Next stop… Ballarat!

After my nice relaxing trip to Cairns, it was time to move back towards Victoria. I would spend a few days in Ballarat, a small town around 100 kilometres from Melbourne itself. One thing that the stay in Cairns had helped me realise is that I really do not need to do everything at 100 miles per hour.

The town itself is not very big by American standards and only around 100 000 people live in it. I loved the town, but found it really hard to get going in the mornings to get out and see it. Let me tell you why…

Comfy cushions mean more sleep!

The bed and breakfast establishment I stayed at was possibly one of the best I have ever been in. four_posted_bedMy room had a beautiful four poster bed, filled with a massive amount of cushions and pillows. They were incredibly stylish, so much so that I had to ask the owners where they had got them. When I arrived, I just dumped myself in the middle of all the cushions and listened to the sounds outside the wide open windows. It was so tranquil and still, not like in a bustling city. The noisiest thing were the birds singing and that was just beautiful.

As I had arrived late yesterday afternoon, I decided to relax in my room and ordered a couple of beers. There I was, relaxing in my dressing gown (which has been another favourite accessory of mine for this trip) when the owner walks in and invites me for supper. I was more than happy to go with him, but told him that I needed to change first. He wasn’t having any of it and told me to follow him. Supper was brilliant! Pork chops, roast potatoes, and at least 5 veggies were all served up. Brian, the owner, talked up a storm, asking all kinds of questions about my trip. He was a really nice guy, but I felt a bit strange hanging out with him in my dressing gown!

At the end of the evening I went upstairs to collapse on all those comfy cushions. I slept like a baby.

Today, I was awoken by a knock on the door. Juliet, Brian’s wife had brought me the biggest breakfast I had ever seen. Bacon, eggs, sausage and mushrooms filled the plate. Man, they can eat here! I was so stuffed that I just spent the rest of the morning in my room.

This afternoon I decided to get out and see a bit of the town. ballarat botanical gardenThere are some great attractions in Ballarat. I spent some time on a historical walking tour around the town and later visited the beautiful Botanical Gardens.

3n1 ballaratTomorrow I intend to get a lot done including the Ballarat Art Gallery , the famous Bird World and I really want to race some laps at the Indoor Kart Centre.

I better eat a smaller breakfast!

A visit to Cairns and a swim at the Great Barrier Reef

After my whirlwind trip around Australia for my “24 hours in…” blog, I was definitely in need of some “me” time. Although the travelling is great, so many different cities in such a short space of time makes one tired.

I had hope that my trip to Newcastle would be a nice break, but as soon as I decided to turn in into a “24 hours in…” trip, it all became a bit manic again, although I didn’t want it to. Don’t get me wrong, I am having so much fun, but now I want my trip to start to feel like a relaxed holiday.

For this reason, I decided to go to Cairns and visit the Great Barrier Reef. It is something I have always wanted to see in person and here was my chance. What a better way to finally relax with some snorkelling in those beautiful, crystal clear waters.

The case of the choker necklace and the curious fish

I had booked a snorkeling trip for my first morning in Cairns. On the boat out to the our diving spot on the Great Barrier Reef I met Veronica, an English backpacker. She was over for a year long trip through Australia. chocker swimWe hit it off immediately. She was extremely attractive and wore a beautiful choker necklace that would become the subject of much mirth later in the day.

Our first dive was everything I thought it would be and more. Myself and Veronica has decided to be dive buddies. We saw a beautiful array of corals, fish, turtles and all sorts of marine life. The fish were drawn to Veronica’s choker and kept trying to get close to it. This was funny when it was only small fish, but as soon as any bigger ones came along, Veronica freaked out! I don’t really blame her as there were some doozies out there!

A proper Aussie barbeque

We spent the rest of the afternoon lying on the boat in the sun and diving at another dive spot. I managed to find a nice piece of loose coral that I am going to take home as a momento. Both Veronica and myself were super excited when we saw a clown fish. clown fishI guess we had found Nemo! We were a little worried when we saw two reef shark, but our diving instructor had told us that they were harmless. They just cruised up and down for a period before swimming into the blue yonder.

That night we had a great beach barbeque with all manner of seafood dishes to eat. We really had a great time and danced the night away.

Slowing the pace down – a visit to Newcastle

So far, my Australian tour had been a whirlwind of city visits, taking in the capitals of all the states in this amazing country. I decided that I needed to throttle back just a bit and maybe take in a smaller city, just to catch my breath again!
newcastle city
In my research before my visit, Newcastle had always seemed a likely destination for a smaller city visit. Newcastle itself is situated a mere 101 miles north-east of Sydney and I chose a bus as my form of transport to get there.

Although I wanted to slow the pace down, I had decided to stick to my “24 hours in a city rule.”

My 24 hours in Newcastle went a little like this…

I had caught the 5:30am bus to Newcastle and had arrived by around 8am in the morning.


First things first, I needed coffee and some breakfast. Newcastle has a number of little cafés all throughout the city. There was one right by the bus stop, so I stopped for a quick cup of coffee and a good bacon and egg breakfast! cafe_newcastleI was charged and ready for the day. I had to remind myself that I would take everything a little slower. Sometimes with the 24 hour rule it is easy to get carried away!


A trip to another country means that you better bring mementoes and presents for your family back home when you return. I really wanted to get something special for the youngest and oldest members of my family. I found a beautiful shop with a stunning brooch for Grammy. I knew she would love it. She has been collecting brooches for as long as I can remember and she has an enormous collection which she is always very happy to add to. antique shop newcastle


I was feeling hungry again! Shopping can really give you an appetite. I decided to head to Darby Street as I had heard that a number of excellent restaurants offering a wide variety of cuisine could be found there. vietking newcastleI settled on a small Vietnamese restaurant where I ate a number of traditional dishes. All of them were exquisite and were the best Vietnamese food that I had eaten anywhere in the world. Next door to the restaurant was a baby blanket shop called Bundle & Co. It was such a lovely little place with high quality products. My niece had been born while I was away, and my sister would kill me if I didn’t bring a present. I ended up buying around 5 baby blankets, each with classic children’s characters printed on them. Tina will love them!


Well I definitely slowed things down. Two hours for lunch, probably a bit long but definitely worth it. nobbys1beachSince it was a beautiful, sunny day, I decided to hop on a bus and take a ride down to Nobby’s beach. I spent a few hours catching a some rays, swimming and eating some ice-cream. I even made a few new Australian friends. They invited me out on a late afternoon wine tour in the Hunter Valley region. I couldn’t resist.


We set off in an old camper van to the Hunter Valley wine region outside Newcastle. couple-wine-tasting-overlooking-hunter-valleyThe whole area around Hunter Valley is so beautiful and although we didn’t have much time, we managed to stop at two wine farms and sample their wares. It was a happy bunch that returned to Newcastle later that night.


Myself and my new found Australian friends all ended up at a house in Newcastle and had a proper Australian barbeque. There was so much to eat, I could not believe it.The-BBQ_Draft01_11 I really enjoyed the shrimps the most, they were not only huge, but so tasty. We chatted late into the night and eventually I found a place on a couch and fell asleep.


I almost missed my bus back to Sydney! Luckily, I got a lift to the bus stop on the back of a motorbike. I made it just in time. I slept for most of the two hour trip back. So much for a slow, relaxed trip to Newcastle, but what a blast it was!


After my incredible couple of days in Sydney, I landed in Melbourne knowing that my taste buds were in for a real treat.

Melbourne is often hailed as the food capital of Australia (just don’t tell Sydney), and has gained a reputation as a city that offers incredible dining experiences.  After landing, I found a cab and asked the cabbie to take me someplace that I could grab a quick bite.  I really was famished!  He recommended Alexander Cafe.

I loved it the minute I stepped inside.  The decor really stuck me.  Firstly, the lights were heavy set industrial style pendant lights.  My eyes were drawn to them straight away.   There were three of them set in the roof, hanging around half way down from the ceiling.  They provided perfect lighting for the venue.   Secondly, the cafe had this amazing chill area with colorful sofas and large fluffy cushion covers.  I sat there having a cup of coffee and a quick bite.  A fair amount of people came into the cafe to have coffee and take ten minutes to relax on the sofas; it really was a great idea.

I then headed off to the hotel and turned in early.  Melbourne waited!

My 24 hours in Melbourne went a little like this…



I took my time getting ready.  There was no real need to rush today.  I had already made my lunch and dinner bookings at two of the top Melbourne restaurants before I had left the States.

I grabbed a morning paper and headed out just around the corner of the hotel to a coffee shop.  They do love their coffee here in Melbourne


I headed over to Hossier Lane, which features some unbelievable urban art or graffiti as we call it in the States.  Some of these artists are so talented, considering they are using spray cans!

As a lover of sport I decided to pop into the National Sport Museum of Australia.  It was certainly different.  Cricket… now that is one strange form of baseball!


I had my first taste explosion of the day at the Flower Drum, a Cantonese restaurant.   I tried a number of dishes but their Steamed Tasmanian Bay Scallops was possibly the most incredible seafood dish I have ever eaten.  I had a couple of glasses of Australia’s finest wine as well.  They really make excellent wine here!


I spent some time shopping in Acland Street, a great place with some quirky little shops.  I also listened to my inner child and went on a couple of rides at Luna Park, an amusement centre in St Kilda.  I forgot that roller coasters can be that scary!


I went back to the hotel to clean up for dinner.



I had booked dinner at Cafe Di Stasio in St Kilda.  This is one of the top restaurants in the city and it did not disappoint at all.  Instead of trying a few things off the menu, I asked my waiter to recommend a starter, main and dessert.  All of them were simply out of this world!  The main was Porchetta Con Mela, a suckling pig. It was so tender, so tasty and just astonishing.  I ate my meal in stunned silence; I just could not believe how much flavour could be crammed into all those dishes.


A desk clerk at the hotel had suggested that I had to visit Impro, a light night improve Theatre Company.  After my meal, I caught a cab to Abbotsville and caught a show.  I could not stop laughing, it really was so wacky, over the top and funny at the same time.  I wish we had more of this in the States.


I stopped for a late night coffee at the Embassy Cafe and headed back to my hotel for the night.

Next up Brisbane

This morning I fly to Brisbane.  I am looking forward to it as I am meeting up with a backpacker that I met in Sydney.   Brisbane is the mid-point of my tour, so I aim to just relax and rest a little.


Well it was coming to an end, but I had one last Australian city to spend a day in, Hobart, the capital of Tasmania.   I was extremely sad that my trip was ending but at the same time it had awakened in me the desire to continue travelling and move from mainstream journalism into travel journalism.

While on the five hour flight I decided a few things.  Firstly, I really needed a new travel wallet.   My old one was around ten years old and needed replacing. I’d recently seen a stylish leather passport wallet and decided it was the right time to buy.  Secondly, all the good food, desserts, wine and beer had taken their toll on my body.  I needed to do something and soon!

While walking through the airport after landing at Hobart, I noticed a sport shop that sold a huge range of fitness bands.  I had seen them before, and they are a great, low impact exercise.  They would be perfect to fit in my travel case, so I bought a set which will travel with me on all my future trips.

My 24 hours in Hobart went a little like this…



I caught a cab to my Hotel which was fairly near the airport.   After unpacking I walked around the Hotel for a time and returned to my room.  I had planned a big day for my final day in Australia, so I went to bed fairly early.


I had arranged for breakfast to be brought by room service.  I was awake and ready by the time they knocked on the door.   I headed to the Hobart Waterfront and Sullivan’s Cove.  The first order of the day was a little cruise!



I hopped aboard a luxury catamaran and cruised the waters around Hobart, taking in the fantastic views, wildlife and beauty of the area.  It was a time to relax and enjoy this incredible part of the world, enjoy the company of fellow travelers and soak up some sun.  The four hour cruise was over in the blink of an eye unfortunately.



I hired a car and drove out to Mount Wellington, around 20km from Hobart.  The mountain is around 1200 meters above sea level so it gives amazing views of the surrounding country, with Hobart in the distance.


My final destination on the last day of my Australian trip was the Royal Botanical Gardens.  I spent a good few hours walking around, taking in the beauty of the gardens and thinking back over my trip.  Would I do it again?  For sure!  In fact, I have already thought of a few places I would want to undertake the same type of trip to.


I returned to the hotel to pack for the final time.  A long flight back to the States lay ahead.  Leaving a country that you have travelled through is never easy, but they make imprints on your soul you will never forget!

Thanks Australia, you left many imprints on my soul!  I will be


Sydney, Australia!   What a town!  A dream for any traveler, I really have had such a blast here.

Sydney was my first stop on my Australian tour, where I would spend 24 hours in a city and document the things I got up to as a form of a travel guide.

It was a long flight from the States, so by the time I got to the Hotel, I just wanted to relax and unwind before I started my sightseeing.

I quickly unpacked and came down to the bar for a quick beer before resting up for my big day the next day.

First impressions of Sydney, well the hotel bar certainly drew me in.  It has these beautiful chrome bar stools, with padded cushions, they were really comfortable.  I chatted with the bartender and he suggested I play some music.  They have a record player and about 100 records.  They encourage patrons to choose music that they would want to listen to.  It didn’t take me long and soon I had some Springsteen blaring across the room! This guy was super interesting and I asked where he’d come up with the idea. He told me that in his day job he was starting a few businesses. The first is the supremely cool Rockit Record Players which sells turntables online to a growing audience who are loving bringing the record player back into style. His other store is the very funky Boho Bar Stools which just focuses on bar stools and nothing else. He’s hoping to leave his job in bartending soon when the stores start making more money.

I really had trouble leaving the bar, it was such a great vibe that just drew you in, but I had to rest before my big day in Sydney.

My 24 hours in Sydney went a little like this…



I headed out to find some early morning breakfast.  I found a local “greasy spoon” as we say in the States.  They serve the biggest breakfasts I have ever seen. I opted for the “Monster” – 3 eggs, 5 rashers of bacon, 2 sausages, a small steak, fried tomato, mushrooms and bottomless coffee.  My stomach was certainly lined for the rest of the day!  I had to make sure I was prepared.  Sydney was going to be the real party city on my Australian tour.


I headed out for some sightseeing.  There is so much to see and do in Sydney.  I have limited time so I can’t take it all in but I managed to get to Bondi Beach, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House before noon.   Bondi was amazing, lots of beautiful people sun tanning, surfing and having a good time.  Although opera is not my thing, I was totally blown away by the Opera House.  It is so beautiful, a incredible piece of architecture.


I grabbed some small salad for lunch at a cafe in Darling Street and could not help getting something sweet from Adrian Zumbo’s Patisserie.


cafe-sydney-captures[1]I was told by the owner of the cafe that I need to take a ferry trip across the harbor.  What a great experience that was.  Although the wind had come up a bit and we all got a little wet, the trip offers amazing view of the Sydney skyline and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  I did a few more tourist things in the harbor afterwards; it really is a great place.


I was back in the hotel for a little nap and to clean up for the big evening ahead!  I also made a quick stop at my favorite hotel bar to play a few more records!


During the course of the day I had booked supper at Kingley’s Australian Steakhouse on King’s street.  This street is filled with amazing restaurants, cafes and street food vendors.   I had such an incredible meal; the steak was done to perfection, rare, just how I like it!

11pm till 6am

WHAT A NIGHT! I started out in King’s Cross, a real hub of vibrant Sydney nightlife.  I thought I would try out some live music first and came across a little pub with a great solo performer.  While at the pub, I ended up chatting to a group of backpackers.  They were from all over, South Africa, Germany, England and Argentina.  What a great bunch.  We ended up going to a couple of trendy bars and a few clubs.  I took it easy, I still have the whole trip ahead of me, but I made some good friends.

Next up Melbourne

This afternoon I fly off to Melbourne where I will be looking into the coffee culture and the cuisine it has to offer.


Brisbane, as the mid-point of my Australian tour was all about recharging and relaxing.  Living in and out of suitcases really takes it out of you!

I left from the airport straight to my hotel where I met up with Brett, one of the backpackers that I had met in Melbourne and who I knew would be in Brisbane at the same time as me.

Brett had arrived in Brisbane half a day before me, so he had done some pre-planning for my 24 hour stay.

My 24 hours in Brisbane went a little like this…



Brett and I left the hotel to grab some coffee and a bite to eat at Scout Cafe.  I had a delicious iced latte which helped cool off in the Brisbane heat.


As a South African, Brett loves to barbeque.  He assures me it is something he does back home 3 to 4 times a week.  He suggested that we go off to Picnic Island Green in Southbank Parklands where he barbequed us some incredible tasting peri-peri chicken.   He had organized everything – the food, salads, plates, cutlery and these amazing picnic blankets that he brought with him from the backpackers lodge where he is staying.  They are so big and comfortable with an extra foam layer, perfect for sitting on the hard ground.


After a lazy afternoon of barbequing and relaxing I left Brett and headed off to the hotel to cleanup for the evening.  I wasn’t sure what was planned,  Brett just gave me the directions to his backpacker lodge.



I arrived at the backpackers lodge to be greeted by Brett and a couple of his friends.  We spent the evening shooting pool, having a few beers and just chatting about our travel experiences.


By now we were all a little hungry so a group of us set out to hunt down some late night food.  We discovered a gem in the Pancake Manor, a 24/7 eatery that served amazing pancakes with every filling you could think of, great coffee and unbelievable desserts.


Well the fun never ends with backpackers it seems!  I ended up leaving much later than I would have liked, but I just didn’t realize how late it was.  I only managed to get a couple of hours sleep in before I received my hotel wake up call.


I had a quick cup of coffee at the hotel and then caught a cab to the Airport.

I really enjoyed Brisbane, I managed to relax a little but not nearly as much as I would have liked.  I met some really great people, however!  Perth, Western Australia is up next in my whirlwind tour!



I had read a lot about Perth while researching my trip.  It is a very cosmopolitan city with many different cultures merging together.  In fact, around half the people that live in Perth, were not born in Australia.   Brett, my South African backpacking friend, says a lot of ex South Africans live in the city.

The flight took around five hours so I had some time to catch up on much needed sleep.  I also had a chance to reflect on my tour so far.   I love travel and I think travel journalism is definitely something I want to continue with.

My 24 hours in Perth went a little like this…



The flight landed in Perth and I quickly grabbed by gear and headed straight to the hotel to unpack.  The hotel was very modern.  My room was clean and neat with beautiful decor including some very funky but modern floor lamps which were strategically placed throughout the room, allowing for multiple lighting effects.  I love it when hotels pay attention to detail like this, they don’t just see you as a number, but as an individual with individual tastes.


I headed down to the restaurant next to the hotel for a relaxing supper.  I had really tasty paella and a delicious cheese cake for dessert.   The restaurant itself was very quaint and cozy.  It had a beautiful antique wall clock as the centre piece above the 3 seater bar.  The wall clock was old and just fitted into the place so well.  Whoever did the interior design knew what they were doing.  It was a majestic piece.


I headed back to the hotel to turn in for the night.  I wanted to catch up on some of the sleep I had missed out on and I had planned a very active day the next day.


I decided to get up really early and take a long walk along City Beach.  What a stunning morning I had chosen.  There wasn’t a breath of wind.  A lot of people were out and about, cycling, surfing, skate boarding and walking.


I stopped at the local cafe for a cup of coffee and a nice breakfast.  There are numerous cafes dotted throughout Perth with plenty of incredible meal options.



Good thing I had managed to get to bed early as I had planned a few activities for the day.  I hired a mountain bike and rode up to King Park, which has numerous lookout points over the city and the Swan River.


I really wanted to spend some time in the Australian sun so I headed off to North beach, a great secluded little beach just outside the city.  Australians are very knowledgeable when it comes to sun protection, so I made sure I got some advice from the local pharmacy as well as purchasing some sun products.  I also acquired a small beach umbrella for further protection if the sun was too harsh.

The beach was fantastic, although it was fairly hot. I cooled off in the sea whenever I needed.


I went back to the hotel to pack and catch a cab for the 5 hours flight to my final destination in Australia.

My journey was coming to an end.  Only Hobart was left!   What an amazing journey it had been so far, one that I would remember forever!

Let travel set you free

Welcome to my blog where I’ll be taking you on a journey around the world. I hope to transport you from your computer into every nook and cranny of the world. I hope you enjoy!