Funky Pies

While in Sydney, we had the pleasure of eating at Funky Pies in Bondi. I had seen their pies stocked in the freezers of a few different health food shops, but was yet to try them. We actually ended up enjoying them so much when we popped through Sydney the first time that when we were back and vising the markets down at Bondi beach, it was the perfect excuse to eat there again!

Funky pies is a cosy little cafe, tucked off of the main street in Bondi, with awesome music and just a nice vibe in general. It only has about four tables – two inside and two out, but they also do take away. Not only do they offer pies, but also a variety of drinks, a small selection of sweets, and a few grocery items.

The first visit, in the absence of the famous ‘Funky Chunky’ pie, I went for the ‘Eezy Chick ‘n’ Cheezy’ pie – a combination of mock chicken chunks, broccoli, and mushroom in a cheezy sauce. Billy opted for the ‘Thai Spicy’ pie, which was also full of chickeny chunks, but with spinach and mushroom, in a mild Thai flavoured sauce. It wasn’t very spicy, as suggested, but still delicious. I wasn’t feeling super hungry, so I got the pie on its own for around $6, but for $10 you can add either salad and potato salad, or mashed potato, peas and gravy (which Billy couldn’t go past). I forgot to take snaps on our first visit, which was more incentive to go back the second time.

We managed to arrive earlier next time, which allowed us to secure the classic Funky Chunky pie. We got one of these each, as neither of us felt willing to share. This is your classic meat and potato pie substitute, so if you’re into that kind of thing this is great. It took me a while to get into ‘meaty’ veg stuff, as I never really liked meat to begin with. However, now that I can separate it from the actual idea of being meat (since it’s not!)  I can enjoy the textural experience for what it is – delicious vegan food! So in saying that, these pies were amazing! Chunky shitake mushroom pieces with thick gravy and a bit of mashed potato thrown in, inside the crispiest, flakiest pastry…just delicious! A nice fresh salad with balsamic dressing and a couple of mouthfuls of potato salad were just perfect to go alongside. Billy managed to make his disappear like magic and I caught him eyeing off mine, but there was no way he was getting any of this bad boy.

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Funky Pies
144-148 Glenayr Ave
Bondi NSW
Weekdays – 7am – 8.30pm
Weekends – 11am – 8.30pm

Oops…! Adventures with boiling water

I’ve been meaning to post about some more of the fun stuff we did and fantastic food we ate in Sydney, but unfortunately I had a bit of a clumsy accident that has left me either busy getting to and from appointments, or totally zonked out in bed on painkillers, unable to concentrate.

I was doing a bit of a Vicks Vapour Rub steam bowl to clear out the old sinuses, when I managed to upturn the entire bowl of freshly boiled water and Vicks all over my lap. it was not pretty, let me tell you! Nor was it painless. I didn’t realise quite how bad it was, but luckily my support team managed to get me to the local polyclinic for treatment, which I am super grateful for. I don’t know how I would have coped through the night without it, the pain was incredible! I was put on a drip and dosed up with morphine and codeine and various other painkillers and anti-this-es and thats, which helped keep me in good spirits.

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 The whole time, I felt kind of detached from my leg, as though I was just observing the situation happen to somebody else. I only really grasped the severity when the doctor started mentioning going to the burns unit and possibly needing a skin graft. I had to wait a couple of days to go to the burns unit, as burns can take up to three days to reach their full burny potential, and they needed to be able to assess the severity before deciding on the next move.

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The burns unit is at the Royal North Shore Hospital, which meant making the 3.5 hour trek back to Sydney, AGAIN. The staff there were really awesome. They cleaned up the burn and dressed it with some kind of gauze padding with silver in it to help the healing process and said I’d need to come back in three days to see if it was starting to heal on its own, or would need the graft. They were really thorough, having various different staff members like the physiotherapist come and talk to me about what I would need to do to give it the best chance at healing properly.

In the meantime, I’ve been on a variety of meds which have left me with splitting headaches at times, nausea at others, and generally just make me drowsy and spaced out. I have been concentrating on getting plenty of protein, fresh fruit and veg, vitamin c, zinc, and other goodies my body needs to heal itself. And water and fresh ginger tea for hydration and the tummy! It must be paying off, as when we tripped back to the hospital today they were pleased with the progress, saying that it will NOT be needing a graft as the skin has started to do its own thing – yay!

While this accident has put a bit of a delay on us heading north, I’m super grateful that it happened while we were around Billy’s family, who have been amazing in helping out with various things and letting us crash at their places when we need to be in Sydney, Newcastle and back here in Nelson Bay. So lucky that I have been able to rest and recover in the comfort of houses rather than the van for a while!

Hopefully I’ll get to post some nicer stuff in the next few days, but in the meantime, please be careful around hot liquids!

– x –

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Iku Wholefoods and Gelato Blue

Billy and I zipped back to Sydney on the train on Wednesday, as he had to pick up a guitar and his mum was flying up from Melbourne so we thought it would be fun to spend some time with her too. A perfect excuse to sample some more of the vegan food that Sydney has to offer.

We went for a wander around the city yesterday until our tummies started to grumble. I had heard of Iku Wholefoods before, but hadn’t come across one by chance (surprisingly – as there are about six locations in the city area alone!) so this visit I decided to seek one out. The closest one to us at our time of hunger was on Oxford st in Darlinghurst.

Iku have been around longer than I have, and are a completely vegan chain that focus on promoting good food for positive health. They not only keep their food animal-free, but also preservative, additive and GM free.

As per usual, when I come across a completely vegan eatery I become overwhelmed by all the choice and want to eat everything on the menu, so while I ummed and ahhed, Billy ordered the spicy vegetable, tofu and lime leaf laksa.

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Bit of a blurry photo, I was too busy reaching for a spoon to hold still. This was a super delicious, filling dish, with a really tangy lime kick. I loved the way the tofu was crumbled on top as opposed to the usual cubes, although Billy wasn’t really a fan of it himself.

I opted for a couple of snacking bits so that I could try different things, ordering a rice paper roll, a nori roll with brown rice and pickled vegetables, and a polenta cake with vegetables and a kind of chili glaze.

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These were all cold dishes which was awesome as I was warm from walking about. There were various dipping sauces that you could get to add to these, but I wasn’t feeling them at the time. The rice paper roll was yummy and fresh, and had a kind of satay sauce mixed through it which was unexpected but welcome. The flavour of the polenta cake was quite nice, though somehow I feel that it would have worked better as a warm dish, as serving it cold meant it had that kind of rubbery texture that polenta gets after being in the fridge – it definitely had that ‘leftovers’ kind of feeling. That being said, it was still yummy. The nori roll I bagged for later, and it was deliciously filling. The pickled vegetables gave it a nice tangy flavour, Billy and I really enjoyed it.

The dishes cost us $25 all up, and I was really satisfied, though Billy didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I did. I’d love to try some of their other stuff, as they had some other yummy looking stuff – lasagne, burgers, salads, tarts, soups and a few sweeties too.

We wandered on and about the place, perusing some galleries and stuff before walking over to Newtown in search of Gelato Blue, having heard it had a case of vegan flavours. The rumours did not lie!

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YUM. Instead of just the standard sorbet flavours vegans are used to, they had things like banana split, cherry ripe and caramelised fig and cinnamon. Arghh! We both got cones with two flavours, at $7 a pop. Billy chose banana split (which freed up one of my choices, as I wanted to taste that one!) and passionfruit.

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I wanted to try the fig and cinnamon, but I couldn’t go past cherry ripe and thought chocolate would make a better flavour combination (plus – I had never tried chocolate sorbet?).

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I don’t think I need to give a detailed explanation of how delicious they were. I don’t think I could ever be unhappy with gelato. Amazing! Tummies well and truly full, we wandered back to our place of rest to recharge for our next adventures.

– x –

Iku Wholefoods
62 Oxford St, Darlinghurst
(and various other locations around Sydney)
Mon-Fri 9.30am-8.30pm
Sat 10am-5.30pm
Sunday 10.30am-5.30pm

Gelato Blue
318 King st, Newtown
Mon-Thurs 8am-11pm
Sat-Sun 11am-midnight

Time just gets away & Rubyfruit Bakery, Leura

Oh my goodness, where to start?! It’s been almost a month since my last update…so much has happened. We’ve been having heaps of fun, and without access to my own computer it makes it a little bit harder to update. I’m thinking about getting one of those little notebooks to take around with me. We’ll see..
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Anyway, I’ll give a quick rundown of the last few weeks so I can get back up to speed with everything. Basically, after Bathurst we moved on to Katoomba, which was amazing. I guess you could say that Katoomba is the ‘main’ town in the Blue Mountains and it is just stunningly gorgeous. It’s got a really nice vibe, and in many ways reminds me of Hobart (but perhaps even better?). It’s crazy to think that it’s only an hour and a half or so out of the horror that is Sydney. We stayed in a mansion with a bunch of weird and wonderful people, and generally just loved being there. We did some day trips and some walks and all that jazz, there are so many stunning places to see around the area. I really fell head over heels in love with Katoomba, it’s now at the top of my list of next town to settle in. I can really see myself living there, it’s just so beautiful.

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In the couple of weeks we were in Katoomba, my birthday occurred – I reached the quarter century! It was pretty low key, which was good as I’m not really into a big fuss being made, but Billy spoiled me which was nice. He booked us into a week-long mini yoga class which we attended every morning of the week, which was an incredible way to start the days. We LOVED it, it was such a sweet and thoughtful present as he knew I had wanted to take some classes and I really got a lot our of them. As it happens, I discovered that it’s actually a really great way to get rid of a hangover too! B also got some funky old beaded seat covers for the van (I’m not sure who these presents were for more – me or him!) As if that wasn’t already enough, he got me an awesome book on copper and wire jewellery making and some really good quality tools. Mum and Dad sent me some money too and I was able to get some stuff we’d been wanting for ages, like a compact camping table, some head torches, biodegradable crockery and other stuff for the van, which was awesome.

Billy took me out to breakfast after yoga for some fresh juice and amazing mushrooms on toast, and THEN took me out to lunch, back to Rubyfruit bakery in Leura as I had been hanging to go back. We got two wraps and had half each – the BLAT – bacon lettuce avocado and tomato, and the satay tofu. Both were delicious.

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We were so full that we got some cakes to go so that we didn’t spoil them and eat ourselves into a food coma. I forget what they were – I think a raspberry cheesecake and a boozy banana cupcake. Rubyfruit is SUCH an awesome café – definitely worth the trip. The staff there are amazingly friendly, the food is great, and there’s a great range of grocery and freezer items on offer too. Did I mention cake? They have soooo many cakes.

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That night Billy and some folks at the mansion made the most epic nacho dinner I have ever seen, they were so yummy. I have seriously never seen so many nachos in my life. Then B made me a banana pecan pancake cake with soy ice cream, which was out of control. I think I ate more food that day than the whole time I was in the Blue Mountains! The rest of the night we drank wine and I got to have chats with some lovely family and friends who called. It was allllll gooooooood.

I won’t go into detail about everything we did or I will never get out of here, so I’ll skip ahead. We left Katoomba maybe a week and a half ago and headed towards Sydney. We took two days to do that tiny trip, stopping at various towns along the way. When we finally got into The dreaded Sydney, ZZ cracked the shits and broke down, deciding he did not want to go any further. With some help from a couple of nice strangers, we pushed him from the middle of the road where he lay dormant into a small petrol station on the corner. In the true spirit of Sydney (sorry about the Sydney hate…I just do not enjoy the place) the worker came out and told us we would have to move as we were blocking business. Never mind that the van won’t start, just move it! Thanks for the sympathy. So we had to roll ZZ into an intersection and down a hill with traffic coming from every direction. IT WAS A BALL!! I managed to hit the petrol bowser with my bull bar on the way out which was a nice touch.

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We ended up getting a tow truck, which didn’t get to us until midnight and towed us to an unrestricted parking area where we did some sneaky sleeping. As luck would have it, it was ANZAC day the following day, meaning no mechanics open. We ended up staying with Billy’s brother’s near Kings Cross for a few nights. We mostly just wandered around and ate lots of food. I do have to give Sydney that – it has lots of yummy vegan food. We finally managed to get ZZ into an autoelectrician and get some wiring fixed and some new batteries and we were good to go. We bid Sydney farewell and headed north up the coast.

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Took a couple of days going up the central coast, stopping at beaches along the way and now here we are, having finally made it to Nelson Bay to stay with B’s grandparents…a visit we were going to do before postponing because of getting jobs in Cessnock, Orange and Bathurst all those weeks ago. We’re taking the time to regroup, organise ZZ a bit better and plan our next movements.

And that’s that! Finally up to date! Until next time…we’ll be on the beach soaking up some sunshine!

– x –

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Rubyfruit Bakery
Shop 10/166-168 Leura Mall, Leura
Blue Mountains, NSW
Thurs-Sun – 10am-4pm
Wednesday – CLOSED

Easter weekend

Still in Bathurst, but about to head on our way. We were umming and ahhing over whether to leave on Friday or hang around for two or three more days of work mid week. In the end we decided not to get on the roads with all the Easter long weekend traffic and head to the Blue  Mountains which was probably pretty busy with the holidays. Instead we did some (more) lounging around in the sun, picnic-ing and duck spotting.

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We headed out to Chifley Dam on Saturday, which is about 20 minutes from Bathurst and camped there for the night. It was nice and quiet – apart from the odd mooing cow, with toilets (complete with frog in the bowl…gave me quite the shock let me tell you) and plenty of camping space. It’s free to stay there, but you can only stay a max of 3 nights. There was a big family set  up near us, complete with excited squealing children on Easter morning which was very cute. The Easter bunny even found his way to us out in the bush!

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We headed back to Bathurst on Sunday arvo and regrouped. We have been staying the last few nights just behind the showgrounds at Berry Park, which is a free spot managed by the Lions Club with toilets, barbecues, tables and chairs, and even some power points to charge our stuff. Monday was a day for showering at the pool, cleaning our clothes, and setting up a makeshift clothesline to save some bucks. We also managed to give blood at a mobile Red Cross Blood bank and get some free juice and chupa chups, wahoo!

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Just finished up work with Vale Creek who have now picked all their grapes – yay! And scored a bottle of wine in the ‘guess the weight of the grapes’ comp they do after each day’s work. Wahoo! We have one more day of work with Algona on Mt Panorama tomorrow and then we will finally be taking off to Katoomba. We are trying to hook up a spot through helpex, which is the same kind of thing as wwoofing – exchanging some work for accommodation and food. There are a few places there that look good, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed.

I’ll leave with a yummy green smoothie combo that I tried the other day with our whizz stick – it was so refreshing and zangy!

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This was a combo of water, pineapple, spinach, cucumber, lemon, lime and cayenne pepper – inspired by a couple of different recipes I saw online and adapting to what I had to use in the van! Just chuck it all in the blender and off you go. YUM!

– x –

Raw Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Our cooking facilities in the van are somewhat limited, with a small two burner gas stove and a thin grill underneath (which we have not yet used). We do have a stick blender/processer for when we are plugged into power which is amazing and means smoothies for breakfast on those days. Yay! Otherwise, we have to be somewhat imaginative with our meals. We also have pretty limited cupboard space, so we can’t keep a lot of ingredients. We have to be picky with our spices etc, and I don’t have the array of flours that I used to have at home! So far so good though, we’ve whipped up old favourites and some new inventions. A fresh favourite is raw zucchini pasta (we also brought a spiral veggie gadget), which we have a number of variations of – this is one of those basic variations. Enjoy!

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Simple Zucchini Pasta
(serves 2)

2 smallish zucchinis
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4-1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
3 tbsp pesto
Salt
Pepper
Chili Flakes

Using a spiral veggie gadget, or however you like to do your raw pasta (you can do thin wide noodles with a veggie peeler), turn all your zucchini into noodles! From there on it’s pretty easy – toss through the rest of the ingredients. Voila! Delicious raw pasta!

With the pesto – I made a batch the day before that we had leftovers of. I don’t have an exact recipe, as I just use what I have and pour things in until I get the right consistency. This one was actually made with activated almonds, basil, spinach, lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper and garlic. I like to had nutritional yeast flakes in too to make it a bit cheesy. I normally chuck the nuts and garlic into a food processor and whizz them up for a bit, then add the rest until it gets to how I want it. Mmmm pesto.

Hold tight and I’ll post some of the other variations on our rotation – raw pasta with balsamic garlic dressing, avocado dressing, and am thinking about trying a raw pad thai in the near future.

– x –

Spendless Sunday + Cous Cous Salad

Well, after my last post, B and I did a whirlwind trip back to Orange to do a day’s work in a vineyard there as we were still waiting on the Bathurst grapes to ripen. When we got back to the campsite at the bottom of Mt. Canobalas, it was completely deserted…it was really eerie. Just a week earlier, there were upwards of 60 backpackers there with pretty established campsites. Now not a trace! We were jumping to all kinds of conclusions like serial backpacker murderers, but discovered that everybody had been moved on due to noise and apparent pollution threats to the creek that was running behind the camp. An article in the local paper had claimed there was excessive rubbish, which was rubbish – the fact was that the council was not emptying the one bin on site. In the two weeks we spent there, it wasn’t emptied once, and so campers were putting bags next to the bin. Anyway, it was a bit of a shame as it was a really nice spot and had a good vibe.

Driving down the highway on the way back to Orange, we spotted a little Jack Russell running across the road. Oh gosh! – we thought he would get squished for sure, so we pulled over and he came running excitedly up to us. B nicknamed him Muscle Russell as he had little short legs and a stocky body. We put him into the van and drove around looking for his home.

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As we were in the country, houses were few and far between so we expected that he hadn’t come too far. We found a house with a little dog house (but no dog) and Muscle Russell seemed right at home, running over to a drink bowl straight away. Nobody was home, so we left a note explaining what had happened and that if Muscle Russell wasn’t theirs, hopefully they knew which neighbour he belonged to. We got in the van to leave, when suddenly Muscle Russell appeared on the driveway in front of us! He had escaped from a little hole under the fence – oh yes, he knew this house too well. We took him back and blocked up the hole and bid him farewell. I think he really wanted to come on a trip with us though….little cutie!

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Anyway, we are back in Bathurst now and have almost a full week of work lined up at various vineyards at the moment, which is exciting. We’ve got every day except Tuesday booked so we’re pretty psyched. All the people we’ve come across in Bathurst have been so helpful and willing to give us work, it’s great! We’re staying at a free campsite until we start work tomorrow, so as to minimise the cost to us. We can deal without showers for a couple of days anyway. We went to the monthly farmers markets yesterday at the showgrounds and picked up a few little goodies for the next few days meals. There was so much yummy stuff, but having no refrigeration capacities at the moment, we had to be a bit more reserved.

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B cooked a delicious warm potato and kale salad last night with, will definitely be making it again in the future. As we’ve been travelling around and doing work where we can, we have also become really conscious of the spending we do. Living in the van, we obviously have a limited amount of space and while we do have some ‘leisure’ objects (guitar, craft materials, books), we have to be careful that we don’t accumulate useless clutter. So far, we have been doing well – swapping books we read for new ones and questioning any purchases we do make as to whether we do really need them – whether they will improve our quality of life immensely or not. At the moment, we have our eyes set on some solar panels for the van, which would mean we could keep our fridge running when we are not at a powered campsite and therefore not have to throw away some of our food when it goes bad (and not have a stinky fridge!) We are also keen to get some bikes to hook onto the van so we can ride about the place.

Anyway, back to the point – we declared today to be ‘Spendless Sunday’, or ‘no money sund-y’, a day for not spending! We walked into town and visited the art gallery as they’d put up a new exhibition, with a series of Goya etchings which was cool to see. We popped into the library to do some blogging, and then we’re going to have a picnic in one of the lush parks here. We were going to pack a raw zucchini pasta for our picnic, only to find that the zucchinis were mushy and mouldy…yuck. I scrounged around the cupboards, determined to stick to spendless sundays and whipped up some cous cous salad. Lacking a few ingredients to what I would normally make, but yummy nevertheless.

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Simple Cous Cous Salad

100g wholemeal cous cous
150ml water
1/2 massell veg stock cube
1 tsp oil
1 tsp nuttelex
1/2 can of chickpeas or beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 red onion, diced
Handful of cherry tomatoes
Four stalks of kale, stems removed and chopped finely
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
Squeeze of lemon juice
3/4 tsp Smoked paprika

Bring water, stock, and oil to the boil in a saucepan.

Take of heat, stir in cous cous and cover. Leave for a couple of minutes until liquid is absorbed.

Stir through nuttelex. Mix in onion, beans tomatoes and kale. Add spices and lemon juice and stir through.

YUM! Ordinarily, I’d add some more veggies – shredded carrot, or corn, or spinach, and some coriander or parsley. But this is certainly edible and with no extra expenditure!

Ooh…I almost forgot. B found a cute little frog last night! Eeee….! He was so cute and jumpy.

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x

Lift off!

First post…kind of daunting, but here we go!

Welcome to my little blog! It’s an attempt to keep a log of what I do, see, cook, eat, etc as I travel around Australia with my boyfriend, Billy, in our van, ZZ Pop. I guess I’ll jump into it with a quick review of our time from February (when we took off) to now to get up to spee – we started with a trip straight up from Melbourne to Newcastle to attend B’s sister’s wedding. Soon after we zipped up to Cessnock in the Lower Hunter Valley to do a stint of grape picking to make a little cash. Grape picking has been good to us, and seems to be one of the more profitable escapades in the fruit picking world. Plus, weather permitting, we get to work in gorgeous vineyards on rad days like this.

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It hasn’t been all sunshine though, with our fair share of waterlogged, muddy days trudging through the vines, though I kinda like that too – except for the trench foot.. After getting word there was more work in Orange, we headed down there only to find out on arrival that it had been cancelled due to birds eating all the grapes and therefore our jobs. We hung around trying to seek out some other employment but there was an excess of backpackers and a limited number of jobs so it proved quite difficult. Eventually we got a gig picking apples which was thoroughly un-enjoyable as we were not given access to a tractor which meant trying to drag tonnes of apples in a wagon by hand. The pay was also very average. Rather – below average. Nevertheless, money is money and we stuck out the week of work and happily bid the job farewell. Plus we were staying at a nice free campsite at the bottom of Mt. Canabolas so there wasn’t too much expenditure going on. Picked up a day’s work on a vineyard and then decided to go and have some fun time in the Blue Mountains.

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 We rolled through Bathurst, where we thought we might as well check in and see if there was any work going, though we hadn’t seen it as a work destination in the Harvest Guide book or on any websites. Little did we know, it was a hidden gem, off the scent of the bacpackers. We made a few calls and had a job lined up within minutes. So we’ve had a few days work with some lovely people here in Bathurst, and more lined up across the next week or so.

We did have a few days off as well which we used to nip over to Katoomba for a little exploring, although the weather turned a bit miserable so we had to postpone our planned bushwalks. Stayed at Glenroy historic site, which was a pretty little place by a creek, and with some much needed hot showers.

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We also had a yummy lunch at a little vegan cafe in Leura called Rubyfruit Bakery which was a gorgeous little gem with lovely ladies and a to die for mint cheesecake. In my momentary lapse (hunger? excitement?) I ate my kale and olive fritatta and cheesecake before I even had a chance to take a snap. But I can assure you it was pretty and yummy. I think it’s a good excuse to go back there when we visit again on the way through to Sydney. Yay! We came back through Oberon, where we had a little go at fossicking and fount two tinsy winsy sapphires, and then saw the Big Trout. Gotta love it!

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So that’s us up to speed now. We’re staying at the Bathurst Showgrounds at the moment, which is decent – power, showers at all that jazz, but as there may be a few days off work, we have heard about a free campground at Flat Rock that might be worth checking out.

So, until next time! – x