In January of 2019, we found ourselves in the most beautiful of places.
We found ourselves, in a truly secluded place.
So secluded in fact, that we had our own beach.
It was amazing, yes. Having so much freedom and space to roam as we wanted on a mini, mid-Summer getaway, felt like heaven.
And then we missed civilisation terribly.
We realised that when we came home days later, and actually vowed not to travel anywhere ever again until we had explored our own patch of ocean along the entire coast, in FULL.
Nothing to do with our destination. But we had magical waters too. 😉
Anyhow. Halfway through our stay there, we had to get away from seclusion.
So we headed a fair way out of our quiet getaway town, to Portarlington.
Portarlington is a historic coastal town on the Bellarine Peninsula, over 20 kilometres from the city of Geelong, and also on the other side of the Port Phillip Bay, the waters we look out onto every day. We heard it had a fairly good mix of ethnicities, and so with that in mind, and a few restaurant names off the guide left to us in our holiday house, we headed over on a sunny Tuesday to see what would tickle our fancy.
Vineyards, vineyards, oh the vineyards we passed as we drove. So many.
(But we have vineyards too).
The views when we got there, oh the views!
(But we have views too).
Okay, calm down SmikG. Just enjoy the holiday and stop comparing damn it.
We ventured to some restaurants, sussing out the vibe (it’s ALL about the vibe) before deciding on Portarlington By the Bay.
Firstly, there seemed to be available tables. (Well they were, but you all know they can be – surprise surprise! – booked).
Secondly, although we hadn’t booked, the thickly-accented Italian waiter made a spot for us.
Thirdly… the spot was outside, with a great view.
Okay, okay, they win… a little bit.
The décor was very beachy European, with blue and white everywhere. Beach elements decorated the interior, paintings, key pieces… and the open doors inviting the indoor diners out, well it was all tied together very well.
I went fresh and light with a freshly squeezed OJ, while Hubbie started off with a Carlton Draught:
And then baby girl’s kids meal arrived earlier, as requested. Chicken schnitzel, chips and salad.
Ours was soon to follow. Hubbie literally followed suit, with his meal being exactly the same as baby girl’s… just larger:
And meanwhile I went in the direction of the sea, when I got a Seafood Napoli pasta.
OMG. Let’s not worry about their meals. Chicken, chips, yada yada yada.
The sauce in my meal was delicious. Seafood-y, but still with this rich and wholesome tasting home-made like red heaven that was heaped upon my pasta.
Yum yum yum.
I remember feeling, like really happy. Really content. I was like yep, this is how people feel when they are on top of the world.
Life is good.
The beach is across the road.
It is summer.
And I have this awesome plate of seafood pasta that is just singing to my soul.
As for the other two… they were happy. Baby girl was satisfied. Hubbie was satisfied, but also not overly impressed. He didn’t think it was the best chicken schnitzel he’d ever had. (It’s just a meal).
We decided to follow suit with some dessert. That meant another drink for Hubbie, whereas for me it was tiramisu…
And for baby girl that was ice cream.
Look, I wasn’t actually planning on dessert. It was all entirely baby girl’s idea (a 5 year-olds idea, really?) She had seen the ice cream case when we visited the loo at one stage, and from then, it was ALL OVER.
Sadly for her, there was one problem.
The strawberry ice cream she had picked, had pips.
You know how real strawberry ice cream, will like, have remnants of strawberries? Yeah well hers did too. But that wasn’t good enough.
5 years old remember?
So even though she had wanted this ice cream so bad, as delicious as it was, it had pips, and that was a big kid no-no.
How do I know it was delicious?
Guess who had to eat it?
On top of my deliciously creamy Tiramisu?
I couldn’t let it go to waste! No way. After eating most of my Tiramisu, Hubbie and I dug into her ice cream (you can’t waste ice cream, no way!)
We were now definitely full, and organised payment of the bill before we headed back into seclusion.
But we got a bit of a surprise when we received the bill. They had charged us a full adult’s meal in lieu of baby girl’s kids meal. I had to go up to the counter inside and explain the issue, before the bill was rectified…
They removed the extra adult meal completely! They didn’t even charge us the kids meal. So although it was a little hiccup, they more than made up for the bill error.
And back out towards the bay views we went, following the crystal blue waters until they led us to our abode.
Food: 8/10. Although the chicken was okay, the pasta was uber-fresh and wholesome, a la Italiana.
Coffee: N/A… this time 😉 Bay views should be appreciated from every angle, especially on a return visit.
Ambience: It was chilled, but sort of bustly too, with people in a generally great mood to enjoy the Summer vibes. There was a distinct tourist-y vibe too, and it did have a slight upmarket feel as well.
Staff: They were friendly, they did their job, and went above and beyond to rectify our billing error.
People: Families, groups of people, and quite a few tourists too. I wonder if we stuck out to them as they stuck out to us!
Price: Well, the ‘adjusted’ price was $106. The ‘charged’ price was $130, but then $24 was removed when we told them that baby girl didn’t in fact have an adult-sized gnocchi… so the real price? Somewhere in the middle.
Advice: Check the bill. You know this is general advice, check the bill wherever you go. I even check the bill after I’m done doing the grocery shopping and I go to the self-serve checkout too!
Secondly, in peak season, warm nights and weekends, it’s best to book ahead. The views are great and would be heavily fought after if not a Tuesday like when we went.
In a nutshell: After all my cheeky jibes of having the same on our side of the waters, I would be more than happy to go back to Portarlington. It is a truly terrific location that you should check out, and the pasta ain’t bad too. 😉 I need to sip a coffee watching those views, right? Need to tick that off on my dining list. All in all, I would be happy to go back, to the other side of the bay.
Signal Station Brasserie 700 Nelson Road, Mount Nelson TAS
(Visited August ’18)
It was our last, FULL day in Hobart. The days were still sunny and calm (did we get lucky or what?) and after we discovered that traveling to the top of Mount Wellington from our accommodation would take us 40 minutes, one way, we decided to opt for the much shorter distance to Mount Nelson… we had driven to Port Arthur the day before and were getting seriously over driving. This was a holiday after all.
Mount Wellington would have to wait until next time.
We drove under 20 minutes instead, along winding roads with scenery that continued to grow and expand and show us snippets of what we were coming to see… far off mountains and valleys and endless greenery. After a couple of wrong turns we finally made our way up a residential looking street, and came to a dead end at what was the summit.
Not only did we find views… but we found a café (heart).
The signal station brasserie.
Now those are my kind of views. 180 degree views along Southern Tasmania, thank you very much.
First, we had to take in some splendid scenery.
Breathe in with me…
And breathe out.
The signal station was the first to be built in Tasmania, back in 1811… holey moley. Used back then for signalling and the reporting of shipping to the Port of Hobart and eventually to Port Arthur, it is now a place of rich history and fascination as tourists and locals alike come to feast their eyes on outlooks that were once used for very different means.
And to have a spot of afternoon tea, of course 😉
Back then it would have been in operation every day as the café was now… 7 days a week. We turned our attentions to the few tables that were getting baked in the Winter sun, and grabbed one before anyone else beat us. Soon, an interesting looking chap walked over and gave us some menus before walking away and talking to himself as he had been talking to us – like he had known us forever.
There was both himself, and a woman making the inner and outer café rounds, and it was with the latter that we made our afternoon orders, before proceeding to sit back and enjoy the fresh and beautiful surrounds.
It is a most magical spot. There is also inside seating within a small building that would have most likely been a house, sitting opposite the signal station tower on the other side…
But on the day that we had, you would have been crazy to wanna miss those views, and that sunshine.
Soon we were very happily being attended to.
Hubbie was happy to receive his short black with James Boags
Baby girl got a very colourful babycino
And I got a cap, while she and I shared some Signal Station Lemon Scones – with housemade jam and freshly whipped cream (2 per serve. $11.50)
Those scones were just sky high. They were a very decent serving, even for two, and baby girl enjoyed them as much as I did, applying lashings of cream… licking it off the scone… then applying more cream.
Ahh. Kid life.
Her marshmallows were forgotten but had been promised, so the man promptly called her into the café so she could pick up her never-ever-forgotten cushions of pillowy goodness from out of the jar. She was in heaven.
My coffee was great as was Hubbie’s short black, and he enjoyed it alongside his Sunday arvo beer, classic Aussie style. It was a lovely afternoon out in the sun and we felt particularly lucky to have been granted such pristine weather on our stay in Hobart, since we had definitely not expected it being Winter… being Tasmania.
When it was time to pay and go, I ventured inside to see the interior, and passed the most fantastic sign, that I was immediately compelled to capture:
What a beautiful sentiment. It gave me ALLthe feels, and had me in such a happy state, that when what happened later inside, happened, I guess it was fortunate for them, as I had already been buttered up like a sky-high scone before my massive letdown…
Like a pancake.
Because you see, I went inside to pay, and was standing in front of the register/coffee making counter, waiting to pay. The man who had tended to us earlier was busy making coffees and playing catch up, and there was a father and daughter duo who were ordering a specific drink for the girl… it could have been lactose, gluten free, almond milk perhaps, who knows. But the discussion as the man behind the counter made the drinks, was that she had a difficult order, the man had successfully made it, and they were now telling the man that they were appreciative of his efforts. The father and daughter walked off, the girl with her takeaway drink in hand.
Stay with me.
Meanwhile, as eccentric man as we’ll call him, was behind the counter playing catch up on drink-making, having his last of the conversation with the father and daughter duo, another couple walked up and were to the side, also appearing to want to pay. At this stage I did that thing where you move a bit closer to the counter, in an effort to say ‘I was here first,’ hopeful that surely, eccentric man would realise I had been waiting longer.
But then as the father and daughter duo exited, eccentric man started talking to the couple – they knew each other. Jokes were shared, inside convo, local lingo, things about the café, upcoming events… they mucked about and laughed and meanwhile I smiled profusely in the background as eccentric man made these drinks, thinking ‘any time now. Any time.’
Any time now, he will finish his drink making, turn to this couple and say “sorry I’ll just serve this young lady, she was here first.”
This young lady, tourist from Melbourne.
This young lady, first timer to Signal Station Brasserie.
This young lady, patiently standing and waiting.
This young lady, whose alias is SmikG and is a food blogger.
Then the UNTHINKABLE.
(Or perhaps, thinkable by now because I have been leading there).
He started to put through their order first.
(Mouth gaping open emoji.)
More unthinkable… the couple let him.
Sure, they kind of may not have known what I wanted… I was simply WAITING THERE TO PAY NOT DOING ANYTHING ELSE.
I enjoy just standing around doing nothing on sunny Sundays.
Majority blame, goes entirely to eccentric man. Making the drinks, ignoring me the entire time, and going ahead to let someone else pay before me.
In horror I watched as he unapologetically put through the other couple’s order, and as he did, and they paid, they continued chatting, and laughing, and taking their GOD DAMN TIME.
By the time they decided they had been there long enough, the couple walked off SLOWLY, talking to him over their shoulder, and I, feeling like a volcano about to erupt, walked hastily RIGHT UP to the counter and waited to pay. He made no apology, made small talk, I paid and was OFF.
I was gob-smacked.
Hubbie looked at me like ‘where the hell have you been?’
I said “don’t – I can’t talk about it now. I’ll fill you in in the car.”
And then we proceeded to verbally bash the unhospitable event for the next 30 minutes. Oh the story has even made its way to people back home, don’t worry. More in the below notes…
Food: I can only score on the scones, so a 7.5/10. Generous servings make for happy customers.
Coffee: 7/10. Pleasing and adequate.
Ambience: Unmistakably serene and chilled… a beautiful place to enjoy on a sunny day, with uninterrupted mountain and coastal views, and the cafe building a quaint interior, cottage-feel type place where you could easily hide away in and feel like you have stepped into someplace special.
Staff: Away from my comical exclamation marks and open-mouthed emojis, is this cold, hard FACT:
In Melbourne, this kind of queue jumping would not stand up.
Would not hold court.
Would not be acceptable.
The ignorance and blatant disregard would be dealt with, like a lion taking prey upon a stray zebra.
It is just not on. To be standing there waiting to pay, (busy or not busy) and then someone jumps in front you (their friend or no friend) is just so unprofessional and so unhospitable, it speaks volumes.
Hubbie told a workmate about this story, and his work mate said ‘that is not unlike Tasmania.’
No where else did anything like this happen. Everyone was wonderful in fact. So I don’t know how isolated this incident is, but if there are fellow travellers or Tasmanian locals who know of this kind of disregard for decency and order, please by all means enlighten me on what THE RULES ARE.
But, if I am waiting to pay, anywhere in the world, and someone else comes along and then jumps in front, the wait staff allows it and then proceeds to not even apologise or make any mention of it and there is no emergency to justify the queue-jumping?
Well in the matter of common global human decency, that is not on. In no language or country is that ON.
It just makes no sense. I am actually a very fair and understanding person, and I try to see both sides, but in this one I see only ONE.
Massive rant over.
People: Older couples (grrr) as mentioned, families, and kids. Tourists are onto this place equally as much as the locals are, yet it still remains quite secluded, private and unique.
Price: I paid, but got no receipt, or else I misplaced it in my overwhelming confusion and frustration. I have it on strong suspicion it was in the low $30s, which would make sense as we had predominantly drinks.
Advice: Despite everything said above, I urge you to visit this place… there’s nothing quite like enjoying a drink or a snack, and being able to see amazing vistas with your butt still firmly planted on a bench. Go early on a sunny day and enjoy the outdoors.
In a nutshell: Again, despite all I have vented about, I would come here again… and to eat, and coffee… I don’t know how I would be come face-to-face with eccentric man… but I would just turn my gaze towards the mountains, and Signal to myself –
From now, until forever more, we will have the phrases –
“A new normal.”
“Flattening the curve.”
It’s unprecedented. We’ve never been through anything like this before, or at least no one has for a century. As we try to adjust to a new way of living, breathing and being, I thought it might be a good idea to re-jig a list I wrote last year, and make it all ‘corona friendly.’
A lot of my earlier points I’ve re-posted here again because they still apply… but mostly I just wanted to put together a little how-to of ways to help you get by in this uncertain time, if not just for all of you… but for myself as well.
I might do gratitude in myother blog, but trust me, I need reminders too.
Because appreciation of life amidst difficulty is a continuous work in progress.
Please feel free to add things that make you smile, or help you simply get by, in the comments below. Some of us will be taking things harder, some a bit easier, but it’s important to remember we are all going through this in one way or another, and also to remember, the bigger picture.
If all you are doing is surviving, you’re doing great.Well done.
But if you need a little something else to keep your mind busy and have you looking forward, then read on…
Drink a caffeinated beverage.
Coffee, black tea, green tea… or just jump to the ‘other’ stuff.
It’s 4pm somewhere in the world, right?
(Alcohol abuse is not condoned here… because if you can’t party with it you’re doing something wrong!)
Put on some loud music.
Queen’s 1985 Live Aid performance is strongly recommended (going by my own personal pick-me-up experiences with that song) but really, anything that will get the blood pumping, your fingers tapping, and your feet dancing along.
Music is sweet, and so necessary for the soul.
Look in the mirror and laugh at yourself.
Even if you force a laugh, you will end up doubling over with real laughter over how stupid you look when you’re fake laughing.
Or else, smile really hard. Try not to burst out laughing. No really, TRY.
Was that pimple always there?
I never noticed those lines.
I really need a brow pluck.
All valid thoughts that may arise, but trust me it’s a very awareness-producing exercise. Hell at the very least, you will suddenly know yourself more intimately than you did before.
Go through old photos.
This is bound to make you feel better instantly. What a mind-trip this can be, going back to years and years ago. Go to your memory bank of choice… physical photo album or digital device.
And if you find you don’t have a collection of properly stored photos, well that may just be a nice little project you can do… being productive, clearing and sorting memories from your life, while filling up the current space with pictures of yourself and loved ones.
Take 3 slow breaths.
Do it now. Can you feel that? Your heartbeat slowing?
And if you think having littlies makes it impossible to do yoga, think again. There’s a tribe called Cosmic Kids Yoga, and they have hundreds of themed yoga videos for kids, ranging from popular movies like Frozen and Spiderman, all the way to movement based off the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
More info at thislink here, or find them on YouTube.
Write it out.
Having spent my whole life writing it out, I can tell you the therapeutic benefits of getting things out on paper are enormous. You don’t have to be Shakespeare… sure many are sprucing their motivations of starting the next great novel, but all you need to do is BLAH it out.
Just set yourself a timer, and write for 5 minutes straight. No breaks. No stopping. Whatever comes into your head, get it out in front of you.
You will be amazed at some of the crap random shitty unusual scary enlightening thoughts that suddenly purge themselves from you.
If you want, burn it at the end. Or keep it as a little time capsule of your own experience of surviving this corona experience.
Yes you heard me. SURVIVING.
Go for a walk.
Or a bike ride. This is about the only one we can do now. This one is so free, and so easy. We may be limited in our social movements, but the fact that we can connect with nature so freely, so easily, just by putting on some sneakers and throwing on a jacket… just do it.
This will save us all.
Look out the window.
Dream. Just imagine… stuff. Ideas. Wishes. Hopes.
Make a post-corona list.
While you’re dreaming, make yourself one of these. Me and baby girl have started one of these lists verbally, and often we refer to it when we’re struggling in the day to day.
Write, or just plan all the things you want to do when this isolation is over.
Watch how excited you get!
Some on my list for example…
Have coffee in a café.
Walk on the beach.
Give my parents and sister a big hug.
Have a massive shopping day.
Invite everyone to our post-corona party. !!!!!!!!!!
I know we’re not there yet, but thinking about it gives me so much hope.
Sit in your yard.
Sit under a tree. Or on your balcony. Lounge about on the porch.
If you’re limited for space, just open the window when you’re dreaming on the point above.
Take a nap.
If time allows you (and let’s face it, certain family members too) there is no time like the present to get some extra shut eye.
Because when the world starts up again, you ain’t gonna wanna sleep much.
I shouldn’t really need to say this, but sadly so many of us forget the bare basics to keep our bodies functioning at optimal level, and this happens more often than not when we are stressed, or going through sudden change.
Get a funky water bottle (order online through your favourite shopping site) and at least you’ll be motivated to bring bottle to lips throughout the day with something looking so cool.
Read a book.
Oh yes. Hell yes. Do it. Read them ALL. No explanation needed here.
We don’t need any excuses to escape to a magical place away from our current realities.
Take a bath.
Hell to the yeah! Baths are sooo not just for kids. Once you hit adult-age, they become a necessity, to help replenish, restore and reenergise.
All you need to do is turn on the faucet, maybe light a candle, and if you’re feeling for it, pour yourself a glass of wine too…
And lock the damn door. You need YOU time.
Ideas to keep us sane.
Do some online shopping.
There is no time like the present to buy things online, in turn supporting some local and small businesses while you’re doing so. And the rush you get from clicking “add to cart…” ooh. Gets me all heady. 😉
This is so easy. Whether it’s an old tv show, a long-time favourite movie, or some comedian on youtube. There’s nothing like a feel-good watch to lift the mood.
I love watching comedians online… one of my faves, the hilariously ethnic and blatantly honest, Sooshi Mango.
HA HA HA!
Talk to someone.
With technology so prevalent in our society, this one is so easy for us all. Call, zoom, even drive by someone’s house and yell across the yard to them (on your way to ‘essential’ shopping of course)… and just hearing someone else’s voice, will be an instant mood lifter.
(Keeping 1.5 metres distance of course 😉 )
Pat a pet.
That’s my furry Mister F. 😉
This is easy if you have one, but if you don’t?
You can virtually add an animal into your house. Just type one into Google, (eg. lion) and when the animal shows up click on the ‘View in 3D’ button.
Then click ‘View in your space.’
Find the ‘ground/floor’ in your phone and arrange accordingly…
And voila! Animal appears in your room! (As close as you might get to patting a real lion too!)
Sure you won’t be patting anything, but you sure as hell will be entertained seeing a zoo of animals pop up through your phone, in your kitchen!
Engage your mind with puzzles and games.
I bet no one thought jigsaw puzzles were going to rock in our technologically advanced 2020, and yet hear we are, chasing down 1000 pieces online and spending big bucks on the last Disney ones we can source…
Whether it’s a puzzle, a sudoku riddle, a crossword, or anything else that gets your mind ticking, it’s going to keep you engaged and thinking, and that is something we should never stop doing, isolation or not.
Or colour in. If you have those mindfulness pictures, great, if you don’t, print any old diagram off the net.
Doing something you haven’t done for so long, is great for the mind and soul.
And if all that doesn’t tickle your fancy… how’s about going back to your childhood?
Boardgames. Jenga, jenga, jenga…!
You don’t even need to go to Bunnings for supplies.
Start in your yard. Observe. Pick. Weed. Look around and respond accordingly.
Listen to nature, she’ll point you in the right direction.
Get the creative juices pumping. Start a new project. The options are ENDLESS.
Write a novel.
There are online courses just waiting for you, and I should know. A great starting point is the Australian Writers Centre.
As I mentioned earlier you can organise your photos during this time of iso, and there is no more creative way to do that than by scrapbooking. You can order items online from Kaisercraft or Riot, both places I have used in my own scrapbooking, and where I have accounts with both. (P.S. it’s free!)
This is a great one. I’ve recently started following Jamie Oliver and Marion Grasby on facebook… Chinese egg drop soup anyone? 3 minute tomato pasta sauce? All these and more I will be making soon!
Leah Itsines is another local gal I follow, and her meals are easy, delicious and so easy to source ingredients for (as well as being great for meal prepping – winning!)
Type in their names on facebook, insta or YouTube to start getting food inspiration ASAP.
Start an exercise routine.
You don’t have to tell me you can’t hit the gym. ‘Cause you know what I’m gonna say.
Go online peeps.
Sam Wood and Rachael Finch are just two of the people I follow on insta, and there you can find video links as well as where to sign up to become members and receive further workout benefits.
It’s never been an easier time to be in isolation. We can do this, while still doing almost everything else that we want to from the comfort of our homes.
Uneven door? Need to fix a handle?
Having a house that you tended to yourself, will be the most satisfying thing once all of this is over.
And then you’ll be able to call your friends over for post–corona drinks, and to observe your fancy house handy work too. 😉
Purge purge purge.
If you think clearing things from your life is not a creative pursuit, think again.
The intense therapeutic benefits that come from removing old, useless, redundant items from your life, and bringing in room for new, or just giving you air to breathe, well –
It can bring a new lease on life.
Start small, always start small. A drawer, a stash of papers. Don’t think of the big picture here. When it comes to cleaning, clearing or tidying, it’s best to always zoom in on a small task that you can achieve, because looking at the entire wardrobe that needs clearing and sorting, well you’re gonna be putting that task off for months, if not years to come.
But start with the right corner of that top shelf? That is do-able. That you might be able to knock off in 15-30 minutes.
And then when you get that down, watch how motivated you are to clear the left hand side of the top shelf.
And so on and so forth.
Then, just reap the mental benefits of all that SPACE.
Learn a new/old instrument.
Alright, buying an instrument at this time might be a little tough, but if there’s one laying around your house (most people have one they’ve deserted at some point) a really inexpensive way to tinker with the thing is to look up YouTube videos. Yes, YouTube! (I may need to rename this post The YouTube guide to getting through iso…)
A world of possibilities!
Make a jumper or a scarf, a beanie even, for that first day in Winter (that’s most likely for us in Australia isn’t it?) where we’ll be allowed out of our homes to go do WHATEVER, WHEREVER we choose.
Pick a bright colour. Look up some knitting templates online. Here I found some for you.
Finally, remember to keep things in perspective.At our core we are made up of atoms. Energy, air, and yet in human form all we see is hard matter. Think of all those who have come before us. Think of the future generations who will follow. Imagine the Universe. Imagine God. Just imagine Mother Nature if that is what you please.
And then see yourself as this tiny little invisible dot on the world map that is living an existence in amongst all of the shared past, present and future histories of anyone who has ever passed a breath.
Sure, you matter.We all do. But how much do your problems hold weight? All the little trivialities of our life, what has become of our day-to-day… it is hard. But how much will it matter tomorrow, next week, next year, or in 20 years?
If it still holds you down, speak to a professional. (This you can do online too).
But if your problems suddenly seem pointless and irrelevant…
Look in the mirror and LAUGH at yourself. I dare you not to smile.
Look out the window. Dream.
Take 3, slow deep breaths. Do it now.
Make a date.
Schedule girl time. Or boy time. Whatever tickles your fancy.
Go to the beach. Go to the forest. Go to the mountains. Connect with Mother Nature.
Put yourself in another environment. So if you are depressed at home, go out. If you are depressed at work, well… go out. Take a sickie. Yes I am saying take a sickie (then maybe think about finding another job if you are depressed more often than not).
Watch something you love. An old tv series, movie, youtube comedy clip… put on that which makes you smile.
Sit under a tree.
Take a nap. Some shut-eye really can bring you clarity.
Meditate. Sit in silence and try to quiet your mind. Or let it wander. See where it leads you. Don’t get worked up over what pops up – just observe.
Stretch. Do some yoga. There’s nothing like concentrating on the breath that takes you into a different zone.
Write it out. Have you ever done free-journalling? Sit with a piece of paper and get it all out, don’t stop for 5 minutes and keep the hand moving and the words flowing with whatever crap random shitty unusual scary thoughts come out of your head. When your 5 minutes is up, burn the paper.
Go for a walk. Around the neighbourhood… around the shopping centre. Whatever. Walk aimlessly, and let your feet lead you.
Talk to someone. A partner, friend, family member, colleague… even your cat. You think stroking their fur doesn’t help? You clearly don’t have a pet.
Take concerted time out to make yourself happy each and every day. Make it a priority, write it on your to-do list, make it a MUST, just like eating, sleeping and hygiene are in your day-to-day.
Drink water. A lot of it. Our bodies are made up of between 50-75% water, so we need this vital substance to keep us sane and moving.
Finally, remember to keep things in perspective.At our core we are made up of atoms. Energy, air, and yet in human form all we see is hard matter. Think of all those who have come before us. Think of the future generations who will follow. Imagine the Universe. Imagine God. Just imagine Mother Nature if that is what you please.
And then see yourself as this tiny little invisible dot on the world map that is living an existence in amongst all of the shared past, present and future histories of anyone who has ever passed a breath.
Sure, you matter.We all do. But how much do your problems hold weight?
If they still hold you down, speak to a professional. But if they seem pointless and irrelevant, take a deep breath and put up the music.
This was the first place we dined out for a meal, properly (bar takeaway), when we holidayed in Tasmania in late August of 2018.
Firstly, they had said it would be cold. So cold. I was preparing, you know, for the worst.
We brought our jackets. For sure. We were from Melbourne after all. If anyone knew, it was US.
But instead, sunshine shone so much that day, we left our jackets in our car.
In Tasmania! True story.
Secondly. We had heard a bit about this old-fashioned Richmond town. It was nothing like the inner-city suburb that Melbourne knows so well, home of the yellow and black footy supporters. No.
This was something else entirely. Sure it held a lot history much like it’s sister city back in Melbs…
But unlike Melbourne’s Richmond, Tassie’s Richmond still looked like it was in the 1800s.
After a wander up and down, into Sweets and Treats, Richmond’s lolly shop, for coffee and what else, lollies, we really needed a bite to eat. It was our second day in Tasmania having arrived the day before, and really, our first proper spot of sight-seeing.
What a place to start on.
We had travelled approximately 30 minutes from Lutana where our accommodation resided. The scenery was striking and beautiful. What immediately struck me was the constant views. They were all the same, yet so different and continuously beautiful. That’s because largely, there were hills, and water.
Hills and water.
Hills and water.
HILLS AND WATER.
It was very picturesque. We started to understand quite quickly why people said Tassie was such a beautiful place. We went up Grasstree Hill Road and then back down it, winding around and around to finally reach our destination at Georgian-style Richmond town.
And of course when lunch time came, we really had to go old-school too.
At The Richmond Arms.
The interior certainly matches the exterior. Where the outside shows the age of the building and the time it came from, we found not much was changed inside. Though perhaps slightly updated, the rooms are definitely of another time and place, so don’t go expecting anything life-changing here. The room we sat in was away from the area that housed the bar where Hubbie went up to order and pay at, and in one way it felt like we were sectioned off into a room that may have very long ago been a lounge room.
The Richmond Arms Hotel also has accommodation, something to consider if you want to spend more than a day in Richmond. There is plenty to do and see, and considering the history and beauty of the town, why wouldn’t you?
Despite the age of the tables and chairs, I really was quite taken aback by one feature wall within… it had a quote so beautiful, so treasured and meaningful, and also so close to my heart, as it was a sentiment confirmed to me as the years have gone by, a written manifestation of what I had known all along, but never really verbalised… that I had to photograph it:
‘An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land,
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand
though Earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country,
My homing thoughts will fly.’
– Dorothea Mackellar “My Country.”
After ordering Hubbie brought over our drinks, a beer for him, and of course a local for me – the Richmond Arms Sauvignon Blanc
Considering it wasn’t awfully busy it still took some time to receive our meals… I used this time to run around the old-fashioned shops within the street, to find out of all things, a mobile phone car charger! It appeared that my phone was just not coping with all the photos I was snapping, and I couldn’t bare to waste all my battery and go home having not photographed all of Richmond-town. Oh, the horror! My prayers were answered at the large convenience corner store kinda opposite the Richmond Arms.
When the food did arrive, we were very hungry, and it looked delish. Well worth the wait.
I had the Asian vegetable and Hokkien noodle stir fry
Hubbie had the Chicken schnitzel – served with chips/salad or vegetables and your choice of sauce (no salad, with sauce)
And baby girl had the Macaroni cheese
Firstly, Hubbie was so jealous when he saw my meal! I guess the thing with being married to someone is you have to give each other bites of your meal… for better, or for worse. I for one know Hubbie is hanging to have a bite of whatever I order when he starts offering me bits of his… in an attempt to subtly hint “hey, I want some.”
The sauce was very flavoursome and the noodles and vegetables all combined well to make a delicious dish. There were bits of all kinds of veggies, and the presentation really was up there, not what I expected from the kitchen of that hotel… I was surprised. Pleasantly so.
Hubbie enjoyed what he had ordered. He was happy in that it was a hearty pub-style meal, and to be honest, simply what he had expected… it was chicken with vegetables after all. He was full, let’s just say.
Baby girl’s macaroni was overwhelmingly cheesy – hence the mac and cheese – so she struggled with it. She was not hating it, but wasn’t so much a fan as that was during her ‘plain’ phase. And this cheese-dripping-over-every-inch-of-macaroni meal was as far from plain as you could get. We fed her that, and chips and vegies from Hubbie’s plate to satisfy her lunchtime requests.
No fault of the meal’s… it was all her tastebuds that decided for her. It was an especially cheesy meal, not for the faint-cheese-hearted.
When it was time to go, we left happy and satisfied. We had been venturing through Bridge Street, and next… to Zoodoo Zoo it was!
It ended up being a most wonderful day 🙂
Food: 8/10. It was hearty, tasty, presentation was great… it ticked many of our boxes for good old-fashioned fare.
Coffee: N/A. We can’t put all our food and coffee eggs in one basket can we? We like to try out as many places as we can when we’re someplace new, meaning food and coffee don’t tend to happen at the same place. That happened over at Sweets and Treats earlier! I hope to one day be back at the Arms, and then I will know.
Ambience: Quiet. Lunchtime in Richmond tends to be a calm affair, even with the fact that it is a destination… it may pick up on weekends?
Staff: Almost non-existent, other than to bring our food over. If you need them, you know where to find them… up at the bar.
People: Pensioners pensioners pensioners. You know there were a lot of older people wandering around the street, clearly tourist-minded, however considering what there is to see, do and appreciate, I am surprised there were not a lot of younger families? Perhaps we came during off-peak season, which come to think of it, is not a bad thing.
Price: $69.00. Is that it? For food and drinks? Crap I am moving to Tasmania now…
Advice: Go when you’re not yet overly hungry, so you don’t mind waiting that extra bit for that steaming plate of love that comes out of the kitchen some time later.
In a nutshell: A really authentic and memorable lunch experience. The food is not average or out of date in any respects, despite what the interior and exterior may look like. The surrounds are interesting and reflect the nature of the street and town as a whole, which make the whole experience that much more pure and relevant. In my mind, legs and ARMS, it’s the only place to go.
It’s made me think of them, their meaning and emergence in our atmosphere, and specifically, the metaphor we can use for them.
I saw a rainbow out our lounge room window just the other morning before dropping off baby girl at school. We were eating breakfast, and amidst the grey skies and falling drops outside, I spied one half of a rainbow, across the water:
But that wasn’t the first one I saw that week, and it would not be the last. It was only when driving home from school later that day, amidst wispy rain, that we saw one again.
As I explained to baby girl what had to happen in order for there to be a rainbow… something struck me, in my casual explanation.
“There has to be rain, and sunshine,” I told her. “And then a rainbow will appear.”
I was immediately flung deep into my whirlpool of deep thoughts, as I often am, tuned in to my surroundings as I am constantly used to taking mental notes… life as a writer, empath, or both.
There has to be rain, and sunshine, for a rainbow to appear.
Huh. Even life was teaching us lessons.
The proper definition of the rainbow occurrence is something like this:
It is a natural spectrum that occurs in the sky after rain falls.
As sun shines onto falling rain drops, it causes reflection and refraction.
The rain drops act like tiny prisms, bending in the sunlight to be reflected back to us as the band of colours that we see as a rainbow.
This is why the rainbow is always directly opposite the sun.
Hmm, I pondered. There has to be the presence of both rain, and sunshine.
And if you were looking at it from a non-geological perspective, not focusing on the fact that the planet needs both rain, and water to replenish and renew, to grow and keep things living…
Well, most people tend to regard rain, in their every day life, as a nuisance. Bad.
And they tend to think of sunshine, as a welcoming smile on their face… Good.
And just like the rainbow to the left of my vision as I drove along in the rain, it dawned on me.
Even Mother Nature says there has to be the presence, of both good, and bad, in order for something beautiful and miraculous to occur.
Because that’s what they were, right? Miracles? Considered a sign of good luck in many cultures, with the pot of gold at the end of it the answer to all of life’s problems…
And so on this last weekend, in amidst grey skies and endlessly rainy days, and coincidentally or not, the Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year where we receive the least amount of sunlight…
We also received rainbows. A sign from Mother Nature, that despite this cold Winter, a respite is coming?
That despite the long and hard days, the hours of sunlight per day will be increasing soon?
That sometimes, bad things have to happen, before we get good things coming to us?
Maybe, the raindrops falling from the sky are the horrible hardships we endure, where we question life and the world and ourselves..
And the sun is our effort and determination to not give up, to keep pressing on, and to see it out no matter what. Our Hope.
And our rainbow, is our reward at the end of it all. Glorious, multi-faceted, a glow that takes over our whole life sky. But we had to go through rain, then sun, to see it through.
So remember… the presence of both good, and bad. In order to see a hue of miracles. 🌈
Think of that next time you’re going through a hard patch… you may just find your pot of gold… but it’s important to keep that sunny disposition, even through the rain.
It was the Australia Day weekend that had us venturing for a sea view from a café on the Esplanade. During some of Hubbie’s early morning Sunday drives where baby girl and I kept on sleeping (she doesn’t fall far from my tree) he came across Lilo several times, and seeing the amount of people bursting from the joint, decided immediately that we must go there.
And so it was a Sunday. A steadily approaching 35 degree day Sunday. I had to work later in the day so this was our little venture out as a family, trying to pack in quality time before I headed off. As we were seated in the bustling café, at one end of a communal table where there was an older couple on the other end of it, something started to become apparent.
Green plants (ok duh, but stay with me).
Green cutlery holder.
Green on the walls.
And then when I looked behind me at the counter/café section there was green everywhere!
Green, was the theme.
There was a nice quirkiness to it all, not cliché or overdone or just tacky. It was kind of like your Grandma’s house, but not like your average Grandma – rather this was the cool hippie Grandma who never remarried, swings with other like-minded independent pensioners on twice yearly cruises, and out-drinks the 20 somethings at the Christmas gatherings… and goes to bed after they have fallen asleep on the couch. And she loves green because it reminds her of that time with your Grandad at the park… never mind.
That kind of Grandma.
I perused the menu and while Hubbie got his first latte of the day, I opted for a fresh
Watermelon mint and apple cold pressed juice
(See, green straw).
It was tasty, and I could have easily had another. Hubbie meanwhile had an extra strong latte, as suggested by our waitress when he asked how strong the coffees were (apparently not that strong if he had to order strength up times two).
The café was fairly busy and noisy too. You could see outside to the trees across the road, which blocked much of the view of the water, but sitting at certain vantage points right near the window would definitely give you peaks of blue and sparkling.
It was hard at times to flag people over for service, being the public holiday weekend that it was, since everyone was out to play and eat, apparently, and also being Mornington having a 50% increase in general foot traffic through the eateries there… but once that was all done and we had a little wait, our breakfasts finally arrived (we were famished by that stage):
I had the Lilo brekkie – two poached eggs on toasted sourdough, potato croquettes, Istra bacon, peperonata
Hubbie had the B.L.T. Istra bacon, cos lettuce, tomato, relish, Noisette bun, fried egg
And baby girl had Pancakes with fresh strawberries, ice cream and maple syrup, and side of strawberry jam
I really enjoyed my meal. The eggs were poached perfectly, the potato croquettes were so yum and creamy, and that combination with the peppers that tasted like the home-style ones our parents make (Hubbie agreed) was just a fanciful flavour combo. The bacon wasn’t as clean as I liked, but that’s why I have Hubbie you see, to take the fat while I keep the clean bits. It was a simple and classic dish, not too weird to put people off of the standard fare, but still interesting enough to be memorable. It was a safe kind of different.
As you can see above, there was green lettuce in Hubbie’s burger… ok I am just kidding. Obviously, it cannot be purple (actually it can, aha!) Hubbie loved his burger, and said he would get chips with it next time. Yes, next time. He had added the egg which was optional, and really I don’t know how anyone can’t when you are having brekkie. He had a side of sauce because SAUCE FANATIC, forgetting that there was already relish in the burger… oops. Never mind, two sauces makes my butcher-sauce-loving Hubbie a very happy man.
Baby girl’s pancakes looked fresh and inviting. But at the same time she was firmly not into berries then, and so all she had to indulge in were the two very small pancakes with lashings of jam that we had asked for, and the ice cream. Size was on the meagre side, as I had to give her half of my toast just to satiate her appetite.
While heading over to the toilets one of several times that visit (experimental 4 year-old, that’s why) the theme that had been so prevalent throughout the dining area only expanded…
Because along with the eclectic wall of teaspoons that decorated the area directly opposite the male and female individual toilets…
The large and spacious inside toilet also continued with the green theme! Can I say, Grandma’s old school toilet is very, very cool. A large model of a lady hung on the inside toilet door, and the green continued in fixtures and fittings, towels and posters. It was a very attractive toilet, if I DO SAY SO myself. It really was, and maybe this was part of the reason baby girl had to go like, 3 times during our visit.
We ordered coffees after our meals were done with, and not surprisingly these probably took just as long as our food to arrive, they were that busy.
Cap, latte, babycino and choc-chip cookie.
Honestly, I was surprised the cookie did not come out on a green plate. Even the choc-chips. Come on, why?! :):):)
The coffee was mild and to my liking… and now I am questioning whether they have green coffee. That would just tip me over the edge. Ok I will stop now.
It was a busy and full experience there at Lilo, and since my time with family was limited, once our bellies were full of all things good, we headed towards the counter…
Food: 8/10. It was inventive yet also traditional in that it gave you the good stuff you would come to expect of a café… and based on our second and third experiences there, we have come to learn that they are very good at balancing the right flavours within a dish. Party in your mouth. Yummo Bravo.
Coffee: 7.5/10. Mild.
Ambience: Very busy and bustly, seems a noisy place and even when there haven’t been many around things just seem to echo. Considering the tranquillity of the across-the-road views, this café seems to block out everything else.
Staff: They were very busy that day, however other times we have found them, how should I put it, hard to come by? They tend to appear on the ‘understaffed’ side, therefore ‘stressed’ side, albeit still trying their best.
People: A very mixed bag, really it is everyone in here, with a good portion of the older generation seeming to inhabit. Why of course, it is Grandma’s friends.
Price: $78.65. That included a 10% surcharge for the Australia day public holiday. Although still acceptable, based on a future review of another café we dined at where we were slogged a 15% surcharge, I have to say…
I understand that staff need to be paid extra on the public holidays, and I certainly DO NOT oppose that. But I have two questions/statements, one from me, and one from Hubbie…
There is unreservedly a greater influx of people coming in on these days, meaning more customers = extra $$$, which I argue discounts the need to charge a surcharge to cover your staffs wages.
Second, Hubbie asked: If cafes create this imposed surcharge to cover their staffs additional wages, why then don’t the shopping centres charge us extra on public holidays to cover the definite increased wages they need to pay their staff? Safeway, Coles? Do they charge us extra?
(One can argue they already do, but I mean do they charge us additionally because of this day?)
It does not make sense. Cafes, STOP doing this, it is wrong and very annoying.
Advice: Now that I’m done with my outburst… sit as close to the windows if you want a sea view. Have one of their fresh juices. Go to the loo, and just be in the moment (seriously). Also if you love carbs, the potato croquettes in the Lilo brekkie are GOOD.
In a nutshell: It’s a café with a wonderfully retro character, which follows cleverly throughout. The food is simple yet done VERY well, and when eating you can tell the chef knows what he is doing. With a beautiful locale, it is easy to see how so many flock to this eatery, both for the food, interesting and homely atmosphere, and also for the chance to peak out at the waters nearby…
I guess it is kind of appropriate that a stretch of bushes and trees watch the café from across the road. Green.
The crazy Christmas lead-up in early December saw me say “no, I want MORE mayhem!” as I headed over to my second bloggers meet-up at The Enchanted Adventure Garden.
Only ‘crazy’ was not what I felt as we wound up higher and higher up Arthurs Seat road, watching the Eagle chairlifts hover over us temporarily as they made their casual descent/ascent…
and ‘crazy’ was not what I felt as we first passed Bowens Point
And then Franklins Lookout
and then finally, Chapmans Point
It was serene, with a small dose of beautifully scary as I viewed the perilous drop from the cliff face. No, my memories of last travelling on that stunning Arthur’s Seat Rd hill, were from about 7 or so years ago before baby girl came along, when Hubbie and I, having not even considered the words ‘Sea change’ then, were heading to our beautifully intimate Arthurs Seat hill accommodation for the night, and as I observed that it was pitch black and almost scary how there were no lights around, he turned to me devilishly and gave me his best ‘Michael-Jackson-as-possessed-zombie-in-Thriller’ face look, to which I screamed and started to cry.
So no. These views were NOT scary compared to that strong memory.
And crazy was suddenly so far from mind, so removed from my being, that the Christmas rush was only a faint memory as we parked and observed the car park and surrounds…
And I realised, we are not in Kansas anymore baby girl. But that’s what happens when you come to the Mornington Peninsula now, is it?
Us bloggers were greeted to a lovely morning tea and a brief introduction to all that the Adventure Ground is, and does.
Immaculate gardens, picnic area galore, mazes, Adrenalin-junkie fun, kids paradise, relaxing walks, and even a sweet-tooth’s dream! Why, is there anything Enchanted didn’t cover?
I was soon to find out. Off I went with baby girl with my map of the grounds, my critical eye out and ready for my review…
Statues – tick. √
Finely trimmed hedges – tick. √
Brightly coloured flowers – tick. √
Ok, so this was all well and good for the adult eye, but I needed to keep my daughter happy, and looking at trees was something she had not grown to appreciate as yet.
We followed a path and soon found ourselves in the Turf Maze, a fantastic and relaxing premise based on a practice by Monks in the Middle Ages, used as a meditative tool as they would walk around and around in repetitive circles in silence, aided only by their feet and their thoughts. I got baby girl started on one end as I started taking photos of… the trees.
I LOVED that tree. Just l♥ved. I developed some serious tree envy as I took several dozen photos of it, and baby girl skipped through a few maze lines, and then was suddenly at the exit of the maze.
Right-o. I don’t ‘quite’ see her meditating in that space, but at least it kept her somewhat busy.
I had promised her a playground (with absolutely no idea whether they had one or not – massive parenting risk), and so that is what we were looking for when we came across this sign.
It seemed the only fun active activity we could do together, in lieu of getting my 4 year old to tree surf by my side, which I was not going to do solo (again, parenting-risk doing it ALONE). Zip-lining was out too.
W observed the tree surfers in the trees up ahead of us, blending in quite nicely I might add, and immediately decided I would come back there with my adventurous, scare the living daylights out of me Thriller-seeking Hubbie.
Finding the tube slides was fairly easy, as it is actually hard to ignore five 100-metre long slides that steep down from the hill decline.
There are tube slides for littlies, from 4 and up, so baby girl could have very well gone on it by herself, since the smaller weight actually makes them travel down slower… but no. I decided to take her with me on the adult ride…
and then plummet down super fast while I thought “oh shit we’re going to flip.”
We didn’t. In fact we went up twice, and on our second trip down the tube turned backwards, so that I really was freaking then “we’re going to flip! We’re going to flip!”
WE DIDN’T. It was the best fun, but the fact of having to haul a huge tube up a steep hill, carrying a fairly heavy handbag, in heat, and while wearing inappropriately heeled shoes, well, it kind of influenced me to cap the tube slides at TWO.
Baby girl was left thoroughly captivated. And yet still, as we headed off down some other paths to explore, she had not forgotten about that damn playground I had promised.
She looked here and there
She did the usual whine and moan and unsatisfied toddler routine. Damn me. Why had I gone and said something I had no clue about?
(Baby girl going all 14 year-old hormonal on me)
I stopped to view some interesting sculpture art along my tree-lined walk.
Art and sculptures from Aboriginal, Australian and European artists collided and worked magically together in this most wondrous of gardens.
And then we got to another maze, the Blue Gum Gallery, and I followed a fast baby girl around it, as she laughed at how incompetently slow I was.
This cheered her up somewhat, and since by this stage we were close to the café from where we had started our walk, it was soon time to go, and clearly I had come across no such playground from the depths of my imagination. I shut down another protest from her with an insane idea, but it worked.
“Do you want lollies?”
And just like that, a 4 year-old’s face lit up.
We went inside, paid $5 for a cup, and filled it to the brim with all kinds of devilishly sickly sweet goodies. She ate them slowly in the car, stopping every so often to mumble “mmm, yummy…”
Parenting done right. 😉
The Enchanted Adventure Garden
55 Purves Road Arthur’s Seat
General Park Entry for Adults: $30;Child/Seniors $20
Mazes,Giant Garden Brainteasers, captivating Gardens to picnic at and view in all of their pristine natural glory;
Tube slides –of which there are 6 to choose from: 3 Big Twisters, 2 Straight Giants, and 1 Kids Only slide. Kids need to be 4 to ride on the Kids slide on their own, any smaller and they must ride with an adult.
Canopy Walk –a suspended path that brings you in amongst the trees, that runs through the park, ideal for small children, older people and people with prams.
a 3D indoor spooky maze –pop on your 3D glasses and watch things pop out at you! Ideal for teens and older kids.
Plus MANY more fun things to discover as you meander around.
Both kids and adults alike can experience the Tree Surfingon offer. The little nippers course is for kids aged 4-12, though kids aged 4 and 5 need an adult to accompany them on the course.
The tree surfing has various degrees of difficulty for both amateur and professional, mild and reckless adult thrill-seekers alike! Includes bridges, zip lines, obstacles and tree platforms, prices for both Nippers and Grand Tree Surfing courses start from$50 for Adults, and $40 for Children/Seniors, with a 2 hour limit per activity.
But if you need your adrenalin rush and lack the time, need not fear! The Tree Zip Linemay be just what you need, and those competitively charged, you can even Zip alongside a friend and see who gets to their destination first! Prices are $40 for Adults,$30 for Children/Seniors.
Active wear highly recommendedfor these ACTIVE activities, and closed-toes shoes a MUST!
I must reiterate again, despite baby girl’s temperamental attitude towards a lack of playground, there ARE kid-friendly activities and things to do, and they abound. However on that day there were several tree-top renovations happening up above, getting all geared up for the crazy holiday season, and so a couple of areas of the Gardens appeared incomplete. The above is an indicator of what is up on offer, but isn’t a complete list, as there is also a Children’s Maze, something we didn’t see on that day but I think would be perfect for a curious baby girl.
Need I say again, closed-toed shoes?
Make your life easy and don’t wear heels.
More advice? Carry light. When I hauled that tube up the hill twice, in my heeled shoes carrying my heavy handbag, I developed lower back pain two nights later and immediately knew where it had come from.
For God’s sake don’t be like me, wear appropriate footwear, pack light, and carry the tube as unforcefully as you can. Or bring Hubbie along and he can do it.
And if all else fails, remember…
(Mwa ha ha!)
At first glance perhaps pricey on entry, but when you see all the beauty and fun, relaxation and learning that these Gardens have to offer, you will see that it is well worth the price.
Our visit there was rushed, so I cannot wait to go back and explore some more.
And for something different, an alternative and highly entertaining present would be the Tree Surfing and Zip Lines as a fabulous and inventive gift idea.
We ventured to this hotel/pub style restaurant while still on hols… and by hols I mean in the deepest midst of never-ending unpacked boxes. I mean, when your kitchen stuff is God knows where, you really can’t cook up a meal, right? Especially when your potential dine-out view is something like this:
Yep. It was freezing cold and windy as I stepped out of the car that evening mid-October, and yet I still had to brace myself just to take a photo of the most spectacular coastline.
I could definitely get used to those views.
We headed into Kirks, and although we hadn’t booked ahead we still got a seat on that Tuesday night. We sat in the glass-house like section at the front of the restaurant, which in my humble opinion (and every other sane person’s I think) is the best seat in the house. There is seating behind this area, but the view of the water is further away, and really, unless you are sick of views like that (who are you, an alien?) I don’t know why you would choose to go anywhere else.
Although we received menus and all, and baby girl conveniently received one of those kid’s packs with crayons, stickers and activity paper, it was an order-at-the-counter type of establishment, so the food and drink were both ordered further into the restaurant behind us, with food at one section, and drinks ordered at the bar.
There are also toilets in between the bar and food ordering sections, while a TAB functions at the left of the establishment once you walk further up the stairs, operational every day of the week. This place has really got something for everybody. Food, alcohol, entertainment, and Port Phillip Bay views.
Hubbie got me a cab sav and himself a beer.
The surroundings were peaceful, with definite locals around, now ourselves included (!) and there was a calm comfort in the air, the restaurant keeping the cold Spring air out and its inhabitants warm inside, with only the view of the water to remind them of the elements outside. It felt like a pub-style yet classy establishment.
Baby girl’s meal arrived first as requested, and it was hot!
Spaghetti with Napoli sauce
She had also received a free drink as it was a kid’s meal special. She enjoyed her spaghetti, it was a hit with her, and the serving was definitely generous. With her main came our entrée, which was
Roasted pumpkin bruschetta – Oven-roasted pumpkin tossed with semi-dried tomatoes & basil served on mozzarella toasted ciabatta
It was exactly as the description told us, with the pumpkin element adding a vegetable warmth usually missing in bruschetta options, and the mozzarella giving a good dose of cheesiness! It was a hearty meal, and we were already half way to full-ville when our mains arrived:
Hubbie’s YG Aged & Grain-fed Portland Scotch Fillet 300g with a red wine and mushroom sauce, with chips and salad
And my Chilli Tiger Prawns, tossed in a cream & white wine sauce, served with fragrant jasmine rice & a side salad
Hubbie thought his steak was amazing! Impressing the fussy butcher, WHAT?! Yep, you heard right. Although he had ordered his steak medium to well, it was a tad more medium… but that was acceptable. The other components on his plate were a bonus, because let’s face it, when a butcher orders steak, all we’re really gonna judge is the meat, right?
I had been longing for a classic style of chilli prawns. And this didn’t disappoint. The sauce wasn’t the most chilli-rific, but the prawns… there were 11 of them! Count that! That, made me happy. When I order prawn ‘whatever,’ I want prawns, and a decent quantity too. It was good to see that though the price was equally decent for an institution of that calibre, that the quantity of meal (and components on the plate) matched it. By the end, I was content.
After our decent meals, me giggling my way through the rest of my wine (the quantity of this was decent too, and got me fairly tipsy), and sitting back in our chairs observing the views outside, it soon grew too dark to see the water, and then it was time to go.
Food: 9/10. They are the classic pub-style generous sizes, jazzed up too because of the location and views. I give them a higher score, because of how well they received us on another visit… read on below…
Coffee: N/A, but mark my word I will try it one day soon!
Ambience: Casual and cosy. Intermittent laughter and louder than normal groups were heavily punctuated by longer silences and still moments when people were just chilling. I think being by the bay makes everyone feel that much calmer. You just stop, and stare.
People: Locals. Locals.Locals. Cold Tuesday night in October, who else but locals? There were a group of 3 guys near us, but predominantly there were older couples, and older groups… um, Mornington is a bit of a Pensioner’s Paradise. Is everyone aware of that? I mean, they even have a pensioner special! That’s telling you something.
There was also a Mum and son pairing, and then later, a family of 5 (applause to the parents) came to sit nearby as we were finishing up, but it was generally an older crowd about, and from repeated visits, we’ve noticed a $$$ one.
Staff: The staff provided friendly service, both in explaining to us straight-up after ascertaining we were new, how we had to order, and also by kindly giving the kids set to baby girl, without us even asking. God Bless. More on the exceptional staff below.
Price: The total price was approximately $120-130, being vague because there were two receipts when Hubbie put the orders through at the counter and bar respectively, and we didn’t keep both. Though Hubbie thought the price too much for pub-style surroundings, I reminded him we weren’t only paying for the food, but for the magnificent view. Something to keep in mind. I for one think it is worth it.
The only downside is the ordering up at the counter part for both drinks and food… it’s places like these you expect to pay a little less, rather than the amount we paid at Kirks.
Advice: Book ahead only so you can be assured a spot in the first sun-room section.
In a nutshell: We have been to this venue a few more times since our initial visit, which shows you without me saying, that we were more than happy to go back!
On one visit we received the most kindest and understanding staff, that I absolutely have to mention it here, and praise praise praise. Baby girl was having an exceptional moment one night, heavily over-tired, and pretty much had a breakdown as I tried to take her to the toilets, which resulted in me almost having a breakdown. One lovely waitress tried to help me settle her, and calm my nerves amidst other diners eye-ing us off suspiciously, and then when we were in the bathroom, that same waitress went to Hubbie and told him to let me know “not to worry. We are a family restaurant, we have kids, we understand.”
When he told me that, I honestly started to cry.
Because so often wait staff, store people, and just generally a lot of the population that have no kids, or have long passed that stage and forgotten how difficult it is, will turn up their nose at you for even taking your child out, let alone when they’ve had enough and scream blue murder at the top of their lungs. So for this waitress to go up to Hubbie and say what she did, was like an Angel singing the most beautiful hymn.
She then continued to be accommodating that night, by giving baby girl one of her own child’s toys to play with, and even another waitress was especially kind to us. It was like, they knew…
…that kids WILL act like kids. Funny huh? This place jumped up high in my books after that night, and eternally it will now be a regular fave. Well done guys.
So with all that said, I will definitely go back again, not only because they were so especially kind and understanding to us and baby girl, but also to finish off my ‘to-do at Kirks’ checklist:
Drink wine in their outdoor section taking in the view
Have brekkie in their outdoor section taking in the view
Have coffee in their outdoor section taking in the view
This is part 2 of my Port Douglas snap shot which goes through the local attractions we experienced. For any information on Port Douglas Travel, Accommodation, Weather, or Food, click here to see Part 1 of this article.
Market – We went to the market at the end of Macrossan Street the first morning we were there, which was a Sunday. It was interesting looking around at the local fare and seeing what was happening in that part of the world. It’s custom to wear sandals and thongs, but there was mud here due to the recent rain, so beware. You’ll be obliged to buy something, just for the hell of it, just as I did with my body crystal and our shared mango drink (where else in the world do you buy mango drink from people who grow them in their backyard and then turn it into liquid in front of you?)
Summary: Nice to check out if you’re there on a Sunday for a bit of a stroll, but don’t lose sleep if you have other things to do either.
Breakfast with the Birds – An event at the Wildlife Habitat Centre, you can do either breakfast or lunch, but we opted for breakfast and arrived to a cold and hot assortment of breakfast foods, sitting amongst a large outdoor canopied area where birds suddenly appeared, or watched you from nearby trees! It was certainly an experience and something different, and if you have kids, (or a big kid who likes birds, *ahem Hubbie*) you can get up close and personal, talk to the experienced staff there, and take photos too.
Just don’t go too close, please. I’m not saying it’s not allowed, there were just some visitors there who were asking for it as they shoved their big-ass lens camera into the black cockatoo’s field of vision and then DIDN’T get bitten. Unfortunately. Have some respect for these creatures and hang back. You have a big-ass lens, don’t you? Use it.
Following this we decided quite spontaneously to join the Rainforest Walk – this was fantastic! Again, it was fun for baby girl, and the other big kid lover of birds as well as me because hey, I like hearing about these different animals and learning about their way of life, and our guide that day was fantastic, enthusiastic and very informative, making the experience all the more interesting. We saw a Cassowary bird, which baby girl fed watermelon to, an experience that has stayed with us all since, especially her! And got to meet and fly along with many cheeky parrots.
Of course you don’t have to join a tour to check out the wild habitat there. At the conclusion of that tour we went to see some crocs (and one giant one!) on our own walk, and then we concluded with a bit of a shop in the retail section before leaving. Our tickets to the Breakfast with the Birds meant that we could also come back once more for free, which was a great offer, but we didn’t take it up. We had much more sight-seeing to do!
Summary: A great experience for kids and bird-lovers alike, and quite informative too. Eating and being in the same room as the birds is an interesting concept, so I think this is one you have to do for something a bit different and memorable.
Mossman Gorge – If you were looking for paradise on earth, this is where you would find it. In particular, in the swimming hole within Mossman Gorge.
But what… ‘Hole?’ ‘Swimming Hole?’ That is the worst description I have ever heard to describe the beauty I came across that day there. And yet, that is how it was described to me. ‘Hole’ is nothing close to, nowhere near enough a word to describe this paradise. In fact, a hole is as far away a description to describe this paradise as literarily possible (did I just make up a word?) Here are some photos (which do no justice to the real thing):
We came to the Mossman Gorge centre, having heard about the ‘swimming hole’ there, with that Rainforest being the one we chose because quite simply, it wasn’t too far from our resting point, and we wanted to make the most of our time. In another trip, we might do the Daintree as well (as well as the Mossman again!) but this trip we had to be time-efficient. At the centre, where there is a retail shop, café, and plenty of walkers refuelling or getting ready to set off walking around the rainforest, we purchased a ticket to board the bus that took us into the heart of the Rainforest, which was about a 5-10 minute drive. Many people did this too, coming with towels… Hmmm. The ticket specifically said “NO SWIMMING!”
We had no idea where we were going as we arrived at the destination, but we exited the bus and followed the towel-holders into the rainforest, amidst towering trees and walking on plank-like bridges. The lady at the retail shop had told me it was a minute’s walk to the swimming hole, and yet it was more like 5. Difficult only because I was carrying a tired baby girl in my arms.
But she sure woke up when we got there.
In the gentle slide as the earth dipped down towards the water’s entrance, there were people everywhere: amidst trees far back, along this sloping slightly muddy path, and then, in and amongst the beautiful and pristine waters. It ranged from people decked out in swimwear and the tiniest of bikinis, to people who had like us, not been prepared for an all-in-body-water experience, and had just come with shorts and thongs.
It was magical. Truly mesmerising. I took off baby girl’s dress and let her immerse herself in just her singlet. What the hell. She only had the best time of her life (well one of, we are pretty cool parents). I was happy I had on my high shorts, and took off my thongs, wading in the cool water up to my knees. We stood. We watched. We breathed. We took in everything, and I was moved to tears.
Everyone who was there, was doing just as we were. Just being. All these people, ranging from the littlest of tots to the oldest grand-dads, were there, with accents from all over the world, and they were, just still in the water, wading or relaxing from a distance, and taking in the beauty that is Mossman Gorge.
And you know what I felt in that moment? I felt so damn proud to be Australian. This amazing country of ours had a rainforest and a special slice of paradise that people from all over were coming to see. I felt so blessed, and I still do. I think what made the moment even more special was the fact that we had come not expecting anything – all I thought we would do is wade in the water. That’s it. We waded alright. But we stepped into precious beauty and untold magic when doing so. It gave me chills, and when I think about it, I still get goosebumps.
Summary: If you can’t tell from my short essay on Mossman Gorge – GO THERE. Your children will love it, and so will you. And yes, there are signs and things that say ‘do not swim’… so I’m not telling you or endorsing you to swim. Just use your damn common sense. (If you see a fin or tentacles or jagged bits popping up through the water, run).
This place will remain in my heart forever more.
4 Mile Beach – Another find. I said Mossman Gorge is like paradise on earth, right? Well if you’re looking for heaven on this planet, you need not go any further than down Macrossan street until you hit water. And then just thank me later.
This was another unexpected ‘Wow’ moment. I think we had had many difficult moments with a tired and under-slept baby girl, so to not know how great it would be only to then discover that this beach was unbelievably unreal, was another very happy moment for all.
I was told by many people before coming to Port Douglas that you cannot swim in their waters due to creepy water creatures. I thank God that I did not listen to any of those people. I mean, we got accommodation with a pool in case, but still, I’m so happy we did it our way.
See that? That is netting. It stretched fairly wide, meaning it kept out all nasties – crocs, jellyfish and sharks! Those were the creatures actually listed on a board at the beach, advising swimmers to beware. So if you want to have a pleasurable swimming experience, possibly the nicest of your life, then go ahead, swim safely within the large net. But if you like to live on the edge with risk of being stung/bitten/eaten, then by all means, BE MY GUEST.
Swimming in the netting did by no way diminish our swimming experience. It was clean, it was safe, and the water was exactly the same as the water that wasn’t protected by nets – just without the scare factor. Oh, did I mention this?
28 degrees my friends. Read it and weep.
I loved this beach, and my only regret is that we didn’t have more beach days. We spent about 3 hours here, getting here early on a Tuesday morning before 9, grabbing an umbrella’d chair to leave our stuff (you need to pay though, it gives you a few hours) and then soaking up the incredible Port Douglas Sun, Surf and Sand.
My repetitive thought during our time there? ‘Take it in, take it in, take it in…remember this moment.’
I don’t need to sell you anymore on it, do I? Just in case:
Summary: Go to 4 Mile Beach. Parents and children alike will LOVE it.
Calypso Half-Day Great Barrier Reef Tour – We had really wanted to see some of the Great Barrier Reef, but neither hubbie or I being scuba divers or snorkelers or having even tried it before in any capacity, we wanted a beginners version. We ended up going with Calypso only because our first choice, travelling to and spending a day at Quicksilver’s platoon, was booked out. With Calypso there was a half-hour boat ride to an island where there was either the choice of taking a glass-bottom boat ride to see the coral and underwater creatures, or do some snorkelling around the island. The option of either or with no real emphasis on having to snorkel, sounded great to novices such as us.
We had a bit of a ‘misunderstanding,’ we’ll call it, on trying to book the Calypso half-day tour. They had cancelled on us a previous day due to choppy winds, which means the boat does not go out and there is no tour. Our hotel owners advised that we should just arrive at their offices nearby where the boats are docked, the morning of when we wanted to go, because at least then we would be able to know if we could go. Booking in advance didn’t seem to help any extra, because we could just as easily be cancelled on. This was advised by both hotel management and apparently, Calypso too.
We went on Tuesday morning, the day before we were meant to jet off back to Melbourne. I ran into the office to buy tickets, while hubbie waited with baby girl in the car. Upon running in and seeing other people come in with tickets, I asked if we could book the half-day tour for that morning, only to be told by a girl behind the counter that they were all booked out for that session. I despondently asked if they had an afternoon availability, and she said they were completely booked out for that one too. Their next availabilities were for the following day, but knowing we would be on a plane the next day, I walked away.
Hubbie was there as I left the store, having come in with baby girl, being sure that I had already bought the tickets. After telling him what the lady had told me, he got fired up. He went in, asking the same question of the girl, and when he got the same answer, he told her that we had in fact been told to come in last second because Calypso had cancelled on us the day before. If we couldn’t book in advance due to fear of cancellation anyway, but we couldn’t rock up last minute either because everything was booked out, then how the hell could we organise this freaking tour?
(He didn’t say that word for word, but that way sounds better).
You know what she said?
“There’s just been a cancellation for the afternoon tour, I can book you on that one.”
This, literally 2 minutes after she told me there was no availability for the afternoon tour.
I paid, and we left. And all was good. After all we ended up at 4 Mile Beach that morning and had the most incredible time. We had lunch, and then went off to do this bloody tour.
Look, in a nutshell, it was alright. Upon embarking we took off our shoes, and were encouraged to just get a scuba suit and flippers, because ‘what the hell, you might as well.’ This actually excited us as we had never snorkelled, but one of the instructors implied he could show one of us while the other was with baby girl, and vice versa.
I admit I was a bit scared but excited. I was going to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef?!
The boat ride up was beautiful. Travelling all that distance, going through all that water at high-speed, was amazing. This was a boat ride to the low isles. Basically I think that means that this is the outskirts of the Great Barrier Reef, you’re not in the thick of the coral and all the underwater fish as if you would be if you travelled further in. It was still beautiful. We listened to instructions on board about how to wear your equipment and operate it, and it appeared we were the only ones who were there primarily to see the glass-bottom boat, apart from one other couple, but even they snorkelled in the water later, a little.
The glass-bottom boat was ok. We saw a few things, and I still enjoyed it, but I really think you need to be in the midst of the Great Barrier Reef to see anything really good. I wasn’t in complete awe or anything dramatic like that. Upon completion we went back to where the main boat had docked, wondering if now someone could show us how to scuba. There was an American girl instructor, a guy also her age instructing, and an older, perhaps 40 year-old instructor. He had been our tour-guide on the glass-bottom boat as the rest of our group went scuba diving off the main boat and towards the island. We hadn’t actually docked at the small island for some reason, I can’t remember why but there seemed to be a genuine reason for it. The guy who had implied he could show us to scuba, suddenly decided that he and this American chick would now jump on the glass-bottom boat and take it as a pair to the island, because they wanted to try and get some photos of a turtle or something. And then they were off, clearly with their own personal intentions, and Hubbie reckons his intentions were extremely personal, saying he obviously had the hots for the US chick and wanted to go alone with her. Leaving the 40 year-old instructor with us.
This instructor was good. He was just shitty. You could tell. He was shitty that the two young ones had left, leaving him on board the main boat with Hubbie, me, baby girl and another couple. The guy from the other couple was more confident heading out into the water, whereas the girl stayed back, closer to the boat. They had both at least scuba dived before. We hadn’t. We had been told by the young instructor that we could watch him. He went off because his head was leading him. But not his top one.
The older instructor gave us tips here and there, but his heart wasn’t in it. He was shitty, trying to be professional. I don’t blame him really. Everyone else was off either scuba diving and instructing the rest of the group, or cosying up and trying to get lucky with a colleague.
Both hubbie and I, at various times, with a few half-arsed tips from the 40 year-old instructor, jumped into the water, staying close to the boat, dunking our heads in and trying to breathe through the breathing apparatus. That was not bad, it was the water flooding into the part protecting our nose which made it difficult. It was a few minutes at best, but we could still say “We snorkelled in the Great Barrier Reef!”
I was a bit disappointed that no one had taken the time to show us properly – they certainly had ample opportunity, but were busy making personal plans or were just upset. I didn’t want to focus on it, seeing as everything else about where we were was amazing, but even the girl from the other couple whispered to me later that Quicksilver’s tour of the Reef was much better, especially being a beginner. She had been on that one before, being a not-so-confident scuba diver herself, and said it was far superior to this Calypso tour. I told her we had tried to book but we were too late! Hearing her thoughts, and also criticism of the way some things were done there, only confirmed to me that there were many parts of this tour that could be improved upon.
Very small provisions were offered after all of that, some were free like fruit, and some payable like alcohol. The ride back to the docks was a quiet one, everyone happy to watch the surf spray up from beneath us, taking in the beautiful scenery that is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, and getting decent colour in the hot afternoon sun.
Summary: I enjoyed the experience and the location – the tour itself with Calypso, not so much. Many things could be improved upon, for example the professionalism. It was $120 per person, so there was value for money… but nowhere in the brochures did it say ‘Expert snorkelers only!’ so it wasn’t too much to ask for a little assistance for snorkeller virgins such as ourselves. Fortunately with baby girl being 2, she got in for free. It was a 2-5pm tour, and there is also a morning one, starting about 7ish.
If you don’t want to spend the whole day snorkelling, or out at the Reef, and you have some clue as to how to snorkel, well maybe you won’t mind the Calypso tour. That’s the only way I would recommend this tour, if you fulfil those above requirements. Otherwise, based on our personal experiences, I would NOT recommend it. Plus, I didn’t mention that the guy who was chasing the US chick was also arrogant. Just saying.
If you can spare a whole day at the Great Barrier Reef, and whether you are experienced or not, I believe Quicksilver’s trip to their Platoon where you spend the day there, is the best place to go. It’s the one I’d be recommending, and I haven’t even been, but I will, next time we go. Just book it in advance!
So concludes our Port Douglas trip in a rather large nutshell. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions for anyone wanting some more information about any part of the trip, so please drop me a line if you plan on visiting this part of the world in your near future.
And if you weren’t planning on going to Port Douglas, I hope my experiences have inspired you to perhaps give this tropical paradise a go at some point, or maybe it will motivate you to seek out your own version of paradise, whatever or wherever that may be 🙂 Happy travelling.