Hobart 2016-02-26 079w

City Profile : Hobart

Hobart 2016-02-26 085w

 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-02-29 164w

 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-02-26 079w

 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-02-26 074w
 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-02-26 067w

 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-02-27 008w

 

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

 

Hobart 2016-02-27 009w

 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-02-29 025w

 

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.

 

IMG_20160229_125900

 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-02-27 007w

 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-03-01 012w

 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-02-27 012w

 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-02-27 015w

 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-03-01 044w

 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-03-01 046w

 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-02-26 090w

 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-02-29 090w

 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-02-29 094w

 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-02-29 172w

 

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.

 

IMG_20160229_125307

 

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.

 

Hobart 2016-02-26 109w

 

 

Shoalhaven 2015-07-26 006w

Explore : Jervis Bay & Shoalhaven

Shoalhaven 2015-07-28 034w

 

The Shoalhaven region is between the Illawarra and Eurobodalla shires and is a quick two hour drive from Sydney.  It’s decorated with some of the most amazing coastline, with beautiful beaches, turquoise water, and a few cafes and wineries.

 

Jervis Bay is surrounded by the Shoalhaven region and is said to have the whitest sand in the world.  The southern headland of Jervis Bay is reserved as a special territory called Jervis Bay Territory, which was surrendered by NSW in 1915 to provide a seaport for the new inland capital, Canberra.  It’s home to a few small settlement towns and the Australian Naval base, HMAS Creswell.

 

Shoalhaven 2015-07-26 008w

 

Berry

This tiny little town was named after Alexander Berry, a Scottish explorer who pioneered the European settlement of the Shoalhaven area in 1822.  While the town is small, it’s famous for donuts.  We spotted the Famous Berry Donut Van on our cruise through town and stopped.  You can only get cinnamon donuts but they were cooked fresh.  Perhaps the best cinnamon donuts we’ve ever had, but at the same time, they’re still just donuts.

 

Illawarra 2015-07-22 061w

 

We also visited Silo Estate winery.  We tasted a few wines and perused their range of alpaca wool products before settling on the modest purchase of some alpaca ham.  We were tempted to buy an actual alpaca, but the Troopy’s only a two seater…

 

Illawarra 2015-07-22 068

 

Nowra

We only made one stop in Nowra – Hanging Rock Lookout for lunch.  There’s a great view of the Shoalhaven River and a few bench seats for a picnic.  We sampled the alpaca ham in our sandwiches – really flavoursome and salty.

 

Illawarra 2015-07-22 077

 

Milton

We’d been busting to get to Milton to see our friends from Darwin, Joe and Kate.  They moved down to the Shoalhaven Coast for a sea change and took over a cute little cafe on the main street.  We stayed with them for a week while we checked out the coast and frequented at their cafe because it was so delicious.

 

Shoalhaven 2015-07-29 005s

 

 

 

 

 

Shoalhaven 2015-07-29 004

Eating Out : Coastal Kitchen & Coffee

Shoalhaven 2015-07-23 001

 

Coastal Kitchen & Coffee is a bright and eclectic cafe in the historic little town of Milton on the Shoalhaven coast.  We highly recommend this place if you’re passing through the area, not only because our mates Joe and Kate run the place, but also because they serve up some wicked sandwiches.

 

Our favourite was the magnificent Breakfast Burger!  This giant tower of bacon, egg and hash brown was a great way to start the day.

 

Shoalhaven 2015-07-29 004

 

Later in the week, we stopped by for lunch and killed a steak sandwich and chilli chicken burger… and are you seeing these chips? Amazing!

 

Shoalhaven 2015-07-25 012

 

Coastal Kitchen also do coffee, cakes and freshly squeezed juices. If you’re in the area, stop by for a feed – you won’t regret it.

 

Thanks Kate & Joe, for having us while we were on the Shoalhaven Coast. We had an awesome time staying with you and we look forward to seeing you again soon!

 

Shoalhaven 2015-07-29 005s

 

Brisbane 2015-06-08 140w

City Profile : Brisbane

Brisbane 2015-06-08 140w

 

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.

 

Brisbane 2015-05-22 081w

 

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.

 

Brisbane 2015-05-22 072w

 

History

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

 

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

 

Brisbane City

 

Points of Interest

CBD

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

 

Brisbane CBD

 

South Bank

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

 

Brisbane 2015-05-28 048w

 

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.

 

IMG_20150605_203422

 

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.

 

Brisbane 2015-06-08 012w

 

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.

 

Brisbane 2015-06-08 018w

 

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!

 

Brisbane 2015-06-06 015w

 

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.

 

IMG_20150526_135908

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.

 

Brisbane 2015-05-22 293w

 

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.

 

Brisbane 2015-05-22 151w

 

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.

 

IMG_20150603_162513

 

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.

 

Brisbane 2015-05-22 191w

 

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.

 

Brisbane 2015-05-22 254w

 

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.

 

Brisbane 2015-05-22 051w

 

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.

 

Brisbane 2015-05-28 001w

 

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.

 

Brisbane 2015-06-08 060w

Kuranda

The Tablelands – Part 2 : Kuranda

Kuranda

 

Nestled in rainforest just 25km from Cairns, Kuranda is an adorable “Village in the Rainforest” with plenty of bohemian character.  Check out the colourful craft markets, indulge in some delicious coffee at one of the many cafes, or get closer to nature by visiting the nearby waterfalls or local animals.

 

The rainforest around Kuranda was the home of the Djaybugay people for thousands of years, before the white settlers turned up in 1885.  The construction of a railway to connect Cairns with Herberton went through Kuranda in 1891 and it was around this time that the Kuranda Post office opened.  Timber was the town’s primary industry for a long time, until it turned into the tourist destination that it is today.  It uses the railway to receive thousands of tourists who travel from Cairns on the Kuranda Scenic Railway.  Other ways to get to Kuranda are by coach or the Skyrail.

 

During our stay in Cairns, we had both Juz’s mum and dad visit on separate occasions, and we took them both to Kuranda.  If you have a day to spare while you’re in the Cairns/Port Douglas region, it would be worth spending some or all of that day in Kuranda.

 

Kuranda

 

Points of Interest

Kuranda Markets

There are two markets in Kuranda.

The Heritage Market started around 20 years ago and is an undercover market nestled between the Wildlife Experience destinations.  The main things on offer are various Australiana products, like didgeridoos, vests and wallets made from kangaroo fur, handmade jewellery, crafts and leather goods.  There is also a nice cafe with a deck that overlooks lush rainforest.

 

 

The original Kuranda Market is located across the road, behind the shops and was established in 1978.  It’s laid out over a sloped landscape with little pathways winding around colourful huts that host the stalls.  This market has a very hippy, colourful, free-spirited feel to it, and the stalls vary from health smoothies and rainbow dresses to dreadlocking and a mini golf course!  The highlights of the original market are the hippy photo op and Petit Cafe…

 

Petit Café

A popular destination for locals and visitors, Petit Cafe offers an entire menu of various crepes with delicious coffee.  During busy times, you might have to wait to get a table, but it is worth it.  The kangaroo prosciutto and goats cheese crepe is heaven.  We took Juz’s mum here when she visited and we all had a savoury crepe each, and a dessert crepe to share.  Scrumptious.

 

 

Kuranda Beer

One of the cafes in Kuranda offers Kuranda Draught, a beer made by Red Dragon Brewery in Cairns.  We stopped in to sample and found that this beer was really nice.  The banana and other fruity aromas gave it a real ‘breakfast beer’ taste.  It was crisp and lightly bubbly with a delicate hops aftertaste that left a pleasant lingering bitterness and dryness in the mouth. YUMMO!

 

German Tucker

If you don’t mind a bit of sausage, these guys claim to have the best German sausages in Australia.  Yes, they’re delicious, and come with a variety of sides like caramelised onion, sauerkraut and potato salad, but surely there are other ‘best German sausages’ in Australia… right?

 

Kuranda

 

Kuranda Wildlife Experience

If you have at least 6 hours to spare, we highly recommend treating yourself to the Kuranda Wildlife Experience.  This package includes three destinations – the Kuranda Koala Gardens, Birdworld Kuranda and the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary.  You’ll get to meet a whole range of animals, from koalas, wallabies and gliders to lizards, turtles and cheeky parrots.  Check out our post about the Kuranda Wildlife Experience here…

 

 

Barron River Falls

The best time to visit the Barron Falls is once the Wet Season has started (around January), because at this time, the torrent of white water that falls over the Barron Falls Weir is more fierce and really impressive. We visited just before the wet and while we weren’t expecting much, it was still a pretty sight.

 

Cairns 2014-11-17 004w

 

Epilogue Cafe & Lounge

Eating Out : Epilogue Café & Restaurant, Alice Springs NT

Epilogue Cafe & Lounge

 

If you’re looking for a great place for breakfast and an even better place to relax with a cocktail in the evenings, then check out Epilogue.  Located on Todd Mall in Alice Springs, it combines hipster coffee culture with a shabby chic cocktail bar, complete with chandeliers and a great tapas menu.

 

Our first encounter was for Saturday morning breakfast.  We perused the menu of Mexican-style breakfasts and both settled on the breakfast burrito.  After we ordered our food and coffee, we sat outside in the toasty sun.

 

Epilogue Cafe & Lounge

 

The coffees were surprisingly fast to arrive, and Juz’s soy latte was topped with the most delectable layer of microfoam.  Dave’s macchiato was fantastic too.  Expectations were high for the food.

 

Shortly afterwards, our burritos arrived.  Two halves stacked on top of each other, stuffed with scrambled eggs, bacon, guacamole, salsa and beans with a side of chilli sauce.  While there was definitely enough food and it was well prepared and presented, Juz was hoping for a little more POW from the chilli sauce and the guacamole, but putting her fussy tastes aside, it was a good breakfast.

 

Epilogue Cafe & Lounge

 

 

The second time we went to Epilogue, it was to meet up with Amanda and Gary from Travel Outback Australia.  We had a wonderful night of conversation, food and wine.  The first thing we sampled was the espresso martini.  This was absolutely delicious and set us up for the rest of the night.  We also ordered two pizzas – the mexitarian and duck pizza.  These were absolutely fantastic in flavour and valued at $16 each.  We also got some nachos which were fresh and great to share, as well as some pork meatballs.

 

Epilogue Cafe & Lounge

 

We visited a third time when our friend Jenny from Lorella Springs was in Alice Springs for a day.  We took her to all the important places like Mount Gillen, Anzac Hill and the Reptile Centre, and before dropping her off at her hostel for the night, we took her to Epilogue for a drink while the open mic session provided entertainment.

 

Epilogue Cafe & Lounge

 

Epilogue Lounge Cafe & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

Jamaica Blue

Eating Out : Jamaica Blue, Casuarina NT

We were due for another café breakfast and chose to visit some place close to home so we ventured to Casuarina Shopping Centre to break our fast at Jamaica Blue.  This franchise is run by an Australian company and has been around for about 20 years.  They take pride in serving great coffee and food made from locally sourced ingredients.  We hadn’t visited a Jamaica Blue outlet on our travels before and we thought this was the perfect time to do so.

 

We found a table that overlooked the food court below and ordered our coffee and breakfast.

 

 

Our first round of coffee was made with the signature blend.  It was smooth and easy to drink.  Juz was especially happy with her soy latte because Jamaica Blue now uses Australian Grown organic soy and to celebrate, they don’t charge for soy anymore!  Dave thoroughly enjoyed his macchiato.  It was nice and strong, with an acidic tang that was subdued with a sprinkle of sugar.

 

We both ended up ordering the same thing for breakfast – it just sounded too good.  A croissant topped with egg and bacon, and served with a side of hollandaise sauce.  Dave went with scrambled eggs while Juz got her eggs poached.  Everything was just divine, especially the hollandaise sauce, which was smooth and creamy with just enough tang.  The croissant was a bit decadent but the buttery flavour went well with everything.

 

The second round of coffee was two macchiatos made with Wallenford Estate Single Origin Mountain coffee.  This full-bodied coffee had an earthy smell and an intense and pungent flavour.  If you are a coffee connoisseur, then this brew will keep you busy.

 

This breakfast was probably one of the best we’ve had in a long time and we will definitely go back for another round.  The coffee is great and that hollandaise sauce – wow!

 

Jamaica Blue

 

Jamaica Blue on Urbanspoon

 

HMAS Sydney II Memorial

City Profile : Geraldton

Geraldton is one of those beautiful regional cities where everyone seems to know each other and all the residents have everything at their fingertips – supermarkets and shopping centres, theatres and sporting facilities, beaches and boating, fishing and swimming – everything!  The city is alive and dynamic with all sorts of activities like outdoor cinema, kite surfing, yachting, water sports, kids playing on the foreshore, little athletics and plenty of health conscious people going for runs along the coast in the cool of the morning.

 

 

Also known as the Sunshine City, the Windy City or the Sun City, Geraldton sits on Champion Bay, which was first explored by ship in 1840.  George Grey was the first European to explore the area by foot in 1839 and returned to Fremantle with reports of fertile soil.  It wasn’t until 1849 that Augustus Gregory was employed to survey a town site and a year later, Geraldton was born. There was a significant need for a port town north of Perth for mining and farming purposes and the town really bloomed during the Murchison gold rush in 1892.  These days, the population is around 26,500 people and Geraldton is still a busy hub for wheat storage and transportation, as well as mining, rock lobster fishing, and tourism.

 

We stayed in Geraldton for two weeks under the roof of our Helpx hosts – a family of four with a tremendous schedule that included a brief stint in Perth for educational purposes. They put word out for some assistance over the school holidays and we answered their call.  This was a great opportunity to explore the city and surrounding area.  We went up to Kalbarri for a few days and got to know sunny Geraldton very well.  We even smashed out a pub crawl!

 

A Geraldton sunset

 

P.S. Geraldton loves sundials and bougainvilleas!

 

Points of Interest

Geraldton Foreshore

If you have kids, then this is the place to go.  There are three colourful playgrounds, including a water funpark and shaded toddler area, and a great walking path along the beach with a great view of the bay.

 

The foreshore was also where the Oxfam Walk Against Want Fun Run kicked off.  Check out how Juz went here.  If you go to the far end of the foreshore, near the marina, you can also take a leak in the Rubik’s Cubicles – very cool!

 

 

WA Museum

This is the Geraldton branch of the WA Museum and we thought this would be a great place to take the Helpx kids.  We spent the morning learning about local animals and history, expeditions to Antarctica, and the HMAS Sydney which was sunk during battle in WW2.  We also checked out a bounty of shipwreck loot and watched colourful fish swim around in a fish tank.

 

 

Batavia Coast Marina

The home of some modern apartment blocks and very spiffy boats, the stylish Batavia Marina was opened in 1995 and is also an outdoor exhibit for the Batavia Longboat Replica, which is anchored just outside of the WA Museum.

 

Go for a stroll along the boardwalk or try your luck at fishing.  We dropped a line here and even though we gave the bait fish an excellent lunch, we ended up catching a nice sized bream just as we were packing up.

 

Point Moore Lighthouse

This 34m tall structure started its days in 1877 when its pieces were brought over from England aboard the ‘Lady Louisa’.  It was bolted together in Geraldton and started operating in 1878.  The kerosene wick lamp was replaced by an incandescent lamp in 1911 but it’s had a few lighting upgrades since then, with the beam now visible up to 26km out at sea.  The red and white stripes were painted on 1969 and it is the oldest surviving Commonwealth lighthouse in WA under Federal control.

 

 

Francis Xavier Catholic Cathedral

The most noticeable building in Geraldton, this Byzantine style cathedral was designed by Monsignor Hawes, a famous Christian architect who worked on many chapels and churches all over the world.  While the foundation stone for Francis Xavier Catholic Cathedral was first laid in 1916, the building wasn’t completed until 1938 and is considered to be one of Monsignor Hawes’ best works.

 

Guided tours are available through the cathedral, but you can walk in any time you like and have a look around.  We loved the stained glass windows but thought the paint job inside was a little strange.  ‘Really? … Stripes…?’

 

Hmas Sydney II Memorial

Right on the top of Mount Scott, the HMAS Sydney II Memorial was built in 2001 to honour the 645 Australian sailors that lost their lives in a battle off the coast of Western Australia.  The HMAS Sydney intercepted a German raider, the HSK Kormoran near Shark Bay in 1941 and after a battle, both ships went down.  They were lost for 66 years until the ships were finally found.

 

The memorial consists of a replicated portion of the ship’s prow, a granite wall that lists all the sailors lost, a bronze statue of a woman looking longingly out to sea, and a great dome made of 645 steel seagulls that are suspended over a massive propeller.  It really is a beautiful memorial and in 2009, the Australian government recognised the site as one of national significance.

 

 

Queens Park Theatre

Owned and operated by the City of Geraldton, the Queens Park Theatre is an entertainment landmark and venue.  It hosts a variety of attractions like comedy shows, community art programs, dance and performance, as well as music and movie nights.

 

We were lucky enough to catch the final screening of their Summer Outdoor Cinema session and watched Not Suitable for Children in the amphitheatre with the cool night breeze and starry sky overhead.

 

Separation Point Lookout

We went for a cruise around town and noticed some massive kites in the sky.  We followed them to Separation Point Lookout and watched the kite surfers cut through the blue water.  The Point Moore Lighthouse is visible in the distance and this would be an excellent spot to watch the sunset.

 

 

Greenough

As you drive north towards Geraldton, you will pass through Greenough – a small country town that runs at a fairly slow pace.  The most definitive and weirdest feature of Greenough is the trees that line the highway.  They lean, and some are growing at 90 degree angles along the ground, all because of the strong southerly winds.

 

Another great attraction of Greenough is the Wildlife and Bird Park on Company Road.  Check out our post on this fantastic sanctuary that works to rescue and rehabilitate injured wildlife and educate the public on how important it is to take care of our native fauna.

 

Food & Drink

We went to most of the pubs in Geraldton and found the Provincial Bar and Café to be the best in terms of atmosphere.  They also do a happy hour between 4:30pm and 5:30pm when you can get a pint of White Rabbit for $7.  The other pubs were good in their own right too – check out our pub crawl post for more details.

 

Salt Dish Café

We ventured into town on a Thursday morning for a breakfast and knew that the best café in town was Salt Dish.  You could tell that it was a local favourite because it was packed.  The friendly lass behind the counter showed us to a table and took our coffee orders as we admired the silver ceiling.

 

 

Dave ordered the #35 with bacon, eggs and tomato while Juz went with the Poached eggs, spinach, prosciutto and hollandaise sauce.  The wait was about 30 minutes and if the food was terrible, we would have cracked the shits but they nailed everything!  The coffee was delicious, the eggs were gooey and everything tasted brilliant.  The only criticism was that the ‘toast’ was more like ‘warm bread’, but the bread was great so no harm done.

 

Kebabs Plus

We couldn’t leave town without a kebab so before heading towards Shark Bay, we stopped off at Kebabs Plus for a quick lunch.  Dave got doner meat, which was a mixture of beef and lamb while Juz got chicken.  They were both prepared really quickly and we ate them just as quickly.  They were really tasty (but not as tasty as the ones you can get in Melbourne), and Dave’s doner meat was about a centimetre thick!

 

 

Information & Accommodation

The Geraldton Visitor Centre is located at the Bill Sewell Complex on the corner of Chapman Rd and Bayly St – 08 9921 3999

 

Big4 Sunset Beach Holiday Park Geraldton – 4 Bosley Street, Geraldton – 08 9938 1655

 

Fremantle street art

City Profile : Fremantle

We hit Fremantle before checking out the Perth CBD for a few reasons.  A – we were staying only 6km away, B – we weren’t ready to brave the innards of the city just yet, and C – we heard there were great places for coffee!

 

 

Sure, Fremantle is home to a plethora of cafés and the Cappuccino Strip, but it also has microbreweries, pubs and restaurants, heaps of shopping and Western Australia’s largest collection of heritage listed buildings.  There is even a bus dressed up like a tram offering ‘tram’ tours (LOL), which is the only reminder of when Fremantle had trams between 1905 and the 1952.

 

Affectionately called ‘Freo’, it was named after Charles Fremantle, a British naval officer who took formal possession of the mouth of the Swan River in the name of His Majesty King George in 1829.  Over 180 years later, the area is now a city with a vibrant, youthful culture with a love of beer, live music and festivals.

 

Araluen Chilli Festival

As soon as Juz heard about the Chilli Festival coming to Fremantle, she was keen on finding her own space coyote.  There was live music and pie making competitions, spicy jams, sauces, preserves, oils, beer and tonnes of food stalls serving up jumbos, paellas, seafood jambalayas and chilli con carne.  You could even get chilli ice cream!  Juz went with a bowl of creole chicken and chilli beef stew before wandering around the festival with swollen lips and a fire burning deep down inside.

 

 

Entry to the festival was $15 for adults and you got a few vouchers on entry, like a free tasting paddle at the Monk Brewery – SCORE!

 

 

PLACES OF INTEREST

Fremantle Markets

Established in 1897, the Fremantle Market Hall is a busy and colourful place to stroll around on a Saturday morning.  There are heaps of stalls displaying all sorts of fantastic stuff like fresh, local produce, nuts, cheese, knick knacks, clothes, free trade stuff, coffee, lollies and souvenirs.  Street performers and buskers are usually out and about on the weekend, and this is where the great John Butler started out before forming his trio in 1998.

 

The E-Sheds down near the harbour had a completely different atmosphere; sterile, quiet, almost forgotten.  We checked out the CY O’Connor statue and purchased a new picnic bag and cutlery case for $4 but that’s about it.

 

 

Round House

This is the oldest permanent building in Western Australia.  It was opened in 1831 and acted as the first prison for colonial and aboriginal prisoners until 1886 when the Convict Establishment (Fremantle Prison) started accept inhabitants other than convicts.  The Round House was then used as a police lock up until about 1900.  Since then, it has been the home for the chief constable and his family, as well as a port storeroom.

 

Every day at 1pm, they shoot a canon, which is also known as the Time Ball, and mariners, locals and tourists can set their watch to the daily blast.

 

Shipwreck Museum

This is a fantastic place to learn about all the shipwrecks that happened along the western coast of Australia and is an archaeological goldmine.  The galleries exhibit original timbers from the infamous Batavia, a 17th century Dutch ship which sank in 1629. Also on show are various kinds of booty that were left behind, including silver coins, pieces of furniture, crockery, glassware and even intact food jars and bottles with the original foodstuffs inside!

 

The Shipwreck Galleries are open daily from 9:30am and entry is by gold coin donation.  There is a great gift shop at the entrance where you can purchase replicas of coins found at the wreck sites.

 

 

Fremantle Prison

The Fremantle Prison was originally known as the Convict Establishment and was built by convicts in the 1850s.  It was used as a prison until 1991 and is now open to visitors.  The best way to experience the Fremantle Prison is with a tour, and there are four to choose from.

 

It truly is a must see, must do attraction when visiting Fremantle.  The site is drenched in history and fascinating stories. Check out our post on the Fremantle Prison.

 

Didgeridoo Breath

If you’re interested in learning the didgeridoo, check this place out.  The atmosphere is super-welcoming, they have a huge selection of instruments and they offer free didge lessons!  Check out our post on Didgeridoo Breath.

 

 

Galati & Sons

Fresh food doesn’t come cheap in Perth so we thought ourselves super lucky to find this place.  Cheap fruit and vegetables, cheese, Italian groceries and spices, as well as cannoli, tarts and pre-made meals.  WIN!

 

FOOD & DRINK

Little Creatures

Fremantle’s #1 tourist destination – check out our post on the Little Creatures Brewery!

 

Cappuccino Strip

If you’re looking for a place to hang out on a Saturday afternoon, the Cappuccino Strip would be the best place.  Pick a café or restaurant and sit outside while you sip on your coffee, enjoy a meal and read the paper.  If you have a hot car, this is the place to cut laps and show off your sick stereo.

 

We sat down at Gino’s and had a coffee while we watched masses of people walk past – youngsters with bare midriffs, couples walking their dog, sight seers, tourists, quirky locals – it is truly a mixed bag in Freo.

 

 

 

Grumpy Sailor

This was the first place we went to for coffee while in the Perth area.  The recommendation demanded that we have coffee and a bagel, so we had to comply.  We entered the relaxed bookshop with the embedded café, approached the counter and advised the bearded barista that we were sent for coffee and bagel.  He recommended the cream cheese and Nutella bagel, with the promise that it will “change our day”.

 

The coffee and bagel were enjoyed outside on the terrace right amongst the chilled out atmosphere.  The coffee was delicious – smooth and creamy without any hint of bitterness.  We can’t say that the bagel changed our day, but it was definitely divine – chewy and moist with a great combination of cream cheese tartness and sweet Nutella. YUM!

 

Blink Espresso Bar

Quite possibly the smallest shop in Fremantle, this was another strong recommendation that we had the opportunity to fulfil.  Forget about going into the place – there isn’t enough room!  All there is between the colourful walls is one energetic man and his tools to make you a fabulous cup of coffee.

 

Monk Brewery

Located towards the end of the Cappuccino Strip, The Monk Brewery is a popular stop to hang out with mates while drinking pints of craft beer.  There was a bit of a line to go in and we found that they use the scents of an outdoor kitchen cooking seafood paella to lure hungry patrons in.

 

 

They have a tasting paddle with eight beers, including a seasonal one, and all their beers are paired with menu items.  We were lucky enough to score a voucher from Juz’s entry to the Chilli Festival and got a free tasting paddle.

 

  • Mild – 3.5% a bright golden lager with mild hops and a crisp clean taste.
  • Kolsch – 4.9% fruity, sweet entry with a slightly hoppy taste and subtle bubbles.
  • Wheat – 6.0% a cloudy beer that’s fruity and yeasty without too many bubbles.
  • Pale – 6.0% a deep golden colour with yeast and smooth, lingering bitterness that comes from 100% Australian hops.
  • Chief – 6.3% voted the best ale at the 2012 Perth Royal Beer Show, this tropical, full flavoured beer was smoky and had plenty of hoppy bitterness.
  • Rauch – 5.3% a deep orange colour with strong smoky characteristics and fruity flavours with toffee.
  • Porter – 4.7% a rich, dark ale full of roasted coffee, chocolate and caramel, with mild bitterness and carbonation.

 

Sail & Anchor Hotel

Opposite the Monk Brewery is a great little microbrewery pub brimming with beer love.  They have their own selection of beers, like Monkey’s Fist Pale Ale, Cat’s Shank Kolsch and Lark’s Foot Golden Ale, but they also make Brass Monkey Stout and have a variety of other local beers on tap.  The walls are covered in beer propaganda and you could spend hours in there looking at them all and having a giggle.

 

 

We went in for their $15 lunch specials and sat down to a steak sandwich and seafood basket. While we were disappointed that the parma wasn’t included in the lunch special that day, we were thoroughly impressed with the tenderness of Dave’s steak and the juicy freshness of Juz’s calamari rings.  Their chips were also great – fluffy and crisp with no icky bits.  The Sail and Anchor also do weekly food specials like Parmagedon Mondays, Hump Day Pizzas and Nice Rump Thursdays.

 

Moondyne Joe’s Bar & Café

Named after the notorious jail-breaking bushranger, this great pub is tucked away at the end of Wray Street and has a traditional, relaxing atmosphere with some old school charm. The Governor’s Bar is the perfect place to chill out with a pint and a meal, or have a lively evening while keeping up with the footy in the sports bar.

 

 

If you’re budget conscious, check out their $12 Steak Night on Tuesdays – a big, juicy scotch fillet steak cooked how you want with your choice of sauce and a side of chips and salad.  We say YES to hot beef injections!

 

Clancy’s Fish Pub

If you want to steer away from the pub scene and find something a little more open and artistic, check out Clancy’s Fish Pub.  Great for after work drinks with mates on the veranda or a day with the kids playing on the lawn out the back, there is something for everyone at Clancy’s.  They have a great selection of beers on tap, including White Rabbit White Ale, and the menu features all the pub classics and then some.

 

 

Information & Accommodation

Fremantle Visitor Centre8 William Street, 08 9431 7878

Woodman Point Holiday Park – 132 Cockburn Road, Munster, 08 9434 1433

 

Fremantle CAT Buses

There are two free bus services that circulate around Fremantle – the Blue and Red CAT buses.  They run every 10-15 minutes and go past major attractions like the train station, Arts Centre, E-Shed Markets, the Cappuccino Strip and the Shipwreck Galleries.

 
 

 
 

The Breakfast Plate

Eating Out : Louis Baxters, Subiaco WA

We had a morning appointment just north of Perth so we decided to stop into Subiaco for some coffee that was highly recommended via Twitter by the locals. Louis Baxters is a funky little café at Subiaco Station and was opened in 2011 by Eamon and Laki – mates who met on the set of Celebrity Masterchef.  Eamon was the contestant that eventually won the competition while Laki was a senior producer.  They both love great coffee and food and after a lot of planning, they opened up the café and named it after their pets, two French bulldogs called Louis Pierre Baker and Baxter Sullivan.

 

As soon as we arrived, we fell in love with the place.  A great, artistic atmosphere demonstrated by a great street art style mural on the wall, surrounded by warm wood and textured black and white walls.  Not sure what it is but you can always tell if a place makes good coffee – there’s something about the people behind the counter and the décor. We had a feeling that we were in for a treat.

 

 

We ordered our coffee and sat down with a menu.  Our intention was to just come in for coffee but the lure of food was too great.  Our coffee arrived shortly afterwards.  Dave’s macchiato came with a little glass bottle of heated milk, and it was satisfactorily strong with a great, robust flavour.  Juz’s soy latte was super silky and didn’t require any sugar.  The microfoam was smooth and creamy, while the coffee was full of nutty flavours like walnuts and hazelnuts.  Louis Baxters use Campos Coffee, an Australian specialty coffee roasting company from the eastern states.

 

We decided to share a breakfast plate and get an additional egg for protein’s sake.  It came out on a wooden chopping board with two thick pieces of toasted and buttered ciabatta bread, two hard boiled eggs halved, two slices of thick ham, a dollop of avocado feta mash and freshly sliced tomato.  We found this breakfast to be the perfect summertime feed because it was cool and refreshing while still being filling, and it wasn’t laden with fatty cheese or sauces.  Simplicity at its best.

 

 

After our breakfast, we got a cup of cold brew coffee – a coarse grind from Kenya that was cold stone filtered for 12 hours.  It smelt sweet, like coffee liqueur and had a full bodied flavour that strongly resembled raw cacao beans.  It was strong with a bitterness that moved up into the nose – like the bitterness of a very dark chocolate.  We loved it!

 

Louis Baxters is a great place to swing past for your morning coffee or to sit down for breakfast and the weekend paper.  It has a great combination of atmosphere, food, service and passion – something that is not found very often, and the coffee made here is on par with the standards in Melbourne.

 
Louis Baxters Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Peter, Dave, Jo & Juz

Eating Out : Blond Coffee, Angaston SA

We had been communicating with an old friend who was on his way back to Melbourne with his beautiful lady after 6 months travelling around Australia.  Our meeting point was to be the Barossa and word around town said that Blond Coffee was the place to go for a nice lunch.

 

After days of relentless heat and a piercing sun, the clouds came and cooled the valley with a downpour.  We walked through the refreshing rain to the café and sat down to wait for Peter and Jo to arrive.  They were prompt and it was ages before we could focus on the menus – so much to talk about – but once the hunger was noticed, everyone buried themselves into the menus for a few minutes.

 

The inside of the café was full of light, spacious and busy.  The girls behind the counter were efficient in taking orders, making coffees and bustling the food about.  Dave and I felt comfortable to order a latte, but were surprised that they arrived AFTER our food.  Regardless, the coffee was acceptable and we both inhaled our lattes.

 

 

Juz ordered the Club Sandwich – it was moist with mayonnaise and the bacon provided the perfect amount of savoury goodness, while the chicken played a simple filling role.  The lettuce was a fresh relief and the bread was thick sliced sourdough that looked like standard square bread.

 

Dave’s Steak Sandwich was of similar size and shape to the club sandwich.  He enjoyed the beetroot relish, which was a nice alternative from tangy and overpowering tomato relish.

 

We enjoyed Blond Café – it was like a city café in the country.  Once we had cleaned our plates, we left to check out each other’s rigs.  Pete and Jo had a decked-out bus with a king size bed and enough room to stand up in.  They were also towing a little Suzuki – ‘Suzi’ – which they would use to scoot around once they had set up camp.  Because their holiday was wrapping up while ours is still unfolding, they gave us their drop nets, perfect for catching crabs off a jetty.

 

Peter, Dave, Jo & Juz

 

Thanks guys!  It was super awesome to catch up with some familiar faces.  Your tips and travel stories were great and we can’t wait to check out your recommendations.  Happy homecoming and we’ll see you when we get back.

 

Blond Coffee on Urbanspoon
 

 

A souvenir shop selling funny aprons

Town Profile : Hahndorf

This beautiful little town with its pretty, tree-lined streets is the oldest non-British settlement in South Australia.  Its history is heavily soaked in German spirit, which is evident in the old buildings, old street lamps and the businesses that start or end in HAUS.  The main street is filled with cafes, restaurants, and ice creameries, as well as other quirky places like a German Bread and Cake shop with its restaurant walls covered with cuckoo clocks and painted plates, a traditional German toy shop with magnificently carved bric-a-brac, and a pub that offers a great range of imported beer.

 

 

Hahndorf was established in 1839 by Lutheran refugees who were escaping religious persecution for refusing to join King Freidrich Wilheim III’s Calvinistic state church.  The refugees arrived on the Zebra, the third ship of Lutheran immigrants to arrive in South Australia in 1838.  The vessel’s captain, Dirk Hahn, negotiated for some land near Mount Barker for his passengers to settle and managed to score a piece of land about 35km southeast of Adelaide.  The people walked to the hills from Port Adelaide and settled in the area that was originally inhabited by Aboriginal people, who called it Bukatilla, which means ‘deep pool’ or ‘wash place’.  They named their town Hahndorf, in honour of their kind and dutiful captain.

 

As Hahndorf grew, tents were replaced with cottages and Germanic houses and the population expanded to include British families who established an Anglican church.  Hans Heysen, the famous painter, would often come to Hahndorf for artistic inspiration and ended up making it his home in 1908, where he lived until he died in 1968.  There is a museum in town that exhibits his beautiful work that depicts the beauty of the Australian landscape.

 

As we walked the main street and drove around town, we got a feeling that Hahndorf was past its prime.  We reckon that about 10 years ago, its charm and Bavarian tradition wouldn’t have been tainted by the flashy, modern restaurants and commercialism.

 

Points of Interest

Café Assiette

Reputedly the best coffee in town, we had to go and try it for ourselves.  It was in fact the best coffee we’ve had since entering South Australia, and they use Mahalia beans.  We sipped our creamy lattes and thanked the chick who made them for us before we left.

 

 

Pioneer Women’s Trail

This is a walking trail that is about 22km long and follows the trail of the early settlers who walked from Hahndorf to Adelaide every week to sell their fresh produce.  The women and daughters of the settlement would carry baskets of vegetables and dairy and walk for 35km to Adelaide.  They would leave at midnight and rest along the way, washing their weary feet by streams and camping by the river.  Their return trip would include goods from Adelaide, like sugar, tea, tobacco, and perhaps a brick or two so they could finish building their church. They did this until the late 1850s.

 

Udder Delights

A small café at the edge of town, they offer cheese tasting and have a wide variety of gourmet and local cheeses.  We got to taste six cheeses and each one was unique and wonderful:

 

  • Goats Curd – low in saturated fat and cholesterol, the cheese was tart but still sweet and creamy.
  • Camembert – pale due to the goat’s milk, nutty and smooth without any chalky bits at all.
  • Chebris – sheep and goats milk used to make a soft, melt in your mouth cheese with a harder rind.
  • Goats Brie – soft mould cheese that is buttery and salty with a mould aftertaste.
  • Tarago River Shadows of Blue – soft and creamy without the overpowering blue, but there was a mild touch of pepper and spice.
  • Divine Dairy Blue – wow – salty cheese with a kick similar to vintage cheddar that had a blue tang through it and a sweet finish.

 

 

 

Hahndorf Hill Winery

Located a short drive northwest of town, this winery has a spectacular cellar door and a variety of wines to suit all occasions and climates. It was rated as one of the top 10 cellar doors in Australia and has been inducted into the Tourism Hall of Fame.  They offer wine matching with chocolate called Chocovino – the menu is huge with a variety of set ‘menus’ that allow you to choose the chocolate variety you want.

 

We sampled a small selection of their wines, two of which stood out the most:

 

  • 2012 Rosé – a beautiful pink colour with hints of amber, it has a floral smell with citrus and spice.  The entry was smooth and juicy before twisting towards a tart cherry finish.  Perfect for a spicy meal.
  • 2012 Chardonnay – a light straw colour with a floral and honey scent that was also tropical with mango and coconut.  It was subtly oaky with a rounded, buttery finish.

 

Nepenthe

Just around the corner from Hahndorf Hill Winery is Nepenthe, a winery that began in 1994 and has grown in popularity over the years, hitting the international market and featuring in James Halliday’s Top 100, The UK Times Top 100, and The Advertiser Top 100.

 

As we drove along the driveway, Juz was getting the impression of mythical allure and temptation, as if there was an ancient or biblical presence about the winery.  While we tasted the wine, we mentioned this to our host and she said that Nepenthe is an Egyptian herbal drink that comes from Greek mythology and was mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey.  It was a drug for forgetfulness, an anti-depressant elixir that “chases away sorrow”.

Of the tastings, there were three wines that were worth a mention:

 

  • 2011 Ithaca Chardonnay – peaches, white nectarine and cream on the nose with a slight oak tinge before a creamy, buttery finish.
  • 2012 Zinfandel Rosé – floral tones with rose and honey but fresh and crisp with a sherbet edge and sweet but spicy finish.
  • 2010 Late Harvest Riesling – a light wine that smells and tastes of ripe mandarin, it is light and clean without any sickly sweetness.

 

 

Schnitzel and chips with gravy at Vili's Cafe

Eating Out : Vili’s Cafe, Mile End SA

This empire was established by Vili Milisits, who fled communist Hungary in 1958 when he was only 9 years old.  When his family arrived in Adelaide after a long wait in England, Vili attended school and was put to work at 14 years old.

 

By the time he was 19, he was a qualified continental baker and was running his own business.  He didn’t start making pies and pasties until his sister asked him to do so for her snack shop, and he worked at redesigning the Aussie meat pie to be more acceptable for people of other cultural backgrounds.

 

 

We were told that this place was a secret love of Adelaideans, especially those who are up late at night because the café is open 24/7.  We stopped by to sample the food and while we walked in with an open mind, we walked out with clogged arteries.  Everything was so greasy and laden with fat.

 

The beer pie and cheese & bacon pasty were very average and the schnitzel and chips was a plate of mass produced gunk. Even the cakes in the display case looked like coronary heart disease topped with sprinkles.  Clearly, places like this don’t truly value premium quality, but more cheap quantity.

 

http://www.vilis.com/

 
Cafe de Vili's on Urbanspoon