Caloundra Street Fair

If you’re into street markets, this is a good one. Apparently it’s been voted best street market on the coast. I’m not sure about that, but it is certainly the largest. As an aside, I’m not counting Eumundi as a street market – it’s in a class all of its own…

Anyways, every Sunday – from 8am to 1pm – the main street of Caloundra is closed to traffic and 200 stalls move in selling everything from arts and crafts to produce to plants to clothes to fresh food to…you get the idea.

These were the biggest dream catchers I’ve ever seen!

I’ve seen some of the stalls at Eumundi, so if you’re staying around Caloundra and can’t make it up to Eumundi on Saturday, this is a good alternative.

If you’re after something to eat, there’s plenty of food on offer, and music while you eat it.

We chose instead to wander the couple of blocks down to Bulcock Beach and had fish and chips overlooking  Pumicestone Passage.

Bliss.

When?

Caloundra Street Markets are on every Sunday from 8am-1pm

Where?

Bulcock Street, Caloundra

Dog friendly?

Leashed only…

Parking?

There’s plenty around the side streets.

More information?

If you want more information, check out their website or stay up to date with their Facebook page.

 

Come fly with me…

It’s noisy up here, but through our helmets we can hear the chatter of firstly the Caloundra Air Controller and later the Sunshine Coast Control. The plane rises and falls gently as the wind catches her and moves her – and us – about. It’s as if we’re riding the swell of the wind.

Below us the ocean sparkles in the sunlight. We look for whales but can see none.

We’re flying in a Waco open cockpit biplane – and the experience is about as far from an economy seat on a Jetstar flight as it’s possible to get. It’s flying with the wind in your hair, flying when it was really special, flying with more than a touch of 1930s glamour. It’s flying with the birds.

This “bird” is beautiful – sleek and smooth. Rodney, our pilot, tells us that she’s affectionately named Marilyn – a blonde, curvy American. The seats are upholstered leather – like an armchair – and it’s much warmer and more comfortable than I thought it would be.

Before we took off Rodney pointed out the different indicators and the pedals on the floor – which we were told not to touch. He also showed us where the compartment was for the breakfast carrier, or sick bags, in case we needed them – which we didn’t. The original use for these would have been to carry a businessman’s lunch or flask, I suppose.

This joyflight was a combined birthday present for Miss 19 and I. We chose the Caloundra Classic to Mooloolaba flight – a route that took us along the beaches of Caloundra, up the coast and over the Mooloolaba Spit, and turning around at the Maroochy River mouth before heading back.

Although we didn’t choose the aerobatics package, along the way Rodney tossed in a couple of sharp turns and “wing overs” which were enough to get our hearts raising.

Take off and landing (an old fashioned grass landing) was smooth, and the flight itself fabulous – the coast really is even more beautiful from up high.

The verdict?

A nostalgic trip back to a time when flying was romantic – and a flight to remember. From up here we got great views of the Glasshouse Mountains, Bribie Island and the Pumicestone Passage, and, of course, the fabulous Sunshine Coast through to Maroochydore.

How much?

Flights are available from $298 – and best part is that 2 of you can go up for that price.

What about the knees?

I was worried about getting in and out of the seat – and of stepping on the wrong part of the wing and causing damage. I needn’t have been concerned. Even with my dodgy back and knees it was all ok – and they use a step ladder to climb up and in.

How squishy?

Yeah, it’s a tad squishy, but if you’ve flown Jetstar lately… Seriously though, I wouldn’t want to fly for hours like this, but it’s surprising how much legroom you have. I, however, needed a booster cushion to be able to see out.

Did we feel safe?

Completely so.

More information?

You can find more information here. Fighter Pilot Jet Flights run biplane scenic flights from Caloundra Airport and Brisbane.

Maroochy Bushland Botanic Gardens

These are not your average Botanical Gardens. Aside from the Sculpture Garden, there are no manicured lawns and exotic flowering plants. Instead, what you have is bushland – a place to breathe, and wander, and relax, and remember what it’s like to reconnect with nature after a hard week in the office where you’ve been thinking too much. That last bit came out loud, didn’t it?

Why come? Aside from the breathing, relaxing,  reconnecting, and grounding part? The bush walks, of course – gentle enough for all levels of fitness, short enough to fit into a busy day, and interesting enough to make you think you’ve been in the bush.

Lagoon Circuit

This track takes you on a round trip around the lagoon.

It’s about 1.2kms – or thereabouts – has a bit of up and down, but is an easy walk. The track is dirt, but well maintained – although I imagine there could be some slippery parts if it’s been raining. There are a few stairs, so I wouldn’t recommend this path for wheelchairs or prams.

There are viewing platforms at a couple of points around the lagoon, and on a clear day the reflections are worth a picture or three.

or more…

Fern Glade

The Fern Glade is another short walk – about 900m, on a fully accessible concrete path.

A few degrees cooler than the bush track, I’ll be keeping this little oasis in mind on a hot summer’s day.

Sculpture Garden

Another 900m on another fully accessible path, it’s worth a wander.

Facilities…

There are plenty of picnic tables, but no barbecues – you can bring your own, if you want. Oh, and there are no rubbish bins, so make sure you bring something to take your garbage home in. Inconvenient yes, but it’s all about not interfering with the natural feeding patterns of the animals and birds that live in the gardens.

Yes, there are toilets.

Accessibility…

Aside from the bush tracks, there are other accessible paths in the gardens.

Dogs…

No dogs are allowed in the gardens.

Admission…

The gardens are open every day and admission is free.

More information…

The gardens are located off Tanawha Tourist Drive. You’ll find more information here.

Coastal Pathway: Point Cartwright – Kawana

Followers of my instagram page know that I like me a good sunrise, but there’s something about seeing a sunrise from a lighthouse that feels like you’re really making an effort to see the sunrise, if you know what I mean.

It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for months – catch the sunrise from Point Cartwright. I’ve also been meaning to do the first leg of the Point Cartwright to Caloundra coastal pathway – just as far as Kawana, anyways. Plus, I’ve been wanting to try the breakfast at One on Balsa, so why not combine all three? Now that’s what I call multi-tasking.

Start and Finish…

We parked up near the lighthouse – mainly because the pathway starts at the Lighthouse, but also because it was still dark when we arrived. You could, however, park at Balsa Park and walk beside the river and then up to the Lighthouse – see this post for more information.

We waited for sunrise and then started walking.

Distance…

It’s just 3kms from the Lighthouse to Kawana Surf Club. From here you can keep walking – the path goes all the way to Caloundra. We turned around and retraced our steps for a total of 6kms.

The path…

The path is wide and paved the whole way – aside from some boardwalk near the lighthouse.

It’s fully accessible for prams and wheelchairs. The only obstacles are the early morning runners. Other than that, it’s a little up and down in a few places, but nothing steep. Besides, with this view, the steps just fade away.

Dog friendly?

On a leash, absolutely. There are also plenty of exits down to the beach, so check the signage at each if you intend letting el poocho off to run.

 

Toilets?

Yep, there are some at the Lighthouse, at Buddina Beach, and at Kawana near the Surf Club. There’s also a really well-equipped outdoor gym at the Surf Club.

Coffee and food?

I’m glad that you asked. We rewarded ourselves with breakfast at One on Balsa at Balsa Park. The outlook is fabulous – across the river to the yachts and the fisheries at Mooloolaba. This morning there was a group of intrepid over 60’s doing tai chi. You could almost touch the serenity.

But back to One on Balsa….

They have an extensive juice and smoothie menu, but we settled on a fresh orange juice and a restorative coffee.

As for breakfast, I chose the breakfast bruschetta – essentially an avo smash with bacon and fabulous tomatoes – and Miss 19 went for an acai bowl.

I have a theory that acai bowls were invented not for their super food status, but for instagram. These things are seriously pretty and it seems that half the cafes on the coast use them to hero their social media accounts. Anyways, Miss 19, who is a self-confessed expert on acai bowls, declared this a really good one. Apparently the difference was in the depth of banana, and the use of great rather than ordinary granola. Served in a bowl deeper than it looks in the pic, she said it was full of yummy surprises.

I’ll be back for some of the lunchtime salads – maybe when I do the next leg of the path…

The Spirit House Cooking School – Essential Thai

The Spirit House. It’s my favourite restaurant here on the Sunshine Coast – I’ve told you about it before here, here and here. I’ve even gone as far as saying that if I ever got married again (naturally to the same man) I’d do it here – especially now that they’ve got a really cool bar area that looks like it’s been transported from Bali…more on that another time.

Anyways, I have 4 of their cookbooks – 2 of which are almost falling apart from overuse – but have never been to one of their constantly booked out cooking classes. Not because I haven’t wanted to – but because I haven’t got my act sufficiently into gear to plan ahead.

Hubby solved that problem with a birthday gift of 2 vouchers to their Essential Thai class…so off we went.

On the menu was:

  • Pork and prawn dumpling soup with shredded omelette and golden garlic
  • Salad of caramelised pork belly with green papaya (green mango is out of season), and nahm jim dressing
  • Stir fry duck breast with roasted chilli paste, wild betel leaves and crispy shallots
  • Steamed Chinese broccoli with ginger, oyster sauce, and toasted sesame seeds
  • Fried mahi mahi (actually, it was Spanish mackerel) with green curry sauce, Thai basil, and lime juice

At a Spirit House Cooking Class, you’re not watching – you’re doing. So yes, we chopped and diced and pounded our way through all the ingredient preparation – and then we put it all together…and then we ate it.

Ok, that probably seems as though I’ve condensed a 4 hour cooking class into a couple of paragraphs, but seriously, that’s what this one is about. You prepare, you cook, you eat…

It’s probably easier to show you the day in photos…

And the finished product? All I can say is wear comfy pants or elastic waists. Plus, this is the only cooking school I’ve been to where they serve beer and wine (complimentary) with your food. Bonus.

The Verdict…

Well worth the money and the pre-planning. If you’re doing this as part of a Sunshine Coast holiday, I’d recommend booking as soon as you book your trip to the coast. If you’re coming up from Brisbane or are local, the classes book out a few months in advance – especially during summer and July holidays. More info and booking forms can be found here.

Getting there…

The Spirit House is located at 20 Ninderry Rd, Yandina. You’ll need to drive – or book a taxi/uber. Directions are on the website.

Food Allergies?

Gluten free and vegetarian diets are catered for. The soy sauce and oyster sauce we used in class (and purchased to bring home) is gluten free.

Recipes?

You can find a similar caramelised pork belly recipe on the website here.

My favourite dish of the day was the Steamed Chinese Broccoli – and it couldn’t be easier. Simply wash the broccoli and cut roughly – separating the stems from the leaves.

In a small bowl combine ⅓ cup oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon light soy sauce, 1 clove garlic (peeled and crushed – you can even grate it), 1 tablespoon peeled and grated ginger, 1 teaspoon sesame oil.

Steam the broccoli stems in a steamer basket (naturally over boiling water) for 3 minutes, add the leaves and steam for another minute.

Transfer to a serving platter and spoon over the sauce and scatter with a couple of tablespoons toasted sesame seeds.

Too easy.

 

 

One Block Back

This place had me at warehouse style.

Located in a quiet street back from the main Moffat Beach Village, One Block Back would be equally at home in Abbotsford as it is here on the Sunshine Coast.

The space is huge – with plenty of room inside for working, eating, coffee, whatever. Outside there’s a little garden area with resident cheeky butcher birds and magpies and the occasional kookaburra.

As for the food? We’ve been a couple of times now and sampled the wagyu burger with piccalilli mayo – make sure you ask for sweet potato fries with that – the chicken BLT, and the smashed avo due with avo and pumpkin hummus.  Miss 19 loves the RAWR food treats that also come out of the kitchen. She recommends the raw wagon wheel or snickers – no nasties and apparently yummo. We haven’t tried the hotcakes, but watched a heap of them coming out on Saturday and boy, did they look pretty!

The service has been a tad on the whatever side – on our first visit (a Friday lunchtime) it was spot on, but last Saturday our meals staggered out, with the poached egg arriving for my smashed duo well after my smashed duo did. Not that it mattered – it was an overcast Saturday lunchtime and we had nowhere else we needed to be.  Besides, the food was fabulous – although I’m still unconvinced about this whole activated charcoal thing – and a thing it is.

Oh, and newish to One Block Back, but not on the menu yet are, wait for it…doughnut fries. Yes, really. They look like fries, they’re served in a little box like fries, but they’re strips of doughnut rolled in cinnamon and sugar…and even drizzled with nutmeg. Stop it already.

The verdict? 

A huge yes! Even if it’s just for that piccalilli mayo…or the sweet potato fries…or that pumpkin hummus. You know what? Just go.

The Details…

One Block Back is at 106 Nothling Street, Moffat Beach

Opening Hours 7am – 3pm

You can find them on Facebook here

January 2018 Update

One Block Back is now licensed, yes, you heard that right.

Pesto eggs

The menu has changed a tad – the hotcakes have been replaced by waffles and the beans have been moved to the winter reserves bench in favour of pesto eggs with beetroot and halloumi.

Acai bowls

Maleny Show

‘Ladies and gentlemen, you’ll need to go a long way before you see jumping as good as this.’

‘And look at the condition of the ground – you don’t get it better than this.’

‘No, you don’t – you’re in Maleny now. It’s doesn’t get any better than this.’

The ground announcers weren’t wrong – it doesn’t get much better than this.

Besides, what’s not to like about a show?

There’s food, and animals, and rides, and showbags, and ring events. There are also substances masquerading as food (dagwood dogs, I’m looking at you…) but we can forgive that. There’s the CWA tent, woodchopping, singers performing both kinds of music – country and western – showjumping, and so much more. Being a country show, you can even look at agricultural supplies and tractors – if you’re that way inclined.

We wandered through the vegetable displays, the baking, the art, and the fabulous produce that the schools on the Sunshine Coast are growing. There’s really something so wonderful about seeing the numbers of entries and the efforts the entrants have put into their offerings. I was, however, concerned that there were prizes given for the best chokos…my memories of them from childhood were not good!

We watched the judging of the dairy cattle, were crowded in the poultry shed, and sat and watched the showjumping while enjoying a fabulous lunch from the Mexican Cantina – the TS Jalopeno (supporting the Navy Cadets). This burrito bowl was more than I could eat, and was great value at $8. Yes, you heard that right. They even had little tables decorated. Very pleasant indeed.

Sure, you can blow a fortune on showbags and rides and crap food, but you can also have hours of fun for not a lot of money – and some really really good food as well. I wish that we’d seen the Black Angus Burgers earlier – and the swim club was selling roast dinners piled on plates for only about $12 (or was it $15?). I was also really tempted by the bahn mi and green papaya salad on offer at the Vietnamese food truck.

Anyways, Maleny Show is in its 80th year and it’s on again tomorrow Saturday June 3, 2017. Go to the show website for more information – and details about park and ride. There were big crowds there today and with tomorrow also forecast to be a cracker (weather wise) I suspect there’ll be even more people there tomorrow.

 

Brouhaha Brewery

Brouhaha
noun

A noisy and overexcited reaction or response to something…

Synchronicity
noun
The simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.
It was synchronicity that led us to lunch at Brouhaha Brewery. Synchronicity and instagram. You see, it was a few days before Mother’s Day and my husband had uncharacteristically failed to organise a venue for lunch. Which translates to he realised that Mother’s Day was on Sunday, hadn’t booked anywhere, had no idea where to book, so threw his hands up in the air and said, ‘well, I don’t know where you want to go!’
As it happened, I’d been scrolling through instagram and just happened to see a post from Brouhaha. ‘Here,’ I said. ‘Let’s try here.’ Synchronicity.
So we did.
Mother’s Day is rarely a good day to try a new place out. The menu is usually cut down, the service staff are run ragged, and every last available inch of space is occupied. And yes, that was the case with Brouhaha too – but it was Mother’s Day – and we ate early enough that the roast was fresh and good (a real Sunday roast with proper yorkies, perfectly cooked veg and fresh horseradish…yes, fresh – not out of a jar).
Plus, the service was still good…and the pork scratchings with beer mustard dip worth the trip alone.
‘We’ll come back another day,’ we promised ourselves. ‘When it’s not Mother’s Day and the full menu is available.’
That someday was today. With beer loving friends in town, it was the perfect excuse to revisit Brouhaha. This time around we took our time, chose the beer for the paddle, and sat outside on the deck.
The verdict? I think we’ll need to come back again some time to make really sure that it’s worth coming back 🙂
You’ll find Brouhaha Brewery in Coral Street, Maleny. Booking is recommended and, the best bit, there’s plenty of parking. If you’re after more information, you can find it on the website. Oh, and there’s even an open fire for those cold, wintry, Sunshine Coast days…

Mooloolaba Sea life…Underwater World

We’ve been coming to Sea life (or Underwater World, as we’ve always called it) since Miss 19 was Miss still in a pram. It’s become a tradition – one of the first things we had to do each time we came to the coast.

But it’s been a few years since we’ve been here and, well, the otters have gone – and I can’t seem to find out why. (If you know, please tell me).

Other than the missing otters, Underwater World still delivers.

There’s still the ocean glass tunnels with the massive gropers, rays and reef sharks.

There’s still the billabongs and the river zones, the seahorses and pacific reef. And there’s still the seals – watching their antics is worth the price of admission alone. Make sure that you time your visit for the twice daily shows.

The touch pool out the front is still a source of wonder for little kids, but at the moment it’s also serving as a nursery for a clutch of baby turtles. They’ll be grown in the aquarium until they’re 15cm long and have a fighting chance in the ocean (did you know that just 1 in 1000 sea turtles survives to maturity?). The turtles are tagged, released, and their travels tracked. With luck, they’ll survive to come back to the beach of their hatching to lay their own eggs – many years from now.

The jellyfish are also pretty incredible. Coincidentally, I heard a podcast only the day before we visited Underwater World that was talking about how jellyfish are both an early warning system on an ecosystem that’s failing – and the cause of a failing eco system getting substantially worse. They’re fabulously interestingly weird creatures – and extremely photogenic.

Worth a visit?

Absolutely. Buy your tickets online to save queues – particularly on weekends and at school holiday time.

Underwater World is also the perfect rainy day school holiday activity – not that it ever rains here on the Sunshine Coast…well, hardly ever…

Maleny – a walk down Maple Street

I’m not sure whether it’s the bookstores, the photo gallery, the cafe’s, the fabulous cheese range at Maleny Food Co, or the organic-y, new age-y places, but Maleny is probably my favourite town to visit in the Hinterland. Perhaps it’s just the general vibe of the place.

I’ll let the photos tell the story.