April saw us take a big trip to Australia. The Easter holidays and smart flight booking maximised our trip to nearly 3 weeks. Taking advantage of a sale on ex EU Business Class fares on Qatar Airways meant we flew in a great deal of comfort.
Flying ex EU to get a cheap flight from Stockholm meant we needed to spend the night there before heading off to Australia. I realise this convoluted travel route isn’t for everyone (especially those travelling with small kids) but I really like it; we got to spend the day exploring Stockholm in beautiful (but freezing cold) sunshine and – most importantly – tired out the kids through all the walking we did which meant they slept A LOT on the next 2 long flights to Australia.
Our planned route in Australia was Sydney -> driving up to the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games -> Brisbane -> fly to Sydney for a few days then back home. This was my seventh trip to Australia – the first was supposed to be a once only, trip of a lifetime, ha, it hasn’t quite worked out that way!
We stopped in Sydney, at the Novotel in Manly which is right on the beach. Having left snow and cold weather in the UK (it was also -16C when we left Stockholm), this was the perfect place to take in the sea air and warm up.
After driving for about 5 hours north we stopped for 3 nights in Port Macquarie. Our apartment was lovely (definitely in the ’I could live here’ category). Located right on the best beach in town for sand and swimming, we were glad to find this gem and it’s one for a future Australia trip.
With a snack shack cafe located right on the sandy beach offering THIS for breakfast. Words cannot describe how happy it made me to find this open at 6am when we were all jet lagged.
From there we headed to Broadbeach on the Gold Coast. Our Airbnb couldn’t have been better located. It turned out to be quicker to go out for dinner every night than go to the supermarket and then cook at home. There must have been 50 restaurants (and lots of gluten free options) right on our doorstep.
After taking in the gymnastics and track cycling in the Commonwealth Games we moved up to Brisbane to see family. We all enjoyed the cycling enormously, aided by both lots of records being broken and these incredible seats right next to the action. The cyclists really were this close.
I love Brisbane a lot. It seems underrated as a city by others for reasons I can’t quite fathom but I always really enjoy it there. A highlight was participating in the Aussie tradition of communal BBQs right in the spot where the photo was taken above.
A flight down to Sydney and some further days exploring the city by ferry and catching up with family friends completed the holiday.
Bugs, bugs, bugs! Not the witchetty grub sort, but the delicious Moreton Bay bugs which are part of the lobster family.
Generally this trip to Australia was a lot more successful food-wise than my visit last year where I managed to get glutened a few times. Australia has much stricter legislation than we have in the EU for the classification of items as gluten free, it’s very easy to find gluten free food in hotels, shops and restaurants and generally there’s much higher awareness of the gluten free diet in Australia than in the EU/UK. However, this seems largely driven by a customer demand from people choosing to eat gluten free for lifestyle and not medical needs. The downside is that while many places offer gluten free options, whether they’re Coeliac safe is a different question. And if another restaurant server offered me the vegan menu at the same time as the gluten free menu, I suspect I’d have gone a little deranged. I like meat and fish, it’s gluten that doesn’t like me.
April also saw the presentation of the Free From Food Awards. I’ve written many times about how honoured I feel to be included in these awards celebrating the best in the UK’s free from sector as a judge. Attending the awards party is always a genuine highlight of the year for me because I get to see friends old and new as well as get introduced to new products within the free from sector.
You can read who the winners and shortlisted entrants were here.
A few highlights for me were:
Getting to try these spicy samosas from Green Sisters (I love spicy food and these were SPICY).
I judged this year in the No Top 14 allergens category and I was THRILLED the Gosh Sweetcorn and quinoa bites won. If you haven’t tried them, you should. They definitely need to be heated in the oven prior eating.
In the battle of the chocolate eclairs, I think the Tesco gluten free and dairy free eclairs pipped it for me….
But these from Rule of Crumb were also delicious treat.
I absolutely loved being back in Australia and catching up with our family and friends who live over there, although I was sad not to finally meet Rachel who emigrated to Sydney last year. You should check out her blog if you’re considering a move overseas, especially a move to Australia. Next time for that gluten free afternoon tea!
Despite me working ridiculously long hours in the weeks before our trip and not really planning much of the trip in advance, we managed to find some cracking accommodation.
I think my favourite was the Airbnb we rented on The Rocks/MIllers Point in Sydney. WOW. If there were one place that could persuade me to reactivate my lapsed Australian permanent residency, it’s here. This stunning heritage home even featured the owner’s original art work all over the house….
What’s not to love about this view from the kitchen door?
This is also the first AirBnb I’ve stayed in where the owner leaves a great bottle of wine for us from their OWN vineyard. Nice touch!
You might have noticed (or maybe not!) that things got a lot quieter on the blog in February and March. Sadly, life, kids and the day job took over. Hopefully these monthly posts will return from now on…