4 nights in Melbourne

DAY 1 When we arrived in Melbourne we checked into the Nomads All Nations Hostel (Review Here) it was basic but all that we needed as a base. We stayed in a 12 bed mixed dorm and over the course of our 3 nights there we met a few random and a few lovely people. Our first night we met back up with a nice German girl from the GOR tour and went for a walk to catch our bearings.  Later on we then settled down for the night and agreed to go on the free bus tour of Melbourne the next morning.

DAY 2 and we woke bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to experience Melbourne I did a 5km run along the Yarra river that was perfect and we used a free map from the hostel travel shop to locate the nearest bus stop for the free tour.  There was just one problem… the bus stop had been decommissioned so we had to walk to the Federation Square stop. The bus journey was nice although it was a little hard to see because it was in a standard bus (an open top or double decker would have served it better). It was free and offered a great way to figure out where things are around the city and a free hop on-off mode of transport. The whole journey takes around 1.5 hours to complete.

When we got off the bus at Federation Square and got a lot of tourist information about things to do but the weather was so hot we just wanted to chill out for a while so we spent some time sat under a tree, I put my feet in some mud and stood on my diary. After that we went into the ACMI centre (Australian Centre for the Moving Image – Trip Advisor review here) where they had some exhibitions on the history of the moving image, talking about TV, film, video games, interactive moving image and the ideas behind them and their ability to possibly tell the future of the new kinds of technology to be invented. I really enjoyed the experience and it was free to enter.

After that we slowly wandered back down towards the hostel and found a sushi bar, Sea Salt (blog review here) that pretty much had most of their meals gluten free and provided gluten free soy sauce so I needn’t miss out. There was a busker on the corner of the alley way who really provided the perfect soundtrack to alfresco dining, he displayed a sign saying “smile, life’s too short!” and he really did make me smile. It was such a perfect day.

On our way back to the hostel we found a bottle shop and bought a bottle of Malibu and some Coke to go with it.We were sat in the room when a couple of the other girls came in and the night pretty much  became messy starting with us receiving $100 worth of free drinks for a Ukranian man. The night ended in a park with a bottle of Captain Morgan and a bottle of coke belonging to a young English guy and being consumed by 3 British girls, 2 French Guys, 1 Spanish guy and the English guy whos alcohol it was. We were wearing bottle protector mesh because we thought we were transformers, I was attempting sit ups with a 6kg medicine ball that we found in the park and all in all we had a really good night and met some brilliant people … traveller hostel style.

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Getting creating in Federation Square

DAY 3 in Melbourne started with a hangover and no milk because another traveller had decided they needed it more than we did. So I bought Anita some crumpets and we had a nice big breakfast. We were supposed to be going to the Victoria Market (Trip Advisor review here) at around 9am … we just didn’t get out of bed until 9am so we managed to arrive there at around 12:30pm.

The food market was brilliant and we got some great bargains for our evening meal. It really is the cheapest place to shop for fresh produce and you can’t get more fresh that the market. The rest of the market was made up of clothes stalls, tourist stalls with cheap souvenirs , confectionary stalls, world food stalls and just about anything you could imagine. I bought a 925 sterling silver toe ring for $16 and I was really happy with that purchase. I’ve been finding it hard to find a sterling one so my toe doesn’t turn that nasty shade of green you get with costume jewellery.

The rest of the day we spent walking, and walking and walking with the intention of finding the camera museum I’d seen advertised but we would not have made it before closing which was annoying and we still felt a little tender from the night before so we took home our steak and rice salad ingredients via the free City Circle Tram and ate like queens to the envy of the rest of the hostel.

So far we were really enjoying Melbourne and there was just so much to do we couldn’t possibly have the time to do it all so we decided to stick around for one more day as this was our last night in the hostel. I had just showered and was ready for bed when 2 girls from the tour knocked on our door with promises of a pub quiz at their hostel.

So I left Neet in bed and was ready to go in 10 minutes. We spent that much time talking in the quiz we were losing the rounds so I did what I saw others doing … cheated, only I got caught and scolded like a school child. A few ciders later and I was on my way back to the hostel … loudly!

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Exhibitions at ACMI

DAY 4 We chose some privacy and comfort of the Easystay Motel St Kilda (Trip Advisor review here).we checked out of the hostel and located the Motel, we were early and the room wasn’t ready but we were allowed to store our luggage and off we went back onto the tram to go outlet shopping at Harbour Town. We found some amazing bargains and it really is worth a visit. I got some board shorts for $2.50 from Valley Girl and a $40 bikini reduced to $10 from Factorie. WINNER!

Later we returned to St Kilda and walked along the jetty, we met a very interesting very old Greek man who told us he was from Lesbos and therefore a “Lesbian” he claimed that the birth of the term “Lesbian” for gay women came from the island because many years ago a father left the island to his daughter “Lesbos”. During the night the island became target for thieves and the men decided the only way to protect the island was to sit in boats off the shore with weapons to also prevent invasion from the nearby Turks. During this time the women became lonely and began to seek comfort in the arms of each other. He said he had a book detailing the story as no-one ever believed him, I haven’t read into his theory but I am sure I will at some point.

After this we decided to return to sit on the jetty later in the evening to wait for the fairy penguins to come on shore, so we got a pizza from Domino’s and sat, waited and watched the sunset with our friends from the GOR tour. After this we had $5 house spirits in an awesome bar called 29th Apartment that also had the coolest vibe and décor I have seen. There was a bathtub with cushions, a double bed, TV sets as tables and drinks crates as chairs.

Our final day we didn’t do much before our train to Sydney  wandered along the beach and played cards next to a young guy making a sand sculpture, we also watched the preparations for wedding on the beach. All in all we really enjoyed Melbourne and I think we will go back there later on in our trip and spend a real amount of time there, doing the things we missed out on and look for work.

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Sea Salt (review)

After a hard day touring Melbourne we got a little hungry. We walked past many restaurants and nothing jumped out at us. That was until I saw this little restaurant serving sushi and advertising tjat gluten free options were available.

I was a little doubtful at first but went in to speak to the young guy behind the counter. He was really helpful and told me that all fish that came battered could be served without and that all sushi rolls were made gluten free.

There were other interesting looking sides I liked the look of he quinoa salad but as usual when faced with so much choice I panic. We decided on 2 packs of 8 sushi rolls one plane salmon and the  other salmon and avocado. The restaurant even sold gluten free soy sauce at 30c a portion.

It was the first time I have had sushi since being gluten free and it was delicious. The restaurant is down an alley with a great al fresco vibe and it really was the perfect end to a hectic day.

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Adelaide to Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road

So our second week in Adelaide was spent with family, Anita’s family, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. We walked 15km on a few occasions down the coastal path, just for the sake of it and because the view was beautiful. We were lucky enough to catch one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.

IMG_20130212_233032Sunset Adelaide Coastal Path

We watched the kids at Surf Life Saving training and compete in the carnival on Glenelg beach. I had a go at paddle boarding and Anita had a go at surfing. I also started to develop some real skills with a rip stick. Then it was time to leave, we booked Adelaide Motel & Backpackers (Trip Advisor review here) for $22 for the night. Anita’s niece dropped us off in Adelaide city, we had ditched the suitcases and transferred our gear to our rucksacks (with a lot of effort and standing on stuff). I also did a typical Tanya thing to do and left my bank card on the kitchen counter … great, Tanya, well done! Anita’s niece graciously dropped it off for me thought with two old pillowcases “just in case” … Thanks!

The morning after (DAY 1) we set off for the YHA to be collected by TopDeck Travel for our tour. Our guide PJ was a cheesy and bad joke telling man who kept us happy all the way through, he was actually very knowledgeable on local and world history and appeared to take genuine interest in the topic. He also came equipped with a microphone and asked each of us to introduce and talk about ourselves …. I cracked on (I’m sure I have mentioned I like to talk) but Anita did her big spoon trick and wouldn’t even touch it (this is how she avoids being given a big spoon to eat with). PhotoGrid_1361666764818

Grampians waterfall; 12 Apostles sunset; Grampians hike

We slept through a good chunk of the 600km (and counting) drive to the Grampians National Park. We stopped at Bordertown which was first settled in 1842 but is most known for the way it was used post 1952 for miners to stop over on the route between Melbourne to Adelaide with their police escorts for the gold miners in Vitoria. We also saw the white kangaroos Tatiara Wildlife Park, they were bred using handpicked white kangaroos that had developed due to a genetic shift.

We stopped over for lunch along the way PJ ordered in varieties of wraps, I got a tasty gluten free grilled fish salad which I really enjoyed in the heat. When we first landed at the Grampians we walked down approximately 100 steps to sit at the bottom of the Silverband falls, we could see the rainbow forming in the mist from the rocks and it was one of the most peaceful moments I think I have ever experienced. As we were walking I remember seeing so many lightning scorched trees and their centres cracked open, there had been spot fires due to storms the day before.

We then checked into the Grampians Motel (Trip Advisor review here) and there were so many wild kangaroos just running around, it was really quite something. Their running got more frantic later in the evening when we were sat in the mess kitchen (which happened to be the equivalent of a well fitted tin can) for our gluten free BBQ prepared by PJ, during the longest and most severe lightning storm I have ever seen. The forks of lightening were huge and the thunder was so loud it sounded like a crash of heavy duty trucks. The facilities at the Grampians motel were brilliant (except the free Wi-Fi didn’t want to work), we were placed in a room kitted for a family of 5. There were only 4 of us and I got a nice double bed to myself. There were tea/coffee facilities, refrigerator, dining table, TV and a menu that included gluten free meals…what’s not to like. Let’s just say I had a brilliant night’s sleep. PhotoGrid_1361666893889

Mountain hike; Loch and Gorge

DAY 2 I woke up, showered and went back to the mess kitchen to be greeted by a table sporting 2 loafs of gluten free bread and two boxes of cereals … I was spoiled for choice thanks again to PJ. It was a good job because we were being taken on a mammoth hike up one of the mountains in the park. It was hard and you really needed solid shoes, but it really was worth the effort because the view from the top was breathtaking and the natural environment we walked through was beautiful. We reached the top and I just had to sit at the edge of the cliff and take in the views, everyone else went to the viewing platform but I wanted no restraints … it was only when I looked back at the pictures did I realise actually how scary it was looking down. At the time I had a body full of adrenaline where the fear should have been and I genuinely felt invigorated.

We saw a bit of wildlife along the way like a wallaby and a couple of Crimson Rosellas, PJ slowed the bus when we saw these in case he hit one as he said if he did the other would die of a broken heart. The next port of call was Brambuk National Park where we enjoyed a cultural experience learning about the tale of creation from the Aboriginal history and we painted our own boomerang, it really didn’t take long for us all to start acting like 5 year olds with finger paint and for Anita to get bored and paint her bracelets instead of the boomerang. In truth it really was a lot of fun. I artfully (or so I think) represented a little story using symbols, mine says in Australian waters  I idiotically did the symbol for running water rather than still) there are beautiful seahorses. Then it continues on to say in 2013 we saw kangaroos jumping in the grass under the stars. I am immensely proud of my boomerang so please keep all mocking to a minimum or I may launch it at your heads.

Following the experience we began to hit the Great Ocean Road. On this section of the drive we visited Peterborough beach for a little dip, the Bay of Martyrs, Bay of Islands, London Bridge (which broke away from the mainland with a couple on to, the couple happened to be a man and his mistress who were outed by the news media), the Loch and Gorge where we sat for a while taking in the breathtaking views. Finally before we stopped at the 12 Apostles to watch the sunset we ate a meal of chicken schnitzel, chips and salad for dinner (mine came without the crumbs).

After the sunset we checked into Port Campbell Hostel (Trip Advisor review here), we stayed in a female 6 bed dorm which was really nice and clean, the shower was powerful and the bath tub huge. Also the communal areas and kitchen were huge and well equipped. Again we had trouble with a WIFI connection even though we got provided with an hour free we couldn’t connect which was quite frustrating.

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My boomerang; sleepy Koala; the Great Ocean Road sign; cool hot rod

DAY 3 again we woke up the next morning I packed my bag and tried to put it on…but I failed as the bed I had it balanced on decided to move and ensure I land on my bum with my back practically on my head. At breakfast I was served my gluten free goodies and the rest of the crew were served pancakes. We then drove around 1.5 hours to Otway Fly Treetop Walk, we had admission for walking only but there was a zip line there. We were given around an hour to walk around the park and up the steel structure that took you up into the tree tops. It was a very nice experience and it was mixed with lots of information about current and prehistoric life in the area including some of the oldest trees. Although it was nice I wouldn’t say it was one of my favourite parts of the trip.

From there we drove to Appolo Bay for lunch, I had my ipod in for the 2hour journey and enjoyed viewing the beautiful scenery. The land appeared to be really dry and it resembled a scene from the Lion King. When we got to Apollo Bay we were released to fend for ourselves for a while for some free time I swore blind PJ asked us to return for 1:30pm…but it wasn’t it was 1pm. Ooops! He went driving looking for us for around 20 minutes and I was a little sheepish. I liked Apollo Bay, it was a little touristy but it was relaxed and had a nice atmosphere.

From here we hurried to Kennett River Holiday Park (due to my lateness) to see the wild Koalas sleeping, if I could have one as a pet I would I have never seen a more beautiful creature. Next we set off to the start of the Great Ocean Road (we did the trip in reverse) and took the cliché pictures under the sign (of course we would…who wouldn’t).

During the trip PJ filled us in on various tales of history, animal life, jokes, love stories and much more (mainly because there was no stereo in the leased bus) and I think we all really enjoyed his company. He told us about various things we saw along the road, about a 5kg gold nugget being found as recently as 5 weeks ago in the state of Victoria and about the myths surrounding the great white shark as one of the most vicious sharks.

We arrived in Melbourne around 6:30pm and PJ at bus stop had been decommissioned were given more time at the stop offs and to spread out the amount of driving over maybe an extra day would have been perfect….and I didn’t get poisoned! Bonus!

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Planning to get back to Sydney!

Since we arrived in Adelaide we have spent a serious numbers of hours planning our way back out, that’s not to say we haven’t enjoyed ourselves. It just means that in between the fun moments we have also been planning a trip to Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road and back up to Sydney for the upcoming Mardi Gras parade on the 2nd March. We just couldn’t figure out a way to do it that suited us.

Firstly we were going to book a tour through some travel companies, then we were going to hire a car or camper and rough it, then we were going to buy a hundredth hand camper van … it all just got really complicated. Why? Credit Cards or lack thereof. You see Anita and I have been brought up with the outlook that if we couldn’t afford it we couldn’t have it, so we have never had a use for a credit card. This fact has turned out to be a royal pain in the rear for us not having credit cards, we even toyed with the idea before we left the UK but in all honesty debt scares me and I don’t really understand all the T/C’s. I think the companies throw so much unreadable nonsense at you that you leave dazed and confused after having sold them your soul.

So tours…..there were so many companies to choose from and we had brochures coming out of our ears, we were so overwhelmed with information we couldn’t decide. Not only were there many tours for a range of prices, conveniently there were none that went from Adelaide around to Sydney. We would have had to split it over two tours that may or may not have connected in the middle at Melbourne. We would also need to book hostels in Adelaide for pickup, in Melbourne if the next tour didn’t leave in time and at our Sydney destination … it all just seamed like a lot of hassle. We didn’t have a great deal of time to organise and travel and we hadn’t transferred any more money from the UK (usually I am mega organised, not in Australia). The best tour brochures we found were:

STA Travel (this really is packed full of useful information, I wish they had it in PDF)

Topdeck Travel (provide gluten free meals)

Groovy  Grape (provide gluten free meals)

G Adventure

Contact these companies via Twitter for quicker responses, this was how I found out they provide gluten free meals.

So if we wanted to hire a camper/car we had a few options where the liability is concerned, they have a few options but the obvious 2 are:

Pay no daily rate for liability, however, they will charge and freeze  up front an amount of around $3,000 dollars in case you screw up with their vehicle along the way;

Pay a daily rate for liability cover of between $25-50 per day.

Other than this they charge between $200-500 for one way fees $3-5 per day for a second driver, $10 per day for sat nav hire, $10-20 for linen and a host of extras.

The problem for us is that most would not accept debit cards only credit cards.

In terms of hiring a camper on this occasion it did not suit us because we were crossing two states one-way, didn’t have credit cards, did’t want to pay so many added fees for liability and didn’t wan’t them to freeze so much of our money to decide that we had caused x-amount of damage so we were’t getting our money back. We  may hire a camper for other journeys that aren’t so complicated in the future but for now it just wasn’t for us, we did find these cool and cheap sites though:

Mighty Campers

Wicked Campers

Camper Travel

Finally we thought of buying a camper van, so we checked out Gumtree and found quite a few for a good prices and we were really excited that the majority came with all the necessary camping equipment. It was obvious they had been bought and sold by travellers. We then had to consider if our UK licences were sufficient, the registration costs and hassles of moving between states for a period of time (vehicles must be registered within certain timeframes for each state) this Australian Government website gives useful links to relevant information of licensing and registration. We also had no idea how long any of this would take and to be honest didn’t want the hassle, all we wanted was a fun trip with the chance to make our way back to Sydney, see some more of Australia and meet new people. We decided by driving that we were isolating ourselves, making a commitment far too early in our trip and we were pushing our luck time wise. So we decided this wasn’t for us.

So what did we decide???

We decided to go with a Topdeck Southern Cross tour in reverse, we fell lucky that there were only three seats left and at a %10 reduction. This takes us from Adelaide to Melbourne over 3 days via the Great Ocean Road and the Grampians. We have no onward plan … just organising this was a headache (like most couples we just have communication problems). We booked the tour via Escape Travel in Hallet Cove, the agent was really helpful and advised us that she would contact us once Topdeck had confirmed they had sufficient accommodation for us as well as seat on the coach …after they had taken our money. We were expecting to hear from them the day after, we didn’t. We then called and emailed until we had it confirmed two days after booking. By this time we still hadn’t booked hostels in case we couldn’t go on the tour and were given a refund amid the possibility of having to make alternative plans.

After this searching for hostels was also a pain, some places didn’t have the correct availability, some where overpriced with terrible reviews, some were just way out of the way of where we needed to be and some websites WOULD ONLY ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS!

Again with making a backpackers life difficult!

We eventually booked 3 hostels:

Adelaide Motel & Backpackers via Hostel World,  we are being collected from Adelaide for the tour and we paid $22 each for 1 night in a 6 bed mixed dorm.

Nomads All Nations Melbourne via their own website for $26 each per night for 3 nights in a 12 bed mixed dorm. We saw the same hostel on Hostel Bookers for the same price, only they wanted to take the 10% deposit in GBP! Seemed odd!

Alfred Park Budget Accommodation via Hostel World for between $25-26 per night for 3 nights for us 2 and a friend.

When using Hostel World we paid $10 to remove the $2 booking free, this is valid for 12 months and as they are usually the cheapest comparison agent it will be beneficial for us.

Keep tuned for how are trip actually went!

Categories: Australia, Travelling Tales & Tips | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Yum Sing Express (review)

Yesterday Anita and I decided to wonder around Glenelg in search of two item, one of which a new bikini for me :). Shopping all day is hungry work and we started to look at the restaurant boards, a lot of which offering gluten-free items. Anita fancied Asian food so we checked a few out…none offered gluten-free. Opposite the last one we checked I completely missed the big sign that I could have tripped over or walked in to (anyone I know will tell you I really am that clumsy) that boasted “All stir-fried dishes are Gluten Free”. It’s not as if the writing was tiny either … I so need new glasses!

It was a fast food Asian called The Yum Sing Express and in terms of fast food I really can’t say it was that bad, the inside of the restaurant was typically a fast food diner and we were served our meals in polystyrene containers and given only a plastic fork. I would’ve liked a spoon for the sauce on my beef and black bean stir fry because it was simply delicious and I can’t complain about the crunchy vegetables either, all for just over $14.

The food was prepared in less that 7 minutes, the staff were helpful and it really hit the spot. I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and would recommend it for on the go Celiacs.

Find their location on my Gluten Free World map.

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Iced coffee and being “poisoned”

So I learned the hard way about making sure I always check what goes into my drinks and it made me decide to add a new category of posts detailing tales and tips of how not to get glutened.
We went to the beach today to watch Anita’s niece and nephews do surf life saving, it was pretty hot and I needed caffiene. So naturally an iced coffee sounded sure to hit the spot.

When I’ve had them before they’ve literally been what it says on the tin…an iced coffee. How wrong I was on this occasion not to check. I ordered my coffee skinny and when it arrived I took a great big gulp…I soon realised there was an extra ingredient!

ICE CREAM!

Since being in Australia the only ice cream I’ve had comes in the form of a Magnum almond, simply because I haven’t found another one that is gluten free. Big problem when I realised, yet too late to do anything about it. I also didn’t expect full fat ice cream in a skinny coffee…it just doesn’t seem logical. It’s not like I ordered a smoothie!

A few hours later and my signature head ache and bloated tummy started to gripe me so I decided to hit the hay. It is now 06:00am and I’ve slept a total of an hour broken up into bitesized naps, all because of bloating, griping tummy pain, headache and my body being completely restless.

So my tip for you is…

Whether you are ordering an iced coffee or a harmless smoothie always ask the barista if there is ice cream in the ingredients, especially if a drink description is not on the board or menu. If there is ask them to check the ingredients to make sure it is gluten free.

So fellow Celiacs and gluten intollerants…

THINK BEFORE YOU DRINK!

Categories: Australia, GF Tips, Gluten Free | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cafe Prego!

After a 7.5 km walk we were in need of a well deserved cup of coffee and breakfast and he temperature was rocketing. The ladies we were walking with suggested Cafe Prego because they do this walk often.

I needed to refuel and I noticed that the main menu stated GF next to many of its items so thought we would be ok to eat there, there was just one problem … it was breakfast menu. I asked the waitress if there were any gluten free items on the main menu assuming that because they offered gluten free pizza bases and pasta that they may substitute the bread as I have had done before. She returned following a visit with the chef who said there were no gluten free options on the breakfast menu but named some items that I already knew were gluten free and stated that they “may contain” … in other words eat at your own risk.

I was hungry but didn’t wat to risk being “poisoned” so I chose to have the gluten free orange tea cake in the cake cabinet, it was beautiful!!! It was a good choice and who can really complain with cake for breakfast, certainly not me when I don’t care what type of food I have for any meal.

IMG_20130208_190716Gluten free orange tea cake

Overall a generally nice cafe and in a prime spot near to the water front with extremely helpful staff. I would like to try their evening meals such as the gluten free pasta yet I was disappointed with the lack of gluten free bread as a breakfast substitute when they offered so much on their main menu. However, it certainly got me refuelled for the 7.5km walk back!

See my Gluten Free World page for the location.

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The Tin Shed (review)

So came lunch time today, blistering hot and stuffy in McLaren Vale. We came to The Tin Shed (facebook page here) because my Auntie suggested it and again I was delighted to find gluten free food on the menu.

The venue had a very shack like appearance and even had old scrubbed tin cans to hold the sugar sachets on the table, it was too hot to site inside so we sat outside. We had to collect our own menus from the bar and take them to our tables to browse and we had to go to the bar and pay first, there really isn’t a great deal of waiter service here but all in all that doesn’t bother me.

Firstly we ordered our drinks and received a complimentary bottle of chilled water for the table, I really do love this practice in Australian eateries so far. The menu was reasonably priced and had a range of brilliant gluten free options such as the substitution of bread rolls and pizza bases (for a surcharge of $3.50) which is less that others I have seen. Those in the world of gluten free know that these luxuries are hard to come by when eating out so imagine my complete and utter surprise when my main of Salt and Pepper Squid came out CRUMBED … I think I was in a state of shock! The squid was beautifully cooked and incredibly fresh and all for $18.90.

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After a mammoth portion of squid and sides we checked out the desserts (again order at the bar), I have not had a dessert here since we made our own polenta cake and I was so pleased when I walked up to the cake counter and saw a covered gluten free fig and orange cake … I mean, really, WOW! It was a large portion of moist tasty cake and wasn’t as heavy as some of the GF cakes I have tried in the past. We were offered another bottle of complimentary water after our meal, but it never came and the heat became too much to bear so we decided to walk to the local bottle shop. 

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Gluten Free Fig and Orange Cake

Overall I liked the place, I loved the menu but I feel that the staff are just a little too laid back because it didn’t really feel like they were interested as we didn’t get asked once while we were eating if we were ok or needed any more to drink.

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Carmel’s Cafe Bar and Grill! (review)

Tonight we ate our “last supper” with Nan before her return to the UK at Carmel’s Cafe Bar and Grill … and WOW what a meal!

Again, before we set off to this restaurant we checked the menu online to see what gluten-free (if any) meals they offered. I was stunned by the choice and my mouth was watering before I even left the house.

Upon arrival I noticed that the layout of the restaurant had a really relaxed vibe, it was warm, cosy and welcoming.  We were greeted by Carmel herself who worked the floor with her staff and were all extremely attentive to our needs throughout our meal.

At the table, the staff brought complimentary bottles of cold water which was just what we needed after a super hot day. The family then ordered some platters to start, they weren’t gluten-free but I had a few cheeky pieces of chorizo and some olives and even that was amazing.

For my main I ordered the Argentinean Grill for (Lamb cutlet, chorizo sausage, scotch fillet, prawn skewer served with Carmel’s own tomato,
onion chilli relish. Comes with gourmet side salad and rustic cut chips)
$29.90, I thought it was more expensive that I am used to being such a frugal girl but for a spiced up version of a mixed grill (something I never get in the UK) I was willing to give it a shot.  I was a little surprised I wasn’t asked how I would like my meat cooked (usually a touchy subject who has their meat very rare), however, when my meal came it didn’t disappoint. The meat was charred beautifully, medium-well done, the chips were chunky, the salad with pumpkin and feta was simply divine. The mixture of flavour on that plate made me melt … literally!

I really recommend this venue, another good reason to go being that they have Koppaberg 🙂

Overall, great venue, great staff, great atmosphere and great mood … simply a great good bye meal to Nan.

Thanks Carmel!

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Argentinean Grill

Check out more the location on my Gluten Free World page.

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From Saratoga to Adelaide

So we landed in Sydney and then spent some amazing time with our friend in Saratoga then caught a flight to Adelaide to see family, so I thought I’d write a post to update those readers who are interested in our actual travels and what we have been up to since our arrival on January 16th.  Posting during this trip so far hasn’t been easy my mobile internet is slow and there are so many “dead zones” in Australia I feel like I’m in the twilight zone, although in truth I don’t mind because technological downtime means I get to take in the things around me without distraction for a while.

Firstly we were picked up from the airport by one of our Aussie gal friend Alana and taken back to the house that her and her partner Mardi are renovating, may I add with as little help as possible. Fair play the girls are doing well. Even with renovations and 2 amazing dogs (Kruse and Calvin) and 6 chickens (except Robin thinks she is a dog and can do what the dogs do) they were still amazingly welcoming and shared their house with us for two weeks and have foolishly said we can return whenever … they may live to regret those words! 😉

While in Saratoga for the first week we pretty much stayed around the house trying to recover from jet lag and sift through all our documentation to sort our bank accounts out, not an easy task in the least I will update my earlier blog posts about things to consider before you travel. We did go in to Sydney a few days but the journey was a bit of a soul destroyer and we will probably spend some time in the city in the coming months, our first day in Sydney we spent most of the day in the banks opening accounts.

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Making friends in Saratoga

The STA opened a Commonwealth bank account for us but we later went to the HSBC bank and opened another joint account (click here to see this post and find out why) but we did see some pretty cool things shortly after and again on our second visit. On the first day we wandered through the Chinese Gardens and after a short trip in the wrong direction we found Darling Harbour, where we met the GIANT rubber duck in celebration of Australia Day … though I’m not quite sure I see the connection. I do keep blaming things on the fact we are upside down, though I’m not sure how long I can keep saying that in some of my dullest moments. The second time we visited Sydney we simply just walked around and took in some of the atmosphere and we actually made it around to the harbour and took the cliché Harbour Bridge and Opera House shots. We saw the busking Aboriginals who looked and sounded amazing with a didgeridoo and some wooden blocks, we saw a street performer who had a striking resemblance for Capt Jack Sparrow squeeze himself through a tennis racquet (not entirely sure why, again) and saw some rather random lunchtime joggers … with no shoes! The inner know it all runner and granny within me was screaming about poor support and joint pain and she was not happy with my decision to shut her up and move on without giving the poor boy a lecture.

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What we saw in Sydney

So that was the short version of Sydney and then it’s back to Saratoga. We have been looking at guided tours, jobs and all other of possibilities of where to go next and the trouble is we are indecisive and still a bit wary of the “just wing it” attitude. I did mention it would be hard in an earlier post (it’s getting easier). We enjoyed Aussie day by the beach with some cider and ginger beer (BOOM – the gluten-free variety is a winner folks) and we frequently competed with the Yahtzee cup and tempers flared. Oh and we got to play and cuddle some absolutely adorable puppy dogs, Anita is now puppy broody!

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Consuming naughties in Saratoga

While staying in Saratoga we took a trips to Newcastle and Cardiff … too confusing for us to have the two so close together in Australia! We also visited Terrigal beach and attempted an 8km walk to Erina only it was really hot and we didn’t really factor in the heat and a really, really, really long empty road! We may think about this when we get silly ideas in the future. Or maybe we wont.

Then the tropical storm hit and completely battered the east coast, it was sad and scary watching the news and hearing how people had died in the storms and we just had no idea what to do next. We had been here in Aus for just short of two weeks and getting itchy about wanting to explore and I realised my Nan was in Adelaide and had a week before she set off back to England, so rather than go east we decided to go south west-ish and catch a flight. The domestic flights are fairly cheap (we paid $139 for flight with checked luggage of 23Kg and 7 hand-held) and I certainly couldn’t complain about the service on the Virgin Australia flight that had free entertainments, headsets and was spot on with take off and landing time … to the minute.

We were met at the airport by my uncle who took us around the vineyard where he lives to spot kangaroos … and we did, it made our day! So we arrived home to see my Nan who I hadn’t seen in a few weeks since just after new year and my Auntie, Uncle and two Cousins who I hadn’t seen for just over 3 years and I cannot believe just how much Australia has changed the kids! They had put up a six berth tent with a queen double air bed and a lush cotton linen set looking out over the vineyard. We had no complaints.

As I write this post we have been in Adelaide 4 days and I have eaten gluten free meals in restaurants (See reviews here), seen Kangaroos, gone fishing, seen a wild seal play with some dolphins, been on a night time penguin watch tour on granite island, been on a dolphin cruise from Port Adelaide and been to the beach … I still have sand on my legs at this moment.

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Sights and goings on in Adelaide

So, what next…

We are going to be spending some time with more family in Adelaide for just over a week and in the meantime we are pricing up tours or campers to get from Adelaide to Sydney in time for the must see Sydney Mardi Gras … it is going to be messy! Now time to actually get off my rear and get that beach body back and I will post as soon as I can with more updates on our travels!

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