Canberra: Lots to see lots to do.

Our last morning in Canberra was a little lazy. We enjoyed the hotel: the quiet room, the breakfast and the coffee in the sun reading the papers.

The Kurrajong Hotel is old but is an institution in Canberra. It was home to politicians over the years.

We stayed here two years ago when our nephew was married. It was good then and once again we enjoyed it.

You probably want a car if staying here as it’s not in the city. But Canberra is quite spread out and you need a car or you need to love cycling. It’s a city for cyclists.

I always get a bit lost here. Everything is spread out. The blocks are long, are tree lined and have 2 story block type buildings. All the main attractions tend to be along the lake and today we were going to visit a few.

First stop was Old Parliament House. Last time I was here it was with a group of Year 7 students on a school trip from Brisbane. This time we arrived in time to join a tour with Sergio. He was a volunteer guide but had worked for many years at Old Parliament House. He was so informative. And funny in a sage kind of way. He had opinions on Pauline Hanson and other Senators who despite having low numbers of votes were now holding the balance of power.

We toured the old building and heard some anecdotes about Whitlam, Hawke and Howard. Sergio had worked there in their days. It must have been interesting especially the stories involving Hawke!

Some of the items spotted in Old Parliament House

We continued on and decided to separate. I went to the Art Gallery and Steve to the National Museum. I’d been there a few times when on tour with my school. So I passed on that. I love the Art Gallery.

I spent a few hours in the large spaces of the Gallery. There was an exhibition on California Cool , Art Deco and Art Nouveau.

I left the Gallery and walked along to Questicon further along the lake. Steve had arrived and was having a great time interacting with the exhibits , primarily science based. It’s such a great place. Don’t miss it on a trip to Canberra.

The afternoon passed and before long we were flying to Adelaide to stay with Steve’s sister in Fullerton.

Adelaide is the city of festivals so I’m keen to see what’s on.

Lest We Forget: a Special Day of Remembrance

A century ago the guns fell silent on the Western Front.

On the anniversary of the Armistice we honour all those who sacrificed their lives in World War 1.

The end of the War came suddenly. The Armistice that had brought the end of the fighting was signed in a railway carriage in a forest clearing in Compiegne, France, on 11November.

Six hours later, at 11am, the guns fell silent.

I have walked the battlefields of France. I have seen the fields where the action took place, where bodies fell and sadly where the bodies Rest In Peace.

It sends shivers right through you. The words on the headstones restricted to 60 characters tell about those who would not be returning home. Their age, something about them.

Remember them with pride on this special day. ‘They shall not grow old …..’

Attending today’s ceremony in Canberra was a privilege. The silence and respect shown is moving.

The crowds were quiet and respectful.

At the conclusion of the ceremony we walked to the National Carillon. We were fortunate to hear the bells accompanying the Canberra City band perched high up in the tower than makes the Carillon.

Canberra has beautiful spaces to be able enjoy concerts, parades, ceremonies.

We finished the day at the National Portrait Gallery, a beautiful space filled with wonderful portraits. A cross section of Australians including a familiar Queenslander.

There was a Concert at 4pm. Evensong. The four voices echoed through the gallery. It was quite beautiful. A lovely way to end the afternoon.

Tonight we had dinner in Hughes with John & Judy, Brett & Jenny. Steve went to school with John, Brett & Jenny at Telopea Park High School and since their reunion 7 years ago we have kept in touch. They are great fun and we had a a lively night with them reminiscing- they even got the school albums out!

That’s the nice things about old school friends. You just pick up where you left off! They are now planning their next reunion. Sounds promising.

Opals: Fossicking in Lightening Ridge.

A little nightcap last night gave us s reason to have a sleep in so we wandered to breakfast around 8.30.

The town was waking and the sun was shining. Breakfast was at the Green Gecko 🦎. Another success! Delicious and served with a country smile.

We made our plans for the day and started with the Art Gallery across the road. The John Murray Gallery is a popular stop on the tourist trail. And with good reason.

The building itself screams outback. The paintings on the shed wall capture the outback in a humorous way.

Inside was just as interesting. We watched a movie with John Murray talking about his arrival in the Ridge and starting an art gallery. We saw his home with its natural materials. His art is colourful and fun and I couldn’t resist buying one or two small pieces.

No photo inside. 😫

We crossed the road walked past the emus on the wall and went into the opal cave. A renowned shop selling the famous black opal.

The shop is done out like a cave full of treasures. I spotted a beautiful black opal reflecting the most gorgeous colours. Not in any setting. A single opal for $12,000. Wow.

The sales people patiently explained how to spot a good quality opal let us look, examine and try various pieces of jewellery and good naturally farewelled us after we didn’t buy anything.

We tossed up over the next stop and decided on the underground mine. It was a few km out of town.

We hatted up and down we went. It was cool and a little claustrophobic. But fun. Another little movie explaining how to fossick. I think you’d have to be determined!

And you’d have to like being underground!

The owner of the mine was from Shorncliffe Qld. He told us if you worked hard mining you would make a good living. There are opals to be found. Perhaps a career change?

Above ground we decided it was beer o’clock. Michael promised us a tour of the 3 pubs in the scrub via the underground sculptures.

Today we could see the yellow car doors so followed them to the sculpture underground. Sadly closed for lunch. For 3 hours! So we continued heading out of town. Past the big emu.

A quick stop at the great church and then we spotted a sign. Yes it was the pub. Well one of them.

We drove across dusty, unpaved stony roads until finally The Club in the Scrub.

Such a great place complete with its own library!

We ordered food in the nick of time from the rather unsmiling waitress.

Helen ordered a large chips to share and boy …….. was it large!

What a place.

We loved it.

After lunch we decided to ‘blow this fox hole ‘. A rather fun saying meaning ‘that we got to go’

Back along some more tough roads past miners houses of varying quality.

Past a memorial to those who had died

And past Nashy’s thong tree whoever Nashy is!

And then a few dusty kilometres later the next Pub.

Disabled parking is provided with a smile.

Even bus parking!

We loved it all. Especially the friendly blokes , the miners enjoying a Friday afternoon beer. We joined them and had fun.

Before the dusty road back.

Back to Ridge and dinner at the Bowling Club. . Or as it’s known. The Bowlo!

Another great day in the big dusty outback!

Lightening Ridge: one pub at a time.

The day started with a walk around the corner to a lovely country cafe with lashings of bacon and farm fresh eggs. Nothing like a country style breakfast.

After breakfast the team split! The boys went in the direction of Boomi in search of the pub. It’s about half an hour from Goondiwindi and is a tiny town but has a great pub.

The girls stayed behind to boost the economy. I had spied some lovely bamboo deck chairs in a lovely parrot print. I had to check them out!

Main Street browsing in a country town is always a treat. Everyone seems friendly, there are things you don’t see at other places – in the city, and it doesn’t take too long.

Like Inverell from a few weeks ago Gundi, as it’s known here has a good feeling. The shops are attractive, the street scape is well cared for and the Art Deco buildings add character.

We did our best to spend a $$$. Jill bought black pants, Helen a dress and I got those deck chairs. I bought the set. They are lovely !

The chairs squeezed into the boot and off we went. We headed towards Weengallon on h’way 85. We’d been told by the dress shop owner that the community had held a fundraiser lunch there for the 5th year in a row to raise funds for breast and prostrate cancer. Over 500 attended. It sounded like a wonderful community event.

Weengallon consists of a lovely church and hall and not much more. The ladies (and men I presume) travel from km away to attend. I’d love to go but apparently it sells out in an hour!

Along the 85 we drove, anticipating our arrival at the Nindigully Pub. It’s quite famous. In a recent episode of Back Roads it featured mostly because it’s an amazing outback pub which serves up the worlds biggest hamburger. It’s as big as a pizza, costs $60 and sadly for us takes 2hrs to prepare. We didn’t order ahead so no big burger.

We did enjoy the meals we had though. Smaller burgers! And steak sandwiches. And the atmosphere of the pub first serving drinks in 1864.

The indoor dining room.

We enjoyed a beer and explored the pub both indoors and out. It’s a fascinating part of Australian history. And obviously very popular with travellers and the grey Nomads (retired older people who travel Australia in caravans)

After lunch we headed into Thallon. It’s become a tourist stop – (again seen on Back Roads) for its big Wombat and it’s painted silos. The wombat is hugh and has footholds up one side to encourage climbers. Such fun.

The silos are beautiful. They stand proudly against a blue sky and are just so Australian.

I have to share this joke at Thallon’s expense. Our friend Helen’s daughter sent a message saying ‘Nice place you’re in – is there a beauty thallon, hair thallon or maybe a nail thallon! ‘ 😂

Back into the cars we drove in convoy to our next stop.

The Hebel Hotel. This journey is becoming a pub crawl. And why not. There are some excellent pubs! This one is again not really part of a town. It’s a destination.

We had a drink – —drivers not enjoying a beer 😢 but able to enjoy the challenge of a game of darts.

Aware that the afternoon was passing and wanting to avoid the kamikaze kangaroos we tackled the last half hour into Lightening Ridge.

Driving into the Ridge we faced the population sign. Instead of a number it just had a ?

Anybody’s guess. People definitely come and go from the town as they try their luck finding opals. Especially the Black Opal.

The art around town is fun

We checked into our motel and had a drink as we were so dry! Then decided to drive to the ‘Night Sky Spectacular. ‘

It was 3 km out of town following the yellow car doors. Only problem, it was dark, we couldn’t see the car doors in the trees (a substitute for arrows) it was pitch dark. So we were late. It had rained a little so the show was moved into a shed. We crept in and watched a 30 min film about Lightening Ridge and fossicking for opals. Sadly no Night Sky Spectacular tonight!

Looking forward to fossicking tomorrow.

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.