Posts Tagged ‘Markets’

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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Two times a week I venture to a market to replenish our produce.  Melbourne markets vary in shapes, sizes, frequency, prices, and offerings so while we do have our favorite, we like to spice things up a bit and check out different markets from time to time.  Last week we ventured to the Dandenong Market.

We were met with a river of pedestrians and cranky drivers before we even entered the parking lot.  Before we got out of the car Ryan turned to me and said, “Just so you know, I already know I’m not going to like this place.”  “Thanks for the warning,” I replied.  Fair enough, I thought.

This was our bounty from the Dandenong Market.  You’re looking at the results of a typical trip, minus the salmon that we immediately refrigerated.  We’ve been loving silverbeet and lil mandarins…but not at the same time.  We also can’t get enough of the mangoes when they’re in season.  I’m already salivating over the chicken, avo, and mango salad I plan to make with the first in-season mango.  But, I digress…

Bottom line on the Dandenong Market:

+Good prices and quality produce, meats, and seafood, although we didn’t see a ton of organic, sustainable or free-range options.

-Too many stalls and vendors to choose from and too many people to shuffle through.  Let’s face it, sometimes you’re in the mood for a stroll, a leisurely walk around the market to peruse the produce and people watch.  Most times, I am not.

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How to summarize our week-long holiday in Tassy – Australia’s island state…so many walking trails walked, delicious meals eaten, beautiful views seen, and amazing memories made.  Too many to point out here, in fact.  So here are our Top Five Things To Do in Tasmania, in no particular order

1. Cradle Mountain Lodge  Dove Lake Walk – about an hour’s drive from Devonport is the beautiful Cradle Mountain National Park and Dove Lake.  There is an easy two-hour trek around the lake which is full of beautiful sights and smells.  We got there fairly early in the day and there weren’t a ton of people doing the walk.  When we arrived back at the carpark there was three times the amount of people so I’d recommend starting early.

We stayed at the beautiful Cradle Mountain Lodge, our favorite of all the places we stayed in Tassy.

*Image from: Cradle Mountain Lodge

We stayed in a Pencil Pine cabin which was the perfect size for the two of us.  The first day we arrived it rained all day so we read books and played cards by the fireplace.  So that’s what a relaxing vacation is like?

2.  Brekkie at Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm in Elizabethtown – on a recommendation from a friend from Tassy we stopped at this farm and cafe for brekkie on our way to Cradle Mountain.  It was a beautiful little raspberry farm with a quaint cafe, complete with a real fire crackling in the background.  We had one of the best meals in Tassy at this place, including raspberry chocolate french toast and a big country brekkie with raspberry sausage.

3.  Hawthorn Hawks vs. Sydney Swans at Aurora Stadium in Launceston – Yes, my hubs is a huge AFL Footy Hawks’ supporter and yes, I added up some major wife points by attending yet another Hawks’ game with him.  Best.Wive.Ever.  The Aurora stadium in Launceston is about 70,000 seats smaller than the MCG but it allows you to get right up there close to the action.  It was a perfect day for a game, making me homesick for fall Sunday afternoon football.  We won’t discuss the outcome of the game.

4. Salamanca Place and the Salamanca Market in Hobart– We spent a couple of days in Hobart and a majority of those days we were at Salamanca Place.  One night we had some darn good pizza at Cargo and the next morning we went to the famous Salamanca Market.  While the size and variety of the market is bested by other markets we’ve visited, there is definitely a special feeling at Salamanca with the old-style buildings and the backdrop of Mount Wellington.

5. Tasman Island Cruise at Port Arthur – this was amazing and too much to include in this post so there is a full post dedicated to this.  Click HERE to read about this incredible experience.

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We spent this past week in Darwin for one of Ryan’s work trips.  It was our first time to the Darwin in the Northern Territory — “The Top End” as it’s casually known – and per usual, I didn’t feel like we had enough time to get a total lay-of-the-land, especially this vast land.  But below I’ve summarized my top list of things to do or see while in Darwin.  I say “My” list because my dear husband had to work while I explored.  Don’t feel too bad for him, though, as we’re on our way to Tasmania later today for a proper holiday.

The Top Ten Things To Do or See in Darwin

*Disclaimer:  Before I start this list, I should mention that I thought everything is incredibly overpriced in Darwin so my tourist experiences were limited things I thought were not out-of-this-world-expensive or would not eat too much of my limited time for exploration.

1.  The Wharf Precinct Wave Pool aka Wave Lagoon:  Darwin is HOT.  One of the locals told me they have two temperatures, hot and hotter.  I hate to sweat, preferring to “glow” wondrously, but sweating is unavoidable in Darwin.  It just happens.  The Wave Lagoon, however, is a perfect place to cool off.  The Wharf Precinct itself is also very cool.  A newer part of town, the precinct is buzzing with retail and cafes.  Although I took the pic below at night, you get the idea…it’s a pretty neat place.

2.  Crustaceans or Fish ‘n chips on the Wharf:  While on the Wharf, grab dinner at Crustaceans where Ryan loved his grilled Barramundi (an Australian seafood staple) or a Fish n’chips from a chipper on the wharf.

3.  The double-decker tour bus – I took the 3-hour afternoon tour and found it the perfect way to hit the highlights of Darwin.  The guide was super friendly and informative.  I learned a lot about the history of Darwin, for example: Did you know the Japanese bombed Darwin 10 wks after they bombed Pearl Harbor?  There were also a good photo opp overlooking the city.  It was just a really good tour – I recommend it. The pic below was taken while on the tour, just across from the Museum and Gallery of Art.

4.  The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory – on the tour bus we made a stop at the Museum and Gallery of Art which was a great place to get a feel for the history of Darwin; everything from the rich Aboriginal history to the 5 metre (yes, that’s 15 foot) salt water crocodile named Sweetheart.  And remember the Barramundi mentioned above?  I learned that they start life as males but at around age 5 they become females.  Fancy that?!  There’s your useless fact for the day.  Most memorable was the room where you can hear the actual sounds from Cyclone Tracy which devastated the town on Christmas Eve and Day in 1974.   Eerie and Terrifying.  I lasted no more than 5 seconds in the room.

5.  Cullen Bay – Cullen Bay is a beautiful little section of the city with houses and a newer place of cafes and restaurants.  While I only drove by this on the tour bus, the driver highly recommended some of the restaurants there and the quaint and quiet feel made me wish I could stay.

I didn’t get to visit the 6th through 10th attractions because they were either closed, due to rainy season, or we didn’t have enough time but they come highly recommended by locals so I wanted to be sure I included them.

6.  Deckchair Cinema

7.  Crocodylus Park

8.  Kakadu National Park

9.  Mindil Beach and Parap Markets

10.  Darwin harbour cruises

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This past weekend we visited St. Kilda Esplanade Market. On since 1970, the market is located on the Esplanade in St. Kilda.  Open every Sunday it features works from over 200 local artists and craftspeople.

There are all sorts of handmade crafts from wood, glass, photographs, paintings, recycled materials, resin, and more.  Although it doesn’t rival some of the bigger arts and crafts markets, it has the advantage of being right on the Esplanade overlooking the St. Kilda beach which gives the market a special feeling.

We took home some business cards from a few artists whose works we may pick up before we head home but on the whole we were keeping our wallets in our pockets (or purse, in my case).  We weren’t in the mindset to splurge.  And, as it so often goes, just when we weren’t searching for anything, we found something exciting.

Ryan can claim this major find.  I say “major” in its significance to us, not in its size.  It’s a rather small piece, no bigger than a foot each way.  It’s a hand-painted work by Aussie artist, Karen Mason.  It’s painted on wooden panels with acrylic and gouache paint.  There are three separate sections fused together to form a complete cohesive image.  And best of all, it’s called The Adventure.

We loved the symbolism of the piece given our situation and Ryan loved the colors which reminded him of the Australian outback.  It doesn’t quite come through in the photo but there are also lovely hints of green and even a little purple.  It’s our first major piece of art bought in Australia, although we have looked at quite a few.  Now, on to Pinterest to find an appropriate color palette for the non-existent room this will feature in.  🙂

The artist, Karen Mason, does not have a website but can be reached at (03) 9531 8293 and is a regular at The Esplanade Market.

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I used to think “If you’ve seen one market, you’ve seen them all.”  I had to adjust my way of thinking since we learned that markets are huge in Melbourne and Australia and since we were about to encounter the biggest arts and crafts market in Australia in our visit up to the Sunshine Coast.

Our friends in Melbourne told us that we must visit the famous Eumundi (pronounced eyu-muhn-dee) Markets.  From our hotel in Coolum we took a quick bus ride to the markets.  The market boasts over 600 stalls and receives over 1.6 million visitors each year!

We spent over three and half hours meandering through the stalls.   We so enjoyed taking in all the sights, sounds, smells and colors.

It was all a bit overwhelming for us.  Who wants –or better yet, who needs– jumbo licorice or a wall hanging made out of cutlery?  Needless to say, we didn’t end up buying anything.   That said, the morning trip was so worth it.  We loved experiencing the markets and the small-town charm of it all.

Our favorite stall was the man playing the didgeridoos or didjeridu (pronounced didge-eh-reh-doos).  More accurately, he was playing the didgeridoo, the bass drum, and the guitar…all at the same time.  The didgeridoo is an instrument from the Aboriginal culture and dates back at least 2,000 years.  Some believe it’s been around for 40,000 years!

The man playing the didgeridoo at Eumundi was super talented and that talent coupled with the unique sound and tone of the didgeridoo drew the largest crowd of all 600 stalls.

If you’ve never heard a didgeridoo before, the sound is amazing and unlike anything I’ve ever heard.  View this quick video to listen and watch a quick sample although it doesn’t really do it justice.

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