Fairgrounds Festival….. like a local.

Festivals have come and gone over the last 10 years, for a multitude of reasons I am not here to get into …. (maybe you could pay your artists?) ….. and what have we learnt from the rises and the falls? The highs, and the very low, un-financial, lows? That bigger is not necessarily better.

CUE: Fairgrounds Festival!

Set to take place on December 2 & 3, in the picturesque town of Berry,  affectionately known as Bezza by local surfers from Shoaly Heads, or the Town of Trees by wannabe local tree/sea changers. Well known for some godforsaken reason for its Donut Van (I don’t get it, never have never will), knick-knack shops, and pies (completely understand this one).

13781941_10153642793262377_2547925058716535161_n.jpgCork marking the footy lines at the Showground – Fairgrounds Location Shot. 

The festival begins, as per the website http://www.fairgrounds.com.au, on Friday night where musical acts will commence performing at 5pm. Fairgrounds will reload and back up for a full Saturdays worth of festive madness from 12pm.

So with those hours of the weekend taken care of by pure musical genius, I’m here and happy to tell you just how to take on the rest of your Fairgrounds weekend – like a local.

1. Coffee

We mere humans are like sheep when it comes to lines and crowds. I don’t know what side of the brain is responsible for it, but we see a line and we join it? We see a crowd and think ‘Well, it must be good!’ – WRONG.

There is one place, and only one place, to refuel in Berry. And there wont be a line – because they have their shit together and move fast!

Il Locale Gelato

Not your average ice cream shop. Owned by mates Damo and Josie, with baristas Lily and Laura, they smash out coffees like nobodies business. This isn’t the place for a ¾ soy latte with 1.25 shots of coffee. This is for people that need coffee as their elixir of life – quick fast and straight to the point.

15139578_10153946052207377_419307447_n.jpgIl Locale Gelato

A no fuss, all delicious breakfast menu is also available, as well as pies, sandwiches, an array of sweets; Mr Kombucha and locally cold pressed Juices. Not to mention it is a gelato shop and they are Berry’s own Messin – what, if not better! Minus the lines, fake French accents and house music.

And for all the foodies out there, the situation with the milk – low homogenised locally produced milk from The Pines in Kiama is used in all their coffee, gelato etc. Creamy AF

Il Locale: https://www.facebook.com/illocalegelato/?fref=ts

2. Booze

There are two pubs in Berry. The Great Southern Hotel (The TOP), and The Berry Hotel (The Bottom), and before all you tourists start up there is a slight incline between the two to justify the local naming.

The Top has a great deck and swing chair, it’s a great place to sit and drink in the sun and people watch. The Bottom has the old country rustic charm that a pub 2 hours from Sydney should have. I’ll leave it for you to decide.


But my biased favourite is ‘The Bottom’.

At the Coach House Restaurant at The Bottom, I pick the Greek Chicken Burger as the lunch option, and the Beef or Salmon Fillet for dinner.

But the real and unknown deal here is the Sunday breakfast. It’s fast, it’s affordable, it’s delicious, and again, usually without a line up of 100 hungry punters.

13413605_10153556880577377_3723412020107557330_n.jpgThe Beef Fillet

As tourists, I expect you to visit both pubs and decide for yourselves. I’m biased, I used to work at The Bottom, and my friends own it.

Like each of the establishments Facebook pages to stay up to date with the goings on over the Fairgrounds weekend.

TOP: https://www.facebook.com/TheBerryHotel/?fref=ts

BOTTOM: https://www.facebook.com/Great-Southern-Hotel-Berry-741549265953198/?fref=ts

3. Food

We take our Asian takeaway pretty seriously in the town of trees, but there are only two options that I can stress to you: the need to indulge in over the Fairgrounds Weekend.

The Bowlo Chinese, I believe, is the favourite local haunt. The food is fast and fresh, and cheap. Service is always fast and fresh, and meals can be accompanied with Bowlo priced beverages, and a meat raffle. Sign me up – well you may have to, or at least sign in as a visitor, but don’t let that put you off.

Highly recommend the: Spring Rolls, Lemon Chicken, Small Special Fried Rice, Deep Fried Ice Cream with Chocolate Topping and a James Squire 150 Lashes.

10675716_10153114295042377_4085090325730547837_n.jpgDeep Fried Ice Cream at The Bowlo!

LEAF – Love Eating Asian Food – not even kidding.

This place is to die for. Service with a smile was actually born here, I’m sure of it. Have a seat in their courtyard and prepare for an absolute feast.

Words cannot describe the flavours you are about to experience. Thai, Vietnamese, you name it South East Asian, LEAF delivers it – incredibly and artistically. Their wine list also features a number of local drops!

A favourite amongst locals and tourists, you may have to book ahead.

15087010_10153946055462377_1418672026_n.jpgVietnamese Pancake @ LEAF.

Highly Recommend:

Spring Rolls, Mummy Prawns, Pang Na Moo, BBQ Pork Bun, Penang Curry with Chicken or Duck, Vietnamese Pancake – my god delicious, Choo Chee King Prawns, Cashew Nut Chilli Jam, and Signature Fried Rice.

Washed down with a Sunday Afternoon from Two Figs Winery – CHEERS.

In preparation, like their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/leafinberry/

 4. Adventure

When you arrive in Berry, and along the way, provided it’s daylight, you’ll notice just how scenic the place is. Berry’s next door neighbour is Gerringong ‘Where the Mountains meet the Sea’, and so, the seaside at Seven Mile Beach is only a short 8min drive east from the centre of Berry. To the west of town you stare directly at Mountains. It makes the place humid in summer, the days short in winter and above all, picture – bloody – esque.

Where there are mountains, there is adventure. Challenge yourselves to the LK hike up to the Drawing Room Rocks, aka Tables and Chairs. The hike takes 2.5 hours return and is 4.5km round trip. And, I’m not giving you any more information than that.

You’ll need a car to get to the track. Search #drawingrooms through Instagram and use Google Maps to get there. You’re on an adventure, I’m not spoon-feeding you directions and laying petals on the path so you can find your way back. The view from the top is unbelievable.

10151776_10151999791857377_3141993616124873392_n.jpgDrawing Rooms – 2013


Drawing Rooms – 2014

Be mindful, you’re in the Australian Bush, there are snakes and spiders – Whistle Dixie.

5. Chill

As stated above, Mountains to the West, Beach to the East – say are you in Berry?

There are waterholes….and I’m not directing you to them as they are local secrets. You want them – you find them. For the non-adventurous punters I present to you – 7 miles of beach.

5432_10153322893012377_2853133783364168059_n.jpgSecret Waterhole.

Within 8 driving minutes from Berry, aptly named ‘7 Mile Beach’, it stretches from Gerroa at the north end, to Shoalhaven Heads in the south.

Generally speaking, if you like your beach days calm, head to Gerroa, and if you’re looking for waves, Shoalhaven Heads.

There is a Berry Beach and I’d advise you not to swim there. You can walk to either of the other two beaches from Berry Beach but it is a completely unmanned and isolated beach. Perfect for walks, sunbaking and wading up to the knees, and that’s about it.

1480496_10151729818617377_908901362_n.jpgThe Entrance to Berry Beach.

Gerroa, to the North end of 7 mile, is my personal favourite. It’s perfect for a swim, a sunbake, and has some of the brightest little creatures calling its rock pools home. A small café and a small takeaway are located within walking distance of Gerroa beach, whereas Shoaly Heads and Berry Beach – you’re on your catering own. Always thinking about food. The waves are generally flat and bay like at Gerroa, the water – almost always clear. And 9 times out of 10 you’re protected from any southerly busters wishing to spoil your sunny summer days.

15085585_10153943525152377_3422462923497926869_n.jpgSeven-Mile Beach from Gerroa.

On a parting note:

  • Bring some food in case of munchies – there is no Maccas, 7Eleven or Kebab Shop, don’t argue there aren’t any.
  • Taxi’s may as well be non-existent. So plan ahead. Have a designated driver, wear appropriate shoes to walk home in, or stay close by. Berry is relatively flat, so a 6km walk when tanked after a great effort at the festival, should be manageable.
  • Treat others the way you like to be treated. Don’t be a dick to hospo staff, don’t litter and have some respect for the place and the people, and they’ll show you the same back.
  • If the suns out, pick up an Akubra from The Berry Barn ;).

I think that sums it up. Berry is a great place, and Fairgrounds Festival is looking set to match its greatness.

See you at Fairgrounds. Or the pub, most likely the pub the night before. Cheers!

11230216_10153056930847377_7892448531325466318_n.jpgRe-Enacting FAME on the Main Street of the Tiny Town.


5 Reasons why you have to FNQ for Cairns.

Aussies have finished holidaying within their own country….. God only knows why. People generally blame it on the flights, becoming cheaper and cheaper to fly to (somewhat and seemingly) domestically located International destinations such as Fiji and Bali; others blame the rising cost of domestic accommodation and entertainment. When I compare costs between Bali and Cairns however, I don’t note much of a difference. I should preface the fact that I am not really a drinker and so Bintangs -v- XXXXs is left out of my equation. We live in one of the best countries on Earth, get patriotic people and explore your mainland.

5 Reasons why Cairns is so good you have to FNQ for it. (I do not own this pun).

1. The Great Barrier Reef. Typical.

The name requires no explanation, does it? It’s Great – approx. 344,400km squared in fact, it provides a Barrier – my geographical guess would be to the Continental Shelf, and it’s a Reef. So you’d be right to think its large, expansive wonderland, full of an array of marine life you are not going to see anywhere else. That must be why it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981….hmmm.

I’ve snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef 5 times now and I have to say, ignore the coral bleaching hype, the Reef just keeps getting better and better. With science advancing at rapid pace, marine biologists are really beginning to understand this beautiful water world. What we thought before was bleached and dead coral, scientists now have the perhaps pessimistic view that it is in fact just laying dormant, and reincarnating – if you like. And there is evidence of this, as you snorkel you’ll pass white and brown coral, and are pleasantly surprised by the bright almost fluorescent blue and purple branching coral. And on the plus side, the white and brown corals make the clownfish more obvious too!

We travelled to the Reef in April on the ‘Calypso Catamaran’ from Port Douglas, and I can highly recommend these guys. The crew were awesome, super welcoming, and the kiwi leader was not only a babe, but was super informative. My brother and fiancé took off and dived (they’re PADI accredited) and I snorkelled, alone. I wasn’t feeling super enthused by this prospect so the crew encouraged me. As soon as I dipped my head under the biggest Maori Wrasse fish welcomed me in, practically brushing past my cheek. The included lunch was delicious, and nothing was a hassle for these guys, not even the 25-30 knots on our way out., cheers Skipper. An awesome way to see the Reef, I’ll never go with another company again.

13319972_10153534268832377_2579707431466647478_n.jpgThe boys coming back from their dive.

13307347_10153534268967377_6336357477713997058_n.jpgSnorkelling the Great Barrier Reef.

10551040_10152156282552377_5199265278703876907_n.jpg Bitch, please, nips for days.

2. The Daintree Rainforest. The last list entry that is expected.

This place is one big giant green wonderland. The Daintree Rainforest is approx. 1200 square km’s, beginning at Mossman Gorge and ending along the Bloomfield Track towards Cooktown. The place is one giant feast for the senses. It smells like crisp, freshly washed linen sheets, it looks all hues of vibrant dense green, and as you walk through it you’ll notice that it sounds like one of those 90s mood CDs that plays running water and whipping birds on repeat, but in the Daintree’s case, it’s real.

On our recent trip to Cairns, we travelled up as far as Cape Tribulation to experience the ‘real’ Daintree Rainforest, and stayed at ‘PK’s Jungle Village’. The accommodation gave us great access to the beach and the rainforest, and was in the centre of ‘town’. (Town being 4 shops/convenience stores.) It also housed the main pub/bar with great Aussie pub style meals, the Chicken Parmy was to die for.

13327646_10153534270687377_7051004180147582041_n.jpgThe beach 10 mins walk from our accommodation, in Cape Tribulation. Sunbake don’t swim.

13343014_10153534270032377_7934188425388398398_n.jpgSignage from our accommodation to the beach.

13321792_10153534271132377_4429082866100331355_n.jpgA local swimming hole in Cape Tribulation, in hindsight not the smartest thing we have done. 

If you can’t make the trip to Cape Tribulation, be sure to check out Mossman Gorge. By far one of the best tourist attractions in FNQ. This place is tourism done right. We scoped out Mossman Gorge about 3 years ago, after seeing a documentary about the facility aired on SBS. Mossman Gorge is a FNQ landmark of high cultural significance to the local indigenous people.

At the Mossman Gorge Tourist Centre you can pay a small entrance fee and bushwalk and swim as you like. Or you can purchase a ticket on a cultural tour, led by a local indigenous elder. We took the second option and met Rodney. I can’t begin to tell you how much of a legend Rodney is, I’d be here all day, I really do encourage you to find out for yourselves. Rodney, his pride, and his knowledge will stay with me forever. Our trip to Mossman Gorge remains completely unforgettable.

10689619_10152358431067377_5584427743707746765_n.jpgMossman Gorge – in my element.


If you are familiar with those brown road signs that state ‘SCENIC ROUTE’ in different areas across Australia, you’re in for a treat, because NONE of those routes compare to the Waterfall Circuit just outside of Cairns.

The circuit will take you through the picturesque Atherton Tablelands. And can encompass as many or as few waterfalls and waterholes that you would like, such as Millaa Millaa Falls, Pepina Falls, Mungalil Falls, Zillie Falls, Josephine Falls, Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham. Set aside a full day to explore and swim, but be ready to share with fellow tourists during peak season, especially Millaa Millaa Falls. Don’t let it stop you, they’re all big enough to share.

A trip out to these waterfalls, holes and Tablelands is an absolute must, not only can you spend the day swimming in beautiful rainforest temperate waters, but you can feed turtles, drive through true Australian farming countryside, eat local produce and meander through cute little village shops. Some waterholes also offer other water sports such as sailing, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding.

Search the following hash tags through Instagram to find some of Australia’s truest natural beauty: #millaamillaafalls #josephinefalls #pepinafalls, #mungalilfalls, #zilliefalls, #josephinefalls, #lakebarrine and #lakeeacham

(I have limited pics as my phone went for a swim at the GBR and I lost them all L)

10401873_10152156268492377_6731545118557731927_n.jpgYou may recognise Millaa Millaa Falls. It was the waterfall used in the 90s Herbal Essences Promo, ah, yes, yes, oh, yes. Get your cameras ready!

4. Paronella Park – I know, you’ve never heard of it.

Paronella Park is quite literally castle ruin in a rainforest that encompasses a gigantic waterfall, that hardly anyone knows about. The best kept Australian secret, and also the most underrated poorly advertised tourist attraction ever. I can’t explain just how much love I have for this place. It is the definition of beautiful.

Located about an hours drive south of Cairns, you’ll pass through Innisfail (Bob Katter country) to get to it. Paronella Park was a mansion originally built by Jose Paronella to give to his wife. I could continue with the story but I don’t want to ruin it all for you.

It costs $44 for entry. Guided tours are conducted every 30 minutes that’ll take you around the grounds of the property, and inform you of the history as well. After that you are free to do as you please; find the crocodile (maybe don’t), feed the turtles, have lunch, run across the suspension bridge, take selfies, catch Pokémon, PLAY IN CASTLE RUINS. We spent half a day at Paronella Park, you could spend longer.


10509714_10152358407347377_3699265764007330174_n.jpgLiterally, castle ruins in a rainforest.

1016889_10152358410007377_8338613882703088931_n.jpgWith a waterfall.

5. Billionaires Row.

When billionaires embark on a tropical holiday, they pack their latest Camilla kaftan, Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt, Seafolly bikini and Aesop sun tan lotion and head to Port Douglas. But you don’t have to be a billionaire to love it here. This place is the shit.

Like a quaint little seaside village ripped out of a Country Style magazine, the main street is lined with bakeries, cafes and typical Queenslander pubs; all serving locally sourced organic produce, and locally brewed beers.

The Main Beach at Port Douglas is 100% lined with palm trees (and I’m talking the ones that sprout coconuts), 25% lined with stinger nets, and manned by lifeguards. It’s probably your safest beach to swim at in FNQ (as long as the mature coconuts have been removed – they do knock people out).

13325504_10153534269897377_7025225113781977086_n.jpgMain Beach – Port Douglas.

The shopping in Port Douglas is great too, the main street features many clothing and home ware boutiques, and it could easily take you ½ to a full day to meander through them all. Markets are held each and every Sunday at Anzac Park, and those coconuts that I was telling you about, are removed from the beach palms and sold fresh.

There are scenic walks, fishing, mangrove crocodile tours, ½ day and full day trips out to the reef and nearby islands (turtles!), mountain and road bike hire, sunset cruises, literally activities for all. I don’t know one person that wouldn’t love the place.

10704064_10152358399867377_2627606571303538535_n.jpgScenic Walk from town.

On our latest trip we stayed at the Port Douglas Motel on Davidson Street. The room was clean, the bed comfortable, within walking distance to the main street and the air conditioner working. What more could you want? We ate at the Tin Shed Combined Clubs, Star of Siam Thai Restaurant, Rattle and Hum Pub, The Little Larder Café, Dave’s Takeaway (THE BEST).

13310574_10153534268512377_7456453115091050987_n.jpgA Sunset shot taken at The Tin Shed.

If you need more encouragement to visit FNQ, flights to Cairns can usually be found for around $150 each way, departing Sydney.


Alternatively, follow the ‘gram @crystaljanes_lalaland and have a stalk through my old holiday snaps.


CJ x

The Binge.

How many times have you fallen for a TV series? like really fallen for it? You’re 2 or 3 episodes into binge watching the first season that’s just become available on Netflix, and you think to yourself, ‘My God, what did I ever do with myself and my spare time prior to engaging in this dramatic consumption of life and thought?’. I am absolutely all over the place with my TV series vices. Don’t give me fantasy like ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘The Walking Dead’ – I find them completely un-relatable. And please God, no ‘Sons of Anarchy’ or ‘Breaking Bad’, if you find these series interesting, go hang in your local industrial area for long enough and you can see this sort of drama unfold in REAL LIFE and in REAL TIME.

But, give me ‘Girls’, ‘OITNB’, ‘Wentworth’ or ‘Janet King’, and you wont see me for a month. There’s something real about the wind in Hannah Horvaths hair as she cycles down the streets of Brooklyn, with a friend she hasn’t seen in 4 years, in ‘Girls’. With the long hiatus’ ‘OITNB’ manufactures between seasons, you end up longing for a good dose of Red’s realism yearly come May. And tell me a fellow Aussie that doesn’t indulge in a binge of some solid home grown drama every now and then, I know I go over the top with this, always have, always will.


The binge-watching pandemic has taken populations of all ages, genders and backgrounds, and no one seems to be immune. Not even my mother, who used to refer to the TV as ‘the idiot box’, and insisted it be switched off at, what felt like, all times. She’s now found, nightly, tucked up in bed tuning into whatever Netflix series is going, ‘Cuckoo’ at the moment. But, different people tune into different series, and, whilst some would say that tuning in is an introverted socially isolating activity, how bloody good is it when you find a kindred series watching spirit? When one of your nearest and dearest is, whether forced or coincidentally, bingeing on the same program as you, it is heaven on earth! All of a sudden, the characters can be brought to life simply through conversation, and, if you’re as hooked as say – me! Catching up with kindred series watching spirit friends becomes almost like catching up with the characters themselves, oh hey ‘Shoshanna’.

People can say what they like about on demand Internet based streaming services. They can bitch and moan about how the ‘good old days’ were when you, I don’t know, gardened and spoke to your neighbours. I call those future avoiders to a challenge, to sit and watch 3 episodes of …. Hmm…. ‘Making a Murderer’ or ‘House of Cards’, and then let’s see if they come back to me about how sweet it is to swap recipes with Betty over the fence and how this binge watching madness has caused a negative flow on effect disabling them from their fence chats.


The 2016 truth of the matter is that the world wants an escape, and good, intelligent, well-written TV series give us that. We can sit back in the comfort of our own homes and escape. We can become a part of another world, and we can watch those in that world just live around us, without the need for us to interact, we can just watch. And why is this so appealing? On your average day at work, regardless of occupation, count how many individuals you encounter and interact with. We leave the house and park at the station, we watch the world around us, make eye contact with fellow passengers and train guards and ticketing officers, we purchase our coffee and engage in meaningless chit chat with our barista…. You’ll find that before you’ve even arrived at your place of work, or checked your Facebook, the number is at least 20. These interactions are neither positive nor negative, but they are certainly energy consuming. Not to mention these interactions are proof that the idea that we are a disengaged society is just pure bullshit.


Over the last month reports surfaced that Netflix is set to spend $5 billion dollars, in 2016 alone, on producing original content. Well, thank God for that, because I was beginning to think that I might have to subscribe to another streaming service to fill my downtime vice.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to check in on Mickey and Gus’ love triangle in Judd Apatows ‘Love’ – Judd Apatow – the man can do no wrong.

So ignore the binge-watching shaming and get in your onesie, grab your cup of tea and tune in, stat. No judgement here.


CJ x

Don’t forget to follow the ‘gram @crystaljanes_lalaland


I think I had the most fun writing this blog post, Part V of the holiday tips. So great reminiscing on the different adventures we’ve had and thinking about how we had them, and found them! There’s always so much to do and so little time to do them in when you’re holidaying. Always ALWAYS draw up a rough, if not complete, itinerary before leaving home, and do your best to stick to it. And try out these other tips…

Hashtags: I cannot get enough of searching the #hashtags of destinations on Instagram. People don’t post on Instagram when they’re having a shit time, FACT. So if you want to see awesome local sights at your destination – Instagram is the way to go. You’ll be surprised with what you find.


Obsessed with street art – found this gem in the dusty backstreets of Tamworth, cheers Instagram. 

Tripadvisor: The only thing Tripadvisor if useful for is feedback on tours and activities, and even then I use it cautiously. If I literally have NO idea of what to do in a destination I’ll turn to Tripadvisor. Always remember that 80% of the reviews are negative, and 70% of people don’t post here because it’s time consuming – they’re usually snapping away on Instagram (see above). 

Nature: If you’re looking for natural experiences at your destination try Google searches with just the suburb and then the experience you are after, for example: Mullumbimby Waterfall. Mix it up as well – Mullumbimby Waterhole, Mullumbimby Creek, Mullumbimby River, Mullumbimby Bushwalk, etc. Whatever you find you should be able to send through Google Maps to get the directions.


Re-enacting the 90s Herbal Essences TVC at Milla Milla Falls – FNQ.

Geocache: If you have walking children and you don’t know what I’m talking about you need to reconsider your parenting goals. To put simply, all around the world there are Pirates that bury treasure and log the treasure on an app called Geocache. The app acts as your map, and compass, using GPS to take you to the X that marks the spot. Yep, a real life TREASURE HUNT. When you find the buried treasure you log it on the app and in the treasure box, and sometimes there is a little gift for you, sometimes there is not. I cannot explain how amazing Geocaching is. The treasure is buried in both the Bush and the City – it may even be in your neighbourhood. The app is free for the first 6 months (or it used to be) and then is a small fee per month. It will give you hours of entertainment, and will get you out exploring your destination.


A secret Geocache location on the South Coast of NSW.

Bicycles: I have to preface this with the fact that I graduated from training wheels on my 18th birthday and am in no way a cyclist. Regardless, I still believe cycling is the absolute best form of transport whilst on holidays, if you’re not in the Swiss Alps. My fiancé and I try to make a point of getting on a bicycle wherever we travel (time allowing). We’ve cycled through Melbourne, Cairns, Gold Coast, and Singapore. Some major cities – Singapore – have cycle tour companies, these are great to help you navigate and weave through the traffic. Bicycle hire is usually cheap and will get you moving quicker than walking, but still immersed in the local atmosphere.


Melbourne, VIC.


Cairns, QLD.

Meals: Social media is great for catching a bargain. Most local pubs and clubs have their lunch and dinner specials listed on their Facebook page. Check these out ahead of time and you’ll find the $10 steaks and perhaps even the trivia night details. And never be afraid to ask the locals – if you’re having a schooner at the local pub and you spot a local ASK THEM THEY KNOW and they’re usually happy to refer you to their favourite.

Most parks in coastal areas have BBQ facilities. Buy what you need and have a cook up! Just remember to pack the necessary utensils. And, if there aren’t any BBQs, there is always the Roast Chickens for $8.99 at Woolworths, a few salads and bread rolls! It’s all about thinking outside of the square. Fish and Chips from the local takeaway, lettuce/tomato/bread rolls from Woolworths, fish burgers on the beach for four on the cheap. Winning.

Groupon / Livingsocial: You just never know what you’ll pick up on these websites. Just change your postcode and search away. Sometimes you’ll snap up dinner for 2 or 4 for under $50, and even sometimes entry to theme parks for families at highly discounted rates.

I’m sure I could go on. But that’s all I have, for now, in the way of holiday tips!

NOTE: Whilst I’m away I try to stay on track with my lifestyle, the same as I have it at home. Travelling can be adapted to suit your lifestyle too, just plan ahead and don’t let anything stop you.

Any tips you’re willing to share? Comment below!


Stay tuned for updates here and on the ‘gram @crystaljanes_lalaland

CJ x


Do you know your State? Like really know your State?

Jump straight into it. I’m from NSW, grew up in Campbelltown, C-Unit – no, I don’t know Kerser, moved to Cambewarra, on the South Coast NSW, at 21, then to Nowra, then to Berry and lived there for 5 years fulltime. I moved to Darlinghurst for a year, and now I live part time in Arncliffe and part time in Berry, and have done for almost a year.

I’ve lived and travelled this state extensively; it’s the great state. We have the best beaches, nightlife (it still exists – even with Mike Baird doing his best to kill it), bushland, waterfalls, swimming holes, coastal tracks and rainforests. You don’t need to go far in this state to have a sweet quick trip away, SO GO, and take these driving holiday tips with you.



A Spring night in Katoomba.

Cars: Always take the business car, am I right? 90s or what? Just hop in Dads company car and we’ll head up to Coffs or the weekend. As if you haven’t done this, and as if you won’t do this if you can! 

Petrol: Fill up your petrol ahead of time and watch the petrol prices. In Sydney your best day to fill up is a Tuesday. Work out your area and fill up in preparation. Save up your petrol vouchers and do some Google research to make sure there are outlets where you can use them along the way.

Food: Pack an esky, even if it’s just for water, a bottle of water at a servo is generally $4! Rip off! Map out your food stops. Don’t just charge on through picking up dirty servo sandwiches and sausage rolls! Some service stations charge $6 a sausage roll and $7.50 a sandwich! Pull into a regional town, find a small business with fresh local produce and dig in. You’ll pay less, eat healthier, experience and explore more and inject some money into a regional area. Winning.


Chocolate covered frozen bananas at the Big Banana – Coffs Harbour.

Maps: Map out your drive, and let Google maps keep you on the right track with up to date travel and traffic times. This snuck us through a heap of traffic between Raymond Terrace and Gosford on the Easter Long Weekend – cheering.

Entertainment: CD’s – pahlease! – get on Spotify, make your own playlist, sign up to premium – and you can download your playlist and take it with you so you don’t have to use your data. Alternatively, Podcasts – usually free, and will provide your with hours of entertainment – check out Serial, Conversations with Richard Fiedler, The Message, Women of the Hour with Lena Dunham – you may even learn something.

And Glenn’s favourite – drive when the footy is on. You can listen to your favourite teams play on your drive and get into it! Well I can’t, I need to see it, but he sure as hell can!


On the Captain Cook Highway in FNQ. An actual scenic drive!

Commit: The number one need when embarking on a driving holiday is to commit. Know how long it’s going to take and be expectant of this, and make sure your fellow passengers are on the same page with this too. In the lead up to the trip don’t lie to yourself saying ‘It’s all good it wont take that long!’, instead say, ‘Yeah, it’ll take forever, about 10hours, but that’s ok, we’ll stop at X and X along the way and check them out, I’ll take 4 hours worth of podcasts and fix up my playlist, and just ride it out.’ It’s all about the mindset.


Tamworth from above. This driving holiday took forever.

Any tips you’re willing to share? Comment below! 

> In the next post I’ll share my tips on Holiday Activities <

Stay tuned for updates here and on the ‘gram @crystaljanes_lalaland

CJ x



How to: Fly High.

Most of these tips I’m sure will be glaringly obvious to the regular traveller, but I know how easy it is to be swayed by what appears to be a ‘bargain’, which is actually a money grab! Keep it in your pockets people, with these easy tips!

Would you like fries with that? Or as my bestie ex-hostie Rohan recites, in an ever so polite NY accent, ‘Coke or Water!?’

Flights are for flying. You will not die if you do not eat for 8 hours, you may not even die if you don’t eat for 12 hours, (unless you’re diabetic and even then titrate  – kidding). Just buy your flight, don’t be tempted to purchase food or in flight entertainment pre-flight; you can purchase it on the day if you really need it. On most flights you can take on a few nibblies. The only times I have encountered problems with this was SYD to SINGAPORE – we snuck a few on, and DENPASAR to BALI – just purchased onboard.

For onboard entertainment, BYO podcasts and iPad app store movie rentals.

Carry on or Checked? Depending on your length of stay and holiday type you may get away with just your onboard carry on luggage. Trips of 4 days or less, I generally take the on-board luggage option. It’s also a good way of forcing you to plan your outfits, so you don’t take up unnecessary time staring at your suitcase saying ‘I have nothing to weaaaaarrrr.’. But please, don’t be that jerk with the ‘carry on luggage’ that is clearly oversized! Is there anything more irritating?


Glenno and I with our carry-on luggage (kidding). Leaving for S.E. Asia.

Be cashed up. Research the visa situation and factor that into your actual cash in hand situation. Have a fair amount of local currency to get you through the flight, and the exact amount to get you through customs (if need be – here’s looking at you Bali).

If I don’t need legroom…..I’m 6ft1 and size 10-12. If I can sit in a normal sized seat, you can too. Get up and walk around and wear compression tights. Airports are runways for airplanes not wannabe models, it’s not a fashion show – leave the stilettos at home, dress for comfort and move people!

Depart Time: Generally your 0615 flights out of Sydney are cheap as chips compared to your 1115 flights, and flying domestic you’ll end up with an extra day for activities. You can sleep on the plane anyway! Overnight flights internationally are usually cheaper too, I’ve done 2, slept 1. If it’s a major price difference and you don’t intend on working the day you arrive, give it a go.

To finish: I’ve flown Jetstar Australia, Jetstar Asia, Tiger Australia, Tiger Asia, Qantas, Scoot, Virgin Australia. For domestic flights I prefer Tiger to and from Melbourne, and Virgin to and from the Gold Coast; but I still bargain hunt and go with the lowest price. Scoot is amazing! Travelled with them to Singapore and felt like I was on a party plane – the music was LOUD, the lights flashing, such a great atmosphere. There’s a video on the ‘gram if you’re interested.

12558710_220875678250394_1643239120_n-1.jpgOld mate next to us was a committed budget traveller and gave us hundreds of travel tips. He told us he spends 6 months a year traveling S.E Asia – jealous. Here we are on SCOOT.


Do you have any flying tips you’re willing to share? Can you recommend any carriers that I should check out? Or anything to add? Comment below kids!

> In the next post I’ll share my tips on Roadtrips <

Stay tuned for updates here and on the ‘gram @crystaljanes_lalaland

CJ x



I got sick (really sick, read prior blog on GUT health and Kombucha) in Thailand whilst we were staying in a 4.5 star resort. The resort stay came with a breakfast buffet daily and an acre of beautiful pools and spas to play in. Day no.3 of bringing up my small intestine, I’d had enough of being cooped up in my room watching the Australia channel, and I forced myself out to the resort pool, found a banana lounge close to the toilet. And you wouldn’t believe it? the rest of the Resort had the same idea! and the fellow travelers had the same bout of South East Asian Norovirus! We were all eating at the same buffet breakfast, sitting at the same tables in the restaurant, wiped with the same cloth by the same waitress (I witnessed this), swimming in the same poorly chlorinated resort pools, sitting on the same pool lounges, and our rooms were being swept and mopped with the same broom/mop/water by the same housekeeper (witnessed again).


Here is me and my brave face at the Resort in Phuket.

NOTE: I’m not saying this attributed to me being sick, but I can’t see how it would have helped. And watching this happen around me didn’t make me feel better either, nor did it justify the resort price tags that went with the stay.

Lesson learnt.

And so, I give to you: CJ’s Accommodation Booking Rules.

Rule 1: Accommodation is for sleeping and showering. If you can do both safely, then it’s a yes from me. Unless you’re intending to sit by the pool and read, AND your destination is in the desert, there is no need to waste money on swim up bars and cabana boys. Sitting beachside should always be 100% preferred, you get the breeze, the people watching, the waves and the salt water, and it generally wont cost you a cent. For road trip holidays, question whether accommodation is necessary, and if so what type. Sleeping in the car is my favourite option for 1 night away – my fiancé does not agree but in winter I absolutely love it. If taking this option, or a camping equivalent think about the necessities. For me, it’s a toilet, power and usually a shower. As per older blogs I suffer from a mild self diagnosed form of IBS and when I need the toilet it is all ‘Move bitch get out tha way!’. I can’t live without my phone – o power to charge is a must, and generally so is a shower – depends on an array of circumstances. Remember sometimes accommodation is for parking your car too. On a recent trip to Newcastle we were researching accommodation on Air Bnb and ALL, I kid you not – ALL, available accommodation came WITHOUT car parking. We would have had to park our car KM’s away. Research this and filter it in your accommodation search if need be.


Sleeping in the car at the Snow in 2014 –  I forced Glenno to play ‘Resuscitation!’ with me on the Ipad until we fell asleep.

Rule 2: If you don’t eat Breakfast like a king at home, you probably don’t need to while you are away. Woolworths and Coles exist outside of your own hometown! – grab a Chobani and make use of the in room tea/coffee facilities. Don’t forget to sample some of the local cafes for breakfast too. Accommodation breakfasts are generally priced above $22/pp, whilst breakfast at a local cafe can cost between $12 – $20 and the food is (generally) turned over quicker. And, there are no fellow travellers coughing their way through the buffet line, picking up the cereal spoon with their ecoli-ridden hands.


Salmon Rye at The Dip Cafe in Byron Bay on our Bluesfest trip- delicious!

Rule 3: Bedbugs are just bad luck. Don’t read Trip Advisor reviews that whinge about bed bugs and take the review as a true statement. Scabies – probably a different story, and yes they are different insects! Bedbugs can travel between hotels and hostels in luggage, sleeping bags and even on fellow travelers. If you check into your accommodation and start to think you’re under attack, and you’ve got another couple of nights to go, speak to the hotel reception – they may be happy to move you or bomb the room for you once housekeeping has attended. Otherwise – Woolworths (crazy I know!), and leave the do not disturb sign hanging so you don’t kill the housekeepers.

Bedbugs will leave 3, that’s THREE, small bites close together – sometimes in a row – and I’ve had them mostly on my chest. Be sure to bomb your possessions before taking them back into your own house, and, if it’s too late for that, bomb your house. They’re generally no biggie once dealt with appropriately.

Rule 4: Check the Location. Do your research and find out how far away your hotel is from the action. Google maps is great for this – put your hotel name in and map to supermarkets, pubs, shops, beaches, etc. Remember to change the transport mode around from walking to public transport, and if you go with that accommodation, store your maps for when you get there. And DON’T be an idiot and rely on Taxis! In some parts of AUS there are NO taxis – Sydneysiders I know this idea is foreign to you but trust me, no Ubers either! Don’t get stuck, blind, in the middle of nowhere, with no transport, you may have to sleep it off in the gutter – witnessed on South Coast.


The Kam Leng Hotel in Singapore – loved the location of this place, even though it was out of the tourist hubs it was super fun feeling like an expat Singaporean local.

Rule 5: If you are going to a small Australian town call the local pub – and call them at a reasonably quiet time, say Tuesday morning. Most small locally run pubs and hotels in Australia are NOT advertised on Expedia / Quickbeds / Last Minute, etc. and most still have the same affordable price tag on their rooms. You can research them all you like on the Internet, but I strongly advise you to pick up the phone and have a chat, even if you’re not sure if accommodation is offered at said pub they may be able to point you in the right budget traveller direction!


The Middle Pub in Mullumbimby where we stayed for Bluesfest 2016. Clean rooms, a $15 menu and we came back from Bluesfest early one night and a live blues band was playing with a piano accordion! 

That’s it.

Have you had bedbugs? Have you been stranded in the ‘country’? Can you recommend any sweet café’s to try for breakfast whilst holidaying?

Comment and let me know.


> In the next post I’ll share my tips on Booking Flights <

Stay tuned for updates here and on the ‘gram @crystaljanes_lalaland

CJ x


I love Expedia.

Don’t give me crap about Trivago or Agoda being better. I won’t listen and I definitely will not change over. Expedia is where it’s at.

I use Expedia to book my flights and accommodation, both are usually available to purchase at the LOWEST rate possible. Each purchase made on Expedia using the same login is stored in your online account, and with each purchase you gain ‘points’. These ‘points’ eventuate into extra savings. So say you buy Flights return to Cairns for $250, this will unlock even lower rates for your accommodation. Sometimes these savings are $10 total and sometimes $50/night. On our recent SE Asian holiday we unlocked a 50% discount on accommodation at The Ayana Resort in Bali – if you haven’t seen this place Google now!


The Expedia APP is its other selling point. If you don’t already have it – download it NOW. The app remembers your login and stores all of your purchases under the tab ‘My Trips’ in chronological order. With these purchases, it stores all of your travel documents with links to boarding passes etc.! Perfect for unorganized travellers like me! 



I never use the APP to search for flights or accommodation, NEVER. I always search for flights and accommodation on the laptop and ALWAYS clear my web browsing history/caches/cookies after searching if I don’t purchase them. I read somewhere that the websites can store your visit and search and keep the same (or higher) prices for when you return. I don’t know how true this is but it takes literally 1 minute to do, and if that 1-minute saves me 10c I’m happy! I am a wannabe budget traveller. 

I’ve never booked accommodation on Air Bnb, but I have looked into it. The problem with Air Bnb, I have found, is that it is home owner advertised – and with that – priced. The places that I have looked at renting have never justified their price tag. On my most recent trip to Mullumbimby for Bluesfest accommodation in both Byron Bay and Mullumbimby was priced out of this world, and we ended up securing a hotel room at the local pub ‘The Middle Pub’ for less than $80/night. My advice is to check out Expedia, and then compare what you find to the places available on Air Bnb.

Has this helped? What experiences have you had using Expedia and/or Air Bnb? Got a booking site you want me to give a try? Comment and let me know.

> In the next post I’ll share my Accommodation booking rules J <

Stay tuned for updates here and on the ‘gram @crystaljanes_lalaland


CJ x


Our friends and family have been saying this since December 2015. My fiancé, Glenn, is a Real Estate Agent and has wanted to build a house since forever. I, on the other hand, have not, and have always wanted to rent and travel my life away. Glenn bought a block of land last year which is set to settle in January 2017. Before his purchase, after long consultations with me, he promised that this wouldn’t stop any travel plans, ever.

I put travel first. Travel has to be the best investment anyone can make in their own self education. Any travel, near or far, broadens your mind, makes you think differently, and challenges you to plan, learn, and explore.

Since November of 2015 we’ve been on a trip a month. I figure Glenn has done well at keeping his promise.

November 2015 – Blue Mountains, NSW.



December 2015 – Tamworth + Newcastle, NSW.



January / February 2016 – Singapore, Cambodia + Bali.



March 2016 – Bluesfest @ Byron Bay + Mullumbimby, NSW.


 April 2016 – Cairns, Port Douglas + Cape Tribulation, QLD.


‘You’re always on Holidays!’ is probably more of an observation.

How do we do this? How do we afford this while we’re saving to build a house?

Over the next week I’ll share my tips and tricks to making travel affordable for all. And, if you’re lucky, I may even do a few cost breakdowns and full recaps of recent adventures.

Stay tuned for updates here and on the ‘gram @crystaljanes_lalaland


CJ x

My Gut-Brain Connection…and how I became obsessed with Kombucha.

It all started with a trip to Thailand in July of 2013…

I was struck down with the craziest bout of Gastro I have (still to this day) ever experienced. I’ve read some articles and blogs that may suggest it was actually cholera, but then I’m probably overreacting. Self diagnosed hypochondriac. On return, I slowly recovered with the usual IBS symptoms. However, in November of 2013 I was struck down with shingles – this time diagnosed – and my IBS symptoms continued to rapidly flare up. I was studying for 2nd year Uni finals, moving, and working two jobs with full time hours.




Reading journal articles and medical blogs I convinced myself that I had picked up worms whilst holidaying. Considering all I did was play with Gibbons and not wash my hands before eating – you show me a clean wash basin in Thailand before you judge.

On presentation of my third and final stool specimen to my GP he kindly informed me that if I were to present again with the same pathology request he would refer me on to community mental health. He had exhausted all avenues: stools, urines, bloods, and all had come back normal. He suggested a scope if the problem didn’t resolve within 2 months. But if I didn’t pick myself up and get on with it, I’d have to be referred to counselling. He knew I was studying nursing and suggested that I research the gut-brain connection before booking another appointment regarding the same issue.

Me – Post the first blood test. Making light of the situation, asking for black micropore to match my outfit.

I left the consultation extremely disheartened until… I got home and researched, and I don’t think I have ever stopped. I found a youtube clip of Dr Oz explaining it. I’d always hated the man, and thought he was super narcissistic, but maybe, this time, he was on to something. I found a copious amount of literature: journal articles, blogs, books, newspaper articles. Was there / is there a connection? I started researching the sympathetic nervous system. I started shoting apple cider vinegar like vodka (I later came to the self realisation that this made me feel worse), and I started eating plain greek yoghurt. I planned my days full of activities to keep me distracted from my gut issues, and I followed a strict IBS diet, slowly cutting out most sugar and white breads. And, most importantly, I started talking to anyone that would listen.

Apple Cider Vinegar
GUT by Giulia Enders – Highly Recommend!

I spoke with the girls in my Nursing degree and found that 80% of them had experienced the same acute on chronic IBS symptoms from time to time, and that it mostly occurred when they were stressed. One girl even told me of a story where she was driving and had to pull over a go bush for a trip to the no.2 loo. Bear in mind we are coastal/country here. Could we all be a pack of anxious 20 year olds, with our bodies responding the only way our bodies know how to – shitting toxins quickly?


The more I spoke with people, the more normal it became. I slowly reintroduced items into my diet, and would watch my poo’s and mentally chart my guts progress.

I worked out, by pure diet alteration, that I couldn’t digest steak, raw onions were not my friend, and I had to stay away from greasy foods. Extremely processed like Maccas – fine – but fish and chips from the take away store, not my friend. And alcohol, which i am still slowly teaching myself – my kryptonite.

I kept on keeping on with my greek yoghurt full of probiotics to help enhance my gut flora.

In 2015, I moved, solo, to the city to work as an RN in the ED of a busy inner city tertiary level hospital. Within 4 months on the go I was a wreck. My mind was in pieces – I was isolated from my fiancé, family and teeny-tiny community, and my brain was overloaded with information. My body was harbouring a sort of Sydney Super Virus that I just couldn’t shake, and it was exhausted – getting by on limited sleep thanks to late-early and night shifts, and whatever food I could fit into it, quickly. My immune system was in a sedentary state of melt down thanks to being overly exposed to a variety of different pathogens, being walked through the door on a, lets say, minutely, basis.

I found Kombucha stocked at the 5-star Grocer near work. I studied the Remedy brands nutritional information and was excited by its low sugar content. I knew I had to quit it AGAIN altogether, but I knew I couldn’t take the withdrawals that went with it. I thought that this would have to be my next best option.




The relationship was instantly established. I was sipping on the Hibiscus Kiss flavour, and  was hooked by the end of my first drink. I decided that I’d start with 3 a week, one every 2nd day of work. By the end of the first week my constant evolving Sydney Super Virus had almost entirely resolved. To get my hands on the Kombucha meant leaving the ED for my lunch break and walking 500m return. Breathing in the fresh air, getting some sunlight, I’m sure it all contributed. After 3 weeks on the stuff I was back, and a committed loyal follower of the ‘booch.

Then, by God, it started popping up everywhere, even back in my hometown on the Coast. I got my hands on some Mr Kombucha Blueberry and Mint’ flavour whilst I was home. A 900mL bottle would last the weekends when I’d return home. My obsession left me feeling energised. And my palate was constantly evolving. I’d start to crave natural foods, like bananas and apples, instead of chocolates and chips. I was re-obsessed with plain greek yoghurt and would have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And my number one hideous craving for Coke, was gone. Thank the Lord.



I’m now an absolute avid Kombucha enthusiast. I tell anyone who listens to go and get their hands on the stuff – cashiers, friends, family. People think I’m mad. I vowed never to return to Asia post the traumatic events that went with the Thailand trip. However, since my IBS issues had laid practically dormant for 6 months on Kombucha I decided it was time to give my gut flora a go. I travelled to Singapore, Cambodia and Bali with no problems at all earlier this year. No diarrhoea, no vomiting, nothing. I drank water, and ate ice, and bam, nothing. I thank the ‘booch for this.

I’m currently in the process of brewing my own.  I have my first ferment batch hidden in my coldest darkest cupboard brewing away. My family recite Macbeth whenever I bring it out to check on it. It’s definitely a work in progress. I still eat crap, every now and then, ya’ gotta live. But I encourage everyone that will listen, and even those that won’t, to educate themselves on the gut-brain connection, gut flora and their biome. And this post is just an extension of that encouragement.

My First Scobie.


Brewing my first batch.
First batch fermenting.

Give Kombucha a try! It’s no fad or hipster brew. It’s a soft drink alternative, that does so much more good for you than a can of Coke. And, it tastes good! What have you got to loose?

The ‘Booch Challenge: 

Take a before photo. Ladies, an honest one of the love handles.

Keep an activity / outcome diary. Enter something, anything, daily.

3 x 600mL Kombuchas a week for 4 weeks.

No soft drinks.

No Alcohol.

Eat as you already do.

Take an after photo, as above with the handles.

Report back.

You’ve got nothing to loose, and everything to gain.

Follow the ‘gram.

Health and Happiness,


CJ x


A couple of links of encouragement x