Our carriage awaits! If one is going to have a ten-course meal in a fancy restaurant then one must arrive on horse and carriage.

The carriage James and Dee in front of the carriage James and Dee in the carriage

After pre-pre-dinner drinks and the odd photo or two, we climbed aboard a horse and carriage across to the Crown Casino where we were welcomed for our feast. We were greeted with a variety of cocktails that were far too delicious for their own good. In the meantime Ruthy got lost on her way to the bathroom, it wasn’t until later when the rest of us needed to go that we understood why, the doors are like a maze.

Cocktails, at Dinner by Heston

We were escorted to our table, right in front of the chef’s pass in the kitchen and greeted by the lovely Eric who may or may not have looked like he was 12, but had the knowledge of every chef in the kitchen in his head. We each had our menus placed in front of us, wrapped in a silver cuff and sealed in a box, followed by some of the fanciest cutlery we’d ever seen. Chris and James spoke with the Sommelier then we were underway with our dinner and a few nicely matched bottles of wine.

Chef's table The menus

The food was divine! The service was fantastic, we had the Sous Chef serve each of our meals and explain what creatively plated art piece was in front of us. There was pate dressed as an orange, sauces galore, savoury porridge, sorbets, roasted pineapples, and the best part: Nitro ice cream! Dee was called up to call away one of the tables for the restaurant, and both of us were escorted into the kitchen to check out the roasting pineapples. By far an amazing experience all round. The photos really don’t do this experience any justice!

Food Food Dee calling an order away

Tuesday saw James have a very quiet and relaxing day, while the rest of us went exploring the Victoria markets. Every bit of fresh fruit, vegetables, seafood, cheese and cold cut meat you could think of is in that place. There was so much to see and so much that could have been bought. If we owned one of those shops we surely would be fat and broke from eating all of the produce! We bought enough to make a few chacuterie plates, and then paired the food with a wine and a movie back at the hotel. Tuesday evening we went to Bluebonnet Barbecue house with Ma and Pa Smurf, Kitch and Ally for what seemed like another feast. The house special was 350g of all of their meats and a selection of sides, followed by dessert at another little restaurant further up Lygon St. SO MUCH FOOD!!! It was all delicious, although all of our waistlines are still paying for it!

Giant crab at the markets

The final packing to leave Australia happened Wednesday morning; who knew so much crap could fit into our packs? It took us a while to sort everything out but we eventually got there. We ventured for a quick trip to parliament house to get a photo then caught a taxi with Ruth and Chris to the airport for their flight back to Brisbane. In the midst of all of this, Dee needed to find a pharmacy that stocked the Hepatitis B vaccine, then someone who could administer it. Thankfully, there was a doctor surgery at the airport that could help out. We said our goodbyes to Ruth and Chris, with a couple of little tears and a few photos; then we headed back into the city to hang out with Mikey until our flight.

James Packing Dee packing Goodbye at the airport Goodbye beer

A wine or three later and a chill out in Mikey’s beautiful little courtyard it was time for us to head back to the airport… into the business lounge!

Go see all the Melbourne photos

After a busy week seeing the sites of Tassie we ventured off to Melbourne, our last stop before leaving Australia. We farewelled James’ mum and had a little rest in the James Boag’s bar at the Launceston airport, not a bad way to unwind really.

Arriving into Carleton to stay with Simon and Jaki, Dee decided after ten minutes in Melbourne that we’re moving there, there is just so much to see and do! We made our way to Fitzroy for drinks with friends, and who else shows up but Keagan! 27 beers later, some tasty American style food, chats with Mikey, Dean, Brad, Kitch, Cam and their partners, Jaki and Simon, we said farewell to half the group. The other half followed Simon to a packed out little bar called Black Pearl who made amazing Pisco Sours (something we’re likely to have many of on this trip). 4:00am rolls around and so do some pretty awesome souvlakis, followed by a little bit of a hangover.

Keagan, Dee and James

Of course, when you’re hung-over the sensible thing to do would be to get some sleep, have a good balanced meal with lots of nutrients and plenty of fluids to help your body recover. What does Dee do? Meets Keagan for a recovery breakfast in the city at the Lion Hotel (not “The Red Loin”). Hair of the dog at it’s best! James slept a little longer then went for breakfast with Simon and had a delicious pulled pork waffle. We then hung around the city for the day, winding up at Lygon St for a couple of cheap beers in happy hour, followed by dinner at a little Italian place a few streets over.

Food at the Lion Hotel

What a meal that was! (If you haven’t gathered already you’re going to be getting a lot of ravings about foods that we’ve eaten along the way). The Olive Jar is a fairly small restaurant with a lot of big personalities! We started with an antipasto platter, which literally had everything Italian you could think of thrown on: meat, pickled vegetables, savoury donuts, bread, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, more meat and cheese. The waitress taking our order had made the fettuccine for our mains that morning and it was by far the best pasta ever. Between the Napolitana and what seemed like a seafood extravaganza both served in fry pans we were chockers… but then there was dessert. Another plate full of everything you could possibly want, topped off with the waitress spooning at a huge helping of Tiramisu from a massive bowl. The night ended with singing from the owner and a little dancing around the dining room. It was a wonderful evening!

Monday morning we met up with Chris and Ruth (Dee’s parents) who flew down to say their last goodbyes for our big adventure. We checked into the Sebel hotel and then wandered our way around the city streets and alleys to James Squire. Ruth had organised for both of the boys to have a cutthroat shave after the few beers; unfortunately, none of us realised that Monday was also Labour Day Holiday in Victoria, including the shop we had organised it with. This was very swiftly rectified with the boys returning to the hotel to shave themselves and the girls supplying a bottle of Talisker and food, and then heading to have our nails done. Dee did a last minute run-around to find James a pair of cufflinks before our big night at Dinner by Heston.

Dee and Ruth at the James Squire pub James and Chris at the James Squire pub

Go see all the Melbourne photos

What a week! We’ve had a busy time travelling around Tassie visiting family, friends, cool places and enjoying every bit of sunshine we possibly could.

We arrived into Launceston on Saturday, greeted by James’ mum, Sandra, along with beautiful and warm sunshine, with next to no humidity. We settled in for the afternoon with James’ family and a barbecue at Lilydale nestled in amongst fruit trees, veggie gardens and the array of flowers James’ dad, Scott, has growing. After the hustle and bustle of cities in the last week it was a beautiful way to wind down and enjoy another round of amazing food and wonderful company, and a run on the old flying fox. Sunday we drove North to Bridport to see more of James’ family including his Nan. There are always cakes, biscuits, slices and every other delicious baked good you could possibly imagine when visiting any of the Dornauf’s and Livingston’s, much to both of our delights.

James' siblings, and niece Aurelia Down at Bridport

After two nights at Scott’s place relaxing, playing many card games and a bottle or two of wine it was time for us to move on. We farewelled James’ sister Cait who was London bound, and James’ Aunt Kerry and then moved along ourselves to Sandra’s for the evening before heading down to Coles Bay. We walked/climbed the Wineglass Bay track in Freycinet National Park and also took a quick peak at the lookout then headed our way over to Swansea to stay the night.

On the beach at Wineglass bay The steps, getting ready for the inca trail! Us overlooking the bay

On Wednesday we made our way down toward Hobart, stopping by Richmond for a few hours along the way. In Richmond we visited the old gaol and had a look through all of the little knick-knack and arts and crafts stores, along with a quick spot of lunch and the sweet shop, although later we were reminded that chocolate-coated coffee beans don’t like sitting in a hot car.

While in Hobart we stayed with Cherie and Ewen, and managed to catch up with a few people including Jeremy, another of Dee’s Hayman friends… although a little older and wiser about the world, there is always a hint of things being done “The Hayman Way” when catching up with the folk from the island. Knux and Festy, two of James’ ex-Christ College friends were out for a few drinks as well. We took in the sites around Hobart, seeing the Cascade Brewery as well as the obligatory trip past Parliament House (for Tristan’s challenge). Dee always seems to forget how cold things are when she’s out, so she managed to drag us in shopping to get something warmer to wear while we were wandering around… typical!

Dee re-creating a photo from her childhood, in the Richmond Gaol The Cascade Brewery What happens at the Cascade Brewery stays at the Cascade Brewery. Or ends up on a blog post In front of the Tasmanian state parliament Soup of the Day 'Beer' at a Salamanca watering hole

Friday saw us head back to Launceston for a quick catch up with Ben (another ex-Christ person) who James hadn’t seen for close to ten years, and then dinner with Lauren and Simon coupled with a beautiful view of the Tamar River. After a fairly hectic week, Saturday we managed to squeeze in a little bit of chill time before having lunch with Scott, Sandra and Paul and then heading to the airport for our flight across to Melbourne.

James and Sandra at the airport A beer at LST while waiting

Go see all the Tassie photos

We made it to Canberra! Eventually…

Both of us had a wonderful time relaxing in the Virgin lounge, we sipped champagne and beer, we ate the array of food. Life was good. Until we looked at the board and noticed the “final call” sign on our flight, things needed to get moving quickly! We rushed ourselves to the gate only to be less than a minute late, bags offloaded and flight closed. We’d missed it… Three hours early and we missed it. No paging calls, no help… The beginning of our trip of a lifetime and there we were in Brisbane, not on the plane.

Off we went to find our luggage and to then try and book a new flight, $480 later we were once again ready to head to Canberra. We managed to convince the check-in desk to allow us access back into the lounge for the four-hour wait until our next flight and seat us in the exit row (hello extra leg room!). We were a little more vigilant this time around!

Thankfully, when we arrived into Canberra we were warmly welcomed by Tristan and Tash who picked us up from the airport and put us up for the few nights we stayed. Whilst in Canberra we did all of the touristy things including the War Memorial and Parliament House. The War Memorial is somewhere both of us could spend days inside, it is such a moving experience seeing the memorabilia and reading the stories from the past. The preservation of the items in each display is incredible, especially the items from World War One. The display that hit home the hardest was the last one just before the exit. It was the flags and plaques from those who have died most recently. The flags were white, made from spun marble with poppies placed on top of them; a beautiful display but saddening given how many were there. Parliament House was only a quick stop off, we wandered around inside and admired the portraits of past Prime Ministers. Almost every time we’ve been overseas there has been some form of leadership spill and the Prime Minister has changed, it will be interesting to see if that’s this case this trip. The poor guy who does the portraits has evidently had his work cut out for him in the last couple of years, the most recent portrait on display was Johnny Howard’s… evidently, the continual change of leadership has made the painter’s life a little difficult.

Pool of reflection at the War Memorial Roll of Honour at the War Memorial

Canberra has a lot of amazing places for food. We were fortunate enough to have some local expertise in where to go and what to eat around the city and we were certainly not disappointed! Our first stop was a very cute little breakfast place along the Burley-Griffin Lake, followed by an amazing dinner in the evening at Monster Kitchen. Delicious is an understatement! There was an array of pulled lamb, beef tartare, crispy pig, kingfish ceviche, yabbie jaffles, and so much more! If only we could afford to have the chef there cook for us all the time. We farewelled Canberra with another amazing little breakfast place called Space Kitchen. Between us we devoured a pulled pork hash brown, beetroot hollandaise, perfectly poached eggs, minted pea puree a mountain of bacon, chorizo and squid ink brioche, all washed down with buckets of coffee. The Canberra food scene has definitely overtaken Brisbane’s; I’d honestly be willing to move to Canberra just for the food!

Tristan set us a challenge for the trip – since we started in Canberra and visited parliament house, we need to get as many photos of us in front of parliamentary buildings around the word as we can.

In front of the Australian Parliament

Following the debacle of the first set of flights, we had plans in place this time around to ensure that we were going to make it to the airport in time, be on the plane and if all else failed we would catch a bus to Sydney. Arriving into Sydney we were met by Aden and given a grand tour of Liverpool. We ventured back into the city to catch up with a few people, see a couple of sites and, again, eat far too much food! There was steak, Nepalese cuisine, desserts, drinks and cheeses…maybe a little over-indulgence but hey, what are holidays for?

Sydney harbour Dee and Liesa

Fortunately whilst there we were able to catch up with James who coincidentally lives just down the road from our apartment in the Valley. There were many laughs and childhood stories shared! We then caught up with Liesa, whom Dee worked with at Hayman many moons ago. The casino happened, as did ridiculous selfies, a photo bombing, far too many cheap cocktails to count and a couple of long train rides spent people watching.

Without the photo-bomb With the photo-bomb

But alas! It was time to leave and work our way through the next set of flights. Next stop: Tassie!

Go see all the Canberra photos or all the Sydney photos

Ding, dong, ding, dong, ding, dong, dingggggggg…. “Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Virgin Australia Lounge, passengers travelling blah blah blah”.

After a hectic few weeks, we’ve made it to the Virgin Australia Lounge thanks to James’ expertise in duping the system with the credit cards, frequent flyer points and who knows what else. We’ve got champagne and beer in our hands; we are now both finally on our trip of a lifetime.

Dee and Pa

The last few weeks have been filled with mixed emotions: stress, worry, excitement, happiness, anticipation, trepidation and all of the other things ending in “-ation”. Our apartment has been rented out, everything we own is in storage/Vinnies/or at Ruth and Chris’ place, Wills and EPoA’s are pretty well sorted and we’ve been to the doctor for what seems to be a million injections/tablets/lectures, Thursday the beloved Commodore (Lady Rorange as Dee likes to call it) was sold; the final piece fell into place when we both closed our Commonwealth Bank accounts, at this point we both realised we’d been with CBA since kids with a Dollarmite account. This morning everything really hit home when we packed the last bits and pieces, the last box to go into storage, dropping into Dee’s Pa’s place to say goodbye and saying farewell to Maundrell Terrace.

Storage shed In the lounge

We’re now onto the official “Farewell Tour” around the country. First stop: Canberra!