Goondiwindi a Great Art Deco Country Town.

We’re off again. Cruising the countryside. This time in bigger cars! The roads to Lightening Ridge are rough and rocky.

Once again we met at the Wilsons this time with Mike & Helen Grace and Peter Harrison. Sadly, Carmel can’t make it due to an infected leg.

We wound our way out of town and went via Warwick on a more minor road. You see so much more when you get off the main roads.

First stop for coffee at Aratula. The Bakery there is always a winner. A bit of car shuffling and we headed onto Inglewood. Steve isn’t driving due to his carpal tunnel operation. Both wrists! So I’m sharing the driving with Chris & Jill. It was warming up so we sat on the deck and enjoyed the country-style salad sandwiches and the odd sausage roll.

I just love these country towns. Mike disappeared for a while. He had wandered down to the general store on the Main Street and met up with a lady who had worked with him in catering in Brisbane. They had a bit of a yak (talk) and caught up on a few years.

Back on the road for the short hop to Goondiwindi.

There was a spit of rain then a rainbow appeared. A good omen.

We saw others hopping along as well. The kangaroo is a menace on the road. They hop blindly into the path of a car and get startled. Next thing they are road kill. There were bodies littered along the highway. Little kangaroo paws sticking up in the air.

You need to be off the road by 4pm to avoid hitting one. Quite scary.

We arrived safely and checked into our motel. It’s the same one we stayed at this time last year when we were down for Lauren’s wedding.

We visited Lauren in her house nearby in time for a George cuddle. He is about 6 months old and a real cutie. Lauren’s husband Nick is a farmer and they are doing it tough at the moment. Little rain equals poor crops and decisions on when to sow and spray. Nick was off working so we sat on their screened deck and enjoyed baby George.

We planned a drink at the pub. The Victoria. A lovely Art Deco style. It’s interesting to see quite a few Art Deco style buildings in town. If you’re visiting country towns this is a good one!

We sat in front of the fire and enjoyed a drink before walking a block to the Chinese restaurant – one of two in town and, apart from the pub, the best eating in town. It didn’t disappoint. And George was the perfect Bub.

As we walked to the Chinese we passed a few lovely looking shops. Homewares and clothes shops particularly caught our eye. So the ladies made an executive decision to stay behind in the morning and do our best to boost the economy. I spied some very cute deck chairs which would look great in the new area we are creating under the house.

We swapped a few tall tales before heading off to bed ready to tackle Lightening Ridge in the morning.

We also found out there is a “Gourmet in Gundi” festival on Sunday. So we have penciled it in on our return to Gundi.

Cruising the Countryside

On a fine winter’s Sunday we assembled at our friends house and planned our route to Inverell in NSW. Why Inverell I hear you ask? As it turns out Inverell is home to a rather large car museum. We’ve been wanting to go there for a while and we finally got some time to get away.

After map reading it was ‘Gentlemen, start your engines’ and away we went.

We prefer the more minor roads to avoid trucks and to be able to enjoy some scenery along the way, so we headed to Rathdowney and onto Woodenbong for our first coffee stop.

The breeze had sprung up and it was quite cool in the open topped car. Lucky the sun was shining to provide some warmth.

The coffee was good and hot, so refreshed we headed off along the back road to Bonalbo then the Bruxner Highway to Tenterfield.

It was getting late for lunch and our favourite Willow Tree Cafe was closed on Sundays so we went into the hotel with its warm fires and tasty soups.

Mt Barney

The countryside had fires through here just a day ago.

Back in the car it was definitely getting cooler, so another layer of clothes was added before an unscheduled stop. Chris pulled over to check something. We pulled in behind, turned off the motor, then when we wanted to head off the engine wouldn’t start. Not good being two small green cars on the side of a busy stretch of road for we were now on the New England Highway. Eventually we all push-started the MG and off we headed -grateful not to have to call for help.

We arrived in Glen Innes and turned west towards Inverell and now it was very chilly and we were driving into the western sun. I had two hats , gloves, a rug on my knees and two scarves. And I was still cold.

After a beautiful day’s drive the last half hour wasn’t quite so great. We were pleased to arrive at Inverell and get into our warm rooms at Top of the Town Motel with its covered car spaces and and warm rooms.

I love country towns. Having grown up with a father who loved driving and many relatives scattered throughout the NSW countryside we had lots of holidays driving and visiting relatives.

Warmed up, we headed to the restaurant recommended by Margaret from the motel. We asked her about the club in town. “No, don’t go” there she answered, quickly followed by “or to the Chinese”. We settled on the Thai and it was good.

Monday morning Steve was up and ready to sort out the starter problem with his car. He called the NRMA, the motoring body who comes to your rescue when there are car problems. I was comfortably still in my warm bed and I could hear voices outside. Men and their cars! Steve along with Chris and Andrew were huddled under the raised hood discussing things until the NRMA man joined them. Then there were lengthy discussions and laughter and advice given until half an hour later Steve appeared quite thrilled to report it was a minor problem, and the car was across the road from the motel at the conviently located auto electrician!

A morning to inspect a small country town is very revealing. Inverell, I’m pleased to say, is a great little centre. After a super breakfast at the Bridge Cafe we parted with the boys. They headed off to the car museum and we decided to walk the heritage trail of the town’s main streets.

There are some beautiful old buildings lining the streets which have undergone some restoration work and are quite lovely.

The Inverell Art Gallery located in Street has a beautiful mosaic walkway leading to it. The Gallery is well used and was setting up for a local Kindergarten art show.

We called into Berlinger’s Art Gallery a most attractive place with some really good art on the walls and some beautiful craft works including lovely quilts and cushions. It looked prosperous which is a good sign for a country town. As we walked along the main streets we went into several gift homewares shops , one with a coffee shop inside. Another one was a combination of gifts, knit wear and art supplies. The owner Melissa Simmons was lovely to chat to and said things were doing well in Inverell despite the drought.

Along from there we went into Magnolias, a very large gift, clothes and furniture shop. There is lots of money tied up in this really lovely shop. I bought a jacket so will feel I’ve contributed to the local economy.

In fact we all bought an assortment of gifts, clothes, craft items and Jann topped the purchases with a lovely cream wool throw.

The road to Goondiwindi where we will be going in another two weeks

Back with the boys we enjoyed coffee at yet another cafe and then back into the cars for the next run. The weather was warm and much more comfortable. We stopped in Texas – no, not Texas USA but a small country town in Queensland. We chatted to a lovely lady at the CWA – the Country Women’s Association (though sometimes its known as the Cranky Women’s Association) before heading off to try and beat the dangerous driving time. Kangaroos hop with no fear or sense across the road. There are lots of dead bodies littered along the highways and roads. Little furry legs in the air. It’s quite scary driving along thinking they’ll run out in front of you. I’d hate to hit one.

We drove into Stanthorpe around 4.30 and found the Apple and Grape Motel in the Main Street. For those overseas readers a motel is a type of hotel. They are usually one or two stories high with parking outside the rooms.

Our motel was conveniently located next to a pub! Or hotel to be more correct. And we were ready for a drink. Surprisingly though located in the wine area we didn’t have much choice of bubbles or wine. But we managed to find something wet and bubbly and in front of the warm crackling fire settled in.

We followed up with dinner – nothing special. Just the usual steak and chips! Lamb shanks, lasagne , chicken parmigiana. As I said nothing too exciting. But it filled us and warmed us and we had some fun.

Jann our champagne queen didn’t drink the rather inferior bubbles. So after dinner she sent Andrew to a bottle shop and he came back with a lovely bottle of Tattinger. Such posh friends I have. And aren’t I lucky!

So to sleep

Eating: Restaurants in Seminyak Bali.

I’ve heard so much about the restaurants in Bali I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

There are great restaurants all over the world. Having just been to New York we experienced some really good food but it’s very expensive. Cuba wasn’t expensive but then again it wasn’t too exciting.

Italy is one country where I never get tired of the food. It’s regional, fresh and you can eat out well, without breaking the bank.

Bali has a range of food – from inexpensive street food to higher end cuisine from other parts of the world.

We tried a few different places and I’ll try and capture each one as they were different but memorable.

Try one if you want a good eating experience. Mind you everyone has different expectations- but to me – a bit of a traveller and one who likes food they were great.

Night 1: La Lucciola

La Lucciola

Area: Seminyak

Jl. Petitenget

We arrived via a little wooden bridge after passing through the car park of the Petitenget Temple. It has a beautiful setting by the beach. It’s like a tropical house with wide verandas overlooking the grass into the beach.

The menu is primarily Italian with a slight Asian twist.

We shared a few entrees always a good way to start a meal. The stuffed zucchini flowers, the smoothest burrata, some antipasto. Main course we chose our own. Being gluten intolerant I had the yellow fin tuna which was delicious others had heavenly soft house made pasta with king prawns a touch of chilli.

They were lovely to the children who loved their pasta.

For 5 adults and 2 children several cocktails, a bottle of Italian wine, sparkling water, shared entrees, 5 main courses and 3 desserts it was just under $400 Australian.

Night Two was a Denise’ birthday, so her choice was a restaurant just out of Seminyak but easily reached by taxi: Slippery Stone.

Jalan Batu Belig No 9

This was a Greek restaurant and it looked like we’d arrived in Greece.

It would be good for groups, has a fire show and a lovely outdoor setting.

The food is typical Greek food but very well done.

Night Three was Sarong:

Jalan Petitenget No 19.

This was more theatrical. Dark ( in fact so dark they give you a little light to read the menu!) , moody, beautiful decor and menu of Indian fusion. It’s a share food type of place. We started with some absolutely beautiful tuna betel leaf, delicious dumplings then some shared plates: saag curry, spiced octopus, butter chicken and beef rendang. All delicious.

Night 3: Barbacoa

Jl. Petitenget No 14

The fusion food here is designed to share. Though I love sharing I sometimes think I end up with too many flavours.

They had a good kids menu as well. We started with a bite each – I had a tiny fish taco. Bite sized and delicious.

Others had roasted corn, a dumpling,

Then we shared a beautiful piece of beef with a green sauce. The dishes ‘from the garden’ were wonderful. A spiced toasted cauliflower dish, green beans with anchovy butter and garlic, eggplant roasted,

Desserts were sensational. The nitrogen ice cream was prepared st the table and thrilled the children. The creme brûlée just right and my dessert cocktail – limoncello finished with Italian meringue.

Night 4: Bikini or You look Hot in a Bikini

Jl. Kayu Cendana, near Seminyak mall.

This is a little show stopper. Very creative. Very cheeky and fun.

And a menu to match.

It can be shared or ordered individually.

Exquisite small plates like works of art.

We had a crispy salt & pepper kale crisp! Yum. Satay. Clever and tasty, crispy eggplant – to die for, glazed beetroot, whipped feat and candied hazelnuts. Yumo beautiful barramundi with apple purée, beef rib w artichoke and glazed chicken. All wow.

Night 6 : Potato Head Beach Club

Jl Petitenget 51B

FUN! This is a true beach club where in the afternoon the bikini is almost the dress code. But not for us and it didn’t matter.

Go in time for a few drinks at sunset. Book a large flat bed. Or swim in the pool.

This is more a fun drinking kind of place but the food is still good. We set up on a big lounge area, the children played , the adults people watched and the sunset was amazing. If you enjoy a bit of a show and like to see party people in action this is for you. It’s off Petitenget road by the water with a huge swimming pool and swim up bar.

The menu has various sections from burgers to Indonesian selections to a little little Italian. There are different kitchens around the huge complex. I like it because it’s table or lounge service.

There’s a gelato shack and the music is cool. Just chill there for awhile

Brunch at W Hotel

For more sophisticated eating try the W Hotel famous Sunday Brunch in their Starfish Bloo restaurant. By the huge pool it a great place to spend some time eating, drinking and swimming.

It’s an amazing buffet with one big decision. With or without alcohol!

So get into the eating in Seminyak Bali. Have you got a favourite place? Please share it in the comments.

Mt Agung holds us in Bali

If you have to be held hostage somewhere Bali isn’t a bad place to be.

We’ve spent the day just lounging in a cabana by the pool. With the pool in front and green lawn and the beach behind it’s pretty good.

There has been a little to and fro from the reception trying to organise rooms in case we had to stay another night.

So it seems the Qantas flight is going tonight ( or early tomorrow) at 12.30am. This is a surprise to us as the Virgin crew flying with me to Brisbane have been partying by the pool all day and said ‘if we don’t fly then Qantas won’t ‘ seems she was wrong!

So I’ll be here alone night and tomorrow after they all leave the hotel at 9.30 pm. Then the dreaded overnight flight.

The kids have been in and out of the pool all day. Great fun.

We had a little walk along the beach and chatted to a few locals offering manicures, massage and a chat!

So people who come to Bali should not complain if they get held up here due to volcanic activity. The airlines don’t like it , the locals don’t like it, but there’s nothing you can do.

There is no insurance to cover the hold up, so plan for it or perhaps don’t come to Bali.

Safe travels everyone.

Mt Agung extends the Bali holiday.

Our last day in Bali was lovely. Peaceful friendly people at our resort bid us farewell.

Zali has her hair braided. Jack had his cut ready for Kindy.

We had final swims, final breakfast, final games of snakes and ladders, final Gin& Tonic and our last dinner.

Only problem was when we arrived at the airport at 7.30pm for a 10.10 flight we were told flights were cancelled. Well the ones to Australia were.

This is why!

And we were blissfully unaware.

Now we are in the Holiday Inn near the airport. It’s actually a rather good looking hotel right on the beach.

So if news is not good tomorrow this is where we will stay!

I’ll keep you all posted.

Passing Time in Bali

It’s amazing how time passes when you’re not doing much!

Bali is super relaxed.

A day goes like this:

Wake up when a 3 year old Zali or 4 year old Jack appear at the bedroom door. Chat in bed. Share a story or play a game.

Prepare for breakfast- walk to the restaurant. Share the delicious breakfast and the chat, the hat swapping and some games.

Back to the villa for a swim and playing games together.

Then have a walk to another area we haven’t explored . Catch a buggy to the gate or for exercise walk! Walk!

The streets aren’t the easiest places to walk so we manoeuvre the ups and downs of the pavements which have a gold star in a red square every few metres.

Today we walked and explored the W hotel by the beach. It’s beautifully done – from the tree lined drive way

to the restaurant with a lovely pool area. Just right for a G&T!

The graffiti/ street art livens up the buildings

We usually have a sleep in the afternoon before heading out for dinner.

Last night we went to Bikini.

What a great restaurant. I’ll do a whole separate post on the restaurants we visited.

Tonight we walked down a long drive to Potato Head Beach Club. What a scene! It’s a great place to relax with a drink and watch the sun set.

We sat on the lounges near the pool. The dress seemed to be Bikinis 👙. The smaller the better. But we maintained our standard and dressed up, not down!

We watched the sunset with a cocktail in our hand and talked about the great week we’ve had together.

There was a large sculpture at the entrance which depicted the waste all salvaged along the shores of Bali’s west coast. 5,000 thongs or flip flops as they are known in some countries!

Another lovely day.

Tomorrow we pack and leave late at night.

State of Origin Bali Style

Another lovely dinner last night at believe it or not a Greek restaurant. ‘Slippery Stone’

This doesn’t suggest Greek but it was like being in Greece. And the food was good. The kids tucked in and so did we.

Then the fire show started. It was a little like the show I saw in Vanuatu last week. But just 2 lovely locals standing in ankle deep water.

This morning we walked from the hotel along Jalan Katu Aya past some of the big resorts and also some of the lovely homeware shops. There are some very smart shops here.

We arrived at the markets which compared to some markets I’ve been to were clean, friendly with individual little shops.

We browsed and chatted to the shop owners and bargained. The Balinese are really sweet lovey people. No mean words if you don’t buy anything. No shouting ‘looky looky come here lady’

We moved onto Seminyak square and had a cool drink in the Seminyak Bakery. A cool respite in the heat.

It’s not as hot as I thought it would be. Perhaps living through our Brisbane summers has hardened me!

We returned to our little oasis in Peppers for a swim and a Vietnamese salad from a little street food place named Street Boi – near our villa.

Once again a lazy afternoon by the pool until Clare suggested a session in the gym. There’s a good gym at the resort that Clare has been visiting each day. I did my 10km on the bus me and s few yoga stretches and felt better.

Now it is watching State of Origin in a bar near the resort. It’s dominated by Blues supporters and every time it gets exciting the TV freezes. It’s funny to watch the reactions of the crowd.

The drinks are flowing. The crowds are cheering. The Blues are winning. The locals are laughing. They prefer the soccer World Cup.

Now off for dinner at Sarong. This is an Indian fusion restaurant.

The decor of the place is dark, moody and sophisticated. The food delivers a punch.

We certainly are eating well here.

We walked back past the restaurants and bars, avoided the scooters and motorcycles and made it back to the villa by 10.30. A late night!

So we have been to:

La Lucciola

Stepping Stones

Sarong

If you have a favourite restaurant in Bali please send it’s name in the comments at the end of the blog.

Exploring Seminyak

Living within a resort complex protects you from the big noisy outside world. Each time we leave Peppers Resort the senses are assaulted!

Last night we walked to the beach area. Up and down the broken foot paths, dodging motor bikes and scooters , waving a ‘No’ to taxi drivers, admiring the little altars set up along the paths and greeting the smiling Balinese people as we walked. They don’t harass you to ‘come in and look look’ like in China!

We had a really lovely early dinner with the children who were well looked after by the wait staff at La Lucciola.

It’s by the beach in a very pretty setting- if you avoided the smells from the creek we crossed arriving at the restaurant.

The cocktails were great and the food delicious.

After dinner Sam took the children back to the villa and Clare, her mother in law Denise, my sister Catherine and I continued around the streets to watch and explore and do a little shopping.

I had forgotten my hat! So I bought a new one quickly at the markets in the afternoon.

We found a lovely dress shop called Misty. The girl in the shop knew she’d would have a good sale when we all walked in! We all had a little try on and I bought two new dresses and Catherine one . Perfect for Brisbane’s sunny weather.

We continued walking – up and down avoiding the holes and broken concrete and made our way back to our villa.

This morning another lovely breakfast to celebrate Denise’s birthday. The charming staff came out with a little cake with a self lighting candle that just couldn’t blow out. The kids loved it!

We checked out the Spa next door planning our massages and facials and Catherine and I decided to walk back to the beach to check out the beach scene in the day light.

Just a little disappointed- the sand is a black colour and the surf a little rough. But we had a walk as the clouds gathered.

The entrance to the beach was impressive as was the lifesaving tower!

There were boats and deck chairs but it was probably too early for most people as the beach seemed quiet. Perhaps everyone sits by their resort pool?

We stopped by a modern looking cafe run by a German man. If you’re looking for some fresh, clean, healthy food this place would suit. Check out Clean Canteen on Petitenget. Delicious salads.

We walked along the quieter lane leading back to our resort. There are some great looking places to stay here away from the crowds.

So our afternoons are spent on deck chairs by the pool. It’s a lovely way to relax.

Beautiful Bali

Yesterday I repacked my bag after returning from Vanuatu and flew out of Brisbane into Sydney, then onto Bali!

Yes another lovely holiday coming up. This one will be a more relaxing holiday – no long distance swimming.

Coming out of the arrival hall I was greeted by a smiling Arys a lovely local man.

I’m staying at the Peppers resort in Seminyak with my niece and her family, their mothers ( my sister Catherine) and now me!

The resort at 11.30 was very quiet – unlike the streets around Seminyak which were awash with bikes , cars and groups of people wandering around.

I crept into the Villa and into the pavilion bedroom I’m sharing with my sister Catherine.

The villa is made up of 3 separate pavilions around a pool and lovely shaded cabana. And an outdoor bathroom! Bliss.

Breakfast this morning was in the central resort area by the pool and was served by the smiling Balinese. Fruits, eggs, pancakes ( not for gluten free me!) Now we are sitting by the pool chatting and playing with Jack and Zali.

I could get used to this.

Celebrating our Swimtrekking Success.

Our celebration – end of Swimtrekking dinner was held at the Waterfront restaurant. This time the atmosphere was right, the staff friendly and everyone was in a great mood. Naturally the fish curry was terrific.

Yves gave us a great farewell message followed by Lizzie giving out the awards.

There was Coral Colleen who seemed so attracted to coral cuts; pocket rockets Jenny & Wendy; no complaint Shean despite his shoulder injury; calm caring yoga Carmel; action-woman Kathy and action-man John with calm eyebrow raising Margaret !

Our youngest swimmer Bec for her fun approach- the comedian who is happy to write any letters of comments of complaint!

Tarzan Frankie for her spectacular rope swing into the lagoon and Pavarotti Ralph; kickboard Steve kicking ass everyday; a swim converted Greg who surprised himself with his strong swimming and maybe even enjoying it! Native dancer Maryanne; nurse Monique (a true Vanuatu local of the Watt family) for cheerfully dabbing all our coral cuts, and smiley Soosi for her never give up attitude soldiering on after injury, and Janice – most improved swimmer, who was awarded half price if she returned on another swim holiday.! I was awarded the best group organiser with a ‘joie de vivre.’ Thank you Lizzie for a wonderfully delivered awards ceremony.

We reciprocated with our group thanks and gift to the guide team especially Yves who put the trip together. To Lizzie the friendliest most helpful guide around and to Matthew the local who added so much local knowledge to each day and kept us safe.

Then the group had a huge surprise for Steve and I. He was named King Neptune and me, Amphitrite – his wife.

They had made crowns of thanks for us for pulling them together for this wonderful adventure.

As much as we loved our crowns we can’t take them home to Australia so gave them to Matthew and his wife for safe-keeping on the island Vanuatu for our return.

Definitely a swimtrekking success. One we’ll never forget.