Xile – My First Hardcore Gig 

My friend, Simon, invited me to watch the band he is in, Xile, (they’re from NZ) play on their Australia Tour in Brisbane. 

Now I’ve been to a bunch of ‘heavy metal’ gigs in NZ… but nothing could have prepared me for this! 

Xile have recently been picked up by a European record and this is their first tour outside New Zealand, next up will likely be Europe around September. 

I wandered in, paid my $15 entry and made my room into a testosterone fueled room, full of guys in black singlets. Thank god I had changed into a black singlet and faux leather pants myself or I would have stuck out like a sore thumb. As it was, I was one of about four other chicks there and the only one wearing heels. Actually, the only one not wearing vans or runners in the entire place. 

Simon ran over, said hi and was straight onstage to set up. Most of the guys there seemed to know each other and were chatting about… then the music started and they formed lines facing each other on each side of the room… when the music got heavy, they started this… I have no idea how to explain it… like air-fighting, running through each other?? They stomp and kick and punch but don’t touch each other and it creates this violent looking dance, that isn’t violent at all. Can you imagine just standing there and that starts?! It was the funniest thing. I almost thought a giant brawl was breaking out, but it was missing the aggression. They give each other a little tap or push back into the centre when they get too close to the people walls on the side. I was blown away! I had a big cheese on my face watching them, they were all having a blast and even the few chicks were getting in on it!

Xile were awesome, I have no idea how to describe metal so I won’t even start but my head was banging and my feet were tapping… and I felt like a teeny bopper imposter in this full on environment. A guy even crowd surfed at one point, they nailed the set. 

After Xile had played, Simon and I went outside and I basically said ‘what the f#%k was that?! That violent, non violent warrior dancing thingymajig in the middle?! You could have warned me!’ Apparently it’s called, throwing down and is the best thing a hardcore band can hope to happen at a gig! 

So, according to Urban Dictionary, ‘hardcore dancing and throwing down refers to the dance that hardcore or scene kids do at hardcore shows. The time you throwdown is during the breakdown of the song. Two-stepping is done at the two-step of the song. There are many variations of throwing down; the windmill, spin kick, picking up pennies, floor punch, etc. The difference between throwing down and moshing is that you DON’T HIT EACH OTHER. It is usually non-violent.’ Well there you go. 

We went back inside and watched more throwing down while the other bands played. 

A guy accidentally fell on me and I fell on the aircon. I have some epic war bruises on my thigh and arm. Kind of looks like a golf ball is trying to escape my thigh today – good story though!

The thing that struck me the most about the entire night was how accepting and non judgemental everyone was. The guys were encouraging and kind and gentle while throwing down. To look at, these guys could be taken as a bit rough or intimidating. They’re dressed all in black band gear, covered in tats and lots of long hair, piercings etc, then they all look after each other and encourage each other to let loose in the middle – it was rad to witness. 

Don’t judge a book by its cover folks! 

If you ever get the chance to watch hardcore, go for it! I loved the energy in the room from the throwing down and I guess I’ve always liked that kind of music anyway. Cool experience! 

Melbourne: a 30th, a new baby & a new house

I had a whirlwind four days in Melbourne over the weekend.

I flew in Friday morning and was unfortunately delayed an hour so couldn’t join my cousin, Calamity Jane, to put the sold sticker on her house.

I was straight into work for the afternoon and then over to Richmond for Nikita’s 30th. Nikita’s not much of a birthday person so I was excited to see she was having a celebration and booked my flights straight away. Her Mum flew in to surprise her too and we had a really nice evening in Brunswick, sipping brews in the outdoor area of an eclectic bar.

Saturday I met my very good friend’s new baby. Adam is probably my oldest friend and I was super excited to meet his and Sally’s first bubba, Bella Scarlet. Of course it was a nightmare to get there and I was later than expected (thanks Melb traffic + slow David Jones lady) but I made it and it was worth it a hundred times over. Bella is beautiful and they are happy and calm parents. We had brunch at Turtle Café, I got a couple of hugs then it was back to the city to meet Lisa!

Lisa and I pretty much went straight from the city to hers to meet Seren in Hawthorne. We made an epic cheese platter (I’m now in love with Goat’s brie – try it) and some bubbles. We rushed to get ready and make it to dinner on time, where of course we weren’t hungry!

Sophie and CJ met us for dinner at Bahari where we had fresh greek-ish food and bubbles. Afterwards we hit Richmond, bar hopping around and feeling much older than when I last lived and went out there!

Sunday was a quieter affair, we had dumplings at Din Tai Fung, followed by some of the most delicious sorbet in choc almond wafer cone. We shopped but unfortunately bought nothing – always the way, when you want to buy something you can’t find anything and when you don’t, you want everything! We gave up and went for a pedicure.

We ditched our dinner plans for a night in front of the TV with movies and Vietnamese takeaway. Seren and CJ joined us to watch Magic Mike XXL and … well I think we are going to Vegas to watch the show. Coz… Channing Tatum.

Today it was back to work (which took forever thanks to a Taxi protest), smash out some work and back on the plane with no time to spare.

Now we land and I go for a massage to relax…. Happy Vday to me, from me!

Din Tai Fung, Melbourne

What’s a trip to Melbourne without some dumplings?!

I have only ever visited Din Tai Fung in Singapore and was excited to find them in Melbourne. Lisa and I were starving by the time we go there and devastated to find a line up. Luckily then wait was only 10 minutes.

It’s a great system, you get a buzzer to hold until they are ready for you and an ordering sheet. Once called you go straight in, confirm your order and you’re away!

I was surprised at the size of the restaurant, they must be doing well to have a line out the door still!

We ordered the xiao long bao, truffle xiao long bao, water spinach with garlic, spicy wontons, pork and veg steamed bun and some Chinese tea.

I was surprised to find the xiao long bao wrappers were quite chewy and sticky. They held the soup well but were a bit different to what I remember.

The pork and vegetable steamed bun was average at best. No flavour and the bun wasn’t even fluffy.

The spinach and the wontons however, were excellent! The tea was also delightful.

Din Tai Fung Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Turtle Café, Elwood VIC

I met my friends Adam and Sally at the Turtle Café to meet their new baby, Bella. They are Elwood locals and spend a bit of time over there so I knew it must be good!

I had a green juice (fresh as and makes you feel healthy) and the green breakfast.

It was heaving on Saturday morning but they weren’t too long at bringing the food out. The plate was as promised, green with poached eggs. There was avo, smashed peas, cucumber, spinach and feta. I devoured it! After a big night out on the Friday, it felt good to fill up with green goodness.

The Turtle Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Perth for five days 

I took advantage of the Australia Day long weekend and jumped on a plane to Perth for the first time to visit one of my best friends, Gemma.

Everyone complains about how long the flight is… honestly, I slept the whole way. Didn’t even eat my food on the way over! Although, I do really enjoy plane time. I’m either fast asleep (90% of the time) or pretty productive working or writing blogs.

We spent our first day at the gorgeous Rottnest Island, cycling in stupid heat, snorkelling and searching out Quokkas. Read about it here.

We were going to head in to watch the fireworks for Australia Day in the city but there was a terrible plane accident and they were cancelled. We were both buggered anyway from a massive day exploring, instead deciding to lie on the couch, drink a bottle of Moët and watch a movie.

Friday we went into the city, walked up Jacobs Ladder (twice, 250 stairs – gahh) around the gardens overlooking the city and back around. We had lunch at Revelry in Elizabeth Quay and some delicious gelato. Our friend Renee met us and we went back home for some bevvies on the deck and a lovely dinner Gemma made. Side note – Nando’s peri peri chicken marinade is awesome.

Saturday I met Renee’s beautiful son Max. Gem and I napped the arvo before dumplings in Northbridge and the Limbo show at the Perth Fringe Festival at the Pleasure Garden. Phenomenal show in the Speigaltent, incredible music and talented performers with a burlesque style. Had everyone in the audience raptured in the performance. After the show we went for some drinks, Shady Tony’s was a trendy, hidden prohibition bar with great cocktails.

Sunday I was treated to a winery tour from Gemma and Celia with D’vine wine tours around the Swan Valley. We visited three wineries, a chocolate house and a brewery. My favourite was Fig Tree Estate, they had a fab dry sparkling, a chocolatey merlot and the best cheese and olives. I bought some of the French soft cows cheese, it was rich and creamy. If I had room in my luggage I would have purchased some of the Sicilian green olives too.

For our last evening together we ate cheese (yup the one from above) and had pasta with a movie at home. We had both enough of drinking by then!

Monday we checked out Little Creatures Brewery in Freo for a scrumptious lunch (you can read about that here) and the local boutiques.

Now here I am on the plane heading back to Brisbane and battling to keep my eyes open… night! (Obviously I wrote this a few days ago)

Aussie Day on Rottnest Island, WA

A 45minute boat ride out of Fremantle on the Rottnest Express takes you out to an island paradise.
We made the trip for Australia Day, it was scorching hot (about 38 degrees) and we were ready to explore! 

There’s a bus and a train that takes you around the island (no cars other than service vehicles) but we decided to take the active way – cycling! For $45 from Peddle and Flippers you choose a bike and load up with a pair of flippers and get set to take off. 

We chose to go out around to Little Salmon Bay, up to the lighthouse, over to the Basin and back into the centre to return the bikes. All up, around 12kms, not that far. Damn, it was tough going in that heat though! The island isn’t flat, there’s lolling hills and you definitely get your heart rate up. Not to mention the lack of shade and you sure as hell better have packed a tonne of water, there’s not many refill spots along the way. 

There’s scenic points around most bends, we were constantly stopping to capture the beauty. The coastline is crystal clear in hues of blues and turquoise and full of the outlines of coral. Boats are scattered everywhere and the ‘good spots’, ie any with shade, were all taken early. The land itself is dry, lots of bracken and brownish shrubbery. 

We spent most of the day at Little Salmon Bay. Luckily an open cave had been vacated and we took to the shade as fast as we could, hot and sweaty from the cycling and sunshine. Gemma had made us a lovely picnic lunch, fresh salmon salads and veggies with beetroot hummus dip. Oh and vodka and coconut water – it was Australia Day after all! 

The snorkelling out from the bay exceeded my expectations. There were plenty of fish, large and small of many different varieties. I even found some bright purple coral and a huge crayfish going for a wander!   

I know what you’re all thinking. The Quokkas! Tell us about the Quokkas! 

They completely live up to their reputation as one of the happiest creatures in the world. They’re incredibly cute and friendly. We first came across some on the way to the lighthouse, they were lethargic and lying under a tree. With a shake of the water bottle they were our and eager for hydration! We tried to just feed them from the water bottle cap but their thirst wasn’t quenched and the bigger one was straight into the bottle! He’d definitely done that before. He latched on and drank like a baby, happy as can be, selfishly pushing his smaller mate out of the way. Once they were both suitably hydrated the selfie show began. We took sooo many pics with the cute balls of fluff! They kind of look like a wallaby crossed with a happy rat… it’s hard to explain and doesn’t do them justice so just look at the pictures! 

The pink salt lakes were a pleasant surprise, we weren’t sure what they are at first, an epic pink landscape appearing around the hill. 

We made it to the Basin to cool off with another swim then went back to town, dropped off our gear and went to the Hotel to listen to the last of the Triple J Autralia Day Top 100 countdown with some beers and prawns. 

Awesome day out, add it to your bucket list!

Little Creatures Brewery, Fremantle, WA

With a few recommendations to check out the Little Creatures Brewery in Freo for lunch and a bevvie, it was really a no brainer.
The waitress gave me a taster of the beers and while I found out I like their Bright Ale the best, I decided on their crisp cider for lunch.

Gem and I shared the beetroot salad, chili and tomato mussels and some charred corn on the cob with manchengo cheese.

The salad was nice and rich, smooth feta and walnuts with the beetroot. The charred corn really can’t go wrong really, and the chili tomato mussels were mind blowing! The sauce was rich and full of flavour, not too hot. We devoured them and all but spooned the leftover broth as a soup!

Next door at the Brewery, a wonderful, energetic man explained to us all about beers and enticed us to have some tasters. He was passionate and excited about his brand and obviously loved his job – he’s just who you’d want working for you! He made us curious and sent us out with a lot more beer knowledge than before. I hope he wins employee of the month or something for being so awesome.

Little Creatures Fremantle Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Authentic Bites Dumpling House, Perth

You didn’t think I could make it to a new state and not try some dumplings did you?

I had read about Authentic Bites Dumpling House in Northbridge, Perth and decided I wanted to give them a go. My thoughts were confirmed when a friend of a friend confirmed it was a great joint.

We had to line up outside, maybe ten minutes. As soon as we sat down we out our order in. Pan fried pork buns, pork and prawn chilli wontons, xiao long bao and choy sum in oyster sauce. Had I known it was BYO at the time, I would have definitely taken a bottle in with me too.

The food came quickly (there were 10 chefs in the kitchen) and each dish was more delicious than the last. The xiao long bao were perfectly soupy, the chilli wontons were full of flavour and the choy sum provided a much needed hit of greens.

Not only was it quick & delicious, the entire meal only cost $37 for the two of us!

Would love to know if there is a better dumpling place in Perth but I have my doubts.

Authentic Bites Dumpling House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Why you should do a tour on Fraser Island

I highly recommend doing a tour of Fraser on your first trip or at least once.

Why you ask? There a few reasons, first off, is local knowledge. I learnt so much from our guides about the island, the rain-forest, the lakes, wildlife, history, you name it! While there is signage around to fill you in and you could always just google, the guides are local and have great stories to share which provide charm and depth to the facts. You just don’t get that from doing your own tour.

The next reason, you don’t have to worry about anything. Everything is taken care of. No packing lunches, bedding, camping gear or worrying about whether you will get the 4×4 stuck. No wondering what to do when the dingoes come by, how long or difficult the walking or driving tracks are or which way to go.

Another reason, is it makes is fun! The guides go out of their way to make the trip a load of fun. Music, great convo, entertaining stories and adventures. Plus, you get to meet and spend a few days with like-minded people in a 4×4!

If you’re going to do an overnight camping tour with Sunrover Tours like I did, here’s a few hot tips…
Bring a big torch, it’s really dark out there.
Back up chargers for your phone are a great idea, you’ll want to capture all the beauty!
Take the front seat if you can, it’s the best spot!
For a small luxury, a mini fan for the tent would be amazing
Do not leave your towel outside. It may rain. Then it will be wet. And not ideal for drying off with…

Read about my experience at Fraser Island here and here.


Fraser Island Day Two

The day started with a 6am wake up in preparation for a 7am take off from camp. We had fruit and cereals for breakfast, swept out our tents and hit the road.

We drove straight up to Eli Creek, stopping only to see jellyfish that had washed up overnight.

Eli Creek was beautiful. Crystal clear water (like most of the fresh water creeks all over the island), beautiful lush rainforest all around and fish in the water. Even a giant, brown cricket welcomed us! I immediately fell in love with him but our guide (from Sunrover Tours) said I couldn’t keep him.

Originally everyone said it was too cold to walk down the creek. Our guide, Charlie, coached us in and in the end the entire tour group of nine walked down the creek together. The water was much cooler than Lake McKenzie, very refreshing.

We drove north to Maheno wreck, a beautiful ship which lost its pull rope when it was being towed to Japan to be fixed and washed up on the shore of Fraser Island. The Maheno is 70 years old and surprisingly still quite together. I was captivated by it. The barnacles growing all over the sides, the rich colours of the rust and the sharp shapes created by the holes left in the ship. I could have taken hundreds of pictures and still not been done. I wanted to climb it but apparently it’s off limits…

Next up, we drove south toward the Lake Wabby entrance. A 40-minute walk through the rainforest and you reach the sand dunes that lead to the lake. There’s a desert-like scene at the top, all different coloured sands creating beautiful wave patterns across the dunes. A steep dune takes you down to the lake where tour groups play in the shallows. While it wasn’t as pretty as Lake McKenzie, the lake was charming and warm. Little fish (the ones that eat the dead skin off your feet) played in the shallows but the lake quickly became dark and deep.

I smashed the walk back, walking fast to beat my time in and knowing it was more downhill than before. Always good to get some exercise in while you can.

On the way back to the barge our guide told us more about the history of the island, the different formations and a few terrible Dad jokes for good measure. We came across another dingo on our way back before lining up for the barge.

A short boat ride and we were back on the mainland. We stopped for fish and chips in Rainbow Beach then drove back to Brisbane. I slept from Rainbow Beach to Caloundra (approx. 3 hours), a fair effort. Something about the lolling of that truck makes me weary.

Back in Brisbane 45mins early at 5.15, we all said our goodbyes and thanked Charlie our tour guide who did a fab job, especially considering it was his first trip!

Read about my trip to Fraser Island Day One here