Family trip to Stradbroke Island!

December 16, 2014

Stradbroke Island holds a special place in our hearts. Not only is it one of our favourite places in Australia, it was also where Michael proposed to me on March 12, 2014!

We were very excited to be able to show our parents the beautiful island and the place we became engaged 🙂

There’s not much to say because the photos speak for themselves!

Ferry ride over

Brisbane048

Brisbane050

Brisbane051

Brisbane053

Ran into so many beached jellyfish

Brisbane061

Look at the gorgeous water!

Brisbane063

My mom is not a fan of midday beach fun because it’s so hot and the sun is so strong, very happy she still came along!

Brisbane070

Selfies!

Brisbane071

Brisbane085

The rock where we got engaged! Where Deadman’s Beach transitions to Frenchman’s beach… ❤

Brisbane075

Brisbane087

Brisbane079

Continuing with the Gorge Walk

Brisbane095

Brisbane102

We finished the day off with Korean BBQ dinner at Midam – delicious!

Brisbane103

Brisbane105

A quick return to Stradbroke Island

October 6, 2014

On March 12th of this year, Michael proposed to me during a wonderful vacation on Stradbroke Island. One of our favourite places turned into a very special place that day, and we will always look forward to the opportunity for a visit.

With beautiful forecasted weather, we took advantage of the Labour Day long weekend to spend a day on the island.

Started our day sharing a delicious breakfast at Tillers Cafe Pantry, a restaurant attached to Allure Resort, where we stayed back in March. The last time we were here, it was our first meal out as an engaged couple and my first time wearing my ring in public. I remember not being able to help but continuously glance down at my ring, as it was so sparkly in the natural light 😛

We enjoyed Whole dressed avocado served with sourdough bread, grilled haloumi cheese, lime & dressing of olive oil and balsamic ($12), which was just as delicious as last visit!

IMG_2350

We also shared a slice of berry white chocolate cheese cake accompanied with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. The cake had really good texture with interesting crunchiness from white chocolate within the cheesecake.

IMG_2348

We strolled along the beaches after breakfast, even coming across this sand mermaid who has seen better days

IMG_2353

Blue skies, sunshine, warm sand for lounging and refreshing ocean swims! Love him 🙂

IMG_2356

Coming up to high tide by the time we passed Deadman’s Beach and headed into Frenchman’s Beach, but here is where he proposed! At the tall boulder just slipping out of the sun… 🙂

IMG_2358

A perfect day, Stradbroke Island will always be one of my favourites places ❤

IMG_2357

Michael & I are engaged!

And we wanted to share the happy news! 😀

Michael and I spent our week off, from Monday to Friday (March 10-14) on a beach getaway on Stradbroke Island.

We stayed at Allure Resort, in a lovely privately owned beach cabin (Shack 18) that you can read more about in this previous post

IMG_6781

First selfie after arriving 🙂

IMG_6790

Just 2 minutes walk from the beach

IMG_6800

With absolutely gorgeous weather

IMG_6801

IMG_6824

IMG_6815

We had brought all our own groceries so cooked and indulged in many delicious meals in our beach cabin. We had lots of private time, and enjoyed quite a bit of relaxation including catching up on our favourite TV shows, watching movies, reading novels, and playing Splinter Cell on the Xbox. Yes, we even brought our Xbox to the island. 😉

More importantly, we had lots of fun in the sun! Spent hours swimming in the cool, crystal clear waters and went for long walks on the beach.

It was actually during one of our walks on the beach, on March 12, 2014, that my wonderful partner of 3 years asked me to marry him.

Here is what Michael would like to share:

I had been contemplating for weeks how exactly I wanted to ask the love of my life to marry me. I opted for a simple plan that involved doing something that has brought so many days of fun together, asking her during a day at the beach. From our previous camping trip to Straddie, I recalled that there is an interesting area of beach with boulders and other various rock formations accessible at low tide as Deadman’s Beach transitions to Frenchman’s beach. So, with keeping the schedule of the tides in mind, around low tide I suggested we make our way towards Frenchman’s beach.

My plan was initially to double back on Sandra during our walk, hiding among the rocks in order to find a private spot to write my proposal in the sand. Luckily, as we were walking through the completely empty beach, Sandra suggested we stop so she could shoot a video of the waves and rocks. I immediately jumped on this, disappearing behind the largest of the rocks to quickly extract the ring from my backpack and write “Sandra Marry Me” in the sand. I really would have liked to put it in a question…but I was unsure exactly how much time I had before her recording was over, so I kept it to the point with just three words.

IMG_6833

Just as I finished the last letter, I poked my head out from behind the rock to see she was done and looking for me. I called for her to come around the rock to check out something cool. As she walked around the rock and her gaze shifted to the writing, I dropped to one knee, opened the box to display the ring and said, “Sandra, you are the love of my life, you make me so happy, I want to be with you forever. Will you do me the honour of marrying me?”. She said YES! We kissed and I proudly placed the ring on her finger 🙂 I’m a happy man.

Right after he put the ring on my finger 😀

IMG_6831

I thought Michael was hiding behind a boulder trying to scare me. Imagine my surprise to see his message in the sand and then down on one knee!

There was no hesitation before I said, “Yes!”  In the past 3 years, he has shown me what love for another should be by showering me with it. He has been immensely kind, caring, and supportive. He praises my strengths and accepts my flaws, encourages me and pushes me to be the best person I can be. He treats my family with love and respect and I am extremely lucky to have been embraced by his family from the beginning. Michael is my best friend and the love of my life. ❤

IMG_6876

We are very happy and extremely excited for what the future will bring!

IMG_6832

Here is a short video of our time on Stradbroke Island!

We have kept our engagement quiet these past few days in order to let our families and close friends know first. It was even harder to do because we had no internet service during our time on Stradbroke Island and had to wait until we were back in Brisbane. But now we want the rest of the world to know as well!

Family and friends have asked a few similar questions, so I will share my answers with you here.

1) Were you surprised or did you know it was coming? Well, Michael and I have talked about getting married for some time now. While we were back in Canada over Christmas, he surprised me by asking me to go look at rings with him. He had also asked my mom for my hand in marriage and received her blessing, so I definitely knew it was coming, but it was certainly a surprise when he proposed! Like I mentioned earlier, I thought he was trying to scare me. It never crossed my mind that he was about to ask me to marry him!

2) Did he pick the ring out himself? Yes he did! We tried on a few different styled rings together over Christmas to get an idea of what we both liked, but he secretly got this ring on his own. I love my ring! I especially like that it’s a Canadian diamond surrounded by beautifully delicate and subtle detailing.

IMG_1275

3) When’s the wedding?! Is it going to be in Canada or Australia? We honestly don’t know yet! There are so many factors that are out of our hand at the moment with regards to where we will be doing our medical training. So when we know, we will let you know too!

Whew, if you’re still here then thank you so much for reading and sharing in our good news!

IMG_6880

Stradbroke: Good eats at Tillers Cafe Pantry

During our stay on Stradbroke Island, we enjoyed ourselves twice at Tilllers Cafe Pantry, a lovely open air dining space right next to the reception of Allure Resort.

IMG_6842

IMG_6841

The cafe offers non-alcoholic drinks and a nice selection of breakfast options, as well as sweet and savoury snacks. What we also really liked about this little cafe is the pantry, plenty of neat and unique specialty items to browse through and try.

IMG_6798

Our first visit was for coffee and an early evening snack. We were greeted by extremely friendly staff and the enormous cheesecakes in the display case caught my eye immediately.

I couldn’t pass up a slice of passionfruit cheesecake ($6) that even came with a side of delicious vanilla ice cream! Loved the topping! The crust was quite crumbly but not too sweet and I believe I even tasted coconut flakes.

IMG_6840

Mike enjoyed his flat white… and of course, some of my cheese cake. 😛

IMG_6838

The following morning, we came back for breakfast. In contrast to an empty cafe yesterday around 5:30pm, the cafe was buzzing and packed with customers. Definitely a popular breakfast destination!

My wonderful date!

IMG_6848

Photos of the menu. Reasonably priced, tantalizing options!

IMG_6846

IMG_6845

Mike didn’t take long to make up his mind: Croissant filled with smoked salmon, capers, sour cream and dill ($14.50) and a coffee ($4). He enjoyed his croissant immensely and was pleasantly surprised at the fresh and delicious side salad that was not mentioned in the menu!

IMG_6850

I decided on the Whole dressed avocado served with sourdough bread, grilled haloumi cheese, lime & dressing of olive oil and balsamic ($12). I never say no to haloumi. And I’m not usually a fan of avocados but this was the most perfect avocado I’ve ever seen and tasted. I know, I sound crazy. But it was beautifully green without a blemish, perfectly ripe and buttery. And I don’t know how they get that dressing so emulsified but it was delicious.

IMG_6849

And I also ordered a plain toasted croissant ($2.50) – best croissant I’ve had in a long time!

IMG_6851

This vacation on Stradbroke Island has been extremely special with wonderful memories during our stay on Allure Resort. Enjoyable experiences at Tillers Cafe Pantry with tasty food options and friendly service will definitely bring us back when we’re on Stradbroke Island again!

Tillers Cafe Pantry on Urbanspoon

Getaway: Straddie Beach Cabin (Shack 18) Review

March 10 – 14, 2014

What we had been looking forward to for a long time… 5 days and 4 nights on Stradbroke Island after our Paediatrics Rotation!

In order to get to Stradbroke Islan you can catch the city train to Cleveland station, where you can connect with one of 2 buses:

  1. The free shuttle bus to the Stradbroke Flyer Ferry ($15 for students) to One Mile Jetty
  2. Bus 258 to the Stradbroke Fast Ferry ($14 return for students) to Dunwich

Doesn’t really matter which ferry you take as you end up within minutes of one another and on the same bus towards Point Lookout.

We were lucky to find and rent Straddie Beach Cabin (Shack 18). A beautiful, privately owned cottage by Harry & Robyn on Allure Resort grounds (Point Lookout) that was within our budget and exactly what we were looking for.

A self contained, air-conditioned beach cabin that contained all the facilities we needed for a getaway.

Taken from their booking page:

The stylish architect designed high-set one-bedroom eco cabin offers a practical, inspirational design, with a mezzanine bedroom featuring a queen size bed & two mattresses for children. The cabin is air-conditioned with open plan lounge/dining. It is self contained with a modern kitchenette, fridge/freezer, dishwasher, washing machine, big screen plasma TV, DVD/CD & Foxtel service.

The resort is located right beside the bus stop, which is great.

Shacks 1 to 20 on Allure Beach Resort! Bright yet subdued colours coat the walls of each shack, very appropriate for the beach surroundings!

IMG_6797

This was our home for 4 nights, Shack 18. Bathroom is within the protruding structure beside the door.

IMG_6794

Note: The majority of the following photos were taken just before we checked out. We were too excited to move in to take any pictures of the original state of the cabin 😉

View upon entering the cabin.

IMG_6891

Kitchenette to the right, with fridge and cupboards (also containing washing machine and laundry sink) to the left. Dining table in the centre. Further ahead is the seating area with a coffee table facing the entertainment system.

IMG_6893

Looking back towards the front door

IMG_6885

Better view of the kitchenette with a small dishwasher, a 2 burner stove and a convection microwave oven with grill. Ample amount of dinnerware and cutlery, essential pots and pans, as well as cooking utensils.

IMG_6859

Couple of faux wicker chairs and colourful cushions

IMG_6861

One of the best entertainment systems we’ve had in rented accommodation. We even brought our Xbox as well as a USB full of TV shows and movies to watch.

IMG_6889

Some novels, likely left behind by previous tenants (I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Sinner), as well as a Chinese checkers set. There were also magazines lying around.

IMG_6873

View of the bathroom with the toilet behind the shower.

IMG_6868

Up the stairs

IMG_6771

Large comfortable bed with lots of closet/luggage space in front of it, as well as a large mirror.

IMG_6772

Lots of bright canvases adorn the walls of the cabin, adding to the atmosphere.

IMG_6775

Large deck, partly secluded by greenery.

IMG_6857

IMG_6776

Also has a small BBQ with 2 potential gas tanks

IMG_6777

IMG_6852

Although we were not official guests of Allure Resort, we still had access to their lovely heated swimming pool and gym

IMG_6896

The cabin had awesome natural lighting during the day, there’s even a skylight. However, once the sun goes down the cabin gets pretty dark, mostly because of these wooden shades. I wish the lighting within the cabin could’ve been brighter! It was the one thing we didn’t like about the cabin itself.

IMG_6864

Other things worth noting:

  • Cell phone reception is non existent for those with Optus. Can’t comment on other providers but you can get decent reception simply by crossing the road.
  • Wireless internet is not provided, however, is available for purchase from reception at reasonable rates. $30/week
  • This is not a serviced apartment, although all linen and towels are provided, including a complimentary change for stays longer than 7 days.
  • You are literally less than 5 minutes away (across the street) from Home Beach. From there, you can walk along the vast stretches of beach and stop anywhere to sunbathe and swim if you wish!
  • Tillers Cafe Pantry beside reception is fabulous for breakfast, a snack or gourmet/specialty items!
  • We brought all the wine and groceries we needed and cooked most of our meals in. Definitely doable if you want, however, there are a number of restaurants to eat at in the area. There is also a very reasonably priced bottleshop as well as a Foodworks nearby if you need to stock up.

The one and only major negative aspect of our stay: communication with the owners of the Shack 18, in particular Harry.

Below are screen shots of our texts with him shortly after we settled in.

IMG_0936 IMG_0937

IMG_0938

He never replied to our last text.

Firstly, we were simply enquiring about items that were promised to be provided.

In our confirmation email, it was stated: “WHAT TO TAKE WITH YOU: As we provide linen and bedding there is practically nothing else but yourself in holiday mood plus your personal items incl. beach towels.” We believe it was fair to assume that there would be sufficient toilet paper to last the duration of our stay. We would’ve been happy to bring some from home, but this should be explicitly suggested. Or even state “Initial supplies only” on the webpage.  As we respected that this was a private booking, we did not contact the resort for any additional requests.

We asked about milk, coffee and sugar because that was advertised as being included with the cabin. The answer we received left us with a bad taste in our mouth. We certainly did not ask about “grocery items,” simply what was promised. And why do you even have to mention a guest stealing your coffee in the past? Are you insinuating we will too? Should’ve just stuck with something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, those items are actually no longer provided and it was our mistake for not updating the online description.” Also, simply removing/changing what was written on the webpage at the time of our booking is neither appropriate nor a resolution.

Finally, we asked for simple resolutions in the last text, which we received absolutely no answer or follow up to. Most services, private or not, deliver on what was promised. We were polite in our communication and treated the property with respect. Cleaning up after ourselves and putting everything back in its place, even though there is a $90 linen and cleaning charge. To respond with silence, unfortunately, shows a complete lack of respect for your paying customers. Not to mention we couldn’t make use of the BBQ!

With all that being said, would we recommend Straddie Beach Cabin, Shack 18 to our friends? Absolutely. It was a wonderfully comfortable stay and perfect for a couple needing a few days of relaxation. The rate is reasonable and you have almost everything you need. However, I’d certainly recommend to bring extra toilet paper and maybe a lighter! And not to be too disappointed if there’s poor communication with the owner. The good thing is, you are given other numbers to contact in case of an emergency, so you should never be stranded.

Camping on Stradbroke Island: Day 02 & 03

Day 02: Sept 19

Woke up bright and early to birds chirping and the soothing sound of ocean waves crashing on the shore.

After breakfast, we decided that we would re-hike the same path as yesterday: East from Flinders Beach all the way to Main Beach and stop to swim along the way. Since we were walking through the same scenery as yesterday, I didn’t take as many photos!

Wee, wee, wee! Riding my invisible broomstick around Home Beach

IMG_5384

Marking our presence!

IMG_5390

IMG_5392

IMG_5393

Morning stretches

IMG_5395

IMG_5397

I found lunch! Different kinds of molluscs!

IMG_5403

While I was hunting for lunch, Mike decided to claim a secluded section of Deadman’s Beach as his own private beach. Just for the 2 of us!

IMG_5406

That is my head, sticking out of the ocean

IMG_5409

Closer look at the molluscs I found

IMG_5411

New friends! Tickling my palm as they tried to slither away

IMG_5412

Sand dune! Too bad we didn’t have anything to use to slide down with!

IMG_5417

Bird of prey swooped down and stole an angelfish caught by a fisherman

IMG_5417

IMG_5419

IMG_5421

IMG_5422

Super calm fisherman

IMG_5434

Lots of little crabs on all the beaches

IMG_5441

Little critters all around if you stop to take a look!

IMG_5443

Thought these flowers were quite interesting!

IMG_5444

We finally made it down to Main Beach! The wind was crazy today and the waves were too large to safely go swimming… neither of us are surfers, haha!

IMG_5444a

Since we couldn’t swim at Main Beach, we walked back (so much walking) to Deadman’s beach for more swimming… and more crabs

IMG_5445

IMG_5451

We made it sure to make it back to our camp at Adder Rock in time to watch the sunset! And to not only enjoy but see our awesome astronaut (read: freeze dried) dinner!

IMG_5454

IMG_5454a

It was actually REALLY tasty! Yum yum!

IMG_5454b

We took our dinner bag onto the beach to eat and watch the sunset together. Aww, how much more romantical can camping get? Haha

IMG_5455

IMG_5460

IMG_5463

IMG_5465

The wind had picked up quite a bit after the sun went down so we hid out in our tent for the evening. Yay!

Day 03: Sept 20

Our last day on Straddie! We decided to have breakfast, pack up and head back early in order to enjoy a whole day back in Brisbane.

This little fella never failed to show up and laugh at us in the mornings!

IMG_5474

IMG_5475

IMG_5476

IMG_5478

Our next door camping neighbour (took this with my telephoto lens). SHE HAS A FRUIT BOWL and containers with drawers!

IMG_5481

Someone tied their bracelet to the fence

IMG_5482

This bird greeted us on our first day and followed us everywhere around the camp ground. On the last day, it landed on my shoulder while we were having breakfast! Very cute, especially the way it wiggled it’s butt, I don’t know what kind of bird this is though, does anyone?

IMG_5486

And that’s it! Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it!

IMG_5488

CLICK HERE IF YOU’D LIKE TO VIEW THE COMPLETE STRADDIE PHOTO ALBUM

Camping on Stradbroke Island: Day 01

September 18, 2013

During this vacation, I did something I’ve never done before: I went camping!

Big thanks to Mike for the awesome first experience! Being an avid camper, he had everything we needed to make the trip as smooth as possible 😀

Our destination had long been recommended by numerous friends and boy were we glad we finally went! STRADBROKE ISLAND – definitely would visit again!

Getting to the island was incredibly easy and convenient, making us both really wished we’d gone earlier. Take the train out to Cleveland, hop on the complimentary bus out to the dock and on to the ferry! Ferry price is $15 return for students, pretty good! Once we arrived on the island (Dunwich), the island bus was waiting and it cost an additional $2.50 to get to our camping ground, too easy!

On the way there!

IMG_5214

Here is a map of Stradbroke Island so you can see the places I have mentioned and will be talking about in this post.

NSI-Map

We decided to camp at an unpowered site at Adder Rock for $28/night. Being low season, we got our pick of camping sites and decided to camp along Flinders Beach. Camping on the beach, what could be better right? They even had all the amenities we could need, including cooking and toilet facilities. From Adder Rock, we hiked East along the coast, scampering over rocks and walking through kilometers of pristine beaches all the way to Main Beach.

Setting up camp

IMG_5215

Done! Our home for the next 2 days

IMG_5233

… with the awesome beach view

IMG_5230

Settled in and having lunch! Yes, Mike has a portable stove, pots and pans, and everything! Sausages, hard boiled eggs, bread, strawberries… yum!

IMG_5227

First selfie of the trip!

IMG_5228

After lunch we headed out to explore North Stradbroke Island.

We started with walking along the roads where we passed by a skatepark.

IMG_5243

IMG_5234

IMG_5238

We sooned turned off the road to walk along the beach instead. First up, Home Beach (refer to map above!)

IMG_5245

IMG_5248

IMG_5253

IMG_5257

IMG_5260

IMG_5262

IMG_5263

IMG_5264

Beaches were pretty much empty except for a few families scattered here and there

IMG_5266

We’ve reached Cylinder Beach! One of the few places to swim with lifeguards.

IMG_5269

IMG_5273

Beautiful Cylinder Beach

IMG_5274

IMG_5275

IMG_5277

Leaving Cylinder Beach…

IMG_5281

IMG_5282

Mike taking a break

IMG_5283

IMG_5284a

Looking back at Cylinder Beach

IMG_5285

Looking ahead to Deadman’s Beach

IMG_5288

We saw a manta ray cruising underwater while taking a break!

IMG_5293

Deadman’s Beach

IMG_5294

Really interesting to the see the variations in volcanic rock formations and colours as you go from beach to beach.

IMG_5303

Frenchman’s Bay!

IMG_5304

IMG_5305

IMG_5307

Heading up to the road because you couldn’t really continue onward by the beach

IMG_5309

Looking back down at Frenchman’s Bay

IMG_5312

IMG_5323

As we walked along the road to the Gorge Walk, we saw humpback whales! Unfortunately, they were really far out!

IMG_5325

IMG_5326

IMG_5317

The beautiful Gorge Walk!

Breathtaking North Gorge

IMG_5333d

IMG_5333b

IMG_5339

IMG_5340

We really kept our eye out for dolphins and sharks, but only saw sea turtles and manta rays unfortunately. Still amazing though!

IMG_5335

IMG_5337

IMG_5354

IMG_5359

IMG_5362

IMG_5343

IMG_5346

View of South Gorge and further ahead, Main Beach!

IMG_5365

Endless Main Beach as far as the eye can see!

IMG_5366

We didn’t swim at all today. Decided that we would hike the coast again tomorrow and go swimming and visit Main Beach then. With that we headed back, returning to Adder Rock just missing the sunset! Boo, but that’s okay, we’ll make sure to catch it tomorrow!

IMG_5371

Getting a fire going… just because 🙂

IMG_5375

Smoked out a huntsman spider!

IMG_5380

Easy dinner! With wine, fruit and other snacks on the side.

IMG_5381

We retired to our tent early with our headlamps and spent the night playing Monopoly Deal Card Game (thanks for that Vy!) and reading Dan Brown’s Inferno. Good end to our first day.