Saturday, October 16, 2010

October Long Weekend - Cairns, Queensland

After much planning and anticipation, we finally arrived at the tropical Cairns on a not so sunny day. My heart sank and I thought to myself, what are we going to do for the next four days if it doesn't stop raining? As we were driving to our resort Elandra at South Mission Beach (2 hours from Cairns) we kept praying that the clouds will stay in Cairns. Unfortunately it was pretty much the same at South Mission Beach, but we were very grateful that our resort was as beautiful as we expected it to be.

Elandra resort is very much an African inspired theme and this is reflected through the decor in the common area, pool, restaurant and the rooms. A luxurious 4.5 star resort that was recently renovated, it is nestled in amongst the lush tropical rainforest.

Our room, decorated with splashes of tribal colour and artwork provides the ultimate comfort for our three(3) nights stay at Elandra.

The pool deck won our hearts with the private day-beds. It was the perfect place for us to lie down, relax and unwind.

As soon as we settled in, we had lunch at the restaurant. We decided to have a light and refreshing lunch which consist of Alaskan King Crab & Avocado Salad $22.50 and Smoked Mezze Plate $30.

We spent our second day exploring Paronella Park and Josephine Falls.

Paronella Park was built in 1929 by Josè Paronella who came from Catalonia in Spain. He first arrived in Australia in 1913 and worked for the next 11 years, cutting sugar cane initally, then purchasing and reselling the cane farms. The park was opened for the enjoyment of the public, with beautiful gardens, swimming pool (waterfall), tennis court and theatre.

One of the staff at Paronella Park recommended us to visit Josephine Falls. Josephine Falls are situated at the base of the mountain, Mount Bartle Frere. A beautiful waterfall with large granite boulders, crystal clear and fast moving water.

On our last day at Elandra, we spent the morning having breakfast at the restaurant and relaxing by the pool deck. I really enjoyed my breakfast of Banana & Walnut bread which was served with cinnamon & nutmeg mascarpone and strawberry coulis $14. The Egg Florentine $15 was a disappointment as the eggs were overcooked.

The highlight of our holiday was definitely the trip to the Great Barrier Reef. It was such a breathtaking experience to be snorkeling around the magnificent reef which is surrounded by colourful marine life. Unfortunately the photos taken from my cheap underwater film camera did not turn out well, so no images to share. But my husband & I really enjoyed it so much that we made a pact to come back soon! So hopefully I can share some photos then.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Port Arthur, Tasmania

"The Port Arthur Historic Site - home to prisoners, military personnel and free settlers. From 1833 Port Arthur was used as a punishment station for repeat offenders from all the Australian Colonies. By 1840 more than 2000 convicts, soldiers and civil staff lived at Port Arthur, which by this time was a major industrial settlement." quote from the Port Arthur Historic Site Visitor Guide.

We spent almost a day at Port Arthur, visiting the historical buildings and learning the history behind them. Once we purchased our entry ticket, we were given a deck card each.  Each card represents a convict and his background/story.

Structure of The Penitentiary - four storey high. The two lower floors contained 136 cells for 'prisoners of bad character'. The top floor provided space for 480 better behaved convicts to sleep in bunks. Imagine just how small each cell was and having to house more than 600 prisoners in this one building.

St David's Church

The Church
"The Church represents the important role of religion in convict reform at Port Arthur. Much of the decorative stonework and joinery in the church was crafted by boys from the Point Puer Boys' Prison." Point Puer Boy's Prison was located off the main island, which can be reach by a short ferry ride and served as a juvenile reformatory.

Below left to right: prison cells and workstation for shoemakers. Most of the prisoners left Port Arthur rehabilitated and skilled, some as blacksmiths, shoemakers or shipbuilders.

The courtroom

"On Sunday 28 April 1996, a tragic chapter was added to Port Arthur's history when a gunman took the lives of 35 people and physically wounded 19 others in and around the Port Arthur Historic Site." One of the staff briefly mentioned this tragic incident during the ferry ride and out of curiosity I read the history from here - worth reading it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hobart, Tasmania

After years of living in Australia, my husband & I finally made a trip to Hobart Tasmania. A very lovely and quiet city that still retains most of the historical buildings. It is the perfect place to relax, enjoy the fresh seafood and end the night by keeping yourself warm next to the fireplace. If you feel like treating yourself & your partner/family to a nice lunch or dinner, I highly recommend The Source.

*Click on each image for full-size view*

The Barrack Street Colonial Cottage
A lovely historical place with a quaint attic bedroom, furnished with antiques and a fireplace that kept us warm. We spent our three(3) nights at Hobart in this comfortable cottage.

A generous serving of cheap & yummy crumbed scallops from Fern Tree Tavern. The local scallops must be really cheap as you can easily find crumbed scallops on most of the restaurants/pubs' menu.

Mt. Wellington bushwalking trek: Silver Falls (Fern Tree) to the Waterworks
The water pipeline which goes all the way to the Hobart reservoir.

The view from the Silver Falls trek.

Salamance Market, operates every Saturday at Salamance Place. At night this becomes an entertaintment hotspot and you'll find a selection of restaurants, bars and pubs.
One of the wierdest thing/food I found at the market. I was not adventurous enough to give it a go.

Live music at Salamance Place. This is where the locals (young & old) hang out on the weekends.

Maldini Italian Cafe Restaurant, one of the many restaurants at Salamanca Place.

One of Maldini's 'on the board specials'
Tasmania Spring Bay Mussels, Chorizo, Caramelised Fennel in Tomato Chilli Broth $23.50

The cheeky and lazy retriever at Belmont Vineyard (Pooley).

Richmond Bridge, oldest bridge in Tasmania which was built by convict labour between 1823 and 1825.

Richmond Gaol, one of the oldest intact Gaol in Australia. It was build in 1825 and still preserved its structure.
The one by two metres solitary confinement, chain-gain sleeping room and below is the tiny courtyard.

Lovin' the historical buildings all around Hobart.

View of the Hobart City and Mt. Wellington from the Victoria Dock. Mt. Wellington was covered with clouds on all the three(3) days that we were there. On our first day, we drove up to the Mt. Wellington Pinnacle which was freezingly cold and was unable to see anything except the clouds.

Stay tuned for the historical Port Arthur blog!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wombeyan Caves, NSW

Just a short 2 1/2 hours adventurous drive from Sydney and you will find yourself in a family, friendly camp site in NSW.

The last 20-30 km drive to Wombeyan Caves is a bumpy, narrow and winding dirt road; every turn on the blind corners keep you on the edge of your sit.

Upon reaching the camp site we were welcomed by the most beautiful autumn trees; a breathtaking view that left me speechless.

After settling in at the camp site, we ventured off to the Figtree Cave on a self-guided tour. Once inside the cave we were all awe-stricken by the limestone structure.

When nightfall arrived we gathered by the camp site, lit a small fire and toasted some marshmallows.
Note: These two(2) images were taken straight out of the camera with no manipulation.

Come & explore for yourself what Wombeyan Caves has to offer!

As beautiful as the autumn leaves or the magnificent limestone cave, nothing beats the company of great friends.