Chocolate Heaven

Have you ever been able to enter a chocolate shop and walk out empty handed? No?
Me neither.
And when the shop is attached to a chocolate factory the temptation is even greater. Even those with the strongest willpower will find a purchase impossible to resist if they visit The Factory in the New South Wales coastal city of West Gosford.
In the large factory shop packets and boxes of chocolate, nougat and marshmallows are artfully stacked in tantalising displays.
Handmade confections named after iconic Australian places fill large glass cabinets.
Through the porthole windows between the shop and the factory floor visitors can see all these treats being made. I have to confess I’m too busy tasting free samples to take photos of the production line.
Luckily I remember to use my camera in the café, where the menu boasts five special hot chocolate creations.
A morsel of cake accompanies each drink, just enough to complement its rich flavours and decadent toppings. With such mouthwatering descriptions, it takes much longer to decide which to choose than it does to devour our treats when they arrive.
When afternoon tea is finished and we return to the shop, it’s even harder to select just a few favourites to take away.
I think I might need one of everything!

A Surprise Inside

Exploring Australia 

 The New England region of northern New South Wales is known for its brisk winters and, even though the sun is shining, we’re feeling the chill. A warming fire and a hot breakfast are our first priorities and at the Walcha Royal Cafe we find all that and more.

The original building on this site, the Royal Hotel, was constructed in 1889. When it burned down in 1938 another building, aptly named the New Royal Hotel, took its place. In 2006, with new owners and a new lease of life, the hotel became known as the Walcha Royal Cafe.

It may be cold out on the street, but inside a fire blazes in the wood-burning heater. The scent of freshly brewed coffee draws us in while an expansive choice of winter fare is enticing. But it isn’t the luxurious warmth of the fire or the tasty food that keeps us lingering after breakfast. 

The cafe particularly welcomes motorbike riders and is a well-known stop on journeys between the inland and the coast. Motorcycles are celebrated in every room, with memorabilia, old photographs and even a motorbike or two on display.

Quirky sculptures made from motorbike parts attract our attention. Some are whimsical creations

while others have a functional purpose.

With a warm welcome, delicious food and this wonderful collection the Walcha Royal Cafe has plenty to offer, whether you’re a dedicated motorbike enthusiast or a traveller just passing through.

A Loo With a View – The Western Queensland Edition

Western Queensland Road Trip #20

A road trip through the outback

is a marvellous affair.

You can drive for hours

and think the land is bare.

But if nature calls along the way

there’s no need for despair.

There are outback loos with outback views

and their own distinctive flair.


Often in the outback

it is very, very dry.

But some bush loos have water views.

You wouldn’t pass them by.

Warrego River at the Cunnamulla Weir

Moonie River, Nindigully


When Thomas Mitchell camped here in 1846

he had to bring his own facilities.

But now you’ll find this bathroom on the river bank –

it’s basic but it covers all your needs.

Maranoa River, Mitchell


When visiting a winery

a bathroom is essential.

And if it’s hidden in the garden

your visit’s confidential.

Riversands Winery, St George


But on a dusty bush track

where the toilet is a wreck,

privacy’s not guaranteed –

You may need to go low-tech!

More loos with beautiful views!

The original Loo With a View

Loos with views in Western Australia

The highest loo view in Australia

Loos with views around Australia

Loos with views – The Cruise Edition

Loos with views – The Hawaiian Edition

Loos with views – The English Edition

Loos with views – The Canadian Edition

Loos with views – The Kevtoberfest Edition

or just search #looswithviews

Street Art Outback Style

Western Queensland Road Trip #15 

Street art tells a story, and every outback town has a story to tell.

A mosaic shield on the Maranoa Regional Council building in Roma depicts the region’s rich history of agriculture and natural gas production.

Inside the building a much larger mosaic shows more detail: vineyards and wineries, gas fields, sheep and cattle farming, the road and rail routes which opened up the outback. Indigenous first peoples and industrious pioneers are featured along with those beautiful bottle trees Roma is famous for.

There’s no mistaking the purpose of these parking bays at the Roma Community Art Centre.

The wall around Roma’s Bassett Park has been transformed into a giant canvas. A mural 100 metres long details a day in the life of the Maranoa Region, from sunrise to sunset. Aboriginal art, local native plants and a rig on the oil and gas fields all feature on the panels. Most spectacular is the image of Carnarvon Gorge, with its rugged sandstone cliffs disappearing into the distance.

Just south of Mitchell, a cluster of dramatic red figures stands beside of the highway. The memorial pays homage to the local constabulary who, in the early 20th century, protected the district from the Kenniff brothers, the last of Australia’s notorious bushrangers. A nearby plaque tells the story of the crimes and final demise of the brothers.

On Wills Street in Charleville, Matilda the big kangaroo greets visitors with a friendly wave. With her bush hat on, a swag on her back and a joey in her pouch, she’s ready to hop away on a new adventure. Further down the street, a giant yellow belly encourages anglers to throw in a line at the Warrego River.

Outside the Paroo Shire Hall in Cunnamulla, an Australian bushman sits on his swag, savouring a mug of billy tea. Titled “The Cunnamulla Fella” the statue depicts the iconic Australian character described in the song of the same name, written by Stan Coster and recorded by Slim Dusty.

Just across the road are more well-known Australians.

The beautiful painted silos at Thallon are easily seen from the highway but it’s worth driving right into town for a closer view.

There’s no need to get up close to see this Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat. Located in the park in the centre of Thallon, the oversized sculpture brings attention to the wombat’s critically endangered status. Once found right across eastern Australia, this species of wombat now survives in just two areas of Queensland; in a National Park near Clermont and a conservation park near Thallon. At the Richard Underwood Nature Refuge, more than 200 wombats live in a securely fenced colony, protected from predators like wild dogs.

Flora and fauna, history and heritage, people and places – street art tells the stories of the towns of the outback.

Going Out On Top

Western Queensland Road Trip Square Tops Challenge #30

Just after the sun slips below the horizon and the sky still glows – that’s the best time to catch an outback sunset.

Whether it’s in town

or in the bush,

in a clear sky

or over water

the moment day becomes night is magical.

While our travels are on hold, I’ve joined in every day with Becky’s April Square Tops Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: photos must be square and fit the theme word “top”. Thank you Becky. April’s been fun!

Another Top Drop

Western Queensland Road Trip Square Tops Challenge #29

It might have been quiet at Nindigully Pub, but it was the opposite the day we went to Riversands Wines.

The car park was packed, marquees filled the garden and a band was warming up on stage. We’d obviously gatecrashed a party!

It was the St George winery’s annual Easter in the Vines celebration and by the time we arrived it was completely booked out. That didn’t stop winemaker David welcoming us with a warm smile and a few samples of his award winning wines. A bottle of his delicious Stirling’s Reserve Red Liqueur Muscat was soon in my bag.

We were too late to join in the “cook your own” barbecue lunch, but David found us a table under a shady tree.

Anyway, who needs steak when there’s coffee and freshly baked scones with homemade grape jam and cream on the side?

While our travels are on hold, I’m joining in every day with Becky’s April Square Tops Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: photos must be square and fit the theme word “top”.

From the Top Down

Western Queensland Road Trip Square Tops Challenge #28

An old river gum is the perfect home for these discarded household items, given new life in a rustic wind chime.

While our travels are on hold, I’m joining in every day with Becky’s April Square Tops Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules are simple: photos must be square and fit the theme word “top”.