Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad
Right now I'm packing up my life to move halfway across the world to Sydney, Australia. No big deal, right?
Right now I'm packing up my life to move halfway across the world to Sydney, Australia. No big deal, right?
Ever since arriving in Australia, I seem to keep hearing about Aussie meat pies. For some strange reason or another, they come up in conversation quite often. I guess it’s true what they say, Aussie’s really are obsessed with their meat pies. As a coeliac, I just assumed I’d never be privy to the Authentic Aussie Meat Pie Experience™ so I just held my tongue.
Until I went to the Sunshine Coast.
This is the store that took me one step closer to understanding my new countrymenandwomen. Countrypeople? Anyway. Beefy’s have developed a range of gluten free pies which I was delighted to be able to try.
As you can see, I really enjoyed it.
I had the steak, bacon and cheese, because that’s all they had left, but that’s the one I probably would have chosen anyway. It was absolutely delicious! They have them both hot and ready to eat or chilled to go, and they come individually wrapped and cross-contamination free. The owner’s son is coeliac so you know they know what they’re doing.
If you are gluten free and simply must try an Aussie meat pie, run don’t walk to Beefy’s Pies. You can thank me later. They’ve got a string of stores throughout Queensland AND in writing this post I’ve realised they deliver Australia wide, so my future supply of true blue meat pies is assured. I’ll be placing an order once I hit publish on this post.
Located a convenient walk from our AirBnB, I was happy to find somewhere we could eat with a relaxed atmosphere and gluten free food items marked clearly on the menu. S and I both had pizza. You can read a bit more about it here.
It was good… but not the best gluten free pizza I’ve ever had. It gets busy so book ahead!
This restaurant had a cool outdoor dining concept and we wanted to figure out what Maroochydore was all about. It was nice to sit next to the ocean for dinner, and the twinkly light atmosphere was cute.
We had pizza again because I’m on a mission to find the best gluten free pizza in Australia. This was better than the Peregian Beach Hotel but still not my best ever.
The service was friendly and the night was warm. What more could you ask for?
If I can get you to visit just one place other than Beefy’s Pies, this is it. The Orangery is the most beautiful cafe set in a quiet side road outside Maleny, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Even though I arrived just before closing time, the owner was so kind in explaining exactly which of her cakes were gluten free (most of them!) and helping me decide which to go for. I was left to enjoy the large open-air balcony in peace and quiet.
I had my delicious berry smoothie and cheesecake on the balcony, and enjoyed some peace and quiet while I ate.
Unfortunately the combo proved to be too much for me on a hot day, but the owner kindly noticed and offered to package it up so I could take it home.
Overall I thought the Orangery was fabulous, and I’m only sorry I didn’t go in time to sample their breakfast menu (how good does it look?? Gluten free Canadian pancakes!).
If I’m honest we mostly chose Cafe Le Monde because they had those air mister things going and it was a suuuper hot day. Queensland heatwaves ain’t no joke. Turns out, the food in Cafe Le Monde was also excellent (and the misters utterly ineffective). S and I split a burger and a salad between us, and it was all deliciously cooked.
I normally side-eye burgers that are made with a slice of gluten-free bread, but the bread was actually quite decent. And the rest of the food was so well done I couldn’t complain – duck fat chips?? Who cares about a burger bun when you’ve got duck fat chips.
I also really appreciated my lightly crumbed chicken salad, which was amazingly gluten free and so well cooked. The salad was just the right size for a hot day.
And S had an obnoxiously coloured iced juice that was delicious. I was secretly envious of it – my cold pressed juice was good, but not as good as his. If you go, get the rainbow lorikeet. It’s great.
Australia Zoo has quite a fancy food court, elevated on the first floor of a giant Queenslander-style building. A word of warning, it’s not air conditioned… The website lists the gluten free options available at Australia Zoo’s food court, but doesn’t tell you which outlet sells them. We were too hot to faff around with finding out exactly who could sell me the gluten free steak and salad, so we just went to the salad outlet and were done with it. All their salads were available gluten free, so I had a chicken caesar and it was fine.
Note that this doesn’t appear on the schedule I just linked to. Also it was expensive, but it’s a zoo, so. You really should be ready for that.
I was so excited to visit this 100% gluten free cafe, but when we rolled up… it was 100% closed. Devastated. I’m not sure if they plan to reopen somewhere/sometime but I really hope they do. Their menu looked great.
This is quite a short post as we weren’t there for long, and tried to cook more in our AirBnB to save costs (ha, didn’t work). Next time, I’d like to try…
There are also numerous coffee shops and cafes that promise ‘gluten free options’ which I’m sure I’ll need to investigate, as well. Hopefully they’re not all sad brownies.
Have you been to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland? Any gluten free eateries you’d recommend to me?
I’d be surprised at how long it’s been since we last did this, because I enjoyed it so much last time. I’d let you know that no, I still don’t like coffee, so I’ll maybe go for a fruity somethingorother or, if it’s been a bad day, a diet coke. Yes, I’m still trying to cut down but what can you do? At least I’m not turning to hard drugs. I suppose we’ve been catching up in other ways, via my expat updates, but those focus mostly on expat type stuff (at least they’re supposed to anyway) and there’s now more other-stuff than expat-stuff going on with me right now to talk about. So I’ll take a deep breath, and…
~ I’d ask you whether you’ve been to Newcastle (NSW, not UK…!) before, and what you think of it. We went this last weekend, tacked on to a visit to the Hunter Valley, and I was very impressed by the beach situation*.I know I talk about beaches a lot but you can’t move to Australia and not.
Anyway, it was kind of a whistlestop tour but I feel the need to go back and investigate more. Where are your favourite spots in the city? Anywhere I need to check out?
*There are no beaches in Newcastle, UK. At least, none that look like this.
~ I’d tell you that this new project at work is totally kicking my arse. You’ll have heard a little more about the situation if you subscribe to The Ugly (you can do that on my expat update posts like this one) but that’s really all I can say about the matter, because I don’t talk about my work on here. I’m not trying to vagueblog, I just don’t want to make public where I work or for whom – but I do like talking about careers, work life in general, being a woman in the workplace, all that stuff. So if you also like to talk about those things then please email me, and we’ll talk more on there.
~ I’d tell you that I might be a bit quiet around here for a while, not just because of hideous work but also because we’re just about to enter an epic phase of visitors, stretching from Easter until the end of June. I’m really excited about it and want to give my visitors as much attention as I can, so the blog will take a bit of a step back. I’ve already fallen behind on replying to comments and…well…everything, so please bear with me.
~ I’d talk about the suburb exploring we’ve been doing recently. We’ve had a good nose around Newtown (on Mardi Gras weekend, no less) and found street art, gluten free dumplings and lots of people looking parade-ready.~ I’d laugh that 18 months later, that new recipe I mentioned in the last of these posts is now my firm favourite, and had a starring role in the list of apps I love right now that I shared last week. Funny seeing what changes and what stays the same over time.
~ I’d ask you whether I should try and squeeze in a haircut before I do a big talk presentation thing in a couple of weeks. Am I just asking for a terrible hair cut? Or will it give me the confidence and gravitas I need? I’m thinking long bob again, because I’m unimaginative and I like it, but considering whether this is really the Professional and Mature Haircut I need to stop being mistaken for the intern?~ I’d share that I’ve totally gone off Instagram lately, and I’m not sure why, but I think it might be something to do with being bombarded with articles and emails about Things I Need To Be Doing On Instagram Right Now. Anyone else noticed that or have I just been put on some super special mailing list? Unfortunately this has achieved precisely the opposite and completely put me off the whole thing. I think this might be because I’m a rebel? Basically I’m just watching some stories and then peacing out of there. I’m sure I’ll be back at some point. Maybe when I have a little more time and energy. ~ I’d tell you that even though we’re technically in autumn here now, it’s forecast to be 38°C (100°F) on Sunday because apparently I still can’t stop talking about the weather here.
If we went for coffee, what would you tell me?
A pin in case you really like the look of Mereweather beach
I’m here today to tell you about that time an echidna bruised my leg and it was EVERYTHING.
In case we haven’t met, hi, I’m Rachel, and I like animals more than people.
When we moved to Australia, I determined that I would meet as many native Australian animals as I could. Because, bifid*. Also they’re just generally the oddest, most unlikely, most enigmatic collection of animals you’ve ever heard about.
Take echidnas, for example.
Echindas are monotremes. That word means literally one hole, and excuse me for being graphic, but it means they have a cloaca (one hole) rather than the traditional two holes that placental and marsupial mammals have. I’ll leave you to google those words and form your own conclusions, since I don’t want my very nerdy blog to be flagged NSFW. The interesting thing about that is that it’s a morphological feature shared with reptiles, showing they branched evolutionarily earlier than either marsupial or placental mammals.
Now we’ve started with echidna facts, shall we keep going?
> Echidnas lay eggs, something else they share with reptiles.
> Echidnas have electroreceptors in the ends of their noses, which they use to detect insects. Ants and termites are their diet of choice.
> A baby echidna is called a puggle.
> Echidnas exude milk through patches of skin in their pouches to feed their young.
> Echidna spines are modified hairs, but they also have a second layer of actual hair. This is thicker or thinner depending on what kind of environment they live in.
> There are four species of echidna still alive today, and all live in Australia and New Guinea.
> There’s one species prevalent in Australia; the short beaked echidna or Tachyglossus aculeatus.
All this stuff I knew from university, books, and general nerding about before I actually met an echidna IRL and then I had much more simple questions.
What do the spikes feel like? Answer: they feel satisfyingly solid, almost rubbery to the touch, but they don’t bend at all. In fact, they’ve been known to puncture 18-wheeler tyres!
What do they sound like? Answer: like they have a severe sinus infection. They’re very snuffly, and keep doing big sneezes. It’s adorable.
Can you pick them up? Answer: kinda! I had to shift Yella because he was standing slightly awkwardly on my thighs. Turns out it’s all about getting the right angle under their bellies.
How heavy are they? Answer: very. Hence the bruise Yella left on my thigh after the aforementioned awkward stand.
What do their tongues feel like? Answer: oddly strong. And very long (apparently they can get up to 18 cm??)
Are echidnas really as cute as they look? Answer: YES.
How ridiculous do I look when I am truly happy? Answer: pretty darn. And I don’t care one bit.
If you too want to experience what it’s like to be bruised by a friendly short beaked echidna, you can pay the bargainous price of $39 to Australia Zoo to have your hand covered in raw mince and ground insects and let an echidna lick it off you. Best $39 I ever spent in my life, if you ask me.
So I have to know. Have you ever wanted to pat an echidna? Or hand feed one its lunch?
*That’s a biology nerd in joke and likely one you’ll only understand if your name is Nelly. If you get it and your name is not Nelly, please tell me, because I think we’ve got a lot to talk about.
Pin me if you’re also an animal nut:
Are you planning on visiting the Sunshine Coast in Queensland anytime soon? I took a trip there in February and I think I discovered a hidden gem, so me being me I’m here to share my secret with you – in case the title didn’t give it away, I’m talking about Peregian Beach. If you’re looking for a super laid back beach holiday with some great food options (and bonus points if you also travel with or generally like dogs), here’s why you should stay in Peregian Beach when you plan your trip to the Sunshine Coast.
When we were booking our trip to the Sunshine Coast, we had a lot of people rave to us about Noosa. Unfortunately, we found the cost prohibitive when it came to booking accommodation. Instead, I settled on a place not too far away called Peregian Beach, and I hoped it would do. So on our first full day on the Sunshine Coast, of course we headed to Noosa to see what all the fuss was about.
To be fair to Noosa, it’s got a beautiful beach and some nice chichi shops to browse (and not buy anything unless you’re an actual rich person who maybe owns a beach house that you can stuff with flowing kaftans and objet d’art). However, we should have realised the score when it took half an hour and some predatory space stalking to find anywhere to park when we arrived. Noosa is the unfortunate victim of its own success and it’s got the crowds to match. The beach looked like you’d taken the contents of an average Westfield on a Saturday afternoon and plonked them onto aforementioned beautiful bit of sand. In other words, hectic. And this was just a term-time weekend.
As a (still) baffled beachgoer, it’s not really my speed – I’m much more of an empty beach kinda gal.
Which is exactly what we got when we visited actual Peregian Beach later that afternoon. The only people around were a few couples and families enjoying a pre-dinner stroll. Oh, and some dogs. Did I mention Peregian Beach is a dog friendly beach? If you want to see puppies frolicking in the surf, you need to head to Peregian asap.
When somewhere has a beach this beautiful, why would you stay anywhere else?
Does it get better than a pastel sunset on an empty beach?
I loved that on Peregian beach you could be sure of finding a fairly large spot of sand to call your own, and seeing as the narrow town runs parallel to the ocean, you’re never really more than a block away from a faceful of that beautiful vista.
Peregian Beach is a laid back place. As we explored, a hint of reggae music wafted over from one direction, and the sound of clinking glasses from another. On our way to the beach we walked past residents enjoying sundowners on their verandahs, snoozing dogs at their feet. It’s a place for those for whom relaxation is a lifestyle, and I loved it.
Alongside a scattering of beachfront mega mansions that are hard to avoid along any popular beach in Australia, you’ve got the kind of low-key places that we stayed in. Our AirBnB was exactly what we wanted and nothing more and I’d definitely recommend it to a friend.
One of the great benefits of small town living is that you won’t get stuck in traffic. It’s right next to a main road that will allow you to explore the Sunshine Coast with relative ease – Noosa is 15 minutes to the north, Caloundra is 40 minutes to the south, Sunshine Coast/Maroochydore airport is 20 minutes also to the south, Australia Zoo is 45 minutes to the south west, and the beautiful hinterlands begin 30-40 minutes to the west.
This is Montville, one of the hinterland mountain villages recommended to me by Courtney; isn’t it adorable?
There is so much to see and do on the Sunshine Coast, and the car is the best way to get about. So staying somewhere with quick and easy road access made exploring a breeze.
Don’t let this whole small town thing fool you. There’s excellent food to be had in Peregian Beach. We ate at the Peregian Beach Hotel, where the gluten free pizzas were a solid 3/5, and there was live music accompanying our pig out.
We stocked up on all kinds of gluten free wonders at the shiny IGA just around the corner, and Sian says the pizza from Pizzami is excellent. I kind of wish we’d gone there instead but never mind… we’ll just have to go back. There are also some slightly more upmarket restaurants that look worth investigating; suffice to say whatever your dining style you should find somewhere to suit you in the centre of Peregian Beach.
Have you ever been to the Sunshine Coast? Where would you stay?
Pin me for Sunshine Coast trip planning:
Is there such a thing as an obnoxious recommender? I think I am one of those. I’m forever telling people about this great app I found, or my physio, or the fact that the shoes in Kmart are on sale right now. I just can’t stop myself.
So Lauren’s link up is perfect for me and it’s only due to disorganisation that I haven’t joined it before.
I’ve been on a real app discovery kick lately, so here are some that I think you might love.
Tide app ¦¦ If you are someone who struggles with focus and concentration, do I have the app for you. It’s basically the most beautiful Pomodoro timer you’ve ever seen, with bonus white noise features. The interface is sleek and clean, with absolutely no ads, and there’s a daily tasteful background and quote. Here’s the one from the other day:
You can also set the app to not let you navigate away from it on your phone when it’s on, thereby removing my most common distraction. You can change the duration of timer vs break. It dings happily to let you know when it’s time to take a break, and when break time is over. There’s even a sleep feature that plays you white noise to help you nod off. The one thing I wish it did is tell you how long you have left in your focus/break on the lock screen – there’s a widget that shows you that when you swipe right, but I’d rather it was right up under the time like the native countdown timer is.
Anyway, I am especially in love with the white noise feature. My favourite white noises are ocean and rain; I use rain the most when it’s hot out because it makes me feel cooler? I don’t know. I’ve found this app the most helpful thing yet when trying to get my brain to knuckle down and get some reading or writing done. Give it a go, and let me know what your favourite white noise is.
You can download Tide app here (Android and iOS).
Smiling mind app ¦¦ Let’s call this part 2 in my quest for productivity. This app is a meditation/mindfulness app developed in conjunction with psychologists and is not-for-profit. Again, no ads or in-app purchases here (hoo-flipping-ray). I like that there’s a mood tracker built in which you use to mark how happy, content and alert you are before every session. I’m new to this whole shebang but have started doing an exercise before work every day and I do believe it’s helping with my overall ability to focus and positivity.
You can save your favourite meditations to come back to later, and there are all sorts of interesting programmes to follow like ‘daily commute and digital detox’ which I 100% need.
The Smiling Mind website is here with links to app stores etc.
TripIt ¦¦ Fellow travellers! This is for you. Thanks to Kristen for the recommendation of this. I used to use Wipolo, and it was good, but I think TripIt is just a hint better. It automatically imports booking information from your email account(s) and populates an itinerary for you. I find it so helpful to have all the information I need in one place, rather than having to open up various different apps and search for things whilst trying to remember what on earth it is I’m looking for in the first place. There’s a pro version you can upgrade to if you’re a super serious frequent traveller (also American as I think a lot of the extra features are US-centric).
Here’s a small part of our pre-pat trip itinerary from last year, showing flight times in local time, flight numbers, accommodation details including address, and the booking confirmation documents are all stored within each entry. So easy to see it all in one place and using this app is how we realised we’d stuffed up some of our bookings.
Find out where to download TripIt here.
Pocketbook ¦¦ Through listening to the Dave Ramsey Podcast I became convinced of our need for a budget, and discovered that his recommended app You Need A Budget doesn’t integrate directly with Australian banks. So I did some Googling and found Pocketbook instead. It’s great, and links to all the major banks so it populates all your transactions automatically. We drew up our budget on paper/a spreadsheet, then input our budgets per category (travel, groceries, entertainment, etc) into the Safely Spend feature. This then tracks your real time spend against those targets, hopefully leading to fewer surprises. It’s not perfect, and there are a few things I wish it did differently, but it has helped me so much in feeling in control of our spending. I installed in back in November, spent November setting it up and getting used to it, then December was December – but we’ve spent way less in January and February than usual and I think the app is a significant part of that.
I’m not going to put a screenshot of it in because it’s full of all my financial information so have another inspiring quote from Tide instead (also I feel it’s vaguely pertinent to budgeting – if you’re waiting for the moment when you feel ready to do a budget, it’s probably already too late):
Find out where to download Pocketbook via their website here
NextThere ¦¦ If you’re like me and scared of buses, this app is for you. Although I’m afraid it’s another one just for the Aussies, sorry about that. This app shows you your nearest bus station, what buses stop there, when they are due, how busy they are, where they’ll be stopping and when… And there’s a map where you can see where your bus is in real time. This is helpful not only before you get on the bus (surely it must be nearly here by now?!) but also when you’re on the bus (is this my stop????). I love this app.
Find out where to download NextThere here although I think it’s only iOS at the moment SORRY
Pepperplate ¦¦ I use this app to organise all of my recipes, and I use it as the cookbook on my phone. You can import recipes directly from websites using their widget thingamabob, or type things in manually using the app or via desktop. You can scale recipes up and down easily, create meal plans and shopping lists. Those last 2 functions I don’t use as I don’t find them the easiest, but if you can crack it, go ahead. I like that this saves the original place you found the recipe, and you can tag recipes for easy filtering (eg slow cooker, quick meals, breakfasts). Plus, it displays stuff cleanly and neatly. Shout out to probably the most referenced recipe in my app, Kristy’s Healthy Vegan Neapolitan Baked Oatmeal (if you haven’t tried making this yet you are missing out).
Pepperplate’s website is here.
Be warned, they don’t seem to have updated the app at all for quite some time, so what was a fabulous app 5 years ago when I first downloaded it is liable to be outstripped by the competition any day. But for me, for now, it works well.
Do you have any apps you just can’t stop recommending to people?
P.S If you’re a Sydneysider and you want my physio recommendation, let me know!