Australia’s Tasty Treat | Lamington Day

Food and drink are two of our favourite things in the world. I wish we could seem all cultured; saying we could taste the differences of two wine regions, or appreciate michelin-star dining. Sadly, that’s not the case.

I became a little obsessed with drinking coffee in New York, despite D adamantly protesting that it’s not proper coffee. Our favourite food in Brazil was pizza. And lastly, the thing we bought whenever we went to a shop in Australia – Lamingtons.

Lamingtons are a light a fluffy sponge cake, covered in chocolate icing and then smothered in chopped coconut. Fun fact: They are named after the British Governor of Queensland, Lord Lamington. It is rumoured that his cook was asked to prepare something for some unexpected visitors, and this is all he had left in the cupboard.

Friday 21st July 2017 is National Lamington Day in Australia. To celebrate that and the crazy hot weather we’ve been having in the UK for the past few weeks, we decided to recreate our favourite Australian treat.

And actually, it’s really easy.

We adapted the recipe from Taste.com.au and they turned out to be soft and yummy and absolutely perfect – especially with a cup of English Breakfast. If you’d like to have a go at making them yourself, all you need is this handy-dandy recipe.

Lamingtons
  • 125g soft butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  •  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g self-raising flour
  •  130ml milk
  •  A bag of desiccated coconut (ours was 200g)
  •  500g icing sugar
  •  30g cocoa powder
  •  120ml boiling water
  1. Put the oven on to 180°C. Grease a square tin.
  2. Mix together the butter, sugar and vanilla essence.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each one.
  4. Sift the flour into the bowl and then pour in the milk.
  5. Fill the pan with the mixture and put in the oven for 30 minutes.
  6. Eat the remaining cake mixture while you wait*
  7. Take the cake out of the oven when a skewer comes out clean.
  8. Wait for 10 minutes and then take the cake out of the tin.
  9. Let the cake 100% cool down.
  10. Sift the icing sugar a cocoa into a different bowl.
  11. Add the butter and boiling water.
  12. Stir until there are no lumps left.
  13. Cut the cake into as many pieces as youwant. We chose 16, but I think 25 would have worked too.
  14. Set out your conveyor belt of cake, then the icing, then some coconut in a shallow dish, and then a wire rack over a baking tray.
  15. For each cake piece, dip it in the icing and wait for the excess to drip off.
  16. Using a spoon, cover every side in coconut.
  17. Place on the wire rack.
  18. Leave to stand until set (around 2 hours)
  19. Eat the rest of the icing**
  20. Persuade someone else to clear up the horrendous mess you’ve made.

* There is definitely a health risk with eating anything with raw eggs, please use your own judgement.
** This is almost pure sugar, and will leave you feeling pretty horrendous if you eat all of it. But, it does taste great mixed in with greek yoghurt.

What’s your favourite international food? Do you celebrate any weird holidays? Let us know in the comments below!

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Buying a car in Australia (and then selling it)

So, you’re planning on heading ‘Down Under’; or you’re already there and thinking about the best way to get around. Are you planning a trip up the East Coast and dreaming of the open road? If yes, you may consider buying a car in Australia. We did and it was great…mostly.

There are plenty of ways to travel around Australia; if you’ve got the money and want to rack up the air-miles you can fly. If you’re a backpacker, you’re probably thinking of using the Greyhound. Or maybe hiring a camper van/caravan is more your thing; but if you get it right, buying a car in Australia could be the most cost effective way to travel. However there are a number of pitfalls to avoid and things you should know.

buying a car in australia
buying a car in australia - bruce

The initial process of buying a car in Australia is the same as anywhere else. For the purposes of this post I’m going to assume you won’t be buying a new one (I mean, if you’re just travelling why would you?!). So you find a car, you agree a price and you pay for it. Considerations at this point:-

  • How many seats do you need?
  • Do you need to be able to sleep in it?
  • How long will you need the car for? (relevant for REGO – see below)
  • Has the car been serviced recently?
  • Does it come with a road safety certificate?
  • Does it test drive OK?

If you are in Sydney we suggest you check out the Sydney Travellers Car Market. This is where we found our car. It’s a place for travellers to buy and sell their cars so it’s handy at both ends of the journey.

REGO

Rego is the car registration, effectively equivalent to car tax in the UK. The difference in Australia is that the remaining, unexpired registration transfers across to the new owner when a vehicle is sold. Renewing the registration can be quite expensive. Therefore it’s worth buying a car with a long time left on the REGO and avoiding those with little or no time left. If it will have some time on it when you’re ready to sell, even better!

insurancebuying a car in australia - RMS

When buying a car In Australia, the only mandatory insurance is called CTP – ‘compulsory third party’. This only covers other people involved in an accident. It does not cover the driver or any damage to vehicles etc. It is entirely voluntary whether you decide to opt for further insurance cover.

Different states deal with the CTP differently. It can be included with the REGO transfer (i.e. you pay for both at the same time) or as in NSW you have the option of finding your own CTP to ensure you get the best rate. Note: You will not be able to transfer the REGO without having CTP in place.

post purchase admin

Congratulations, you’ve bought a car in Australia! Now there is some admin to be sorted out. The REGO needs to be transferred into your name within 14 days of the purchase. You need to find a Roads & Maritime Service Centre to do this. These are everywhere, so it shouldn’t be too hard. Make sure you have the following with you:-

  • Vehicle details i.e. registration plate number.
  • Details of the purchase –  date & price
  • Evidence of the sale (invoice/sales contract)
  • Completed forms – they will provide these.
  • Money to pay the transfer fee.

You will also need a ‘MyService’ account for the state you are in (i.e. MyServiceNSW). You can do this at the same time as the transfer. However you will need to provide proof of identity such as a passport and proof of your Australian address.

If you’re staying in a hotel or hostel, even if just for a few days, you can use a invoice from them. However if you’re House-sitting or staying in an Air BnB for example,  you can open a bank account with Commonwealth Bank using just your passport (yes a bank will let you have an account with no proof of address, but you can’t register a car!). You can then use the opening account certificate as evidence of your address.

buying a car in australia - open road

Now you’re all sorted. Go and explore the open road! Check out our other posts for ideas on where to go in your new motor:-

Melbourne to Sydney | Sydney to Brisbane | Brisbane to Cairns

Note: It’s a great idea to get the car serviced after each 10,000km of driving. That might sound like a lot but before you know it, the time comes round at it’s servicing time.

Selling your car

You’ve done all the driving you can take. Or you’d love to carry on, but unfortunately the workplace is calling you back home. So now it’s time to try and sell your car.

Photo Credit: AbsolutelyAustralia.com.au

As we mentioned above, if you’re finishing up in Sydney, consider taking it to the Sydney Travellers Car Supermarket. Bear in mind there is a cost to this. If you bought it from a dealer they may offer a guaranteed buy-back option although it will likely be at a substantial reduction of the price (ours was just 40%!). Finally, Gumtree is also a great site to place an advert; it may be worth adding it as soon as you’ve bought it with an ‘available from’ date so it has lots of time to be seen. Other options include placing ads in hostels or on other online forums like lonely planet.

what you need

Road Safety Certificate – In the UK cars need to be MOT’d regularly to ensure that there are no dodgy cars on the road. In Australia there is an equivalent however they differ between states. In Queensland for example, prior to offering a vehicle for sale, you have to obtain and display a Safety Certificate (previsouly called a blue slip). It is valid for 2 months or 2,000km. However as there are no periodic safety checks required in QLD, it is likely to be more difficult for a vehicle to pass. Another thing to note is only authorised garages can provide one.

In NSW however, it is more similar to the UK annual car service. When you renew the annual REGO detailed above, any cars over 5 years old need to have safety certificate first. So it will
probably be easier to get one there and if you’re REGO hasn’t run out yet, you don’t need to worry about it!

buying a car in Australia - notice of disposalNotice of Disposal – Once you’ve sold your car, make sure you let the Service centre know.  You do this by submitting a Notice of Disposal. This confirms the details of the sale, the new purchaser and acts as Proof of Sale in place of an invoice in a private sale.

Submitting the notice of disposal is very important. If you don’t advise that you have transferred ownership you could be held liable for the new owner’s parking fines or road tolls.


Have you thought about buying a car in Australia? Or have you already done it and successfully sold it? Get in touch below, we’d love to hear from you.

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Romantic Day in the Hunter Valley

If you love wine, spirits, cheese or chocolate, the Hunter Valley area has to be on your itinerary for your time in Australia. It’s a popular weekend destination for the young preppy types from Sydney, especially if you are loved up and bring your bae along for the ride. Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, or a ‘just because’ day, we have got the perfect way for you to spend a romantic day in the Hunter Valley. Continue reading

Australian Road Trip | Brisbane to Cairns

The final part in our epic Australian Road Trip was to drive from Brisbane to Cairns. This is a massive undertaking where you could end up driving for 2 or 3 hours without turning, stopping or slowing down. That’s unthinkable for someone from the UK, where driving for 3 hours will get you most of the way across the country.

There are some pretty well known spots up this bit of coastline, although the most well known ones are slightly off of it; Fraser Island, The Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef. Continue reading

The Whitsundays – A 1 Day Sailing Tour

When we decided we were going to travel up the east coast of Australia there were some things that we just HAD to do. Sailing the Whitsunday Islands was one of those things. As any keen ‘Googler’ will discover there are simply hundreds of different options available.

sailing the whitsunday islands

We like a bargain and often struggle to click the ‘book’ button when looking at doing the most popular activities. This time round we knew exactly what we were looking for. We wanted to go sailing the Whitsunday islands, we wanted to see Whitehaven Beach and we wanted a water based activity ie kayaking or snorkelling. We therefore opted for the ‘1 Day Whitehaven Beach Camira Sailing Adventure – Awesome Whitsundays’.

the basics

Cost: AUD$159 per person, total cost $318. We booked our tour through Backpackers World, which resulted in decent a discount.The Tour is operated by Cruise Whitsundays and the full price should be AUD$189 per person.

Included:-sailing the whitsunday islands - camira front view

– A full days sailing on board a bright purple catamaran called Camira
– On board commentary providing information about the islands and wildlife
– All you can drink soft drinks and alcohol (beer and wine)
– Hot drinks and biscuits in the morning
– An amazing all you can eat BBQ for lunch
– Mask, fins and stinger suit for snorkelling
– A couple of hours to relax on Whitehaven Beach (and sports equipment)
– Sun cream

overview of the tour

We arrived at the Port of Airlie cruise terminal at around 7:45am. Just before 8:00 am the tannoy sounded to announce that it was our time to board. So we strolled down the ramp and were welcomed on board by the enthusiastic and friendly crew.

sailing the whitsunday islands - camira

The catamaran Camira looked amazing. It was bright purple and even the customers not coming on our tour were stopping to take photos. Before long the fairly small group of people were all on board and the tour could begin!

Teas, coffees and biscuits were ready almost immediately and naturally we helped ourselves. For the first hour or so we simply enjoyed the wind in our hair, as the boat powered away from the Port towards our first destination. We made a brief stop off at Day Dream Island to pick up a couple more passengers and were swiftly off again.

snorkelling

We carried on sailing round the headland of Whitsunday Island, through the relatively narrow gap between it and Hook Island. Before we knew it, it was time for our first proper activity – Snorkelling! As it was stinger season we donned stinger suits, masks and fins and climbed into the tender. A James Bond style reverse roll out of the smaller boat followed into the water, just off of Dumbell Island. The beautifully clear water meant we got to see loads of awesome fish and coral, there was even a turtle sighting. Sadly not by us!

sailing the whitsunday islands - whitehaven

After about half an hour or so it was time to get back on the boat. We sailed towards the glistening white sands of Whitehaven Beach. We stayed here for a couple of hours; there was time for a stroll along the beach, some swimming, sun bathing and getting those all important photos. The sand is so soft and due its incredibly high silica content, doesn’t absorb the heart of the sun! As we’re basically big kids we spent some of the time building sand castles.

the food

Whilst we had be sunning ourselves on the beach, the crew had been busy cooking lunch. Everyone was excited for the food especially me! The offering for meat-eaters was mouth watering with kangaroo steaks, chicken, mackerel, and huge sausages which I think were Goanna (a big Australia lizard). In addition there were salads and pasta dishes galore all of which were vegetarian friendly. There were also  yummy veggie burgers. It was an absolute feast.

sailing the whitsunday islands - view from camira

Once the food was done, all that remained was to sit back and enjoy the sailing. With an ice cold beer from the Esky in my hand, I was in heaven.

Summarysailing the whitsunday islands - prizes

We had an absolute whale of a time! We couldn’t really have asked for a better day out, in spite of the few spots of rain we got caught in. The on-board staff were all super friendly and enthusiastic. To top it all off we won some prizes (See pic) for successfully completing a game involving untying ourselves from a knot.

Our only disappointment was that the trip didn’t go the Hill Inlet lookout point to get the classic postcard photos of the wavy sands. However, we knew that going in and there are other tours that do go there.

conclusion

Overall I think it was excellent value in context with other tours available and would highly recommend it to anyone thinking of going sailing in the Whitsunday Islands. I would give it a score of 9 out of 10.

Have you experienced sailing the Whitsunday Islands? Did you opt for a single or multi-day trip? What was your favourite part? Get in touch in the comments below.

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Surfing in Byron Bay – (Well, Almost)

Surfing was one of the things we were really excited about doing during our time in Australia. Specifically, surfing in Byron Bay; the chilled out backpacker haven on Australia’s Gold Coast is famed for its sandy beaches and surfer dudes. I have been surfing before on many a trip down to Newquay in Cornwall, so I know HOW to surf (at least I thought I did). That’s not to say I necessarily CAN surf, as I’m sure some of my friends would attest.

Surfing in Byron Bay - Board & sunset Continue reading

48 Hours in Sydney

Backpackers, holiday makers and adventure seekers have been heading down under for years. With some of the most iconic sights in the world on offer, no trip to Australia would be complete without seeing Sydney. Even if you’re just passing through at the beginning of your East coast road trip, you have to spend at least 48 hours in Sydney!

48 hours in Sydney - Title

Check out this awesome itinerary for your three days in the Harbour City. Continue reading

Australian Road Trip | Sydney to Brisbane

Australia is full of world famous cities (think Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Cairns etc). It’s also chocka with lesser known towns that are pretty up there on the awesomeness scale. Today we’ll be looking at the super exciting portion of the east coast of Australia; from Sydney to Brisbane.

This is the second part of a three part adventure, taking you all the way from hipster Melbourne to tropical Cairns. Check out part one and part three below;

Melbourne to Sydney | Brisbane to Cairns Continue reading

Australia quirks

It’s time for another instalment of our ‘Quirks of…’ series. This time we’re looking at the weird and wonderful aspects of the land down under – Australia Quirks.

Australia was somewhere I had wanted to visit since I was little. It was a magical places, so far away filled with strange animals and places I’d heard about on travel programs. In actual fact it is a strange mix of England and America with a little something extra (I supposed you’d call it Australian) thrown in. Continue reading