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Pub Crawl : Hobart

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What better way is there to see the city and meet some locals than with a pub crawl? We didn’t have any company this time around, unlike our crawls in Mount Gambier, Kalgoorlie Boulder, Geraldton and Darwin, but we still had a great time exploring the pubs and beer gardens of Hobart.

 

Hope & Anchor

This was our first pub for the day and our lunch stop to fuel up for the next few hours. We started with a couple of beers to sip on while we looked around the pub. Built in 1807, it is possibly the oldest pub in Hobart, so there was plenty of cool historical stuff to look at, especially upstairs!

 

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Fluke &Bruce

We were entitled to $5 schooners of Cascade Draught at the Fluke and Bruce Hotel because we were staying at the YHA hostel next door. So that’s where we had our next drink after we’d checked in.

 

This spacious pub had an old charm that came through despite the renovations. There were a few antique images on the walls and the carpet and ceiling were somewhat period, but it maintained a clean and modern feel with the new lick of paint and Ben Harper playing atmospherically.

 

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Customs House

The Telegraph Hotel was closed so we skipped it and went to the Customs House instead. It had a fairly standard exterior for a corner pub but the interior was much more modern than expected.

 

At this point of the evening, Juz moved onto neat rum while Dave continued his beer quest with a Cascade Stout. They had a copy of the Herald Scum so we sat out the front and did the Superquiz.

 

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The Whaler

Previously known as Knopwoods Retreat – a popular place for a meal and a tipple – the Whaler got a change of identify at the end of 2015.  The name honours Hobart’s whaling history and even the location’s history as it was the place where whalers would return to get paid and have a drink.

 

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The Whaler is located on the Waterfront in the Salamanca Precinct. It’s quite a small pub on the inside but it increases its patronage with an outdoor area at the front. It might be an old pub but the renovations have caused it to lose a little bit of its charm. The stained glass window murals above the bar were a nice touch though.

 

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They have a great selection of local Aussie beers and ciders. Dave enjoyed an Ella Pale Ale while Juz tried the Ron de Jeremy rum.

 

The Brick Factory

Just outside of our next pub, we were halted by a South African from Melbourne who wanted to take a picture of Dave’s dreadlocks with his interesting black and white camera. We had a brief chat about photography, travel, and his vocation as a storyteller for schools before we went our separate ways.

 

The Brick Factory is a beautiful and classy place for a drink. The front section is a spacious bar area with booth seating, but as you head towards the Grape Bar at the back, the ceilings start to fall and it has quite a cellar feel, complete with Chesterfield lounges and lots of wine in cabinets.

 

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They have a huge selection of all sorts of spirits, and Juz sampled the Diplomatica rum, which had rich molasses flavours and a honey nut aftertaste. Dave had a dark lager, which got better as it got few degrees warmer.

 

Waterman’s Beer Market

This was an accidental stop on our way to the Victoria Hotel, which ended up being closed anyway. The Beer Market mainly serves beer, but they also have limited wine and spirit options. They have 12 beers on tap, which are frequently updated. Juz hopped back to beer with a Van Diemen’s White Ale while Dave got a nice and hoppy ale.

 

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Outside, they had a great little beer garden covered in Astroturf, with various nooks and crannies and giant games like Jenga and Connect 4. Dave found the urinal hilarious and was a little unsure about using it at first. It’s a one-way mirror that looks out at the beer garden.

 

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The New Sydney Hotel

This place was rumoured to be popular with the locals, and it was evident when we walked it because it was fairly packed. We ordered our drinks at the bar – Dave got a beer and some water to cure his hiccups while Juz got another rum but missed the name. She thinks it might have been Matusalem.

 

Outside in the beer garden, which was more like an alley decked out with stools, there was a huge 2 metre square fire pit with a hills hoist above it, connected to bike chains and cranks. We questioned their intention and they simply said, “to cook meat”. We wish we could be around to see that.

 

 

The Winston

It was clear that this was a local favourite. Located about 20 minutes on foot out of the city, The Winston is an American influenced bar with a great menu of drinks and food.

 

Because this was our last stop, we had dinner. Dave ordered the novel Winston burger with deep fried bacon, grilled chicken, and dill ranch sauce between two waffles – served in a dog bowl. He also got a beer, but currently cannot remember what he got because at that stage of the night, he was a little trolleyed. Juz ordered the buffalo chicken burger with blue cheese sauce and fries, as well as some buffalo wings and onion rings to share with Dave. For drinks, she had a Dictador rum.

 

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We walked home after our huge dinner, got settled in the hostel and chilled out for the rest of the night.

 

Australia Day 2015 Cairns

Australia Day in Cairns

Australia Day 2015 Cairns

 

Wow – what an epic day!

 

With all of our mates back at home in Melbourne, we occupied ourselves by trying to have the most Australian Australia Day possible, and that meant checking out all of the fun community events that were on offer.

 

Pie Eating and Bull Riding at Cazaly’s

Our first stop was Cazaly’s, a massive entertainment and function complex.  They were hosting a huge Australia Day bash, complete with jumping castles, face painting and the staff dressed up as iconic Aussie characters.

 

We watched a few rounds of the pie eating competition, downed our first beer of the day, and just as we were getting ready to leave, we were intercepted and convinced to have a crack on the mechanical bull – YEEHAW!

 

 

Sausage in Bread on the Esplanade

It was surprisingly easy to find a free parking spot in the city (nobody wants to park under the trees where the smelly bats live).

 

The Esplanade was packed full of picnickers and people cooling off in the lagoon, with the scent of BBQ wafting through the air.  The members of the Cairns Surf Life Saving Club were doing a sizzle so we pulled out a few bucks for a sausage in bread – a cheap snack before our next stop.

 

Australia Day 2015 Cairns

 

Thong Tossing at the Court House

Our next beer was at the Courthouse Hotel, and the main bar was packed with fellas wearing green and gold or donning Aussie flags as capes.  We were just in time for the Rubber Thong Toss so we signed up and took our beers outside to prepare.

 

This thong throwing competition was all about accuracy, as opposed to the Whyalla comp which was all about distance.  Whoever got their thong in the fountain scored, particularly if the thong landed in the top, central tier.   Dave made it through two rounds while Juz tossed her second thong right over the back fence and was declared 6 and out!  In fact, she was the only one to throw a thong over the fence, thus making her the unofficial winner for distance.

 

 

Pool Party at Gilligan’s

The heat and humidity lured us to our next location – Gilligan’s – who were having a massive pool party with Triple J playing over the speakers.  Juz had a dip in the pool and a few pina colada slushies, while Dave picked up another pair of sausage sizzles for snacks.

 

 

Cocktails at Salthouse

With the Hottest 100 approaching the top 20, we walked over to the Salthouse to chill out with a cocktail by the marina.  We scored some limited edition Australia Day XXXX Gold stubbie holders and Juz sipped on a Lady In Red concoction as the day started to come to a close.

 

Australia Day 2015 Cairns

 

Australiana Triviana at The Red Beret

We popped home briefly to shower and compose ourselves before heading to our final destination – the Red Beret for Australia Day trivia with our trivia teammate Philip.  Our team’s name was the Budgie Smugglers and we ended up in 5th place.

 

Australia Day 2015 Cairns

 

Getting to sleep wasn’t difficult.  We got home at about 9:30pm, watched rage briefly and passed out as soon as our heads hit the pillow.  Happy Australia Day!

 

Lawn Hill

Savannah Way : Lawn Hill to the Tablelands

The Savannah Way runs from Cairns in Queensland, through the Northern Territory, all the way to Broome in Western Australia.

 

Savannah Way

source : http://www.savannahway.com.au/

 

This post is about the section of the Savannah Way from the Lawn Hill side route, through Gregory Downs to Normanton, then along the Gulf Developmental Road to the Tablelands, and eventually Cairns.  In the Northern Territory, we drove along the Savannah Way from Katherine to Boorooloola – check out our post here.

 

When it comes to phone reception, you’ll have more coverage with Telstra.  Optus is available in Normanton, and once you reach the Tablelands, Optus coverage is more frequent.

 

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Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park

We approached Lawn Hill from the south and visited the Riversleigh Fossil Fields before refreshing ourselves at Lawn Hill Gorge.  The road in was in fairly good condition, but keep your eyes peeled for wandering cattle and roadside wallabies.

 

Riversleigh Fossil Fields

Riversleigh was World Heritage listed in 1994 and is recognised for showing important evolutionary stages of Australia’s mammals, as well as the diversity of fossils and quality of their preservation.  It’s paired with the discoveries in Naracoorte near Mount Gambier, SA.

 

Fossils were first discovered in Riversleigh in the early 1900s but it wasn’t until the early 1960s that the first exploration took place.  Fossils of big birds, enormous wombats, crocodiles and fangaroos (carnivorous kangaroos) were found and date back to the oligo-miocene period, about 15-20 million years ago.  In 1992, the Queensland Government took over management of the area and two years later, it was added to the World Heritage List.

 

The D-site is the only site open to the public.  There’s a nifty information hut at the beginning of the loop walk that blends into the surrounding landscape.  The walk takes you past rocks that are embedded with real fossils, and leads you atop the rocky outcrop to a great view of the landscape.

 

 

If you want to know more about the fossils at Riversleigh, check out the Fossil Centre at the Outback In Isa Information Centre.  It’s $12 per adult to get in (discounts apply with your YHA membership card).

 

Lawn Hill Gorge

This oasis in the middle of a dry and dusty landscape is the perfect place to stop and refresh yourself.  Go for a swim in the creek, hire a canoe to explore the gorge, or go for a walk along one of their many tracks.

 

After a refreshing dip in the water, we followed the walking track out to the Cascades.  On the way back, Juz stubbed her toe really badly (there was blood) and she wasn’t able to walk after that.  It pretty much ruined the day in terms of activities so we sat in the shade of a tree and read.

 

Lawn Hill

 

The campground nearby is equipped with toilets and cold showers, but sites are limited so make sure you book your spot in advance via Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS)  by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68) or going online at http://nprsr.qld.gov.au/experiences/camping/camping_bookings.html

 

Gregory

If you’re looking for a free camp not far from Lawn Hill, about 90km east is Gregory.  It’s a small community with a pub, playground and picnic area, and public toilets with (cold?) showers.  The designated camping area is across the road from the playground but because there are a few humpies erected there and no other shelter, it’s not really attractive for an overnight stay.

 

The preferred spot is by the river where all the other campers are, despite all the signs forbidding it.  The Gregory River is a clear, spring fed river lined with pandanus that provides a beautiful spot to set up camp.  We spent the night on the river but packed up fairly early the next day so we could be in Normanton by lunchtime.

 

Gregory

 

Normanton

The first thing we did when we got to Normanton was have a mini pub crawl – because the brochure told us we had to.  There are three pubs in town and we figured this was the best way to get to know the place.

  • The Purple Pub – the most colourful pub in town. The veranda is great for people-watching while the beer garden out the back was spacious and had a relaxing vibe.  The meals were well priced too.
  • The Albion Hotel – it had a great deck with fans that wafted delicious kitchen smells our way.
  • The Central Hotel – smelt like piss but the bar staff were friendly and drinks were cheap. We sat on the veranda and enjoyed the view of town, particularly the Big Croc across the road, who was getting mounted by all the visitors.

 

 

Normanton is small port town that used to service the Croydon Goldfields.  These days, it’s more of a fishing town, or a pass-through town for fishermen who are heading to Karumba.  There are a lot of old buildings in town.  The Westpac bank has set up shop in an old National Trust Building, and the op shop around the corner is in an old corrugated iron building that was built in the late 1890s.  The Visitor Information Centre and library is located in the Burns Philp Building, which dates back to the 1800s.

 

After exploring the town and making use of phone reception, we drove out to Walker Creek rest area, approximately 30km north of Normanton.  The toilets were shoddy, but there was plenty of space, peace and shade.  Whatever you do, don’t swim in the river – crocs!

 

Bourke and Wills Camp 119

Bourke and Wills are the ill-fated explorers who never made it back to Melbourne.  Camp 119 was their northernmost camp and erected at the site is a memorial, as well as an information hut that tells their story and provides information about tree blazing.  Tree blazing was a way for explorers to mark their path, and it’s where the term ‘trail-blazing’ comes from.

 

Normanton  

 

(Aye!) Karumba

About 70km from Normanton is Karumba, a pretty little fishing and port town.  It used to be called Kimberley before adopting its aboriginal name.  Nearly every house has a boat in their yard.

 

Attractions include the Barramundi Discovery Centre, sunsets from Karumba Point Beach and the Morning Glory Clouds, which we were not privy to on that particular morning.  Regardless, we were happy to finally see the ocean after nearly four months in the desert.

 

Karumba

 

After a quick stroll on the beach, we popped into the Thrift Shop next to the Artesian Bore before heading back to Normanton and east along the Savannah Way.

 

Croydon

Croydon was established by a gold rush in 1885 and it was probably the friendliest town we’d come across since crossing the border into Queensland.  Our first stop was the Croydon Central Supermarket, where a woman yelled out, “knackered Australia? You must have come a long way if you’re really that tired?!”  The Croydon Central Supermarket was a very useful stop.  We filled up on fuel, browsed the grocery aisles and had a cold but refreshing shower in their adjacent toilet block.

 

Other attractions include the Croydon General Store, the longest continually running general store in Queensland (and possibly Australia).  It was built in 1894 and still sells groceries but also has a museum with various memorabilia and artefacts from the area.

 

The True Blue Visitors Centre has a great historical museum and maps of the Heritage Precinct in town.  We had lunch at Anzac Park, which has plenty of seating, free electric BBQs and a playground, before having a look at the War Memorial and Chinese monument.

 

 

Georgetown

There really isn’t that much to see in Georgetown, other than the Ted Elliot Mineral collection.  This is accessible via the Visitor Centre.  Other than that, you can check out Cumberland Chimney just outside of town.  The brick chimney and the nearby dam were built in 1889 for a steam powered mill that crushed gold-bearing stone.

 

They are the remains of the Cumberland Mines of the Etheridge fields, which brought diggers in from around the country, creating a tent city that has a larger population than Georgetown.  By 1891, the tent city was a full town with a butcher, police station, school and four pubs!  When the gold ran out, so did the diggers and the mine was abandoned in 1897.  The town reduced to a single hotel while the school continued to operate until 1915, when pupils ran out too.

 

Cobbold Gorge

If you’re looking for a place to rest and recuperate for a couple of days, stop in at Cobbold Gorge.  While the road from Georgetown is a rollercoaster ride of crests and flood ways, once you’re at the resort, you can let your hair down.

 

Have a drink at the bar, cool off in the infinity pool, have a yummy home-style meal from the restaurant, or go on a tour through the gorge.

 

Cobbold Gorge

 

Undara Volcanic National Park

You cannot miss the Undara Experience because it has it all!  Located about 40km east of Mount Surprise, the resort sports a unique bar and restaurant that features turn-of-the-century train carriages, abundant wildlife, a swimming pool, bush walks, nightly campfire activities and the incredible Bush Breakfast – complete with billy tea, campfire-toasted bread and bacon!

 

While you’re there, go on a tour to explore the lava tubes, which were created after Undara volcano erupted 190,000 years ago!  The tubes extend over 100km from the crater, making it the longest flow from a single volcano in the world.

 

Undara

 

After an amazing experience at Undara, we moved on towards the Tablelands and spent the night at Archer Creek Rest Area about 16km west of Ravenshoe.   There was plenty of space to park the Troopy, with places alongside the highway, or further down next to the creek.  Fires are allowed, toilets are available, and you can even swim in the creek.

 

The Tablelands

Once you’ve entered the Tablelands, you know that the outback is behind you.  Drive amongst winding green hills, see waterfalls and rainforests.  Taste the fruits of the land at the local wineries, dairy farms, coffee plantations and Mount Uncle’s Distillery.

 

Our Savannah Way journey felt like it ended here.  No longer were we surrounded by Savannah bushland with yellow grass and sparse trees – the Tablelands are moist and beautiful and after a few days exploring the area, we headed north towards the Cape.

 

The Tablelands

 

The Fox - Darwin Pub Crawl

Drink : Pub Crawl in Darwin

 

To celebrate moving in with our new housemate Nina, we organised a pub crawl with all our Darwin mates.  We did a reconnaissance mission a few days earlier before deciding on a route, which was probably for the best as some of the pubs that were crossed off the list were a bit gross.

 

The Cavenagh Hotel

We had organised for everyone to meet us here for an early dinner and first drinks.  The only issue was that while Juz had committed herself to a delicious bottle of Chardonnay, everyone was late.  We ordered a bowl of chips but it wasn’t helpful.  Juz was only halfway through the bottle and she was getting wobbly so she had to bag the rest before we fled to the kebab shop.

 

P.S. not the best kebabs in town.  Try the place next door – much better!

 

 

Hotel Darwin

Hotel Darwin became the meeting point, and Dave enjoyed a fresh pint of NT Draught on tap while we sat on the veranda with the group.  When everyone had finished their drinks, we crossed the road and intercepted a fancy dress party before stopping in at the Deck Bar.

 

The Deck Bar

We had a quick round of drinks here.  This is a pretty cool place with a great outdoor area and Chimay in the fridge.  After a round of drinks, Kaitie, Lindsay and Dan had a quick Skittle bomb and we kept moving.

 

 

Shenannigans

We stumbled up Mitchell Street to Shags.  The place was packed, the floor was very sticky and the music was so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves think.  After a drink and a quick boogie, we continued on our journey.

 

The Fox

The last stop – it wasn’t jam-packed full of people and there was a musician on stage playing some great tunes so we stuck around for more dancing, more drinks, which led to speech slurring, disappearances and DOML (delays onset of memory loss) the next day.

 

 

Thursday Night BBQ - Bungled

Party In Port Douglas : Dave & Juz’s Birthday

If we had left Darwin in mid-August with the Troopy, we were expecting to be in Port Douglas in time for our birthdays.  However, we decided to stick around in Darwin and experience the Wet Season, so we flew over to Queensland for a week-long getaway in with family and friends.

 

Day 1 : Wednesday

We woke up at 4:30am to be picked up by a cab at 5am.  Our flight at 6:20am got us to Cairns at 9:30am.  We caught a cab into the city for some coffee before realising that we had 4 hours to waste… so we decide to have a pub crawl.

 

 

Dave’s folks arrived in Cairns at about 3pm, picked us up outside The Union Jack and we headed for Port Douglas.  They dropped us off at our accommodation, where we freshened up and got ready to meet our mates who had arrived a few days earlier.

 

Everyone was at the Rattle and Hum – we drank a little more to prevent a hangover from the pub crawl, had some dinner and caught up with some general chit chat.  Juz was exhausted and went home to sleep while Dave stayed out until midnight (lest he turn into a pumpkin).

 

The CAKE that Dave's mum made - AMAZING!

 

Day 2 : Thursday

We got up nice and early and joined the family group to head to Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Forest.

 

LOOK OUT!!  The Daintree

 

Cape Tribulation was gorgeous.  We had a nice walk on the beach, saw some mangroves and stingrays before having lunch at Mason’s Café and explore the water hole nearby.  We stopped at the Daintree Ice Creamery on the way back and tried some tropical flavours like yellow sapote, wattleseed and coconut.

 

 

We got back in the late afternoon, rested our weary legs before preparing for the evening celebrations.  Everyone met at Anzac Park with BYO booze and meat and we had a feast and cut the amazing cake that Dave’s mum made before the real shenanigans started – climbing things was the theme of the evening.  After making a 10-person human pyramid, the boys climbed the picnic shelter, and the playground, and the playground shade cloth to check out the full moon over the water.

 

 

Once we were done with the park, we packed up and headed to the Iron Bar for some more drinks and dancing.  This is when things start getting a bit blurry.  Dave and I left with Cyn, Matty and Chris and we went back to their hotel.  We did some skinny dipping in the pool, Juz scrapped her hip on the bottom of the pool and Dave ripped his nipple open trying to pole dance on a flag pole.

 

Rip Nip!

 

The night manager told us to scram so we fled and headed home, but not before Matty poured Dave a full glass of Chivas Regal.  It goes without saying that Dave doesn’t remember much from that point on.

 

Thursday Night BBQ

 

Day 3 : Friday

A tough morning – but no rest for the wicked.

 

We peeled Chris off our motel couch, got cleaned up, checked out of our studio room and went to Mossman Gorge with Chris and Dave’s folks and new arrivals, Kieran and Maria. Stupidly, we didn’t bring our swimmers so we couldn’t refresh ourselves in the cool waters, but there was a lovely 2km track through the forest to enjoy.

 

 

Once again, we had to pretty ourselves up for the evening, but instead of doing it at our hostel, we cleaned up in comfort and Dave’s parental unit.  It was probably for the best because Dave’s ripped nipple needed some serious attention and Juz was too squirmish to finish the job so Dave’s mum stepped in.  Once we were all bandaged up and smelling sweet, we headed to On The Inlet – the location for Juz’s special 30th birthday dinner.

 

Everyone was there – we took up two tables and were taken care of by an awesome waiter who had a great sense of humour and perfectly pronounced Gewurztraminer (and made us look silly).  Dave ordered the whole baby barramundi while Juz and Cyn shared a bunch of entrees.  Everyone’s meals were incredible and the drinks kept on coming, but because Juz had burnt herself out the night before, it was an early night for her and Dave, but some of the others partied on until the wee hours.

 

Watching the footy at On The Inlet

 

Day 4 : Saturday

Attempted recovery – we woke up just in time to meet Jess and Trav at Mocka’s Pies for breakfast before a total faff day wandering around town and sunbaking on the beach.  When we got back to the parental unit, Dave took the plunge and shaved some of his beard off, leaving a long purple goatee.

 

 

We went downstairs to the Rattle and Hum for happy hour drinks while we watched the Sydney– Fremantle game before heading down the street for a delicious Thai dinner.  The plan after that was to go to the Full Moon Party at the marina but it was full of teenagers dancing to terribly mixed music so we spent the rest of the evening on the beach.  Juz bowed out at midnight while Dave partied on with Glenn.

 

 

When Dave and Glenn got back to the hostel at some ungodly hour, there were some people sitting on chairs in a line on the side of the road.  They assumed that some sort of show was about to start, so they pulled up a couple of chairs.  It turned out there wasn’t a show, but they met a cool Italian backpacker, caught (and released) a bird and found a bunch of glow sticks before eventually crawling into bed somewhere around 5am.

 

Day 5 : Sunday

It was Parksy’s last day in Port Douglas and Juz woke up just in time to meet up with him at Mocka’s for a final breakfast pie.  When she got back to the hostel, Dave was still in a coma on his bunk, but she had to rouse him so that we could get cleaned up at the parental unit before heading to Cyn and Matty’s exotic accommodation, the Sea Temple.

 

 

We spent the afternoon sitting by the pool and drinking cocktails before the girls dolled themselves up for dinner at a secret location.  We were picked up by a shuttle bus and taken into the forest for the most magical experience in Port Douglas – Flames of the Forest.

 

Our dinner was perfect – romantic live music sung by a girl surrounded by guitars and ukuleles, dream-like lighting, candles, red velvet and knives and forks that were lined up for miles.  Each course that came out was a taste sensation, and the wine was free-flowing.   After a quick dance at the end of the night, we were shuttled back to town and passed out when our heads hit the pillow.

 

 

Day 6 : Monday

Breakfast with Juz’s mum before another day of faffing.  Drinks at the Rattle and Hum started after Cyn, Matty, Glenn, Liz and Chris left for Cairns at around 4pm before whoever was left headed over to the packed-out Tin Shed for a pub style meal.

 

 

Day 7 : Tuesday

Our last day in Port Douglas.  We checked out of the hostel and walked down to Origin Espresso for the best coffee in town before cleaning ourselves up at Juz’s parental unit.  We packed the car up and headed to Cairns for a pho lunch with Kieran and Maria.

 

We checked into our motel room and waved goodbye to Juz’s mum, Kieran and Maria before stripping down to our underpants and watching TV all night long.

 

 

Day 8 : Wednesday

We woke up relatively early to have breakfast at Paleo Café before catching the shuttle bus to the airport and coming home to Darwin for some well-deserved rest!

 

 

We want to extend a massive thank you to our friends and family who were able to get to Port Douglas for the festivities.  We had a fantastic time seeing the sights and catching up with you all.  Where should we have our birthday party next year….?

 

 

Croc Bar at the Grand

Drink : Pub Crawl in Cairns, QLD

We flew to Cairns for our birthday week in Port Douglas and realised that we had about four hours to spare before Dave’s parents arrived so we figured that the most logical thing to do to pass the time was go on a lunchtime pub crawl.

 

Railway Hotel

The first stop was the Railway Hotel, which was a smelly pub full of bar flies.  We went outside into the beer garden but most of it was closed off so we necked our drinks and moved on.

 

The Railway Hotel

 

Grand Hotel

On the opposite corner to the Railway Hotel, this pub features the Croc Bar, a long wooden bench carved out like a crocodile, complete with a toothy head at the end.  As soon as we walked in, Dave’s beard got all the attention.

 

Croc Bar at the Grand

 

Crown Hotel

Heading north east along Shields Street, we arrived at the Crown Hotel, which was really modern with all the concrete and stainless steel.  We checked out the menu and the meals were fairly cheap but we had our eyes on a place around the corner for our lunch.  The chick behind the bar was really cool and because the Crown is on a corner, it’s great for people watching.

 

The Crown

 

Meldrum’s Pies in Paradise

Time for some food!  This place is supposed to be the best pie shop in Cairns so we thought we’d give it a go.  Dave got Steak, Cheese and Bacon, and said the bacon gave it a sweet savoury flavour that really stood out.  Juz got the Steak, Cheese and Chilli Pie and relished the burn.  We were amazed at how a single ingredient could make such a difference in flavour.

 

 

PJ O’Briens

The Irish pub in town – we found the drinks to be quite expensive, and while the indoor area was a bit cluttered, the outside benches were nice.

 

PJ O'Briens

 

The Courthouse

A very swish place with gorgeous architecture– well-lit rooms with high, ornate ceilings, a huge beer garden out the front and a few little ones out the back.  This was supposed to be our last stop but there was a delay with the flight that Dave’s parents were on so we had time to visit one more place.

 

The Courthouse

 

The Union Jack

Our last stop before our ride to Port Douglas.  The front bar had a very British colour scheme so we took our drinks out back and were in awe at the space they had created.  There was a smoking area, a stage, heaps of decking and places to sit.  It was a really cool space.

 

The Union Jack FrontbarThe Union Jack - outback

 

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.

 

Geraldton 2013-04-20 037

 

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 Palace

Drink : Pub Crawl in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, WA

It was our first city in Western Australia and after the long drive across the Nullarbor, we were thirsty.  When we saw how many pubs were in town, the first night was appropriately put aside for a pub crawl.

 

Palace Hotel

This bar was one of the venues at the intersection of the main streets, so this was where we decided to meet Tom and Bella for the first round.   We got there early and spoke to the bouncers about where to get the best feed in town and they were kind enough to teach us two things – Paddy’s across the road was having their $15 Schnitzel Night and that the Palace Hotel was a Skimpy Bar.

 

We forgot to tell the latter piece of learning to Tom and Bella, so when we walked through the deserted front bar to get to the busy back bar, Bella was googly eyed!  “Is tonight a special occasion?” she asked on that balmy Tuesday night.  The scantily clad bar bitch with her white lacy suspenders and DD breasts didn’t understand so Juz quietly filled her in, “this is a skimpy bar!”

 

We ordered three beers and a white wine for Bella and went out the back to the beer garden, which felt like an exercise yard – brick wall all the way around.  While there was a dance floor and pool table inside, the atmosphere was negligible so we drank and left soon after.

 

 

The Criterion

We didn’t even enter the place – it smelt like a toilet and looked like a stale TAB gambling bar so we turned around and went to the next pub.

 

The Exchange Hotel

Another bar with skimpies!  Bella and Juz tried to get the attention of the girls, any girl, but they all only had eyes for the men.  We were eventually served by a fully clothed foreign girl who had no idea how to work behind a bar.

 

The positives – the music was alright, the saloon style décor added atmosphere, and they had Little Creatures Pale Ale on tap.  Four pints thanks!

 

Paddy’s Ale House

It was dinner time so we sauntered next door for some $15 schnitzel action.

 

Dave ordered a beef parmigiana while Juz went with a chicken schnitzel topped with creamy garlic sauce.  Both were amazing – thick, juicy schnitzels with well seasoned chips.  Dave’s parma miraculously had ham while Juz’s sauce was creamy and morish. The salad was crisp but the steamed vegetables were wrinkly.  Juz daned her plate and the waitress who cleared the table admired the cleanliness of the dish.

 

 

Drinks were cheap too – Beez Neez stubbies were only $3 while a pint of James Squire was $5.

Paddy's Ale House Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

 

York Hotel

This pub was beautiful, even during the external refurbishments that concealed the façade of the old building.  Inside was spacious and grand with high ceilings and the long walls were filled with AFL memorabilia.

 

We sat in the foyer on gorgeous leather couches next to a beautiful staircase and upright piano and enjoyed the fabulous setting and conversation.  Juz tickled the ivories on the piano with the tune from Titanic. Dave and Tom went upstairs to check out the balcony overlooking the street while Juz and Bella chatted downstairs.

 

 

With even more pubs nearby, we could have kept going but needed to consider where we were going to sleep.  After the York, we called it a night and headed to Centennial Park for sleep.

 

Us and the Lads

Drink : Pub Crawl in Mount Gambier, SA

It was our first night in Mount Gambier and we were thirsty.

 

The truck was parked, the tent was pitched and there were pubs to visit, so we put our walking shoes on and bee lined towards town. We were aware that it was a Sunday night so our chances of having a disorderly night were unlikely, but there is no harm in giving it a go.

 

We started off at the South Aussie Hotel and devised a crawling route through town that covered five pubs.

 

#1 South Aussie Hotel

The oldest pub in town, it has a very traditional feel. You’ll find the true locals in the front while the back is reserved for TAB. The crowd was quite rowdy, perhaps due to Races that were on during the day, but it wasn’t a crowd that we felt comfortable to penetrate so after one schooner and a round of trivia from the newspaper, we moved on to the next pub.

 

#2 Jen’s Hotel

We had walked past this pub earlier to see that it was full of people enjoying lunch. Unfortunately, the pub was closed when we arrived at around 8pm and the only section open was the Gaming Room, stuffed with pokies but only three people.

 

 

#3 The Mount Gambier Hotel

Located right in the centre of town, this pub was newly refurbished but still had a traditional atmosphere. There were big screens that played music videos, a dance floor at the front and outdoor drinking area with heating.

 

It was at this pub that our night changed course from a simple two-player pub crawl to a ridiculous night of joke sharing, pun telling and senseless drinking.

 

We came across a buck’s party that we sighted earlier in the day. The theme was lads and ladies – except the only ‘lady’ was the buck, dressed in a stunning navy gown with pink bolero jacket and matching heels. By the time we crossed paths with them again at the Mount Gambier Hotel a few hours later, the buck was struggling to remain conscious, and his lads were struggling to peel him off the footpath.

 

We had a giggle as they pushed him into a taxi, and before we knew it, three of the lads invited themselves on our crawl.

 

#4 Mac’s Hotel

This is the closest pub to our accommodation but due to its TAB nature, it isn’t the most attractive drinking hole for us. Unfortunately, by the time our crawl brought us to Mac’s, they were shut so we moved on.

 

#5 Flannagan’s Irish Pub

This venue seems to be the odd one out in the circle of buildings that surround the Cave Gardens, but then again, you could suggest that it is a community facility. Flannagan’s looked closed at first due to the dim inside lighting and lack of patrons, but we entered and called out for service. A young fellow appeared, poured us a round of beers and we settled down for the night.

 

 

Despite the pub being practically empty, it had a good atmosphere. There was no music playing so the bartender let us play some tunes from our smartphone as we chatted over a brew. About an hour later, the rest of the buck’s party (minus the buck) arrived and our group grew from five to ten, giving us enough influence to convince the bartender to keep the place open for another hour. Of course, this influence included one of the lads waving around hundreds of dollars in exchange for a few bottles of red wine.

 

 

We ended up having a great night, chatting, exchanging stories, jokes and sexual re-enactments. The joke of the night was the ‘frog’ joke, and this is how it goes…

 

A frog hops into a bank, goes up to a teller called Paddy Wack and says, “I’d like a loan please.”

Paddy asks the frog for his name and collateral.

The frog replies, “My name is Frog Jagger and I have this porcelain elephant for collateral.”

Paddy says, “That’s a bit odd.”

The frog says, “My dad is Mick Jagger. Speak to the manager; he’s friends with my dad.”

Paddy goes out the back to speak with his manager and says, “There’s a frog out there who wants a loan. He says you are friends with his dad, Mick Jagger. Can he use a porcelain elephant as collateral?”

The manager replies, “Of course! It’s a knick-knack, Paddy Wack. Give the frog a loan! His old man’s a Rolling Stone.”

 

Cheers for an awesome night, lads.

 

 

#Hair of the Dog – The South Eastern Hotel

A pub that was a little outside of walking distance for our pub crawl was the South Eastern Hotel.  Located just near the Lady Nelson Information Centre, this large complex has a huge dining area, front bar and back pokies room.

 

 

We stopped for a beer on our way out of town and it seemed like a great place to spend a Friday night.

 

The Blue Lake

City Profile : Mount Gambier

The Blue Lake

 

Our intent was to stay a while in Mount Gambier.  It is the first major city along the Limestone Coast and we were looking forward to rest and recuperation while checking out the attractions, including the famous Blue Lake.  Of course, our first stop was the Lady Nelson Visitor and Discovery Centre to get some maps and brochures, and they also offer a tour to learn about the history and geology of the area for $10.

 

Mount Gambier was first sighted in 1800 by Lieutenant James Grant of HMS Lady Nelson, but it was officially discovered in 1839 by a guy from Portland.  The first pub was located on the same site as Jen’s Hotel, but the oldest remaining pub is the South Australian, which was built in 1860.

 

After we settled in at Blue Lake Holiday Park, located snugly between the two crater lakes, we went for a stroll into town for a mini pub crawl, which ended up being quite a big night.  We were putrid in the morning but still dragged ourselves out of the tent to go for a looooong walk/hike around the Valley Lake crater, and spent the day in the library, researching and writing at the air-conditioned library!

 

 

We loved Mount Gambier, its sinkholes and lakes, its friendly locals and health conscious community.  We were happy to hear that they are starting a campaign to promote local and organic produce by starting up a farmers market every Saturday morning.  To launch the campaign, the Main Corner was screening Food Matters, a documentary about how the quality of our food can either help us or hinder us.

 

PLACES OF INTEREST

The Lady Nelson Information Centre

This landmark should be the first stop for anyone passing through Mount Gambier.  Collect a map of the town, information about local attractions and a few souvenirs after checking out the full size replica of HMS Lady Nelson, the first ship to sail eastward through Bass Strait.  It was upon the Lady Nelson that Lieutenant James Grant sighted two mountains and named one Mount Schanck and the other Mount Gambier.

 

The Crater Lakes

What a sight!  The beautiful lakes of Mount Gambier were formed by volcanic activity which left craters rimmed with ash and basalt.

 

Blue Lake provides the drinking water for the entire town and has a great walking trail around the rim that is 3.6km long.  Each year in early November, the lake changes colour from dark blue to deep turqoiuse, which remains until February.

 

Next door is Valley Lake, which is guarded by the Centenary Tower – a monument that was built in 1900 to commemorate 100 years since the first sighting of Mount Gambier.  It also has a walking trail that is a bit more challenging, but there were so many butterflies and cicadas around that we were too busy admiring our surroundings to notice the workout.

 

 

Main Corner

This great building at the corner of Commercial Road and Bay Road is a multipurpose space that provides documentary screenings and insight into the history of the area. It is the home of the Riddoch Art Gallery and there are spaces available for concerts, lectures and private functions.

 

 

Cave Gardens

Right in the centre of town, between the Main Corner and the Library is the Cave Gardens, a beautifully landscaped area surrounding a sinkhole.  There are multiple viewing platforms and a nearby rose garden.  The sinkhole used to be the original water source for the town.

 

 

The Library

We have nothing but praise for the Mount Gambier Library.  It was awarded the best small city public library in the world and is a vibrant space that was built 3 years ago.  It offers free internet via wifi and 18 public access computers, TV and video game access, and private room bookings, and has an onsite café.  It also hosts craft markets seasonally on Sundays from 11am.

 

We spent a lot of time here, not only to escape the midday sun, but also to research the history of the area and write about our past adventures.  The staff were super friendly, very accommodating and went above and beyond to show us around and ensure we were comfortable.

 

Umpherston Sinkhole

Another landscaped sinkhole to the east of town.  The hole is filled with hydrangeas, with bees building their hives in the cavities and holes of the surrounding limestone. There was a very friendly possum that wasn’t afraid to come up to us for a sniff, and they even had an electric BBQ and picnic area at the bottom of the sinkhole, shaded by overhanging rock.

 

 

Caroline Sinkhole & Hells Hole

Just south of Mount Gambier is a pine forest that conceals two sinkholes – Caroline Sinkhole and Hells Hole.

 

Caroline Sinkhole was easy to find and after a quick walk from the car park, we were confronted with a breathtaking view.  The sinkhole was formed by water erosion.  Acidic rain water dissolved the limestone along weakness points, eventually developing vertical and horizontal caves that increased in size over time.  The caves got bigger and bigger until the surrounding limestone collapses, leaving a sinkhole.  The Bunganditj people of the region once used the sinkhole for shelter, and the European settlers used to pump water from the bottom for farming.

 

Hells Hole was a little more ominous.  A locked fence prohibited us from driving closer so we parked at the edge of the pine forest and walked in.  There was a clearing about 100 meters that featured a tiny forest.  An overgrown walking path led us to the hole, which was full of dark, stagnant water.  There was a gated platform for people who wanted to dive in, which we immediately thought was a silly idea.

 

 

One of the information plaques along the walk had a really great quote on it:

 

“Take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints.”

 

FOOD & ACCOMMODATION

Metro Bakery & Cafe

We were keen on second breakfast so we checked out Metro Bakery & Cafe.  It was spacious and clean inside so we ordered a continental omelette with greek sausage, fetta and pumpkin, and eggs benedict.

 

Our food and coffee came out quickly.  The eggs benedict was a little different than usual – it had bacon instead of ham.  Dave got a little excited and inhaled it.  The omelette was tasty but needed something refreshing in it like spring onion or spinach.

 

Overall, it was pretty good and we walked away will full bellies.

 

 

Blue Lake Holiday Park

Bay Road – 08 8725 9856

 

This place was awesome.  Only 2km from the center of town and right between Valley Lake and the beautiful Blue Lake, this BIG4 holiday park was the perfect place to spend our nights in Mount Gambier.

 

Camping at BIG4 Blue Lake Holiday Park

 

Check out our post on this great BIG4 Holiday Park.