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City Profile : Hobart

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Hobart is a beautiful city that has retained the nostalgia of its history beautifully. Founded in 1804 as a penal colony, Hobart was initially known as Hobart Town or Hobarton, after Lord Hobart, the colonial secretary. Settlement wasn’t easy due to violent conflicts with the traditional owners – the bloodshed and introduction of disease reduced the aboriginal population rapidly. Nearly 40 years after settlement, Hobart became a city and was finally renamed Hobart in 1881.

 

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The first thing we noticed about Hobart was the traffic. Of course, arriving during peak hour wasn’t helpful but it gave us a true impression of how bad the congestion actually is. Apparently, this issue has arisen because of a change in the bus timetables. The locals cracked the shits and decided to drive in to work instead but it just made things worse.

 

The second thing we noticed was the scenery. Hobart sits in the valley of the Derwent River, a sparkling feature, not some dirty sewer that runs through the city, like the Yarra River in Melbourne.  The surrounding foothills seem to create a bit of an amphitheatre around the city, and many of the charming houses have two storeys to best utilise the inclined landscape. The main mountain that dominates the city skyline is Mount Wellington.

 

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We made a bee-line straight for the Royal Hobart Showgrounds for a shower before heading into town for some dinner and sightseeing. We planned to spend the morning in Hobart before heading south for the weekend, and then returning to Hobart on Monday to stay at the Hobart Central YHA after a pub crawl.

 

Fast Facts

  • Hobart is the most populated city in Tasmania.
  • It is the second oldest capital city behind Sydney and has a population of approximately 218,000 people.
  • Much of the Waterfront area is reclaimed land as a result of convict labour in the 1830s.
  • Charles Darwin visited Hobart in 1836 and climbed Mount Wellington.
  • The average temperature during the summer months is around 21 degrees and the winter average is 12 degrees.

 

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Things To Do

Royal Botanic Gardens

Courses for horses – we like Botanic Gardens. They had a great selection of plant varieties, including a Japanese Garden, herb garden and orchid house. The gardens are quite historical and started off as a veggie garden in 1806. It was eventually known as the Colonial Gardens and cultivated fresh fruits and vegetables, some new to Tasmania at the time.

 

It wasn’t until 1818 that the gardens were officially dubbed the Royal Botanical Gardens, making them the second oldest gardens in Australia behind the Sydney Botanic Gardens.

 

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Salamanca Markets

Occurring every Saturday morning in the Salamanca district, the markets are a great event for tourists and locals alike. Stalls include various delights such as fudge, wood crafts, leathergoods, gems and jewellery, wine and whisky tasting, colourful clothes, fresh flowers and vegetables.

 

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There are also buskers and food vans, where we ate wallaby for the first time in burrito form. It was delicious.

 

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Salamanca Place is also the location of many heritage-listed buildings and is where most of Hobart’s nightlife occurs.

 

MONA

An acronym for the Museum of Old and New Art, this interesting art space opened in 2011 and has been intriguing, insulting and disgusting people ever since.  Reputed to be the most offensive art gallery around, the collections are displayed underground in the bunker-like halls below the main entrance.

 

Unlike many art galleries that can be a bit posh, stuffy or sterile, MONA has a more relaxed, creative and tongue in cheek attitude. Visitors explore the museum with an interactive “O” device that contains the information about the art instead of labelling each piece.

 

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While we were there, the main show was the Gilbert & George exhibition, a thought-provoking and colourful display of current affairs and personal opinions. There was also a… “ladies’ parts” exhibit, with over 70 plaster casts of wall-mounted fannies, and the Death Gallery where upon entering, you put yourself at risk of falling into eerie black water.

 

Possibly the most offensive piece, to Juz’s sensitive nose at least, was Cloaca – the poop machine. It is fed twice a day and poops daily, and it stunk really bad. Apparently, the commentary behind the work is that art is shit anyway, so the artist created a piece of art that creates pieces of art.

 

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Mount Wellington

Towering over the city, Mount Wellington stands 1,271 metres high and provides killer views of Hobart and the surrounding area, as far as Bruny Island. The terrain at the peak is very rocky and harsh, probably because it’s so freaking windy and cold!

 

 

Food & Drink

We were actually quite impressed with the offerings of Hobart’s food and drink. We made sure we tasted the best that Hobart had to offer, including coffee, breakfast, pub meals and something a little different.

 

Coffee

While Machine Laundry Cafe is a widely popular cafe for breakfast and lunch, we just stopped in for coffee before perusing the Salamanca markets. Despite the long wait, the coffee was fantastic and surprisingly cheaper than what we usually pay for a long macchiato and soy latte – $7.70.

 

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The other cafe we visited was Pilgrim Coffee on Argyle Street, just a few blocks from the Hobart Central YHA.  It’s a popular spot for caffeination before work, and while the coffee was good, it wasn’t as good as the ones from Machine Laundry Cafe.

 

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Breakfast

There were heaps of places we wanted to try, and if we had more time, then we would have, but we limited our breakfast outings to two only. Our first breakfast was at Daci & Daci Bakery, an incredibly popular French bakery with a huge selection and display of cakes, pastries and other delicious delights.

 

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Dave ordered the French toast with bacon, scrambled eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and ajvar relish, while he enjoyed his breakfast, he said it was nothing to write home about and had serious food envy for Juz’s Croque Monsieur. While it wasn’t much to look at and many may see it as a glorified toasted sandwich, it was bloody delicious. The croque was filled with prosciutto, gruyere and Dijon mustard and had an excellent burst of flavour from the quality fillings.

 

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Our second and last breakfast was at a little cafe called Pigeon Hole in West Hobart. It’s owned by Weston Farms, a local farm to the north of Hobart that wanted to bring its seasonal and organic produce to the people via the cafe. When you read the menu, whatever has come off the farm is highlighted in green text. We parked our car on the hilly street adjacent to the cafe – we reckon the incline was about 30 degrees.

 

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They also had a croque monsieur on the menu, so we shared this with a serve of soft baked eggs flavoured with lemon, taleggio cheese and herbs. It was refreshingly tangy from the citrus and delicately flavoursome. The side of toasted sourdough bread was the perfect accompaniment.

 

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The croque monsieur was also a hit – a thick layer of ham, savoury raclette cheese and mustard for tang was squished and toasted between two thick slices of seedy bread. Different from the Daci & Daci croque but still delicious in its own way.

 

Lunch or Dinner

Recommended to us by a friend, we attended Mures Lower Deck for a fish and chip dinner. Geez it was busy – probably with both locals and tourists. Dave ordered the Catch of the Day – school shark with chips – while Juz wanted a taste of everything so she got the Fisherman’s Basket with blue grenadier, prawns, scallops, marinated fish, squid and chips.

 

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As far as fish and chips go, it was fresh and tasty, but also a bit pricy. We didn’t want to know how much it would cost to eat on the upper deck.

 

Hope & Anchor Hotel

This tavern was built in 1807 and claims to be Australia’s oldest pub.  It’s accumulated wealth from its years can be seen if you go upstairs to the beautiful dining rooms.

 

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Our pub crawl started at the Hope and Anchor so we had a big lunch. Dave had a whole Aussie parmi with egg and bacon while Juz got a half Mexican jalapeno parmi and a chicken tandoori burger, both with sweet potato chips instead of regular chips. Everything was well priced and tasted fantastic. We highly recommend this pub for both drinks and meals.

 

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The Winston

This was our oddball meal – the Winston is a pub with an American twist and seems to be popular with the locals. The menu has a variety of ribs, buffalo wings, burgers and such that sound very Yankee, and there is also a great selection of hot sauces available.

 

Dave ordered the Winston burger, the first Winston for the night. This novel burger is stuffed with deep fried bacon, grilled chicken, dill ranch sauce between two waffles – served in a dog bowl. He couldn’t finish it so we doggy-bagged the rest for our lunch the next day.

 

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Juz ordered the buffalo chicken burger with blue cheese sauce and fries. For sides, she also got a serve of massive onion rings and buffalo chicken wings with more blue cheese sauce to share with Dave. Everything was really tasty.

 

Cascade Brewery

Cascade Brewery is the oldest brewery in Australia, established in the early 1830s by a convict. The brewery itself is quite a sight, but it’s also worth stopping in at the Visitors Centre for a tasting paddle.

 

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Larks Distillery

Located close to the Waterfront, Larks Distillery is a popular spot with locals and tourists. They offer a tasting of three whiskies – you can read up about it here…

 

Information & Accommodation

The Hobart Visitor Information Centre is located at 16-20 Davey St in the CBD. It’s open daily from 9am to 5pm.

 

Royal Hobart Showgrounds – For only $10, we had a place to stay near the city, hot showers, toilets and a community of other travellers to mingle with. Of course, we met another Troopy legend there and chatted about our adventures until bedtime. Considering how many people were camped there, it didn’t feel crowded at all because of how much space is available.

 

For more central accommodation, check out the Hobart Central YHA near the corner of Macquarie and Argyle Street. Everything is within walking distance, particularly a major supermarket, the Information Centre and coffee.

 

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City Profile : Toowoomba

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Toowoomba is about 125km west of Brisbane and is the most populous inland non-capital city in Australia.  It’s located in the Darling Downs region of Queensland, a region that was discovered in 1827 by an English botanist who declared the area perfect for farming and grazing.  Also known as the Garden City, the rich volcanic soil is perfect to nurture the 150 public parks scattered around the city.

 

With only a morning to spend in Toowoomba, we tried to see and do as much as we could.  After visiting a few parks, we braved the confusing one way streets of the town centre to see the Empire Theatre, which started out as a silent movie theatre in 1911.  It burnt down in 1933 but was rebuilt in the trendy architectural style of the time – art deco.  It was restored in the 1990s and these days it can seat 1,500 people, making it the largest regional theatre in Australia.

 

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After a quick trip out to Charlton to stock up on some Jim’s Jerky, we made our way back to Brisbane.

 

Things to See and Do

Queens Park Gardens

Established in 1875, Queens Park Gardens is Toowoomba’s botanic gardens.  It’s a nice place to stroll through and have a picnic.  Check out the awesome hedge garden with cool cubic bushes, the fountains with blue water, and the kooky flower photo ops.

 

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Picnic Point Park

Sitting atop the crest of the Great Dividing Range, Toowoomba is nearly 700m above sea level so you’re guaranteed to be treated to some stunning views.  Picnic Point Park is the best place to look out over the valley below and it also features an enormous Australian flag and blue waterfall.

 

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Ju Raku En – Toowoomba’s Japanese Gardens

Located next to the University of Southern Queensland, these traditional Japanese Gardens are one of Australia’s largest stroll gardens and include a life-sized Zen garden, pretty Japanese maples, and bright red bridges over a pond inhabited by massive ducks.

 

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The Japanese name means longevity to enjoy, a place for public recreation.  It’s open daily from 7am to dusk and admission is free.

 

Jim’s Jerky

This is where it all happens.  Jim’s Tucker Box is the ultimate place to stock up on all your favourite jerky flavours, and its open 7 days a week.  We even got to meet Jim!

 

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Helidon Rest Area

Less than 20km from Toowoomba, this rest area might be a little noisy as it’s right next to the highway and the creek crossing is used frequently by locals, but there’s plenty of space.

 

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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.

 

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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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Explore : The Central Highlands

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Just below the Isaac Region is the Central Highlands of Queensland.  It’s a new region that was created in 2008 and encompasses Capella in the north, Duaringa in the east, Rolleston in the south and the Gemfields to the west.

 

We entered the Central Highlands from the north after spending the night at Lake Elphinstone.  We breezed through Capella, Rubyvale and Sapphire before arriving in Emerald to set up camp for the night.

 

Emerald

The capital of the Central Highlands, Emerald is a friendly town that was named after the lush green pastures that used to surround the town.  Established in 1879 as a base for the building of the western railway, it’s a clean and tidy town that services the surrounding coal mines and is also involved in agricultural activities such as growing cotton and sorghum.

 

The Visitor Information Centre is the best place to stop when you get to town – they will tell you what to see, where to stay the night, and even give you vouchers for a free coffee at the local bakery!  Near the info centre is The Big Easel – one of the most impressive Big Things we have come across.

 

We stayed in the free overnight area next to the botanic gardens.  There were picnic benches, a BBQ, power points and even a tap, but what were really special were the rainbow lorikeets.  Hundreds of them flocked around the gardens, chatting noisily, wrestling each other, and picking at scraps that were left behind by a mysterious old man with a long white beard that visits the park at night.  The overnight area was relatively quiet during the night, until about 5:30am when trains cross the overhead bridge.  This is good because then you don’t need to set your alarm to wake you up in the morning.

 

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Egerton Street is the main strip through town.  There are various art installations down the street, as well as pubs, cafes and at the eastern end, there’s a shopping centre with a major supermarket.  Nearby on the Capricorn Highway is the Old Railway Station that was built in 1900.  It has a beautiful façade with wrought iron lacework and is worth a look.

 

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Rubyvale & Sapphire

Rubyvale is a small country town with a scant population of around 500 people.  Fossicking is big in the area, but the biggest thing is the Big Miner outside Bobby Dazzler’s Sapphire Mine Tours.

 

Down the road is Sapphire, which is about the same size as Rubyvale, and as the name suggestions, you can find sapphires in the area.  Outside the roadhouse on the main road is the Big Pick, Shovel and Sieve, and we also passed a Big Sapphire and a Big Spanner.

 

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Capella

A small town that services the surrounding coal mines, it’s a great place to stop, have a picnic and walk through the war memorial park that runs alongside the railway line.  It touches on the story of the Australian Light Horse Emu Plume, which became a tradition amongst troopers in the area.

 

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Blackwater

Considered to be the coal mining capital of Australia, Blackwater is a small town with a few fast food outlets and a Lions Park with a martini glass shaped water tower and tired-looking display of 30-something tattered, international flags – we think we saw Italy, Hungary, Ireland, India or Mexico.  The coal mining museum is the main attraction in town, with a café, cinema, and an adjacent Japanese garden.

 

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Nearby is the Bedford Weir, a great place for people who like to fish.  Free camping for 7 days is available, with hot showers in the toilet cubicle, but it’s not recommended to swim in the water.

 

The turnoff for Blackdown Tableland is about 30 minutes east of Blackwater and if you enjoy camping, 4WDing and great views, then we recommended ducking in for the night.  To book a campsite, call 13 QGOV.

 

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City Profile : Townsville

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The largest tropical city in North Queensland, Townsville has a population of 200,000 people and an average of 300 sunny days per year.  While it’s a great tourism hotspot because of its access to Magnetic Island and the Great Barrier Reef, it doesn’t solely rely on tourism.  The economy is supported by a variety of industries, including government administration and defence, agriculture and mining, and because of this, the city has a completely different vibe compared to tourism-driven Cairns.  It feels like a city with deep roots and happy inhabitants that are friendly and welcoming.

 

Just off the coast is Magnetic Island, a popular holiday destination that was named by Captain Cook in 1770 after his compass went haywire when passing the island.  There are heaps of beaches, walking tracks and lagoons on the island, and it only takes 25 minutes by ferry to get there from Townsville.

 

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History

The Bindal and Wulgurukaba People were the first people to have lived in the Townsville region.  While there were a few visitors to the area, including a brief pass by of Captain Cook’s fleet in 1770, settlement started in 1866 when a bloke called Robert Towns agreed to provide financial assistance.  Incidentally, Townsville was named after him and two years later, the settlement grew quickly as the port and service centre for the goldfields in the west.  With the addition of pastoral and sugar industries, Townsville’s population bloomed from 4,000 people in 1882 to 13,000 by 1891.

 

During World War 2, Townsville was a major military base and hosted around 90,000 American and Australian troops.  It was bombed three times by the Japanese and was a major offensive launching base for the battle of the Coral Sea.  And, as do all places in the tropics, Townsville has fallen victim to a few cyclones.

 

Attractions

Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium

Learn about the Great Barrier Reef and the creatures that reside there at the world’s largest coral reef aquarium.  For more information, check out our article here…

 

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The Strand

This beautiful 2.2km stretch of beachfront parkland is dotted with playgrounds and picnic areas, and features a water park, a few restaurants and the Strand Rock Pool, and manmade saltwater pool that’s free from stingers and biters.

 

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Castle Hill

A visit to Townsville isn’t complete without ascending the 268m to the top of Castle Hill.  This pink granite monolith overlooks the entire city and was one of the earliest sites named by the explorers who surveyed the area in 1864.  Whether you do it by car along the 2.6km winding road or the goat track on foot, the view from the top is incredible.  What impressed us the most was the amount of people walking, running and riding their way up the road towards the top – there must have been hundreds!

 

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Queens Gardens

The inner city park is the oldest botanic garden in Townsville and was first set up in 1870 as a garden of food bearing plants to feed the settlement.  These days, it includes a hedge maze, succulent and cactus gardens and bird aviaries.

 

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Kissing Point & Jezzine Barracks

Kissing Point overlooks Cleveland Bay and was originally built in the 1800s as a fort to defend the harbour from the threat of foreign attack, particularly from the Russians.  Jezzine Barracks was built on the headland and occupied by military right up until 2006.  In 2009, the area was handed over to the community of Townsville and turned into a heritage precinct that commemorates the military and aboriginal heritage of Kissing Point headland.  There is a great display of war history and a lookout over the bay to Magnetic Island

 

Townsville 2015-04-30 007w

 

Food & Drink

The Townsville Brewing Company

The old Townsville post office was converted into a brewery, restaurant and function centre in 2001 and offers a great range of beers and awesome lunch specials.  Definitely worth stopping in.

 

Coffee Dominion

This coffee shop sells one thing and one thing only – coffee.  They roast, brew and sell beans at this outlet, and after putting them to the taste test, we give them the Melbournian tick of approval.  The coffee was strong and flavoursome and they know how to froth soy milk so that it’s silky and smooth.

http://www.coffeedominion.com.au/

 

Townsville 2015-04-30 041

 

Two Brothers Café

Just around the corner from the Information Centre is a café that serves up burgers and rolls named after famous brothers.  Choose between a Leyland Brothers Burger with chicken, swiss cheese and bacon or a Mario Brothers deli roll with roast beef, grilled sweet potato and marinated mushrooms.  Sounds good to us!

http://twobrotherscafe.com.au/

 

Information & Accommodation

The Information Centre is located in Bulletin Square, just off Flinders Street in the centre of town.  There are a few cafes nearby and public toilets as well.

 

The closest YHA to Townsville is on Magnetic Island, which makes it the perfect place to stay while you explore the island.  To make a booking, call (07) 4778 5577 or visit https://www.yha.com.au/hostels/qld/townsville-whitsundays/magnetic-island/

 

Townsville 2015-04-29 217w

 

About 30km out of town is Bluewater Rest Area.  It’s spacious and offers toilets, a playground and overnight stays for self-contained vehicles – no tents.

 

Townsville 2015-04-30 007w

Cairns

City Profile : Cairns

Cairns

 

Cairns is a city in tropical north Queensland and is a major tourism destination for both Australians and Internationals.  We were here for around 7 months and really got to know Cairns – we even got to meet a fellow blogger, Kate Richards (AdventureMumma).

 

Outdoor fitness is a big focus in Cairns, with a timetable of free activities on offer along the Esplanade, like yoga, Zumba and tai chi.  The Lagoon is also popular with everyone.  Many locals also run along the Promenade or work out at one of the fitness stations.

 

Cairns 2014-10-17 003

 

One thing you’ll notice about Cairns is the smelly bats.  They hang around in the trees near the library and Cairns City bus terminal during the day and once the sun starts to set, they get active and take flight to find their dinner.  If you’re looking for a car park and don’t mind a bit of poop on your car, there is usually a spot or two available next to the library.

 

Cairns 2015-03-06 002sm

 

Fast Facts

  • Cairns is one of the fastest growing towns in Queensland, with a population of over 151,000 people and is a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
  • Over 2 million Aussie and international tourists visit Cairns every year.
  • The region is home to the world’s most dangerous bird – the cassowary – and the world’s largest moth – the Hercules moth.
  • Queensland’s highest mountain Mount Bartle Frere (1622m) is 51km to the south.
  • Cairns has the highest youth unemployment rate in Queensland with over 21% of 15 to 24 year olds not working (December 2014)

 

History

Cairns, like many other towns in Australia, was founded after the discovery of gold.  The city was named after Sir William Wellington Cairns, an Irish fellow who was appointed the governor of Queensland in 1875, one year before Cairns was founded.

 

Cairns started off as an uninhabitable swamp with nothing much to offer until a railway was built to connect the coast to the Tablelands.  After nearly 30 years of settlement, Cairns finally became a town in 1903 with a population of 3,500.  Once the gold rush died down, the railway was used for agricultural purposes to transport fruit and dairy to the coastal flats, where the sugar cane grew and still grows to this day.

 

Being in the tropics isn’t all sunshine and coconuts – cyclones can sweep through at any time during the wet season and cause some serious damage.  Cairns met Cyclone Willis in 1927 and Cyclone Agnes in 1956, and while both were fairly destructive, Cairns recovered.

 

Tourism in Cairns became a major industry in the 1980s with the opening of the international airport and listing of World Heritage areas in the surrounding rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.  It is still a major tourism city that attracts visitors from all over the world who want to see the reef and explore the Daintree.

 

Great Barrier Reef - Justine snorkling

 

Places of Interest

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

This awesome place is located in the dome on top of the Casino.  Meet some cute Aussie animals and brave the zip line and rope course above, all in one day!

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

The Esplanade & Marina

Cairns may be a major tourism centre but for the locals, outdoor fitness and activities make up a big part of the culture.  The Esplanade is reclaimed land that has been renovated into a wonderful outdoor venue for everyone.  Have a picnic on the grass, go for a run along the promenade, or have a splash in the lagoon.  There are free fitness activities on every week, like yoga, volleyball or Zumba, and there is also a Saturday morning market.

 

The marina is just around the corner and is a great place to buy some fresh seafood straight from the fishing boats.  The Pier Shopping Centre nearby has a variety of bars, restaurants and retail shops.

 

 

Rusty’s Markets

Rusty’s is open on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, but the best time to go for cheap fruit and vegetable is between 2pm and 4pm on Sunday.  There’s a huge variety of tropical fruits, Asian greens and unusual produce.  There’s also a few food trucks and stalls selling bags, bibs and bobs.

 

The Night Markets

On every night from 4:30pm, the night markets are accessible from the Esplanade and feature a variety of stalls from jewellery and lanolin creams to massage and souvenirs galore.  The food court on the Esplanade side is a good place for a cheap feed.  For $14.90, purchase an extra large tub and fill it with ALL THE FOODS – octopus, battered fish, fried prawns, omelette, everything…

 

Centenary Lakes Botanic Garden

A few clicks out of town you’ll find the Cairns botanic gardens.  There is a beautiful rainforest section, bamboo gardens, lakes with turtles and a variety of birds and for the fabulously fit, the Red Arrow Walk will reward you with great views over the airport.

 

Nearby is the Tanks Art Centre, which holds monthly markets during the dry season, and the Flecker Gardens display a diverse range of tropical plants and pretty flowers – keep your eyes open for the White Bat Flower – amazing.

 

Cairns Botanic Gardens

 

Palm Cove

About 27km north of Cairns is Palm Cove – a little beach community that is popular with holiday makers and weddings.  The esplanade is choc-a-block with fancy and award-winning restaurants, hotels and tourist outlets that are built around old Melaleuca trees, while the long white beach lined with palm trees is perfect for wedding photos or a great holiday snap.

 

We rocked up to Palm Cove just in time for the Reef Feast festival, and sampled some of the food on offer from some of the best restaurants in the village.

 

Palm Cove, Cairns

 

Behana Gorge & Walsh’s Pyramid

Walsh’s Pyramid is visible from the top of the Casino in Cairns, but it is about 28km south along the A1 highway.  At 922m, it is believed to be the highest freestanding pyramid in the world, and is a part of the same mountain range as Queensland’s two highest mountains, Mount Bartle Frere (1622 m) and Mount Bellenden Ker (1593 m).

 

Nestled in between the peaks is Behana Gorge.  Be prepared for the long walk but it’s worth it once you get to explore the gorge and cool off in the waters that make up Cairns’ water supply.

 

Behana Gorge Cairns

 

Crystal Cascades

A little closer to town is a secluded swimming hole that is quite the local hotspot.  Crystal Cascades is about 5km south of Redlynch and is popular during the summer months as visitors cool off in the fresh water pools.

 

Cairns 2014-11-17 057

 

Big Captain Cook & Big Marlin

Cairns has two Big Things – one can be seen as you drive along the Cook Highway while the other is near Stockland Shopping Centre in Earlville.

 

Food & Drink

Our first visit to Cairns started with a pub crawl through town, and from that venture, we can say that the Union Jack and the Courthouse Hotel are great pubs for a Sunday sesh, while the Croc Bar at the Grand Hotel is a sight to see.  If you prefer to party, check out Gilligan’s.

 

 

We also went to a few trivia nights throughout the week.  Thursday nights was at the Salthouse – meals and drinks are expensive but the pork belly pizza is delicious, and there are plenty of prizes to be won.  Sunday nights at the Serpent Bar at Nomads on Lake Street is a very cheap night in terms of meals and drinks, but there is only one prize – a round of drinks for the winning team.  Monday nights at the Red Beret in Redlynch was our favourite trivia spot – not only because it was close to home and the trivia format was good, but the chicken fajitas won Juz over.  Don’t try the pizza though – Roscoe’s across the road is much better.

 

Here are a few other eateries worth mentioning…

 

Asian Delights

If you love noodle soup and dumplings, there are two locations that are perfect.  Rest assured that if the wait for a table at Ganbaranba Noodle Colosseum is too long, you can wander around the corner to Tokyo Dumpling and still be satisfied with a great value meal.  Another great Asian place is BaMien Vietnamese Cafe.  We had visitors from Melbourne and took them here for lunch.  It was a fluke that this place turned out to be fantastic.  The dishes were well priced, well portioned and absolutely delicious.

 

Ganbaranba Noodle Colosseum Cairns

 

Great Cafes

Coffee lovers can head to two locations in the city – Caffiend and Smith Street Cafe.  Both offer great coffee in a funky environment.  If you’re after a tasty breakfast, try the Lillipad Cafe or Ozmosis near the Botanic Gardens.  Lillipad has some great vegetarian options while Ozmosis gets you out of the city with their scrumptious Eggs Benedict.

 

Cairns 2014-11-09 009

 

Ochre Restaurant

Having won multiple awards, Ochre Restaurant is considered to be the best restaurant in Cairns. Juz’s awesome sister got us an Ochre gift voucher for Christmas so we got to indulge in a bit of modern Australian cuisine, like wallaby steak, Davidson plum jam and lemon myrtle sweet chilli sauce.

 

Cairns 2015-04-07 008sm

 

Pizza Quest

We were in Cairns for around 6 months and took it upon ourselves to find the best pizza.  Some pizzas were too soggy, lacked flavour or were overpriced.  All in all, we found some great pizzas

 

Information & Accommodation

Cairns Tourist Information Centre – Cnr Alplin St & The Esplanade, Cairns.  Ph: (07) 4031 1751

Public transport in Cairns is mainly a bus network operated by SunBus.  For information about ticketing and timetables, go here: http://www.sunbus.com.au/sit_cairns.htm

 

Cairns Central YHA is conveniently located in the city at 20-26 McLeod Street.  To make a booking, call (07) 4051 0772 or visit their website. 

 

Cairns
 

Cairns

$100 Day : Cairns by Kate Richards (aka AdventureMumma)

$100 Day

 

We’d like to introduce a local blogger in Cairns – Kate Richards.  She is a mum to 2 very active kids, prefers the great outdoors to crafting or cooking any day. She is also an adventure and social media junkie, photographer & videographer. A true local of Tropical North Queensland and love sharing family adventures.

 

Cairns

 

We asked her, if she has $100 and a day to spend in Cairns with a friend, what would she do?  Here are her suggestions…

 

1. Start down on the Cairns Esplanade & take advantage of the free activities on offer – Aqua Aerobics at 8.30am or join the 5km Park Run from 7am.

Free

2. Check out the Esplanade Markets that run Saturday from 8am-4pm right next to the Lagoon.  If you need to have a shower after your workout, there are facilities next to the lagoon.

Free

3. Catch the 131 bus from the Cairns City bus station on Lake Street to the Botanic Gardens.  Single paper tickets are $4.80 per person and are valid for two hours. On Saturdays, the 131 bus leaves the Cairns City bus station every hour on the hour and takes 15 mins to get too the Botanic Gardens.

$9.60

4. Explore the Botanic Gardens, climb Red Arrow for views of Cairns and the Northern Beaches, then check out the Tanks Art Centre for local Art Exhibitions (10-2pm).

Free

5.Catch the bus back to the Cairns City bus station and head to Rusty’s Fruit Market for lunch at one of the Rusty’s Food Trucks on the Sheridan St side.

approx. $20

 

 

From here there are two options – the relaxing option and the adventurous option.

 

The Relaxing Option

 

6. While you’re at Rusty’s, grab some fresh fruit & vegetables (for a BBQ later) from the market stalls.

approx. $10.00

7. Walk back to the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon & take a dip in the lagoon. Listen to some live music on the lawns (2-5pm).

Free

8. Visit Prawn Star at the Cairns Marina for some Fresh Local Seafood for dinner.  Purchase a kilo of Banana Prawns for $25 with lemon.  Ask for a tub of their special Prawn Star Sauce.

$25

9. Cook dinner on the BBQs on the Cairns Esplanade.

Free

10. Use your leftover to enjoy a cocktail and schooner of Little Creatures at the Salthouse.

$23

TOTAL SPEND

approx $87.60

 

 

The Wildlife Option

 

6. After lunch, head to the Cairns Wildlife Dome for an interactive experience with some native animals.

$48.00

7. Share a large pizza from Oasis Kebab for dinner.

$15

8. Head to the Salthouse for a pair of Great Northern schooners to wrap up the day.

$14

TOTAL SPEND

approx $106.60

 

 

You can find Adventure Mumma at: www.adventuremumma.com

twitter.com/AdventureMumma

instagram.com/adventuremumma/

facebook.com/adventuremummaoz

 

Cooktown

Town Profile : Cooktown

Cooktown

 

We were expecting to linger around Cooktown for two nights before heading to Cairns for work, but just as we were making plans, a fantastic opportunity presented itself.  The owner of a local farm needed some help for the week, and it was just the kind of experience we were looking for.  Now that we were locked in to stay in Cooktown for a week, we had a little more time to get to know the town and the locals.

 

Fast Facts

  • Cooktown is the northernmost town on the east coast of Australia
  • It sits at the mouth of the Endeavour River, named by Captain James Cook after his ship
  • There are two seasons – the wet during December to April, and the dry from May to November.
  • The region is very rich in biodiversity because it covers three major ecozones, and therefore is a place of interest for botanists.

 

History

The traditional owners call the region Gan gaar, which means place of the rock crystals because of all the quartz crystals.

 

In 1770, Captain James Cook arrived and moored the Endeavour at the mouth of the Endeavour River for shelter and repairs after running aground on the Great Barrier Reef.  As the repairs were underway, botanist Joseph Banks and naturalist Daniel Solander explored the area and collected over 200 species of plants for documentation, and they also learnt words from the local people, like ganguru (kangaroo).  There was an artist on board, Sydney Parkinson, who was the first British person to draw Aboriginal people from direct observation.

 

Cooktown

 

In 1872, gold was discovered on the Palmer River southwest of Cooktown and the site was populated by many diggers from all over the world.  Cooktown was selected as the port through which the gold was exported and supplies were imported.  Two years later, Cooktown’s population grew to approximately 4,000 people and it was established as a town.

 

These days, Cooktown’s population is less than 2,000.  It has reached the status of a tourist destination because of its relaxed atmosphere and proximity to Cape York, the Great Barrier Reef, Lakefield National Park and the rainforest.

 

Cooktown

 

Points of Interest

The James Cook Museum

Whether you’re interested in the landing of James Cook in 1770 or not, a stroll through this fantastic museum is a must.  See the original anchor of the Endeavour, learn about Cooktown’s Chinese history and local aboriginal culture, and discover the original use of the museum building.  Fascinating stuff…

 

Cooktown

 

Nature’s Powerhouse & Botanic Gardens

Essentially, Nature’s Powerhouse is Cooktown’s Visitor Information Centre.  Get a map, stroll through the neighbouring Botanic Gardens or have a toasted sanga and a coffee on the deck.

 

The gallery and museum are also worth checking out if you’re interested in flora and fauna.  The Charles Tanner Gallery is a great exhibit of local animals such as snakes, bats, lizards and butterflies.  The displays were both interesting and educational.  The Vera Scarth-Johnson Gallery pays tribute to an artist and botanist.  While we were there, they were showing the ‘Botanical Endeavour’ – Sir Joseph Banks’ Florilegium Exhibition from 1770.

 

 

Grassy Hill

OMG – one of the best lookouts we have come across on our journey.  Stunning views of the surrounding mountains, the Endeavour River and Cooktown.  Amazing.

 

Finch Bay

Follow Finch Bay Road all the way to the end, past the Botanic Gardens, and you’ll arrive at Finch Bay.  It’s is a great little beach with an estuary.  We saw a big crab in the shallows and wished that we’d had a net with us to scoop him up!

 

Copy of Cooktown 2014-09-28 083 Cooktown 2014-09-28 080water

 

Black Mountain

About 25km south of Cooktown is Black Mountain National Park.  It is a massive pile of granite rocks that has developed over the last 260 million years.  Due to an unusual joining patter in the granite, fracturing and exposure to water has caused erosion and weathering of the boulders, but while the surface is just a mess of boulders, the solid granite core is underneath.  There are three animals that are completely unique to the park – the Black Mountain boulderfrog, skink and gecko – making Black Mountain one of the most restricted habitats in Australia.

 

The early settlers and local indigenous folks both have stories and rumours about quite a few people (often criminals) venturing into the caves among the giant black boulders and getting lost.  Whilst the people have never been seen again, the locals reckon you sometimes still hear them…

 

Cooktown

 

Food & Drink

Cooktown Hotel

This was the first pub we visited, and for a Saturday afternoon, it was fairly busy.  Then we remembered – AFL Grand Final weekend.  We sat outside in the beer garden and had a lovely lunch of pizza and parma before getting on with the rest of the day.

 

Cooktown 2014-09-27 048

 

Cooktown Café

More like cranky-pants café!  The owner of the store had a serious attitude problem, but the coffee was good, which is why people keep coming back.  We found out later that the owner had had a tiff with his partner the night before and was therefore in a particularly cranky-pants mood that day.

 

The Italian (aka De Wogs)

Opposite the road from the Top Pub is a popular Cooktown institution that dishes out mountains of risotto and pasta, tasty pizzas made with fresh ingredients, as well as Chinese food at a dearer than average price.  While Juz’s soggy but yummy parma lacked ham and chips, Dave’s capricciosa pizza was perfection, but to be perfectly honest, neither seemed to justify the price.

 

Cooktown

 

The Lions Den Hotel

About 30km south of Cooktown is an old pub called the Lions Den.  It’s named after a mine in the area, which got its name when a stowaway named Daniel was working at the mines and while standing at the entrance of one of the tunnels, the mine’s owner said, “Daniel in the Lions Den”.

 

The pub has plenty of character, with scribbles, business cards and stickers all over the walls, as well as old hats, thongs, license plates and stubbie holders.

 

Cooktown

 

Information & Accommodation

Nature’s Powerhouse is on Finch Bay Road and is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm.  Contact them for information about Cooktown by emailing info@naturespowerhouse.com.au

 

Pam’s Place YHA – on the corner of Boundary and Charlotte Street.  To make a reservation, call 4069 5166 or email cooktown@yha.com.au http://www.yha.com.au/Hostels/QLD/Cairns-and-Far-North-Queensland/Cooktown/

 

Archer Point

About 15km south of Cooktown is the turnoff for Archer Point.  Continue along the dirt road until you get to the end. It’s a great place to camp provided you don’t set up right on a headland.  The wind is strong and constant, but the views at sunset are breathtaking.

 

Cooktown

 

Kings Park

City Profile : Perth

We rolled into Perth stinky and weary after travelling up through Margaret River, Bunbury and Mandurah.  Our first stop was Dave’s cousin’s place located in the beautiful suburb of Palmyra.  This spot gave us the perfect opportunity to experience and explore Fremantle and the Sunset Coast.  After two weeks, we moved over to historic Guildford to spend some time with one of Dave’s old Melbourne mates, and this location put us a short drive away from Armadale, the Perth Hills and the Swan Valley.

 

The view of Perth from Kings Park

 

During our stay, we found it easy to navigate around town – the traffic wasn’t dense and the roads were well labelled and the Swan River is a great landmark to follow. The one thing we had to be wary about while driving around Perth were the other drivers – everybody seemed a bit lost and unsure about which street to turn down!

 

Fast Facts

  • Also known as the City of Lights, Perth is the capital city of Western Australia and the fourth most populous city in Australia.  It is also the most isolated capital city in the world!
  • It is the sunniest capital city in the world with an average of 8 hours of sunshine every day of the year and the ‘Fremantle Doctor’ is the most consistent wind in the world that blows in from the west between midday and 3pm almost every day of the year.
  • There are about 1.74 million people living in the Perth metropolitan area and around 1500 people move to Perth every week
  • Perth came 9th in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s August 2012 list of the world’s most liveable cities.

 

 

History

The area was first inhabited by the Noongar people for over 40,000 years and the first documented European sighting was made by Dutch Captain Willem de Vlamingh and his crew in December 1696.  While they didn’t stay long, de Vlamingh named the river after the black swans that swam in it.

 

Over 100 years later, Captain James Stirling established the Swan River Colony and once a camp was settled, convicts were sent over as cheap labour to help with the construction of infrastructure. In 1856, Queen Victoria declared Perth a city and its perpetual growth hasn’t stopped since.

 

 

Weather

We were in Perth for about 6 weeks and in that whole time, it only rained once, and it was a magnificent thunder storm.  The Mediterranean climate sat between 25 and 35 degrees with the occasional cloudy sky, but it was always safe to assume that the day was going to be bright and sunny.  It probably explains why Perth residents love outdoor activities.

 

Points of Interest

Kings Park

Over 300 native plants and 80 bird species within 4.06 square kilometres, Kings Park is the largest inner-city park in the world and is visited by 6 million people each year.  There are heaps of walking paths to explore the flora, or you can sit by the State War Memorial and soak in the spectacular view of the city and river below.

 

 

After a relaxing picnic, we followed the Lotterywest Federation Walkway over an elevated bridge that overlooked the old Swan Brewery before climbing the DNA Tower.  Afterwards, we went over to the Synergy Parkland for a coffee and to watch the kids play on the playground located on an island in the middle of the pond.

 

The botanic gardens are only a small portion of the park, with the majority being untouched bushland. It is a popular venue for art installations and live concerts, and we while we were there, they were setting up and doing sound checks for the Sarah Blasko concert with WASO by the Pioneer Women’s Memorial that night.

 

 

 

The Swan River

The city was built around this beautiful river and many activities are enjoyed in it, such as sailing, swimming and kayaking.  We hung about at Point Walter, a great family location with plenty of lawn for picnics under the Norfolk Pines.  The calm waters were perfect for snorkelling and Juz found heaps of hermit crabs as she swam between the black swans.

 

 

 

Perth Mint

Western Australia’s Heart of Gold, the Perth Mint is Australia’s oldest operating mint.

 

It all started in 1892 when two Victorians, Ford and Baily, found a 16kg nugget near Coolgardie.  Once the Gold Rush began, the population of the area doubled within a year, and doubled again the next year.  So much gold was discovered that they needed somewhere to process it, so construction of the Perth Mint began, using limestone from Cottesloe and Rottnest Island.  It was in possession of the British Empire until 1970 when it was handed over to the Government of Western Australia.

 

 

We did the Guided Tour so that we could see the Guinness World Book of Records’ largest coin made of 1 tonne of gold and the world’s largest gold bar exhibition, as well as Australia’s biggest nugget collection (LOL!).  The tour starts at the ‘Prospectors Campsite’, which is a re-creation of a campsite from the 1890s when thousands of people with gold fever walked the 600km from Perth to Coolgardie to find their fortune.

 

After a leisurely stroll through the exhibition, we found a seat in the original melting house and watched the traditional Gold Pour demonstration in the original melting house.  The gold pourers have to pile on the protective gear – layers of wool, aluminium and Kevlar with an apron and shoulder length gloves – as you do when you’re dealing with glowing hot molten gold that’s 1300 degrees Celsius!  We were fascinated to find out that the 6kg gold bar he was playing with was worth $300,000 and that same piece of gold has been melted and poured seven times a day for over the last 20 years!  Since the melting house began operation in 1899, gold dust has accumulated in the brick walls and ceilings over the years.

 

 

Western Australian Museum

Museums are one of the best places to go to when you’re in a capital city.  Entry to the ongoing exhibitions is usually free and is a great way to learn about natural and social history, geology, the story of the local aboriginals, meteorites, megafauna, dinosaurs, native plants and animals.

 

 

The museum building is heritage listed and actually used to be the old Perth Gaol until the museums establishment in 1891.

 

The Bell Tower

A design that blends the old with the new, the Bell Tower was a Millennium Project built to house the Swan Bells.  Twelve of the 18 bells come from St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in London and date back to the 14th century.  They were given to the State of Western Australia during the 1988 bicentenary celebrations, and since then, another six bells have been added to the collection, coming from London, Westminster and one commissioned by the WA government.  The tower is 82.5 metres high and since it’s opening in December 2000, over 1 million people have visited.

 

 

Engraved padlocks are attached to the chain barriers around the Bell Tower.  They’re known as Love Locks that are engraved with names, fixed to public structures and represent eternal love.  This custom started near the Great Wall of China and has spread throughout the world.

 

Northbridge

Appropriately located just north of the city, Northbridge is a hip and vibrant part of Perth with heaps of bars, clubs, and pubs – perfect for a pub crawl!  There are also lots of cafes and specialty shops, as well as a Vietnamese strip with a few restaurants.  Nearby are the WA School of Art, Design and Media, the State Library of Western Australia and the Museum.

 

 

We were lucky enough to be invited to a night out in Northbridge and went to the Brisbane Hotel on Beaufort Street.  The venue was pretty wanky and the drink prices were out of control but the atmosphere was electric so we had a great time anyway.

 

Out with mates in Northbridge

 

We also checked out Brass Monkey Hotel, one of the iconic pubs in Northbridge, before having a stroll around the block to check out the nightlife on James Street.

 

Leederville

With so many eateries and cafes packed into such a small area, the centre of Leederville bustles with energy, especially during lunchtime and when the sun goes down.

 

 

Juz went there for a quick work lunch and thought it was a really funky little space.  Zambrero was the food of choice – a Subway-style outlet that dishes out Mexican food with heaps of flavour.  As you move along the assembly line, you pick your ‘style’ which is either a burrito, taco, quesadilla or in Juz’s case – a bowl.  Then you pick you filling of slow cooked, tender meat, salsa and sauce and before you know it, you’re eating a tasty meal that is relatively fresh and healthy.

 

 

Afterwards, we went to a popular coffee shop called Greens & Co.  Bright, colourful and breezy, this cute little café is filled with colourful couches, laminated paper globes and artsy types who probably spend most of their time here reading the paper and playing board games.  There is a cabinet filled with enormous cakes and they know how to pump out the coffee, even though they’re a little confused about what a long macchiato is…

 

Information & Accommodation

Western Australian Visitor Centre – 55 William Street – 9483 1111

Fremantle Visitor Centre – Fremantle Town Hall, William Street – 08 431 7878

 

Perth City YHA300 Wellington Street, 08 9287 3333.  Check out our post on the Perth City YHA.

 

Getting Around

Transperth provides public transport to the Perth metropolitan area and includes buses, trains and ferries.  As with most public transport systems, you are going to need a ticket to ride, and a valid Transperth ticket can be used on all modes of transport.

 

The public transport is divided into 9 zones and your fare is calculated by how many zones you travel through. Also, depending on how many zones you travel through, your single ticket can be valid for two or three hours.  2-Section Tickets are also available for short trips of up to 3.2km but you can’t transfer between services with these tickets.

 

 

There are two types of ticketing systems in Perth:

  • SmartRider is the electronic ticketing system.  The SmartRider cards can be purchased for $10 from any Transperth InfoCentre or at various newsagencies around the city.  Once you have the card, you need to add a minimum of $10 before you can use it to travel.
  • Cash Tickets can be purchased from the driver of buses and ferries or at Ticket Vending Machines at train stations.  A DayRider ticket costs $11.

 

There is also a Free Transit Zone for CAT buses and a SmartRider Free Transit Zone for trains within the Perth city boundaries. We found the CAT busses to be extra useful for travelling into the city from the outskirts of town.

 

For more information, visit the Transperth website.

 

 

Araluen Botanic Gardens

Experience : The South of Perth

We were down south twice – once on the way up from Margaret River with our mates, Kieran and Maria, and again a few weeks later to check out some more places.  On the way up, we stayed at Frank Lupino Memorial Park and had a few final drinks and silly pics before saying farewell in Perth.

 

 

Armadale

Only 30 minutes from Perth, Armadale is a regional city with a fully stocked metropolis and really pretty parks.  There are two shopping centres in the city, and one of them has the Armadale Fresh Market – the place to go for cheap vegetables and Asian groceries.

 

 

Nearby is the Churchman Brook Dam, which was built in the 1920s to provide the Perth Hills with a water supply until 1937.  There are BBQ and picnic facilities, toilets and a few walking paths to guide you around the dam.

 

Mandurah

The first busy cosmopolitan city we explored on our way to Perth, and got stuck in morning peak hour traffic.  There is a beautiful river running right through the centre of town and the lifestyle is built up around it.  Cruises on the river and Mandurah Estuary are a popular activity, as well as picnics along the foreshore.

 

 

There is a schmick new development at the mouth of the river called Dolphin Quay, with big, sterile apartment blocks and venetian-style canals surrounded by townhouses. It seemed nice, very expensive, and has the potential to be quite charming over time.

 

If you go for a short drive south of Mandurah, you’ll find the Lake Clifton Thrombolites, living fossils that are significant markers of the Earth’s natural history.  There’s a boardwalk that leads out over the lake with information panels about the thrombolites, which are basically single-celled bacteria that accumulate layers calcium and silt over time and turn into these rounded rock.  Scientists reckon they’re about 350 million years old.

 

 

Rockingham

A beachside city with a big Kiwi presence and plenty of Italian spirit.  All of the action was down on the beach and in the fish and chips shops.

 

 

The War Memorial behind the information centre was cool but the lady inside the information was thoroughly unhelpful and could only recommend one attraction for Rockingham – Penguin Island.

 

Araluen Botanic Park

This place was absolutely beautiful – a heaven in the hills!  As we walked around the gardens, we imagined family picnics on the grasses, outdoor performances in the amphitheatre or wedding ceremonies in the Margaret Simmons Pergola.  They are perfectly happy to hire out the park for events and they even hold their own bush dances and holiday activities.

 

 

The gardens are filled with native and exotic plants that are tended by staff and volunteers. Entry is $4 per adult or $10 for a family

 

 

Borrello Cheese Factory

A simple outlet for delicious cheese, Borrello Cheese is a family business that has been running for about 10 years and is quite well known throughout Western Australia.  They purchase the milk, then pasteurise it to make savoury Romano varieties, Provoletta, firm, nutty Pecorino or bold feta cheese, and with the whey by-product, they make ricotta.  We sampled their Chilli Romano and plain Pecorino, walking away with 1kg of luscious ricotta and a wedge of Pecorino.

 

Serpentine Falls

Located in the Serpentine National Park, the waterfall is a short walk from the car park and picnic area.  The water is a mysterious emerald and it is all set up for swimming and cooling off in the summer sun, but if you’re the daredevil type, you can climb the granite walls and take the plunge.

 

 

Cool graffiti

City Profile : Adelaide

After packing up camp in Mannum and spending the morning feeding the animals at the Big Rocking Horse, we drove into Adelaide and experienced big city sights for the first time in almost a month.  Our first stop? Coopers Brewery for an educational tour about how to brew excellent beer.

 

Afterwards, we met up with one of Juz’s mates before finding a place to stay while we explored the wine capital of Australia.  The busy time of year made things a little difficult but we found a great little caravan park just south of the city called Brown Hill Creek Caravan Park.

 

The next day, we woke early and set off for the city centre to do as much exploring as possible within a certain budget.  Stay tuned for our $100 Day post on Adelaide.  It was a great success!  Sunday was spent along the coast at Glenelg and Brighton.  It got close to 40 degrees so we were pleased to cop the cool sea breeze.

 

The city of Adelaide has a very relaxed lifestyle.  There aren’t as many cafes and restaurants as there are in Melbourne, but there is still a diverse multicultural mix that was evident as we explored the various precincts.  Chinatown on Moonta Street is the place for a dumpling or two while the best kebab in town is apparently on Hindley Street, which also happens to feature the world’s filthiest McDonald’s outlet.

 

Fast Facts

  • Capital city of South Australia and is the fifth largest city in Australia
  • Founded in 1836 by Colonel Light, it now has a population of about 1.23 million Adelaideans
  • Also known as The City of Churches, the Green City, the Wine Capital of Australia, or the 20 Minutes City, due to its accessibility
  • Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens has the largest and oldest glasshouses in the southern hemisphere
  • Adelaide is Australia’s most environmentally sustainable city and is home to Tindo – the world’s first solar powered bus with wireless internet
  • Adelaide women were the first in Australia to be allowed to vote and stand for parliament.
  • Was the first city in Australia to put on an arts festival

 

History

The Adelaide area was first inhabited by the Kaurna tribe.  They used to call the area Tarndanya, which means male red kangaroo rock.  After European settlement, the population of the Karuna tribe dropped significantly due to introduced diseases.

 

The area was explored by Matthew Flinders and Charles Sturt before being deemed suitable for colonisation by Collet Barker, a British explorer who was eventually killed by natives.  In 1836, many ships set sail for South Australia, including the Rapid, which carried Colonel Light.  His job was to survey the area and find a place for settlement that had a harbour, fertile land, fresh water and building materials, and after finding just the right place, establishment commenced in 1837.

 

Weather

Adelaide summers are hot and dry with an average temperature of 28⁰C but the temperature can easily reach 40⁰C.  It was sweltering when we were there so we made sure we were well covered in both sunscreen and a hat.

In winter, it can be cold and wet with an average temperature of 16⁰C.

 

 

Points of Interest

Adelaide Central Markets 

This place was the best!  Adelaide’s Central Market has been in operation for over 130 years and features around 120 shops and stalls bursting with people and fresh produce.  Wander down the aisles and taste the delights at the Smelly Cheese Shop while you enjoy a delicious organic coffee from Big Table.   The markets are open from Tuesday to Saturday, every week and seriously, they’re excellent!

 

 

Botanic Gardens of Adelaide

We were excited about seeing this place.  Botanic gardens tend to be beautiful places where you can learn about the diversity of plants and the ecosystems they live in, but we never expected the Adelaide Botanic Gardens to be as splendid as it is.

 

The Palm House is a Victorian glasshouse that was imported from Germany in 1875 and is believed to be the only one left of its kind.  It houses a collection of plants from Madagascar, which require a warm and dry climate to survive.

 

 

The Santos Museum of Economic Botany was an incredible experience.  It was originally opened in 1881 and recently reopened in 2009 after a long period of restoration.  The beautiful building contains an amazing collection of botanical specimens that were considered useful to the European settlers – seeds, nuts, flowers and leaves, medicinal plants, models of fruit and fungi, EVERYTHING!  Some of the items were the original objects that were collected in 1865 and it was set up to teach people about the importance and usefulness of plants as food, medicine, tools and clothing.

 

The Amazon Waterlily Pavilion is an elegant glasshouse that contains a huge pond of Victoria amazonica waterlilies.  These amazing plants have lily pads that can span up to 165cm while the flower can measure 30cm in diameter.  Coopers Brewery is proudly one of the contributors to this beautiful energy-efficient enclosure, which was built in 2007.

 

The Bicentennial Conservatory was an indoor rainforest that was hot and humid inside.  As we walked through, water was expelled from the ceiling and sprinkled us with a refreshing mist.  It was built in 1988 to celebrate Australian’s bicentenary and is the largest conservatory in the southern hemisphere.

 

 

South Australian Museum

Free to enter and explore, the SA museum on North Terrace has a variety of permanent exhibitions such as the South Australian Biodiversity Gallery that displays animals from all habitats, as well as the Opal Fossils that expose pre-historic reptiles and crustaceans from millions of years ago.  The Pacific and Aboriginal Cultures Galleries provide insight into the lives of islanders and aboriginals – hunting, fishing, war and everyday activities.

 

Open daily from 10am to 5pm, it’s definitely worth having a look around.

 

 

Rundle Mall & Adelaide Arcade

This section of Adelaide is closed off to vehicles and is similar to Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne.  The retail opportunity is the same as in any shopping centre, but you have the dynamic atmosphere of being in the centre of the city.  We enjoyed strolling past the shops that were blasting their air conditioners to cope with the heat of the day.  As a result, the thoroughfare was quite cool.

 

 

The Rundle Mall Fountain indicates the entrance of Adelaide Arcade, a walkway that was built in 1885 and features about 100 specialty shops on both the ground floor and balcony.  There is a small museum on the balcony level that displays photographs and newspaper articles.

 

Adelaide-Himeji Gardens

In 1982, arrangements were made for Adelaide and Himeji in Japan to establish a sister city relationship that will secure peace, encourage cultural understanding and economic exchange.

 

 

The gardens were a gift from Himeji in 1985 and incorporate two classic Japanese styles – senzui takes inspiration from lakes and mountains to create a sense of space, while kare senzui is a dry garden that uses rocks and sand to create the illusion of water, or the ocean.

 

Coopers Brewery

Adelaide is home to Coopers Brewery, the largest Australian-owned brewery and largest producer of home brew kits in the world! Mad for sustainability, they have an onsite cogeneration plant that powers the plant and feeds back into the grid, they draw water from underground aquifers that are purified with reverse osmosis and any spent grain left over from the brewing process is sold back to farmers as stockfeed.

 

Apart from being environmentally friendly, the Coopers empire is also extremely charitable and the cost of your ticket to the brewery tour goes straight to the Coopers Brewery Foundation.  Check out our post on the Coopers Brewery Tour.

 

Mount Lofty

On the outskirts of Adelaide is Cleland Conservation Park and the Mount Lofty Summit, which sits 710m above sea level.  It was named by Captain Matthew Flinders in 1802 when he sighted in from Kangaroo Island.

 

An 16.5m obelisk was built in 1885 as a survey station to establish longitude and latitude of places around Adelaide.  It was later named the Flinders Column in 1902 and was whitewashed to make it more visible to ships in the St Vincent’s Gulf.

 

 

Over the years, bushfires have raged through the area and caused millions of dollars worth of damage and after the Ash Wednesday disaster, a new Mt Lofty Summit Visitor Centre was developed and opened in 1997.

 

Glenelg & Brighton

Accessible via the Anzac Highway or free tram that travels to and from the city, Glenelg is Adelaide’s answer to St Kilda in Melbourne.  A seaside suburb with white beaches and palm trees that attracts all the young kids to jump off the pier, play beach volley ball, go shopping for a midriff top and eat some ice cream.

 

Established in 1836 as the original site of SA’s mainland settlement, Glenelg has grown to be a popular spot amongst the tourists and locals, with a flashy marina, cosmopolitan buildings and a vibrant nightlife.  It hosts heaps of public events every year, like bike races, volleyball tournaments, food and wine festivals, fun runs and the State’s largest New Years Eve celebrations.

 

 

A few kilometres down the road is Brighton, a much more modest and relaxed coastal spot but with all the same delights.  Cafés, restaurants, the Arch of Remembrance and the Brighton Jetty – the start and finish line of South Australia’s largest ocean swimming event, the Brighton Jetty Classic.  Surrounded a summertime atmosphere and beautiful beaches, this was our location for a nice picnic lunch.

 

FOOD & DRINK

Grind It, Glenelg

We sought out this café in Glenelg and we were really impressed with what we found.  Great service, delicious coffee and an impressive menu that got us salivating for second breakfast.

 

The Edinburgh Hotel, Mitcham

This place was awesome.  Great food, great atmosphere, great beer garden… and with a pint and parmi for $12, you can’t go wrong.  Check out our post on the Edinburgh Hotel.

 

 

The Big Table, CBD

This cute little café inside the Central Markets was the first sign of decent coffee in Adelaide.  Young hipsters and dreadlocked lasses are usually an indication of great coffee and we weren’t disappointed.

 

The Franklin Hotel, CBD

A funky pub with a great atmosphere and cool beer garden, complete with Hills Hoist.  We had a quick pit stop here after riding around the city and conquering the Central Markets.

 

 

Thanh Thanh Vietnamese Restaurant, CBD

It was supposed to be the best Vietnamese restaurant in Adelaide but Juz wasn’t particularly impressed.  Still, the food did provide adequate fuel for the day.

 

 

Vili’s Cafe, Mile End

We were advised to check this place out, and after a pie, sausage roll and plateful of chips, gravy and schnitzel, we weren’t particularly impressed.  Check out our post on Vili’s Cafe.

 

ACCOMMODATION

Adelaide Central YHA135 Waymouth Street, Adelaide 5000 – 08 8414 3010

BIG4 Adelaide Shores Caravan Park – Military Road, West Beach – 08 8355 7320

 

Brownhill Creek Caravan Park – Brownhill Creek Road, Mitcham – 8271 4824

This holiday park has it all – cabins, ensuite and caravan sites, powered and unpowered sections for campers, toilet blocks with showers, laundry facilities, a swimming pool, a fully equipped camp kitchen and multiple BBQs around the park.

 

What makes this place extra special though are the permanent residents.  Some have been there for about 5 years and provide a welcoming sense of community.  If you decide to stay here for a few nights, get to know your neighbours – they’re a great bunch of people – and don’t forget to check out the tepee at the back of the park.

 

 

We had the pleasure of having a Christmas celebration with the crew.  A $5 donation entitled us to snags in bread, wine and beer and great conversations with well-travelled folk.  We had a fantastic night and wished we could have stayed for Christmas.

 
Find the best deal and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

 
 

Visitor Information Centres

South Australian Visitor Information Centre, 108 North Terrace

Adelaide Visitor Information Centre, Rundle Mall

 

Getting Around

Adelaide’s public transport system includes trains, trams and buses.

 

You need to have a Metroticket to travel around Adelaide on public transport and the ticket needs to be validated when you begin your journey.  Metrotickets can be purchased on all forms on transport, as well as at newsagents, convenience stores and at the Adelaide Metro InfoCentre at the corner of King William and Currie Streets.

 

There are a few different types of tickets:

  • Singletrip tickets are valid for two hours and cost $4.90
  • Daytrip tickets are valid from the time of validation to 4:30am the next morning and cost $9.10.
  • Multitrip tickets contain 10 Singletrip tickets and cost $31.90.

 

There are also Interpeak tickets that are only valid between 9am and 3pm Monday to Friday, and Two Section tickets which allow you to travel two sections of the public transport system, which works out well if you aren’t far away from your destination.  One section is equivalent to the distance between two train stations or four tram stops.

 

Adelaide is currently working on a new smartcard ticketing system called Metrocard.  For more information, visit the Adelaide Metro website http://www.adelaidemetro.com.au/

 

There is also a free tram service between Glenelg and the city.

 

Adelaide City Bikes is a green initiative that allows you to hire a bike for free between 9am and 5:30pm.  Hire includes a helmet and bike lock and you need to leave a current passport or driver’s license as deposit.

 

Bikes are available from several places around the city.  For more information, check out the Adelaide City Bikes brochure.