Here at FIT AVERAGE JO, I care about your health and well-being, both immediately and in the long term!
That’s why I am doing a blog about what I am doing in the wake of the COVID-19 virus (aka Coronavirus) … and what YOU can do to protect yourself.
I’ve even created an Immune Boosting Checklist, which contains science-backed steps you can take to improve your immune function AND avoid picking up any unwanted germs (including any colds, flu and stomach bugs that are going around).
Here are some steps I am taking with Fit AVERAGE JO clients at the gym:
Please wash your hands (up to your elbows) for at LEAST 20 seconds BEFORE and AFTER your workout.
Please wipe down every piece of equipment each use (with disinfectant spray and paper wipes).
I am also encouraging clients to use hand sanitizer if they desire. Don’t wipe your face with the same towel you may be using on equipment.
And I ask that clients who are sick or not feeling well please stay home. Let your body heal!
If you are not showing any signs of sickness I also encourage you to continue your workouts, since regular activity is a part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Studies show that moderate workouts lasting an hour or less helps improve your overall immune function – plus they can help you de-stress, which can also help keep your immune system strong.
“I want to go to your BOOTCAMP but I am not fit enough”
If I had a dollar for every time someone said this to me I would be a rich woman.This statement is so far off base but it reveals the fears that people have about their own fitness and group fitness.
The truth is you go to a Bootcamp to get fit. Bootcamp isn’t the end goal, it is the means to the end goal (fitness). Any decent bootcamp instructor can work with all fitness levels and scale bootcamp challenges to suit every fitness level. Bootcamp is fun. Go along and see for yourself.
Many people are surprised that Bootcamps are far from what you imagine they would be. Yes, you get challenged, yes, some bootcamp sessions you will hate. Some you will love. Bootcamp is about challenging yourself, not being better than everyone else. Bootcamps are about trying something different every time. You learn a range of functional fitness skills. Someone plans it all for you. You just have to turn up.
If you really don’t think you are fit enough start walking every day. It’s free. Walk a little further each day, walk a little longer each day. Set yourself a walking goal. Start committing time to your health, fitness and well-being. Start being consistent. Get into a routine. Walk with your family. Start something.
If you are one of those people who thinks they can’t join a group fitness class until they are fit enough, think again. Prove yourself wrong. Just start. Ask your friends and family who they recommend. Go with a friend so you have someone to share the experience with.
The trick is just start something. Don’t wait until Monday, or next month, or after your holiday. Just start. You are investing in your future self. Go!
Unplug 🌟Did you know that 80% of smartphone users check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up!?
Checking for missed calls/important texts is one thing, but scrolling social media first thing is another. It can set your tone for the whole day!
📲Set yourself a challenge, try waiting at least ONE hour before you scroll through your social media in the morning! Instead, use that time to read, journal, or talk with your family members and take control over how you start your day. 🙂
🎉🙌This recipe sounds weird but it is so delicious – you would never guess that it is made from chickpeas!
🍪😋 This cookie dough is safe to eat raw because it doesn’t contain eggs.
🥣🥄 You can eat this straight from the bowl with a spoon, or make cookie dough balls from it, and store in the fridge.
👩🍳🥜One of the things that’s awesome about this recipe (besides the fact it’s healthier and delicious) is that you can experiment with it to make it your own.
Try swapping out the nut butter, adding some oats or flaxseed (start with ⅛ cup (12 g) and add more until you get the desired consistency) and using honey or coconut sugar instead of maple syrup. It’s so good!
1 15-oz. (400 g) can of low sodium chickpeas, rinsed well and patted very dry
⅓ cup (80 g) natural almond or peanut butter (smooth, not crunchy)
¼ cup (60 ml) organic maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
⅓ cup (60 g) vegan chocolate chips
Place the first 5 ingredients in a food processor or high-speed blender and blend until well-mixed. Scrape into a bowl, and stir in the chocolate chips (option: melt the chips and stir in).
This will keep 3-4 days in the refrigerator, if it lasts that long!
Introduction To Boxing
🏼 Bit scared to give a boxing class a go? 🥊 Not sure how to use all the boxing gear but want to give boxing a go? 🥊 This Introduction to Boxing PT session will show you the basics on how to use gloves, use pads with confidence and learn some boxing basics. ✅ I get you ready to join a boxing class with confidence. ✔️
I can refer you to a reputable local boxing club to take your dreams of boxing and boxing fitness to the next level.
This is an entry level boxing PT session to help you prepare for a boxing class. No judgement, no pressure. Just the basics so you can start your boxing confidently. Suitable for individuals, families and couples. I can come to you in the privacy of your own yard or work with you at PCYC Mount Isa if you are a current financial gym member. No boxing equipment needed.
$50 for an individual Introduction to Boxing PT session. Ask me about pairs and small group discounts.
🔥📢CHALLENGE TIME! 🔥📢
💜 For decades, we’ve heard about the importance of taking care of our heart by exercising and eating a healthy and balanced diet.
💚 But now, we also know that our gut health is just as important … and that the health of our digestive system plays a HUGE role in our cardiovascular and brain health!
👩🔬 The amount of research coming out in this area is pretty amazing, with new findings practically every week.
💪Your challenge this week is to focus on your gut health and show it a little extra love!
💡Try incorporating as many of these steps as possible into your routine and see how much better you feel!
📓Pro tip: Keep a journal to track your results with bloating, how you sleep, and how you feel in general.
Here are some suggestions:
😷 Slow down your eating! This will help your digestive system do its job better. Plus, it’ll help you stop eating before you’re too full, and you’ll also swallow less air (which cuts back on gas).
🍽 Eat smaller meals. Too much food in your stomach = reflux. Yuck!
⏰ Get on a meal schedule. Try to eat at the same times each day. Your body performs best with a regular routine.
😴 Stop eating a couple hours (at least) before bed. For many people, the GI system is most active during the day. 🥦🥑🍆 Get 20-30 grams of fiber a day. If this is more than you normally eat, slowly increase fiber so you don’t end up feeling bloated, uncomfortable and gassy.
🧘 Reduce stress. Your body has a much harder time digesting food when you’re feeling tense and stressed out.
🧘 Do deep breathing exercises. Think about breathing down deep into your belly!
🍲 Probiotics. Consider eating low-sugar, probiotic yogurt to boost the healthy bacteria in your gut. If you want to take a supplement, be sure to ask your doc first because some strains can be harmful if you have digestive or immune system issues.
⛹🏼 Exercise. Working out helps your body move food through your digestive tract!
What’s one thing you’ve done so far in 2020 or are doing today that makes you happy? What’s the last thing you did just for fun?
A New Year always brings new opportunities. You ready?
Look into your crystal ball to ONE YEAR from now and imagine the life you’re living. This isn’t only about what you’ve accomplished (but that can be part of it). I want you to fast forward a year and envision yourself and your life.
What do you feel like? What does your life look like? How do you spend your days? And one final question … what has changed?
This is your chance to dream big for your life and how it will actually FEEL to get there! The more time you spend on this, the more clarity you get. When you KNOW what you want your life to look like, you’ll be a lot more likely to make your future self a reality!
Do yourself a favour and write down a detailed description of your “future self.” Don’t spare any of the details!
This may just be one of the BEST things you do all year.
Your challenge is to switch it up and do something you haven’t done in a while (or haven’t done before!) Ready to take it to the next level?!
How about signing up for a seminar, workshop, or new class?! Maybe it’s rock climbing class, mosaic workshop, gardening or photography class, a new dance session…. you name it!
Any ideas come to mind that sound interesting? Do it!
Have a think about what you really want for your life over the next 12 months, and create your 2020 bucket list. I’m not just talking about setting big, serious goals (although those are always good!) … but what are some fun and different things you want to try this year? This time next year, what do you want to have accomplished, tried, or conquered? Think about it … and make a list! Maybe you want to climb a mountain, write a book, run a marathon, learn to make sushi or visit a special vacation spot.
The possibilities are limited only by your imagination! Are you up for the challenge?! Write down what are the 3 things on YOUR list for 2020?
One of my New Year resolutions is to listen to more Podcasts. In this quest to learn more I have stumbled upon the Plant Proof Podcast by Simon Hill. From the outset, I can say I am not a vegan. I eat meat. I am also not completely wedded to any particular diet either. If you look hard enough you can find research that will support and dispute just about any diet. However, since becoming allergic to dairy I have been unwillingly forced (initially) to explore more plant based foods. To my surprise I have found some great vegan food options and this has driven me to explore more about a plant based lifestyle.
If you have an interest in this area or you are curious about the benefits of plant based foods then have a look at the web page at https://plantproof.com/ and also start listening to the podcasts. Some of the episodes didn’t capture my interest but the stories of many different people have me hooked. Plant Proof™ was inspired by Simon’s personal experience living a plant based lifestyle. Prior to transitioning from animal foods to a plant based diet he shared many common fears among men, and many women, in this position:“Am I going to lose muscle?” “Will I gain fat and feel bloated?” “What about my iron?” “Will I get enough protein?” Through talking to others that are happily leading a plant based lifestyle, tuning into countless hours of podcasts, indulging in a diverse range of nutritional books and taking on University studies, Simon has been able to answer all of those questions and more.Being frequently questioned about his diet and what foods he does and does not eat to stay healthy on the inside and out Simon decided to set up Plant Proof as a central source of ‘easy to apply’ evidence based information.
What interest’s me most about this podcast is the variety of information about the benefits of plant based foods, even for those of us who are not living a vegan lifestyle.
Breakfast Burritos (Makes 2 burritos)
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup (75 g) diced onion
½ seeded & diced medium red or yellow bell pepper
½ cup (30 g) drained & rinsed canned blacked beans
Dash chili flakes
2 eggs + 2 egg whites
1 oz. (25 g) goat’s milk cheese, cubed (optional)
2 tbsp salsa
½ cup tomatoes, diced
½ avocado, cubed
Your choice of burrito wrapper: gluten-free tortilla or large lettuce/collard leaves
Your favorite hot sauce
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onions and peppers until soften and slightly caramelized. Add beans and pepper flakes and cook until warmed through, 3-4 minutes.
While the veggies are cooking, in a medium bowl whisk the eggs and egg whites, and then add the cheese.
When the veggies are heated through, transfer to a dish and if necessary, spray the skillet with non-stick spray. Pour in the eggs and scramble, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
To serve, spread each tortilla or lettuce leaf with some salsa, and then layer each with half of the black bean mixture, half the eggs, and half the tomato and avocado. Season with hot sauce. Roll up your tortilla or lettuce leaf like a burrito and enjoy!
TIME TO GET YOUR WORKOUT MUSIC IN ORDER
To get the most out of your workout playlist, instead of just adding songs in a random order, organize them by their mood and tempo. That way, the music can help you pace your workout. Slower motivating songs can get you warmed up … and faster or more intense songs can help you pick up the pace for the bulk of your workout. Then nice relaxing and empowering songs will help guide your cool down.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a fun city that I definitely want to go back to.
I ventured there in September and I now very much regret not planning to stay longer. The weather was perfect in September too, not too hot or too cold. It was a friendly, clean and welcoming city.
The biggest draw card for me was the Harley Davidson Museum. I was like a kid in a candy shop. Oh, yes I was! This girl almost couldn’t sleep with excitement the night before going.
Milwaukee is the home of the Harley. The Museum is a testament to that but it is also a very clever marketing strategy because I walked away wanting to buy a Harley. :-).
If you are a HOGs member then entry to the Museum is free. I paid for the extra behind the scenes tour which was well worth the extra. Entry entitles you to try out some fixed Harleys and there are some old and new Harleys that you can sit on in the Museum. If you love bikes you will love this Museum. If you don’t like bikes, you will after your visit. Definitely a must see Museum in Milwaukee. I spent quite a few hours there. A new Harley Davidson motorbike is considered a souvenir, right?
There is a great river walk and a sculpture walk though Milwaukee, both free. I found the Bronze Fonz on the river walk. Heeeeeeeyyyyyy.
The Modern History Museum is also one of the best I have seen. It is a bit on the expensive side, around $20US, but definitely worth going to. They have some great displays with something to interest everyone.
The Milwaukee Public Market is the place to go if you are a foodie. I found a beer and sausage bar there. Yes, dreams do come true, folks. I thought I had struck gold.
The Art Museum is located right on the water front and it has wings. The wings open in the morning and close at night. It’s a quirky and artistic way to bring people to the area.
Milwaukee has great walking tracks around the water front with lots of space for families to run around, play sport, read a book or take some time out. It is nice to walk around downtown Milwaukee from there. There are many options for anyone who likes to enjoy a city on foot.
I found a bar that serves Bloody Mary drinks with burgers in them. If you are quite peckish you can order a whole fried chicken in your Bloody Mary. I kid you not! Delicious. Sobel Mans is the place. Definitely check it out.
Don’t miss the brewery tour at the Lakefront Brewery. For $9 you get 4 beers, the tour, a spare beer ticket to use at another location and a free beer glass. Great value for a beer lover like me. The tour told the history of the brewery but I have to say the free beers were the best bit. It is also on the river walk so easy to get to if you like walking. It’s clever marketing with the free glass but now I am working out ways to get my glass back in one piece on the plane.
I stayed at the Astor Hotel. This hotel was very reasonably priced in a good residential location right in downtown Milwaukee. It was a very regal style hotel. They have a complimentary transport service to locations close to the hotel. I absolutely enjoyed my stay and the location was perfect. I would recommend this hotel.
When I left Milwaukee I travelled to Chicago by the Amtrak train. It was easy and probably the best way to get to and from Chicago. The ticket was about $25 which included two checked bags. This would definitely be my preferred way to travel that way over the short distance.
I have come to the conclusion that I will never have enough time to do everything when I visit a city. There is always something exciting happening in every city and Milwaukee was no exception. There was so much more I could have done. I heard there is a fantastic music festival that runs over two weeks at the end of June and the start of July each year. This may be the reason I go back. I fell in love with Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
I recently visited The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, Michigan, USA.
On display at the museum is an actual camp bed that was used by George Washington in 1775. I have to say, it looks remarkably similar to camp beds people use today. It seems to be a design that has lasted centuries. This particular camp bed looks like it folds right back up into a suitcase which is at the pillow end of the bed.
Also on display at the museum are photos from 1915 of people camping with what looks like a modern day awning tent off the side of a Model T Ford. There is also a roof top camper on the top of a Ford dated 1957.
It looks like these designs have been around for over 100 years, as long as cars have been around.
The most interesting camping display item was a ‘tent trailer’ from 1927. The design is very similar to modern day camper trailers!
Detroit is a city in recovery with a very strong and fascinating history.
I stayed in downtown Detroit. It wasn’t a bad location but transportation in Detroit isn’t one of Detroit’s strong points so there were a lot of Uber rides.
Downtown Detroit is a contrast of abandoned buildings and new city life. There are historical buildings, abandoned buildings, vacant lots here buildings once stood, buildings being given new life and some very expensive buildings, all intermingled. There are green spaces, swings for adults, free entertainment and lots of places to eat in the city itself. A walk around the city makes for an interesting opportunity to appreciate architecture new and old.
Detroit doesn’t seem to do tourism that well so I had to do a lot of my own research. If you are planning a trip to Detroit research heavily before you get there.
The outstanding highlights were the Motown Museum, the Detroit Historical Museum and the Henry Ford Museum.
I happened to be at the Motown Museum on the 60th anniversary of Motown Records where Berry Gordon (founder) was there to make a big announcement. I was lucky to get a ticket given you really do need to book a ticket ahead and it was such a monumental day. Tickets were less than $20US. The tour is very interesting and gives insight into the development of Motown Records. It was very moving to be standing in the same recording studio that Aretha Franklin, Steve Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, a Lionel Ritchie and many more have stood and made records. There is an original Michael Jackson glove and Fedora (donated by Michael himself) on display. The piano on display in the recording room was restored with the help and support of Sire Paul McCartney. This company was before its time promoting female executives and valuing what people could offer, not what their past was. I took an Uber from downtown Detroit to get to the Motown Museum which was under $10US.
Close by (under a 30 minute walk) is the Detroit Historical Museum which was free to enter (with donations gratefully accepted). This Museum is three floors of amazing stories, artefacts and information. It is a definite must see. It is located on the Wayne State University campuses. There are several places that you could visit while on the campus. This is one of the top places to visit.
I took the opportunity to also visit the Detroit Institute of Arts on the Wayne State campus which was interesting and had some particularly interesting art pieces. My favourite pieces were the bronze pieces. They have a very good restaurant that was very good value.
If you are in Detroit you should not miss the Henry Ford Museum. Put aside two full days and get the ‘access all areas’ pass for $78US. This Museum has some of the most historical displays that you will never see anywhere else. I took an Uber to get there which cost just under $20US.
Part of the full ticket is a tour of the Ford F-150 production plant (I now want an F-150). It was awesome to see how they put together the F-150s layer by layer, which explains why it is so darn hard to work on anything on my car when an item I want to work on is generally one of the first things they have probably put on a car!
I had expected uniforms but all the worker were wearing their own clothes and shoes. The plant was particularly orderly and clean. It was a good insight into just how fast a car can be assembled. Dead set, if you are waiting weeks or months for a new car it is definitely the shipping you are waiting for because they assemble a full car in under an hour.
In the Henry Ford Museum itself I saw the car President Kennedy was assassinated in, the chair President Lincoln was assassinated in, the car Reagan was thrown in after an attempted assassination, model T Fords either assembled or in parts, the actual bus that Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white man in that started the civil rights movement, an original diner, one of the biggest trains in the world, steam engines, bikes, a tiny pod house (why did this never take off), planes, tractors, antique guns and many other items of historical significance. It is a view into the collector (perhaps hoarder) and visionary that Henry Ford was.
The Greenfield Village is also part of the access all areas ticket. The Greenfield Village is a collection of houses and buildings of historical significance that Henry Ford brought to the site and made a village from. It has a working steam train that you can take a ride around the village on, a horse drawn carriage and model T Ford rides that are available to get around the village. These are fun forms of transport to take you back in time.
Many of the buildings in the village have been restored to what they were back in time. You can go inside Henry Ford’s family home, Thomas Edison’s home and his various workshops, the home where Heinz (ketchup and beans) products were first made and the Write Brother’s home and bicycle shop. There are many many more homes, working gardens and buildings including the oldest windmill in America which stands tall on the grounds. The steam train, horse drawn cart and the model T Ford rides are free with the access all areas but are very reasonable on price if you purchased a cheaper ticket.
Outlet shopping is approximately a $40US Uber ride as it is quite a way from downtown Detroit. Definitely worth visiting if you like outlet shopping.
At the waterfront at downtown Detroit you can look across the river to Canada. There are vehicle bridges going over to Canada. There is a great waterfront walk that goes for kilometres along the waterfront. There is a park where families play with their kids. I kept to the city area of the pathway as I had been advised not to go much further on my own. The path connects with a great walkway that takes you under a large number of bridges, some in use, some not. There is unique wall art along this walk on the foundations of the bridges. Families ride their bikes and it is a well used path. When you walk further through the city you will also see more great wall art on buildings. Detroit is known for its bicycle culture in the warmer months, no helmets required.
I booked a Hotel through the QANTAS app. Things are not always what they seem when you book online. Cleaning of the room didn’t happen every day, there were police cars either travelling through or parked in the Hotel parking lot regularly, the plumbing had a lot to be desired, the ‘free’ breakfast that was included had almost nothing with nutrition in it and I am not sure that it was as safe as the pictures on line depicted. I ended up putting a door stop under the door each night so I could sleep. If you are booking a hotel in Detroit pay the extra and get a reputable and safe hotel with a good brand name you know. You can’t put a price on feeling and being safe.
I am in two minds about whether or not I would recommend people travel to Detroit to explore the city. On one hand you will never get to see the things that you see at the Henry Ford Museum, which was exceptional. And you also won’t get the Motown Museum experience anywhere else l either. If those are the experiences you are looking for the Detroit should be a bucket list destination. If those things don’t interest you then perhaps choose a different destination.
Venice Beach is about 7km from Santa Monica, California. It is a place like no other. One one hand I felt like I was in a movie. On the other hand I saw so many homeless people living in such a beautiful area, forming their own lifestyle. It is a place of extreme contrasts. There is an evident artistic beauty in the area.
The Venice Beach walk gives you an opportunity to see a range of talented artists, many of who appear homeless. There are stores selling Venice Beach souvenirs, fast food, a muscle gym and stalls with all sorts of art, some spectacular, some just recycled trash. There is a man, Nathan, who plays the piano like a concert pianist right there out in the open on the beach. Google his fascinating past if it interests you. There are a few lovely restaurants right on the beach. There is also a skate park with very talented skaters on show.
The Muscle Beach Gym is definitely an attraction with some of the strongest people working out in the outdoor gym right on the walkway. Holy muscles batman!
I visit Venice Beach almost ever year I am in the States. This year there was so much pot being smoked I thought I was high after one lap of the Boardwalk. There are Green Doctors along the walk. There must be many people with ‘bad backs’ there.
You can walk along a beach walk from Santa Monica. You will pass many beautiful people. Many are tanned and toned – some naturally, some enhanced by plastic surgery. There are all types of fitness activities to see along with way. If walking isn’t your thing then you can hire a bike. Every day is a beautiful day along that walk.
If you are looking for accommodation in the area I would recommend looking at the Santa Monica end of the boardwalk.
Talk a walk a few streets back from Venice Beach as there are cute shops, wall art and a canal to discover.
If you are in Southern California don’t miss a visit to Venice Beach. It really is a unique area that has it’s own special combination of art, beach lifestyle, poverty and money.
Niagara Falls really is Mother Nature at its best. The raw beauty of the these Falls shows you the power Mother Nature has. Niagara Falls can be seen from both the USA side and the Canadian side. They say you feel the Falls from the USA side and you see them from the Canadian side. I couldn’t argue with that.
Niagara Falls has a history of people trying to conquer the water in different ways – tight rope walking, barrels. Many have perished for their troubles. It is not hard to see why. In some sees the water flows at 100km an hour!
I flew into Buffalo, New York, then took an Uber to my hotel from the Buffalo airport. It is about a 20 – 30 minute drive. There are cheaper options – rail and bus. I was short on time so I didn’t want to have to juggle luggage in a bus or train and lose time waiting for the scheduled times. I found the Uber was a reasonable price of approximately $40 US given it was giving me precious time.
I stayed at the Comfort Inn which is pretty much in the car park of Niagara Falls. You can see the water and the Falls from the Hotel. Weekday prices are far more reasonable that weekend rates. This hotel had to have been the best positioned but within a few blocks there were many quality hotels to choose from. It was well priced given the standard and location.
If I went again I would probably stay on the Canadian side as there are far more Hotel options and there are many more options for food and entertainment. The Canadian side would best suit families, the USA side would better suit older people. Pick your side if you don’t fit into either of these groups.
I was visiting the Falls in September which is a great time of year, the temperature is perfect and there are not too many people visiting so access to the best viewing spots was not a problem at all. There are many, many, many places that you can view the Falls from on both sides. There are no shortage of opportunities. It’s easy to take postcard perfect photos.
Make sure you visit the Falls during the day and night. At night the Falls are lit up with changing light colours. Just spectacular!
Be prepared for the spray. I found the Falls were very different each day. Some days were better than others for viewing. The spray was so big one day it was hard to see the Falls.
Both the Canadian side and the USA side of Niagara Falls have excellent walking tracks. The Canadian side has well manicured gardens, the USA side has a natural green setting, both just as enjoyable as the other. On one day I walked over 30km taking in all the sights. I guess this is why it pays to be fit so you can get around on Foot Falcon if you want to.
If walking isn’t your thing you can hire bikes, scooters, take a tour or take a bus. It is a place where mobility really does allow you to get to all the good spots but those who need assistance with mobility can also enjoy all of the major spots, both sides.
The Rainbow Bridge takes you from the USA side to the Canadian side. You can walk across but remember to take your passport and identifying documents as you need to go through Customs and Border Control on both sides. There is a walking toll of $1 to go over the walking bridge.
Things to do
You can view the Falls from many angles for free.
If you are interested in something a little more heart pumping there are many different activities you can pay for. Here are the ones I participated in:
Cave of the Winds (USA side) – this tour takes you in a lift through the rock down to the bottom of the Falls. Before you go down you are shown a short video of the interesting history of the Falls. You get rubber sandals and a disposable raincoat included in the price. You get to walk through a maze of wooden walkways at the bottom of the Falls. Definitely worth doing. You do get completely drenched. I wouldn’t recommend this tour if you are not stable on your feet or can’t climb stairs well. The stairs and walkways are slippery wet and steep. The true power of the Falls are definitely experienced on this tour. It was approximately $20 US.
Maid of the Mist (USA and Canada side) – this is a boat tour that goes right to the bottom of the Horseshoe Falls where the water flows at approximately 100km per hour. Again, you are supplied with a disposable raincoat. The raincoat is more for looks I think as I was once again drenched to the bone. This boat tour was also awesome as you are in a boat at the bottom of the Falls. I was again glad I had good mobility as I was standing in a wet rocking boat with strong water spray coming from all angles. The cost was approximately $20 US.
Whirlpool Falls Boardwalk (Canadian side) – this walk is a few kilometres walk away from the Falls. It is downstream. There are busses that stop at this location if you don’t want to walk there. You get a lift down to a boardwalk that is level with the water flowing downstream from the Falls. It is the spot where many tightrope walkers have tested their balance. The true beauty and force of the water is evident on this walk. There are stairs and wet areas so make sure you are mobile to do this walk. There were two security guards at the top who searched my bag and belongings before I went on this boardwalk. I have no idea why. Access to this boardwalk was approximately $15 Canadian.
The Whirlpool (both sides) – I walked to this area on the Canadian side. It was a good walk to get there. The busses do stop at this location too. The whirlpool is a point in the Niagara River where it changes direction at an elbow, creating a whirlpool. It is free to go and have a look at it. There is a cable car that goes from one side to the other over the whirlpool. Not a chance I was EVER going on that with my fear of height. I never enjoy those rides. Many people were going across so it does appeal to those who are adventurous.
There are a variety of other things you can do while you are there that I didn’t partake in. There is a walk that takes you under the Falls on the Canadian side but by then I was all waterfalled out. There is also a zip line that can take you over the river for those who like extreme activities. Check if your travel insurance covers zip lining before you do this activity.
When you arrive on the Canadian side from over the Rainbow Bridge you are met with a street area fun park and Casino’s. I had never expected that! There are streets of amusement rides, haunted rides, amusement halls and a wax museum. It’s loud and rowdy just like a fun park. It would be great for families if that is your thing.
It’s a bucket list destination
Niagara Falls is definitely a bucket list destination. You could do it on a budget very easily as many of the attractions are free to access. The Falls have great access points and tracks so everyone can see the Falls no matter what your fitness level is. I absolutely enjoyed this trip and would highly recommend it to anyone thinking they may want to visit.
The iconic Birdsville Races are run each year on the first Friday and Saturday in September every year. If you haven’t been before then you need to make the trek to outback Queensland. You don’t get much more remote in Queensland than Birdsville.
Every year brings something different. One year it rained out the Races and camps, flooding us all in. It was muddy, we camped in bucketing rain and drank beers at the Birdsville Pub. That was my favourite year. This year it was dusty and windy, so windy it would blow the feathers off a chook. Some years it has been hot, some years it has been cold. Take home message – pack for every occasion.
If you are self contained you can camp on the town common for free between the town and the race track. There is more than enough room for everyone. If you are lucky enough you may get a room at the pub. There is a caravan park and there are also organised tent cities.
There are busses that run out to the race track on race days. The fare is a gold coin donation to a charity. It is definitely standing room only at peak times so be prepared to ‘squeeze up’ against the people behind and in front of you. It is just under 4 km walking distance so walking out is quite manageable for those who enjoy a good walk.
One of the last Boxing Troupes in the world, Fred Brophy’s Boxing Troupe, set up each year with punters nominating themselves to take on Fred’s finest in the ring. Boxing Troupes will be a thing of the past in the very near future so make the effort to get a ticket and head into the tent while you still can.
The Pub put on live music over the weekend. The Crack Up Sisters provide light entertainment at the Pub. There are food vans and some tourist attractions to see throughout the town.
TOP THINGS TO DO
Birdsville Races – head out to the track both days. It’s one of Australia’s most iconic Races. people come from near and far. There are groups in costumes, fashions on the field, a bar, you can get up close to the track and there are bookies on site. I recommend you take chairs if you don’t want to stand all day in the sun. There is also a pavilion for those who want to watch the Races with a little more luxury.
Big Red – fancy yourself as a bit of a 4WDer? Take your 4WD out of town to the Big Red sand dune and see if you can tackle getting to the top. It is often busy during the Races weekend but something you will regret not doing if you don’t.A sunset at Big Red is not to be missed.
South Australian Border – not far out of town is the SA border. Head out and get your photo at the border.
Birdsville Pub – don’t miss having a tasty beverage at one of Australia’s most remote Pubs. This Pub is one of the most recognisable pubs in Australia. You can park your plane across the road if you fly in.
There are many other attractions including the billabong, the Waddi Trees, a Burke and Wills Tree. It just depends how far you want to venture.
Sadly, the famous Birdsville Bakery is no longer open so a camel or rabbit pie washed down with a rum at 10am is no longer an option.
The Birdsville Races is definitely a bucket list event that you should make the effort to go to at least once in your lifetime. Don’t put it off. It is a trip of a lifetime.
I do most of my domestic and international travel on my own. It takes quite a bit of planning and there are things I do to minimise risks, particularly as a woman. Having a great holiday is all about the fun, the adventure and the stories. Stories about lost passports, stolen credit cards, being mugged and ending up in hospital are not my kind of adventure.
1. Make sure at least one other person has a copy of your travel plans and they know when you are expected to turn up at different places. Check in with them regularly and have a plan in place that they check on you if you don’t check in.
2. Always have several forms of payment with you. After having credit cards hacked overseas I now carry and access several different credit cards throughout my tip, all through different banks and not linked. I found when the bank shut my card off when it was hacked I had no further access to my account. The last hing you need is all your financial eggs in one basket and the bank close off your access to it all. Always carry a back up.
3. Have electronic copies of your passport, ID and credit cards to access in the event they get lost. I had my a passport stolen while overseas. Having a copy made things much easier to get it replaced.
4. Don’t dress like you are a million dollars. Dress comfortably and plain. Don’t be a target. Dressing in designer clothing layered in jewelry isn’t ideal.
5. When I am in busier areas and cities I use a set of earphones when I am walking. I have the cord going into my handbag but not connected to anything so I can hear everything going on around me – traffic, people, animals, potential hazards. In crowded areas I put my head down, look like I have a purpose, do a lap of things to get my bearings and only then do I stop and admire things. Tourists are distracted and amazed by things in crowds – they are easy targets for theft. Tourists stand out. Blend in with the locals until you get your bearings.
6. I carry a cross body handbag designed for travel. The strap has a steel cable through it so it isn’t easily cut off. The inner lining has a steel net inside so the bottom of the bag can’t be cut out in a crowd. Inside the bag there are RFID pouches and all of the important zips have extra clips on them so they are not easily unzipped by others. I don’t put all of my valuable items together in the bag. I spread them securely between my bag, my person and other safe areas.
7. Get a doctor’s letter to carry with you that outlines all of your medical conditions and medications in the event you get sick. Unplanned sickness or injury can happen quickly. It is better to have all of your details with you so you can get the right medical attention. I also wear a MedicAlert bracelet and necklace in the event I am unable to speak for myself.
8. Always carry a hat, water and sunscreen. Dehydration and sunburn can really hamper your health and travel plans. Be proactive, keep hydrated and don’t get sun burnt.
9. Don’t go walking at night in areas you don’t know. Check with locals about where it is safe to go. Stay in busier areas, even during the day. Make sure someone knows where you are going. Even if you injury yourself or have an emergency you want to know that someone may be waiting for you to return to your accommodation.
10. Do a google search on areas you plan to stay. I was planning some travel in an area and was in the process of booking and fun looking Air B&B. I did a bit of a search on the area before finalising and found it was an area where people are robbed at gun point and there is often gang activity. It pays to do your homework.
Fit Average Jo is usually all about fitness & travel. But on this occasion you get to see the Average Jo side. Because Bacon.
I have a mate who makes bacon from scratch – marinated, then smoked. Once you have eaten this bacon you are ruined. NOTHING will ever compare. This has to be the BEST bacon I have ever tasted in my entire life.
So, with his permission, I am sharing how to make your own awesome bacon from scratch. You’re welcome!
Instructions for making your own bacon
Remove the skin (preferable for the curing process, and the skin goes quite hard, however if you prefer to leave it on, score it first), then rinse the pork belly under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels until it is very dry; the less moisture the better. You can cut it into smaller pieces if you wish.
The ingredients lists for 5 different flavours are below, each including curing salt and a 1.5kg pork belly.
In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients first so the curing salt is well mixed before adding honey, maple syrup or other liquids of your choice. Using half of the curing mix above, sprinkle or spread it evenly over one side of the belly, and rub it in well. Next, turnover and repeat on the other side with the remaining mix. Spend a couple of minutes massaging the curing mixture into the meat.
Place the entire belly and curing mix into a large vacuum seal bag, then seal it using the Vacuum sealer. I used large ziploc bags for the first five I made, and it was harder to spread the mix after a couple of days, as the liquid would move around in the bag In the future I will definitely use a vacuum sealer (as recommended by many bacon lovers).
Now place your pork belly in the refrigerator for 14 days. Each day the belly should be flipped onto the other side, and the contents (which will transform to a liquid) should be massaged gently around to ensure an even mix – if you do not do this, you may end up with uncured areas. Leave the liquid in the bag, it does not need to be drained off. After 14 days, the bacon should be fully cured, with a firm texture and no soft spots. Remove the bacon from the vacuum sealed bag, and rinse it very well under cold water and pat it very dry – I used paper towel which worked well.
If you are using a grill, set it up for two zone cooking, or fire up your smoker. Smoke over indirect heat at about 110 degrees celsius, until the internal temperature is 66 degrees celsius, which should take about 2 hours. You can use any wood you like. While hickory is the tried and true, I liked the applewood.
If you don’t have a smoker, you can cook the pork belly in a 110 degrees celsius oven until it registers an internal temperature of 66 degrees celsius. Times will vary; check after about 2 hours.
Like most food, bacon tastes better fried the next day – or fry some up straight away and if you have the will power, put some away.
Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months – if you don’t eat is straight away!!
• When using salt, do not use iodised salt as there are additives in it to prevent sticking that can affect the curing process.
• The finer the salt, the saltier the meat will be – so use a coarse salt if possible. I used a pink Himalayan salt for mine and it was great.
• Wash the meat well before smoking, to reduce the saltiness.
• The longer you leave it curing the saltier it will be.
• If using a thick liquid like honey for the curing process, soften it in the microwave first, and have the belly at room temperature so it doesn’t stick to the meat, leaving a ‘pink’ spot on the meat.
Below are the 5 different cures I tried, and they are rated in order from best to least favourite – not by label number as they were simply the numbers given before curing.
Label # 2
• 1.5 kg pork belly
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 3 tablespoons of coarse, non-iodized salt
• 1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon curing salt
There wasn’t much salt to rub in, but it started looking good straight away – lightly sprinkle the mix on to make it last, then massage it in. We left it for 16 days before smoking. Excellent flavour, agreed by all as the best and simplest.
Label # 4
• 1.5 kg of pork belly
• 4 1/2 teaspoons of coarse, non-iodized salt
• 4 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup dark maple syrup
• 3/4 cup water
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/2 teaspoon curing salt
This one had a lot of liquid in the bag during the curing process – the cracked pepper stuck to the outside of the meat, even after a very good clean and looked fantastic. We left it for 16 days before smoking. Great flavour, rated a close second.
Label # 5
• 1.5 kg of pork belly
• 4 1/2 teaspoons of coarse, non-iodized salt
• 1 teaspoon 5 spice powder
• 3 tablespoons powdered ginger I used fresh ginger
• 1 tablespoon powdered garlic
• 1/3 cup honey
• 3/4 cup kecap manis sweet soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon hot sauce
• 1/3 cup water
• 1/2 teaspoon curing salt
This one didn’t look very good during the marinating process due to the water added. I wish I had vacuum sealed this one. We left it for 10 days before smoking. It had a sweet taste – almost like a honey ham when fried on the BBQ. We couldn’t taste the hot sauce, and although we rated this as the third best, it was very good fried the next day.
Label # 3
• 1.5 kg of pork belly
• 3 tablespoons of coarse, non-iodized salt
• 1/3 cup white sugar
• 2 tablespoons pepper
• 2 teaspoons sweet paprika I used normal paprika
• 1 teaspoon curing salt
This one had a lot of salt to rub in, easy to put on and we left it for 16 days before smoking. There was none left in the pan after frying it up, but the other ones above were a better tasting.
Label # 1
• 2.5 kg pork belly
• 1/4 cup of coarse, non-iodized salt
• 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
• 1/4 cup honey (preferably chestnut honey)
• 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
• 2 tablespoons sweet paprika I used normal paprika
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 2 teaspoons curing salt
It was very hard to apply due to the honey to this one, but after a couple of days the honey started to melt and blended in well. We left it for 10 days before smoking it, and it was very salty with no pepper/chilli flavour. There is no such thing as ‘bad tasting bacon’, but given the choice, this was our least favourite.
The little outback Queensland town in remote Queensland sure knows how to turn it on with a fun weekend in July every year at the Bedourie Camel and Pig Races.
Outback Queensland describe Bedourie as an oasis in the desert. Bedourie is located at the base of a sand dune surrounded by Eyre Creek. Bedourie is home to the famous ‘Bedourie Camp Oven’ which the Australian Government claimed significant and ‘uniquely Australian’ in 2001, and are sold at the Visitor Centre year round.
Bedourie is approximately 1400km North-West of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
The Bedourie Camel and Pig Races were fun filled this year with the famous Bedourie Camp Oven cooking competition, the Diamantina foot races, a wood chopping competition, golf competition, pig racing, camel racing and Camp Oven throwing. If that wasn’t enough fun in one day a band set up and played until midnight.
Good prize money was up for grabs with 1st prize winner of the damper cooking competition walking away with $650. Even the kids category had a $200 prize for the winner.
The Wood Chop had a number of categories for men, women and mixed teams. If you are up for a couples wood chop then this might be the competition for you next year.
The camel races were great to see with the slow thundering thud of camels blowing up dust as they all made their way around the track. These races were definitely a crowd pleaser and with bookies on site there is the chance to bet locally.
My absolute favourite event was the pig racing. Cute little ‘thoroughbred’ racing piglets wearing sequined capes raced each other through an obstacle course akin to that of a ninja warrior. The crowd went wild betting on the piglets.
Camping was free on-site, included in the tickets. There are a few toilet and shower facilities which were in hot demand. The temperature this year was close to zero overnight so there was lots of sitting around fire and sipping on beverages to keep warm.
This year the dates lined up well so a lot of people went to the Bedourie Camel and Pig Races, on to the Big Red Bash in Birdsville during the following week, followed by the Boulia Camel Races the weekend after.
If you are looking for a great outback experience the Bedourie Camel and Pig Races is definitely something you will want to pencil in for July next year.
Tips on how to make some extra cash and earn gift cards with your spare time.
Ever had to sit in an airport for a few hours on a stop over, had WiFi on a plane and wanted to fill your time with something interesting or you sit in a car as a passenger with time on your hands? Completing surveys may be a way to use this time wisely and make some money or earn gift cards.
Survey companies want to hear what you have to say. It helps their marketing, to research opinions on their products and their customer base. It helps you influence the market in a wide range of things from food to shopping, holidays, health, cars and services. Companies are willing to pay you a small amount to answer questions about a large range of topics. There are survey companies that undertake surveys on behalf of a wide range or large and small companies.
First up, I can tell you, you will not make your fortune from completing surveys. It is a low money earner but definitely a fun way to influence and a way to use some downtime to earn some rewards for yourself.
Both Life Points and Pure Profile seem to have a reasonable earn rates per survey and rewards are more easily attainable than other surveys. The surveys are regular so you have the option to earn points quite regularly if you are eligible.
Life Points gives you options to use your points earned on gift cards which is a great bonus. I have found that gift cards are transferred electronically within a few days. I choose gift cards that I can use for grocery and fuel shopping.
Pure Profile lets you redeem your Pure Profile points for cash which is transferred directly into your bank account. Transfer is within 30 days of redeeming your points which can feel like a very slow process but it does arrive in your account like a surprise gift.
Octopus Group surveys come along less often than Pure Profile and Life Points but they have a good earn rate and are a good way to earn a cash redemption for completing usually quick surveys.
Toluna Influencers have a large amount of surveys going all the time. There are also bonus opportunities to earn points on small one question surveys. Points are redeemed for gift vouchers. despite the abundance of surveys the earn rate seems slow and the points per survey earn rate is low in comparison to other surveys. You need to do a lot of surveys through this app to earn a small value voucher. It is still lots of fun and there is always something to interact with on this app.
With Swagbucks you earn reward points for doing things like searching the web, shopping, watching videos and answering surveys. You can redeem those points for all kinds of gift cards. I have found that Swagbucks is a slow earn rate for points and the rewards are harder to earn but definitely another survey company worth considering.
Survey Village allows you to redeem your earned dollars for gift vouchers from a wide range of shopping options. I find there aren’t too many survey options that are available so it is a slow earn. Non-the-less, it is a good way to earn gift vouchers on the go.
Join up for many of the surveys as not all of them have regular surveys available. The more you join the better chance you get to earn.
Ensure you read and understand the confidentiality information provided at the beginning of each survey so you understand what you are agreeing to with the information you provide in each survey.
Fill out as many surveys as you can to earn points. Log in daily so you don’t miss out on surveys. Some fill up quickly.
Fill out your profile info for each of the survey apps so they can best match the right surveys to you. This avoids the frustration of answering a number of questions and then finding you are not a match.
Don’t get frustrated if you get part way through a survey and they tell you it is already full or you don’t match the cohort of people they are looking for. This happens regularly if you are doing a lot of surveys so don’t give up.
Be patient for your cash or gift cards once you have redeemed them. Some take up to 30 days to come through.
Only share what you want to. If you don’t want to do a particular survey then don’t. Its that easy.
Have fun. Giving your opinion is your way to influence important markets like telecommunication providers, shops and service providers.
Use your downtime while travelling to earn yourself a few extra dollars and gift cards. It all adds up in the end!
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I have included links in the blog to the survey pages mentioned above. Some are referral links so if you decide to join up it will earn me a small bonus of points for the referral. Its win-win for you and me. All the hard work on working out what surveys to use is already done for you and I get recognition for referring you. Winning.
Did you know you can earn QANTAS points by exercising? It’s a winning deal for someone like me whose two passions are travel and exercise.
I have been earning QANTAS points for well over a year now and have found it quite a good way to earn QANTAS points doing something I love. Incidental activity and specific exercise periods all count. There are even bonus challenges with friends and activities (such as entering your BMI and blood pressure) that help you manage your health but also earns points.
All you need to start is a QANTAS frequent flyer account and an eligible fitness tracker such as an Apple Watch, Garmin or Fitbit.
2. It’s a great way to track your exercise activity and have an incentive to stick to your activity goals every day.
3. Contributing to your long term health by being more active every day.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR QANTAS?
Sounds too good to be true? Well, it’s a clever marketing strategy for QANTAS insurance. You will get some emails encouraging you to use the QANTAS health insurance and if you are in the market for health insurance then this may work for you. If you do use the QANTAS Assure health insurance then your QANTAS point earn rate for exercise is significantly higher.
If you don’t want their insurance but still want QANTAS points then you can still earn QANTAS points for being active, it will just be at a much lower rate of points. In my mind, every point counts! They all add up over time.
I love this activity app and I earn QANTAS points every day. They are allocated weekly so I see the rewards as my QANTAS points increase regularly. From a Personal Trainer perspective I can certainly recommend this app as a good way to keep your daily activity on track. It combines my two loves – exercise and travel.
I wanted to be part of the team to support this great cause. However, having a heart condition isn’t really compatible with running a marathon or a half marathon so I chose the shortest run I could, the 5.7km run. I knew this distance was within my capability as I run 5km on a regular basis. I registered before I could back out and started planning for the trip to the Gold Coast.
I have participated in a few fun runs before for charity – the Run with Dad’s 5km run (prostate cancer) and a Colour Run (it also to raise money for cancer). I also ran 5km in the Stack Run a few years ago in outback Queensland to prove I could run again after a heart attack. However, I knew nothing about the formal Marathon events so it was all new to me. In fact, it was a little bit daunting, particularly knowing there were 10,000 people registered for the marathon alone and nearly another 10,000 people registered for the half marathon. I was a newby at this sort of event and didn’t know what to expect.
The Gold Coast Marathon weekend events are so well organised with many volunteers supporting registration. collecting of race numbers, entertainment and the co-ordination of so many different runs over the weekend. Thumbs up to the organisers and volunteers who really do put on a great weekend of events and things of interest for those who love running.
I have to say I LOVED every minute of that short run. My pace times were much faster than I usually run. I think it was the magnificent views of the Gold Coast early in the morning and the great flat running surface that made the difference. Where I normally run to keep fit it is uneven rocky ground, it can be 40 degrees, the air is far from clean and you have to keep an eye out so you are not chased by stray dogs. To run along the river in the early morning on a flat road with people cheering on was such a treat. I am sure this is why I ran so much faster than I normally do.
There were people playing Jazz music on street corners along the run, the crowd was amazing. There were complete strangers calling out my name (from my number pinned to my shirt) encouraging me to keep going. There were people running in costumes. The final 700 meters were the probably the hardest part of the run, but the most exciting. I knew the finish line wasn’t too far off. There were so many people cheering that it gave me the extra spirit I needed to finish strong. It was such a great experience from start to finish.
There were a number of awesome people who joined the Red Beard Challenge – Run for BP team. We all wore our red beard shirts. My friend, the organiser, finished her first (and last, so she says) half marathon. It was an awesome achievement for her. There were entrants from the team getting behind this great cause in every one of the runs over the weekend. It was great to see everyone finished strong wearing their Red Beard shirts.
The next day I got to watch the full marathon at the 38km mark and then walked along the beach into Surfers Paradise to watch the majority of the runners go past. It was nothing short of impressive. At the 38km mark the leaders were sprinting. What amazing athletes they were to watch. I checked their times and their average pace for the ENTIRE marathon was double my pace doing only the short run…..for 42 kilometers, consistently. Oh, to be so fit! I was completely inspired.
Those of you who have completed a marathon, a half marathon or a shorter run in an event like this will know how awesome it feels. If you have never considered running in an event like this you should. The shorter runs are for people, like me, who can cover a short distance but still get to enjoy the event. You can walk, push a pram, run, run and walk, whatever you like. You can do the full marathon or you can start small like I did. If you have never done it, get out of your comfort zone and give it a go. You won’t regret it one bit.
I have to warn you though, it seems to be the beginning of a possible addiction. I am now thinking about what other running events I can register for. I have been checking out the run schedule for the year so I can join two of my favourite things, running and travel.
This is a story about a great Aussie bloke named Mal. Mal is the sort of man that has been the spine of the outback all his life giving spirit and strength to small community groups and keeping the sport of Bronco Branding alive.
Mal is an accomplished Bronco Branding champion and well regarded for his great skill in the sport. He has been on a small town Council and he put in many of the hard yards to establish the local Camp Drafting Club. He has been a hard-working man on the land all of his life. He is not only a champion bronco brander but he has made every effort to keep this sport going in Australia.
I got to meet Mal because he is the Dad of my friend, Megs. Meg’s Mum, Liz, has been married to Mal for almost all of her life, supporting him and working with him on stations, going to Bronco Branding events and moving around the countryside from one cattle station to the next. Behind every good man is a good woman and this is what Liz is. I would often see Mal, proud as punch, driving his Nissan Patrol ute around town. He set Megs up with a Nissan Patrol ute too so she could travel Australia with her faithful dog, PK, and also her friends Reggie and Pup. We will talk more about Reggie and Pup later.
Each of us has an animal in our lives that we really bond with. Mal had a horse named Nugget. To Mal, Nugget was loyal, determined and one of a kind. That horse was like a best friend to him. They rode and worked together as a great team for many years. To everyone else, Nugget was a rogue and Nugget never had the same regard for anyone the same as he did for Mal. In fact, there are many stories that have been told about Nugget and his antics with other people, but those are stories more for beers around a campfire than a blog. Let’s just say that Nugget was a one man horse.
Sadly and unexpectedly a few months ago, Mal was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and passed away so very quickly, well before his time. This broke the hearts of many outback people, young and old, and it was fitting that he was given a send-off led by his bronco branding mates, his dogs and horses at the local camp drafting grounds.
This is where my mates, Reggie and Rhiannon have come into the picture. They too are good friends of Megs and knew Mal. Reggie and her husband Pup traveled Australia with Megs in their Nissan Utes. There are many good yarns that have come from this epic Australian camping adventure that would be best told around a camp fire with beers too, perhaps the same campfire that the Nugget the Horse stories are told.
Reggie and Rhiannon are some of the best mates a girl could have. These outback girls are hilarious, always up to shenanigans and can be relied upon to be there for you no matter what. You rarely find them out of their boots and Akubras. They are Nissan fans. We have all camped and gone to outback events together for many years. This pair have even ended up on the feature page of the Courier Mail with their pants down at the Birdsville Races IN FULL COLOUR! These girls are what the word shenanigans was made up for.
Reggie and Rhiannon have entered this year’s Mystery Box Rally, a rally that raises awareness and funds for the Cancer Council. Over the last 9 years, Mystery Box and Shit Box Rally have raised over $12 Million for the Cancer Council. It is a cause that is very raw and close to all of our hearts. Their entry into the Mystery Box Rally is in honour of Mal. Look out Mystery Box Rally, the Racks from the Stacks are heading your way!
Mal would love the fact that this pair have purchased an old Nissan to do the rally in. They have called it Nugget the Nissan in honour of Nugget the horse. I am sure Mal would have chuckled at that. They have raised thousands of dollars for the Cancer causes already, with many people who knew Mal getting behind them with generous sponsorship and others throwing support towards the cause because it is about stopping cancer, something we all want.
Reggie’s husband Pup happens to be a mechanic, and Reggie’s not-so-willing brother, Bretto is a fitter, both very handy trades to have. Both men have been roped into getting Nugget the Nissan on the road ready for the Mystery Box Rally. They have also roped in a bunch of ring-ins to help so Nugget the Nissan will be roaring at it’s finest. Most of these ring-ins have names that end in ‘o’ or refer to an animal or something crazy that they did. The don’t use their real names because no one can remember what their real names are now except for their mothers. The good thing is, they all work for beer and are happy to lend a hand for a good cause. What appeared to be a few little repairs here and there has turned into a mammoth challenge but with a few beers being thrown their way these boys can be relied upon to get Nugget the Nissan in ship shape ready to start the rally.
So, this is where these girls are at, in honour of Mal – a great man, Meg’s Dad, Liz’s husband, a proud grandfather, a champion bronco brander, Nugget’s best mate, a man of the community, a man of the outback. There will be more updates as Reggie and Rhiannon get closer to starting the rally and we will keep you updated during the rally as well.
If you want to follow the journey of Reggie and Rhiannon in Nugget the Nissan in the Mystery Box Rally join their Facebook page. If you have a few dollars or a fiver to spare then log onto their fund raising site and make even a small donation. It all adds up.
After a long day of driving through Western Queensland we decided to see what free camps might be available near Longreach as paid camping seemed to be hard to find. We filled up with fuel in Longreach, got some supplies and searched the trusty Wiki Camps App.
About 50km north of Longreach we found a great overnight camping spot on the banks of the Darr River. It is free, there is phone reception and enough room for many, many, many camps. We were the only people there which was a blessing. There was a train line close by but we were not disturbed by the train.
The track in to the camp site is a dirt road but can be easily accessed by cars, caravans and camping trailers. It wasn’t clearly marked so we had to be a bit adventurous to find it. If you turn off the highway onto the dirt road and turn off before the station grid you will find the river, which is partly sign posted.
This spot typified Outback Australia and I nearly found myself singing the words to Waltzing Matilda! There are no amenities so the camp requires you to be self-contained.
The sunset when we arrived and the sunrise the next morning were nothing short of spectacular. We were able to have a fire safely without fear of it getting away.
If you are travelling through Longreach and looking for an awesome overnight camping spot then give this one a go. It’s the full Outback camping experience.
These markets are one of my favourite markets in Queensland. The colourful and fun Eumundi markets are held in the town centre of Eumundi, 20 km from Noosa Heads on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. They are held every Saturday and Wedensday, rain, hail or shine. If you are travelling by car from Brisbane it will take just over an hour. If you have a sense of adventure you can use a combination of trains and public transport to get there from Brisbane.
The Eumundi Markets are unique, renowned for locally made artisan treasures. There are many wares for sale made by talented local artists seeking to share their gifts with the world. The Original Eumundi Market is believed to be the biggest and the best art and craft market in Australia.
I am a bit of a coffee snob so I do look for a good coffee whenever I can find one. I grabbed a quick coffee at the Bean and Gone coffee stall. I have to say it is one of the best coffees I have tasted IN THE WORLD! It was unexpectedly fabulous. I cant wait to go back to get another one. Bean and Gone will be my first stop when I go back. Wow, just wow, is all I can say about that coffee.
Local artists have handcrafted furniture, homewares, artworks, ceramics, cutting-edge fashion and jewellery stalls. You can also buy direct from the local farmers and bakers who sell fresh produce and gourmet delights. You can grab a massage, have your palm read or lose yourself in the stellar line-up of musicians and street performers. There are many, many, many stalls to keep you walking and getting those fitness steps up.
You can get free street parking if you are lucky enough but there is also paid parking close by, with proceeds going to local charities. Volunteers manage this parking facility which is well worth paying for.
If you are looking for a fun day to stay active and shop (combining two of my loves) then head to the Eumundi Markets. It’s a great way to support local artists and a small community.
The Isa Rodeo is a bucket list event, something you have to do at least once in your lifetime. It is a spectacular week of fun and entertainment in Outback Queensland, Australia. The Mount Isa Rodeo site suggests that the Mount Isa Mines Rodeo is where the romance of the Australian Outback meets the grit of a mining town, east meets west and man meets beast. It is non-stop rodeo action – bull riding, saddle bronc, bareback bronc, rope & tie, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping. They aren’t wrong. It’s a full week of raw outback fun.
For me, the rodeo week in Mount Isa is one of my favourite Outback Australia weeks of the year. There is so much entertainment during the Mount Isa rodeo week that it is hard to get to everything. It is held every year over the second weekend of August, at a time when the Outback weather is at it’s best.
The week kicks off with the Mount Isa City Council Isa Street Festival which features a street parade, stalls, food vans, entertainment and top Australian musicians. Last year Jessica Mauboy rocked the Mount Isa street crowd. This year it was Isaiah. Some of Australia’s best Indigenous artists have entertained the crowds in Mount Isa, all free to the public.
Fred Brophy’s Boxing troupe is something not to be missed with a show every night during the rodeo events. According to Fred himself, he is Australia’s last tent boxing showman who regularly tours around Australia. In fact, he could be one of the last boxing troupes in the world. With his regular travelling boxers and a few local boxers, local people enter the open ring to prove their worth against them. It’s not just the men who get to take on Fred’s finest boxers, the women can also challenge Fred’s only female boxer, Beaver, who Fred says has “hairs on her legs that could spear a rat”.
The Isa Street Festival is followed by the Mailman Express on the Thursday night. Held every year as part of the Isa Rodeo festivities, the Mailman Express is a time-trial race for non-thoroughbred horses. The race takes place over a 200 metre straight on the Buchanan Park race track and is named in honour of the late Wally Mailman – a champion rough rider, rodeo judge and racing steward in Mount Isa. Wally was a keen horseman who worked on numerous stations throughout north-west Queensland and made a significant contribution to the racing and rodeo industries. He is also the father of Secret Life of Us personality and actress Deborah Mailman.
This year saw the International Rodeo challenge between Australia’s finest sportsmen and women in these events go up against the best from the United States of America. This final challenge on the rodeo schedule was nothing short of nail-biting sportsmanship with the crowd going wild after each event.
The crowd at the rodeo event was a sea of Akubra hats, Wrangler jeans, checkered shirts for the men and Hitchley & Harrow shirts for the women, big belt buckles and Ariat boots. The entertainment was top-notch this year at the rodeo with some of Australian’s finest bands – Sheppard, The Viper Creek Band, The McClymonts, Travis Collins, Jimmy Barnes, The Wolfe Brothers, James Blundell, Tania Kernaghan, Brewn and local band Bulldust. This year Jimmy Barnes hit the news after falling through the stage during his concert at the Mount Isa rodeo. Being the true legend that he is, Jimmy got straight back up and kept singing, despite being in agony. That’s just what true Aussie legends do in the Outback.
Accommodation during the rodeo week is scarce and usually needs to be booked weeks in advance. The motel rooms across town are full, caravan parks were full and many of the free camping spots out of town were full too. There is rough camping at the rodeo grounds in the middle of the race track which is a great location if you don’t want to line up for a long time for a taxi and you like to party into the night.
The Mount Isa Rodeo week is a one of a kind Outback event schedule, not to be missed. Put it on your bucket list and make the trip to the outback for the next rodeo. You certainly won’t be disappointed.
The small outback town of Winton went all out between 19 – 22 April 2018 to celebrate Waltzing Matilda. Winton is a friendly town 5 hours from Mount Isa, 6 hours from Townsville and 15 hours drive from Brisbane, Queensland.
A devastating fire in 2015 all but destroyed the old Waltzing Matilda Centre. Three years later, thousands of people trekked from across Australia and from overseas to celebrate the opening of the newly rebuilt $23 million Waltzing Matilda Centre that is now the pride of the Winton community once more. Mayors from across the North West came to support the Winton Shire Council in the opening. #WWOWF
The town swelled by the thousands with visitors and locals taking part in several action packed days of entertainment, celebrity encounters and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to mark the opening of the new Centre. The main street of Winton was cordoned off so visitors and locals could walk freely between the pubs, the bands, eating vans and shops. It was certainly one of the biggest events that the little town had seen in a long time.
Local pubs had entertainment galore with local artists, novelty entertainment activities, beer taps flowing and a buzz of activity. Aside from the opening of the Waltzing Matilda Centre, one of the great highlights of the weekend was the variety of street concerts and small pub entertainment options across Winton where crowds could mix with the artists on a personal level. There was also a country race meet and street markets.
The crowds were able to mix with artists like Busby Marou, Pierce Brothers, Charlie Worsham (USA), John Williamson, James Blundell and the Crack Up Sisters in the streets. There were so many events across Winton that it was difficult to get around and see everything, necessitating some very clever planning to make sure that you could get to see the line-up you wanted.
One of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities was to see Busby Marou invite James Blundell to the stage and together they whipped up a storm with Blundell’s hit ‘Way Out West’……………in Winton. An absolutely unforgettable version of the song with these top Australian artists jamming it out together.
There was some ironing out to do with the buses which didn’t seem to run as well as advertised, requiring some opportunistic riding of bulls back to the campground at the race track to get back from the town centre.
The Winton Club in Winton was the location of Qantas’ first Board Meeting on 10th February, 1921. The club has a variety of Qantas items on display including a sign that states ‘Qantas Board Room Lounge’, originally incorrectly spelled as the ‘Qantas Bored Room Lounge’. The incorrect inscription is still hanging in the Winton Club on the back of the sign that now displays the correct spelling. The lovely volunteers who served on the bar let us in on the secret and allowed us to look under the sign. The Winton Club is a must-do stop for aviation fans and frequent flyers.
There was a great deal of history to be found around Winton with Winton claiming to be the dinosaur capital of Australia. There is the Australian Age of Dinosaurs to visit, 24 kilometers south of Winton, the Diamantina Heritage Truck and Machinery Museum on the Hughenden Road and the Lark Quarry Conservation Park 120 km south west of Winton.
Camping options were available to cater for different needs. Tent City was right in the middle of the action between the festival grounds and town center. There were camp sites carefully drawn out in the middle of the race track with many visitors opting to stay at this site. The crowds were pretty well behaved considering how many people were camped in so close together. Praise goes to the Fairies who kept the showers and porta-loos so clean with the thousands of people who were camped in the one spot. They did an outstanding job, as did Nipper, our Camp Marshall.
For a small country town, the people of Winton know how to throw a great party!
With the great success of this event we can only hope that the organisers are planning for many more to come. I have left a little piece of my heart in Winton and hope to be back soon.
If you are headed for the Queensland outback soon then make sure you call into Winton. There are many hidden treasures to find in Winton. Stay awhile, talk to the locals and unearth the local secrets as there are plenty to find.