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December 12, 2011

Flying North

Recently Asha and I were lucky enough to fly to the Gold Coast for the National Conference on Volunteering.  We were involved as the conference’s official media partner (writing news articles, taking photos, pushing the conversation on social media), and we were able to tack 4 extra days onto our trip to visit Asha’s mum in Brisbane.

Work Trips - One of the perks of the office romance.

There were plenty of inspirational speakers at the conference – Justice Michael Kirby among them.  But the best session involved 7 young ‘social innovators’ talking about their projects / organisations / campaigns that are working to address social problems (read my article on it here).  After nearly three years reporting on the Australian Not for Profit sector, it felt good to be at a conference with so many familiar faces and names, and get plenty of positive feedback on the work we do.  It was also great to hit the beach before or after the sessions each day.

Broadbeach....thankfully empty of schoolies

We ate some good food on the Gold Coast.  I was pumped to stumble across Guzman y Gomez, a fast-f00d styled mexican cantina, focussing on burritos and tacos.  After my first trip to the USA some years ago, and especially after spending four weeks in Mexico last year, I have always wondered why Mexican food in Australia is so far below par.  Its great to finally see Mexican food start to take off here – certainly in Melbourne the number of places offering delicious, authentic Mexican (rather than the Taco Bill Tex-Mex) is on the rise.

We also went out for dinner at Espana, a Tapas at a restaurant Asha’s friend Anna recently finished working at on the Gold Coast.  The setup of the tiny Tapas Bar was interesting, but we were not very impressed with the somewhat bland food that we were presented with.

Asha Eats Tapas at Espana

We went out for tapas again a few days later in Brisbane, at a restaurant  in the Barracks called Peasant, with my good friend and recent Brisbane resident Matt.  This place was brilliant, great decor, a beautiful outside area where we say, and fantastic food.  We had ocean trout ceviche, a seriously good meat board, pumpkin and goats cheese tortilla, small spicy chorizos and spicy clams in broth, all served with warm crunchy bread and oozing roasted garlic.  Bam.

The official food of Queensland – or the Gold Coast and Brisbane at least – seems to be sushi train.  In Melbourne, as far as we can figure, there are two sushi trains – one of which is known for delivering a dose of food poisoning along with seaweed and rice.  However every shopping mall, each strip of shops, and every suburb, seems to be home to at least one sushi train.  Why?  Who knows.  All we could come up with was “its warm, and sushi is good to eat when its warm”.  So we went to one.  I loved it.

Queensland food - the remnants of awesome fish and chips in Coolum, sushi train, and cold drinks.

We also managed to fit in a trip up to Noosa National Park.  Despite the cloudy skies, it was warm and the water was perfect.  Swimming at an idyllic beach in the park, with hardly anyone else around, its easy to see why people move North.

A visit to Noosa National Park, and beers with Matt at one of Brisbane many awful nightspots

Heading up to Queensland was exactly what we both needed. The Melbourne winter and the working year was dragging on and (for me at least) starting to turn a tad stale.

There’s something to be said for holidays at the beach- especially around my old stomping ground. More air. More sun. More space. Less clothes.

Flopping around the streets towards the beach with no shoes and no direction gives one a sense of freedom and simplicity.  Who cares about your hair, if you’ve got a run in your stockings or where you can buy an organic soy half strength cap. The only question on our lips was if the sun was out, the beer was cold and the debate as to what our next meal would be…

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