Australia :: Hahndorf

Hahndorf, established in 1839 (Australia’s oldest German settlement), was such a lovely little surprise. The state heritage area charms with a unique Bavarian ambience. Aside from the obvious traditional German beer sampling (there are a number of boutique breweries, wineries and distillers to choose from), there are plenty of quaint tea rooms, historic inns, craft shops & art galleries to explore - to name a few. Hahndorf’s main street is lined with beautiful elm trees; you will want to slow down & enjoy the wander.

We enjoyed our coffee, chai & babyccino at Caffiend so much that we went back for lunch; #noregrets.

A highlight for our toddler, Chloe, was the Hahndorf Farm Barn. We just wish that we had arrived earlier in the day so that we could all enjoy it for longer!

We chatted with some locals and, we must say, we sensed some frustration that Hahndorf appears to be losing its charm over time to tourism. The general consensus seemed to be that they would not like to see change if the driving force is tourism. There are surrounding villages of Crafters, Stirling, Aldgate & Bridgewater that might be worth checking out.

We left a piece of our heart in South Australia. It was a memorable trip and one that we will treasure. There is still so much to do that we want to roll over to another trip (hopefully in the not-too-distant future):

Safely home (Brisbane) on our Qantas flight :-)

Australia :: Barossa Valley

What is there not to like about the 912 km² that is the Barossa Valley? We have no answer to this question. Stunning Barossa Valley (peppered with picturesque communities including Angaston, Lyndoch, Nuriootpa, Tanunda & Williamstown - as well as hamlets & villages) is steeped in German heritage. Fertile soils. Grape growing & winemaking (home to over 170 wineries & over 80 cellar doors; some unbroken lineages entering their 7th generation). Fruit trees. Meticulous & sophisticated degustation menus promising a culinary journey. Bienenstich. Mettwurst. Streuselkuchen. Vollkornbrot. Artisan cheese. Mediterranean climate. Warm, friendly community. Local characters. Australian landscape of rolling hills & scenic vistas. Live music. Historic churches. Houses built from locally-sourced bluestone, ironstone, sandstone & marble.

Local community is at the heart & soul of the Barossa Valley. With this in mind, we stayed at Pembury Homestead, Angaston (Airbnb). Jonathan and Kate are the lovely hosts of this beautiful home set in superb countryside. They were immediately warm and friendly and helpful. We rarely revisit the same place twice as we both prioritise adventure; however, we are definitely considering going back to Angaston and checking in again for some more (child-friendly) hospitality at Pembury Homestead. Not to mention, the location is central and ideal for day trips around the Barossa (if you want to cycle, Pembury Homestead is located right next to a bike path). Oh, and for the dog-lovers: the stay comes with the added bonus of fur-babies Baxter & Sally.

Pembury Homestead, Angaston

Little lambs <3

Lovely Baxter was a highlight and welcomed us home from our daily adventures :-)

You have got to love small-town grocery pride <3

Barossa Farmers Market, held each Saturday morning & showcasing authentic local produce, can be found undercover in the Vintners Sheds. Think famous Barossa smallgoods. Delicious pastries. Freshly roasted coffee. Olive oils & olives. Hearty breakfast options. La dolce vita essentially.

Barossa Farmer's Market is open on Saturday mornings

Such quaint markets <3

Barossa Farmer's Market samples

Clearly a popular item at the markets :-)

Strawberry tart by Stuart Jones, chef pâtissier; this (relatively unassuming) stall comes VERY highly recommended

Ham so good all it needed was some fresh bread and butter

The taste of simple, quality ingredients

The markets provide such a delightful start to a Saturday morning :-)

The more you look, the more snails you will see; pretty sure the only other place we spotted this many snails was at the France-Belgium border

Maggie Beer's Farm Shop was definitely a highlight of our trip. Maggie Beer is a well-known Australian cook & author (“The Cook and the Chef” is an Australian television series). The Farm Shop is the perfect spot for a relaxing picnic overlooking a dam. Think calm, peaceful surroundings and you have pictured the setting. A visit here is a must.

Stunning peacock at Maggie Beer's Farm Shop

Pheasant Farm Chicken & Smoky Garlic Pate Picnic Basket

Chicken & Tarragon Pastry Parcel

Daily Verjuice demonstration at 2 pm… go on - you know you want to ;)

Wine, flowers and cheese... pretty much everything on our shopping list while exploring Tanunda, the cosmopolitan heart of the Barossa Valley!

Pretty posies available to purchase at the supermarket in Tanunda

Average big-brand South Australian supermarket; unique supermarket experience for Queenslanders, though ;)

Ah, delicious European influence found at the local supermarket :-)

Apex Bakery still uses slow natural ferment doughs & a wood-fired Scotch Oven, traditions carried on since opening in 1924. Recipes date back to the 1800s (featuring no preservatives & breads with no sugars). We took them at their word & opted for a Bienenstich - it was delicious as promised!

Mengler’s Hill Lookout provides one of the best views of the farming patchwork that is the Barossa Valley; you can see for miles. Fantastic opportunity to stop and take it all in - and we could imagine it would make a fabulous picnic spot, too.

The view along our drive on a rainy day <3

Barossa Chateau boasts 30000 roses. After visiting a cellar door or three or ten, visiting Barossa Chateau and getting lost in amongst the roses is a pleasant palate cleanser. This was officially the most amount of roses we have seen in a day! We have heard really good reports about the high tea on offer at the chateau so we just might be back for research purposes. All in all, a lovely day out and one we recommend.

The view from our car; Barossa Valley is so pretty in the misty rain <3

If there is someone in your life who has everything except for a fossilised crocodile, you can snap one up at Chateau Dorrien

Lyndoch Lavender Farm introduces you to more than 90 lavender varieties over 5+ acres. The landscape is tranquil & relaxed; we enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon tea here followed by a wander through the stunning gardens. PSA: if you are are allergic to bees, though, don’t leave your Epipen at home.

We were informed that D&M’s Bakery Cafe offers The Best Vanilla Slice in the Valley. Vanilla slice is a favourite of mine (Em’s) since childhood so it is safe to say that I have sampled a few over the years. As I am typing this, I realised that I have not had a vanilla slice since our South Australian adventure at the end of 2017. I suppose that is an endorsement in and of itself. Perhaps I will not bother again until we make it back to the Barossa Valley. Come to think of it, it probably is worth the wait. (Unless Pete offers to make his version in the meantime - in that case, I will be a lost cause.)

Australia :: Adelaide

One of our travel goals is to see more of Australia. Given that our country is approximately 3860 kilometres long and almost 4000 kilometres wide, we think it is perfectly reasonable to shelve this ambition under a “goal” category. To date, we have explored parts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria & Western Australia between the two of us. We were keen to add South Australia to the list even though our knowledge of the state can be quantified here (solid effort, Simon Taylor!).

Adelaide, the cosmopolitan capital of South Australia & the wine capital of Australia, was a great place to kick off our South Australian adventures. We fell in love with a few of its features. The city is surrounded by beautiful green space - rolling hills in the east & white sandy beaches in the west. Historical buildings. Check. Superb architecture. Check. Wide, welcoming streets. Check.

Adelaide Central Market was established in 1869 & is home to 80 stalls. Stalls offer flowers, fruit & vegetables, bakery & patisserie, continental & cheese, and meat, poultry & seafood, to name a few. They are proud to inform you that the market is visited by more than 8 million people a year.

We stayed at Sage Hotel Adelaide. It was comfortable, clean & the staff were friendly. We enjoyed a hot, hearty breakfast here, too.

Living our best hotel dessert life - enjoying Maggie Beer’s Dark Chocolate & Vino Cotto Caramel with some Brandy Butter Sauce on top for good measure… because why not ;)

We visited the iconic St Peter’s Cathedral.

Lunch at Kutchi Deli Parwana was a delicious treat. Lovely, attentive staff and memorable lunch for all the right reasons.

You will find a cluster of colonial institutions along the North Terrace precinct, the cultural heart of South Australia. Institutions include the Adelaide Convention Centre, Art Gallery of South Australia, Government House, National War Memorial, both Old Parliament House & Parliament House, South Australian Museum & State Library of South Australia. Heading east, North Terrace becomes Botanic Road; here you will find the National Wine Centre of Australia (we could have said something about it being within spitting distance but that would be too obvious) & the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.

The Art Gallery of South Australia was an enjoyable pit stop. We recommend the experience. The staff members at the Information & Ticketing Desk were especially warm & welcoming. The gallery regularly changes displays & collections include Aboriginal art, contemporary art, decorative art & art from Europe, Middle East & Asia. At the time of our visit, the gallery was showcasing Paolo Sebastian:X (7th October - 10th December 2017). Paolo Sebastian is a label founded by South Australian fashion designer Paul Vasileff. The collection, celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the label, was presented in partnership with Adelaide Fashion Festival.

The State Library of South Australia was a highlight. The Mortlock Wing, named after John Andrew Tennant Mortlock (the library’s greatest benefactor), has been voted one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. It opened as a public library in 1884. The Mortlock Chamber Clock is fascinating in its own right. The clock, purchased from Dent & Sons on the Strand in London, is wound each week with a large key.

Adelaide Botanic Garden & Botanic Park (150 hectares worth) celebrates plants from across Australia & around the world. In typical Adelaide fashion, the garden is rich in art, architecture & heritage.

We drove along the Mount Lofty Ranges for a panoramic view of Adelaide’s city skyline.

On the 19th of April 1982, Adelaide & the ancient Japanese city of Himeji became sister cities. Adelaide Himeji Garden is described as a Garden of Imagination (in celebration of the beauty of nature). The layout includes features, such as an Okunoin Lantern (an inscription reads For the friendship of two cities), Pine Trees (symbolising courage in adversity), & a Teahouse (represented by an open pavilion, like the porch of a Zen temple), to name 3 of 13 key features.

Christmas in Brisbane

We have been spoiled. We have enjoyed a European Christmas previously.

We spent Christmas itself in Dresden with wonderful friends. One memory (it has been five years, after all!) that we cherish, in particular, was perusing the Dresden Striezelmarkt, Germany’s oldest Christmas markets. That Christmas really set the benchmark for us.

Christmas in Brisbane is… well… hot. Humid. Steeped in commercialism

HOWEVER, Brisbane has a beautiful Christmas experience to offer in and of itself. To be honest, you really do not have to look too far for opportunities to make some lovely memories. As our Lord Mayor Graham Quirk is quick to point out: “Brisbane is a great place to live, work & relax - it’s a safe, vibrant, green & prosperous city, valued for its friendly & optimistic character and enjoyable subtropical lifestyle”. These characteristics & attributes are reflected in our unique celebration of Christmas.

FURTHERMORE, many of Brisbane’s Christmas events are free and family-friendly. You can find things to see & do in The City, South Bank and Roma Street Parkland. (If you are keen to see what we get up to in Brissie, jump on instagram and follow the hashtag #MerryBrismas.)

We have compiled some images below from our 2018 Christmas in Brisbane. We hope you enjoy!

There is something that is a quintessential part of Christmas for me (Em): Pete’s (very rum) Rum Balls. They are one of the highlights of my year. Pete has truly perfected his recipe. (One of the best things about them is that they are not geographically limited!)

We like to say that Queensland is “beautiful one day & perfect the next”. However, we experience extreme heatwaves & explosive storms during our summer months. One thing is for sure, though: if you are looking to escape the snow, Brisbane is a safe bet!

We indulged in a pizza cook-up at Northey Street City Farm. The catalyst was random musings during a community playgroup; everyone’s individual contributions came together perfectly. This will be a lovely Christmas memory for years to come - for both parents and children.

Brisbane Arcade usually looks pristine and welcoming but is particularly stunning at Christmas-time.

Queen Street Mall, including the Myer Centre animated Christmas window display, is worth looking at during Christmas.

Regent Theatre’s foyer is another recommended Christmas-related spot to check out.

The South Bank Christmas Gift Markets are quirky and inviting. You will want to stay for a while.

King George Square boasts The Christmas Tree and the City Hall Lights.

In conclusion, our city is beautiful and well worth a visit during Christmas. <3

Toowoomba :: Carnival of Flowers

Here are some images from three gardens that we visited as part of the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. One can only imagine how much time and effort goes into each of these gardens! We stopped at Danish Flower Art for a delicious lunch. It was such a relaxing spot and we enjoyed warm, friendly country hospitality. The food was yummy and hearty; highly recommend. If you end up going, make sure you check out the wall celebrating Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. Enjoy!

Brisbane :: Roma Street Parklands

This weekend, I (Em) am planning to enjoy some of the gardens that feature as part of the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. It should be a lovely & relaxed weekend that I will be able to share with some friends. I will be sure to take the camera along, too, and no doubt eventually share here. In the meantime, here are the links to last year’s posts:

Toowoomba :: Steam Train & Carnival of Flowers (1/2)

Toowoomba :: Steam Train & Carnival of Flowers (2/2)

Closer to home, we recently went to the Roma Street Parklands; as can be seen below, the gardens are looking spectacular and are full of pretty pops of colour. Wandering through the gardens is a pretty alright way to spend a spring afternoon. :)

Brisbane :: Botanical Gardens

We love our beautiful hometown of Brisbane. Previously, we collated a list of our favorite things to do and see and eat in Brisbane. Every spring, Brisbane Arcade hosts a flower show featuring spring fashion collections and a stunning bloom display installed throughout the Arcade grown and harvested by Redlands Fresh Flowers, one of Brisbane’s last remaining flower farms in the Redlands Shire. This year, the flower display:

  • was installed over 3 nights

  • required an estimated 150 hours of manpower

  • covered 850m2

  • featured more than 1340 stems

  • 1894 bunches of flowers

  • 36 bags of moss - and more!

We planned to pop into the Arcade and share some of the impressive work here BUT we were one day too late. :(

While at the Arcade, it was impossible to resist a spot of window shopping at Wendy Louise & Belle Folie (see below). We actually have a shoot featuring Wendy Louise accessories due for release next month. Looking forward to sharing!

It is a reasonably straightforward walk from the Arcade to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. The staff looking after the gardens always do a wonderful job of caretaking. The space is really welcoming and well-maintained. The most recent garden layout, however, would have to be my (Emily’s) most favourite to date, though. We are so grateful for such lovely, clean gardens in the heart of our city.