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Adventures Achieved

April 20, 2018

LEAD-UP JOURNEY VOLUNTEERING COMMONWEALTH GAMES, GOLD COAST. #GC2018

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Australia’s biggest event this decade came to Queensland April 2018. Everyone had a chance to get involved in a once in a lifetime opportunity through volunteering at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games as they were in need of 15,000 volunteers.
The 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games started on 4 April and went through until 15 April. The event was a sporting spectacle across multiple venues in the state; whilst it does say Gold Coast; events were also held in Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns, ensuring that even if you don’t live at or near the Gold Coast, you can join in too.


Where did the Commonwealth Games Start? It all began in 1930 where Ontario, Canada hosted 11 nations in six sports with women only being allowed to take part in swimming. Since then, Australia has hosted four times, with the Gold Coast being our fifth event. At the Gold Coast Games we got see 70 nations under the Commonwealth Empire compete in 10 core sports and 15 optional or recognised sports by the Commonwealth Games Federation.
Another important aspect for the athletes is some sports like lawn bowls and netball are not recognised in the Olympics, so the Commonwealth Games is their only chance to compete for a gold medal.
So the venture started at the Commonwealth Games website to start our applications which were due by the end of March 2017.  Some of the positions that you could apply for were operational support, officiating or recording at a sport/venue, press and media or hospitality to name a few. It is also important to know that you had be available to undertake training and be available either pre, during or post games to assist. I put myself down for the sport of Basketball, due to playing and coaching for quite a few years, with Kim put down Basketball first and Gymnastics second. Kim coached at YMCA and Kindy Gym at PCYC. Why would you just sit at home and watch it on TV? Why would you not get out and live it, breathe it, smell it and grow with it?
We love learning about different cultures and we had athletes, officials and visitors from 70 different countries here at the one time. You'd be crazy to miss it!


Commonwealth Games Minister Kate Jones in late April 2017 officially opened the first operational venue of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Burleigh Heads which hosted interviews of up to 25,000 volunteer applicants over the following four months.
Both successful and unsuccessful application notifications began to roll out from the 27 June 2017. We were both successful, and needed to go to the Volunteer Selection Centre (VSC), Burleigh Heads for a formal interview. Inside the VSC, applicants moved through an ‘excite and educate’ zone which features an overview of GC2018 Vision, Sports and Venues, the Gold Coast, the GC2018 Ambassadors and Local Indigenous Culture.
Games officials were overwhelmed with volunteer applications, with more than 47,000 submissions received from around the state, Australia and World. After going through the formal selection process at Burleigh Heads, up to 15,000 of volunteers would receive customised training, specific to individual roles and venues, delivered by TAFE Queensland.
By end of September we both were successful in being awarded roles of Festivals for Kim and Basketball for me. 



In October the Games workforce (volunteers, staff and contractors), to be known as Games Shapers, joined forces for the first time with just 144 days until the Opening Ceremony. About 4500 members of the Games workforce packed the Convention Centre that housed the main media centre, basketball finals and netball at GC2018, for the first of three ‘full house’ sessions. The event also marked the six-year anniversary of the Gold Coast being announced as the host city of the 21st Commonwealth Games. The Games Shaper uniform, developed by Hard Yakka, was unveiled during the first session. Star of the show Borobi the Official GC2018 Mascot was also given his own bespoke polo shirt to match that of the workforce. 

The entire Game's workforce walked away with a real insight into the scale of the Games, what training to expect over the next five months, what we expect of us and an idea of what we could expect at Games time. Games Shapers make a massive commitment to the success of the Games and sincerely appreciate the time and energy they put in to ensure athletes, spectators, media and other key stakeholders have a memorable Games experience.
With only 70 days until the opening ceremony, we picked up our uniforms and were told “Games Shapers” would be among the first in the world to see the Opening Ceremony with each volunteer to be gifted exclusive invitations to two dress rehearsals of the event. So they could be prepared to kick off the biggest sporting event in Queensland’s history, GOLDOC will ran two dress rehearsal events at Carrara Stadium, on March 31 and April 2. While the main purpose of the dress rehearsals was to test the creative and operational elements of the show in front of a live audience, it was a great way to experience before the Games officially kick off.
Lead up training took place at TAFE Queensland’s Southport campus and was part of an effort to provide specialist training alongside Gold Coast 2018. More than 1.8 million pieces of paper have been saved by providing volunteer training online instead of printed workbooks for the orientation and role specific training. It is claimed that 360,000 training hours would have been given the volunteers prior to the Games. In total the 15,000 Games Shapers have over 200 exciting and varied roles during the Games.




Following the completion of role specific training, Games Shapers underwent venue specific training in both online and face to face environments leading up to the Games. Kim caught up with her Festival volunteers at Broadbeach Surf Club to find out her role, training and events participating in the Festival. 



I underwent venue training at the Gold Coast Convention Centre and recognized some faces from my time at Auchenflower Basketball Courts. We were taken back stage to see the court and practice warm-up area with team locker rooms, showers and ice baths. We were then split into two groups; Support Services were shown the back of house areas. The Field of Play volunteers were shown areas of the court they were patrolling. There are so many things to remember on the Field of Play because being televised there were rules and regulations that Basketball Queensland had to follow.




One of the highlights pre - games was being able to view a dress rehearsal to the opening ceremony. Australia’s indigenous culture, beach lifestyle and famous music played starring roles. More than 4000 performers entertained volunteers and family, with indigenous culture, which dates back at least 65,000 years, a constant theme of the night amid a series of performances, dances and a didgeridoo orchestra. The conclusion of the Queen’s Baton relay, promoting diversity and inclusion, were key themes to the spectacular event. An iconic Kombi van and Migaloo the whale also featured. Christine Anu, Ricki-Lee Coulter and Delta Goodrem all sang but, with the exception of Anu, were outshone by a local group who provided orchestral interpretations of dozens of classic Aussie songs. Anu’s version of My Island Home, featuring contributions from Torres Strait rapper Mau Power, was perhaps the musical highlight. Coulter sang Technicolour Love on a traditional Gold Coast beach scene, while Goodrem helped draw the night to a close with a rendition of her new single Welcome to Earth. And despite the wishes of many in the crowd, John Farnham did not appear during a lengthy version of his classic You’re The Voice.


Games Experience to Follow
April 01, 2018

BEST LOCATIONS FOR YOUR AUSTRALIA FARM WORK

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BEST LOCATIONS FOR YOUR AUSTRALIA FARM WORK

If you’re looking to stay in Australia for a second year on your working holiday visa, then you’ll know all about getting those precious 88 days of regional work under your belt. But where to start, you ask? One of the first steps is to find out exactly where the main growing regions are; these spots have the highest production numbers and therefore also have the most jobs available. Employment is highly seasonal, so it also good to stay informed of which crop is grown where and when the season starts. Below is a simple guide to introduce you to the 8 best locations for your Australia farm work



Australia Farm Work: Atherton Tablelands, QLD

People ask ‘what is the best thing about the region?’ Well, there’s more than one! Firstly, the gourmet food and wine trails that cris-cross our ‘food bowl of the tropics’. Secondly, our wildlife with a particular emphasis on bird watching and unique marsupials like the tree kangaroo. Thirdly, the waterfalls and stunning rainforest backdrops. Finally, there’s the region’s natural wonders such as Mount Mulligan, Chillagoe Caves, Curtain Fig Tree, Lake Tinaroo, Mt Hypipamee Crater, Undara Lava Tubes, Broomfield Swamp, Paronella Park and the twin crater lakes of Barrine and Eacham just to name a few!



Up near Cairns in Far North Tropical Queensland, the gorgeous Atherton Tablelands are home to a wide range of Australia farm work opportunities. With avocados making up a large part of the harvest, as well as mangoes, citrus, bananas and sugarcane, the season in one of the prettiest Australia farm work destinations runs largely during the hot summer months between December and March.



Australia Farm Work: Mildura, VIC

From enjoying abundant fresh local produce and award-winning wines, to drifting aboard a luxury houseboat, to a round of golf or exploring so many nearby natural wonders, Mildura is a holiday region that caters for all ages and interests. Well known for its warm and consistently sunny Mediterranean weather. Long-recognised as an important Australian food bowl, Mildura’s adjacent and prolific agricultural districts are bursting with grapes, citrus fruits, almonds, olives, countless varieties of vegetables plus much more.



Down in Victoria, the large harvesting area centred around the town of Mildura has tons of citrus, grapes and vegetable production farms, which means at most times of the year someone somewhere need something picked! Accommodation and transport to work is usually provided by backpacker hostels who offer complete packages for those looking to work the season.




Australia Farm Work: Stanthorpe, QLD

At the heart of the Granite Belt, Stanthorpe gives easy access to big sky panoramas, spectacular countryside dotted with precariously balancing prehistoric granite boulders and a generally cooler, temperate climate (there's even an occasional winter snow-fall!)

Originally established by tin miners in the 1870s, nowadays, thanks to its unique microclimate and granitic soil, the region is nationally recognised for its winemaking and diversity of produce. Look out for apples, pears, berries, stone fruit, persimmons, figs, olives and a huge range of vegetables in season. Those with a more adventurous palate should follow the Strange Bird alternative wine trail, which covers some of the more unusual varieties including viognier, mourvedre and tempranillo. If you’re more interested in the grain than the grape, there are microbreweries in Stanthorpe, where you can sample locally brewed beers on tap including Kolsch, Pilsner, Wheat Beer, India Pale Ale, Irish Red Ale, a Porter and a specialty beer each season.



This place is famous for its apple production, with the season running from February to June. With over 30 different varieties grown in the region, apples here are big business, so if you don’t mind climbing ladders, this is probably the spot to head.



Australia Farm River Work: Margaret, WA

Discover the hidden sights and scenery of Australia's premium wine region. With over 130 vineyards, Margaret River in Western Australia is the grape picking destination. A quiet little surfing town, the gorgeous setting of this place is well worth a visit and has certainly wooed more than few people into staying and looking for work! The season has two main highs – June to September is the pruning period and February to April is the grape picking time.




Australia Farm Work: Bowen, QLD

Situated just above the Whitsundays, the large town of Bowen is a remarkably sleepy town for its size that is until picking season starts in May! Then the town is flooded with hoards of backpackers all looking to do their farm work and suddenly the place is buzzing. With a huge diversity of crops from mango and zucchini to tomato, corn and capsicum, there is a large variation of crops here all of which need picking at slightly different times. In turn, this means that the season stretches for a long period of time and you should be able to find some work at some point during it. Bowen offers visitors a veritable paradise with eight beautiful beaches to enjoy and explore. The inner reef is just metres from many of Bowen's bays, within minutes of donning your snorkel you can be swimming above a rich environment of corals and fish. At low tide you can walk towards the North Head Lighthouse and be amazed by the bountiful sea life, admiring giant red starfish, feather stars and green sea turtles. Coupled with a rich diversity of local produce and seafood, Bowen is the perfect place to unwind




Australia Farm Work: Tamar Valley, TAS

Stretching 60 km north from Launceston to Bass Strait along either side of the Tamar River, the Tamar Valley is one of Tasmania's prettiest regions. Both banks of the river and the wider valley are packed with things to do and places to go. Spectacular views abound and the roads are good, making it easy and enjoyable to tour around.  Down in Tasmania, it really is all about the cherries and the berries. Picked right across the island, but perhaps most popularly in the Tamar Valley, the small soft fruit season runs during the summer months between December and February, when it’s warm enough to be down there.




Australia Farm Work: Ayr, QLD

Just up the road from Bowen, the town of Ayr is smaller and more compact, but just as busy when the picking season hits. Ayr is a substantial rural service centre north of the Burdekin River at the heart of one of the most productive sugarcane-growing areas in Australia. Here too, most of the accommodation is provided by hostels that also work as sub-contractors to outsource the Australia farm work to backpackers. The season in Ayr and the types of crops harvested are similar to Bowen, so start trying to find work here from around March and you’ll hopefully be top of the list when things to do kick off.



Australia Farm Work: Griffith, NSW

Crossing over the border into New South Wales, Griffith is famous for its grape production as well as its citrus and stone-fruit season. Griffith is a little piece of Italy in the heart of the Riverina. It still has the extraordinary statistic that 60% of the city's population has Italian ancestors and it still celebrates Italian culture with extensive vineyards in the region, providers in the town selling local produce, and excellent cafes and restaurants where the pasta and coffee can be favourably compared to the best that Sydney (and Italy) can offer. Today the city's dominant Italian culture has been enriched by substantial populations of Tongans, Samoans, Afghanis, Indians and Aborigines. Grape season starts around mid-February and lasts for six to eight weeks. The citrus harvest runs from November until March. At either of these times, there is bound to be loads of work for you to get your teeth stuck into.



March 11, 2018

AUSTRALIAN WINERIES ADVENTURES - HOLIDAYING KIM AND TONY ADVENTURES

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There is something magical about a winery. Plump bunches of juicy grapes growing abundantly in sprawling vineyards magically materialise into a delicious liquid form. Most winery escapades require a lengthy drive to a remote place.

Canberra

Canberra is already ideally located in close proximity to an abundance of wineries in Murrumbateman and Lake George, you may find yourself thinking ‘Wouldn’t it be more convenient to have a winery in the backyard?’ Mount Majura Vineyard comes pretty close to that realisation.




Vines sprawl across the hills of Mount Majura in orderly rows, beckoning you to turn off the Mount Majura parkway only 15 minutes from the city to find yourself at the cellar door and production house of Mount Majura Vineyard. It may have a relatively short history with the first vines planted in 1988, but they have not taken long to leave a welcome stain on the wine industry as producers of superb rieslings and alternate varieties.




The deep and warming aroma of fermenting grapes as you walk in the cellar door at harvest time is reason enough for a visit. The building is a large industrial-looking tin and stone shed, mostly filled with production materials like innumerable stainless steel vats, oak barrels and machines to de-stem grapes, with a corner of it taken up by the humble cellar door.



Then there’s the tasting. Take a seat at a table inside the light-filled room, or outside on the terrace under creeping vines and start tasting what you’ve seen growing. The cellar door staff can walk you through a tasting or leave you to taste yourself, or just go straight for a glass of your pick.

Victoria

The Fergusson Winery and Restaurant lies among rising hills at the northern end of the Yarra Valley. The estate has been in the same family for more than 30 years and Louise Fergusson has kept to the tradition of wining and dining in her own welcoming style. 



Using the finest and freshest produce the Yarra Valley has to offer, internationally trained master chef Louise Fergusson has created a diverse, provincial menu. Enjoy sensational cuisine with some of the valley's most exceptional wines. The solid timber restaurant, with its warm, Australian atmosphere, can seat up to 180 guests. 




The rows of gnarled vines that are a feature of the estate are some of the districts oldest. The vineyard is planted out to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Tasting and cellar door sales of these outstanding wines are available.

The storybook chapel is tucked away among grapevines in relaxed, rural setting. Combine gourmet delights with premium wines to celebrate, and these elements make Fergusson a stunning setting for a wedding and reception. Fergusson specialise in making a wedding day perfect.



Perth




Located in the heart of the beautiful Swan Valley, Lancaster Wines makes a great addition to anyone venturing into this luscious area on a wine tasting trip. Its tasting shed is set in the middle of the vines, making this stop on your trip around the Swan Valley also worthy of a shot on your camera too.


Lancaster has some of the oldest vines in the Swan Valley, and produces a great range of beautiful wines. The best bit is you are able to try the whole range of wines for free, so that you can discover your favourites before you buy. Whilst you're drinking your wine, you are also able to try some delicious samples of cheese too.







You are invited to try the range of wines and cheeses in the Tasting Shed, and enjoy the casual relaxed setting to enjoy your samples. When we visited, we were talked through the selections of white, red and dessert wines by an extremely knowledgeable staff member. You're free to ask questions about the wines and if you don't like a particular sample, you can just put your unwanted wines into the bucket. 

We tried a number of wines on our visit including Chenin Blanc, Verdelho, Sparkling White Chardonnay, Rose and a Shiraz. My own palate does not enjoy dessert wines, but Kim enjoyed tasting the Sticky Shiraz and the Late Picked Chenin. Too sweet for me, but hearterly enjoyed by the Kim and others in our group. My personal favourite was either the Verdelho or the Sparkling white.

Queensland

Who doesn't love a bit of cheese, olives, and tasty relishes with crackers with their wine? Most wine tours in Queensland stop at three of the best Stanthorpe attractions: Granite Belt Brewery, Brass Monkey Brewery and Jamworks of Glen. We’ve been to quite a few in the Scenic Rim and South East Queensland, but we loved the Fraser Coast Vintners Sceret, Childers.




Childers are home to four wineries - Hill Of Promise Winery, Vintners Secret Vineyard, Cellar Door and Cafe, Ohana Winery and Exotic Fruits and Brierley Wines.


Located in the heart of the charming historic town of Childers, Queensland is Vintner’s Secret Vineyard! Actually, it’s more than just a vineyard. It’s a café, cellar door and farm, too!
Drive past the lush rolling hills of fertile red dirt and cross the mighty Bruce Highway for a short scenic drive to Vintner's Secret Vineyard.




There are several grape varieties including Marsanne, Verdelho, Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot that are produced to make dry and sweet reds, whites, reserves, blends, sparkling and fortified styles of wine at Vintner’s Secret Vineyard.


The farm has spacious gardens with sculptures, water features, rose beds and shaded seating. There is also a viewing deck that takes in sweeping views of serene pastures and rolling hills. You can interact with a variety of friendly domestic animals that are great if you bring your children along!



New South Wales


Murrumbateman's premium cool climate family owned wineries. Shaw Vineyard Estate is located only 30 minutes north of Canberra where the picturesque setting offers a relaxing escape amongst the vineyards.

The stunning cellar door facility allows you to try their range of cool climate wines and houses an exquisite ceramics sales gallery of handmade and painted Italian ceramics exclusively sourced from Italy.




The property is an impressionist masterpiece in the Springtime, with soft light, roses out in bloom and alpacas quietly grazing over the fence. There are also a few historical houses you can see tucked away as you drive in, which is part of the historical background of this unique location. The Shaw family bought this 19th century property in 1998 and at the time, it was a 700 acre sheep property producing fine wool in the region. Today this cool climate winery, sitting at an elevation of 640 metres, produces Riesling, Semillon, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon on 85 acres on the property. You can taste a range of these wines at the Cellar Door and buy some to take home.




Everyone who visits this winery can't help but appreciate its charming rural location and Springtime floral displays - where the only sounds you can hear are the bees buzzing over the blooms.


January 29, 2018

AUSTRALIAN ADVENTURE PARK, BURRUM HEAD. QLD

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Australia is undisputedly an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. It’s a magical land rife with top notch surf beaches, world class diving sites, and Outback treks. But if you’re pledging to pursue more offbeat adventures in the New Year, you have to venture out a little further. 




We just had a long weekend enjoying peace and quiet at Australian Adventure Park, Burrum Heads.  Australian Adventure Park is situated on the Burrum River, 30km north west of Hervey Bay with many adventure activities and absolute waterfront camping. Kayaks and mountain bikes for hire. Catch and release fishing, laser skirmish, high ropes, and obstacle course. At Burrum Heads, you can explore rivers and creeks by boat or canoe, or take advantage of the clear, warm water for fishing. Burrum River Cruises offers a two-hour morning tea cruise along the Burrum River. We headed off early morning with our pup (Shari) for a three hour drive, with Kim manning the tunes and sweat treats. We arrived just as the park was setting up for the Australia Day festivals. We dropped by our glamping tent, unpacked and Kim and Shari were already in the water.




Late afternoon we jumped in the car and took a scenic drive to the tiny town of Toogoom.  Toogoom is a seaside community about 15 minutes from Hervey Bay. Here you’ll find unspoiled beaches and great fishing, as well as wildlife and bird watching. Dine at the tea gardens or at its absolute waterfront restaurant with heavenly views and great photo opportunities. We went and gave Shari a great run on the beach before heading back in the car heading to the next small town of Torbanlea.  Just 25 minutes from Hervey Bay, Torbanlea is a small historic town on the road to Bundaberg. There are 11 buildings in the Burrum Mining Museum here and they contain a staggering 4,400 items of memorabilia which reveal this region’s past as a booming coal area. We then decided to head to Hervey Bay. Hervey Bay is a pretty, coastal city, with a pleasant subtropical climate. We took a stroll along the Esplanade forshore and checked out some alfresco cafés and Boutiques shops, and a vibrant marina. We headed back to camp for a wonderful sunset.





Next morning Kim and Shari are up early for a swim, we then hit the showers and headed off to Bundaberg. Fresh produce, modern history and unspoilt beaches form the basis of this drive which winds towards Childers before ending in Bundaberg. This is a classic country drive and although it measures under 100 kilometres long, it's best enjoyed by taking delightful pauses along the way and imbibing the food and wine for which this region is renowned, as you journey through cane and farm country and breathe in fresh rural air. You'll love the beautiful scenic views. 




For a journey that hits all of the sweet spots, there's four icons in Bundaberg upon which this region was built. Starting at the Bundaberg Barrel, you will witness the story of Bundaberg Ginger Beer, before pushing on to the distillery in which its famous rum is brewed. Next stop is the Fairymead Sugar Museum before you finish at the Hinkler Hall of Aviation.




We headed further to Bargara which was a 13 kilometre drive through lush sugarcane fields and is a popular seaside area which harbours a peaceful and relaxed community ideal for family holidays away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Bargara boasts two open surf beaches and two still water swimming areas. The Bargara Streetscape project embraces the coastline with an attractive public area of walkways, decks, picnic areas and playgrounds. Cafes and eateries create an alfresco atmosphere. Kim loved the boutiques here last visit and was surprised that a couple more moved in. A hat, top and bag later we headed back in the town square for a few more shops and light lunch before a slow drive back to Burrum Head for an afternoon drink, kayak and swim session. 






We came across some fellow Brisy travels and sat around and exchanged stories while our pup was getting a lot of attention with the kids. The weekend was great because we were the only ones at camp with a dog, so Shari had freedom to go anywhere.  Another glorious sunset we headed back to tent for a well deserved sleep. A big thanks to the friendly owners that made our stay so enjoyable and we are already penciling in for a week later in the year. Burrum Heads has always been our favourite spot camping, ever!. We prefer to camp further away from Brisbane because there is more to see and do around the Fraser Coast.




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