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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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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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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.

 

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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 : 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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Attraction : The XXXX Brewery

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When it comes to beer in Queensland, you can’t get any more iconic than XXXX.  Get educated about the golden blood that runs through the veins of Queensland with a tour of the XXXX Brewery.  The extensive 90 minute excursion around the brewery includes an insightful presentation on the history of beer in Australia and runs through the brewing process from the raw ingredients to the final product in the Packing Hall.   XXXX even has its own island on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, the XXXX Island, which is designed to be the ultimate mates getaway.

 

The Brewery

While beer has been around for thousands of years, the story of XXXX started in 1877 when the Fitzgerald Brothers travelled from Melbourne to Queensland to open a brewery.  They already had a few breweries in the southern states and they thought Queensland could do with their own and it wasn’t long until the Castlemaine Brewery was taking orders for their XXX Ale.  In fact, the original brewery was the first building to get a phone line in Queensland.

 

It wasn’t until the early 1900s when German brewer Alhois William Leitner suggested changing the recipe to a lager.  While this was disapproved of at first, in 1924 Leitner released his new and improved XXXX Bitter.  Coincidentally, this was the same year that Mr Fourex was introduced.  XXXX Bitter was such a hit that its popularity prompted its first ever exportation to thirsty soldiers overseas fighting in World War 2.

 

Distribution was disrupted in 1974 when floods struck Brisbane.  With the delivery trucks out of action, the brewery staff had to improvise and ended up making rafts out of empty kegs to supply the community.  Their commitment to the community has continued over the years, sponsoring various festivals and events, and at one point sponsoring around 40 different sports.

 

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These days, XXXX Brewery produces 250 million litres of beer each year in an environmentally conscious, reusable and sustainable way.  Over the last few decades, they halved their water consumption and they also find uses for their by-products, like sending their leftovers south to Victoria to make Vegemite.

 

The Restaurant

XXXX Brewery tours have only been available since 2003, and they also have a recently refurbished bar and restaurant decorated with old brewery equipment and copper furnishings.

 

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The bar appears to be made of old mash tuns, while the spacious dining area is stocked with a variety of board games and features a tropical alfresco lounge area, perfect for after work drinks or a Sunday session.  They have XXXX Summer Ale, XXXX Gold and XXXX Bitter on tap, as well as a few James Squires varieties and soon, they will have wine on tap.

 

The tour ended with a tasting session in the XXXX Brewery Restaurant and two complementary drinks.  We got to try the three XXXX beers on tap, as well as the Summer Bright Lager with Natural Lime which had a refreshing citrus twist.  We decided to have some lunch while we drank our complementary beers.  We ordered the highly recommended beef burger, which was absolutely amazing – a big juicy patty with tangy mustard and pickles.  We also got the steak sandwich with beetroot relish and both meals came with hand cut chips and aioli dipping sauce.

 

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The Essentials

The Brewery is open Monday to Saturday for tours, which run at certain times during the day.  The price of the tour covers an informative tour through the brewery, a XXXX trucker cap, tastings at the end, and two pots of beer.  Remember to wear closed shoes and don’t drink any alcohol before attending the tour.

 

The XXXX Brewery Restaurant is open for lunch from 11:30am from Monday to Saturday.  It’s also available for functions, and there’s merchandise on display for purchase, such as hats, clothing, bar accessories and sporting goods.

 

The entrance to the XXXX Brewery is on the corner of Paten and Black Streets in Milton.  There’s limited parking available onsite and the surrounding streets are either meter parking or 2-hour free parking.  To book yourself in for a brewery tour, or to make enquiries, email xxxxalehouse@xxxx.com.au or call 07 3361 7597.

 

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Big Things : The Bundaberg Barrel

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The Bundaberg Barrel represents many things.  Apart from being considered as one of Australia’s Big Things, the Bundy Barrel is a family owned, Australian brewery that specialises in non-alcoholic soft drink.  We’re all familiar with Bundaberg Ginger Beer, but there are so many other flavours to try and fall in love with.

 

Our visit was complemented with the warm and cheery presence of Katerina and Elisha, our hosts for the morning.  These two lovely ladies set us up for our experience through the museum and led us through a tasting that made us look at soft drink in a new light… forever.  Why would you want a cheap substitute when you can have the real thing, brewed and full of real flavour?

 

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The Museum

Our experience started with a self-guided tour through an interactive, five room museum that outlined the story of ginger beer in Australia.  It all started when Marco Polo brought ginger to Europe from Asia in the 13th century.  By the mid 1700s, ale sprinkled with dried ginger became a popular drink and this was the origin on ginger beer.

 

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Many people tried to brew ginger beer in their own homes, with many brews exploding due to a prolonged brewing time.  There’s a great interactive game in the museum which allows you to create a concoction of water, sugar, vinegar and salt and let it ferment.  If your combination of choices is incorrect, then your brew will either taste bad or explode.  Dave’s main goal of the game was to make his brew explode, while it took Juz two turns to get a brew that was just right.

 

After walking through the museum and playing with all the interactive games, we sat down to watch a brilliant 3D hologram show about Doug the Bug, who was actually a yeast that endured hardship before finding his way to Bundaberg to work his magic to help create ginger beer.

 

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The Ginger Beer

Bundaberg Brewed Drinks was established in 1960 and has been a family owned brewery for over 50 years.  They make the brewing process seem simple and concise.  Just combine ginger, water and sugar to create wort before adding yeast.  After some time to ferment, the mix is sterilised, filtered and carbonated to become Bundaberg’s yummy ginger beer.  It’s then bottled at a rate of 1000 bottles per minute and distributed around Australia.

 

Naturally brewed to be better, Bundaberg does just make ginger beer – they have an awesome range of soft drinks available for tasting.  The great thing about tasting at the Barrel is that after a session at the Sampling Bar, you can then take home a six pack of your favourites for $7.95!

 

We tasted the entire range and our favourite was the diet Ginger Beer.  With a slightly different taste to the original Ginger Beer, the diet alternative is brewed with twice the ginger and much less sugar – a little bit is still required for the brewing process. It’s not as sweet, but it’s lighter and very refreshing.  We were also fans of the diet Lemon Lime Bitters – once again, less sugar but more spice.  It had a light citrus flavour hinted with cinnamon and cloves.

 

Of the sparkling selection, we loved the pink grapefruit and passionfruit drinks.  They taste just like the real thing – you won’t believe it until you try it.  The pineapple and coconut brew was particularly good and perfect for mixing with some spiced rum.  Even their traditional flavours are fantastic.  The creaming soda was actually Dave’s favourite, and is made with red grapes for a refreshing flavour.  They also do a delicious Royal Crown Draft Premium Cola with a sweet genuine caramel aftertaste that is only available at the Barrel.

 

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The Essentials

The Bundaberg Barrel is located at 147 Bargara Rd, Bundaberg and is open Monday to Saturday 9am – 4:30pm and on Sundays 10am to 3pm.  The True Brew Experience Tour is a great way to learn more about ginger beer and Australia’s history before visiting the Sampling Bar and strolling through the gift shop.

 

https://www.bundaberg.com