Along the Away

a traveler's tales

Posts Tagged ‘ Food ’

Hill End Camping Trip

I spent a very happy, autumn-y weekend camping on the ANZAC Day long weekend in Hill End, at ‘The End Festival of Arts, Feasting and Heritage’ organised by NSW National Parks. Located in the central west of New South Wales, Hill End is around 70km from both Bathurst and Mudgee, and just under 4 hour drive from Sydney. It is an Historic Site managed by the NSW National Parks and home to a community of about 100 people.

My friend Oceana sent me a link for the event and it sounded like the perfect weekend mix of music, local food and drink, and the Aussie bush! Joined also by another friend, Giselle, we left Sydney early on Saturday morning and drove up through the Blue Mountains for an easy drive stopping only for coffee along the way.


All visits to lovely towns eventually come to an end, and the best way to ease the sorrow of leaving is to have an interesting next destination to head to.
And so it was when I packed up and departed the Roslyn Apartment, back in the car for the northward part of my road trip.

I hadn’t yet explored much of the Otago Peninsula even though there is much to see there, so I decided I would squeeze in a detour in the morning before I hit the road north. It’s possible that later in the day I might end up regretting that decision (spoiler – I DO!) but the day stretched out ahead of me and it seemed like I had time for anything…

So I drove to the Larnach Castle which is New Zealand’s only castle and seemed like a novelty to check out.

Larnach Castle - Along the Away

The castle was built in 1871 by William Larnach, a banker and politician, for his first wife Eliza. He and one of his sons were horseriding on the Otago Peninsula when they chose the site for the castle – it’s easy to see why they chose it!

Larnach Castle - Along the Away

It took more than 200 workmen three years to build the Castle and a further 12 years designing and furnishing the interior.

William’s story is quite tragic. His first wife Eliza had all six of Lanarch’s children and then sadly died at the age of 38. He later married her half-sister who died five years – also aged 38! His oldest daughter passed away in her twenties, he remarried one more time but then tragically took his own life in the New Zealand Parliament Buildings in 1898. The family struggled after this and sold the castle in 1906. The current owners bought the castle in 1967.

I paid the small fee to enter the grounds and explore the gardens which were quite charming.

Larnach Castle - Along the Away

I opted not to pay for entry to the castle as I was short on time and had already gotten my fill with the Olveston House visit. I did visit the tea rooms though and enjoyed coffee and fresh scones.

Larnach Castle - Along the Away

The grounds have a few little Alice in Wonderland influences hidden in crooks and crannies, such as a Cheshire Cat in a tree. I later learnt that it is a tribute to the New Zealand reference made in Lewis Carrol’s famous work.

“I wonder if I shall fall right through the earth! How funny it’ll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downwards! The antipathies I think… but I shall have to ask them what the name of the country is, you know. Please Ma’am, is this New Zealand?”


Larnach Castle - Along the Away

Larnach Castle - Along the Away

The grounds actually reminded me more of another classic book, one I was a bigger fan of as a child – The Secret Garden. There were so many nooks and hideaways around the gardens, some felt like they were all but forgotten until I stumbled on them.

Larnach Castle - Along the Away

Larnach Castle - Along the Away

Larnach Castle - Along the Away

Larnach Castle - Along the Away

Time to depart as the day was pressing on and I had a 5+ hour drive to Akaroa. I left the Otago Peninsula with a few sneaky detours down some dirt roads to the coastline and stops by the roadside to snap some pics.

Otago Peninsula

My good friend Leah, a pal I met while travelling in India and who I caught up with in Auckland, told me about a great restaurant called Fleur’s Place which she highly recommended I visit as I was passing. WOW – I’m so glad I did!  It is a small cosy ocean side restaurant at Moeraki. While there I saw books on the shelf that had a photo on the cover of the smiling woman who greeted me – Fleur Sullivan. I thought she must be someone interesting to be on the cover of a book so I did some Googling. This interview reveals a fascinating and inspiring woman!

Fleurs Place, Moeraki - Along the Away

Fleurs Place, Moeraki - Along the Away

I sat inside by a pretty window and enjoyed a delicious seafood chowder and fresh bread.

Fleurs Place, Moeraki - Along the Away

Fleurs Place, Moeraki - Along the Away

The restaurant is located on right on the water – like, water on three sides! It was incredibly pretty. The site was an early whaling station and is built from gathered collectables and demolition materials from all over New Zealand.

Fleurs Place, Moeraki - Along the Away

OK, so I referred earlier in the post to regretting taking my time heading north.

I lingered a little longer than I should have, and by the time I hit the road I was pushing hard to get to Akaroa before sundown, which I wanted to do seeing as I didn’t know the area at all.

Holy moly. Worst. Drive. Ever.

So I stopped to fill up with petrol at one point. It seemed a bit strange at the time, but even though the station attendant was right there chatting to a truckie, I had to use the pre-pay station. Actually, I was a little put out at the time, because I didn’t know what the go was with the whole pre-pay system (I haven’t come across it in Australia). I picked up the nozzle up and it wouldn’t work, so I was trying this and that, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. The station attendant saw I was having trouble and called out the instructions to me- I had to first walk across the station and use the pay machine before filling it up. I thought it was a bit inconvenient at the time, couldn’t he just interrupt his chat to help me out? But it saved me big time later that night, you;ll see! I hit the road and drove straight through to Akaroa… which got HAIRY people. HAIRY.

Storm clouds rolled in. The sun set. The rain shattered down. My petrol tank emptied. AHHHHH!

It got later and darker, the road got steeper, and then every turn became a hair pin.

road to akaora

Every ten minutes or so a set of headlights would rapidly come up behind me, and in the pouring rain, my windscreen wipers on the highest setting, it would overtake me impatiently. I didn’t pass a single car in the other direction. There wasn’t a building or street light in sight for what seemed hours. As I drove up the incline, I steadily cast glances at the navigation system as my car plodded along the road next to a vast nothingness. I couldn’t see a thing out the window but at some point I realised I was on the water’s edge. I anticipated every minute that the car would run out of petrol and for the first time in my life I had a moment where I thought –

“OK. This is how it ends”

I had a vision of the car stopping, and me being stuck on the narrow road, tucked behind a hairpin and a car coming behind me and nudging me off the road into the water below.

But I kept chugging forward, up the incline, corner by corner. I leaned forward in the drivers seat, hands gripping the steering wheel, peering through the rain on the windscreen, praying to see a building of some sort – preferably a petrol station. I searched on my phone, I searched on the navigation system – no luck!

FINALLY I came across a pub at the top of climb. I eased into the car park and ran inside to find them closing. I explained my plight and the bartender shrugged, he didn’t seem too fussed. I stressed the urgency and he said there was a petrol station at the bottom of the hill, about 15 minutes. I figured if I coasted down I wouldn’t need to use any petrol, so I hopped back in the car and did just that. I drove into the petrol station on the whiff of nothing. AND WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT? It was a self serve petrol station. Which I would not know how to use if it had not been for the station attendant earlier in the day. Without that lesson, I would have assumed the place was closed. But I recognised the self-serve machine and was able to cruise in and fill up. Another five minutes down the road, with a full tank of petrol, I was in Akaroa and outside the hostel I was staying at for the night.


Lessons learned:

  • Plan ahead.
  • Fill up at every petrol station (almost).
  • When driving alone at night, pack a flashlight at the very least!
  • Be grateful for the gift of every day.
  • And for having a brave heart to make the most of it.

Eating in Bangalore is definitely one of the main highlights and I admit it seems to take up a good chunk of my time here. Variety in cuisine and budget is great – we’ve paid Rs24 (AU 60c) for a full lunch meal with two curries and roti, and we’ve paid Rs120 (AU$3) for a cup of earl grey tea.

There are already some favourite places, I’m sure there will be more to come:

Infini-tea, Cunningham Rd – India’s first dedicated tea house which has every variety of tea you can imagine, brought to the table in glass tea pots and placed there with a big wooden hour glass to countdown the brew time before the sipping begins.


The lovely tea things at Infinitea

Ramana’s, Cunningham Rd – we enjoyed our very first Indian meal in India here, and we’ve already been back twice! It was recommended by a colleague at Janaagraha and although on the slightly pricier side, it’s amazing. The bonus is that the menu is entirely vegetarian, yay! The head waiter there is lovely and recommends dishes for us to try, along with plenty of naan bread, which I could eat all day long. The only no-go there is the masala coke. Coke, with a whole lot of mixed dry spices floating around. We ordered it on our first visit, feeling pretty adventurous. It is disgusting. A one sip only affair. Couldn’t even manage to make more of an effort just to save face. The head waiter eventually asked us if we were going to drink them and we ‘fessed up. In reply we received lots of head wobbling and ‘not problem, not problem” and he perched them back on his tray and carried it one handed back to the kitchen. A split second of silence followed his exit through the swinging doors to the kitchen followed by an uproar of laughter from the kitchen staff. Us Aussies sure are amusing! A few minutes later he appeared again, straight faced, professional, he returned to the table and placed two non-masala cokes on the table. “At least we gave the kitchen a good laugh” I said, and his eyes twinkled and the corners of his mouth turned up. Breakthrough! Slowly bringing down the formality of the Indian service industry. He’d be shocked to know in Australia it’s all you can do to get waiters to not sit down at your table with you while they take your order. In India they stringently hold on to their social hierarchy; it is all ‘yes ma’am, thank you ma’am’. In the restaurants that is. They’ll plough their motorbike into you on the road no problem. Anyway, getting off topic.

Jain Hospital Canteen – yes, it is in a hospital, no that’s not weird. It’s clean, and cheap, and across the road from work. This is where you’ll get that two curry and roti for 60 cents. It’s a bit of a process to order, but once you’ve figured it out, it’s worth elbowing through the throng to take your turn giving your order to the guy taking the money, getting your bit of paper to take over to the kitchen to hand to one of the staff who’ll dish it up and hand your delicious lunch over. Then you stand around one of the tall tables and eat with your hands. They also serve delicious coffee here in little tiny glass cups. Yum.

Dolce, off Cunningham Rd – a little bit of Europe with yummy light bites and a mouth watering dessert case with pastries, tarts and cakes for well under a $1 each.

Koshys, St Marks Rd – There’s a bit of a weird vibe here, but good for a homey comfort meal, especially if you’re like me and from an English family. This place is clinging on to the colonial days with it’s British table settings and menu with baked beans, cucumber sandwiches and fish and chips. Koshy’s was established pre-independence and apparently hasn’t changed much since then which explains why the decor has a sort of stuffiness to it, but it’s quaint, cosy, and very dignified old chap, jolly good and all that!

Koshys Restaurant
Koshys Restaurant

That’s the round up for week one; no doubt there will be many more new favourite food places discovered in the coming weeks.