West Coast Wonders ~ My trip to the other side of the country

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If you haven’t made it to the West Coast of Australia yet where the Indian Ocean meets a stunning coast line, the sand is as white and soft as a dream and the sunsets are to die for, I highly recommend you book yourself a ticket ASAP. Having just returned from a lovely 5 day trip with my boyfriend over to Perth and the Margaret River, I’m left with great memories and a full belly. Having treated ourselves to a variety of wines and gourmet cuisines over the last few days, our waistlines are a little tighter than usual, but our smiles are also a little wider.

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We sampled everything from pork belly, whiting and cod, to beef cheeks and venison cooked five ways, complimented with beautiful fresh breads with olive oil, dukkah and balsamic. Just writing this is making my mouth water! Seriously, Western Australia is a foodie heaven. With open plan breweries in the port area of Freemantle, numerous cafes and restaurants throughout the city and dotting the shoreline, Perth and the Margaret River region are my top picks for a taste overload.

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While you’re over there a must-see are the wineries approximately 3 hours south of Perth, and with around 200 to choose from you’re bound to find a bottle that speaks to your soul. As a reluctant red drinker, I was surprised to find quite a few that I actually really liked, and can’t wait to further explore the red wine market. To name just a few, we went to Arimia Winery for lunch (incredible food), but be warned – you can actually see the little piggies that they use on their menu! I’m all for the whole farm to table trend, but I still feel a little uneasy seeing what I’m about to order alive out in the paddock! Call it blissful ignorance, but that’s just me. We also checked out Aravina Estate, an incredible winery with a beautiful selection of vintage cars and surfboards on display. To be honest there is something special and unique about each winery in the region, with lakes, bridges, fireplaces, boats and floral displays providing a visual feast for the eyes.

Already looking forward to my next trip to this beautiful (although slightly isolated) part of the world 🙂

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G’day mate… What’s not to love about Australia?

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This month I’m lucky enough to be doing quite a lot of travel – from the small mining town of Moranbah in Regional Queensland, across to the Margaret River wine region in Western Australia, to the picturesque Whitsundays for my 28th birthday. To be honest I’ve been living out of a bag all year, dividing my time between Nana’s, Mum’s and the boyfriends house, so spending the next few weeks living out of a suitcase is going to be pretty normal. What am I most looking forward to? Seeing what this beautiful country has to offer and discovering local secrets. You can’t just sit in your lounge room watching life go past on a TV screen, you’ve got to get out and enjoy it… and that’s exactly what I plan on doing.

So here I am 4 days into my ‘rural’ experience in Moranbah, about 2 hours drive inland from Mackay. A town that was built to accommodate families working in the coal mining industry, full of reliable locals and tradies in high visability work wear. There’s a certain peace to the town, an orderly silence and comfortable pace. People keep saying to me I’ll get sick of it, and maybe I would. But since I’m only here for a week I plan on making the most of it, exploring the outskirts and getting a glimpse of this multi-billion dollar industry: coal mining. To say you live in a regional area fuelled by the mining industry is one thing, but to see it in action is another. My boyfriend took me for a drive into the centre of his mine site, a trip which took nearly half an hour alone and that’s only covering half of it. To see an operation of such epic proportions is pretty eye-opening. This gigantic earth moving equipment is like something out of a Star Wars movie, and while I don’t feel that comfortable actually seeing the ground ripped up and displaced, it’s something I appreciate being shown.

Next on my tour will be a 6 hour flight over to Perth, Western Australia for my third visit. I honestly cannot get enough of this stunning place, from the gorgeous coastline to the funky suburban cafes, to the bushland wineries and gourmet cuisine, Perth has something for everyone. I’ll be catching up with one of my oldest friends over there, someone who has had my back since about Grade 5. We’ve gone through big life changes together and sometimes fall out of touch, but every time we get together it’s as if nothing has changed. We’ve booked a dinner and drinks cruise along the Swan River, and a half day wine tour (with cheese and chocolate stops along the way!). If you haven’t ever thought about including Perth on your bucket list, I strongly recommend you do. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Lastly I’ll be wrapping up the year by celebrating my birthday with 2 nights in Airlie Beach, a quaint coastal community known as the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. My plans include cocktails on the water, and not a whole lot more. This time last year I was in a really bad place, so I’m incredibly grateful to be feeling this optimistic and excited about things. There’s nothing quite like the support of family, friends and your partner to lift you up, but ultimately the fighting spirit must come from within – the most challenging and important lesson I’ve learnt from this year. Thank you to everyone who has made my year 100 times better than the last, and looking forward to more wonderful times ahead 🙂

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Underneath, it’s all the Same Love.

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I sincerely hope that any Australian’s who have voted ‘No’ in the Australian Marriage Postal Survey, are feeling ashamed. I hope that last night as we watched the NRL pledge their support for Same Sex Marriage at the Grand Final in Sydney, that those people who voted No were squirming in their chairs. Watching the performance of ‘Same Love’ by Macklemore at last night’s final, I was covered in goose bumps and moved to tears. As the screens around the stadium pledged messages of support, rainbow coloured smoke covered the stage and children danced, I couldn’t help but feel an upsurge of emotion. If one of the most influential and ‘macho’ organisations in Australia, the NRL, could pledge their support for same sex marriage, then what the hell is wrong with the rest of you?

As a straight person, I realise I don’t have as much reason to fight for equality as those that this law will actually affect, but I certainly am proud to support Same Love. Having made countless homosexual friends over my lifetime, the majority of which are in long, loving relationships, I do feel a certain responsibility to fight with AND for them. Why the hell shouldn’t they have the same rights as me? Why do I have the privilege of being able to stand in front of my family and friends and make an ‘official’ commitment to my loved one, and they do not? How are my relationships and those of my other straight friends any more important than those of my gay friends? The fact that we even need to pledge our support and debate this as a nation is just a ridiculous embarrassment, based on archaic scriptures about marriage being between a ‘man and a woman’. This is 20-fucking-17! Wake up and smell the roses.

If your son or daughter committed suicide because of their feelings towards someone of the same gender, and what that means in society, then that’s a crying shame. But that is the reality of it. People are actually KILLING themselves over this issue…. let that sink in for a second.

We all know that when we develop feelings for someone, 99% of the time there is nothing we can do about it. Feelings are not something we have any control over. They are unexplained, magical moments in time where we are inexplicably drawn to another person, be it a man or a woman. We simply don’t get to decide who we fall in love with, and in a progressive first world country like Australia where freedom, opportunities and rights are abundant, this same sex marriage debate is simply a national disgrace. I understand that people may not have had much exposure to those in same sex relationships, and therefore may not understand how exceedingly NORMAL they are – in fact they are just like you and I. They wake up, go to work, have hobbies, win awards and take their dogs to the beach. They just happen to like people of the same gender. SHOCK! HORROR! SIRENS IN THE DISTANCE! Seriously, why should we even bat an eyelid to that?

To the people who voted No, shame on you.

Remember, you’re exactly where you need to be right now.

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I saw someone post this quote on Instagram today, and I thought how perfect it was for how I’m currently feeling.

You are right where you need to be.

Sometimes I wish I could tattoo this to my forehead when I’m getting carried away in my thoughts, reminiscing on past times or wishing away the time looking forward to some future event. Mindfulness is key to maintaining your sanity in this fast-paced world, where our thoughts are constantly bombarded with worries, emotions, fears, guilt trips, dreams, memories and more. I woke up a little melancholy today, July the 8th in sunny Queensland, where Winter means shorts and a T-shirt with a cool breeze on your back. The Lucky Country right? So I allowed myself 15 minutes of snooze time in bed to wallow in my sadness, before getting up and committing to embracing this day.

I’m honestly believing more and more that happiness can be a choice, a small pledge within yourself to simply power through with a positive attitude. Sure, I’m feeling down about a couple of things – but in the grand scheme of life, am I going to care about them in a years time? Absolutely not. It’s hard to maintain that attitude 24/7 of course, but constantly checking in with yourself especially when you’re feeling glum can help shed a little perspective on the situation. I spent the morning wandering through the Botanic Gardens, simply enjoying the peace of nature, birds singing, sun on my neck and nowhere to be. Getting outdoors is a wonderful mood booster for the soul. Trust me, I know sometimes when you’re feeling completely lethargic, comfortable in your track suit pants and socks, and the last thing you feel like doing is donning some active wear and joggers. But just push yourself to try it… 9 times out of 10 you’ll come home feeling more energetic and clear-headed.

I’ve got a friend who comes to town every 2 months and we always have a little catch up, something that has been an unexpected delight. You see the friend is actually the partner of one of my closest friends, and up until we started catching up on our own the relationship had always been a little more reserved, or courteous I suppose. Now that we’ve established our own friendship though outside of the barriers of knowing each other through someone else, it’s been a lovely little addition to my circle. Anyway the point of me writing about him, is not only to emphasise that good company can often come from unexpected places, but that letting people in can broaden your perspectives as well. On one of his visits we went to Cape Hillsborough, a beach area famous for attracting kangaroos right on the brink of dawn. As we sat on the sand watching the first rays of sunlight pierce the ocean, he told me to just listen to all the types of birds singing. I honestly hadn’t even noticed the birds until he said that – to me they had become background noise. But upon tuning in to the calls of nature, I was totally surprised at just how many different sounds we could hear.

Mindfulness – it’s about appreciating the moment, getting lost in the moment and being grateful for this moment.

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Photo credits – arthurlitau & folksouls

 

Friendships – Why do we need them?

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I’ve just come back from a lovely coffee date with a girlfriend, a first time mother of a gorgeous little girl. We catch up two or three times a month over a warm brew, and every time we’re both bursting to the brim with exciting new information to tell each other – health tips, great podcasts or small town gossip. As I sit here today reflecting on our conversation I can’t help but feel content, and grateful, for long lasting friendships.

I can honestly say that all of my friendships have stood the test of time, and I’m pretty proud of it. I’ve known two of my closest friends since around Grade 4, having gone through all the fun teenage things like pimples, boys and silly fights together. Thrown in there was of course, the sad things too – moving cities, break ups, deaths, and the inevitable highs and lows of maintaining a friendship that’s spanned nearly two decades. Ultimately though, it’s pretty amazing knowing someone for that long and still having stuff to talk about. We know each other inside out and back to front, but still surprise each other sometimes – and that’s important I think. We all need to grow, spread our wings and fly.

Then there’s the crazy bunch of people I met at University in the last 8-10 years, who have all stuck by my side through hilarious stories and chapters in life. The share-housing, the pizza nights, the drunken nights, the ones who’ve held my hair back as I’m hurling into a toilet. The ones who’ve travelled all over the world, but when we get together again it’s like no time has passed, and you can pick up right where you left off. The thing I like about this bunch is that we’re all from regional Queensland – Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton and Mackay. Our dynamics as a group are wonderful, and I’m looking forward to what our future holds with a smile on my face.

Lastly there’s the odd assortment of people I’ve met through working in the hotel industry over the last four years, a random bunch of people thrown together with one goal – good customer service. These are the people that see how you react under intense pressure, deadlines and difficult guests. They see you stressed out, put on the spot and can’t help but scrutinise your professionalism, thinking patterns and workplace habits. Getting together outside of the workplace is always interesting – you’ve known each other in one dimension only, and seeing them in ‘free dress’ and talking without boundaries is always a bit of an eye-opener. Ultimately though, you can pick out the ones you’ll click with from an early stage. Once you’ve farted in front of them, commented on their smelly shoes or revealed how you think the guy in the bar is super cute, the friendship is solid.

I think it’s incredibly important to have a variety of friendships from all walks of life, to give us the social outlets we need as humans. That personal connection with people is essential to personal development – we need to feel ‘included’ in certain circles and feel like we’re part of something, contributing to society. I’m truly grateful for all the people who’ve stuck around over the years, and while I sometimes might become reclusive or distant while dealing with my own issues, I’ll always come back with an open hand.

You know who you are 🙂

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Photo credits – hubs_united & multefitt

Little town… it’s a quiet village. 

Spent the morning wandering through Yungaburra, a quaint little town on the Atherton Tablelands in North Queensland. Absolutely charming place – each street is lined with bouquets of flowers hanging from lamp posts, and shop fronts are decorated with quirky quotes and character. 


Elderly ladies filled well worn cottages, getting together for tea and scones. Shop owners bustled around in checkered aprons, proud of their little slices of paradise. 


Vibrant colours are everywhere to be seen in this beautiful little town, with a new delight waiting around each corner we turned. After a freshly brewed chai latte and home cooked sausage roll, I was content and happy. 


Can’t wait to keep exploring this lovely part of Australia 🙂 

Australia, you untamed beauty.

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We call ourselves the lucky country, and for very good reason. If you’ve had the fortune of visiting us Down Under, the first thing you might notice is how much space we have. Completely surrounded by ocean, Australia is dotted with coastal cities and beaches, rain forests, cane fields, cliff faces, natural water holes and stories of the Dreamtime. Wide open landscapes fill the country between our major cities, while smaller but charming towns fill our hearts with joy and glimpses of a simple existence. I love the fresh air here, the smell of sea salt on the wind and palm trees swaying in the breeze. Lara Bingle aptly put it, ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ in this famous tourism advertisement, and she couldn’t have been more right:

I’m lucky enough to call Australia home and am currently living in North Queensland, the state based on the North/East Coast. I felt inspired to write this blog post after a beautiful morning connecting with nature at Cape Hillsborough National Park, about 40 minutes drive from the city of Mackay (my home). We arrived at the park just on dawn this morning where a small group of people were gathered on the beach, watching the majestic kangaroos dotted across the shoreline greeting a new day. This was truly an incredible sight. I’ve seen plenty of kangaroos in my life, but seeing them on this stunning beach at sunrise, hopping along with their babies without a care in the world was really quite breathtaking. As the sun slowly burst through a light cloud cover, my friend and I had a lovely little picnic completely at one with nature and more importantly – no WIFI signal! A truly spectacular morning that I won’t be forgetting.

I know the blogging community is stretched far and wide across the world, which is why I am encouraging those international readers to come visit us here in Australia. You won’t be disappointed 🙂

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Photo credits – organictravel & theblondeabroad