Chocolate Easter Egg Fudge

Easter is a time of Chocolate decadence, and with our friends at Jayco Ballarat we have out together a video of our favourite Chocolate Easter Egg fudge recipe.

Chocolate Easter Egg Fudge

Ingredients

  • 2 Packets of Creme filled Easter Eggs
  • 2 x 180g Chocolate Blocks
  • 1 Tin Condensed Milk

Method

  • Cut Easter Eggs in half and put aside until later
  • Break up chocolate and place in Saucepan with condensed milk over low heat.
  • Once fully melted and combined take off the heat
  • Mix in half of the chocolate eggs
  • Pour fudge into the tin
  • Decorate with the remaining half of the Easter Eggs
  • Refrigerate for 5-6 hours
  • Then devour

Variations

  • In this recipe we used Salted Caramel, however we have also used creme eggs, Caramel eggs and Oreo and Caramilk eggs.
Creme Egg Chocolate Fudge
Oreo Egg Chocolate Fudge

You can also use your leftover chocolate from Easter

(Who are we kidding, who has leftover Chocolate)

Tell us below in the comments what variety of fudge you would try first.

Australia Zoo – Home of the Crocodile Hunter.

Australia Zoo, Sleeping Koala

Located near the iconic Glasshouse mountains, on the Sunshine Coast is Australia’s iconic Australia Zoo. 

On 1000 acres, Australia Zoo is one of Australia’s most iconic zoos, and one of Queensland’s most popular tourist destinations. The Zoo itself is on 110 acres with a huge range of exhibitions.

Its centrepiece is the Crocoseum (Crocodile show), made famous but the late Steve Irwin. The Original Crocodile Hunter. Bur Australia Zoo has been around before Steve made it famous with his Khaki shorts, and Loveable enthusiasm for Nature.

Crocoseum - Australia Zoo

Australia Zoo was opened back in 1970 by Bob and Lyn Irwin, Steve’s parents, as the Beerwah reptile park, and over the next twenty years, it continued to grow and included Crocodiles. Australia Zoo really rose to prominence when it was taken over by Bob and Lyn’s son the late Steve Irwin and his wife Terri in 1998.

Expanding from Reptiles it has grown into a huge variety of different exhibits, Including African animals, Tigers, South East Asian Animals, Rainforest Aviary, Australian animals, animals rescue operations, rehab hospital, horses, and a strong emphasis on conservation and rehabilitation.

Australia Zoo
Australia Zoo
Australia Zoo
Bindi's Island - Australia Zoo

Australia Zoo Tickets

One Day Ticket

  • Adult – $59.00 
  • Children (3-14 Year Old) – $35.00
  • Family 2A 2C – $172.00
  • Family 2A 3C – $189.00
  • Pensioner – $47.00
  • Student – $47.00

Two Day Ticket

  • Adult – $87.00 
  • Children (3-14 Year Old) – $51.00
  • Family 2A 2C – $258.00
  • Family 2A 3C – $283.50
  • Pensioner – $69.00
  • Student – $69.00

Annual Pass

  • Adult – $109.00 
  • Children (3-14 Year Old) – $69.00

Extra Benefits to the Annual Pass

  • 20% Off Caddie Tours
  • 10% Off Retail
  • 10% Off Feeding Frenzy Eateries
  • Loyalty Program – Retail & Encounter Credits
  • Annual Renewal Packages

Extra Opportunities for Adventure

Animal Encounters 

Australia Zoo has dozens of animal encounters available from the cute and cuddly koalas, to more adventurous walk with the tigers.

Animal encounter - Australia Zoo

Zoo Keeper for a day

Children aged between 4 and 15, will love Australia’s Zoo, Zookeeper for a day, a program that runs in the school holidays. This program allows children to go behind the scenes.

Koala - Australia Zoo

Tours

After a personalised 5 hour adventure with a tour guide. Then sign up to one of Australia Zoo’s Walking, or Golf buggy style tour. You can also book a personalised tour of the Wildlife Hospital as well.

Kids Zoo

Kids Zoo is a great place for children to see Baby farm animals, calves, lambs, kids and piglets.

Australia Zoo - Kids Zoo

Where to eat at Australia Zoo

I don’t know about you but our children seem to get hungry the minute we turn up somewhere and our visit to Australia Zoo was no exception.

Crikey Cafe Foodcourt

Located up above the Crocoseum is a large food court, called the Crickey Cafe. Serving a variety of fast food, from salads, hot chips, sushi, burger, pizza. There are a huge variety of drinks including a variety of hot and cold drinks.

Crickey Cafe

Dingo Diner

Dingo Diner is a great place to grab a coffee, cake in a relaxed cafe style environment.

Laughing Frog Lolly Shop

If your kids are after a sweet treat, then the Laughing Frog Lolly shop has over 300 lollies for sale, as well as delicious ice creams. The Laughing frog lolly shop also sells Coffee’s as well.

Laughing Frog Lolly shop

Kiosk’s through the park

Also located through the park are other kiosks that sell drinks, ice creams and coffee.

Ways to cool off.

Water Park

Water Park - Australia Zoo

Australia Zoo has a awesome Water Park located near the Lolly Shop and Dingo Diner, perfect for the children to cool off on a hot Queensland day.

Human Sprinkler - Mist

We even have human sprinkler cool down stations and fantastic misters to cool down.

Australia Zoo Opening Hours

9.00 am to 5.00 pm daily

Christmas Day – closed

Address

1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah, Qld, 4519

Located near the iconic Glasshouse mountains, on the Sunshine Coast is the iconic Australia Zoo. 

Come find out why Australia Zoo is a must see on your next trip to the Sunshine Coast
Located near the iconic Glasshouse mountains, on the Sunshine Coast is the iconic Australia Zoo. 

Come find out why Australia Zoo is a must see on your next trip to the Sunshine Coast
Located near the iconic Glasshouse mountains, on the Sunshine Coast is the iconic Australia Zoo. 

Come find out why Australia Zoo is a must see on your next trip to the Sunshine Coast

Find out more fun things to do on Australia’s Sunshine Coast.

Best Weekend escapes near Ballarat.

This year there is a huge push in Australia to #holidayherethisyear. Tourism Australia are urging all us Australians to try and spend our holidays this year, in our tourist towns that have been greatly affected not only by the bushfires, but also due to the decreased numbers in tourists arriving.

Port Fairy - Bike ride

One of the great ways to support local towns is to head off and see our own backyard on the weekend to a town with an empty fridge in the Caravan, an empty cupboard and buy from the locals in the area.

We decided to have a look at some of the great places we could hitch up our caravan and head to within a couple of hours of Ballarat.

What we found was that within an easy two – three hour drive from Ballarat, you can find a huge variety of things to do. From Bike riding, wineries, day spas, hiking, beaches.

No matter what the weather there is a weekend escape to suit you and your caravan.

Grampians

Located 150kms west of Ballarat is the spectacular Grampians National Park. Grampians is renowned for its amazing hiking, as well as a great place to see native Australian animals.

The town of Halls Gap is a very popular tourist spot for Caravanners

Lorne / Apollo Bay (Great Ocean Road)

140 kms south of Ballarat is the beautiful seaside towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay located on the iconic Great Ocean Road

Whether you are after a relaxing holiday, want to see amazing waterfalls, or just want to laze at the beach. Lorne has it all.

A popular camping / caravanning spot is the Lorne Foreshore Caravan Park, where you can relax and unwind on the foreshore.

Our favourite thing to do whilst at Lorne is to drive to the local waterfalls, Sheoak Falls and head up amongst the beautiful fernery to take it all in.

Daylesford

If you are after a relaxing weekend then Daylesford should be high on the list. Popular due to it having Australia’s largest concentration of natural mineral springs, it is the perfect place to unwind and relax. Located only 45kms from Ballarat. It’s the perfect place to go with your van and enjoy a weekend break.

Leave the Caravan behind, and take the fifteen minute drive to the Chocolate Mill located in Mount Franklin.

Book in for a massage, or spa at Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa.

Dine in one of the amazing world class restaurants.

Chocolate mill
Chocolate mill

Nagambie

180 kms and just over 2 hours away from Ballarat is the gorgeous Lake Nagambie, this artificial lake created back in 1891 is a very popular spot for boating enthusiasts.

Nagambie is also getting a real reputation within the wine industry, it gives its name to the Nagambie Lakes wine region, with its two most notable wines, Mitchelton and Tahbilk.

Mitchelton winery is also a very popular spots for weddings, and engagements. With an amazing view from Mitchelton’s observation tower.

Take a wander through town and see the statue of Black Cavier, born in Nagambie, she remained undefeated her whole career.

Warrnambool

Also located along the Great ocean road, about 170km from Ballarat is Warrnambool.

Warrnambool is the perfect place between June and October to do a spot of Whale watching, especially on Logan’s Beach.

Warrnambool also has hot springs, sheltered beaches, scenic lighthouses that are still in use today.

History buffs will love learning all about Maritime history, at the Flagstaff Hill Maritime museum.

Port Fairy

One of our favourite weekend locations is also located on the Great Ocean Road, Port Fairy is about 200 kms away from Ballarat, 28 km west of Warrnambool.

Port Fairy name has an interesting history. Originally back in the early 19th Century, whalers and seal hunters used the area, and named the area Port Fairy reportably after the sealing ship, The Fairy.

However later in 1835 John Griffiths established a whaling station in the area, and James Atkinson a solicitor from Sydney purchased land in the area and created a Harbour and renamed the area Belfast after his hometown in Ireland.

By the mid to later 19th century Belfast had become one of Australia’s largest ports, and in an Act of Parliment in 1887 renamed the town. Port Fairy. Which it has stayed.

Port Fairy is steeped in History, with over 50 buildings protected by the National Trust of Australia. The town runs a very successful Folk festival every year. It is a popular spot amongst Golfers, as well as Surfers, and bike riders.

Yambuk

Also located along the Great Ocean Road (Are you also sensing a pattern here) is the amazing Yambuk Giant Slide, located on the sand dunes this 33m long slide is a favourite for Adults and Children alike.

Great Ocean Road
Great Ocean Road

Where are some of your favourite places to visit near Ballarat.

Tell is in the comments below.

Top Ten Activities to do on Australia’s Sunshine Coast.

Top ten Must-see attractions on the Sunshine Coast.

Are you heading to the Sunshine Coast, and wondering what to do? We have put together our list of our favorite things to do on your next visit to the Sunshine Coast.

Noosa Heads

Noosa Hastings Street and Main Beach

Hastings Street is the heart of Noosa, the iconic street is full of resorts, shopping, cafe’s, ice cream stores, and restaurants. The street backs onto the iconic Main beach, Number 7 in last year’s Trip advisor’s Top Ten Australian Beaches.

Noosa Hastings Street
Noosa Hastings Street
Noosa Heads - Hastings Street
Noosa Heads – Hastings Street
Noosa Hastings Street
Noosa Hastings Street

Noosa main beach is great for swimming and relaxing on the beach. Noosa Main Beach is one of the few beaches in Australia that faces North. Surf lifesavers, patrol the beach year-round making it a favorite spot for families.

Noosa Heads
Noosa Heads

Noosa Main beach is also a Favorite of surfers. Protected by headland the waves are a bit smaller, so great for beginners.

Main Beach Noosa
Main Beach Noosa

Aussie World

Aussie World is the Sunshine Coast’s own theme park. With over 30 rides and attractions, it’s a great fun family day out. Located on the Bruce Highway at Palm view it is a very popular tourist attraction for the area. It has been running for over 30 years and is open 363 days a year.

Aussie World
Aussie World

Aussie World is presently building another thrill ride the SX360 an extreme thrill ride that is opening soon.

Children under the age of 3 are free to enter. Day passes start at $30 for Seniors, Pensioner, and Concession and then $38 per person, with Family passes for 4 at $136, and a family of 5 at $167.

Address – 1 Downunder Drive, Palmview Queensland.

Aussie World
Aussie World

The Ginger Factory

Ginger Factory
Ginger Factory

Ginger Factory in Yandina is a very popular tourist destination. You can wander in for free and look around the gardens, or let your children play in the playground.

Ginger Factory
Ginger Factory

Wander through the assorted shops on site, and If you get hungry grab a bite to eat at their fully licensed cafe, or head to there Ice Creamery and try a wide selection of handmade ice cream made on site. Including a wide selection of Ginger flavored ice creams.

Ginger Factory
Ginger Factory

With added paid extras like the fun boat ride “Overboard” that is reminiscent of Disneyland’s small world, or the ginger train, that tours through the Ginger factories 9 hectares of gardens. There is plenty of things for the family.

Ginger Factory
Ginger Factory

For those interested in bees and honey, there is also a live bee show and tasting available.

50 Pioneer Road, Yandina, Queensland

The Big Pineapple

No visit to the sunshine coast would be complete without a photo in front of the Big Pineapple. The Big Pineapple is located on the 165-hectare property on the Nambour connection road in Woombye.

Big Pineapple
Big Pineapple

The Big Pineapple features the heritage-listed Big Pineapple, and Big Pineapple visitor area, the wildlife HQ zoo, as well as the Pineapple train.

Big Pineapple
Big Pineapple

There is a little store on-site that you can grab a cold drink and ice-cream, as a range of pineapple inspired mementos.

There is no entry fee to go to the Big Pineapple, however, you can pay to go on the train, visit the zoo or take the treetop challenge.

Big Pineapple
Big Pineapple

The Big Pineapple also hosts the Big Pineapple musical festival each year.

Sealife Sunshine Coast (Previously Underwater World)

Sealife Sunshine Coast, is an oceanarium, marine park located in Mooloolaba.

Sealife is a family-friendly attraction, perfect in any weather. There are over 11 amazing and unique zones.

The highlight is the 2.5 million litre tank, where you walk through a 80-metre tunnel, with shark swimming above. This takes visitors past multiple different windows showing you various fish.

Sealife Mooloolaba
Sealife Mooloolaba

Eumundi Markets

Eumundi market is an Art and Craft Market, with Farmers and bakers selling fresh products and gourmet foods. There are musicians and street performers.

Eumundi Markets opened back on 24th March in 1979. Starting with three market holders and eight visitors and now has over 600 stalls and annual visitors of 1.6 million people.

Eumundi Market is open every day of the year, on a Saturday and Wednesday, in the charming historical town of Eumundi, located in the hinterlands.

Address – 80 Memorial Drive, Eumundi, Queensland

Noosa National Park

Noosa National Park is 9800 acres of beautiful forests, beaches, rainforests. Noosa National Park has 15 km of walking tracks ranging from easy to medium grade.

Noosa National Park
Noosa National Park

Noosa National Park has over 1 million visits every year, and its walking trail, to Hell’s gate, is one of the most traversed trails in Queensland.

Noosa National Park
Noosa National Park
Noosa National Park
Noosa National Park

Head to the Hinterlands – Montville

Montville is a beautiful little town up in the Hinterlands. Montville is a great mixture of amazing views, wonderful dining, and gorgeous shops and art galleries.

Montville
Montville

One of our favorite shops is the Artisan Chocolate shop and Cafe in Montville, called Chocolate Country.

Montville
Montville

All the chocolates are produced in house at Montville, they also make delicious fudges, Chocolate bark and have an impressive collection of lollies as well.

Montville
Montville

Australia Zoo, Beerwah

Australia Zoo is located near the Glasshouse Mountains and is located on 1000 acres.

Australia Zoo is one of Australia’s most iconic zoos, and one of Queensland’s most popular tourist destinations.

Australia Zoo
Australia Zoo

Australia Zoo was opened back in 1970 by Bob and Lyn Irwin as the Beerwah reptile park. over the next twenty years it continued to grow and included the Crocodile, but really rose to prominence when it was taken over by Bob and Lyn’s son the late Steve Irwin and his wife Terri in 1998″

Australia Zoo has grown into 110 acres with a lot of different exhibits, from Crocoseum (Crocodile show), African animals, Tigers, South East Asian Animals, Rainforest Aviary, Australian animals, animals rescue operations, rehab hospital, and a strong emphasis on conservation and rehabilitation.

Address – 1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah, Queensland.

Glasshouse Mountains National Park

Driving down the Bruce Highway you can see the distinctive peaks of the Glasshouse mountains. Listed on the Queensland and National Heritage register, the Glasshouse Mountain National Park is a popular place for nature lovers and those that love to go for a hike.

Glasshouse Mountains
Glasshouse Mountains
Glasshouse Mountains
Glasshouse Mountains
Glasshouse Mountains
Glasshouse Mountains
Glasshouse Mountains
Glasshouse Mountains
Glasshouse Mountains

Have you traveled to the Sunshine Coast? What would be your Top ten Must-see attractions on the Sunshine Coast?

Are there any other places that would make your Top Ten activities list?

Tell us in the comments below.

Sunshine Coast is the third most populated area in the Australian state of Queensland.
Sunshine Coast is well-known for its pristine beaches, scenic drives and unspoiled national parks. 
Sunshine Coast is famous for beautiful ocean to the hinterland, Most restaurants in this region take advantage of fresh local produce
Come see our top ten things to do on the Sunshine Coast
Sunshine Coast is the third most populated area in the Australian state of Queensland.
Sunshine Coast is well-known for its pristine beaches, scenic drives and unspoiled national parks. 
Sunshine Coast is famous for beautiful ocean to the hinterland, Most restaurants in this region take advantage of fresh local produce
Come see our top ten things to do on the Sunshine Coast
Sunshine Coast is the third most populated area in the Australian state of Queensland.
Sunshine Coast is well-known for its pristine beaches, scenic drives and unspoiled national parks. 
Sunshine Coast is famous for beautiful ocean to the hinterland, Most restaurants in this region take advantage of fresh local produce
Come see our top ten things to do on the Sunshine Coast
Sunshine Coast is the third most populated area in the Australian state of Queensland.
Sunshine Coast is well-known for its pristine beaches, scenic drives and unspoiled national parks. 
Sunshine Coast is famous for beautiful ocean to the hinterland, Most restaurants in this region take advantage of fresh local produce
Come see our top ten things to do on the Sunshine Coast

Chocolate Country – Artisan Chocolate in Montville

“Chocolate is happiness that you can eat.”

Chocolate Country

We love Chocolate in our house and one of our favorite things to do is to go around and find Chocolate Mills, Chocolate Factories and Chocolate shops.

We decided to head up to the very scenic Montville in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland to Chocolate Country. Montville has a population of 970 people and has a reputation for quality dining, art galleries, and beautiful panoramic views.

Montville
Montville

Chocolate country has been making and serving quality Artisan handmade chocolate since 1993. But Chocolate Country is more than just a chocolate shop, it is also a cafe, and a chocolate school.

Chocolate Country

Chocolate Country has a huge selection of quality chocolates, that are made in Montville.

Chocolate Country Chocolate Country

The cafe has a range of food, with a great range of coffee, hot chocolate made with belgium chocolate, as well as a variety of drinks.

Chocolate Country

They serve delicious chocolate tasting platters, or if devonshire tea is more your flavour, they bake fresh scones daily. 

Chocolate country doesn’t just have chocolate, their honeycomb is divine, and our children loved their huge variety of lollies you can purchase by weight.

Chocolate Country Chocolate Country

The Chocolate Country School has a maximum of 8 people in each class. Covering a whole range of techniques that allow any chocolate lover to fully understand and master how to work with chocolate.

Chocolate Country

Next time you head to the Sunshine Coast, make sure you take the windy road up to Montville and find Chocolate Country, you won’t be disappointed.

Do you love Chocolate? What is your favorite flavor? Tell me in the comments below.

Chocolate is happiness that you can eat.”
We love Chocolate in our house and one of our favorite things to do is to go around and find Chocolate Mills, Chocolate Factories and Chocolate shops. So we decided to give Chocolate Country in Montville Sunshine Coast
Chocolate is happiness that you can eat.”
We love Chocolate in our house and one of our favorite things to do is to go around and find Chocolate Mills, Chocolate Factories and Chocolate shops. So we decided to give Chocolate Country in Montville Sunshine Coast
Chocolate is happiness that you can eat.”
We love Chocolate in our house and one of our favorite things to do is to go around and find Chocolate Mills, Chocolate Factories and Chocolate shops. So we decided to give Chocolate Country in Montville Sunshine Coast

Belfast City hall, a collection of images

On our recent visit to Belfast we decided to make the most of the mild summer weather and take a walk around looking at the sights of Belfast.

Belfast City Hall
Belfast City Hall

We were staying close to the Belfast City Hall and decided to book into the Tour of the City Hall and it was well worth it.

The building is amazing construction started in 1898, and took 8 years to complete. Opening in August 1906. The time effort and skill level of this building was amazing. They just don’t make buildings like this anymore. At the time it cost £360,000 (equivalant to £128,000,000.00)

The marble, the stone work and the pure volume of Stained glass windows is inspiring and we only saw such a small amount of it.

So come along with me with a collection of my favourite images from Belfast City Hall.

Belfast

Best Streaming Services in Australia

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

Australian Streaming Services
Australian Streaming Services

Since the launch of Netflix and Stan in Australia in 2015. Streaming services have really taken off.

There is now a huge selection of shows available at the touch of a button.

Streaming even with Australia’s sub standard internet speeds is the best way to watch Tv in Australia. All the main free to air channels have even got in the action and have on demand catch up tv available.

Here we look at the Paid Streaming services available in Australia.

Apple TV

On demand streaming at $7.99 a month

You can download shows to watch later

6 simultaneous screens.

All Apple shows are Apple originals, notable shows, The morning show with Jennifer Aniston, Reece Witherspoon, See (Jason Moama), Dickinson (Hailee Steinfield), Oprah’s book club.

10 all access

On demand streaming at $9.99 a month

No 4K / No Ultra High Definition

Needs internet – no offline viewing

3 simultaneous screens

You can sign up for a free 30 day trial

Notable Shows – Survivor, NCIS, late show with James Corden, Bachelorette, The Good fight, Hawaii Five-O, Neighbours.

10 All access
10 All access

Prime Video

On demand streaming at $6.99 a month

4K / Ultra High Definition available

Select titles can be viewed offline

3 simultaneous screens

You can sign up for a free 30 day trial

Notable Shows – Bosch, Grand Tour, Goliath, Fleabag, Jack Ryan, Jonas Brothers Chasing happiness, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, The listener,

Disney Plus

On demand streaming at $8.99 a month

4K / Ultra High Definition available

Select titles can be viewed offline

4 simultaneous screens

You can sign up for a free 7 day trial

Notable Shows – Disney, Star Wars, The Mandalorian, High school musical the musical, Pixar films, Disney movies.

Disney plus
Disney plus

Hayu

Hayu is the place to go to stream reality tv.

On demand streaming for $6.99 a month

HD viewing available

Offline viewing is available

Only able to watch on one screen at a time.

You can sign up for a 1 month trial

Notable shows – Revenge body with Khloe Kadashian, The simple life, Vanderpump rules, The real housewives franchise, Top chef, Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Netflix

Netflix has three levels of subscription

Basic, Standard and Premium. Whilst the content is the same the Video quality, simultaneous streams are different.

Basic at $9.99, is as the name suggests basic. Max video quality is SD, you can only stream one show at a time.

Standard at $13.99 allows HD video quality and you can watch on 2 seperate accounts at once.

Premium at $19.99 allows 4K/UHD viewing and also allows 4 people to be watching at once.

Netflix has a one month free trial

Notable shows, Orange is the new black, You, Jessica Jones, The defenders, The Witcher, Stranger things.

netflix
Netflix

Stan

Stan has three levels of subscription

Basic, Standard and Premium. Whilst the content is the same the Video quality, simultaneous streams are different.

Basic at $10, is as the name suggests basic. Max video quality is SD, you can only stream one show at a time.

Standard at $14 allows HD video quality and you can watch on 3 seperate accounts at once.

Premium at $17 allows 4K/UHD viewing and also allows 4 people to be watching at once.

Stan has a one month free trial

Notable shows, Before the release of Disney, Stan was the place to stream Disney shows, but even without Disney there are plenty of shows to keep you amused.

Pop culture shows like, Buffy, Dr Who, Scrubs, to shows like Family guy, Greys anatomy, Nashville, I am the night, The handmaids tale.

Stan
Stan

Free to air catch up tv for free.

You can either watch it on Freeview or the individual apps.

ABC Iview,

SBS on demand

7 Plus

9 now

10 play

Red Bull TV

Let me know in the comments, your favorite way to watch TV.

Australian Streaming Services
Australian Streaming Services

5 things I learned when visiting Ireland and Northern Ireland.

We recently got back from a trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland and it was only with my researching into Ireland that I found out that they are two very different countries.

I would like to think that I am a fairly well traveled person, and although in Australia we have heard of Ireland’s struggle for independence I didn’t realise that in the end they ended up two very distinct countries.

Dublin, Ireland
Dublin, Ireland

Ireland is a country of its own located in Europe that has managed to gain it’s independence from England with a very long battle for freedom and independence. With familiar towns like Dublin, Galway, Sligo, Cork.

Ireland is a Republic, with a President, A population of about 4.9 Million. Ireland ranks among the top ten wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita, it is a member of the European Union.

Whereas Northern Ireland is a member of the UK and commonwealth. It has a population of about 1.8 MiIllion, and most notable towns are it’s capital Belfast and Derry.

Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom, has the queen as their monarch.

Northern Ireland still has a real political divide, between unionists, who wish to see Northern Ireland continue as part of the United Kingdom, and nationalists, who wish to see Northern Ireland become part of the Republic of Ireland, independent from the United Kingdom. This is something that is evident even as a tourist in their beautiful city.

Northern Ireland capital is Belfast, and recently has been getting even more media coverage due to the huge HBO hit Game of thrones choosing many of the iconic landscapes and castles of Northern Ireland as film locations, as well as many of their main sets being filmed in Titanic studios in Belfast.

Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Belfast Town Hall
Belfast Town Hall

5 things I learned when visiting Ireland and Northern Ireland.

1 – They have different currency.

As Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom, they utilise Pounds and English Currency.

Ireland is a part of the Europe and use Euros for their currency

Many people in our group actually got caught unaware on this one with many people rushing to the currency exchange at Dublin airport to swap their currency over.

2- The mailboxes are different colours

In Ireland the postboxes are green and I found that really fascinating, when I wandered over the ‘border’ to Northern Ireland the post boxes went back to the traditional red postboxes that we are used to, as a member of the commonwealth.

Green Mail boxes – Ireland

3- There is no real border crossing

Whilst Ireland and Northern Ireland are two distinct countries, you can easily travel between the countries without needing to show your passport and go through immigration.

However the towns on the border definitely have a different feel to them.

In the Town of  Derry buildings were full of amazing and poignant street art showcasing the fight for independence as well as memorials to lives lost in the independence.

Derry, Northern Ireland
Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
Derry, Northern Ireland

4- The political undercurrent is still there

What surprised me the most is how current the tension is still in the air in towns like Belfast. Whilst we were in Belfast there was a huge amount of people waving the English flag and others firmly against it.

As you walk around the streets daily we saw anti riot police trucks in the area.

Derry, Northern Ireland
Derry, Northern Ireland

Belfast, Ireland
Belfast, Ireland

5- The Architecture is very different

Dublin is a much older city, and so is the architecture, the buildings range from 14th century onwards. It had a real relaxed feel. Cobblestone paths, old bridges, and you can really imagine the city hundreds of years earlier.

Towns like Galway have done a fantastic job of keeping the history of the area with many new buildings having to keep the old structures as well.

Belfast is much younger and for those who have travelled to Melbourne and seen buildings like royal exhibition buildings, flinders street station it is very reminiscent of that. whilst the buildings are still a couple of hundred years old, there are also a lot more modern buildings, shops scattered around.

Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast, Northern Ireland

Dublin, Ireland
Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland
Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland
Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland
Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland
Dublin, Ireland

5. Pubs are everywhere.

The one thing that stood out in both Ireland and Northern Ireland was that they both love a good pub.

In Both Dublin, Galway and Belfast the main place to have a meal would have to be a pub.

Traditional restaurants were few and far between and instead every second or third store front was a pub.

Dublin, Ireland
Dublin, Ireland

Kings Head, Galway, Ireland
Kings Head, Galway, Ireland

Have you visited Ireland and Northern Ireland?

What did you learn on your visits?

What was your favorite place to visit.

Ireland

Northern Ireland

5 things I learned when visiting Ireland and Northern Ireland. 5 things I learned when visiting Ireland and Northern Ireland. 5 things I learned when visiting Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Glass of thrones

As we walked through the streets of Belfast we happened across an amazing art installation called the Glass of Thrones.

Glass of thrones was created by Tourism Ireland to celebrate ten years of filming of the iconic show in Northern Ireland.

Glass of Thrones
Glass of Thrones

Starting with Jon snow and the Starks in the centre of Belfast, just near the Belfast town Hall, there are 6 stained glasses located through the city and ending with the Iron throne at the Titanic studios were many of the scenes were filmed.

The 6 stained glass of thrones windows showcase pivotal scenes of the series and each one focuses on a family, villain or legacy of the series.

Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons, Targaryens, White Walkers and finally the Iron Throne.

Glass Of Thrones

Stained Glass of Thrones – House Stark

Location – Outside Belfast Town Hall

It was only fitting that the first window showcases the heroes of the show. The Stark family.

The stained glass window is overlooking Belfast City Hall, which also has an amazing collection of Stained Glasses Inside.

The focal point of the Stark window is Jon Snow, the King of the North at the iconic battle scene from the Battle of the bastards, however all the other Starks also get a mention.

Some of the great details are Arya about to stab Little finger, The heartbreaking red wedding, Sansai about to get her revenge on Ramsey, Hound and Brienne fighting over Ayra and of course what started it all, The Patriach of the family Ned about to lose his head.

For true fans of the show there are other subtle references to the Starks and their storyline’s with Direwolves, the Three Eyed Raven, and the weeping Weirwood tree also on there.

We were staying nearby so I was able to walk past this window multiple times and I spent ages looking at the glass window as the detail was amazing.

Glass of thrones
House Stark

Glass of thrones
House Stark

Stained Glass of Thrones – House Lannister

Location – Located beside ICC Belfast

Featuring so many iconic scenes that make up the storyline’s of some of the villains of the show, from the wildfire explosion, to Jamie’s charging on horse back towards Daenerys during the Battle of the Goldroad.

The real focal point though is Mountain carrying Cersei after her walk of shame.

I was also pleased to see some of Tyrion Lannister’s storyline on display. With his revengeful murder of his scheming father Tywin.

House Lannister

Glass of Thrones
House Lannister

Glass of Thrones
House Lannister

Stained Glass of Thrones – House Baratheon

Location – Beside Lagan Weir

I found this one the most interesting window whilst it is called House Baratheon its focal point really is Melisandre.

I guess it is quiet fitting as those who watch the show, understand wherever Stannis went, she was there pulling the strings.

The window also highlights Hound and Beric’s fight, Briennes revenge, Gendry and his Hammer, not to mention two kings dying. King Robert and King Joffrey.

But my favourite part of the window, probably because he was one of my favourite characters is Ser Davos and his boat.

House Baratheon
House Baratheon

House Baratheon
House Baratheon

House Baratheon
House Baratheon

House Baratheon
House Baratheon

Stained Glass of Thrones – House Targaryen

Location – Outside Odyssey

This window could really be called Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen,First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea,Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons, as the Window really is a huge tribute to her.

The focal point is Drogon as he breathes a twister of fire that runs all the way down the length of the window, with Danny riding atop him.

Other notible scenes include the birth of the dragons, Drogon rescuing Daenerys from the fighting pits of Meereen. Ser Barristan Selmy and Greyworms fighting the Sons of Harpy. Not to mention when her brother was crowned with Gold.

House Targaryen
House Targaryen

House Targaryen
House Targaryen

House Targaryen
House Targaryen

Stained Glass of Thrones – White Walkers

Location – Alongside SS nomadic

Hodor holding the door is the real focal point of this window, taking up centre position. Another large part of the window is the Ice King destroying a large section of the Wall on top of his Ice dragon.

There are lots of other parts to the window as well, Jon, Jorah, the Hound, Beric and Tormund stranded in the middle of the ice lake.

The making of the Ice King.

White Walkers
White Walkers

White Walker
White Walker

White Walker
White Walker

White Walkers
White Walkers

Stained Glass of Thrones – Iron Throne

Location – Overlooking the Titanic studios in the grounds of Belfast titanic experience, at the Titanic Slipway

This window is definitely trying to portray A song of Ice and Fire, with fiery Orange up top and icy blue below.

At first look it looks like it is just a beautiful window of the iron throne with a chair on it to sit so you to can Sit on the iron Throne, but at closer look you see that it also contains house sigils, cogs and gears like the opening scene.

The other great thing about this is the interactive nature of this window with people able to sit on the Iron throne for a picture.

Iron Throne - Glass of Thrones
Iron Throne

Iron Throne - Glass of Thrones
Iron Throne

Iron Throne - Glass of Thrones
Iron Throne

Iron Throne - Glass of Thrones
Iron Throne

The other awesome thing we worked out afterwards is that each of them have a very funny warning on the side. We only took a photo of a couple of them.

If you Fall, no one will bring you back, Climb at your own risk. White walkers

Climb at your own risk, For the step is steep and full of terror.
Climb at your own risk, For the step is steep and full of terror.

Glass of thrones
Remember Bran Stark, Climb at your own risk.

What is your favourite window?

Where you team Stark or Team Lannister?

Let me know in the comments below.

Visiting Giants causeway

I have dreamed of visiting Giants Causeway for a very long time, and on our way to Belfast from Dublin, we dropped in with only a small amount of time to wander down and take some photos.

With my camera in hand ready to take some iconic images of the 40,000 interlocking basalt rocks we arrived at The Nook and disembarked our bus, ready to wander down the path to the famous area, made from ancient volcanic fissure eruption, that I have seen so many times on Instagram.

As we wandered down the path the scenery was spectacular, rolling green hills, old rock walls.

Giant Causeway - Northern Ireland Giant Causeway - Northern Ireland Giant Causeway - Northern Ireland

But as we got closer something else became apparent there would be no Instagram photos with empty rock foundations, because as we got closer the crowds begun to appear.

Every year over 1 million people visit giants causeway. With the success of Game of Thrones and the huge increase in tourism due to the great marketing of Northern Ireland’s tourism department highlighting all the film locations around the areas, these numbers are just increasing every year. The fact we also arrived in mid-afternoon and only had thirty minutes to look around also added to the rush.

Giants causeway Northern Ireland Giants causeway Northern Ireland

Giants causeway Northern Ireland

People scurrying everywhere trying to get a shot, It really was a case of what you expect to see and what you actually do.

I had to adapt and change my expectation, and take the time to find an empty patch but it was well worth it.

Giants causeway Northern Ireland Giants causeway Northern Ireland

If you keep wandering past the Basalt rocks you come to large columns that are amazing, they give you an opportunity to see what the structure would look like underground.

Giants causeway Northern Ireland

Just past the towering rocks is where the path meets up with the Giant Causeway Walking trails, and if we had more time (when we go back :-)) we will definitely wander these paths. The view from the ground of the Amphitheater was inspiring. These trails follow the cliff-top and will give a totally different perspective on the giant causeway.

Giants causeway Northern Ireland
Giant Causeway Walking trails

Giants causeway Northern Ireland
Giant Causeway Walking trails

With our time nearly up we turned back to walk up the path to our awaiting bus at the visitor centre. There is a shuttle bus that runs up and down the hill during business hours, however, the walk back up is only about 15-20 minutes and is not strenuous, so we wandered back up with a memory card full of inspiring pictures, ready to head into Belfast.

Path back to visitor centre

But before we hopped on the bus I had to take one more picture, a picture to me that was what I was expecting Northern Ireland to be like.

Northern Ireland

Have you been to Northern Ireland before?

Or arrived somewhere and realised your expectations were very different from reality?

Tell me below in the comments.

I have dreamed of visiting Giants Causeway for a very long time, and on our way to Belfast from Dublin, we dropped in with only a small amount of time to wander down and take some photos.But as we got closer something else became apparent there would be no Instagram photos with empty rock foundations, because as we got closer the crowds begun to appear.  Every year over 1 million people visit giants causeway. With the success of Game of Thrones and the huge increase in tourism due to the great marketing of Northern Ireland's tourism department highlighting all the film locations around the areas, these numbers are just increasing every year. The fact we also arrived in mid-afternoon and only had thirty minutes to look around also added to the rush.But as we got closer something else became apparent there would be no Instagram photos with empty rock foundations, because as we got closer the crowds begun to appear.  Every year over 1 million people visit giants causeway. With the success of Game of Thrones and the huge increase in tourism due to the great marketing of Northern Ireland's tourism department highlighting all the film locations around the areas, these numbers are just increasing every year. The fact we also arrived in mid-afternoon and only had thirty minutes to look around also added to the rush.