A Viking restaurant @Mjolner

IMG_6271
Just what Sydney always needed,  and a viking whisky bar come restaurant appears. Mjolner is one of the coolest openings of 2017. Situated on Cleveland St on the border of Surry Hills and Redfern, the bar is a little hard to find. Keep an eye out for the over 18 sign. Walk down some stairs into another realm, filled with hearty food, reminiscent of the Viking period and one of Sydney’s most comprehensive and diverse whisky lists. The space itself is like is classily set up, with Viking weaponry adorning the walls and we cannot forget Thor’s Hammer decanter taking pride of place at the bar. What a showpiece!
                                           IMG_6287
The whisky list at Mjolner is ridiculous, it is not a list, it is literally a catalogue of whisky to sample. It would take an age and a small bank to try them all. Mjolner serve a range of other drinks including some amazing cocktails too.
IMG_6273
IMG_6296
We stopped in for their tasting paddle. Amazing value at $40 for four drams, a beautiful whisky cocktail and a side of matching whisky cured meats.
IMG_6285
We also shared some small bites. The cutlery and crockery as impressive as the restaurant, with many of the pieces especially commissioned for Mjolner. Note to restaurant visitors – don’t steal their cutlery and glassware or there will be no bar left!
IMG_6293
The octopus was cooked to perfection, very flavoursome and super tender, not much give at all. We also shared a cheese plate, served with pickles, the presentation was rustic in appearance keeping with the Viking theme. Their cheese plate perfect to sample with some whiskies.
IMG_6291
IMG_6290
It was a great all round experience visiting Mjolner. Definitely on the list for a return visit. Next time we will sit in for a group dining experience.
 267 Cleveland St, Redfern NSW 2016

Mjølner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A new location @The Grumpy Barista

The Grumpy Barista, previously of the inner west suburb of Petersham, has found its way to a new location in Alexandria.

IMG_2188

The café occupies the corner of Garden st and Henderson Road and is industriously styled with cool marble and pink interior and hanging gardens throughout. There’s plenty of space inside and out, so you won’t be waiting long for a table. It’s quite nice to sit outside in the sun too.

Serving Toby’s estate coffee and a range of modern Australian dishes for both breakfast or lunch, as well as some sweet treats, it is a popular café with the locals and visitors to the area alike.

IMG_4833

 

I’ve visited now on more than one occasion and the café is continuously striving to perfect their menu offerings. A group of us dined on this day to sample a number of the menu choices.

IMG_4834

Two of us went for the Grumpy’s special of chili scrambled eggs, which were presented atop sourdough bread and a side of heirloom carrots, a heatlhy and wholesome meal.

IMG_4842

The winner of the day, and also one recommended to us from where_do_i_eat_pete was the Green Pea Smash with burrata and prosciutto. A great combination of flavors and the burrata was perfectly creamy.

IMG_4836

From the sweets menu, we went for the Fig Brioche, topped with macadamia, honey, ricotta and vanilla ice cream (in place of the regular fairy floss). There were a few fruits topping it and would love to have a few more.

IMG_4841

The Grumpy’s granola and pannacotta is also not only beautiful, but delicious and served with a raspberry pannacotta. Could be a sweet or breakfast 😉

IMG_E2148

The venue also serves the famous cronuts (a mix of a doughnut and croissant, filled with a range of insides like cream, Nutella, caramel and topped with oreos etc. Surprise yourself.

 

The guys at grumpy’s are always friendly and hospitable. Make sure you pay them a visit.

Grumpy Barista

34 Henderson Road, Alexandria

A café of colour @Mas.que – St Leonards

IMG_5071

This café is called Mas.que, or Masque may be more familiar. When you see this word, you immediately think of a masquerade ball and mirrors. That’s exactly what you find upon entering, as it is decorated with wall papered walls, a number of mirrors and French style masks fit for a masquerade ball. It’s not immediately obvious stylistically as to what cuisine is on offer. We meet the owner Wilkie and he tells us it’s a multi-cultural menu with modern Australian and European food as well as Asian influences. The owner and his wife have heritage stemming from Hong Kong and Taiwan and these backgrounds have together to produce this lovely food.

We were here for brunch and struggled to decide what to order because the menu all sounds fantastic. Therefore, we got a number of items to share, and both sweet and savoury.

The eggs and muffin isn’t your typical breakfast dish, it has some modifications, all good ones. It is a charcoal bun topped with avocado and an onsen egg, very runny (as it should be) and accompanied with some mixed fruits.

IMG_5089

We also really enjoyed the wagyu tataki and soba. This dish was beautifully presented and the spicy cold soba and topped with pan seared marble graded wagyu sirloin. The meat was tender and then it was served with a Japanese onsen egg. This is the perfect dish for summer and you can also be confident knowing you’re eating a healthy dish too.

IMG_5086

A new flavored dish on the menu was the New Zealand Superior King Salmon sashimi with cold udon. Seasoned with a Japanese balsamic and truffle, giving it an umami flavour, this was an absolute standout.

IMG_5090

We had to end on the Nutella fondue, which came with a number of foods to dip in the fondue, including brioche, marshmallows, fruits, scotch finger biscuits and oreos. Perfect for any Nutella lovers.

IMG_5101

Other items on the menu include Taiwanese bowls, massive burgers, a Prawn tartare croissant, truffle mushroom pasta, duck wraps and acai bowls. A good mix to suit any diners.

This café has a lot of specialty drinks including shakes, smoothies, coffees and teas. After 10am, you can also order alcoholic drinks. Having seen some cool drinks, we had to go for the “The Magical” which is a colour changing drink with blackcurrant juice and lemonade – mix them together and boom! A colour changing drink!

IMG_5092

Now, I’m a massive fan of a crème brulee and this café turns their lattes into one. Therefore, this was a must order. Your latte arrives at the table accompanied with a wafer biscuit and cinnamon stick. The staff then arrive to your table, sprinkle sugar and then use the blow torch to make your coffee into a brulee. I loved this drink and I’m sure any dessert lovers will also like this. Nothing like a gimmick for me.

We loved our visit to Mas.que and thoroughly recommend it. Thanks to the café for hosting us and to the Chew Crew for the invitation to dine.

Mas.que – St Leonards

Mas.Que Dining Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Service in action @Camps International – Camp Tsavo Kenya. Part 1

Camps International is an organisation running in the UK and Australia, offering ethical service programs. This social enterprise runs trips in Africa, South America and South East Asia and trips are available for schools, gap students, families and individuals.

What appealed to me initially was the ethical mindset of the company. I’m extremely passionate about service learning and helping others and when I saw the promotional booklet, I was extremely interested. Running school trips is something I regularly do, and as a Service Education Coordinator, I thought this would be perfect for my school.

I joined a teacher Recce (or research trip) headed for Kenya to see what the company and experience was like, as a means to be able to see it first hand and have genuine personal knowledge to guide my decision making and teaching when back at school.

From the word go, Tanya from Camps was extremely efficient and helpful in organising my flights and providing me with helpful information. Not long after the end of Term 4, I flew from Sydney to Kenya via China on China Southern Airways. I met my fellow Reece travellers in China and off we went. Despite an extremely long journey on planes, and a scheduled refuel in Bangkok, we arrived in Kenya (minus my baggage?!) ready and raring to go.

We were met by Yusura who led us for the entire journey, had some breakfast, stocked up on supplies for the bus and began our long bus journey to Camp Tsavo.

IMG_3725

After the trip in a bus and on an interesting highway drive (think millions of trucks wanting to overtake each other and seeing zebras on the side of the road), we found ourselves at the Camp Tsavo site.

The area is incredible, in a small place an hour from the town of Voi. It is village life with the locals living in minimal houses, many made from mud. It’s also very green, they have amazing produce. They have large families and so eager to see locals, coming outside to wave to the passers by. I’d happily just drive up and down the road all day. The children walk to school and quite far to get water. I’d love to see water filters be built or provide bicycles some day.

25990630_10159832087585008_2046930713_n

At the camp, we’re met by the local staff, introductions made and we are shown around the site and settled into our rooms – the camp style cabins have beds and blankets. Rooms (for 3) have electricity and charging facilities mosquitos nets, there’s drop toilets and cold showers. So, it’s actually quite like glamping.

IMG_3755

There’s a dining hall where food is cooked for you and the food is incredible – think local food like meat and vegetable curries and Ugali. They also made some western food and in particular an amazing bolgonaise and the most tender meat patties I’ve ever eaten. Coming from a foodie, this food was superb. Filtered water, tea and coffee was also available.

IMG_9086

The site itself and out look is absolutely incredible. It’s like you’re featured in part of the lion king and “circle of life” is constantly replaying in your head.

IMG_3746

IMG_3765

The trip includes a safari in a private game park. We visited this for approximately 4 hours and managed to see giraffes, elephants, warthogs, zebras and more. Unfortunately they aren’t prone to regular visitors and the sound of the vehicle scared them off. I’m keen to revisit Africa to go on Safari to a National Park or even to see the Great Migration.

IMG_4009

IMG_4029

Following this, we visited the Voi Wildlife Lodge, where groups are taken for a bit of R&R. An incredible resort overlooking animals in their habitat and this is amazing to watch the animals drink from a watering hole whilst having a drink or bite to eat yourself.

IMG_4130

However, this is not the prime reason we were on camps. We were there to see the Service work projects and participate in these ourselves. This will be continued in the Blog Part #2.

 

Beer off the Wood @The Oaks Neutral Bay

The Oaks Hotel in Netural Bay is iconic in the area and is our favourite pub venue for 2017. It is an expansive Hotel with numerous bars and dining spaces and you can also enjoy a drink or bite to eat in the beer garden under the famous oak tree. They also put on a number of events throughout the year, matching beers and wines with food. They also run informative whisky tastings and cocktail masterclasses.

We visited The Oaks hotel Neutral Bay on a Friday night, to enjoy “Beer Off The Wood” and dinner in the Bistro. The hotel was packed with people enjoying a drink or two.

DSC_0351

From 5pm each Friday, in the Sports Bar of The Oaks, you can find them selling XXXX Bitter straight out of the barrel. At only $6.50 for a schooner from the keg, not only is this cheap, but an amazing way to enjoy your beer. Get in early though, as once the barrel is empty, you’ll have to wait until the following Friday to enjoy it again. It’s on until Jan 31, so there’s a few weeks to get in an enjoy this beer.


Beer out of the keg is a historical tradition and drinkers have been enjoying this since ancient times. Today, your beer mostly comes in steel kegs so why not get to the Oaks and be nostalgic.

Whilst you’re at the pub to enjoy a beer or two, make your way to the bistro and grab a bite to eat. A range of pub style meals like salads, pizza, burgers, steaks and schnitzels, as well as a few specials of the day.

We started with one of the specials, a poke bowl, which is perfect for summer. The poke bowl, is fresh and healthy bowl of rice topped with seaweed, carrot, edamame, avocado and sashimi grade salmon. We really enjoyed this refreshing meal and thoroughly recommend it as a menu choice.

IMG_4761

Pork belly is another favourite of ours and the pork here was delicious. Perfectly cooked, tender inside and crusted with a decent amount of crisp crackling. Accompanied with fennel slaw, spiced apple and cinnamon sauce.

DSC_0362

We just had to order a steak, considering The Oaks was just named best steak venue at the NSW hotel awards. You can personally select your cut of meat from the butcher window. There’s even a whopper of a tomahawk steak on the menu for anyone that is game. On this occasion we went for the grain fed eye fillet which was a beautiful steak. We completely understand why the Oaks was awarded best steak venue. The steak was accompanied with baked potatoes, green beans and a mustard sauce (or your choice of sauce).

IMG_4774

Get on down to the Oaks for a Beer off the Wood, dine in the bistro or organize a function there!

For more information please visit the links below

www.oakshotel.com.au or https://www.facebook.com/oakshotel/ 

Thanks to Papaya PR for the invitation to dine

IMG_4764

A wonderful day on the sea @Ocean Spirit Cruise

Ocean Spirit Cruise 

We arrived at the reef terminal and checked in received our ticket to board the ship. A large boat, you can sit indoors on lounges, outside or on the deck.

As you arrive, tea, coffee, muffins and focaccia are available.

As the boat departs, we are given a safety briefing and collect the gear to use for the day of snorkelling. You are also able to pay extra for guided snorkelling tours or scuba diving.

IMG_3579

The journey to the outer reef is approximately 2 hours. Whilst on board you can relax or learn about whales!

IMG_3588

Whale Presentation 

According to the staff, dolphins are part of the whale family. Sometimes in small groups, some in larger packs. There are also whales with teeth and whales with baleen. One single blow hole for toothed whales. Bottlenose dolphins are the most well known.

There are also false killer whale, head end like a torpedo and uncommon in Australia. The Sperm whale is one of the biggest toothed whales. There are also Southern right whales because they are slow moving and were in past times, the right whales to “go after”. There were whaling stations at Tangalooma near QLd and Albany, Qld.  90% of the species were whales in earlier times but fortunately whaling is no longer conducted in Australia. In 1980 a new species was found – dwarf minky whale. Different colours on their bodies.

Humpback whales, most common in east Australia, are very distinctive with long pectoral fins up to 6m, weigh 30 tonnes in average, 13-16 m length, with long pleats to expand when they eat. Tubicles (giant hair follicles on the head).

In July to September is when you may see Humpback whales migrating. It is the biggest migration of a mammal. The round trip is over 5000 km. They make journeys to breed. From Cairns to Antarctica (and other journeys in WA and Beneath South Australia). It is too cold to breed in Antarctica so they come north. They then breast feed, producing 500-600 litres a day to feed their babies.

Great Barrier Reef and Michaelmas Cay

The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage site and is one of the worlds largest single living organisms and can be seen from outer space. It extends approximately 2600 km off the east coast of Australia. It is a network or different coral reefs and a marine park.

Captain Cook called it the Barrier Reef as to him it was a barrier between there and the open water. 1774 Matthew Flinders called it the Great Barrier Reef.

We travelled to Michaelmas Cay, a sand cay formed my fragments of plant and animal skeletons that are collected on the reef. A sand cay emerges when birds bring seeds and fertiliser.

IMG_3555

The boat anchors near Michaelmans Cay, a small low lying vegetated sand cay, surrounded by the reef. The boat transports guests to the cay in a small boat. You then have the opportunity to snorkel and see the beautiful coral, plants, fish and other marine animals in the area. Over 1590 different types of fish are in the Great Barrier Reef. It is simply incredible. One of the most beautiful places you will witness in Australia.

You can buy some extras like guided snorkel tours or introductory scuba dives. Whilst anchored, you can also take a glass bottomed boat to see more marine life or have lunch.

A lunch buffet is offered with hot options; rice and curry or ratatouille. There’s prawns, cold meats, salads and bread rolls. They also offered dessert; fruit and chocolate and carrot cake with tea and coffee.

After a few hours at the Cay, the boat set sail back to the marina. On the journey home, we were offered a glass of sparkling wine and cheese and biscuits.

IMG_3608

The staff on this boat were extremely professional and knowledgeable and some of the best we’ve seen. It was also evident they loved their jobs.

This was extremely good value at $202, let alone the $165 we got it on special for! A must do if in Cairns.

Ocean Spirit Cruise 

IMG_3603

A retreat in Queensland @Palm Cove

IMG_3325

Palm Cove is located in tropical North of Queensland,  Australia and is about 25 minutes north of the airport. You can get a taxi, an Uber or airport transfer, though we found Uber was the cheapest.  Palm Cove is south of Port Douglas and a smaller location. It has a boutique feel, with hotels, apartments and a number of restaurants. Walk along the esplanade and the beach or enjoy some fishing by the water. There’s a few shops and a grocery store to grab the necessities.

It’s in a good location to get picked up for any tours you book, and a number of travel agents who can make these arrangements for you.

IMG_3116

 

Where to Eat

Portobello

A restaurant on the esplanade selling breakfast, lunch and dinner. We were super hungry after our flight and went here for dinner. We all ordered a protein dish – lamb shanks, barramundi and chicken. All meals were perfectly cooked, amazing taste and came out very quickly. Quite expensive, but it is a holiday town.

Vivo

This place is on the esplanade and has a wonderful menu! So many choices and lots are inspired by asian flavours. We ordered the pancake – full of greens, herbs and prawns. Huge size, very flavoursome and value for money.  We also ordered the special – a healthy egg white omelette with a beetroot relish, enoki mushrooms, a slice of rye and greens – this was awesome. We also got a few juices (these were expensive, about $9-$10). Staff were friendly and service was extremely fast, which was good considering that there was heaps of people there. Worth a visit if if in area.

IMG_3233

Chill

Chill is a cafe and bar on the esplanade in Palm Cove. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We wee there for a couple of drinks on a Sunday night. They also had a cool band playing which was great entertainment. Staff were pretty fun and dealing well with the crazy crowd. They sell food in the form of tapas like tacos or oysters or larger mains like fish and burgers.

IMG_3203

Jack and Shannan’s 

Jack and Shannan’s is in the lobby area of the Imagine Drift apartments. It is a cafe, restaurant and bar. We went there for our morning coffee as they did a great coffee, brewed chai and not too much of a wait.

IMG_3234

Cactus

We decided to go here for dinner as the food seemed a bit cheaper than most places in the area. Selling your typical mexican food, like burritos, quesadillas and fajitas, we all decided on the fajitas. Select beef, chicken or pork and that comes sizzling on a plate. You then get three wraps, a few small bowls of black beans, tomatoes and cheese to make your own wrap. It was a nice meal. Clean and tidy restaurant and friendly service.

Nu Nu

This is a lovey restaurant on the esplanade, open, with views of the ocean. They do breakfast, lunch, tapas and dinner. We were here for dinner and ordered a range of things to share; dumplings, mixed greens, an OUTSTANDING gorgonzola infused wagyu, kingfish sashimi and prawn schnitzels. The food was all excellent and no critiquing here! It is expensive, so go for a special occasion. The staff were efficient and friendly, but there did seem to be a noticeable feeling stress amongst them.

Williams on the Nard 

A fairly basic looking cafe from the outside and the menu makes it appear like an average dining venue. However this was certainly not the case. The food was incredible and presentation was like fine dining. This is not only true for what I had, but what I saw when other diners had their dishes come out. I was after something remotely healthy so ordered a beef tartare. It came out on a board,  topped with a raw egg, some capers, crunchy bread, some mustards and sauces and beautifully presented with edible flowers. Coffees were also good!

IMG_3336

What to do?

Cairns Active Explorer

Take a trip to Mossman Gorge and the Daintree Rainforest

Where to stay?

There’s plenty of hotels and apartments along the esplanade for you to choose from. We stayed in the Imagine Drift Apartments. Large rooms, we had a 2 bedroom, with a kitchen and lounge space. The kitchen was fully set up and came with some tea and coffee making facilities. There were two bathrooms and a laundry in one. Big balcony overlooking the large pool. The pool is in a leafy area so it doesn’t get much sun. There is also a spa and a basic gym. It is all you need for a week away and perfect to travel with your friends and family.

IMG_3148

Hope you all have a great time if you choose to travel to Palm Cove!

IMG_3370

Out and About @Cairns

Where to eat?

Waterbar and Restaurant

Located at the Marina Pier, this is a steakhouse selling different varieties and sizes of streaks. Its selling ribs and seafood, it is perfect if you’re hungry! I went for a 200g steak with baked potato and salad. You have to pay an extra $3.00 for sauce. The meat was good quality and perfectly cooked. The staff were fairly new and thus our waitress had difficulty taking the order and made a mistake or two, but is fair when people are starting out, so it didn’t really bother our experience.

Boatshed

A restaurant on the marina just by the Reef Terminal. Offering lunch specials for $22.50 with a drink or 2 courses and a drink for $35. Pretty good deal and the restaurant had good ambience. We just went for coffees which were great and service was friendly.

Tha Fish

This seafood restaurant is in the pier of the marina. There’s a number of restaurants along this pier, but this one was quite busy comparatively, so presuming that translates to it being good, we decided to go. Unfortunately it was full, but the lovely man said to put our name down and come back in 45 mins. We went for a drink and did just that.

The menu has starters, entrees, mains and a fish selection. We shared the whitebait, lightly dusted and was nice start to the evening. We all couldn’t go past the fish option where you select a fish and your choice of cooking. One of us got the trout, with a lovely Indian flavour which was the staff suggestion – incredible. I went for a barramundi which sat atop udon noodles in a broth and lotus chips, this had gentle flavours and a lovely combination. My friend also had the barramundi with a butter sauce and snow peas and potatoes. The fish was beautifully cooked and our dinner was outstanding. Staff were excellent, particularly the front of house who was extremely accommodating and friendly. The waitstaff were excellent and gave good suggestions. Prices are reasonable for seafood. Worth a visit.

IMG_3694

Prawn Star

Recommended by a friends, The Prawn star is a trawler that sells platters of fresh seafood; prawns, oysters, bugs, crayfish or combos. We got a plate of beautifully fresh tiger prawns and seafood sauce, as well as a glass of wine. A good option for your lunch or dinner as it is open until 8pm! Ranging from $25 – $80. You have to shell your own, but that’s part of the fun, right?

IMG_3527

Pier Hotel

Went here for food and drinks on a Friday night. It was pumping with customers of all ages. We had some wines and an amazing salted caramel espresso martini. One of the most amazing drinks was their ‘mini beer shot’, liquor topped with white chocolate. We also ordered food – the barramundi, a little lacking in flavour and presentation. The Caesar Wrap was excellent. Food wasn’t too pricy. They also had live music on Friday night.

IMG_3638

IMG_3639

Salt House

We Went here for a couple of drinks and tapas food. Happy Hour is good as drinks were $5 and the food was 2 for 1 plates. We tried the pull apart bread, tuna sashimi, squid and fried chicken. The food was all excellent. The location is great, just by the marina and they have Trivia on a Thursday and live music on Friday nights.

Where to get beautiful?

Honey

Honey is a place to get a tan, wax, or relax with a facial or masssage. I went for a 2-4 tan which was $30. It was extremely natural and gave a nice bronze colour. I also got an eyebrow shape and the staff member did an excellent job. The lady there was also extremely nice and helpful; giving me tips about what to do in Cairns.

What to do in Cairns?

Lagoon

In the main part of town along the esplanade is a lagoon where you can swim, as there is no beach or accessible ocean in this area, plus there could be crocodiles or dangerous jellyfish. The lagoon or fake beach is perfect for a swim to cool off.

IMG_3687

Active Living activities

The town offers free fitness activities which some gym equipment, yoga, rock climbing, aqua aerobics or box fit. I decided to do the box fit class which began at 6:30am. 15 minutes of a warm up which included sprints, push ups, burpees etc and then boxing combinations for the last 45 minutes. It was physically hard, but you can take it at your own pace. The instructor was knowledge and friendly and i’m impressed that Cairns council offers these activities for free.

IMG_3680

Bungee or Bungee Swing

If you’re an adrenalin junkie that wants something exciting and fun to do, make sure to check out AJ Hackett Cairns. At 140 m above sea level, and a 50m jump, you can take a bungee jump in the rainforest! Your jump can be taken in many ways; swan dive, water touch, titanic, backwards, tandem, jump off the roof, handstand or even off the roof with a BMX. Different levels to suit you the less kenmore experienced. It’s $179 for the jump and prices are less for extra jumps.

For those looking for something a bit different, they also offer the Minjin Swing, which 1,2 or 3 people can take. In a body harness, you are taken up high (higher than the bungee) and pull the cord which drops you for a few seconds and then you’re let swinging. It drops from 45m-1 metre in 3.5 seconds at speeds of up to 120km an hour and is for those seeking thrills! I did this with a friend and absolutely loved it. Scary as you’re rising, but exhilarating! Next time, real bungee for sure.

There’s purpose built platforms for friends and family to watch and a licensed bar selling drinks and some snacks. You can buy t-shirts or media footage to remember your experience.

The company pick you up and drop you home from Cairns or the Northern Beaches.

 

IMG_3513

Visit the Great Barrier Reef

Visit Cairns and Mossman Gorge

Adventure time @Cairns Adventure Group

Active Tropics Explorer – Tour Guide Karl

We were in Cairns for a holiday away and decided that a tour was the best way to sea the wonders of the North Coast of Queensland.

IMG_3270

Before heading up to Mossman Gorge we participated in a welcome to country smoking ceremony, led by an Aboriginal guide, of the Kuku Yalanju people, who also explained the uses of some local plans and natural ochres. This ceremony was to protect us whilst on our journeys.

The bus then took us up to Mossman George where we walked through the rainforest and had the opportunity to swim in local creeks.

IMG_3251

Departing here, we drove through the sugar canes and stopped to go on a crocodile tour. The boat driver was extremely informative and we were lucky enough to see 6 crocodiles on this tour, including a 450 kg called Scarface. On the one hour cruise, it is also possible to see tree snakes and the Ulysses blue butterfly.

IMG_3268

 

IMG_3255

The bus then drove up to Cape Tribulation where we had lunch (included on the tour) and walked down the beautiful white beach.

IMG_3278

On the Marjja Botanical Boardwalk, we were guided through the rainforest with explanations as to what the specific plants can be used for and also the dangers to be aware of.

On the final part of the trip we were taken to Floravilla, an Ice cream shop to try some of the organic ice cream using natural flavours and no preservatives; mango, honey and yoghurt, guinness. You name it, they have it. I just wanted traditional vanilla and it was smooth and creamy.

The trip then headed back to our hotel with a drive up to Alexandra Range lookout and through Port Douglas.

Karl had been working for the company for a year, mostly doing white water rafting guiding. He was extremely good at this guiding. Very knowledgeable about plants and animals and the area and very explicit in his instruction. He was passionate about his job.

A lovely day out in a small group of 25 with an extremely knowledgeable driver and guide. At $169 per person, it is worth the money spent.

Cairns Adventure Group

 

Fighting for a cause @Corporate Fighter

I (Sarah) took a short hiatus from eating out, drinking and blogging to train for 12 weeks in a boxing program called Corporate Fighter.

IMG_3390

I had been seeing pics and posts pop up on Instagram  and Facebook for a while now about Corporate Fighter, possibly because it is the internet’s way of connecting you randomly to things that would potentially interest you based on what you follow. Given I’ve been in the boxing and Muay Thai world for a while, I’m not surprised. Or the universe was telling me to get on board. Whatever the case, I entered one of their competitions stating in 25 words or less why I’d want to join. Amazingly, I was selected as a winner to join the 12 week program as part of Corporate Fighter 31. I was pumped to start! 

When you join, they request you to explain why you are choosing to participate. For many people, it’s about a personal challenge, they want to lose weight or get on the straight and narrow. For me, it was about wanting to set a good example of perseverance and determination to achieve a goal. I’d long been wanting to put boxing training into action.

25627372_10159821906885008_1293481561_n

The concept is, that, any individual can apply and, once accepted, sign up at rough cost of $795 for a 12 week training program that includes 4 training sessions a week, headgear, gloves, shirt and a bag and at the end of the 12 weeks, participate in a boxing bout vs someone else in the program. It is also a charity fundraiser – for this program, it was raising funds for Team Rubicon (supporting war veterans). The charity part of it really appealed to me.

25624588_10159821936570008_1142194925_o

The idea is that most people are inexperienced and have never fought before and over the 12 weeks you learn basic technique, footwork and eventually sparring, incrementally increasing the intensity as the weeks go on. 

Wednesday’s were a minor form of punishment for me; this was cardio evening – think mountain climbers, planks, sit-down/stand ups and those dreaded burpees. These sessions were to make you fit for fight night and whilst you might hate it at the time, it really is fun and extremely beneficial. 

The trainers; Florian, Danilo, Andrea, Jemma, Tanya and Kurt are wonderful, extremely passionate and organised great routines each night and also available for extra personal training sessions. The gym also has other classes you can join like shadow fighter, technique and sparring sessions. 

IMG_3028

 A special thanks to Jemma – she is an outstanding individual who is so dedicated to the sport, and offered in her own time to have “girly fight club” or special sparring sessions for the women from CF 30 and 31 to get more experience. This, we are truly grateful for. 

 IMG_3148

Fight night is incredible – 14 bouts of fights on our night, in front of over 500 people, held at the Hyatt Regency, Sydney. We warmed up, came out to an entrance song and fought our hearts out.

IMG_3587

IMG_E3463

Winners are chosen and trophies awarded. Throughout the night there are auctions and further fundraisers to generate more money for the charity. Afterwards, we change and party with our support crew.

IMG_3145

Fighters are expected to sell two tables of supporters, and they get to watch the event with a two course dinner and unlimited alcohol. There’s photobooths for fun with your friends! It’s a top night out for all. I’d like to thank my friends, family, workmates and blogging crew for coming along! Special thanks to Kurt for putting up with my boxing talk all the time and giving me endless encouragement.

 Although I didn’t win, and I was extremely disappointed, I need to remember that winning is not what it’s about. It’s a charity fundraiser and most people wouldn’t dare step in the ring at all, and I did it. I also said I wanted to participate to prove determination and perseverance and that I did, fighting 1 week after recovering from a neck injury and with bronchitis. I completed the fight, fought respectfully, and with good technique. I desperately want to give it another go at full fitness to prove my real capabilities. 

IMG_3597

 Along the way, we made a new bunch of friends, made possible by the community environment it is, Facebook groups to discuss advice and the group catch ups to the Commonwealth Games trials, rock climbing and post the event; the pub! I’ve made some lifelong friends from this, which is amazing given the competitive nature of the sport and the fact we punch each other’s face at the end of it all. I must also thank my lovely opponent Jess for a great job in the ring.

 

25564587_10159821907050008_1707376506_n25530246_10159821936610008_1362713327_nFrom the word go, this is one of the best organised events I’ve been involved in – lots of briefings, emails with reminders, help with nutrition, supplements and advice. Trainers were on hand to respond to our many questions. Thanks to Josh King – it’s an amazing concept that does so many things for so many people.

25624782_10159821936595008_567044441_o

It also wouldn’t be what it is, without Carla Kassab. She is an A *** organiser, support network and friend to all. Her tireless work and care for everyone certainly didn’t go unnoticed and she made it all run so smoothly. It’s a tough job and one we admire.

I would like to say it’s an incredible experience, that I can’t speak highly enough of. I miss my weekly CF training, FB notifications and words of encouragement from the group. Whilst it’s over for me for now, hopefully you’ll see me again in the future. 

25555383_10159821907090008_559952138_n

Thanks to all involved. If you’re interested in signing up, see Corporate Fighter on the link below.

Corporate Fighter