Discovering Australia's hidden gems

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The Black Sheep of the Gold Coast

The Black Sheep of the Gold Coast

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[Warning: Content contains multiple cheesy puns]

Many woolly puns accompany fine food and delightful views at The Black Sheep Espresso Baa on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

After a short consultation with Google regarding the best local cafes, The Black Sheep came highly recommended. Sheepishly I followed their advice, and was not disappointed. Renowned for exceptional coffee and quality food, I experienced both.

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This small, hole in the wall establishment is set in a classic Gold Coast shopping strip, with a high-rise backdrop that instantly ceases to exist when you sit down and become mesmerised by the sight in front of you.

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A smooth, shimmering blanket of blue stretches endlessly towards the horizon, hiding an unseen marine world that flanks Coolangatta’s busy Marine Parade.

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I’m here early and already patrons are jostling for one of the few tables. Four in total outside, and two of them ‘high-seaters’ which are difficult to eat at.  A small compromise that needs to be made for all the benefits of which I’m about to enlighten you!

[photo credit Black Sheep Espresso Baa]

      [photo credit Black Sheep Espresso Baa]

Ok, so the coffee is seriously good! Being a Byron Bay local I am very fortunate to have access to some excellent coffee; and I’m happy to say that The Black Sheep is up there with the best of them. They offer small, sheep, or ram size cups, but I found the sheep left me wanting more and I would RAMp it up next time. 😉

This little black sheep is not mindlessly following the herd when it comes to café cuisine. Their menu serves up a dose of humour along with a great range of interesting items. You’ll find quirky dish descriptions with a personalised touch. They have deliciously tweaked the ‘favourites’ and added their own unique dishes. Fast and friendly service are the final ingredients to place this café ahead of the pack.

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I chose the Spawn of Fungi, a creamy mushroom ragout topped with three arancini balls and one perfectly poached egg. The serving size was small but fresh, super tasty, and overall creamy-licious! And to my shear delight, it didn’t come served on a breadboard!!

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Menu items range from $6.50 to $18.50 and cater to lamb, sheep, or ram sized appetites.

The hypnotising ocean view makes it tempting for an extended hangout, but the shortage of tables and high volume of patrons guilts me into vacating my prime piece of real estate prematurely.

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  [Not actual view from café]

Open from 5am, this place is perfect for the early morning fitness folk to grab a caffeine to go after they walk, jog, cycle, pram, or swim in nature’s playground just across the road.

I did see a couple of diners set up with their laptops and think that it would make the ideal outdoor office!

[Not actual view]

  [Not actual view]

But for now I bid adieu to the endless blue; already planning my return visit where I intend to sample their fancy fruit toast. Promises of grilled peaches, ricotta cheese and roasted nuts have been made. Sounds be-EWE-tiful!

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                              [photo credit Black Sheep Espresso Baa]

The Black Sheep Espresso Bar is located at 80 Marine Parade, Coolongatta, QLD.

Opening Hours: 5:00AM – 3:00PM

Call (07) 5536 9947

© November 2016.

 

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High art and scones in the Tweed Valley

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High art and scones in the Tweed Valley

Margaret Olley, one of Australia’s most prestigious artists, has had her life and work commemorated through the re-creation of her Paddington terrace house at the Tweed Regional Art Gallery.

The Margaret Olley Art Centre (MOAC) is the latest addition to the gallery, who were gifted $1 million by the late artist’s trust estate, with additional funding received from the federal, state, and local governments, as well as independent organisations.

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This delightful gallery is available free to the public and showcases a range of exhibitions from local artists, HSC students (Art Express), travelling exhibitions, and a permanent collection.

A private collection of Margaret Olley’s paintings are currently on display until 14th September 2014, while the re-creation of the artist’s home studio will be a permanent exhibition.

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Margaret loved to collect items for her still life paintings and leave them in her home permanently. The rooms on display are filled with over 20,000 items that Olley collected over the years for use as subject matter and which still remain today.

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She had a long and successful career painting still life and interiors, and continued to paint up until the day she died, passing away at the age of 88 at her home-studio on 26th July 2011.

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[Self portrait]

Her life philosophies were reflected in her art, which has been described as   “…celebrating the familiar and the domestic, telling us that simple is better than complicated, that quiet is better than noisy, that what is close at hand is better than that which has to be sought.” [Phillip Bacon, 2011]

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The gallery itself is an artistic masterpiece. Designed by Brisbane architect Bud Brannigan, it was officially opened in the picturesque Tweed Valley in 2004.

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Brannigan used clever techniques to maximise the scenic location without distracting from the artistic beauty inside.

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There are many floor to ceiling windows which give glimpses of rolling hills and valleys dotted with contented grazing cows.

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The outdoor café boasts panoramic views of the magical hills of Murwillumbah, located in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, Australia.

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And if you like your caffeine with a view, you won’t be disappointed here.

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The building also provides outstanding views of Mount Warning, an iconic landmark in this area and a place of cultural and spiritual significance for the Bundjalung Aboriginal people.

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This gallery also boosts the most artistic car park I have ever seen!

Viewing exquisite art can be hard work, so we decided to take a lunch break and finish off the gallery in the afternoon. With Mount Warning literally in our sights, we headed on down to a favourite hidden gem of ours – Mavis’s Kitchen.

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Mavis’s Kitchen is a quaint restaurant/guesthouse nestled at the base of mystical Mount Warning.

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Mount Warning is also traditionally known as Wollumbin, which means ‘cloud catcher’. Here we see it living up to its name! On a clear day, the summit has stunning panoramic views over the entire Tweed valley.

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Wollumbin is the central vent, and all that remains of an extinct volcano.  Its proximity to Byron Bay, the most easterly point in Australia, means that it is the first place to catch the morning sun’s rays on the Australian mainland.  Watching the dawn rise from the summit is a popular tourist attraction, however some may choose to honour the cultural traditions of the Bundjalung people who request that the mountain not be climbed.

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These delightful gardens made a perfect setting for lunch and we choose a table set amongst the citrus orchards.

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This restaurant also has its own on-site organic garden where a large portion of the produce for the meals is sourced. 

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The food and the views were so good that lunch extended to afternoon tea, and I found myself having my second batch of scones for the day! Well, I had to compare and contrast with the Tweed Gallery scones … Mavis wins hands down, it was like eating fluffy white clouds. 🙂

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Back to the gallery for round two, and a more thorough inspection of Margaret Olley’s re-created home studio. This morning we did a one hour tour of the entire gallery which was outstanding. You never know what you’re going to get with volunteer tour guides, but our guide today was exceptional and provided a very informative, interesting, and thorough tour.

This afternoon’s return visit proved to be a lot less busy, giving more opportunity to explore the works at our own pace. Several local artists had their work for sale and it was encouraging to see that many of the pieces had already been sold.

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Looking at the Olley rooms was like taking a peek into the life of the artist; the replication felt very realistic, and combined with the background knowledge given to us by the tour guide, I felt I could get a sense of who Margaret Olley was, and how she must have felt living and working in this space.

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It felt voyeuristic peering through the windows into the cluttered, organised chaos that was Margaret Olley’s domain.

A residence where celebrities, artists, socialites, and heads of state gathered to dine and be uplifted by their gregarious host.

And a home that cradled her to her grave, after birthing magnificent works of art which will continue to be enjoyed by present and future generations for years to come.

© July 2014

 

The Allure of Alstonville

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The Allure of Alstonville

Tourist Drive Route 28 promised picturesque rural villages and country pubs, yet it delivered so much more!

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A planned exploration of the outer regions of Ballina (located on the far north coast of NSW, Australia), uncovered some true gems, and turned into a delightful day of discoveries!

First stop en route was the town of Alstonville. As we entered the town I had a feeling that this place was about to exceed my expectations.

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The main street was a showcase of stunning federation style buildings, interspersed with new, modern shopfronts. Unlike many towns I’ve seen with historic architecture, all of these buildings were in immaculate condition. In fact even the public areas and private residences of Alstonville looked very neat, clean, and picturesque, giving the town a strong aesthetic appeal.

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The Quattro Country Cafe/Restaurant

I was also surprised by the quality of the food in town. I’d not been there more than five minutes before I found myself sitting in a quaint little café which used to be the old Post Office building, established in 1902. It’s now the Quattro Country restaurant, with a menu boasting delicious and exotic sounding fare that would rival the cafes of my beloved Byron Bay.

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Over coffee and scones we consulted our tourist brochure and made a plan of attack for discovering this unique little town.

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I only got about 100 metres further before I discovered my next fabulous foodie establishment – the Federal Hotel!

I’ve got to say, “The Feddy”, as it is affectionately known by Alstonville locals, now ranks as one of my favourite pubs of all time. (Sans the ocean views of many of my other favourite pubs, yes there are a few. Note to self – write blog on best pubs!)

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The Federal Hotel is a beautifully maintained federation style building with a lovely wide front veranda overlooking the main street, where you can relax with a cool drink and soak in the vibe of Alstonville.

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There is another large, covered outdoor area to the side, as well as a back beer garden with a grassy patch for those who need a bit of green in their vista (present company included).

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But the food!!  As soon as I saw the menu I knew I would be saving my packed picnic lunch for another occasion and scheduling the rest of our day around returning to The Feddy for lunch.  With this happy thought in mind I continued my explorations.

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We walked the pretty streets following the Alstonville Heritage Trail and came across St Bartholomew’s Anglican Church, one of the most divine looking churches I have ever seen (and I’ve seen a few impressive churches during my travels).

Small but stunning, this splendid piece of architecture was completely captivating.

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The morning communion was in progress so I spent time photographing the outside structure from every angle. The rough-hewn sandstone gave it a texture pleasingly distinct to the usual sandstone structures, and I loved the shapes, lines, and other interesting features of the building.

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Showing the hand movement for “Grace” in sign language.

Then over the sound of my camera shutter I heard the strains of Amazing Grace floating out from within. Spontaneously I broke into sign language, and standing outside the church accompanied them with my own private rendition of Amazing Grace using Key Word signing. This is one of the many uplifting songs that I perform with The Singing Hands Choir, a wonderful group of volunteers based on the Central Coast of NSW who combine the joy of music with the visual beauty of sign language for the pleasure and entertainment of local and surrounding communities.

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The inside of the church was even more beautiful than the outside. Eyes were drawn Heavenward to fall upon a strange combination of classic sandstone merging into high, Tudor design ceilings.

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I’m always overwhelmed by the beauty of stained glass windows and this was no exception.

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The feature window depicted a famous artwork from the pre-Raphaelites, titled The Light of the World.

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Showing the hand movement for “God” in sign language.

We spent some time chatting with young Pastor Trent and I taught him the first verse of Amazing Grace in sign language. In return, he taught me the history of the song written by John Newton, an English slave trader in the late 1700’s who, upon facing near death during a severe storm at sea, turned to God and renounced his previous life to become a Christian minister and support the cause to abolish slavery.

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Continuing along our Alstonville trail I was again pleasantly surprised by the quality of the produce available here. The Alstonville butcher proudly advertised free-range, organic and Paleo friendly meat products, as well as award winning Sausage King Competition snags! They also provide a range of gourmet deli products. The butcher store with more! For the health and ethically conscious consumer. 🙂

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The next gem to be unearthed came in the form of the Crawford House Museum.

We were given a personal guided tour through this heritage listed building which was once the home of well-known resident William Ambrose Crawford and his family. The building is now owned by Ballina Shire Council and has been restored by the Alstonville Plateau Historical Society to operate as a Heritage Museum.

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The occupation of the Crawford family spanned many decades, which are reflected in the various themed rooms ranging from the early 1900’s to the 1970’s era.

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I always get nostalgic when I recognise items that my grandparents used to use, or even my own parents during my early childhood.

This museum is distinct in having regular changing exhibitions to complement its permanent collection, much like an art gallery.

And the exhibition of today … The History of Underwear!

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The exhibits and museum guide took us on an interesting journey through the evolution of underwear – much more fascinating than you might imagine.

Fads, fashions and social attitudes, all changing with the times. The style of underwear was the hidden foundation for the fashions of outer wear – sculpting and shaping the body for the desired look of the era. As somebody who can’t even bear to wear a bra, I was horrified by some of the torturous devices of the past.

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A diagram showing the displacement of internal organs when wearing a corset was particularly shocking. The things we do in the name of fashion! I’ve no doubt we’ll look back on the towering stiletto heels of today with the same horrified amazement.

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The backdrop to the underwear exhibition was historic life in this Alstonville farmhouse, with an interesting array of household furniture and appliances spanning the early to mid-1900’s.

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A true highlight was meeting Dorothy – the last surviving daughter of the founding family. She recounted stories of her childhood in the house and some of the changes the building has undergone. At 95 years old she was bright as a button, and we enjoyed her bubbly enthusiasm and the opportunity to interact with a living part of this history.

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After a very lengthy and comprehensive tour, I desperately needed a sit down and recovery period before taking photos of the museum so we took a lunch break and headed back to – THE PUB!

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The perfect place to refuel and recharge. After getting excited about the menu all over again, I decided on the daily special – Goldband Snapper fillet with chat potatoes, brocollini, and sweet chilli aioli, topped with 3 delicious coconut crumbed prawns. Sound good? It was. Although hard to pass over the burgers that I could see being served. Gigantic towering creations filled with multi-layered goodness, truly a sight to behold.  Here’s a link to their menu – go on, get excited! http://www.thefedhotel.com.au/food.php?loadSectionName=food

I recently had some like-minded food fiend friends staying with me who wanted to explore the region’s local produce. If only I’d known about the Alstonville Foodie Trail then!

With every activity during the day turning out to be a much richer experience than expected, we found ourselves running out of time. Our next stop was a far too brief visit to Summerland House Farm, an organisation run by The House With No Steps which provides employment and training opportunities for people with a disability.

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The centre hosts a general store which stocks an impressive range of the region’s best gourmet produce. I was in Heaven.

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I spent my limited amount of time in the grocery store so will have to come back to explore their nursery, café, gift shop, museum, mini-golf course, and of course their farm. I’m especially looking forward to doing the $5 tractor tour to learn more about the agricultural focus and practices of the region. I’ve got a feeling I could dedicate an entire blog just to this return visit.

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Again I find myself overwhelmed with the richness and diversity of this North Coast region – its food, its people and culture, and its stunning natural beauty.

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There is a special something about this area, an X-factor that has bewitched me and is begging me to stay longer …

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A Slice of Heaven Down Under – Cabarita Beach, Australia


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A Slice of Heaven Down Under – Cabarita Beach, Australia.

Pandanus trees replace palms in the tropical paradise of Cabarita Beach, located on the far north coast of New South Wales, Australia.

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I’ve seen a lot of beautiful beaches in my time, but this has to be one of my favourites.

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A grove of coastal banksia entice you down a pathway toward a seaside wonderland.

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This stairway really does lead you to Heaven –  otherwise known as Norries Headland.

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Halfway up the headland I have a magnificent view of Diamond Beach. Picturesque and breath-taking, her shores lined with surfers soaking in the magic.

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A seat at the summit! What an outlook –  a perfect spot for whale watching. Hey, it’s just a perfect spot!

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Pandanus are one of my favourite trees, probably because they usually have a sparkling blue ocean as a backdrop! I loved this little artistic piece jutting out of the rocky outcrop.

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See what I mean!

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Stunning scenery as you walk along the cliff track.

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With an awesome chasm awaiting you on the other side.

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Spectacular views overlooking Maggies Beach.

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Many Kodak moments to be had on this headland.  🙂

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Cabarita Beach Headland – a walk to remember, with views to die for!

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Totally exhilarating! You really will feel like you’ve died and gone to Heaven!

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Earth Energies in the Heart of the Sacred Triangle

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                Earth Energies in the Heart of the Sacred Triangle

Cast your mind back … no, further back … say around 20 million years ago …

And we’re in the basin of a large caldera, molten lava slowly bubbling, seeping into the landscape. The fiery depths of the Earth spewing forth to transform its environment, and over time creating what is today a volcanic crater filled with rich, fertile farm land.

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Being  lovers of landscape, we heard there were some stunning panoramic views just outside the quaint little township of Tyalgum in far northern New South Wales, Australia. So armed with the trusty (or not so trusty) panoramic camera, off we went for a day of landscape photography.

1e Down on the farm …

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Driving out it was clear that photography conditions weren’t perfect (clearly it wasn’t clear enough!) but the scenic drive was well worth it.  A spectacular journey into the heart of an ancient volcanic crater, now transformed into lush, green undulating slopes, surrounded in all directions by the mountainous rim of the volcano.

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There are three very specific landmarks along the rim. Spectacular geological formations that inspire awe at their individual majesty. When viewed altogether they are nothing less than breathtaking.

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The three formations: Mount Warning, The Pinnacle, and Sphinx Rock, form a triangle at the caldera’s rim. In Aboriginal spirituality this area is known as The Sacred Triangle, a place of powerful energies, each connected by ley lines or dreaming/song lines. This concentrated energy field has been used as a site for rituals of high-level spiritual practices and initiation ceremonies for Aboriginal ‘clever men’.  

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Side view of Mount Warning

Mount Warning was named by Captain Cook, but is traditionally known by the Aboriginal people as Wollumbin, and is one of the most important religious sites in Aboriginal culture.

The mountain top is the first place in Australia to receive the sunlight each day, making it a popular pilgrimage for tourists, who do the arduous climb in order to be the first to be greeted by the brand new day.

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The local Bundjalung people feel that this sacred mountain is being desecrated and spiritually eroded by the effects of tourism and some elders request that the summit not be climbed. There is a sign at the base to this effect which is often disregarded.  At the time of writing, Mount Warning is currently closed due to storm damage.

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Five years ago we climbed The Pinnacle and gazed down into the valley. Today we got a totally different perspective as we gazed up from the valley in wonder at this magnificent structure.

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The tall, protruding, knobbly peak of The Pinnacle literally stands out like a sore thumb along the ridge of the caldera.

This place exuded peace and tranquility, and being well off the beaten track, gave a nice sense of isolation from the urban world.

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Time seemed to stand still, there was no need for it, and I felt happy just sitting and watching the bees pollenating the small yellow daisies, and the ants trying to cart away bits of meaty debris twice their size.

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Our final destination was the base of Mount Warning where there was a delightful guesthouse and restaurant serving organic produce, some of which came straight from their exquisite gardens.

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The freshly squeezed orange juice I ordered came directly from this tree, ladder still in place!

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We had found a mini Garden of Eden at one of the most significant religious sites in Aboriginal culture.

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And just like in the Garden of Eden, the temptations proved too great and I ate the forbidden scones, jam and cream!

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Apologies if I have damned thee all for eternity. (It was worth it :))

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The delightful chatter of the babbling brook, interspersed with lively, varied birdsong made this the perfect place for some time out with nature.

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And in the spirit of things, I took some time to meditate on the significance of this beautiful place and connect with the powerful energies that reside there.

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Twenty million years ago the heart of the caldera was a hot molten mass of fire energy. More recently, a place of Aboriginal rituals and spiritual ceremonies. Today, the township of Tyalgum is affectionately known as ‘the heart of the caldera’, and its surrounds are picturesque lush farmlands bordered by the remains of the ancient volcano.

And the concept of impermanence sets in …

What will this spot look like in one thousand years? One million years from now?

Cultivating Compassion at Chenrezig Buddhist Institute

Cultivating Compassion at Chenrezig Buddhist Institute

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Chenrezig Institute is the largest Tibetan Buddhist centre in Australia.

Nestled in the lush, green hills of the Sunshine Coast hinterland, it is a fertile environment for cultivating mind awareness, compassion, and loving kindness. Qualities that once taken root within, can  be carried with you wherever you go, benefiting all you come in contact with, and creating a beautiful sense of peace and equanimity within.

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DSCN0425eAs with all of my experiences at Chenrezig, today’s teachings have left me feeling more inspired, loving, open, and respectful of others’ rights and desires for happiness as being equally as important and strong as my own. Something we often forget in this individualistic, self-focused Western culture that we have become conditioned to.

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This morning’s teachings were on bodhicitta, which translates from Tibetan as ‘awakened mind’. Those who have achieved bodhicitta are known as bodhisattvas. The main aspiration of a bodhisattva is to achieve an enlightened mind for the purpose of being able to benefit all living beings and help alleviate their suffering.

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Buddhism can often be viewed negatively because of the strong focus placed on suffering. But as explained in today’s class, it is not until we fully understand the true nature of suffering that we are able to do something about it. As with any problem, we must understand it to know how to fix it.

The root of bodhicitta is developing true compassion, which is defined in Buddhism as “the wish for all sentient beings to be free of suffering”.

We are taught that it is essential that we understand our own suffering and develop compassion for ourselves FIRST. Otherwise, how are we able to help others if we don’t have these qualities within us to give?

Practicing loving kindness (having feelings of cherishing and caring for others), is the first step towards compassion. When you care about another you obviously don’t want them to suffer.

Tibetan Buddhism provides detailed steps/paths for developing compassion and bodhicitta which I won’t go into detail with here. However, if you wish to know more about these teachings there is an abundance of printed and electronic material available, as well as low cost or free classes on Buddhist practices. Specific meditation practices on loving kindness and compassion are also available.

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So the purpose of all this focus on suffering is not to make us feel depressed, despondent, or hopeless, but just the opposite. The purpose is to remove suffering (which is mostly a product of our mind and the thoughts we choose to believe) and restore our natural state of happiness.

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The concept of equanimity is the foundation of compassion and the awakened mind. Knowing that other beings are exactly the same as you in their wish to avoid suffering and experience happiness.

Whilst all being the same, we are still of course  individuals, who choose different paths and have different values and goals. But at the core I believe that we ALL commonly desire happiness and freedom from suffering.

Tibetan Buddhism teaches that each and every one of us has a ‘Buddha nature’, which means the potential to attain a pure, enlightened mind. In this state we will not only be completely free from our own personal suffering, but also able to help other beings overcome their suffering. What an uplifting, inspiring and hopeful thought! 🙂

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Chenrezig Institute, for me, continues to be a place of great beauty, both internally and externally.

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© ihazanadventure blog

A place filled with love, compassion and kindness. A place that emanates serenity and a sense of well-being. It provides inspiration to become a better person, to help others be the best that they can be, and to create a better, kinder world.

DSCN9943e[And the perfect place to write up an article on compassion for my blog. :)]

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Oh, and they do an outstanding chai!

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For more information on Chenrezig Institute visit their website: http://www.chenrezig.com.au/

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Or Google Buddhism for more general information or resources in your local area.

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My personal view is that we don’t need religious beliefs, nor an enlightened mind, to make a difference. We are all capable of increasing our compassion for ourselves and for others to the best of our ability at this time.  And thus helping to create a kinder, more loving world.

May all living beings be free from suffering. 🙂

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Crystal Waters Permaculture Village

Crystal Waters Permaculture Village

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Today we decided to take a ‘re-tour’ of Crystal Waters – the award-winning Permaculture Village suited in the lush Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Queensland Australia.

I say re-tour because we explored this place five years ago on one of our trips and are keen to see how things have evolved since then.

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This is our view as we make the one hour journey through the spectacular Hinterland. These photos show Queensland’s famous Glasshouse Mountains, another magical place to visit in Australia.

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Sweeping, breathtaking views like this were a great way to start the day, and reminded me how much I love this part of the world.

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The photo doesn’t do it justice, but this creek crossing as we approached the village was gorgeous. The water was so still it looked solid, like a smooth amber pathway meandering through the trees.

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These are the neighbouring cows on the green rolling hills opposite the Crystal Waters Estate. As well as having a guided tour of Crystal Waters today we have come to check out their markets.

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This is the view from the carpark! 🙂

DSCN9863eDSCN9860e The village green hosted the monthly market which had a vibrant, buzzing atmosphere. Lots of locals enjoying a social time in the sunshine and catching up on each other’s news over some wholesome food and drinks.

DSCN9858e No pluto pups or hot chips here – homemade chicken and vegetable soup for sale 🙂

DSCN9862eHealthy treats available too – homemade chai and gluten-free, sugar-free chocolate cup cakes. 🙂

DSCN0912ecThe bakery was a highlight, boasting it’s own flour mill upstairs.

Crystal Waters bread is also sold offsite to various stores in the Sunshine Coast region.

DSCN9864e The musical acts were unique and entertaining. This upbeat group hammered out popular boppy tunes on their xylophones!

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DSCN9869eThere were only a dozen or so stalls but I think what people really come for is the social interaction and relaxed community vibe that the markets provide. Trading goods and services is just a good excuse for a get together with some live entertainment amongst the glorious trees on a perfect sunny winter’s day.

DSCN0897eI did find a stall which had the cutest little hat just begging me to buy it. I don’t usually buy much at markets, I just like to look and soak up the vibe, but I fell in love with my hat as soon as I saw it and it made me feel silly-happy when I wore it for the rest of the day. It’s the simple things … 🙂

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DSCN0909eDSCN0908e After the markets we met up with long-term resident Barry for a two hour tour of the village. He covered the history of the village and an overview of the permacultural design of the property, as well as answering our many questions about permaculture and  communal living.

DSCN0920eDSCN0915eWe also took a drive around to check out the eco-friendly houses and features of the property.

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There are a handful of industries that operate within the eco village.

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DSCN9805e This bamboo provides one form of income for the community with its succulent bamboo shoots being sold to upmarket restaurants in Sydney.

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The Crystal Waters Community Vision Statement provides a nice summation of the community’s values and objectives, and contains a lot of things worth aspiring to.

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Well a lot has changed in the past five years. The permaculture gardens are more developed and healthier looking, and the communal facilities have improved and expanded . Most people you talk to about communal living are upfront about its ups and downs. As part of  an individualistic culture, there are many challenges to be faced with communal living, but the benefits must outweigh the difficulties for those who continue to choose this type of lifestyle.

DSCN0884e The social facilities and events have also improved since our last visit. The monthly markets are a catalyst for relaxed and friendly social interaction, and the community also holds regular film nights, yoga classes and live entertainment.

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Nestled in a picturesque valley in the spectacular Sunshine Coast Hinterland, a community of people dissatisfied with mainstream suburban living have dreams to create a more Utopian existence. And whilst the theoretical and the practical side of communal, self-sustainable living don’t always match up, there are many joys to be had from following an alternative lifestyle. And Mother Earth breathes a sigh of relief as some choose to tread just a little more lightly upon her.