Tag Archives: Queensland

19th January 2017

How to celebrate Australia Day

australiaday

On the 26th of January, only a month after we have started to recover from Christmas, Australia takes a national day off to celebrate Australia day.

Australia day is traditionally a day to celebrate the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales.  Today the day is considered more of a celebration of the entire nation including its beautiful and diverse population and indigenous people* There is some controversy about the day which you can read more about below.

The first time we experienced this holiday, we were thrilled to be invited to our friends house. While we were there we took the opportunity to ask the group what traditions we had to experience for it to be a real ‘Australia day’.

 

Here is what we learnt:

. Have a BBQ – This one won’t come as a surprise. This day is at the height of Australian summer (my northern hemisphere brain will never get use to these hot Januarys) so it makes sense to spend the entire day outside and throw another shrimp on the Barbie (sorry not sorry for saying that Aussie friends). Burgers , hot dogs and steaks all around on this day as well as some delicious homemade salads. australiaday2

. Eat Pavlova – Pavlova’s exist in the UK , but they aren’t a big part of our diet. Coming to live in Aus has opened my eyes to the joy of a good fruity Pavlova. The one we tried last year was chock-a-block with beautiful fresh fruit and caramel. It helps that the tropical climate of this place makes it very easy to smear coconut , pineapple and kiwis on everything.

. Drink Beer – Lee and I were very surprised to discover what a fantastic beer culture Australia has. It’s packed full of craft beer bars and home brewing stores. Lee has been bitten by the home brewing bug and has already fermented 5 ciders and 4 beers. The reasons for this countries love of beer may come from the heat, which makes it very easy to keep the yeast warm to ferment your own ale. Another reason may be out of necessity. A beer in a pub (or ‘hotels’ as all their pubs seem to be called due to licensing rules) would make you want to run back to London to buy a round. Don’t panic too much though because wine is dirt cheap. Woohoo! This country understands the greatness that is beer. It feels like it is an absolute fact that you must consume beer (and plenty of it) on Australia day. We aren’t complaining. australiaday4

.Find a Pool – It’s going to be boiling so most people find a pool and don’t get out of it unless it’s to head to the Eskie (Aussie slang for cooler) to get a beer.

.Play backyard cricket – because there is so much space in Australia it has become tradition that families head to the garden and play a little friendly game of backyard cricket. We took this to the next level and played water bomb cricket, which I highly recommend.

This cutie wanted all the sausages

This cutie wanted all the sausages

.Listen to the Triple J radio show – The Triple J radio show would probably be the item on this list that our Australian friends refuse to miss. The Triple J show asks Australia to vote for its favourite songs of the year. The people vote and on Australia day the radio show plays a countdown from 100 – 1. It sounded really lame when I first heard about it (who’s still listening to their radios?), but it was actually really fun to listen to and have a recap of the years music. It was the perfect soundtrack to the day. The songs are normally not what you would call ‘mainstream’ songs so you get some gems in there that you wouldn’t normally catch while you’re listening to the radio in the car. I mocked you guys last year, but my work playlist still has quite a few songs on it that I discovered last year on the Triple J’s radio show. I’m on board.

.Wear the flag somewhere on your body – painted on your face, thongs (flip flops), hats, towels, diddly boppers, bikinis, pants…you name it. If it exists then you can find it with an Aussie flag on it for Australia day. It was fun to cover ourselves in excessive Aussie merch and be part of it all. Lee bought a cork hat especially for the day and was ordered to take the corks off of it so there are limits.

lovely Aussie plants

lovely Aussie plants

. Play Goon of Fortune – I have to admit we haven’t done this year, but it seems like a big deal. A goon bag is a bag of wine that comes in a box. It is normally not the best of brands and comes in a bag that fits about two and a half bottles of hooch. The silver bag has a tap at the bottom and the bag is attached to a spinning clothes line (from what I can gather from being told second hand). People then stand around the clothes line, spin it and if the good bag ends in front of you…then you are drinking! Bag-o-wine. Drinking…sign me up J

australiaday6

Overall it’s a day that gives everyone an excuse to get out of the boiling offices (or freezing offices if they love the air-con) and celebrate with friends. Enjoy the day off guys and remember to ‘advance Australia fair’….or something along those lines ???

 

*I really wanted to add an extra note here. In recent years it has been brought to light by a lot of the indigenous population that celebrating the day that your land was taken over and invaded is hurtful and insulting. This has led to many movements wanting to move Australia day to another time so that it is a celebration of the country as a whole rather than a day just to celebrate the anniversary of the English coming to steal it. I can completely understand this argument and I think it’s great that Australia, from what we’ve seen, is really starting to embrace its aboriginal people and their culture, even more so than in the past. This may be a bias view because we have mainly been around creative young people who are passionate about their countries original origins. It’s hard to tell.

While being here I have met Aboriginal Australian’s who have had mixed opinions on the 26th of January. Some feeling it should be changed as a mark of respect. Others feeling that it is fine to stay the same, others thinking they should keep the day but change it’s name and meaning. As an outsider I have no idea what Australia’s solution to this problem of ‘Australia Day vs. Invasion Day’ is, but I hope they can come to a conclusion that celebrates all aspects of this fantastic country. To read more about this important issue please read both sides of the argument here: https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australia-day-invasion-day

whalewatching_05

Whale Watching at Hervey Bay

21st February 2016

 

One of my first memories as a child was walking into the National History Museum in London, looking up and seeing the giant statue of the blue whale that use to hang from the roof. When I looked up with my tiny eyes it was all that occupied my vision and I was enthralled. In fact, remember when Pinocchio  gets eaten by the whale? Most people were terrified of this as kids. I on the other hand thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen. I use to sit cross legged in front of the TV thinking ‘lucky puppet’.

disney ocean whale pinocchio monstro

As i’ve got older and become enamored with all animals , whales have always been on the list of ‘things to see’. But as is the case with all animal experiences…there had to be strict rules:

. They have to be in the wild

. The company must be safe and environmentally friendly

Luckily in Australia it’s quite easy to find a whale watching company that fits the bill. We arrived in Brisbane with only three weeks left of the whale season (the whale season in Queensland is August to October) so we set off as soon as we could, crossed our fingers and hoped we’d spot the incredible creature that is the humpback whale.

The humpback whales stop off here for a few months before heading to colder climates, normally with lots of mini humpbacks in tow. In fact it’s thought up to 7,000 whales can be here at any one time during the season.

We decided on Hervey Bay since it is always listed as ‘the number one spot in Queensland to spot whales’ on every blog we searched. Hervey Bay is about 3 hours outside of Brisbane so we hired a car for the day and took the beautiful drive to the bay. whalewatching_13

whalewatching_12  Hervery Bay is beautiful ! The drive from Brisbane takes you past mountains, the bush and signs hinting that Koala’s are near. The bay itself has the bluest seas, a lovely harbor and as you are sailing you go past white sandy beach islands that look like every postcard you’ve ever been sent by boasting friends. All of this is before you even see a whale.

whalewatching_09 We used the Quick Cat 2 boat , which you can book here. The company was one of the first to set out on the high seas to see these animals and they were great. We left on time, there was plenty of room, they gave us facts about the animals and area and even provided lots of snacks and drinks.

whalewatching_11 If I’m honest I held no hope that we would even see a whale . There was 2 days left of the season when we stepped on the boat and our hopes had been lowered by the staff. If we hadn’t seen one on the trip we’d have been given a free trip by the company so I wasn’t too worried, but I was sending well wishes to all the Nordic gods that we’d see the fins of some creatures of the deep.

An hour into the journey we’d still not glimpsed a fin when suddenly as if from no where a large mother and her calf appeared along side the boat. We could just see the sheen of her back as she arched back into the ocean , but it was thrilling. We saw her little calf beside her and it was so strange to be that close to a creature that had chosen to come and see what this boat in the ocean was.  Lee and I lost our minds!

whalewatching_01 We only had a few minutes to stare in wonder before we noticed in the distance a huge cloud of water. We raced across the water and got lucky enough to see a male whale displaying his powerful skills. He jumped out doing barrel rolls and dives for about 15 minutes. Even our guide was in shock . Unfortunately I was so enthralled by the show that I didn’t have my camera out. I was a little too obsessed with seeing it with my own eyeballs.

whalewatching_04 whalewatching_05 whalewatching_03 We got to see another handful of whales showing off as the day went on, which meant I got to capture a few token shots (phew) and even got a surprise visit from an angry lethal sea snake that wanted us dead. Luckily the boat was very high so we didn’t have to actually meet the most deadliest snake on the planet (the olive sea snake – in-case you were wondering) . whalewatching_07

The day went so quickly and our faces hurt from smiling. I would recommend it to anyone. I think we will definitely be doing it again. Lee’s mission is to see a Blue Whale and I’d love to see Orca’s in the wild so once again ‘whale watching’ has not been knocked off the bucket list…it’s just been crossed off and added back to the bottom of the list. whalewatching_06 whalewatching_02 whalewatching_08

signature

 

australia14

Australia – A Re-Cap

16th January 2016

header Well you might have already guessed from our instagram feed, but we are no longer on our grand tour of Asia.

It took us 3 months and 17 days but a few months ago (quite a few months ago now) we arrived in the merry old land of Oz. We were ready to see some Kangaroo’s, put another shrimp on the barbie and many other stereotypical things that i’ve learnt from watching too much Neighbours and having a affinity with The Simpsons episode  where they go to Australia.

Here is a little glimpse of our last few months trekking on a new continent.

Perth & Fremantle

australia11 australia10 Our first stop was Western Australia. Partly because it is the closest part of Australia to Asia and partly because we really wanted to see one of Lee’s best friends. Mo moved to Perth a few years ago and he, his beautiful girlfriend and their adorable dog , made the crazy mistake of letting us use their spare room for a while. Jobs were harder to find than expected but it didn’t take the shine away from our beautiful surroundings.

We were actually living in a small town connected to Perth called Fremantle – or in the traditional Australian way of adding an ‘O’ to the end of all words – Freo. We learnt (and Lee fell in love with ) AFL or the Aussie Rules Football League. I found a job in a craft beer bar and had a wail of a time serving pints and throwing together cocktails with a great bunch of people. They introduced me to a ‘Boilermaker’ and my liver will never be the same again*.  We saw fantastic sunsets and ate so much good food. Our last few days in WA (Western Australia) were spent in Margaret River, which is lovingly known as Wine Country to the locals. I managed to take a trip to wine country while I was suffering the mother of all hangovers . Not the way i’d recommend seeing the place but if it’s pretty when you are carrying a carrier bag ‘just in case’ around with you, then you know it’s got to be good.

australia9 australia13 There is a lot of things we didn’t get to do while we were in WA – mainly due to lack of funds so we will need to go back.   As if seeing Mo, Paula, Diego (the not so tea cup chiuaua) weren’t reason enough to go back , we didn’t get to make it to Rottnest island and see a Quokka (look at their lovely faces here) . But we aren’t too sad. It’s always good to have a reason to go back.

*I will explain what a ‘Boilermaker’ is in other posts but right now the memory is still too clear…urrrr my poor liver.

 

Melbourne

australia6 We didn’t think we would be able to see more of Australia so soon but  I luckily got a job offer at an animation company in Brisbane that was too good to pass up. We decided that instead of flying directly to Brisbane we would take the long route. Our next stop on our whistle stop tour of Australia became Melbourne.

How can you describe Melbourne? I read countless times that it was ‘liveable’ and had no idea what this meant…until we arrived there that was. It is a bustling, fun , delicious and just beautiful.

australia5 We scaled the Eureka building, ate till our bellies were bursting in China town and Lee got to fulfill a life long ambition and go to Melbourne Cricket Ground where we had a fantastic tour and learnt a lot. I’d recommend it to everyone, even if like me you are clueless about cricket.  For me the most important part of the trip was getting to see my favourite band ‘Post Modern Jukebox’ perform. You can see them here…I recommend watching allllll their videos. Seeing them perform was the only reason that our elaborate journey to Brisbane had such a long stop over in Melbourne. Boy are we glad we had the excuse. We can’t wait to go back.

It’s cheesy but i’d recommend the free tourist tram that travels around the centre of the city. Nice views, good information and you can rest your tootsies. australia4 australia8 australia7

Sydney and Manley Bay

australia18 Sydney is of course AMAZING! I felt like I was walking into every story I’d ever heard my mum tell of her childhood. My mum and her three sisters and two brothers moved to Australia when see was just five. It has been one of the reasons i’ve always wanted to see this country. It hasn’t disappointed yet.

We saw bustling Bondi,  the iconic Harbour Bridge , the even more iconic Sydney Opera House and enjoyed every moment of it. We stumbled upon a German beer house and had our fill of German beer. It wasn’t very Australian but we’ve managed to find a German spot in most cities so it felt almost rude not to. There is nothing quite as fun as watching Lee in a German beer bar. He’s like a kid in a candy store – but more drunk.

australia17 australia16 Our favourite part of our trip to Sydney was a day trip to Manly, We assumed that people had suggested this trip for the boat ride that takes you past all the major sights of Sydney so we were both a little taken aback when we arrived on Manly to discover a paradise hidden among the city. Beaches, harbors, blue seas and even a wild cockatoo. We spent the day fantasizing about living on this little piece of heaven. I finally, after years of Lee up-selling this country to me,  understood the pull of Australia and the hold it has on people. I never really thought that I’d be someone who would fall for this country but i’ve fallen hard.

australia2 australia1 australia3

 

Brisbane

australia15 Last but definitely not least is our little corner of the continent. We have made Queensland our home for the last few months and boy are we glad that we made the move over here. We have loved each part of Australia, but Brisbane feels like home to us now. We fluked a great little house that has a SPARE bedroom . For two ex-Londoners who couldn’t stretch their arms without touching both sides of the wall , it is bliss. We also have a garage that the optimists in us have turned into a mini gym….or as it should aptly be named ‘the dust farm’.

I am a massive nerd and love animation so I keep pinching myself that the company took a chance on a backpacking weirdo. I’m working my tukas off but it’s the first time in years that I’m excited for my job and at the same time I can’t wait to come home. It’s a weird feeling. Lee is working in a dungeon at a hospital converting horrible case files but I think he secretly likes the organisation of it all (this is the man who’s hobby is Excel after all :D) australia14

Brisbane is much more laid back than Sydney and Melbourne , as pretty as Perth and sunny 362 days a year. We have explored the Sunshine Coast and Hervey Bay where we saw humpback whales froliking in the surf but there is still so much more to see.  We did get treated to a visit from the incredible Kaleena , you may know here as the writer of this incredible blog. I know her as my ice cream partner in crime and America’s top sand castle builder.  It’s been a fun few months and although the idea of moving to a continent with no job and not a lot of money was a terrifying prospect. It has been worth every second. Everything’s coming up Millhouse! Fingers crossed 2016 holds a lot more in store.

australia19 signature