Port Douglas

Town Profile : Port Douglas

Port Douglas

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

Port Douglas

 

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

 

Fast Facts

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

 

History

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Port Douglas 2015-03-18 053w

 

Places of Interest

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

 

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

 

Port Douglas

 

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

 

Cape Tribulation

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

 

Cape Tribulation

 

Mossman Gorge

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

 

Mossman Gorge

 

Flames of the Forest

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

 

Flames of the Forest

 

Bloomfield Track & CREB Track

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

 

CREB Track

 

Food & Drink

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

 

 

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

 

Mocka’s Pies

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

 

Mocka's Pies

 

On The Inlet

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

 

The Little Larder

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

 

Port Douglas

 

Off The Track

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

 

Port Douglas

 

Port Douglas Yacht Club

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

 

Port Douglas

 

Information & Accommodation

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

 

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

 

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

 

Port Douglas

 

 

Cooktown

Town Profile : Cooktown

Cooktown

 

We were expecting to linger around Cooktown for two nights before heading to Cairns for work, but just as we were making plans, a fantastic opportunity presented itself.  The owner of a local farm needed some help for the week, and it was just the kind of experience we were looking for.  Now that we were locked in to stay in Cooktown for a week, we had a little more time to get to know the town and the locals.

 

Fast Facts

  • Cooktown is the northernmost town on the east coast of Australia
  • It sits at the mouth of the Endeavour River, named by Captain James Cook after his ship
  • There are two seasons – the wet during December to April, and the dry from May to November.
  • The region is very rich in biodiversity because it covers three major ecozones, and therefore is a place of interest for botanists.

 

History

The traditional owners call the region Gan gaar, which means place of the rock crystals because of all the quartz crystals.

 

In 1770, Captain James Cook arrived and moored the Endeavour at the mouth of the Endeavour River for shelter and repairs after running aground on the Great Barrier Reef.  As the repairs were underway, botanist Joseph Banks and naturalist Daniel Solander explored the area and collected over 200 species of plants for documentation, and they also learnt words from the local people, like ganguru (kangaroo).  There was an artist on board, Sydney Parkinson, who was the first British person to draw Aboriginal people from direct observation.

 

Cooktown

 

In 1872, gold was discovered on the Palmer River southwest of Cooktown and the site was populated by many diggers from all over the world.  Cooktown was selected as the port through which the gold was exported and supplies were imported.  Two years later, Cooktown’s population grew to approximately 4,000 people and it was established as a town.

 

These days, Cooktown’s population is less than 2,000.  It has reached the status of a tourist destination because of its relaxed atmosphere and proximity to Cape York, the Great Barrier Reef, Lakefield National Park and the rainforest.

 

Cooktown

 

Points of Interest

The James Cook Museum

Whether you’re interested in the landing of James Cook in 1770 or not, a stroll through this fantastic museum is a must.  See the original anchor of the Endeavour, learn about Cooktown’s Chinese history and local aboriginal culture, and discover the original use of the museum building.  Fascinating stuff…

 

Cooktown

 

Nature’s Powerhouse & Botanic Gardens

Essentially, Nature’s Powerhouse is Cooktown’s Visitor Information Centre.  Get a map, stroll through the neighbouring Botanic Gardens or have a toasted sanga and a coffee on the deck.

 

The gallery and museum are also worth checking out if you’re interested in flora and fauna.  The Charles Tanner Gallery is a great exhibit of local animals such as snakes, bats, lizards and butterflies.  The displays were both interesting and educational.  The Vera Scarth-Johnson Gallery pays tribute to an artist and botanist.  While we were there, they were showing the ‘Botanical Endeavour’ – Sir Joseph Banks’ Florilegium Exhibition from 1770.

 

 

Grassy Hill

OMG – one of the best lookouts we have come across on our journey.  Stunning views of the surrounding mountains, the Endeavour River and Cooktown.  Amazing.

 

Finch Bay

Follow Finch Bay Road all the way to the end, past the Botanic Gardens, and you’ll arrive at Finch Bay.  It’s is a great little beach with an estuary.  We saw a big crab in the shallows and wished that we’d had a net with us to scoop him up!

 

Copy of Cooktown 2014-09-28 083 Cooktown 2014-09-28 080water

 

Black Mountain

About 25km south of Cooktown is Black Mountain National Park.  It is a massive pile of granite rocks that has developed over the last 260 million years.  Due to an unusual joining patter in the granite, fracturing and exposure to water has caused erosion and weathering of the boulders, but while the surface is just a mess of boulders, the solid granite core is underneath.  There are three animals that are completely unique to the park – the Black Mountain boulderfrog, skink and gecko – making Black Mountain one of the most restricted habitats in Australia.

 

The early settlers and local indigenous folks both have stories and rumours about quite a few people (often criminals) venturing into the caves among the giant black boulders and getting lost.  Whilst the people have never been seen again, the locals reckon you sometimes still hear them…

 

Cooktown

 

Food & Drink

Cooktown Hotel

This was the first pub we visited, and for a Saturday afternoon, it was fairly busy.  Then we remembered – AFL Grand Final weekend.  We sat outside in the beer garden and had a lovely lunch of pizza and parma before getting on with the rest of the day.

 

Cooktown 2014-09-27 048

 

Cooktown Café

More like cranky-pants café!  The owner of the store had a serious attitude problem, but the coffee was good, which is why people keep coming back.  We found out later that the owner had had a tiff with his partner the night before and was therefore in a particularly cranky-pants mood that day.

 

The Italian (aka De Wogs)

Opposite the road from the Top Pub is a popular Cooktown institution that dishes out mountains of risotto and pasta, tasty pizzas made with fresh ingredients, as well as Chinese food at a dearer than average price.  While Juz’s soggy but yummy parma lacked ham and chips, Dave’s capricciosa pizza was perfection, but to be perfectly honest, neither seemed to justify the price.

 

Cooktown

 

The Lions Den Hotel

About 30km south of Cooktown is an old pub called the Lions Den.  It’s named after a mine in the area, which got its name when a stowaway named Daniel was working at the mines and while standing at the entrance of one of the tunnels, the mine’s owner said, “Daniel in the Lions Den”.

 

The pub has plenty of character, with scribbles, business cards and stickers all over the walls, as well as old hats, thongs, license plates and stubbie holders.

 

Cooktown

 

Information & Accommodation

Nature’s Powerhouse is on Finch Bay Road and is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm.  Contact them for information about Cooktown by emailing info@naturespowerhouse.com.au

 

Pam’s Place YHA – on the corner of Boundary and Charlotte Street.  To make a reservation, call 4069 5166 or email cooktown@yha.com.au http://www.yha.com.au/Hostels/QLD/Cairns-and-Far-North-Queensland/Cooktown/

 

Archer Point

About 15km south of Cooktown is the turnoff for Archer Point.  Continue along the dirt road until you get to the end. It’s a great place to camp provided you don’t set up right on a headland.  The wind is strong and constant, but the views at sunset are breathtaking.

 

Cooktown

 

Cooktown

Eating Out : Cooktown Hotel, Cooktown QLD

Cooktown

 

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

 

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

 

Cooktown 2014-09-27 040

 

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

 

Cooktown

 

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

 

Cooktown 2014-09-27 048

 

 

Bamaga Tavern

Eating Out : Bamaga Tavern, Bamaga QLD

Bamaga Tavern

 

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

 

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

 

Bamaga Tavern

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

Bamaga Tavern

 

Weipa

Eating Out : Weipa Bowls Club, Weipa QLD

Weipa

 

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

 

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

 

Weipa

 

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

 

Weipa

Weipa

 

 

Winton

Eating Out : Tattersalls Hotel, Winton QLD

Winton

 

Juz’s birthday lunch happened at Tattersalls Hotel.  After spending the morning at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs, we were looking forward to a yummy pub lunch and took a table outside to enjoy the town’s relaxed atmosphere.

 

Dave ordered the crumbed steak, which is kinda like a beef schnitzel.  It was huge and came with a side of chips and salad.  The chips could have done with a little more seasoning but the salad was nice and fresh.

 

Winton 2014-09-08 074

 

Juz’s chicken parma was small and a little overcooked but tasted great.  The bacon pieces added a great savoury flavour while the sweetness and acidity of the tomato sauce was well balanced.  Instead of chips and a salad, Juz got rosemary and garlic scalloped potatoes, which were delicious, and some buttered vegetables.

 

Our meals weren’t too expensive, considering we were in an outback town, and the Tattersalls bar wenches are friendly and know their way around the bar.

 

Winton 2014-09-08 076

 

The Gillen Club

Eating Out : The Gillen Club, Alice Springs NT

 

The Gillen Club

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

Tim's Surf & Turf

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

Tim's Surf & Turf

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Tim's Surf and Turf on Urbanspoon

 

Fish & Chips @ Wisdom

Eating Out : Wisdom Bar & Café, Darwin NT

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

 

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

 

Wisdom Bar & Cafe

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Chicken Parma @ Wisdom

 

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

 

Fish & Chips @ Wisdom

 

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

 
Wisdom Bar and Cafe on Urbanspoon
 

SHAGS!!

Eating Out : Shenannigans, Darwin NT

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

 

SHAGS!!

 

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

 

                “Sorry, you can’t do that…”

 

“But the other waitress said…”                

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Shenannigans on Urbanspoon

 

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

 

Shenannigans

 

Cheers!

Drink : Pub Crawl in Geraldton, WA

It was a warm Saturday afternoon in Geraldton and we were a little bored.  Jeremy the French Helpx helper had come back from his assignment on the farm and we all decided that we should hit the town and check out the local pubs.

 

The Provincial Bar & Café

We found out that their happy hour went from 4:30pm to 5:30pm and after walking 3.5km into the city, we got there with 10 minutes to spare.  Juz was super happy about them serving White Rabbit on tap so Jeremy and Juz got the White Ale while Dave went with the Dark Ale.

 

 

This place has an awesome atmosphere and we could see why it’s one of Geraldton’s most favourite places.  Plus, its run by a guy from Melbourne so you know their woodfire pizzas are gonna be amazing.

 

 

The Freemason Hotel

It was a bit too early for dinner so we walked down the street to the Freemason Hotel.  The band was just warming up so we had to yell across the bar for our beer of choice.  Apart from the live music, there was a round pool table, foosball table and heaps of dance floor room for a late night boogie.

 

 

The Geraldton Hotel

We were looking forward to this place but when we walked into the main bar, we were a little disappointed.  The lighting was white and bright with a bunch of old codgers sitting at the bar watching the West Coast vs Carlton match.

 

 

After a round of drinks, we went to order and were impressed by the massive beer garden that hosts their Sunday Sessions.  Dave got the steak sandwich while Juz and Jeremy got the chicken parma – all meals are $10.

 

Our food was ready really quickly.  The chicken parma was ok but could have been better if the chicken meat was real.  The chips were really bland but the small amount of salad compensated in flavour.  Dave’s steak burger was good – a nice piece of rump steak with beetroot and processed cheese in a soft sesame seed bun.

 

 

The Camel Bar

This place was pumping when we arrived.  There was a band playing, people both young and old were sitting at the bar, playing pool or finishing off their dinner.

 

 

The place was decorated with camel paraphernalia – the biggest collection in Western Australia!  We had a bit of a laugh and showed the manager the infamous camel picture.

 

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Breakers Bar & Café

Compared to the Camel Bar, this place was a bit quiet.  The décor was modern and sleek with a curved metallic bar, black couches and a stage for live music.  They do cheap meals throughout the week, including a $15 parma on Thursdays – hopefully we’ll have a chance to try one.

 

 

We had a round of drinks here before we realised we had a massive walk back home.  We fooled around with a floodlight on the way home, met some dudes who thought Dave’s beard was awesome, climbed some fences and got home just before midnight.

 

 

The front of the YHA has been painted with Nature's Window

Kalbarri Backpackers YHA

Whether you’re travelling in a group or you’re on your own, the Kalbarri Backpackers YHA is a great place to stay.  The welcoming atmosphere is relaxed and sociable and you’re just minutes away from all of the attractions in Kalbarri.

 

 

After you’ve spent the day swimming in the Murchison River or exploring the coastal gorges, head back to the YHA and cook up a few snags on the BBQs before heading out to one of the local pubs.  The information centre is close by if you wanted to find out about tours in the area and the IGA is just around the corner.

 

Facilities

The dorm rooms have between 6 and 12 beds, and there are two double bed rooms available. The kitchen is fully equipped with crockery and cutlery, heaps of fridge space and a communal pantry.  Outside, there is a large undercover BBQ area with heaps of benches for a big group dinner.

 

 

There is also a swimming pool, communal laundry and heaps of gear for hire, like bikes, body boards, snorkel gear, fishing gear and board games.

 

Nearby Attractions

2 minutes

  • The Beach – the Murchison River mouth creates a safe, calm swimming spot that is perfect for cooling off in the summer heat.
  • Supermarket – there is an IGA just around the corner from the hostel, or you can walk further into town and visit the grocery store behind the Gilgai Tavern.

 

 

5 minutes

If you’ve got a 4WD, head north out of town and you’ll find a dirt track along the river. There’s a bit of sand, plenty of little side tracks to explore and some great views over the river from the high points.

 

 

10 minutes

  • The pubs – There are two pubs in town – the Kalbarri Motor Hotel and the Gilgai Tavern.
  • Chinaman Rock – a great fishing spot to catch a few dart.
  • TransWA Coach Terminal – located at the Kalbarri Beach Resort, buses depart from here three times a week.  Check out the TransWA website for more information. http://www.transwa.wa.gov.au/
  • Angie’s Café – a great little café that’s open for breakfast and lunch, they do decent chicken parma with garlic bread and salad for $12.95 and a plate of fish and chips for $10.  Bargain!

 

 

Kalbarri National Park

The town of Kalbarri is surrounded by national park.  A quick drive south of town will take you to the coastal gorges and rock formations, or you can drive 10 minutes inland and admire the gorges of the Murchison River. Check out our post on Kalbarri National Park.

 

 

The Details

Kalbarri Backpackers YHA is located at 51 Mortimer Street in Kalbarri – next to the caravan park.

Phone: (+61 8) 9937 1430

Websitehttp://www.kalbarribackpackers.com/

For more information on this awesome YHA location and to make a booking, click here.

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

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Eating Out : Rosemount Hotel, North Perth WA

It was our last day in Perth and there was no way we were leaving without having a chicken parmigiana. Juz found out that the Rosemount Hotel was doing cheap lunch specials, so after a night of camping down near Dwellingup, we drove straight into the city to check it out.

 

The Rosemount Hotel prides itself in being a fantastic live music venue and has won a variety of hospitality and music venue awards.  It has a real alternative feel about it with heaps of gig posters stuck up around the place, and although we were there at lunchtime, we could definitely see this place rocking out after dark with awesome gigs.

 

 

After we ordered, we sat down on the couches and waited in anticipation.  The wait wasn’t long at all, and for $11.50, our parma looked very impressive!  The first thing we noticed that the chicken breast wasn’t put on top of the chips – HALLELUJAH!  We also noticed that the portion matched the price – a polite-sized breast with the perfect amount of chips and salad.

 

While the chicken breast wasn’t huge or thick, it was still delicious and topped with just the right amount of stuff.  The tomato sauce was a little young and acidic, but somehow it seemed to work.  The ham was cut up instead of left as one slice, probably because it’s the same ham they use for their pizzas, and the cheese was melted to perfection.

 

The chicken was great, but the chips were even better! Because they weren’t smothered by chicken titty, they maintained their outer crispiness and fluffy centre.  They were also wonderfully seasoned, which made eating them even more pleasurable.

 

For $11.50, we were really pleased with what we got and watched other meals come out like beef nachos and steak sandwiches.  The Rosemount Lunch Specials apply to all the mains on the menu and the price varies between $11.50 and $13.50 – BARGAIN!

 

http://www.rosemounthotel.com.au/

 

Rosemount Hotel on Urbanspoon