The Watermelon Radish

The Watermelon Radish
A Kid's Point of Food

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Summer/Winter Adventures in Australia

Happy New Year Everyone!

For the past two weeks, I was down in  beautiful Australia!  I was visiting two of my dearest friends who stayed with me last year.  My mom offered to fly with me but I just said, "Mom, I've got this."  She didn't hear from me much for two weeks. I stayed just outside of Melbourne, two hours exactly.  The Chessel's live in a small town called Undera, and the Kulatunga's in Shepparton which is only slightly bigger.  So, without further adieu, I would like to present to you some highlights from my trip Down Under...

           Being a food blogger, I felt an urge to photograph my first meal
           in the Australian hemisphere.  It was simple and consisted of a spinach and
           egg Fritata, some reasonably fresh fruit, and a few squashed Tater Tots.
           I recommend Qantas, they have good food, and their flight attendants are
           a bit sassy.

This is Diesel, the Chessels' family dog.  She's a Blue Heeler and 
extremely photogenic.  
My very first experience on a dairy farm was filled with fun,
laughter and the occasional scare gun.  A gun that kept the birds from pecking away at the hay, but it was only the noise (no bullet).  When I first heard it, my heart lurched, but after about three days I was used to it.
This is me, on my second night at the farm, holding on to the back of the Ute
 (which is like a pickup truck)
We went Kangaroo spotting, more like chasing, since we were rumbling through the bush like an angry beast.  It was a lot of fun, and I saw my first wild Kangaroo in Australia.
This is a wild Kangaroo at the Kyabram Fauna Park.  Imagine a giant zoo the size of a reserve, and then take away the bars.  The animals, or most of them, could roam free around the park.  I kept looking around for the Drop Bears, a vicious breed of Koala, that is, until they told me that there was no such thing as a Drop Bear.  The animal is a work of fiction to scare off tourists, 
and it looks like I fell for it.
This is a Tasmanian Devil at the Fauna Park.
I'll just keep emu-vin on.
Here we are on a paddle steamer on the Murray River.  This river is the second longest in Australia.  Smack in the middle of the river sits a port town called Echucha (echu-ca).  I learned a lot of historical facts on that tour.  A cool one was that when the bridge from New South Wales to Victoria was being built, six men fell in.  Five bodies were found, so one body is still in the foundation of the bridge.  We named it 'Dead Mans Bridge'.

This is quite possibly the best drink in the world.  Of course, it can only be found in Australia.  
Life just isn't fair, is it?
   Here I am on Boxing Day with the Chessels Family.  I had an amazing experience on the farm and a great time with them!  I was super sad to leave, but I was excited to go with the Kulatunga family to their house for the remainder of my trip.  Check out Diesel's hat, you have no idea how long it took to get that on her head.
 This is a beautiful sunset over the "large" ( population 7,000 ) town of Shepparton on my first night with the Kulatungas.  An awesome thing you can do at night there?  You can actually see the stars.

 On my first day with them, they took me to the Shepparton Chocolate Apple Factory.  Which is, in case you were wondering, the most adorable place in the world.  I got an apple that was covered in white chocolate and sprinkles.  Yum!

These are some plaques from a bakery in the small town of Tetura called Tetura Hot Bread.  This 
   bakery has broken some records for its award winning desserts.  
It was only natural that we stopped by...

This is a Honey Joy.  I didn't get to try it, but, my close source said that it was certainly a joyous munchie.  It is, essentially, cornflakes stuck together with honey and caramel.  
Sounds like honey heaven.

This is the Vanilla Slice, yet another Australian delicacy that the Americans don't have the guts to copy.  Shame on you because this might be the best sweet I've ever had.  The top is a layer of creamy icing, then there is a sweet and crunchy pastry, and in the center is a smooth vanilla custard. My mouth is watering.  This slice has won for the Tetura bakery four years in a row.  
Still not enough proof that this is the ultimate sweet treat?  
There were only two left out of a huge tray when we got to the bakery.

At the end of a long day, KidzTown was the perfect way to relax.  KidzTown is the largest playground I've ever seen, complete with a zip line, fifty different kinds of monkey bars, a huge slide and even a TeenTown.  We spent most of our time in Teen Town.  Above, you can see a giant swing, but some other highlights of the area were spinning cups.  
You sat in them and then they spun in circles at the strangest angles ever.  
Needless to say, I could barely walk for about five minutes afterwards.

Here we have one of my favorite dinners of the trip!  Our resident chef prepared a special Shri-Lanken curry chicken.  The chicken was amazing and came alive with spices, the fried rice was
  different from anything I'd ever had.  I loved the cultural aspect of the food and didn't hesitate to have a second helping of curry!

This is a river in the historical park Sovereign Hill in the town of Ballarat.  The park was all about the Gold Rush in Australia.  Everyone who worked at Sovereign Hill dressed in the clothing of the era.  We went to the Hope Bakery, which specializes in amazing Australian food that you can't get in America.  I had a Sausage Roll, and yes, it is just as amazing as it sounds.  We stopped by the Confectionery where they hand make the hard candies like saltwater taffie, we created colorful candles at the candle factory, and finally we stopped by the river.  Senara and I pounced on the first gold pans we found and began to sift through the the river rocks.  In the end, I came home with a vial of seven pieces.  I think I might need a few more to buy a car though. Maybe.
Here we have a beautiful butterfly in the butterfly house at the Melbourne Zoo.  Trust me when I say, you did not want this one to land on you.  It was as big as a hummingbird.
This is the logo for the hotel that I stayed at in Melbourne.  It literally took up an entire section of the city with its three buildings.  It was beautiful.  My favorite part was an infinity pool on the top floor that gave the swimmers a lovely view of the entire city.
Goodbye Australia, I'll miss you so much!
The land, scenery and experiences were amazing and I will never forget them.  But, the people that became my families for the two weeks I spent there were the best gift I could have ever wished for.  You will never leave my heart, and I left a part of me back in Australia with all of you.
I left some on the Ute whizzing through the bush, I left some beneath the tree playing Keiffer tag, I left some in the Dairy surrounded by cows and I left some in the river to grow with the trees on the banks.