Whisky trail western NSW, visit Craft works distillery

Austalia has received world wide recognition for producing quality whiskies. There is also a notable community of Australians enjoying the magic of this incredibly complex distilled elixir. Through this community we have met an aspiring and inspiring individual affectionately known as Crafty. Well known within the Australian whisky scene and well recognised by his trademark brimless docker cap. Aspiring to follow his dream of becoming a master distiller in his own distillery, this self proclaimed apprentice distiller is well on his way. Inspiring others through his determination to achieve his dream, Crafty has chosen to follow his passion and has put in the hard work, surrounding himself with many great mentors from the Australian whisky scene. Sourcing and using quality local ingredients and equipment to craft his product.

Our our way to celebrate world whisky day at Blackgate distillery, we hit the Western NSW whisky trail and stopped in to see Crafty and follow his progress and check out his distillery in the town of Capertee. The distillery in a great location, only 2.5 hrs from Sydney, just beyond the Blue Mountains between Lithgow and Mudgee. Another plus, it is at the back of a pub, the Capertee hotel. Grab a room, stay the night and enjoy a quality pub feed. Oh and there is also a microbrewery at the back of the pub.

Crafty was busily working away as we arrived late on the Friday afternoon and we were happy to throw on some old clothes, offer our assistance and learn about the whisky making process. It was a great experience to help Crafty with his work, which is pretty much beer and the start of producing his spirit. The process is started by milling the malted barley sourced from local producer Voyager, with a secret mix of grain going into the mix. Milling the grain was hard yakka, lifting and pouring multiple 25kg bags into the mill.

Next up, it is a real life version of tetris, re-arranging the distillery to fit the mash ton. When the water hit the right temperature, we worked quickly to pump the water from the still into the mash ton then added the milled malt and began stirring it through. Then ran the liquid through the condensers to cool it down.

A hard earned thirst, our efforts were rewarded with a tasting of his product. The tasting included the just Derek, his independent bottling, the juice aged in a cask coopered in Seppeltfield South Australia, an American Oak barrel, sherry cask. We also tried an Eau de Vie, Crafty had produced in collaboration with a Mudgee winery.

Then we tried some of his tasty new project, the Tyrian Cask, spirit Crafty distilled, 12 months old and well on its journey to become Crafty’s first whisky made from his own spirit. The name Tyrian in reference to his past life in the printing industry. A dram with delicious mocha chocolate notes, salted caramel and spice. We can’t wait to come back to this, once it completes its time ageing in the barrel, a minimum of two years to be called a whisky.

On the way out we also purchased a bottle of his award winning independent bottling: Black soul beast. This dark mysterious dram aged in port cask claiming a few international awards, this fuelling and encouraging Crafty to continue to forge ahead, with his dream well within reach. We encourage you to support this local artisan, pay a visit to Capertee Hotel and the Craft Works distillery. Crafty is a friendly character and will be more than happy to share his dream, show you his craft and share a dram.

Crafty Works Distillery

Trail Hopper Hop on Hop off Tours, Adelaide

Do you plan on visiting Adelaide and are you looking to do some wine tours? We thoroughly suggest you do!

The hop on hop off tours offered by Trail Hoppers is the way to go. They are a great way to see the different regions surrounding Adelaide including; The Barossa Valley, McLarenvale the Adelaide Hills along, with the ever popular Hahndorf.

They run their wine tours a little differently, but this makes them better. The tour has a number of stops, and for the most part, they allow you to choose and provide flexibility.

The crew at trail hopper will pick you up from a city location right in front of the Stamford hotel. All you have to worry about is getting there on time and picking the places you would like to visit. They do run a tight ship so make sure you are ready for pick up at the specified time.

The Adelaide Hills wine tour was a great day out, touring the wineries of the area, with some great wine on offer, particularly Chardonnay. Shaw and Smith, and Petaluma were both highlights.

You will also of course need to eat along the way, with many wineries offering tasty platters of local produce. The tasting platter at Petaluma was particularly good and generously portioned.

If you are all wined out, you can also stop in the scenic German influenced town of Hahndorf. A great spot to stroll the streets, browsing the boutiques, visiting the local artisans or you can pop into one of the German restaurants or bars for a meal and or a drink.

The Barossa tour was also excellent, also with an Adelaide city pick up and also a pick up from the information centre in Tanunda. This tour is also very flexible, allowing you to choose the places you would like to visit. There are so many great wineries producing excellent wine in this region, particularly red varieties. St Hallet was a highlight, the ladies doing the tastings were lovely and very insightful with their product knowledge and the region. The red here was top knotch and what you would expect from the Barossa, a strong offering of shiraz.

On this tour you will also have the opportunity to visit Penfolds and can sample the famous grange for a fee, there is also a gin experience on site, and a craft beer pub, serving American style BBQ. The tour also allows the opportunity to visit Maggie Beer’s shop and sample her delights. A stroll around the heart of the Barossa, Tanunda is also available.

The hop on hop off tours are a great way to see the regions surrounding Adelaide. The flexibility of being able to select your itinerary sets trail hopper apart from the other tours. They have a good list of wineries to visit, with plenty of opportunity to have a nice meal along the way. As such, it is a highly recommended tour experience.
It is also super affordable at just $49 for a McLaren Vale or Adelaide Hills & Hahndorf tour, and $59 for our Barossa tour!

Book now!

Trail hopper

Klean Kanteen Bottle


I’m a regular gym goer and need to keep well hydrated. I and also do a fair bit of travelling in different environments and temperatures. This means, one all you can use drink bottle is super handy.

We have just started using the Klean Kanteen stainless steel bottle. The design is a classic brushed outside and a screw on lid, suitable to put a carabiner through to hang off your back pack when in the outdoors. I’m super clumsy so the fact it’s durable and leak proof is also a good feature for me.

Featuring double-wall vacuum insulation, the keeps the drink iced for 90 hours! (Or hot for 24 hours).

RRP $62.95 for 32oz and $99.95 for the 64oz. For more information or to buy, visit www.kleankanteen.com.au

Page Two, Randwick

We were, for many years, locals in Randwick. It’s a super busy place with so many people around due to its proximity to the hospital, UNSW and racecourse. There’s lots of shops, restaurants and cafes. It’s often hard to select where to eat. Page Two cafe has popped up on the brunch and lunch scene, on Belmore Road. What is so nice about this cafe is, that whilst there are plenty of seats indoors, they have a beautiful little outdoor space with a garden at the back, and decorated with hanging colourful umbrellas from the roof.

We were greeted warmly by staff and welcomed to the cafe. We chose to sit in the outdoor garden and we were given some menus to decide. We made our selection, taking three dishes to share. It was lunchtime so we decided to have two salads and a salmon crostini to share. This came atop a slice of sourdough, topped with avocado, capers, dill, red onion, cream cheese, lemon and balsamic glaze.

For the salads, we had the ‘healthy salad’ with spinach, kale, avocado, poached eggs, quinoa, pumpkin, beetroot and hummus.

Our favourite was definately the poached chicken soba salad with lotus crisps and sesame dressing.

They use in house made beans for their coffees and also sell shakes, leaf tea, and freshly squeezed juice. We tried the Tropicana; watermlon, mint and pineapple which was very refreshing.

Pop in for an easy and reasonably priced menu. There’s all day brekkie on offer too.

Page Two cafe

Address: 122 Belmore Rd, Randwick, New South Wales 2031

Phone: (02) 9399 6294

Hours: Monday – Friday: 6:30am-5:00pm

Saturday – Sunday: 6:00am-5:00pm

Website: http://page-two-cafe-coffee-shop.business.site/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Page-Two-799338696917425/

Page Two Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Where to eat in Hobart

Agrarian Kitchen – restaurant

Acclaimed restaurant, only a 20 minute journey from Hobart to New Norfolk to reach it, and it will see you dining in a modernised ex-mental asylum. The food has an emphasis on fresh, seasonal and local ingredients, prepared beautifully. Great for couples or small groups and the dining experience is excellent. For more details, see our blog here:


Franklin – restaurant

Another highly praised restaurant with buzzing atmosphere, open kitchen and bar provide the ability to watch what is going on. Extensive drink list ad amazing food options; from scotch quail eggs to octopus and salt bush dumplings, oyster mushrooms, potato galettes and to wood roasted little wood lamb. For more details, see our blog here:


Bear with me – café

Trendy little café in South Hobart featuring inspired breakfast, brunch and lunch choicest that could be described as creative twists to dishes you know, with lovely flavour combinations. Ona coffee is also served up here and we thoroughly enjoyed this café. For more details, see our blog here:


Farm Gate Markets

The farmgate markets on bathurst st are an ideal place to grab a bite to eat. Primarily focusing on local seasonal produce with plenty of fresh fruit and veg on offer. There is also a bit of seafood to sample. Artisans are there with truffles, olive oil, seasonings, honey, mustards and preserves. For more details, see our blog here:


Salamanca Markets

There are all sorts of markets around Hobart where you can grab a bite to eat every Saturday at the marina. The Salamanca markets are hands down the best to visit with some of the best places to sample fresh local produce. Be sure to try one of the famous Smith’s Scallop Pies. For more details, see our blog here:


Street Eats @ Franko

Street Eats @Franko are held every Friday from 4:30-9:30 from November to April at Franklin Square Hobart and it is a busy night food market with plenty of stalls offering food, beers, wines and local spirits. Music gives it a good vibe and it’s a great Friday activity.


Although we were only in Hobart for a weekend, we made a big list of other places to visit

Templo – small place serving up quality Italian fare

Small fry – small café with interesting brunch options and even crème brulee donuts,

Frank – Argentinian restaurant

Landscape – modern Australian food and they also cook asado

Urban Greek – trendy place with amazing Greek food

Aloft – on the pier

Pigeon hole bakers – amazing bread and baked goods

Fico – Italian/Japanese

Born In Brunswick – notorious as a top café

Room for a pony – café and bar


Franklin Restaurant, Hobart

Another highly praised restaurant which we checked out in Tasmania was Franklin restaurant in Hobart. We had booked for a late meal at the end of a busy day seeing the sights. The restaurants has large glass windows which are very visible from the street. The restaurant interior is paired back with concrete and industrial fittings, providing clean visual features. The open kitchen and bar provide the ability to watch what is going on. It is a busy restaurant but the staff are attentive. The ambience is buzzing and this makes for a great dining atmosphere.

The drinks list includes craft beer, interesting wine options, including natural wine and there’s also a mix of cocktails and craft spirits.

The menu has a number of inviting options and was headed up with some exciting small bites. A must eat item is the scotch quail eggs. This tasty morsel has a crisp outer crust, a tasty mid layer of sobrasada and the yolk of the quail egg oozing out once cut into.

The octopus and salt bush dumplings may not be the most appealing looking bite, however this was made up for by the texture and flavour. We were also provided some amazing complimentary bread.

The mushroom dish was full of umami from the braised wakame and egg yolk sabayan. This was the tasiest dish of the evening. With the oyster mushrooms providing a meaty texture.

Potatoes are certainly abundant in Hobart and were well put to use in the potato galette with an emulsion of huacatay, a Peruvian herb sourced locally on the Tasman coast.

This accompanied the main source of protein we ordered, the woodroasted littlewood lamb, served with braised almonds and pickled kohlrabi.

This dish was very simple looking on the plate, however the flavour of the lamb was incredible and the almonds provided texture and the pickled kohlrabi cut through the richness of the lamb.

Franklin is great place to enjoy a meal in Tasmania to savour some local produce and wash ot down with a quality drinks list.


30 Argyle St, Hobart TAS 7000

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

The Alexandra Hotel – Leura

Fancy a getaway only 1.5 hours away from the Sydney CBD in the picturesque town of Leura? Look no further as we have the tips for you!

It’s hard to visit Leura without spending a small fortune, as there’s a number of extremely expensive lodgings and restaurants in the town and surrounds. However, we will point you to somewhere that is extremely good value for money at high quality.

The Alexandra hotel, established 1903 is the only licensed hotel in Leura and a short stroll from the mall. It is an old quaint boutique building with ornate trims and stained glass windows.

The hotel is sectioned off into a number of areas, with a sports bar and lounge bar (with floor to ceiling bookshelf). There’s also plenty of space for a party or function.

There is also plenty of outdoor space to enjoy.

The hotel is right beside Leura train station, but the noise isn’t obvious at all. The hotel aptly has has a railway theme to it, with the outdoor bar in the beer garden called “platform 3”, and a Leura Rail sign featuring in the dining room.

We also stayed in the hotel. It was a comfortable heritage room with vintage furniture, double bed and modern bathroom. The rooms have old world charm with some modern convenience including the addition of a/c and tv. The room opens onto a balcony with a nice outlook of the hotel’s backyard beer garden and out to the valley below.

The hotel is a great spot to dine, whether it be lunch or dinner, pull up a stump at either of the two beer gardens for a causal vibe or for proper sit down meal book a table in the dining room, named “Redfern Bistro”.

There’s something for everyone, casual food including burgers and pizzas, with the pizzas made in the wood fired oven in a traditional manner by Marco Marano.

The summer menu, prepared by chef Anna Borna features modern Australian gastro pub food, beautifully cooked and presented.

We were seated in the dining room and ordered a glass of bubbles.

Their Garlic bread made on a house baked baguette and is topped with melted garlic and parsley butter an ideal start to the meal.

This came out with the confit mushrooms dish, a tasty vegetarian opttion. Pan fried portobello and button mushrooms cooked in olive oil with rosemary and lemon with feta, almond and coriander dukkah (gf).

Other entrees on offer include oysters, pate, calamari and baked haloumi.

For the mains, the Pan roasted duck breast instantly piqued our interest. The meat was cooked to perfection, skin nicely seasoned, served with duck fat potatoes and rustic heirloom carrots. It’s accompanying home made Peking duck citrus sauce was brilliant and kept us searching the plate for more of it.

From specials board, we couldn’t go past the pan fried and seared ocean trout. This was a splendid fish dish, the skin salted, nicely rendered and crisp. The flesh was perfect; a lovely pink orange hue, flakey and melt in the mouth followed by the beautiful flavour of the fish. The sauce was a delicious combination of smoked paprika dill and grapefruit veloute, served with roasted potatoes, charred leeks, broad beans, peas and cherry tomatoes. Perfect Bistro fare and one of the better fish dishes that come to mind, highly recommended.

Whilst we were extremely satisfied at this point, we had to go with the dessert option on the specials menu, the banana spilt. Here it is the classic dessert that has been pimped up with two bananas, deep fried in a Moreish crisp salty batter. This has been placed atop a butterscotch sauce and served with vanilla bean ice cream. So tasty, it was irresistible .

It is worth driving up to the Blue Mountains for the charm of this beautiful old pub alone and the scenery in the area is an added bonus.

The Alexandra Hotel is well located a short stroll from the boutique town of Leura and a short drive to the tourist sights in the area. Book a room and make for a short getaway.

We would like to thank the Alexandra hotel and staff for their hospitality and Spooning Australia for the invitation to dine.


Alexandra Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

How to pack for three months travelling

Unless you’re a fashion blogger that needs some quality fashion pics for the gram, read this advice before your departure.

When we first set off, I’d been planning what to take for weeks. 1 month into the trip, I realised I didn’t need many of the things I’d brought. 2 months in, I realised I also didn’t need much more of the stuff I packed and proceed to get rid of things as we went. Pack light is the key. Most long term travellers like to carry a pack, however I found it much easier and safer with a suitcase, particularly in South America where we went. The Samsonite ones have an awesome lock and also have a warranty for 10 years. Selecting white also made it easy to find on the luggage carousel. Remember it is about the experiences, not the stuff.


Image – Pandotrip.com

Here’s what I learnt.

1 – you can wash cheaply
2 – no one cares what you’re wearing, really.
3 – all the hotels give you beauty products and toiletries are cheap overseas anyway

So what do you really need? Not a lot. This is despite the fact we were in a range of temperatures: humidity in Thailand, hot and humid and rainy in Hong Kong, 30 degree heat in Mexico, freezing in Peru and high altitude in many places.


3 pairs of Shoes – comfortable walking shoes (I brought joggers/sand shoes/runners x 1) and since we were hiking, I also brought waterproof hiking boots. But wear these (they make your suitcase heavy), 1 x havianas/birkenstocks/ or sandals.

Underwear – x 5 pairs as you can wash.

Socks, take a mix of thick and regular socks.

T shirts – think plain with no branding: grey/black/stripe. They don’t look dirty and you look inconspicuous in shady areas.

1 x long sleeve shirt/thermal etc to layer of cold

1 x jumper – if you get one a high neck and hood, you reduce the need for a scarf!

1 x down jacket (Kathmandu or similar). These stay warm in cold areas and cool in hot areas. Expensive but totally worth it. They also fold up small.

1 x RIFD money belt

1 x International adapter that changes, changing plug, cords, spare battery pack for when you’re out and about (though keep in mind these have to be taken on board).

Reading material – I prefer books. But, we finished books quickly, and you can’t always buy good English ones overseas. Plus they’re heavy. I’d recommend a kindle.

1 x umbrella – we did use it!

1 x rain jacket

1 x beanie

1 x cap – the trendy panama I brought was unnecessary. No need for a fashion icon overseas.

1 x head torch / torch for those countries with poor electricity

Shorts x 2: tailored plus gym type

Tights x 1: can double as your exercise wear/ under your trousers if you’re cold

Pants x 3: jeans for day to day or day into night, hiking pants plain can double as those to wear out. Casual cargo/Jeanie/other for day to day. You can probably even limit this to two.

Towel: you don’t really need it that often unless you’re staying at hostels or plan to swim. Buy a small micro fibre one.


Lock: you’ll need a small one if staying in hostels.

Camera, phone, money belt, photocopies of bookings/passports etc.

Tip – wear your heavy shoes and bulky clothes on the plane if you’re worried about luggage weight.

Hopefully you’ll find this an easy guide to get ready for that trip.

Kurt and Sarah


Australia’s Convict Past in Tasmania

There’s 11 convict sites around Australia that are heritage listed and 5 of these are in Tasmania. In Tasmania they include Port Arthur, Coal Mines Historic site, Woolmers Estate and Brickendon, Cascades female factory and Darlington Probation station. Visiting a few of these will give you great insight into the nations past. If you can’t visit them all, certainly consider at the very least Port Arthur, as it is well worth the visit.

Convict history is certainly interesting and often difficult to understand that people were transported from Britain to the colony (Australia prior to it being Federated) for something as small as stealing a loaf of bread, handkerchief for example. But England was poor, people were struggling to get by and stealing was rife. Gaols (or Jails as they’re often known today) were overcrowded and the decision was made at the time to transport criminals to Britain’s colonies around the world, one of which was the land now known as Australia.

Port Arthur

A scenic 1.5 hours drive from Hobart you will find Port Arthur, which is a famous site in Australia’s history and also identified as a world heritage site. Tasmania originally began as a penal settlement and Port Arthur was one of the largest sites in Tasmania where the convict prisoners lived and worked. It is one of 11 convict sites around Australia.

It was originally used for convicts to gather timber and later became a punishment station for convicts from around Australia who repeatedly committed crimes. It became an industrial area, producing a range of goods for the colony.

The site also housed the military personnel and officers, as well as their families and free settlers. There was also a church for the families who lived there and also designed to reform convicts. A school was there to teach the children of the settlers and also some of the convicts.

Although it as a penal colony in 1877, shortly after it became a museum and settlement. One of the largest buildings is the penitentiary.

The site today is amazing, not only for its historical significance, but how it has been transformed and reconstructed into an open air museum with over 30 historic buildings, reconstructed interiors and buildings, as well as beautiful grounds and gardens.

Your entrance ticket gives you entry to the site, a guided tour and a short ferry ride around the bay, by the Isle of the Dead cemetery and Point Puer Boys Prison. There’s an interactive museum and living history demonstration. It’s an enormous site and if you do all the activities and visit each of the buildings, it could easily occupy a whole day. But your ticket is useful for three days so you can come and return as you please. At dusk you can also do a ghost tour.

Whilst on the site you can also eat at the cafe with fresh food and coffee or in the restaurant.

There’s good access for those with mobility concerns, including lift, flat areas and ramps, as well as courtesy buggies with a pick up and drop off service.

The drive to Port Arthur is picturesque and you can stop at wineries, distilleries, the Tasmanian Unzoo and plenty of beautiful stops along the way.

The Historic site management authority should be highly congratulated for such a fabulous display of the nations history. It’s been done very well.


Open 9:30-6:30pm daily.

Cascades Female Factory (or prison as they are known now)

This site is where numerous female convicts were transported in the 18th-19th century. Three of the five original factories remain.

It is a much smaller site than Port Arthur and only ten minutes from Hobart. It is more of an interpretive site, as the site is basically empty and lacking signage. You can read through the brochure, or it would be recommended to have a guide. There is a tall stone wall surrounding the site and is a museum in the old cottage or Matron’s quarters.

What was once a house with a bedroom and kitchen, is now is the only remaining building with replicas, artefacts and information about the site.

There’s some interesting signage about women who were on site, as well as some bonnets they wore whilst there.

Some parts of the site were used to send women into solitary confinement for disrespectful behaviour.

The factory was made a goal in 1856 (when the penal colony ended and it was sold off in parts in 1905. Between the 1970’s and 2008, it was repurchased by various groups and made into the historic site.


These are the two sites we visited and if you’re interested in the nations history, these are worth checking out.

Raku dining @ Canberra, ACT

Raku is what we’d describe as contemporary fine dining Japanese. We were in Canberra for the weekend between Christmas and new year and had heard good words about this restaurant. We are so glad to have visited and it ended up making our best of list for 2018.

The restaurant is located in the main CBD precinct near the shopping centre and thus was easy to locate.

The space is large with table seating or right up at the chefs kitchen as well private dining spaces. It is dimly lit and has a romantic feel to it.

We learn that Raku is named after a Japanese style of pottery (fired in open flames), which is apt for a Robata style restaurant. Secondly, the ceramics here were absolutely beautiful and demonstrated different designs and techniques.

The robata method enables the flavour of the flame to shine through the meat, seafood and vegetables and the blue eyed cod has to be one of the best things we’ve ever ordered. You can watch the chefs prepare the meats on the grill over the flame and it is mesmerising.

Given our seats in front of the chef, we could watch the masters at action, preparing beautiful plates of sashimi and nigiri as well as maki rolls. The chefs were precise, fast and seemed to be so calm and thoroughly enjoying their job.

The menu is extensive, so much so we found it an extremely difficult task to decide what to get. The tasting menu sounded brilliant, and the price is appropriate for what it includes. However we thought that ordering ala Carte would allow us to spend the same, whilst enabling us to try more of a variety of the menu offerings.

We started with some miso followed by the loved the Bresaola with kingfish sashimi and a light but lovely truffle dressing $22.

The sashimi looked great and you can order this in the 3, 5 or 7 varieties. We opted for the 5 varieties, which included bluefin tuna, scallops, snapper, kingfish and salmon. It was lovely sashimi and sliced to a nice size, served with wasabi and soy $47.

The absolute winner on the night was the Alaskan black cod $38 with Saikyo miso and picked cauliflower. The Smokey flavour was beautiful and it was so soft and melted in your mouth. We added a side of Asparagus with a miso butter.

We were still little hungry and so added on a maki roll and we were glad we did, as this was another favourite. A South Australian Kingfish with yuzu, truffle, chives and fresh chilli.

We ended with a whiskey ice cream which was also superb.

Drinks wise, they have some solid cocktails with Japanese flavours, sake, beers and wines and ask for the waiters suggestion to match your meal.

It was an all round fantastic experience, with a clean and sophisticated aesthetic, prompt service and incredible food. Whilst it is quite upper end for the budget, it’s worth every dollar.


148 Bunda St, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia

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