Too much of a good thing?

The inaugural Hervey Bay Food and Wine Festival took place on the weekend – a two-day event held in the Pier Park at Urangan.

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I was keen to attend (as I live near the Pier Park where it was held) but prevaricated a little. On one hand I like to try to support local events and – well… wine, music and food – what’s not to love? On the other hand, I’m a bit festivalled-out.

I gather (from talking to friends and family) that others feel the same. There have been A LOT of big events packed into the last six or so months here on the Fraser Coast: Relish, Mary Poppins Festival, Craft Festival, Whale Festival and the Seafood Festival.

In the last month alone in Hervey Bay, we’ve had the Pier Festival, 150th birthday celebrations, Tour de Bay and now the Food and Wine Festival. On top of that we’ve got the Beerfest,  Torbanlea Races, Maryborough Open House and Melbourne Cup celebrations in the next month. To cap all of that off, there’s my one-year-back-on-the-Fraser Coast-anniversary! (Obviously a cause of celebration. Or national holiday or similar! 😉 )

I know (from the Festival’s Facebook page) that the $15 entry fee turned a lot of people off. I understand the need to charge a fee: but Relish was $10 – and included a lot more activities for your money; and the Seafood Festival was $5.

I don’t go out a lot however, so was prepared to pay the entry fee and went along for a few hours on Sunday.

On a positive note, the entry fee meant that the festival probably attracted a different crowd to those who usually attend local markets or pub events (ie. no one was likely to get wasted and vomit on you or yell obscenities at the band).

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I hadn’t known about the event until just a couple of weeks before it was held, so I’m not sure how far ahead it was planned. I know the organisers were still working on the music the week before the festival – so I was worried about what I’d find, however… I was pleasantly surprised.

I understand there were a few hiccups and organisers hope for bigger crowds in future, but in essence the event seemed quite successful – for we festival-goers anyway!

There were more wine-tasting options than I expected (though I know some would have liked to see more local wineries). And the ability to buy a glass/bottle of wine or champagne (or beer etc) to enjoy on the day was great.

After my disappointment at the Migaloo Starlight Swing, I was happy to know that there’d be a few food options and indeed Aquavue was on hand serving some salads (my friends partook in a prawn and mango salad with orange and mustard dressing which was apparently yummy); Wild Lotus offered up a steak sandwich that was much more – deliciously tender beef on sourdough etc. My friend who hates steak sandwiches, RAVED about the beef. Bayswater Hotel was serving antipasto platters and a squid salad; and there were pizzas and pancakes as well as coffee vans. (Something for everyone – though as a non-salad-eating coeliac – I struggled a little.)

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I was also pleasantly surprised by the music. The acts had a bluesy feel and I was a tad tempted to hang around longer than planned to kick back, partake in more champers and enjoy the atmosphere.

Happily undercover seating was provided and as the day wore on there was heaps of shade for those who’d brought blankets or their own chairs.

I’d definitely go back, and I know organisers are thinking of running the festival again, but I do wonder if it could be paired with something else rather than being yet another separate event. And – feedback will be interesting – but organisers may also want to look at the cost in future years.

Did you attend, or did (or would) the $15 entrance fee put you off?

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?

Migaloo Starlight Swing

I need to share this before I go any further….

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Yes, it’s true. I assumed that the final event of the The Whale Festival involved an actual swing. I didn’t quite flesh-out the image in my own mind… but some sort of fairy-lit giant swing actually seemed and sounded quite romantic. And fun.

However, I soon discovered that the aforementioned ‘swing’ had little to do with the things-found-in-parks, and more to do with music and dance. #Woteva!

As Pier Park is a short wander from my place I decided it was a Must-Do and made arrangements with a friend.

I have to admit that I hadn’t seen a lot of publicity beforehand – other than stuff on Facebook, which I shared – but it was there I discovered that those keen to get in the mood should dress up: white frocks (in honour of Migaloo) for the ladies and bow ties and so forth for the gents.

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I was both pleased (and frightened*) to see that some swing-night goers did take heed of the dress code and we did get to watch some dancing.

Pier Park looked absolutely gorgeous. It’s lovely at the best of times, but with additional tables and a picket fence and pretty lighting, the scene was quite magical.

My friend(s) and I discussed the need for a blanket to sit on but decided to take our chances. Indeed we were there early but missed out on tables and chairs (though probably could have invited ourselves to join those at tables with some empty chairs).

But… as we were Migaloo Starlight Swing virgins, we hadn’t realised there were no food stalls. Our diabolical plan was to eat, drink and listen to some music before waddling home. The Bayswater wine and beer stall had small antipasto platters, but (until Mr Whippy showed up) there were no other food options other than (very busy) nearby cafes.

We contemplated heading into Pavilion by the Pier, but it was closed for a private event; so we left the event a lot earlier than planned in search of dinner.

Again, it’s just a lesson for new-players and like my learnings from the Seafood Festival, something we’ll know for next year (ie. make own food / take picnic / order from local cafes earlier for easy pick-up).

I think there were to be some other musicians later in the night, but the big band we heard playing was fabulous and the music great – particularly if you’re into swing / jazz etc.

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Best of all, the Bay had turned on its charm and offered up a lovely evening… farewelling the Whale Festival and winter in spectacular fashion.

* I know this will make me sound like a biatch, but there were a few scary Bride of Frankenstein types. I’m all for raiding the local Op Shops, but some of the dresses / looks were reminiscent of Great Expectations’ Miss Havisham, resplendent in her decaying wedding dress and holed up in her dilapidated mansion! I wouldn’t be surprised if some peeps didn’t pull out their 40yr old debutante dresses! Fun but slightly tragic.

Any other suggestions for Migaloo Starlight Swing newbies?

Foiled by Dame Christie’s trickery?

A couple of months ago I held my breath and ventured to the local theatre only to find myself very impressed with Hervey Bay’s Z-Pac Theatre’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

In fact, the show was so remarkable I wonder if it set the bar too high for subsequent productions.

I know it’s kinda tragic but I’m a HUGE Agatha Christie fan – something I’ve confessed to in my Debbish blog. So, it was with great excitement that I went along to Z-Pac’s A Murder is Announced during its current season.

From The Fraser Coast Chronicle

From The Fraser Coast Chronicle

And… I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed.

Most of the cast were great, with Lorraine Lee’s Bunny, Brownwyn Bennett’s Mitzi and the younger cast the standouts.

I met Director Ken Lee at an arts event a month or so before the play and he mentioned the difficulty in translating Christie’s work for the stage. Perhaps that was partially the problem. It all seemed a little clunky to me and my friends and I agreed we were holding our breath on occasions, lest the actors forget their words or fluff their lines.

As I have a memory like a sieve and lack the confidence required to perform for an audience I have nothing but admiration for all of the cast and crew. So, while not having the panache of Z-Pac’s earlier Earnest, A Murder is Announced made for an entertaining evening out and I don’t feel the need to discount the local theatre anytime soon.