Category Archives: Reviews

Cape York Camping Punsand Bay

Campground right on the beach edge. This was a sunrise one morning.

Campground right on the beach edge. This was a sunrise one morning.

Name: Cape York Camping Punsand Bay
Address: Lot 11 Punsand Bay via Bamaga QLD 4876
Contact Details: (07) 4069 1722
Website: http://www.capeyorkcamping.com.au

Background: After a long and tough journey to the Tip of Australia, we decided to stay at Punsand as it seemed to be a popular campground as per the conversations we’d had with fellow travellers on the way. The service was amazing, there was a bar and restaurant with wood fired pizza ovens and the views from our beachfront campground were amazing!

Cost: $15/pp for unpowered site
Facilities:

  • Kitchen / Cooking areas – not really, be prepared to cook at your tent
  • Toilets – yes, not many, but they were clean
  • Showers – yes, not many, but they were clean
  • Good lighting – not so much
  • Laundry – unknown
  • Fitness & Leisure Facilities – there was a pool
  • Security – You’re pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Standard precautions should be taken.
  • Pets Allowed – unsure, ring and ask
  • Fires – yes
  • Noise Levels – fine

Will We Return: absolutely! We will even consider coming back next year to work here next dry season.

Through the Ruins of Paronella Park

The Tea Rooms, Paronella Park

The Tea Rooms, Paronella Park

José Paronella arrived in Australia from Catalonia in Spain, in 1913. In 1929, after spending a number of years in Australia, José purchased 13 acres in 1929 and started to build his pleasure gardens and reception centre for the enjoyment of the public.

there was a waterfall, hydro electricity, tea rooms, a castle, a ballroom, swimming pool and over 7000 tropical plants in the extensive garden, all built by José.

A view from the Falls at the front of the Park. On the left is the castle and at the bottom left is the hydro plant

A view from the Falls at the front of the Park. On the left is the castle and at the bottom left is the hydro plant

Unfortunately there was a flood and then soon after José died of stomach cancer, his wife died some years later and his son as well. His son’s wife was left to run the park and in 1977 she sold it.

Sadly, in 1979, a fire swept through the Castle. There were a number of cyclones and floods in the following years and the park fell into ruin.

A pic from the night tour, this is the castle

A pic from the night tour, this is the castle

In 1993 the current owners found the park, bought it and work on maintaining and preserving, rather than rebuilding.

The park has won a number of awards and it’s easy to see why.

We purchased our tickets through RACQ for a 10% discount so it was about $39 each. This includes entry into the park, a day tour, a night tour and 1 nights accommodation in their campground and your ticket is valid for entry up to 24 months. Really it was great value.

The park itself is just stunning! I was able to get some lovely daytime and night time shots.

The Tea Rooms

The Tea Rooms

We loved our time here! The guides were fantastic and the staff in the cafe/reception were amazing. The park is beautiful and a truly unique attraction in FNQ.

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The Brewery, Townsville Brewing Co

My Paddle

My Paddle

I really like to eat and drink and unfortunately Queensland isn’t really known for its gourmet food and alcohol products, they do exist, they just aren’t well known or as predominant as other states. So to satisfy my cravings I did some research into breweries and wineries in Queensland that I might be able to visit and Townsville Brewery came up as the only boutique brewery in Far North Queensland.

Townsville Brewing Co

Townsville Brewing Co

The brewery is located on Flinders St, Townsville CBD. The building was originally a postal and telephone office, the military communications headquarters during World War 2 and then back to a post office before being redeveloped into a brewery, restaurant, bar and function centre.

I knew that they brewed on site so I was completely unprepared for the dark and opulent feel of the venue as I walked in. The inside was all high ceilings with simple chandeliers gracing the roof, heavy wooden tables with intricate designs carved into them and bar tables made from old barrels. There were dark leather couches scattered around the space, a ceiling to floor wooden bookcase, a simple and understated fireplace and a gold gilded mirror, I was in love.

The bar staff were lovely and yes they do have tasting paddles, my favourite. For $12 I was able to sample  their 7 beers on tap that are made onsite.

  1. Townsville Bitter Premium Light
  2. Townsville Bitter Premium
  3. Bandito Loco, Mexican Lager
  4. Belgian Blonde, Wit Beer
  5. Digger’s Golden Ale
  6. Ned’s Red, Red Ale
  7. Flanagan’s Dry Irish Stout
The Belgian Blond

The Belgian Blond

My favourite, the Belgium Blonde. “A naturally cloudy ale brewed with pilsner malt, unmalted wheat, malted wheat and flavoured with coriander and ginger. It is bittered with Saaz hops and fermented using a Belgium yeast strain resulting in light-bodied refreshing beer with a slightly fruity and complete aroma.”

They also had a lunch special going with a chicken BLT and a schooner for $10, bargain. All in all a great place, great beer and great service.

Townsville Brewery_A Girl A 4WD And A Trailer.JPG-4

Three Wishes Vineyard

Rosemary with her wines

Rosemary with her wines

When we travel through a wine region, I love to go to cellar doors of some of the better known wineries whose drop I enjoy. I also love to just drive around and pick small random wineries, that I’ve never heard of before, and pop in just to see what’s on offer.

A couple of days ago we were going through the Tamar Valley which is full of wineries. The first couple of cellar doors we stopped into were Pipers Brook and Jansz, fantastic cellar doors, great wines and fantastic staff. The third and last stop for the day (I’m on cellar door rations) was a winery we were driving past and I asked hubby to stop into so I could do tasting. Please note: Hubby doesn’t drink so he drives me around when I wine tasting, perfect!

The winery is called Three Wishes Vineyard and wow! We drove up to a stunning manse with a quaint side building. We seemed to be the only ones there as the car park was empty, perfect for a chat with who ever was running the cellar door that day. We were lucky enough that Rosemary, the owner, was on cellardoor duty, she called us in and launched into a history lesson about the property and what an amazing tale!

The cellar door, converted servants quarters

The cellar door, converted servants quarters

Rosemary and her husband have been on the property for about 20 years. They have only a small farm which produces about 500 cases of wine a year comprising of chardy, riesling and pinot noir varieties.

The magnificent manse next to the cellardoor was built in the late 1800’s and added onto in the early 1900’s. No one currently lives in the manse; however, there is said to be a resident ghost that has been known to open doors.

The haunted manse

The haunted manse

The cellar door is a building along side the manse and it was an old servants work building, which was once separated into male and female work quarters; however, Rosemary has knocked out the dividing wall and created an amazing space for receiving visitors. You can now walk through the cellar door and onto a back deck to stand in awe of the sweep views of the surrounding hills speckled with vineyards, herds of cows, ancient trees and a winding river.

Views from the cellar door

Views from the cellar door

All of this before I’d even tried the wine and I wasn’t disappointed as the wines were fantastic!

My ratings for the winery:
Service: 5/5
Wine: 5/5
Estate and grounds: 5/5
Overall Experience: 5/5 – great winery, will definitely visit again!

General Information:
Charges for tastings: there was a sign saying there was a charge but when I asked about it Rosemary said not to worry
My favourite wines: Pinot Noir
Address: 655 Craigburn Rd, Hillwood Tasmania
Website: http://www.threewishesvineyard.com/
Other amenities onsite: Lovely back deck where you can enjoy a glass of wine and the views, toilets.

My Favourite Free Camp – Policemans Point

Instead of going to Binnalong Bay we decided to skip the crowded campgrounds and head up to the northern end of Bay of Fires which is a little more remote. We decided to stop in at Policeman’s Point and I’m so glad we did.

The most amazing views laid out in front of our 4x4

The most amazing views laid out in front of our 4×4

We set up our rig on a sand bank, literally 2 metres from the water, with the most stunning views we’ve ever had at a campground. We were a good distance from our nearest neighbors so it was like we had the whole place to ourselves, bliss!

Sunset, Policemans Point

Sunset, Policemans Point

As dusk fell and the tides went out a pelican flew right up to me and just paddled around. Pelicans are huge! I had no idea!

I was in the middle of doing my teeth and hubby yelled out that he saw a whale. He pointed out to a spot and then yelled “there, did you see it?” nope, I didn’t have my glasses on. I scrambled around in the glove box, grabbed them and put them on, just in time to see another one.

We believe they were orca whales as they had the large dorsal fins sticking up like a shark but weren’t sharks as a number of them passed in a pod bobbing up and down. There are a number of seals in the area, which they eat apparently.

 

So much wildlife at Policemans Point.

So much wildlife at Policemans Point.

Perfect location, pelicans and whales and it’s a free campground, you couldn’t ask for better!

Sunrise of Policemans Point. Stunning rays of sunlight filtering through the clouds

Sunrise of Policemans Point. Stunning rays of sunlight filtering through the clouds

Patterns in the sand, Policemans Point

Patterns in the sand, Policemans Point

My Two Metre Tall Farmhouse Ales & Ciders Experience

Two Metre Tall Bar

Two Metre Tall Bar

Before we came over to Tasmania I’d researched into the local produce, that being food and alcoholic products, that were a must see/try on our trip. Tasmania is becoming quite renowned for their microbreweries and whiskies with an already well-established wine industry. One of the breweries on my list was Two Metre Tall in Hayes; about 50 mins drive from Hobart.Two Metre Tall Farmhouse Ales & Ciders_A Girl A 4WD And A Trailer

The owners and brewers are Jane and Ashley Huntington. They have had a rather fascinating past with Ashley as the senior winemaker of the BRL Hardy owned Domaine de la Baume France where they spent 10 years before returning to Tasmania and purchasing a farm.

The Two Metre Tall Brewery is a working farm with grain, hops, fruit and cattle, you can actually purchase their beef from the bar onsite. Yep, they have turned a shed into a bar with a selection of ales on tap for you to pop to taste, drink and takeaway.

We came in on a Thursday arvo at about 2pm, in the rain, and there was no one else there. In fact Jane was just setting up the bar as Ashley had been fanatically brewing since 4am that morning.

Jane setting up the bar

Jane setting up the bar

We went through all the ciders and ales on offer and she passionately explained where all the different components that make ales and ciders came from with the majority grown onsite, locally sourced in the immediate area and Tasmania.

Jane told us about a local lady with a 100 yr old mulberry tree, she picked over 30kg of mulberries, which were added to a barrel of cider, just one barrel as that’s all there was enough for and It has sold out. A number of batches they make are on a small scale like this.

I decided to walk away with a bottle of their Original Soured Ale. This is a blend of 1-3 year old tank and barrel aged soured ales. Two Metre Tall uses a mixed fermentation technique, which apparently isn’t common, to make their Ales.

We had such a fantastic experience; Jane is so knowledgeable, attentive and personable.  If it hadn’t been raining heavily we would have loved to sit on the benches provided and spend some more time onsite, but it wasn’t to be this time. This just means that we will need to visit next time we visit Tasmania.

Original Soured Ale and Willie Smith Cider

Original Soured Ale and Willie Smith Cider

Hiking Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain, Dove Lake Circuit

Cradle Mountain, Dove Lake Circuit

We were disappointed that we weren’t able to four wheel drive in western Tas as we had planned; however, our next stop, Cradle Mountain, made up for it. We decided to splurge out and pay a steep $36 for an unpowered site at the Cradle Mountain Holiday Park, the only campgrounds nearby. You do get what you pay for, lovely wooden hot showers, huge wood fires in the stunning camp kitchens and even wood fire pizza ovens!

As we arrived late, we decided not to attempt any hiking, instead we sat ourselves down in front of the wood fires, made pizza and had an early night. The temperature was predicted to drop to 6 degrees, I don’t know how low it got but, nonetheless we didn’t take any chances, a hot shower, thermals and our extra sleeping bag. Thankfully we did as it rained and stormed all night.

We awoke the next morning and unfortunately the weather hadn’t abated; but, I wasn’t going to let a little thing like freezing cold rain get in the way of hiking. We donned our wet weather/ freezing cold weather gear after a nice warm breaky, decided to extend our stay by another night so we could have another hot shower and made our way to the information centre to catch the shuttle.

Cradle Mountain_A Girl A 4WD And A Trailer-2

TIP: thankfully someone advised us the vehicle pass we purchased for entry into the National Parks also acts as shuttle bus tickets so we didn’t need to pay more for the shuttle.

The Boat Shed

The Boat Shed

We hopped on the shuttle and were dropped off at the Dove Lake Circuit carpark. The Dove Lake Circuit is approx 6kms long and was to take approx 2-2.5 hours. The track itself is actually more of a boardwalk, all wooden planks and chicken wire (as non slip) so the circuit is in great condition. We were warned that as Cradle Mountain is in an alpine area we should expect 4 seasons in one hour and we weren’t disappointed. In the two hours we were there it rained, hailed, sunshined and was foggy, we got the full spectrum.

Waterfall, Dove Lake Circuit

Waterfall, Dove Lake Circuit

The walk itself was stunning though. Even hubby, who isn’t a great walker, really enjoyed himself! The lake is gorgeous and the views of Cradle Mountain were fantastic. The rain was also a bit of a blessing as they haven’t had rain here since late December and so the rain got the waterfalls flowing, great for pictures.

Once we completed the Dove Lake Circuit, I really wanted to check out Waldheim Chalet. Back in 1912 – 1920 an Austrian / Australian couple Gustav and Kate Weindorfer took a shine to the area, bought some land (stopping it from getting logged completely) and built the chalet. It is due to Gustav’s vision and passion that the area became a National Park.

Waldheim Chalet - Replica

Waldheim Chalet – Replica

After we checked out the replica chalet and Gustav’s grave, we headed back to the comfort of the wood fire in the kitchen for lunch and afternoon drinks. The end to a lovely day!