Soul Foods, Newcastle NSW

A couple of weekends back, we took a quick weekend trip up to Newcastle to visit the Bear’s new baby nephew. Our efforts to arrive super early were apparently in vain – when we got to the airport, there were no shuttle buses for over an hour. We sat at the airport drinking big old mugs of coffee wondering why exactly we had taken the 6am flight.

The shuttle bus took us into Newcastle, where we desperately needed some breakfast after already being up without food for over five hours. Harnessing the power of the internet, we found our target – Natural Tucker Health Food and Cafe on Darby St. We started making our way there, when we stumbled upon this sign:

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Vegan options? Count us in!

newie2Soul Foods was closer than our destination, and conveniently right across from the train station we needed to get to to scoot out to Cardiff afterwards.

The cafe had high ceilings and a quirky interior – lots of mismatched coloured chairs and pretty teacups. I liked it. I was a bit jealous of two ladies to my left who had what looked like the most royal thrones of the room, but I stopped giving them greasies to look at the menu.

The bubbly lady explained the vegan options – I went with the zucchini fritters/pancakes? Usually served with haloumi, but could be replaced with tofu to be made vegan. Sounded great.

newie1 When my meal came out, I was impressed by the vibrant colours – I like to eat with my eyes and I like rainbow plates. However unfortunately this dish just didn’t quite come together. The zucchini fritters were semi-sweet pancakes with blueberries in them, but then topped with savouries. It was great that they could substitute the haloumi instead of just take it away, however the tofu was raw and I could not taste any marinade. Tomato and avo are always good brekkie additions, and everybody knows I am a dip fanatic, however the hommus tasted distinctly of one I have bought at the supermarket, as did the pesto – which tasted very cheesy (like those little oily cashew ‘chunky’ dips you can buy). When I asked afterwards, the lady assured me that it was vegan and house-made, but I was still a little skeptical. It tasted EXACTLY how I remember that non-vegan store bought dip to taste. But hey, if they tell me so I gotta believe it.

The bear went with a bean dish, though he had it with feta so I didn’t snap it. He really enjoyed it and I tried some of the beans which were tasty. I think they came with some pumpkin toast.

Soul Foods had a bunch of tasty looking vegan sweets, but I wasn’t really feeling it on the day. I was a little disappointed with the breakfast, but wouldn’t discount them entirely without having another go. Maybe next time!

Afterwards, we bumbled with buying train tickets (confusing machines), missed our train (and also forced an innocent man to miss the train too with our inability to navigate the ticket machine) and ultimately had to wait another hour and a half for the next one. When we complained of our plight, we were told “but it’s Saturday” as if that explained the lack of transport options. Oh us Melbourners with our frequent departing Saturday trains, what were we thinking? We arrived at Billy’s sister’s place at about 2pm. Good thing we got that 6am flight! Ha!

Soul Foods
227 Hunter st, Newcastle NSW
Tues – Fri – 7.30am – 5pm
Sat – Sun – 8am – 3.30pm

Travels up the coast

This post will be a little picture heavy, as we crammed so many cool things into the time since I last posted. We left Nelson Bay on the afternoon of Billy’s birthday and started heading north again, though with no intention of going very far that day. The weather had turned pretty sour, and I prefer to stay off the roads when there’s decent rain if it can be helped. We set our sights on Bulahdelah, managing to make a quick stop to take a snap with what we sort of considered to be one of the big things that Australia is notorious for. This might be the only ‘big thing’ we see that is not actually bigger than the real thing..

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After battling darkness and rain and roadworks which made it very difficult to tell which part of the road you were supposed to be on (unhelpful), we finally found the rest area we were searching for, cooked some falafels and ate some leftover birthday cake, and settled back into being on the road again. The rain made way for lush blue skies and sunshine the following day and we felt that ‘ahhh, it’s going to be a good day’ feeling. We set of for some exploring, first stop being the Grandis, which is the tallest know tree in New South Wales, located in the Myall Lakes National Park. On the way, we got a little sidetracked playing in this huge hollowed mossy tree stump…

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I was pretty excited to see the Grandis, as it is estimated to be over 400 years old and about 86m tall. To be honest, I thought it was going to look bigger when I was standing in front of it, but still, there’s no denying that the Tree is tall (and beautiful!)

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From there we made our way out to Seal Rocks, as several people had mentioned it as being worth checking out, and we were not disappointed. We entered onto this stunning little cove beach and immediately spotted three or four dolphins playing not even twenty metres from the shore. The water was sparkling and crystal clear, the sand was soft, the sun was out, it was perfect! We even did a little rock climbing

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Next we stopped in at Elizabeth beach for lunch and a cuppa, before heading further up the coastal route, which led us up a thin strip of land between Wallis Lake (to the left), and the Tasman Sea (to the right). We decided we would aim for around Taree that night as there were a few different rest stops to choose from, so we got a wriggle on and headed straight for it. We managed to get there in time to take a quick detour out to Old Bar, which Billy’s Nan had mentioned as being nice. We headed straight for the beach, and while it was pretty cold by then, we managed a brisk walk which revealed some lovely pebbles and stones to be collected. I’ve taken to collecting nice bits and pieces – stones, feathers, shells, beach glass, seed pods etc which I can incorporate into my jewellery making. Going into Taree gave us an excuse to tick another big thing off the list – the big oyster, or as the locals call it – the big mistake. I can kind of see why..

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We took this photo from the opposite side of the road, as we couldn’t be bothered crossing the road in peak hour traffic. As a result, we kind of look like giants here. We were actually way more excited by this fairy ring that we found on the oval across the road.

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Weeee so cool! Fairy rings form when the spawn of a mushroom falls, and a whole bunch of little underground threads spread from it in every direction, creating a circular subterranean network. Mushrooms develop above ground from these threads in a circular pattern. As the central spawn dies, the mushrooms up top keep growing, but without their little creator dude to hang onto, the diameter of the ring gets bigger and bigger until it eventually dies below and above ground. How cool is that? You can kind of see the imprint on the grass where this ring has probably partly died already.

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After staying over night near Taree, we zipped straight up to Port Macquarie the next morning. We spent most of the day there, as Billy found a skate park that he was quite taken with, and then we found a pool we could take a shower at (showers can be few and far between sometimes, so this is always a noteable event). We decided to venture a little further up before we bunked down for the night, and found a rest area near Macksville. When we woke up in the morning, these little chickadees were surrounding our van!

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We decided to go over to Nambucca Heads to have brekkie by the beach instead of by the side of the road. It was a gorgeous day and an awesome way to start it, with breakfast and coffee sitting on the rocks, followed by a walk along the beach – which was absolutely covered in shells and pebbles. I had a field day collecting them in the morning sun!

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We wandered around the little town of Nambucca, but not much was happening as it was Sunday. They did have an amazing mosaic along one of the walls in front of the police station that we spent ages looking at, it was just gorgeous.

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Billy was excited to find that Elvis even made an appearance…

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Next, Coffs Harbour as we had an old nemisis to check in with: the big banana. Now don’t get me wrong, we LOVE bananas, but a few years ago we stopped in and were disappointed by its size (not even that big), the weather causing the toboggan run to be closed, the hoards of shitty souvenirs, and the crappy frozen bananas on a stick. However, since we said we would stop at any big thing we were in the vicinity of, we thought we had better give it another chance. Also, the sky was clear and the toboggan run was open! I had never been on a toboggan before so it was pretty cool, but Billy berated me for using the brakes, saying it was against the rules. He also told me horror stories of people having their fingers cut off if they held onto the sides (BEFORE we went on). Thanks Bear.

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That was taken by a lovely lady who offered to take a photo of us. We acted happy to be at the banana again for the sake of her little girl. When she left, we set up the self timer and took this one, which expressed our feelings a little more accurately..

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Heading further up the coast, we stopped at more little beaches – Corindi Beach had a few more stones to add to the collection. We stayed at this weird rest stop overnight called ‘Little Italy’, which had a museum, cafe, gift shop, court yard and more…right in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately it was shut for the long weekend, so we missed out on poking around inside. Checked out Evan’s Head the next morning, before heading into Ballina to get supplies, get access to some wifi and get a picture with the big prawn, who is currently under construction in order to become more anatomically correct (seriously…the story of the prawn getting a tail was on the front page of the local newspaper).

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We also managed to pick up some cheap bikes while we were there, plus a bike rack to attach to the back of ZZ. They need a bit of work, but Billy is already onto it. I’ll leave it there for now, as this feels like a bit of a super post, but we are now in Mullumbimby, doing the helpx thing again which has been really great so far! More on that later I’m sure. Until next time…!

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