How I Get Ready for Travel – Tips for a Good Trip

How I travel - tips for a good trip

I travel quite a few times a year, both for work and play, and while there’s ALWAYS something I forget (coming to you live from an interstate hotel room without the right bra for my party dress tonight, watch out everyone at chest-height), I’ve mostly gotten it down to an automatic art.

There isn’t much to my routine, I’m a minimalist traveller after all, and I mostly do it in a rush and with only half my mind on the job, but it works for me. It ensures I get where I’m going with what I need, and that I’ll be entertained on the way.

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Sunset at the 12 Apostles

Sunset at the 12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia.

Last week we drove the Great Ocean Road, me just post-surgery falling asleep in the car every half hour, the little one managing to keep a lid on her carsickness for most of the trip, and our eyes constantly on the shoreline. Well, except that one kid who likes livestock.

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Christmas Staycation at the Brisbane Marriott

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I don’t know about you, but when I think vacation/holiday/relaxing time away, I usually think swimming, cold drinks, warm sunshine, reading, eating, and chilling out.

Which is actually exactly what happened when we spent the first part of our family Christmas holiday at the Brisbane Marriott. A city hotel is not a choice that first comes to mind when you’re on a beach vacation, I’ll admit – but when I received the invitation to have a little time away in the city with room service, poolside cocktails and housekeeping, well that certainly reminded me one should always keep an open mind!

Given our Christmas Day was going to start in Brisbane anyway, it worked out exceptionally well. Especially when we were told we’d be staying on the Executive Level, a la Obama, with afternoon tea every day and canapés and drinks every night. Tough days, dear reader. Tough days.

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We arrived the day before Christmas, and the kids wasted no time getting into the pool with their dad and I wasted no time settling in via the spa. One aromatherapy massage with relaxing oils later, I was in full holiday mode. I even made sure to do some last minute work and email in the car on the way to the hotel so I could fully indulge in fluffing my brain with rejuvenating holiday endorphins.

I somehow even jammed both my bracelets together as I rolled over on the massage table and my lovely masseuse made the joke I’d handcuffed myself in order to stay, as she tried to unscramble the silver with her oily fingers. I couldn’t stop laughing, which I guess adds to happy brain chemical production. Win-win.

Grandma played with the girls in our room later while the husband and I retreated to the Executive Lounge for the promised canapés and drinks. We made ourselves a little cheese platter and sat near the window, seeing Brisbane with new eyes after our year in Melbourne.

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We stuffed ourselves silly with all the vegetarian (some even vegan, actually) options during dinner at the Motion Bar and Grill – breads, dips, a veggie curry, and a pumpkin soup. The girls had kid-size pizzas and coloured in quietly until it was time to go for a drive and visit the Christmas lights.

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The next morning, Biggie and I left a sleeping dad and sister, and had a few minutes to ourselves to have a cup of tea and a read of the newspaper in the Executive Lounge before breakfast. As you do. Excellent for when you don’t want to put the kettle on in your room, waking all and sundry. We clearly made use of the facilities so I’d definitely spring for executive level again on our next stay, as I know we’d get our money’s worth.

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Soon after, we headed back to the lobby for breakfast at Motion, and introduced both girls to the best holiday treat of all – Coco Pops for breakfast. Bigs loved it, Smalls not so much. She ate three tubs of yogurt instead, and some Vegemite toast.

Not me – I could be found pouring truffle oil onto my morning mushrooms. Heaven help me, that was good!

More swimming was on the agenda before meeting friends and wandering around the Botanical Gardens. We chilled out in the afternoon – me with magazines provided for guests, and the girls with Christmas cartoons. Dad had met a friend in the city for a beer.

 

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So chilled.

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Christmas Eve dinner was a festive affair complete with Christmas crackers, and we were very well looked after by staff working hard through the holidays. Leon, Orsolya, and Lyla made sure we were comfortable, had plenty of food (confit garlic pizza bread, more pumpkin soup, a lentil pie with whipped mash, more kid pizza, and fries with aioli), and had excellent wine to hand. The atmosphere was good, the Christmas cracker jokes bad. It was awesome.

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Santa had no trouble finding us overnight, and the girls woke to some new dresses and playthings. Peter Rabbit was invited to a special tea party before we headed down to breakfast dangerously close to the end of the first sitting. We had to scarf down our goodies in 15 minutes, but our waitress Rihanna was so wonderful she organised coffee and a takeaway plate of pancakes and syrup for us to enjoy at leisure in our room. Our other waitress Shanie chatted with the girls about what presents Santa had brought, which was sweet. The girls even hugged Lyla as we arrived, they were so excited. Everyone was so great and made our Christmas morning very special.

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After a leisurely start with coffee and a bit of reading, it was time to check out and continue the festivities with our Brisbane family, which included me eating basically a whole tray of potato bake before heading to the Sunshine Coast where I made good friends with a bottle of rum and some Bon Jovi. A very successful start to a very relaxing holiday!

For more info, or if you’d like to book your own stay, pop over here. They’ll totally look after you.

*We were guests of the Brisbane Marriott. Everything was included, except dinner both nights. 

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How to Have a Merry Christmas away From Home

 

Christmas-on-the-roadSo this year we decided we would travel back to the land of the beachy tourist and do the beachy tourist Christmas we’d been having since the day we got together nine years ago.

Except that one time we had a white Christmas in Japan and spent the day skiing and drinking things with cats on them. I think we went to a British pub and ate pizza for dinner, and then spent the evening trash talking over a foosball table.

10401262_53976479774_3344799_nI was determined to be festive, so I found a little tree and fold-out christmas decorations that wouldn’t take up too much room in my suitcase (the room I needed to bring back copious amounts of Japanese stationery and bento boxes, my standard Japan purchases). It was fun, and memorable because it was so different.

I’ve spent Christmas in lots of places over my lifetime, so there’s never really been a location that’s tradition as an adult. I’m starting to incorporate things that will be the traditions of our young family, but we’re pretty flexible about where they happen.

This year we will hold the beachy tourist place for a few days over actual Christmas in favour of visiting our family in Brisbane. We’ll be in a hotel on Christmas morning, and I shan’t let that stop Captain Festive from taking over and spreading Christmas Cheer in every corner. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks squirrelling away some travel-safe stuff to create a special place wherever we should find ourselves. I had a few requirements though – I wanted them to be as much as possible not disposable (which meant they had to be small enough to not take up too much suitcase room, as we’re only taking one, and they had to be something I wanted to look at for years to come if they’re to be part of our permanent setup), something interactive for the kids to be able to help with, and some creature comforts for me, who feels it’s not Christmas without rum balls.

What we’re taking for festivity-related festivity:

  • felt garlands (we made our own from a kit found at Target)
  • felt stockings (as above – the kids decorated, and I sewed) that Santa will be popping a couple of goodies in on Christmas Eve
  • Christmas colouring-in pages (activity that also doubles as decorations when done!)
  • Felt cards that double as stand-alone decorations (the girls also helped with these, just in case you thought I was drunk when I glued them)
  • A Christmas tree that lays flat when you pack it, but slots together neatly for a 3-D version
  • A red tablecloth (not pictured) to put under the Christmas tree – most hotels have a coffee table, so this will help it become our shrine of excess (had to buy a plastic one which isn’t ideal but I think I did pretty well overall).
  • A festive candle
  • Santa hats – mandatory for turning any situation into a christmassy one. They don’t take up much room.
  • Familiar food – plenty of rum-less rum balls going on at VMHQ to take with us and gorge ourselves stupid on.
  • Washi Tape for last minute everything – hanging, decorating, making pictures with. It’s so indispensable and seemingly harmless.
  • A sense of humour and/or adventure because with those you can make any situation a festive one. We don’t wait for fun, we BRING IT!

Do you spend Christmas in a traditional place every year? Or does it not matter as long as you’re with people you love (or there’s rum balls?)

 

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Veggie Mama on the Road: The Spirit of Tasmania

This is a sponsored post for Spirit of Tasmania

Q: What do you get when you cross two small children, one mum, and a giant ship that goes between Melbourne and Devonport, Tasmania?

A: A bloody good time!

Amid warnings of seasick nights, and my own apprehension about taking little kids to a fancy restaurant solo (twice!), there was plenty of opportunity for things to go wrong on our recent holiday. It turns out that fortune does indeed favour the brave, and we had two crossings and a road trip around Tassie with a minimum of fuss – just a whole lot of fun.

If your kids (or you!) aren’t good on flights, or you’re looking to take a car/camping equipment/caravan/motorhome/bring back excessive amounts of amazing antiques, then you can’t go past Spirit of Tasmania. Drive on board, have a nice dinner, go to sleep, wake up in Tasmania. Easy! Read on to see how we did it…

Day One: The Ship

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The girls were super-excited to see the ship at the dock, even more excited to realise we were going on it! We drove up and waited our turn to park.

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Everything went really smoothly, and before we knew it, we were heading up to our rooms and ready to party. I had packed the car with everything we would need for our road trip (including an esky for Ashgrove Cheese treats!) and because you can’t go back to your car after you set sail, I packed an overnight bag to take up to our cabin. You can pack anything you want as long as it fits in your car (no luggage restrictions!), except fruit.

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I cannot begin to describe the sheer joy of these children when they realised there were bunks, and ladders on which to climb. I think this was seriously the highlight for a two- and three-year-old, and it took much convincing to get them out the door and into The Leatherwood Restaurant for our 7pm dinner.

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The restaurant was all set with a high chair for Smalls, and plenty of chilled white wine for me. I brought the girls small bags of Cobs popcorn and some crayons and paper to entertain them while I forged my way through a whole three courses (for research, you see). The girls were such fun company, and more importantly, provided me with extra bread rolls and thick salted butter when they couldn’t get through all of theirs. They barely made a peep, and the staff was always on hand to help or tell them how cute they were (and sometimes both).

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I had the veg options on the menu and wasn’t disappointed. Eggplant involtini was followed by a gorgeous sweet potato, feta, and caramelized onion tart with a side salad pretty much drowning in delicious toasted pine nuts. You know you’re onto a winner when the restaurant isn’t a scab with pine nut portions. Dessert (both trips!) was the toffee pudding with salted caramel sauce and double cream – I tried to get something different so I could report back to you, dear reader, but I just couldn’t. That sauce. Seriously. I know you’ll forgive me.

We rolled into bed (after much bunk-swapping, the kids wanted to try everything) and woke up in Devonport at 5.50am, ready for our adventure. I vaguely recall the ship rocking gently in the middle of the night, and me thinking how soothing it was. I could get used to maritime life.

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Day Two: Devonport to Launceston

We dressed and packed up super-quick so as to be ready to go when they called our car’s deck number. We were right up the front, so if we didn’t get to our car on time, there would be plenty of people stuck behind us. We jumped in our car, they opened the doors, and we were one of the first ones off. A quick trip through quarantine, and we were on our way.

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I packed that toy bin so tidy, and it was like this in four seconds.

The first stop was to Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm (which my GPS couldn’t find, but my sleuth mind did), where the girls split a raspberry pancake and I had a famous raspberry latte. I also ordered the eggs benedict, which I barely got to eat because the kids were so unsettled. I think this unusual morning was a shock to the system, so they were both sitting there crying at me. Really loudly. A lovely lady from the Raspberry Farm came over to see what was the matter, and took them both into the kitchen to get their very own mini pancake each, and to watch it being made. I gratefully chowed down the rest of my breakfast, and we went outside to play in their garden.

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We continued on to Ashgrove Farm, where the girls made firm friends with the many painted cow statues about the place. I made firm friends with the Rubicon Red, Bush Pepper, Smoked Cheddar, Wild Wasabi, and Cheddar (all Ashgrove cheese is made without animal rennet, BAM!). I stocked up for on-the-road/picnic snacks (plus milk and things for our hotel breakfasts) and bought some ice for the esky at a service station when I pumped my tyres and washed the windscreen – which is SUCH a road trip thing to do.

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The next stop on our list was House of Anvers, a beautiful Belgian chocolate place just down the road, where we found seriously passionate people on hand to tell us all about the chocolate, the beans, the house, the people, and THE CHOCOLATE. Todd took us on a tour and described to us how it all started, how they make the chocolate (beans, local Tasmanian dairy, some organic sugar if necessary). The kids played on the cool Hot Choc car outside and were ferried around and given chocolate samples like they were royalty. I was super-smitten with their Dark Fortunato No. 4 from Peru – a variety that Anthony Bourdain calls “the best chocolate in the world”, and you know he never lies. Anvers has the exclusive sale rights in Australia (it’s very difficult to get as the beans are super-rare and thought to have been extinct in 1916). I’m no chocolate fan, but I’ll get down and dirty with a dark variety, and this one blew me away.

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We carried on to Launceston, after Todd farewelled us with a takeaway hot chocolate. We stopped at the very pretty Cataract Gorge in Launceston, but not before we stopped by the not-so-pretty Officeworks to get a phone charger cord thanks to my deficient brain. You can fit anything you like in your car, and I forgot that one tiny thing.

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I don’t know what’s more eye-catching – the peacock, or that mullet.

We bought lunch at Fresh on Charles, a great vegetarian restaurant and were hoping to stick our head into Garden of Vegan, but the lineup was out the door.

Like, actually welcomed. Check out the tea/cookie combo waiting for me on arrival!

Like, actually welcomed. Check out the tea/cookie combo waiting for me on arrival!

We were welcomed at Peppers Seaport in Launceston at check-in time, and we were stoked to see such a huge apartment. The girls made themselves quite at home and I could see Biggie was waning a bit so we cancelled our tentative plans to go for a stroll and see the museum and the park. We poked our head out at about 4.30 to pick up some things at The Organic Grocery Store (another reason it’s awesome to take your own car!) for dinner and breakfast, but mostly just chilled.

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Made themselves right at home.

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The folk at Pepper’s were an absolute delight. They had left me a sweet welcome package of tea (they must know me well!) and a jar of biscuits to enjoy right alongside. The view was beautiful, and the bed large. I was super-impressed to even find eggcups in the kitchen – enough for both kids! It was very well-equipped, and we were cozily settled for the night. The girls tucked up together on the sofa bed and caught an episode of Dora, and I read a book. Such a beautiful place.

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Day Three: Launceston to Hobart via Coal Valley

The next morning we were on our way to Hobart, by way of visiting the beautiful Mel from Coal Valley View. She was so excited when she found out we were coming to Tassie she offered us morning tea or lunch (or hell, just move in) and some strawberry picking on their farm. I did NOT want to leave.

coal-valley-viewWe stopped once on the way for coffee, but otherwise continued on, the girls lulled to sleep by Emma Messenger’s very soothing rendition of The Tales of Peter Rabbit on audiobook. The children both know the first 15 minutes of that off by heart and now won’t sleep without it!

Image via Salamanca Wharf Hotel

Image via Salamanca Wharf Hotel

We checked into our digs at the Salamanca Wharf Hotel and I seriously regret not being able to spend more time here. Only two years old, it is utterly luxurious and fancy to the max. Mor bath products, futuristic lights, the best bed in town… I could have stayed for a week. The girls wrote a little note to Anthea, the owner, thanking her for her hospitality which was super-sweet.

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It was a bit drizzly, and all I wanted to do was curl up here with a good book.

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Image via Salamanca Wharf

Next time though – I might swing for the loft penthouse. Seriously! Look at that place!

We carried on to our afternoon plans with Mrs Smyth and her family, and Obe + Lauren and their little owlets, which included wine, cheese, one kid (mine) falling off the play equipment and another kid (also mine) crying about EVERYTHING.

Day Four: Hobart to Devonport

The next morning we were treated to a gorgeous breakfast at the café below the Salamanca Wharf Hotel. Fresh avocado, sea salt and lime on thick sourdough for me, boiled eggs and soldiers for the girls. We were even sent on our way with a fresh chocolate brownie each and a hearty thanks for stopping by.

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I wish I’d been able to spend more time in Hobart, and even more time at the hotel. It was right on the wharf so we were in the thick of everything. Would be awesome at Salamanca market time. We strolled around for a bit and had to be on our way to make it back to Devonport by 5pm to make check in for the Spirit of Tasmania return journey.

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We stopped for a picnic lunch along the way in the historic town of Ross. The girls played and ran around and I ate Tasmanian strawberries and mucho cheese. They fought over having an Ashgrove strawberry milk each, and then we took a quick drive around the place before heading home.

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The voyage back to Melbourne was just as rad as on the way over. We had to wait a little bit longer before boarding this time, but once we were on our level (make sure you remember that before you leave!), we were in a familiar cabin in no time. We strolled around outside and the girls splashed in some puddles while I took in the beautiful view.

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We also stopped by the kids’ playroom for a little while and I had a nosey around all the different areas of the ship to hang – lounges, cafes, the cafeteria, a cinema, an on-board shop – there’s even a pokie room! You wouldn’t be lost for things to fill your time on the way. I hear the day sailings have plenty of entertainment to keep you going until you arrive. I’d love to do a day sail, to look out over the beautiful ocean and see nothing but blue for miles around.

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Our dinner at Leatherwood was once again superb, and the kids once again spilled eight kilos of popcorn under the table. They hopped like bunnies all the way back to our cabin and I could tell they were having the time of their lives. PJs on, story read, lights out – ready to jump up the next morning and head on home. It was a tough job dragging them out of their bunks at 6am, they were so cozy and comfortable. They cried all the way down to our car and told me they wanted to stay. I’ll just have to take them again.

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How cute is Biggie’s little drawing of the ship and a fish? Happiest fish on Earth.

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We had an absolute ball, and I can’t wait to get back to Tassie. Such a beautiful place!

Have you been? do you live there? I missed so much – what should we do next?

(If you’d like to go too and have just as much as we did visit spiritoftasmania.com.au to book. Don’t forget that salted caramel sauce!)

 

 

 

Made a Veggie Mama recipe for yourself? I'd love to see it! tag #veggiemamafood on social media and let me know!

I Went to Balgownie Estate Vineyard and I Bought You a Present {ended}

Congratulations Jody! That beer drip tray had me giggling xBalgownie Estate

Beautiful, huh?

A few weeks ago, the ProBlogger team headed out to their annual retreat, to hang, eat dinner, relax, and get planning for some things next year. I was so excited when I found out it was going to be in the Yarra Valley, which I’ve already managed to go to three times since I moved here less than a year ago. I can’t help it, it’s so damn pretty – and there’s wine.

We were staying at Balgownie Estate Vineyard and Spa, and I really wish I’d stayed longer. This place was fah-bu-lous.

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Hot damn do I love a king bed in a hotel all to myself. I still end up sleeping in a tiny ball off to one side, though.

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We had a gorgeous dinner in their restaurant where I ate approximately 9kg of risotto, and backed it up the next morning with a following 14kg of most of the breakfast buffet + pancakes and syrup.

I then detoxed the gluttony in the spa, in a robe, getting my feet rubbed.

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So misty, so pretty.

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So the thing is, I was washing my hair before our morning meeting when I smelled the most glorious smell. I looked in my hand and realised the conditioner I was using was basically the best thing that had ever assaulted my nostrils. Appelle’s Apothecary & Lab Planifolia Conditioner with Australian Sandalwood and Kakadu Plum was now my new best friend. So I bought you some.

Made with Australian organic essential oils and natural ingredients, their products are never tested on animals. AWESOME.

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One reader will win a gift pack made up of the shampoo, conditioner, and bath goodies, plus some Balgownie fudge and a couple of surprise treats you can’t know yet. Please just leave a comment below telling me what’s the weirdest thing you’ve put in your hair? Are you one of those egg yolk people?

I’ll pick a winner next Friday, and as always – thanks for reading here at VM. I love youse all.

 

Made a Veggie Mama recipe for yourself? I'd love to see it! tag #veggiemamafood on social media and let me know!

Travelling Solo with Kids

So next week I will be taking the girls (aged two and three) by myself on a little road trip to Tasmania. Veggie Dad has some other travel to do, so it will just be the girls and me, boarding the Spirit of Tasmania for some work I’m doing with them, and getting to know the only state in Australia I’ve never visited. I am super-excited, because TRAVEL, and also slightly apprehensive because SOLO WITH KIDS.

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In my oddball way of looking at the world, I keep thinking “how hard can it be? I live every day as the primary caregiver of a toddler and a preschooler, how much different is it going to be there than it is here?”. But having travelled with them fairly often already, I also know that there is a slightly-elevated level of stress, no matter how well-behaved they are, or how relaxed I am.

My usual response is “yeah, I might have a slighly elevated level of stress, but it’s a slightly elevated level of stress in Tasmania. On holiday“. I’d prefer that than to never go at all! And with all the travel we’ve ever done, I have to say, we’ve never had an issue with the kids. Not on planes, not in cars, not on road trips, not in hotel rooms. We pack, we go, we hang out, we come home, we unpack (two months later) and nobody raises an eyebrow. It could be sheer luck, it could be that my kids are lazy, it could be that we’ve happened to go in stages where they weren’t too much hassle, or it could just be that we’re raising good travellers. I’ve no idea. Probably a bit of all of that. And wine. And iPads.

But that was definitely when there were two adults and either one or two kids (or one adult and one kid, which, now that I’m a parent of two feels like a holiday in itself), not outnumbered skinny little me, against two loud and energetic children who are a combination of slightly too fast for me to catch, and slightly too heavy to carry more than a metre.

We’ll be taking the ferry overnight there and back, and driving around during the day, stopping each night to stay somewhere. We’ve done a seven-day road trip before around the south island of New Zealand, and it was a breeze. I’m going to go with the headspace that this will be a breeze too! I’ve got a healthy playlist of audiobooks (Stephen Fry reading the short stories of Oscar Wilde is a favourite), music that doesn’t make me want to scream (i.e. Wiggles: NO, Playschool: YES), I’ve nailed the snack department, and I’ve loaded the iPad with plenty of Care Bears and Dora. There will be much looking out of windows, much getting out and running around, and many memories made.

Do you travel with kids? 

Made a Veggie Mama recipe for yourself? I'd love to see it! tag #veggiemamafood on social media and let me know!

Things to See + Do on the Sunshine Coast

I lived on the Sunshine Coast for 12 years, and I never even meant to move there, or stay there long. I was at uni on the Gold Coast in 2002 and my mum had just moved to the Sunshine Coast. I visited a few times, and ended up packing my things and hanging out for a bit in between uni semesters. Three years later I met a boy, and we got married, and I stayed.

I stayed, and became a connoisseur of all things in the Maroochydore area, haha. There isn’t a Thai I haven’t tried.

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Beach Bitch

Now, I am not a beach girl. Sunshine, yes, sand, no. Sometime over the years I sort of got used to it but it wouldn’t be my first choice. The kids love it though, and seeing as the husband has saltwater in his veins and feels like the world isn’t right unless he can go surfing, he was there every day. I used to walk along either this beach or the river at Cotton Tree almost every day, rolling a pram sometimes, just strolling others. It’s a beautiful view. Alexandra Headland has the nicest view (as above) and as a local, you will always run into someone you know along the walk.

Alex beach was also our closest, so we’d walk there in the afternoons and evenings.

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Endless Bummer

For beaches to play at, I love Mooloolaba beach, and Noosa beach. They’re both pretty protected, so the Noosa waves are very mellow, and the Mooloolaba ones are a bit bigger and a bit more fun. Not that I get in past my knees anyway. I know when I’m out of my element!

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Baby butt

The Mooloolaba beach park is good for kids, and always pretty busy. There’s plenty of barbecues nearby, and the Surf Club next door has great views and cold beer. #Priorities.

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Cotton Tree is on the Maroochy River, which meets the sea so you can either hang on the quiet riverbank, or walk across the sand to get some waves. I spent a lot more time here, and it’s still one of my favourite places to go. I went yesterday, and strolled along the water, chatting in the sunshine.

I lived along the river, on Duporth Avenue for five years. I got married on this river, got drunk in the river, and got fit along the river footpath. Cotton Tree park is super-nice for families, and I’ve accidentally been in plenty of people’s wedding videos as I strolled past. We even had our wedding photos done here, it really is awfully pretty.

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My boobs came to the wedding. And yes, this was my back yard.

photo 2This was the back yard of our other place on the river. I miss it sometimes!

The park is great for kids, too, and the footpath always has a thousand kids on scooters having the time of their lives. And the occasional Rollerblader unsure of what decade they’re in.

photo 5It’s a pretty rad spot for a picnic blanket and attempts at ball sports.

Eats

If there’s one thing I did on the Sunshine Coast, it’s eat. You better believe I’m eating twice as much now I’m in Melbourne, because suddenly my choices just expanded 15o million percent. I like to eat, dammit!

My favourite fancy restaurant is Little Humid, in Noosa. It used to just be called Humid, but it’s changed a bit and I haven’t been to the new place, but it was far and away my favourite (I had a couple more, but they closed down). They could make anything on the menu vegetarian, not just have one or two token dishes. They had a whole menu, and were super-happy to change whatever you wanted. The service is impeccable, and the food is even better.

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For chips on the beach, the Mooloolaba Spit has plenty of options, but I love the chips from Surfcoast Seafood, eaten straight out of their packet at Alexandra Headland beach. The beach kiosk at the Alex Surf Club has awesome toasted sandwiches and does pretty good surfside breakfasts (I used to indulge after Friday morning yoga) and coffee. They’ve newly opened the Bluff Bar, which is a great place for an afternoon drink in great weather with an even nicer view.

If you’re at Sunshine Plaza (you and three-quarters of the Coast), the vegetarian sushi at Cherry Blossom Tree is probably some of the best I’ve ever had. Do not miss the Teriyaki Tofu meal, I get it every single time. I think they coat the tofu in the sauce, then deep-fry it, then sauce it again. Sitting there chatting to one of my friends, I was trying to figure out HOW they made tofu taste so good. The sushi maker behind the counter heard our conversation, winked, and said “we give it a hug before we cook it”.

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I love the buffet at India Today, Hathi Indian has the most incredible interior and great food, and Rangla Punjab was our first choice for takeaway. Som Tam has the best Thai (I had my bachelorette party dinner there), and I like Thai Seasons and Siam Thai.

Augello’s has my vote for Italian, and nobody beats Montezuma’s for Mexican (although I’ve had better Mexican by a long shot. But it’s a Coast institution).

The butterscotch pancakes at Cafe By the Beach in Caloundra will blow your head off. Fully recommended.

Also, please go to Lefty’s Restaurant in Maroochydore. Make sure you chat to Lefty himself. Leave confused and amused.

Mooloolaba Pizzeria is awesome at 2am.

photo 1 (1)For tea and cakes, the Silva Spoon is the nicest place in Cotton Tree, Cotton Tree Seafoods has great chips, and Nude Deli Cafe has great lunches. For breakfast though, for old time’s sake, we like to go to Mojo’s Cafe. When I first started dating my husband, he used to take me to this cafe that he and his friends always went to called Loftees. It started when they were young, and they’d go there for $3.5o breakfasts after a surf. When we had a share house down the road, we’d all go on a Saturday or Sunday morning and I’d get the scrambled eggs that cured all ills. We’d have a huge table of 10 or so, because usually we had friends staying (mostly bands on tour camped out in our living room) and everyone always loved it. It’s legitimately expensive there now though, so don’t go expecting breakfast for under $5 like we used to get.

I went back yesterday (different guy makes the scrambled eggs now, so they’re not quite so magical, dammit) and all that was missing were our old housemates and me in an AFI hoodie.photo 2 (2)

The Hinterland also has great food, I loved Poet’s Cafe because it was so pretty, Monica’s for their haloumi and pumpkin salad, and the Montville Pub for the atmosphere, beer garden, and good food. Montville in general is pretty cool (I take you through a little trip here), It’s the hinterland town I like the best. I also don’t miss Maleny Cheese, if I can help it.

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Shop

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 12.24.20 pmThere’s a lot of boutique-y type things, being such a beachy tourist place. And I’m not into beachy tourist boutiques mostly because I would look like a legit idiot in that kind of getup. But I never fail to poke my head into Alterior Motif in Cotton Tree mostly because I think they have the best fashion store on the Coast, and partly because its owner, Penny Lane, (yes that is her real name her mother gave her) is an old friend. It was after a show I modelled her collection that I got stuck into the champagne and gave my now-husband my phone number. One thing led to another and we’ve been together nine years now. Penny lent me the dress I was wearing at the party where we met, and thought the story was so cute she let me keep the dress.

I’m not into shopping much, but I do truly love the Duporth Book Exchange. I’ve made plenty of purchases there over the years (and swapped a few too! Twilight went straight there, blecch) mostly because it reminds me of my Pop’s house (his looked exactly the same, like he’d constructed his entire house out of books), and it looks like what I imagine the inside of my brain to look like. Smells just like old books too, which I love.

photo 4I also like Erbachers for fruit and veg, Get Fresh Cotton Tree for deli goods, organic fruit and veg, and specialty goodies. Fisherman’s Road markets for plants, fruit and veg, trash and treasure (and cheese/olives when the good cheese guys and olive guys are there), the Big Pineapple Markets, and the Yandina Markets are great (I gave a peek here – and check out 40 weeks pregnant me the day before Smalls was born, awwww).

All roadside stalls are awesome. They’re mostly in the hinterland, but I’ve never been disappointed.

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Hangs

The Mooloolaba esplanade is good for roaming, to get a coffee or an icecream.
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The Kawana pub is nice for an afternoon drink and perhaps a pizza.photo 3 The hinterland in general is so nice to drive through, but don’t miss Mountain View Drive for … mountain views.photo 4 (1)

The Duporth Tavern is also a great place for a drink and maybe to watch some football. Say hi to my mate Bruiser if you see him there. I think he’s in the Pokie room.

Have you been to the Sunshine Coast? Have a favourite spot?

Made a Veggie Mama recipe for yourself? I'd love to see it! tag #veggiemamafood on social media and let me know!
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