Friday, January 31, 2014

Cranky Fins Holidae Inn at Palm Beach

Cranky Fins Holidae Inn

So now you have another reason to visit the Northern Beaches of Sydney.  Cranky Fins Holidae Inn, is a great addition to an already vibrant dining scene in Palm Beach.  I stumbled upon the restaurant, on a visit to our favourite swimming spot, recently.  The joint was jumping, so I was itching to try it out, stat.  To say this restaurant is fabulous, does not do it justice.  The food was great,  Promise me, you will not go past the Roast Pork Tacos.  They were really good and the crackling was divine. 

The vibe screams,  'it's the place to be'.  The fact that it is located in one of the nicest spots on the planet, is also in Cranky's favour.

Take a look around.   All the details you will need to know, for a great day out in paradise, are at the bottom.

So here's what you'll need to know:

Location: 1 Beach Road Palm Beach NSW 2108

Distance from Sydney CBD: 45.4km and about 1hour and 10 minutes by car.

Phone: (61) (2) 9974 1159. No table reservations necessary, but they are available.  To give you some idea, a booking was not necessary on Australia Day, even though the joint was jumping. We were seated immediately, but if we weren't, a pre drinky on the lounges, or outside on the deck, would have been a great option. 

Open: During School Term, Wednesday to Sunday, Midday to 10.30pm These times may be extended during Summer school holidays and on long weekends, but phone ahead.

Closed: Monday and Tuesday

The vibe: Think beautiful people. Young and funky, kid friendly and colourful. Part beach shack, come Mexican hacienda, with a big dose of vintage nautical kitsch thrown in.  Look out for all the beach pop art painted directly onto the walls, it's fabulous.

Restaurant and Bar: Offering an excellent range of shared fusion Australian cuisine, for lunch and dinner. I would describe it as modern Mexican Cantina style. Cranky Fins Holidae Inn is licensed with a good range of wine, beer, margaritas and the like.  Be prepared to drink your cocktails out of a jar.

Kid's Menu: Yes, it includes all the usual suspects such as, spag bol and fish and chips. $13.50 each.  The paddle pops at $2.95 were a hit with my kids.

Highchairs: Yes

Parking: Some free untimed on street parking. Plenty of parking in Governor Phillip Park across the road, which is ticketed.  Cars bearing a Pittwater parking sticker, park for free. Obviously parking gets tighter on weekends and public holidays.

Public Transport: Yes, take the L90 bus from Wynyard, which stops on Barrenjoey Road near the entrance to Governor Phillip Park.  

Seaplane: Sydney Sea Planes flies to Station Beach on the Pittwater side of Palm Beach.  There is a wharf for alighting at The Boat House, The plane leaves Sydney from Rose Bay.  From the landing point, Cranky Fins Holidae Inn is a 400m walk south, back towards Barrenjoey Road.

Toilets: Yes

Shade: Yes plenty of it.  There is an indoor dining area around the bar with booth and couch style dinning. There is more dining outside on the undercover deck, where you can sit up high and watch the world go by.

Fire Place: Yes there is a slow burner stove type fireplace, which is enclosed, in the bar area.

Childrens' Playground: Yes, there is a good unenclosed one, just near the entrance to Governor Phillip Park across the road, which has recently been renovated and is fabulous for toddlers to tweens.

Views: Are minimal.  There are views from the outdoor deck across the golf course to cameos of Pittwater. But the indoor styling is visually interesting enough to compensate.

Other attractions: Palm Beach Golf links, which are directly across the road.    Barrenjoey Boat Hire operates at the end of Govenor Phillip Park and is about 400m from Barrenjoey Road.  You can hire kayaks, stand up paddle boards and small fishing boats daily. You can also walk up to Barrenjoey Light House and take a guided tour inside the light house and heritage buildings on Sundays, via NSW National Parks.

In general:  We absolutely loved Cranky Fins Holidae Inn, for it's food, it's colour and its quirky vintage beach vibe. We had no trouble getting a table, even though the place appeared full on first inspection.  It is quite noisy, but it did not bother me at all.  All ordering is done at the bar and pleasant apron clad wait staff, bring the food to your table. Credit cards are accepted. There is a surcharge on Sundays and public holidays.  Overall I would say it is definitely well worth the trip.

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Easy Eton Mess Recipe

Easy Eton Mess Recipe

After the Australia Day Pavlova disaster, I thought I better share a recipe were I did make the meringue work for me.  It was bought meringue, which some of you suggested was the way to go with pavlova too. Thanks to the other contributors who emailed me recipes and offered up Donna Hay's Pav, as a fail safe way to proceed after my last post.  You girls are a great bunch.

Easy Eton Mess Recipe
serves 4
500g/ 3 cups frozen mixed berries
6 mini meringue nests (I used the 100g Coles 10 pack)
600ml /2.5 cups thickened cream (Must be full fat, so it can be whipped)
1 tspn vanilla essence
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 punnet fresh strawberries to serve

Place berries in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until berries have released their juices. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
In a large bowl combine cream, vanilla and sugar.  Beat until cream is whipped.
Place meringues in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin, until shards are no bigger than about 1cm/ 1/2 inch and smaller.
Sprinkle a small amount of meringue in the bottom of 4 serving glasses.
Top with a layer of berries and juices.
Top this with a layer of cream 
Repeat this process, ending with a layer of cream.
Reserve a little meringue to sprinkle on top of the strawberry garnish
Serve immediately.
We ate these on Christmas eve and they were delicious.

In other news, it's exciting times here at the Beach House this week.  This little one is off to her best start interview this afternoon.  For those who don't know, this is a great initiative to test kids entering school, in order to determine the skills set they arrive with, at their entry into formal education.  They are subsequently tested throughout primary and high school, at a national level, to assess the skills they have learned.  It's politically controversial, but as a parent and an ex teacher, I am all for it.

It's the end of an era for us, as I no longer have kids at home during the week.  So thank goodness for this blog and you guys, who are so kind to pop in here.  I appreciate you very much.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Australia Day Pavlova and A Fabulous Australia Day Weekend

Australia Day Pavlova

As far as weekends go, this Australia Day Weekend just past, has been an absolute corker.  Mr Beach House did his standard and announced he was sailing in an Australia Day regatta. That is situation normal, so whilst he pursued his passions, I pursued mine.  My little taste testers and I tried a new restaurant come bar, at Palm Beach, known by the unusual name of Cranky Fins Holidae Inn.  Believe me, the name goes with the funky vibe of the place, which is part love shack, part Mexican hacienda, with a healthy dose of nautical kitsch thrown in. It sounds crazy and it is a little bit, which is part of the charm of the place. We loved it for so many reasons.  Look out for the full review on the blog soon.  It's definitely worth the trip to Palm Beach, to indulge yourself.

And of great importance to these guys, they serve paddle pops.

Although this beach shot was not taken directly after lunch at Crankies, it was one of several quick dips at Palm Beach over the weekend.  Our beach romps kept the troops happy and allowed them to let off some steam.  Waterfront parking is my kind of parking.  I love that the Australian beach is the great equalizer and there is no better time to acknowledge that, than the Australia Day weekend.

After a late lunch at Cranky's, we met Mr Beach House for a drink at the Yacht Club, post regatta.  Dinner with some sailing friends, was arranged for afterwards, which topped off a beautiful day. There are definitely no friends like old friends.  I have half heartedly been trying to organise the littlest Beach House's Christening for 5 years and I pinned our mates down to some possible dates at dinner, which do not clash with the sailing calendar.  A big deal in the circles Mr Beach House moves in and a major reason for neglecting my daughter's spiritual beginnings for so long.  Apparently in our household, Sundays are strictly for sailing.

On the final day of the long weekend, we had guests for lunch.  There is no shade in our backyard to speak of, so the 'lampshade' hat I recently picked up from the Eumundi Markets worked a treat.  It has become invaluable on a bad hair day too.  No matter how hard I try, I really do think it's high time I accepted I have curly hair and trying to style it straight, in a humid Sydney Summer, is for the birds.

We had a light lunch of BBQ lamb rolls, with salad greens and a yoghurt dressing.  The first course was simple, but delicious.  It wasn't until dessert, that the kitchen disaster eventuated. Things had gone well up until then.

Until this creation, I was a pavlova virgin.  That sounds almost unAustralian, but there you have it.  Today, I still feel like a pavlova virgin, as this one was a complete mess, by the time it landed on the plate.  I had seen it in the Aldi catalogue, a month or so ago and decided to make it for Australia Day.

You can get the printable map here, which you then trace onto a baking sheet. 

I made the mistake of spreading the pavlova mix too thin, thus making it bigger than the map.  I shouldn't have done, as what resulted was a  tough, chewy and very difficult to cut pav.  It still tasted OK, but the recipe is definitely not share worthy. 

My Facebook friends recommend the Donna Hay one as pretty fail safe.

I was redeemed by the Koala Bear Lamington cupcakes, which the kids very much appreciated. 

The party continued today, with a 70th birthday party.  It was off to Dunes at Palm Beach for breakfast with sailing royalty (think Americas Cup 1983 and Olympic medals of all persuasions ). I have to say, that although I couldn't do it everyday, today I learned that a bit a champagne before 10am in the morning, is quite refreshing and easy on the soul.  

Although I am a constant sailing widow, the sailing fraternity is an entertaining and interesting bunch of high achievers, on the whole.  An invitation to today's event was part of the upside of being in the industry for me.

It is rare that I have such a beautiful weekend, but when it's on offer, I will take it time and again, because life is short and it is to be savoured, in all its forms.  Of course the best bits never last long enough, but I am making the most of it, whilst they do.

As a friend said to me this morning at the party.  "We could be anywhere in the world.  This is just beautiful." and it was.   This is Australia on the beaches and it is sublime.  It is a truly fabulous lifestyle.  I just hope and pray that I make it to 70 and beyond and can keep enjoying it all so much.

In a country where the kids can fly kites on a beautiful day, in big open spaces and next door, their father and I can throw can back French Champagne at 10 in the morning, in the company of long standing friends, you would have to say we are blessed on Australia Day and every other day, in this country.  Who knows how long it will last, but whilst it does, I am not taking a minute of it for granted.

I hope you all had a magnificent Australia Day Weekend Beach Dwellers.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Happy Australia Day

Wishing all my fellow Australians a fantastic day in the Great Outdoors, with family and friends.

I salute you and this fantastic place, we are so privileged to call home.  Although we have our problems, they are dwarfed by the seemingly endless positives, this nation provides us with.

We are so fortunate to live in the Lucky Country, with institutions we can trust by and large, inhabited by people who are friendly and very willing to help each other in times of crisis.  And what about the climate?  It may be 'changing', but either way, for my money, it is still fabulous.

If I could speak to my ancestors, I would thank them from the bottom of my heart, for having the foresight to settle in this magnificent country.

Happy Australia Day everybody. Go well!!!!

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Silent Movies at the Majestic Theatre in Pomona

Silent Movies at the Majestic Theatre Pomona

Sometimes the most interesting and unexpected things are discovered, when you sit back, throw your hat in the ring and go with the flow.

You know we have been in Noosa recently.  What you may not know, is why we were there.  We don't do family holidays at Christmas time, per se.  We do sailing regattas (usually Australian or world championships) and work a family holiday around that.  Ideally, but not always, Mr Beach House sells his boat at the end of the regatta and that pays for the holiday.  I guess when you are working in your passion, rather than a highly paid desk job, that's sometimes how you have to play it.

Even our honeymoon, was along those lines.  In the early days of our marriage, it caused loads of resentment on my part, especially when the kids came along and our family holiday went something like this.  Mr Beach House would sail all day, with a reassuring comment as we parted for the day, along the lines of  "It's just part of my business darl."   So there I was, for a large part of the holiday, confined to the accommodation, which had less baby conveniences than I had at home, without my support network, trying to coordinate sleeps, baby food and all the associated stuff around bringing up babies and toddlers.  Let me assure you, it bore no relation to my concept of a holiday. Whilst Mr Beach House was living the dream, for me, the 'holiday' was just same s--t  different location, except with fewer mod cons.

Mr Beach House in his element, mixing business, with pleasure.  He made both the boats in that shot by hand. Impressive I think.  Five out of the top 7 boats in the Nationals were made by him, as were all the rudders and centre boards in the top 7 places.

But as one tends to do, if they love their husband and kids and want to stay married.  They get over it and bat on.  As the kids have grown bigger and I have got a little bit wiser, these days things are on the up and up.   I actually look forward to our Christmas holiday 'together'.

Now I spend very little time at the yacht club talking sailing.  I also insist on dropping Mr Beach House at the yacht club and taking the car everyday (we drove this time, but we have also hired a car in the past). I only go to destinations I like and attend events associated with the regatta, I want to attend.

So on his past form, you may imagine my skepticism, when Mr Beach House arrived home one afternoon after sailing and announced we were to accompany him to a silent movie that night, in a country town I hadn't heard of.  It was a hot Summer evening in Queensland and we were having fun in the pool, so it was with some trepidation that the kids, my mum and I, agreed to go.

As part of the event, we got a brief history of the theatre, by this lovely guy, who then morphed into the organist during the film.
It turns out, this was one of Mr Beach House's better invitations.

The whole experience was most enlightening and I found it a thrill to go to the movies, the way my grandparents and great grandparents would have done, in the first few decades of last century.  It is quite different to how we do it today.

The Majestic Theatre in Pomona, was built in 1921.  Apart from showing silent movies, as delivered by the travelling picture show man, who did a circuit around the region with his own projector, it also served as a space for vaudeville performances and the usual social gatherings of a rural community in Queensland, at that time.  Talking pictures came on the scene in the early 1930's and the theatre had a conventional life, as a movie theatre and rural hall for most of the 20th century.  It remained the only movie theatre in the Noosa Shire until 1984.  

It's busiest period was during WWII, when it was requisitioned by the army, which stationed a regiment of anti tank gunners in the area.  The servicemen took ticket priority and the town's folk were not impressed.  They could no longer get in to the pictures with ease.  As some consolation to them, the doors would be flung open, so residents could stand on the old Bruce Hwy outside and watch movies through the theatre doors.

When the modern cinema complex opened in Noosa Junction in 1984, the Majestic struggled along until 1987, when the owner was asked to show a silent movie to a group of travel agents.  The viewing was accompanied with music from the Wurlitzer organ, which he made up, as the movie went along.  Before long, demand grew and basically, the phone has not stopped ringing ever since.  The Majestic, is now promoted, as the oldest authentic silent movie theatre in the world and opened to tourists and school groups, six days a week.

We were originally scheduled to see the 1926 film, The Son of the Sheik, staring Rudolf Valentino.  However it was considered too racy for the children in attendance, which just about blew me away, considering it's 2014 and some of the stuff my kids have been exposed to on ABC 3.  I have to say it was disappointing, but as you have already read, I am well versed at licking my wounds and moving on.

Instead, we were presented with a 1927 comedy called College, starring Buster Keaton.  A name I had heard before, but never knew much about.  Apparently, he was the Ben Stiller, or Jim Carey of his day.

Although film production has moved on big time since 1927, the movie highlighted a few things.  Namely, that human nature does not change much and that the quality of the facilities and education one receives at college has much improved.  Also, what passed for entertainment in those days, was incredibly unsophisticated and innocent, in contrast to today.  The whole thing was a study of 1920's American pop culture and was very interesting from that point of view, alone.

The funniest part about the whole night, was that we forgot that the Littlest Beach House Brat cannot read.  Clearly a fundamental requirement, when viewing a silent movie.

She kept asking me when the organist would stop playing and when they were going to turn up the sound, as she couldn't hear a thing. She just kept saying, "I don't get it." 

Whoops!!!!! God love her, she was an absolute trooper and played on my phone for the last 30 minutes of the movie, which was rather ironic, when you think of if. 

The movie, ran for an hour and 15 minutes.

The Majestic also accommodates a restaurant called Valentinos, with some lovely art deco features and fabulous poster art.

It was wonderful to be part of this living history for a night and experience the way people saw movies 100 years ago.  I can highly recommend a visit.  Check out some of their upcoming events here.

It just goes to show that being with Mr Beach House, can be fabulous. 

The Majestic Theatre
3 Factory Street
Pomona 4568
Ph: 07 5485 2330 

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

An Australian Christmas

Of course it's way too late to show you the Beach House Australian Christmas story, but there are very few rules here and I'd like it in the family archive, so I thought I would share it with you anyway.  This Christmas turned out to be a really good one, with lovely food and fun and interesting company. 

As an only child, with no first cousins, sadly I have only my mum from my childhood family with me these days.   I always start to worry about who's doing what for Christmas in early September, which is ridiculous, as it usually turns out to be a really nice day. It's always a good lesson in letting the universe come up with a result. Mr Beach House has way more clout than me about what we will do, because he has a large and close family.

As for my immediate family, we usually do a lovely family breakfast, with just the five of us.  The kids and their present opening, is one of the best bits of the day and mum is way too generous, so the kids have a ball.  This year, I felt less stressed because I did not have to turn myself in knots, over the Santa issue, with the biggest Beach House Brat.  When the littlest found Santa's wrapping paper in my wardrobe, she bought my line about Santa leaving every family the wrapping paper left overs.  Phew!!!!!  
Reset for Breakfast.  It's lots of work, but worth it when you actually get to sit down and enjoy it.
I also like to do a special dinner on Christmas Eve, as a way of stopping and just being together for the start of the holiday.  We had a lovely meal with just the four of us, as mum did not want to stay the night.  I bought the Aldi duck in a chook, in a turkey, ensemble and it was really fabulous.  I wish they did them year round, as I can completely recommend it for next year.

That plate is so over loaded and could have been styled a whole let better, but when I was trying to serve a Christmas Eve dinner, respectable shots for the blog were the last thing I was thinking about.

Dessert was Eton Mess, primarily for it's red colour scheme and ease of assembly.  We ate way too much on Christmas Eve, but of course it was delicious and I will be sharing the easy recipe successes with you, at some point.

Believe me, there were some recipe failures as well.

The potato dauphinous collapsed when I unmoulded it.  It tasted great, but unlike the beautiful wedges I planned on slicing, it was a jumbled mess by the time it made the plate.

I think the tablescape (above) was worth sharing, as it looked very pretty.  I had a white table cloth and rolled out some silver and white wrapping paper from IKEA down the centre.  Atop that, was pine leaves, mini pine cones and the snowflake lights from IKEA, which I think are the bees knees.  It looked so pretty, as it got darker.

Paper hats out of the bon bons, seem to be  now an Australian Christmas Tradition, originally adopted from the UK.
Before bedtime, the Littlest Beach House Brat pondered over whether Santa would leave his sugar snow foot prints this year.  Happily for her anyway, 'he' did.

The Birkenstock buckles left a weird imprint in the 'snow', but she never noticed and her excitement was definitely worth the messy cleanup in the morning.

Unfortunately, I was too into breakfast to shoot it, but I made wholewheat banana pancakes and this time served them with a beautiful red berry compote, pure maple syrup and natural yoghurt.

Lunch was at my sister and brother inlaws in the inner west and it was a lovely relaxed affair, with gorgeous food, warm company and a few presents.

The Turkey was served with Moroccan spiced roast vegetables.
We often do seafood for an Australian Christmas lunch, but this year we had a beautiful turkey, sourced from an inner west Italian butcher, with all the trimmings.  I am not a fan of turkey, but this was stunning.

I was asked to bring a salad and a cheese platter.

Apart from some blue cheese, I also did this large Camembert wheel with a homemade sweet capsicum and chilli jam, Toasted walnuts and rosemary to garnish.  The colours were Christmasy and it was a bit of a show stopper.  I will share the recipe soon, as it really was lovely.  The jam can be done many days before serving and it was completely delicious and impressive.

The intermittent rain throughout the day, did not dampen the usual post lunch cricket match for the die hards. The cooler temps, also made it the perfect weather to consume our hot lunch.

After a few overs, it was back to the Christmas tree in the front room for some Christmas caroling around the piano and present opening.  It's another exciting aspect to the day.

It was a happy memorable day and all over for yet another year.  Each Christmas is different and special in its own way.  In our family though, it essentially follows this format each year.  I hope you enjoyed a tour of our typical Australian Christmas.
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Eumundi Markets and Noosa Farmers' Market

The Eumundi Markets in the hiterland of Noosa, are an absolute institution and have grown large and rather commercial over the years.  Despite that, they are definitely still worth making the 20km trek inland from Noosa for a visit.  As with all things Sunshine Coast, there are still many points of difference to these artisan markets and you will always find something new to excite.  The other markets which are newer and somewhat less sophisticated than those at Eumundi, but still with loads of charm, are the Noosa Farmers' Markets held every Sunday morning in Noosaville.

The Eumundi Markets

At Eumundi, I always seek out the vintage chenille children's clothing and this year I just had to have one of those hats.  I made that pink one on top mine. She is so large and lampshade-esque, that she is now literally sitting atop the standard vintage lamp in my dining room, inherited from my grandmother and until now, sans lampshade. The hat has had several outings and has begun a few conversations on the beach this week.

I was particularly interested in this beautiful pineapple artwork.   As you know, I am addicted to the iconic symbol in my decorating.

Happily, I found the basket man again.  I phoned him after my last trip to Eumundi, in an attempt to source some baskets for friends, who had admired the one I have had on my kitchen bench top. Unfortunately he had contracted Ross River fever, whilst down in the swamps cutting vines, for his beautiful baskets and had no available stock.  He is now completely recovered and it was lovely to see him back again at the market, fitting fit and creating his beautiful bespoke baskets.

I also loved Plump Cushions, of which two of these shots (left and top) can be attributed.  I purchased several geometric blue and white stunners, which you will notice around the Beach House very soon.

There is also an indigenous element to the markets, with lots of beautiful Aboriginal artifacts on sale.  The painter above spoke French and entertained many souls, as he quickly whipped up cute little finger paintings in minutes.  He was doing a roaring trade. 

I am also now the proud over of the orange and white creation above.  It goes beautifully with some orange and pink beads I bought in Noosa and I am wearing it as I write.  It's a bit like a tent, but beautifully cool, in this hot Sydney weather we are currently experiencing.

Eumundi Markets
Wednesday 8am-1.30pm
Saturday 7am-2pm

Whilst there is a nice balance of food available at the Eumundi markets, it was not until I got to the Noosa Famers' Market that I really became interested in eating.

Noosa Farmers' Market

Noosa Farmers' Market is strictly food, fresh produce, flowers and associated kitchen products.  The producers are local and it's packed with some fabulously interesting culinary offerings.

It opens early and my hot tip would be, defintiely DON'T eat before you go.

The flowers are tropical in nature and truly spectacular.

That saucisson became part of a beautiful French tapas we had later at home and it was hot, spicy and totally delicious.  It was too much for the kiddos, but that meant more for Mr Beach House and I.  I haven't had a better saucisson since being on French soil, many moons ago.

There are loads of organic producers offering all range of conventional and exotic fruit and vegetables.  

The dumplings looked authentic and amazing

There was Korean Kimchi.  The same guy also made the best raw cacao balls.

This French bakery stall had all the usual suspects and it was so very beautifully styled and presented.

My mum's best friend, buys her roses here every 2 weeks,  She says they are the freshest on the coast and last close to 2 weeks.

These Austro Hungarian delicacies were actually cake and were filled with ice cream to serve.

Beautiful fresh and modern Mexican

There are those cacao yummy balls above.  The lemon and coconut ones were lovely as well.

I bought some raw cakes from Blended Earth to take back to the apartment, to have poolside with the The Beach House mob, for morning tea.  Blended Earth specialises in raw hand crafted food and they were so passionate about what they were doing, it was infectious.  Their mint slice with no dairy, eggs or sugar, was completely delicious.

There were these lovely local made scented bread boards and kitchen utensils and beautiful handmade soaps on offer.

I loved these little hand made pieces of art, which were about the only thing not kitchen or food related, at the markets. 

After taking a good look around you can take your purchases to the undercover seating area and with the jazz band playing in the back ground, eat them up under the Australian sun.

It is a great way to spend a few hours on a Sunday, if you are up in Noosa and looking for some good honest quality food on your travels.

Noosa Australian Rules Football Club
Weyba Road

I know many of you are enjoying my posts on Noosa and her hinterland.  Thanks for all your lovely feed back and coming along with me, on such a lovely journey.  If you missed one, you can check them out as follows.

On the Streets of Noosa here,
A review of The Spirit House here
Shopping in Noosaville and Noosa Junction here.
Shopping and Dining at Perigian Beach here.
Silent Movies at the Majestic in Pomona here.

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