2017 has been one of the best for me in terms of travel. Work and personal travels took me around the world last year. Last year was about all about Dubai, Singapore, Australia and Sri Lanka. Completely different countries and amazing amazing food. I’ve been lucky to have gotten to travel so much all in one year to countries that have such diverse cultures and food that reflects those cultural flavours. Our Australian holiday, however, most definitely was the highlight of the year!
Hubs and I visited Australia mainly to attend a friend’s wedding. This is a friend I shared a flat with back when I was working in London and it had been 5 years since we had met so a reunion was only fitting.
After multiple discussions, the husband and I finally agreed to go and got our days off from work. A whole two weeks – so hard to coordinate but we were ecstatic to have actually managed it. Our itinerary was all planned around the wedding – Cairns, Port Douglas, Melbourne, Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay, finally ending in Sydney.
We had landed in Cairns and had decided to drive to Port Douglas. Driving the same side of the road as India and no stress about an international driving permit! Count us in! Cheap thrills I know but trust me, the drive was worth it considering Australia is truly one of the most gorgeous countries in the world. Considering Port Douglas is an absolute tiny town we decided to eat in Cairns and then head out. Burgers at Jimmy’s are one of the best I’ve ever had. Trust me you guys, succulent chicken with the crunchiest lettuce and simple condiments make the most delicious burgers. The drive later was a breeze, with our tummies full and the music cranked up.
While in Port Douglas, a sleepy little port town north of Cairns, we mainly just walked around, relaxed and ate. A LOT. Fish and chips for almost every meal, seafood pizza, a lot of ice cream and beer.
Cairns was a wonderful surprise as the food continued to get better and better. Even on the cruise on The Great Barrier Reef. You guys, if you ever go to Australia, please never come back without a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. I promise you, it will be one of the most magical experiences you will ever have. Most cruises that take you into the sea have a barbeque and lots of food to ensure you’re not hungry because you are practically at sea all day. The barbeque is amazing, with simple fresh ingredients, lots of fruits and wine and cheese at sundown! One of my favourite days from the entire trip!
When we reached Melbourne I was totally looking forward to two things – Driving along the Great Ocean Road and a day out in the Yarra Valley, tasting delicious wines all day long. Like an excited child, I didn’t let go of the wheel the whole way to Apollo Bay, where we were staying the night. And I kid you not, you will do the same when you see how pretty the drive is. Being someone who loves driving, it was a dream come true. On our way, we explored tiny little village restaurants and pubs which, by the way had some of the best food ever. One of these restaurants in Forrest, we landed into a quaint little craft brewery where we had soft shell crab burgers, potato tortillas, and poutine. It’s been 2 months and we still dream about this food.
Another place had this amazing rustic veggie pie and baked chicken parmesan. The best things about Australian food is the use of local fresh produce that everyone is so passionate about. So the food actually is all about the produce which lends the taste as opposed to masking it with condiments or spices.
Some of the best food and fun was in the Australian Yarra Valley, where we had almost 48 types of wine in a day. Talk about being buzzed! We also had lunch at the Balgownie estate which was to die for. Mushroom risotto that was cooked to perfection – a rarity. When it comes to wine, sparkling or non, Chandon is one of the names that comes to mind and being at their wineries made our day. So many wines, such history and the beauty of the Yarra Valley takes you to an emotional high point – it did for me and I’ll treasure this feeling for many many years to come.
We stayed with my cousin in Sydney so it was mostly home cooked meals we ate but there were some gems we found like this little place near my cousin’s house – Bar and Biscotti where I went to Breakfast Heaven. And breakfast is not even my favourite meal! If someone gave me rye with cream cheese, smoked salmon and avocado, I’d eat breakfast everyday!!
Our trip culminated in Sydney and we attended my friend’s wedding which was a beautiful intimate affair followed by dinner by the sea. One of the best ways to end a trip, seeing two wonderful people get married and being a part of their joy. To add to the glory, the food was THE BOMB. Pan seared scallops, roast chicken with cracked wheat and celeriac purée, and an assortment of baked desserts and of course the wedding cake! I don’t even remember the rest of the night because I think I had about two bottles of wine that night. Ahem.
Our last day in Sydney, we went to Blue Mountains. It was unfortunately a rainy day but we still managed to get a wonderful drive and on the way of course some amazeballs food. Stopped by at this place called Tuitti Fruitti to taste fresh berry ice cream and their pumpkin soup that was the most hearty thing ever on a freezing day.
Australia is one of those places where two weeks are ABSOLUTELY not enough. I would totally go to Australia again just for the experience, the most genuine and friendly people and the great great food.
Until next time, Australia!