Ok, so I know I’ve said before that I’m a pretty casual no-makeup kind of girl… but I still love being pampered. I think it’s super important to spend time on yourself and do what makes you feel beautiful.
I have previously had lash extensions, but whilst I loved the dramatic look of them on the day they were applied, they very quickly began to fall out, taking my natural lashes with them. I had been thinking about getting lash extensions again recently, but was nervous, and not sure I could deal with the patchiness and spidery look between appointments. Then I spotted my friend and fellow Sunshine Coast blogger Natalie Tink (AKA Miss Monogram) looking fresh as a daisy with gorgeous long natural-looking lashes, and she gushed about Janice of Blink! the Eyelash Expert*!
Fate was kind, and Janice actually reached out to me to ask if I’d like to try a set of her lashes, and I agreed… with a little trepidation. Janice works out of Soul Ocean Spa at Ramada Marcoola (the ol’ Surfair for longtime Coasties) and a skin clinic in Mooloolaba, as well as being mobile. That’s right, she can COME TO YOUR HOUSE!
Because I am a sucker for a day spa visit, I trotted along to Soul Ocean Spa which is only 5 minutes from my place, and immediately felt right at home – this place is a hidden treasure on the Sunshine Coast! With plenty of lush plants and gorgeous tropical decor, it’s a stunning spot to get pampered.
Janice asked me to be open and honest about what I wanted from my lashes, and since I am pretty minimal with makeup, I wanted them to look very natural and nothing too dramatic. I also wanted to make sure they wouldn’t look clumpy or spidery at all! After a quick chat, it was time for a nap. Seriously… I have fallen asleep within 5 minutes of every appointment, as it’s just so relaxing!
I feel so much more confident even when I’m not wearing makeup. I can just run out the door and run my errands without really having to worry about putting on makeup since the lashes make my eyes look brighter and fresher – and there’s no mascara residue casting a shadow under my eyes.
With all that said, I am SO happy with my experience with Janice from Blink! the Eyelash Expert, she really is an expert. Janice has really customised my lashes to my face and lifestyle, and certainly won’t apply lashes that are too long and heavy that would damage my natural ones. I will share a ‘how to look after your lashes’ post shortly, and can tell you that it’s super-simple really. Just keep ’em dry after application and a few brushes a day!
Don’t just take it from me, all of Blink! the Eyelash Extension’s reviews are outstanding and I can see why! If you’re looking for a freshen up for Summer – I love that I can swim makeup-free and not look like a panda – then contact Janice and let her know I sent you, for an exclusive discount on your first appointment!
You’d think that with my term-time job working in the sports department at a school, I might like to stay well away from young people on school holidays; but the families that live next door and across the road in our quiet little street have some pretty fantastic kids, and I’m always happy to spend time with them.
When I heard that my holidays coincided with the four kids’ break from school for just a week, I starting thinking about what I could do with them for a great day out together. I dropped a few hints in the lead up to the end of term, asking what they’d done around the Coast lately, and with BB’s encouragement, came up with a plan.
Being Sunny Coast locals, BB and I have long talked about going to Australia Zoo together. I haven’t been for about five years, and we are constantly hearing about new exhibits opening, with incredible animals. We also both believe pretty strongly in the late Steve Irwin’s message of conservation and education. Unfortunately, BB has been working away lately, and wouldn’t be able to get time off an important contract for a zoo-day, so he missed out this time – although I’m hoping I can take him there really soon, I know he’d love it!
The kids didn’t know what they were going to be doing with me that day, as I’d tricked them into believing I was just ‘babysitting’ and we might go to a park, run some errands and maybe clean my house a little – HA! I would never choose to clean my house when there are naps to be had, so I sure fooled them! After loading up in the car and heading to the highway, we passed a few theme parks signs and even an Australia Zoo sign – young Thomas noticed it and immediately said ‘Oh, Australia Zoo would be so cool, I’d love to see the crocs’!
I pulled up at a park at Landsborough (just up the road from the Zoo) and as everyone got out of the car for a run around in the playground, I said ‘Wait, I’ve got something for you!’ and handed them each a little bag containing an animal print balloon, a couple of Cadbury Furry Friends chocolates, and an Australia Zoo brochure. As soon as they all realised that we were about to spend our day at the Zoo, I had four kids talking at me, 100 miles an hour! ‘What? We’re going there now? Will we see crocodiles? Are we really going there now? Today? All of us? Is Tommy going to get to swim with the crocodiles?
(No, lovely neighbours… I would never let your kids swim with crocodiles. Well, not hungry ones over 20 foot long, anyway.)
Why should you visit Australia Zoo with children? Well, here are eight great reasons! (To be honest, I could probably come up with a hundred.)
To be honest, there is a good chance that Pasang, the young Red Panda might be asleep when you visit Australia Zoo – he’s a typical teenager who needs plenty of rest, and enjoys having his meals brought to him. Fortunately when we visited, he was clambering around his large enclosure, leaping and climbing along tree branches.
You can’t visit Australia Zoo without seeing koalas! Australia’s most famous marsupials are incredibly sleepy and whilst there are a few different large enclosures with koalas in specially-designed trees to showcase them, it’s more fun to stroll through the walk-through Koala area and look up in the trees to spot them. We found a couple of different volunteers showing koalas, and were able to get up close and personal, and pat and stroke them (usually on their bottom)!
As a regular visitor to Fraser Island, I’ve seen dingoes before – but of course I’ve never been this close! These beautiful animals are Australia’s wild dog, and they’ve been here for over 5000 years. Seeing Archie (with the white coat) and his sister Eve was wonderful, they are such curious and beautiful creatures and reading about the conservation work that Australia Zoo is doing for them was great! Dingoes are also walked through the park on a meet and greet stroll daily.
Watching the Asian small-clawed otters Mayhem and Rosie at feeding time is certainly a good laugh. As his name suggests, Mayhem really is a little troublemaker, trying to muscle in on Rosie’s breakfast!
These guys have short but very flexible, sensitive claws, useful for digging, climbing and also for grabbing and holding on to prey. Australia Zoo provides funds for research and conservation projects, monitoring and safeguarding native otter populations in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South China and Himalayan regions.
Since the last time I visited Australia Zoo, they’ve built a wonderful African exhibit, and these gracious giants are an incredibly beautiful addition. It’s easy to understand why giraffes top the list of so many people’s favorite animals. Their elegant stride, outrageous eyelashes, and calm expression give them an air of refinement.
Kangaroos are perhaps Australia’s best-known animal and are found in stories, movies, and even as sports team mascots the world over, but here on the Sunshine Coast we’re fortunate to have healthy populations all over the place. They’re not exactly the kind of animals you can just stroll up to though, so having the opportunity to feed them was lots of fun.
Did you know that a group of rhinos is sometimes called a ‘crash’? Best name ever.
Rhinos, with their hard hides and gentle eyes, are my favourite wild animal, and it was magical to watch these herbivores just cruising around without fear of poachers. I could’ve stood watching them in the expansive African plains enclosure.
Crocodiles, of course!
If there is one thing you’ll never forget when you visit Australia Zoo – it’s the daily Wildlife Warriors show in the purpose-built Crocoseum! Featuring wild birds including the largest raptor in the world, an Andean Condor, giant snakes and of course the stars, saltwater crocodiles! There’s much to learn about these fascinating reptiles, and the Zoo takes the view that the more you know, the more you’ll care about them.
Whilst strolling around the extensive grounds of the Zoo was fantastic, I definitely loved the show most. The exuberance of the Wildlife Warriors is infectious, and I found myself (and the kids) all shouting ‘Crikey!’ and hollering along, like a classic pantomime – it was so much fun! The colourful birds in this show never cease to amaze me, I would go back just to experience the beauty of being so close to these impressive birds, flying free around the Crocoseum.
There is quite a lot to do at Australia Zoo and if you can only spend one day there, I’d recommend checking the website to plan for an Animal Encounters and shows. It is also best to get there early if you can to avoid the midday crowds, and bring snacks and lunch so you can just stop wherever you like to have a picnic. I took along lunch for us – and yes, if you were checking out my Instagram stories, you would’ve seen that I made leopard-print pikelets for the occasion!
We all had a fantastic time together, and I’m so glad I have great kids in my life to experience a day at the zoo with me!
Most people know that I’m a passionate Sunshine Coaster, born and bred here and impatient with visitors to the area who may think of it as the second-rate sister to the older, gaudier Gold Coast. I rarely visit the GC as I know how lucky I am to have everything I need right here. But when my gorgeous mate Brooke of Blonde Ambition asked if I’d like to head south with her for a weekend, of course I decided to change that and take a fun trip to the Gold Coast!
Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny, and I loaded up my car, kissed my husband goodbye and beat the Bruce Highway traffic to go meet up with Brooke after she finished her Pilates session. A quick hug and back into our separate cars – hers was too full of bike to fit me in – to cruise south on the surprisingly traffic-jam-free M1.
Our first stop was Harbour Town, Australia’s largest outlet shopping centre. Brooke and I were super-excited to include Harbour Town in our GC itinerary as we’d heard about the Premium Mall which had opened in May 2016, with Kate Spade New York, Furla, Michael Kors, Coach, Oroton and other high-end retailers. Did we mention Kate Spade New York? (Hello, my name is Katy, and I’m a Kate Spade-oholic.)
The outlet stores offer anywhere from 30 to 70% off sales everyday, so we were even more delighted when the Harbour Town team generously offered us a gift card each to help us splurge a little. After cutting a few laps of the Centre to make sure we weren’t missing any must-haves, we shopped our socks off and I’m now the delighted owner of this Kate Spade tote, along with one of her gorgeous idiom bangles too! My tip to the wise… don’t accompany Brooke to a Kate Spade store without a good book and a pair of headphones, her indecision is becoming legendary.
Happily, this was the Kate Spade New York tote* that I was eyeing off when we traveled through Singapore Airport last year, and now she’s mine!
Harbour Town also has a dedicated Tourism Lounge which offers complimentary services including tea and coffee (free coffee AND outlet shopping? sweeeeet) and a free tourist-only shuttle bus every Tuesday to Saturday. The only problem I can imagine is that you might buy too much to cart back to your hotel on the bus!
We packed our new goodies in our cars and drove to our home for the evening, QT Gold Coast. This was my first time staying at a QT Hotel after lusting over the Port Douglas hotel on my last few trips north, and I was suitably impressed with the much-anticipated ‘fun factor’.
QT Gold Coast is a retro-lovers dream with midcentury decor and colourful surf-inspired artworks, and quirks like a giant Connect 4 set by the astroturfed pool lawn. Level 1 houses the restaurant and QT Spa, while the ground level is home to spacious reception, cocktail bar and cafe areas, and a split-level loungeroom reminiscent of the Brady Bunch which is used to host their high teas (aptly named Qteas).
We dumped our shopping and overnight bags on our beds, and immediately went down to the pool deck to try a few cocktails. Brooke had previously stayed at QT Gold Coast and had a favourite tipple so didn’t require a menu, but I was torn between a couple, so of course tried them both!
I’m sure you’ll agree when I say it ain’t a tropical holiday without a tiki drink, and this Mexican Tiki Punch with lashings of Guava, Pineapple and Coconut was a tropical treat!
After a few drinks, it was back upstairs to change into our brightest frocks and head a few blocks south to Cavill Avenue, where we’d been invited to check out a Summer fashion parade at Soul Boardwalk. The mall was jumping, and the show’s DJ had us toe tapping, so after the fashion show, we nipped along the Esplanade to Sandbar, a recent addition to Surfers Paradise’s share-plate restaurant scene. Because we’re both complete party animals ready to whoop it up on the GC, our next move was back to the hotel to crank the air-conditioning, jump into our beds at 7.30pm and watch Nicolas Cage in National Treasure. Like I said, we’re wild like that.
The next morning, we spent some quality time aquainting ourselves with the impressive breakfast buffet (Brooke enjoyed a softserve icecream with breakfast… really) before we packed up, headed downstairs and gave the Connect 4 set a quick workout and then checked out of QT.
Brooke had mentioned taking her new bike down the Gold Coast for our weekend away and enjoying a pleasant cycle along the beachfront, but I’m firmly of the opinion that bikes are for people who enjoy wearing lycra and have a much less sensitive butt than I. I mean, there’s not much joy in panting and gasping, is there?
I thought I’d be the clever one and contacted the crew at Crooze Electric Bicycles at Broadbeach to see if they would be able to help with my ‘I want to cycle along the beach but not get hot and sweaty’ conundrum, and they generously came to the party, loaning me one of their super-cool Noosa electric bikes. (FYI they both hire and sell their cruisers, so you can definitely try before you buy!) Now when I say electric bike, I mean a bicycle that can be pedaled, with options to add a power boost from a discreet electric motor, not a scooter. Obviously I wanted to be able to pedal A LITTLE, in case we rode past cool cycling people who would mock me whizzing by with no effort at all!
Let’s clear a few things up – I am a very reluctant cycler, I don’t feel comfortable riding my old clunker ladies’ mountain bike around the footpaths of my quiet suburb, let alone hitting the streets. But something about being shown the gadgets and gizmos on the Noosa cruiser got me excited, I donned a bright pink camo helmet and off I zipped. Electric bikes are now so technologically advanced and quiet that not even Brooke knew when I was pedalling and when I was nudging the throttle. Sneaky – I like it.
The Noosa cruiser is a super-cute step-through style, which makes it easy to ride while wearing a frock. Seriously!
See – frocking awesome!
(Sidenote: I got home from my weekend away, waxed lyrical to my husband about how much I enjoyed riding the Noosa cruiser and he’s decided that we’re driving down to the Gold Coast this week to trial them together – a Noosa cruiser for me, and for him, the manlier-looking Cooly electric bike; and then maybe bring a couple home! He loves to cycle, but I’m always letting him down and slowing him down, so this could be the coolest-looking compromise ever!)
Seriously, this was the coolest and cruisiest ride ever. Thanks Crooze team!
We tootled to Mermaid Beach and then along Millionaires Row and Hedges Avenue, real estate shopping and dreaming of the luxurious mansions we could own if we just, you know, knuckled down and saved a bit more, then stopped at BSKT Cafe at Nobby’s to drink ALL THE COLD THINGS before turning around to cycle the 4.2km back to Crooze at Broadbeach. That’s right, we cycled 8.4km, and I wasn’t even puffed.
The cutest little exhausted Brooke that you ever did see!
It’d been a big morning so it was time for a light lunch and more cold drinks at Beaches Off Tedder before a big hug with Brooke and back into our cars to hit the M1 and drive home. I managed to miss a bunch of storms and any dramatic Sunday afternoon traffic, which was quite the win too!
It was a smashing way to spend a weekend with one of my best mates, and I’m definitely looking forward to going down to the Goldie again this week to enjoy a ride along the beach with my husband!
I don’t know if I’m ready to kick my bias against the Gold Coast to the kerb just yet, but I’ve certainly seem an unexpected and more family-friendly side of the region now! Anyone for a game of giant Connect 4 and Tiki cocktails?
*Kindly gifted, and only shared here because I love it!
Although I’m in my (ahem) mid-thirties, I’ve not been driving that long. I only got my license when I was 28, prior to that I was the quintessential public transport and taxi queen. I just wish Uber existed back then!
My first car was a small second-hand hatchback and while I loved her, I always knew I needed to get a proper grown-up car. My husband encouraged me to ‘size up’ and we shopped around for a car which looked cute (my priority) and was safe, fuel-efficient and drove well (his priorities)! We ended up at Sunco Hyundai at Maroochydore and chose a Hyundai ix35, at the time one of the most popular SUVs in its class, and it has served me incredibly well for three years now.
As an already happy Hyundai customer, I was thrilled when the sales team from Sunco Hyundai gave me the chance to test drive the new Tucson recently – how lucky am I? I promise I told them that I’m not a revhead car buff, and any review I shared wouldn’t be as comprehensive or informative as a CarsGuide article!
I would be lying if how cute a car is didn’t make up 90% of my opinion of it!
Whilst I love my ix35, there’s certainly something awesome about stepping into the newer version – this year’s Hyundai Tucson is like my current car, but luxe. From the moment I collected the Tucson and got the full tour of how all the great gadgets worked, driving this vehicle felt like an experience, instead a ‘daily drive’.
On top of the standard features which you can read about here, the Elite Tucson model comes with extras that I just love, such as a panoramic sunroof, full leather interior, large multi-function screen and reversing camera.
Reversing cameras… how did we ever live without them? This colour screen is a fantastic size.
Yeah, this stuff doesn’t matter so much to me, but my husband loves that he can track fuel economy really easily using the Mode button on the steering wheel. Me, I just like knowing how many kms until my petrol tank is empty. #livingontheedge
Hello soft sumptuous leather.
All the boot room I could possibly need for a weekend full of shopping!
The 60/40 split-fold back seats can give even more room than the spacious boot provides, and I know from personal experience with my ix35, the removable roller blind over the cargo bay keeps everything right where you put it, and shields shopping and luggage from prying eyes.
Apparently the Tucson is a five-star ANCAP recipient – that means safety first, folks. Again, that’s husbo was interested in, and I’m sure if you were a mum carting precious little ones around, that would be important to you too.
For more on the new Hyundai Tucson, visit Sunco Hyundai’s website. Thanks to Ky, Collin, Leah and the Sunco team for the opportunity to take it for a spin!
*Sunco Hyundai kindly loaned me this vehicle. Like everything you’ll find on Katy Potaty, thoughts and opinions are all my own. For more info, check out my disclosure policy. Please check the suppliers’ website for car specs.
Today is the first is a little series of posts I’m sharing about Spring hair and beauty. Let’s all agree that I’m no beauty blogger – I don’t know how to contour, Kylie Jenner’s lip kits are well beyond my lippie-application skills, and I may have the world’s most boring hair. But I’m interested in it all. I have friends with fabulously bouffy hair, and I really appreciate a good brow. So here’s hoping I learn a little sumthin’ sumthin’ when I write these posts!
My locks are limp. Always have been, and probably always will be. I send texts on the regular to my bouncy-haired best mates, saying ‘Nah, not coming tonight, I’ve hurt my neck blowdrying my hair upside down’, and ‘My hair doesn’t want to come out and play with your hair tonight, it’s feeling insecure’.
If you’re too lazy to lift a brush, or like me, just don’t have the skills to create Victoria’s Secret-worthy bounce in your limp locks, the solution is a salon blowdry. Once the sole domain of the rich and famous with private stylists on call 24/7, the professional blowdry is fast becoming the quickest way to freshen up limp locks – especially if you’ve got a BIG weekend coming up. Best part is, the professionals can really make a blow dry last, sometimes up to four or five days with the right products!
Whether you’re after a glam retro beehive, Gigi-style blowout (always my goal!) or a casually undone lob á la Jennifer Lawrence, check out my favourite lock-lifting blowdries on the Sunshine Coast, and swish your way through the day in style.
Heads in the Cloud, Buderim This smart salon doesn’t just boast an adorable name; it’s practically a description of how high they can get your hair with the magic of their driers! With brushskills that are recognised around the world, head stylist Sam Rizzo can really make you feel like a Texan beauty queen, and he’s recently been crowned 2016 Creative Artistic Ambassador for Keune Haircosmetics. The locally owned salon is also often searching for hair models for training, competitions and photo shoots – who knows, you might end up on the cover of one of the world’s big hair glossies! Evalyn Parsons, Moffat Beach For the coastal Southerners who like to channel a big-haired Southern Belle, the team at Evalyn Parsons know how to transform – and you won’t be left waitin’ around either, darlin’! Their Glam & Go services will pack a punch, transforming you from drab to fab in under 20 mins for just $30, or if you need a little more work, upsize to the 30-40 min Style package for only $50.
House of George, Maroochydore The goal: thicker, fuller hair with volume that lasts. The action: book a blowdry at House of George. New salon manager Samantha joins the George team with a wealth of knowledge from her UK-trained background, and official ghd educator. Anyone who can wield a straightening tongs with that much experience definitely knows how to add shine, body and ontrend style to every ‘do! PS it’s part of the cutest old Queenslander, and their barista serves fab coffee too, so every moment at House of George is totally Instagram-worthy!
Never fear, hinterland readers – you have follicle friends in your part of the world too! Rhonda and the team at Uptown Hair will give you a big city blowdry, with classic regional Queensland service with a smile. Uptown has won Sunshine Coast Business Awards Excellence in Business awards for so long now, that they were inducted to the Hall of Fame – really speaks of a loyal customer base, doesn’t it! What really sets Uptown apart is their attention to detail: complimentary beverages served with tasty cookies, stylists who don’t treat you like the next part on the assembly line, and plenty of advice on styling your hair at home. Pricing is super reasonable too, so there’s no excuse not to pop in and freshen up before you hit the rapidly growing nightlife in the sugar town.
Universal Hair, Maroochydore Another Maroochydore salon makes the cut, with Universal Hair consistently nabbing places on ‘best salon’ lists. With experts in upstyles, braiding and curling, you’ll be ready for your big night out in now time. Or if it’s a seamlessly smooth blowdry you’re after, the soft results from their iron-free blast dries will have you craving such straight hair, you’ll be back to book in for their Perfection or Keratin Fusion permanent straightening treatments!
Got a great blowdry salon I missed? Let me know in the comments?
You may remember that I recently spent a weekend gorging myself on the best produce, meals and drinks that Brisbane and the Lockyer Valley have to offer, all in the name of research for the Regional Flavours event, held at Southbank Parklands in Brisbane.
I am pleased to say that the festival is this weekend, and I will be in Brisbane from this Friday evening until Sunday – ostensibly to attend an industry dinner with my husband and to celebrate my birthday week – but we all know it’s to eat my way through Regional Flavours, right?
Here’s a little list of deliciousness that I’m planning on eating and drinking at Regional Flavours 2016:
QLD pork belly and black garlic dumplings with XO sauce from Stokehouse at River Quay
Crumbed Mozzarella with local thyme-infused honey from Popolo at River Quay
Chocolate macarons from Aquitaine Brasserie at River Quay
The very freshest fruit, vegetables and condiments from the Producer Showcase – berry me up!
And of course, a flight (or three) of excellent James Squire beers at The Hunting Club
If that little taster (see what I did there?!) has whet your whistle for a weekend of amazing food and drink – as well as celebrity chef features, edible garden treats food trucks galore and just a really supportive environment for people who like to eat their way through life – pop over to the Regional Flavours website (here) to check out the final program and plan your visit and if you see me hanging suspiciously around near the Food Trucks, come say hello. My mate Brooke of Blonde Ambition will also be cruising through Regional Flavours, so there’s a red hot chance you’ll find us both entertaining a crowd with some top-notch karaoke at The Hunting Club at some point!
Regional Flavours is on this Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 July 2016 from 10am to 5pm at Southbank Parklands, Brisbane. The Hunting Club will open 4pm to 7pm on Friday, 15 July and 10am to 7pm on 16 and 17 July. Parking in the area will be limited so your best bet is to catch a train, bus or CityCat.
A recent birthday celebration for my aunt had the extended family coming from across the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane to one of my favourite Coast towns, Eumundi for a long leisurely lunch together. Some of these uncles and aunts hadn’t seen me since I was a teen, so I had a lot of fun surprising them!
Bohemian Bungalow has become quite the institution already, with a famous Sunday session featuring an ever-changing roster of bands, duos and single artists from 2pm to wind down your weekend; and a gorgeously eclectic decor which will have you going for a stroll around the restaurant to check out their treasures.
I wore a favourite Passion Q split-sleeve dress from Whitehaven Emporium – these guys do the best boho-style prints ever – with Spendless Shoes Wisdom boots, an old French Connection belt and tassel necklace from Whitehaven Emporium.
Such a cute and colourful place to catch up with friends or family
How adorable is my dad here, catching up with his nieces. He’s the cutest guy around. #biased
Even high above the kitchen, there are little vignettes to find – this race of handpainted horses was so quirky.
I know a certain BFF of mine who would’ve liked me to snaffle some of those antique biscuit and cake tins.
What’s a birthday creme brulee without a scoop of vanilla bean icecream and a candle?
We had such a lovely lunch here, the birthday girl has even popped back a few more times since then to enjoy the atmosphere.
Do you like your cafes quirky and unique? Any other eclectic places in South East Queensland worth a try?
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I recently experienced a gourmet’s ultimate weekend experience, heading to Brisbane for a 24 hour whirlwind trip of the city’s best food and then out west for another day and night to the Lockyer Valley to see where most of that food is produced.
As well as enjoying great food with exceptional company, I also faced that classic food blogger problem… my pants were too tight for me to try everything! So heed my warning if you’re planning to head to the Regional Flavours event on 16th and 17th July, elastic-waist trousers and loose dresses will be what those in the know are wearing!
My taste buds are already tingling as I start thinking about the delish fare which will be served up at Brisbane’s Southbank Parklands. The eighth annual festival aims to offer visitors a taste of the varied and quality produce Queensland has to offer, and educate consumers and home cooks on the benefits of eating food grown right here in the Sunshine State.
Celebrating our fertile soil and homegrown harvests isn’t exactly new,
this vintage tourism poster just screams ‘Eat our fruit’!
This year’s event will dish up a culinary delight, with the Parklands filled with cooking demonstrations by notable chefs, free tastings and stalls run by local food producers, restaurateurs and traders, food trucks, kid’s activities and live musical entertainment. Oh, and the whole weekend’s festivities are free too!
I’ll definitely be heading down for the weekend, and I’ve listed my favourite producers, providores and picks that I recommend you keep an eye out for!
A carnivore’s paradise, this family-owned butcher and delicatessen chain should be proud of its Plainland and new West End locations that follow the same formula for produce-to-plate philosophy – it’s worked for them for over 60 years! When I visited, my blogging companions and I were lucky enough to be given a tour of the premises by Alistair Macleod, well-known chef and tv host, and a proud ambassador for the Lockyer Valley. Offering a huge range that includes Yagaburne beef, Lockyer Valley veges and Granite Belt wines, Schulte’s is serious about quality and community.
The trend towards locally sourced products doesn’t end with food, with many folks looking for regional herb and spice growers as well. I was fortunate enough to spend time at Holmwood Produce’s beautiful lavender and native food farm during my tour through the Lockyer Valley, and as well as having the friendliest donkey greeters, the fresh lavender and lemon myrtle used in the afternoon tea treats were so scrumptious that I fell in love with the property.
Bauer’s Organic Farm Every now and then, you meet someone SO passionate about something that you can’t help but join them as an advocate. That someone was Rob Bauer, long-time Lockyer Valley farmer and convert to organic farming over 30 years ago, well before the current organic fad really took hold! Seated at a long table under the eucalypts and hearing Rob share stories about local farmers getting sick and dying from exposure to common chemicals used in farming, the entire table of guests began to think differently about the way we shop for fresh fruit and vegetables.
Bauer’s is a diverse property, supplying carrots, potatoes, corn, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin and beans, as well as numerous other smaller crops – all on one of Australia’s first certified organic farms.
The Charming Squire Southbank’s own microbrewery is probably the perfect weekend venue for discerning Brisbanites, with something for everyone. The talents of their brewers, who are constantly creating new beers, and the constant communication between chef and brewer showcases beer and food pairing in a new (to me) and exciting way! The tasting plates that were offered were beyond amazing, featuring such tasty gems as Woodfired Corn Cobs with parmesan spiced crust, puffed quinoa and chipotle butter; and my favourite, the Slow cooked beef croquettes with Turkish almond & tahini dip. If you’re looking for BB and I at Regional Flavours, you’ll probably find us propping up the bar at the atmospheric and moody pop-up bistro and bar The Hunting Club, where we’ll be working my way through the Charming Squire drinks list! Hosted by The Charming Squire and Target 100, this venue will also host the likes of Paul West, Alistair Macleod and Hayden Quinn.
Having experienced a ‘cupping’ session at Australia’s largest independently owned and operated coffee roaster, Merlo Coffee on my recent food adventure of Brisbane, I now feel that I have earned the right to call myself a real coffee connoisseur. Tony and Frith led us through
a short history of coffee, sampling their current blends, using our senses to differentiate between blends and getting expert advice on making the best coffee at home, at Merlo’s Fortitude Valley Torrefazione. Possibly the best way to start my day, really. Interested in kicking off your own food adventure of Brisbane with a decent cuppa? Merlo hold public coffee appreciation sessions at various Torrefaziones in Brisbane.
Make sure you stroll all the way along the Parklands (you’ll probably need to, to digest all that food) to River Quay. This strip of fine dining establishments is home to Stokehouse Q, Aquitaine Brasserie, The Jetty, Cove Bar + Dining and my favourite, Popolo Italian Kitchen and Bar. I’ve dined at Popolo before and it’s right up there in my list of favourite Brisbane restaurants.
The menu walks that perfectly fine line between too simple and overly extensive, the food is fresh with a lot of emphasis on showcasing local produce, and the whole place has that classic Italian ambience. It’s casual without lacking in service or quality of food, but at the same time classy without being pretentious and stuffy. I’m going to get specific now, and tell you exactly what I’ll eat at Regional Flavours from Popolo, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll be stuffing these morsels in your mouth too. The crumbed Mozzarella with thyme-infused local honey is going to be the bee’s knees. (See what I did there?)
Could eat these all day, every day. The Bee One Third locally produced honey is also going to be available at Regional Flavours… my top tip is to get there early and try and snag your suburb, they sell out quickly!
Regional Flavours 2016 is a fantastic opportunity for local food producers, restaurateurs and traders to showcase their mouth-watering wares, and to show everyone that QLD is no longer the backwards banana-bending state of old. The event which is staged over two days at my favourite polace in Brisbane – Southbank Parklands – will definitely exceed expectations and appetites. I urge you all to put the dates in your diary and come along, as there will be something for everyone – whatever your personal tastes.
All the Regional Flavours stage presenters, stallholders, food trucks and vendors have been hand-selected and are definitely hungry-tummy-approved. Adriano Zumbo, Maggie Beer, Hayden Quinn, the Masterchef lads Gary, George and Matt, Miguel Maestre, Alistair Macleod, and River Cottage’s Paul West are just a few big names that will be hitting the stages, but check out the full program on the Regional Flavours website for more details. You’re going to want to start planning your eating agenda now.
I’m planning on being in Brisbane for the entire weekend, staying at Brisbane Marriott, so come hang with me. We can eat until our belts explode.
For stays between 14-18 July 2016, Brisbane Marriott Hotel is offering a special discounted rate of $199 a night if you book before July 1, 2016. Will I see you at Regional Flavours 2016?
*I was a guest of Brisbane Marketing, the listed venues, and Brisbane Marriott for my recent foodie adventure through Southbank, Brisbane and the Lockyer Valley – they do great work showcasing this corner of the world, and I am incredibly happy to support them. All images my own, or supplied by Brisbane Marketing
If you’ve only just stopped by, you might like to click back to this post, it’s Part One of What I Wore: Port Douglas holiday… this one is a little more pictorial, because I’ve been busy and working hard, and have no words left.
Now, it wouldn’t be a tropical holiday for me without some poolside relaxing. Yes, we have a pool at our home, but it’s nowhere near as relaxing lounging in the water when you have a houseful of chores just metres away. I love laying by a pool that is a LONG way from my dirty laundry and a dishwasher that need stacking, so holiday pool time is my favourite.
I love swimsuits. For a curvy girl with bumps and dimples in all the wrong places, I give little thought to how people see me when I’m on the beach or lounging by a pool. I hope that never changes. (That said, outside of a watery environment, I’m crazy-insecure about my body. Go figure.) This gorgeous new Capriosca Cancun Twist Bandeau One Piece* with the moroccan tile-inspired print is probably my favourite one-piece of ALL. TIME. SERIOUSLY. The team at Sequins and Sand are so helpful too, you can email or call Anita and the team and get so much great advice on sizing and fit, which is so useful when buying swimwear online.
I adore the glam print, the ruching, the DD shelf bra that actually does what it’s supposed to, and most of all, the removable and adjustable straps. I mean, you guys surely know how I feel about tan lines. I was so hesitant to take the straps off, because there’s nothing cute about hauling a bandeau top up over and over again by the pool, but the shaping of the cups means that I didn’t even need them! And that means I can wear this swimsuit under so many of my strappy, strapless and off-the-shoulder beach and pool dresses. Hip hurrah!
On our actual wedding anniversary, we had a super-relaxing day of strolling around Port Douglas. I wore one of my favourite off-the-shoulder tops (of course I did, I’m original like that) with super-tropical-cute palm-print shorts from Witchery. These shorts are brilliant for Summer holidays, because there’s no ironing required, and they wash and dry so quickly that you can wear them more than once… which I obvs did.
When on holidays, wear no makeup and let your hair air-dry. Please, for the love of relaxation, do it.
Speaking of relaxation… my husband enjoyed his first pedicure ever! I’d been telling him for ages just how relaxing they were, and my dad (who doesn’t exactly has attractive manfeet) has been waxing lyrical for years to BB about the pleasures of someone else attending to your feet, and I finally managed to persuade him to give it a try. BB has quite nice feet, I think, so I knew he’d have nothing to be self-conscious of.
And now he wants to get one at least monthly. Can we just say ‘I told you so’ already?
By the second last day of our trip, I was all but forgetting to take photos of our holiday, I was just in full-blown vacation mode. It wasn’t until I saw other people snapping away on the Cairns-Kuranda SkyRail that I remembered!
Kuranda Scenic Railway Station is flipping adorable. It’s just like the railway stations you imagine from the books The Railway Children, but with excellent coffee available. Nawwww.
This lame tourist photo at the railway station features pretty much the exact same off-the-shoulder top and shorts situation from a previous day, albeit with the coral version of the Katies top. What can I say? When I find a good thing, I stick to it.
Taking the obligatory arm-out-the-window photo as we rounded the bends of the Barron Valley meant that I had quite the conniption as BB risked the life of my iPhone.
Food, food, food. One of the highlights of any trip to Port Douglas for us is dinner at Bucci Italian. The blue cheese and cauliflower arancini were a hit, and the roast pumpkin gnocchi (below) served with little dollops of the most delicious goat’s cheese… I can’t even.
After all that cheese, I was feeling VERY cheesy and loved up. (You knew there was a bad cheese pun coming, admit it.)
Apparently I’m going through an off-the-shoulder phase. Who knew?
What it’s actually all about for me. You can take away the sunbathing and afternoon cocktails, the excuses to wear tropical-print clothes, the food (although please don’t take away the food), and my anniversary trip to Port Douglas is really just all about spending time with this silver fox.
Happy Anniversary, BB. You’re the cheese to my pasta.
* Thank you so much to the team at Sequins and Sand, for gifting me this gorgeous swimsuit, and helping me find my perfect style and fit. Big big love.
We have returned last week from our annual anniversary holiday to Port Douglas, and I’m almost finished the holiday laundry pile! (It’s always the very first thing I get started on the minute we get home… because if I don’t, it can take months!).
I say annual, although we hadn’t been to Port Douglas for three years prior to this trip. After BB proposed on Four Mile Beach in 2011, and we got married in 2012 in the beautiful beachside Rex Smeal Park and held our wedding reception in Harrisons Restaurant (the only hatted restaurant in the region!), we decided that we’d love to come back for every anniversary. Late April is a gorgeous time to visit Far North QLD, and it’s never Easter or school holidays, so we’re able to snag some pretty good flight and accommodation deals. After enjoying a relaxing PD holiday for our first anniversary in 2013, we were persuaded to join friends on a cruise trip for our second, and then our third anniversary fell right when BB was unable to take a break due to a really good work opportunity. Whilst I certainly wasn’t upset or mad, we were both disappointed, and when we booked the trip for this year, we were both super-excited to head north and celebrate anniversary number four… until the realisation that we couldn’t take our puppy Stevie sunk in.
We have had short breaks away from Stevie since she joined our family in January last year, and she accompanied us on our Outback QLD trip in Winter; but neither of us knew just how hard it would to be say goodbye to her for a whole week. We were confident she’d have a wonderful time visiting her grandma and grandad (my parents), but GAWD we both had to reel in the emotions a few times when we started missing her.
I’ll try to blog about our holiday chronologically, but let’s be honest, I always forget to take photos when I’m on vacation, and sometimes we were just having way too good a time for me to start snapping away! Maybe I’ll just share some highlights for you all…
Our first full day on holiday in Port Douglas, and we started our morning with a long (almost 8km!) walk before freshening up and getting changed to hit Macrossan Street for a stroll and lunch. I wore Suzanne Grae off-shoulder top (this Florence Broadhurst-inspired print is so fun), Jag chambray shorts, Harris Scarfe sandals and my favourite Louenhide crossbody bag (now on SALE for $29!). Oh, and PINEAPPLE earrings because QUEENSLAND
Shopping in Tommy Bahama is pretty much the only time I join my husband shopping – he always knows what he’s after, and rarely needs my help – but in Tommy Bahama, I love to bring him the brightest Hawaiian print shirts and crazy Bermuda shorts. The change rooms are always freaking awesome too… like a little tropical corner of George Clooney’s house in The Descendants.
On day 1, we hit Port Douglas’ newest bar, Barbados Port Douglas, because I’d been salivating for weeks in the lead-up to our holiday over their signature cocktail menu. The Weniki Tiki cocktail I chose didn’t disappoint – house-infused Belvedere Vodka, Passoa, coconut cream, pineapple juice and shredded coconut made for the perfect tropical welcome drink!
Overlooking the beautiful waters of Port Douglas, Barbados Port Douglas will fast become the go-to bar for locals and tourists alike. The bar’s lime-washed timber furnishings, navy and white stripe awnings and umbrellas, and the small touches like embroidered canvas coasters are reminiscent of a Queensland-style beach house, but with a luxe Hamptons twist.
Even though this was ostensibly a romantic holiday for BB and I to celebrate our anniversary, we managed to get a little social and head out for dinner with our friend Jemma, who recently moved from the Sunshine Coast to Cairns. She drove up the coast road to Port Douglas and we enjoyed a beautiful meal at Star of Siam (probably the best Thai restaurant in QLD), even though Jem and I dared BB to eat the whole chilli garnish on his plate… sorry honey! I wore a stunning and oh-so-comfy Passion Q off-the-shoulder dress* from White Haven Emporium, with Samantha Wills earrings and a necklace purchased on our last visit to the fantastic Port Douglas markets.
This dodgy-as photo does this frock NO justice… I blame the cocktails and beers that BB and I enjoyed at dinner. I really should start remembering to take outfit photos before dinner, shouldn’t I?
The following night we dined at Watergate Port Douglas, where the duck pancakes are possibly the world’s greatest entree; and I wore a dramatic print dress from Sequins and Sand. This Achilleas dress* is a showstopper, there’s no ironing required (a travel requirement for me!), and the Greek design and draping fabric really shows off the striking print to perfection. It’s so new that it’s not even featured on their website yet… but keep an eye out for this stunner!
I’m a big fan of white cotton off-the-shoulder frocks, and this new Iris Dress* from local resortwear designer Anannasa is the perfect transition piece for me to wear one of my favourite styles in Autumn. It’s a little longer than most white cotton dresses, which means that you can belt and blouse it nicely, and the longer sleeve is super pretty. This style was SO easy to throw on over my togs to go downstairs to the pool, and is definitely cute enough to dress up and wear out for dinner – the ideal holiday frock, really!
I’ll share a few more outfits in my next blog post, and you might just spot a trend that I obviously can’t let go of!
*Super-awesomely gifted. You should really know by now that I won’t wear anything I don’t love, so consider these pieces fantastic!
So are you like me, already planning next Summer’s holidays?Do you have a holiday tradition like we do?