Archive for the ‘Adventures and Travel’ Category

Quite obviously traveling is important in our lives.  I remember when I used to make it a point to see a new country every year.  There’s good reason for it too.  Travel awakens and ignites the spirit in a way that nothing else can.  So for what is likely to be our last post on this blog, we leave you with our Top 15 Reasons to Travel, in the form of famous travel quotes.

1.  “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

2. “The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” — Bill Bryson

3. “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” — Tim Cahill

4.  “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” — Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

5.  “The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.” -G.K Chesterton


6.  “The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only one page – St. Augustine

7.  “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” –Anonymous

8.  “A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” – John Steinbeck

9.  “Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.” -Isabelle Eberhardt, The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt

10. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark TwainDarwin6

11.  “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, shouting GERONIMO!” -Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels

12. “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

13.  “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” –Gustave Flaubert

14. “I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

15.  “A man of ordinary talent will always be ordinary, whether he travels or not; but a man of superior talent will go to pieces if he remains forever in the same place.” — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

So instead of farewell, we say Bon Voyage!

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Dear Australia – Thank you for all your incredible adventures, sights, and memorable places.  We feel honored to have visited all of your states (with the exception of the Australian Capital Territory and with the addition of your Kiwi neighbors) and we will never forget our Daintree rainforest tour from Cooper Creek Wilderness, our sailboat adventure on the Great Barrier Reef, our trek around Tassy, the best sandwich ever from Circa in Parramatta and the most amazing Tiramisu Crunch from the Rocks Cafe.

Dear Melbourne – It’s been an amazing two years.  Thank you for making us feel at home.  We can’t think of a more perfect place to begin our life together as a newly married couple.  We will miss you and all the entertainment you provided.  Ryan is forever a Hawk’s fan.

Hawks scarf

We will miss some of our favorite nibbles and drinks, especially the coffees at Richmond Hill Cafe and Larder, the red curry from Thai Yim, the Carolina Sandwich from Big Boy BBQ, brekkies at Three Bags Full and fish ‘n chips from Seaford.

Above all, we will miss our friends who have left an immeasurable impact on our lives.

These are just a handful of things, of course, and don’t include the dinners we’ve hosted, the parties we’ve attended, the Parish we love, the dates we’ve had in the city, and the memories we’ve made.  There’s no way we could possibly say all that these two years have meant to us in a short blog post.  We suspect even WE don’t know the full impact of our time here and probably won’t for years to come.

Thank you for being the perfect host/home.  We hope to visit again the future, maybe with our kiddoes in tow, to show them where it all began.

Love, Ryan & Laura

Couple New

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One of the things we will miss about Melbourne is the sheer number of things to do!  You could spend several days just exploring the city but if you wanted something more quiet there are heaps of things to do within an hour or so of the city.  We recently spent a couple of days on the Mornington Peninsula.  It was a birthday getaway weekend for me organized by my darling husband and just another way for us to soak in our last moments in Australia.

There were many amazing parts to the weekend but a few highlights included:


  • An 8 km walk around Fort Nepean where the first allied shots were fired during World War I and World War II.  August 5 1914, a shot was fired from a gun barrel to capture the German ship Pfalz as she was attempting to leave Port Phillip Bay.  Then on September 4 1939, a gun barrel shot towards an incoming Bass strait trader Woniora who failed to stop for inspection.  Apparently those were the only two shots of aggression ever fired from Port Phillip.  DSC_0077-003
  • A fabulous and relaxing overnight stay at Summer Place B&B in Flinders with an absolutely amazing gourmet brekkie.  Meg and Norman were the perfect hosts.  Shoot me an email or comment below if you’d like more details about staying there.  It was heaven.


  • A delicious fish ‘n chips from The Rocks in Mornington.  Sitting out on the outdoor patio overlooking the water we shared a fish ‘n chips and quinoa and veggie salad.  We looked dreamily at the super yachts and sailboats and savored every morsel of one of our last Australian fish ‘n chips.

Aaand I just noticed that most of our highlights involved food and eating.  For a second I thought about adding a few more of the “other” activities we enjoyed while on the peninsula but then I thought, Eh…we are who we are. 

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Both Ryan and I have moved a lot in our lives so we know how this goes…we’re old pros.  For months out you can hardly wrap your arms around the fact that the place you’ve called home will become another past chapter in your life.  You may start a list, as we did, of all the places you need to see or all the things you need to do before you leave.  Camping at Inverloch at visiting Wilson’s Prom made our short-list.

Tent with moon

I have mentioned before that I’m not what you would call an “outdoorsy” chick but I do pride myself at being able to enjoy myself in most instances IF it is short-lived and there’s an end in sight. It is with this can-do attitude (ha) that I agreed to go camping over the Australia-Day weekend.  Well, that and a guarantee of toilets, showers, and a water-proof tent.

I’m happy to report that we had a wonderful time.  Inverloch Foreshore Camping is just an hour and a half drive from the Eastern side of Melbourne.  It’s a beautiful little spot with hundreds of campsites.  We had three unpowered sites which were sheltered nicely from the wind by lots of trees and greenery.  The amenities block had been remodeled this year so I have no complaints about the toilets or showers, which were, in fact really hot and had great water pressure.  Our Australian friends are tried and true campers so they had all the supplies this high-maintenance camping girl would need, including a portable ladies-only loo!

We had some wind, some rain, and a lot of sun!  Andersons Inlet, a calm, shallow little bay, not a 2 min walk from our campsite, offered the perfect spot for reading, relaxing, and brief dips in the water.

Inverloch Anderson Inlet

After our camping adventure Ryan and I decided to make a quick drive over to Wilson’s Promontory National Park.  It took us maybe an hour or so from Inverloch but it had been so highly recommended that we knew we had to at least stop there.  The Park boasts the southern-most tip of the Australian mainland but we didn’t make it that far since we figured we’ve been to Tassy so we have the northern and southern tips of Oz covered.

The scenery at Wilson’s Prom was very similar to what we remember from Tasmania.  It’s beautiful and worth visiting.  We made our way to Squeaky Beach, probably another 30-minute drive inside the park.  The beach has rounded quartz sand that literally squeaks when you walk on it.

Squeaky Beach

As we now count down the weeks (eek!) before we head home, we’ll be glad we made the effort to visit these well-known havens for outdoor enthusiasts.  Now I’m not a converted camper — not in the least — but I always appreciate a weekend of food, fun, good friends…and a little squeaking sand.

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I love beaches.   Sun, the smell of coconut oil, the sound of the ocean. Ok, so, correction, I love the idea of beaches.  The reality is unpleasant; overheating, getting an unwanted sand exfoliation, and nearly going blind from the combination of sunscreen and salt water.  I blame the fact that I grew up in the midwest because I’m perfectly comfortable swimming in murky lakes with fish nipping at my toes…but I digress.

Last time Ryan and I were in Sydney, we spent half a day at Bondi Beach.  We wore our swimsuits under our clothes but they stayed dry, of course.  Instead, we were lured by The Sculptures by the Sea exhibit, a coastal walk from Tamarama Beach to Bondi, held only at the end of October.

Bondi Beach

The exhibit features over 100 sculptures from artists all over the world and turns a familiar coastal walk into a 2km sculpture park which is free to the public.

We saw some amazing sculptures set on rocks and on cliffs with the ocean as the backdrop.  Here’s a small sample of the work we saw:





Visit the Sculpture by the Sea website to see images of all the sculptures.

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Ok, so there are WAY more than three reasons to love Sydney but I’m holding back for future posts.

Sydney is FABULOUS.  We discovered this a couple of weeks ago when we spent a mini-holiday as Sydney tourists.  It was our first opportunity to spend any amount of quality time in the city and I can see why so many people call it their favorite Australian city.  I’ll still give preference to Melbourne (of course!) but I could see myself in Sydney and here’s why:

Three Reasons to Love Sydney

1.  The Opera House – It’s arguably the most iconic Australian image in existence so I won’t spent a ton of time explaining its majesty.  Let me just say that it’s beautiful, to my architecturally-untrained eyes, and every-bit of “wow” as you’d hope.  Each angle offering a spectacularly different view than the last.

The big surprise is that it’s not white as it appears in photos.  The tiles are cream.  And dirty….the only thing I didn’t like about the Opera House.

2. The Harbour Bridge – If you’re fiscally conservative (read: thrifty) like us you can get great FREE views of the bridge from the many ferries or from The Rocks and probably many other places.  It makes for a beautiful photo.  See?

If you have some spare change you can pay $200-$300 per person to climb the bridge and take pictures from there.  Thanks but no thanks.

3.  The Rocks – Two awesome things about The Rocks District (A list within a list!) : 1. The Rocks Market.  Great variety of items with stalls set throughout the historic Rocks district.  It reminded me a lot of the Tassy Salamanca Market.

2.  The Tiramisu Crunch at the Rocks Cafe.  I can’t speak about the quality of the other food at the cafe but the Tiramisu Crunch is the best dessert we’ve had in Australia hands down.  Espresso soaked cake layered with mascarpone and (I swear) cream cheese topped with candied nuts.  TO.DIE.FOR.

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1.  Visit during low-season/winter.  Even though the vines weren’t lush with grapes and greenery, we got a true sense of the valley since we weren’t dodging other tourists.  It was beautiful and peaceful.  It’s what I imagined Napa would’ve been like 50 years ago.

2.  Pick only a few wineries to visit and spend ample time at them.  There are a lot of wineries to choose from in the Barossa Valley but we picked only a few to visit (based on recommendations from the Barossa House B&B where we stayed).  Choosing only a few made it easier for us to chat with the winemakers and to really understand the vines and the wines.  Each was unique.  Whistler Wines had a low-key and welcoming atmosphere.  We talked and tasted and then spent some time in the kangaroo reserve where they nurse back to health injured kangaroos and wildlife.  We spent a fair amount of time at Jacob’s Creek.  Their nature/history walk around the grounds is a great way to break up the wine tasting.

3.  Enjoy the food in the Barossa.  We spent half a day at Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop.  We enjoyed a fabulous lunch, sat in on a free cooking demonstration in Maggie’s Studio kitchen, picked up a few foodie ingredients, and toured her vast orchards and farmland.  It was a great experience and unexpectedly the highlight of the trip.

We also had a fabulous dinner at 1918 in Tanunda.  All the meals are cooked with local ingredients and served with local wines, naturally.  My Braised Braised Beef cheek, soft white polenta, roasted shallots, frisee, and chimmi churri was very memorable.

4. Make time to visit some of the local stores in towns.  The three triangle towns in the Barossa Valley; Angaston, Nuriootpa, and Tanunda all have cute main streets with cafes and boutiques.  Outside of Nuriootpa at an antique shop we found one of our favorite souvenirs to date; an old wrench that is forged with the word “MELBOURNE”.  We have some creative ideas for how we’ll make this into art when we return home.

5. Visit the Barossa Valley Farmer’s Market.  Don’t expect to be blown away by the size of the market.  It’s definitely a small-town market.  But DO expect to be blown away by the friendliness of the producers and stallholders, by the vibrant color of the plants and produce, and by the breadth of natural and organic products.  We went early so we could grab a coffee and a sandwich at the market and enjoy the experience.  I snagged a picture with Saskia Beer, Maggie’s daughter which pretty much capped off a fabulous weekend.  On our way out of the barn where the market is held I found this sign propped up against the wall and it kind of summed up our Barossa experience.

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Less than thirty minutes outside of Adelaide is quaint little McLaren Vale.  The wife of one of Ryan’s co-workers graciously offered to take me around and show me what the valley had to offer.

We made our first stop at the visitor centre.  As far as visitors centres go, this one was pretty nice.  The volunteers were very friendly and gave us a ton of helpful suggestions.

We sipped on wine at d’Arenberg…

We sipped some more at Coriole and I bought the Chenin Blanc to bring home with us to Melbourne.  Coriole had a wonderful garden and an al fresco dining area.  I loved the feel of cellar door/tasting room – doesn’t it just look like Jane Austen could come strolling out at any minute?

We did a bit of browsing at Serafino and Woodstock and made our last stop at the Almond Train to sample some candied nuts, chocolates, and extra virgin olive oils.  I purchased a yummy garlic dukkah.  I’m a sucka’ for dukkah.  🙂

It was a lovely day: gorgeous weather, great wines, and fabulous company with which to take it all in.  All this and only 30 minutes outside of Adelaide.  It reminded me a lot of the Yarra Valley, right outside of Melbourne, and I made a mental note that we need to make more time to get up there more often.  Sometimes it takes “getting away” to see where you live more clearly.

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We were in Adelaide, South Australia, last week and if you’ve been keeping track that means we’ve now been to EVERY state in Australia!  Nice one (they would say here in Oz).  We’ve done the Northern Territory (Darwin), Queensland (Noosa, Brisbane, Cairns, Port D, Cape Trib, The Sunshine Coast), Tasmania, Western Australia (Perth), New South Wales (Sydney), and Victoria, our host state!  It’s no wonder we are worn out.

On our week-long trip to Adelaide we didn’t ever actually enter the proper city of Adelaide.  We stayed in Glenelg which is a cute little coastal city about 15 minutes outside of Adelaide proper.

Glenelg: Think cafes, boutiques, and cute lil ol’ ladies pushing their trollies on their regular visit to the market.  It was truly charming.  From our hotel room we had a beautiful view of Adelaide, known as the city of churches.

My favorite brekkie/lunch cafe – Zest Cafe Gallery: Great food and coffee, top-notch service.  What more could I ask for?  It also felt like a place where the “locals” hang out so I knew I was in for a treat.

My favorite lil hangout – Cibo Espresso:  I plugged in my laptop, grabbed a capo or mocha, and worked for hours on end at this happening joint.  It’s a wonder they didn’t need to roll me out of there with all the wonderful little sweets I consumed.

My favorite boutique – Little Bird:  I went to this shop half of the days that we were in Glenelg.  Beautiful fabrics, skincare products, stationary, clothes, kitchenware, yes please.  Let’s just say my husband was more than happy when we left.

My favorite meal – Tomiko on the Marina Pier – Great Japanese Food.  Teppanyaki.  Period.

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King’s Park and Botanic Gardens  is a must-see in Perth.  Not only is it a beautiful park and garden overlooking the city of Perth, it also boasts being one of the largest city parks in the world, beating out Hyde Park and even New York’s Central Park.  It’s a beauty.

The park offers free year-round guided walking tours several times throughout the day.  I was lucky enough to partake in a Wildflower walk which lasted an hour and a half.  We had two guides (to a group of 6) and they were very knowledgeable about the gardens and flower species.  All the guides are volunteers and that made the walk even more enjoyable…just knowing they were out there with us because of their love of the garden and flowers and that they wanted to share that love and knowledge with us.  I was a little intimidated when it became clear that all the walk participants had extensive botany knowledge.  One of the guides asked me if I had a keen interest in botany and I sheepishly replied ‘I appreciate beautiful flowers’.  (GROAN)

Perth’s Botanic Garden boasts about their focus on local (Western Australia) flora due to the extraordinary diversity and the fact that many of the flowers couldn’t be found anywhere else in the world.  How cool is that?! And still only about 3,000 of WA’s 12,000 species of plants are in the garden.

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In the slideshow you’ll see my photos of the acacia, eucalypt, and banskia varieties.  (Towards the end of the tour, I was even getting pretty good and differentiating between them.  No one was more surprised than me.)

The slideshow also has a photo of the solemn Perth War Memorial overlooking the city and my favorite garden feature…the Pioneer Woman Memorial Fountain.  You see a statue of a Pioneer Woman carrying her baby.  The fountain had several different small spouts of water that shot out randomly, representing the woman’s search for a suitable place for her family in WA.  After a few seconds, the small spouts go away and one big spout of water shoots out really high symbolizing that she found the place she wanted to make her family’s home.  Beautiful symbolism.  And to think, if I hadn’t done the walk, I might have just thought it was a nice-lookin’ statue.  🙂

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