During a recent visit to the Charleville WW11 Secret Base we discovered the story of the soldiers fruit cake and were inspired to learn more about this war time tradition.

With their loved ones scattered all over the country and world, holding together the front lines against enemy forces, the symbol of this simple fruit cake became one of love, hope and comfort. Wives and mothers all across Australia would bake their family fruit cake in what was known at the time as a Willow cake tin, bundle it up in calico and send it through the post to their solider. 

History tells that many of these cake tins travelled hundreds of miles across Australia and the world, back and forth between the war and the safety of the soldier’s home town. 

 

Ingredients

  • 750g bag mixed fruit (or individual portions of currants, raisins, sultanas, Glaće cherries, dates, mixed peel etc)
  • 125ml Brandy
  • 250g butter
  • 300g sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 375g flour
  • Tsp baking powder
  • Tsp mixed spice
  • 100g flaked almonds

Instructions

  1. Set up your Weber for indirect cooking at a low heat.
  2. Line a deep cake tin with greaseproof paper.
  3. Combine your dried fruit in a bowl and cover with Brandy. Leave or as long as desired (or overnight).
  4. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.
  5. Add sifted flour, baking powder and spice into butter and egg mixture. Mix well. 
  6. Add Fruit mixture and nuts, stir well.
  7. Spoon cake mixture into prepared tin and bake for 3-4 hours on a very low heat.

Tips

  1. If you don’t want to use alcohol, apple juice works well in place of the Brandy.
  2. Once cooked, leave your cake to cool in the tin, wrap well in foil and store in an air-tight container.
  3. We found the lowest Weber heat setting was still cooking the cake too quickly, which resulted in a slight burning of the bottom and sides. To avoid this, wrap your cake tin in a couple of layers of foil to protect the bottom and sides during cooking.

Other Easy Camping Meals

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Regular viewers of our YouTube Channel and Lap Around Australia Series will have spied our brand new off-road family caravan from Zone RV. The brand new Zone RV 21ft Sojourn is an absolute beast! We are loving this high quality super stylish caravan and look forward to putting it to good use as we travel further throughout Australia. To give you a better idea of what makes it perfect for our needs, we wanted to break down some of the features we love, starting with the interior. Look out in the coming weeks for more details regarding the exterior and smart technology features of the van. For now, read on to learn more about this caravan and its unique internal features.

Storage Options

The storage options in the Zone Sojourn are fantastic. We love the versatility and range of cupboards and drawers available and are enjoying all the extra space to store the essentials. Just a few of the options include:

  • Wardrobes (with hangers or the ability to convert to shelves)
  • Massive under bed storage (main bed and bunks)
  • Shoe lockers
  • Overhead cupboards
  • Kitchen drawers & cupboards

With so much space available we have had no trouble fitting in everything we need for our full-time travelling lifestyle, while still staying conscious of our weights.

Interior Lighting and Windows

The Zone RV Sojourn has an incredible array of options when it comes to lighting, providing the perfect option for every mood and occasion. The massive windows are one of our favourite features and provide endless views on both sides of the van, and the screens are of great quality and allow for more privacy. Some of the lighting and window features we love include:

  • Strip lighting that is zoned throughout the van
  • Mini bedside lights (they are even dimmable!)
  • Massive windows
  • Window screens/blinds for added privacy
  • Overhead LED lights with adjustable colour and brightness

Bathroom & Laundry

The Zone RV Sojourn is equipped with a 14-litre hot water system with options for both gas and mains heating. We use a 2.5kg Camec washing machine which is ideal for our needs when washing daily. Some other features include:

  • Natures Head composting toilet (we’ll do a review on this coming up)
  • Massive shower with black tapware 
  • Spacious bathroom
  • Space for added shelving/hooks

Kitchen & Safety Features

The kitchen in our Zone RV is fully equipped and comfortable for our daily needs. We opted to go without a full oven and grill, and love the extra drawers and storage space this provides. We also opted to take out the microwave as we don’t really use it, and instead, have used the space as a tidy nook for our coffee machine. Some more features of the kitchen include:

  • A massive Thetfold compressor fridge (272 litres!)
  • Induction and gas stovetop
  • Synthetic stone benchtop
  • Tons of storage space

We love that the outdoor kitchen is directly below the internal kitchen window, meaning you can use the huge window as a servery.

Safety is also really important to us, especially with a little one around. The Zone RV Sojourn includes two safety gas vents to help the gas escape in the unlikely event of a leak. Included in the caravan are both a CO and smoke detector, as well as a fire extinguisher. Additionally, we keep a fire blanket and full first aid kit handy in easy-to-grab places.

Comfort Features

Being Queenslanders heating for us is a must! The Webasto diesel air heater keeps us nice and toasty when things are a little cooler outside. For seating, we opted for the chase lounge over the cafe style and think this configuration works best for families. The leather adds a touch of luxury and the seating area is nice and spacious, allowing us to all use the space at the same time. A bonus is an extendable footrest, perfect for lounging on a lazy day.

Zone Sojourn – Chase Lounge

That’s just a small overview of some of the interior features we love in our new Zone RV Sojourn off-road family caravan! For a more detailed look, check out our interior tour in the video below. Follow us in the coming weeks as we look a bit closer at the exterior and give you our thoughts on all the Zone RV Sojourn has on offer.

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Planning a Tasmanian getaway? One of the most popular ways to reach the island is the Spirit of Tasmania ferry. The ferry has been helping passengers since 2002 and is a unique experience worth trying at least once. It’s also a handy way to reach Tasmania with your vehicle. In addition to our top ten tips, we thought we would put together an FAQ to help you plan your next Tasmanian adventure. Read on to discover the answers to some of the most common questions and make the most of your upcoming holiday.

How long does the trip take on the Spirit of Tasmania?

The total travel time on the Spirit of Tasmania is between nine to eleven hours. The exact time can vary depending on a few factors such as the weather and amount of sailings happening that day.

Where does the Ferry leave from?

The Spirit of Tasmania travels between Melbourne and Devonport and operates out of the port in each of those cities. Beginning on the 23rd of October 2022, the ferry will move its operations from Melbourne to Geelong. All sailings on or after Sunday 23 October 2022 will then depart from the Spirit of Tasmania Quay in Geelong.

Tasmania

How much does a fare cost on the Spirit of Tasmania?

Fares can vary from approximately $160 up to over $1000. The exact price can change depending on the time of year, whether or not you bring a vehicle and the type of cabin/accommodation you select. For the most up-to-date pricing, see the Spirit of Tasmania website.

Can I take my vehicle on the Boat?

Absolutely! One of the major advantages of travelling on the ferry is the ability to take your own vehicle with you. The ferry has options for cars, motorbikes, trailers and even motorhomes. There is an additional fee to take a vehicle with you and this can vary depending on the type and size. See the official website for up-to-date pricing.

Can I take my dog on the Spirit of Tasmania?

Yes, the Spirit of Tasmania is pet friendly. When travelling with a pet it is strongly recommended to book a kennel. For further information about which animals are allowed and pricing, see the Spirit of Tasmania website.

Tasmania is a fantastic destination for a family getaway and the ferry is one of the best ways to see what the island state has to offer. For more information about the Spirit of Tasmania, check out our top ten tips and follow our Lap Around Tasmania series on youtube.

Tasmania Travel Guide, Best of Tasmania Tour + Spirit of Tasmania – The Feel Good Family
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We recently had the great pleasure of filming an episode with the fantastic crew from Channel 7’s hit lifestyle TV show, Creek to Coast. If you haven’t seen the program, be sure to check it out on Saturday’s at 5.30pm or stream online via 7plus.com.au. During that time we were able to put one of our easy camping meals to the test.

We caught up with Sally Jenyns, Creek to Coast resident chef, who showed us her version of a Greek Seafood Saganaki, an all-in-one-dish taste sensation!

So where better than the world’s largest sand island, K’Gari Fraser Island, to give this fantastic recipe a go! With only a handful of ingredients and only one dish required, not only is this a super easy meal to make on the go, it’s also a super easy cleanup (which is always a winner in our opinion!).

Ingredients

  • Dash olive oil
  • Thinly sliced brown onion
  • Thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • Thinly sliced garlic clove (or teaspoon of crushed garlic)
  • 1 can of tinned diced tomatoes
  • Sliced kalamata olives
  • Fresh white fish, cut into bite sized pieces (we use Snapper)
  • 1 fresh squid sleeve, cut into bite sized pieces and scored
  • Fresh prawns
  • Feta cheese
  • Fennel leaves for garnish

Instructions

  1. Using your Weber frypan, fry off onion, fennel and garlic in olive oil.
  2. Add tinned tomatoes and kalamata olives and stir, cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add your seafood – fish, prawns and then squid – and cover with the tomato sauce. Close Weber lid and cook for a few minutes.
  4. When your seafood is cooked, sprinkle dish with crumbled feta and serve immediately.
  5. Dress with fennel leaves and enjoy! Yum!

K’Gari Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island

Other Easy Camping Meals

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South Stradbroke Island is one of our favourite places to visit when we are back on the Gold Coast spending time with our family and friends. This week was a great opportunity to try out one of our easy camping meals.

This time we were treated to a delicious cook up with our lovely friend Bec, head chef of Tipplers Cafe – a South East Queensland institution renowned for its laid back beachside environment and mouth watering fare.

Whether you’re visiting the island for a day trip, or staying over at one of the 3 campgrounds, Bec’s Thai Style BBQ Fish is an easy camping meal to cook up on one the free gas BBQ’s, after snagging yourself a fresh catch of fish.

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 very small knob of ginger, peeled
  • 1 coriander root, washed well and chopped finely
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kaffir lime leaf, chopped finely
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons coconut cream
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 fresh local fish fillets
  • 4 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds
  • Washed coriander leaves for garnish

Instructions

  1. Pound the ginger, garlic, kaffir lime leaf, salt, pepper and coriander root in a mortar and pestle to a paste. Add spices and coconut cream and continue blending to a smooth paste.
  2. Rub the fish fillets with the paste.
  3. Heat the BBQ and brush some vegetable oil onto the BBQ hotplate, drizzling the rest over the fish fillets. Make sure the BBQ hotplate is hot before you add the fish, as this will help to stop the fish sticking to the BBQ.
  4. Place fish fillets onto the BBQ and resist moving them or flipping them until the fish is cooked at least 2/3 of the way through.
  5. Once the fish is 2/3 of the way cooked through, then flip and finish cooking.
  6. Serve drizzled with sweet chilli sauce, wedges of lime, coriander leaves and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.

Other Easy Camping Meals

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If you are planning to caravan or motorhome around Tasmania, chances are you’ll be taking your vehicles over to the small island aboard the Spirit of Tasmania. Here’s our Top 10 Tips – everything you need to know before sailing:

1. BE PREPARED (But don’t be early)

Check out Spirit of Tasmania’s website for all your pre, during and post sail information. They have a great itinerary and road trip planner, plus a fantastic pre-sail checklist to ensure you are 100% prepared for your trip. Checkout opens 2.5 hours before your sail time (in most cases) and closes 45 minutes before sail time. The check-in and boarding process is systemised and easy!

2. BIOSECURITY (Know what you can’t take with you)

Spirit of Tasmania will send you all the information you need to know about what you can and can’t take into Tasmania, upon booking. Take the time to read through the information and check out the FAQ on their website for full details. For a full list of Tasmanian biosecurity requirements, visit Biosecurity Tasmania. 

3. TOILET BREAK (Especially the kids)

A mandatory toilet break for everyone travelling before you commence the check-in process is a great idea, especially for the kids! 

4. FUEL RESTRICTIONS (Taking a car or camper?)

Spirit of Tasmania will send you all the information on what you can and can’t take onboard. Read through the fine print and check the FAQ on their website for full details. If you are travelling with a vehicle or camper there are restrictions on carrying fuel, LPG and propane, so best to be prepared.

5. BOOK A CABIN (Especially if you have kids)

Crossings can be anywhere between 9-11 hours depending on the weather conditions so booking a cabin is a great idea. You’ll have a private space to retreat to when you need. And, if you are sailing overnight having a bed to sleep in, as well as a private toilet and shower, makes the journey much more comfortable. 

6. FEED THE FAMILY (Don’t go hungry)

There are so many dining options on board the Ship to keep the troops happy and full, plus a number of bars and lounge areas to ensure every member of the family is satisfied!

7. TOURISM HUB (Purchase your National Parks Pass)

Pick up your National Parks Pass at a discounted rate, plus there are loads of brochures and information on everything Tassie – from regions to experiences and attractions. 

8. EXPLORE THE SHIP (Pick up a map at Reception)

Pick up a map of the Ship at Reception and have fun exploring the decks, facilities and activities. There’s something for everyone!

9. WAVE GOODBYE (To Melbourne City)

Find a good spot on the port side of the Ship and wave goodbye to the city. If you are sailing at night the city lights are beautiful! Be sure to be on deck 15 minutes after sail to get the best view!

10. KIDS PLAY ZONES (Decks of fun)

There is plenty of fun for kids of all ages. There’s a play area for the little ones, a games arcade, and two cinemas for the bigger kids.

BONUS TIP (Don’t get sea sick!)

The Bass Strait is notorious for big seas that are no fun to cross. Be prepared with sea sickness tablets just in case. We love to use our doTERRA Essential Oils like Ginger and the Digestive Blend to keep us feeling our best when we are on the high seas!

 

Check out our YouTube episode #131 for our complete Tasmania Touring Guide – what you need to know before you go! Including the best campgrounds, best foodie experiences, best waterholes, best tours and attractions, best free activities, the locals favourites, and Tassie’s #1 destination. As well as the must have apps, maps and resources that you’ll need to make the most of your time in Tasmania! Plus the Top 10 Tips for sailing on the Spirit of Tasmania. 

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Known as the Capital of Australia’s ochre Outback. Alice Springs is nestled between the spectacular East and West MacDonnell Ranges. Camping in Alice Springs is a great way to get amongst the incredible environment on offer here in Central Australia.

East MacDonnell Ranges, Alice Springs Camping

IMMERSE YOURSELF IN AN ANCIENT ENVIRONMENT

Stretching 161 kilometres west of Alice Springs, Tjoritja West MacDonnell National Park makes for some pretty exciting and incredibly scenic day trips to take in its natural wonders. With permanent freshwater waterholes and ancient gorges, the number of culturally significant landmarks here is certainly impressive! We visited Angkerle Atwatye (meaning “the gap of water”), also known as Standley Chasm. An incredible geological formation billions of years in the making. The chasm is a significant cultural icon for the Arrernte Aboriginal people that have lived in this area for tens of thousands of years.

Standley Chasm, West MacDonnell Ranges

TAKE IN SOME OF THE WORLD’S OLDEST ROCK ART

Like its westerly twin, the East McDonnell ranges stretch 150 kilometres east of Alice Springs. They are home to more incredible natural wonders. N’Dhala Gorge Nature Park is an important archaeological and heritage site that protects thousands of prehistoric petroglyphs (some of the world’s oldest Aboriginal rock art carvings). The easy and family-friendly 1.5km walking track takes you into the Gorge, and past what is believed to be approximately 6000 individual stone engravings.

N’Dhala Gorge Rock Art

Alice Springs Camping

We found the Big 4 MacDonnell Ranges a great base to make the most of our time in Alice Springs. The caravan park has large, generous sites and all the facilities to keep every member of the family happy. Be sure to stay over the weekend to enjoy their free Sunday morning pancakes tradition!

N’Dhala Gorge, East MacDonnell Ranges

Check out our YouTube episode #99 for all the incredible footage from our time exploring Alice Springs and the surrounds.

Other Popular Destinations in the Northern Territory

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No trip to the Red Centre is complete without a visit to the incredibly beautiful Watarrka National Park, Kings Canyon! Camping near Kings Canyon is a great way to see all this area has to offer.

The colours of nature in this part of Australia are truly breathtaking…. From the deep rich red soil (that will make its way into every crevice of your van!), to the spectrum of ochres that can be found in the 400 million year old sandstone cliffs, domes and ranges, to the fascinating and beautiful ripple rocks that feature in the Aboriginal dreamtime stories of this land.

Priscilla’s Crack, Kings Canyon Rim Walk

SET UP CAMP AT KINGS CREEK STATION

An easy 38km from the Canyon itself, Kings Creek Station caters for every style of traveller with fantastic large caravan and camping sites, and a number of glamping tents that overlook the Giles Ranges. With an onsite restaurant/cafe, pool, free laundry and great playground, it makes the perfect base to explore the National Park. We loved our time here so much we extended our stay!

Kings Creek Station – Kings Canyon Camping

IMMERSE YOURSELF IN NATURE

There are a number of walks available within the National Park including 2 short and very easy family friendly options, the beautiful Kings Creek Walk, and the Kathleen Springs Walk which is also accessible for mobility devices and wheelchairs. The main event is the spectacular 6km loop Canyon Rim Walk, an exhilarating experience that requires a good level of health and fitness… the first section is a very steep 500 step climb to the top of the Canyon, some 300 meters high, however you will be rewarded with breathtaking (quite literally!) views and an ever changing landscape for the remainder of the walk.

Kings Canyon Rim Walk

HAVE A DELICOUS MEAL

Whether you are staying at the Kings Canyon Resort, or up the road at Kings Creek Station like we did, do yourself a favour and grab an evening meal at the Resort’s fantastic Outback BBQ! The food was amazing, fresh and great value, so much so we went back a 2nd night! Yum!

View from the Canyon South Wall

Check out our YouTube Episode for all the stunning footage from our time at Kings Canyon!

OTHER POPULAR OUTBACK DESTINATIONS

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It’s hard to put into words the feeling of Uluru…. It’s one of those places that will stay with you forever, and somehow changes you a little for the better. Camping in Uluru, in the midst of this incredibly ancient giant life’s worries can seem fairly insignificant!

Our first meeting with Uluru!

Located 2300km north west of Melbourne, 3200km west of Brisbane, and 3600km from Perth, this truly is the beating heart of the Red Centre! We travelled from Adelaide, following The Explorers’ Way en route to Darwin, a journey of over 5000km!

One of the many faces of Uluru

CAMPING ULURU – OFFGRID JUST MINUTES FROM THE ROCK

Whilst we had heard some fairly negative comments and reviews around staying in Yulara, we loved our time camped off grid within the Ayers Rock Resort overflow campground. For $30 per night per van with more space than you’d ever need, and full access to the campground facilities including the pool, this is a great place to stay!

Outback Cinema – Back To The Future, Camping Uluru

IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE BEAUTY

There are so many ways to experience Uluru, from watching the sunrise or sunset, to completing the 10km base walk, hiring a bike, Segway tour, or getting in the air on a helicopter or plane tour. We purchased an annual National Park pass for $50 per adult (kids under 17 are free!) to make the most of our time in this sacred place.

Jasper in commune with the Rock

EXPERIENCE THE FIELD OF LIGHT

This incredible art installation by Bruce Munro is not to be missed and is truly magical. 50,000 stunning hand blown glass bulbs, gently moving with colour across the vast outback make for a breathtaking experience. We enjoyed the Star Pass, an extended experience that includes drinks and nibbles on a raised viewing platform overlooking Uluru.

Field of Light

STAND BESIDE A GENTLE GIANT

It’s hard to believe, until you are standing amongst her, that Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) stands 200 meters taller than Uluru! The very easy Walpa Gorge Walk takes you right into the heart of this beauty and beside her spectacular towering cliff walls. We recommend allowing yourself a good amount of time to sit, be still, and take in all her glory.

Kata Tjuta

 

 

Our Lap of the Northern Territory

Check out our YouTube Episode for all the stunning footage from our time at Uluru and Kata Tjuta!

 

Other Popular Locations in the Northern Territory

 

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One of the quirkiest and remote towns in South Australia, Coober Pedy is unique in so many ways. Known as the world’s opal capital and famous for its incredible underground dwellings, this fascinating town is definitely one for your must-visit list when travelling through the vast South Australian outback! Camping in Coober Pedy is a great way to experience all this town and its surroundings have to offer.

Welcome to Coober Pedy!

Located 850km north west of Adelaide, 2000km south of Darwin and 2500km west of Brisbane, getting to Coober Pedy is half the fun! We travelled from Adelaide, breaking up our drive with overnight stays in the historic towns of Peterborough, Quorn, and a night off-grid at the Glendambo Roadhouse. We also stopped for a rest at Woomera to check out the rockets and missiles on display.

Coober Pedy Moon Plains

OVERLOOKING THE INCREDIBLY VAST LANDSCAPE – COOBER PEDY CAMPING

There’s no mistaking you’ve arrived in Coober Pedy, with its incredibly unique landscape dotted with thousands of huge piles of mining tailings. Whilst there are a number of caravan parks in town to choose from, we chose to stay at a fantastic Hipcamp property called Coober Pedy Views. There we enjoyed uninterrupted panoramas over some of the most incredible country we’ve seen to date.

Coober Pedy Views Hipcamp Property – Coober Pedy Camping

EXPLORE THE TRUE CHARACTER OF TOWN – NOBLE TOURS COOBER PEDY

The absolute highlight for us was the half-day tour with Aaron from Noble Tours Australia. This was one of the best tours we’ve been on during our travels, and very reasonable in price. The tour takes in 7 different locations around Coober Pedy including an underground mine, underground house and underground church, as well as the remarkable landscapes of the Moon Plains and culturally significant Breakaways.

Coober Pedy Private Opal Mine

NOODLE FOR OPAL

And of course no trip to the opal capital of the world is complete without trying your luck at noodling for yourself! There are dedicated areas around town that allow you to fossick for opal without the requirement of a permit. A number of mine sites also offer a paid tour and fossicking experience. We enjoyed some night noodling using a shovel, sieve and an ultraviolet torch that allows the opal to shine bright and be found amongst the darkness.

The Breakaways

OUR LAP OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Check out our YouTube Episode for more great things to do in Coober Pedy!

For more details visit https://www.cooberpedy.com

OTHER POPULAR OUTBACK DESTINATIONS

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