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Explore : Bruny Island

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Every journey to Bruny Island (pronounced brew-nee) starts on the ferry. Our ticket to and from the island cost us $33, which includes a lovely 2×15 minute ride across the D’entrecastreaux Channel. Our journey would take us from the ferry terminal south through the Neck to the southernmost pub in Australia and onwards to Cape Bruny.


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  • Bruny Island is actually two land masses that are joined by a sandy isthmus, which is known as the Neck.
  • The whole island is 100km long.
  • Adventure Bay was named after the ship that was captained by English navigator Tobias Furneaux, who landed at the island in 1773.
  • The island is named after French explorer Bruni d’Entrecasteaux, who sailed the channel and discovered that it was in fact an island in 1792. It was known as Bruni Island until 1918 when the spelling was changed to Bruny.


When we got down south, radio and reception was starting to fail. At one point, all we got was some church radio station. We listened for a little while and chuckled about the breastplate of righteousness that guards your heart against the evils of the world.


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The Neck

The Neck is the sandy isthmus that connects the north and south parts of Bruny Island. There’s a lookout there, Truganini Lookout, and it’s one of the best lookouts we’ve visited on our entire trip around Australia.


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Once you ascend the umpteen timber steps to the top, you are gifted with a 360 degree view of the ocean and the narrow strip of sand that connects the north and south ends of the island.


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Get Shucked

By far the best oysters in Tasmania and comparable to those in Coffin Bay SA, Get Shucked sells pre-shucked boogers of sea-salty delight that slide down your gob with lubricated ease. Give them a bit of punch with a sprinkle of Tobasco sauce.


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The outlet has a great sitting area and they’re licensed so you can enjoy a glass of Seven Sheds beer while you slurp down some oysters.


Bruny Island Cheese Co.

This artisan cheese producer is owned by Nick Haddow, who has been making cheeses around the world for over 10 years. He’s recognised as the finest artisan cheese producer in Australia and is also currently the only cheese maker in Australia that is allowed to use raw milk to make cheese. However, laws have changed recently so there may be more raw cheeses in the future.


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Our tasting session included four cheeses.

  • The Tom – a hard rind cheese that has a complicated and mature taste with a curious dimension of flavour.
  • The Saint – a soft white mould cheese that had a lovely delicate flavour of mould with plenty of buttery cheesiness.
  • The 1792 – a soft washed rind cheese with some pungency but a lovely soft cheese with plenty of salty goodness.
  • The o.d.o – a marinated cheese that is only one day old and is a combination of a feta and a mozzarella. It has a strong lactic acid flavour but would be awesome on some bread with a bit of smoked salmon.


Outside, there’s a fantastic deck space and picnic benches scattered in the surrounding gardens, perfect for stopping for a coffee, cider or cheese platter.


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Adventure Bay


Before stopping at Hotel Bruny for a beer, we detoured to Adventure Bay to see what was the big deal. Adventure Bay is on the eastern side of the Neck and was named after the ship of English navigator Tobias Furneaux’s in 1773.


While it’s mainly a holiday destination with heaps of options for accommodation, we did stop at one of the beautiful beaches and marvelled at the dark coloured sand.


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Hotel Bruny

Australia’s southernmost pub is located across the road from Sunset Bay. Needless to say, the view from out the front is fantastic, the distant mountains reflecting on the water. It’s a small pub with a standard pub menu that is reasonably priced for the location (a chicken parma is $26).


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We stopped in for a drink – Juz enjoyed a yeasty and crisp Cascade Draught while Dave opted for a dark Cascade Stout.


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Cloudy Bay

Located at the southern end of Bruny Island, Cloudy Bay is a great place for a quiet getaway. There’s a 5km long sheltered beach that offers great surfing, and you can drive along the sand to get to the Cloudy Bay campsite on the eastern end.


This is where we camped the night and enjoyed the company of the friendly wallabies.




Cape Bruny

The lighthouse atop Cape Bruny is quite significant. It is the second oldest lighthouse in Australia – first lit in March 1838 and decommissioned on 6 August 1996. It was replaced by a nearby solar powered light.


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Grandvewe Cheesery and Hartshorn Distillery

No, Grandvewe is not located on Bruny Island, but both are attractions of the Huon Trail, and it’s only 10 minutes south of the Kettering Ferry terminal.


Grandvewe is Tassie’s only sheep milk cheesery and is the only place on earth where you’ll find Sheep Whey Vodka and Vanilla Whey liqueur. You’ll notice a lot of sheepy things, like wool in the garden beds and some cute sheep grazing in the paddock near the car park.


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Make sure you taste all the cheeses because they’re fantastic. We particularly liked the smooth and yeasty Brebichon and the Sapphire Blue, a mild blue cheese similar to Rochefort, so we bought a piece of each.


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There were wines and spirits available for tasting as well. The Sheep Whey Vodka had an interesting apple and pear flavour. We enquired how they make alcohol from a by-product that is predominantly protein. It seems that finding the right yeast was an important factor, and of the residual lactose in the whey, the glucose that is separated from the galactose is what is turned into alcohol.


We also tried the Vanilla Whey Liqueur, which was deliciously sweet, smooth and tasted like custard, as well as their lychee-driven Chardonnay and dry but fruity Pinot Noir.


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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.



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.




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.



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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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.




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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Explore : East Coast Tasmania

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Our adventure down the east coast of Tasmania started at the Bay of Fires, just 10km north of St Helens and finished at Port Arthur.


The coastline is just incredible when the sun is out. There are plenty of beach houses and abodes with a maritime theme, jetties and fishing boats, and quite a few albatrosses lingering around the beaches as well.


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Enjoy the drive…


Binalong Bay & Bay of Fires

Voted the second best beach in the world, the Bay of Fires stretches for 35 km from Binalong Bay to Eddystone lighthouse. The region is so called because the local Aboriginals used to light the beach on fire to clear the land, then drive animals to the coast and trap them in the newly open spaces. We think the red lichen on the rocks also contribute to the name.


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We camped to the north of Binalong Bay at Swimcart Beach. Camping is free, close to the beach and there’s lots of space.


St Helens

This little fishing town on the shores of Georges Bay is actually the largest town on the east coast. While there isn’t much to do, the town is a lifesaver for two reasons.


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Firstly, there is a public toilet down near the marina that offers $2 showers, which can be best feeling in the world, depending on how long ago you last showered.


Secondly, the Banjo’s Bakery next to the IGA makes ripper pies with great flaky pastry.  We recommend the beef and cheese pie.




The Famous Mount Elephant Pancake Barn

We drove past the turn off and Juz’s Hungarian blood yearned for pancakes so she made Dave turn around. It was 8 km off the coast road just near St Marys, at the top of Mount Elephant. It was a cute little place in a European style cottage with wooden walls, floors and ceilings and elephants everywhere.


We sat down in the corner and ordered the chicken, cheese and asparagus pancake for $18.90 to share. The lady bought it out on two separate plates, which was really nice of her but the pancakes were much nicer.


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Filled with a creamy cheese sauce, morsels of chicken and asparagus, the pancake itself was light and fluffy with the integrity to hold its fillings. It was just enough to satisfy our mid morning snack attack, but take note – there are no EFTPOS facilities so bring cash!



This little town is both a fishing port and a popular holiday destination. You can see both of these elements as you go around town – all the tourists and all the maritime themed stuff. Bicheno has beaches, fishing, walking trails, local wildlife, snorkelling and a few cafes and restaurants.


If you’re passing through, our first recommended stop is the Gulch, which is actually the space between Bicheno and the rocky islands that are about 50 metres offshore. It’s a great place to snorkel and there is also a fish and chip shop – obviously selling fresh out of the ocean fish.




Next up would be the Whaler’s Lookout. Park your car at the base of the hill and march up for great views of the town and the Gulch. It’s a great opportunity to stretch the legs for 20 minutes or so.


Lastly, go and see the Blowhole. It’s more like a gaping hole that the sea water spurts out of, but it’s still worth a look. Climb over the rocks and get right up close but don’t fall in!


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If you’re looking for a place to settle for lunch or cook some snags, there’s a Lion’s Park at the top of town with picnic benches, BBQs and public toilets.


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Freycinet National Park

We bought a Parks Pass in Bicheno for $60 to cover our entry into Freycinet National Park. Unfortunately, the pass generally doesn’t cover camping, except for free camping areas, and in this case, we could camp only at Friendly Beach or Bluestone Bay.


No matter – Bluestone Bay is accessible by 4WD only so we found a nice spot all on our lonesome by the beach.


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We did a brief stop at Freycinet Marine Farm for some oysters. We got half a dozen natural oysters for $10 and splashed them with a little soy sauce before sucking them down. They were alright, but not as good as the oysters in Coffin Bay, South Australia.


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Coles Bay is the closest town to the National Park and has a few conveniences such as take away outlets, a tavern and petrol station, and lots of accommodation options, including the Coles Bay YHA.


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Established in the 1820s, Swansea is one of Tassie’s oldest towns. While there isn’t much to do in the town itself, the coastal drive south to Triabunna is just beautiful.


We rested in Swansea briefly for lunch before making our way down the seaside road, admiring the Freycinet mountain range and turquoise water. We also stopped in at the Spiky Bridge.


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As we headed south, we deviated off the main road and cruised along the Wielangta Forest Drive. It’s a relatively easy drive and there are a few lookouts to stop at.


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Another little fishing town with a fabulous view no matter where you look.


We stopped in at the Dunelly Waterfront Cafe for a dark chocolate brownie with ice cream and chocolate sauce.  Boomer Island is visible from the deck of the cafe, distinguished by the large castle atop the hill. The whole island is privately s owned by a local businessman, Gunter Jaeger, who was the previous owner of the Hope and Anchor Hotel in Hobart.


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We found ourselves back at Dunelly later that night, when we found Fortesque Bay camp ground fully booked for the night. The Dunelly Hotel offers free camping in the back paddock, which was an absolute lifesaver!


Tasman Peninsula

There are a few things to see on the Tasman Peninsula. One of our favourites was the Tessellated Pavement, an unusual rock formation of rectangular ‘pans’ and ‘loaves’. Nearby rock formations include the Tasmans Arch, Devil’s Kitchen and Blowhole.


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On your way there, be sure to pay attention to a residential area called Doo Town. All the houses have signs out the front that play with the name of the area – toucan doo, make doo, doo n time, much a doo, just doo it, doo love it, Dr Doolittle, doo mee, doo f#%& all. It was a little funny.


If you need to do any grocery shopping, Nubeena is the place to do it. There is an express IGA just outside of town and a larger IGA in town, opposite the skatepark and playground where the public toilets are locked at 5pm.


The most famous thing to do on the Tasman Peninsula is visit the Port Arthur historic site. We did the night Ghost tour, which has been running for over 20 years.


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Touchdown : Devonport & Latrobe

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We rolled off the Spirit of Tasmania and has a very brief stop in Devonport for coffee and breakfast before continuing on to more exciting ventures.



Devonport is a simple city of just over 25,000 people. It started off as two settlements on either side of the Mersey River – Formby and Torquay. As the shipping industry grew and the Bluff lighthouse was built, regular services to and from Melbourne began and in 1890, a public vote united the two settlements and they became the town of Devonport. It was declared a city in 1981.

There isn’t that much to do in Devonport so after you’ve grabbed a coffee and done your grocery shopping, it’s time to move on.


The Ferry Terminal

The first place we touched down onto Tasmanian soil. It’s amazing to watch the Spirit of Tasmania come and go, with a big bellow of its horn. The Spirit’s presence in Devonport would be a safe and familiar thing for the locals.


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The Rectory Cafe

We met up with Scott after disembarking and had a coffee here. The place is totally cute but the coffee was not quite up to scratch.


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The Laneway

This place was on our radar for breakfast because it’s the highest rated cafe in Devonport. We can declare that the coffee is great, and while the prices are a little high, the meals are good too. Dave got the Laneway Breakfast with mushroom, spinach, hash browns, bacon, eggs, local chipolatas and sourdough bread. Juz was craving some smashed avo, broad beans and feta, with crispy pancetta and sourdough toast. The cafe also sells local produce like eggs and deli meats.


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Spirit of the Sea statue

At the entrance of the Mersey River is a fountain of nude Poseidon, named the Spirit of the Sea. While it may not have any significant connection with the Devonport community, its perch offers great views of the coastline around Devonport. There’s a great walking track on the foreshore that follows the coast all the way to Mersey Bluff.


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Mersey Bluff Lookout

The Mersey Bluff is the home of the Mersey Bluff Lighthouse, which stands 37 metres tall and was built in 1889 just before Devonport was established as one town instead of two settlements.   There’s a path that goes around the base of the bluff to a lookout over the Bass Strait.


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This small town is located just 8km south of Devonport along the Mersey River. The area was first settled in 1826 and in 1973, the town was officially named after Charles Joseph Latrobe – the administrator for the colony of Tasmania.

Even though the town is small, it’s alive and has its own personality. There are trash and treasure markets every Sunday, and just alongside the variety store is the best display of photo ops we have seen in a while.



The Australian Axemans Hall of Fame

There are a few reasons to stop off at this location. This tourist information and function centre is a great place to stop for maps and info on the local area, learn about the achievements of Australia’s sporting wood choppers, and see one of Australia’s big things – the Big Platypus.


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Explore : The Blue Mountains

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The Blue Mountains are about 50km west of Sydney and form a part of the Great Dividing Range. They get their name from a blue haze caused by the sunlight mixing with tiny droplets of oil that are released by the eucalyptus trees.  The highest elevation is 1,189m, so it can get pretty cold in the wintertime.  Regardless, it’s a beautiful part of the world, with plenty of lookouts so you can enjoy the view.


Towns of the Blue Mountains


This is the main town of the Blue Mountains, located just over a kilometre above sea level.  Because tourism is the town’s main industry, it accommodates guests with tonnes of hotels and guest houses, the most well known being the Carrington Hotel, which was established in 1882.  It sits on the highest point in Katoomba and even though we weren’t staying there, we still stuck our heads in for a sticky beak.


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While Katoomba has a lot of regular and mundane shops and streetscapes, it also has a few special things, like the Street Art Walk, tucked away in an alley behind the main street shops.  It is an incredible display of street art, where any surface becomes a canvas.


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At the end of the main road is Echo Point, the best place to see the famous Three Sisters.  Be prepared to drown in tourists and get whacked with their selfie sticks.  If you want to get a little closer to the Three Sisters, take the walk to Honeymoon Bridge.  Other great lookouts nearby include Princes Rock Lookout at Wentworth Falls and the incredible Sublime Point Lookout with fantastic 360° views and wind speeds just short of a hurricane.


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If you’re looking for a place to stay in the Blue Mountains, book yourself in at the Blue Mountains YHA.  The big, historic building has a great story to tell, there is lots of space and warmth, and it’s right in the heart of Katoomba.


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A 20 minute drive inland and a little more elevation brings you to Blackhead, another cute and colourful town in the mountains.  If you’re passing through with an empty stomach, make sure you pop in to the Bakehouse on Wentworth and smash one of their fine pies.  We had the beef, bacon and cheese pie, and the lamb, rosemary and garlic pie.  Both scored A++ for flavour, with the only sin being a poor base with little structural integrity – definitely a knife and fork job.


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In true Blue Mountains fashion, there are some ripper lookouts around, such as Govetts Leap Lookout and Mount Piddington at Mount Victoria.  It was here that we saw snow for the first time – people had stopped on side of road to play.


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Explore : Coffs Harbour & the Coffs Coast

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We rolled into Coffs Harbour at dusk, after watching the sky change colour from Sealy Lookout.  We did a quick tour of town, bought some supplies from the supermarket and settled into the Coffs Harbour YHA with a big dinner and an early night.  Our roommates came in at around midnight but didn’t stay long because Dave’s snoring was keeping them awake.  Juz woke up not because of Dave but because our roomies were coughing and fake snoring to try and wake Dave up.  Instead of putting them out of their misery, Juz waited until they’d had enough and left the room before waking Dave up.  We had a very peaceful night after that.


In the morning, we rose just before sunrise and headed to Muttonbird Island.  It was a great morning walk, seeing the sun rear it’s golden head on the horizon and watching the fairy wrens play in the scrub.  Standing on the whale watching platform on the eastern side of the island was awesome, but we didn’t see any whales.  With a big day ahead of us, we headed back to the hostel, got organised and checked out before visiting the local attractions.


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Fast Facts

  • The city’s name comes from John Korff, a shipbuilder who took shelter there during a storm in 1847. The spelling was accidentally changed by the crown surveyor when land was reserved in 1861.
  • The economy used to rely solely on bananas, but now blueberries, fishing and tourism have come into the picture.
  • According to the CSIRO, Coffs Harbour has the most liveable climate in Australia.


Things to See & Do

The Big Banana

One of Australia’s first big things, this legendary icon was built in 1964 and represents the area’s valued banana industry.  While it had humble beginnings, it has grown into an amusement park and recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.


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The Clog Barn

A little piece of Holland, right in the middle of Coffs Harbour – the Clog Barn offers clog making demonstrations, a souvenir shop and even free entry into a miniature model of a Dutch village.


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Next door is Big Ooma’s Coffee House, which dishes out ‘Dutchstralian’ style coffee, cakes, and pancakes.  Make sure you get a photo standing in the big clogs that are fixed outside before you move on.


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Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve

Connected to the mainland by a breakwater, Muttonbird Island is a protected reserve that’s home to a variety of bird species, including the migratory wedge-tailed shearwater, aka muttonbird.  If you miss out on seeing the shearwaters, don’t despair because there are plenty of cute and puffy fairy wrens to spot.


The single paved walkway leads you up to a great lookout over the city before weaving though the low growing vegetation to a whale watching platform.


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Coffs Harbour Marina & Jetty

Coffs Harbour’s fishing industry and whale watching tours depart from the marina, but there’s also a café and Fisherman’s Co-op nearby, in case you want some super fresh fish and chips or seafood.


The historic timber jetty at Jetty Beach is a great place for fishing or photography, and was recently restored.  The Foreshore Park features BBQs, picnic benches and toilets.


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Coffs Harbour Regional Botanic Gardens

This is one of the major botanical gardens north of Sydney and covers 20 hectares of Crown Land.  There are a variety of landscapes within the gardens, including a rainforest, mangrove estuary, Japanese Garden and endangered species section.  We enjoyed the sensory garden, as well as the Greenhouse, which houses a variety of bromeliads, orchids, and succulents.


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The Forest Sky Pier at Sealy Lookout

To get to Sealy Lookout, you’ll have to travel 5km north along the highway, past the Big Banana.  Once you turn off the highway, there’s 6km of winding road leading up to the top.  The drive is slow but scenic, and the final destination offers fantastic vistas over Coffs Harbour and the coast.  The Forest Sky Pier reaches 21 metres from the mountain side and is 15 metres up.


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The Honey Place

For all things sweet and sticky, visit the Honey Place in Urunga.  The entrance is a big bee hive, they have a huge variety of honey to taste, and there’s even a display of honey bees and native Australian bees.  It was fun watching the bees come and go from the hive, some returning with big yellow pollen pants.


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If you have time, take a seat and watch the documentary about bees.  Despite being filmed in the early 80s, it’s still relevant and really interesting.


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Nambucca Heads

A 40 minute cruise down the coast will bring you to Nambucca Heads, a holiday town with plenty to see.  There are two fantastic lookouts – Captain Cooks Lookout offers great views of the beaches on either side of the headland while the Rotary Lookout gives you a postcard picture of the mouth of the Nambucca River.


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Down by the harbour is the Vee Wall Walk, a very colourful outdoor gallery with hundreds of breakwater rocks painted and tagged with a variety of messages and graffiti.


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In town along Bowra Street is a wonderful three dimensional mosaic featuring whales and dolphins, an octopus and ocean waves.  The piece is called ‘The River’, is 30 metres long, and consists of old pottery, cast off tiles and knic knacs fabulously placed to make an incredible piece of street art.


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Information & Accommodation

The Visitor Information Centre is located at the Big Banana on the Pacific Highway just north of the city.  For accommodation, we recommend the Coffs Harbour YHA.  It’s located close to town and the local attractions, and is a short walk from Muttonbird Island and Jetty Beach.  For more information, visit their website at


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Our Time In Brisbane

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Our time is Brisbane started in Caboolture, the northern most suburb of the greater Brisbane area.  Juz’s former colleague Anne and her husband Chris moved here from Darwin and it was an absolute treat to catch up and stay with them for a few nights.




We then ducked out to Ipswich and Toowoomba before returning to Brisbane for a few nights, smashing out our $100 Day and reacquainting ourselves with the big city life with big city peak hour traffic (yikes!).


We were glad to have a few friends in Brisbane to meet up with.  One of Dave’s old workmates and his wife had moved there from Darwin so it was great to catch up with Richard and Monika for some pub trivia.  Our mates Parksy and Craig took a flight up to Brisbane and we had coffee and bagels together before they embarked on their road trip up the coast for the Labour Day long weekend.  We even went out to Ipswich again to meet up with another of Dave’s former colleagues, Lucy, who had joined the Army and was stationed at Amberley.




Brisbane took some time to get used to.  Apart from being a lot busier and more populated that what we had experienced previously, it was hilly everywhere.  While it’s not the easiest to get around in city traffic in a big heavy Troopy like ours, we soon started to enjoy the views at every hill crest.  There was a massive New York influence on the food and the bars, and while we were willing to try a bagel, there was no way we were going to try those wrinkly, cold Manhattan pizzas that were sold by the slice.  One way streets are common around town and to avoid our heads cracking open and our brains falling out, we used the navigation lady on our phones to get around and avoid getting lost.


Around this time, Dave had noticed that his right foot had become unresponsive – the muscle that flexes the foot was not contracting.  He’d had a similar condition in his right hand around five years ago and suspected that it might be the same thing, which would mean spending some time in hospital for treatment.  The condition is painless so if it was in his hand then it wouldn’t be so bad, but because it was in his foot, he was regularly stubbing his toes and almost tripping over, which could’ve been dangerous and frustrating when we were walking.  He needed to get this sorted out before we continued south along the coast.


Lucky for us, our timing was perfect – Dave’s friend Jackie had just moved to Brisbane with her partner Tim.  With a place to stay for a few nights, Dave made an appointment with the doctor.  Because the condition is so rare, there was a lot of head scratching and referrals, and by 9pm that night, Dave was admitted to the Royal Brisbane hospital and was expected to be stuck there for a week for treatment.  Every day, Dave would receive his intravenous treatment while being poked and prodded by medical students and nurses.  Juz would visit too and bring homemade pizza, books, crosswords and stories of the outside world.  She even loaded episodes of Futurama onto Dave’s phone to help keep him entertained.




After the fifth day of treatment, there was an inkling of movement in his foot, but the real recovery happened once he was discharged.  Within a week of leaving the hospital, his foot was flexing and his range of motion was back to around 90% – a massive improvement from dead foot!  We stayed with Jackie and Tim for another week before wrapping up our time in Brisbane.




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City Profile : Toowoomba

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


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


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


Things to See and Do

Queens Park Gardens

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


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Picnic Point Park

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


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Ju Raku En – Toowoomba’s Japanese Gardens

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


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


Jim’s Jerky

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


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Helidon Rest Area

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


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City Profile : Ipswich

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Ipswich is a city of over 180,000 people and is around 40km west of Brisbane.  While it was considered to be a separate city, due to urban spread and for statistical purposes, Ipswich is now part of Brisbane’s greater metropolitan area.  Compared to the hustle and bustle of Brisbane, Ipswich is much smaller, more manageable in terms of traffic and getting around, and with a friend from Melbourne stationed at the nearby RAAF Base, we were stoked to stick around and explore the city.


Starting as a limestone mining settlement in 1827, Ipswich is soaked in heritage and one of Queensland’s oldest cities.  It was primarily populated by the first overseas convicts that were sent to mine the area.  The settlement was named Limestone, but in 1843, it was renamed Ipswich after a town in England.  Growing steadily as an inland port that serviced the local industries, Ipswich was a prime candidate to become Queensland’s capital but Brisbane won the votes in 1859.  In 1860, it was declared a town and by 1904, it had grown into a city.


Our first visit was a sunset rendezvous as we were on our way to Toowoomba.  After collecting a map and some tips from the Visitor Information Centre, we quickly got to action, starting with two lookouts – the Lions Lookout at the top of Queens Park and Denmark Hill Lookout atop a water tower just south of the city centre.  Once the sun was gone, we found the Pumpyard, an awesome new bar.


Our second visit was to see Lucy, a friend from Melbourne.  We met for a quick coffee and bite to eat at Deann’s Coffee House before continuing the caffeination with coffee ale at the Pumpyard.


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Desperate to walk off the buzz, we explored the eerily quiet streets before stumbling upon Noodle City for dinner.  Still reeling from all the coffee, we said goodbye to Lucy and headed towards Fassifern rest area for the night.  It was nice and quiet, with a large toilet block and plenty of space.  In the morning, we noticed our neighbours had a very colourful van.


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Ingestion in Ipswich

Deann’s Coffee House

An awesome retro café in the heart of Ipswich – it’s almost like a museum!  Get nostalgic over the old furniture and décor while you sip of a fabulously made coffee or munch on a succulent BLT.  They even play great music.


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The Pumpyard

This place is full of pleasant surprises.  Home to Four Hearts Brewing, the 100 year old heritage listed building used to be a Technical school and was built on the original site that supplied water to Ipswich.  While all of their beers are fantastic, the winner was the seasonal Coffee Cream Ale, a limited edition brew that was deliciously sweet and caffeinated!  Fingers crossed they make another batch again!




Noodle City

This might look like a standard noodle joint but it’s friendly, cheap and the noodles are delicious.  Dave got the BBQ Pork Noodles and Juz got the Chicken Laksa and both went down a treat.


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City Profile : Gladstone

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While Captain Cook sailed past in 1770, and Matthew Flinders had a brief glance in 1802, it was Colonel George Barney who steered the Lord Auckland into the port of Gladstone and started a penal colony in 1847.  The colony only lasted two months and a few years later in 1853, the area was looked upon again for the beginnings of a new settlement.  By 1863, Gladstone was declared a town of free settlers.


These days, Gladstone has a population of over 35,000 people and is the launchpad for tours of the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding islands.  Goondoon Street is the main street through town and it is rich with heritage and beautifully preserved buildings.


Our visit to Gladstone was supposed to be brief – get in, fuel up, restock the fridge and get out.  After a quick visit to the Information Centre to get a few maps of more southerly regions, we decided to stick around for the day and check out a few of the attractions, before popping into Dan Murphy’s to see if they had any specials.  Not only did they have a slab of Sail and Anchor for half price, we also got to sample a few ports and muscats at the tasting station and got a bit toasted before heading to Benaraby.


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Things to See and Do

Auckland Hill Lookout

Just a few hundred metres from town is Auckland Hill Lookout, which provides awesome views of the marina and Auckland Point, where calcite is stockpiled for shipment to Geelong in Victoria, where it will be used for a variety of things like plastics and toothpaste. There is also what seems to be a manmade waterfall.


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QAL Lookout

The local kids call it the Hogwarts Lookout because of the QAL refinery.  Queensland Alumina is one of the world’s largest alumina plants, refining 9 million tonnes of bauxite a year to produce nearly 4 million tonnes of alumina.


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Gladstone Marina and Spinnaker Park

The Gladstone Marina is a popular spot for boat owners and is the home of the Visitor Information Centre.  It’s a great place to start your time in Gladstone.  Nearby is Spinnaker Park, which is the official finish line of the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race.  The park has great picnic areas, BBQs and walking tracks.


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Tondoon Botanic Gardens

Specialising in native plants, the Tondoon Botanic Gardens covers 107 hectares and includes a Japanese Tea Garden and a gum forest, as well as picnic and BBQ facilities.


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Gecko Valley Winery

This multi-award winning winery is popular with both locals and tourists for a very simple reason – their wine is good!  Made onsite with local ingredients, they offer a selection of reds, whites and sweet wines.  Because Gladstone is along a similar latitude to the Mediterranean, it makes the climate perfect for growing grapes.  Unfortunately, a recent fire torched Gecko Valley and they lost all of their vines.  They’re waiting for the perfect season to start again, and once that time comes, they will be back to full production within two years.  We did a quick tasting session and these were our favourites.


  • Lightly Oaked Chardonnay – this was our favourite. The smell is very much like apricot and almond cream cheese, which reflects the fruity flavours and smooth finish with toasty oak and a citrus finish.
  • Special Reserve Verdelho – this was another delicious wine with plenty of tropical melon flavours and a smooth sweet finish.
  • Lightly Oaked Shiraz – this sweet red was very easy to drink and had a delicious port aftertaste.
  • Muscat Liqueur – floral, sweet and slightly viscous, this was just like drinking Turkish delight laced with rosewater.
  • Liqueur Mead – made with honey from the property, it didn’t have a strong scent but once sipped, sweet honey bloomed in the mouth.


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Tannum Sands and Boyne Island

About 20km south of Gladstone you’ll find Tannum Sands and Boyne Island, two communities separated by the Boyne River.  The combined population is around 12,000 people.


We rolled in to Tannum Sands on a Sunday morning and drove straight to the Millennium Esplanade, but we couldn’t find a parking spot – it was only 7:30am! What’s going on?  A little further down we found out that they were holding a Mothers Day Classic fun run.  That explains why we couldn’t find a park so we went back to town to get a coffee.


We found a fantastic little coffee place called Say Espresso Bar, and it was packed!  Lots of lucky mums were being treated to well made coffee and delicious breakfasts in the warm sun.  By the time we finished our coffees, we went back to the Millennium Esplanade, checked out the beach, saw an amazing seahorse sculpture and turtle-shaped speed humps that made us laugh.



Agnes Water and the Town of 1770

Considered to be the birthplace of Queensland, it was here that Captain James Cook and his crew from the Endeavour came ashore on the 24th of May 1770.  The exact point is called Monument Point, and a big cairn is there to mark the spot.  Nearby is Joseph Banks Conservation Area with a few lookouts over the headland and deep blue water.


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The area has been hyped as the New Noosa because of the area’s beauty and lack of commercialism.  It’s become a popular place for locals and visitors for holidays and draws in the fishing enthusiasts.  Because it was Sunday, we got to go to the markets and picked up some unpollinated avocadoes for $2 a punnet.  Also known as cocktail avocados, they look like little cucumbers and have no pit.




Deepwater National Park

From Agnes Water, the road along the coast leads to Deepwater National Park.  It was a great opportunity to get some sandy 4WDing in before getting to Fraser Island.   There are three stops along the track.  The first was Flat Rock, which was barely visible under the tide.  Middle Rock and Wreck Rock were the next two destinations that also have nearby campgrounds.  They looked much the same as each other, except the beach at Wreck Rock had shells.


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On our way out, we crossed Deep Water Creek and were amazed at how still the water was.  It was almost a mirror, eerily still and stained with tannin.


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We stayed at two rest areas near Gladstone – our favourite was the Calliope River Campgrounds.  Despite the mozzies, the camping area was spacious, free for 48 hours and campfires were allowed.  The other rest area was near Benaraby. It was much smaller and crowded, but at least it had a toilet block with cold showers.


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Town Profile : Bowen

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We rolled into Bowen on a Saturday morning and after having breakfast on the Front Beach by the jetty, we went for a drive up to Flagstaff Hill for brilliant views of the town and surrounding islands off the coast.  It was fairly quiet so we spent some time checking out the murals around town that depict various aspects of the region’s history.


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Two groups of settlers that were exploring the area met at Port Denison and created a settlement, and then founded it as a town the next day in April 1861.  Port Denison was later renamed Bowen in 1865 after Queensland’s first Governor.  These days, the main industries that support the area include mining, fishing and agriculture – particularly mangoes, hence the Big Mango, which was erected in 2002 as part of a community campaign to revitalise tourism.


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Things To See And Do

Horseshoe Bay

One of the prettiest beaches we have visited in Queensland.  Surrounded by rocky headlands, it’s well sheltered and has a few corals just off the beach.  We explored the rocks and snorkelled in the warm water before moving on.


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Jockheim’s Pies

This bakery is a local favourite and has been operating since 1963.  They’ve won awards for various loaves and pies, so we couldn’t resist having a bite.  We got one of their Bowen Pies with tomato, onion and mango chutney, as well as a bacon and cheese pie.  Both were delicious, as expected, and fuelled us all the way to dinner.



About 45 minutes south east of Bowen is Proserpine.  This little town is located within the Whitsunday Region but misses out on the tourism because of nearby Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands.  Sure, it’s a small town, but it has three pubs, a major supermarket, and two of the coolest shops we have ever seen.


Colour Me Crazy is the most colourful shop you will ever see.  They sell jewellery, home wares, clothes and various odds and ends, and each room is styled and colour coded to match whatever tastes you have.  Just around the corner is Garden Art Alley, another shop that is almost like an art gallery!  They sell statues and fountains, and cool outdoor furniture.



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City Profile : Townsville

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


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


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


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



Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium

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


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The Strand

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


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Castle Hill

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


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Queens Gardens

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


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Kissing Point & Jezzine Barracks

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


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Food & Drink

The Townsville Brewing Company

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


Coffee Dominion

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


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Two Brothers Café

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


Information & Accommodation

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


The closest YHA to Townsville is on Magnetic Island, which makes it the perfect place to stay while you explore the island.  To make a booking, call (07) 4778 5577 or visit


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


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Things To Do In And Around Ingham

Don’t be fooled – this is not the place where all the chicken comes from!  Ingham isn’t really famous for anything other than the Tyto Wetlands and the ‘Pub with No Beer’.


Back in 1943, a pub called the Day Dawn Hotel in Ingham was visited by a group of American servicemen who drank the place dry.  The next day, local sugar farmer Dan Sheahan rode his horse 30km to have a beer at the pub and was so disappointed, he wrote a poem about it.  Fourteen year later, Slim Dusty turned it into a song and it was Australia’s first worldwide number one hit – ‘The Pub With No Beer’.  In 1960, the pub was renamed Lee’s Hotel and they have plenty of beer.



Tyto Wetlands

The Tyto Wetlands are named after and home to the Eastern Grass Owl (Tyto longimembris), and 230 other species of birds.  The track around the lagoon is about 3kms (4.5km round trip from the car park) so it’s ideal to visit the Tyto Wetlands early in the day or in the late afternoon.  Unfortunately, we didn’t see any grass owls, simply because we didn’t have the patience to quietly birdwatch.


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This little sugar-exporting town is where all the sugar goes to be sent off as bulk raw sugar to the Asia-Pacific area.  To handle the load, Lucinda has a jetty that is 5.76km long that actually follows the curve of the earth.  It’s the world’s longest offshore sugar loading facility and service jetty.


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Not far away is Victoria Mill, home to the largest sugar mill in the southern hemisphere.  The mill recycles the waste into energy through an electricity generation plant that feeds power back into the grid.


Hinchinbrook Lookout

About 16km north of Ingham is a fantastic view of Hinchinbrook Island National Park with the surrounding mountains and river below – one of the best lookouts we have seen on our trip.


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Jarouma Falls

Located within the Paluma Range National Park, Jarouma Falls is a nice place to stop for a swim and a picnic. What’s beautiful about Jarouma Falls is the rock – there are huge stripes of blue rock amongst the grey. Camping, toilets, showers, picnic facilities are available and there are a few creek crossings on the way in.  Please be careful during the wet season as these creek crossings can swell and be dangerous.


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Wallaman Falls

Just under an hour away is Australia’s highest permanent single drop water fall – Wallaman Falls.  The view from the top is gorgeous and there’s a path leads down to bottom pool.


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