Daffodil Day is here: Help grow hope!

Watch out Brisbane, because volunteers will be armed with hundreds of fresh flowers and Daffodil Day pins this week – and they’ll be encouraging you to buy them.

But it’s okay, it’s all for a good cause. And there’s even time to join in for a bloomin’ good time.

My workplace, Cancer Council Queensland, is celebrating 31 years of Daffodil Day during August, with the official day falling on Friday, August 25.

I’ll be decked out in yellow at King George Square for the big day, but more volunteers are desperately needed at other Brisbane sites (hence why I’m re-publishing this blog post I wrote for work)!

Myself with the 2017 Dougal Bear that will be sold on Daffodil Day.

So, if you’ve ever wanted to give volunteering a go, but never made the commitment, this is your chance to make a big difference.

Whether you can volunteer all day, or just a few hours, every little bit helps .

To make the whole experience less daunting, I can even share what a typical day of volunteering would look like.

Dress yellow.

Get some boss yellow threads and your best selfie smile. You can set the social media trend with a yellow hat and feather boa.

If you don’t have costume attire, just wear what you feel comfortable in.

Definitely bring water, sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and wet-weather gear (just in case).

Meet your team.

Rain or shine, arrive at the stall at your chosen time slot and meet your fellow volunteers for the day.

Each stall will have a Volunteer Leader, who will be happy to help with any questions on the day.

 

Smile.

During your shift you’ll be selling merchandise and fresh daffodils and collecting donations. Simply smile and be polite. Too easy, right?

Don’t forget to take photos and share them on social media – I’ll be looking out for ones using #daffodilday and #cancercouncilqld to repost.

Who are you volunteering for?

We all know someone affected by cancer. So whoever you do it for, let them be your inspiration whilst your making a difference this Daffodil Day.

We’re all in this together!

Come back next year.

Most of our volunteers are familiar faces who come back year after year because of the difference they know they’re making.

If you have fun, we’d love for you to join us again next year!

Not so scary, right? So, join me in helping turn Brisbane yellow!

You’ll be in good company. This year more than 2500 volunteers are expected to staff more than 280 volunteer sites across the state during the week of Daffodil Day, selling more than 800,000 fresh daffodils.

To volunteer for Daffodil Day, or find out more, visit daffodilday.com.au or call 1300 65 65.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

My Eclectic Muse.

 

Guide to the Great Ocean Road

One of the world’s most iconic road trips, the Great Ocean Road, which hugs Australia’s southwest coastline, is a must do on many bucket lists.

With only a limited amount of annual leave up my sleeve, the promise of a relaxing short trip with panoramic views of incredible beaches, lush rainforests and seaside towns, sounded ideal.

My trip was in July (mid-winter in Australia), the off-season for tourists, and it was better than I had imagined.

I would highly recommend this stunning drive to others, so here’s the stops I took along the way, highlights and top tips.

Shelley Beach, Great Ocean Road.

Day 1: Melbourne – Lorne

Werribee Open Range Zoo

After picking up the rental car in Melbourne, the first stop en route to Lorne was Werribee Open Range Zoo. It was amazing to see the animals in an open range environment and entry to the zoo includes a free safari tour amongst some of the world’s most iconic grassland animals.

Meerkats at Werribee Open Range Zoo.

Bells Beach

Bells Beach is one of Australia’s most famous surfing beaches, stopping in was a must, and I was excited to see what the break was like. Arriving later in the afternoon, it was cold and windy, but that didn’t stop the surfers who were out in numbers. We watched a few sets of waves and it was incredibly soothing, with an impressive cliff-face and picturesque views.

Bells Beach, Great Ocean Road.

Split Point Lighthouse

Have you ever…ever felt like this? Or watched Round the Twist growing up? If so, then you will want to make a stop at the Split Point Lighthouse, located outside of Airey’s Inlet. It’s a beautiful spot to stop in at for those who aren’t familiar with any of the famous lighthouse’s television or movie appearances. Also known as ‘The White Queen’, the tall white building’s bright red cap makes it a bold landmark on the south-west Victorian coast. After seeing the lighthouse and taking a few photos, it was on to Lorne.

Split Point Lighthouse, Great Ocean Road.

Day 2: Lorne

Lorne is a picturesque town and located right on the Great Ocean Road. With great cafes (for some hearty deliciousness try a burger from The Bottle of Milk), unique shops, art gallery and with Otway National Park on its doorstep, it was an ideal first overnight stop. It’s lovely to walk around the town, stroll the beach and along the foreshore to the pier, and then meander to lookouts nearby.

Teddys Lookout

A short drive up the hill behind Lorne is Teddys Lookout. Drive up to the picnic area at the end of George Street and spectacular views of the Great Ocean Road from the lookout.

Teddy’s Lookout, Great Ocean Road.

Erksine Falls

Drive 9km up into the hills and that’s where you’ll find Erksine Falls. There’s a car park above the falls, with the upper lookout an easy five minute walk from the car park and then the lower lookout at the base of the falls is a further 240 steps.

Erksine Falls, Great Ocean Road.

Day 3: Lorne to Port Fairy

Shelley Beach Circuit Walk

The first stop after departing from Lorne was the Shelley Beach Picnic Area in Great Otway National Park, where we went for a walk of the beach circuit. The distance was only 2km and it was a beautiful walk to an isolated beach, with no one else to be seen.

Shelley Beach, Great Ocean Road.

Maits Rest Rainforest Trail

A 30 minute self-guided boardwalk at Maits Rest provides an opportunity to see the Otways rainforest in all its glory with beautiful fern gardens and giant rainforest trees up to 300 years old.

Maits Rest Rainforest Trail, Great Ocean Road.

Cape Otway Lighthouse

We were intrigued to find out more about Australia’s oldest working lighthouse. A 14km detour from the Great Ocean Road, there is an extensive complex surrounding Cape Otway Lighthouse. It’s important to note that it is operated as a private business, so to get close to the lighthouse, entry fees apply ($19.50 for adults). I wanted to note this, as often road trippers try to stick to a budget. The history surrounding the lighthouse is fascination and you could easily spend half a day there if you had time.

Cape Otway Lighthouse precinct, Great Ocean Road.

The Twelve Apostles

And here’s where all the tourists are! After being pleasantly surprised with how quiet the roads were (even for it not being peak season), we arrived at The Twelve Apostles to see this iconic stop swamped with people. It’s worth the crowds though, with the massive limestone structures towering above the ocean. Having arrived before dusk, seeing the light soften across the eroded cliffs was awe-inspiring. It’s worth walking the boardwalk around the cliff tops, viewing the Apostles from the various viewing platforms, taking your time to soak it in, and snapping plenty of photos.

The Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road.

Day 4: Port Fairy and onwards!

Our last stop on the Great Ocean Road, before leaving for the Grampians, was Port Fairy; a small, charming fishing village. Griffiths Island with its winding pathways and the spectacular lighthouse at the eastern tip, is a great place to explore. A short walk along the causeway from Martin’s Point gets you onto the island that has a secluded beach.

Griffiths Island, Port Fairy.

Accommodation

With a beachfront location and numerous facilities, the Mantra Lorne was a perfect spot to stay in Lorne, especially as we were looking for a relaxing experience. The booking was made through Luxury Escapes, a website that provides limited time offers at ‘insider’ prices. The Luxury Escapes offer included a voucher for the Manta’s restaurant The Larder – it was lovely sitting by the fire on a cold winter night and enjoying their signature Lorne cocktail.

At Port Fairy and afterwards we left the Great Ocean Road for the Grampians we stayed in BIG4 cabins. Extremely convenient and reasonably priced, with superb local tips from all the staff, it was a great choice. With over 180 parks all over Australia, there is no shortage of opportunities to stay with BIG4, so if you are planning at staying at a few, membership to their loyalty club is a good idea; you can save 10% on every holiday.

Cruising along in our Jucy car rental.

Car rental

There are tour companies that do it as day trips and short tours, but if you’ve got the time, and company lined up, driving yourself is the ideal way to see the Great Ocean Road in my opinion. Driving offers the flexibility of where you stop and for how long. We booked a car through Jucy, which has locations near the Great Ocean Road at Melbourne Airport, Melbourne City and Adelaide.

Wallaby on Griffiths Island, Port Fairy.

Four tips to help you on your Great Ocean Road adventure

  1. You need more time than you think. There were so many other places we could have stopped at, even just pull off viewpoints. Also, with the hook turns and only one lane each way, the amount of time it takes between stops in longer for people unfamiliar with the roads.
  2. Bring warm clothes. One common question on the return from the trip, many people asked if it was freezing. Although decidedly cooler than Queensland, with thermals and a jacket, it was doable.
  3. Be on the look-out for wildlife – we saw many wallabies, an array of native birds and more!
  4. I would recommend if you can only drive in one direction, as we did (returning to Melbourne via the Grampians), that you drive from east to west, so you are on the road closest to the ocean and able to pull off easier at the viewpoints.

 

Lorne, Great Ocean Road.

Have you visited the Great Ocean Road? I’d love for you to share in the comments your personal highlights, or what you most want to see!

Until next time,

My Eclectic Muse x

Weekend getaway at Maroochydore

With its endless stretch of pristine beaches, the Sunshine Coast is the perfect holiday destination!

I was lucky enough to visit the coast last weekend for the beautiful wedding of two friends.

The ceremony and reception were in Maroochydore, so I was able to explore the area.

Here was where I decided to eat, drink and stay during my getaway.

Sunshine Coast.

Eat

The wedding I attended had its reception at Ebb Waterfront. With uninterrupted views over the Maroochydore River and crisp white decor, the restaurant was both a romantic and contemporary choice.

My friends had organised a drop of steak or fish for the main course, and since everyone I spoke to throughly enjoyed their meal I would definitely consider the restaurant for fine dining in the future.

Beautiful day today at #ebbwaterfront ☀️

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Cafes were plentiful near where I was staying in Maroochydore, with quality coffee only a short walk away from the beachfront.

Recommended by friends local to the Sunshine Coast,  The Beach Street Deli was a brilliant option for brunch. I had the eggs benny, which was delicious… and every meal that went past our table looked sublime.

Your only risk from attending this cafe would be a serious case of food envy!

Situated right across from the Maroochydore Surf Club, The Beach Street Deli has (unsurprisingly) a real beachy feel, with colourful cushions and bright chairs of different designs. I’d definitely go again.

Also, as luck would have it, the second cafe I ventured to during my short break to the Sunshine Coast was just as amazing.

I stumbled upon Harvest Breads + Café just by coincidence. It is an eclectic café meets bake-house, located just across the road from the gorgeous Cotton Tree Park.

Harvest offers extensive breakfast, lunch and sandwich menus, with vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free and paleo options… perfect for groups with a lot of different dietary requirements!

I had a banana smoothie, plus sweet potato savoury waffles with zucchini, bacon, poached egg and chilli maple glaze. So yum! The waffles weren’t like anything I’ve ever had before and the chilli made the meal so moreish, providing just the right amount of spice.

Drink

I dropped in at 10 Toes Brewery in Alexandra Headlands on Friday night to meet friends, and would recommend it to craft brew lovers.

The brewery keeps things simple and relaxed – exactly what comes to mind when you think about the Sunshine Coast lifestyle.

Housed in an industrial shed, 10 Toes allows you a look at the behind the scenes process by keeping things open-plan.

Snapped surfboards and racks of surfing magazines adorn the walls and a mix of high tables with stools keep things casual.

If you’re unsure of what to choose to drink, you can grab a tasting paddle and work your way from light to dark. Too easy!

Stay

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation on the Sunshine Coast.

I chose to stay in a three-bedroom apartment at Catalina Resort with friends for the weekend, as it was close to the venue for the wedding we were attending.

I used booking.com and the price was a bargain – perhaps because of current construction going on in Catalina Building 1 (due to the works we were upgraded to building 2).

The four star resort was in the perfect destination, in walking distance to the patrolled Maroochydore beach and nearby eateries and shops.

With a kitchen and laundry facilities, the apartment was fully self-contained and spacious, and it was lovely to go for swims in the outdoor pool and enjoy the bathroom’s spa.

The only gripes would be that for a three bedroom apartment, you would expect a public bathroom, but instead two bedrooms had ensuites. This meant the third bedroom occupants had to go through one of the other bedrooms to use the bathroom. Added to this, a large opening in the shuttered sliding door, did not provide as much privacy as would be expected for a luxury resort. I’d be open to booking here again, but would call ahead to make sure I was in an apartment where this didn’t happen.

Sunshine Coast.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend away for a wonderful occasion.

If you have any Sunshine Coast tips or have any questions about my stay, I’d love to hear from you, so please comment below.

Until next time,

My Eclectic Muse x

Get the squad together! 7 ways to celebrate Galentine’s Day

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February – it’s the month that celebrates love.

With all the reminders around Valentine’s Day – flowers, chocolates and sentimental cards filling stores plus specials filling your email inbox – it’s near impossible to not think about love in your own life.

When you take out the pressure to celebrate a certain way or mark the occasion it with gifts, Valentine’s Day really just comes down to a cause to celebrate love.

Love comes in many forms, including friendship. That’s where Galentine’s Day comes in.

As the name suggests, it is a day for women to celebrate their female friendships.

Amy Pohler’s Parks and Rec character Leslie Knope coined the term for the holiday that occurs every year on February 13, the day before Valentine’s Day. As Leslie herself explains on the show:

“Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies.”

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There’s no reason to ditch the idea if you and your friends aren’t all free on February 13 either.

You could get together on Valentine’s Day itself or later in the week.

Being single or alone around Valentine’s Day can be hard, even if you’re perfectly happy being single every other day of the year.

I’m in a relationship, but with my partner working away most of the time I am usually dateless on Valentine’s Day.

Luckily for me I have some beautiful friends whose birthdays are at this time of year. This year on February 14 I’ll be heading out for dinner with some gal pals and I can’t wait!

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Just like with Valentine’s Day, it’s up to you how you celebrate.

Looking for a few last-minute ideas on how to spend Galentine’s Day? Here are my seven suggestions.

Watch a girly movie.

Settle in for a rom-com marathon or head to the cinema with your friends. This is perfect for those who have partners that may not enjoy watching soppy flicks. There’s sure to be a tonne of Galentine’s Day fans going to Fifty Shades Darker this year.

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Wine tasting.

You could head out to a venue and go wine tasting, or you could bring the wine tasting to you and beat the heat by making frose (frozen Rose) or wine pops. Pair your frozen treat with an antipasto board and a killer lady jam playlist and your night at home just got elevated.

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Farrrshion fun.

With so many stores spending their advertising dollar at this time of year to get you to buy a new V-Day outfit, it can be hard to resist. If you’re saving your pennies, you can still treat yo’self to a mini shopping spree, by organising a clothes swap with your best buds or going on a thrift store date.

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Get active with the gals.

Hit the gym together, Youtube a yoga session from your lounge, or put on your roller-blades for a Instagram worthy Galentine’s Day snap.  After having a sweat session, you’ll have no reason to feel guilty about binging on popcorn and Netflix after!

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Pot luck and present swap.

Either all cook a dish, or if you’re all too busy, make it a takeaway pot luck night. By having your Galentine’s Day invitees ordering different kinds of cuisine to share, you can guarantee all your cravings will be satisfied.  Instead of blowing your budget and buying gifts for all your gal pals, have a Secret Santa style present swap. Pick a name from a hat and buy one gift for one friend.

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Make it a DIY spa night.

Have everyone bring their favourite nail polish or beauty treatment and pamper yourselves from the comfort of your own home. You could hit up Lush or look up some DIY face masks, that can be whipped with the items in your fridge.

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Create a decadent dessert.

If your squad suffers from major sweet tooth, try making your own chocolates or dessert of choice for Galentine’s Day. The best friendships equals a no judgement zone, so go ahead and have that second piece of cake.

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However you choose to celebrate spread some of that Galentine’s Day cheer!

You and your friends deserve some loving.

Until next time,

My Eclectic Muse x

Where to eat, shop and play in Stones Corner

Stones Corner is located in the heart of Greenslopes, just south of the Brisbane CBD.

Stones Corner, an unique precinct just 10 minutes south of the Brisbane CBD, is packed to the brim with diverse retail stores, craft beers and culinary delights. It’s also my local area and the place I spend most of my downtime.

The quaint tree-lined shopping strip is known to most Brisbanites, mainly due to its long history and former glory as the in-spot for outlet shopping.

Although it’s not much of an outlet mecca anymore, it’s eclectic character definitely makes it worth a visit. The last couple of years have seen a swarm of different funky cafés, fusion restaurants and chilled bars pop up.

Also, like much of inner city Brisbane. there’s plenty of apartments going up in the surrounding neighbourhood at the moment, so the landscape is sure to change in the future too.

Here is a quick guide to some of my favourite places to eat, shop and play in Stones Corner.

Over the past couple of years, numerous new bars and retailers have opened their doors in Stones Corner.

Eat

In Stones Corner, you get the pick of every cuisine, from authentic thai cuisine from Chili Coco, to Indian Mexican fusion at IndiMex, to New York inspired eats at 5 Boroughs.

And if you’re a fan of brunch, like myself, you are in luck as Stones Corner has a myriad of amazing cafes.

There are so many options for brunch, but one of my favourites to is Moreish. With an industrial vibe, perfectly-brewed Campos coffee, delicious gourmet food and super friendly staff, Moreish is where I take all my visitors.

Its open for breakfast and lunch, and my recommendation would be the savoury mince and haloumi dish. It’s simply devine! There’s tasty vegan and gluten free options, plus it’s pet friendly…I don’t have a dog, but who doesn’t love puppy watching?

Another venue that is always popular with my visitors, or good for a mid-week Trivia session, is the Shady Palms Cafe & Bar.

Shady Palms Cafe & Bar is a suburban oasis of cool – a rustic bar full of character and eclectic furniture, with a lane way and a courtyard out the back.

Shady Palms Cafe & Bar in Stones Corner.

Here you can dress casual, enjoy chill vibes and funky beats, and indulge in the vibrant flavours of the Americas  while sipping on a craft beer, cider or cocktail.

Think dirty fries loaded up with brisket, cheese, bacon bits, mustard, BBQ sauce and ranch – so many condiments and so incredible! Also, wings, tacos, specials and so much more!

Shop

There’s a fashion fix for every unique style in Stones Corner.

You can get your next elegant event dress from the boutiques stocking formal wear or source clothes and furniture on a budget, by getting your thrift on at Vinnes or the RSPCA Op Shop.

Little JC Boutique is where I’ve managed to find much-loved outfits – it has a great selection of the latest trends and classics that are affordable.

Play

Right next to the Stones Corner strip is Hanlon Park and with the South East Freeway going right through it, it’s the perfect place for a run (the Stones Corner parkrun meets there) or bike ride. There’s also kids playgrounds and adjacent fields.

Hanlon Park is just adjacent to Stones Corner.

When you’re walking around the area, you can also check out some bright urban art, from moody murals to sneaky graffiti spots, there’s a lot of colour to inspire.

If you want to stay indoors, do not pass go, Go Lounge that is – it’s a board games lounge, that also serves coffee, and with around 300 games in total it’s sure to have your childhood favourites on hand.

Also, keep your eye out for when the 2017 Stones Corner Festival is on. Each year brings the event brings big names in music, world food markets and craft beer to the streets of Stones Corner. It’s not to be missed.

Thanks for reading! I hope the next time you need to pick a place to meet up with friends, or the traffic crawls to a stop on motorway, you’ll stop on by and stay a while in Stones Corner.

With the Stones Corner Bus Station and Buranda Train Station nearby, plus free parking in the streets surrounding the main shopping strip, Stones Corner is an easy to access hub.

I’d love to hear other people’s suggestions for places to go in Brisbane, or further afield, so please comment if there are any cafes, bars or shops you recommend.

Until next time,

My Eclectic Muse x

Stones Corner Bus Station.