Hi all! I’m finally back from holidays. Had a wonderful time and now its back to real life. After Melbourne, we took off to Murwillumbah, a town in the Tweed Valley (far north coast of New South Wales). It is a gorgeous place, full of natural beauty. The country side is so plush, green and is probably the most beautiful places I have visited in Australia. While we were in Murwillumbah, we ate good food, hiked and took many pictures. We stayed at Crystal Creek Rainforest Retreat, in one of the beautiful bungalows.
Murwillumbah is also the place that that Marco proposed to me this weekend. I had no idea that he was going to propose at all. He’s been putting me off for ages, telling me that we needed to wait. In fact the hour before he proposed he told me I needed to wait longer. I am so happy that it has happened and I can’t believe he got the ring I wanted. Yes I pointed it out a while ago. As it was the only one I ever saw that I liked. I looked in Europe, Brisbane and Melbourne previously, but I knew this was the perfect one.
When we first arrived to Murwillumbah, we were really hungry after the long drive. I had already researched the town, so I knew exactly where I wanted to try first. That was the vegetarian cafe, New Leaf Cafe. It was probably one of the most busiest places in the town center. The staff were really friendly and make sure our meals vegan. We ordered Israeli Falafel Pita with Salsa, Salad and Hummus; Marinated Tofu Burger with caramelized onions, salad and satay; and Watermelon and Ginger Fresh Juice. All the meals were really delicious and didn’t lack in flavor. It was also very inexpensive. I can see why so many of the locals were eating here. I was too full for dessert, but I planned on coming back for it later.
After that we went looking for food to buy to have for breakfast for the next couple of days. I can’t believe how many health food shops are in this town. I found about five. Their stuff was much better then my local health food store and they had heaps of vegan products. I didn’t want to buy things I wouldn’t finish, so we just got Sol’s Breads Pumpkin & Rice Sourdough, some organic local peanut butter and two small vanilla & chocolate Pacific Foods Organic Single Serve Almond Milk. They didn’t have a lot of packaged vegan chocolate brands, so I ended up getting Leda’s Minton from the local supermarket for dessert.
After this we took a few pictures on our way to the retreat. As we drove there, we saw so many cows and horses. I am not sure if they are used for farming, as each property didn’t have many animals. It was beautiful to see the baby cows drinking from their mothers and their fathers close by and not segregated from the pack. The bulls in particular are very suspicious when you stop and they give you the evil eye and don’t look away till you get back in the car and drive off. The horses seemed more friendly.
When we got to the retreat, I saw a lady with five tiny dogs following her and she said that her partner would be straight out. He was very pleasant and took us and our luggage to our bungalow in a golf cart. When I saw the bungalow I was blown away. One entire side wall was glass, so that whether you were in the TV room, kitchen and bedroom, all you saw is green trees. The bathroom had a spa with a large glass window and there was also a large balcony and BBQ. Marco was really excited about cooking on the BBQ and kept telling me how nice it would be to eat in one night. I wasn’t too worried about it, I was just excited to get back into town later to eat out.
After enjoying our room and working up an appetite we took off back into town. We had asked around that day to where is the best places to eat and everyone said Nam Yeng Vietnamese Thai Restaurant. When we arrived it was nearly full. I noticed that they had recently won the best restaurant with under 5 staff, so I didn’t know whether to be excited about the food or nervous about how long I was going to have to wait to have dinner. As it turned out, once we ordered it didn’t take that long. This places has heaps of vegetarian options. All the curries and stir fries could be ordered with tofu and vegetables. However, I have to be honest guys. I ended up having seafood. I don’t know if I will ever give up seafood completely, its just too temping for me. It doesn’t help when Marco says to me ‘Baby its just tonight’. At least I talked him down from Beef Massaman Curry to a Yellow Fish Curry. So we got for entree Macadamia and Coconut Prawns, Pad Thai with Prawns, Yellow Fish Curry and Coconut Rice. It was all amazing! I think I ate for two and surprisingly didn’t feel too bad after that. I have put up the photos for the seafood lovers. I hope I don’t offered anyone who is a strict vegan though!
After that we went back to the bungalow, ate our Minton’s, watched Upside Down (great movie) and had an early night. Marco kept waking me up because of the strange sounds outside. We are not outdoors people, but I was really tired, so I told him to only wake me, if it was an emergency. The next morning we got up bright and early and had breakfast. Marco has never had plunger coffee before. I have, so I knew what I was in for. It took me 2 years to get him to try coffee and now hes a coffee addict. I have got him from full flavored plus sugar, down to 1 large tsp of honey. I have tried getting him onto rice or maple syrup, but he won’t have it. I thought with the vanilla flavored almond milk that the plunger coffee would be nicer. He didn’t like it, in fact he hated it. I had both cups and it wasn’t that bad. We had our toast and peanut butter and then began spraying ourselves.
We were spraying ourselves because were were going on the Rain forest walk on the retreat grounds. We didn’t want to get bitten by bugs or suckled by leeches. The man from the hotel told us to watch out for leeches especially. Marco has never seen one so he was more worried then me. Once we were dressed we went and got our walking sticks and sprayed them too and set off on our quest. It was only meant to be 45 mins, but it ended up taking us longer. A large part of it was uphill and very slippy with the moss, leaves and rocks. It did rain at one point, but we didn’t get wet under the rain forest canopy. We finally got to the Rock Pools and Hammocks, were I planned on swimming. I thought after getting so hot it would be really nice to take the recommended swim in the fresh water. Unfortunately the water was like ice, so I settled for the hammock.
After this we were really, really hungry. So off to town again to the other most recommend cafe from all the locals, the Sugar Beat Cafe. This place really did live up to its name. The place was buzzing with people and the staff were so friendly and helpful. The menu had a few vegan, many vegetarian and carnivore options (ethically sourced). I ordered the Lentil Burger with Tomato, Lettuce, Alfalfa & Tomato/Date Chutney. I asked for it dairy free, which was not a problem at all. Marco got the Lamb Burger with Roasted Capsicum, Cheese, Lettuce and Hummus. He was happy with it, but always he likes mine a bit better. I keep telling him to order veggie burgers instead, but he never listens. Lucky there were two lentil patties in my burger so I gave him one. After that we had organised to get our coffees. Luckily one of the staff members came and told us about the Special Blend Coffee, so we changed our orders to those beans instead. Can’t remember what he said was in it, but it was really good. For $0.60 upgrade it was definitely worth it. I loved this place. Unfortunately they didn’t have any desserts that were dairy free, just lots that were gluten free.
So back to New Leaf Cafe, for the vegan Chocolate Avocado Tart, that I remembered from the day before. It wasn’t like anything I have tried before, but it was still good. Marco didn’t like it, but I found it got better as I ate more of it. Marco got Turkish delight dipped in chocolate. This he really liked and wants me to make at home for ‘guests’.
After this we looked around the town, bought some food for that nights BBQ and then went back to our bungalow to relax. I had a relaxing spa and I got out and because I was dizzy and thirsty from the hot water and found the whole bungalow lite up with candles. I couldn’t believe it, it was so beautiful. The ring has a large oval dimond, surrounded by small diamonds in a white gold setting and the band is yellow gold with small diamonds. After getting over the excitement and taking photos of the ring, we prepared dinner.
Marco got on the BBQ and sauteed for red onion, broccolini, brown bella mushrooms and zucchini. Then he BBQ’ed the prawns and the meats. I organised the green salad with the delicious Mango Chili dressing, we had bought earlier and his coleslaw. We aren’t big wine drinkers so we had Rekorderlig Wild Berries Cider. Everything was perfect considering it was very simple. Marco never cooks, so I was very lucky and surprised how confident he was with the BBQ. After dinner we went back to the Rock pools to look for glow worms. They are so small, so you can’t see them if you put light on them, only in the dark do you see an aqua colored glow.
After a good sleep we woke up really early and packed our bags. First we stopped at the Caldera Farmers Market in Murwillumbah. I got some dragon fruit, kale, basil and avocados. Everything looked really fresh. I would of got more, but I was worried about it travelling in the hot car. You can see my hair gave up after 2 days in the rain forest. I straightened it 3 times and it still frizzed.
After that we were off to Byron Bay for Brunch. Originally I thought we were going to Byron, so I had already researched were we were eating. So I already had somewhere in mind, that was The Conscious Cafe. I haven’t been to Byron for years. I forgot how much of a hippy town it is. Lots of Surfies with dreads and no shoes. Everyone is really lay back and it is a really cool place, especially if your vegan. This cafe is only one of many vegan & vegetarian cafes. For Marco this place was a bit out there. The waitresses had dreads and tattoos, the music was strange, the decor was very natural and much of the menu were things he wasn’t that familiar with. I loved it! The food is 100% certified organic, gluten free, dairy free, processed soy free, genetically modified food free, Teflon cookware free and canola oil free. It was bit more expensive then Murwillumbah, but we expected that for Byron and organic food. Marco played it safe and ordered the Ganesh, which is Sweet chocolate crepe made w/ real organic cacao topped w/ vanilla bean coconut cream, fresh blueberries, currents, shredded coconut, homemade vanilla bean creamy banana ice-cream w/ a drizzle of local organic honey. I got the Moon Eclipse, which is Mung bean & black bean fettuccine w/ homemade almond basil pesto, olives, sauteed kale, sunflower & wattle seed vegan cheese & salad. I also got a Cappuccino with almond oat milk blend and Rapadura Sugar. We both really liked the meals. I was so full after eating most of mine. The coffee was also quite good and the sugar was really nice.
After brunch I took a couple of photos of the beach, but we didn’t have time to stop for a swim. Hopefully we will come for another visit in the future and find some more delicious food finds. Hope you enjoyed my trip!