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The Voyage of Spectacle Pub

The Voyage

Spectacles

Andy and Melissa are sailing around the world on their 48-foot sailboat, Spectacle.

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Bali, Indonesia

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The Voyage of Spectacle

Archive for the ‘Pub’ Category

Australia’s Pub Culture and Mate’s Night Out

Posted by: melissa

On Monday, our new BFFs, Nick and Jacquelyne had just come back from Nick’s brother’s graduation festivities in Perth, and so we invited them out for a fancy dinner to say thanks for taking such great care of us and being such great friends to us.  We had a lovely dinner at Universal with the usual cocktails, wine, hysterical laughing, and cutting up that has become typical of our get-togethers. 

Universal is a relatively new and highly esteemed restaurant that offers smaller dishes … not smaller as in there are 10 courses so each course needs to be small, but three “too-small-to-be-shared” courses plus dessert is recommended.  The food borders on “experimental” and as such, some courses were better than others.  My biggest criticism is that the restaurant feels a little too hip for its own good.  It’s very modern and minimalist with orange ambient light and house music, but the funniest affectation was the description of the menu.  Since you choose several smaller-sized courses, there are no appetizers and secondis and mains per se.  Instead, as was explained to us, the dishes are ordered sequentially based on “palate weight.” 

Now, Andy, in particular, and Andy and I together, have eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world.  Andy reads about food, wine, chefs, gastronomy, new techniques, and restaurants very often.  Both Nick and Jacqueline are very foody people, and are quite plugged into the Sydney restaurant culture.  None of us has ever heard of “palate weight” before.  I found it to be needlessly poncy, but excellent fodder for endless jokes.

In any event, good fun was had by all!  Unfortunately, Nick had to go to work the next day, so he had, ahem, significantly less fun that the rest of us!  As such, Nick and Andy made plans for some male bonding for tonight, so I probably won’t be seeing much of Andy tomorrow!

I must say, though, that pub culture and mate’s night out are two of my favorite parts of Australian life.  I simply love that adult men in Australia regularly go out to the pub with their male friends.  Mate’s night out sometimes revolves around sports, but not always.  Mostly, they just talk and enjoy catching up over a pint.  The female significant others are not jealous or threatened by it, and they have their own friends and schedules.  Children understand that adults have lives of their own, and that the world does not revolve around their rearing and their schedules.  No one feels pangs of Puritanical guilt that they should instead be checking items off of their to-do list in their busy busy busy lives.  They are simply enjoying a beer and more importantly, nurturing interpersonal relationships, and everything else can wait.  American men could learn from this practice.

Tour of the Northern Beaches with Friends from Billy Kwong

Posted by: melissa

About a week ago, we had dinner at a fantastic restaurant called Billy Kwong.  Billy Kwong is not an actual person, but the first name of one owner and the surname of the other owner.  Kylie Kwong is a celebrity chef in Australia specializing in Asian fusion cuisine, and she was there that evening standing in front of the semi-exposed kitchen at the service pass-through expediting orders.  The food was outstanding.  As we left, Andy waved and gave an effusive thumbs-up towards her, and she gracefully stepped to one side and gestured a bow to the uniformed chefs in the kitchen.  So incredibly classy. 

Anyway, Billy Kwong’s is quite a small restaurant, and as such, the tables are small and very close together.  In these types of scenarios, I always know that we’ll be making new friends since Andy just can’t not talk to the other tables … he’s very outgoing, he can’t help himself!  So, we met a lovely couple … Chris and Angela who live in Dubai and are visiting family in Sydney.  Suffice it to say, they are engaging people with very interesting and unusual life histories, and we got on like a house afire.  We had dinner together last week at a restaurant called Buzo, which was very fun because of good company but less successful for the cuisine.

Chris and Angela invited us for Yum Cha and after a delicious and super fun lunch, we decided to play hooky from boat preparations and take a drive to the northern beaches and Broken Bay.  We were especially interested in seeing Broken Bay since we had already decided to skip it by boat and head straight for Newcastle.  Those suburbs of Sydney are very beautiful, and the car tour turned into pitchers of beer by the water, and grill-it-yourself steak dinner and wine.  We didn’t get much done today, and we’ll probably delay our departure by one day at least, but who cares.

Rockhampton and The Great Western Hotel

Posted by: melissa

Nicknamed “Rocky,” Rockhampton has a population of almost 78,000, is situated around the banks of the Fitzroy River (Queensland’s largest river), and is 395 miles northwest of Brisbane.  Rockhampton was established in 1853 as a river trading port.  It shot to prosperity with several nearby gold and copper discoveries in 1858 and 1882 which can be seen in the town’s many Victorian-era buildings.  While ranching continues to be the primary industry in Central Queensland, Rockhampton is considered the beef capital of Australia with about 2 million head of cattle grazing within 150 miles.  The many large cow statues around town are pretty good tip as to how important ranching is to the community.

Cow Statue in Rockhampton

Cow Statue in Rockhampton

The Great Western Hotel is owned by Australian country music star, Lee Kernaghan.  Its marketing material describes it best:

“Located in Rockhampton, Australia’s Beef Capital, The Great Western Hotel is one of Australia’s most renowned and iconic hotels.

First Licensed in 1878, the 130 year old Great Western Hotel has been the meeting place for many generations of Central Queenslanders and tourists alike. Now in the 21st century it is a national tourist destination. Built on 4115 square meters, the Great Western Hotel pays tribute to contemporary Australian bush Culture with its walls showcasing the history of local people and surrounding areas.

The Great Western Hotel has always been known for providing great steaks and cold beverages. It features 4 Bars, an award winning Steakhouse, air-conditioned Gaming Saloon and Boardroom along with a Western Retail store. The undercover entertainment venue is the largest in regional Australia with seating in excess of 2,000 people.

The Great Western is the only known hotel in Australia with a covered rodeo arena and entertainment venue. This makes this unique hotel a constant hive of activity with Rodeos and an ever increasing array of entertainers.”

Honestly, our steak dinner was not that great.  The concept of the steakhouse/watering hole is so exceptionally well done in Queensland (I mean exceptionally well executed, not well done since I’m a medium rare gal myself!), so an average steak really stands out.  But, we grabbed a couple of XXXXs and established a beachhead for the rodeo festivities. 

The buckin’ broncos kicked off at 7:00 p.m. sharp, but the people-watching kept us more than occupied before the show officially started.  Andy and I were both struck with the authenticity of the entire atmosphere — how familiarly rural and country-western.  The travel guidebooks describe The Great Western Hotel like the movie set of a spaghetti western.  But, it was just like being in Ft. Worth or Amarillo or Tulsa … right down to the hats, belt buckles, rodeo clowns, the down-home announcer, and even the advertisements for country music radio stations, auctioneer services, earth-moving rentals and quarry supplies.  This rodeo ring is not just entertainment or schtick, but a real stop on the international professional rodeo circuit – we’re talking about competitive bull-riding!  A Friday night at The Great Western Hotel can make or break a rodeo cowboy.

The Infamous Great Western Hotel in Rockhampton, Queensland.

The Infamous Great Western Hotel in Rockhampton, Queensland.

After the competitive riders finished, the ring opens up to kids (tons of help and supervision, very cute too) and drunk patrons (hysterical).  Evidently, America’s litigiousness and love of personal injury attorneys hasn’t made it to Central Queensland yet.  A couple of guys from New South Wales had apparently a lost a bet on State of Origin and their punishment was public ridicule while lasting about a half second on the bull.  Luckily, we needed a designated driver so I was sober, but I fear if we were both on the sauce, Andy would’ve taken a spin.  What could possibly go wrong?

The rodeo kids were hysterically cute.  I loved this guy going for the style points!

The rodeo kids were hysterically cute. I loved this guy going for the style points!

After the rodeo festivities concluded, we moved inside to watch the U.S. versus Slovenia match.  At that late hour, only hard-partying locals were left which was interesting and stereotype-reinforcing.  We got some pretty strange looks from this crew … evidently not much of a soccer crowd! 

With about 30 minutes left, the score was Slovenia 2 and U.S. 1, and the bartender decided to close and kicked everybody out.  We jumped in the car and raced to the after hours bar about 5 blocks away.  At 2:30 a.m., bad drunken karaoke was in full swing, but the match was on the television so we elbowed our way to a good view.  The U.S. tied it up (and had the winning goal wrongly disallowed), and Andy thwarted two different pick-pocket attempts … definitely time to head home.

Hamilton Island

Posted by: melissa

At AUS$110 per night, the marina is prohibitively expensive so we plan to stay three nights only.  Unfortunately, we awoke to rain this morning.  At these prices, you’d think they could serve up some better weather.

Yesterday, we walked around the marina complex area and visited the yacht club.  Andy had a couple of business logistics to take care of so we set off to find an Internet café with a printer and some lunch.  The Reef View Hotel promised a serviceable business center, and Sails Restaurant provided a serviceable lunch.  Afterward, we visited the ice cream parlor and walked the docks looking for familiar boats to no avail.  We took an afternoon rest, cleaned up, went to the yacht club for a sundowner, and hit the Manta Ray Café for a pretty tasty pizza complete with possums sniffing our feet and begging for crusts.

Spectacle at the Hamilton Island Marina

Spectacle at the Hamilton Island Marina


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