Not sure what’s more impressive… the waterfall or my calves…
Often when I’m camping with Scott I think “This is fun, but this would be even more fun with friends.” So when our new board game friends invited us to go camping with them on Australia Day weekend I said YES!!!!
We drove up on Saturday morning stopping at Platypi Chocolate and a couple waterfalls. I really wanted to see a pink robin, which only live in certain parts of the Otways, but no luck. The waterfalls were nice though.
Scott had a nice time throwing the vortex on the beach with the gang. One of the guys had a killer throw, even against the wind.
I was so impressed with everyone’s food organization. We made tacos and that was probably the trashiest meal out of everyone haha.
Many board games were played, of course. Crowd favourites were Camel Up and Wits & Wagers.
Johanna Beach is a bit rough for swimming (and it was too cold anyway), but has cool tide pools and nice sunset views!
I did not enjoy this cider. It had chunks and was still and bitter and yuck.
We all drove out to Melba Gully at night to see the glow worms. It was amazing!! There were way more glow worms there than at Lake Elizabeth. They are magical.
Plus the sky that night was one of the clearest night skies I’ve seen in my life. There was zero clouds, zero moon, and zero light pollution. AMAZING! We saw shooting stars after looking up for like 3 minutes because you could just see EVERYTHING. You could see the milky way, which I thought was amazing (although when I was talking to my astrophotographer friend back in Melbourne later he said I couldn’t even really see the milky way at this time of the year at that time. I was like DUDE WHAT WAS I LOOKING AT THEN. He said just the edge. I think the full milky way experience would make my brain explode.)
Rosemarie requested that I write about PBs, books I read, new board game reviews, and favourite recipes of 2019, so here I go…
PBs: snatch 41 kg -> 46 kg (in training), clean & jerk 49 kg -> 54 kg. The bigger accomplishment has been fixing my back enough that I can do all movements again! I think my PB potential is very good for 2020.
Books (TBH I’m not sure if I read these in 2019 or earlier but here are the last few books I read):
How To Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie – some of the chapters at the beginning were useful but then it got a bit too religious to me
The Secret History by Donna Tartt – a long one!! About the lives of a few students. I love really long detailed books if the story/characters/world is interesting
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – again, a pretty long one about a boy who loses his mom and ends up with a priceless painting. They made a movie of it but the book is better
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel – about a boy who wants to be a girl, and a family that loves her. A nice book
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – pretty much the male version of Don Tillman from the Rosie Project, entertaining
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – in my opinion it’s a corny book about racism written by a white lady for white ladies. :/ I guess that’s better than no book about racism?
New Board Games:
Drop It – a very simple but fun game where you try to drop pieces into the right spots to score lots of points
Azul – very easy game to teach people, can get brutal when you get stuck with tons of extra pieces
7 Wonders Expansions – fun on the ipad but a bit too much to keep track of irl
7 Wonders Duel – my very favourite two player game, I’m still not tired of it 10/10
Agricola All Creatures Big and Small – ok two player Agricola spin-off
Camel Up – fun light game, everyone loves the gimicky dice rolling pyramid and the KRAZY KAMELS
Jaipur – two player camel betting card game that we got for Christmas… first impressions are good, Scott likes it a lot
Puerto Rico – not as hard as Agricola, kinda fun that you get to do stuff even when it’s not your turn
Sagrada – quite simple game with NINETY dice, tricky fun
Terraforming Mars – very complicated game with lots of pieces, a bit hard to play well but still fun to play even when you don’t really know what’s going on
Great recipes of 2019:
Praline Almonds – I used the recipe in my ice cream book but it’s basically the same as this (except I used almonds). This was one of the craziest things I’ve ever cooked! It magically goes from a pot of watery almonds to a pot of sandy almonds to a pot of candy almonds. Sprinkled with a bit of salt… so delicious.
No Knead Bread in the cast iron pot – so easy!!! I use this recipe. I did try whole wheat once but it didn’t turn out as delicious as pure white.
Dutch Baby! – so visually spectacular, so easy! I’ve made sweet ones with fruit and ice cream toppings, and also savoury ones with smoked salmon, rocket and parmesan. This is my go-to sweet recipe.
Fish Tacos – Coles just started selling corn tortillas so we can make delicious tacos at home, like this easy Pinch of Yum recipe. I’ve made it with basa or shrimp. I love the garlicky sauce.
We didn’t leave the country in 2019. Actually we barely took any days off at all. The good news is we have enough holiday to go to North America in May 2020 AND possibly Fiji for our 10 (!!) year anniversary later in the year too! 2020 is gonna be gooooooood.
We did check out some new places in Victoria/Australia, here are a few highlights:
A very windy 90 Mile Beach in Gippsland.
A relaxing and fun few days of camping/day hiking at Wilson’s Prom.
On platypus watch in the Otways.
Day off at the Peninsula Hot Springs.
Whale watching on North Stradbroke Island.
Final thoughts: 2019 was not the most exciting year of my life, but we put in a lot of good work to our future. We did the hard stuff of finding a house, working hard, saving, rehab… and very very soon we get to enjoy the benefits of that. I feel very good about 2020.
I have wanted to see whales from land for a long time. I’m always looking, but hadn’t had any luck so I looked up the best places to see them in the world and one of those places happens to be from an island just off the coast from Brisbane. How convenient.
Humpback whales migrate up and down the East coast of Australia every year and pass by very close to the the Eastern point of North Stradbroke Island on the “whale highway”. So I booked an Airbnb right in Point Lookout for a couple nights to maximize our chances of seeing them.
It was a bit of an epic journey to get from Surfers Paradise to Point Lookout by light rail/train/train/taxi/ferry/bus, but it was relatively pleasant.
The first thing we did after dropping our bags off was head out to do the Gorge Walk. We saw whales almost right away! A few blowholes and we even saw a whale swim REALLY close to shore right below us. Another person said that whale had a calf with her but we missed that.
Life goal complete! I was already satisfied.
We walked down to Cylinder Beach to go to what I thought was a pizza restaurant but was actually a food truck in a parking lot. Everyone else was just driving up and getting takeaway but we didn’t have that luxury so instead we ate in the dark on a concrete bollard. The prawn and chorizo pizza was delicious and I didn’t mind the ambience tbh.
We bought some oysters and salmon to eat by the seashore while watching for more whales. We saw SO MANY. Like 25+!! Whales everywhere!! Some of them breached so nicely that we could see the white parts under their mouths. We saw turtles and dolphins too.
Check out those maniacs! They were jumping off the end of the rocks and then swimming back to the beach. Bonkers!
Eventually we decided we saw enough whales and walked down to the RSL for a cheap drink. We still saw even more whales while sitting on the balcony!
We bought some fresh Spanish mackerel and veg on the way back to grill for dinner. So nice. I love seafood so much.
Brunch at the Blue Room to cap off a very relaxing and satisfying couple of days on Straddie. I had avocado toast and Scott had a maple bacon dutch baby. Both were very tasty with a lovely view from the patio. Yes, we even saw a couple more whale spouts while eating.
We took a few days off at the beginning of July for a little trip to Queensland. We spent a couple days on the Gold Coast to go to amusement parks, a couple days on North Stradbroke Island to see whales, and a day in Brisbane to go to this year’s Brisbane v Melbourne game. It was lots of fun.
First though, look who we saw at the airport!! They were on their way to Coffs Harbour with their grandma and we just happened to sit down at the table behind them to eat our breakfast. After a few minutes Scott said to me “I think that’s Beau??” and it was! Everyone was so surprised, it was funny.
I had a hard to time deciding how to maximize our time in Movie World and Wet N Wild with our 1.5 days on the Gold Coast because the weather report was so grim. Eventually we decided we’d head to Movie World for the first half day even though it was supposed to rain, because at least then we could try again the next day too if necessary (rollercoasters > waterslides). It ended up being the perfect decision because it didn’t actually rain and the park was super empty. The longest we had to wait for anything was like 20 minutes for Superman and everything else was 0-5 minute waits. SO GOOD!
We ended up going on everything we wanted multiple times. We went on Superman x2, Green Lantern x2, Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster, and DC Rivals x4!! Plus watched a few lame shows. (Arkham Asylum was closed for maintenance.) All within half a day.
DC Rivals is the longest/tallest/fastest hypercoaster in the Southern Hemisphere. We went on it twice and got the exact same second last row. Then we paid extra to do it backwards, which was a really weird feeling! Then the very last ride of the day we were really crossing our fingers we’d get the front row. We ended up getting the second front row which was ok but obviously a tiny bit disappointing. But then! The people who did get the front row asked us if we wanted it because they were too scared!! We were like THANK YOU!!!! And yes the front was awesome. Made my eyes water.
Superman was also awesome. It’s really slow and corny in the indoors part but then Superman blasts you out and it’s really great. I love launch coasters!!
So does Scott, apparently. :’)
Tradition! (Featuring bizarre crotch bruises from belt squats.)
The next day we went to Wet N Wild. The park was empty because 1. everyone went to Movie World and 2. it’s the middle of winter. It rained a bit but it didn’t really matter because we were already wet!
Almost half the slides and rides were closed for maintenance which was a little lame but we still had fun. We went on everything that was open at least once in a couple hours.
After Wet N Wild we walked over to check out Top Golf. Scott was v iksidid. I was not really interested so Scott just booked 30 minutes and hit lots of balls very fast. They have all sorts of games you can play with the electronic tracked balls. He seemed to like it a lot. Too bad there’s not one down here because it does seem like a fun thing to do with your friends.
We had to walk back towards Movie World to catch the bus back to the light rail station so why not use our passes to go back in and ride Superman one more time. :D Then we really felt like we had “done” Movie World. (Also it was quite a lot busier in there so we confirmed that we had made the right decision the day before! How often does that happen?!)
We got off the light rail a bit early and walked along the beach back to our hotel. And then later we went to see Toy Story 4. Big day!!
The next day we head off on an epic journey for a few days on North Stradbroke Island which I’ll write about in another post.
After Straddie we went to Brisbane for our yearly family footy battle. Scott got us tickets in the front row, on the fence! That was pretty cool. It was a fairly close game for the first three quarters, with Melbourne slightly ahead. Then as usual things started to get real bad and Brisbane ended up crushing us by more than 5 goals. Melbourne are TERRIBLE this year, I don’t know what happened.