Be a sunflower, stand strong and follow the sun!

A post dedicated to my beautiful little sister, CG <3.

IMG_9206South-East Queensland has had some super cheeky weather of late. Typically February is the hottest, muggiest and most unpleasant month of the year for me. However, I actually wore a cardiagan last week which is unheard of!

So here we have bee, gloriously skipping along thinking for some reason or another Australia has decided NOT too cook us all alive. It turns out we have been lied to. Australia has been tricking us!

On Saturday I finally decided to head out West and go on the famed ‘Sunflower Trail’. I have left it much too late in the season but I just have not been able to go out west before this weekend.

Southern Queensland country = sunflowers. I have long wanted to visit them myself. When I lived in Central Queensland, we would often drive from Dysart out to Emerald and the sunflowers would face us on the way there and by the time we made the drive home in the afternoon, their beautiful yellow faces would be looking at us again on the way home. It is one of my favourite memories!

The most ideal time to go sunflower hunting in South East/West Queensland is December to February – BUT – I would say Feb is just a smidge too late. If you follow the ‘gram, you would have seen Jan as peak season for 🌻🌻.

Our trip started in South Brisbane and we drove our towards Toowoomba, with a couple of stops for coffee/loos/cuddles with my little (nearly) four year old Niece 😊.

Once we hit Toowoomba after a couple of hours we grabbed some lunch / picnic food and continued our drive out to Nobby, QLD. This took us another forty or so minutes. It was HOT!

IMG_9160We had our picnic in Nobby and had a lovely older gentleman come up and explain the towns history and he pointed out all of his favourite buildings. I think one of the sweetest things in the world is the pride locals take in their smaller communities. We had he pleasure of growing up out West and it’s there that you truly appreciate the saying “salt of the Earth” people. Have a chat with someone if you can, you will always walk away more knowledgeable and with a friendly smile and a wave.

After our lunch and playground evacuation negotiation skills with little L, we drove another five or so minutes out of town to the sunflower fields. Unfortunately we were far too late. They had dropped their last petals and were no longer beaming up at the sun.

IMG_9286At first we were disappointed but really, we had had an amazing day together and we knew we were pushing our luck given it was mid-Feb.

We jumped back in the car (which was no longer red and was more a unique dusty-brown shade) and as we were about to turn around we thought we would maybe just dive a little further.

Another five mins down the toad and we found some sunflowers! Not too many but more than we thought we would! One last little field. We walked up and down the edge of the field, took some pics, watched the cute bees and imagined the hardships our Aussie farmers face each season.

If I could mention something though (and I’m going to), it’s for travellers, grammers and visitors to be respectful. These are not wild sunflowers. These are farms. There are wonderful, hard-working people behind these crops. Don’t just stomp your way through the fields, grabbing the flowers and forgetting that this is someone’s crop. Be respectful. This is private property. If we could explain this to a four year old – then I think your group of ten stomping all over the field with drones and selfie sticks can also work that one out?

IMG_9260Ideally we would so this trip again in January. We would leave earlier in the morning and not pick the middle of the day. However in saying that, for a last minute spontaneous trip out west – I think it went pretty well!

See you next season Sunflowers 🌻.

x C x

For more info on our beautiful Southern Queensland Country click here.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post.

Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and items, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – redhead_novaturient

 

Sydney in September <3

IMG_3037‘The greatest trips are the unexpected ones’ – Anon

Sydney is the type of destination which makes you think of the Sydney Opera House, the Botanical Gardens, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, insanely expensive coffee and hipsters by the barrel-full. It also makes me think of insane traffic, way too many people and a city which has a constant buzz of energy and activity!

G is originally from Sydney and he did his apprenticeship all around Sydney (think 17-year-old driving a van with a trailer on the back of it), so his driving and people-handling capabilities are far more advanced than mine!

After I surprised G with the news I had booked us a cruise in September, just a mere two days after sitting him down and going through our budget and determining we needed to cut costs and be responsible 30-somethings…. he leapt on board and confirmed that we would be doing it in style!

We booked our airfares and booked the Shagri-La for our pre-cruise stay. The Shangri-La in Sydney is divine, it has views like no other in Sydney and if you can afford to splurge and stay there, then I highly recommend it! We booked an Executive Grand Harbour View room, which although pushing $500 a night, does have views of the full harbour. The Sydney Opera House, the Rocks, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the beautiful harbour in all her glory.

The bathrooms are like no other, think marble bath and shower and plush towels and bathrobes. 50sqm of pure heaven and the views, my goodness the views! The rooms are located on levels 22-29.

DSC06606My favourite thing about the Shangri-La is that if you do arrive before 2pm and your room is ready, you are more than welcome to check-in earlier than expected. There is a gym, all day dining at Café Mix, amazing food at Altitude Restaurant and the Blu Bar on level 36. My tip is to get up to Blu Bar well before sunset, because it does get packed and secure yourself a front-seat view to the orange beauty which is a Sydney harbour sunset!

I have some amazing girlfriends who live in Sydney and we often travel interstate to see each other a few times a year, so we were lucky enough to be able to meet up with a late lunch at Cruise Bar, which is in the bustling Circular Quay. The view is beautiful; it has an amazing selection of wine and cocktails and the house made flatbreads with dip and salt and chilli squid is delicious! After spending a couple of hours here, we made our way up to the Blu Bar (get the Thyming Tokyo or Yamazukara ;)) and enjoyed the sunset.

We then headed out to Harts Pub around the corner and enjoyed some sparkling wine and waffle fries and then it was time for us to say goodbye and head back to our hotel to get ready for dinner.

Our dinner reservation was at the amazing Saké Restaurant at the Rocks and we had been looking forward to this dinner for months! It was like watching two kids at a candy bar once our amazing server handed us the menu! So, I won’t bore you with the details but our menu looked something like this: sashimi combo, spicy tuna rolls, Hiromasa kingfish, edamame, popcorn shrimp and the cape grim short rib bo ssam. You can go ahead and unbutton your pants and take a few deep breaths after reading that if you need to, we sure did!

Drinks consisted of the Hatori Hanzo (Bombay Sapphire gin, Yuzu sake, jalapeño pepper, cucumber and elderflower), E-momo-ki (cherry-blossom themed) cocktail, a Master of Malt Japanese whiskey tasting board (Mars Maltage Cosmo, Suntory Kabukin & Hibiki Japanese Harmony) and we finished with the phenomenal Miso Caramel Dragon Egg for dessert. We basically had to roll ourselves back to our hotel afterwards!

We spent an incredibly comfortable night in our amazing king-size bed and kept the curtains opened so we would wake up with the sun rising over Sydney heads. We woke up just before 5am and were lucky enough to watch our home for the next 8 nights make her way through the harbour and dock at Circular Quay. This was amazing to watch, from our bed with our room-service coffee!

The Shangri-La gym was our next stop and then we made our way to the famed breakfast buffet and before you know it, it was time to leave!

Matching flamingo shirts at the ready, we made it to the ship – dropped our bags – celebrated with some Prosecco and it was time to start our New Caledonia adventure!

Where are your favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney?

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Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post.

Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and items, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – redhead_novaturient

x C x

 

 

 

P&O Pacific Explorer

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In early 2017, I had an extra week off work and G went back to work after our short Christmas break.

I cleaned the house, prepared my new exercise and food plan, worked out my budget for the next week. Made a decent plan of attack to pay my debt off. You know, the standard boring business of a January approach.

Then something terrible happened. Something wonderfully, excitingly terrible. P&O Cruises had a sale and when that email hit my account I had those excited butterflies and taste of freedom leap into my mouth. So… I texted G. No answer. I called G. No answer…

Disclaimer: G works in a van, he rarely has access to his phone and spends his days on roofs, under houses, in between walls and behind the wheel of his van. It is not entirely reasonable that I would expect him to be available for every text/call.

However – how’s a girl supposed to ignore a sale email? It was $1 deposits and free premium drinks packages per booking. It would almost be as though I was making money by booking it!

Which….is exactly how I told G when he FINALLY called me back (seriously it was only 12 – 15 mins, but when you’re waiting to book something exciting – it may as well be 6 hours!).

So, there’s my summarised version of how I went from Captain Money-Saver for 2017, to ‘WE ARE GOING ON A CRUISE IN SEPTEMBER!!!’

This would be our third PO Cruise. We had been on the Pacific Aria, Pacific Dawn and we were now booked to go on the Pacific Explorer.

The Pacific Explorer, is the biggest and newest ship to the Australian PO family and with a capacity of 1998 guests and at a length of 260 meters – she’s a beauty! We booked a balcony room and had a room on floor ten. We were right at the back of the ship, Portside. Which, although had some restricted view points from the work platform hung at the back of the ship and near our balcony. Which to be honest, is not that big of a deal – it only restricts some photos. Just remember that it means there may be tradesman painting / cleaning the sides of the ship on dock days and your disrobed status is not as private as when you’re sailing the high seas!

Pacific Explorer has 12 different dining options, two different marquee/entertainment areas, an amazing adult only pool / sundeck and bar area, a waterpark, two water slides, a big movie screen near the family area, barefoot bowling, zip lining, and a great variety of bars, pubs and live band areas.

Its decor is one of my favourites of the PO Ships – when was the last time you saw a framed portrait of Leonardo, Elvis or Nick dressed up like Captains? The answer is you haven’t and you need to. Immediately.

Our favourite drinking spot was the Archie Rose Bonded Store – it has amazing whiskey (G) and gin (moî) options and it was where we went before we headed to dinner. There are more than enough dining options for everyone and my advice would be to mix it up.

You don’t need to eat at the same place every day and your food, apart from Gradi and Luke’s included in your fare. We ate at 400 Gradi (by award-winning Melbourne pizza chef Johnny di Francesco) twice – amazing pizza and wonderful service! Luke’s has amazing burgers, hot dogs and fries and is the perfect post-swim place to grab a feed. Although both 400 Gradi and Luke’s do have a service charge, we are talking $6-8 for a burger! So very affordable and is worth it 😊.

After my third cruise, I have a few standard tricks and tips I follow in preparation of boarding a ship. You may find them useful, or you may have tips for me!! I would love to hear them 💛

〰️ DO buy your own antacids, pain relief, sea sickness and gastro-stop. Yes, you can buy them at the shop onboard if you need to – BUT (and this was horrifying to us on our second cruise) – sometimes they are out of stock.

〰️ DO arrive at check-in at your predetermined time. Do not expect to get on early just because you have shown up early.

〰️ DO respect and understand that the boarding process is the same as it would be if you were boarding an international flight. Be respectful, be mindful, be prepared and treat the boarding process how you would the security/immigration process at an airport.

〰️DON’T treat the wonderfully committed employees of the ship you are on like rubbish. These amazing people spend 4-8 months at sea – AT A TIME – use your manners. Say thank you. Say hello, treat them with respect. If you don’t, you may end up with people like G and I behind you – yelling out “please” and “thank you” and “excuse me” in the gaps of your sentences where you have forgotten to.

〰️ DO attend your muster when you are meant to. Don’t wear your jacket to the muster, don’t bring your drink and don’t talk through it. We don’t want to be in a room for an hour with you instead of at the bar either, but trust us – you are the reason this is taking so long 🙃

〰️ DO attend your muster when you are meant to. Don’t wear your jacket to the muster, don’t bring your drink and don’t talk through it. We don’t want to be in a room for an hour with you instead of at the bar either, but trust us – you are the reason this is taking so long 🙃

〰️ DO tip. Just think, could you work on a ship eight months at a time, away from your family and friends – living Groundhog Day without tips, manners and appreciation? No. Be kind. Always.

〰️ DON’T forget that you are on a ship. At sea. Have reasonable expectations. If you remember this, you will genuinely be appreciative of every moment you experience. You are on an affordable, family-friendly, cruise liner. Sometimes for days. You are not staying at the Shangri-La, with access to fresh aqua blessed with virgin tears. Just calm down and stop carrying on.

ANNNDDDDD

〰️ DO HAVE FUN!!!

Have you been on a cruise? How did you find it? What’s your best cruise tip?

〰️

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post.

Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and items, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram, click here – redhead_novaturient

x C x

Mt Tamborine – Australia Day bushwalks <3

♥ And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul – Anon

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Is there anything more magical than surrounding yourself with clean, crisp air, the sounds of the rainforest and spending time with one of your most cherished friends for the day? I don’t think so. These are the days which give me a happy heart and fill my appreciation-cup up for another week.

In my late teens & early to mid twenties, I spent many Australia Days the ‘traditional-Aussie’ way. Drinking in pools/at the beach/near any body of water – or in the back of a ute tray filled with a tarp and a hose. Listening to the hottest 100, eating BBQ, getting sunburnt and basically preparing for a 2-day hangover.

Rather than participate in any cockroach or cane-toad racing, thong throwing, XXXX boat-racing activities, at the advanced and mature-age of 31 (going on 32) – I decided that a bush-walk was on the cards. Not just for health reasons, but also to explore my own ‘backyard’, which I am quite passionate about and really want to promote as much as I can. I am also trying to stay alcohol-free for a couple of months (Christmas was a little too festive, if you know what I mean!); and I figured that going up a mountain and escaping into the forest was a pretty good way to avoid the typical Australia-day celebrations!!!

DSC09121Petey & I have been the very best of girlfriends for many, many years now and we try to make our time together about quality and experience, rather than ‘going out’. We run in different circles for the most part and we both live the hectic corporate life – so we like to hang out make-up free, either doing something #fitspo (look, we try...) OR eating snacks and watching reality TV. Is that not what friends are for? ♥

We decided on whether we would head north or south, decided on south and within an hour of our early morning FaceTime chat, we were on the road and heading towards Mt Tamborine – a place which I personally think is one of Mother-Earth’s tropical gifts to South-East Queensland. Whilst not technically a mountain and more of a volcanic peak, it is known asTamborine Mountain / Mount Tamborine / Mt Tamborine.

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It is a beautiful escape from the city, sits at 560m above sea level and has a population of around 7,000. Located along the Scenic Rim, Tamborine is a result of the Mount Warning volcanic eruption 22 million years ago. For tens of thousands of years it was the home of the Wangerriburra Aborigines and is also known as Wonglepong (which is believed to mean ‘forgotten sound’ – isn’t that beautiful?).

Sadly it’s beautiful sub-tropical rainforest would have began to be rapidly cleared for the purpose of agriculture and timber production from 1875 onwards, once the are was settled by the colonists (land clearing in Australian history since European colonisation has been reckless and incredibly sad). Thankfully, in 1908 movements were made to protect the natural beauty of the area and it became Queensland’s very first National Park.

DSC09161We made our way to Witches Falls National Park walking circuit and started our descent. The Witches Falls Section of the Tamborine National Park was first proclaimed as part of the National Parks of Queensland on 28 March 1908. The circuit itself is 3.1km and is of moderate grade so it takes around an hour to walk. We took around an hour and a half to stop for photos and just breathe in and experience the area.

Our climb down the mountain was a fun adventure through medium density rainforest, walked over rocks, explored little streams and also made it to the Witches Falls lookout

Tamborine has some really amazing fauna & flora, it is the home of the giant earthworm (can grow up to 1m – eep!), carpet pythons, lyrebirds, scrub turkeys, brilliant parrots and lorikeets, tawny frog mouth, whip birds, bowerbirds, platypuses etc., There are glow worm caves, butterflies, possums, koalas and frogs.

DSC09148We zigzagged down the mountain, through medium density rainforest, hopped over boulders, walked over little streams and also were able to peer off of the look out. There is something so calming, about peering off of a lookout and hearing that dense sound – the wind slowly crawling up the mountain, the sound of nature and the waterfall. It’s just so beautiful. Also I am sure the smell of the rainforest is my favourite smell on earth.

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Our walk back up to the carpark was way, way, way less fun and with the amount of suncream + sweat which was pouring off me I was silently cursing my decision to go bushwalking. Also, have you ever tried to hide how unfit you are and not breathe like a warthog going up a hill and then nearly passed out because you aren’t getting enough oxygen? No? Just me, good.

Once we made it back to the car, we started our trip back down the mountain. Driving around the town you can stop at several little stalls out the front of people’s properties and pick up avocados, kiwi fruit, macadamia nuts and rhubarb – which all flourish in the area thanks to the volcanic soil and high rainfall. I managed to grab a gigantic bunch of fresh rhubarb from an honesty stand/box for $2.50 which smells so good sitting in my kitchen as I write this (I am decided what I will make with it tomorrow).

I had the most amazing day, it was a wonderful and inexpensive way to spend the day with a good friend. All we really needed to pay for were some snacks, some fuel and of course the large brown bag of goodies we took home from Yatala Pies (a landmark pie shop along the highway which has been around for 130 years!). I am really trying to promote things I love and of course discover what I have around me. So, if you do get to Mt Tamborine – here are my following recommendations:

  • My favourite inland viewpoint is Rotary Lookout (Main Western Road).
  • I highly recommend the Witches Falls Circuit – pick your time of day well though to avoid high crowds + heat
  • If you feel like spoiling yourself, then I cannot recommend staying at the Escarpment Retreat & Day Spa (123 Alpine Terrace). It is romantic, secluded, beautiful and the memory of staying here will last a long while!
  • If you have a spare $20 and want to check out the Tamborine Skywalk, it is absolutely gorgeous, however there are many free walks to experience around the area.
  • Eat: Bavarian Grill Haus (160 Main Western Road) – I love the Jaeger Schnitzel & the Weizen.
  • Oh and don’t forget to grab some fudge from Fudge Heaven and/or Granny Mac’s fudge store before you leave the mountain!

Have you been to Mt Tamborine? If you haven’t and you are in the area I highly recommend it! It is such a short trip, a beautiful destination with so much to do. There are wonderful places to stay, delicious restaurants, coffee shops, a giant cuckoo clock collection and fudge shops. If you get there, let me know what you think!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post.

Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and items, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – redhead_novaturient

x C x

 

 

Sydney sunsets – the end of our Christmas holiday <3

On our second last night in Sydney we went out for a family meal, the kids picked China town and so we went to Marigold restaurant, it isn’t the cheapest Chinese in town, but it was wonderful to eat in a place with the big fish tank at the back, white tablecloths and the freshest, lightest and tastiest fried rice and honey chicken I have had in a long time!

After over-indulging in our meals, little R asked if we could walk home. This was pretty impressive, given we had had a lot of trouble convincing the kids to walk anywhere in such heat and with so many hills.

IMG_7868[1]We chose to walk down towards Circular Quay, through Martin Place and Pitt Street and enjoyed the left over Christmas decorations. Little C practiced her polaroids again and I was able to get some really lovely captures of the area.

Once we got to Circular Quay we had a look at the beautiful Sydney Harbour Bridge, all lit up with her beautiful lighting and enjoyed the ferries coming in and out of the area. We ended up calling it an early night, we were beyond exhausted at this point and it was dawning on us that our holiday was coming to an end.

IMG_7865[1]On our last day in Sydney, we took the kids into the original Commonwealth Bank so they could cash in their money box savings for the year – which was really exciting for them, until the bank charged them 10% to exchange their money for cash. It gave us a pretty good reason to discuss how banks work and prepare them for tax, rates etc.,

They both had some pretty good ideas on how to spend their money and they both actually wanted to open savings accounts which was music to our ears, given they are so young!

IMG_7866[1]We spent our last night in the Botanical Gardens for a BBQ and some ballgames with our friends and we also were able to enjoy the incredible weather and watch a Carnival cruise ship leave the harbour.

IMG_7872[1]All in all, Sydney was such a lovely break for the family and we enjoyed each and every day. We had spent months wondering whether or not we had enough money to participate in so many exciting activities but really, the best moments for most of us were when we were just laughing with one another and chatting on our walks.

We left with very happy hearts and a memory bank full of wonderful moments.

x C x