In Life, its not where you go, it’s who you travel with. We leave the drama and attention seekers to their own little groups and enjoy life with people with goals and an appetite for adventure.

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This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

June 23, 2018


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Farmstay holidays are a great way to experience rural life by camping, caravan or comfortable accommodation. Kids love the hands-on experience that shows them where food comes from and the daily farm life – milking cows, shearing sheep, feeding chooks and collecting eggs for breakfast. If you are lucky you may even watch chickens hatching.

Australia has so many farm holidays to choose from that provide the full experience – learn how to saddle a pony, ride a horse, relax in a wagon ride and end the day toasting marshmallows on a campfire, gazing at the stars. These are some of our favorite farmstays in Outback Queensland. 

Gilberton Outback Retreat

Lyn and Rob French’s 35,612ha cattle station is rich with natural wonders, from panoramic landscapes to abundant flora and fauna; Gilberton is also internationally significant for the conservation of its cultural heritage. Home to seven generations of the Martell-French family, Rob’s first ancestor here was a teamster who bought the property in 1869 to supply meat for the butcher’s shop he opened during the north Queensland gold rush.

Now the couple is welcoming guests and sharing the Gilberton story. Lyn says her family realised the potential for tourism and decided to design and build a luxury cabin. The Gilberton Outback Retreat was handcrafted from local granite, sandstone, quartz, ironbark, ironwood, lancewood and corrugated iron.
High on a cliff overlooking the Gilbert River, the ­result is extraordinary. Standing in this cleverly designed hut, with attention given to every detail, including a glass barricade that allows unhindered views and open air ­between roof and walls, it’s akin to being on a ship’s deck, hovering above the outback. The self-contained hut is anchored deep into the hard rock, presenting a whole new take on the iconic tin shed and the notion of sleeping under the stars.
Guests can help themselves to supplies in a shop-sized pantry, cooked meals can be delivered or you can join the family at the homestead, where the dining-room walls are lined with photos dating back to the 1800s. Rob and Lyn tell stories about the joys, challenges and resilience of living in such remote reaches. Today, there’s little left of the once-thriving Gilberton Township. After the gold rush collapsed in 1873, prospectors were chased off by Aborigines, but the Martell family dug in and stayed to ­develop their cattle property.

Cattle Station at Charlotte Plains
We've just headed off on our Queensland Outback trek and one of the experiences on our bucket list was to soak in a hot natural bore bath. We had already found a few but they were so modernized and smelling of chlorine, we simply felt like we were in any old spa bath. 

So our prayers were answered by camping at the Working Sheep and Cattle Station at Charlotte Plains just 50kms East of Cunnamulla. Robyn runs the station on her own after her husband passed away 2 years ago and with the drought, has been chasing the tourist dollar to supplement her income. The property is the size of the island of Singapore, so she is a real trooper, not wanting to give it up as she was born and bred there.

Shandonvale Station
Deon and Lane Stent-Smith are a classic example of the entrepreneurs in this region and they operate Shandonvale Station, a working property two hours from Longreach. Down to earth and keen to give you a taste of the real Australia, the enterprising couple delivers this in spades. Shandonvale Station caters for a wide audience. For the adventurous there’s heli-mustering, herding sheep in buggies, a gun range and bush tours. Young families will love the chance to get back to nature, getting up close and even feeding the animals. Sheep, pigs, geese, emus, goats, camels, horses, pelicans, deer and kangaroos are all on hand. 

If you’re after a slower pace and want to disconnect and relax in a unique setting, there’s the treetop artesian spa that’s perfect with a bottle of bubbly at sunset or you can just sit back on the veranda of the 100-year-old Shearer’s Quarters and enjoy the serenity of the wide open space. It’s not unusual to be surprised at how quiet it is out here and often the only noises you’ll hear are the birds or the wind whistling through the paddocks.

To top all this off, Shandonvale provides luxury accommodation and delicious home-cooked meals. The Shearer’s Quarters have been recently renovated, with interior styling by Deon. From the outside, the quarters have retained their rustic charm while inside has all the creature comforts you’d expect from up-market accommodation and it can sleep up to eight people.

Barcaldine's magical retreat Lara Wetlands

Jo Wills called on every ounce of that experience, along with a naturally bubbly personality, to build her dream tourism venture in the face of life's greatest adversity.
After moving to Lara Station, nearly 30km south of Barcaldine, in 2009 and finding she and husband Michael were the owners of a beautiful wetlands oasis, the idea of sharing their peaceful retreat was always at the back of Jo's mind. The property boasts a wetlands area that has existed for more than 100 years in a clearing among the eucalypts, so Jo set about fencing off a 2 square kilometre area - 70 per cent of it water - constructing an ablution block and clearing unpowered campsites, and opened for business at the start of May this year 2014.

So far 65 species of birds have been recorded, and the Birdwatchers Association of Queensland has expressed interest in mapping out the full extent of avian inhabitants. Veterans of all conflicts are especially welcome at Lara; Jo hopes her place will work its magic on troubled souls in the same way it has been helping her. A camp kitchen has recently been erected, complete with sink and pit for communal camp-oven cooking, but perhaps the crowning glory is a hot artesian pool. It's been the perfect place for Jo and her friends to end their day after cattle mustering, submerged in warm thermal water with a wine in hand.

Noonbah Station
Noonbah (which means Red Soil) is a working beef cattle station south west of Longreach, in western QLD. There is a vast array of different landforms which gives us a wide range of habitat for different species of plants, birds, and animals. From red sandplains to sandstone ridges peppered with ghost gums, to arid Acaia woodland to channel country through to spinifex covered hard country. It keeps us endlessly fascinated. 

Boom and bust country we seem to bounce between droughts and flooding with short periods in between. Noonbah is now in it's fourth generation of Emmotts. Noonbah offers bush camping and natural history tours. Angus Emmott is a well regarded natural historian who has featured on ABC Conversations and ABC 7.30 report, he offers intimate natural history tours on the property

, Bonus Downs Farmstay

Bonus Downs, a privately owned property run by Lyle and Madonna Connolly, is the ultimate outback historical experience. You get to experience the magnificent Bonus Downs homestead, find yourself on a tranquil bushwalk or take in the day's activities or absorb the atmosphere of the outback. Whatever your interest, there is something for everyone at Bonus Downs. Bonus Downs offers good old fashioned country hospitality in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

Bonus Downs is 46 kilometres south west of Mitchell on the Bollon Road, has bitumen to the door and is only half an hour from the Mitchell spa. It has accommodation in the rustic Jackeroos Quarters. Camping is also available in the shearing shed or bring your own tent. Caravans, motorhomes and campervans are all welcome, powered sites and water is available. Fly ins welcome and school groups.

Australia has so many farm holidays to choose from that provide the full experience – learn how to saddle a pony, ride a horse, relax in a wagon ride and end the day toasting marshmallows on a campfire, gazing at the stars. These are some of our favorite farmstays in Outback Queensland.

Experience the tranquility of country life. Even just a short weekend break in the country, away from the daily hustle and bustle, can be enough to recharge your batteries.

Whether you choose to kick back and relax or experience some adventure, escape as a couple, hang out with the family or catch up with friends, the country offers something for everyone.

Leave the laptop at home, turn off the phone and go for a hike, explore country roads, try birdwatching or fishing, test your photography skills, read a book, savour your morning coffee, or simply take in the view and end your day with a glass of wine.

May 31, 2018


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If you own a dog, you’ll know the places you can go and things you can do are limited, especially without your best friend mortally embarrassing you by spontaneously dropping one at the worst possible moment. If you don’t own a dog, there’s a good chance you wish you did, and want to go somewhere you can pretend you own a dog, without the hassle of knowing you’re literally responsible for an animal’s excrement.

So, for dog-owners and dog-lusters, searching for a place to take your pooch for a fab day out or, alternatively, annoy the crap out of dog owners by stopping every time you see a cute doggy and asking for a picture… This one’s for you. We’ve rounded up our best dog-friendly spots on the Gold Coast and Brisbane, so you’ll know where to head for a coffee or swim with your four-legged pal.

Gold Coast

The Spit is a glorious land where dogs rule supreme and  feeble humans can do nothing about it. Currumbin Estuary is a not-so-little treasure just about perfect for dog owners on the southern end of the Coast. Connected to Palm Beach at the river mouth, the Currumbin Estuary meets up with the beach for calm, relaxing chill-out spot with your pooch, with the still water ideal for vertically-challenged pups.  Another gem among Gold Coast’s dog beaches is Tallebudgera Beach, north of the Tallebudgera bathing reserve to the Tallebudgera Creek entrance. Feel the buzz of GC athleticism by taking your pooch to Pizzey Park’s off-leash dog area. Part of Miami’s massive Pizzey Park sporting complex, with just about every sport available to play and train, you’ll be surrounded by active Gold Coasters and best of all: their doggies! 

Gold Coast consists of some excellent dog friendly cafes, so if you are looking to take your puppy out for a treat, then this is it. The fantastic Parc-Bah Espresso in Southport is a must visit as it offers a menu designed primarily for dogs. Although you will enjoy their sweet treats such as peanut butter, walnut cake, and yoghurt, it's actually the top-selling dishes for dogs. 

Other cafes also worth-visiting in Gold Coast are All-Time Coffee in Mermaid Beach, Le Vintage Boutique Cafe in Worongary, Burleigh Social in North Burleigh, Alfred's in Mermaid Beach, Hidden Perk in Burleigh Heads, Paleo Cafe in Burleigh Heads, Cafe Nineteen in Sanctuary Cove, Crema in Harbour Town and  Elephant Rock Cafe in Currumbin.
All-Time Coffee in Mermaid Beach we usually drop into this little gem of a cafe when we venutre down the coast. The coffee is always excellent. The food is excellent and consistent and Elle makes the best vegan toasties and donuts made with love. 

 Parc- Bah espresso is Kim’s absolute favourite cafe on the Gold Coast! The service is always amazing and the  staff are friendly and always do more than expected. The coffee and food are made to perfection every time and we love coming here! Truly the best cafe on the Gold Coast. They even have Ice-cream for the dogs.  


Another great Aussie city for dog owners is Brisbane. With more than 120 excellent off-leash parks and dog friendly beaches for your dog to enjoy,  it actually shines when it comes to walkies. Most notable best dog parks in Brisbane include: Kroll Gardens, Colmslie Recreation Reserve, Downfall Creek, Schuster Park, Green Hill Reservoir, Kedron Brook Floodway, Sunset Park, Buddina Offleash Dog Park, Aquatic Paradise and GJ Walter.

If you are looking to find the Brisbane cafes to bring your dog to, make your way to any of these popular cafes: Brown Dog Cafe in Woolloongabba, Sassafrass in Paddington, Nana and Da's in Kedron, Todd & Pup in Moorooka, Alcove Café and Deli in Wilston, Saabi on Manson in Hendra, Bunker in Milton and Carte Blanche Espresso in Camp Hill. At the Yatala Drive-in, dogs on leaches can also have a fabulous night with the family.

Brekkie @ Brown Dog Cafe, Wooloongabba

One of our favourite Cafes to visit would be Brown Dog Café. With a sunny corner outlook and simple facade, Brown Dog Cafe is an unassuming, hole-in-the-wall style cafe. Popular with cyclists, dog walkers and nonchalant wanderers, the cafe offers a footpath dining area and for pooches and their walkers to relax. Red-hued high-school lockers, pop art and colourful stools add a splash of colour to the interior, while the glowing cake cabinet is full of fresh takeaway options for breakfast and lunch  on the run. On that note, one of the standout dishes happens to be the Dog breakfast – scrambled eggs, haloumi, avocado, roma tomato and spinach.

Todd & Pup

Moorooka may be the go-to suburb to buy a second-hand car, but it’s also becoming the place to find quality brunches thanks to a burgeoning café scene in the winding streets behind the “magic mile”. One such café to have popped up is Todd & Pup. As the cute name suggests, dogs are welcome here. So are Todds. For those of us on the other side of town who aren’t in the market for a new SUV, is it worth the drive to this café?

April 27, 2018


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Queenslanders have a proud tradition of volunteering to support major events and there is none bigger in Australia this decade than the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. The 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast needed 15,000 volunteers with diverse skills and life experiences for crucial roles at multiple locations including Games venues, the Games Village and the Uniform and Accreditation Centre. Specialist training for GC2018 was provided by TAFE Queensland at no cost to Games volunteers. The contribution of GC2018 volunteers helped promote the Gold Coast to athletes, officials and spectators who attended the Games from across the Commonwealth. Volunteering at the Games provided so many people with an opportunity to share the dream, which has been at the heart of the event since the Commonwealth Games began.

Everyone knew that when the Commonwealth Games was in town in April there’d be an Arts and Culture Program. What everyone didn’t know was that it would be the biggest cultural festival the city has ever seen. Festival 2018 ran from 4th till 15th April, alongside the Commonwealth Games, spilling out onto beaches and waterways, taking over streets and outdoor spaces, delivering roving performances and entertaining outside stadiums. The 12 day program included some 160 events, with more than 1000 performances across 28 venues with 35 world premieres, 15 Australian premieres and 20 Indigenous works. The program included a full Children’s’ Festival in Kurrawa Park, Broadbeach; a world-class line-up of music across stages in Broadbeach and Surfers as well as contemporary dance, Indigenous art, visual and public art installations, theatre and circus as well as film and food.

Kim started her first shift at Surfers Paradise which played host to the Australian premiere of ‘Holoscene’, fresh from mesmerising crowds in New York City’s Times Square. Each five hour show sees a lone performer in an aquarium-like tank that unpredictably floods. Submerged for up to three minutes at a time, performers are forced to adapt to the rapid rise and fall of water as they carry out everyday tasks. 

On the beach children of all ages loved ‘Impulse’ – 15 illuminated musical see-saws forming an interactive art playground on Surfers Paradise Beach. Everyone become musicians and artists as they took a ride and used their movement and rhythm to activate lights and sounds of the see-saw. 

Another highlight was the biggest karaoke event of the year; Giant Sing Along came to the Gold Coast as part of Festival 2018. Everyone was invited to come and sing their heart out in a field of microphones on Surfers Paradise beach to celebrate the Games. Giant Sing Along featured a huge screen with the words of your favourite songs, as voted by the people of the Gold Coast, as well as auto-tune to make you sound great.

Broadbeach was Kim’s destination for the rest of the Festival.  Broadbeach had two distinct activated spaces, Kurrawa Park and Surf Parade (between Victoria and Queensland Avenues), providing audiences with arts experiences and entertainment from 9am to late every day. Internationally-renowned Gold Coast musician Amy Shark was just one of the headliners on a stage dedicated to Queensland music talent, supported by a line-up of local music artists including Lasting’s, Ella Fence and Eliza and The Delusionals. For extreme action, everyone headed to the open air 360-degree Roundabout Stage. There you could see a cutting-edge global line-up of dance, urban circus and physical theatre. All performances were short, sharp and energetic – 20 to 40 minutes of adrenaline-fuelled wonder.

Kim did a few shifts at Jarjums Learning Space. When inside the interactive space designed, created and built for Jarjums by Jarjums (children) and Inspired by their everyday lives.  Jarjums Learning Space offered engaging and culturally exciting ways for visitors to connect with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. 

In her downtime she checked out Arboria, which was a journey through the dazzling maze of winding paths and soaring domes, and awakens your sense of wonder. Since 1992 over three million visitors in more than 40 countries across five continents have immersed themselves in the spectacular, luminous world of Arboria - Architects of Air. For the first time, the Gold Coast experienced this special installation. Kim also helped out The Whale's Tale, which was a children play with a sick whale, a lost navigator, and ridiculous doctor.

The second week of the Commonwealth Games I started my shift as a Supports Service Basketball Volunteer. There were 16 basketball teams that competed at GC2018 and faced off in the opening matches in Townsville and Cairns, with the Semi and Finals held at the Gold Coast Convention Centre. Basketball Queensland in conjunction with FIBA coordinated the running and it was great to catch up with some old faces.  

On the first night my duties were marshalling athletes, checking accreditation, assisting in the training/warm-up area, transporting team equipment throughout the venue, aiding liaison officers to escort teams and technical officials around the venue and field of play. I spent most time in the training/warm-up area which all four women’s teams used for warming up, stretching and cooling down. Canada vs England were up first, then Australia vs New Zealand.  Some great banter between club players Australia and New Zealand made warm-up extremely funny.

While I was enjoying mingling with the players Kim was helping out at the Roundabout stage where Yes, We Dance, made up of ten everyday Gold Coasters, each with extraordinary ways of expressing themselves through dance, are matched with two choreographers and an ensemble of hundreds of community dancers. This then followed up with the BLOCK, which was a powerful fusion of dance and circus that pushes the limits of both art forms. With its daring physicality, split-second timing and thrilling feats, BLOCK left audiences gasping.

The next night I was lucky to be working Field Of Play for the Women’s Bronze and Gold medal games. I was stationed in the lead up corridor that brought the teams out to the court. Then while the game was active I had to prevent everyone coming onto the court. The great part was I got to see the whole two games and because the angle of the TV cameras, didn’t have to worry about getting on TV. Bonus I could take a couple of photos without being seen.  It was a great night with the Aussie girls winning easily. Quick turnaround helping get the podiums out for the medal ceremony I headed into Broadbeach to catch up with Kim. 

Kim was helping backstage with Kate Miller-Heidke, Ella Fence and Regurgitator, yes Regurgitator!.  Regurgitator started in 1994 and quickly established themselves as an articulate and witty purveyor of the Australian music scene. They assembled a mishmash of funk, punk, pop, electronics and any other style that stuck to the sides, with unmitigated irony and a geekish nature.  Kim loved more multi-award-winning singer songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke, who is renowned for a style that crosses contemporary pop, folk and opera. She has released four critically acclaimed studio albums, and produced the multi-platinum hit singles 'The Last Day On Earth' and 'Caught in the Crowd'.

A huge shout-out goes to Ridgeview Retreat, which was an outstanding luxury dog boarding retreat located in Bonogin, just above The Observatory at Reedy. The guys did a great job looking after our Pup, Shari for a couple of days while we volunteered.

The outstanding efforts of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games’ Games Shapers were recognised at a celebration event. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk joined the Governor-General of Australia Sir Peter Cosgrove, Minister for the Commonwealth Games Kate Jones, GOLDOC Chairman Peter Beattie and the Acting Mayor of City of Gold Coast Donna Gates at the Broadwater Parklands.







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Our Journey

We started our blog “tony&”, in 2015 after our great 5 week adventure in Europe. We’ve had so many adventures, we decided to start a blog to capture and show our family and close friends in Australia and many Overseas on what we get up to. On our sometimes long work days we realized most of the travel blogs we were reading were people who had quit their jobs, sold all of their belongings and travel full-time. While this way of life is admirable, it’s not reality for a lot of people so we created this space on the internet as a way to show others you can have the best of both worlds. We are happily married for 10+ years and both of us have great challenging and rewarding jobs and a house almost paid off. Plus in 2016 we added our Kelpie pup Shari to our Adventures.