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Explore : North West Coast Tasmania

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With only two days left before we had to head back to Devonport, we raced from Cradle Mountain to Arthur River so that we could get a head start on the north west coast.


We were starting to get crabby with each other because we were so stinky and exhausted from our hike on the mountain, and our camping location had fallen through. We just wanted to find somewhere to stop so we could rinse the film of dried sweat from our bodies and have dinner. We heard of a place near Marrawah but on arrival, it was clear that overnight camping was not permitted. We stopped anyway to clean up.


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What started off as a deserted location soon filled up as beach bums arrived for a final surf and construction workers appeared to lay out some gravel over the car park. Privacy while we bathed became an awkward dance to stay out of sight but we managed to finish the task with our dignity intact.


We had a brief chat with the tradies before they packed up, and we were relieved when they reassured us that we would be able to get away with staying the night.


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Arthur River

A small holiday and fishing village with a long, single-lane bridge over the river, Arthur River is Tasmania’s most westerly town. We crossed the bridge to the southern side of the river and headed to the lookout at Gardiner Point. The point is nick-named “The Edge of the World” because if you were to head directly west, you’d miss the southernmost point of Africa.


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Marrawah Tavern

We decided we were due for a pub meal, so we headed to the westernmost pub in Tassie. The Marrawah Tavern was really busy because it was a Friday night, but also because the local cricket club was having a bit of a shindig.


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The tavern made state-wide news headlines back in 2013, when a man was shot dead outside the pub just after closing time. Police believe the gunman was a local but, as yet, has never been caught. The pub has since changed owners, business seems to be good and the events of 2013 are just a thing of the past that nobody talks about.


We grabbed some drinks and found a table in the bistro area. Dave settled on the $24 schnitzel with mushroom sauce, and Juz went with the $28 chicken parma – both with chips and salad. The schnitzel with fresh, thick and juicy and the chips were ok, but they needed seasoning. The sauce tasted like packet gravy with mushrooms in it and was nice for the saltless chips. The salad was really interesting – it had rice, diced capsicum and onion, beetroot, cheese and half a boiled egg in a lettuce cup.


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The parmi was also a thick chicken schnitzel with thick ham, salsa sauce and generic cheese. It came with the same chips and salad as the schnitty. Overall, the meals weren’t worth $24 and $28, but we were willing to pay because we were hungry, tired and remote.


Green Point

Just a few minutes down the road from Marrawah, Green Point offers a gorgeous coastline and a perfect place to enjoy sunset.  We chatted with some guys from the council who were laying down a new layer of gravel, as we watched some surfers catching waves in the Southern Ocean.


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About 20kms up the road from Smithton, we stopped at Stanley to see The Nut. We pulled over at a lookout on the way into town for our first glimpse of The Nut, which is actually an old volcanic plug.


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Originally named Circular Head by Bass and Flinders in 1798, the name was changed to The Nut in the 1950s. There’s a chairlift that goes up to the top, and a walking track that we would have done if we had time.


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Our stop in Burnie was brief. We swung past the Makers Workshop at the Visitor Information Centre, a display of local crafts – leather goods, paper making, paper sculptures, wood crafts, jewellery, and souvenirs. There’s also a cafe with cheese and whisky tasting.


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Only 20 minutes south of Burnie is Guide Falls, a little picnic area with BBQs and a great place to cool off on a hot day.


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West of Burnie is Wynard, a little town known for its annual tulip festival in Spring. Yes, it sounds riveting, we know.  If you’re craving a lookout, check out Table Cape lookout – the view goes for miles.


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You won’t believe it but the town of Penguin is mad about penguins. It’s the home of the Big Penguin – a 3 metre tall cement penguin that was built to commemorate the centenary of the proclamation of the town in 1975.


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The Big Penguin isn’t the only penguin in town – the street bins are also decorated with penguins, and there’s a huge penguin collection in the information centre.


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Other than all the penguin stuff, Penguin is a picturesque little town with pubs, cafes, a quaint church, beaches, parkland, and a bakery that looked like it made awesome pies.


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City Profile : Hobart

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


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


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


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


Fast Facts

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


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Things To Do

Royal Botanic Gardens

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


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


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Salamanca Markets

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


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


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



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


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


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


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




Mount Wellington

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



Food & Drink

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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Lunch or Dinner

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


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


Hope & Anchor Hotel

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


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


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The Winston

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


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


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


Cascade Brewery

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




Larks Distillery

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


Information & Accommodation

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


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


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


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Town Profile : 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.



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.




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.




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…




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!


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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…




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.


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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.




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.




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


Pam’s Place YHA – on the corner of Boundary and Charlotte Street.  To make a reservation, call 4069 5166 or email


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.





Eating Out : Cooktown Hotel, Cooktown QLD



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.


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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.




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.


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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.


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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.


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Eating Out : Tattersalls Hotel, Winton QLD



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.


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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.


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Bedourie : You’d be crazy not to stay the night…



About 200km north of Birdsville is a little oasis in the desert, with the friendliest people and a plethora of pleasant surprises.


The word Bedourie means dust storm, but we think it’s anything but.  It’s a clean little town that used to be a rest stop for drovers during the 1880s. Here are all the reasons why you should stop and spend the night.


Bedourie is Awesome

The first thing we did is stop at the roadhouse for information.  Not only was the lady behind the counter super helpful, but she had some homemade caramel cheesecake tarts for sale. We bought a slice and found that it was delicious.


We passed the Desert Sands sculpture on the way to the Information Centre.  The lady behind the counter was so friendly, we think she talked us into staying the night because everything she told us was too good to be true.




While at the Information Centre, we learnt that Bedourie is the home of the Bedourie Camp Oven – hence the name.  The Bedourie Camp Oven was developed in the 1920s for drovers and cameleers.  Cast iron cookers were too heavy and cracked while the Bedourie ovens were light and durable.  The Bedourie Camp Oven is recognised by the government as uniquely Australian and is considered to be a significant piece of equipment used by the pioneers of the Queensland outback.


Camping is Cheap

The campground is right in between the Artesian Spa & Aquatic Centre and the Bedourie Hotel, so all your conveniences are within walking distance.  It was a measly $7 per person per night for an unpowered site, and this included free use of the washing machine and Hills Hoist, free use of the electric BBQs with a built-in sink for washing up.




The Artesian Spa & Aquatic Centre

By far the best attraction in Bedourie, the Bedourie Aquatic Centre was opened in 2000 and features a 25m swimming pool and a hot artesian spa that sits at around 35-40°C. The water used by the aquatic centre comes from the town’s original bore head, which was drilled in 1905.


The Aquatic Centre is open daily from 6am to 8pm during the summer months and 7am – 7pm during the cooler months, and is accessible by paying a $50 refundable deposit for the key at the Information Centre.  This key gives you unlimited access, until you reluctantly need to give it back before you move on.




Bedourie Hotel

Across the road from the campground is Bedourie’s historic pub.  It used to be called the Royal Hotel and was originally established in 1886.  It has been operating ever since and the building’s appearance hasn’t changed much over the years.


While we were there, we had a chat with one of the locals before knocking out some trivia from the paper.  The jukebox is stuffed with all the country music you could want, and they also do evening meals from 6.00pm till 8.00pm.





Outback Tracks : Birdsville Track



We were excited about driving the Birdsville Track after hearing so much praise from other travellers.  Unfortunately, our biggest highlight about the track was being pulled over by the police to be breathalysed.


The track was really boring, had minimal scenery, and even though the track changed colour depending on the soil, it was in relatively fair condition from being recently graded.



The end of the Oodnadatta track and the beginning of the Birdsville Track, Maree is a small, friendly town with just over 600 people.  There is a general store that sells fantastic, freshly baked bread and deep, meaty pies, and it is also the location of Australia’s oldest mosque, built to cater for the Afghan cameleers.


While you’re here, you have to visit the Maree Hotel, a gorgeous pub with friendly owners, great prices and the Tom Kruse Museum, which commemorate a great Aussie postie who delivered mail along the Birdsville Track.


If you’re low on fuel, fill up here but expect to pay around $2 or more per litre for diesel.


Mungerannie Hotel

About 200km north of Maree, this is a reasonably good place to spend the night.  The fee to camp was $10 per person, and while toilets and showers are available, the water for the showers is taken from a nearby spring, so the water is a little smelly and slippery.


At the hotel, there was lots of chatter about punctures from the rocky track.  We had a few drinks and chatted a few other blokes who were heading north towards the Birdsville Races, and left to make camp after Juz was hit was a heavy dose of outback sexism from the owner.





Another 300km along the boring Birdsville Track got us to the Queensland border for a few happy snaps.




Roughly another 13km after that, we were finally delivered to Birdsville, a small dusty town that is incredibly busy during the Birdsville Races – and we were right on time!  While there is no camping allowed within the town limits, the 2km of bushlands between town and the Diamantina River was crowded with tents and campervans, with some Birdsville Races enthusiasts arriving weeks in advance to secure the best camping spot.


There are two places that you must visit while in Birdsville – the pub and the bakery.


The bakery was our first stop because it was lunchtime.  Juz fell in love with their award-winning curried camel pie while Dave was shocked at how big their sausage rolls were.  The Birdsville Bakery is licensed, so if you want to have a beer with your pie, you can!


“The best thing about this pub is that it sells awesome pies!”

The iconic Birdsville Hotel was built in 1884 and is considered to be an authentic outback pub.  Because of the high volume of drinkers for Birdsville Races, the sale of alcohol went like this: go to the bar and buy a ticket, then go to the bar and hand over your ticket to get your drink.  We thought it was a stupid system if you’re only going to buy one or two beers, but they had 10-drink discounts so we suppose it makes sense if you’re planning to end up in the gutter.


Birdsville Races

In case you haven’t caught on, we were in Birdsville just in time for the famous Birdsville Races.  This outback event was first run in 1882 and occurs on the first Saturday of September each year.  The population of Birdsville is normally a touch over 100, but when the races are on some 8000 people descend on the town!


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While it’s supposed to be about horse racing, what it’s really about is packing up your 4×4 with booze, making camp along the Diamantina River, and walking to the Birdsville Hotel to get shitfaced and chucking your empty tinnie in the gutter before challenging a semi-professional boxer to a duel at Fred Brophy’s Boxing Tent.  In fact, Fred Brophy’s is Australia’s only boxing tent, and quite possibly the last boxing tent in existence in the world.  After getting the shit kicked out of you, check out the stalls for pizzas, dagwood dogs, charity sausage sizzles and various race merchandise.



The Birdsville Races is an enormous sausage fest that celebrates male brotherhood and cowboys.  Sure, there are a few sexy cowgirls but the rest are old retired ladies tagging along with their old retired sausages.


While we were there, we deliberately bought food from charity stalls such as the Lions Club, Rotary Club and the Royal Flying Doctors, and donated also to the Salvos stall, which just happened to be giving out free coffee and donuts that were deliciously fresh.


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Big Red

About 35km west of town, the Big Red sand dune is the tallest dune in the Simpson Desert at 40 meters high and it also marks the beginning of the desert.  You’ll need a Desert Park Pass to go further into the Simpson Desert.


We decided to head out at the break of dawn and had a bit of trouble getting up the sand dune until we lowered our tyre pressure to 20psi.  Not sure why it’s called Big Red – it’s not that red.


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Barrow Creek

Highway Stop : Barrow Creek Telegraph Station

Barrow Creek


Barrow Creek is a tiny town along the Stuart Highway, about 280km north of Alice Springs.  In fact, calling it a town might be a bit of a stretch considering the population is less than 10.  On the return journey of his first transcontinental attempt in 1860, John McDouall Stuart named Barrow Creek after a preacher and politician called John Henry Barrow, who was also the current Treasurer of South Australia and a heavy beer drinker.



Twelve years later, the beginnings of a town were brewing due to the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line in 1872.  Barrow Creek’s telegraph station was one of twelve between Adelaide and Port Darwin and is now a historical reserve.  Unfortunately, it never really grew due to a poor water supply but the pub makes for a decent watering hole.


We stopped at Barrow Creek for a beer and a feed of homemade noodles and fried chicken from the bar.  You could tell that the place had been around for decades.  The walls of the bar were decorated with various memorabilia such as money, business cards, licenses and passport photos.  We also realised that this place was linked to the disappearance of Peter Falconio, a British tourist who vanished in 2001.


Falconio and his girlfriend, Joanne Lees, were travelling along the Stuart Highway at night when they were waved down by a man in his car.  The man said their Kombi van looked like it had engine trouble.  When Falconio when to the rear of the vehicle to investigate, he was apparently shot and then Lees was threatened with the gun.  Miraculously, she was able to escape and hide in the bushes for five hours before waving down a truck driver who took her to Barrow Creek.  Falconio’s body was never found and his murder was pinned on a man named Bradley John Murdoch, who is now serving life in prison.


Barrow Creek


Daly Waters Historic Pub

Eating Out : Daly Waters Historic Pub, NT

Daly Waters Historic Pub


It was about 7:30am and our tummies were grumbling.  We had just hit the T-intersection of the Carpentaria Highway with the Stuart Highway, and Daly Waters Historic Pub was just around the corner.


Daly Waters was named by John McDouall Stuart in 1862, after he discovered fresh water in the area.  Refreshing his expedition party here finally lead to his first successful expedition across the continent.  Daly Waters ended up being an important landmark for cattle drovers, who would water their stock before crossing the Murranji Stock Route.  In 1930, a local tin miner and his wife opened a store in Daly Waters to service travellers, settlers and drovers, and after the pub was given a jug licence in 1938, it has continued to water travellers, settlers and drovers ever since.


This award-winning pub is famous for the memorabilia that hangs on the walls… and ceilings, and support posts, EVERYWHERE, and anything from money, undies, hats, licences, passports, business cards, bras, shirts, tools, bottles, thongs, passport photos, flags, police patches.  You name it, it’s hanging somewhere!  They serve their world famous beef and barra every night during the dry season and Happy Hour from 5-6pm offers really cheap drinks, like $3.50 for a pot of Coopers or VB.  We were a little bummed that we were there in the morning, not in the afternoon but still sat down for some breakfast.




Dave ordered the croissants with ham and Swiss cheese for $10.50, and they were two medium sized croissants that were generously filled with ham and full flavoured cheese.  Juz got the breakfast wrap filled with egg, tomato, cheese, onion, spinach, and hash brown for $11.  The wrap bread was fantastic and everything was fresh and delicious.  It was a great feed.


Daly Waters Historic Pub Daly Waters Historic Pub


Over the road was a souvenir shop and book exchange that is owned by the pub.  We swapped some books at the exchange and had a chat with the man behind the table before heading back to the Troopy.  We bumped into a Scottish couple who were travelling in a decked out Delica.  They have always been travellers, even from a young age, and they highly recommended that we visit Tasmania, as it is just like a little Scotland.


Daly Waters Historic Pub


On our way back to the Stuart Highway, we passed the Stuart Tree, a dead tree stump marked with an ‘S’ by one of John McDouall Stuart’s party.  We met another traveller there – Vincent, who is riding his bike across Australia.  We were inspired by him and his warm and open nature.  Here’s a picture of one of our great Aussie legends.


Daly Waters Historic Pub


FYI – diesel at Daly Waters was $1.95.  If you want the cheaper stuff, fill up at the Hi Way Inn.  It’s a few minutes away at the intersection of Stuart Highway and Carpentaria Highway and the diesel was $1.82 when we visited.


Daly Waters Historic Pub


Meals are available from 7am to 8:30pm.

Phone: 08 8975 9927




Daly Waters Historic Pub


Fiddler's Green - the big breakfast!

Eating Out : Fiddler’s Green, Darwin NT

Juz had covertly planned a big weekend to celebrate five years together.  It included accommodation in the city, drinking craft beer and dinner at Fiddler’s Green.


When we arrived at the Waterfront, it was clear to see that the Irish pub was super busy.  Most of the tables inside and out were occupied but the hospitable host showed us to a table inside at the back.  As we considered the menu, Juz went to the bar for the first round of drinks.


She chose the Coopers Sparkling Ale for Dave because she remembered that he liked it a lot when we were at the brewery in Adelaide, while Juz settled for a bottle of mango beer from the Matso’s Brewery in Broome.  These went down a treat while we picked what we wanted.  Dave went with the scotch fillet cooked medium and topped with béarnaise while Juz got the chicken schnitzel special.



By the time our meals came out, it was time for another round.  Dave went up this time and got Juz a glass of refreshing pinot gris while he got a 500ml stubbie of Hobgoblin from the Wychwood Brewery in England.  This full-bodied ruby ale is rich with toffee and chocolate flavours with some mild bitterness and a gentle fizz.


Dave’s scotch fillet looked incredible, especially with the generous serving of béarnaise over the top.  He had asked for a medium steak and got a medium steak, which was immediately impressive.  It had a smoky, flame-grilled flavour, and the delicate béarnaise provided additional moisture and a little tang.  The chips were crisp but needed seasoning, and the salad was fresh and flavoursome with a creamy balsamic dressing.


Juz’s chicken schnitzel special was topped with tomato chipotle sauce, mushroom, bacon and cheese, served with a side of chips and salad.  While the tomato sauce tasted a little like BBQ sauce, everything else was thoroughly tasty.  The chicken schnitzel was a good size, cooked fresh, and the mushroom, bacon and cheese went really well together.


We were really impressed with the friendly, jolly atmosphere and the casual but proud staff.  When Juz asked the manager about the quality of the steaks, she received a response that was quite a surprise – that he trusted his cooks and the quality of the meat they used.  Dave’s steak proved this to be true.  We were convinced that this place had more to offer than average food and drink.


Two days later, we went back for breakfast.  Once again, a friendly host showed us to a table and we quickly chose to share an Irish Breakfast and an Eggs O’Benedict.  In the time it took for Juz to go to the bar for a bottle of water, our breakfast was on the table.


The Eggs O’Benedict was the typical muffin slices topped with poached egg, cooked ham and hollandaise sauce.  They nailed everything – freshly toasted muffin with gooey egg, savoury ham and subtly tangy hollandaise – and the microgreen garnish provided the perfect touch of alkalinity to break through everything.



The Irish Breakfast included bacon, fried egg, Texan toast, baked beans, black pudding, potato pancakes and a cooked tomato.  It looked like a typical big breakfast, except for the black pudding – which just looked like really dark sausage slices.  It tasted good, considering it’s made from blood, and the potato pancakes were just little hash browns flavoured with chives.


Despite all the good things about Fiddlers Green, the only disappointment was our coffee – Juz’s soy latte was weak and the milk was badly frothed, and Dave’s macchiato was watery and weak.  Other than that, the service, the décor and the food were all fantastic.



Fiddler's Green on Urbanspoon




It's Beer:30

Drink : Australian Beer Sizes

Lion Nathan Australian Beer


We have come across a bit of confusion when ordering beers in pubs.  Our Victorianness first became apparent in South Australia when we were ordering beers during our Mount Gambier pub crawl.


“I’ll have a pint of West End thanks!”


The bar wench will start to pour the beer into a 450ml glass.


“Sorry – I asked for a pint.”

“This is a pint.”

“No, it’s a schooner…”

“No, it’s a pint…”


We felt like we were getting jibbed getting 450ml of beer instead of 570ml like we would in Victoria.  The confusion continued as we travelled through South Australia to Western Australia and found out that pots were called middies.  It was like we were speaking a different language!


We took it upon ourselves to find out all the different names for beer sizes so that when we cross the border into the Northern Territory and beyond, we wouldn’t make it obvious that we weren’t local.


Sizes by Volume

The most popular beer sizes in Australia include…

  • A jug, which is generally 1140ml or 40 fluid ounces and is designed for sharing with your mates.
  • A pint is generally a 570ml (20 oz) glass but in South Australia, it is called an Imperial Pint because they call the 450ml glass a Pint (weirdos).
  • A schooner is a 450ml (15 oz) glass, except in South Australia where it is called a Pint.  Schooners are usually served in New South Wales but also exist in Victorian or Western Australian pubs too.
  • A pot is served in a 285ml (10 oz) glass, but it has a variety of other names such as Half Pint, Middy, Handle or Ten.  This is a popular option if you are after a quick drink.


The smaller varieties like the 200ml (7 oz) and 140ml (5 oz) servings are less common.  We’ve seen them on the road when we buy a tasting paddle at a brewery and that’s about it.  The number of standard drinks for each beer size depends on the strength of the beer.


Beer sizes



Sizes by State

Here is a quick rundown by state of what beer sizes are called.



  • Horse or Pony 140ml
  • Small glass 170ml
  • Glass 200ml
  • Pot 285ml
  • Schooner 425ml
  • Pint 570ml


South Australia

  • Pony 140ml
  • Butcher 200ml
  • Schooner 285ml
  • Pint  425ml
  • Imperial Pint 570ml


Cartoon of a large ocker kangaroo with a pouch full of beer, burping.Western Australia

  • Shetland 115ml
  • Pony 140ml
  • Bobbie or Six (fl oz) 170ml
  • Glass 200ml
  • Middy or Half Pint 285ml
  • Schooner 425ml
  • Pint 570ml


Northern Territory

  • Seven 200ml
  • Handle 285ml
  • Schooner 425ml
  • Pint 570ml



  • Pony 140ml
  • Seven (fl oz) 200ml
  • Pot 285ml
  • Schooner 425ml
  • Pint 570ml


New South Wales / Canberra

  • Pony 140ml
  • Seven (fl oz) 200ml
  • Middy or Half Pint 285ml
  • Schmiddy 350ml
  • Schooner 425ml
  • Pint 570ml



  • Small beer 115ml
  • Six (fl oz) 170ml
  • Seven (fl oz) 200ml
  • Seven (fl oz) or a Pot 285ml
  • Fifteen (fl oz) or a schooner 425ml
  • Pint 570ml


Beer Glasses by Type

Let’s not forget that there is a special glass for the type of beer that you’re drinking.  Don’t ask questions, just smile and nod your head.


How to choose the right beer glass for your variety of beer



So there you have it – no excuses now!  If we’ve forgotten any sizes or if you’ve heard any other names for beer sizes around Australia, we’d love to hear it.  Chuck us a message via facebook or twitter!



The Cheese Barrel - heaven!

Experience : Swan Valley Food & Wine Region

Located in the north east of Perth, the Swan Valley is Western Australia’s oldest wine region and there are more than 40 wineries, breweries, restaurants and cafes to explore.



The gateway to the Swan Valley is Guildford – one of the three pioneer towns that were established when Captain James Stirling came to Western Australia.  While the other two towns – Fremantle and Perth – have evolved and developed into what they are today, Guildford has maintained its historic charm and is a wonderful example of European settlement that dates back to the 1830s.


The Chapel of St. Mary and St. George at Guildford Grammar School

Guildford is also the home of a number of great pubs and eateries, including Alfred’s Kitchen and the heritage-listed Rose & Crown Hotel, which is the oldest hotel in the state and the third oldest licensed hotel in Australia. While we would have loved to eat here, we thought it was a little steep to charge $35 for a chicken parmagiana so we stuck to some local beers while we enjoyed their luscious beer garden.



With a few cafes dotted along the James Street Antique Strip, we got some local advice that the best place for coffee was The Loungeroom.  The place was really warm and friendly and we ordered two long macchiatos to start.  The flavour was robust and very nutty, even more so with a sprinkle of sugar.


Shortly afterwards, our breakfast was served.  Dave’s BLT croissant looked amazing and had a little side of onion relish, which was very sweet.  Juz’s ‘Big Breakfast’ wasn’t as big as expected, especially after she handed her toast over to Dave, but everything was still delicious.  The poached eggs and two bacon rashers were cooked perfectly, and the two chipolatas were salty and smooth.



Accomplishing all that we wanted to do in the Swan Valley required us to employ a driver.  On the first day, our skipper was Emma and she graciously drove us around the southern part of the Swan Valley to some of the great wineries of the region like Lancaster and Houghton.  On the second day, we were chauffeured by Emma’s partner, Patrick, an Irish bloke who came to Australia 2 years ago and won’t take “I can’t drink anymore” for an answer.  If you’re interested in Swan Valley Breweries, check out our other post on the Swan Valley.


Margaret River Chocolate Company

It was the start of our first day and after a terribly unsuccessful coffee attempt at our first location, we fled to the establishment next door.  As usual, their car park was chock-a-block of people gagging to fill their cupped hands with chocolate pieces.


After getting a few chocolate treats, we ordered some coffees from the café at the rear of the shed.  They were much more to our liking – smooth and creamy without any bitterness – and we sampled some chocolate treats in the meantime.


The Hot Cross Easter Truffles were so cute and really yummy.  Dave said they tasted like Jesus.  A smooth ball of milk chocolate wrapped around soft praline that tasted like spiced fruit with a Brandy punch. We also got a Jamaican Rum truffle that was sweet like rum and raisin and rolled in shards of roasted almonds.  The milk chocolate Blueberry truffle was filled with a delicious fruity purple paste.




We loved this place – a perfectly relaxed atmosphere where you can sip some wine in the shade of the outdoor tasting shed.  During our session, we sampled cheeses from the Old Cheddar Cheese Company down near Busselton and enjoyed the cheerful and bubbly service.


  • 2012 Chenin Blanc – a very clear wine with lots of passionfruit and citrus.  It had a warm smell, crisp entry and founded finish full of green apples.
  • 2012 Rosé – flavours of strawberries with a smooth, mellow entry and a creamy finish.
  • Reserve Liqueur Muscat – a gorgeous chocolate caramel colour with lots of raisins and spiced fruits, it was thick like honey with a gentle spirit.



Established in 1836, Houghton Winery is one of Western Australia’s oldest wineries.  Apart from their premium wine, Houghton is also famous for being the place where Moondyne Joe was discovered after two years on the run.  He had snuck into the cellar and was helping himself to the wine before the police found him.


The estate is quite beautiful and has a gallery, café and heaps of grassed areas for a picnic.  There was a price to taste all of their wines so we got selective and sampled a few.


  • Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir – floral and smooth with a great, buttery smell.  A rich, crisp entry, lots of fine bubbles and a warming finish that was dry and clean.
  • Chardonnay – a pale yellow colour with a wooded and smooth entry.  There was plenty of melon and walnut with French oak and a lingering finish.




Another winery that was established during the colony days, Sandalford is a huge winery that has been the location of many events and concerts like A Day on the Green, Stevie Wonder, k.d lang and Crowded House.  We found a red helicopter on the grass and ran over to check it out – ‘Get to da choppa!’


  • 2011 Classic White – a light but smooth wine that isn’t too acidic, there was plenty of stone fruits with a touch of cream.
  • 2011 Merlot – rich garnet with a hint of magenta, there was a strong scent of cedar and aniseed.  It was a very dry wine with a velvety finish.
  • NV Founder Reserve Liqueur Port – a caramel drop with a hint of red, there was burnt fig, caramel and toffee with lots of rum and raisins and a strong, spirited kick.


Lilac Hill

A humble cellar door based in an old house next to the Iron Bark Brewery, we had a great tasting session


  • 2008 Kissing Fools Viognier – a light straw colour, creamy and smooth with fruity citrus and nectarine.  It was a fresh wine with lingering warmth.
  • 2006 Reserve Verdelho – gorgeous!  Toasty and fruity with a rounded acidity and nutty finish without the oil.
  • 2006 Vintage Port – red caramel with lots of dried figs, prunes and a spirited punch.
  • Liqueur Muscat – a very smooth entry with clean viscosity.  Sweet raisins and toffee apple.



The Cheese Barrel

On day two of our Swan Valley Tour, Juz couldn’t wait to get to this place.  They don’t make cheese, they import it from places all over the world and give you the opportunity to sample a robust Irish blue or butter French white mould that you cannot get at the local supermarket. There is a place like this back in Melbourne called the Richmond Hill Cheese Larder and it was Juz’s favourite place before she was banned because she kept spending ludicrous amounts of money on foreign cheese.


The Cheese Barrel


We perused the tasting menu and picked a cheese each, which was to be served as a 50g segment on a slate board with some crackers and fresh figs.


  • Juz chose the La Buche d’Affinois white mould cheese made from cow’s milk in Rhone-Alpes in France.  This was definitely a crowd pleaser – gooey, soft and silky all the way through with no chalky bits and a delicious buttery taste that was a bit sweet from a bit of overnight fermentation that turns the lactic acid into sweet butyric acid.  Juz could have commandeered the entire brick.
  • Patrick’s choice was the Cashel Ireland Blue, a blue mould cheese made from cow’s milk in Tipperary Ireland, near where his mum lives.  The cheese was gorgeous – soft, sweet and salty with mild spiciness and gentle flavours of mould that were soothed by the creaminess of the surrounding white cheese.  We even got this one paired with a delicious fortified shiraz from the cellar door adjacent to the larder and once your mouth was covered in cheesy taste sensations, a sip of the fortified transformed the flavours completely as the astringency of the cheese is neutralised by the fruity sweetness of the wine.
  • Dave’s cheese was the Piccante Gorgonzola from Lombardy, Italy.  It was another blue mould cheese made from cow’s milk, but with very different characteristics from the Cashel.  It was firm and sharp, with spicy penicillium mould that has been nourished by oxygen via holes into the cheese with steel skewers.  It would have been perfect sprinkled over fresh pasta or in a bagel with some ham and chives.


The Cheese Barrel - heaven!


The Cheese Barrel was awesome and they are really passionate about appreciating all aspects of cheese – the origin, the ingredients, the method and the flavour.  A definitely MUST if you’re out and about in the Swan Valley.


Olive Farm Wines

Right next door to the Cheese Barrel is Olive Farm Wines, another winery that has been around since the beginning.  It was established in 1829 by an English botanist who brought with him a few grapevine cuttings and olive trees from the UK.  The olive trees were planted first – hence the name of the estate – and before long the vines were bearing fruit perfect for winemaking.


  • 2012 Viognier – a fruity wine full of citrus and apricot with a smooth entry and refreshing zing but still gentle and rounded.
  • Crystal Fort – a beautiful golden amber drop with minimal spirit and tastes of toffee, honey and raisins that bloom into delicious roasted honey cashews.
  • Fortified Shiraz – this was the drop that we had with the Cashel Ireland Blue next door at the Cheese Barrel.  Rich, dark chocolate colours full of ripe cherries and prunes, deliciously sweet with a gentle spirit.


Twin Hill Wines

Run by the Kraljevich family for over 70 years, Twin Hill is a humble estate that makes a great selection of wines from a classic white to a sweet red and traditional fortified shiraz.


  • Verdelho – smooth and warming but still light and refreshing with plenty of nectarine and citrus and an almost buttery chardonnay finish.
  • Sweet Red – a light, crimson wine full of fresh berries with a sweet, silky entry that covers the mouth and finishes dry and tart with apple skins and berries.
  • Tokay – aged 22 years, we were sent through an evolution of flavours from sweet fruits and honey to a rich nutty finish.


The House of Honey

A great little cafe that’s about as busy as a bee!  Browse the shop and taste their selection of honeys before sitting down to Devonshire Tea – or coffee!  We took a seat outside in the floral courtyard and our treats were not far bee-hind!



The coffee was served in a huge glass mug and had a great nutty flavour without any bitterness, but the real highlight was the honey scone.  Despite a thick lick of cream and strawberry jam, the sweetness of the honey was still distinguishable and each bite was absolutely morish.


Illusionary Art

One of the great finds on our expedition around the Swan Valley was an art gallery that displays pieces that appear three dimensional!  Thomas Maurer spent three years perfecting his art that uses an angle grinder on an aluminium surface.  The end result is an image that plays with light to create a 3D image.  While the effect truly is amazing, our picture of his showroom does not do this artwork justice – you really do have to see it in person.


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