A taste of Asia – and a great way to travel solo

Here’s a fun info graphic that explains the basics of cuisine in Asia. Thanks My Adventure Store!

Vietnamese food is an absolute favourite of mine – and only so after I travelled in Vietnam last year. I can’t wait to explore more of South-East Asia

Web

I have a few friends who don’t like the idea of travelling on their own – it’s not that they are scared or worried, but rather, they prefer to have a buddy to share experiences with. There’s a part of me that agrees. Whilst I’ve loved solo travel, that liberating feeling of knowing I can do what I want, when I want, without having to consult a soul, is the ultimate freedom. When it comes to eating out, especially dinner time, I don’t like to dine alone. That’s when doing a tour with a cool crew like Intrepid and My Adventure Store is a great option. Tours for people that don’t do tours. That’s what I tell my friends to do.  Best of both worlds – you’re on your own, but have company. Win-win!

Vietnam overview: discover, shop, cook and eat

Travellers are attracted to Vietnam for its natural beauty, its long history, fascinating culture and in my case, its fabulous fresh food. Not only is Vietnam an ideal location for those on a budget, it’s one of the few places for those looking to discover hidden gems off the beaten path. The friendly and hospitable nature of the locals makes this country feel like a second home – even if the old woman at the markets is smiling cheekily while offering you a taste of their special insects.  Here are some things to do on your holiday in Vietnam.

Learn to cook authentic vietnamese food

I did a nine-day Food Writers Tour in Vietnam with the Australian Writers’ Centre last April. Our teacher and guide, Carli Ratcliff, took us to the Hai Bā Trung District of Hanoi, home of Vietnam’s top female chef, Mai Tran Thi Tuyet.  Known to her students as Chef Mai, the gentle grandmother of three opened her home to share her passion for teaching straightforward Vietnamese dishes that anyone can cook at home.

Making Vietnamese spring roll

Making Vietnamese spring roll

The cooking class began at Chef Mai’s local market where we shopped for ingredients for lunch. Chef Mai led the way through narrow lanes flanked with stalls set up on tables, upturned crates or on plastic mats on the ground selling mounds of green herbs like Vietnamese mint, perilla, betel leaf, coriander, basil and saw tooth herb, stacks of tropical fruit including dragon fruit, kiwi fruit, watermelons, mangosteen and limes, every vegetable from bitter melon to cucumbers to tomatoes to yams, slabs of meat from every part of the animal, baskets filled with clams, shrimp, eels, and snails, trays of fresh fish from almost microscopic to trophy-winning in size, sacks of iridescent powders and gnarly shaped spices, and freshly-made rice and egg noodles rolled into neat bundles ready to take home. This is experience was an absolute highlight of my trip.

Markets in Hanoi

Markets in Hanoi

Eating in Vietnam

Pho is considered Vietnam’s national dish. It’s a soup with a clear broth usually made with of chicken or beef stock that has been infused with star anise, charred ginger, smoky shallots, roasted cinnamon, cumin and depending on regions, sometimes cardamon. Add to that fish sauce and a little sugar to balance the broth. Pho contains flat rice noodles, some chicken or beef, with a plate of spring onion, coriander, mint, bean sprouts and a wedge of lime served on the table for the diner to add as they like. It’s cleansing, moorish, light, and the perfect meal to have for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I’d need a whole blog-series to talk about the food in Vietnam, but for now I’ll leave it at my favourite dish, Pho.Hanoi_pho1.IMG_2102

The best Pho I’ve found in Perth is at Tra Vinh in Northbridge. The service is haphazard, the setting plain, and the atmosphere is busy. But the food is cheap and the pho ($11.50) is just like the ones I had in Vietnam.
Tra Vinh on Urbanspoon

In Vietnam, I found that the best food we ate was street food. When we went to “upmarket” restaurants, I found the food was good, but not as exceptional as the food I bought in markets or on the street, and about five times the price. Take probiotics though, just to keep your gut healthy.

Get clothes tailored in Hoi An

A trip to Hoi An isn’t complete without choosing some fabric and having a gorgeous tailored outfit made in one of the 400 boutiques available. The key to doing this successfully is by shopping around outside the main market street for the best price and fabric. I would also recommend bringing your favourite pieces for the tailors to copy – dresses, trousers, blouses and jackets. On of my travel companions had a a Gucci jacket that three others also asked the dress maker to copy. It’s fine to haggle, but try not to do it too much unless the prices really are absurd, remember, back home this kind of service costs an arm and a leg. One of the best known tailors is Yaly, 358 Nguyen Duy Hieu St – Hoi An. They also have shops in the city centre. You can  have shoes made in Hoi An also.

Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the final resting place of Vietnam’s most popular leader (obviously named) Ho Chi Minh or Uncle Ho as the locals like to call him. Despite his wishes for a humble cremation, the mausoleum was constructed between 1973 and 1975 from materials reaching all across Vietnam. As you move through the quick lines and sea of guards, you’ll eventually make your way into the bowels of the building where the preserved body of Ho Chi Minh’s body lies in a glass cabinet. The mausoleum is closed for two months of the year while maintenance is performed on the embalmed body.

Explore the wonder of Halong Bay by Kayak

I wish I’d experienced the breathtaking sights of Halong Bay. Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, Halong Bay has a rich history with pirates, bandits and revolutionaries claiming this territory as their favourite hiding place. Discover unspoiled beaches, towering limestone barriers, vast hidden caves, tranquil lagoons and floating fishing villages. Missing Halong Bay is just one of the many reasons why I have to go back to Vietnam. Have you been? What are your tips for Halong Bay?

Like hiking in Sapa in the north of Vietnam, kayaking can also be risky without a guide to show you the way, so make sure you team with a reputable company to help create this unforgettable voyage. If you want to stay safe in a new foreign country  http://www.travelmoneyoz.com/ offers good travel insurance deals.

Mobile florist

Have you travelled to Vietnam? What would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below.

FACT FILE

Tour
Food Writers Tour in Vietnam
The Australian Writers’ Centre Food Writing Tour in Vietnam  16-24 May 2014 .

Tailor – Hoi An
Yaly
358 Nguyen Duy Hieu St – Hoi An
Tel:+84 510 391 4995

 Perth – Vietnamese Restaurant
Tra Vinh on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: This is sponsored post containing original and provided content

Great places for road trips

Life on the road can be one big crazy adventure, and something that millions travellers hope to do at least once in their life. Whether it be for the luscious scenery, the people you meet or the freedom away from the grind, one things for certain, the road is unpredictable and I mean that in the best way possible.

Considering the world is lined with over 18 million kilometres of paved roads, how many of them are actually worth the drive? Call me biased, but our road trips and that of our neighbours New Zealand have to be some of the best on the planet. And of course, we have to mention USA when talking about road trips.

Kennedy Ranges, Gascoyne, Western Australia

Kennedy Ranges, Gascoyne, Western Australia

Australia

Road trips are synonymous with the Australian holidays. It’s one of this countries biggest pastimes and nothing beats loading up the car rolling the windows down and taking in fresh air amid the wide open space. The Land Down Under is known for its rugged terrains and beautiful coastlines. But there are also mount ranges, lush rain forests, tall timber national parks, unforgettable sandy beaches, reefs teeming with colourful marine life, wide open spaces and the biggest sky you’re likely to see anywhere and unique wildlife you won’t see anywhere else in the world. While it’s amazing to journey along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, there’s nothing quite like a 4WD escapade off the beaten track. Just be sure you are prepared with plenty of water, extra fuel, spare tyres, medical kit, food, and blankets. It’s also a good idea to let local authorities know where you are heading and when are you due back. A breakdown in the outback could cost you more than car repairs.

New Zealand

Stunning NZ scenery. Photo from www.thespark.org.nz

Stunning NZ scenery. Photo from http://www.thespark.org.nz

The Land of the Long White Cloud is every a dream for every Lord of the Rings fan. Escape the big polluted cities and relish the opportunity to fill your lungs with the crisp, clean, fresh New Zealand air. This is a destination where everyday stresses are quickly forgotten as the stunning scenery captures your full attention; nothing can quite prepare you for the sheer beauty of a land time has forgot. A drive through the mountainous planes towards the centre of Middle Earth, Milford Sounds, will have your mind’s camera in complete overdrive as you pass mighty cliffs, pristine snow-capped summits, cascading waterfalls and lush greenery.

America

The ol’ USA has a rich history waiting to be unearthed if you take the time to seek it out. Roar through the winding coastlines with the top down on your convertible or jump into a van and head deep down into the south for an unforgettable journey. Sure, Route 66 is one of more romanticised, but there’s a myriad of paths that offer a remarkable view of America. Take on the legendary Highway 61 (otherwise known as the Blues Highway); a route that runs out of Memphis and along the Mississippi River. What’s so special about this drive? This area is deeply rooted with a genre of music known as the Delta Blues. Follow this road if you want to immerse yourself in music culture and history at every turn – from soul and gospel to R&B.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the awe-inspiring countries worthy of a road-trip. From the mirrored Salt Lakes in Bolivia, the sand dunes of the Gobi Desert, and The Golden Road to Samarkand, Uzbekistan – the world is your oyster. Don’t forget, you are going to need a sweet ride to complete your trip so check out Jaguar.com.au for a sneaky peek on the latest dream cars.

Photo from the rough guides.com

Photo from the rough guides.com

 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post
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Going on a road trip? Five must-have items

There is nothing quite like a road trip in Australia. The feeling of freedom when you hit the wide-open highway and driving for miles, without seeing anyone else for hours at times, is very liberating. It’s what many travellers dream about – especially those who live in high-density areas. Not only is it a great way to see the country, but you control where you stop and when you stop. Whether you are planning to cross the continent or just travel to the next city, here are our top five tips of what to bring to make your road trip a success.

If you are going an extended trip, you may want to consider packing your house up and placing your contents in a professional storage facility. If you are a homeowner, you can earn money by renting your house out, or if you are a tenant, then you’ll save money by not having to pay rent while you are away. The terms of storage facilities are flexible and the security of knowing your precious possessions are packed away securely will give you peace of mind when you are on the road. You can check out what’s on offer at http://www.fortknoxstorage.com.au/

1. The Map

A road atlas or map is essential

A road atlas or map is essential

Half the fun of a road trip is pouring over a map and planning your route. While most travellers have a GPS these days, a map is invaluable for giving you the bigger picture, for showing alternative routes, and also when there is no signal or if the battery fails on the GPS!

2. Spares

Be prepared in case of a breakdown. Every car should carry at least one spare tyre – imagine being stuck on the side of the road without a spare tyre? It’s a good idea to carry extra fuel and oil, a fan belt, air filter and a basic tool kit that includes a jack. It is also a good idea to carry an extra set of keys in case of loss.

3. First Aid Kit

You can buy a first aid kit or put one together for yourself. You should include the basics like band aids, antiseptic, a bandage, pain killers, diarrhea and some anti-nausea tablets. Consider taking a first aid course so you know how to handle a medical emergency when on the road. I also take ear plugs with me everywhere.

4. Electronics

Don’t forget your camera, laptop or tablet, and mobile phone. You will find many spectacular sights along the way so carry your camera in the car.. I always have at least one spare camera battery, a spare memory card and a phone charger in the car. Even if you want to get away from it all and be disconnected from the modern world, I would still recommend you take a mobile phone, just in case. You don’t have to check it every five minutes, but it could really help if you ever got stuck or if you needed to get in touch with loved ones back home. .

5. Food and Water

It can be a long way between stops in Australia, particularly in the outback, so you need to carry plenty of water with you. Breaking down without water and food can be fatal. Carrying your food in an esky will help keep it cool and fresh. Ice is available at most truck stops and petrol stations, or better still, invest in a powered car fridge. This is a much cheaper option than eating out all the time and cooking your own can be a better option than eating fried food offered at a roadhouse.

Happy road tripping and drive safe. Are you taking a road trip over these holidays? 

Gorgeous autumn colours, the approach to Silkwood Wines

Gorgeous autumn colours, the approach to Silkwood Wines, Pemberton, Western Australia

Disclosure: this sponsored post brought to you by Fort Knox Storage

What does adventure mean to me?

What does adventure mean to me? It means discovering something new, challenging myself out of my comfort zone, taking calculated risks, trying new foods, and learning about a new place and its culture.

What does adventure mean to me?

In Bolivia, I rode a mountain bike down the world’s most dangerous road, known as Death Road, connecting La Paz to Coroico. Take a look at us jumping with joy to still be alive during the 64km downhill ride. The sheer drop from the single lane pot-holed gravel road was hundreds of metres, straight down, with no barrier protection. One unlucky skid and it could have been all over. Frightening? Absolutely terrifying. Exhilarating? You bet. To ride through the scenery that started at 4700 metres above sea level surrounded by glaciers and ice-whipping wind and finished 1200 metres above sea level amid humid lush tropical rain forests was simply spectacular.

Adventure also means getting away from it all, as the red-earthed dirt road in the Gascoyne, central Western Australia, depicts. Or taking a boat trip in Vietnam to visit a remote outdoor coconut candy factory to sample their wares.

Food is also an adventure – wherever and whenever possible, I eat like the locals. I have found myself buying tomatoes, cheese and bread to make myself a panini from a market in Palermo, enjoying a bowl of steaming Pho Bo from a street food stall in Hanoi, and sitting in a cosy pub in Edinburgh tucking into a hearty meal.

What does adventure mean to you?

FACT FILE:

Southern Cross Travel Insurance is running a competition for bloggers to win $2000 towards their next adventure and other great prizes. Competition closes 30 November.  More details can be found here

The Challenge

As the entry conditions clearly state, I challenge two other bloggers to share with us what adventure means to them:

The Skinny Perth & Eat Meets West. I know these two bloggers have plenty of adventure stories they could share – and they both have great blogs if you want to check them out ;)

 

Woot! Cheap fares to China and beyond

China Southern Airlines has introduced new A330-200 aircraft onto Australian routes with the airline’s A330-223 touching down in Perth for the first time yesterday.
It’s great that another full service airline can now give some of the other big players serious competition.  Travellers can fly return to Guangzhou, the airline’s modern hub in southern China, from Perth for $760* in Economy and $3230* in Business.

The introductory fares include taxes and are on sale now for travel throughout 2013, but flights need to be booked by 5 April, so you have to be quick!
The new A330 Airbus has flatbeds in Business Class and personal entertainment television sets for everyone.
China Southern’s Canton Route to the world reaches almost 200 destinations in 35 countries and regions using a range of aircraft from its growing fleet of more than 500 planes.
FACT FILE
For reservations call 1300 889 628.
For customer service assistance email customercare@csair.com.au
China Southern's A330-223 arriving at Perth International Airport
Declaration:  Pronto PR (Dianne Bortoletto’s business) is working with Bright Communications to promote China Southern Airlines in Western Australia.

Progressive Fine Dining – Eat Drink Perth tour

The Fine Dining Progressive Dinner as part of the Eat Drink Perth food festival happening in WA’s capital city during the month of March, is a great way to experience three of the city’s finest restaurants.

Led by Perth’s popular walking tour specialists Two Feet and Heart Beat, the progressive dinner itinerary featured entree at the Print Hall, main meal at Lamonts Bishop House, and dessert at the Terrace Hotel.

Firstly, before a decadent dinner, Two Feet and a Heart Beat owner Ryan took our small group of seven on a short secret art walking tour.  It’s secret because we saw some art in a secret city alley way that hardly anyone knows exists. I’m not sure I should give Two Feet and a Heart Beat’s secret away by telling you where it is? You might have to message me on Facebook and ask very nicely if you really want to know.  We found it  interesting and eye opening.

Onto the Print Hall. This was Zorba’s first time to Brookfield Place and he liked it. Thank God. Trying to get him to agree to a night out in the city is a challenge.  I think it’s going to be a bit easier from here on. He loved it.

We were spoilt with two entrees; two types of freshly shucked oysters – South Australian (bigger and delicate flavour) and Albany (smaller more intense flavour). It was interesting to compare the two types.  My allegiance to WA was put to one side for a moment as my taste buds preferred the South Australian oysters for their delicate flavour.  Others preferred the creaminess of the Albany oysters.  The two vinaigrettes were beautiful, but I still prefer just a squeeze of lemon when the oysters are as good as these.

Two types of Oysters, Print Hall

Two types of Oysters, Print Hall

Print Hall has an oyster special on Tuesdays, two dozen oysters for $50.  That’s just over $2 per oyster. A bargain. Zorba (who loves a bargain) and another tour goer Barry decided to get another two dozen to share. Totally indulgent – I love it!

I thoroughly enjoyed a glass of Pinot Noir from the USA. I know, I know, I should have chosen bubbly or white wine, but the red just sounded (and tasted!) so good. I broke the sacred wine with food rule. Oh well, rules are made to be broken.

Tasting platter, Print Hall

Tasting platter, Print Hall

The second part of our entree at the Print Hall was a tasting platter featuring a gorgeous pistachio and pork terrine, serrano jamon, air dried shaved beef, salami, a chorizo like sausage, pickled vegetables, and yummy rye grissini bread sticks as well as fresh bread. The house made butter was a little cold and hard to spread at first, but boy was it creamy and delicious after a few minutes.

The terrine was an absolute standout. Firm texture with the added crunch of the pistachio made it something really special.  Beautifully flavoured. Everything on the platter was gorgeous, but fairly standard fare in our house, besides the terrine.  It was so good.

Next stop, Lamonts at Bishop House.  Bishop’s House is tucked away behind Rigby’s bar between Mill Street and Spring Street in the city.  Many moons ago, a fresh spring once ran under neath where the house is built, hence the name of Spring Street. The heritage listed house was built in 1859. It is so lovely and who ever did the interior design really did a outstanding job – it’s beautifully furnished.  It has a warm and welcoming ambience – the vibe the building exuded made me feel instantly comfortable, like I had been there before.  We sat on the balcony overlooking the gardens that provided a natural shield to the traffic on Mounts Bay Road.

Barramundi at Lamonts

Barramundi at Lamonts

The food at Lamonts, at any Lamonts restaurant, is unbelievably good. Tonight was no exception. Barramundi with a fried zucchini flower and roast pepper and tomato salsa. The zucchini flower, that wasn’t stuffed, was delicate and crispy – as good as any I’ve had in Italy. The barramundi was gorgeous, flakey and soft. The roasted pepper and tomato salsa was amazing. Everything worked beautifully. And we got two pieces of bread and house made butter also. The Germans in our group were very excited about the quality of the bread, saying it was just like bread they got back home.

The Lamonts Shiraz was delicious. Yes, I know, again I had red wine with seafood.  Seriously, with red wine this good, I’d have it with cereal. Perfect Shiraz.

Off for another short walk. Tour guide Ryan pointed out some more interesting pieces of art on the corner of the St Georges Terrace and Milligan Street, before leading us into the Terrace Hotel.

Delicious fortified dessert wine

Delicious fortified dessert wine

Italian waiter Antonio explained the complex process of how the fortified wine was made; the wine is distilled in one wine barrel for a set time before being moved to a series of older barrels, until it reached the oldest mother barrel, which was made in 1927, which was also the name of the wine.  He said it could be called a sherry. Call it what ever you like – but can I have another glass? It was yummy, like a light port.

The dessert wine accompanied a cheese platter.  By far the blue cheese and the quince jam was my second favourite. My favourite was the dessert wine, whilst not technically a food group, I’d happily skip dessert just for the wine.

We sat in a private dining room surround by a gazillion dollars worth of wine and champagne.  I had cellar envy for sure.

If I was to make any criticism, it would come from my sweet tooth. Cheese I love, but not as much as chocolate. It would have been a fitting end to a delicious and delightful night to have a chocolate dessert or petit fours.

It was 10.15pm and our night came to an end.  We were grateful that we had a good group that chatted and gelled well together. This was helped along by tour guide Ryan, a Canadian, who has a really lovely way with people. It’s no surprise that his tourism business is doing so well.

It was a terrific way to experience three of Perth’s newest fine dining establishments in one night, at the cost of having just one night out at one of these venues.

Don’t delay, the progressive dinner is only on again next Monday and Tuesday. It costs $140 per person.  A glass of wine or beer is included with each course.  The wine was most generous at Lamonts as the friendly waiter continued to top up our glasses. Thanks Lamonts.

We hope Tour operators Two Feet and a Heart Beat are able to continue the Fine Dining Progressive Dinner as part of their tour offerings as planned. A great idea and it was fun to be tourist in my own city. Try it, like me, you might discover some new secrets.

We paid for our own tickets to this event.

FACT FILE

Eat Drink Perth runs for the month of March in the City of Perth.

Two Feet and a Heart Beat offer interesting walking  and small bar tours in Perth and Sydney.
Print Hall Bar and Dining Room on Urbanspoon

Lamont's Bishop House on Urbanspoon

The Terrace Hotel on Urbanspoon

Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe

Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe has once again transformed Perth’s iconic beach to an open-air Sculpture Park.  Over 70 local, national and international artists have created cool works for everyone to enjoy.  Best thing of all, it doesn’t cost a cent. That’s right, it’s completely free.   From the grandiose, to those that are fun for the kids, to the thought provoking, the range of sculptures will appeal to a variety of tastes.  Some sculptures are truly beautiful and pretty cool, while others left me wondering, really is that what they call art?

I checked out the 9th Annual Sculpture by Sea very early on opening day and was as impressed as I have been in past years.

I particularly loved the fishing rods piece, aptly named ‘casting around’.

Image

casting around, Ruth Downes & Geoff Webster, NSW

This big wooden sculpture called ‘upside down again’ was also really cool. It was big and I loved the way you can look through it and see the ocean.

There we so many great pieces, it’s hard to choose which ones to write about. I’ll let the pictures paint the words and do the story telling, then you can see for yourself and make your own mind up.

A great night out would be to grab some fish n chips and enjoy dinner on the grassy banks or on the beach itself surrounded by inspiring art.

If you end up going, let me know your favourite piece. I really liked habibi on the end of the groin, portal depicting three men crouching together, and upside down again twisted wooden cavern.

Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe started on 8 March and finishes on 24 March.

I’m never going anywhere without these again

I must’ve been a good girl this year because Santa brought me a pair of Bose QC15 noise-cancelling headphones for Christmas.  I’ve wanted a pair for ages, but at a cost of between $400 and $500 (even on eBay!), they were always beyond my budget.

Santa, aka my lovely husband Zorba, came up with the good this year.  Mind you, this was my one and only present from him!

Bose QC15 noise cancelling headphones in case

Bose QC15 noise cancelling headphones in case

Since December 25, my head has rarely been without my limited edition Bose headphones. My music experience has been transformed, propelled to a higher place.

When listening to music, even at a soft level, I can not hear Zorba speaking at all. It’s like his lips are just moving without any sound coming out. That’s BRILLIANT! Especially when he’s on a rant…ha!

Not only do these headphones work a treat, but they super comfortable, quite cool looking and beautifully designed.  They are light to wear and carry, the case is also light which makes taking them away easy, and they come with all the accessories you need – a microphone cord with remote compatible with iPhones, an aeroplane adapter so you can watch movies in peace, and a normal cord without a microphone.

I’ve used them while listening to a meditation CD and it was a new and wonderful experience. No noise distractions at all.

MRGourmet Escape1.IMG_1291

I used them when I was getting acupuncture, and again, I was able to relax while the needles went to work. I’ve never felt so relaxed after acupuncture before, ever.

I wear them pretty much all day around my home office and press the remote to answer calls.  The only slightly strange sensation is the sound of my voice – because I can’t hear properly, my voice sounds weird! After a little while, I got used to it.

The QC15 Bose noise cancelling headphones are coming with me on every single trip from this day on.

Thank you Zorba for the best present EVER!  These are limited edition blue headphones that were purchased from Myer in Australia.

By the way, this is not a sponsored post (although that would be nice..!)

FACT FILE

For more information, visit the Bose website

Myer Australia currently have the limited edition headphones for sale.

Rottnest Island

Perth’s very own island getaway is just a short 40minute ferry ride from Fremantle.  Welcome to the absolutely beautiful Rottnest Island holiday paradise. This little island has a circumference of 25km. There are no cars allowed and the preferred method of transport is by push bike. There is a bus that services the island’s bays, beaches and attractions for those that don’t want to ride.

Parakeet Bay Rottnest Island

Parakeet Bay Rottnest Island

The beaches at ‘Rotto’, as the locals call it, are stunning, some of the best in the world. Having visited the most beautiful beaches in other amazing places around the world including the Galapagos Islands, Sardinia in Italy, Brazil, Bali, Greece, and Queensland, I can say with authority that Rottnest’s beaches are up there with the best of them.  So beautiful you just never want to leave.

Geordie Bay

Geordie Bay

The lake - where our deluxe room at the Lodge looks out on

The lake – where our deluxe room at the Lodge looks out on

Our Deluxe room

Our Deluxe room

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Our original room at the Lodge – the Palm Court room

First bathroom in Palm Court room

First bathroom in Palm Court room

Quokka

Quokka

Quokka

Quokka

Quokkas trying to get in on the breakfast action

Quokkas trying to get in on the breakfast action

Hello Mr Peacock

Hello Mr Peacock

Rotto is a very family friendly holiday spot. Accommodation is fairly basic – camping, cabins, chalets and villas – all very basic and the word luxury does not describe any of them. Yet during peak season, it is expensive to stay.  There is also the Rottnest Island Hotel and the Rottnest Island Lodge. The Hotel has recently been refurbished and one can expect to pay upwards of $300 per night for a room without ocean views.

In the past we have stayed in the villas that line Geordie Bay – they are basic but have everything you need – a balcony to look out at the stunning bay, a kitchen equipped with the essentials, bathroom and a choice of two or three bedrooms that sleeps four to six people.   In peak season, a villa for six people will set you back about $2000+ for one week.

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This time however, we chose to stay at the Lodge.  Entertainment Book members, which I am, receive a discount.

The Deluxe room – which we upgraded to once we checked in and decided we didn’t like the Palm Court room – cost $290 per night with a discount. It has a lovely view over the lake, is spacious, has a king size bed, flat screen TV, bar fridge, a modern bathroom and a great shower. Yes, it’s expensive, but it is one hundred times better than the Palm Court room that was once a boys reformatory in 1890.  I did nick name it Cell Block B because it was so much like a prison room!

The discounted rate at the Lodge for a Palm Court room was $210 per night. As you can see from the photos, it is a bit grim. The rooms are dated, stuffy, small, and not that cheap really.  There is no view, no balcony or outside space, and neither of us wanted to spend more than 5 minutes in it. Our room also had a smell to it that was all but pleasant.

Zorba didn’t care how much extra we had to pay, he just wanted out of the Palm Court room.  I couldn’t blame him really.

Once we moved into the Deluxe lakeside room, he declared, “Now I feel like I’m on holidays and I’m excited to be here!”. As long as the Greek is happy!

Native to Rottnest are Quokkas, little marsupials that are part of the rodent family. They are super cute and they are everywhere. They are quite used to tourists and often join in for breakfast!

There are also beautiful birds of all descriptions and some fairly friendly peacocks.

Breakfast at the Lodge offered the standard hotel buffet fare – bacon, scrambled eggs, poached eggs, tomato, baked beans, toast, fruit, cereal, juice, and filter coffee and tea.

There is a pool at the Lodge too – which is little and during our two-night stay, it was always packed. With beaches as stunning as those on this little island, I couldn’t understand why you would want to sit almost on top of people around a little pool.

The beauty of Rotto is that there really isn’t that much to do except beach it, sleep, eat, and rest. There are tennis courts, a 9-hole golf course, an old war canon, a couple of lighthouses and some surf on the east side of the island. It’s just so relaxing and so so so picturesque.  The beauty for families is that kids can ride their bikes without traffic fears and because of days filled with swimming, riding and exploring, kids wear themselves out and fall into bed at the end of the day. Every parent’s dream!

Parakeet Bay at Rottnest Island

Parakeet Bay at Rottnest Island

Eating out options are fairly limited and none of the options are really worthy of much comment. The Hotel pub has great views and a cool vibe, but the food there is average. Aristos seafood is also ordinary. The bakery is a ok and there’s a wholefood cafe that is quite good. Simmos ice creamery has opened up and next door is Lane cafe that serves proper barista made coffee.  There is also a Dome. The general store is well stocked and prices are marginally more expensive that those in Perth. Self catering is the way to go.

Yes, Rotto is expensive in peak season, but it’s also an awesome holiday that is devoid of too many choices that makes a stay on Rotto simply relaxing.  I love it.

FACT FILE

Rottnest Island Information
The Lodge at Rottnest
Rottnest Hotel
Rottnest Fast Ferries
Rottnest Express