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!

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”.

Top Rated

Western Queensland Road Trip Square Tops Challenge #14

According to the tourist brochures, Deb’s Cafe is the best in Bollon. It’s also the only cafe in Bollon.

The cafe’s top rating is no surprise. You can get a tip top tasty lunch and your live bait for fishing, both at the same time!

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”.

Top Choice

Western Queensland Road Trip Square Tops Challenge #8

Scones in Wyandra and cake in Cunnamulla – we’re not likely to pass by a café without stopping for a treat. But there’s not always a café or coffee shop out in the bush.

We always carry sweet supplies just in case and when the home-baked goods are gone, Mr ET has a special favourite. There’s sure to be a box stashed away in the caravan for emergencies.

Mr ET’s top choice of camping treat is:

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”.

What’s Up Top?

Western Queensland Road Trip Square Tops Challenge #7

It’s not the delicious cakes in the cabinet which first attract our attention when we enter the Gidgee Bean Café in Cunnamulla.

The old building is enjoying a new lease of life but the interior gives clues to its age. The pressed metal ceiling and broad high skylight immediately draw our gaze upwards. And right at the top is a tiny door, mysteriously leading nowhere.

Down at floor level, an eclectic collection of china sits in mismatched cupboards and old black and white photos of Cunnamulla’s past decorate the walls.

We’re distracted by the arrival of our almond and orange cake and we forget about the oddly placed door for a while.

It’s only as we’re leaving that I remember to ask about the building and that door. It turns out to be not so peculiar after all. The building used to be a haberdashery with a second floor, long since removed, used for storage.

The Up the Top Mystery is solved!

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”.

A Slice of Melon

Western Queensland Road Trip #1 Chinchilla

Australia is renowned for its collection of “big things” – there are more than 150 over-sized objects scattered across the country.

Goulburn, New South Wales, is the centre of a prosperous wool growing district and there you’ll find the Big Merino.

In the fruit growing region of northern Victoria is the Big Strawberry, on the Goulburn Valley Highway at Koonoomoo.

The Big Rocking Horse is located at Gumerach in South Australia, outside a wooden toy factory.

And the Big Galah, on the Eyre Highway at Kimba, South Australia, is located exactly halfway between Sydney and Perth.

Have you heard about Australia’s newest “big thing”?

In 2018, the vacation booking website Wotif launched a nation-wide competition, asking Australians to help select their next big thing. The finalists included a big kilt in Glen Innes, a big peanut in Kingaroy and a big tulip in Mittagong, all reflecting each district’s community or industry. The winner, voted by the Australian public as their favourite, was The Big Melon in the western Queensland town of Chinchilla.

With a warm temperate climate perfect for melon farming, Chinchilla is the centre of Australia’s most productive melon growing region. Every second year, the community celebrates their love of melons during the Chinchilla Melon Festival. Activities during February’s four day event incorporate everything melon related, including pip spitting, melon tossing and melon skiing competitions.

If you’re travelling on the Warrego Highway and you pass through Chinchilla during melon season, make sure you allow a little extra time. Once you see The Big Melon, you’ll be wanting some of the real thing.


Canada’s Best

Canada #45

“What was the best thing about your trip?”

We’re often asked this question when we return from a holiday and it’s always difficult to give just one answer. After five weeks in Canada, here are the things we loved best.

The Best Party 

The Best Airbnb View

Vancouver, from our 21st floor apartment – by day,

at night,

and early in the morning as the cruise ships arrived at Canada Place.

The Best Water View

Pitt River

The Best Mountain Views

Sky Pilot and Co-Pilot, Coast Ranges, Squamish BC

Fitzsimmons Range, Whistler BC

The Best Wildlife Encounters

chipmunk, Whistler BC

raccoon family, Mount Royal, Montréal QC

and the squirrels, who were everywhere!

The Best Food

20 flavours of hot chocolate, enormous ice cream sundaes, chocolate pizza! Even the ceiling was all about chocolate at Chocolato, Montréal QC

The Best Garden

Jardins Gamelin, Place Émilie-Gamelin, Montréal QC

a free community garden with a cafe, space for games, music and family activities

and several themed gardens, educational for both adults and children

The Best Adventures

For me, a birthday trip to Niagara Falls

For Glen, EdgeWalk – 356 metres above the ground at CN Tower, Toronto ON

So many wonderful experiences in a truly amazing country. Canada, we’ll be back!