Where We Ate: The Gold Coast Edition

I think we can all agree that a holiday is not complete without delicious food. On our recent trip to the Gold Coast, Matt indulged my foodie tendencies and let me organise our non-theme park days around all of the cafes and restaurants I’d heard about from friends or seen on my insta feed.

Here are a few that are worthy of mention.

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Grocer & Grind (Shop 1/1 Sunshine Boulevard, Gold Coast)

Grocer & Grind is a delicious little cafe-come-wholefoods-grocer tucked away behind Broadbeach. Their menu is all healthy, all quality, all fresh and all local. Serving high quality coffee, breakfast all day and a range of delicious smoothies, this is a cafe that delivers on all fronts. We sat next to the big open windows and enjoyed a feast of breakfast foods for lunch. It was flippin’ fantastic.

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Elk Espresso (16 Chelsea Avenue, Broadbeach)

Elk Espresso is a gorgeous little cafe not far from the beachfront in Broadbeach. I’d discovered this little gem a few weeks earlier when I was at the Gold Coast for work and I was pretty keen to get back. Their menu is deliciously quirky, the produce is fresh, the dishes are pretty and the coffee is on point. The laid-back vibes make it the perfect spot for a sleepy holiday breakfast or an afternoon coffee break. They also do dinner on Friday nights, which, from the looks of their instagram account (@elksespresso), looks pretty flippin’ delicious too.

The Cardamom Pod (Shop 11/110 Surf Parade, Broadbeach)

The Cardamom Pod is an all-vegetarian all-delicious restaurant nestled in a corner among all of the other restaurants in Broadbeach. We made it there for dinner one night and for only $30 scored their share platter of 4 dishes plus rice. They are also open for breakfast on the weekends, which I have heard is amazing, and their smoothie menu alone is worth the visit.

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ESPL (4 The Esplanade, Surfers Paradise)

From the moment I laid eyes on their sugar-coated, caramel syringe-stabbed doughnuts on their instagram feed (@blackboardcoffee), I was on a mission to find one of Blackboard Coffee’s many locations along the Gold Coast. It didn’t take long to find ESPL. A tiny little cafe opposite the beach at Surfers Paradise, ESPL arguably serves up the best soy cap in all of Surfers and, more importantly, stocks those little pockets of decadence I’d been eyeing off on instagram for a few weeks. We didn’t get the chance to seek out their other locations, but their larger cafe at Varsity Lakes looks like the perfect spot for a long and lazy brunch.

Our Guide to Theme Park Happiness

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There is one reason, and one reason alone, that Matt and I decided to holiday at the Gold Coast – the search for theme park happiness. It’s that feeling of elation experienced as the combined result of fear, excitement, adrenalin and fairy floss-induced sugar comas commonly occurring in theme parks across the world.

The Gold Coast has well and truly established itself as Australia’s capital of theme park happiness. It was on our first day that Matt and I discovered this special kind of happy during a visit to this little out-of-the-way place called Dreamworld.* We subsequently found it again the next day at Movie World and the day after that at Wet ‘n’ Wild.

Matt and I absolutely love theme parks – we both love roller coasters and I have a particular fondness for dorky tourist photos, eating fairy floss and wearing souvenir Bugs Bunny ears on the bus all the way back to our apartment.

If you too are going to the Gold Coast in search of theme park happiness, we have three quick tips on how to find it faster.

1. Do some research and buy tickets before you go.

There are always deals on offer somewhere on the internet. For instance, Australian health and car insurance companies often have cheap tickets available for members. If you do a bit of research and buy early, you should be able to get tickets on the cheap with some money left over for gorging on over-priced ice cream and fairy floss during your visit.

2. Avoid school holidays if you can.

Matt’s uni holidays just happened to fall on the week the NSW and Queensland school holidays overlapped, so we had little choice but to brave the swarming crowds of pre-teens dragging their parents from ride to ride. It wasn’t quite as bad as I may have just made it sound, but that’s a blogger’s prerogative. In reality, there were only a few times when the lines were longer than we thought reasonable. But however painless our experience was, if you do have the choice, going on a weekday outside of school holidays would guarantee you some serious theme park happy.

3. Pack your lunch

This was Matt’s idea. To be honest, the thought of getting organised enough to have a packed lunch at a theme park had never even crossed my mind. That little extra effort beforehand though was really worthwhile – we had a far superior lunch to any that could be purchased at a theme park and we had more money to spend on fairy floss and ice cream. Just ensure you don’t take notice of the rule stating you can’t take your own lunch. We were blissfully unaware this rule existed and it never mattered. Just don’t take in anything glass, they will take glass off you.

*Dreamworld is actually quite large.

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Instagram Inspiration: Brisbane & the Gold Coast

Today I’m on my way to Brisbane for a 10-day jaunt in the sunny state of Queensland. I’m meeting Matt in Brisbane for a few nights before we head down to the Gold Coast to go to all of the theme parks.

Before any trip I always like to do a little investigative work, mainly to find out where it is that I can feed my expensive soy cap habit and get a good quality coffee as soon as I arrive, but also to get an idea of what the must sees and dos are of a place before I get there. As my number one social medium of choice, instagram has quickly become my primary source for sussing out the coolest parts of a city.

In the lead up to this next trip I’ve been slowly collecting inspiration from the insta world and want to share my favourite Brisbane and Gold Coast-based instagrammers with you.

@harriet.od // Brisbane

Harriet is a close friend of mine, but I am not biased when I say that her insta feed is stunning. With every new post I see from Harriet I get more and more excited about heading up to Brisbane and spending time with this gorgeous human in one of her favourite hangouts.

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@onlybec // Brisbane & Gold Coast

Owner of In Bloom Flower Delivery, a boutique flower delivery service in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Bec’s instagram is full of great spots to grab coffee or some lunch in and around Brisbane mainly, but sometimes the Gold Coast too. Bec has just been featured as the first Queensland “Day in the Life” on the Stomping Ground Australia – definitely a fantastic source of foodie inspiration for my trip!

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@something_brewing // Brisbane

I am always into anyone who is committed to finding good coffee and telling people about it. Whoever it is behind this little gem of an insta account, I think we’d make good friends.

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@mimihyll // Brisbane

Mimi is a self confessed coffee snob and her blog, Mimi Must Try, is dedicated to “Brisbane’s must try’s”. This combo makes for the perfect insta feed to follow in the lead up to my trip – I am all about “must try” coffee.

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@foodramblings // Brisbane

The instagram account of Brisbane food blog, Food Ramblings, is filled with delicious images of all the food I’m going to eat when I get to Brisbane. Yes, all of it.

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@swsco // Brisbane

Nicolette is a Brisbane-based photographer originally from Texas. Her photography is stunning and she regularly frequents cute cafes in Brisbane. I’m absolutely in love with her feed.

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Lastly, here is a collection of images from the insta accounts of various cafes, restaurants and shops in Brisbane and the Gold Coast that I’ve found and hope to check out while I’m there.

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Top (left to right): @showroombrisbane, @eatstreet, @twotreesespresso
Middle (left to right): @lamkinlane, @rawpawpawcafe, @reverendsfinecoffee
Bottom (left to right): @elkespresso, @grocerandgrindgoldcoast, @blackboardcoffee

I would love for you to share your favourite spots around Brisbane and the Gold Coast – I’m always looking for quality personal recommendations. And if you’re super keen, you can also follow my Queensland adventures on instagram @inexplicablewanderlust.

See you in sunny Queensland!

- Bec xx

Sydney Eats: The Grounds of Alexandria

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Another weekend in Sydney means another opportunity to try out another Sydney brunch spot. I had heard, read and viewed many an instagram photo of this uber cool cafe called the Grounds of Alexandria.

It was Sunday and we were a cosy group of 5 – my parents, my Aunty, her partner and me – hoping for a quality brunch at a cute cafe before heading back to Canberra. We arrived at the Grounds and were greeted with so much more. Far more than just one cafe, the Grounds also has a coffee roastery, a bakery, a restaurant called the Potting Shed, a cute boutique florist and a beautiful sprawling garden courtyard.

On weekends the place comes alive with what is called the “Grounds’ Markets”, a collection of super cute, super delicious market stalls with exciting foods of all varieties – hot dogs, ice-cream sandwiches, waffles, pastries, breads, home-made lemonade, home-grown strawberries, roasted nuts, little chocolates – it was food stall heaven and the place was absolutely bustling.

Unfazed by the two hour wait for a table inside the cafe, we were very happy to order from the takeaway menu and find somewhere in the garden to devour our makeshift brunch. The coffee was to die for, the juices spot on and the food had me very excited to come back for brunch inside the cafe next time. We wandered the market stalls, ate some pastries for dessert and met Fluffy, the resident Macaw. Brunch mission accomplished.

The Grounds of Alexandria is located at Building 7A, 2 Huntley Street in Alexandria, Sydney.

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Grounds

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One Reason To Travel: A Cambodia Photo Diary

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There are many good reasons to travel.

For me, I love the excitement of the unknown. It’s being anonymous in a big city or getting that small glimpse into a different culture. It’s the history I only ever read about in books or that famous landmark I see only in films. And it’s the food, oh yes, the food.

But there is one other reason that I haven’t yet mentioned and it has to do with that human relationship thing commonly known as “friendship”. I’ve written before about the kindness of strangers, but today I want to talk about new friendships that last long after travel is over.

It has been almost 3 years since I went to Cambodia. I was 20, still at uni and pretty flippin’ lucky to get the opportunity to visit Cambodia with 9 others, most of whom I’d only just met. Cambodia was all of those things I mentioned above, and more – it was exciting, unknown, eye opening and delicious. An experience I shared with only 9 other people and 3 years on we are all still mates.

Last weekend I caught up with 5 of the 9 and was reminded of how unique “travel friendships” can be. We spent the night reminiscing about Cambodia and giggling about things no one else would understand.

Gemma, Rotem, Steph, Chris and Rhys – thanks for hanging out and reminding me of how cool you all are. Looking forward to our next reunion, but in the meantime, here are some snaps from our time in Cambodia all those years ago.

- Bec x

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Sydney Eats: St Jude, Redfern

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St Jude is a damn cute little cafe in Redfern.

It was the Monday morning after City2Surf when we dropped by for brunch and St Jude was the perfect place to rest our sore legs and recuperate before the drive home.

It is a small cafe with a beautiful antique table in the middle of the room for communal dining. They also have extra seating outside, which, on a sunnier day, would be sublime. Being winter though, we were lucky to score a table inside when we did. Butterflies, vintage dolls and framed paintings of saints adorn the walls, adding to the eclectic feel of this tiny cafe. And while it might be a small place, St Jude is big on good vibes – their service is super friendly, the food is killer and they make a very mean soy cap.

If you want to eat at St Jude, and I highly recommend it, go to 728 Bourke Street (corner Thurlow Street & Bourke Street) in Redfern and hope for an empty table.

- Bec x

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Canberra Cafe: Lonsdale Street Roasters, Braddon

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Today Canberra’s weather really put on a show. I’m talking blue sky and sunshine – perfect conditions to head down to Lonsdale Street Roasters to grab a coffee and a bite.

Bec and I weren’t overly hungry, but a quick geez at the menu kickstarted our appetite. We decided to share banana bread, which was topped with all the goodies. It might not sound like much, but trust me this thing was deliciously dense and perfect for an afternoon snack. The coffee was good, chai latte was killer and the atmosphere outside was perfect for a sunny Canberra day.

Roasters has 2 locations on the one street – you can find them at Number 7 and Number 23 on Lonsdale Street in Braddon. If the weather’s good, head to Roasters 23 and grab a table out the front in the sunshine.

- Steven

Canberra Cafe Lonsdale Street Roasters 1

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