cappuccino fudge. But the real treat was walking away with a block of Fortunato No. 4 chocolate – the rarest chocolate in the world.

 

Thought to be extinct since 1916, the Pure Nacional cacao plant was rediscovered in Peru in 2008 and is ultimate single origin source of chocolate. Believed to be the mother of cacao, the cacao pods contain white beans that are shipped to Switzerland to be transformed into couverture chocolate. House of Anvers is the only place in Australia that has the right to sell it.

 

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Cherry Shed

The Cherry Shed sells all things cherry – liqueur and port, ice cream, jams, chutney, cake, gifts and chocolate. There is also a huge tree made of cherry pips inside the cafe. Tastings are available and there are plenty of cherry themed things everywhere – including Cherry Ripe!

 

If you’re not going to stop for the cherry delights inside, at least stop for the Big Cherries outside. They’re so big, you can go inside.

 

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Seven Sheds Brewery

Seven Sheds Brewery has been open since 2008 and is located in Railton – the Topiary Capital of Australia.

 

 

We tasted five beers during our visit. Juz liked the Paradise Pale but her favourite was the Razzamatazz (5.2%), a light, tart and dry beer flavoured with local raspberries and blackberries.

 

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Dave’s faves were the Black Inca (5.8%) – infused with Peruvian Fortunato chocolate, toasted quinoa and oats – and the Kentish Ale (5.2%), a flavoursome, full bodied ale with a great balance of hops and malted barley.

 

Seven Sheds also grow their own hops – Fuggle, Goldings and others – and you can see the hops garden from the bar.

 

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Ashgrove Cheese

A must for any cheese lover – there’s a fabulous selection of plain and flavoured cheeses like cheddar and feta, even lavender cheese! They also sell a bunch of local produce like jams and chocolates, and there is a great display of colourful cows outside.

 

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Christmas Hill Raspberry Farm & Van Deimans Land Ice Creamery

A nice place to stop for some chocolate covered raspberries and interesting ice cream flavours.

 

Liffey Falls

About 30 minutes south of Deloraine, with a few kilometres of gravel road, Liffey Falls is definitely worth the detour.

 

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Stretch your legs on the 20 minute walk to the falls. There are a few stops along the way where the water cascades down shelves of rock, and if you’re lucky, you might spot a lizard or snake.

 

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If you still have energy, there’s a really short walk just behind the toilet to the Big Tree.  As the name suggests, it’s pretty big.

 

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Bracknell River Reserve

A great place to stop for the night, the Bracknell River Reserve on the western banks of the Liffey River offers free camping, toilets and a BBQ area.

 

If you enjoy fishing, drop a line in the river and you might just pull out a trout.

 

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Drink : Breweries in Sydney

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We went to five breweries while we were in Sydney, only missing out on visiting the Lord Nelson Brewery on the Rocks.  Still, we think we got a really good picture of how clever and crafty you can get with beer.

 

Young Henry’s

This place was cool.  Set in a colourful street art laneway in Newtown, this warehouse style tasting bar had high ceilings, grand fermenting tanks behind the bar, exposed brick walls, pop art hanging on the walls and an awesome soundtrack.  A paddle of six beers was $15 and we were really impressed with the variety.  The favourites were the Natural Lager with its crisp and refreshing taste with a warm yeasty finish, and the New Hop Ale with sweet hops and roasted malt bitterness.  The creative beers were the Young Mussel Wit, which was made with mussels but you wouldn’t know it if they didn’t tell you, and the Pink Lightning, a cloudy peach coloured beer with a floral perfume of rose, hibiscus and elderflower.

 

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Young Henry’s have been brewing for 3 years and they really take beer making to the next level.  Stop in for a beer or grab yourself a growler to take away.

 

Batch Brewing Co.

Another brewery operating out of a warehouse, you can see the operations behind the bar and get a good look on your way to the bathroom. They’ve been brewing for two years and have a fridge full of takeaway bombers (longnecks) and big growlers.

 

The place is a little hipster, offering a tasting crate of jars for $20, but don’t underestimate the beer because it’s fabulous.  We had a few favourites, like the Big Kahuna, which was made with coconut to give sweet coconut flavours to the smooth, rich brew, and the Elsie Milk Stout, a thick, dark beer made with lactose for a fine milky head.

 

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Sydney Brewery/Cidery

We stumbled across this place during our $100 Day and discovered that it’s actually the sister cidery to the Lovedale Brewery in the Hunter Valley.  We’d sampled their beers a few weeks earlier so we focused on the ciders.  They had a new concoction of mulled cider with various peels and spices, which was a great idea to release during winter, and we also tried a fantastic seasonal cider with agave and ginger.  What a great combination of sparkling cider and refreshing ginger!  We really loved it and ended up taking a squealer home.

 

After a tasting session, we went for a backstage tour of the cidery and learnt a little about making cider – who would have thought that the process is more like wine making that brewing beer!  Before heading off, we sat down in the stylish bar with our favourite Lovedale brews.  Dave went with the Rye IPA while Juz stuck with the crisp Lovedale Lager.

 

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4 Pines Brewing

The first brewery we visited in the Sydney metropolis, this location is more like a bar with timber tables and stools and an awesome view overlooking Manly Wharf.  We assume the main brewing operations are done elsewhere and this venue is dedicated to customers and small batch brews that are made in the small room behind the glass.

 

We sat down and ordered a Harbour Bridge inspired paddle of beers.  The cloudy Hefeweizen was full of banana sweetness while the Kolsch was more floral, crisp and dry with a hint of passionfruit.  Dave loved the Pale Ale with its balance of hops and citrus sweetness.  It was a pretty cool place with an awesome soundtrack – we can definitely imagine ourselves here for a Sunday session.

 

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Rocks Brewing Co.

It was hard to find this brewery, and even harder to find a park, but we made it to the venue eventually.  It was a lot bigger than what we were expecting, with a nice beer garden outside and two clear areas inside, the brewing area and the bar area.

 

We ordered a paddle and sat down, shivering because the doors to the beer garden were open letting all the frosty cold air in.  We sipped the beers and found they weren’t that great.  In our opinion, the flavours weren’t balanced at all and many were just too bitter to enjoy.  At least they had an interesting convict theme with the names of their beers.

 

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Drink : The Hunter Valley

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The Hunter Valley Wine Region is located around 60km inland from Newcastle, with Pokolbin at the centre.  It’s the hottest wine region in Australia and despite the plethora of vineyards and wineries, the area contributes only 3% of the total wine production of Australia.  The area had established vines by 1823 and flourished as a wine region from then onwards.

 

The two predominant varieties that are grown in the area are Semillon and Shiraz.  Semillon wines are white, crisp and acidic with some citrus, apple and subtle spice and they get better with age.  As the wine oxidises, it changes to a deep yellow colour and develops creamy apricot flavours.  Due to the climate of the area, the Shiraz wines are a little different – they almost resemble a Pinot Noir.  Shiraz wines used to be known as Hunter River Burgundy but because of France’s copyright on region names (like Champagne), they are back to being Shiraz.

 

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Wineries

Saddler’s Creek

The first winery on our Hunter Valley adventure, it was a great way to get to know the varieties of the region.  We tried a young crisp Semillon and compared it to an older Semillon with a distinctly more mature and delicious flavour.  Our host was great to chat to and knew a lot about the region.

 

Lindemans

One of the oldest wineries in the region, Lindemans have been around since 1843.  Their cellar door is quite impressive both on the outside and inside, and their entire selection was fantastic.  We particularly liked the 2013 Shiraz Reserve 1300 because it wasn’t as dry as most of the other Shiraz wines, and it was full of raspberry and dark cherry flavours.

 

Tulloch

We had a great tasting session here – the guy who hosted us really knew his stuff – but instead of focusing on Semillon wines, we explored Verdelho.  We learnt that Tulloch was the first to use the variety to make a table wine instead of a sweet dessert wine.  We dabbled with the reds before getting into the fortified wines.  The Limited Release Crème De Vin was absolutely delicious, full of ripe apricot and honey.

 

Piggs Peake Winery

All of the wines are named after something to do with pigs.  The Hogshead Chardonnay was lovely, the Suckling Pig Shiraz was sweet and fruity, and the Little Pig Verdelho Swines Only dessert wine was to die for, but when we were presented with a Shiraz named Kevin, our questioning glances were answered with one sultry word… “Bacon”.

 

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Pepper Tree Wines

This is a fairly young winery, having been established in 1991, and their cellar door operates out of a renovated barn that is simply charming.  They do a wonderful NV Tipsy Muscat that is supposed to come with its very own ‘tipsy’ bottle, but they had sold out that day so we missed out on the novelty.

 

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McGuigans

These guys are fairly well known but because they were right next to a cheese factory, we figured we’d check them out.  Their cellar door is huge and they have won several international awards for winemaker of the year.  Our favourite was the 2007 Bin 9000 Semillon – a gold medal winner that deserves its awards – and the NV Personal Reserve Muscat that had amazing nutty butterscotch and caramelised fig flavours that would not give up.

 

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Peterson House

Offering something a little different to the typical Hunter Valley range, Peterson House likes to add bubbles.  We tried most of what they had, each one better than the one before.  Their best seller, Pink Blush, was a great bubbly with floral and candied orange tones but what we loved was the Sparkling Botrytis Semillon and Sparkling Fortified Shiraz.

 

Breweries

Hunter Beer Co.

What was supposed to be a quiet session with a paddle in the corner turned into an incredible tasting extravaganza when one of the brewers came over for a chat.  Not only did we try the four beers on the paddle, but he also brought over samples of his zesty Ginger Beer, sweet Barley Wine, and the Slaked Magpie, which ended up being Dave’s favourite because it was like drinking a chocolate milkshake.

 

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He also told us a great story about how Hefeweizen beers existed in Germany before bananas, so when bananas finally arrived, everyone thought they tasted like beer!

 

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Lovedale Brewery

Located at the heart of the Crown Plaza Resort, the Lovedale Brewery offers a paddle of four beers for $9, which is pretty cheap.  We got the Lager, Pale Ale, Rye IPA and Porter, and while the Rye IPA was a pleasant surprise with deliciously sweet aromas and a toffee flavour, the crisp and refreshing lager was the clear winner.

 

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Matilda Bay Brewhouse

We broke all the rules at the Brewhouse, choosing our own selection of beers to taste instead of choosing one of their pre-selected paddle options.  While Juz favoured the Small Batch Bright Ale, Dave enjoyed the IGP (Itchy Green Pants).

 

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Hunter Distillery

With a massive range of spirits and flavours, there is something for everyone here, but our favourite by far was the honey vodka – it was like having honey on toast. The drinking vessels were very cool too.

 

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Food

The Hunter Cheese Factory

This was one of our favourite cheese tasting experiences.  We got a platter for $6.95 to share and it included five cheeses varying from a soft fromage to a creamy blue vein.  We loved the Sicilian style feta for its great savoury balance, as well as the Branxton blue brie for the rich earthy and mushroom flavours.

 

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Binnorie Dairy

The cheese tasting was free, fast and without any fuss, and before we knew it, we walked out with a tub of herb and garlic fromage frais.  This was an easy choice, but if we had more room in our fridge, we would have taken a jar of their labna and marinated goat fetta too.

 

Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop

Stocking local and imported cheeses, this was our only chance to sample some Hunter Belle cheese, made with Murray’s Beer.  The cheeses were odd – they had a strange yeasty flavour – but they were still good.  We also got to try some St Agur, a decadent blue cheese from France that costs around $100 a kilo.

 

Hunter Valley Chocolate Company

While we didn’t really taste any chocolate, there was a counter offering fudge tastings.  There was a massive range of flavours, but we loved the Australiana with lemon myrtle and macadamia, as well as the salted peanut caramel.

 

Hunter Valley Cookies

Located at the Village Shops near the Gardens, this little cookie shop makes huge cookies, and even has an interesting and eclectic collection of cookie jars.  We sampled the gluten free Florentine, which was a big, fat disc of chewy deliciousness.

 

While we were in the Village, we checked out the Tunnel of Beer in the Garden Cellars.  The selection of local and international beers was huge and it’s definitely worth having a look.

 

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Hotel Cessnock

Set in a swanky old building, the Hotel Cessnock has a few cheap lunch specials.  After doing a few wineries in the morning, we stopped for some lunch.  Dave got the rump steak and chips for $11 while Juz splashed out on a chicken schnitzel burger and chips for $12.  Both were tasty and adequately portioned to keep us going for the rest of the day.

 

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Information & Accommodation

Self-drive tours of the Hunter Valley are fine, but you will need a designated driver.  There are so many wine tours available for the area, it would be a shame not to take advantage of someone else driving you and your friends around.  Accommodation and wine tour bookings are available at the Hunter Valley YHA.

 

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If you don’t need the comfort of a tidy kitchen and warm bed, there is a rest area north of the region about 5km west of Branxton.  It can be a little noisy there though because it’s between the highway and the railway that transports all the coal to Newcastle for export. We didn’t mind because we had friendly neighbours JK and Oona to keep us company!

 

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Explore : New England – Armidale to Walcha

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Sitting on the edge of the Outback, New England is an undefined region of inland New South Wales that includes the Northern Tablelands and North West Slopes.  It’s an agricultural and grazing region that also benefits from mining and fossicking.  Due to the cold caused by the high elevation, our time in New England was brief.  We did a heritage walk around Armidale, tasted beer in Uralla, gawked at the Big Chicken in Moonbi, shielded our eyes from the Big Golden Guitar and marvelled at the sculptures in Walcha.

 

Armidale

Not only the administrative centre of New England, Armidale is also the highest city in Australia at 980 metres above sea level.  This elevation provides the city with a mild climate with pleasant summers but long cold winter.  Therefore, it has a problem with pollution and respiratory complaints because during the winter months, every wood heater in the city is billowing smoke into the atmosphere.

 

The elevation may also be responsible for the number of churches in the city.  With a population of just over 23,500 people and more than 20 churches, it seems like Armidale is the place where you can be closer to God.

 

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We did a quick heritage walk around the bustling city to look at the historic buildings, as well as a sculpture of the Tightrope Man, an artistic piece representing Signor Vertelli, who walked across Dangar Falls on a tightrope in 1866.

 

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Uralla

With a population of just over 2,000 people, Uralla is a relatively small town and we were surprised to find out that there was a brewery in town.  The New England Brewery is based in a big shed on the main street and started in 2013.  They have a great variety of craft beers, each with their own unique characteristics. Juz enjoyed the Golden Ale, with its bready flavours, fruity citrus and a creamy malt finish.  It actually gets half of its yeast from the Farmhouse Saisson, another delicious brew.

 

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Just before we left, Ben the brewer asked if we were going to visit the Black Duck Brewery in Port Macquarie, and when we confirmed that we were planning to, he asked us to pass on a message to Al the brewer.  “Tell him,” Ben said, “that you guys had trouble finding a park…”

 

http://www.newenglandbrewing.com.au/

 

Kentucky

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Moonbi

We spent the night at the Moonbi Park Lookout and in the morning, we climbed the stairs atop the big granite boulder to get a misty view of the surrounding area.

 

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Around 7km down the road is the small village of Moonbi, home of the Big Chicken.

 

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Tamworth

After a cold night, all we wanted was a nice coffee so when we got to Tamworth, we went straight to the Old Bell Tower based on great reviews.  Unfortunately, the experience there was so shitty, we were consequently shitty for the rest of the day.  If we weren’t in such a bad mood, we probably would have stayed Tamworth for a little longer.

 

Tamworth is known as the City of Lights, having been the first place in Australia to use electric street lights in 1888.  It’s also the Country Music Capital of Australia because of the Tamworth Country Music Festival, and the National Equine Capital of Australia because of the number of equine events held there.  After our crappy coffee experience, we drove down to see the Big Golden Guitar, drove up to the Oxley Lookout, and exited towards the coast.

 

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Walcha

Walcha was a highlight.  The tree lined streets were ablaze with red leaves and covered the gutters in crunchy curls.  There were sculptures everywhere, some welded from iron, and some carved out of wood.  On the outskirts of town was a deer farm, which can be an odd sight in Australia.

 

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On our way towards the coast, the road weaved through Cotton-Bimbang National Park.  The cold weather and lingering mist made the forest look sad and lonely and the dreary weather followed us to Port Macquarie.

 

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$100 front

$100 Day : Brisbane

$100 Day
Since leaving Melbourne, Brisbane is the biggest city we have visited.  It’s Australia’s third most populous city, behind Melbourne and Sydney.  Planning our $100 day was hard because we wanted to fit in as much as possible, but we soon found that it would be harder to spend the $100 than we thought because of all the great things to do and see for free.

 

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1. Coffee at Scout Café, a short walk from the Brisbane City YHA.  It was a great way to start the day as this understated little café was playing happy big band music and made an awesome cup of coffee.

$8.80

2. Walk over William Jolly Bridge to Southbank – checked out the brachiosaurus display to promote a new exhibition, walked under the Arch of Flowers past Streets Beach to the CityHopper terminal.

Free

3. Catch the CityHopper and travel along the Brisbane River, past the Kangaroo Point Cliffs to Eagle Street Pier.

Free

4. Stroll through the city, down Queen Street Mall, admire City Hall in King George Square, visit Anzac Square War Memorial and St John’s Cathedral.

Free

5. Walk to Fortitude Valley for lunch – Fatboy’s Burgers lunch special at the Royal George Hotel.  A juicy BLT with lots of bacon and a side of curly fries with garlic aioli dip – absolutely delicious.

$13.70

6. Visit Chinatown and grab a pack of mochi from the Asian supermarket.

$2.80

7. Catch free city loop bus from Wharf Street to the Botanic Gardens and enjoy the mochi by the river.

Free

8. Cross over the Brisbane River via the Goodwill Bridge and have a peak at the HMAS Diamantina in the Maritime Museum.

Free

9. Get a tasting paddle of Brisbane Brewing Company beer at the Brewhouse.

$15.00

10. Sample some craft beer at the Hoo Ha Bar.  We got a pint of the Sunshine Coast Brewery Rye ESB.

$10.00

11. Munch on some dumplings at Bamboo Basket on Grey Street.

$19.80

12. Visit the Queensland Museum and learn about the natural world.

Free

13. Get a tasting paddle of James Squires beer at Charming Squires.

$12.00

13. Peruse the stalls at the Collective Markets.  We got a block of jam donut fudge from the Fudge Forever stall – amazingly good.

$5.00

TOTAL SPEND

$87.10

 

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Our night could have ended there… but it didn’t.  We went back to the Brisbane City YHA to find that they were doing trivia upstairs for a special event.  There were no teams – you just have to clap to buzz in and a correct answer scored you a beer.  After quickly winning three beers, we decided we had an unfair advantage with all the Australiana questions and kept quiet until the quizmaster coaxed Dave onto stage to take over.

 

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Once all the beer had run out, we had a quick rest before heading over the Caxton Street.  Our destination was Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, an old American style venue with chandeliers, red draping on the ceilings and a small stage for live music.  If the brooding red bar isn’t your scene, go upstairs to the Mermaid Bar, with turquoise walls, fish net hanging from the ceiling, and an awesome model of a pirate ship behind the bar.  Lefty’s was so packed because it was a Friday night, and  it was about to turn into a sardine tin with sports fans leaving the Suncorp Stadium and creating a line out the front.  We fled, but promised that we’d be back on a weeknight for one of their infamous apple whiskeys.

 

All in all, it was a ripper $100 day.  We accomplished so much, saw everything we wanted to see, and even had some money left over.

 

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Beer in Brisbane

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The biggest beer producer in Brisbane is the XXXX Brewery, but there are plenty of little microbreweries around town.  We did our best to taste what Queensland’s capital had to offer.

 

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The Brewhouse

The Brewhouse is a corner pub that does typical pub meals and has a casual atmosphere.  They pour a variety of beers, but what we were interested in were brews from the Brisbane Brewing Company.  Their beers not only have their alcohol percentage listed, but also their IBU (International Bittering Unit), which immediately gave us the impression that they love using hops.

 

Juz’s favourites were the beers with the lowest IBU – the Brisbane Pale Ale was sweet and fruity, with plenty of passionfruit and a bit of citrus and hops at the end, while the Saisson 88 Farmhouse Ale was pleasantly sweet with minimal hops but plenty of thick malt flavours and a hint of sourness.

 

Dave was hot on the more bitter beers, such as the US Amber Ale, with initial sweetness and a developing hoppy bitterness and roasted malt flavours.  Not being a huge IPA fan, he was surprised to find the Walker Texas Ranger American IPA really nice as well, believing that the American slant made the IPA more palatable.

 

Brewhouse

 

They offer tasting paddles for $15, but if you really love a particular beer, you can opt for a takeaway squealer or growler, or you can enrol at Brewniveristy and do a quick course on brewology.

 

http://www.brewhouse.com.au/

 

The Charming Squire

This popular drinking hole is on Grey Street near South Bank and is sleek, trendy and modern.  We were there just in time for Friday drinks so it was busy with people who were celebrating the end of another week of work.  There is a small stage for live music, vats and beer kegs on display and high ceilings in a minimalist hall.  There is also an adjacent restaurant and smaller outlet called the Brewer’s Pantry that does breakfasts, share plates and pizza.

 

JamesSquires

 

While we could have gotten a tasting paddle of four beers for $12, we know that we like James Squires beers and ordered a big glass of our favourites.  Juz went with the Sundown Australian Lager – crisp and light beer that’s easy to drink with minimal hops.  Dave went for something a little stronger, and darker – Jack of Spades Porter is almost black with coffee and chocolate flavours.

 

http://www.jamessquire.com.au/

 

The Green Beacon

The Green Beacon Brewery is located in a warehouse on a quiet street in Teneriffe.  The cavernous hall has shiny tanks displayed behind the bar, with an assortment of seating.  They don’t have a kitchen; instead they have a timetable of food trucks that visit the brewery every night of the week, making for a great symbiotic relationship.

 

While they don’t have tasting paddles, you can sample a few of the beers on tap.  We had sip of a few beers and Dave settled on their fruity Porter with creamy dark chocolate flavours.

 

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http://www.greenbeacon.com.au/

 

The Newstead

Just around the corner from the Green Beacon is the Newstead, another brewery that pulls beers out of a warehouse-like establishment. Unlike the Green Beacon, they have their own kitchen that dishes out a variety of share plates and meals.

 

We got a tasting paddle of four beers for $12 – Juz went with the lighter beers with less hops while Dave went with the darker brews with plenty of flavour.  His favourite was the 21 Feet 7 Inches Porter, creamy and rich with coffee and chocolate, while Juz enjoyed the 3 Quarter Time Session Ale, a light beer with a sweet passionfruit smell and light crisp taste.

 

Newstead

 

What was most enjoyable was the awesome soundtrack.  We didn’t want to leave because after one awesome song would finish, another would start.

 

http://newsteadbrewing.com.au/

 

Four Hearts Brewing

Located in Ipswich, about 40 minutes from Brisbane, Four Hearts Brewing Pumpyard Bar and Brewery is a trendy venue with a minimalist industrial interior, warm lighting and a funky steam punk feel.  The old heritage listed building was built in 1910 on the original site that supplied water to the city, and was previously used as a technical school.   We were absolutely stoked to stumble across this gem.  It’s one of those places that you can spend the afternoon, drinking great beer beside the shiny brewing tanks, and even take home a stainless steel growler full of your favourite brew.

 

4Hearts

 

We tasted the whole range of beers before deciding on our favourites.  As usual, Juz enjoyed the mid strength Longshot Session Ale because of the sweet fruit flavours and clean crisp taste, while Dave loved the Pale Ale with the hoppy build up, passionfruit flavours and a dry grapefruit and malty aftertaste.

 

But our real favourite was the seasonal Coffee Cream Ale.  This limited edition brew is a combination of Toby’s Estate cold drip coffee with crisp, clean ale.  Essentially, it’s caffeinated beer and needless to say, after a few schooners, you have quite a buzz.

 

http://www.4heartsbrewing.com/

 

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City Profile : Brisbane

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Brisbane is the biggest city we have visited on our lap – it’s Australia’s third most populous city, behind Melbourne and Sydney.  Nicknamed Bris-Vegas because of its cosmopolitan lifestyle, Brisbane is a city full of pretty churches, crazy drivers, American inspired eateries and hills – all providing a great view of the CBD.

 

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Fast Facts

  • When the Brisbane City Hall opened in 1930, it was the city’s tallest building.
  • The Story Bridge opened in 1940 and is the longest cantilever bridge in Australia.
  • To remove the stigma of being a big country town, Brisbane’s infrastructure was redeveloped and a tram system was installed in the CBD and inner suburbs. This was a popular mode of transport until 1969 when the network was closed.  The tram system has since reopened and runs from Southport to Broadbeach..
  • Brisbane’s economy benefits from the tourism of the Sunshine Coast in the north and the Gold Coast in the south.

 

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History

The CBD sits in the original settlement that was established along the Brisbane River, east of the Great Dividing Range, and was named after the Governor of New South Wales from 1821 to 1825, Sir Thomas Brisbane.

 

The first European settlement in the area was a penal colony at Redcliffe, about 28km to the north, but free settlers were allowed in the area from 1842.  Once Queensland was separated from New South Wales in 1859, Brisbane was declared the capital of the state, but it didn’t earn the status of a city until 1902.  During the 20th century, Brisbane underwent massive growth, amalgamating with over twenty other small towns in the area to become the City of Brisbane in 1925.

 

Brisbane City

 

Points of Interest

CBD

There is plenty to see in the city.  Explore the streets, gape at the high-rise buildings, duck into an alleyway café or find as many sculptures as you can.  City Hall in King George Square is magnificent, and Anzac Square War Memorial is a great place to take your lunch.  On the northern side of town is St John’s Cathedral, the mother church of the diocese of Brisbane.  The church was built in three stages, with the foundation stone laid in 1901 and the final stage completed in 2009.

 

Brisbane CBD

 

South Bank

On the other side of the river is the South Bank Parklands, complete with an inland manmade beach called Streets Beach, and the Arch of Flowers.  Nearby is the Queensland Museum and Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA).  Both are open daily and the entry is free, but if you want to see a special exhibition, you may have to purchase a ticket.

 

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On the southern end of the Parklands is the Goodwill Bridge and Wartime Museum.  If you don’t want to pay to enter the museum, you can see enough from the bridge, which spans the Brisbane River to the City Botanical Gardens on the other side.

 

South Bank is a popular spot for festivals and events.  While we were in Brisbane, we saw the annual Lantern Parade, which celebrates multiculturalism, and attended the Lifeline Bookfest at the Convention Centre.  If you’re peckish, there are plenty of eateries and bars along Grey Street.

 

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XXXX Brewery

Located on Milton Road, the XXXX Brewery might not seem like much but it’s a must visit destination in Brisbane.  Inside is a bar that serves the best burgers in Queensland and the tours through the brewery are fantastic.  Check out our post here.

 

Mount Coot-tha & Brisbane Botanical Gardens

Meaning place of honey, Mount Coot-tha is 287 metres above sea level and is the highest peak in Brisbane, offering amazing unobstructed views of the city.  Whether you go there at sunrise, sunset or in the middle of the day, it’s a popular spot amongst locals and tourists alike, and the nearby Summit Restaurant is perfect for functions or lunch.

 

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A little way down the mountain is the Brisbane Botanical Gardens.  It’s certainly worth a visit, as there is an excellent selection of plants, as well as a Japanese garden, bonsai house and an impressive tropical display dome.

 

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Markets

Brisbane is mad for markets, and there are plenty around town to suit everyone.  The West End Markets on Saturday morning and the Eagle Farm Markets on Sunday morning are very similar –both have live music, clothing stalls, a wide variety of food stands, and fresh fruit and veggies.  The West End Markets are free to visit, but the Eagle Farm Markets are bigger and will cost you $2 to get in.  We had an awesome breakfast at the Eagle Farm Markets – an omelette with the lot for $9 and Hungarian lángos with additional bacon for $10 filled us up until the afternoon.

 

Brisbane Markets

 

The Eat Street Markets on Friday and Saturday nights, and Sunday afternoons, are a foodies dream.  It’s a funky market at Hamilton Wharf with around 60 shipping containers that have been reconfigured as food outlets.  There’s plenty of choice and many international cuisines are represented.  It also costs $2 to get in, but with live music and great views of the city at sunset, it’s worth the visit.  Our highlight was the Snickers cruffin – a muffin shaped croissant filled with caramel and topped with chocolate and peanuts – YUM!

 

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Closer to town is the Collective Markets on South Bank.  While it’s nowhere near as big as Eagle Farm or Eat Street, there is a fudge stall there that makes the best jam donut fudge we have ever tasted.

 

Food & Drink

Brisbane is obsessed with the American food scene, and there are heaps of food outlets offering American style pizza, sandwiches, bagels and burgers.  There’s also a noticeable presence of Asian cuisine, a love of craft beer and a solid passion for good coffee.

 

Coffee

We were so happy to be in a city that valued good coffee, so we were sure that wherever we went, we’d get a palatable brew.  Our first coffee experience was at Scout Café down the road from the Brisbane City YHA.  It’s one of the popular places in town – an understated café playing happy big band music that makes great coffee.

 

Our second experience was our best – Tutto Caffe Espresso Bar in Ashgrove not only makes amazing coffee but also a monster of a meal, the pork belly challenge.  Imagine succulent pork belly, bacon and haloumi in a Turkish bun with salad and a delicious Moroccan sauce – death by deliciousness.

 

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Bris Cafe

 

 

Asian

We tried four Asian establishments all up.  If you’re in the city, there are plenty of great options for a cheap lunch.  Roll’d is a healthy Vietnamese franchise that offers Pho in a Cup for $5.90 – a great way to get a daily fix of pho without the belly bludge.  Bing Boy at the food court under Post Office Square is also great in taste and in value.  Juz found it by accident after wandering the city for over an hour, not knowing what to have for lunch.

 

Brisbane Asian

 

Bamboo Basket on South Bank was the fanciest place we ate at.  We paid $19.80 for two servings of dumplings but they were pretty tasty.  On the cheaper end of the scale is Trang Vietnamese Restaurant in West End, with a big bowl of pho with silky rice noodles setting you back around $11.90.

 

Another place that we really wanted to try was Café O Mai – a Vietnamese café that serves breakfast with a western twist.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get around to going, but if we visit Brisbane again, it will be on the list.

 

Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall

Another example of Brisbane’s love affair with America, this elaborate saloon style bar with crimson walls and hanging chandeliers is a great place to sip a whiskey and apple juice while listening to live music.  For a change of scenery, go upstairs to the Mermaid Bar for some rowdy seafaring fun.

 

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Fatboy’s Burgers

The RG in Fortitude Valley has midday munchies sorted with their Fatboy Lunch Specials.  We got a scrumptious BLT with thick sliced bread and loads of bacon, with curly fries with aioli on the side.  The total was $13.70 and satisfied us both.

 

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Beer

Brisbane is a great place for beer lovers.  The XXXX Brewery is the main beer producer in Brisbane, but if this iconic Queensland beer is not your cup of tea, at least try the awesome beef burger on their lunch menu.

 

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If you love kooky and crafty beers, a visit to the Hoo Ha Bar can be enlightening.  This industrial style bar serves a selection of craft beer.  Dave was impressed with the Sunshine Coast Brewery Rye ESB. Which had a luscious raspberry smell and minimal hops. They also had a coffee kolsch, but it wasn’t as good at the coffee cream ale in Ipswich.

 

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Another great place for beer is Charming Squires on Grey Street.  It seems to be a popular place for after work drinks or a weekend session, and they offer tasting paddles of four James Squires beers of your choice for $12.

 

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There are also a few microbreweries around town. Check out our article here.

 

Information & Accommodation

Brisbane’s public transport system is called Translink http://translink.com.au/ and it is a comprehensive network of trains, trams, buses and ferries.  We made use of the bus route into the city, as well as the free city loop bus to get around, but the highlight was the free City Hopper ferry that cruises over the Brisbane River.

 

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There are various tickets you can get to travel on public transport, but the most economical for frequent travelling is a go card, which can be purchased from various locations like 7 Eleven for $10.  You then top up the card with money and touch on/off as you travel.  Paper tickets are available for one time use – they are a one way ticket valid for two hours and are significantly more expensive than go card travel.

 

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For accommodation, we recommend the Brisbane City YHA. It’s clean, quiet, spacious, and the rooftop deck provides awesome views of the city.  Check out our post here.

 

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City Profile : Ipswich

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Ipswich is a city of over 180,000 people and is around 40km west of Brisbane.  While it was considered to be a separate city, due to urban spread and for statistical purposes, Ipswich is now part of Brisbane’s greater metropolitan area.  Compared to the hustle and bustle of Brisbane, Ipswich is much smaller, more manageable in terms of traffic and getting around, and with a friend from Melbourne stationed at the nearby RAAF Base, we were stoked to stick around and explore the city.

 

Starting as a limestone mining settlement in 1827, Ipswich is soaked in heritage and one of Queensland’s oldest cities.  It was primarily populated by the first overseas convicts that were sent to mine the area.  The settlement was named Limestone, but in 1843, it was renamed Ipswich after a town in England.  Growing steadily as an inland port that serviced the local industries, Ipswich was a prime candidate to become Queensland’s capital but Brisbane won the votes in 1859.  In 1860, it was declared a town and by 1904, it had grown into a city.

 

Our first visit was a sunset rendezvous as we were on our way to Toowoomba.  After collecting a map and some tips from the Visitor Information Centre, we quickly got to action, starting with two lookouts – the Lions Lookout at the top of Queens Park and Denmark Hill Lookout atop a water tower just south of the city centre.  Once the sun was gone, we found the Pumpyard, an awesome new bar.

 

Our second visit was to see Lucy, a friend from Melbourne.  We met for a quick coffee and bite to eat at Deann’s Coffee House before continuing the caffeination with coffee ale at the Pumpyard.

 

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Desperate to walk off the buzz, we explored the eerily quiet streets before stumbling upon Noodle City for dinner.  Still reeling from all the coffee, we said goodbye to Lucy and headed towards Fassifern rest area for the night.  It was nice and quiet, with a large toilet block and plenty of space.  In the morning, we noticed our neighbours had a very colourful van.

 

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Ingestion in Ipswich

Deann’s Coffee House

An awesome retro café in the heart of Ipswich – it’s almost like a museum!  Get nostalgic over the old furniture and décor while you sip of a fabulously made coffee or munch on a succulent BLT.  They even play great music.

 

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The Pumpyard

This place is full of pleasant surprises.  Home to Four Hearts Brewing, the 100 year old heritage listed building used to be a Technical school and was built on the original site that supplied water to Ipswich.  While all of their beers are fantastic, the winner was the seasonal Coffee Cream Ale, a limited edition brew that was deliciously sweet and caffeinated!  Fingers crossed they make another batch again!

 

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Noodle City

This might look like a standard noodle joint but it’s friendly, cheap and the noodles are delicious.  Dave got the BBQ Pork Noodles and Juz got the Chicken Laksa and both went down a treat.

 

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