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Explore : North West Coast Tasmania

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With only two days left before we had to head back to Devonport, we raced from Cradle Mountain to Arthur River so that we could get a head start on the north west coast.

 

We were starting to get crabby with each other because we were so stinky and exhausted from our hike on the mountain, and our camping location had fallen through. We just wanted to find somewhere to stop so we could rinse the film of dried sweat from our bodies and have dinner. We heard of a place near Marrawah but on arrival, it was clear that overnight camping was not permitted. We stopped anyway to clean up.

 

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What started off as a deserted location soon filled up as beach bums arrived for a final surf and construction workers appeared to lay out some gravel over the car park. Privacy while we bathed became an awkward dance to stay out of sight but we managed to finish the task with our dignity intact.

 

We had a brief chat with the tradies before they packed up, and we were relieved when they reassured us that we would be able to get away with staying the night.

 

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Arthur River

A small holiday and fishing village with a long, single-lane bridge over the river, Arthur River is Tasmania’s most westerly town. We crossed the bridge to the southern side of the river and headed to the lookout at Gardiner Point. The point is nick-named “The Edge of the World” because if you were to head directly west, you’d miss the southernmost point of Africa.

 

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Marrawah

Marrawah Tavern

We decided we were due for a pub meal, so we headed to the westernmost pub in Tassie. The Marrawah Tavern was really busy because it was a Friday night, but also because the local cricket club was having a bit of a shindig.

 

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The tavern made state-wide news headlines back in 2013, when a man was shot dead outside the pub just after closing time. Police believe the gunman was a local but, as yet, has never been caught. The pub has since changed owners, business seems to be good and the events of 2013 are just a thing of the past that nobody talks about.

 

We grabbed some drinks and found a table in the bistro area. Dave settled on the $24 schnitzel with mushroom sauce, and Juz went with the $28 chicken parma – both with chips and salad. The schnitzel with fresh, thick and juicy and the chips were ok, but they needed seasoning. The sauce tasted like packet gravy with mushrooms in it and was nice for the saltless chips. The salad was really interesting – it had rice, diced capsicum and onion, beetroot, cheese and half a boiled egg in a lettuce cup.

 

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The parmi was also a thick chicken schnitzel with thick ham, salsa sauce and generic cheese. It came with the same chips and salad as the schnitty. Overall, the meals weren’t worth $24 and $28, but we were willing to pay because we were hungry, tired and remote.

 

Green Point

Just a few minutes down the road from Marrawah, Green Point offers a gorgeous coastline and a perfect place to enjoy sunset.  We chatted with some guys from the council who were laying down a new layer of gravel, as we watched some surfers catching waves in the Southern Ocean.

 

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Stanley

About 20kms up the road from Smithton, we stopped at Stanley to see The Nut. We pulled over at a lookout on the way into town for our first glimpse of The Nut, which is actually an old volcanic plug.

 

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Originally named Circular Head by Bass and Flinders in 1798, the name was changed to The Nut in the 1950s. There’s a chairlift that goes up to the top, and a walking track that we would have done if we had time.

 

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Burnie

Our stop in Burnie was brief. We swung past the Makers Workshop at the Visitor Information Centre, a display of local crafts – leather goods, paper making, paper sculptures, wood crafts, jewellery, and souvenirs. There’s also a cafe with cheese and whisky tasting.

 

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Only 20 minutes south of Burnie is Guide Falls, a little picnic area with BBQs and a great place to cool off on a hot day.

 

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West of Burnie is Wynard, a little town known for its annual tulip festival in Spring. Yes, it sounds riveting, we know.  If you’re craving a lookout, check out Table Cape lookout – the view goes for miles.

 

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Penguin

You won’t believe it but the town of Penguin is mad about penguins. It’s the home of the Big Penguin – a 3 metre tall cement penguin that was built to commemorate the centenary of the proclamation of the town in 1975.

 

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The Big Penguin isn’t the only penguin in town – the street bins are also decorated with penguins, and there’s a huge penguin collection in the information centre.

 

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Other than all the penguin stuff, Penguin is a picturesque little town with pubs, cafes, a quaint church, beaches, parkland, and a bakery that looked like it made awesome pies.

 

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Eating Out : Townsville Brewing Company

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In 2001, Townsville’s old Post Office building was redeveloped and turned into a restaurant, function centre and brewery.  The décor of the place croons smooth and classy with plush velour couches, baroque wallpaper, barrel lid tables and yellow felt pool tables.  Their A-frame sign advertising lunch specials lured us in and the stylish atmosphere, beer tasting paddles and delicious food made us stay.

 

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The Food

We couldn’t pass on the lunch bargain – $12 for a chicken BLT burger with a side of chips and a schooner.  The food arrived relatively fast considering it was lunchtime, and it was served on a wooden board.  The BLT was delicious and filled with a juicy thigh fillet, red relish sauce, bacon and salad, while the chips were seasoned with rosemary and came with a small dish of aioli.  It was the perfect amount of food for the price – even if we hadn’t have gotten a schooner in the deal!

 

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The Beer

We ordered tasting paddle with our meal and held off on getting our free schooner until we’d tasted all the beers and chosen our favourites.  Dave ended up going with the Townsville Bitter Premium while Juz loved the sweet yeasty flavour of the Townsville Bitter Light.

Port Douglas

Town Profile : Port Douglas

Port Douglas

 

We’ve visited Port Douglas three times and found all occasions to be quite pleasant.

 

The first time was for our birthdays in 2013, when we flew over from Darwin and met up with our friends and family, who flew up from Melbourne to celebrate with us.  It was a week of eating and drinking, late nights and plenty of injury, and it was during the peak tourism season so there were plenty of holiday makers around.  The second time was with the Troopy, as we began our descent down the east coast of Australia.  Tourism was still bustling in October but it just seemed a lot quieter without our mates around.

 

 

The third time was during our seven-month stint in Cairns.  We’d been playing trivia every week at the Red Beret Hotel and the prizes were vouchers for various places in Port Douglas.  After collecting a booty of vouchers, we put aside a day to drive up and use them.  Despite being warm and sunny, March is right in the middle of cyclone season, and one was expected to hit the coast in a day or two – Port Douglas was deserted.

 

We felt like we had the whole town to ourselves and had an amazing, action packed day that included a delicious breakfast at Cafe Fresq, shopping at various gift stores, a mind-blowing sandwich from the Little Larder, a walking tour around town, and a sunset dinner at the Yacht Club.

 

Port Douglas

 

Port Douglas is essentially a tourism town that can be fully experienced in a day or two.  If you can’t afford to stay at one of the lavish resorts and spend the rest of your time drinking cocktails by the pool, Port Douglas has a few budget accommodation options, including a YHA, and is a great place to base yourself while you visit the various attractions in the region.

 

Fast Facts

  • Port Douglas is #3 on Australian Traveller magazine’s list of Australia’s 100 Best Towns. It’s about 1 hour north of Cairns.
  • It is the gateway to two World Heritage listed areas – the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef.
  • There have been several films shot in and around Port Douglas – Sniper (1993), Paradise Road (1997), The Thin Red Line (1998), Paradise Found (2003), Fools Gold (2008) and Nim’s Island (2008).
  • Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, died off the coast of Port Douglas after a stingray shot its barb into his heart. He was filming a new documentary called The Ocean’s Deadliest.

 

History

The traditional owners of the area are the Kuku Yalanji people, and their country stretches from the Mowbray River to the south of Port Douglas to the Annan River just south of Cooktown.

 

Port Douglas was established in 1877 after the discovery of gold in a valley near the Mowbray River.  At its peak, it had a population of 12,000, with 26 legal and registered pubs and even a few opium dens!  The schoolhouse built in 1878 and it is the oldest building in the region and was still operating until the 1960s when it was closed due to lack of population.

 

Scandal hit Port Douglas in 1887 when Ellen Thomson was convicted of murdering her husband. She pleaded innocent but she and her lover were both sent to Brisbane where they were sentenced and hung.  She became the only women to ever be hung in QLD.

 

In 1911, a devastating cyclone hit Port Douglas and once it had past, two people were dead and only seven buildings were left standing.  The impact of the cyclone lingered for several decades, and the population dwindled to abound 100 people in the 1960s.

 

christopher_skaseWho would have thought that the town’s saviour would later be known as Australia’s most wanted fugitive and fraudster.  In 1988, Christopher Skase unveiled his new 5-star Sheraton Mirage Resort, which triggered a massive tourism boom.  Because of this, it’s said that Skase is responsible for reviving Port Douglas and thus creating a successful tourism-based economy.  He is also responsible for the relocation the St Mary’s Church from up on the hill to down near the water’s edge in 1988, because its position was on valuable real estate land!  The non-denominational church was originally built in 1880 but was flattened by that cyclone in 1911.  It was rebuilt and remained in its spot on the hill until Skase’s arrival.

 

These days, the St Mary’s By The Sea is a popular place to get married.  Port Douglas is a thriving tourism town with a population is around 3,200, but this figure can double during the tourist season between May and October.

 

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Places of Interest

There are a few things to do in town, such as browsing shops along the main street, having a drink and a meal at one of the pubs, or lazing on the best beach in town – Four Mile Beach. The sand at Four Mile Beach is so flat and firm, that many years ago planes were often landed on the sand.  There’s also a market on every Sunday in the park opposite the Courthouse Hotel.

 

If you are interested in learning about the town and the area, we recommend going on a K-Star Walking Tour.  Kevin is really knowledgeable about the geography, history and flora in the area and it’s a great introduction to tropical Queensland.  Alternatively, hire some electric bikes; an easy and super fun way to get around town.  Prices start at $20 for 2hrs.

 

Port Douglas

 

As we said earlier, Port Douglas can be explored in a day or two, but it is a great place to station yourself while you explore the surrounding wonders.

 

Cape Tribulation

Located within the Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation is a headland that was named by Captain Cook after his ship was damaged on the Great Barrier Reef.  It was named so because it was where Cook’s troubles began, but despite this, it is a wonderful beach to visit.  On the road to Cape Tribulation are various cafes and ice creameries which certainly don’t hurt to visit.

 

Cape Tribulation

 

Mossman Gorge

Due to efforts to conserve this naturally beautiful place, a regular shuttle bus that runs from the Mossman Gorge Centre is the only way to visit the Gorge.  It has a relatively low fee and does allow multiple trips on the day of purchase if required.  We recommend exploring the walking trail before having a dip in the cool waters.

 

Mossman Gorge

 

Flames of the Forest

This is a very indulgent experience for special occasions only.  Enjoy a gourmet meal in a romantic atmosphere of illuminated trees while being serenaded by a wonderful performer.

 

Flames of the Forest

 

Bloomfield Track & CREB Track

For the off road enthusiasts, check out the two tracks that go through the Daintree.  We only did a small portion of the CREB Track before turning around to follow the Bloomfield Track.  Our brakes weren’t in great shape at the time and we had been told by locals that the Bloomfield Track was the safer option – plus, there were a few bush fires around and we needed to put safety first.

 

CREB Track

 

Food & Drink

There are heaps of places that offer a great feed in Port Douglas.  For a decent coffee, check out Moonshine Bay and while you’re there, browse through all of the colourful things in the shop.  Moonshine Bay uses coffee from Four Mile Roasters, local coffee bean aficionados who have a great little cafe called Origin Espresso.  Located in the backstreets away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist-ridden main street, sip a quality coffee while sitting on hessian sack milk crates and contemplating which baked treat to eat next.  Very Melbourne…

 

 

Many of the good cheap eats in Port Douglas are on Grant Street.  The French toast at Cafe Fresq is delicious, all the food from Menu Thai Restaurant is incredible and for a late night snack after the pub, go to Get Ya Kebabs for a juicy meal.  However, one of our favourite places was an award-winning bakery…

 

Mocka’s Pies

Not only do they have a great selection of pies, including Kangaroo and Crocodile Laksa, but they are absolutely scrumptious.  Mocka’s regularly participate in the Official Great Aussie Pie Competition and their pies win medals every year.

 

Mocka's Pies

 

On The Inlet

This restaurant is a little on the pricey side, so it should probably be put aside for special occasions, but the food is quite good and they have a resident groper called George… and by groper, we mean fish, not pervert.

 

The Little Larder

This place is a popular spot amongst the locals and visitors alike.  They do a wicked breakfast and cup of coffee but the main attraction is the ‘serious sandwiches made by chefs’.  We had lunch here and our lives are ruined because all future sandwiches will never be as good as the sandwiches we had here! Check out our post about this excellent food outlet…

 

Port Douglas

 

Off The Track

There is a wicked food joint on Warner Street, just behind Coles.  They have an awesome selection of gourmet burgers, including beef, pork, chicken and vegetarian, and each burger comes with a little pile of perfectly cooked chips.  They also do breakfast and can brew a very nice Lavazza coffee.

 

Port Douglas

 

Port Douglas Yacht Club

For a more local experience, you must visit the PDYC!  This open air bar and restaurant is a great place to meet friendly locals and watch the sun set over the estuary.  We enjoyed a delicious and well priced dinner that included fresh, crisp chips and a lovely side salad.  Their chicken parma is juicy and thick with all the correct toppings, and they also offer Cargill steak.

 

Port Douglas

 

Information & Accommodation

The Port Douglas Tourist Information Centre is located on the main street at 23 Macrossan Street, or you can visit these websites: http://www.tourismportdouglas.com.au/ or http://www.pddt.com.au/

 

Port O’Call Lodge YHA – 4 green star eco-lodge.  To make a reservation, call 07 4099 5422 or email portdouglas@yha.com.au

 

Cape Tribulation YHA – nestled deep within the Daintree rainforest.  To make a reservation, call 07 4098 0030 or email capetribulation@yha.com.au

 

Port Douglas

 

 

Camp cooking by the Murray @ Loveday 4x4 Adventure Park

Travel Tucker : 9 Great Camping Staples

While it’s alright to have a packet of chips and a few biscuits here and there, if you’re going on a road trip or a camping holiday, you can’t rely on junk food to keep you going. Here is a list of food staples that are cheap, healthy and easy to prepare.

 

Tinned tuna and chicken

Get your daily dose of protein from a can!  Tinned fish and meat has a long shelf life and taste great on crackers, in sandwiches and salads, and even in soups and stews.  If you’re game, try SPAM – it’s really not that bad.  We have experimented with a few recipes – Turkey Burgers, Bacon Carbonarra

 

SPAM Bacon Carbonara

 

Eggs

Eggs are little portioned nuggets of nutrients that are cheap, delicious, versatile and easy to prepare. Scramble eggs for breakfast, fry them on a BBQ for sandwiches and burgers or hard boil for snacks.

 

Breakfast in Port Campbell - featuring Dave's egg boat.

 

Peanut Butter

A great energy and nutrient dense food that is rich in monounsaturated fat, which is good for your heart, and the B vitamins help your body release energy.  It can be added to curries, spread on your flatbread with some cheese or banana, or spooned straight from the jar into the mouth for a quick and easy snack.

 

Cookie Dough - peanut butter

 

Oats

One of the most popular breakfast options for a reason – oats taste great, are easy to prepare and support a healthy heart.  Simply cook them in a billy with water or milk, or prepare Overnight Oats.

 

Yes, oats contain gluten, which may not be great for people with celiac disease, but they can be replaced by other grains like rice, quinoa or buckwheat.

 

Rice

A great source of gluten-free energy, rice is easy to prepare, goes with most things and can be stored for up to 3 days.  While white rice is quicker to cook, brown rice is the healthier option because it hasn’t been stripped of its vitamins and minerals.

 

Once the rice is cooked, you can mix it with anything you want: tuna and soy sauce, diced vegetables and chicken pieces, yoghurt and fruit, or olives, parsley and a lemon vinaigrette dressing. Or you can make some yummy rice pudding

 

Rice Fruit Slice

 

Carrots

Packed with antioxidants and fibre, carrots are a great choice for any camper.  They last for a while in the car fridge and can be added to soups and stews, grated in sandwiches and salads, or eaten on their own as a quick snack.  Increase their crispness by putting a paper towel in the bag to absorb moisture.

 

Flatbread

Instead of lugging around a loaf of spongy bread that takes up heaps of space and is easily squished, get flatbread.  It takes up minimal space and comes in a zip-lock pouch for freshness.  For the carb-conscious, try nori sheets or cabbage leaves.

 

Cloncurry

 

Apples & Oranges

Fruit is a great option for a mid morning or afternoon snack.  Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit come in a wrapper (peel) and contain vitamin C, while apples and pears will contribute to your fibre intake.  Plus, fruit tastes awesome and can be added to desserts and salads to spice things up.

 

Herbs & Spices

Add flavour to your meals with herbs and spices.  Dried herbs like thyme and rosemary are just as good as the fresh stuff and can be sprinkled on chicken or lamb chops.  Cinnamon is great with oats while cumin and paprika will add character to any meat dish, like Meat Biscuits!  If you’re not confident with mixing spices, then get pre-made blends like bush spices, Italian herbs or Moroccan seasoning.

 

Meat biscuits in a laco with sweet potato

 

So that’s our list of camping staples.  We always try to mix things up when it comes to food – sometimes we’ll get bananas instead of apples, but we find they get bruised really easily in the back of the troopy. Other times, we’ll swap rice for beans or lentils, but Dave’s not a huge fan of legumes.  What are your camping staples? Do you have any favourites to add to the list?

 

 

Cooktown

Eating Out : Cooktown Hotel, Cooktown QLD

Cooktown

 

No visit to Cooktown is complete without checking out the Top Pub.

 

Because we arrived in Cooktown on AFL Grand Final weekend, the pub was packed with rough sheilas and burly men in wife-beaters and short shorts.  We later found out that for a more classy experience, you have to go to the Sovereign because the Cooktown Hotel is for bogans.

 

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After ordering our food, we sat outside in the beer garden because all the tables inside were occupied.  Dave’s pizza came out first.  It looked fantastic and was topped with plenty of olives and anchovies, but it missed getting top marks because of the canned mushrooms.  That said though, for the $12 it cost, he was suitably impressed.

 

Cooktown

 

The pizza was devoured and gone by the time Juz’s parma arrived.  Right off the bat, it was clear that it was a factory chicken breast because it was heart-shaped.  It also lacked ham, which was tragic because it could have really done with that extra dimension of flavour, and the tomato sauce seemed to be bottled Bolognese sauce with a few sprinkles of dried Italian herbs.  No matter – it was a tasty and perfectly sized lunch with great chips and scrumptious salad.

 

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Bamaga Tavern

Eating Out : Bamaga Tavern, Bamaga QLD

Bamaga Tavern

 

We had already visited the westernmost pub in Denham, and now that we had been to the Tip of Australia, it was time to find the northernmost pub.  That pub is the Bamaga Tavern.

 

We lingered town around until midday, not only because we’re trying to avoid drinking before midday, but also because that is when the pub opens.  There were already a few guys in the large hall drinking XXXX Gold and having a look around the place.  We reckon they were travellers too, and were just as eager to visit the northernmost pub as we were.  In the drinking hall was a pool table and dart boards with blackboards that had the chalk scribbles of recent games, as well as a jukebox.

 

Bamaga Tavern

 

It took about 10 minutes before we were finally served– the drive-thru was busy now that they were open.  We found that they don’t sell any bottled beverages or wine, so we settled with beer and took our tinnies out into the beer garden, which was decorated with gazebos, coconut palms and a grazing horse.

 

We ordered some lunch as well – Juz went with the standard chicken parma ($18) while Dave got a plain chicken schnitzel ($15).  Both of the schnitzels were cooked until the crumbing was dark and tough, but despite being overcooked, the actual chicken meat was nice and juicy.  Juz’s parma was topped with delicious, thick ham, a slightly acidic and immature tomato sauce, and melted cheese.  The salad was nice and fresh with a sprinkle of sliced kalamata olives, and the chips were big and crisp.

 

 

Our experience at the Bamaga Tavern was interesting.  The canteen-style service was a little odd, especially with the only drinks available being in cans – no bottled beer, beer on tap, bottled or goon wine, and no spirits.  We couldn’t figure out whether the horse in the beer garden was a pet or a stray – there are so many horses that stroll around Cape York towns and communities.  Also, someone needs to tell the person at the fryer to take it easy with the schnitzels.

 

Bamaga Tavern

 

Weipa

Eating Out : Weipa Bowls Club, Weipa QLD

Weipa

 

We were in Weipa for Dave’s birthday and we checked out all the eateries before settling on the Weipa Bowls Club for dinner.  It was a nice venue with a sports bar, pokies area and the bistro overlooked the lawns.

 

We ordered our meals and took a seat next to the window.  As Dave was chatting on the phone to his sister, who had called to wish him a happy birthday, our meals arrived.  Dave’s rib steak was cooked perfectly and was topped with mushroomiest mushroom sauce he had ever seen, came with a salad that was fresh, colourful and tossed with a great dressing.  The real highlight was the chips – cooked perfectly so they were crisp and golden on the outside and soft on the inside.

 

Weipa

 

Juz’s chicken parma was a good size but despite being a fat breast, the meat was a little rubbery.  It was topped with shredded pizza ham, which was a little unusual but still tasty.  All in all, Juz reckons this was the best and worst parma she’d had in a while.  While the flavour of the parma and the quality of the chips and salad added points, all of those points were taken away with the rubbery flesh.

 

Weipa

Weipa

 

 

The Gillen Club

Eating Out : The Gillen Club, Alice Springs NT

 

The Gillen Club

 

We had a friend visit us in Alice Springs so we decided to show her around town and finish the night off with a nice dinner.  After climbing Mount Gillen, visiting the Reptile Centre and watching the sunset on Anzac Hill, we’d built up quite an appetite so we made our way to the Gillen Club for a feed.

 

It was surprisingly busy for a Thursday night and we were lucky enough to order our meals before the line grew to 10 metres long!  While we waited, we helped ourselves to the all you can eat salad bar, which was complete with garden salad, coleslaw, balsamic mushrooms and a weird combination salad of spinach, jalapeños and bread.  We watched a bunch of kids goof around on the jungle gym while their parents mingled at nearby tables.

 

Our buzzer went off earlier than expected and we went to collect our meals.  Juz and Jenny ordered a chicken schnitzel each. Jenny’s Hawaiian schnitzel had pineapple rings under the cheese while Juz’s Mexican schnitzel had Tobasco in the sauce and was topped with a ludicrous amount of jalapeños.  The schnitzels were huge but not too thick, and they tasted great.   Both meals were super filling and served with a small amount of chips, which was perfectly fine considering we could eat as much salad as we liked.  However, by the time we finished our meals, we didn’t have any room left…

 

 

 

Dave went with the $14.90 porterhouse special cooked medium rare and unbelievably, that’s how the steak arrived!  The mushroom sauce was just gravy with mushrooms in it.  For the price, it was a very reasonable and well sized meal that could have been supplemented with more salad but there was no need – Dave was full.

 

We weren’t expecting much from the Gillen Club and we were pleasantly surprised with the value and flavour of the food.  It’s a great kid-friendly restaurant that serves a decent meal in a social atmosphere.  Feeling utterly satisfied, we left the Gillen Club for a nightcap at Epilogue before taking Jenny back to her hostel.

 

Tim's Surf & Turf

Eating Out : Tim’s Surf and Turf, Darwin NT

Tim's Surf & Turf

Some mates were moving back to Adelaide and organised their farewell dinner at Tim’s Surf and Turf.  We had heard good things about this place so we walked in with great expectations.

 

The restaurant is surrounded by a full fence covered in faux-leaves, and inside is a beautiful courtyard with palm trees illuminated with green lights.  The restaurant seemed quite small, considering the reputation, but there was plenty of seating and space for everyone. There was also a magician that drifted from table to table to dazzle the patrons with a cheeky card trick or two.

 

Once we were seated, we were all given a menu form to fill out.  Once we had made our selections, we took our forms up to the counter and the lady checked everything, clarified whether we wanted chips, salad, vegetables or potato salad, etc, and sent our order to the kitchen.  We got an entrée of salt and pepper squid and for mains, Dave ordered the Surf n’ Bird while Juz went with the safe option of the chicken parmigiana.

 

The entrée came out surprisingly fast, considering how busy the place was.  There was about 7 pieces of squid served with a side of sweet chilli sauce; every morsel was evenly coated and curled into a scroll.  It was fresh, tender and absolutely delicious.

 

 

When the mains arrived, our eyes nearly popped out of our heads.  Juz’s parma took up the whole plate, with room enough for a small bowl of salad and a few pieces of steamed vegetables.  Dave’s plate was piled high with crinkle cut chips, two pieces of schnitzel covered in prawns and creamy sweet chilli sauce.  He immediately declared that he wouldn’t be able to finish his dinner while Juz accepted the challenge.

 

The chicken parma was delicious, even without ham.  The cheese must have been a combination of mozzarella and something like cheddar because the savoury flavours and melted texture were well balanced.  The tomato sauce was rich and flavoursome and worked well with the cheese.  The chicken fillet itself was huge and while there were some thin bits and some thick, juicy bits, it was all delicious.

 

Dave’s dinner was a little different.  The sauce was almost sickly sweet, so he scraped most of it off.  He didn’t bother much with the chips because they weren’t fantastic, especially after sitting on the plate for 20 minutes while he wrestled the chicken schnitzel.  He managed to finish off the prawns and schnitzel – after palming some off to Juz – but regretted forcing the last quarter of it down.

 

As we painfully rolled out of Tim’s Surf and Turf, we had mixed feelings.  We were impressed with the value, the atmosphere of the place and the friendly staff, but we couldn’t help but think that if they reduced their meal sizes and thus the price, it’d be a more waistline conscious place that had less food wastage.  We saw so many plates going back to the kitchen almost half full.  We’d be happy to go back again to try other items on the menu, but next time, we’ll be prepared for the huge amount of food.

 

Tim's Surf and Turf on Urbanspoon

 

Fiddler's Green - the big breakfast!

Eating Out : Fiddler’s Green, Darwin NT

Juz had covertly planned a big weekend to celebrate five years together.  It included accommodation in the city, drinking craft beer and dinner at Fiddler’s Green.

 

When we arrived at the Waterfront, it was clear to see that the Irish pub was super busy.  Most of the tables inside and out were occupied but the hospitable host showed us to a table inside at the back.  As we considered the menu, Juz went to the bar for the first round of drinks.

 

She chose the Coopers Sparkling Ale for Dave because she remembered that he liked it a lot when we were at the brewery in Adelaide, while Juz settled for a bottle of mango beer from the Matso’s Brewery in Broome.  These went down a treat while we picked what we wanted.  Dave went with the scotch fillet cooked medium and topped with béarnaise while Juz got the chicken schnitzel special.

 

 

By the time our meals came out, it was time for another round.  Dave went up this time and got Juz a glass of refreshing pinot gris while he got a 500ml stubbie of Hobgoblin from the Wychwood Brewery in England.  This full-bodied ruby ale is rich with toffee and chocolate flavours with some mild bitterness and a gentle fizz.

 

Dave’s scotch fillet looked incredible, especially with the generous serving of béarnaise over the top.  He had asked for a medium steak and got a medium steak, which was immediately impressive.  It had a smoky, flame-grilled flavour, and the delicate béarnaise provided additional moisture and a little tang.  The chips were crisp but needed seasoning, and the salad was fresh and flavoursome with a creamy balsamic dressing.

 

Juz’s chicken schnitzel special was topped with tomato chipotle sauce, mushroom, bacon and cheese, served with a side of chips and salad.  While the tomato sauce tasted a little like BBQ sauce, everything else was thoroughly tasty.  The chicken schnitzel was a good size, cooked fresh, and the mushroom, bacon and cheese went really well together.

 

We were really impressed with the friendly, jolly atmosphere and the casual but proud staff.  When Juz asked the manager about the quality of the steaks, she received a response that was quite a surprise – that he trusted his cooks and the quality of the meat they used.  Dave’s steak proved this to be true.  We were convinced that this place had more to offer than average food and drink.

 

Two days later, we went back for breakfast.  Once again, a friendly host showed us to a table and we quickly chose to share an Irish Breakfast and an Eggs O’Benedict.  In the time it took for Juz to go to the bar for a bottle of water, our breakfast was on the table.

 

The Eggs O’Benedict was the typical muffin slices topped with poached egg, cooked ham and hollandaise sauce.  They nailed everything – freshly toasted muffin with gooey egg, savoury ham and subtly tangy hollandaise – and the microgreen garnish provided the perfect touch of alkalinity to break through everything.

 

 

The Irish Breakfast included bacon, fried egg, Texan toast, baked beans, black pudding, potato pancakes and a cooked tomato.  It looked like a typical big breakfast, except for the black pudding – which just looked like really dark sausage slices.  It tasted good, considering it’s made from blood, and the potato pancakes were just little hash browns flavoured with chives.

 

Despite all the good things about Fiddlers Green, the only disappointment was our coffee – Juz’s soy latte was weak and the milk was badly frothed, and Dave’s macchiato was watery and weak.  Other than that, the service, the décor and the food were all fantastic.

 

 

Fiddler's Green on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

Fish & Chips @ Wisdom

Eating Out : Wisdom Bar & Café, Darwin NT

In the most offhand and unexcitable way, Dan from work told everyone to come to Widsom Bar & Café in the city for dinner… for his birthday.  No cakes, no presents, no fuss allowed – just come, eat food, drink and have a good time.

 

We got there at around 6:30pm and the place was already starting to fill up.  The crowd as a mixture of young and old, local and tourist, and there were a lot of American naval officers there who were visiting Darwin on the USS Blue Ridge.  There’s a small stage inside for one-man bands, and the guy who was playing when we showed up was pulling out some great acoustic tunes, and most of the lights were coloured disco lights.

 

Wisdom Bar & Cafe

 

The bar was well stocked with a good variety of beer and ciders on tap.  Dave went with the Coopers Celebration Ale while Juz enjoyed a glass of Howling Wolf Chardonnay, followed by a pint of Coopers Pale Ale.  We scored a table out the front and when everyone had arrived, we went up to the counter to order.  Juz got the chicken parmigiana while Dave went with the locally caught beer battered barramundi with chips.

 

Even though we all ordered at the same time, our meals came out first.  About 5 minutes later, Lindsay and Kaitie’s meals came out, and it wasn’t for another 10 minutes that Dan and Kylee’s food arrived.  The staggered service was poor and some plates were empty before others were even started!

 

Nevertheless – the meals were good!  Juz’s chicken parma had ham, which was cured and super salty, and went really well with the mild cheese and thin layer of tomato sauce.  The unfortunate part about the chicken was that a portion of it wasn’t covered with topping and it was a little dry and overcooked.  The chicken breast was put on top of beer battered chips, which were already soft but creamy and really yummy.  The salad on the side was fresh and perfectly dressed.

 

Chicken Parma @ Wisdom

 

Dave’s barramundi was juicy and well cooked but needed more tartare sauce.  It was served with a wedge of lemon and a side of chips that he believes could have been crispier.

 

Fish & Chips @ Wisdom

 

Wisdom is a decent place to go for a few drinks and a feed.  We were stoked to find a chicken parma for less than $20 and they had a decent selection on the menu.  If you can afford it, try one of their steaks – they were the thickest cuts we had ever seen!

 
Wisdom Bar and Cafe on Urbanspoon
 

SHAGS!!

Eating Out : Shenannigans, Darwin NT

Juz couldn’t be stuffed cooking so we decided to head into the city for the $20 Parma and Pint deal at Shenannigans – affectionately known as SHAGS.  We cruised into the city, easily found a car park on one of the busiest streets in Darwin, and strolled down to the pub.

 

SHAGS!!

 

Shenanningans is one of the most popular places on Mitchell Street because of the good food, great atmosphere and big TVs playing sports for all the boys.  A smiley girl motioned towards a table outside in the cool night breeze, gave us menus and advised that if we didn’t want a pint with the special, we can get the house wine instead.  We already knew what we wanted and a different waitress came over to take our orders – Dave went with a traditional beef parma with cheese, tomato and ham while Juz got the chilli beef and cheese on a chicken parma and wanted swapped her beer for a glass of wine.

 

                “Sorry, you can’t do that…”

 

“But the other waitress said…”                

 

 

Her arm was twisted, the customer is always right (and in this case we totally were), and she wrote Chardonnay on her little notepad and disappeared inside.

 

After a brief wait, a different waitress came over and put placemats in front of us with comical information about Murphy’s Law and the Irish interpretation for medical words like ‘rectum’ and ‘artery’.  After a long wait, another waitress arrived with two glasses of chardonnay.  Awesome – no teamwork amongst the waitresses and our drinks order was messed up.

 

Our meals came out soon after and they looked pretty good.  Dave’s beef schnitzel was nearly hanging off the plate, and was piled on top of chips with a salad on the side.  The schnitzel itself was juicy and well cooked but the topping included lots of immature tomato sauce – straight out of the jar – which overpowered the ham and cheese.  His salad was undressed and while the chips were unseasoned, they were fresh and crisp.

 

 

Juz’s chicken parma was clearly factory crumbed – the heart shaped breast gave it away.  It was topped with a thin layer of chilli beef and cheese with about a quarter of the breast uncovered.  The chilli beef was delicious and full of spices to make it full of flavour but it would have been awesome if there was more.  The chips were a bit bland despite being crispy but a little salt fixed that issue, and the salad was simple but fresh with a dressing of mustard balsamic dressing that was probably from a bottle.

 

Even though the waitresses messed up our drinks order and served food that wasn’t ideal, at the end of the day, that’s what we paid for.  If they were going to use fresh chicken breast to make the schnitzel and serve it with hand cut rustic chips and a fresh and creative salad, then it would obviously be more expensive.

 

Regardless of the quality, the quantity was adequate and we walked back to the Troopy satisfied.  If we were going to have a big Thursday night in the city and wanted to have a decent feed, we would consider eating at Shenannigans again, or even a $10 kebab from one of the vendors down the road.

 

Shenannigans on Urbanspoon

 

On our second visit to Shags, Juz ordered the sweet potato salad with seared kangaroo on top.  Juz insisted on posting a photo and letting you know that this is one of the best meals she’s had in a pub in Darwin…

 

Shenannigans

 

Planet Burgers - Juz's Mexican chicken souvlaki

Eating Out : Planet Burgers, Exmouth WA

It was a Friday night, we were having a few drinks and Juz was gagging for a chicken parmigiana.

 

Unfortunately, we were in Exmouth and it WASN’T Wednesday, which means that the chicken parma at the pub was $30 instead of $19.  We simply could not justify paying that much for a meal so we did some research and found out about Planet Burgers.

 

Planet Burgers

 

They’ve been operating for over 20 years and sell food out of a trailer behind the pub.  Their main meals are burgers and souvlakia, but they also do hot dogs, chicken nuggets and chips.  Dave and Juz were keen on a souvlaki – Dave got the marinated lamb souva while Juz went with the Mexican chicken souva.  We shared a medium sized serving of chips, but in hindsight, we should have gotten the large chips because they were AMAZING!  Crisp and golden on the outside, yet fluffy and soft on the inside.

 

 

Dave’s lamb souva disappeared pretty quickly while Juz relished over the tender chicken, spicy jalapeños and sour cream.  We were really impressed with Planet Burgers – the total price for souvlakia and chips for the both of us was $34, a little over the price of one meal at the pub.  We went back to the trailer when our bellies were full and had a nice chat with the chick inside, who had also travelled around Australia.  After we gave our positive feedback, we went back to the hostel for more drinks and chats with random travellers.

 

As the night progressed, our thoughts diverted back to those magnificent chips.  Juz was the first to wander off to get some more chips from the trailer.  Unfortunately, she watched them close up shop so she crawled into the Troopy and passed out.  Not long afterwards, Dave went to get some chips but by that time, the trailer was gone.  He found Juz in the Troopy and helped her stumble to the dorm and tucked her into bed.