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City Profile : Hobart

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Fast Facts

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

 

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Things To Do

Royal Botanic Gardens

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

 

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

 

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Salamanca Markets

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

 

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

 

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

 

MONA

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Mount Wellington

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

 

 

Food & Drink

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

 

Coffee

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

 

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

 

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Breakfast

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Lunch or Dinner

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

 

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

 

Hope & Anchor Hotel

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

 

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

 

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The Winston

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

 

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

 

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

 

Cascade Brewery

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

 

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Larks Distillery

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

 

Information & Accommodation

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Cairns

City Profile : Cairns

Cairns

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Fast Facts

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

 

History

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Great Barrier Reef - Justine snorkling

 

Places of Interest

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

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

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

The Esplanade & Marina

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

 

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

 

 

Rusty’s Markets

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

 

The Night Markets

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

 

Centenary Lakes Botanic Garden

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

 

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

 

Cairns Botanic Gardens

 

Palm Cove

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

 

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

 

Palm Cove, Cairns

 

Behana Gorge & Walsh’s Pyramid

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

 

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

 

Behana Gorge Cairns

 

Crystal Cascades

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

 

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Big Captain Cook & Big Marlin

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

 

Food & Drink

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

 

 

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

 

Here are a few other eateries worth mentioning…

 

Asian Delights

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

 

Ganbaranba Noodle Colosseum Cairns

 

Great Cafes

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

 

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Ochre Restaurant

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

 

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Pizza Quest

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

 

Information & Accommodation

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

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

 

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

 

Cairns
 

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?

 

 

veg

Travel Tucker : Cheap & Healthy Foods

junk

 

One of the best parts about camping is being outdoors – the trees, the grass, the fresh air – it brings you closer to nature, as they say.  Unfortunately, all of the goodness of the great outdoors can be ruined by some poor choices at the supermarket.

 

There have been too many occasions when processed foods in brightly coloured packaging are chosen over fresher, healthier options.  Sure, they might keep better without refrigeration but they’re full of weird ingredients, the packaging creates rubbish and I don’t know about you but they always make me really thirsty.

 

We’ve found that fresh whole foods are better, not only in helping us feel energised, but for our pockets as well.  So, without any further ado, here is our list of foods for the healthy camper who doesn’t want to break the bank.

 

 

apples

 

Apples

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, they say – but how? These mysteriously super heroic fruits contain two main nutrients – fibre and vitamin C.  Vitamin C is a very powerful antioxidant that boosts immunity and decreases the oxidation of important fats within the membranes of our cells.

 

We all know that fibre is pretty important but there is one form of fibre in apples called pectin, which plays a role in maintaining healthy blood pressure, blood sugar levels and reduces the ‘bad’ cholesterol in blood.  Pectin, and the other forms of fibre in apples also help to maintain a healthy digestive system.

 

Apples can be as cheap as $2 a kilo and are delicious on their own, baked in foil on the fire with some cinnamon, smeared with peanut butter or sliced into a salad.

 

 

carrots

 

Carrots

At around $1.50 for a kilo, carrots are an awesome snack, especially when dunked in some yummy dips or salsa.  Put grated carrot in your sandwiches, salads or stews or make carrot noodles with a julienne slicer.

 

Carrots are a great source of vitamin A, which is great for eyesight and strengthening the immune system.  They also contain biotin, a relatively new essential nutrient that supports healthy metabolism, blood sugar levels and skin health.

 

 

zucchini

 

Zucchini

The price of zucchini can vary but you’re looking at around $5 a kilo in major cities.  Because of the soft, delicate flavour of zucchini, they can be eaten raw, steamed, fried, grilled or BBQed, or grated for stews and soups.  Juz likes to slice them up and use them like a cracker, or she makes zoodles with her julienne slicer.

 

Apart from being full of fibre and antioxidants, Zucchini contains a decent amount of copper, which plays a role in energy production when paired with iron, bone and tissue integrity, and the effectiveness of antioxidants in the body.

 

 

sweet potato

 

Sweet potatoes

Chockablock full of vitamin A and vitamin C, sweet potatoes protect you against free radicals as well as supporting your immune system and vision.  They keep well if kept dry, taste amazing mashed, baked in foil or grilled on a BBQ, and are only $4 a kilo.

 

 

brown rice

 

Brown rice

The difference between brown rice and white rice is more than just colour.  White rice is stripped of all the healthy bits to create a product that has a longer shelf life and minimal nutrients. Brown rice has everything that white rice has and more, such as vitamin B1, B3 and B6, manganese, fibre, and other awesome stuff that helps to provide the body with energy and protection against diseases like diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and more!

 

While brown rice takes around 50 minutes to prepare, it tastes better and is better for you, but if convenience is your vice, then stick to the white stuff.

 

 

oats

 

Oats

The ultimate breakfast food and only $2 a kilo.  Oats are low GI and full of manganese, which is great for stabilising blood sugar levels, bone production and healthy skin.  Oats also contain a particular type of fibre that helps to lower cholesterol.

 

Our favourite recipe is Overnight Oats because it’s simple and fuss-free.  You can also boil them and add in some egg, cheese and bacon for a savoury treat.

 

 

eggs

 

Eggs

A supercheap source of easily digestible protein, but don’t discard the yolk!  There are some excellent nutrients in the yellow stuff, including choline, which is really important for the structure of cells and nervous system support.

 

Fry them over the campfire for breakfast or boil them in the billy for a snack later on.  You can cut up the hardboiled eggs and mix with mayonnaise and onion for a delicious sandwich filler, or smear with peanut butter for a kooky bite.

 

 

tuna

 

Tinned tuna/chicken

A cheap and versatile protein that also features healthy omega-3 fats and selenium, a mineral that supports healthy thyroid function!  Single serves can range from $10-$30 a kilo, but if you’re on a serious budget, buy one of the big tins and you have four serves at around $8 a kilo.

 

Combine tuna with onion and mayonnaise for an awesome sandwich filler, or spread on toast and melt some cheese on top for a delicious treat. Tinned chicken is great for salads, soups and stews.

 

 

mince

 

Minced meat

Ranging from $5-$12 a kilo, minced meat is not only relatively cheap but also seriously versatile.  You can make stews, burgers, meatloaf, curries and heaps of other stuff with this malleable meat.  If you’re on a serious budget, opt for fatty meats – they are usually cheaper and tastier than lean meats, but if you’re watching your fat intake, then there are always lean options available.

 

Apart from being one of the best sources of essential nutrients iron and zinc, animal proteins contain other vitamins and minerals that plant sources rarely supply, such as vitamin B12 for healthy brain function, creatine for strength and muscle mass, carnosine for protection against degenerative processes and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) for healthy brain function.  Check out this great ad from 2010 with Sam Neill.

 

 

Healthy-Mc-Donalds-food

 

The Waterfront

City Profile : Darwin

Sunset at East Point

 

When we arrived in Darwin back in June 2013, we were exhausted.  We had just driven through the Kimberley and broken down on the road towards the Bungle Bungles and we were looking forward to spending some time in a city.

 

Darwin was not what we expected.  The city is set among tropical bushland and it’s really small.  The CBD doesn’t have any skyscrapers, there is only one main shopping centre in the northern suburbs and the airport is right in the middle of everything. There is heaps of vegetation around town, consisting of banyan trees, palm trees, screw pines and frangipanis and every now and then you’ll see a water tower.  The people are totally laid back, with many of the inhabitants working in defence or the mining industry, and there’s a considerable percentage of pubs and taverns around town that offer free lunchtime strip shows.

 

 

There is heaps of wildlife around town.  Green tree frogs, asian house geckos and tata lizards that are regular house guests, and you might even see the occasional python hanging around. Frilled neck lizard reserves are common and if you stick around long enough you’re bound to see one.  Nearly every resident has a dog for security and nearly every dog still has their balls.

 

In the 10 months that we have been in Darwin, we’ve lived at four addresses, worked a variety of jobs and experienced the Wet Season, the Dry Season and the Build up.  When the time comes for us to pack up and continue on our journey, it’ll be like leaving home all over again.

 

FAST FACTS

  • Darwin is the smallest and most northerly Australian capital but is one of the fastest growing cities.
  • The population is around 130,000 people, but this doubles during the Dry Season.
  • Darwin participates in gas and oil production, the mining industry, and tropical horticulture, and the Port of Darwin is the main outlet for Australia’s live cattle export trade into Southeast Asia.
  • There are two seasons in tropical Darwin – the stinking hot, sticky and sweaty wet season and the mild and balmy Dry season.  The lightning storms of the wet season are spectacular and the average temperature during the year is around 30°C so stick to shorts, singlets and t-shirts during your visit – there is no need for pants or jackets… ever.
  • There are a few aboriginal communities within the metropolitan area.  While you generally don’t enter the communities out of respect, occasionally they’ll have festivals and invite people to come in for tours.

 

 

 

 

HISTORY

The Larrakia people are the traditional owners of the land and lived in the greater Darwin region before European settlement.  They lived alongside the settlement and gave them food but many died of disease or were pushed away to camps on the outskirts of the city.  After much struggle and adjustment, the Larrakia people prevailed and today they have an active role in the community and their nation is 2000 strong.

 

The Dutch were the first Europeans to swing past the area, but it wasn’t until 1839 during the second voyage of the HMS Beagle that a little colony got started.  The first officer of the Beagle named the port after his buddy, Charles Darwin, who sailed with them on the Beagle’s first voyage in 1836, but the settlement was established as Palmerston in 1869.  After a gold rush in Pine Creek in 1870, the population of the colony more than doubled from 135 to 300 and when the NT was transferred under federal administration in 1911, it was renamed Darwin, but didn’t reach city status until 1959.

 

Darwin has been rebuilt twice.  The first time was after 1942 when the same Japanese warplanes that bombed Pearl Harbour attacked Darwin.  The town was severely damaged and 243 people were killed, but what the air raid showed was how close the World War got to Australia.

 

The second time Darwin had to be rebuilt was after Cyclone Tracy in 1974.  This category 3 storm hit on Christmas Eve, devastated the city, killed over 70 people and destroyed more than 70% of the buildings in Darwin.  Most of the population was evacuated to either Alice Springs, Adelaide or Sydney, and about 60% didn’t return.  After the cyclone, new building codes were put in place to construct houses that could withstand high winds and provide protection for the residents.

 

Cyclone Tracey Memorial

 

POINTS OF INTEREST

Darwin has all the typical attractions, such as the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and George Brown Botanical Gardens,  which is not only fantastic but totally free to enter, as well as a few special treats that you can’t find anywhere else.

 

Crocosaurus Cove

We cannot emphasise to you how awesome Crocosaurus Cove is.  Entry is a total bargain for the goodies inside and if you go on the Big Croc Feeding Experience with a guided tour, you’ll have a day that you’ll never forget.

 

 

Aquascene

You might think that feeding the fish sounds mundane but this place is really cool.  They have a great display of marble statues and pretty gardens.  While the majority of fish are diamondscale mullet, you might spot a shark or batfish.

 

Aquascene

 

Stokes Hill Wharf & Darwin Waterfront

The Darwin Waterfront is the equivalent of Docklands in Melbourne, but more frequently used.  The grassed area is a great place for a picnic or Sunday Session during the Dry Season and the surrounding restaurants are quite good.  The Darwin Convention Centre and Wave Lagoon are also nearby.

 

Stokes Hill Wharf is a short walk from the Waterfront and is a great platform for fishing.  At the end of the Wharf is a small plaza with some food outlets.  It has much historical significance as it bore the brunt of the Japanese bombing on the 19th of February 1942 – over 240 people died and many ships were sunk in the vicinity.

 

 

FESTIVALS & EVENTS

Territory Day

On July 1st, Territorians celebrate Territory Day.  There’s quite a build-up to the event, with fireworks for sale on nearly every corner!  It’s not a public holiday (yet) and in the evenings, everyone floods to Mindil Beach for the markets and food stalls, and to watch the amazing firework show on the shore.

 

Territory Day

 

Fireworks continue through the night as everyone lets off their crackers.  We found a quiet place next to Port Darwin to let off our fireworks while others let theirs off in their front garden or on the street.  Spot fires arose throughout the city and evidence of the madness showed the morning after.

 

Beer Can Regatta

Possibly the most Territorian event other than Territory Day, the Beer Can Regatta is a great opportunity to let your love for beer shine.  Mindil Beach is flooded with tourists and locals for the markets, the food and the activities on the shore.  We spent the day on the Grogmonster and watched the beer can boat race.

 

 

Noonamah Rodeo

If bull riding, motorbike jumps and bucking broncos is your thing, the Noonamah Rodeo is definitely worth a look.  There are plenty of interesting characters to watch too, heaps of food stalls and overpriced beer, and the atmosphere is true country.

 

Won't give up without a fight - Noonamah Rodeo

 

Ethnic Community Events

Darwin is very multicultural and during the Dry Season, they hold many cultural festivals.  India@Mindil was very colourful with dance performances and plenty of delicious foods to try.  The Cyprus Festival was also orientated around food and dance.  Both of these events were free.

 

 

Hoon Events

The Hidden Valley Raceway is a popular spot to unleash your inner bogan.  They’ve got drag races, burnouts, motocross, supercars and it is the starting line of the Australia Day Ute Run.

 

Hidden Valley Drags

 

The All Ford Day was also on while we were in Darwin and there was a great display of both old and new cars.  Juz got the opportunity to take a seat in one of the drag cars for the Beat the Heat Off Street drag racing event.

 

 

 

 

MARKETS

Darwin is a market haven.  Between Thursday and Sunday during the Dry Season, there are about 5 or 6 different markets that you can go to, and each offers something a little different.  If you’re after a decent feed, you can’t do much better for value than at the markets.  A large tub of curry can be as cheap as $10 or prepare to pay about $7 for a bowl of delicious chicken wonton soup.

 

Mindil Markets

 

FOOD & DRINK

Shennanigans

Even though we lived 15 minutes away from Shenannigans, it was our local.  We’d go there every week to have dinner and play trivia.  The menu is awesome and has all the regular pub meals like steak and chicken parmigiana, yummy salads and a few goodies like the Territory grill and chicken supreme.  The prices are awesome too and if you’re not that hungry, you could just grab a side of spiced crocodile or a bowl of beef chilli for $5.

 

Chow!

Tasty Vietnamese and south east asian food on the Waterfront, Chow! is fully licenced and has some awesome cocktails on the menu.

 

Chow!

 

Yotz Greek Taverna

Dave took Juz here for her 30th Birthday dinner and it blew her socks off.  Even though it’s quite fancy and pricy, we dined right next to the Cullen Bay marina and the moussaka was to die for.

 

Tim’s Surf & Turf

If you love an outrageous amount of fried food piled up on your place, you’ll love Tim’s Surf and Turf.  The portion sizes are horrifying but the food tastes great and they have a magician that wafts from table to table performing nifty card tricks.

 

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Buses

Darwinbus is the only public transport network that operates in Darwin and has services that run between the city, Casuarina and Palmerston interchanges, as well as a few rural locations.  While most of the services run 7 days a week, they’re not regular and may only have 2 services in the morning and another 2 or 3 runs after work, so if you miss your bus, you’re walking!

 

INFORMATION & ACCOMMODATION

Tourism Top End Information Centre – 6 Bennett Street, Darwin, Phone: 1300 138 886

Darwin YHA – 97 Mitchell Street, Darwin, Phone: 08 8981 5385

 

 

 

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

 

Palmerston Markets

Experience : Darwin Markets

Darwin is hardcore market central during the Dry Season.  Between Thursday and Sunday, there are about 5 or 6 different markets that you can go to, and each offers something a little different.  A few stay open during the Wet Season so you can still get your cheap vegetables and noodle soups throughout the year.

 

Mindil Beach Sunset Markets

Thursday & Sunday nights from 4pm – Dry Season only

By far the most popular market in Darwin, the Mindil Beach Markets has more than 60 food stalls serving food from more than 20 different countries and about 200 art and craft stalls. It runs from May until October at Mindil Beach, Darwin.

 

 

Browse through the colourful clothes, beautiful jewellery or head over to the whip stall for a crack.  Grab a delicious laksa, tub of delicious crispy chicken or a woodfire pizza – some of our favourite meals have been at Mindil, including a pork hock covered in crackling.  While you eat, check out one of the live performances or join hundreds of other people on the beach to watch the magnificent sunset (FYI – the sunset is also amazing on other days of the week).

 

At the end of the season, they have a big Mindil Market with extra stalls, extra performances, and fireworks on the beach.

 

 

Nightcliff Markets

Sunday 8am – 2pm all year round

These colourful markets began in 1996 and is a great place for a relaxed weekend breakfast and browse. Listen to local musicians and tire the kids out on the playground while you munch on a sticky pork skewer.

 

Parap Market

Saturday 8am – 2pm all year round

A local shopkeepers started these market in 1982 and it’s one of the few markets that run during the Wet Season as well.  All the regular stalls are there – arts and crafts, exotic food and juice bars.

 

 

Rapid Creek Markets and Monsoon Markets

Thursdays from 5pm during the Wet, Sunday 8am – 2pm all year round

Darwin’s oldest market, it hass been running since the late 1970s. It runs all year round and is a great place to pick up some Asian produce and treats, soups and juices, and a massage.  Nok’s Thai Massage is the ultimate treat – and they’re open throughout the week.

 

Coolalinga Rural Markets

Saturdays 8am – 1pm all year round

Since the late 1980s, these markets run on Saturday from 8am to 1pm all year round.  We think of it as the cowboy market because of the crowd that is usually there, and you can buy food, crafts, plants, pets and live poultry.

 

PALMERSTON MARKETS

Friday nights from 5pm – Dry Season only

These markets began in the mid-1980s and runs from April to October.   There are over 200 stalls, most are the regulars that circulate all the markets, but the food tends to be a little cheaper. Grab some sweet rice or a spiral spud!

 

 

It’s really busy with lots of families and kids running around.  There is also a massive grassed area for entertainment.  Sometimes there’s a clown to get the kids jumping around, an acoustic act or dance lessons.  At sunset, the lorikeets come out and make a racket but it’s a great sight.

 

Palmerston Markets

 

Mindil Beach Sunset Markets

The Barra Shak

Eating Out : The Barra Shak, Kununurra WA

The guy who we bought the Troopy off found out that we were in Kununurra and strongly advised that we go to the Barra Shak for a barra burger.  How could we refuse?  One night after we had done the shopping, we saw the Barra Shak sign in the distance and decided that it was time for dinner.

 

The Barra Shak

 

We walked in and noticed the massive menu board to the left.  We found the barra burger at $14 with the lot, and also found kangaroo spring rolls at $5 for a pair.  We ordered, took our number and waited outside in their al fresco courtyard.

 

It wasn’t long before number 15 was called.  We gathered our bits and sat outside in the balmy air.  The first item to disappear was the barra burger.  It contained two battered fillets of barramundi, a fried egg and bacon with mayonnaise, cucumber, tomato and onion.  We took turns taking bites out of it, and it wasn’t long before it was gone because it was delicious.  You’ll find barramundi on the menu almost everywhere in northern Australia and now we know why.  This was our first taste of barra and within a day, we were fishing in the Keep River and eating them fresh from the water.  Yummo!!!

 

 

Next up were the kanga spring rolls.  They were bursting with exotic flavours like lemongrass and ginger – almost like a curry spring roll.  They tasted great but all the spices didn’t really allow the flavour of the kangaroo to come out.

 

We found the Barra Shak to be great value for money and the food tasted awesome.

 

Recipe : Damper

Recipe : Damper

Sometimes, making your own bread is much more economical than buying loaves that can go moldy in a few days.  Here is a recipe for plain damper, as well as some flavour suggestions if you want to mix it up a bit…

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 tbs butter
  • A pinch of salt
  • 175ml milk OR 175ml water with milk/yoghurt powder

 

 

Method

  • Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl.
  • Put the butter in and rub between fingers to make a breadcrumb-looking mixture.
  • Add the liquids and combine.  Knead into a ball of dough – if it’s too wet, add more flour and if it’s too dry, add more liquid.
  • Place dough ball into a small oiled pan and flatten with fist to make a disc shape. Put into a pre-heated dutch oven (with a wire rack inside to prevent the bottom of the pan from burning) for around 15-25 minutes, depending on how hot the oven is.
  • You’ll know it’s done when it’s a nice golden colour and the damper feels puffy instead of squishy.  It’s still going to be moist in the centre – but that’s just how we like it.

 

Recipe : Damper

 

Cheese & Bacon DamperMake the plain damper dough and knead in pieces of cheese and diced bacon before baking.

 

 

Chocolate DamperMake the plain damper dough and knead in chocolate powder or cacao.  If you want to make Double Chocolate Damper, sprinkle in some choc chips.

 

 

Choc Bacon DamperMake the plain damper dough and knead in chocolate powder or cacao with bacon bits.  If you want to make Double Chocolate Bacon Damper, sprinkle in some choc chips.

 

If you are curious about how much cheese, bacon or chocolate to add, use the Juz scale.  If you like bacon a lot, add lots of bacon.  If you like chocolate a little bit, add a little bit of chocolate, and so on.

 

Future recipe ideasBanana, Banana Chocolate, Choc Orange, Olive, Hawaiian (ham, cheese and pineapple), Italian (green olives, tomato, basil), Greek (feta, kalamata olive, lamb), Herb & Garlic

 

Do you have any kooky damper flavours?

 

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.

 

 

Alfred's Kitchen

Eating Out : Alfred’s Kitchen, Guildford WA

There is a special place in every night owl’s heart for a food outlet that is open until the early hours of the morning.  Back at home, ours was a food truck called Haci’s Kebabs on the corner of Bell Street and St George’s Road in Preston.  You could always count on that place to be open on the way home from a pub crawl to fill your belly with a juicy kebab before you pass out at home.

 

 

Perth has a similar outlet, and after driving past a few times and seeing a crowd of people every time, it only made sense to try it out.  Located in historic Guildford, Alfred’s kitchen is a favourite amongst the locals and long distance travellers alike and is rife with its own history.  Established in 1946 by a returning soldier called Frederick Cook, it is Perth’s oldest roadside hamburger joint and is open every night from 5pm.  There are about 40 different burger styles to choose from, like hamburgers, steak burgers, lentil burgers, bacon burgers and hot dogs.  You can even get some lamb curry or beef stroganoff!

 

We stopped through on the way home after a few pints at the Rose and Crown Hotel.  It was only 7:30 but the crowd was huge.  Still, the friendly chick behind the counter was happy to go through the menu with us.  While we waited for our burgers, we got a cup of their legendary Pea & Ham Soup to share which is served from a giant pot on the stove. It was thick, warming and flavoursome, but Juz reckons it could have definitely done with more smoky ham and less potato.  She’s such a food snob…

 

We didn’t have to wait long before they were screaming out our number – “56!!!” – and we approached the bench.  With our dinner we were given a sticker for the Troopy and two postcards that we will probably send home to let Victorians know what their missing out on.

 

 

Juz ordered the Alfred Special with chilli sauce.  Similar to a Club Sandwich, the Alfred Special is a layered toast sandwich with hamburger, bacon, egg and cheese with gherkin spread, tomato, lettuce and BBQ sauce.  The chilli sauce added the perfect amount of bite but the real standout was the tangy gherkin spread, which broke through the richness of the succulent burger, savoury bacon and fried egg.  Juz couldn’t get enough and was sad when there wasn’t any more to put into her mouth.

 

Dave got the monumental CRAM burger, stuffed with hamburger, steak, egg, cheese, bacon, BBQ sauce, lettuce & tomato in a burger bun.  It was really tall and Dave had to open his mouth super wide to get his mouth around the first bite.  The steak was the most prominent part of the burger, and while it could have done with a little more cheese, it had the perfect amount of moistness.  When Dave finished the CRAM, he turned to Juz and said, “That was a good burger…”  This is an important breakthrough because Dave doesn’t usually go for burgers.

 

It was a great experience to sit among the locals and enjoy the delicious product of this famous gem.  It would have been even cooler if we were there at 1am, sitting by the fire that they light to keep their patient patrons warm.   Happy and hamburgered, we went back to the counter to thank them for dinner and their hospitality before walking home.

 

http://www.alfredskitchen.com.au/
Alfred's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Dave's scotch fillet burger at the Denmark Tavern

Eating Out : Denmark Tavern, Denmark WA

After a morning of wine tasting in Denmark, we were proper ready for lunch and rumours were circulating that the Denmark Tavern was the place to go for a decent meal.  When we rolled up and parked the truck, the exterior didn’t give anything away.  It wasn’t until we got inside that we realised that we were in for a real treat.

 

The decor was loft style with large, spacious dining areas , decked roofs, and large wooden support pillars.  The menu was laid out over three or four blackboards and the range was incredible – fish, lamb, soup, vegetarian dishes, curries, burgers, steaks, salads, pasta, AMAZING!  What caught our eye was the $22.95 two course lunch special.  We ordered, helped ourselves to some cold fruit-infused water and sat down outside in the cool shade.

 

 

For starters, we ordered the lemon myrtle squid with aioli sauce and vegetarian spring rolls with sweet chilli sauce.  The squid was lightly battered and tender, and the creamy aioli was a perfect accompaniment.  The spring rolls were fresh and crisp and served with a very light, sweet and tangy dipping sauce.  Each entre was served with a salad filled with lush, ripe produce – the tomato was the best we have tasted in ages.

 

Within minutes of our entre plates being cleared, the mains arrived.  We were shocked at how fast the food came out considering the quality that was put in front of us!

 

 

Dave’s scotch fillet burger was presented in knife impalement style, with his steak and bacon hanging out of the burger like the tongue of a dog.  The steak was cooked perfectly and was smoky and tender.  The burger also had beetroot, crisp lettuce, a fried egg, BBQ sauce and fresh, chewy bread.

 

Juz’s chicken parmigiana didn’t have ham, but this was forgiven because the chicken fillet was thick and juicy.  While it wasn’t as crispy as expected, it still filled the void and each mouthful was enjoyed wholeheartedly.

 

The chips were delicious, possibly beer battered, and all were eaten very easily, while the salad was topped with a deliciously creamy and tangy dressing, possibly a herb mayonnaise.

 

We were thoroughly impressed with the service, speed and quality of our food.  All the great reviews that we read about this place were absolutely true!  Excellent food in generous quantities at a great price in a welcoming atmosphere.  Well done Denmark Tavern!

 

Tom and Bella with their food - WOWZERS!
Denmark Tavern on Urbanspoon

YUM! Baked ricotta cheesecake - Alexandrinashire Tea at the Alexandrina Cheese Company

Alexandrina Cheese Company

The cow at Alexandrina Cheese Company

The Alexandrina Cheese Company is located on the Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia, about 15km north of Victor Harbor.  The McCaul Family started cheese making in 2001 but the family have been cheese-making dairy farmers since 1902.  The family is currently in their third generation and are still using traditional methods to produce quality cheeses.

 

They have only 71 Jersey cows that feed on the green clover pastures on the family’s farm, as well as the odd grain and grass snack, allowing for a variation of cheese flavours that change with the seasons.  They’re milked twice a day and produce rich, creamy milk with a high protein and butterfat content.  Their milk is pasteurised but not homogenised so that the fat globules can still produce a lush, creamy cheese.  The Company uses all of the milk to make a range of cheeses and dairy products, from the simple cheddars and spiced Gouda to creamy ricotta and pure cream.

 

Their cheeses are award-winning, having received their 3rd consecutive Gold Medal at the World Jersey Cheese Awards of 2012 for their Alexandrina Vintage Cheddar.  The cheese makers, Dan and Krystyna McCaul have also accepted The Alexandrina Council’s Farmer of the Year award in September 2012. They recently celebrated their 11th birthday on the 1st of January 2013.

 

Alexandrina Cheese Company - cheese tasting...

 

The Cheeses

Using old-fashioned methods that date back almost 100 years, the cheeses are made with love and care.  Their famous cheddar cheeses are turned in open vats and the curd is stretched for several hours to allow the cultures to work for longer and to change the composition of the cheese.  The only preservative they use in their cheese is sea salt and the Company use their own special cultures and rennet.

 

They had most of their range available for tasting.  Here are our notes:

  • Encounter Bay Edam – savoury and smooth with a sweet and clean finish.
  • Mount Magnificent Gouda with caraway seeds – gorgeous! Really creamy and buttery and totally melt-in-the-mouth heaven.
  • Cheddar curd – this is the first stage of the cheese making process where the protein, fat, water and lactose have coagulated.  It had a briny film with a firm haloumi texture.
  • Mount Jagged Mature cheddar – served in a red wax, this English-style cheese is medium bodied with a nutty finish but not as biting as expected, considering the yellow colour.  It was aged 12 months.
  • Alexandrina Vintage cheddar – presented in black wax, the vintage is rich and creamy and full of earthy flavours and a tangy aftertaste.  Aged 18 months but paler than the mature cheddar.  This is because of the seasons.  Lush grass produces a yellower cheese with more nutrients, instead of dry grass.   This is their award winning cheese which has characteristics of both cloth-bound maturation and wax maturation.
  • Finniss River Romano – crumbly due to the smaller granules of curd, this Italian-style hard cheese is wet and briny, making it nice and salty and great for grating over your lasagne.  Aged 12-15 months, it is made with reduced fat cheese.
  • James Flat Pepato – great for cooking!  Give your pasta sauces an extra kick or stir up a ripper béchamel.  With whole peppercorns embedded in the cheese, there are small explosions of flavour.  Aged for 12 months.
  • Fleurieu Feta – the texture is a combination of crumbly Aussie feta and smooth Bulgarian feta, with a pleasant, mild flavour.  Stick it in your salads with some olives and onion.
  • Ricotta – beautifully smooth and sweet and leaves a slippery film on your lips.  Perfect with honey and roasted hazelnuts to stuff into crepes – YUM!
  • Honey yoghurt – these guys only use three ingredients for their yoghurt – milk, cultures, and honey.  If you want to get even simpler, they have plain yoghurt without the honey.
  • Pure Jersey Cream – OMG so firm, rich and thick!  Perfect to stir into pasta or on top of hot apple pie. Wow!

 

Alexandrinashire Tea

For only $7.70, you get a coffee or one of their milkshakes, with a slice of baked ricotta cheesecake topped with pure jersey cream.

 

We opted for the coffee and it arrived with the most unusual layering we have ever seen!  White milk topped with rich coffee and a cap of froth.  Once you stir it up, the layers combine to give you that beautiful tanned colour and the coffee was smooth without any bitterness whatsoever.

 

 

 

The cheesecake was dense and delicious with a hint of lemon and raisins.  It was topped with pure jersey cream which was absolutely luxuriant and gave the cake an additional lick of moisture. YUM!

 

The Essentials

The Alexandrina Cheese Company is open weekdays from 12pm to 5pm and on weekends and public holidays from 10am.  They are closed three days of the year – Good Friday, Anzac Day and Christmas Day, and gift hampers are available to order online for folks within South Australia.

 

The team at the Company also participate in community events and have raised money for the Relay for Life, an overnight relay-style walk or run that raises funds for the Cancer Council.

 

Phone: 08 8554 9666

Email: info@alexandrinacheese.com.au

Website: www.alexandrinacheese.com.au

 

A great photo opportunity at the Alexandrina Cheese Company