Okay, so we really went down for Cirque du Soleil Ovo, but the highlight of any Sydney trip is gorging on decent Chinese food… mmmm…. At two of the Emporer’s Garden locations, and yummy as usual :D

Chinese BBQ
BBQ Duck and Pork

Chinese BBQ
BBQ Pork with rice noodle

Yum cha dumplings
Garlic and Prawn

Yum cha dumplings

Yum cha
Cha sieu pao

Yum Cha coconut jelly
Coconut Jelly

Yum Cha tea
Contemplating my tea

Aaron's Hotel Haymarket

We stayed the night at Aaron’s hotel, Haymarket, which I think about $120 for the night on Wotif. An older hotel, with a rickety lift, step in odd places, a skylight in the room that let light in WAY too early, and a fire alarm that got us all out of bed before we wanted to be because it goes off sometimes with the steam from the showers.

Aaron's Hotel

But the shower was hot and the bed very comfortable.

Aaron's Hotel

Aaron's Hotel

Aaron's Hotel

I’d stay there again, it’s amazingly located right next to Market City, but this time with an eye mask. And maybe earplugs so the fire alarm wouldn’t wake me :/


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I received my ticket to the Good Food and Wine Show from Chobani. It is, like, the most awesome Greek yoghurt out there. Seriously.

I was supposed to go with friends to the Good Food and Wine show. But they were sicked with the cold that’s been going around, and only let me know an hour before we were meant to meet *sadface* So, I was left to wander and sample on my own. Here are my thoughts…

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Ahem…. Maybe I don’t share my thoughts on that pic ;)

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Skinny Girl Cocktails were vamping it up, with skinny girls in mini skirts, and offering samples of their cocktails and also massages (not that I could be bothered waiting!). The Margarita was good. Ready to drink, with some rimming salt ;)

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I dabbled in some Avocado oil. Hmmm… Think I’ll stick with Olive for the price…

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There was a crapload of cider for sampling. Of which I tried none :(

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I had a good chat to the people of Rowie’s Cakes about how great it was that they were supplying to the Qantas QFML and VGML range :) And their ANZAC bikkies were awesome.

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Mmm Sake.

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333s Gherkins and I go way back….

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Can I have the Ritter Sport Bag?????? Please???

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Then there was a stand that made me miss Hannah :/

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Mmm Conscious Chocolate…

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And coffee… Sweet sweet coffee…

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Planning out my week

June 17, 2012 · 5 comments

How is this not a plan? I have a few trips to the Central Coast and Sydney for appointments, Lady Gaga, and the Good Food and Wine Show… and maybe even seeing Ms Glowless to boot :) Do some running and bootcamp in there, then fly to Hobart for the Speech Pathology Australia conference, armed with gloves, hats and scarves, and running shoes, to find my speechie mojo and to see the lovely Foale ladies :)

Poker Face
Karaoke – Poker Face :)


Billabong Yoga Retreat Sydney

Wow. Okay. Where do I begin to recap on a bliss-filled 48 hours at Billabong Retreat on the way to Richmond, NSW? Should I start with the delicious vegetarian food, the awesome tent I was in, the yoga, breathing, and vocal sessions, the tea ceremony, or the purrrty scenery?

Billabong Yoga Retreat

Shall I start with the food, as that’s what you’ve come to expect? :)

The Food

Billabong Yoga Retreat Sydney

On arrival there was a spelt and fruit based slice and tea on offer (and caffeinated products because for the addicts, there was no point spending the whole weekend with a headache!), and some delicious tasting filtered rain water. Technically they can only recommend us drinking from two of the taps (the bubbler and the kitchen tap) but the rest of the water is rain water, so no issues with brushing teeth with that water.

Billabong Yoga Retreat Sydney

Stacks of mandarines, green apples (my favourite!), bananas and seedless red grapes kept making appearances in front of me, and were soon in my belly :) There was a stash of Freedom Foods bikkies for the sensitive tummies amongst us, and we were welcome to help ourselves to snacks through the weekend from the kitchen.

Billabong Yoga Retreat
I can smell all the spices now!

Mignon, the chef, fed us well for our main meals as well as baking up a storm. Most of the produce was local when possible, and in season was the way to go. Seconds were often had!


Billabong Yoga Retreat

OMG people, I ate hard boiled eggs for the first time since I was maybe six. I thought it was the least egg smelling way to get back into eating eggs. I’m still a long way off eating runny eggs. Small Steps!

Billabong Yoga Retreat

Lots of fresh breads, jams and spreads on offer. The gluten free loaf was from the freezer, but hey, it was there!

Billabong Yoga Retreat

Porridge on the first morning was cinnamon, morning two there was vanilla added, and I think it inspired a winter of porridge eaters.

Billabong Yoga Retreat

With bananas with Greek yoghurt, local honey and home made muesli (unfortunately not gluten free) for those after something lighter. I think most people went for a little bit of everything!


Billabong Yoga Retreat

A spicy pumpkin soup. Probably towards the edge of this wuss’s chilli coping range. But delish!

Billabong Yoga Retreat

Roasted Mediterranean vegetables baked with ricotta.


Billabong Yoga Retreat Sydney

A plate of ‘nachos’. A little mix up meant there were some difficulties for the guy with the nut allergy, but he didn’t die, so all went well :P (He’d forgotten his epipen and all!) The salads with our meals were amazing! Simple, like with cabbage, apple, walnut and dressing, but crunchy and tasty.

Billabong Yoga Retreat
(excuse the dodgy photo)

A vegetable curry and a dhal, seconds were sought by a lot of us!


Yes! We were given dessert :) Like I said, no one went hungry this weekend!

Billabong Yoga Retreat Sydney

Berry sorbet with tofu cream and crumble.

Billabong Yoga Retreat

MMm poached pears. Gotta love cinnamon!

If you’re going, and have dietary requests, such as allergies, intolerances or if you’re vegan, they can cater for you at Billabong. Jut let them know when you book, and have a chat to the chef when she gets there on the first afternoon to make sure accommodations are made :)

The Facilities

Billabong Yoga Retreat Sydney

I got to experience the walk-in tents. Don’t let anyone tell you they are too cold! With a super thick doona,blankets, hot water bottle and oil heater, I overheated on the first night! Meep!

Billabong Yoga Retreat Sydney

In the long term, they hope to only have the rooms along the ridge overlooking the billabong, with ensuites etc. But for now, the tent and old cottage serve well! Short dash in the rain to the loo at 3am, but I lived to tell the tale ;)

(Check out the premium cabins here)

Billabong Yoga Retreat Sydney

Billabong Yoga Retreat Sydney

Billabong Yoga Retreat

The showers all have little egg timers for 4 minutes. My first shower was so under two minutes, but I couldn’t get in under 4 on the Sunday, because I decided to wash my hair with the biodegradable shampoo and conditioner. It was soft and fluffy once it dried :)

Billabong Yoga Retreat

Below are some of the other parts of the main building – the fireplaces, the super comfy couches, the yoga room and the view.

Billabong Yoga Retreat Sydney

Billabong Yoga Retreat Sydney

Billabong Yoga Retreat Sydney

Billabong Yoga Retreat

All the art is by Tory, one of the owners.

Billabong Yoga Retreat

Billabong Yoga Retreat

Billabong Yoga Retreat

Billabong Yoga Retreat Sydney

The Sessions

Billabong Yoga Retreat

The yoga and meditation sessions were WONDERFUL. There was such a mix of experience in the room, from people who’d done nothing along those lines at all, to some of me who get so distracted meditating, to people who’d done yoga for 15+ years. But everyone got something new out of the weekend. I focussed on my breathing, an was able to take home some yoga techniques to help with my stress reduction and anxiety management that I’ve applied already!

(and for those of you that know me, no, it wasn’t all “woo” ;) Lots of practical stuff)

Tea Ceremony

Billabong Yoga Retreat

An amazing part of the weekend, we were guided through a mindful tea making exercise with the gorgeous Basia from My Tea Ritual. Taking note of all the aspects of the tea making, from the sound of the water, to the blooming of the tea, to the heat of the cup and the taste on your tongue. At least 3 people were “wow, I can do THIS at any time with my normal tea” to create a peaceful, portable ritual. Yep, even during 3:30-itis at work!

I had an amazing weekend and would certainly recommend it to anyone who needs to escape but can’t really find more than the weekend to do it. You walk in, and an instant calm just… happens! The place it only 45 mins from Sydney (3 hours from Newcastle by train, but that’s another story and I slept for a lot of it :p), and they pick you up and drop you back from the station if you go by train :)

Billabong Yoga Retreat

Billabong Retreat can be stalked via their website, blog (where Paul promises he’ll start putting up recipes soon!) and their Facebook Page (skim for a pic of my group and for spur of the moment offers for last minute bookings)

You can also sign up to their mailing list and receive a generous discount on your first stay! (Currently $200 which means your first stay can be $399 twin share for their Two-Night retreat package)

Billabong Yoga Retreat

Basia’s tea ritual information, bookings and products such as blooming tea and tea pots is over at and she’s on Facebook and Twitter. You should consider booking her for a team building day to help your staff appreciate their cuppas that little bit more mindfully rather than just for the caffeine hit ;)

The rest of my pics for the weekend are over on Flickr.

I stayed as a guest of Billabong Retreat, and loved every moment! My only gripe is that 48 hours is just enough time to get used to it… would love to go to a longer retreat next time. :) And while it rained pretty much the whole weekend, that simply added to the beauty – and who doesn’t love falling asleep to the sound of rain?! :)


So Sydney

April 25, 2012 · 0 comments

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A day out in Sydney

April 24, 2012 · 2 comments

Mum came down to Sydney for the day, and we did what we usually do whenever we’re together, drink a lot of coffee and walk a lot of kms!

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Happy coffee from Vivo World Square.

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I also got to introduce her to the craze that is Mexican takeaway chains. This bowl was from the Guzman y Gomez in the Level 5 foodcourt at the city Westfield. I think she’s now looking forward to the Mexican craze hitting Newcastle :p


Sydney :)




Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour




Old and the New

November 19, 2011

Sitting at Sydenham station, watching the planes come in low overhead, when an historic railway tour train passes. Love it :)

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A day at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

October 25, 2011

What better way to spend a magnificent Sydney day? Our plan for Saturday was to head to Circular Quay and hop on a ferry to Manly. Maybe have a picnic, some wine… But on our way from Martin Place, where we hopped off the train, we wandered past some old buildings, and found ourselves at […]

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Falling into place

October 24, 2011

One of the things that has really helped me in the quest to settle down in Sydney has been finding myself with a great living situation. I have to confess, I’m not a people person – I need my down time (hello understatement), and the idea of having to live with someone I didn’t know, […]

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Life. Sydney Life. An update.

October 18, 2011

I’m settling in. I like living here. Work has been up and down. But easy isn’t what I do. I’m finding what I love to do. My favourite places, people. Myself. My interests. Passions. I think I could stay here awhile. Be better if Rish was here!

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Today I Picked Up…

October 3, 2011

The 2012 Foodies Guide to Sydney, next year’s Frankie Calendar and the program for the Art and About thingy that’s on this month in Sydney :) Loved the photos in Hyde Park North!

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Yum Cha and Lots of Walking

September 20, 2011

Had to catch up with a mate because I can’t make his wedding because it clashes with uni :( Two days a semester, and one has to be that day! So of course it was Yum Cha at Emporer’s Garden ;) Lots and lots of steamed noms. BBQ pork buns for Rish ;) best so […]

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Over a week down in Sydney

August 8, 2011

So, how’s it treating me? I’m sitting in my room in the little flat I share with my landlord. Wonderfully close to work. The same suburb, in fact. Yes I can hear the trains pass the end of the block, but I’ve adjusted to them, and the fact that that means I’m close to transport. […]

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July 31, 2011

So, I’m here. My room is full of my things. There’s a big TV. The Devil Wear’s Prada. It means that ANYTHING I wear tomorrow on my first day will be ok. So long as I wear awesome tights. xx

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