The Tomb

Travel back in time to save Professor B’s fiancé, who is trapped in an Ancient Egyptian tomb.

The Tomb is one of five escape rooms at Breakout Bar and Escape Rooms in Wollongong. As the escape room is unfortunately closing on the 15th of September, we decided to give it a crack for ourselves before it would be too late.

Upon arrival, we were handed a decorative scarab beetle, graffitied with hieroglyphs on its underside; the artistic style of the small offering a nod to traditional Egyptian art.

Our mission was then read out to us from a scroll written by Professor B himself. (Professor B, for those who do not know, is the mad scientist responsible for the invention of the time machine. Stereotypically, this invention came at the price of the love of his life becoming stuck in time…) It was up to us to save the conventional damsel in distress.

The escape room is rated at a difficulty of 2/5. In other words, it’s easy without being basic. Luke and I, as a team of two who have only ever ‘escaped’ from similar rooms due to luck, were able to overcome this room with 17 minutes to spare. There were a few clues we got stuck on; but this is where the trusty iPad (*ahem* journal) came in handy, pointing us in the right direction so we wouldn’t rot away in some dusty old tomb like mummified corpses.

Though the room was dark (and I’m terrified of the dark), we found the room quite fun. It was very well-researched, accurate (albeit with one anachronism), fun, and the clues were all relevant.

This was one of the best escape rooms we have tried. I would definitely recommend giving it a go if you’re down in Wollongong before the room closes mid-September!

Looking for somewhere to stay in Wollongong? Book your accommodation with Airbnb and receive $55 AUD off your booking!

The Oodie

I knew I was going to fall in love with The Oodie the moment I saw the ad for the wearable blanket and I was not wrong! 😍😍😍

What is it?

The Oodie, with interior made from warm sherpa fleece and exterior soft flannel fleece, is the cosiest piece of clothing and the only thing helping this insomniac sleep through the cold, winter nights. It comes as a one-size fits all, which I find is very roomy. The cuffs wrap onto my wrist, locking the heat in, yet the arms are also big enough that I can keep my hands in the Oodie for extra warmth. If you’re worried about cold leggies, The Oodie also sell their own trackies!

You have the option of buying The Oodie in your favourite colour or in a cool design. For example, the selection below shows some of their available options. I own both the Cat Oodie 🐱 and the Navy Oodie and couldn’t be happier with either.

Your Oodie arrives to your house delicately wrapped in a ribbon like the gift to your life it is. It feels as though Christmas has come early as you unveil it. 🎁

If you already toddle around the house cocooned in a blanket then the Oodie is perfect for you. Being a wearable blanket, you don’t have to hold it up yourself. This frees up your movement so you can get things done while staying warm. The bonus? It has pockets!

I completely love my Oodie (and so does our puppy Maddie!) 🐶

What makes The Oodie extra great?

They have a 30-day refund policy if you do have any issues with your purchase (you won’t!).

🇦🇺 It’s Australian-made 🇦🇺 . Therefore, you’re supporting local when you buy your Oodie. (But they do ship internationally 🌍 too!)

The Oodie are cruelty-free. 🐑

You can purchase using Afterpay. 💵

Your Oodie is machine-washable.

Rating

5/5 stars.

I could not recommend The Oodie more. I initially bought my Oodie for our trip to Melbourne because I knew how cold it would get as we went south – and I have loved every moment of owning it! I even had to buy a second one so Luke would stop stealing mine!!

🤑 Save, save, save 🤑

Use code COSYXT8 to save $20 when you buy your Oodie today!

Albury Railway Station

Our Albury Airbnb host recommended we visit the Albury Railway Station before leaving the area.

The heritage-listed station, built 1880-1, is well-known for the length of its platform. As the terminus for trains at the NSW/ Vic border, the length of the platform is due to incompatible track/ train designs between the two Australian states, wherein commuters were required to transfer trains at the station.

Still in use, the station’s historic design makes you feel as though you are boarding a train through time.

Complete with waiting rooms, the station is truly stunning. The inclusion of a modern TV screen, an anachronism that blends the past with the now.

Here’s an interesting read: A newspaper article on the opening of the station, published on the 5th February 1881.

Looking for things to do around Albury-Wodonga? View Days 2-3 of my itinerary here for ideas!

Photo credit: Pictures not taken by me were taken by Synchronous Photography & Editing

Grease Monkey, Canberra

My partner and I were told the Braddon precinct was the best place for food in Canberra. We had a quick look around and decided to eat at Grease Monkey as it looked enticing, busy, and came recommended by locals online.

Atmosphere

Busy but not noisy.

Great music.

Great set-up with plenty of seating and heaters, as well as bottles of sauce and paper towels across the establishment.

5/5.

Drinks

My partner ordered a beer, which I (of course) had a sip of. It was their equivalent of a house beer and on their menu was called the Greasy Lager. It was cheap, costing only $5. I thought it tasted a lot like a Great Northern. We both loved it!

My partner also bought me a cocktail. He couldn’t remember the name of it and I was unable to find the drink on their website, but it was made up of rum, passionfruit, pomegranate, and came garnished with a lemon slice. I don’t usually drink rum but I really loved this drink!

My drink also came with a paper straw. I’ve always loved the idea of supporting the environment by using straws alternative to plastic, however I find that I don’t like paper straws much as they break easily and their texture feels gross… What I really loved about this particular straw is it stayed solid and was pleasant to drink from.

5/5.

Food

I ordered the Grease Burger (below, left). It’s a typical beef burger with pickles, lettuce, mayo, cheese, and onion. For $15, it was incredibly disappointed. It seemed basic with not a lot on it, and tasted as plain as it looked.

My partner ordered the Parma Burger (above, right). It was a fried chicken burger and was just as lacklustre as my Grease Burger. I even managed to find a bone when I took a bite into his burger, which could’ve been potentially dangerous had I swallowed it.

The chips were also disappointing. They looked and tasted flat and had a strong peppery taste. If this peppery seasoning had more flavour to it, the chips could have potentially tasted great. The tastelessness of these chips weren’t helped by the fact that the only sauce available was self-serve bottled tomato sauce. Having a great side of sauce may have made these chips amazing.

1/5.

Amenities

Toilets were clean.

I wasn’t a fan of the hand wash basin as it was open to the bar and eatery and I felt exposed as I washed and dried my hands. It also seemed like the noise of the hand drier was super distracting for other patrons because a few people did look over when I used it.

2/5.

Overall

I would highly recommend the Grease Monkey for their bar.

However, I would definitely not recommend eating here.

It was a nice establishment, but the bathroom section should be separated from the rest of the bar/ restaurant for privacy and sound management reasons.

6.5/10.

Looking for other activities near Canberra? View Days 1-2 of my itinerary here for ideas!

Accommodation in Albury-Wodonga

We chose to stay at David’s Airbnb in East Albury due to its convenient location close to the centre of Albury. Only a five minute drive to the main boulevard, we felt staying here gave us more options for things to do in the short space of time we had to do these.

Dave’s Airbnb is a recently renovated standalone unit attached to the bottom of his house. It is incredibly modern with beautiful decor. We were ‘wow-ed’ the moment we stepped into the room. If I could describe the unit in three words, they’d be: luxurious, spacey, and warm.

From the way the bed was made to the placement of the ladder, the decor really blew us away. We also really loved some of the artworks on the wall- one of the first things you’ll notice as you step into the room. Our favourite facet of David’s place, however, was the heated floor! Such a small detail really improved our mid-winter stay.

From the beginning, Dave was very helpful with giving tips for things to do and even offering to lend us his bike if we decided to go cycling (there’s a beautiful cycleway in the area called the 6km Wagirra Trail, a must-see in the region, but we unfortunately didn’t have time to ride the path!). One tip that Dave gave us that we did take on-board was to visit the Albury Railway Station. It’s a historic station, still in use, known for its extra long platform, with the length due to the station being the interchange between Victorian and NSW trains.

We enjoyed our time staying at David’s Airbnb and would definitely go back if we pass through the area again. Next time we’ll leave more time to explore though!

Book your Airbnb accommodation here and receive $55 AUD off your booking! If you want to stay with David, search ‘Albury, New South Wales’ and then select Modern, private, and close to town.

Looking for things to do around Albury-Wodonga? View Days 2-3 of my itinerary here for ideas!

Photo credit: Pictures not taken by me were taken by Synchronous Photography & Editing

Hanging Rock

You may or may not have heard the mysterious story of Miranda, Edith, Irma, Marion and Miss McCraw and want to explore the haunted scenes from the novel and movie for yourself…

Or, perhaps, you want to explore Ngannelong, a place of Indigenous spiritual significance as a border territory and meeting place between different tribes for their Corrobborees, Initiation Ceremonies, Songline Ceremonies, trade, relationship building, and a place where laws were passed…

Or, even, to just admire the beautiful landscape and the unique mamelon volcanic rocks formed by about six million years ago by a stiff magma pouring from a geologic vent and congealing in its place, creating that jutty appearance the rocks are famous for…

Whatever your reason, Hanging Rock is one of the most beautiful landscapes Australia has to offer and, conveniently located only an hour away from Melbourne, it is a must-see in Victoria!

Because we arrived at about 4:15pm, with the park closing at 5pm, our walk felt incredibly rushed. I would definitely recommend leaving a few hours to garner the full experience from Hanging Rock! The return walk to the summit takes about an hour, but there is also the Base Walk, a small museum, and a cafe.

The view of rural Victoria and the Macedon ranges from the summit of Hanging Rock is truly breathtaking, while the Base Walk offers an easier but no-less-enjoyable circuit around the mountain. What’s more is that certain points of interest on the track are marked for full enjoyment. There is a brochure with a detailed map available to pick up from the Visitor’s Centre.

Summit Walk

The maximum elevation at hanging rock is 718m, to be explored in a 1.8km return trip that, as aforementioned, takes about 50 minutes to complete. The path forks as you near the top and there are two options for how you complete the track: a more gradual climb up to the summit (if you veer left) or stairs (to the right). The Hanging Rock itself is located on the track with the stairs, so if you are keen to see this but unsure how you will cope with the slope, take the stairs on your way back.

There are 10 points of interest, starting with 1. The Visitor’s Centre, a small museum (so to speak) explaining the rock formation and depicting the fictitious history of Hanging Rock.

2. The Forest. Admire the natural beauty of the national park along your walk.

3. Edge of the Rock. The track splits here and, if you are on the summit walk, this is where you begin to walk along the edge of the cliff face.

4. Hanging Rock. The ‘hanging rock’ itself, for which the park is named, as well as the title of the original novel Picnic at Hanging Rock.

5. Natural Amphitheatre. Here, I sat on one of the rocks as if I were in back row of an amphitheatre watching nature as a play. This spot is imaginatively named.

6. Check Out the Views. This is the point where you think you’re finally at the top, but you’re not… There’s some room to explore (sort of off-track) if you take a right here. The path to the summit continues on the left.

(I love how I look semi-aesthetic in this image when in reality I was dying from running up the mountain!)

7. The Top! You’ve finally reached the top. Take in a deep breath- you’ve earned it!

8. Views of Mount Macedon. Hanging Rock is located on one of the mountains of the Mount Macedon ranges, which were (re)named by explorer Major Thomas Michell after Phillip of Macedon since he was able to see Port Phillip from the summit of Mt Macedon. At the 8th point of interest, you are able to view Mt Macedon, which rises to an impressive 1010 meters above sea-level.

9. Rock Pillar. Pillars of rock overhang the cliffs. They look like they have faces making it easy to see how the site may be sacred.

10. Wildlife. Glimpse popular wildlife like grey kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and hundreds of species of birds.

Base Walk

The Base Walking Track takes you in a clockwise direction around the base of the formation.  It is a wide, easy path, with some undulations, that enables you to experience to beauty of the park with ease.  The 2km track is clearly signposted with arrows. This track is perfect for the eldery, those with children, and those who want an easier walk.

Post-scriptum

The summit walk isn’t appropriate for young kids as there are no barriers on the cliffs. The base walk is, however, just as beautiful as the summit walk and completely safe for children.

Dogs are permitted on leash in the picnic areas but not on the walking track due to the presence of native animals.

The entry fee is $10 per car or $4 for pedestrians. There is a ticket machine just outside the cafe. You produce the ticket when you exit the park.

The park strictly closes at 5pm. If you’re late, your car (and you) will be locked in! Beware that with the creepy history of this forest, you’re in for a haunted night should you be locked in!

The North Gate is closed. However, if you do drive over to the North Gate it is possible to see kangaroo’s up close (or are they wallabies? I can never tell the difference!…)

Looking for things to do near Hanging Rock? View Day 3 of my itinerary here for ideas!

Photo credit: Pictures taken by Synchronous Photography & Editing

Featured image credit: Scene from film Picnic at Hanging Rock with credit to BBC and Fremantle Media.

Raiz

What is it?

Raiz (previously named Acorns) is a micro-investing platform. Raiz operates both online and through a downloadable app on both the Apple Store and Google Play.

Raiz is perfect for those who are new to the share market and don’t yet fully understand how investing works, as well as those who do not have thousands of dollars to invest in one go (hence, Raiz is known for its micro-investing!). This means Raiz is perfect for young people, as we often fit both of these categories.

Features

Round Ups

A setting that you can toggle on and off, Raiz Round Ups literally rounds up the spare change of purchases you make using a connected bank account to the nearest dollar figure. The idea is that you generally won’t miss a few cents but man do those few cents add up. In 6 months, I have invested just over $280 from round-ups alone.

Raiz Rewards

There’s a list of brands on the app that, if you shop through their online websites, will invest a certain percentage or figure back into your Raiz account. The great thing about this is there are plenty of brands on offer, many of whom you probably already shop through – so, why not gain a little back every time you splurge!

I’ve already made some money back from Raiz Rewards through brands like Book Depository, Boohoo, Lacoste, Priceline, and Sephora. Since Raiz has a massive range of brands on their list, I always find it rewarding to check before I buy anything online because I’m usually not disappointed.One example of how Raiz Rewards would work is if you were to buy a DNA test from MyHeritage, Raiz would invest 7% of your purchase price back into your account.

Recurring Investments

While lump sums are also available, the option to invest on a regular basis is what truly makes Raiz rewarding for me. You have the option to set up a savings goal, which tells you how much you need to invest to reach that goal depending on if you’d like to invest daily, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly.

Knowing what amount I invest regularly works great with their portfolio predictions. If I were to invest $300 weekly ($1,200 monthly) using the moderately aggressive profile, I can see I would have over $200,000 accumulated in ten years and approximately an additional $60,000 in returns!

 

Profiles

While we’re on the topic of profiles, Raiz offers 6 options: conservative, moderately conservative, moderate, moderately aggressive, aggressive, and emerald. These options mean you can err on the side of caution (conservative) or you can choose to have your finances fluctuate depending on the market for a quick return (aggressive) or you can choose somewhere in the middle, or you can even choose a long term option and make the maximum in returns but over a longer period of time (emerald).

In saying this, while there is always a risk of losing money with shares, that risk is minimised with Raiz as they invest their money in various EFTs (Exchange Traded Funds). Generally, your money will rise in the long-term though there may be short-term setbacks.

The images below show how much you will save + market returns depending on how much you invest per month. You can drag the graph up/down within the app to adjust the amount invested/ results. I have used $1,200 monthly for consistency.

My Finance

Raiz shows how much you spend every month, your average, and how you are tracking for the month. I tend to ignore this feature because it shows where I waste money… #guilty

Other features

Raiz also offer their own Super account and a kids account. However, I haven’t explored these myself and don’t know a lot about how they work so I can’t really comment on these.

How safe is Raiz?

I was initially dubious about handing over my bank details and money to an app. However, there are many facets of Raiz that I have learned through research that allow me to feel more secure about entrusting them with access to my money.

Firstly, Raiz is a public company trading on the ASX (ticker ‘RZI’). This means there is a lot of disclosure about the company. In fact, when you first open a Raiz account, they provide their PDS (Public Disclosure Statement) for you to agree to. I also found it quite reassuring to learn that Raiz is an Australian company operating out of New South Wales with an Australian Financial Services licence, and is overseen by ASIC.

If Raiz were to go bankrupt or be wound up, Raiz customers wouldn’t be left out of pocket because the Raiz deposits are transferred to ETFs, which are overseen by an independent custodian.

There is also always the possibility that cybercriminals could hack into Raiz and steal customers’ money, however Raiz is alert to this threat and has consequently implemented a “robust information security program.” In other words, this risk is very similar to that of having your money in a bank, which is something most people don’t worry about.

Professional opinions on Raiz.

In summary, the professionals think that due to account fees (which are only $2.50 a month for balances up to $10,000 and 0.275% for balances over $10,000) there are ‘cheaper’ methods of investing money. However, these cheaper options are often inaccessible to the main demographic of Raiz, young people, therefore Raiz is a great option for new investors.

My experience using Raiz

I love it!

I’ve only been using Raiz for six months, but I’ve already seen my savings grow exponentially; and not because of market returns, but because Raiz offers me an account to put my savings in that is hard enough to access that I won’t splurge but easy enough that I can draw on my money when needed (withdrawals are processed in 5-7 business days).

In terms of market returns, my account is currently sitting at +4.47% (while my partner’s is about 13.4% for the past year), which just goes to show how much you can make through market returns. I’ve additionally loved making additional money through dividends and Raiz Rewards.

I can’t recommend Raiz enough! It’s been the best thing for my savings!!

Interested in making your own account? Join Raiz today and both you and I will receive $5 straight into our accounts.

Lazerpig, Melbourne

Lazerpig is located in Collingwood and in a great area to go bar-hopping if that’s your desire.

We went to Lazerpig for dinner in-between Parts I and II of the Cursed Child at the nearby Princes Theatre.

We nearly gave Lazerpig a miss due to some bad reviews online, however since Lazerpig was recommended by a friend, we decided to give it a risk. And we did not regret this decision.

We arrived just before 5pm, so their restaurant wasn’t actually open when we got there. However, we were able to order food, so we sat in the bar area to eat and drink.

Atmosphere

It wasn’t busy but it was only off-peak.

Music was at a good volume.

Beautiful, dim lighting. Really made the bar look alive.

5/5.

Drinks

I bought and drank the Rhubarb Pie Cocktail while I waited for my food. The drink comprised of sfumato rabarbaro, sazerac rye bourbon. jameson, tasmanian leatherwood honey, lemon, cassia bark, and came with a strawberry garnish. I was shocked at how similar it tasted like Rhubarb Pie. It was also warm, so made for a great drink on a cold winter evening.

I could really see that a lot of love had gone into making my cocktail. 5/5.

Food

My Ronny J pizza came quickly, coming only after about ten minutes. Some reviews we read said the food took up to an hour to come out, so perhaps we got lucky since we went to Lazerpig at an off-peak time.

I expected my pizza to be hot from the jalepenos but I could barely taste them (I mean you know it’s not hot if Luke can tolerate it because he’s weak af for hot foods). On the other hand, the honey gave a lovely undertone to my pizza that I really enjoyed… It was tasteful in such a way that the honey was subtle yet added a unique twist to the pizza.

Though unique, my pizza could have been a little more flavoursome. 4/5.

Ammenities

It was a bit of a maze to find the toilets but they were clean.

3/5.

Overall

I had a great experience at the Lazerpig. I loved their drinks, they definitely had some unique food, their music was good, and the design was great.

I’d love to return!

8.5/10.

Check out Days 3-5 of my itinerary here to view other things to do in and near Melbourne!

Bar-Hopping in Melbourne

Whether you’re unsure how to spend the night after seeing the Cursed Child or just looking for a great night out, I have some suggestions for you!

With the Princess Theatre conveniently a 30-min walk from Collingwood and Fitzroy, which is filled with a plethora of bars, hotels, and pubs, you are in the perfect place to have find yourself in a drunken stupor (unfortunately there’s no butter beer!).

I suggest starting at Bar Americano, proceeding to Eau De Vie, then walking over to Collingwood for drinks at Lazerpig, then down to Naked for Satan at Fitzroy and over to the Evelyn Hotel to finish. Walk down Brunswick St between Lazerpig and Naked for Satan and you may find a gem to add to your list!

While we didn’t go bar-hopping ourselves, we did have dinner at Lazerpig. Their food was great and their drinks even better! I tried the Rhubarb Pie cocktail and it actually tasted like Rhubarb Pie!

Check out Days 3-5 of my itinerary here to view other things to do in and near Melbourne!

Accommodation in Lake Bunga

We stayed at Lake Bunga in Lakes Entrance as it was halfway between Walhalla and Jervis Bay, so a good resting place for us. My understanding is that Lakes Entrance isn’t a massive tourist destination but there are some lovely views of lakes, beaches to visit, and a quick Google search shows that it does have some noteworthy activities. We didn’t spend any time doing activities here – For us, Lakes Entrance was just a stop over.

We chose Alan’s Airbnb for affordability. We saw on his listing that his house had a lovely view of Lake Bunga and this was enough to excite us. However, we found Alan’s Airbnb to be much better than expected. He really went above and beyond with his effort in making sure we left satisfied and had the best possible trip. One thing I loved is that Alan responded to my messages quickly; giving me a much-appreciated tip-off about the best place to stop for fuel and warning me that most eateries would be closed by the time we arrived. He also added to our itinerary by giving us a tourist pamphlet and circling some scenic places to stop, great places to eat, etc. We actually did take his advice too, stopping in Eden at the lookout where we saw a seal flipper sticking out of the ocean and grabbing lunch from Longstocking Brewery in Pambula where we unexpectedly had a lot of fun with their attached petting zoo.

We had a great chat with Alan about his travels as well. He is a retired teacher, who spent the latter years of his career working in international schools around Asia. As such, his home is decorated with Asian artefacts and art pieces. We found this a real treat as both Luke and I come from caucasian backgrounds and haven’t been exposed to much Asian art, so it was quite culturally enhancing for us.

We would definitely recommend staying with Alan if you’re travelling through the Lakes Entrance area. He really goes above and beyond to help you make the most of your travels and he is great to converse with.

Book your Airbnb accommodation here and receive $55 AUD off your booking! If you want to stay with Alan, search ‘Lake Bunga’ and then select the listing ‘Quiet Lake Bunga Home with a View’.

Click my itinerary here to view ‘must see’ stops on your way to Lakes Entrance.

Photo credit: Pictures not taken by me were taken by Synchronous Photography & Editing