Fish Dish: Fish and Potato Cakes

I’m back with another bangin’ recipe for you guys! Most of our family and friends have had this one at our house and I can’t remember how many times I’ve been asked for the recipe.

Fish & Potatoes are the main ingredients in this delightful meal

This recipe came from always looking for ways to use the fish my hubby was bringing home from his fishing trips. It’s turned into a regular favourite of ours.

They are great and I’ve found that most kids, even some fussy ones, have been happy to eat them. The soft potato, the flakey fish and the crunchy panko crumbs on the outside, give them a great texture combo.

Yes, fish can be a little pricey to buy these days but the good news is that you don’t need expensive fillets for this recipe. Your cheaper white fish fillets will work just fine. I’ve used mackerel, perch, cobia, flathead and other smaller reef fish. You can also use fish that has been frozen, it makes no difference to this dish.


750g Potatoes – peeled and quartered

750g Fish fillets – no skin or bones here guys, just the fillets

3 spring onions – chopped, white part and the green

Zest of 1 lemon – keep the lemon itself aside and cut it into wedges for serving

1 tablespoon butter

Parsley – fresh, chopped, you could also use chives or another favourite herb

1 to 2 Garlic cloves, crushed – optional, sometimes I put it in, sometimes I don’t

1 egg – very lightly beaten with a fork

Panko bread crumbs for coating

Method for this fishy madness:

Place the potatoes in a large pot with water and a good dash of salt. Turn on the heat and wait for them to boil away and get soft.

Add the fish fillets directly to the same pot your potatoes are in. The fillets will only take a couple of minutes to cook through in the hot water.

DRAIN, this is a really important step. Drain them well, leave no water in the bottom of your pot.

Chopped spring onion, parsley and grated zest. If you don’t have spring onions on hand, I have also used a small brown onion, very finely chopped, this works fine.

ADD the onion, zest, chopped parsley, butter and the garlic if you’re using it. At this point, you’ll have a steaming pot of fish and potato’s with your aromatics in the pot. This gives the aromatics a chance to marry in with the fish and potatoes, creating flavour in the finished product.

LEAVE this mixture alone and uncovered for a while. Also, an extremely important step. Let it cool to a point where it is easy to handle and it isn’t going to cook your egg when you add it. Do not cover your mix, let the steam escape, the drier your mix is at this point the better. You don’t want to trap water in there.

Once cool enough, take a potato masher and mash the mix to your desired texture. Add the egg and some salt and pepper, mix through well with your hands. Using your hands will help you decide whether your mixture is the right consistency to stay together when you cook them. It also helps you to pick up any stray fish bones that may have slipped past the filleting process.

PROBLEM FIXES: The mix still seems too dry – add a second egg and mix through. The mix is too wet to easily pick up – add a little plain flour and mix through. After making this a couple of times you’ll get a feel for how damp your mix should be.

With clean, wet hands, roll your mixture into balls and roll each ball in panko breadcrumbs. Then simply shallow fry in a little vegetable oil or cook on the barbecue in olive oil. These babies need to be treated gently during frying.

Your balls should be about the size of a plum
Flatten in the pan and fry in vegetable oil until golden. Enjoy!

SERVE with lemon wedges, a little aioli or mayo, if you like. We normally have them with a fresh garden salad. They are great cold or warmed up the next day. They even make a lovely sandwich.

This quantity makes about 16 cakes.

Quick and Easy Side Dish: Cheese & Ham Garlic Bread Roll Ups

Yum! Cheese & Ham Garlic Bread Roll Ups. Crispy and golden on the outside, cheesy within.

Almost everybody likes garlic bread. Almost everybody has slices of bread they’d like to use before they go stale. All you need is some ham, cheese and garlic butter and you can create a side dish that goes well with anything you’d normally like garlic bread with. Come to think of it, it’s probably easier to think about dishes you wouldn’t eat garlic bread with. It almost goes with anything.

Dip them in soup, serve them with stew, have them on your next pizza night in place of the traditional garlic bread loaf. You could even serve them as a party snack… the possibilities are endless my friends.

6 ingredients guys! That’s it. 6 very common ingredients that most people keep in their fridge and pantry.

Cheese & Ham Garlic Bread Roll Ups


  1. Bread (preferably soft, square or rectangular) – I used white but go ahead and use brown if you like. I did 5 slices for 2 people but if you want more just play with the quantities.
  2. Grated cheese – any type you like but something with a mozzarella blend will give you that nice stretch when you bite into them.
  3. Ham – I sliced some sticks of a large piece but whatever ham you have will work. You can leave this out if you prefer it meat-free.
  4. Butter – (just melted, 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave) I used about 25g for 5 slices but you’ll need more if your making extras.
  5. Minced Garlic – 1 to 2 teaspoons or 2 cloves if you would like to crush your own.
  6. Parsley – chopped
Cut the crusts off the bread slices. Grab your rolling pin and roll them out as flat as you can make them.
Add a stick of ham to the very end of the bread, then put a thin layer of grated cheese over the rolled bread. Roll them up, as tight as possible, starting from the ham end. So the ham ends up in the middle of the roll up.
Melt the butter quickly in the microwave. Add garlic and some fresh chopped parsley, give a quick stir to combine. Carefully dip/coat each roll up in the butter mixture. Place on a prepared baking tray, end side down (so they don’t unravel in the oven). When they’re all done, I like to brush them with any of the butter mixture that might be left over and crack a little salt over the top of each one. I normally use baking paper on my trays, these aren’t likely to stick too much but it just saves on the clean up.

Place your roll ups into a 200 degree C* oven for 10 to 15 minutes. When they’re golden and the cheese is melted, they are ready to serve.

WINNER, WINNER, cheesy, garlic rolls with dinner! Impress your family or your dinner guests with this one.

Lake Monduran

We’ve been working hard in The Bay. Ben’s been laying bricks weekdays and even on weekends. I have upgraded my responsibilities at work. We are saving, Ben has been making his boat into his dream and we are planning our lives for the next few years. It’s fair to say that we were due for a break.

It was only last week when Ben said to me, why don’t we go on a weekend away? What a fantastic idea, I thought, we both need it. That night, Ben was on his phone booking a weekend at Lake Monduran.

This time, we left the Prado behind. She was booked in for a good wash and detail, which she well needed and deserved. So, the Subaru Liberty was made to step up. It was strange going on trip without the Prado, she’s been there for so many of our adventures.

No Prado and limited space meant packing light. We don’t have a tinny at the moment and the Suby is just not made for towing, so we hired a boat from where we were bound, Lake Monduran Holiday Park.

Lake Monduran is just a couple of hours drive from Hervey Bay and not too far from Gin Gin. It is known for big barra. It would normally be a good drive but the road works almost the entire way, at the moment, slowed things a little.

We stepped out of the car and took a deep breath of the fresh mountain air. It felt relaxed here, at the park, and the reception staff in the office were polite and helpful. We headed through the park, it was just after 8am and our cabin wouldn’t be ready until 2pm. We had the hire boat for two days though and we had every intention of making good use of it.

Our boat, like the others they have on offer here, was a polycraft. Steady, stable and good for standing in to throw lures. It was bright yellow and would turn into our first home for the weekend. There was no sounder or GPS and the engine rattled like loose bolts in the back of a ute on a corrugated road. The lack of bells and whistles meant Ben had to resort to using his cunning instinct to try and find us some fish. The poly was comfortable enough and had ample fishing room for us both.

As we putted and rattled our way out onto the main part of the lake, a mirror of flat water opened up, the edges lined with thick bush. Short creeks ran off randomly from the main lake. There were areas with grey trees, that looked like skeletons that had emerged from the water, tried to reach the sky and somehow got frozen there, which was only fortunate for the shags, ducks and wood swallows who now used their limbs to perch upon. These were our lure throwing areas when we weren’t weaving through them trolling. The water was dark and looking into it gave you no insight as to what might be underneath the surface. What it did do, was allow you to use your imagination, which, in turn, allowed you to believe that a big barra might just be sitting there watching your lure pass. If they were, that’s all they did, was watch. Not one bite for the weekend. That is, of course, if you don’t count the turtle Ben hooked and released quickly. Even our attempts at catching some red claw were fruitless. It did, however, leave us wondering if these little yabby-like things really are vegetarian.

Cabin, let’s go back to the cabin. Days in the boat. Nights in our second weekend home, which was the cabin. Four walls, a roof, a bed, a bathroom, a small balcony, an even smaller barbecue and a spectacular view of the lake. We found that the balcony was the perfect place for a sausage in bread, a few beers and a couple of scotch and cokes after a day on the water. The cabin had what we needed for a comfortable stay and it was much different to what we are used to… The camper or a swag and a campfire. This holiday park was a little backwards to others we’ve been to, in that, the campsites are further from the water and the cabins have water views, so this worked out well for us.

Even though there was no fish to tell stories about, Ben and I were wowed by Lake Monduran and the mystery fish and red claw it still holds. When the heat of summer returns and the big barra wake up a bit, we’ll be back.

Red Hot Summer Tour

April 30th 2022 – Sandstone Point Hotel

After battling the wave of bodies filing into the Sandstone Point Hotel, Bribie Island at around one o’clock Saturday afternoon, we made it to one of the two indoor bars I could see. Myself, my husband, Ben, and our neighbours, Megan and Dave, had booked to see the show back in November and it had finally snuck up on us. I had not been to Sandstone Point before but I had heard from several people how good the venue was for gigs like this. So far, it hadn’t disappointed, the place had an upper class but rustic feel about it and I was already considering returning when it wasn’t as busy to see what a normal day at Sandstone was like.

At the top of the grassy hill, just outside the doors of the hotel, a sea of picnic rugs and half height folding chairs spilled out in front of us. It was chaos, of course, with up to 10,000 people expected to arrive but it was organised. You could see that the staff here had done this before. They had defined walkways through the crowd so that people could travel to the bar, the toilets and the food trucks without accidently standing on fingers or tripping over legs.

We weaved through the walkways, eventually settling ourselves in a corner to the right of the huge black stage with massive screens either side. It turned out to be a great spot. Not only were we seated near a very comical nurse from Ipswich but we were just a couple of meters from the walkway that led to the dance area… the pit… the stage front… whatever you would like to call it, which meant we had some of the best seats in the house for ‘people watching’. I have been to enough gigs to know that the other attendees can be just as entertaining as the entertainers themselves.

The Red Hot Summer Tour – Unfinished Business, it had been called. It turns out that the reason for the name was that this group had been trying to get this tour done since 2020. It had been delayed several times in the wake of COVID. Now that life is a little more normal, they were determined to finish what they had started. First up, in place of Boom Crash Opera, we were treated to a few popular covers from Chocolate Starfish, who formed back in 1992, disbanded in 1998 and now somehow seemed to be back together again. They started the rock rolling, while more people filled this magnificent venue.

Killing Heidi then came on, a dated version of their former selves, they helped people to remember that they had hits. The lyrics for “Weir” and “Mascara” suddenly coming from listeners lips again. They lacked some of the energy that my group of onlookers remembered but were something to listen to while we ate and refreshed our beverages.

As the sun lowered, the crowd thickened. The lights at the hotel, which now seemed quite a walk away, glowed gold against a royal blue sky. The magnitude of this scene unfolded before, my eyes scanned the hill from the stage back up to the hotel. There were so many happy heads bobbing around. It really was a unique experience. The venue was absolutely grand, meshing so well with the balmy Queensland weather and laid back attitudes. The food trucks were good. The pizza, in particular, was great for this sort of gig. The bar tent was busy but set up in the best way possible.

Next up, the Baby Animals graced us with their stage presence. Now this… this is a band that still has what we all remembered them for. Great songs, great riffs and a lead singer (Suze DeMarchi), who still held the glory and darkness of real rock close to her heart. The Angels, lead by Dave Gleeson, were after them and did just as well, leading us into the darker hours with hits that we all loved hearing once again.

It seemed there was a bit of a break, which gave me time again to look to the crowd. In general, it was an older crowd, there were a few millennials scattered among us but Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y seemed to have the majority here.

The break gave us time to prepare and sink ourselves into the pit for the first time that evening. We had seen the next act before. We knew what they would bring. They already held a place in hearts, never before had they let us down. We waved our arms and chanted their names. We grinned widely at the tell-tale two double bases set up to the far left of the stage and the roady testing all of Chris Cheney’s guitars. The crowd rumbled into cheer when they finally ran out onto the stage. They started with ‘Second Solution’ then followed it up with mad guitar solos, incredible double bass acrobats and drum beats that went through your chest and came out your ears. The Living End are a 28 year old band that have not lost any of their former glory. The boys rocked as hard as they did in their twenty and thirties and we loved them for it.

The headliners were to come, James Reyne, who bought a list of loved songs a mile long. His voice still as superb as it had always been. Their songs still as nostalgic. There were many who stayed in the pit or joined it for them but due to the nature of their music, there wasn’t as much jumping around as The Living End had created before them.

Hunters and Collectors, they were the headliners and what many had come to Sandstone Point to see. From what I could see, little had changed with these guys. I had never seen them live before but I had heard they liked to tell stories in between songs. Sure enough, they were happy to spend some of their allotted hour and fifteen minutes chatting about past experiences and environmental issues. Their fans pleaded for their best songs, like ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ and ‘Holy Grail’, they did not oblige until close to the end of the set.

For us, after all was said and done, The Living End were the stand out act of the night and the Sandstone Point Hotel were the winners. Not only would they have made a pretty penny or two, they delivered the perfect place for these bands to come and for their fans to see them again. We can only hope that live music will always have a home at Sandstone.

Foo Fighters Pop Up in Geelong – Friday 4th March 2022

Even though we’d driven all the way from Queensland just a few days ago, the drive from Glen’s house in Lyndhurst seemed long. Traffic held us at a slow pace, cars full of fans bottlenecked into Geelong. We were anxious to get there and see what this true band of the ages, The Foo Fighters had in store for us. They’d not been to Australia since 2018 and this show was a surprise announcement.

The cloud cover was thick and grey, which made us think that the weather man might have been right, it really did look as though 20 to 40mm of would fall on GMHBA stadium and drench us. We walked through the blocked streets of Geelong to get to the stadium and our excitement built. Memories of past gigs came back. Black t-shirts and others who love to rock lined up. COVID had made it a long time between gigs and we’d all missed it more than we realised.

GMHBA stadium certainly looked the part. Precious turf was protected by hard plastic temporary tiles, creating The Pit. Huge black stage three massive screens and lighting towered over the ground. Rows and rows of seats bordered The Pit.

The Meanies and then Amyl and the Sniffers showed us their best. Old style rock rang out. They put their full energy into it but we knew that compared to the famous elephant sized act that was coming next, these bands were mice. During their performances, light rain was constant enough to dampen the air and our clothes and as the sun went away the air felt fresher. More people joined the crowd until finally, there were more bodies than gaps between them. Rain came more steady, some covered themselves with ponchos, while others braved the wet, wearing their Foo Fighters t-shirts from now and years gone by, some choosing to represent different rock bands that we all knew and loved.

From left: Ben, Leah and Glen getting ready to see The Foo Fighters

The stage stayed black with the shadowy movement of roadies, who were making the stage worthy of the greats. The diversity of ages in the crowd, kids through to twenty something’s, through to people who’d been grey for years, reminded me of what I’d seen at an AC/DC concert years ago. There aren’t too many bands that are solid enough that so many love them. The Foo Fighters are well and truly one of them. They had been a band for 26 years now. Ben and I, like so many, had followed this fantastic evolution.

When finally at about 8:40pm, Dave Grohl led his band onto the stage. Our mate, Glen said loudly, “Geez, he’s a magnificent bastard, isn’t he?” Ben and I could do no more than agree. Yes, he and this amazing band are absolutely magnificent. They made sure we believed it as they warmed up their vocal cords and instruments with the famous lyrics of ‘Times Like These’. Hit after hit flowed, satisfying old school pub songs, drinking songs and driving songs that made everyone raise their hands, clap or scream out.

For two and a half hours, the rain no longer mattered. Everyone was out of lockdown and this was a celebration of having some sort of normalcy. Dave Grohl explained how he’d been waiting to come back and how desperate he was to make The Foo Fighters the first big band to rock the Aussie’s again. During performances of great songs like Monkey Wrench, The Sky is a Neighbourhood, Learn to Fly, All My Life and Best Of You, these legends bought out the best in all who watched. Much loved drummer Taylor Hawkins, even came out from behind to drums, giving his sticks over to Dave, while he sung a Queen classic. He did it so well. The female back up singers added class to the show. Lighting and big screens shined across the rain. We all jumped around, admired and sung until our throats hurt.

As we pushed out way out of GMHBA stadium, we were crammed together like pickles in a jar. The smokey reminence of the fireworks that ended the show hazed sky above us. We looked like drowned rats, we were cold and the walk back to the car was uncomfortable but none of it mattered because we had witnessed something incredible. Not only was it the magic of one of the world’s biggest rock bands but it was the rebirth of freedom. We were allowed to stretch our wings again, shake off the last couple of years and forget the uncertain future for a while.

Stars like Jimmy Barnes and members of the band Motor Ace reportedly joined the audience. Now more people will get to see this filmed highlights online. Foo Fighters will be back in Australia in November, until then and beyond, we will listen their music Everlong.

Flooded in at the Moonie Crossroads

You’ll never find anywhere quite like the Crossroads at Moonie. We were stuck there for two days, flooded in. Goondiwindi was blocked unless we want to drive 4 hours out of way with the odds of “maybe” getting through. On site, at Moonie Crossroads, there is a petrol station, rooms and most importantly, a pub. Moonie comically boasts being the home of a fictional illness called Moonie Madness, as well as having Australia’s largest feral pig ‘collection’. The walls of the pub are decorated with artwork, some of which are mounted boar’s heads. The beer is cold, the pool table needs improvement but they have one, they have hot meals, snacks and water. We left Hervey Bay Thursday, headed for Melbourne to help out family. As we drove, trenchial rain fell, roads flooded and were closed behind us. Even if we wanted to go back home to Hervey Bay, we couldn’t, Gympie and everywhere in between we’re being inundated with water.

At the Crossroads, there are locals, mostly who work there, commentating what’s going on. Out on the front deck is a good place to sit with a beer and people watch. We watched them drive each of the four ways the Crossroads offer, only to come back, learning for themselves that there isn’t anywhere else they can safely get to. They too were stuck, which bought a variety of people, who were trying to get to a variety of places, unexpectedly together.

A stocky Moari truck driver, Phil, is stuck here too. There’s an outback trucker called Lex, who’s trying to get his Kenny and it’s load to Perth. If I had to liken his looks to someone, maybe a slightly younger Slim Dusty. He’s been driving trucks for longer than I’ve been alive. Other truckies, families and couples have come and gone, and come back again, trying to escape this dead end place called Moonie. People like Lex, Phil and couples like us, who are well travelled and have seen places similar make the most of places that ooze this kind of country character.

We had two nights there at $140 per night for a room they call “executive” with an ancient television, a double, a single, a fridge and a small ensuite. We appreciated it though, we had more there than a lot of people who have lucked out in these floods.

Here’s the thing about drinking in country pubs. It’s a culture that is just ingrained so deeply in some Aussie’s that it goes right to their bones and never comes back out. You must drink or you are not one of them. People who don’t drink are considered stange, except if your a millennial, of course. Millennial’s are taught to accept all types, which may not be a bad lesson, though, one some of us will never learn. Youngen’s local to here and places like it, are different to those you’d find in a city. They’ve grown up on the land with parents who bought them up to work hard because they know no other way. Their local pub is no stranger to them. It is where they had their first tap beer and where they see all the people they’ve known since they were small.

In country pubs, people have stories they are happy to share, some of them great and all of them supposedly true. There are the people who stand out and the people who blend in to the woodwork. You have to respect the locals in any outback pub, for they are as close as you might get to royalty in that town. If you are going to drink with them, you have to relax and take the place for what it is. Some of the stranded visitors can’t seem to do this. Mandy said she’d worked at the Crossroads on and off for 23 years. It’s easy to tell she is the heart of the place. She keeps it clean, she makes the food taste the way it does and she keeps the Moonie spirit rolling.

If you are too loud, or you try too hard the locals will huff at you and look the other way. If you have no time for them, they don’t care and they have no time for you. If you sit, if you drink where they drink, if you laugh with them and listen and learn from them, they accept you and appreciate your presence. Moonie Madness indeed, everybody gets it, everybody interprets it differently.

Sunday morning we woke, as much as we’d appreciated the Moonie Crossroads and their hospitality, we HAD to get out of there. We had to get to Goondiwindi because it was our path to Melbourne. The day before we’d taken a drive down the Liechardt, we had to see for ourselves whether we could get through. Plus, we had to get more solid report than the bush telegraph (the gossip) going on at the Crossroads.

Flood water crossings of 300 and 400mm didn’t stop us. When we saw two cars sunken off the side of the road, we held our breath. We then came to a long crossing, the flood stick measuring at least 600mm, not disappearing within our sight, we decided to go back to Moonie. Pushing on posed a danger that we weren’t prepared to take. Through talking to the locals Sunday night, we learnt that there was a chance of taking a back road in the morning, that drains of water faster than any of the other roads. They were right, at 5am, when it was just light enough to see, Ben drove the Prado around some road blocks, through some shallow crossings and a patch of damaged road but we made it out unscathed. We wouldn’t forget Moonie or the story it left us with and one day we’ll probably even go back but, for now, we are celebrating escaping and continuing our mission in Melbourne.

A True Wonder – Fraser Island

Our First Peak at Fraser

For years, Ben and I have had a burning desire to explore Fraser and now that we live in Hervey Bay this magical place is well within our regular reach. We have visited the very outskirts, in the form of Kingfisher Bay previously but we hadn’t yet had a great opportunity to delve too deeply into its true beauty. We decided to join the tourists and go on a four-wheel drive bus tour of this magical Island. When I say “the tourists” I’m talking about our family, who are visiting from Victoria. My Uncle Bok, from Bendigo and Ben’s brother George, with his fiance, Ebony and our newphews, Alix, 12, and Lachie, 2.

The most well-known truth about Fraser Island (K’gari) is that it is the world’s largest sand island. In 1992 it was heritage listed. The best way to understand why it is so special, it seems, is to either do a hell of a lot of historical reading or to do what we did… take a guided tour of the island.

As most news watching Aussie’s are aware, our part of Queensland, including the nearby town, Maryborough, have been battling flood waters over the last couple of weeks. This made our barge ride to Fraser Island a little different. The water at River Head’s wasn’t the blue we are used to. The water expelled from the Mary River, the overflow and the muck had washed into the ocean, creating mud-brown water that reminded me of milk with too much Chocolate flavouring in it.

Ben, myself and the “incognito” our newphew Alix on the barge.
Ben and Uncle Boka
Ebony, Lachie and George

When we arrived at Fraser, a big blue four-wheel drive bus awaited us #fraserislandexplorer.

The bus was surprisingly comfortable, it was air conditioned and with a limit of 25 on the bus, it gave us more than enough space to put belongings without needing to be cramped up. (Just a side note for people thinking about following in our footsteps with a young child, definitely bring a car seat/booster seat for the bus.) Our tour guide was David, he started offering interesting information straight off the bat. We headed to Maheno Bay to start with where a well known shipwreck gradually erodes away.

She is now a rusty shell, trying with all she has left to hold her shape. She is still, by all means, something to behold. She grabs your imagination and now, instead of carrying soldiers injured in World War One, she provides photo opportunities for travellers and locals alike.

From there, we went to The Pinnacles, a place that holds a lot of significance to the indigenous residents of Fraser, in particular, the women.

The Pinnacles
Lachie, Alix and myself doing the old ‘photo bomb’.

Eli Creek was next and, for me, this is where the wonder of Fraser started to deepen. Here, in this crystal clear, tranquil creek, over four million litres of fresh water gently runs to the ocean every hour. It filters through sand dunes and plants in Frasers middle. The natural filtration creates some of the freshest and coolest water I’ve ever walked in and tasted. It is so beautiful that it attracts millions of visitors each year.

Eli Creek

We visited the rainforest and went on a short walk, where David took us on a historical journey through the logging years that Fraser endured. He told stories of the trees like the were old friends.

Over the buffet lunch my mind kept going over the beauty we’d already seen. Little did I know, Fraser had not yet shown us her heart.

As we drove to Lake Mackenzie, David told us how it formed and tried to make us understand how special of a place it really was. The thing is that words really can’t explain its charm, even if they come from the most knowledgeable tour guide. You’ve got to see it… Feel the freshness of the water… See how blue it is to understand. The silica sand, the fresh water with the dark inner… it’s just breathtakingly, out of this world, beautiful.

A refreshing swim in this most wonderful place was the perfect way to end our tour. I’d like to thank Ben for making this fantastic day happen. George for being his comical self. Ebony for enjoying the natural beauty treatments as much as I did. Alex for sleeping on the bus and being the best “incognito”. Lachie for being super good all day long. Boka for being my bus buddy and for putting his pro photographer hat on. You all made the day that bit more magical.

The barge ride home was a time to plan. Plan a trip where Ben and I can take our Prado on the barge and have a good, long camp trip on Fraser. We highly recommend the tour for Fraser first timers as it gives you a decent look around without needing to worry about navigating the sand highway yourself.

I also want to credit most of the photos on this post to Ben, as you can see, he has an eye for a good shot.

Doing Cup Day Hervey Bay Style

We would be lying if we said we didn’t miss anything about Melbourne, since moving to Hervey Bay earlier this year. There are some great things about Melbourne. One of those is The Melbourne Cup. We never needed to go to Flemington to have a wonderful Cup Day in Melbourne, there was always a friend putting something on. Normally, a barbeque and a sweep and a few bets, surrounded by good friends.

In Queensland, it’s a little different, for starters, it’s not actually a public holiday. In saying that, it surprised me how many people still seemed to be dressed up in their shirts and dresses, fascinators on and out and about.

Getting ready for Cup Day in Hervey Bay

We chose to check out one of our most loved hang outs here, Crafty Cargo. It was $100 per head, which included unlimited craft beer on tap (selected choices), a couple of cocktail options, champagne and a constant flow of delicious canapes being walked around from 12pm to 3:30pm. The staff and owners there did an absolutely amazing job. They had fashions on the field, which encouraged all of the guests to dress up, making the day feel Verry Elleegant.

Craft beer, it’s in our hearts.
Before the crowd.

For those of you who live in this area and haven’t been to Crafty Cargo, give them a go! Especially, if you have an appreciation for great Aussie craft beer. They only stock beer from independent breweries and they’re always fresh, with a good selection on tap. For those who don’t like beer, they also serve other drinks. There is a kitchen and also a little arcade game area.

After Crafty’s we went for a stroll, ending up at The Torquay for one, we walked some more down to The Beach House. That’s where more drinks and pool tables took over the night. The conclusion, Hervey Bay puts on a decent Cup Day.

Looking forward to doing it all again next year

Long Weekend at Gootchie Creek

Camping at Gootchie Creek Escape

Over the Queen’s birthday long weekend Ben and I dusted off our Blue Water “Murray” camper trailer, hooked up the Prado and headed to Gootchie Creek Escape for a long-awaited camp. Since we moved to Queensland, we have been chomping at the bit to get out and explore some of our local camp areas. The extended work break and an invitation from our neighbors finally allowed that.

Gootchie Creek Escape is approximately a one-hour drive from our new home in Hervey Bay. You’ll find it situated right between Maryborough and Gympie (just over 30 minutes from each town).

Looking from the top of the hill (toilet block) down to the main camp area.

This trip was different from what we are used to. There was no fishing or crabbing and really not much to do besides relax, have a beer and meet new people.

Gootchie Creek Escape seems to us that it less about the location and more about the company. There is nothing particularly off-putting about this spot. In the same breath, there is nothing particularly attractive about it either. It is basically an extra-large paddock, complete with cattle, with a body of water that campers set up around. The body of water isn’t good for fishing, nor is it very big or clean but it is still good for a paddle if it is hot enough. I would imagine it to be more impressive after a good dose of rain. There is an abundance of turtles in the water, unknowingly keeping onlookers entertained by sunning themselves on logs and popping their heads up for air intermittently.

Nevertheless, our neighbors at home, Megan and Dave and their two kids, Hunter and Ella, became our neighbors at camp, setting up their caravan next to our camper. My Mum and Dad also came along, setting up on the other side of us. One thing we have found challenging since moving states is meeting new people. Lucky for us, Megan and Dave had invited a few camps of friends and we got to know some very interesting new people.

Camping is always made better by the people you are camping with. For us, this really was what our long weekend was about. Relaxing days, staying out of the direct sun and cheerful nights chatting to new friends.

The staff at Gootchie Creek Escape went to a lot of effort to add some extras to their paddock for the long weekend. They had Yo Dough come in and make wood-fired pizza (pre-order only) Saturday and Sunday night, which we didn’t partake in, only due to the amount of food we had all bought with us. They had a talented couple provide chilled music covers around a big campfire and also set up a projector screen, playing a movie for the kids on Saturday night. The NRL Grand Final was on the projector Sunday night (unfortunately, with a couple of teething problems and reception issues). We definitely scored them an A+ for effort with these activities.

For those thinking about visiting, you can book online or give them a call. It is pretty cheap at $15 per adult and $10 per child, per night. There are no powered sites available but once you are in, you can camp wherever you like. There is a relatively new toilet and shower block, which is a short drive or a decent walk from the main camp area. In saying that, you can camp as close to it as you like. There is a dump point at reception ($3.00 to use it). The friendly reception staff also offer barista-made coffee at certain times. Gootchie Creek Escape is dog-friendly, it has some shady spots available and a small play area for kids with plenty of extra space for them to run around. You’ll need to take your rubbish home, although they do provide recycling bins for all of your cans and bottles.

Inspired By Lady Elliot

Lady Elliot Island from the plane window.

It has been a while since I last added to my blog. Yesterday was my 39th birthday. As a gift, my husband, Ben, took me to Lady Elliot Island and oh boy, it is worth writing about. The day not only reminded me how important little adventures are but it also inspired me to get back into blogging and so here I go.

Lady Elliot Island is the southernmost coral clay of the Great Barrier Reef. It is around 80km north-east of Bundaberg. You can get there by boat or plane, they have an airstip that runs down the center of the Island. For us, as we live in Hervey Bay now, it was a 35 minute flight on a smallish plane.

The adventure started the minute we boarded. From the air we saw our beautiful new home town in a new light. We then saw Fraser Island, and as a natural bonus, it happens to be whale season and so we got to see a few of the majestic humpbacks from above. When you first get a glimpse of Lady Elliot from the air, you can’t help but inhale and hold it for a moment. It is absolutely beautiful.

When you land, the smiles and enthusiasm that meets you, in the form of the island staff makes you feel so welcome. There is an itinerary for the day but there is no pressure, you can literally do whatever you feel like doing. In our day trip, everything was included. We had a locker to use for the day, which was super handy when you are in and out of the water. They provided towels, snorkel gear and a buffet lunch. You can stay at the Lady Elliot Eco Resort. If you are a day guest, you are welcome to it’s facilities.

We took a stroll on the island while we awaited our glass bottom boat and snorkel tour. Our guide pointed out all of the features and then we were free to roam. The Lagoon is a shallow reef, which basically surrounds the south-east side of the Island. You can walk in at low tide and at high tide you can snorkel the warm waters right off the beach, without being in water any deeper than an adults shoulders. Marine life is abundant and before we even entered the water, we started seeing marvelous finned friends swimming in the shallows. A few black tipped predators could even be seen stalking them.

Although the water was a little choppy, there was no stopping us from snorkeling the outer reef off the glass bottom boat. The world below the water at Lady Elliot is amazing. It boasts that it is ‘the home of the manta ray’ and we were lucky enough to swim beside one of these gentle giants. As their big flaps lift so do your spirits, they were an absolute treat. As were the abundance of healthy looking corals, that happily showcased their resident fish. From big rock cod hiding under ledges, to trevally and glowing parrot fish, to smaller fish that seemed only too happy for you to see their brilliant colour up close.

When we got back, we were more than ready for some food. The buffet lunch, although simple, was fresh and enjoyable. They have a well stocked bar where we were able to purchase some drinks.

After lunch, there was nothing else to do but head back to The Lagoon area, where the promise of meeting my favorite marine creature was looming. There was a green flag our tour guide had pointed out, she said that if we headed for it, seeing one of the wonderful “flippered” reptiles was a huge possibility. So we donned our snorkel gear again and did just that. The water in the lagoon is easy to snorkel and there is so much to see. We looked and looked and got excited about all of Lady Elliot’s amazing sea life that takes refuge in the green zone.

As we swum over a small ledge in a deeper part of the reef Lady Elliot really delivered. Tucked partially under some rock and coral, we saw one… a green sea turtle resting. My excitement soared, for as long as I can remember, I have been jealous of all of the people I see on the television getting close to a wild turtle and now I was doing it. We looked over him a few times, taking in the glorious patterns on his shell and his flippers and his gentle black eyes. We stood up and took a moment to celebrate, we’d done it, we’d seen one! As we started to make our way back to shore, another smaller turtle appeared, causally grazing a top of the coral. Not a care in the world, not even for the humans ogling him within extremely close proximity.

A refreshing shower and a couple of a beers later, we were back on the plane for our ride back home. Again, we spotted some whales, Fraser then Hervey Bay from above. A pub dinner and cake with my parents to top it off. It all added up to a birthday I’ll never forget. Alongside my Weipa birthday (able to be read about in a previous blog), I am unsure it can ever be beaten. I am so thankful to Ben for this amazing day and also for the photos he took that you see in this post.

If you are looking for a great trip, you love snorkeling or diving or just love being close to nature, then look at Lady Elliot Island and Eco Resort, it is nothing short of magical.