Read and cafe-away

Whileaway Bookshop & Café
2/43 Macrossan Street Port Douglas

So by this stage you can tell we’re living on Macrossan Street, yeah?

I finally had a chance to get to this union of café and bookstore on day 3 of our Port Douglas getaway, on a Monday afternoon. It was stinking hot and humid (nothing unusual in those parts) and the interior provided a chance to sit and unwind for a bit while I got excited about all the book purchase possibilities around me.

I had seen this place on Zomato before we holidayed our way over, and boy was I in anticipation of it. My dream would be to open a café/bookstore, so this for me was a special type of paradise (following the one we had visited earlier that day – swimming lagoon in Mossman Gorge. OMG. Stay tuned for an upcoming Port Douglas attractions post).

We promptly ordered up the back of the shop. It was all connected, but Whileaway is set up as if there are two sides to the store, with the café towards the back on the left behind all the seating, and the primary load of books was in the right of the store. Of course there was also seating on the right, not as much, and there were books upon entry as well near the majority of tables and chairs. There were books EVERYWHERE. You couldn’t escape (tee hee hee).

We ordered coffees, and some food.

A Cheddar Cheese and Onion Muffin

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Chocolate Macadamia Tart

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Mossman Pineapple and Banana Cake (considering Mossman Gorge had just blown my mind I had to indulge in a dessert of the same name)

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And a cappuccino, latte and babycino.

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The cheddar cheese and onion muffin was warmed up and quite tasty, a very big serve too to keep you satiated for a long time. Woe is me, I had to eat most of it since baby girl wanted none, deciding to overdose on the Pineapple and Banana Cake. That too was delicious and sweet, a mild flavour. The Tart was ok, and the coffees were strong. At first my cap had a different, unusual taste, and the caffeine hit me in my sweaty state… but then as I drank on I must have gotten used to the taste and it was ok. Probably not my preferred cup of coffee, even Hubbie agreed with his latte.

Where we were sitting was next to the children’s books and a children’s table play area, however despite the scene we still had to watch baby girl didn’t drop or damage anything. Yes, we were in the kids section, but it was that kind of shop – the look, don’t touch one. Which is difficult when you have a child and they can see trains and caterpillars and all the things they know and love, but is of a dearer and more exclusive value. There was a lady nearby sorting books who was onto baby girl, and when Hubbie said “baby girl don’t touch, the lady will get upset,” she was quite particular: “no I won’t there are just things that can break there.” Very choice with her words. I like it. Of course, she works in a book store right? (And I suspect she was a manager/owner).

I didn’t purchase anything of the reading variety during that visit, as baby girl was getting grumpy, and honestly I couldn’t even find something to buy as I was generally perusing. Not that there weren’t books aplenty, but I wanted to get something special, something different, something to remind me of our Port Douglas holiday.

We managed a quick stop over literally an hour before hitting the road for the airport days later. And after looking, and looking, and scratching my head, and sighing, to baby girl grabbing things and Hubbie following her around irritatedly, I finally settled on this:

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The blurb at the back of the book intrigued me:

“We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book.

It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it.

Nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it, so we will just say this:”

And then it continued with a brief description, which luckily further intrigued me. I won’t be reading it for a while but watch my book review space for when it does come up.

And the little plus with my purchase? My new Whileaway bookstore bookmark. Cute 🙂

Food: 7/10. Consisted of mostly savouries and sweet treats.

Coffee: 6/10. It didn’t really leave us yearning for another cuppa, but it did the trick. Strong.

Ambience: Think library! It was fairly quiet and chilled as you would expect a reading area to be.

People: There weren’t many that hot Monday arvo, but there was the solo wanderer and coffee enthusiast coming in, no rowdy groups here. There was another Mum who ventured in with her daughter, who was also trying somewhat successfully to keep her daughters hands from the pretty play things about.

Staff: Pleasant. Both women behind the coffee machine were friendly, and the studious book manager-type was… serious. About books.

Price: Reasonable, $20+ for what we had.

Advice: Come without your child. I know there is a children’s area there, but unless your child listens to every word you say and obeys every instruction given, or unless they are of an age to sit on the kids table there and just draw, perhaps best to leave them with Hubbie in the communal pool of your accommodation and come alone for an afternoon of exciting solitude and books.

In a nutshell: I would definitely love to come back on our hopefully one-day-not-too-far-away return to Port Douglas. The terrific book surrounds and cosy atmosphere is an ideal area to indulge in while having a coffee, however I do hope that the taste of the bean improves…

Coffee, and books? What a terrific way to Whileaway your afternoon.

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Whileaway BookShop & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Rubens stays warm

Rubens
70 Main Road Hepburn Springs

On the first day of our Hepburn Springs/Daylesford Wintry getaway, the name Rubens came recommended twice. This was both impressive, and yet not so. In a more area secluded area such as this, it can be expected that there may be not so many places to dine out at, making the same restaurant options pop up more than once. However on the flipside, we soon discovered that the countryside location actually had a decent abundance of eateries to accommodate for the constant influx of tourists wanting to spa away.

The man at the Dayget office mentioned the above when I first went to check in, and then the mobile masseuse lady who came for my massage also recommended it. Still, we drove into Daylesford town, and after finding not much open on a Monday night, decided to then Ruben it.

We were able to be seated near the front entrance door, with a high chair for baby girl in the passageway, or outside in the alfresco area. At first we opted for inside fearing the freezing temperatures that had all of a sudden appeared on the first day of Winter (even Melbourne usually waits a couple of weeks before really freezing us), but after Hubbie checked it out he discovered that the alfresco area was completely enclosed, and had some of those outdoor heaters warming the area. Deciding on the extra space, we went out. The staff were very accommodating with our change of mind considering we hadn’t booked on a night they already had a few functions and they had already arranged our table.

Ruben’s had been flagged as an Italian-style restaurant, and like the Dayget man had said there were several pages of menu to leaf through. The interior was fairly standard, and in the alfresco there were probably about a dozen or so tables.

I decided I wanted a bottle of red. So I got this:

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Sandy Farm 2013 Cabernet Merlot

And was very happy indeed. 🙂

Perusing the kid’s menu, I was very pleased to see this option

Vegetables with chips

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So I got it for baby girl. It was refreshing to see something other than your usual chips and nuggets, or spaghetti bolognaise options that you see in so many other places. I wanted something fairly healthy for her, and despite the vegies being drizzled with a olive oil dressing and some other flavour, it was still pretty healthy and had baby girl eating a fair decent portion of it all. I was rapt. We taste-tested too and it was yummy indeed. She got her meal earlier as requested, which helped our cause once again. Tick.

We had the same style of vegies that baby girl had had aside our mains that we ordered.

Tasmanian Salmon Steak- oven baked, with fried Kipfler, sweet potato, and seasoned vegetables for me

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Eye Fillet Steak- char grilled and served with a pepper sauce for Hubbie

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Both were very healthy, comforting and satisfying meals. Hubbie had requested medium for his steak, and it was a deep to light pink all the way through. The way it was cooked, for him was a pass. As he ate it he grew more approving. It would have taken longer for it to be cooked medium to well, yet his steak was still to his liking. I even tasted it and thought it was great, until the pepper sauce hit the back of my throat and sent me on a coughing fit en route to the end. My God, this Winter cough won’t give up. Anyway, it was great.

My salmon was lovely, healthy, and fried all the way through how I like it. We had all had healthy and satisfying meals, which were tasty but simple.

To end it I decided on this:

Affogato

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Which we all ended up sharing. Baby girl had some ice cream, Hubbie had some coffee and I had a bit of both mixed together. 🙂 It was good, but the coffee was very strong. At least if it was going to keep me up, it was going to keep Hubbie up with me 😉

Food: 7.5/10. Simple but hearty. A fairly standard menu, options wise, yet there were a lot of them, so that was good.

Coffee: 7/10. Strong. I wonder how their cappuccinos are like?

Ambience: On the quiet side, especially outside. This made us slightly nervous, with a hungry girl needing to eat beside us, but thank goodness she behaved. This once. Inside it was more rambunctious with a few big groups, and as the night wore on it the volume also increased inside the alfresco. It was warm and inviting, made additionally so by the heaters against the wall!

Staff: The staff were really good, in particular our waitress was amazing and very accommodating to our needs. She was attentive, warm, helpful and genuine. Her service was impeccable, we were very impressed. She also helped me out with the wine. 😉

People: Couples, and groups of people. 25+ up? We were concerned with an older couple beside us who were especially quiet over their meal, hoping baby girl’s possible antics wouldn’t totally piss them off, however she didn’t get vocal while they were there, and then when they left another couple of the same age bracket came in their place who actually acknowledged baby girl with a few smiles, so we breathed a sigh of relief.

Price: It was $130.50 all up, but that also included a bottle of red that came in at $38, so our grand total was a bit more than usual. With our mains averaging at about the $30 mark, baby girl’s meal at $12 (all kids meals are $12) and a couple of drinks, and the affogato, it was about on the mark.

Advice: If going over the weekend, perhaps book. Yes there were a few functions surprisingly on the Monday night we went, but you should be safe just rocking up during the week. If it’s cold out, don’t worry about seating in the alfresco, as it’s still warm.

In a nutshell: A cosy and inviting place that we would be happy to return to on a trip back to the Hepburn area. Happy staff and a vast menu make this an enjoyable place to dine at, and with the healthier kids option, I can see why this was recommended to me not once, but twice.

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Happy Monday

As wrecked as I now am, ironically from the happiness of the day, I felt it ever so important to share in the joy and express why and how today was a ‘good news day.’

Because you can never have too much positivity.

It all started when I drove in to work, and found a park, in a really busy area where it’s usually really hard to find a spot at that time of morning. Lucky Tick.

I picked up a coffee and got into work before starting time. Soon after I had my yearly performance review with my boss, and was very pleased to hear she was very happy with me. I was appreciated, and they were glad to have me back, even in a part-time role. It’s always nice to hear that you’re wanted and appreciated. Job satisfaction Tick and Tick.

I caught up with a friend, who was now in a serious relationship with the guy she had liked for about 2 years. Hearing of how well things were going for her, made me so happy. I love stories like that. People who are meant to be, ending up together. She thanked me for helping her not lose it over that time, and for helping her ‘persevere.’ Awww shucks. Love and Happiness Tick. Dreams DO come true. You CAN get the guy!

I then got a random phone call from a health care business on my side of town. A former work colleague had put me down as a referee on her resume, and the place she had recently applied to was calling to get the low down on her! Being the fantastic person that she is, it was no problem to speak highly of her, tell them I missed having someone like her around in my current workplace, and that she was a very happy, friendly, talkative, yet hard-working and loyal employee. I messaged her later today, and she said she got the job! She had been looking for so long, and for so long I had wished there was something I could do to help her. And unwittingly, I totally did!

Job and Friend Helping Tick!

Then I happened across a programme at work, pretty much based on the changing face of Australia and how we have become the nation we are today through our people and achievements. I was proud to again be witness to the remarkable feat Cathy Freeman achieved at the Sydney Olympics, when she ran the 400 metre sprint and won, under the intense pressure and scrutiny of the world. Seeing the vision of her excel and succeed, amidst such public and also personal pressure, of being in the position to realise her dreams and became an Olympic champion, was truly motivational and touching. Inspirational Tick.

A horribly bittersweet story came next, of the Australian team that were one of the countries that had partaken in ‘Operation Babylift,’ where in 1975 they tried to rescue babies from orphanages in South Vietnam as a result of the war at that time. Although most of the footage of this event was re-enacted, seeing the images and hearing the stories of the people who fought against terrifying odds to take sick, close to dying children on a plane, crying and scared and set out in cardboard boxes, and nurturing them until they set foot on Australian soil, was truly moving. I struggled with great difficulty to fight the sobs as I watched one scene, of a woman run towards the bus which was taking the Australian team with the orphaned babies to their ready bound-for-Australia plane, begging them to take her child.

Crying, and begging, for them to take her baby. She wanted her baby to be saved, to be safe, in light of the harsh and sad reality that she, her baby’s mother, may never come out of the war alive. She couldn’t come with them. Being a mother, this scene was incredibly hard to watch, and it was only a re-enactment. Albeit a true story, nonetheless.

The happy ending out of it all, is that all the crew and the orphaned babies made it back to Australia alive. In sum, approximately 3000 babies were saved as a result of ‘Operation Babylift.’ And seeing that many of the adopted babies had grown and had families of their own in this great country of ours, made me so happy, made me so bloody proud to be part of a country that was part of such an important humanitarian effort. I am so, so proud to be Australian. Heart-tugging and patriotic TICK, TICK, TICK.

And then on a completely different, and lighter note: I came home and found a save-the-date card had been sent to us for an upcoming wedding of a really old friend of mine. I love weddings, and you know life is good when you have great things to celebrate. Celebration Tick. Milk it when you can.

I shared my ‘good news day’ on facebook, and funnily have had cousins messaging me asking if I’m pregnant again. No, for the record, I’m not. I’m enjoying my red wine too much at the moment to be ready for that again. But it was lovely to hear from people on the other side of town, whether 30 minutes away, 60 minutes away, or on the other side of the world (as occurred when my cousin in Germany messaged me!) Family Tick.

It’s been a great day. It’s been a great Monday. Today has been somewhat of an exceptional example, yet I think the lesson here is that you can find good, no matter how small, in every day.

Helping other makes you happy.

Sharing with others makes you happy.

Being rewarded makes you happy.

I forgot the best part of the day. Laughing with baby girl on the couch, as I blew air into her face, and she exploded wet raspberries onto mine.

Motherly, Tick. 🙂

Life is good. Life is great. Let’s not forget that.