The End of Our Australian Adventure

After an amazing 12 months of travelling around Australia, sadly it had to come to an end. We started our adventure in Perth, from there we went up the west coast to Monkey Mia and down to Margaret River. We flew to Melbourne, did the Great Ocean road and travelled through to Adelaide and Port Lincoln. From there we drove to Sydney passing through Mildura and Canberra before embarking on a trip up the east coast stopping at Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Surfers Paradise, Brisbane, Noosa, Rainbow Beach, Hervey Bay, Fraser Island, 1770 Agnes Water, Rockahampton, Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Townsville, Magnetic Island and finishing in Cairns diving the Great Barrier Reef.

Now we are settling back to normal life in Birmingham, England and miss Australia in so many ways. Our next step is to find work and then plan some more exciting adventures.

Due to the amount of fun we were having our blog sort of fizzled out but we are hoping to reignite it and maybe even give it a makeover. Some content will be deleted and other bits shall be edited. On top of that hopefully they’ll be a lot of new additions. The blog will no longer become an update for friends and family but a form of help and advice for any people hoping to embark on an adventure similar to ours. We’ll point out the Dos and Don’ts of travelling and the mistakes we made. Reviews of travel agencies, hostels and more.

Let us know if you have any ideas for the blog? What would you like to know?

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Tourists see things, travellers experience them!

Sydney – life’s a beach. Bondi, Coogee and more

In Sydney there is a yearly event in November called Sculpture by the Sea. YHA central, a hostel we were staying at arranged a free walk featuring the sculptures. We decided to join in for the chance of meeting some new people and to get our bearings. The walk was from Bondi Beach to Bronte beach with plenty of weird and wonderful sculptures to gawp at along the way. Some of our favourites were a big glass orb that was filled with water which turned the landscape behind it upside down. There was a big 8 foot tall ball made of plastic rubbish symbolising the amount of rubbish found washed up upon the shore. During the walk we came across a giant orange wasp that was dragging a big huntsman spider along the rocks. I later found out that the wasp was called a spider wasp and they apparently paralyse the spider and then lay eggs inside the spider! NICE! It was a good day out and a chance to enjoy the sun. The walk would normally take 40 minutes and is about 4km but it obviously took us longer as we were enjoying the views. It’s a great walk to do even when the sculptures aren’t there. There are some great coastal views and nice beaches along the way.

 

On another sun filled day we headed to Bondi Beach for a relaxing beach day. To our suprise there was a surf competition happening at the time which added to our entertainment. Whilst the competitors were catching some waves there was music, funny australian comentators, charity BBQ and even a little stage area where some of the surfers were sharing their dancing skills with us. The grass bank was very busy, full of people enjoying the entertainment whilst sipping on an ice cold brewsky. There was a dude surfing who had a traffic cone gaffa taped to the front of his board, I don’t know if it helped but he was pretty good. After enjoying a hot dog and an ice cream we checked out the bondi shops and then walked to Bronte beach enjoying the coastal walk once again.

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If you are feeling energetic, you can do the same coastal walk from Bondi but go further than Bronte and end up on Coogee beach. This walk is roughly 7km and takes 1 hour and 40 minutes to walk. On this route you also get to see Clovelly and Gordon’s Bay.

Clovelly has a small beach and a large concrete area either side of the bay. It’s not the prettiest of beaches but a great place to sunbath on the concrete, if you’re not a fan of sand. It’s also a good spot for swimming and snorkelling due to protection from the waves the water is pretty calm. We have seen various fish and marine life whilst snorkelling and they seem very friendly as they are used to people. There is also a local big blue groper fish that is often seen but so far me and Ash have had no luck.

Gordon’s Bay is a beautiful quaint and rocky bay. It tends to be very quiet compared to the surrounding beaches. It’s also another great spot for snorkelling.

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Coogee is our current local beach seeing as we only live a short walk away. It’s similar to Bondi but tends to be less busy and you don’t see many surfers, It’s a great place to chill on the sand and then go for a swim to cool down. Last week i managed to catch the biggest wave I’ve ever body surfed and the wave after that was even bigger and took me out. There’s plenty of places to eat and drink around Coogee and we both enjoy living here.

A 45 minute walk south of Coogee is another lovely beach called Maroubra. It’s popular with surfers and has a great sandy beach to chill out on, It doesn’t get anywhere near as busy as Bondi and Coogee and you’ll find that most of the people there are locals.

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Perth to Monkey Mia: Day 3 – Monkey Mia, Hamelin Pool, Eagles Bluff, Kalbarri

Early start for all of us today, we had dolphins to see!! Myself and Sean were excited to actually see one up close as we have never seen a dolphin before. Kelly did tell us that the chances of us being picked were slim as there would be lots of people there and it was school holidays so normally children or elderly people get picked.

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Now we could either watch from the jetty and get good pictures or stand by the shore and try our luck, I decided to try my luck but got trapped at the side and didn’t get much of a view to be fair, Sean found it hard to get pictures of the dolphins and sadly we did not get picked to feed them but a few people from our tour did. During the feed I saw something near the end of the Jetty and I thought it was probably a dolphin but Josie later told me it was a turtle.

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When the feeding had finished we were told there might be another feed around 9:30 but it’s dependent on the dolphins. We lay on the beach and soaked up the rays for a bit enjoying the view if the boats on the water. The time had arrived and lucky for us the dolphins had decided they wanted some more food. Sean and I made our way over with Kelly but this time we took a bit of a seat back not expecting much.

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Feeding time and a dolphin called Surprise, came over by us to get her fish and people started getting picked and one of those people was me!! It was so surreal but I grabbed Sean’s hand and took him to meet our dolphin. We were speechless after and to be truthful a bit shaky (it was our first dolphin encounter after all). Now that’s another thing checked off our bucket list. Me and sean took a dip in the sea but we’re thinking if a dolphin did come and swim by us we’d freak out and think a shark was there so we got out and soaked up some sunshine.

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We had another animal encounter that day too when an Emu came from nowhere, walking along the beach. It came right up to our bags rummaging around in mine and lindseys stuff, cheeky. We got some great pictures though and it was pretty cool being that close to an Emu especially since they are quite dangerous.

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As the day grew on we left Monkey Mia with a whole bunch of new memories, friends and experiences but sadly part of it had to end so we enjoyed the view one last time before we got in to the van for the last time. We drove to a viewpoint called Eagles Bluff next which had an amazing view over the Indian ocean, the sea was crystal clear and even though we were so many feet high on a cliff you could still see the shadows of sea life from turtles, rays, sharks and schools of fish. This place was so beautiful I wish we could have stayed longer and I wanted even more to just jump into the clear waters and swim amongst the fish.

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After our stop off we had one last trip as a group and that was to Hamelin Pool, home to stromatolites. These ancient living rocks provide the oldest record for life itself, pretty interesting. They give us the oxygen we need that make life on earth possible. There was a walkway for people to walk around to view them as they are a protected life form so we had to be careful but I don’t know if it was just me but the air felt so pure and cleansing, I felt glad we had came to view such an amazing site.

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It came that time when we had to say goodbye to an amazing place and not only that but goodbye to a great bunch of people as 5 members were heading on up to Exmouth. We swapped Facebook’s and gave our hugs and sooner then expected we were met by our new guide Mark who was taking us for lunch and then on to our hostel in Kalbarri. We were really envious of the others getting to go up to Ningaloo Reef and snorkelling with all the amazing creatures but the experience would have to wait for us till we visit the great barrier reef.

The journey was long to the hostel and the van was even more smaller for us so when we finally arrived at the hostel, I couldn’t wait to jump in bed but we were given some bad news that evening that our van had broken down (Mark had cut the radiator pipe!) So who knew when we would be able to move on. We hoped it wouldn’t cut in to our last day but for now all I wanted was my head on that pillow.

Out and about in Perth

Been a while since we last posted but me and Ash are both well and still having plenty of fun. Only 1 month to go until we leave Perth and head for Melbourne. Before we leave Perth there are still a few places we want to visit such as Rottnest island, Margaret river and Exmouth to name a few.

So what have we been up to since our last post?
Been out and about enjoying the sun although it has been a bit wet the past few days. It is winter here!
We’ve been to Fremantle yet again. Fremantle is probably my favourite place in Perth. We went to a few art exhibitions which Ash is currently writing about so watch this space.
We jumped on the train to Rockingham for the first time with a stroll along the foreshore. Nothing beats eating fish and chips looking out to sea.
When the sun came out me and Ash had a beautiful picnic in Kings Park enjoying the views. I also got a chance to try out my new camera lens and got a couple of cool close up shots which I will upload in a post soon.
On the weekend we went to Perth upmarket at Winthrop Hall. A great little market that happens every 3 months with plenty of quirky handmade goods and food stalls – tasty mini pies!

We have a few posts currently in the pipe line:

  • Ash’s Art post
  • Australian Tattoo Exhibition
  • Camera and close-up picture post
  • New Recipe post
  • Graffiti around Perth

So stay tuned! I’m going to stuff my face with brownies now and catch up with Dexter and Breaking Bad as it’s raining very heavily outside. Tonight we are off out into Northbridge with our housemates to eat WAFFLES!  It’s a hard life 🙂

 

Food Recipes – Mince Meat Ragu, Sausarole, Seafood Risotto

SInce coming to Australia me and Ash have started to enjoy cooking together although at times we (mainly me) tend to get in each others way. This has been a new experience in itself as back home we live with our parents who tend to do most of the cooking. Thanks Moms!

So here are a few recipes that we’ve started making on a regular basis. All quite tasty, affordable and pretty simple to cook even for any fellow backpackers living in a hostel. Most of the recipes have been found on the following useful websites:

http://www.jamieoliver.com
http://www.nigella.com
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com

We have tweaked them to suit our needs either by reducing the cost or adding taste. I’ve also included the approximate cost of each meal in Australian Dollars based on purchasing ingredients from Coles supermarket.Ragu

Mince Meat Ragu
Serves 4 – Total cost $6 = $1.50 per serving
Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 1.5 hours

Ingredients: Olive oil, 1 onion diced, 1 garlic clove diced, 2 carrots diced, 2x 400g can diced tomato, 500g mince meat (beef), seasoning.
Optional: red wine, bacon, mixed beans, chilli, rosemary.

  • Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add all vegetables and cook for 15mins.
  • Add mince meat to pan and cook for further 10mins or until meat sealed.
  • Increase heat (add wine?) tomatoes and season to taste. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  • Serve with mash, pasta or rice.

The ragu is a very versatile dish that you can get creative with. Freeze or refrigerate the left overs.

Sausarole ( Sausage & Bean casserole)Sausarole
Serves 4 – Total cost $5 = $1.25 per serving
Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes

 

Ingredients: Olive oil, 8 sausages or 1kg, 1 onion sliced, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2tbsp instant gravy powder, 2 cups water, 400g can diced tomatoes, 400g can cannellini or mixed beans, seasoning.
Optional: red wine, rosemary

  • Heat oil in large deep saucepan over medium heat. Cook sausages until golden brown then transfer onto a plate.
  • Cook onion in same pan until softened. Add garlic (and red wine) on high for 1 minute.
  • Add sausages back into saucepan and stir in gravy powder. Add water, tomato (and rosemary), bring to the boil then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in beans few minutes from end until soften and season to taste.
  • Serve with crusty bread, potato mash or rice.

Prawn/Mix Seafood Risotto (Paella)
Serves 4 – Total cost $10.50 = $2.60 per serving
Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes

Ingredients: Olive oil, 1 onion diced, 1 garlic clove diced, 300g risotto rice, 400g can diced tomato, 3tbsp white wine, 900ml chicken stock, 400g frozen prawns/seafood mix, paprika, 1 lemon.

  • Heat oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes or until golden.
  • Stir in paprika and add rice. Cook for 1 minute whilst stirring then add wine and cook for a further minute or until absorbed.
  • Add tomato, garlic, chicken stock and season. Cook for 15 minutes whilst stirring making sure rice does not stick to bottom.
  • Rinse frozen prawns/seafood under cold water then add to rice. Cover with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes until seafood cooked through.
  • Squeeze in juice of half a lemon then serve with parsley and a slice of lemon.

Why not try them out for yourself. Remember to subscribe to our blog to stay updated and more recipes will be posted on here soon. Feel free to drop us a comment about any recipes you would like to recommend.

3 wonderful winter locations downunder

Winter is here! This is a Halfthew0rldaway first. I’ve decided to reblog this useful post from fellow bloggers Vipbackpackers, I hope you like.

Vipbackpackers's Blog

Winter in Australia is the dry season and that means blue, clear, sunny skies and balmy temperatures that are never too hot nor too cold, unless you’re half way up the snowy slopes of Perisher. Winter is actually the perfect time to go north or to the outback before the sultry heat of summer sets in. Here are three locations to consider for a winter sojourn utilising the very best of the VIP Backpacker network.

Alice Springs, Northern Territory

Winter is a simply glorious time in Alice Springs and central Australia. It’s a fantastic time to get photographs of the incredible landscapes with all that blue sky and brilliant red earth. It’s also a good time to make use of the tours on offer, one of which is listed below (click this link for the full listing), when the temperatures make camping out and touring around quite enjoyable. Alice…

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