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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

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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Latrobe

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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City Profile : Brisbane

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Brisbane is the biggest city we have visited on our lap – it’s Australia’s third most populous city, behind Melbourne and Sydney.  Nicknamed Bris-Vegas because of its cosmopolitan lifestyle, Brisbane is a city full of pretty churches, crazy drivers, American inspired eateries and hills – all providing a great view of the CBD.

 

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Fast Facts

  • When the Brisbane City Hall opened in 1930, it was the city’s tallest building.
  • The Story Bridge opened in 1940 and is the longest cantilever bridge in Australia.
  • To remove the stigma of being a big country town, Brisbane’s infrastructure was redeveloped and a tram system was installed in the CBD and inner suburbs. This was a popular mode of transport until 1969 when the network was closed.  The tram system has since reopened and runs from Southport to Broadbeach..
  • Brisbane’s economy benefits from the tourism of the Sunshine Coast in the north and the Gold Coast in the south.

 

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History

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

 

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

 

Brisbane City

 

Points of Interest

CBD

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

 

Brisbane CBD

 

South Bank

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

 

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On the southern end of the Parklands is the Goodwill Bridge and Wartime Museum.  If you don’t want to pay to enter the museum, you can see enough from the bridge, which spans the Brisbane River to the City Botanical Gardens on the other side.

 

South Bank is a popular spot for festivals and events.  While we were in Brisbane, we saw the annual Lantern Parade, which celebrates multiculturalism, and attended the Lifeline Bookfest at the Convention Centre.  If you’re peckish, there are plenty of eateries and bars along Grey Street.

 

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XXXX Brewery

Located on Milton Road, the XXXX Brewery might not seem like much but it’s a must visit destination in Brisbane.  Inside is a bar that serves the best burgers in Queensland and the tours through the brewery are fantastic.  Check out our post here.

 

Mount Coot-tha & Brisbane Botanical Gardens

Meaning place of honey, Mount Coot-tha is 287 metres above sea level and is the highest peak in Brisbane, offering amazing unobstructed views of the city.  Whether you go there at sunrise, sunset or in the middle of the day, it’s a popular spot amongst locals and tourists alike, and the nearby Summit Restaurant is perfect for functions or lunch.

 

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A little way down the mountain is the Brisbane Botanical Gardens.  It’s certainly worth a visit, as there is an excellent selection of plants, as well as a Japanese garden, bonsai house and an impressive tropical display dome.

 

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Markets

Brisbane is mad for markets, and there are plenty around town to suit everyone.  The West End Markets on Saturday morning and the Eagle Farm Markets on Sunday morning are very similar –both have live music, clothing stalls, a wide variety of food stands, and fresh fruit and veggies.  The West End Markets are free to visit, but the Eagle Farm Markets are bigger and will cost you $2 to get in.  We had an awesome breakfast at the Eagle Farm Markets – an omelette with the lot for $9 and Hungarian lángos with additional bacon for $10 filled us up until the afternoon.

 

Brisbane Markets

 

The Eat Street Markets on Friday and Saturday nights, and Sunday afternoons, are a foodies dream.  It’s a funky market at Hamilton Wharf with around 60 shipping containers that have been reconfigured as food outlets.  There’s plenty of choice and many international cuisines are represented.  It also costs $2 to get in, but with live music and great views of the city at sunset, it’s worth the visit.  Our highlight was the Snickers cruffin – a muffin shaped croissant filled with caramel and topped with chocolate and peanuts – YUM!

 

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Closer to town is the Collective Markets on South Bank.  While it’s nowhere near as big as Eagle Farm or Eat Street, there is a fudge stall there that makes the best jam donut fudge we have ever tasted.

 

Food & Drink

Brisbane is obsessed with the American food scene, and there are heaps of food outlets offering American style pizza, sandwiches, bagels and burgers.  There’s also a noticeable presence of Asian cuisine, a love of craft beer and a solid passion for good coffee.

 

Coffee

We were so happy to be in a city that valued good coffee, so we were sure that wherever we went, we’d get a palatable brew.  Our first coffee experience was at Scout Café down the road from the Brisbane City YHA.  It’s one of the popular places in town – an understated café playing happy big band music that makes great coffee.

 

Our second experience was our best – Tutto Caffe Espresso Bar in Ashgrove not only makes amazing coffee but also a monster of a meal, the pork belly challenge.  Imagine succulent pork belly, bacon and haloumi in a Turkish bun with salad and a delicious Moroccan sauce – death by deliciousness.

 

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Bris Cafe

 

 

Asian

We tried four Asian establishments all up.  If you’re in the city, there are plenty of great options for a cheap lunch.  Roll’d is a healthy Vietnamese franchise that offers Pho in a Cup for $5.90 – a great way to get a daily fix of pho without the belly bludge.  Bing Boy at the food court under Post Office Square is also great in taste and in value.  Juz found it by accident after wandering the city for over an hour, not knowing what to have for lunch.

 

Brisbane Asian

 

Bamboo Basket on South Bank was the fanciest place we ate at.  We paid $19.80 for two servings of dumplings but they were pretty tasty.  On the cheaper end of the scale is Trang Vietnamese Restaurant in West End, with a big bowl of pho with silky rice noodles setting you back around $11.90.

 

Another place that we really wanted to try was Café O Mai – a Vietnamese café that serves breakfast with a western twist.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get around to going, but if we visit Brisbane again, it will be on the list.

 

Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall

Another example of Brisbane’s love affair with America, this elaborate saloon style bar with crimson walls and hanging chandeliers is a great place to sip a whiskey and apple juice while listening to live music.  For a change of scenery, go upstairs to the Mermaid Bar for some rowdy seafaring fun.

 

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Fatboy’s Burgers

The RG in Fortitude Valley has midday munchies sorted with their Fatboy Lunch Specials.  We got a scrumptious BLT with thick sliced bread and loads of bacon, with curly fries with aioli on the side.  The total was $13.70 and satisfied us both.

 

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Beer

Brisbane is a great place for beer lovers.  The XXXX Brewery is the main beer producer in Brisbane, but if this iconic Queensland beer is not your cup of tea, at least try the awesome beef burger on their lunch menu.

 

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If you love kooky and crafty beers, a visit to the Hoo Ha Bar can be enlightening.  This industrial style bar serves a selection of craft beer.  Dave was impressed with the Sunshine Coast Brewery Rye ESB. Which had a luscious raspberry smell and minimal hops. They also had a coffee kolsch, but it wasn’t as good at the coffee cream ale in Ipswich.

 

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Another great place for beer is Charming Squires on Grey Street.  It seems to be a popular place for after work drinks or a weekend session, and they offer tasting paddles of four James Squires beers of your choice for $12.

 

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There are also a few microbreweries around town. Check out our article here.

 

Information & Accommodation

Brisbane’s public transport system is called Translink http://translink.com.au/ and it is a comprehensive network of trains, trams, buses and ferries.  We made use of the bus route into the city, as well as the free city loop bus to get around, but the highlight was the free City Hopper ferry that cruises over the Brisbane River.

 

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There are various tickets you can get to travel on public transport, but the most economical for frequent travelling is a go card, which can be purchased from various locations like 7 Eleven for $10.  You then top up the card with money and touch on/off as you travel.  Paper tickets are available for one time use – they are a one way ticket valid for two hours and are significantly more expensive than go card travel.

 

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For accommodation, we recommend the Brisbane City YHA. It’s clean, quiet, spacious, and the rooftop deck provides awesome views of the city.  Check out our post here.

 

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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
 

Kuranda

The Tablelands – Part 2 : Kuranda

Kuranda

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Kuranda

 

Points of Interest

Kuranda Markets

There are two markets in Kuranda.

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

 

 

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

 

Petit Café

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

 

 

Kuranda Beer

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

 

German Tucker

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

 

Kuranda

 

Kuranda Wildlife Experience

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

 

 

Barron River Falls

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

 

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Bye NT

Top 5 Things about the Northern Territory

Adelaide River Croc Cruise

 

We spent over a year in the Northern Territory; not out of choice but out of obligation.  We had to work in Darwin for nearly a year to replenish the bank account and we got stuck in Alice Springs for three months with Troopy troubles.  In that time, we have learnt a lot about the culture of the Territory and have even grown fond of it.  Despite the unbearable humidity of the Top End during the summer months, the relaxed and almost negligent attitude towards hospitality and business, and the worst television advertisements we have seen since we left Melbourne, the NT has its perks.

 

It was great to be surrounded by so much wildlife and aboriginal culture, and the locals are always up for a drink… or seven!  In Darwin, the lightning shows during the Wet Season are incredible, and it was wonderful to feel cold during the winter months in Alice Springs.  On top of all that, we made a bunch of great friends who we’ll miss until we get to see again.

 

Oodnadatta Track

 

There is a big contrast between the Top End and Centralia.  The weather in Darwin and the Top End is hot and moist most of the time, while it is dry and dusty in Alice Springs.  While Alice is a quiet town, placid and laid back, Darwin is a little more promiscuous and is a backpacker haven.  Alice was also considerably cheaper than Darwin in terms of beer and meals when out on the town.

 

Trying to put together a list of only five things that are great about the Northern Territory was tough, but we did it and we think this list is pretty good.

 

Indigenous Presence

As Melbournians, it was unfamiliar to us to have so much aboriginal culture around us.  Whether it’s the colourful bags and wallets in the souvenir shops, the aboriginal art galleries that are probably more common than McDonald’s restaurants, or the groups that wander around the city almost aimlessly, waiting for the bottle shop to open, you can’t ignore the indigenous presence.

 

Our most enriching experiences were down near Alice Springs.  We learnt a little about the local language and their creation stories, but what really stood out was having to ask an elder for permission to stay on the side of the road overnight when our radiator split.

 

Learning about the Anangu culture when we were at Uluru was also eye-opening, and it makes us sad that European settlers interfered with that magical lifestyle with their trampling cattle and introduction of foreign plants, animals and diseases, amongst other things.

 

Uluru-Kata Tjuta

 

Paradise

The Top End has pockets of paradise everywhere.  Hot springs, waterfalls, pools lined with lush vegetation – places that are easy to get lost in.  We found a few of these pockets all over the Top End

 

Lorella Springs Wilderness Park near Borroloola is definitely one of our favourites.  With beautiful waterfalls, cool pools and balmy springs, it was very difficult to pull ourselves away.  The Douglas Hot Springs was another location with a hot spring that fed into a creek, and with a campground nearby, it’s the perfect place for a week-long getaway.

 

Lorella Springs

 

Other great pockets of paradise include Robin Falls, Edith Falls and Gubara in Kakadu National Park.

 

Rock Formations

If you’re keen on rock formations, you can’t go past the NT Trifecta – Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon.  It will take approximately three days to explore all three, and if you can catch a sunrise or sunset, then you’re in for a treat.

 

Other rock formations to check out in the Northern Territory are Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve just south of Alice Springs, Chambers Pillar along the Old Ghan Railway Heritage Trail, and the various Lost Cities dotted around the state.

 

 

Crocodile Craze

As we headed north along the western coast, the first warnings we received about crocodiles was in Derby.  We didn’t believe it at first, but after seeing heaps of freshwater crocodiles in the Kimberley and even witnessed a suspicious splash at the Fitzroy River crossing, by the time we got to Darwin, we were well aware of the presence of these prehistoric predators.

 

Darwin uses the croc craze to promote tourism, with great attractions like Crocosaurus Cove and the Adelaide River Jumping Croc Cruises, where you can see dangerous saltwater crocodiles snap for a piece of meat within metres of the boat.

 

Don’t take crocodiles for granted.  While some businesses use crocodiles to give tourists a unique experience, it’s certainly not all just for show.  Crocodiles are frequently spotted surfing waves at the beach and crocodile attacks happen frequently, to pets and lifestock, as well as to tourists and even locals (who have no excuse to not know better).

 

Adelaide River Croc Cruise

 

Markets

The NT is market central, and we took advantage of ever market we could find!

 

In Darwin, there are so many dry season markets you’re spoilt for choice.  Our favourites were Mindil Beach Night Market, Palmerston Market, and the Nightcliff and Rapid Creek Markets, both of which run through the wet season as well.  These markets are the go to places for a great atmosphere, energetic performances, cool shopping and delicious food at fantastic prices.

 

Mindil Markets

 

Goodbye NT!  It’s been fun; it’s been swell, but after more than 15 months, the swelling has gone down and it’s time to move forward.

 

Bye NT

 

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

Fremantle street art

City Profile : Fremantle

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

Araluen Chilli Festival

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

 

 

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

 

 

PLACES OF INTEREST

Fremantle Markets

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

 

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

 

 

Round House

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

 

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

 

Shipwreck Museum

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

 

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

 

 

Fremantle Prison

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

 

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

 

Didgeridoo Breath

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

 

 

Galati & Sons

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

 

FOOD & DRINK

Little Creatures

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

 

Cappuccino Strip

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

 

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

 

 

 

Grumpy Sailor

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

 

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

 

Blink Espresso Bar

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

 

Monk Brewery

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

Sail & Anchor Hotel

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

 

 

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

 

Moondyne Joe’s Bar & Café

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

 

 

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

 

Clancy’s Fish Pub

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

 

 

Information & Accommodation

Fremantle Visitor Centre8 William Street, 08 9431 7878

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

 

Fremantle CAT Buses

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

 
 

 
 

$100 front

$100 Day : Adelaide

$100 Day

 

We were keen to see as much as we could of Adelaide but didn’t want to spend a fortune, so we set out on a mission to explore and experience as much as we could while still maintaining a budget of $100.

 

We left camp and walked 20 minutes to Torrens Park train station.  The train ride into town was about 20 minutes also and once we arrived to Adelaide Central, the spending began…

 

1. Day Trip tickets for the both of us

$18.20

2. Two lattes at Big Table in the Central Markets

$8.70

3. Food tasting at the Central Markets

Free

4. Hiring bicycles for the day

Free

5. Walk through the Himeji Gardens

Free

6. Ride down Hutt Street

Free

7. Sit in the shade at Rymill Park

Free

8. Explore the Adelaide Botanical Gardens

Free

9. Follow the River Torrens Bike Trail

Free

10. Lunch at Thanh Thanh Vietnamese Restaurant

$24.00

11. Grocery shopping at Central Markets
400g mushrooms

$2.40

500g bacon

$3.90

A head of lettuce and 3 peaches

$1.65

2 punnets of strawberries

$2.00

1 kg zucchini

$1.00

A bag of pita bread

$1.50

5 croissants

$3.80

1 lemon

$0.40

12. Two pints of Coopers Pale Ale at the Franklin

$13.00

13. Rundle Mall & Adelaide Arcade for 1.5L water & 2 cans of chicken

$7.65

14. South Australian Museum

Free

TOTAL SPEND

$88.20

Adelaide Day

 

We are so happy that we got to see as much of Adelaide as we could in one day and spend less than $100.  The city was really easy to navigate and we definitely exploited the last minute Christmas specials on fresh produce at the Markets.  We were expecting the day to be more expensive, considering that the train tickets chewed a big chunk out of our budget right off the bat, but everything else was perfectly manageable, thanks to the free bike hire.

 

 

The most expensive thing was lunch.  Juz was keen on pho, even though it was a 36⁰C day and she was hoping that it might be as good as her favourite Vietnamese restaurant in Preston.  Unfortunately, the soup did not meet the same delicious standards, the meal was also more expensive, but it did the job of providing us energy for the day.

 

For a full city profile of Adelaide, click here!

 

Cool graffiti

City Profile : Adelaide

After packing up camp in Mannum and spending the morning feeding the animals at the Big Rocking Horse, we drove into Adelaide and experienced big city sights for the first time in almost a month.  Our first stop? Coopers Brewery for an educational tour about how to brew excellent beer.

 

Afterwards, we met up with one of Juz’s mates before finding a place to stay while we explored the wine capital of Australia.  The busy time of year made things a little difficult but we found a great little caravan park just south of the city called Brown Hill Creek Caravan Park.

 

The next day, we woke early and set off for the city centre to do as much exploring as possible within a certain budget.  Stay tuned for our $100 Day post on Adelaide.  It was a great success!  Sunday was spent along the coast at Glenelg and Brighton.  It got close to 40 degrees so we were pleased to cop the cool sea breeze.

 

The city of Adelaide has a very relaxed lifestyle.  There aren’t as many cafes and restaurants as there are in Melbourne, but there is still a diverse multicultural mix that was evident as we explored the various precincts.  Chinatown on Moonta Street is the place for a dumpling or two while the best kebab in town is apparently on Hindley Street, which also happens to feature the world’s filthiest McDonald’s outlet.

 

Fast Facts

  • Capital city of South Australia and is the fifth largest city in Australia
  • Founded in 1836 by Colonel Light, it now has a population of about 1.23 million Adelaideans
  • Also known as The City of Churches, the Green City, the Wine Capital of Australia, or the 20 Minutes City, due to its accessibility
  • Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens has the largest and oldest glasshouses in the southern hemisphere
  • Adelaide is Australia’s most environmentally sustainable city and is home to Tindo – the world’s first solar powered bus with wireless internet
  • Adelaide women were the first in Australia to be allowed to vote and stand for parliament.
  • Was the first city in Australia to put on an arts festival

 

History

The Adelaide area was first inhabited by the Kaurna tribe.  They used to call the area Tarndanya, which means male red kangaroo rock.  After European settlement, the population of the Karuna tribe dropped significantly due to introduced diseases.

 

The area was explored by Matthew Flinders and Charles Sturt before being deemed suitable for colonisation by Collet Barker, a British explorer who was eventually killed by natives.  In 1836, many ships set sail for South Australia, including the Rapid, which carried Colonel Light.  His job was to survey the area and find a place for settlement that had a harbour, fertile land, fresh water and building materials, and after finding just the right place, establishment commenced in 1837.

 

Weather

Adelaide summers are hot and dry with an average temperature of 28⁰C but the temperature can easily reach 40⁰C.  It was sweltering when we were there so we made sure we were well covered in both sunscreen and a hat.

In winter, it can be cold and wet with an average temperature of 16⁰C.

 

 

Points of Interest

Adelaide Central Markets 

This place was the best!  Adelaide’s Central Market has been in operation for over 130 years and features around 120 shops and stalls bursting with people and fresh produce.  Wander down the aisles and taste the delights at the Smelly Cheese Shop while you enjoy a delicious organic coffee from Big Table.   The markets are open from Tuesday to Saturday, every week and seriously, they’re excellent!

 

 

Botanic Gardens of Adelaide

We were excited about seeing this place.  Botanic gardens tend to be beautiful places where you can learn about the diversity of plants and the ecosystems they live in, but we never expected the Adelaide Botanic Gardens to be as splendid as it is.

 

The Palm House is a Victorian glasshouse that was imported from Germany in 1875 and is believed to be the only one left of its kind.  It houses a collection of plants from Madagascar, which require a warm and dry climate to survive.

 

 

The Santos Museum of Economic Botany was an incredible experience.  It was originally opened in 1881 and recently reopened in 2009 after a long period of restoration.  The beautiful building contains an amazing collection of botanical specimens that were considered useful to the European settlers – seeds, nuts, flowers and leaves, medicinal plants, models of fruit and fungi, EVERYTHING!  Some of the items were the original objects that were collected in 1865 and it was set up to teach people about the importance and usefulness of plants as food, medicine, tools and clothing.

 

The Amazon Waterlily Pavilion is an elegant glasshouse that contains a huge pond of Victoria amazonica waterlilies.  These amazing plants have lily pads that can span up to 165cm while the flower can measure 30cm in diameter.  Coopers Brewery is proudly one of the contributors to this beautiful energy-efficient enclosure, which was built in 2007.

 

The Bicentennial Conservatory was an indoor rainforest that was hot and humid inside.  As we walked through, water was expelled from the ceiling and sprinkled us with a refreshing mist.  It was built in 1988 to celebrate Australian’s bicentenary and is the largest conservatory in the southern hemisphere.

 

 

South Australian Museum

Free to enter and explore, the SA museum on North Terrace has a variety of permanent exhibitions such as the South Australian Biodiversity Gallery that displays animals from all habitats, as well as the Opal Fossils that expose pre-historic reptiles and crustaceans from millions of years ago.  The Pacific and Aboriginal Cultures Galleries provide insight into the lives of islanders and aboriginals – hunting, fishing, war and everyday activities.

 

Open daily from 10am to 5pm, it’s definitely worth having a look around.

 

 

Rundle Mall & Adelaide Arcade

This section of Adelaide is closed off to vehicles and is similar to Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne.  The retail opportunity is the same as in any shopping centre, but you have the dynamic atmosphere of being in the centre of the city.  We enjoyed strolling past the shops that were blasting their air conditioners to cope with the heat of the day.  As a result, the thoroughfare was quite cool.

 

 

The Rundle Mall Fountain indicates the entrance of Adelaide Arcade, a walkway that was built in 1885 and features about 100 specialty shops on both the ground floor and balcony.  There is a small museum on the balcony level that displays photographs and newspaper articles.

 

Adelaide-Himeji Gardens

In 1982, arrangements were made for Adelaide and Himeji in Japan to establish a sister city relationship that will secure peace, encourage cultural understanding and economic exchange.

 

 

The gardens were a gift from Himeji in 1985 and incorporate two classic Japanese styles – senzui takes inspiration from lakes and mountains to create a sense of space, while kare senzui is a dry garden that uses rocks and sand to create the illusion of water, or the ocean.

 

Coopers Brewery

Adelaide is home to Coopers Brewery, the largest Australian-owned brewery and largest producer of home brew kits in the world! Mad for sustainability, they have an onsite cogeneration plant that powers the plant and feeds back into the grid, they draw water from underground aquifers that are purified with reverse osmosis and any spent grain left over from the brewing process is sold back to farmers as stockfeed.

 

Apart from being environmentally friendly, the Coopers empire is also extremely charitable and the cost of your ticket to the brewery tour goes straight to the Coopers Brewery Foundation.  Check out our post on the Coopers Brewery Tour.

 

Mount Lofty

On the outskirts of Adelaide is Cleland Conservation Park and the Mount Lofty Summit, which sits 710m above sea level.  It was named by Captain Matthew Flinders in 1802 when he sighted in from Kangaroo Island.

 

An 16.5m obelisk was built in 1885 as a survey station to establish longitude and latitude of places around Adelaide.  It was later named the Flinders Column in 1902 and was whitewashed to make it more visible to ships in the St Vincent’s Gulf.

 

 

Over the years, bushfires have raged through the area and caused millions of dollars worth of damage and after the Ash Wednesday disaster, a new Mt Lofty Summit Visitor Centre was developed and opened in 1997.

 

Glenelg & Brighton

Accessible via the Anzac Highway or free tram that travels to and from the city, Glenelg is Adelaide’s answer to St Kilda in Melbourne.  A seaside suburb with white beaches and palm trees that attracts all the young kids to jump off the pier, play beach volley ball, go shopping for a midriff top and eat some ice cream.

 

Established in 1836 as the original site of SA’s mainland settlement, Glenelg has grown to be a popular spot amongst the tourists and locals, with a flashy marina, cosmopolitan buildings and a vibrant nightlife.  It hosts heaps of public events every year, like bike races, volleyball tournaments, food and wine festivals, fun runs and the State’s largest New Years Eve celebrations.

 

 

A few kilometres down the road is Brighton, a much more modest and relaxed coastal spot but with all the same delights.  Cafés, restaurants, the Arch of Remembrance and the Brighton Jetty – the start and finish line of South Australia’s largest ocean swimming event, the Brighton Jetty Classic.  Surrounded a summertime atmosphere and beautiful beaches, this was our location for a nice picnic lunch.

 

FOOD & DRINK

Grind It, Glenelg

We sought out this café in Glenelg and we were really impressed with what we found.  Great service, delicious coffee and an impressive menu that got us salivating for second breakfast.

 

The Edinburgh Hotel, Mitcham

This place was awesome.  Great food, great atmosphere, great beer garden… and with a pint and parmi for $12, you can’t go wrong.  Check out our post on the Edinburgh Hotel.

 

 

The Big Table, CBD

This cute little café inside the Central Markets was the first sign of decent coffee in Adelaide.  Young hipsters and dreadlocked lasses are usually an indication of great coffee and we weren’t disappointed.

 

The Franklin Hotel, CBD

A funky pub with a great atmosphere and cool beer garden, complete with Hills Hoist.  We had a quick pit stop here after riding around the city and conquering the Central Markets.

 

 

Thanh Thanh Vietnamese Restaurant, CBD

It was supposed to be the best Vietnamese restaurant in Adelaide but Juz wasn’t particularly impressed.  Still, the food did provide adequate fuel for the day.

 

 

Vili’s Cafe, Mile End

We were advised to check this place out, and after a pie, sausage roll and plateful of chips, gravy and schnitzel, we weren’t particularly impressed.  Check out our post on Vili’s Cafe.

 

ACCOMMODATION

Adelaide Central YHA135 Waymouth Street, Adelaide 5000 – 08 8414 3010

BIG4 Adelaide Shores Caravan Park – Military Road, West Beach – 08 8355 7320

 

Brownhill Creek Caravan Park – Brownhill Creek Road, Mitcham – 8271 4824

This holiday park has it all – cabins, ensuite and caravan sites, powered and unpowered sections for campers, toilet blocks with showers, laundry facilities, a swimming pool, a fully equipped camp kitchen and multiple BBQs around the park.

 

What makes this place extra special though are the permanent residents.  Some have been there for about 5 years and provide a welcoming sense of community.  If you decide to stay here for a few nights, get to know your neighbours – they’re a great bunch of people – and don’t forget to check out the tepee at the back of the park.

 

 

We had the pleasure of having a Christmas celebration with the crew.  A $5 donation entitled us to snags in bread, wine and beer and great conversations with well-travelled folk.  We had a fantastic night and wished we could have stayed for Christmas.

 
Find the best deal and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

 
 

Visitor Information Centres

South Australian Visitor Information Centre, 108 North Terrace

Adelaide Visitor Information Centre, Rundle Mall

 

Getting Around

Adelaide’s public transport system includes trains, trams and buses.

 

You need to have a Metroticket to travel around Adelaide on public transport and the ticket needs to be validated when you begin your journey.  Metrotickets can be purchased on all forms on transport, as well as at newsagents, convenience stores and at the Adelaide Metro InfoCentre at the corner of King William and Currie Streets.

 

There are a few different types of tickets:

  • Singletrip tickets are valid for two hours and cost $4.90
  • Daytrip tickets are valid from the time of validation to 4:30am the next morning and cost $9.10.
  • Multitrip tickets contain 10 Singletrip tickets and cost $31.90.

 

There are also Interpeak tickets that are only valid between 9am and 3pm Monday to Friday, and Two Section tickets which allow you to travel two sections of the public transport system, which works out well if you aren’t far away from your destination.  One section is equivalent to the distance between two train stations or four tram stops.

 

Adelaide is currently working on a new smartcard ticketing system called Metrocard.  For more information, visit the Adelaide Metro website http://www.adelaidemetro.com.au/

 

There is also a free tram service between Glenelg and the city.

 

Adelaide City Bikes is a green initiative that allows you to hire a bike for free between 9am and 5:30pm.  Hire includes a helmet and bike lock and you need to leave a current passport or driver’s license as deposit.

 

Bikes are available from several places around the city.  For more information, check out the Adelaide City Bikes brochure.

 
 

 

BEARDS!!  If only Dave had a beanie too!

City Profile : Geelong

We arrived in Geelong at about 2pm without expecting much other than a boring country town with a few fish and chip shops, a shitty café, the Ford Factory and a stadium for the Geelong Football Club.

 

However, as we were driving along the lip of Corio Bay, Geelong emerged into our sights and our assumptions were blown out of the window.  What a picturesque view of the bay, with the white and grand Cunningham Pier, the moored boats and the foreshore.

 

On closer inspection, the Geelong Revival was on, and the pier and waterfront were bustling with locals and visitors who had come to check out the hot rods, classic cars and motorbikes on display.  There was a market, carnival rides, and a portion of Geelong sectioned off for time trials. We strolled along the pier and frothed over the shiny chrome.

 

 

There was also plenty of Holden Monaros around the place. The styling of the original Monaro – the HK in 1968 – was based on the muscle cars coming out of the General Motors factory in the USA. Some 30 years later, Australia’s ‘New Monaro’ of the 90s started being exported to the USA to be sold by GM and was rebadged as the Pontiac GTO.

 

Fast Facts

  • Second largest city in Victoria and the fifth most populated non-capital city in Australia
  • Population of over 160,000 Geelongites
  • Located approximately 75km south west of Melbourne
  • Officially became classified as a city in 1910 due to industrial growth from the wool industry
  • The home of Ford Australia and the Geelong Football Club

 

History

The first recorded non-aboriginal visitor was Lt John Murray, an Australian explorer who arrived in February 1802 to explore the land, and Matthew Flinders was not far behind.  He entered Port Phillip Bay in April 1802 and charted the entire bay, including the Geelong area.

 

The name Geelong comes from the Wathaurong word jillong, which means bay, while the name Corio Bay comes from the Wathaurong word corayo, which means sandy cliffs.  However, the European settlers got the names switched around the wrong way so the Bay was called Corio Bay and the sandy cliffs were called Geelong.

 

Geelong’s main trade was wool, and with the establishment of Victoria’s first wool mill in 1868, the town began to grow.  However, during the Victorian gold rush in the 1850s, Melbourne cheekily started a campaign that dubbed Geelong as “the Sleepy Hollow” and encouraged the gold diggers to come to Melbourne to spend their newly found fortune.  The campaign was successful and Melbourne overtook Geelong in development, and the ‘Sleepy Hollow’ reputation stuck for years afterwards.

 

In 1925, Ford Motor Company set up their manufacturing plant which is still in operation today.

 

 

Weather

Geelong experiences four distinct seasons with warm summers and cool winters, but it can get quite fresh in the evening if there is wind.  It doesn’t rain much due to a rain shadow caused by the Otways.

 

BEARDS!!  If only Dave had a beanie too!

 

Points of Interest

 

Parks and Gardens

Eastern Park

This massive park is located on the Eastern Beach and is home to the magnificent Geelong Botanic Gardens.  Established in 1851, it is the fourth oldest botanic garden in Australia and has been continually cultivated and maintained for over 150 years.

The first curator of the gardens was Daniel Bunce, a fellow traveller of Leichhardt.  He started working on the Geelong Botanic Gardens in 1857 and successfully cultivated the Sturts Desert Pea, a coveted flower amongst the ladies who had pressed flower collections.

Its main purpose is plant conservation, acclimatisation and horticultural study, but it is also a public garden that is free of charge to enjoy.

 

 

Johnstone Park

Located at the intersection of Gheringhap Street and Malop Street, Johnstone Park is considerably smaller than Eastern Park but has its perks.

 

Acting as a World War 1 memorial, there is a great big bandstand in the centre of the park surrounded by manicured grass, tall palms and colourful gardens, and there is a very grand statue of King George V, who was King of the UK from 1910 to 1936.

 

The surrounding buildings are great to look at and include the Geelong Art Gallery, Geelong Town Hall and the library.  There are a few sculptures in this park, as well as public toilets in case you’re hanging for a piss.

 

 

HISTORIC BUILDINGS

Petrel Hotel

This is the oldest pub in Geelong, located on the popular Pakington Street strip.  It was established in 1849 and is said to be an icon of the area, but when we went to visit it, we weren’t too impressed.  It’s a divey TAB with flashy pokies machines, bar flies and gamblers watching the horses and CGI dogs.

 

If you pilgrimage to this historic building, feel free to stay and have a drink, but you may choose to leave shortly afterwards and spend your evening at The Barking Dog Hotel about 100m up the road, or at Sebroso, a lively bar with Spanish and French influences.

 

 

ACTIVITIES & ATTRACTIONS

National Wool Museum

Located in the same building as the Geelong Information Centre, the National Wool Museum tells the Australian story of wool and how the wool gets from the sheep’s back onto your back.

The museum is open every day of the week and entry is $7.50 for an adult.  We chose to give it a miss because we didn’t want to miss out on checking out the cars at the Geelong Revival.

http://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/nwm/

 

Mill Markets

If you love antiques, memorbillia and other old stuff, check out the Mill Markets on Brougham Street.  This place is huge and you can easily spend half the day looking at stuff that your nan would get excited about.  Clothes, furniture, books, knick-knacks and bric-a-brac – Mill Markets has got it all.

http://www.millmarkets.com.au/

 

 

ACCOMMODATION

Geelong Riverview Tourist Park – 59 Barrabool Road, Geelong – 03 5243 6225 

 

Visitor Information Centres

Geelong Visitor Information Centre, 26 Moorabool Street, 03 5222 2900

 

Getting Around

There are two bus companies that operate around Geelong – Benders and McHarrys.  The main terminal for both bus companies is at Geelong Station, which is where the V/Line train from Melbourne is at.  For more information about V/Line trains, visit http://www.vline.com.au

 

The Queenscliffe-Sorrento Ferry is a short drive away from Geelong and connects the two southern points of Port Phillip Bay.   Ferries depart every hour and the journey across the bay takes 40 minutes.  Fares depend on peak and off-peak times, but if you’re planning a return trip with your car, then expect to pay about $110.  For more information, visit http://www.searoad.com.au

 
 

 
 

Sunset over Flinders Street Station

Experience : Touristy things to do in Melbourne

Sunset over Southbank

 

It doesn’t matter what you’re into, there are heaps of things to do in and around Melbourne.

 

Explore St Kilda & Melbourne’s Luna Park

Located about 7km south of Melbourne, St Kilda is a vibrant and active coastal suburb. A haven for young travellers and backpackers, it springs to life in summer with festivals, twilight markets and live music. Go for a walk along the beach, enjoy the view on St Kilda Pier or have a BBQ in Catani Gardens.

 

Melbourne’s Luna Park is the most colourful attraction in St Kilda. It opened in 1912 and is now the oldest theme park in the world and home to the Scenic Railway – the oldest continually running rollercoaster. Grab yourself a cloud of fairy floss and a bag of their awesome beer-batter chips and take a look around – entry is free!

 

While you soak in the sun and the sea air, you could even wander as far as Albert Park Lake, a popular location for jogging, dog walking and various boating activities. The road around the lake is the track for the Melbourne Grand Prix.

 

 

Learn stuff at Melbourne’s various museums

The Melbourne Museum is located just north of the city in the Carlton Gardens. They have various exhibitions on throughout the year and IMAX Cinema is also part of the museum complex.

 

Right next door to the Melbourne Museum is the Royal Exhibition Building, a world heritage landmark that was completed in 1880. It is one of the world’s oldest exhibition pavilions and is the site of various shows and expos.

 

The Immigration Museum is located on Flinders Street, just west of the station, and focuses on Australia’s multicultural identity. Learn about how and why people came to Australia, and how their culture helped shape Melbourne’s diverse way of life.

 

If you’re dragging rugrats around, tire them out at Scienceworks. Learn about the environment and how the body works. It’s both fun and educational, and parents might even learn something new.

 

General adult entry fees to the Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and the Immigration Museum are only $10.

 

http://museumvictoria.com.au 

 

 

Connect with nature in the Dandenong Ranges, attempt the 1000 Steps, go SkyHigh, or take a ride on Puffing Billy

The Dandenong Ranges are located on the eastern border of Melbourne, about 50 minutes drive from the city. This mountainous area is home to quaint villages, craft shops and cute tea houses, and there are some stunning forest walks available through Sherbrook Forest and Olinda Falls Reserve.

 

At the foot of the ranges are the 1000 Steps, a Kokoda Memorial Walk dotted with plaques that describe the experiences of Australian solders as they marched along the real Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea. We don’t recommend this walk if you’re not physically up for it as it can be a bit tough…

 

If you want a total railway experience, catch the train to Belgrave from the city and follow the blue line to get to Puffing Billy – a century-old steam train that travels through the Dandenong Ranges from Belgrave to Gembrook. It’s a unique experience to be carted around in a massive steam train with your feet hanging out the windows and the sound of the WOOO WOOO! Adult ticket prices start at $18.50.

 

SkyHigh provides a fabulous view over the entire city and Port Phillip Bay, and on a clear day, you can see the skyscrapers of the city centre. There is also a café and restaurant that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with surrounding gardens and a maze made from native plants. This is a romantic hotspot – get there just before sunset with a hot pizza and your make-out buddy. Entry is $5 per car.

 

 

Have a picnic in the Royal Botanical Gardens

This enormous park just south of the CBD and can be the perfect place to spend the afternoon, sitting on a blanket in the warm sun. It is also home to several Melbourne landmarks, like the Shrine of Remembrance, the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden and the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

 

If the night is balmy enough, check out Moonlight Cinema, an open air cinema that operates during summer and screens all sorts of films, from new releases to cult classics. An adult ticket is $18 but they also have a $33 Gold Grass option that includes a bean bed and premium viewing location.

 

 

Spend the day at the Queen Victoria Markets

Open on Tuesdays and Thursday through to Sunday, the Queen Victoria Markets are 130 years old and is still an active and busy market.

 

Everything is available, from leather belts, clothes and shoes to fresh and organic food and delicious deli meats. In fact, the market is so big, it has precincts, including the meat hall, F Shed Laneway and String Bean Alley.

 

If you’re hungry, you can’t go past the Borek Shop in the Deli Hall. You know you’re in the right place because the crowd out the front at lunchtime is about 4 rows deep. Get one with cheese and spinach, or lamb, or all of them – they’re all $2.50 each.

 

Catch a tram to Fitzroy and go on a pub crawl

A stone’s throw north of the city is Melbourne’s first and smallest suburb – Fitzroy. The culture revolves around street art, live music, good coffee and its plethora of pubs.

 

All pubs are within walking distance of each other so it’s perfect for a pub crawl. Some crawls start from the bottom at the Builders Arms and work their way up towards Palookaville, while other crawls zig zag across Brunswick Street, from the Union Hotel and Little Creatures Dining Hall to the Standard, then back to the Napier and the Rainbow.

 

If the pub scene isn’t your thing, they also have some great cocktail bars like the Alchemist Bar and Polly, and Latin clubs like The Night Cat and Arepa Bar. You will also find some tremendous cafes in the area, such as Atomica Caffé, which roast their own beans, and Sonido! with their exotic South American influence.

 

 

Go for a stroll along Southbank Promenade and try your luck at Crown Casino

Southbank runs along the south side of the Yarra river between St Kilda Road and the Crown Entertainment Complex. Apart from being a great place for a pleasant stroll with a nice view of the city, it also has buskers, pubs, restaurants, and a cool eatery in the middle of the river called Ponyfish Island.

 

The Crown Complex is open 24 hours a day every day of the year except Christmas Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day. They do have a dress code, so if you’re planning to hang out, make sure you dress nice. Inside, there are beauty spas, restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs, big brand shopping, cinemas, bowling and a massive arcade area with laser skirmish.

 

The Gas Brigades out the front of Crown expel a huge ball of fire every hour after dark until midnight. Check their website for the fireball schedule.

 

 

Relax at Federation Square and watch the sun set over Flinders Street Station

Federation Square was opened in 2002 as a cultural public square of Melbourne. While it serves as a popular tourist attraction, this could possibly be because of its ambiguous aesthetics. Could it be the ugliest landmark you have ever seen, or is it attractive and artistic in its own way? Who knows?

 

Before the sun goes down, eat a steak at Transport Hotel Bar and soak up the last rays of the day in their sunroom.

 

Before you leave, head towards the river and take the stairs down to Riverland Bar and Café for a relaxing beer. It inhabits the old Federation Wharf vaults, which were built in 1889 and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 

Flinders Street Railway Station is the epicentre of the Melbourne public transport system and a major icon of the city. It is the oldest railway station in Australia, officially being opened in 1910, even though it was operating as a railway station since 1854! It has 14 platforms and services 16 train lines.

 

The clocks under the main entrance have been dated back to the 1860s and were put into storage after the old station façade was demolished and were installed in the new station building before its opening. The clocks were operated manually until 1983 – now they are computer operated.

 

Go on a mission to find the best coffee and discover the charming and secretive laneways and arcades in the CBD

Melbournians love good coffee and we’re certainly spoilt for choice! There are heaps of tasty brewers around Melbourne who take pride in producing a choice cup.

 

If you need a benchmark to set your standards to, try Seven Seeds in North Melbourne, 65 Degrees in the CBD or Atomica in Fitzroy.  Other popular cafes include St Ali in South Melbourne, Three Bags Full in Richmond, Proud Mary in Collingwood and Patricia Coffee Brewers in the CBD.

 

Have a wander around to see if you can find your own special place and explore Melbourne’s arcades and laneways.

 

Hardware Lane is great for food with Bao Now, Bentoya Japanese, Hardware Societé and Affogato Café, while Degraves Place transports you into another world with its European ambiance. After a stroll past the resident boutique shops, relax with a latte in one of its many cafes and soak up the sounds of a nearby busker.

 

The Royal Arcade was opened in 1870 and is absolutely stunning with its old time charm and stained glass windows. The drawcard for this arcade is Gaunt’s Clock, which chimes every hour. The arcade has a collection of specialty shops selling the most colourful and wonderful stuff, like Russian babushkas, artisan rock candy and magical oddities.

 

If you’re looking for something a little more rock ‘n’ roll, try AC/DC Lane and visit Cherry Bar for some late night head banging. This street used to be called Corporation lane, but was renamed in 2004 as a tribute to the Australian rock band AC/DC.

 

 

Eat a dumpling in Chinatown or have some gelati on Lygon Street

Chinatown is a colourful strip of red and gold, right in the heart of the Melbourne CBD. During the Victorian Gold Rush in 1851, many Chinese immigrants settled in Little Bourke Street, and thus the first Chinese community in Melbourne began.

 

If you love a good dumpling, there are a few places that will definitely impress, including HuTong Dumpling Bar, Nam Loong, Shark Fin and Shanghai Noodle House. Chinatown is also the stage for the Chinese New Year Festivities in February.

 

If you prefer Italian cuisine, wander up to Lygon Street in Carlton. Many Italian immigrants came to Australia after World War II and established Melbourne as the second largest Italian city outside of Italy. Affectionately named the ‘Little Italy’ of Melbourne, Some may argue that this is where Melbourne’s café culture was born.

 

The two must-visit places on Lygon Street are Brunetti for their authentic Italian cakes, and Il Dolce Freddo, an ice cream shop that lives in the heart of nearly every Melbournian. Their ice cream is creamy, delicious and available in a variety of flavours such as Durian, Ferrero Rocher, Tutti Di Bosco and Tiramisu.

 

Don’t expect to stick to diet while you’re in this part of town.

 

 

Check out a game of Aussie rules football

In Victoria, if someone says “football” they mean AFL – grown men in tight shorts chasing an oval ball on an oval field.

 

Invented in 1857 to keep cricketers fit during the winter off-season, footy now plays a huge part in many Melbournians lives. The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) has the capacity to hold 100,000 cheering supporters and tickets to a match during finals season are in high demand.

 

Matches are played on weekends from March to September, so why not pick a team, get rugged up in their colours, and go join in the excitement! Adult ticket prices to a match at the MCG start at $21.30 and vary across the other game venues.

 

Talk to the animals at the Royal Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary, Werribee Zoo or Melbourne Aquarium

Melbourne Zoo is located just north of the city and is home to a variety of animals, from Asian elephants to Sumatran tigers. To get there, you can catch a train to Royal Park Station or jump on the 55 tram from Williams Street.

 

Healesville Sanctuary is about an hour’s drive east of Melbourne and focuses on Australian flora and fauna, as well as protecting endangered species.

 

Werribee Zoo is a 30 minute drive to the west of Melbourne and has a more African feel, as it is home to lions, rhinoceros, zebras, giraffes and African wild dogs. Admission includes a safari tour that buses you around the open range surroundings.

 

All zoological parks are open from 9am – 5pm every day of the year and adult entry is $26.10.

 

http://www.zoo.org.au/

 

If you prefer to keep your head below the water, check out the Melbourne Aquarium. It is located in the Melbourne CBD along the banks of the Yarra River. It is open from 9:30am to 6pm every day and admission for an adult costs $35.

 

 

Give your feet a rest and take a cruise down the Yarra River

You’ve been walking all day, you’re exhausted but you want to see more. Then let Melbourne River Cruises do all the work for you. They have great sightseeing cruises that go for about an hour.

 

Prices for an adult start at $23 and it is a really relaxing way to see Melbourne’s docks and riverside attractions.