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.
750g bag mixed fruit (or individual portions of currants, raisins, sultanas, Glaće cherries, dates, mixed peel etc)
6 large eggs
Tsp baking powder
Tsp mixed spice
100g flaked almonds
Set up your Weber for indirect cooking at a low heat.
Line a deep cake tin with greaseproof paper.
Combine your dried fruit in a bowl and cover with Brandy. Leave or as long as desired (or overnight).
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.
Add sifted flour, baking powder and spice into butter and egg mixture. Mix well.
Add Fruit mixture and nuts, stir well.
Spoon cake mixture into prepared tin and bake for 3-4 hours on a very low heat.
If you don’t want to use alcohol, apple juice works well in place of the Brandy.
Once cooked, leave your cake to cool in the tin, wrap well in foil and store in an air-tight container.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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
Fennel leaves for garnish
Using your Weber frypan, fry off onion, fennel and garlic in olive oil.
Add tinned tomatoes and kalamata olives and stir, cook for a few minutes.
Add your seafood – fish, prawns and then squid – and cover with the tomato sauce. Close Weber lid and cook for a few minutes.
When your seafood is cooked, sprinkle dish with crumbled feta and serve immediately.
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.
Known as the capital of the NSW Outback, and the only city in Australia to be heritage listed, Broken Hill is incredibly vibrant and full of surprises! Camping in Broken Hill is a great way to experience all this town has to offer.
With over 65 visitor experiences to choose from, we are sharing our round-up of the best attractions and things to do to fill your days and make your stay truly memorable! From world-class art galleries, quirky pubs, rich history and passionate locals expect the unexpected in Broken Hill!
Our very first stop before we headed to The Broken Hill Pub for a cold drink and bite to eat was the Visitor Information Centre where we grabbed a touring map to mark out our Top 10 must-do experiences.
BROKEN HILL REGIONAL ART GALLERY & PRO HART GALLERY
Opened in 1904 Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery is the oldest regional gallery in New South Wales. The beautifully restored emporium displays a selection of permanent works and a quality program of temporary exhibitions by local, state and national artists along with touring exhibitions.
A highlight for us was viewing the collection from the famed Brushmen of the Bush, a group of 5 artists that collaborated in the 70’s and 80’s, including Jack Absalom, Eric Minchin, John Pickup, Hugh Schulz and Pro Hart.
A trip to Broken Hill would not be complete without a visit to the Pro Hart Gallery. This multi-level building and studio is jammed packed with hundreds of impressive and colourful artworks by Pro himself, and a number of other artists, and is a wonderful homage to the life and work of one of Australia’s most iconic and unassuming artists.
The gallery is housed alongside Pro’s original studio and home, and includes many of Pro’s sculptures and his impressive car collection, including a hand painted Rolls Royce.
The Palace Hotel
A must see is the Palace Hotel, and you might recognise this iconic hotel from the 1994 hit Australian movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
The scale of this building is just incredible, with its 3 levels and 52 accommodation rooms and of course the famed Priscilla Suite that we were lucky enough to have a tour through. Remarkably this building was originally erected in 1889 as a coffee palace to set it apart from the licenced hotels that were already abundant in Broken Hill. Unfortunately though the venture was just not profitable, and so it morphed into a licenced hotel in 1892. Something incredibly quirky and unique about this hotel are the over 500m2 murals that are painted across every wall and ceiling in the building, and the story of how the artworks transformed the hotel to feel like an oasis in the outback.
BELLS MILK BAR
For generations people have been coming from far and wide to taste the famous sodas, spiders, and milkshakes on offer at Bells, Australia’s oldest continuous running milk bar. Established in 1892, it’s literally like time has been paused somewhere in the 50’s where you can enjoy old school service, over 50 original recipe drinks, and listen to old school favourites through the jukebox.
SULPHIDE STREET RAILWAY AND HISTORICAL MUSEUM
A highlight for our little train enthusiast Jasper, was the Sulphide Street Railway and Historical Museum which houses the Silverton Tramway Company (once the richest railway in the world), locomotives and railway memorabilia, set in the original 1905 railway station. We had a guided tour with the incredibly passionate Christine who also shared the Broken Hill Migrant Heritage Museum and the fascinating stories of struggle and resilience that led to the dynamic multi-cultural community that Broken Hill is today. There is also a Hospital Museum, an impressive mineral collection, an antique amusement park, and the highlight of course is being able to walk through the Silver City Comet engine and carriages.
THE BIG PICTURE
Another fascinating art installation you can’t go past is The Big Picture, located within the Silver City Mint and Art Centre. Home to the world’s largest acrylic painting on canvas by a single artist, at 100m long, 12 m high and using over 9 tonne of paint, The Big Picture is an incredible and immersive experience and sure is a spectacular site to behold.
THE LINE OF LODE MINERS MEMORIAL
A dominating presence that forms the backdrop of the city, the Line of Lode Precinct and Miner’s Memorial recognises the life and work of more than 800 miners who have tragically lost their lives working on the Broken Hill mines, dating as far back as the 1880’s. Sitting dramatically on a huge mullock (the gigantic pile of rock and earth mine waste material) that overlooks the city, the adjoining Broken Earth Café gives you the opportunity to enjoy a cuppa and really take in the views over the city.
ROYAL FLYING DOCTORS SERVICE
The absolute highlight for us was the Royal Flying Doctor Service Tour, located at the Broken Hill Airport. The interactive museum celebrates the history of the RFDS, the school of the air, and the life saving services that this incredible organisation offers the people of the outback (and those visiting too!). The tour incorporates the history of how Reverend John Flynn created this service over 100 years ago and the way the history is recognised on our Australian $20 note. And the best part was getting to walk into the hangar amongst the planes to hear the rich stories that are a part of this iconic and remarkably free service for all Australians.
In its hay day Broken Hill was known as Australia’s very first mining town with an impressive 75 pubs to keep those thirsty miners happy. Many of those pubs still remain today and The Broken Hill Pub, that has recently undergone an incredible renovation and transformation into a surprisingly sophisticated and architectural triumph, is our pick for a great meal and a satisfying cold beverage.
STAY – Broken Hill Camping
We set up base camp at the Broken Hill Tourist Park that is conveniently located close to town and the major supermarkets. The park features a great pool, playground and jumping pillow, brand new amenities and accommodation options to suit all travellers.
The Outback had been calling us for some time, and with Queensland #GoodToGo we decided there was no time better than now to hit the road and head way out west. As a destination Outback Queensland is huge, and is divided into four regions. Having a 3 week window we decided it would be best to focus our exploration on only one region, so as not to rush our experience, and spent the majority of our time immersing ourselves at Winton in the Central West.
What we discovered was an incredibly epic landscape and dramatic contrast to the coastal regions of Australia we have previously spent so much time. We visited world class tourism attractions, quirky art installations and connected with the true blue Aussie characters that make Winton such a vibrant Outback town. Here’s our Top 3 Must Do experiences:-
1. Go on a Dinosaur Discovery
No matter what your age you will love discovering dinosaurs in Winton! Home to Australia’s largest collection of dinosaur fossils, and the world’s only known dinosaur stampede trackways, the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum and Lark Quarry National Monument are not to be missed. With new attractions opening from 2021 including a Natural History Museum and Dark Sky Observatory, this amazing experience will be as epic as the dinosaurs who once roamed this very land.
Rich in history, Winton is famously known as the birthplace of Australia’s unofficial anthem, Waltzing Matilda. Penned by A.B (Banjo) Patterson in 1895 while visiting a cattle station near town, Winton now boasts the first museum in the world dedicated entirely to a song, the impressive and world-class Waltzing Matilda Centre. Interactive and immersive, the museum offers a fantastic experience for every age and tells the story of Waltzing Matilda, Winton and Queensland’s Outback region.
3.Take In The Vision Splendid Of An Outback Sunset
Epic landscapes mean big skies, and there’s nothing quite like watching the sun transform a rugged and ancient land through its ever changing dusk colours. Winton boasts a number of incredible vantage spots to enjoy a spectacular Outback sunset, including the Rangelands where natural erosion has created channels to explore through giant rock formations. Part of a private property and working cattle station, joining a tour is the only way to experience this fascinating mesa.
With Queensland #GoodToGo we have recently enjoyed our second visit to the spectacular Capricorn Region. We have absolutely fallen in love with this part of Queensland, and we know that you will too, so we wanted to bring you our Top 10 must see, must visit experiences and destinations within the Capricorn Region.
Hands down Carnarvon Gorge would have to be our number one destination in our first year full time on the road. This spectacular national park boasts over 298,000ha of Queensland’s central highlands. It is located about 720km by road north-west of Brisbane, and directly south west from Rockhampton on the coast. There are a number of short-walk options based around the main gorge track, with the full circuit Great Walk totalling 87km in length. Many of the short walks are very accessible and great for families. There is a rich Indigenous history, and that was one of the major highlights for us. The ochre stencils at Carnarvon are some of the finest examples of this type of Aboriginal imagery in Australia.
Other highlights include the towering sandstone cliffs of the Amphitheatre, the Indigenous Art Gallery showcasing rock wall art believed to be over 3500 years old, the Moss Garden with its waterfall and lush rainforest, and Wards Canyon was breathtakingly beautiful and a cool relief from the 38 degree day when we trekked in. Ancient king ferns grow beside
the crystal clear waters of the Carnarvon Creek, and the area is brimming with wildlife. We were lucky enough to even spot a platypus where we camped at Takarakka Bush Resort. Carnarvon Gorge is an absolute must and the number one destination to put on top of your bucket list.
Pumpkin Island is located on the spectacular Southern Great Barrier Reef and is Australia’s best kept secret! The island is located 14km off the Yeppoon coast, with Yeppoon about 650km north of Brisbane and 1100km south of Cairns. The island is a tiny 6ha and you can literally walk around the entire island. The crystal clear turquoise waters and secluded relaxed atmosphere make for the ultimate get away from it all. There is an abundance of wildlife above and below the water, and the island is eco-friendly being recognised as Australasia’s Most Sustainable Hotel. There are 7 self-catering beach cottages scattered across the island, that are all powered by the wind and the sun. The island’s Sunset Lounge was a definite highlight, and whether you are a family, a couple or even a larger group, you can hire the entire island for a special occasion.
At over 400 million years in the making, Capricorn Caves are an awe inspiring example of nature at its finest. Located an easy 30 minute drive north of Rockhampton, the caves boast the highest concentration of fossils found anywhere in the world. They offer a number of different tour experiences that cater for every member of the family including daily wheelchair-accessible guided cave tours, wild caving adventures that had our hearts racing and Paul’s knees a little jelly, and abseiling down through the caves for the very brave! Onsite accommodation options include self-contained cabins, the Lodge, and a great bush camp with powered and unpowered sites for tents, caravans and motorhomes, and there is even a pool for those extra hot days.
4.Rubyvale Miners Heritage | Sapphire Gemfields
Located in Queensland’s Central Highlands, the Sapphire Gemfields are an easy 45 minute drive west of Emerald and cover almost 900 square kms. We visited Rubyvale Miners Heritage, Australia’s largest underground walk-in sapphire mine experience. We had a fantastic time trying our hand at fossicking for sapphires, and there are plenty of accommodation options including caravan parks and camping in Emerald and the surrounding areas. We stayed at a fantastic caravan park, the Lake Maraboon Holiday Village and Paul even tried his hand red clawing on the Fairburn Dam.
5.Mt Hay Gemstone Tourist Park
Located 30 minutes west of Rockhampton, Mount Hay is an internationally known destination for thunderegg fossicking and the purchase of semi-precious Australian gemstone products, cut and polished in the Mount Hay factory. This is a great family friendly fossicking experience, and there are camping and caravan sites to stay overnight. Jasper especially loved this experience and it super safe for kids to get dirty looking for their very own unique piece of treasure! Something very cool for Jasper, is that the actual gemstones within the thundereggs are referred to as Rainforest Jasper.
Yeppoon is the spectacular beachside accommodation hub for the region and is known as the Heart of the Capricorn Coast. If you are a travelling family Yeppoon is the perfect location to entertain the entire tribe. With a multitude of free activities including the Keppel Kracken water park and the stunning Yeppoon Lagoon, these fantastic foreshore play areas offer year round swimming with first class restaurants and cafes to keep you satisfied. You will need at least a week to relax, unwind and explore the best of this beautiful coastline.
7.Mt Archer National Park
Rockhampton’s highest peak is 604m above sea level and boasts incredible views of the entire city. It is the perfect vantage point to take in the surrounding ranges and is a wonderful location to enjoy a picnic, or take in a sunrise or sunset. The recently opened Nurim Circuit elevated boardwalk is world class, and is an easy 500m walk from the car park and showcases the best views from multiple lookouts. There is nature based playground for the kids and a number of other short bush walks. We enjoyed a toast with a glass of wine and cheese platter as a thanks and farewell for our incredible time in the region.
Rockhampton is jammed packed with family friendly experiences! A few of our favourites include the Archer Park Rail Museum, a beautifully restored 1899 railway station and museum featuring the last remaining purrey steam tram in the world. Jasper absolutely loved this experience. We also loved visiting Kershaw Gardens, known as Rockhampton’s “big backyard”, every member of the family will love this space. There are spacious parklands, walking tracks, incredible play areas for kids, picnic areas and free BBQ’s. Another must visit is the free Zoo and adjoining Botanic Gardens. With more than 60 species of native and exotic animals the kids will love exploring the Zoo and catching some of the free keeper talks.
9.Byfield National Park
Byfield National Park is a beautiful blend of rugged mountain ranges, massive sand dunes, remote beaches and campgrounds, pine plantations and rainforest fringed creeks. Located 40km north of Yeppoon, Ferns Hideaway Wilderness Resort is a perfect base to set up camp and explore the 15,000 hectares and surrounding conservation park. Whether you want to four-wheel drive, hike, fish or walk for miles on a secluded beach, your choice of activities here are endless. We especially loved taking the Canadian canoes for a spectacular paddle down Waterpark Creek and best of all this is included free to all guests of Ferns.
10.Great Keppel Island
Great Keppel Island is a short 30-minute Fast Cat ferry ride from the Yeppoon marina and boasts 17 of Australia’s most outstanding secluded white sand beaches! With varying accommodation options on the island, The Holiday Village hosted by Geoffrey Mercer, offers self-catered ‘Budget Boutique’ accommodation for every style of traveller. From glamping tents to 1, 2 and 3 bedroom villas, or you can even pitch your own tent. Activities range from island hiking trails, fishing, snorkelling and scuba diving, or lazing under palm trees in a hammock for the day! The sounds of the crystal clear turquoise water will lullaby you to sleep in this pristine island escape! It’s definitely not Ok Keppel Island, it’s Great Keppel Island!
So there it is, our Top 10 must see, must add to your bucket list destinations within the Capricorn Region. We have loved our time here and can’t wait to visit again!