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From the Indian to the Pacific: A Trip Across the Australian Continent

From the Indian to the Pacific: A Trip Across the Australian Continent

Nov 21st, 2018, 06:13 AM
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From the Indian to the Pacific: A Trip Across the Australian Continent

The four of us are travelling back Down Under - to Australia - again. This will be our fourth trip to our favorite country. We will be on the ground for a total of 16 nights. We start in Perth, head over to Adelaide and the surrounding area, and end in Southeast Queensland.

Please come along.
tripplanner001 is online now  
Nov 21st, 2018, 09:04 AM
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Signing on. Any trains?
thursdaysd is offline  
Nov 21st, 2018, 01:52 PM
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You might head over to TripAdvisor, where another very frequent non-driving visitor has done a lot of ď off the beaten trackĒ travel.

Look for AmoMondo. She doesnít usually dontrip reports but is very generous with sharing her adventures & advice - and a very nice person.

Iím heading for SE Queensland myself, so maybe we can meet up somewhere along the way. A Qld Fodors GTG, perhaps

so so nice to see youíre on your way back. Iíll look forward to seeing your Itinerary as it evolves. And of course, be very happy to help if I can.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Nov 21st, 2018, 02:31 PM
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Thursdaysd, not this trip. We considered the Indian Pacific but decided to save it for another time given that we only have two weeks.

Bokhara2, we havenít stopped thinking about Australia since our last visit so this was an easy decision. We will be in Brisbane and Noosa during the first week of December - what about you?
tripplanner001 is online now  
Nov 21st, 2018, 06:25 PM
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Iíll be on the Gold Coast & can easily zip up to Brisbane. What fun!
Bokhara2 is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2018, 01:31 AM
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Tuning in!
margo_oz is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2018, 08:29 AM
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Following along...good time to be away from DC...it's freezing here!
FromDC is offline  
Nov 24th, 2018, 06:11 AM
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Welcome aboard, Margo_Oz and FromDC.

What Happened to Thanksgiving?

We travelled from Washington, DC, to Perth via Dallas and Sydney. Our first flight, on American Airlines from DCA to Dallas, was smooth and on time. We arrived at DCA earlier than normal, as this was the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving and we expected long lines. It turned out to be smooth sailing when we transited through security at about 1:15 PM; there was no waiting at the TSA Precheck line.

We had about two hours at Dallas-Fort Worth airport before boarding our Qantas flight bound for Sydney. The 17-hour flight was better than I anticipated. The food was good, the entertainment kept me busy for a bit, and we were mostly able to sleep during a good portion of the journey. The seats and the legroom were better than I remembered from a previous flight. It also helped that the plane was only about half full.

We arrived close to our scheduled arrival time in Sydney - on Friday morning. The crossing of the International Date Line meant that we lost Thursday - Thanksgiving Day. I guess there would be no turkey to be had for this holiday.

The transit from the International to the Domestic Terminal in Sydney could not have been smoother. As U.S. citizens with ePassports, we were able to use the kiosk and smart gates, which allowed us to sail through immigration. Customs meant just handing the completed card to the officer and cruising through. Upon exiting the secure area of the International Terminal, we proceeded to the transfer desk, whereupon we were put on a bus headed for the Domestic Terminal. The whole process took under 45 minutes,

The heavy winds at Sydney Airport on Friday morning caused our flight to Perth, also operated by Qantas, to be delayed by about 15 to 20 minutes. When we boarded the plane, we soon learned about the cause of the delay. After about 45 minutes, we were able to take off, even if it meant arriving in Perth about one hour later. Not everyone catching flights out of Sydney on Friday were so lucky.

Perth in a Day

Situated on the southwestern corner of Western Australia, Perth is a city of about two million, making it the fourth most populous in the country. The capital city of Western Australia lies along the banks of the Swan River. Perth lies in one of the geographically most remote areas of the world; its nearest Australian neighbor, Adelaide, is more than one thousand miles away. Much of Perth's recent economic success is the result of mining, as well as oil and gas.

Upon arrival in Perth, we travelled by taxi to the Intercontinental Hotel on Hay Street in the central business district. The hotel reminds me of most business hotels around the world, although it is very clean and spacious.

We spent a couple of hours freshening up and relaxing before venturing out to explore the city. Having slept a good amount during our travel, we were able to stay up much of our first day here.

From the Intercontinental Hotel, we walked to nearby Northbridge, home to numerous Chinese restaurants. We chose Northbridge Chinese Restaurant for our first meal in the city. Northbridge serves dim sum, which is why we decided on it. With the exception of a couple of items, everything we ordered at Northbridge was great. The quality was as good as we had in Sydney in the past.

After a leisurely but very satisfying meal, we headed to the cultural precinct and the Art Gallery of Western Australia. At the Gallery, we saw pieces of art by Australian and other artists over the years. There was good diversity among the collections. We also intended to visit the Western Australia Museum; the museum is closed for renovations and expansion.

From the Art Gallery, we wandered about the central business district, armed with a self-guided walking tour suggested by Lonely Planet. During our walk around the city, we admired numerous buildings from an earlier time, did some window shopping along Hay and Murray Streets, and also visited St. Mary's Cathedral and the Perth Mint. Other key sights along the way were the city's iconic Bell Tower as well as the new development of Elizabeth Quay. There are a handful of restaurants at the Quay, although most of the area is still under construction.

We then made our way to Kings Park via the central business district. Kings Park is a green lung of sort for the city. The park fronts the Swan River shoreline and offers spectacularly views of the city, much as the Royal Botanic Garden does for Sydney. Along on the grounds of the park is a very well-kept botanic garden that helps tell the story of Australia's floral history,

After visiting Kings Park, we strolled back to our hotel before heading to dinner at nearby Belgian Beer Cafe. Although the food was unremarkable, we enjoyed the great vibe and live music. This concludes our very first day on the ground in Western Australia. We enjoyed far more sightseeing than we've expected.

Up next: Saturday in Fremantle
tripplanner001 is online now  
Nov 24th, 2018, 12:55 PM
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Thanks so much for the detail. Reading with great interest as we will be "following" you in about 3 months. I'm amazed at how much you were able to fit in during your first day.
FromDC is offline  
Nov 24th, 2018, 01:16 PM
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Youíre welcome FromDC. It helped that we arrived fairly early (11:15 AM), were well rest from being able to sleep on our flights (not always guaranteed), and pleasant weather (72 degrees). Downtown Perth is fairly geographically-contained and flat, which makes for good strolling. We felt we hit the highlights of the city in the time we had on the first day, and will mostly be spending the rest of our time here taking day trips.
tripplanner001 is online now  
Nov 24th, 2018, 09:08 PM
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That's a lot of ground to cover in 16 days! We'll be keen to hear your thoughts on Queensland. Happy to help with Brisbane ideas if you need them. We moved here three years ago and love it. Weather is beautiful today, sunny and warm, 32 degrees C.

KayF is offline  
Nov 24th, 2018, 10:40 PM
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Welcome back, Tripplanner!

If you get a chance, do visit Kings Park in Perth. Apart from some interesting & unique plants, it offers spectacular views over the city.

If you have an idea of your Brisbane dates, we might start planning a little Fodors GTG, if you would like to meet up with so with us reprobates
Bokhara2 is offline  
Nov 25th, 2018, 04:44 AM
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Thanks KayF. Great to hear that Brisbane will be warmer than it is here in Perth at the moment, although it's been mostly sunny too. Any not-to-miss sights and sounds of Brisbane that you think we shouldn't miss.

Bokhara, we visited Kings Park on the evening of the first day and absolutely loved it. The gardens were very well laid out. It's somewhere we could visit again and again. Right now, we're scheduled to arrive in Brisbane on the afternoon of Dec. 4 and depart on the morning of Dec. 7. I will check with the rest of my group but sometime during the afternoon of Dec. 5 or 6 may be the easiest.

Saturday in Fremantle

Downstream from Perth where the Swan River meets the Indian Ocean lies the port city of Fremantle. Fremantle could be reached by ferry, by bus, and by train. It is about 30 minutes by commuter train from Perth Station downtown.

We began our day with breakfast at Miss Maud, a Swedish bakery next door to our hotel. Filled up with Australian - style meat pies and sausage rolls along with the obligatory coffee, we walked to the train station a few blocks away. The train ride was easy.

We used the City of Fremantle's suggested Discovery Trail (https://fremantlestory.com.au/explore?rid=24) to organize our visit to the city. Starting at the train station, we walked down Market Street and the Cappuccino Strip to the Fremantle Markets. Open Friday through Sunday, the markets are home to stalls selling everything from produce to prepared foods and coffee to cheap souvenirs to specialty items. The markets were hopping this morning. We spent a good 90 minutes here before continuing on to Fishing Boat Harbor and the museums.

We visited the Shipwreck Galleries as well as the Western Australian Maritime Museum. The museums contains nice exhibits of the regions maritime history and provided a good overview of its heritage. We spent about an hour at each place.We enjoyed lunch at the National Hotel, sitting at a beautiful veranda overlooking the busy streets. The food was as good as the ambiance. There were several places along the Cappuccino Strip that also looked inviting and appealing.

After lunch we toured the Fremantle Prison, originally built by and kept penal convicts. There are five available tours; we chose the one about the penal history. The prison, built of local limestone, only served it's original purpose for three and a half decades before turned over by the British Crown to the local government to serve as the city jail; it remained a jail until 1991.

From here we made our way back to the train station by bus. There are a couple of free buses that run between the city's main tourist attractions, at about 15 minutes apart.We returned to Perth via train, but not before a stop at Cottesloe for a visit to the Indian Ocean beach. While beautiful, the beach did not have the happening vibe as the beaches around Sydney. There were a handful of restaurants along the main strip, but no shops. Nonetheless we enjoyed our walk along the beach as the sun went down. We also enjoyed dinner at Amberjacks, a local fish-and-chips takeout joint within steps from the beach. The food was good although be mindful of the very large portions.We were back in Perth just before 9:00 PM, when we called it a day.

Tomorrow, assuming the weather stays this good, we will visit Rottnest Island.

Last edited by tripplanner001; Nov 25th, 2018 at 04:49 AM.
tripplanner001 is online now  
Nov 25th, 2018, 05:44 AM
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A Sunday Outing – to Rottnest Island

Located in the Indian Ocean not too far off the coast of the Western Australian mainland is Rottnest Island. Rottnest is most famous for its population of 10,000 or so quokkas, a marsupial that resembles the kangaroo or the wallaby.

Rottnest Island is a popular stop on the itineraries of visitors to the Perth area. We always included a visit to the island as part of our original plan for our four days in the region. What we left up to the last minute is the day on which we would visit the island – hoping to only confirm once we had a better sense of the weather. In addition, after our first day in Perth, we decided that we were satisfied that we experience the city’s major highlights and would not need to devote an additional full day to the city. As such, we contacted several tour operators for a last-minute small-group tour to Nambung National Park, home of the Pinnacles. Given the late nature of our inquiry, we knew that we may not have our choice of day – or if we could visit at all. We received a prompt response to our inquiry from Luxury Outback Tours yesterday. Sylvia, the Managing Director of the company, let us know that a Monday tour was possible. Which left today, Sunday, as our only option for Rottnest Island. We lucked in that today would be a nice-weather day: 68 degrees and mostly sunny, with a couple of light showers.

Tourists are able to reach Rottnest Island from Fremantle or from Perth. Given the limited morning options out of Perth, we decided to hop back on the train to Fremantle early today. We were able to obtain tickets for the 8:30 AM ferry operated by Rottnest Express the night before. The two major ferry operators to and from the island are Rottnest Express and Sealink; we made our decision based upon the schedule that worked best for us.

After a quick breakfast of pastries and coffee along the way from the hotel to the train station, we traveled from Perth to Fremantle. The ferry terminal was a 5-minute walk from the train station. We experienced calm waters between Fremantle and Rottnest Island, which made the 30-minute journey very easy.

Upon arrival, tourists had the option of visiting the island via a guided bus tour, a train tour, a hop-on hop-off service, by bicycle, or on foot. We chose the hop-on hop-off option. Although we enjoy walking, we opted for the hop-on hop-off service given our limited time on the island. All-day tickets for the bus cost $20 per person; the bus runs every 30 minutes.

We boarded our bus at the main bus station just a short walk from the visitors center. With the advice of visitor center staff, we chose to get off the bus at Parker Point. From there we would walk to Little Salmon Bay and Salmon Bay, enjoying the coastal landscape and rock formations carved by erosion along the way. We also spotted our first quokka here. The walk is very easy to do and suitable for most visitors.

We rejoined the bus at Salmon Bay and took it to the next stop: the access point for Wadjemup Lighthouse. We walked to the lighthouse which sits on the highest point on the island and climbed to the top of the limestone structure with the help of a guide.

After our lighthouse visit, we hopped on the bus again, this time to the West End. At one point is Cathedral Rocks, home to a few New Zealand fur seals. My understanding is that there are far more in the area than what we would see. A short walk from the seal viewpoint at Cathedral Rocks is Cape Vlamingh, with several more interesting rock formations. In spite of all the positive feedback from volunteers and staff on the island, we thought the West End was just “bla”.

After visiting the West End we took the bus straight to Geordie Bay for a late but satisfying lunch. We intended to walk from this area back to Fremantle or Perth but came to the conclusion that we may not show you the full tour given our limited availability. And then we returned from where we started.

We returned to the mainland on the 4:30 PM ferry, but this time to Perth. We thought it was a good way for us to cap our afternoon and be provided an opportunity to experience Perth from a different vantage point. The ferry ride was just as I had imagined.

We arrived at Barrack Street pier at 6:00 PM and returned to our hotel to freshen up. Dinner would be served as Jamie’s Italian, a short walk from our hotel.

All in all, we had an enjoyable day out to Rottnest Island. We were interested in visiting to see the quokkas up close and personal – and had several encounters with them throughout the day. However, at nearly $70 a round trip, Rottnest makes for a very expensive day trip. I would only recommend it if you have the time – not worth going out of your way for it.

We're off to Nambung National Park next. Stay tuned...
tripplanner001 is online now  
Nov 25th, 2018, 08:20 AM
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thanks so much, very helpful in figuring out what to do in and around Perth during our upcoming trip and looking forward to tomorrow's report.
FromDC is offline  
Nov 25th, 2018, 05:33 PM
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I'm enjoying your report. Rotto must have changed a lot since our last visit a long time ago, we must plan a return visit. Ferry fare does sound steep but Australia is not a cheap country, for visitors or locals.

Brisbane's sunny climate is perfect for outdoor activities but there are also indoor things if it happens to rain. Here are some ideas, some of these things we've never done and others we do all the time (like eating French cakes!). Let me know if you want more info:

Brisbane Greeters free walking tours - book online or see the Visitors Centre in the Queen St Mall (opposite H&M)
Shopping in city, also large Westfield indoor malls in outer suburbs
Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Museum, Gallery of Modern Art - all at Southbank
City Hall, can go up ClockTower for views, also Museum of Brisbane on upper floor
Botanical Gardens, about 15 mins walk from city shopping area
Roma St Parkland, the opposite direction to Botanical Gardens
French patisseries (Le Bon Choix and Madders Brothers Patisserie)
Southbank - free swimming lagoon, restaurants, cafes, parkland and river walk.
Free ferry CityHopper - 1.5 hours from North Quay to Sydney St and back again, but you can hop and off at will. Runs every 30 mins.
CityCat catamarans - goes further along the river than the Hopper, it's a paid service and is quicker too. Can buy tickets on board or use Go Card.
Goodwill Bridge - pedestrian only bridge between city/QUT and Southbank.
Story Bridge - free to walk over for views (at same level as cars but separate footpath) or pay to do an organised climb up.
Cliffs Cafe - amazing views, this is at Kangaroo Point. Get the free Hopper or pay on the Cross River Ferry to Thornton St, walk along the river and up the stairs.
Eating precincts - Eagle St Pier, Little Stanley St and Grey St Southbank, Fish Lane, West End

Further afield -
Lone Pine Sanctuary
Daisy Hill Koala Centre
Gold Coast, about an hour's drive to the northernmost point but traffic can get heavy at peak hour
Sunshine Coast - quieter than the Gold Coast but we prefer it, about 1.5 hours drive if traffic is flowing
Australia Zoo on Sunshine Coast (famous for Steve Irwin)

How long have you got?

KayF is offline  
Nov 26th, 2018, 04:39 AM
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FromDC, you're welcome. Glad my report may provide some useful information to you as you plan your own visit. Please feel free to ask any questions.

Kay, thank you so much. We'll be in Brisbane for 3 nights and Noosa for 2. Not enough I know. I do plan on returning.

Into the Desert

We spent our final day in the Perth area taking a day trip to Nambung National Park, home to the limestone rock formations known as the Pinnacles.

Our guide and driver is Sylvia Mills, the principal behind Luxury Outback Tours. Sylvia was very responsive to my inquiries and she worked with me to make confirmation of our reservations as easy as possible.

We were met at our hotel at 7:30 AM for the trip north. Each tour has a maximum capacity of 6 although it was only the 4 of us today. The journey from Perth to Nambung National Park takes about two hours. We stopped for morning coffee at Isabella Cafe in Lancelin at about 9:00 AM. We spent about half an hour here before continuing our way up to Nambung.

We enjoyed about two hours among the Pinnacles. The tour started in the interpretive center, where we learned a bit more about the rock formations as well as the area itself. After a stop at the center and gift shop, we were out into the desert. We made several stops throughout the site, where we were treated to views of these awesome formations for a good two hours. We had the opportunity to hike among the Pinnacles as well as take a scenic drive in the area. The formations came in different shapes and sizes and there are just so many of them - approximately 180,000 in all. The changing also gave it special qualities. Needless to say, no two were the same. During our time here, we also saw our first two emus in the wild.

By 12:30 PM, it was a short drive into the town of Cervantes for lunch at the Cervantes Pinnacles Motel. The meal was much better than we had expected and we had more than filled of our hungry stomachs.

Immediately following lunch, we went over to Thirsty Point for a quick walk on the fine white sand beach. We also visited Lake Thetis for its live stromotolites, an early microorganism that was responsible for supporting life on our planet.

By 2:30 PM, it was time to hop back into the car for our return journey back to Perth.

All in all, the trip to the Pinnacles was well worth the effort and the expense. It is truly a unique site and takes experiencing it firsthand to truly appreciate. If you only have time for one trip out of the city, a visit to the Pinnacles is definitively the one I would recommmend. And I would do it with Sylvia and Luxury Outback Tours all over again if I had the choice; Sylvia was professional, fun to chat with, and good at her job.

We arrived back in Perth at 5:00 PM. We took the opportunity to freshen up at our hotel before heading out for an evening look and dinner at the Northbridge neighborhood, close to the Central Business District.
tripplanner001 is online now  
Nov 26th, 2018, 11:32 AM
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Great report on the Pinnacles tour, thank you! If you had to choose between Pinnacles and Freemantle, which would it be and why? I don't think we'll have time for both. If it's too difficult for you to write an answer here, maybe we can talk about it when you get back to DC.
FromDC is offline  
Nov 27th, 2018, 03:47 AM
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FromDC, I know this may not be the most helpful, but it depends on your interests. If you want to visit markets, museums, and have some time shopping and / or time on the shore, then I would suggest Fremantle. Fremantle is easy to reach via train, bus, or ferry; the quickest is by train and takes half an hour. The Pinnacles is very different than anything you will find in Perth or Fremantle as it is about Mother Nature and what she offers. You could easily visit the Pinnacles in an hour or two, but it takes about 5 hours to get there and back, so you would need to be able to commit to a full day. A full day is ideal for Fremantle, although you are able to have a taste of it with less time. If I recall correctly, you will be going down to Margaret River so you may not want to extend your driving time.

An Afternoon in Adelaide

We awoke before dawn this morning to catch our Qantas flight from Perth to Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. The flight was uneventful and lasted less than three hours. Between getting some work done on the plane and breakfast, we arrived in the Festival City in no time. Adelaide's airport is very modern and efficient. We were off the airplane and into our hotel in the Central Business District - the Hilton - in less than 45 minutes.

We began our afternoon in Adelaide with a quick lunch at the Adelaide Central Market. Home to purveyors of fruits and vegetables, meats, seafood, and other culinary delights, Adelaide's market claims to be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere although I suspect it may not be accurate. We were very much looking forward to visiting the market but it was not as I had hoped. The building it occupies felt very old and tired. Other than several high quality stalls, a lot of it is taken over by vendors selling cheap ware from Asia. Located inside the market are also two food courts with Singapore-style hawker stalls. We had a light lunch here before continuing our exploration of the city.

From Central Market we took a walk to nearby Victoria Square for a look at several of the historic buildings that surround the square. We made our way up King William Street to Rundle Street Mall, Adelaide's main shopping drag. We walked around and window shopped for a short while before moving onwards to the Botanic Gardens. We spent a good two hours in this green lung of what is already a very green city. Especially enjoyable for us were the succulent gardens as well as the rose garden. Also on the site of the Botanic Gardens is the National Wine Center, a place to learn about the history of winemaking in the region; we simply did not have time today to pay a visit.

From the gardens we made our way back to Rundle Street and our hotel. We took a short rest before heading back out, this time in search of dinner. We ate at a nearby Italian restaurant called Trattoria Restaurant. Even though it is located south of Victoria Square, we were surprised to walk into the restaurant to be greeted by table after table of hungry customers. They were right as the food was quite good.

Please join us tomorrow as we spend our only full day in the South Australian capital exploring it. More to come...
tripplanner001 is online now  
Nov 28th, 2018, 02:44 AM
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Cultural Adelaide

After a quick breakfast of coffee and cakes at Argo, across the street from the Hilton, we walked up King William Street to North Terrace, the city’s cultural precinct. We spent our morning visiting the South Australian Museum and the Art Gallery of South Australia. We spent most of our time at the museum enjoying the galleries devoted to aboriginal life. The Pacific cultures exhibit was also fascinating. My favorites were the masks from Papua New Guinea as well as the replicas of a traditional home and a sailing vessel. Likewise I was gravitated to the aboriginal artwork at the gallery next door.

We grabbed lunch at one of the food courts at Rundle Mall across the street. We then continued to the Adelaide Oval on the other side of the River Torrens for a quick look. The Oval is home to cricket as well as Australian rules football and rugby matches.

From the Oval we traveled by tram - free in the city - to South Terrace for a visit to Haigh’s chocolate factory for a tour and quintessential shopping.We continued by tram to the end of the line - to Glenelg on the shores of the Southern Ocean. Glenelg beach is beautiful and reminds me very much of Manly Beach in Sydney. Like Manly, Glenelg is fronted by a row of Norfolk pines. The shops and restaurants along the main strip also have the area a very Manly feel. We would not mind more time in the area if it was a bit warmer.

Dinner tonight was at Kaffana, a Serbian restaurant just off King William Street and Rundle Mall. Served family style, the food was absolutely delicious. All the meats and fish were perfect as were the complementary cabbage and potato salads and homemade breads. It is the first time we had Serbian food and we left with a mission to look for Serbian food when we return home.

We're off to Kangaroo Island for three nights tomorrow.

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