Review: Arkarra Tea Gardens, Dundowran

It’s hard to believe that it’s taken me over a year to make it to Dundowran. Worse still when you realise I lived back here for 3-4 years in the 1990s and spent my first 17 years on the Fraser Coast, without ever setting foot in some of the region’s smaller beachside locales.

However, I’ve been keen to get to Dundowran since last year when I saw (on Facebook) that the Arkarra Tea Gardens had reopened. I hadn’t heard of them before but liked the idea of something a bit different to the usual cafes – plus I’ve only heard good things from those who’ve visited.

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And finally a month or so ago I got to see what the fuss was about when a friend and I headed to the Tea Gardens for Sunday brunch.

I have to admit to being shocked that it was actually so close to Hervey Bay as for some reason I thought Dundowran was much further away – however ‘Where is’ and my own car both informed me it’s about 15km from my place in Urangan (and given that Eli Waters is about 10km, it’s really not that far out of town at all!).

Thankfully my friend used her phone to guide us there once we turned off the main road or we would have had no idea; but once we approached it was kinda obvious cos there were cars everywhere.

I was surprised to see it so busy and we got the last free table.

The dining area is actually spread over a range of levels and locations so it’s kinda got something for everyone. I noticed, for example, some larger groups gathering around tables in the balinese style huts or in the pergola.

We arrived smack bang in the middle of morning tea and my friend eyed off the plump scones that kept wandering past our table, but we were both keen for brekkie.

1926770_10152068857129164_1536556037_nWe ended up going for the Eggs Benedict – which came complete with the usual – poached eggs on Turkish bread and hollandaise sauce but also with spinach and avocado and ham, bacon or salmon. I was happily surprised that  they had GF bread AND rolls. The roll wasn’t huge but more exciting than the usual teensy pieces of store-bought bread.

It’s not hugely cheap (I think the Eggs Benedict were about $18) but they arrived quickly and they were delicious. The hollandaise sauce is always all-important in my mind and they nailed it.

I should admit I was also impressed that the person at the counter knew exactly what was and wasn’t gluten-free.

Before leaving we eyed off the lunch menu (so I’m keen to go back and continue my Fraser Coast steak sandwich survey) and the goodies’ cabinet. A GF chocolate brownie caught my eye, but thankfully I was full.

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There’s a small gift shop in the café and we also took the opportunity to wander about the gardens and down to the lagoon to walk off our breakfast before heading back to the bay.

My friend and I both agreed we’d be back and without a doubt, Arkarra Tea Gardens may possibly become one of my new local favourites.

The Tea Gardens are located at 28 Panorama Drive, Dundowran Beach and open 7 days a week: 8.00am to 5.00pm. Check out their website, or you can contact them via their Facebook page, email or by calling (07) 4128 8069.

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Review: Pavilion by the Pier

If I ever get married* I would like to have my reception (or after-party) at Pavilion by the Pier. (I know that’s what all of you have been wondering! 😉 )

ImageMostly it’s because of its location. And its fairy lights. Because I truly have a thing about fairy lights.

I’ve actually never eaten dinner there as I seem to dine out during the day far more often than in the evening, but… I must make the effort to get down there one night because I’ve heard good things.

I recently wrote about my brekkie at Bayaroma Cafe, which I’ve frequented a few times after my Saturday morning yoga class. I love a good eggs benedict and – until recently – it was the only place I’d found in Hervey Bay (or Maryborough) that offered a gluten-free option.

However, I’ve now dined at Pavilion by the Pier a couple of times and their eggs benedict is also gluten-free. Yay! It comes with either ham or salmon – I actually prefer bacon, but think that getting the GF hollandaise sauce right is far more important.

As is often the case I take along my own gluten-free bread rolls (which my mum picks up for me almost weekly from the Bell Hilltop Bakery in Maryborough) and they’re happy to use them instead of bought-GF bread.

As an aside… I haven’t found many (any?) cafes / restaurants locally which make their own gluten-free breads / rolls or buy them from bakeries. Mostly it’s the tiny pieces of bread you buy from retailers. (Which is fine. Having some GF bread is far better than not having any at all!)

mineoOf course, some greenery would make this look far prettier, but I ask them to hold the spinach cos, well… spinach! #blergh!

BLTToday’s breakfast companion had the BLT and said it was nice, but not quite as nice as the last one she had there (which I guess happens from time to time!).

Service is mostly good though I’ve experienced a few ‘new’ staff there on my visits and guess that’s typical of holiday locales. The ambiance and the views however are what keep me going back. Plus the GF options of course.

Check out Pavilion by the Pier on Facebook, or the website for opening times and location.

Have you been there? Are you a fan?

* This is as likely as pigs flying or Australia finding a humanitarian AND bipartisan way of dealing with asylum seekers! 

Brekkie at Bayaroma

Just after I started this blog I set up a corresponding Facebook page. Bizarrely I’m far more active on it than I am on either of my (main) blog pages, but for some reason it engages me more.

People occasionally ask where I get all of the information and – sadly – there’s no secret source… it’s just from other Facebook pages and the local paper (Fraser Coast Chronicle) / Twitter etc.

Occasionally I receive a request to promote a business on the page and I will try to share most stuff I receive, but in reality the site is more about sharing info than business promotion.

I am conscious however that I’m often sharing pics or updates from the same places again and again – and it’s really only predominantly because THEY share updates regularly, or provide gorgeous pictures that I can’t resist.

One such place is Bayaroma Cafe, which is HUGELY active on social media (something I, obviously, love!)

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I’d actually had several ‘business’ meetings at the cafe before finally lunching there a couple of months ago.

I’d been keen to dine there as I regularly salivated over the pictures they posted at lunchtime of their various specials (examples from the FB page above!). Indeed, the day I dined there with friends our lunches were enjoyed by all.

I have however, more recently been a few times for breakfast and it’s become my fave Hervey Bay breakfast locale because – VERY IMPORTANTLY – they have gluten free eggs benedict. I hadn’t previously located any GF eggs benedict (guess it’s all about the hollandaise sauce and bacon / ham and GF toast) on the Fraser Coast. In Brisbane I had a local haunt at Bulimba, where I devoured their eggs benedict (made on a potato rosti!) so I’m stoked to have found a local option.

On Saturday I also tried a smoothie. I’m not a huge devotee of homemade juices or smoothies (read: I hate fruit and green leafy stuff!), but I decided I was willing to try the watermelon smoothie and it was delicious!

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I know I probably need to try something different next time, or perhaps I’ll go for lunch… but, the crowds don’t lie (and Bayaroma is certainly always busy); and with a great spot on the esplanade in Torquay, with heaps of parking (etc) it’s a great breakfast, lunch or brunch destination!

Are you a Bayaroma fan?
Are you a lover of eggs benedict?

Breakfasting in the borough

I’m almost certainly a social media addict. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not one of those people constantly attached to their phone and I am, quite frankly, horrified that people can go to Twitter jail*, but… I do tend to rely on social media on a daily basis.

When I lived in this State’s capital, Brisbane, I depended on a few different twitter accounts (SEQ Incidents and Qld Rail for example) for advice on traffic conditions and public transport hiccups. And when I moved back to the Fraser Coast I searched out all possible local Facebook and Twitter accounts to follow. Which is why last Thursday I put out a Facebook question about breakfast dining options in Maryborough.

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Sadly suggestions were minimal but… during my day’s online trawling I came across reference to a Maryborough cafe which: 1. Opened early; and 2. Showed some social media savvy.

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Cafe Cru is obviously a bit of a hidden gem as my mother (a long-term Maryborough resident) and a couple of other people I spoke to had no idea the place existed or where it could be found (near the Mary Poppins statue, incidentally!). But, after a call to check that gluten-free options were available it was the planned venue for Friday’s breakfast.

However… although the ambience is great (I loved the look and feel of the place including the eclectic furniture), the menu was more limited than I expected.

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If you’re extremely a tad fussy like me you may struggle. Although GF bread was available none of the three or four bruschetta breakfast options tempted me. Mum was happy to have a ham and cheese croissant but, rather than ‘make do’, we decided (albeit reluctantly) to go elsewhere.

Having said that, Cafe Cru obviously attracts a lot of regulars, several customers being greeted by name as they picked up their morning coffee. Plus… some of the stuff on their menu (for non coeliacs) looked AMAZING! (‘Like’ the Cafe Cru Facebook page if you don’t already and you’ll see what I mean!)

AllikatsInstead we ventured into Allikats on Kent. On arriving I confirmed GF options were available and was happy that they were easily able to run through my choices. Both mum and I settled on bacon and poached eggs on toast and enjoyed our respective breakfasts.

I noticed that Allikats also had gluten-free cupcakes and cake in their window – had I been there for a snack rather than brekkie.

I have to say I was surprised what a struggle it was to find something open (before 9am) in Maryborough for breakfast. My mother dines out fairly regularly (mostly lunches and morning/afternoon teas) and always asks after gluten-free options on my behalf. She knows I’ll groan if the only choice is the seemingly popular orange and poppy-seed cake which graces many-a-cafe-shelf.

So, while I’ve found a few faves in Hervey Bay, I’m going to have to keep investigating Maryborough cafes, coffee shops and restaurants to find my go-to options. *Sigh*… such a chore! 😉

I’m happy to receive suggestions in the interim!

* Sad, but true. You can only send a limited number of tweets a day. Apparently.