I recently attended the 2017 National Clubs Gymnastics carnival in Bendigo to watch Miss 16 compete for Delta Brisbane. I wrote a description of the drive to Bendigo and back to Canberra on my other blog, viz., My Thoughts and Stuff.
This post will be a review of the food I ate on the trip.
The drive from Canberra to Bendigo
Here is a map of my drive from Canberra to Bendigo. You can click on the place markers and get information including photographs from my journey.
This vanilla slice wasn’t too bad. The custard was quite firm though and a little too gelatinous. The icing was nice, not too sweet and the pastry was crispy without being hard or tough.
It went down well with a cup of black tea.
I can highly recommend Cafe Derailleur in Wangaratta. For lunch, I enjoyed a dish of caramelised pork belly with an Asian slaw salad. To wash it down I had an apple, pear, lime and ginger juice.
Get yourself there and try out the menu.
Even though I tend to go for vanilla slices, when I reached the Violet Town Cafe there were no vanilla slices left. The lamingtons looked good so I asked for one with a pot of black tea.
The lamington was perfect. The cake wasn’t too dry or moist, there was just enough coconut and it was coated nicely without too much loss.
Some friends on social media asked about jam. Nope, there was no jam in this lamington.
A really nice peppercorn sauce can overcome a tough steak
I had dinner on the first night at the Lake View Hotel which is a few minutes walk down the road from the Comfort Inn Julie-Anna.
I asked for the scotch rib fillet cooked rare with a peppercorn sauce, hand cut chips and broccolini. The sauce was amazing. I love a fiery peppercorn sauce that makes my mouth feel like there’s a party going on between my lips. The steak itself was okay in terms of flavour but it was a bit tough.
While Miss 16 was travelling from Brisbane to Bendigo via Melbourne, I visited the Golden Dragon Museum which celebrates Bendigo’s significant Chinese heritage.
I took lunch at the end of my visit at the museum’s restaurant. I chose the Chinese platter which consisted of a deep fried dim sim, prawn crackers, a char siu bao, a deep-fried spring roll and a couple of samosas which I don’t think of as Chinese. This was all served with some Plum sauce which a dear Chinese friend tells me would never be served with a proper Chinese meal.
What can I say? It was a plate of deep fried tasty snacks plus a pork bun. It filled a hole in my belly.
I’ll never be vegan, I love a meaty pizza with extra anchovies
I planned on Saturday night to watch the North Queensland Cowboys play against the Sydney Roosters in the second preliminary final of the National Rugby League’s 2017 season. I needed footy food. Pizza!
I had walked past Luchiano Pizza & Pasta the night before on the way to the Lake View Hotel. I looked up Luchiano Pizza & Pasta online and discovered I could order online so I paid for a meat lover’s pizza with extra anchovies. It was delicious. I’d happily eat another one.
The tuck shop at the Bendigo Stadium is pretty good and well appointed. They do potato gems (tater tots) with or without gravy. Potato gems are perfect for watching gymnastics.
A delicate belly means a light dinner, how about a salad?
As I left Bendigo Stadium on Sunday afternoon I started experiencing some intense intestinal colic. I thought I should still eat so I went to the Lake View Hotel and asked for a Caesar salad.
The salad was delightful with nice long anchovy strips and a poached egg encased in a crumbed shell. The Caesar dressing was just a thin coating on really crispy lettuce leaves and the bacon was crispy as were the croutons.
The colicky bowel pains continued into the night and finally disappeared at 3 am.
For my final Bendigo breakfast, I enjoyed crispy bacon, poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce. Breakfast of champions.
You had one job Bendigo Stadium tuck shop, one job!
After watching Miss 16 compete in the finals I went to the tuck shop to enjoy some potato gems. They had run out. There were none left. How could this be? I was disappointed. I had to make do with hot chips.
Crumbed steak and a delicious dessert
On my final night in Bendigo, I dined in the Comfort Inn Julie-Anna restaurant. I chose the crumbed steak with pepper sauce, chips and greens. I love crumbed steak, especially with a nice sauce. When the steak has been well seasoned and tenderised, the crumbed coating adds so much extra to the mouthfeel.
For dessert, I chose the blueberry ice cream sundae with white chocolate and honeycomb. This was a great dessert. I had neglected dessert while in Bendigo so this was a great finish to my trip.
Here is the map of my drive from Bendigo to Canberra. You can click on the place markers and get information including photographs from my journey.
My belly was still a little delicate so I made sure that I took regular breaks on the drive north from Bendigo to Canberra.
My first stop was in Murchison which is about an hour out of Bendigo. After the toilet stop I went into the Murchison Bakery & Tearoom. As I entered I noticed in the display case some nice looking apple turnovers. I asked for one along with a cup of coffee.
The apple turnover was delicious. I’d happily eat another from the Murchison Bakery & Tearoom.
A short drive from Murchison is Benalla and Hide’s Bakery. I love this place. I felt the need for second breakfast so I asked for some toasted raisin bread and a coffee. This would have to be the best raisin bread I’ve ever tasted. It was so light and pillowy. It had a magnificent combination of fruit and flavour.
Before I left I also picked up a vanilla slice which I enjoyed for morning tea at a truck stop northbound on the highway.
No trip is complete without a meat pie, or better yet, a potato pie!
The driving conditions were great and it didn’t take long to get to Henri’s Wodonga Bakery which is the destination I had planned for lunch.
I really like this bakery. It is well appointed and has everything you could want in a bakery including pink icing vanilla slices.
I decided on a potato pie with bacon bits sprinkled on the mashed potato. It was delicious and a perfect lunch on a road trip.
No tucker in Tarcutta
I did stop in Tarcutta for a dunny break but I wasn’t hungry so there was no tucker in Tarcutta.
That’s about it. When I got back to the flat I made a salmon and salad dinner which I really needed after so many high meat and sweet food and a general lack of vegetables.
The 2016 National Clubs Carnival for Gymnastics Australia is being held in Bendigo at the Bendigo Stadium at the moment. It’s the reason for my road trip. My two youngest daughters, viz., Miss15 and Ms19 competed. Well, Ms19 competed and Miss15 got a 0.00 score because a few weeks ago she fractured her fifth metacarpal in her dominant hand while training on the balance beam. It was a clean fracture which hopefully will heal without repercussions. Anyway, Miss15 was listed to compete, so on the score sheet, she scored 0.00 for all apparatus. Looks silly really. She was allowed on the floor with her teammates so she helped with video recording their routines and doing other tasks to assist her coaches.
Ms19 competed injury-free and did well in the L10 division.
Given Bendigo is a little over 600 kilometres from Canberra it was a good reason for me to take a few days recreation leave and drive down on Wednesday 14 September. I’ve never driven to Bendigo, I’ve never been to Bendigo, I knew almost nothing about Bendigo. What I did know was it is a large country town in Victoria and had a start in gold mining. I learnt in high school there was a lot of racial tension with the Chinese who came in and extracted gold from the waste left behind by others.
[Read with sarcasm] Being Victoria, I knew they speak another language. They refer to things like snot blocks and potato cakes. I knew I had to be careful amongst these aliens. I knew I could ask for a vanilla slice but they wouldn’t have a clue what a potato scallop is. I figured if they didn’t know what a potato scallop is they probably didn’t know how to cook a decent one anyway. For confused readers, I wrote this paragraph with heavy sarcasm, after all, I was born and bred from the greatest of the Australian states, viz., Queensland and lived for twelve years in the greatest of Australian territories, viz., the Northern Territory of Australia.
Before embarking on this trip I consulted with a close colleague from another government agency who is widely regarded as a vanilla slice connoisseur with an excellent knowledge of rural Victoria and New South Wales. I even made an MS Excel spreadsheet containing my extensive ‘research’ findings. I passed this on to my friend and his only warning was to lock my car in one of the towns I mentioned.
The plan for the drive from Canberra to Bendigo was to leave early and have breakfast on the road in Gundagai. This nearly came unstuck because Apple in its wisdom released iOS 10 on the morning of Wednesday 14 September. Being an early adopter (but not brave enough to use β versions) I woke up at 4 am to download iOS 10. Bloody hell, Apple also wanted me to download an updated version of iTunes which was >250 MB. iOS 10 was >1 GB. My ADSL is pathetically slow so I only managed to update my iPad and I was late leaving my apartment at 6.15.
My first stop was the town of Gundagai. I’d been to Gundagai before and seen the dog on the tucker box. Would you believe my kids didn’t know about the dog on the tucker box? What do they teach kids in school these days? I had decided I’d have a coffee and some sort of carbohydrate-laden product for breakfast. I went with a scone and butter. I did this with trepidation. I have irritable bowel syndrome and my gastrocolic reflex is reasonably good and it is the reason I usually never leave ‘home’ without eating, even if it’s for a morning walk. Being caught short is a constant fear for IBS sufferers.
The Gundagai Bakery is pretty nice. The person who served me was very friendly and I got a large scone, some butter and a decent flat white coffee for $4.50. That was the best bargain of the trip.
I got to Tarcutta and the urge to purge struck. Say no more I hear you think!
I posted a photograph to Twitter and mentioned my dunny stop. I received a mention from a fellow food blogger who tweeted when she was younger her father frowned on her use of the word dunny. I like that as an adult I can be as vulgar as I want.
By the time I got to Holbrook it was raining cats and dogs. I couldn’t see the submarine out the window as I drove. I figured it had been carried away by the storm water runoff. When I got to the Holbrook Bakery the gutters and sidewalk were like a white water rafting course. I really hate having wet shoes and socks when driving. Oh well I thought, I’m here for a reason, having wet shoes isn’t the end of the world.
So this was my first vanilla slice of the trip. It was pretty nice. Not the best in terms of texture, taste and consistency but I’d happily eat more of these.
Two years ago I drove to Geelong for the National Clubs Carnival and broke up my trip by spending the night in Wangaratta. This time, I was driving straight to Bendigo so rather than dinner in Wangaratta it was lunch.
I decided to have lunch at Cafe Derailleur. The café has seating in the front behind windows, some outdoor seating and an area out the back. I chose to sit inside near the main counter. I was feeling a little peckish so I went with duck fat garlic potato wedges with miso mayonnaise, beetroot sweet potato fritter, avocado, mushrooms, poached egg and spinach, along with a beetroot ginger carrot apple juice. It was pretty good. A word of warning, though. Having eaten a beetroot fritter and enjoyed a beetroot drink, don’t be surprised if you do both you may have a little scare in the bathroom the following day, especially if your tired and feeling a little vague. I’m glad I don’t need to visit the endoscopist again.
I had never heard of Violet Town before last week when I started planning this little holiday adventure.
As I arrived I noticed a nice Lions Park with public amenities so I stopped for a dunny break before afternoon tea.
The Violet Town Café had a nice looking vanilla slice in the display cabinet. I could see the passionfruit seeds in the custard and the icing. I had to have one. I really like a little passionfruit in my vanilla slices. While I also like a pink icing, it’s the passionfruit I really like.
Comfort Inn Julie-Anna Bendigo
I chose to stay at the Comfort Inn Julia-Anna on Lake Weeroona. I got a room with a spa bath. While it hasn’t been a really cold winter in Canberra, I’ve been crook for a while and I was looking forward to a daily soak in a spa bath.
This is a short video of my room
I had thought I might go to the Bouchon Bendigo for dinner but I wasn’t feeling the best and figured I’d have dinner in the motel restaurant. When I checked in, the person at reception mentioned how much effort they’ve been putting into getting the restaurant up to a really high standard.
The menu looked good. I went with the parmesan crusted braised lamb shoulder with pea purée and mashed potato. It was delicious. I really enjoyed the mouthfeel of the crispy parmesan crust on the little brick of compressed lamb shoulder meat.
For dessert, I went with the vanilla cheesecake which came with chocolate soil and a raspberry coulis.
Thursday 15 September
Rather than have a motel breakfast, I went searching for a café. I had been told about The Dispensary in Chancery Lane but when I arrived it wasn’t open. I went for a little walk around to see if I could find anything open.
I came across Queen Victoria. Victorians really seem to like her.
Then I saw that the Pall Mall café was open and I went in and had Eggs Benedict. It was a pretty good breakfast.
My two youngest daughters, viz., Miss15 and Ms19 are gymnasts. They both compete for Delta Brisbane. Delta Brisbane has a very good record at national championships, regularly winning champion club. Unfortunately, Miss15 recently fractured the fifth metacarpal in her dominant hand. She did it while training. It was great that she was still permitted to travel with the team and help her Level 8 teammates. Both of them have had their share of injuries including fractures of vertebræ, elbows, and arms plus torn ligaments, tendons and muscles. It’s a tough sport but both of them love it so much. Ms19 is at Level 10 and was competing in the combined levels 9 and 10 division.
It was great seeing them both and spending some time with them. Needless to say, over the two days of competition for levels 7, 8 and 9/10 Delta Brisbane won the best club title for all three divisions.
I’ve created a SmugMug gallery of photographs that I shot during the event. I should explain the images are not that good. I was some distance from the competition floor and so I cropped these photographs considerably and had to use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to reduce a lot of noise. I was using a 24–240 mm f/3.5–6.3 zoom lens and shot at 1/500 second with the ISO at 6400 and exposure compensation at +1 stop.
The gallery will run as a slideshow automatically. There are 25 images and they change every 3 seconds.
This is a video of Ms19’s uneven bar routine from Thursday 15 September
After the first night of competition, I was again feeling a little poorly so ate in the motel restaurant. This time I went for the duo of pork. This consisted of a
crumbed rillettes of pork shoulder plus a piece of braised pork belly. This was served with sweet potato purée and a ball of spinach. This was a particularly delicious meal. The crackling was nice and the fat had been rendered out nicely.
Friday 16 September
I slept very poorly. My snoring was out of control and my chronic cough kept me awake most of the night. I decided rather than going in search of another café I would eat breakfast at the motel.
The poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce, smoked salmon, and spinach was delightful to look at and delicious to eat.
Thursday and Friday Lunch and Friday dinner
The best sporting event meal I know is potato gems and chicken salt. The chips at Bendigo Stadium didn’t look that enticing. I could have gone out between events on Friday evening but I had a really good seat and I didn’t want to lose it. In addition, Ms21 made a surprise appearance. It turns out Ms19 had decided to retire from gymnastics after 16 years of training and competing. This was to be her last competition and with each apparatus I could see she was looking happier with the completion of each routine. Would you believe I spent $16 on three potato gems meals!
After the trophy presentation on Friday night, four gymnasts announced their retirement from the sport with Ms19 being one of them. When I got a chance to congratulate her, I started crying and couldn’t stop. All of us had leaking eyes. Gymnastics has been a major part of her life for 16 of her 19 years. It’s helped give her discipline and purpose. My Mum often says that Ms19 is very much like me. Dogged stubbornness and determination. I’ve often said, I’ve never seen anyone so young with the mental toughness of Ms19.
Saturday 17 September
Friday night ended late and well past my bed time. I had another crapulent sleep. I had planned to leave Bendigo at about 6.30 which meant I would need to be out of bed at about 5.30 given I hadn’t packed and I wanted one last spa bath.
After being awake until about 3.30 I fell asleep and woke at 6.30 with a start. I was running late. I still had a bath and was out of the motel room by 7.30.
I decided I would skip breakfast in Bendigo and planned to eat something in Benalla. Just before I got there though the instant coffee I had in the motel room kicked in so a rest stop was needed.
My target for breakfast was Hides Bakery. I got there a little after 9 and requested a coffee and scrambled eggs with bacon on avocado spread sourdough toast.
Before leaving Hides Bakery I bought a vanilla slice to go. I found a rest stop halfway between Wangaratta and Wodonga and enjoyed the treat. It was really nice.
I’d promised myself that on this adventure I would also enjoy a meat pie or two or three. Surprisingly, that hadn’t happened. I went in search of a good meat pie. My search led me to Henri’s Bakery in Wodonga where I enjoyed a minted lamb pie. It was a perfect meat pie. Not too hot, chunky meat and recognisable vegetables.
My final planned break on my journey was the Interchange Café in Tarcutta. To be honest, I was relieved when I entered the café to see a display case bereft of custard filled treats. No vanilla slices and no other pastries that looked appetising. Instead I had a small coffee. It was very good. I really needed it. I had started to feel very tired driving.
How was the drive?
I really like driving and despite not feeling the best, the drive to and from Bendigo was enjoyable. There was a lot of rain on the way south and on occasion there was sufficient water on the road that I had to slow down and carefully drive across the few centimetres of water that was flowing across the road surface. The roads in Victoria aren’t particularly good. There were a lot of pot holes to avoid.
I spent my hours in the car listening to podcasts. One of my favourite podcasts is Quackcast by Mark Crislip. Mark is an infectious diseases physician from the United States. He does a great job at demolishing the quackery of alternative and complementary medicine including acupuncture, naturopathy, Chinese herbal medicine and homeopathy. You can find the podcast in the iTunes store and I assume in the Google play store if you’re an Android user.
Getting back to Canberra
On arriving I filled the car with diesel and went and bought some food for dinner. I made a simple ramen noodles and lup cheong meal. Nothing fancy. Just light and easy.
What can I say. I enjoyed the short holiday. A good drive is always fun.
My favourite meal was the duo of pork at the Comfort Inn Julie-Anna.
My favourite vanilla slice was the takeaway treat from Hides Bakery and eaten on the side of the road.
My favourite moment was hugging Ms19 at the end of her competition and telling her how proud I am of her.
Every time I look at this photograph it brings tears to my eyes. Ms19 has been a gymnast for sixteen of her nineteen years. It’s taught her discipline. It’s helped her develop an understanding of physical fitness. It’s made her powerful and strong. Most importantly it’s developed her as an individual and as a member of a team. This year she captained Queensland at the national championships. A lot of people criticise gymnastics because of the injuries, it’s true gymnastics get injured but the benefits far outweigh the injuries. Well done Ms19 I love you so much and I am so proud of you.
Have you been to Bendigo?
What did you think? What did you eat? What did you do?
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I’ve just got home (Canberra) after a busy weekend in Brisbane to see my daughters. May is a big month for us, my father’s birthday is in May, my eldest two daughters both share a birthday in May (two years apart), it’s mothers day in May and my birthday is in May.
I arrived late Friday night and the girls were already in ‘bed’ ready to sleep. They had a big Saturday ahead of them.
On Saturday we got out of bed at 5 am and ate a quick breakfast. I had peanut paste on toast (I didn’t have time for a low carbohydrate meal) while the two youngest ones had Mum’s lemon curd on toast. We had to be on the road by 6.30 am and on our way to Yatala for the QGSSSA Cross Country championships. Athletics is not the favourite sport for Miss13 and Miss17 however, as all rounders they compete in as many sports as possible. The meet is held at Rivermount College which isn’t part of the QGSSSA. The college is at Yatala near the Gold Coast.
Just thinking back a bit, when I arrived Friday night I discovered that a tube of moisturiser (yes I have Ichthyosis) had ‘exploded’ in my bag and the shirt I was going to wear had been ruined. Mum said I should wear one of Dad’s shirts. She also said it would be warm so short sleeves wouldn’t be a problem. I always listen to my mother.
So we arrive at Yatala and it’s cloudy and cold. I’m shivering. Thanks Mum 🙂
[To get more detail out of the images, click on them, they should open in a new window with a higher resolution. I’m happy to receive comments on the photography. Some images were captured with a Canon PowerShot G16 and the others with a Nikon D7100. I shoot in manual and capture RAW files to allow some post processing in Adobe Lightroom. ]
The girls run well and enjoy themselves. The next stop is the Sleeman Sports Complex in Chandler. We have to get Miss17 there for gymnastics training. Even though she didn’t make the Queensland team this year she’s allowed to compete at the national championships this week in Melbourne. She has to train at Gymnastics Queensland headquarters in Chandler. Before we get there though, Miss17 suggests a spot of morning tea at Yatala Pies.
Yatala Pies is a bit of an institution in South East Queensland. Their pies are known far and wide. Funnily enough I’ve never eaten in the Yatala Pies shop. This was a first.
Miss17 had a curry chicken and vegetable pie, Miss13 had a sausage roll and I elected to have a pasty. It’s been ages since I’ve had a good pasty. This one didn’t disappoint. I loved it.
Now regulars readers know me so it shouldn’t be any surprise that when I saw Vanilla slice I had to have one. Yatala Pies sells French Vanilla slices with a whopping big layer of French vanilla cream. It was gorgeous.
After a lot of driving back and forth between Chandler and Chermside it was a long tiring day. After getting the kids back to my parents’ place it was time to cook our special May dinner to celebrate so many birthdays and mothers day.
I said to Mum that I wanted to cook salmon and would be wonderful is Miss17 could make a salad. I also made a pumpkin cauliflower mash which I used to smear the plate and perch the salmon on.
For dessert, Miss17 had made an ice cream cake. The base was made with Ferrero Rocher, Chocolate Mint and Queensland nut (Macadamia) ice creams. The top had a combination of mixers added to make it a cake to remember.
After dinner we watched The Hunger Games on DVD. I’d never seen it before. It was good.
After a good night’s sleep Miss19 joined us after a busy weekend of working and studying. We had planned a special breakfast together. My daughters and me 🙂 We decided to head to Groove Train at Chermside because it was close and the last time we were there we enjoyed the food.