Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wish List: Mungo National Park

They have a picture of the Wall of China in Mungo National Park, NSW, Australia in the trains I catch to the airport. It looks stunning.

Too bad it would be about a 12 hour drive each way from where we live, not exactly the short weekend type trip I was hoping for :(

Of course there is a lodge in the area, and when I first mentioned to DH that I wanted to visit here, his words were "for the lodge?", but no DH the lodge would just be an added bonus!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Next on the list

The main reason I turn up to work is to have my next holiday. Being DINK it's a priority for me, although I think DH just goes along for the ride. I also love to here what others have planned in terms of travel.

So what's next for us?

1. Lord Howe Island, Australia

I caved basically. And with the possibility of views like this, who could blame me?

2. Brisbane, Australia

I haven't been to Brisbane for a holiday since 1988, and I've only been there limited times for work. The plan is to go for the NZ and Australian Bledisloe Cup match. We'll see if a, we get tickets and b, we actually go. But some of my fondest memories with DH are at Bledisloe cup match's (perhaps because even though Australia hasn't held the cup since we've been together, Australia has won at least 50% of the matches we have attended).

3. Southern South America

We get to visit a number of dream locations at once, and while our original plans of adding Mexico and Cuba didn't pan out I still think our itinerary is envy worthy. It will be interesting to see what the highlight will be, will it be sunrise over Machu Picchu, snorkeling in Galapagos, the dizzy high of La Paz or the Moai on Easter Island?

4. Cook Islands

Back to the old dependable Rarotonga. How many people can claim they get to visit their MIL on a tropical island as exotic as Raro. Hopefully we might add another one of the outer islands such as Mauke or Aitu as well.

5. Who knows

The options are endless, and needless to say my list is long!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bay of Fires Walk: The good, the bad and the ugly

April 2011

Before and after booking our trip I found it hard to find many reviews about the Bay of Fires walk or area, Tripadvisor was extremely limited and even googling training plans it was hard to come up with much, so I've put together my (not DHs) good, bad and ugly, so that you might have another resource when trying to decide if it's the right thing for you.

  • The scenery is stunning, it's one of the many locations where the photos you find online (including here!) don't do it justice, it really is that good
  • The isolation. There's something special about there only being 12 people on a stretch of beach in Tasmania
  • The weather. I understand it can get hot in the summer months, but we only had a bit of rain and the tour company really does supply you with the right packing list and kit
  • The food. I love taking food shots, but the food was so good I didn't get any but what was for lunch on the last day. Breakfast and dinner are cooked and served to you, lunch is a spread that you pack in your lunch box for the day of walking. The food was delicious, in particular the salmon you have on the first night and the roast vegetable salads we had for our last lunch.
  • The lodge. In hindsight I should have skipped day 3's activities and just chilled at the lodge. I could have easily spent a week just at the lodge.

  • We had been running 5 k twice a week, cross training with a PT once a week and then doing a 10 - 16 km walk every second weekend. This was not enough, towards the end of each day both DH and I struggled. My tip would be to do more beach walks with a pack (more on the pack coming up), we only did one beach walk, and never carried more than 2 kg on our backs
  • The pack. In all fairness DH weighed mine on the first morning and it weighed 20 pounds or around 9 kg, which isn't too bad, and I used everything in my pack except my swimming costume (which would have weighed very little). But we didn't train with a pack and that was a mistake.
  • The amount of food. I think is due to the fact that I'm overweight as DH didn't have an issue, but there were times where I didn't feel satisfied. I got around this by packing extra bread for lunch.
  • It was 38 km over 4 days. And while that doesn't sound like a whole lot we weren't as prepared as we thought. If your feeling the first 2 days of walking then I recommend you skip day 3's activities, because it's really more than a stroll and a canoe. Really that's my only "complaint", that I wish someone had given us more of a guideline how to prepare. Now we just have to figure it out for the Inca Trail at the end of the year....

Some of the reviews/write ups that may be helpful

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bay of Fires Walk, Tasmania, Australia - Day 4

April 2011

Once again woken up for breakfast, but what a beautiful morning! Breakfast started again with fruit, cereal and toast, and the main of the day being homemade baked beans.

After packing I spent the morning reading in both the library and the main deck, while DH went for a walk along the beach.

After a nice walnut and chocolate brownie we headed off on a 3 km bush walk to the road with our packs for the last picnic lunch of smoked salmon, vegetable frittata and roasted salads before heading on the bus for a 3 hr trip back to the estate.

We travelled through the bush and along the coast past St Helens, Scamander, St Marys, Fingal, Avoca, and Perth before getting back to the estate to unpack and say goodbye to our group over canapes and champagne. What a way to spend 4 days.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bay of Fires Walk, Tasmania, Australia - Day 3

April 2011

Woken up this morning at 7:30 am. For breakfast in the dining room, consisting of baked eggs with tomato on toast. The Easter bunny had also been.

Before being briefed on the days activities we were lucky to see three dolphins surfing through the waves on the beach below, a truly remarkable sight.

In retrospect I should have skipped the optional activities on day 3, and stayed at the lodge doing nothing. Except I guess that's how hindsight works. But we packed our bag and walked about 100 m down the road and putting the bags in the truck, then continuing along a fire trail for about 5 km to meet up with the van at the road.

The van took us to the Ansons River where the kayaks were waiting for us. We kayaked down the river about 2 km at Rockey Point. I got out here with another couple, while DH continued on across Ansons Bay.

We had a picnic lunch at Policeman's Point before a short canoe across the channel and then a 6 km walk along Abbostsbury beach before a 10 min hike up the hill back to the lodge.

We enjoyed a dinner of beetroot, balsamic red onions, feta cheese and baby spinach salad for entree, followed by sweet potato risotto with crispy skin chicken, finished with a dessert of vanilla pannacotta. The rest of the night was spent relaxing by the fire.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bay of Fires Walk, Tasmania, Australia - Day 2

April 2011

Up at 6:30 am to enjoy a pancake breakfast, before packing lunch and our bags for a day of walking.

We walked from the camp to Deep Creek where after stripping off to our underwear we caught the canoe across instead (ok, so half of our group waded across, while the other half got pulled across in a canoe).

We walked along to Picnic Point, then further up to the Eddystone Lighthouse where we stopped for lunch.

Here we reached Bay of Fires proper, which surprisingly wasn't named after the colour of the rocks, which do glow like on fire, but because when Europeans first sailed through the area, the shores were ablaze with fires lit by the local Aboriginals.

We continue along the bay, only ever seeing the 12 of us on the beach at any time, until we get to Bradley Rock where the Bay of Fires Lodge is. After walking 14 km, the slightly steep incline to the lodge is a bit of a struggle.

After settling into our rooms and have a shower we went to the dining room for pre-dinner drinks.

Dinner was a rocket, parmesan and corn salad for entree, followed by lamb and beetroot meatballs, with greens and lemon salted potatoes. This was followed by citrus tart for dessert before an early night.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bay of Fires Walk, Tasmania, Australia - Day 1

April 2011

I can't recall exactly where I heard of the Bay of Fires walk first, or why we decided to spend our Easter walking 38 km along beaches of the North East coast of Tasmania, but we did, and as you'll see from the next five posts, it was a once in a life time experience.

Up for a quick coffee before the bus picked us up at 720 am.

We arrive at Quamby Estate for a quick debrief and to pack our things, we had a full group, 10 in total.

We then head off for a 3.5 hour bus ride, through old mining towns such as Derby.

We got dropped off at Stumpys Bay and have to take off our shoes and socks and wade across a small section of water.

We then walk for about an hour, including scrambling over large boulders (surprisingly at Boulder Point!) before stopping for lunch at Cray Creek (unfortunately no crays for lunch though).

We start off again down a long stretch of beach (Cod Bay) before stopping for a chocolate break.

We then head through a section of bush, before heading down a small section of sand before trying to get through another section of water. With the depth being waist high (as once of our guides found out) we scrambled across some more rocks and up a steep sand embankment before arriving at Forrester's Beach Camp.

We made up our beds for the night before enjoying our dinner of chili BBQ Salmon with noodles before heading off to sleep.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

April 2011

We stayed in Launceston on either side of our Bay of Fires walk (post coming!), so we had a few hours to spend here. It's a very small, quaint city, which apparently has the highest concentration of 19th century buildings in Australia, which was part of the appeal. It is a very quiet town however, and I would recommend it as a stop over town.

A short taxi drive from the airport took us to our hotel at Peppers Old Seaport. After lunch we took a stroll through the city, including the outside of the Boag's Brewery and walked along the river back to the hotel.

After our walk along the Bay of Fires, we spent the morning cruising along the Tamar River.


Peppers Old Seaport. We had a nice large riverside room, which did have a great view over the seaport.


Fish N' Chips Old Seaport - we had the flake with small chips and chili squid

Pierre's - I had the steak tartare (don't tell my mother!) and DH had the Char grilled Cape Grim Steak, both very tasty and a very nice atmosphere

The Levee Food Co - We had dinner here and the steak was perfect. I had the Rib Eye with Truffle Bearnaise Sauce and DH had the Scotch fillet, cooked exactly as ordered. We also tried the Tasmanian Pacific Oysters.

Cube Cafe - The coffee here is great, but the service was a bit average

The Black Cow Bistro - We didn't get to eat here, we tried on both nights, so if you want to give it a go book ahead, I've only heard good things


A quick look at Tripadvisor will show you there's not a whole lot to do in Launceston. We did enjoy our walk around the city (give yourself a good 1.5 - 2 hours).

Tamar River Cruise - a great way to see the Cataract George and the river without all the walking (perfect for our limited time). We had a great morning for it weather wise and thoroughly enjoyed our time on the Tamar.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Weekend in Sydney

April 2011

We hadn't spent a weekend in Sydney for a while so we decided it was about time. We usually stay in the beautiful Shangri-la Hotel in the historical Rocks area, but this time we stayed at The Hilton hotel. We checked in early (DH met me at the airport) and walked down to Chinatown for Yum Cha at the China Grand. The Yum Cha here is fantastic, in particular the congee and the snow pea dumplings.

We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the hotel room.

That evening we enjoyed drinks on the "roof top" Zeta Bar. It was a beautiful evening, as we enjoyed our drinks looking over the QVB building.

We then walked down the road to York St for dinner at the Bavarian Beer Cafe. The food here is fantastic and atmosphere geared towards large groups.

After dinner we headed back to the Hilton and downstairs to the Marble Bar. Originally built in 1893, before being dismantled and rebuilt in the Hilton Hotel in 1968, it's a iconic bar in Sydney. It is a stunning place to enjoy a quiet beverage.

The next morning we had breakfast in the Glass Brasserie. The buffet here is spectacular and I would recommend it if your hungry and need a good feed, this is the place to be.

We finished off our time in Sydney browsing in the QVB.