My seafood son is visiting, so we had swordfish bowl. The first time you make it, you might take up to 45 minutes (plus the 1 hour marinating), but once you have the routine, I think it’ll be a 30 minute meal (plus marinating time) that is finger-licking good.
Hobart in Winter is not for the faint-hearted. Icy winds and single-digit temperatures (Celsius) frame an otherwise sunny day with frost.
So what takes a lover of 40 plus degrees so near the Antarctic? – The knowledge that we’d not spent enough time there last year, when we travelled Tasmania, and cheap direct flights from Adelaide! Our aversion for the cold limited our visit and maximised our planning. Normally preferring to drive, we read up on the hazards of driving in Tasmania in Winter – snow, black ice, sudden weather changes (true all year) and decided to walk and catch public transport.
From the airport, we caught the airport shuttle for $20 each, which took us to our accommodation, although this wasn’t one of the stops. We caught a public bus to Richmond, which was about $15 (for two) each way. Fares are cheaper after 9 and before 3. I downloaded MetroTas on my phone so that I could see what was available at any time and plan our trips, and we could have got a green card which is a transport card, which means reduced fares. Weekend services are not as frequent. Most of our travel was on foot, however, and the signage and street maps are amazing. As there are no footpaths for highways, make sure you get an underpass.
PLACES TO VISIT
Salamanca Place is interesting, varied, accessible. We’re told the markets on a Saturday are great but we’ve always missed them. There is a large square with a fountain, where kids could run a bit, art, shopping, bars…
galleries and shops
Mt Wellington behind Salamanca
Kelly’s steps are located in Salamanca and these lead to Battery Point. James Kelly was a sailor and at the time he built the steps, in 1839, they were part of a cliff that overlooked the Cove. The buildings on the wharf were made of the stone from the cliffs (courtesy of Wikipedia). We took the steps and did the historic walk: https://tasmania.com/things-to-do/walks/battery-point-historic-walking-tour/ credit to Dale Baldwin, that we could follow on our phones, taking us to historical places in the area. It took about an hour and is inclined from the steps. St George’s was an imposing building, not on the walk but definitely on the horizon and unmissable.
Kelly’s steps, looking back
Battery Point views
inside St George’s
Narryna Heritage museum
The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens – an easy half hour walk from Hobart, even in the rain, well-sign-posted. The view and terrain was very pleasant and we went via the Soldiers of the Avenue, a memorial to the soldiers of the Boer War and the two Great Wars and past the gunpowder magazine. It was a good track until just after the sports field, where three choices led to the use of Google maps on our phones and following a narrow, muddy track for the last km. The gardens are not too big and you can probably get around in about an hour.
We took three, with stoppages in the gift shop, Succulent (the cafe), the lily pond, conservatory and the subantarctic plant house.
Richmond is an historical town, not far from Hobart. It boasts the oldest bridge, oldest intact gaol and the oldest Catholic Church in Australia. We arrived around 9.30am, after a 40 min bus ride and left at 1.40pm. We had seen everything, but not visited every shop or gallery. Very interesting. The gaol was $10 entry and the miniature village was $15 (both for adults). We decided against the latter. The courthouse, village square and St. Luke’s Anglican church are all worth a stop. The town is known for the well-preserved Georgian architecture, so enjoy it. Take note of details like the chisel marks, used to create rounded edges on the bridge.
Richmond Bridge and St John’s
The oldest synagogue in Australia easy to get to, in the city
The waterfront and Hobart’s 200+ year-old piers, and some much younger.
The Exchange Hotel
The Penitentiary Chapel
Hope and Anchor Tavern
A sailing vessel
Brooke Street Pier
FOOTSTEPS, artwork commemorating the 13 000 female convicts transported to Van Diemen’s Land (name prior to Tasmania) between 1804 and 1854 and the 2000 children they brought with them. Artists John Kelly, Carole Edwards, Joanna Lyngcoln and Lucy Frost.
SELF PORTRAIT – The Bernacchi Tribute. Tasmanian Louis Bernacchi (1876 – 1942) was the first Australian to winter in Antarctica. He left from this point in 1998, with his dog, Joe. The husky also joined him in 1901 when they joined Scott’s Discovery expedition.
HOBART AT NIGHT
Some views and comparisons might lure you into the even colder night air:
museum and art
Sir John Frankiln
Former supreme court
PARKS AND CHURCHES
St David’s Cathedral, with artifacts brought from the UK, dating as far back as the 11th Century
St David’s Park
TASMANIAN MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY (free or gold coin donation)
Now, I’m not talking about MONA (museum of old and new art) and you should definitely see that. Had we not seen it, we would have taken a ferry there, with wine and cheese, as recommended by Bridget and Chris, but we had, so…
This original museum houses some interesting displays that have been presented in a very human way. For example, the Tasmanian Tiger, now extinct, has some anecdotal accounts, questions of what if, and photographs. Some children, nearby, could follow the information and were asking their dad some further questions. In the migration section there were pictures of a couple who married by proxy in the 1950s and are still married, today. Real, everyday, history.
bugs displayed as necklaces
bats, stairs and old china
old arch entrance
Front, but not entrance
history of crockery prints
We went to the Bond Store Galleries, in the same complex but a different building. It has three levels of history and one was about mental health and incarceration, so be mindful of this if you take children. The stairwell is a piece of art and the walls, showing the results of convicts/prisoners practicing their writing, is sobering. Quite unsettling is the account of white invasion and the terrible things done to the Indigenous people. A provoking exhibition.
Mount Wellington TRY to get the amazing view that we’ve only seen in other people’s pictures. The last visit we went up and fog came in about half way up. This time, we were told that it would be closed if there’s snow, so… no luck. It is an impressive backdrop to Hobart, from whatever angle you catch it, even out of a bus window.
A walk across the road to the local pub for typical pub fare, at pub prices, but supersized. Local beer and “An Englishman”, a chicken Schnitzel with a Yorkshire pud on top. I had a plate of roast Mediterranean Vegetables. Good atmosphere, very big, warm fire, solo guitarist /singer. Other nights, prepared meals in accommodation. Lunches at bakeries and breakfast provided. We ate at the pier one day, to have seafood at Mures, and discovered that which was very nice. However, if you head for Salamanca Place, not far away, you can get a good meal for half the price, under substantial outdoor heaters. The view won’t be so close to the waterfront. There are many, many food possibilities, so do a bit of research with your phone or by foot.
There is a huge range and during winter the rates are very good. We stayed at Argyle Apartments, which had excellent reviews and they weren’t exaggerating. The studio room was spacious and had a huge, comfortable bed. We had a fridge and the usual condiments, with a kettle and a coffee machine. Arriving at night, it was amazing to enter a pre-warmed room and the enclosed balcony had a heater, sofa and table and chairs (and a great view of Wellington). The shared kitchen had a great variety of foods and a microwave for heating/cooking. There was also a stocked fridge, here. The amenities were in a separate corridor, but we had our own toilet/shower room. Great location, central to everything, and they allowed us to store our bags there on the last day and even come back and have tea/coffee while we waited for our shuttle.
We were on the go for a lot of the time, but it’s a good way to stay warm. The town is pretty small and so manageable on foot, or if you are restricted, there is a hop-on, hop-off double-decker bus, for $35 /day or local buses. It only rained the first day and we had sunny, but icy days for the rest.
Loads of charm in Hobart and nearby. Why not see for yourself?
Safe Travels. Take water and a warm scarf and beanie.
Having heard so much about Hahndorf, we made use of a free Autumn weekend, got in the car and headed for the hills of Adelaide. A reasonable crowd heralded the town’s popularity and the colours, smells and quaint heritage buildings promised varied recreation.
Our first stop was the Hahndorf Academy, established 1857 and now housing a museum with early artifacts, a shop selling handmade goods and an art gallery featuring works of Hans Heysen and various Aboriginal artists. Fabulous designs, textures and patterns.
It wasn’t long before we found our favourite diversion, an antique/curio shop, down a wide lane,
before the famous fudge shop, of which people had told me.
Which set us thinking about lunch. We ate at Otto’s Bakery, famous for it’s vanilla slice, but there was no shortage of options, indoors or out, and plenty of traditional German fare.
The Alec Johnston park, with a large playground and grassed area, is central, if you have children who need to burn off some energy.
Then it will be back to bric-a-brac at Grass Roots
soap or honey
sacraments at St Paul’s Lutheran
a smidgen of history/folklore
follow a chair fetish?
admire old architecture
and make time to visit a winery
We spent 4 hours in Hahndorf and it went very fast. If you are coming to Adelaide, be sure to put it on your itinerary. You might even stop at Lofty National Park on the way.
It is the fastest growing city in Australia, despite being in the second smallest state. Cosmopolitan, vibrant, at its core is the state’s business, administration, culture and recreation. Easily accessible from Adelaide (and Sydney, Queensland and Tasmania), I headed over for a weekend to explore it.
So much to see and so little time. The street art is well-advertised and I found one area quite near, in Hosier Lane.
Other visual delights can be found in alleys, like shopping and food.
Special mentions? The short stop donut shop, where I bought a lemon meringue donut.
That’s it, closest row, second from the left. I thought it was going to be a donut with meringue on top, so was unprepared for the lemon custard that oozed out from under the meringue. Super delicious. The owner was happy to pose with me and I’m happy to promote his business.
For dinner I ate Japanese both nights, and there were lineups on Saturday night that prevented us from dining at our first choices, so if you see somewhere good during the day, book a table.
For breakfast/brunch go to Krimper Cafe in Guildford Lane. The best I’ve had in Australia.
Pass through the rustic doors and try to decide what to have:
Great coffees, teas, juices and more. Excellent service and relaxed, heated venue. Good prices, too.
Melbourne’s buildings exhibit a blend of old and new, some startling architecture and weathered favourites, caught within the net of overhead tram lines.
Time to see something of the environment, so it was off to the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens.
A brief intermission for shopping on Bridge Road (a couple of hours) was made possible by the excellent tram system and a myki card that you tap on, and tap as you get off to initiate subtraction of your fare from the balance. Other shopping areas are Bourke Street Mall, Chapel Street, the numerous DFOs and so many hidden gems. Keep your eyes open and look at reviews online to get exactly the style you want.
I’d heard of the Queen Victoria Markets, so went to see that they have a range of fresh food, craft items, imports and clothing.
The Shrine of Remembrance is adjacent to the Botanic Gardens. It is a massive structure designed in the style of the Tomb of Mausolus and the Parthenon.
Outside this entrance is the Cenotaph and Eternal flame, recording all the defence forces that have fought and where the battles took place.
The granite column has a basalt sculpture at the top, of six service men carrying a bier with a corpse, draped in the Australian flag.
I stayed at Quest on Lonsdale, which was well-situated and had a 7-eleven convenience store nearby and a couple of coffee houses, but no dining room of their own. The room was large and clean and the employees very helpful. It is on the edge of Chinatown, just up from the Greek quarter.
Saturday night took me to Jankara Karaoke on Russell Street, one of the few public karaoke bars. It was pretty good, but my friends and I were the only over 50s there. Make that 40s. We had a good time, anyway. You can sing each time you buy a drink at the bar and I didn’t think the ones who sang the most had been ordering juice. Hmm, maybe the only over 30s.
You can get from the airport using the Skybus ($19) then from the depot to your accommodation on a Skybus Hotel Transfer (no extra cost). Trams and trains take you just about anywhere and four people stopped to ask if we needed help/directions when we were in the city and trying to find our way around. Melbournites get top score for being tourist friendly.
I saw the MCG and Etihad Stadiums but didn’t get tempted to do a tour – you might.
I walked 12 km one day and didn’t even notice it. A great city and still more to see. I must go back for the honey and sea salt donut.
It is the largest capital city in Australia and spreads over several kilometers. So, what sights did we see when we arrived at Central Station at 10 am and had to be on the 5 pm return train?
We checked the large information board in the central foyer and then had the task of finding platform 23, complicated by little signage ON platforms, but plenty of arrows directing you TO platforms. We went three levels below ground, where we headed to Kings Cross, once famous as Sydney’s red light district, but at this hour of the day we were bound for Potts Point, an adjoining suburb. Plenty of heritage buildings, apartments and promising lane-ways, the area supports both the wealthy and the downtrodden.
Stopped in at The Butler, with a notion to returning for lunch and admired the great view.
After meeting family members, we took the train over the famous bridge to Milson’s Point. Lavender Bay was a short stroll and we entered Wendy Whitely’s Secret Garden. Following the untimely death of her husband, artist Brett Whitely, creative Wendy and daughter Arkie, began designing a garden on land that was something of a wasteland. Arkie died in 2001 and Wendy continued the work more ardently, subsequently spending 20 years converting it to a beautiful public garden.
The garden sits at the base of her own home, the tower of which is a landmark.
An impressive fig tree marks the start of it, with a sculpture/plaque at its base, etched with the words to a Van Morrison song and the famous Sydney icon beyond.
There is a choice of paths to take, some steeper than others but all of them well-maintained. The plants, the resting places, birds and wondering bush turkeys are all very peaceful.
Needless to say, we’d worked up a hunger, so off to somewhere quite natural –
The Botanist, Kirribilli. A great range of vegetarian options in a funky, opshop-style setting. Very well-priced and delicious meals. My favourites were the fried cauliflower, tahini, pomegranate, yoghurt, currents, mint and smoked almonds and then the grilled marlin, chermoula, roasted fennel and green olive.
Fortified, it was time to attempt Cahill Walk!
From Milson’s Point, go past the Burton Street tunnel to the Bridge Stairs, with the variety of signs indicating what you will see, what you can’t do and it is all free.
The views of the Opera House, City and Harbour are wonderful. If you take the Pylon Tour, it will cost $15 but you will be almost at the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, with stunning views and can get enviable selfies behind a very safe and secure wall.
The Pylon tour includes a 15 minute video that explains the building of the bridge, with historical footage and the 200 step climb takes you past photos, relics and articles depicting the journey of the workers and stake-holders. It is quite startling to see what people did in the days before OHS&W regulations – men sitting on girders, suspended high above the water, with no helmet, harness or sometimes shirt.
It was time to sprint for the next train and return to Blackheath from whence we had come. We needed to buy an Opal card, which is a transport card, and you tap it on an electronic recorder at stations when getting on and off the train. We travelled the whole day with a credit of $20 and we didn’t run out of money.
Some classic Sydney and something different. There is so much here to choose from, so do your research and do what you love.
Since first writing this post, a son has travelled to Sydney and utilised the Big Bus. It is a hop on, hop off, double-decker bus that takes you to the major Sydney city sights and/or the sights at the famous Bondi Beach. You literally hop on when you want and hop off when you want. The commentary is pre-recorded in 7 (?) languages but nearby attractions are not necessarily signed. It is a great way to get around to the Opera House, Bridge, Botanic Gardens and other sights, for $49.50 online. You can hop off at 3 particular stops and joint the other tour.
Pretty hard to miss. It can take as long as you like, between 8.30 am and 5pm. Try this website for more information: https://www.bigbustours.com/en/sydney/sydney-routes-and-tour-maps/
Equipped with a new (secondhand) Prado and a full tank of diesel, we wondered how long it would take us to perform that iconic trek across the Nullarbor. It took two days, but we could owe it all to three mulberry sandwiches and four chocolate/raspberry brownies – thanks Jude.
Where you measure this epic journey from is contested, but we used the RAA touring map and the west and east signal points were Norseman, WA and Ceduna, SA. The upper boundary is the Indian Pacific railway and the lower boundary is the coastline. Therefore, we decided to tour from Perth to Wave Rock, then on to Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, before completing the Nullarbor.
Norseman, our starting point, was neat and had adequate facilities for an overnight stop, but I’m not sure if anyone stays there very long.
The motel room we took was very comfortable, spacious and air-conditioned. Perhaps this is where I mention the 3 sleeping bags and tent, that remained snug in the back of the new car, as the drive had been long and the caravan park had shaded sites with plenty of red dirt, but no grass in sight. We’ll never know if it was level ground.
So what can you expect on the great journey? Lots of straight road, but plenty of well-equipped rest areas, signalled by the blue P signs or others showing trees, cars, maybe trucks and possibly two people, indicating toilets.
They are good places to get out and stretch, change driver, or break out another brownie for a spurt of energy to complete the drive. One had water but that was rare. You can park there for the night but, as the signs say, they are not equipped for overnight stays if there are no toilets. Contrary to popular belief, there is a variety of foliage along the way and a huge surprise when coming from WA is Madura Bluff, where the flat plain just drops away from under you.
Some people attempt to drive by night, but we’ve heard a few stories of the camels, cows, emus, kangaroos, horses and goats that step out of the shadows into your path, requiring intense concentration. So we do between 6 and 12 hours driving a day, alternating roughly every two hours. On this journey we stopped the first night on the Plain at Eucla, almost at the border of WA and SA, and about half way .
Eucla is very small although it has been settled since the late 1800s. Edward John Eyre and his exploration team are said to have camped in the area in 1841. For Australia, that is very early for white, or European people to have been in South Australia, the last state settled by non-Aboriginal people.
There is a monument to the people who made the town and an old telegraph station that had me wonder who had the job of fitting the lines and poles in the isolation of the Nullarbor Plain. The standard room took me back to the 1970s but it was clean and the window had a screen, so we could have it open at night. It was also reasonably priced.
the road we had travelled
views of the sea and old telegraph station
monument to the people who had built Eucla
monument to Eyre, Baxter, Wylie, Joey and Yarry who explored the area and camped nearby.
The excuse for not camping this time was the gravelly caravan park with no grass and no blow up mattress. There is a restaurant here, a bar and a small shop.
There are also many fuel stops along the Nullarbor, or notices to tell you how far to the next one. They usually have food and drink and signboards to tell you where you are going and where you’ve been. Some service stations offer repairs. They all have water.
The road between Norseman and Eucla contains the longest straight stretch of road in Australia, but the scenery does alter, from thick and varied vegetation to ‘treeless plains’.
A breakfast of the last brownies, and no prospect of mulberry sandwiches for lunch, began the second day. Only a few km took us to Border Village, where the facilities looked somewhat newer and we stopped for fuel and a cup of coffee.
We left the border kangaroo holding the jar of Vegemite and headed off, stopping at only one of the many lookouts to see the Great Australian Bight. The paths are dirt but wide and we have previously taken our two wheel drive and caravan on these without mishap. The Bight’s rugged sea cliffs are the longest stretch in the world and the longest line of south facing cliffs in the world.
The Bight is home to more endemic marine diversity than the Great Barrier Reef ( https://www.wilderness.org.au/campaigns/great-australian-bight) and is home to more than 36 types of whales an dolphins. However, there is oil deep beneath the ocean and the natural environment could be ruined forever if it is mined. There would be other side effects for the rest of Australia, too, both good and bad.
At some lookouts there are platforms over the cliffs (with warnings) which give you a much closer look, enjoyed every year by whale watchers in particular, and the following photos were taken three years ago at some of these.
In another blog I talk about the weird things you see on long stretches of road in Australia. Well, on your way to or from Ceduna you may come to Penong, where they restore and maintain windmills. It makes sense in a place where you’d need bore water, but we didn’t find the “Big Windmill”.
Home was on our minds and there were, after all, no mulberry sandwiches or brownies left, so we took our first big stop at Ceduna, just too late for the hotel restaurant meal we had been discussing, to celebrate our journey’s end.
Ceduna is a pretty place and large enough to find accommodation, food and every kind of facility. However, the disappointment at not scoring a schnitz was too much, and we pressed on toward home and Kimba. There is another way to go, toward Streaky Bay, which is by the sea, but we had gone that way last time and wanted to compare the road across the top of Eyre Peninsula.
Out came the tent, the beer garden and a great big Schnizzy. In case you’re wondering, that’s a schnitzel in South Australia, very popular from our German settlers. AS pub fare goes, it’s fairly unadventurous, and the waiter asked if my husband would like to have the gravy on the side, just to be on the safe side. I had a superb chicken breast marinated in lime and chili and cooked to juicy perfection. I’d like to think it was a magnificent meal and not the absence of food since breakfast that led to such a good response.
The beer garden afforded a view of the painted silos – wheat silos that had received a pleasant picture.
The grassy knoll upon which we placed our tent wasn’t quite as smooth as we had thought and we woke to birdsong and joint-ache, but a golden sunrise.
More long stretches of road, with Iron Knob rising ahead, the Gawler ranges to the left and the Flinders Ranges in the distance. Beautiful driving.
A few salt lakes outside of Port Wakefield
And before we knew it we were home. We live in the north, so this was a half-day’s trip.
So, why 2,3,4?
2 – days to drive the Nullarbor
– ice packs to keep the cooler bag ready
– drink bottles filled with water
– fuel stops (1.5 tanks used @150L/tank)
– nights in motels
– dinners from a cooked chicken
3 – mulberry sandwhiches
– sleeping bags (two for padding underneath)
4 – chocolate/raspberry brownies to restore energy
The weather was pretty mild (around mid 20s) for the most part, so long driving days were possible. I think I would advise someone to put aside 3 days to complete the Nullarbor Plains comfortably. We had anticipated that length. If we had been towing it would have taken longer. Many seasoned travellers say that it is faster to go from WA to SA as there is usually a tail wind, rather than the other way, where you have a head wind. I’ll have to research that extensively when I am retired.
There are really nice places to stop, like Streaky Bay and Elliston, beside the sea, in SA. There are interesting sights that we didn’t stop for – Pildappa Rock in Minnipa, before Kimba, for example, which is compared to Wave Rock.
I would have liked to include my Niece’s recipe for the chocolate/raspberry brownies but, incredibly, she won’t share the secret! So if any of you have a good, sticky, slightly tart around the raspberries recipe for brownies, please share it!
When you live in Adelaide, Australia, and you only have a short time for a holiday, you head to Victoria. It is a comfortable 8 hour drive from city to city (Adelaide to Melbourne) along well-maintained roads. We chose the Yarra Valley as our destination and it took a total of 11 hours, not including the overnight stop and lunch at Niko’s Cafe.
There are several paths to the East but we left late on a Friday evening, took the National Highway to Murray Bridge, staying in Tintinara at a truckies’ overnight stop.
A glowing sunrise had us off to Bordertown, then along the Western Highway, past Green Lake to Ballarat, admiring the fields of canola with the Grampians as a backdrop.
Just out of Stawell, we stopped at Niko’s Cafe for the biggest and best mixed kebab and French hamburger ever. Pictured, here, above the menu items, Niko was happy to have me spread the word, although he assured me that his fame was solid after only three months in the area. He was only disappointed that the chooks were not spinning on the spit and the lamb not sizzling for the yiros.
pull over when you see his sign
We skirted around Melbourne to the Yarra Valley, taking a rather winding, narrow road, but ok with the caravan. I’d advise avoiding the afternoon rush, although it was a Saturday, but the last weekend for school holidays in Victoria.
The BIG4 Yarra Valley Park Lane Holiday Park was beautiful. Scenic, with large sites and excellent facilities, it really caters for families. There is a jumping pillow, a huge koala with a cut-out tummy into which children poke their heads and have their photo taken, the creek running through the park and Picaninny Lake. Onsite tents are also available and gave many of us an afternoon of inquiry.
The park has a walk that goes around the lake and then through some bush to a hilltop. It is an easy incline and the scenery and views are worth it – even the old wreck. At the office, you can get a bag of seed for $1 and feed it to the birds. Well worth it, as we were surrounded by birds for the remainder of our days there, even when the seed ran out. I’m not sure where the saying, ‘bird brain’ comes from, as I had a parrot land on my shoulder as I returned from the shop, scuttle down my arm to the bag of seed and try to peck it open. An abundance of wildlife roams the caravan park.
Situated in Healesville, this is a great location from which to explore the Valley. We went to the Yarra Valley Dairy, where the wine tasting was for Alkimi’s owner, pictured. We bought a white and a red. Then on to Four Pillars Gin for a private tasting and information about gin – be warned, it’s hot on the tonsils – and the Chocolatiery. The last deserves a separate blog, but the others were not regretted.
As we were near the Dandenong Ranges and surrounded by hills, the scenery was lush and green, begging to be explored. It is a cool rainforest area, hilly and it snows in Winter. There are excellent walking trails and historic towns. We went to Stevenson Falls, Black Spur Scenic Drive, Lake Mountain, Seville (for the Tesselaar tulip festival), Mt Donna Buang, Marysville and Warburton. An afternoon was spent exploring the township of Healesville.
Other things to do nearby are gardens, stately homes, Puffing Billy (which is a fabulous steam train ride through the rainforest) and wineries.