Dayna's Blog

Holidays, walks and who knows what


Thank you for riding with me

If you rode a bicycle today, then I wish to Thank You for riding with me.

It gets busy on #Canning Street - #Melbourne #bikepath #ridetowork #cycling #bicycling #commuting #lovemyride

Whether it was because a bicycle is your only mode of transport, or because you made a conscious decision to ride, or it just worked out that way, or for one of any number of reasons – your decision to cycle matters. Or, more precisely, your choice to not use a motorised vehicle (if that was an option for you) is what really matters.

When you’re ‘known’ to commute by bicycle, it’s not long before someone will feel impelled to tell you that your efforts in ‘saving the planet’ are worthless (whether or not that’s the main reason behind your decision to ride in the first place). “What difference will one person riding a bike make? It’s not going to change anything in our lifetimes anyway,” they’ll say.

Well, they’re wrong.

Consider this: one bee produces only 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey over its lifetime (or to say it a different way, 12 worker bees will make 1 teaspoon of honey before they die). Yet there are jars and jars and jars of honey on the shelves in the supermarket.

Why? Because there are billions of bees across millions of hives working to produce that honey.

Although each individual bees’ contribution is so very small, would anyone suggest that a bee is worthless?!


In the same way that bees achieve more as a hive, so too does your choice of transport really matter. Because it’s not just about you. It’s about us, collectively.

You may only be contributing the equivalent of 1/12 tsp of honey to the global rescue jar, but when our ‘hive’ (i.e. the world) faces a major and increasing threat to life as we know it, everyone needs to chip in.

So… Thank You if you rode your bicycle with me today. And Thank You in advance if you’ll ride with me again tomorrow.

#Brompton on #PrincesBridge #Melbourne #ridetowork #commuting #cityscape #myBrompton #gamebag

: )


Open Day on ‘THE NEW’ Spirit of Tasmania

“The idea was to create something like a top-notch hotel feel,” quotes The Mercury of Richard Nilsson, the Swedish designer behind the new look of the twin Spirit of Tasmania ferries which travel between Port Melbourne (Victoria) and Devonport (Tasmania).

I won’t bore you with how many return trips we’ve taken aboard one or other of the ferries (strangely, it’s been more often number II), but since the refurbishments were completed in August we have been keen to see for ourselves what has changed. (If you haven’t been before, or if it’s been a while, check out my photos of before the refurbishments here.)

Having received permission to come aboard (you had to apply in the week or two before the Open Day) we decided to catch a tram (well, two trams) across town to Port Melbourne. The route 109 tram stops about 100m from Station Pier. Given we live pretty close to a tram stop, and the high likelihood of experiencing lots of bother trying to find a park had we taken the car, tramming it was definitely the way to go.

Cool! Stilt walkers, balloons, and mini SoT's! Getting excited now!

Cool! Stilt walkers, balloons, and mini SoT’s! Getting excited now!

There weren’t queues, but enough people were wandering in the right direction so it was unlikely anyone was going to get lost – even if there hadn’t been plenty of red-shirted, boat-hatted people greeting people and making sure we didn’t get lost.

Up in the check-in lounge there were a dozen or so Tasmanian tourist stands, to whet the appetite of prospective travellers.

There were about a dozen information stalls to help you plan your next holiday

There were about a dozen information stalls to help you plan your next holiday

A bit of Tassie for everyone in the Check-in Lounge

A bit of Tassie for everyone in the Check-in Lounge

Passing by all the photos in the hall I started to feel the usual excitement I get when we board the big red boat. Pity we weren’t sailing off to Tassie today!

Lots of fabulous photos - many places we've been, some still to discover

Lots of fabulous photos – many places we’ve been, some still to discover

I guess 'The Revamped' would have been a bit long...

I guess ‘The Revamped’ would have been a bit long…

Ooooh! How exciting! Everything is about to be revealed!



Hmmm, this bit feels like Crown Casino… (I haven’t boarded this way before so I don’t know if this has changed or not.)

Oooh, I almost feel like I'm in Crown Casino!

Oooh, I almost feel like I’m in Crown Casino!

First change – no tourism shop. Now there’s a Tourism Hub. There is a desk to the left where (hopefully) a staff member will be there to answer any questions passengers have.

Walking up the port (left) side of the ship there is now a BYO Library (officially named the Reading Room) where there used to be The Leatherwood Restaurant. Clearly this area is for quiet activities – if you want to make noise, there is plenty of space on upper decks.

Leatherwood Restaurant has become a BYO library

Leatherwood Restaurant has become a BYO library

The light shade in the 'library' was very nice - scrolls of huon pine - Deck 7

The light shade in the ‘library’ was very nice – scrolls of huon pine – Deck 7

Next to the library is the new reception area. I wouldn’t have chosen red, and continuing red along the corridor seemed a little over the top, but hey – that’s just my opinion, and it’s just a small area of Deck 7.

Not sure if it feels more like a school corridor or fire department, but it is very red around this small section of Deck 7 now

Not sure if it feels more like a school corridor or fire department, but it is very red around this small section of Deck 7 now

Turning the corner was the next surprise – the new shop! The Pantry will almost certainly meet your (or the kids’) sugar/salt/caffeine requirements, but the most notable difference is the lack of souveniers now. (I hope you stocked up on your last trip as we did!)

The Pantry replaces Tasmania Onboard (shop)

Tasmania Onboard has become The Pantry

The Pantry has also kicked out the pokies! And I can’t say I’m sorry to see them go. It was the only inclusion I really disliked about the previous layout of the ships.

Ahead was more lounge area, with a touch of blue, and lovely Tasmanian scenery instead of TV screens.

The old reception area is now also lounge, as is where the shop (Tasmania Onboard) used to be.

Reception used to be straight ahead, and the shop to the right

Reception used to be straight ahead, and the shop to the right

I’m not certain if anything has changed in the cinemas, but this is how they are now. Red on the left, and blue on the right. (I don’t think you have to read too much into that.)

Onto the cabins.

Not much has changed. ‘Soft furnishings’ simply means the blinds, possibly the upholstery on the chairs, and I’m fairly sure the carpet in the rooms has been replaced. The bunks and bathrooms appear to be the same as usual. The Deluxe suites feel noticeably smaller, but they’re still a lot roomier than any of the other cabins. (Note: the 4 bed porthole cabin photo was from Deck 8)

A brief spell outdoors (still on Deck 7)…

…past the place we used to hang out, read a paper and have a drink whilst waiting until it was time for dinner – the lavender of Bridestowe has been replaced by the Aurora Australis…

…before finally getting a look at the new dining area. Goodbye Captains Table. Hello TMK (The Market Kitchen)! No more table service and white table cloths, I’m afraid. Now we’re all taking a tray and loading our own plates, I think. The menu looks familiar, but I wonder how long it’ll last. As for the condiments rack? Hmmm, classy.

Well, that’s Deck 7 covered. Sleeping, eating, and a bit of lounging.

Unless you’re sleeping on Deck 8, there won’t be much there to see for you – unless you’re here on an open day! So, check it out!

The Recliners have all been replaced. I had a brief sit in one. It felt pretty good, but I’m not in a hurry to give up booking a cabin in favour of the ‘cheap seats’ – especially as I like having a shower at least once every 24 hours. But if you’re not so fussy, and if you’re not taking a whole pile of luggage with you (or planning to bring a lot of souvenirs back), then these might be the best option for you.

The Recliners on Deck 8 have all been replaced so they should be better than ever

The Recliners on Deck 8 have all been replaced so they should be better than ever

Native Tasmanian woods are much admired. It was nice to see them used onboard

Native Tasmanian woods are much admired. It was nice to see them used onboard

Moving up to Deck 9 now – brace yourselves!

Rear of Deck 9 is where things started to get realy funky

Rear of Deck 9 is where things started to get realy funky

Well, they said it would be different. It’s all to encourage more day sailing passengers.

Deck 9 always felt more weather tight than Deck 10, so having lounge areas here wasn’t too surprising. But would there be more of the same upstairs?

Well, no. It was More.

I’m sure they’ve thought about things sliding around in heavy seas. Of course they have. Because not every sail is a pleasant day like this one was.

Now how do you get everyone up on Deck 10 to come down again? Send up the band!

They were very good, and I’ll wager that most of the people upstairs followed them to see where they went, not knowing that we were being surreptitiously being escorted out.

Playing and walking down the stairs was quite a trick. I’m not sure where the trio exited, but we had to walk down to Deck G3; this is usually a cargo/freight deck. Cars are usually parked on Decks 5 & 6, sometimes Deck 4 if it’s really busy.

And that was it! We disembarked at ground level and were treated to a fantastic sight of the Spirit of Tasmania – you may recognise it from their ads. I find it fascinating the way the sides at the front also come away from the ship.



So, overall impression?

Bass Strait is not the Mediterranean; the weather ranges from windy to blowing a gale, so the ‘bringing the outdoors in’  idea with the use of the fake grass and garden furniture struck a chord that didn’t resonate true with my memories of previous crossings.

I didn’t test the furniture to see if it was bolted to the floor, but there is a lot on Deck 9 & 10 that looked like it wasn’t secured. If bad weather is forecasted, there may be a lot for the staff to put away for passenger’s safety. It’ll be interesting to see how long this lasts.

Ditto with the bars on those levels. I was advised that the Bars on Decks 9 & 10 would be open for day sailings (as you’d expect) and winter sailings (for at least a few hours. Something to watch with interest. I certainly hope that Deck 10 is a little more air-tight now, as it used to get a bit chilly up there during winter.

We are both very sorry that The Leatherwood restaurant has been scrapped. Having only one sitting a night did not improve profitability, but the demand was certainly there to do two sittings – even in winter. Now, instead of racing to get a restaurant reservation, I wonder if we’ll be hurrying to get a small table for dinner – despite the expanded dining area.

It’ll be interesting to compare our next voyage to our previous experiences.

You can check out the official time lapse videos and information about the refurbishments on the Spirit of Tasmania website.


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Stephen’s Favourite Couscous Salad

Don’t be alarmed: one recipe post does not a cooking blog make. No, this entry is covered by the “Who Knows What” clause I slipped into in my subtitle. My ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card, so to speak.

Why then? Because various family members have asked for the recipe, and despite having previously emailing it to the nominal head of the family to disseminate, a couple of years on I’m still getting requests. And let’s face it: emails are easy to lose – unless you use Evernote or similar, or are particularly organised when it comes to recipes.

Stephen's Favourite Couscous Salad with a rather large lamb kebab (skewer)

Stephen’s Favourite Couscous Salad with a rather large lamb kebab (skewer)

Preparation time: 2hrs (less if you’re better at chopping – or less pedantic – than me)
Cooking time: 10min
Servings: Approx. 12

1 x 250 packet Pearl (aka Israeli) Couscous
Olive Oil
Sea Salt a couple of small pinches
~2tsp Black pepper, freshly ground
2-3 tbsp paprika (any type)
1 tbsp Garam Marsala
1 lemon, zest & juice
1-2 limes, zest & juice
1 medium carrot, extra finely diced
1 medium Lebanese cucumber, finely diced
1 medium red capsicum, deseeded, finely diced
1 long red chilli, finely diced
1 x 310g/420g corn kernels, drained
100g pine nuts
3/4 cup currants
125g Turkish apricots, diced
1 pomegranate (see notes below)
1/2 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
1 bunch of fresh coriander, finely sliced
1 bunch of fresh mint, finely sliced
200g Greek style feta, diced

Cook the Pearl Couscous following the packet instructions. It takes about 10min on the stove. Stephen always does this bit, which allows me to start chopping.

Once the couscous is al denté, drain, return to the saucepan, drizzle over some olive oil, and stir to coat the pearls. Be generous but don’t drown them. Add the salt, pepper, paprika, Garam Marsala, half of the lemon & lime juice, and stir until consistent. Leave to cool.

Prepare the rest of the ingredients as described above and mix them all into your largest mixing bowl.

By now the couscous has had plenty of time to cool – use a wooden spoon and some more lemon/lime juice to separate the pearls again, then mix the couscous, remaining juice and zest into the rest of the salad.

Taste and adjust as required.

Will keep well refrigerated for a few days in an airtight container.

As a chopping guide, I like the carrot pieces to be about the size of a match head, and the cucumber and capsicum no bigger than a pearl of couscous.

Turkish apricots are plump and easy to dice. Cut each apricot into 6 or 8 pieces. You could buy a packet of diced apricot pieces to save a bit of time, but I always buy a larger packet because a few always seem to disappear before they make it into the bowl. Whatever apricots you buy, they’ll be plump by the next day anyway as they absorb juices in the salad.

Never bought or used a pomegranate? I like a large one that’s a deep pink/red colour all over with no dark or soft spots. Wear an old top, or at least an apron to avoid stains. Have a bowl ready for the molasses (i.e. the little gems you want to eat) and somewhere to put the skin and pith. Carefully top & tail – I also like to peel most of the thin leathery skin off mine. Cut out the pith at the end so you can carefully pull the pomegranate apart and pick out the molasses. Give them a quick rinse, drain and add them to the mix. I’ve often seen pomegranate molasses in a little container ready to use and have bought them once, but I’m not sure you get as many as when you buy a whole fruit. Yes, I know my method isn’t how Jamie (Oliver) does it, but I want all the molasses from my pomegranate, thank you, not just the ones I can bash out.

Spring onions: I just use the dark green end of a whole bunch because I’m not particularly fond of onion, but this salad would really be lacking if it were to be left out. If you’re not turned off by raw onion like me, maybe try substituting in a finely dicing a large red onion.

Feta: I cut the block of feta into pieces of about 5mm x 5mm. They’ll probably break in half as you mix the salad so don’t worry about cutting the block in half through the middle. I prefer Greek style feta as it keeps it’s shape better in the salad.

If you like your food hot, add some chilli powder into the cooked couscous, or maybe add two chillies or try hotter varieties. The recipe as described has just a hint of spice.

: )


The Doctor Blake Mysteries Costume Exhibition, Ballarat – June 2014

The Doctor Blake Mysteries is an Australian period drama TV series that is simply brilliant. Sorry – I meant BRILLIANT!

Stephen poses with Craig McLachlan as Doctor Blake

Stephen poses with Craig McLachlan as Doctor Blake

Following hard on the heels of Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries – which is light, bright, fun and glamorously over the top, as it’s set Melbourne in the 1920’s – one of my first thoughts when the show started was, ‘Why would the ABC be running another Australian period murder mystery series right after a fantastic one just ended?’

But instead of trying to out sass Phryne (I’m not sure anyone can do that – but give him a pair of fishnets and I bet Craig McLachlan (who plays Dr Lucien Blake in this series) would give it a go!), The Doctor Blake Mysteries are set in the bleak post war period of 1950’s Ballarat. Fans like Stephen and myself have been drawn in by the haunting music of the opening titles composed by Dale Cornelius (see more on his YouTube page), the sublime casting, wonderful plots and character threads, and great production of this award-winning series. The deliberate fading of colour in post production does take a bit of getting used to, but it’s done to reinforce the post war feeling of the era (I think).

The best news recently is that season three is going to be shot by the end of 2014 and – somewhat amazingly – the show’s official Facebook page was even saying that it could be airing by February 2015! Woohoo!!

Doctor Blake Mysteries - Facebook Page update on Series 3 posted 08.08.2014

But onto the costume exhibition…

From 1 May to 9 June this year, M.A.D.E. (Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka) in Ballarat hosted The Doctor Blake Mysteries costume exhibition. Since Ballarat is only a 1.5hr drive (these days! It would have been much longer for Dr Blake) from Melbourne, and Ballarat is a great place to visit, we thought it was definitely worth going, especially since we hadn’t visited MADE before.

First port of call was The Design Exchange market in the glorious old Mining Exchange building on Lydiard Street. Definitely worth a stop if you’re visiting on a Sunday. The only downside for Stephen was that there wasn’t much in the way of menswear to browse, whilst I on the other hand, managed to pick up two items of clothing. Not bad for someone who doesn’t usually like clothes shopping! There’s also plenty of funky handmade craft items to browse.

We stopped for lunch a door or two along at the cafe attached to the Art Gallery of Ballarat. Also worth spending some time there if you haven’t been before… (You can find out whether Dr Blake’s mother’s painting hangs in there or not!)

Art Gallery of Ballarat - photo from March 2012

Art Gallery of Ballarat – photo from March 2012

Admire the cinema as you cross Lydiard Street in front of the Art Gallery, and not just because it was featured in definitely one Doctor Blake episode (Series 2 episode 5 “Crossing the Line” – but possibly more, in general street-scape shots. The tourist information shop is also across the street. You can pick up this Doctor Blake Walking Tour brochure from them if you don’t want to print it out for yourself. Pity there doesn’t seem to be any organised guided tours of Doctor Blake filming locations with insider (or at least local) information to impart…

Regent Theatre, Lydiard Street, Ballarat

Regent Theatre, Lydiard Street, Ballarat

After a quick drive around Lake Wendouree – no trip to Ballarat is complete without a drive around the lake to check the water level, see the birds, and admire some of the houses, old and new, but all with great views – we headed off to M.A.D.E.!

People enjoying Lake Wendouree, March 2012

People enjoying Lake Wendouree, March 2012

Located just outside the centre of town at the physical site of the Eureka Stockade, M.A.D.E. uses the history of the site to encourage visitors to explore concepts of democracy. As it opened fairly recently (May 2013) there’s no excuse for children and adults alike to visit and learn something new. I thought the lecture theatre was also very comfortable and inviting.

Yes, I’m getting to the photos of costumes…

It didn’t feel like there was as extensive a collection as was set out in the Rippon Lea mansion for the Miss Fisher exhibition (see here), but it could be that there just aren’t as many costume changes in Doctor Blake as in Miss Fisher. Gorgeous furs and ostrich feathers went out the window in these lean post-WWII times, and synthetics were now in – although there are still a lot of cotton items in the collection, and the suits are wool, of course. The exhibition space was also unrelated to the series – maybe if it was being displayed in the house they use as Dr Blake’s residence in the show there would have been more opportunity for costume and prop displays. But it’s possible that someone may actually live there – I don’t know.

Before taking photos I did check for any signs indicating that photography, even on my phone (which, incidentally, was what I was using) was not allowed, but saw nothing. No mention was made at the front desk about photography (or its prohibition) when we enquired about the exhibition, so I don’t think I’m breaking any rules in sharing this with you.

I have titled the full-shot photos as per the display descriptions, and certainly tried to photograph everything on display. Due to guide ropes and glass cases keeping visitor from getting too close to the costumes and props (which is completely understandable), indoor lighting and not taking my proper camera, some of the photos are not quite as good as I’d hoped.

So there you have it. May season 3 be every bit as good as the past two seasons have been, and may there be plenty more Doctor Blake goodness to come!

: )


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Something To Write Home About

As I wrote in my Drive-by Photography post, taking a good photo from a moving car can be a challenge. It’s a good feeling when you’re reviewing photos and find a few have turned out just as you’d hoped.

This was of those photos, even though at first glance it might seem to be of nothing much:

"The road hugs the Orford River"

“The road hugs the Orford River”

Of course, I had no idea that it would end up here:

Spirit of Tasmania ad from The Age newspaper

Spirit of Tasmania ad from The Age newspaper

Let me explain…

I love Tasmania. The island captured my heart on my first trip there.

To express this love, just over a year ago I created a series of pages on my blog that you will find if you look up at the top right of the screen and click on Tasmania – A Treasure Island (or hover over for the drop-down list of related pages). I’d already written what Stephen called ‘Dayna’s Lonely Planet Guide to Tasmania’ for a friend, and I’d subsequently passed it on to a couple more people who wanted tips on where to go and what to see in Tassie – by putting my email online, I was mainly adding photos and making it viewable by everyone.

What about the photo then?

As is our habit, Stephen does the driving while I keep my camera handy and entertain the driver (quizzes, I-spy, etc) as and when required. Although, when we’re driving around Tassie, there’s more opportunity for photography than call for keeping Stephen alert behind the wheel.

You may have noticed that my posts are generally long – yes, I freely admit it. But I like detail. Which is why I included my above photo on my Freycinet & The East Coast page.

Had I not, it wouldn’t have been seen by the Spirit of Tasmania’s media agent, and someone else’s photo would have been used in this ad.

So the moral of the post is – keep posting! You never know who’s looking at your blog.

Oh, and visit Tasmania! Drive there if you can. You may fall in love in love with it, too.

: )

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National Australia Remembers Freedom Wall, Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha

When in Brisbane, one place we enjoy visiting is the Brisbane Botanic Gardens at Mt Coot-tha (locals pronounce it as “Koo-tha”).

One of its many attractions is the Freedom Wall, built to honour and remember not just servicemen and -women who saw action, but also the civilians who went to war in support roles, as well as those left behind who played their part to help keep Australia a free country.

At first, I’m always taken by the stunning design of the ‘wall’, which is actually a series of three connecting rooms of different shapes, open to and surrounded by trees.


Having once again admired the design and absorbed the tranquility of the bush, it’s time to read the some of the plaques as I wander back out. Some of them are short, some are longer, but each one represents a loved one lost. I am reminded once again how wars affect everyone in the community, not just those who go off to fight and their immediate families. Societies bear the scars of warfare for a generation or more, and in ways that aren’t always obvious at first glance.

While you’re at the botanic gardens, don’t miss the opportunity to check out all the other attractions. There’s plenty to see and do even if the weather is wet, or stinking hot and humid (so unusual for Brisbane *sarcasm intended*) – the Planetarium is most definitely the place to keep dry and/or stay cool.

You can download a copy of the visitors map for the botanic gardens here. It also gives information on history, facilities and access/transport to the gardens.

Oh, and one last thing… don’t be scared of the Eastern Water Dragons – they’re awesome! (But please don’t feed them or try to touch them. They are wild animals, after all.)

Eastern Water Dragon

Eastern Water Dragon

: )


Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries exhibition, Rippon Lea Estate, VIC – 24 Nov 2013

Did you know that not only has the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries exhibition at Rippon Lea Estate been extended to 1 December 2013 (due to popular demand) but also that photography is now permitted?!

Well, WE didn’t! At least, not until we looked it up today (for the first part) and not until we arrived there (for the second part)!!

To explain, my younger sister and her fiancé are visiting from interstate for the weekend and, having seen my previous post on Rippon Lea and being a Miss Fisher fan, asked if we could visit Rippon Lea today.

Had I but known photography was now allowed we would definitely have taken proper cameras – instead, these are pics from Stephen and my iPhones. Apologies for the quality, but I hope you enjoy them all the same if you are unable to attend the exhibition for yourself.

: )