Pigs, bike rides and waterfalls – just another week exploring Brisbane

Our third week in Brisbane was a varied as the previous week, we wanted to make full use of still having the car and also wanted to do as many fun and exciting things as we could (…whilst not spending a tonne of money!)
Sunday – We went to Farm Animal Rescue in Dayboro, I’d volunteered at this farm for a month in January and I wanted to take Lucy to meet all the gorgeous animals that live there. You can read about my stay on the farm here. It was great to go back and see all the animals that I cared for and to see my favourite piggies again! (I love those guys!)
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Monday – We didn’t have plans but the weather was nice and we wanted to do something ‘outdoor-sy’. We did a bit of googling and decided to drive to Mount Cootha Nature Reserve and have a walk around. The sun was shining and it was lovely to walk in the forest, listening to the birds. We walked up to the Mount Cootha lookout and was treated to a glorious view of the city!
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Tuesday – The sun was shining again so we decided to head to the beach at Burleigh Heads, there was also a vegan cafe that we wanted to check out too! We got down there about midday, the beach there is beautiful so we headed there first. We then went to Serabar where I had the best acai bowl. We decided to leave the beach when the sun had gone down and the temperature dropped considerably!
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Wednesday – was pretty much a right off! We sunbathed in the garden, got attacked by ants and listened to our favourite podcast, S-Town. It’s by the same people who made Serial so if you liked that, give it a listen, it’s a weird story!
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Thursday – We had a great day on Thursday, we got the bus into the city and rented out bikes and rode around the city. You can rent bikes for a whole day for just $2! It’s the same principle at the Boris bikes in London, as long as you return them every 30mins you won’t get charged more than your $2 fee. We rode from Eagle St up to New Farm Park and back to South Bank, it was great to be cycling around on a lovely sunny day.
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Friday – we wanted another outdoors adventure day so we headed to Cedar Creek Falls which is an amazing waterfall. I’d been there on my first trip to Australia but hadn’t been back since. The views there are incredible and you know, who the hell doesn’t love a good waterfall?!
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There honestly isn’t anything better than travelling with your best bud! We had another great week full with lots on random FREE stuff! It just goes to show that you can do so many amazing things even when you’re on a budget.

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Discovering Coochiemudlo Island…(yeah, I hadn’t heard of it either!)

Lucy and I were planning our week ahead when Lucy suggested going to Coochiemudlo Island…I had never heard of it. Turns out, not alot of people have heard of it, even people who live in Brisbane! We drove to Victoria Point and caught the ferry across to the island, the ferry trip took 5 minutes and only cost $9 for a return!
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When we arrived we could not believe that we were pretty much the only people there, there was the odd bloke fishing and we did see one dog walker but we were there the whole day and it felt like we had the island to ourselves!
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The island has a population of 700 and it was crazy to think that people actually lived on this island, it seemed so peaceful and tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city, which is only 30 mins away!
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We put out our towels and laid on the beach all day, we read, listened to music and just relaxed and listened to the sound of the sea. It felt bizarre that we were the only people there, like we’d discovered a little hidden gem!
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The sun began to set and the sky turned a beautiful pastel pink colour, it was amazing to see it change as the sun went down. We walked along the beach and back to the ferry at about 5pm, by this time the sky looked like it was on fire and we were treated to the most magnificent sunset!
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I filmed our trip on my Gopro – you can watch the video below…

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It was crazy getting the ferry back to Brisbane, it pulled up and lots of people got off, they all lived on the island and had returned from work, lots of schoolkids got off too – imagine having to catch the ferry to school because you live on a little island!
Coochiemudlo was a great little gem and I’m so happy that we visited it, I can’t believe more people don’t know of it, it’s beautiful and well worth a visit!

Sydney: Coogee to Bondi walk

We had been staying in Sydney for 3 days when we decided to do the coastal walk that runs from Bondi to Coogee (or Coogee to Bondi depending on which way round you do it!) We had spent alot of time in and round the city and fancied a change of scenery.

We were full of optimism and enthusiasm when we caught the bus to Coogee, the weather was lovely and it looked like the perfect day for a coastal stroll. When we actually arrived in Coogee however, this had all changed – it was windy and a storm was threatening to make an appearance on the horizon. Our choice of summer dresses and flip-flops were not a practical idea – although we did start out walk admiring this beautiful rainbow which was pretty great!
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We had heard mixed reports about how long the walk would take us, some people said 2 hours and one person said 6.5 hours so we didn’t really know what to expect! We walked along the coasts edge which was beautiful then, randomly, you walk through a grave yard!
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This place was incredible and I couldn’t belive my eyes. There were gravestones as far as the eye could see and to me, there was something really beautiful about it all. It was a very peaceful place.
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I could not believe that a huge graveyard would be so close to the coasts edge, it was unbelievable. I also found it very cute that all of the graves looked over the cliff and out onto the sea.
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The coastal walk was beautiful and the terrain would change with every corner that we took, sandy beach one minute, cliffs and rocks the next.
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It was an easy walk but we walked at quite a pace because we were scared the heavens would open at any minute!
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Luckily for us we didn’t get rained on and we made it to Bondi in 2 hours! It was great to see Bondi beach so empty because I’ve only ever been at the weekends before and you can’t move for people but this day the moody weather was putting everyone off! Below is a video that I shot on my GoPro of the walk…

I’ll end this post with the photos of this incredible pool at Bondi beach, look at it!! The pool is touching the edge of the sea, imagine starting your day off with a dip in there!
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I would definitely recommend this walk if you’re staying in Sydney, it’s nice to get out of the city and see some amazing sights, maybe even pack your cozzy and have a dip in the pool!

First few days in Sydney (on a budget)

After having a great time in Melbourne it was time for Greyhound bus journey to Sydney (yay!…NOT) We stocked up on snacks, had all our electricals charged, had podcasts and films at the ready and finally boarded the bus at 10pm, 12 hours later we were in Sydney (and feeling pretty gross after being cooped up on a bus all night) We checked into our hostel and decided to freshen up, put our tourists hats on and have a walk down to the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

We then walked back to the hostel, freshened up, made friends with one of the girls in our room, bought the cheapest bottle of wine we could find and then headed out to Darling Harbour to go for some drinks…que the one drunken photo we took from that night.

The next day we decided to check out The Rocks area of Sydney, I had never been there before and it was really great to discover this gem of the city. The Rocks is the oldest part of Sydney and is full of history. We walked along the cobbled streets and alleyways and visited The Rocks Discovery Centre.
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The next day was Anzac Day and a public holiday in Australia, we woke up and decided to go and do some exploring (if anywhere was open!) We got given a map from our hostel that had a free walking tour on it so we decided to give that a go and it was bloody brilliant!!
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There was a really nice atmosphere in the city on Anzac Day, we were out early and it was lovely to see so many people who were going to march in the parade later that afternoon.
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We continued on our tour and it was great to learn all about the history of the city. There were so many hidden treasures that we learnt about and our tour guide was brilliant, she was so enthusiastic and funny and the tour was so interesting. This is the website for the tours – it was all FREE and I would definitely recommend doing it if you’re in Sydney, they also do them in Melbourne too.
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I particularly loved this piece of street art that was in a little alley way. It’s called Forgotten Songs and it’s a memorial for all the species of birds that would once have lived within the city. “Forgotten Songs commemorates the songs of fifty birds once heard in central Sydney, before they were gradually forced out by European settlement. The calls, which filter down from the canopy of birdcages suspended above Angel Place, change as day shifts to night; the daytime birds’ songs disappearing with the sun, and those of the nocturnal birds, which inhabited the area, sounding into the evening” – quote from the citysydneyart.com website.
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We finished our tour at the Sydney Harbour Bridge, learning about how the bridge was made and how you can take a tour across the top of the bridge! After the tour was finished Lucy and I decided to take a walk across it, this was my third trip to Sydney but I’d only ever seen the bridge from across the river.
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We started our walk along the bridge, the views from the top were great and it was nice to see the Opera House from the other side.
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The walk along the bridge was fun, although we felt we were fighting the onset of a downpour so we walked at quite a quick pace just incase!
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Spending your time in a city can soon get expensive but there are so many free choices that you can make. With a little research you can see amazing sights within the city without breaking the bank. I’ve visited Sydney twice before but didn’t see half as much as I did in the first few days of this trip.
My advice for anyone visiting a new city is to take part in some kind of tour to get your bearings of the city you’ll be staying in. The tour guide is usually a local who can recommend great places for you to eat, drink and enjoy during your stay!

Our last week in Melbourne featuring Luna Park – the weirdest amusement park…

After spending our first week in Melbourne Lucy and I embarked on a magical roadtrip across the Great Ocean Road (which I will blog about in a future post because it’s going to take me a million years to write, plus they’ll be a video)
We spent 6 days on the road and then returned to Melbourne, we were a bit reluctant to return to a city after visiting sleepy seaside towns along the Great Ocean Road but I have to admit that returning to Melbourne was great!

We decided to chill out a little more in the city and not put so much pressure on ourselves to see EVERY tourist attraction and we decided to get out the city for a bit too. Our first stop was St Kilda…
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St Kilda isn’t your typical Australian beach, think more of an english seaside…BUT considering it’s only a 20 minute tram ride from the city center if was a nice place to spend the day. There were lots of skateboarders and cyclists along the boardwalk of the beach and luckily for us we picked a glorious day to visit!
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Apart from the beach itself, St Kilda’s other big tourist attraction is Luna Park – an old, creepy amusement park. When you walk through the doors (giant mouth) of Luna Park you’re instantly struck by how weird it is. The staff all wear ‘old timey’ uniforms and the rides are shocking, weird old machines that look like they should have been shut down years ago!
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The whole time I was walking around Luna Park I just kept thinking ‘do they get it?’ Like, do they know this is a thing?! If anyone has seen the film Adventureland, it reminded me of that!
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I hate rides, ALL rides. Even teacups but Lucy wanted to go on a few. Turns out, nope, not gonna happen. The park literally has like 10 rides but they put them on at scheduled times so you have to pick certain ones depending on what time you get there. Lucy had her heart set on the biggest, scariest rides but instead was pointed in the direction of the kids dodgems…we quickly left.
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We spent the rest of the day walking around St Kilda, we walked along the beach, went to the shops and had a lovely dinner in a great vegan restaurant. St Kilda is definitely worth a visit and I would say you can’t walk past Luna Park without having a peek inside!

The following days were spent in Fitzroy (you can read about my love for it in my previous post here) we also made friends and drank cider on the roof of our lovely hostel. Greenhouse Backpackers = 10/10!We explored the city a little more and checked out the state library which was really nice and such a peaceful place to visit. We also checked out more amazing street art around the city…
and went on a little tour of Captain Cook’s house which was good to see, if only for Lucy’s comment of  “it just looks like my Grandad’s house!”
Exploring a new city is always fun but it’s easy to get lost in the pressure of doing everything and ticking off every tourist attraction in your guide book, it’s nice to actually just find little treasures that are in and around the city and spend the day there. Returning to Melbourne was really nice and it made me appreciate the time we’d spent there but we both agreed we were happy to move on to somewhere new and that meant embarking on a 12 hour bus ride to Sydney… more on that later! (I’ll tell you now we weren’t as smiley as the creepy Luna Park guy!)
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Melbourne: being cultured but also a cheap skate.

Travelling and living in a city can get expensive, paying for your hostel, food, activities, coffees etc all adds up but luckily there are lots of free things to do in Melbourne (thank god). We’ve made a point of taken full advantage of the free things that are on offer in the city!

Melbourne is full of art and photography galleries and we decided to check out the NGV – National Gallery of Victoria. It’s located near Federation Square right in the heart of the city centre – you can’t miss it! Luckily for us there was a great exhibition on in the main hall. The exhibition was by Patrick Pound and was a collection of old photographs that the artist had put together over the years.
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The photographs were grouped together by similarity – dogs, people with cameras, shadows, selfies, sporting events etc. It was so good to see all these old photographs from all over the world and from different decades with the same subject matter. It was great to see how the fashion and trends changed throughout the years and also the changes in the cameras.
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We stayed at the exhibition for about an hour and it was great to look around. You can find out more info about the exhibition here www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/patrick-pound

After exploring the NGV we decided to take a little walk around the city, we’ve been walking most places rather than catching the trams, it saves money (yes!) but it’s also a great way to see the city, when the sun’s out it’s nice to have a stroll and discover new places.
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Another day we decided to check out the Shrine of Remembrance, the sun was shining and the shrine is set in a beautiful garden so it was the perfect day to pay a visit!
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The gardens were beautiful and when we went inside the shrine it was full of flags and memorabilia, a crypt and a medal gallery.
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There was also a great balcony that you could go out onto and the views from there were amazing! You could see out over the gardens and the city. Seeing the trees with huge skyscrapers behind them was really cool, I could have stayed up there for hours watching everything that was happening on the street below!
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It’s not until you’re on a tight budget that you realise that there’s actually so many free things to do in cities, we tend to head to the city’s info centre and the staff are so helpful, they give you leaflets and maps of all the things going on in the city and there are so many free things to choose from which is great!
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Melbourne really is a great city to visit and with so many free activities to do it’s a city that suites all budgets, plus if you go to a free museum or art gallery and it’s not for you, it doesn’t matter because you haven’t lost anything! Win, Win!

Where’s David Attenborough when you need him?!

During my recent visit to Ballina (which you can read about here) I was lucky enough to witness something really special. Now I’m a huge animal lover and nature fan so things like this excite me a lot. We were leisurely strolling along the beach when I spotted a sweet dog (there is always a dog that needs to be stroked) that was playing in the sea, obviously I went over to stroke the dog and noticed the dogs owner filming something in the sea. As I looked out to see what she was filming, suddenly my eyes focused on hundreds of tiny little soldier crabs scurrying along the shore!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
They were coming from the sea and then burrowing into the sand in front of us, it was incredible to see and seriously looked like something from Planet Earth! They were everywhere, as far as you can see. Tiny little blue robots scurrying across the sand.
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We were the only ones on the beach so it was incredible to just sit and watch the crabs do their thing, I had never seen anything like this before and it was so special to watch. Nature is the best!!
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Look at this little guy burrowing into the sand, he looks like something from a sci-fi film!
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I bloody love nature, being able to sit and watch little things like this is incredible and I love seeing new creaures that I’ve never seen before just going about their business.
Below is a video of the crabs being awesome…

I LOVE NATURE

Beautiful Ballina

During our time in Byron we would often catch the bus to different places that were near and our last stop was Ballina. Ballina is about an hour bus ride from Byron Bay and has great shops, cafes and an AMAZING beach (which was pretty deserted the day we went!)

Upon exiting the bus at Ballina it soon became clear that the town had an OAP vibe to it, we were pretty much the only three people on the bus that were under 60, there was even a huge mobility scooter shop…and after walking for miles along the coast that day I wish I had one to ride back on!
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It seems like every beach we visited during our stay in Byron was just a beautiful as the last, the sea is a beautiful turquoise colour and the sand is so light that it actually squeaks under your feet.
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We walked for miles and miles (…my Dad loves a walk) along this beach and the view hardly changes, just turquoise sea and white sand.
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Walking along the beach we met the odd dog walker (I swear the dogs are so chilled out and happy in Australia!) but that was it, we pretty much just had the beach to ourselves and it was lovely to just walk along taking in the views.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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It was great to visit Ballina for the day, to be honest we spent the majority of the day walking along the beach, we weren’t bothered about shopping we just to see the sights. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to see the Ballina Big Prawn, which is, you guessed it, a massive fake prawn!

If you’re staying in Byron or near Ballina in NSW I would take the trip there, the beach is beautiful and it has a really chilled out atmosphere. If you’re after a beach like Byron’s but without the crowds Ballina is a great choice!

My day at Sugarshine Farm Sanctuary – my idea of heaven!

Anyone that knows me knows I’m a HUGE animal lover. I love ALL animals and I’m lucky to share my home in the UK with lots of them, which means I miss them all terribly while I’m travelling. As well as running over to every dog I see in the street, the beach, the city etc to get my animal fix I’m also trying to help out at animals sanctuaries along the way to meet new people and obviously get lots of cuddles with gorgeous animals!

During my family holiday in Byron I was on Facebook and saw a post from Sugarshine Farm Sanctuary who are based in New South Wales, they were asking for help with their new rescued calves. They had just taken in 5 new babies and needed help bottle feeding them….erm, I’m sorry, is this real life?! sign me up!!
After some quick googling I saw the farm was only 40 minutes away from our Byron apartment, I contacted them and said I’d be free that week to help them out. As it turned out my brother also wanted to come and help out too!
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Sugarshine is a haven for many animals – pigs, calves, goats, sheep, hens, ducks, turkeys and pet dogs all live together in harmony – this place is a paradise! These animals have been rescued from the meat and dairy industry, taken in from previous owners or from other sanctuaries that have sadly had to shut their doors. The farm is run by Kelly, who set up the sanctuary and an incredible team of people who volunteer their time to help the farm and the animals that live there.
Now brace yourselves…cuteness overload coming your way in…3,2,1
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These are the babies! They are the most adorable things I’ve ever seen. These babies are products of the dairy industry, they were taken away from their mothers at birth so that the milk for them could be used for humans…that’s right, the milk that should be bringing up these baby cows is being sold for human adults. Sounds weird right?!  Yeah, that’s because it is.
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Feeding these beautiful babies was an absolute privilege and me and Jake couldn’t believe how lucky we were to be given such a job! These babies are so gentle, they nuzzle and butt your leg to try to get milk and as cute as this is it’s also heartbreaking at the same time, they should be doing this to their mother, not me.
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Being vegan I know the lives that these babies would be facing, you can read my blogpost about the dairy industry here (no gruesome photos just facts that you should know) Many people don’t actually know that cows only produce milk when they are pregnant, the same as us, that milk is only for their baby, it breaks my heart to think that we deny mother and baby cows the chance to be together just so we can take her milk for ourselves, look at those babies, how anyone can mistreat them is beyond me.
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We also got to cuddle some little chicks who had been bought in by a family that had rescued them and taken them to the centre. Unfortunately they weren’t able to catch the mother but there was another mother hen at the farm who took in these little babies too. Animals are great!
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The farm is also home to lots of goats, who have all been rescued from various different situations. During my visit I also got to bottle feed some little babies that had recently joined the farm, they were so gorgeous! While we were raking the yard the little ones were following us around for cuddles, it was adorable!
The farm is also home to many pigs…
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The smaller pigs are still being bottle fed, they are so adorable. I fell in love with one in particular who’s named Olive, she is just the sweetest little thing. She comes up and nuzzles your leg because she wants a bottle! It was the cutest thing.

I absolutely loved my day at the farm, meeting all these beautiful animals and wonderful people was great. I felt such a sense of happiness while I was there, helping to feed the babies and hear all the amazing stories of how Kelly rescues these lovely animals. Being surrounded by such compassionate people really is infectious and makes me want to do more to spread awareness for the animals who sadly are still victims of the meat and dairy industry and need us to spread the word about the suffering they face everyday. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPlease, if you love animals and hate to think of them suffering please, just spend 5 minutes reading some of my previous posts on animals in the meat and dairy industry – I have written posts on cows, pigs, sheep, goats and chickens (just click the word and it’ll open up the post for you) It’s not enough for us to close our eyes, shy away from photos that are hard to look at, I get it, they are awful but sadly they are the truth – the truth of what’s happening to these poor animals, they have done nothing wrong, they are innocent, they do not deserve this. If the thought of someone inflicting pain and suffering onto an animal upsets you, you shouldn’t be paying for someone else to do it for you. Please, please educate yourself so you know how the food gets to your plate, it’s the least you can do for the animals.img_8489Please follow Sugarshine on Facebook www.facebook.com/sugarshinesanctuary/ – I mean who wouldn’t want to look at cute baby animals on the internet!
Visit their website www.sugarshinefarm.com.au/ where you can donate and sponsor the animals there from as little $5 or £3 – c’mon that’s the price of your morning coffee!

For more info reagrding veganism please ask me any questions, I’d be happy to help!

You can also check out these great links

https://veganuary.com/starter-kit/ – This website has lots of info and even a free starter kit that has amazing info on how to get started on a vegan diet. Tips on how to eat out, recipes, a list of suprising UK vegan foods like Oreos, Ritz Crackers, McKipling Tarts, Bourbon Biscuits, Skittles and much more! Check it out!

You can also watch documentaries on Netflix such as
*Vegucated – this is a great, funny, light hearted documentary – a great one to start with, you can also watch it on Youtube here
*Forks Over Knives – watch the trailer here
*Cowspiracy – watch the trailer here
*Blackfish – watch the trailer here
*Earthlings – not on Netflix but you can watch here

Think vegans just eat salad? Think again! A ‘Moo Free Burger’ review 

Being vegan it can be tricky to find good, honest ‘fast food’ style grub. Now don’t get me wrong I like a spinach and chickpea curry as much as the next vegan but sometimes I just fancy something a bit more ‘normal’….like a burger with all the trimmings!!

My prayers were well and truly answered when I recently took a visit to Moo Free Burgers which is in Northlakes, Queensland. I had wanted to check this place out for ages but it was an hours drive away but when I was staying on the farm in Dayboro it was only a short bus ride away! Prayers. Answered.
Myself and Mo, another volunteer from the farm were giddy with excitement when we got to Northlakes at 8.30am! We couldn’t possibly wait until lunchtime and told each other that ‘No, 10am wasn’t too early for a burger and chips!’We had the VBD and the Off Da Hook burger and they were both amazing! After taking a token Instagram worthy photo of our food we tucked in. The VBD burger was full to the brim with vegan bacon, caramelised onions and the mustard mayo was amazing! The Off Da Hook burger was my favourite, the Fishless Fillet was incredible and in a strange way bought back distant memories of the taste of McDonalds chicken nuggets! These burgers were incredible! As you can see from the following photo – I was excited. The resteraunt is run by a vegan company called Charlie’s, they also have fruit stalls, a vegan pantry, a juice bar and best of all a vegan desert shop. The guys at Charlie’s actually visited the farm while I was volunteering there and made a cute little video about it

They also have the farms charity pots on their counters too.  It’s always amazing when you discover a great vegan resteraunt and even better when you know the owners actually care about making a difference and take the time to acknowledge, support and work with animal charities, raising funds and spreading awareness!
Thank you Charlie’s for your amazing food but most importantly thank you for given a damn!

Info on Charlies and their different brands
https://www.facebook.com/charliesveganbrothers
https://www.facebook.com/moofreeburgers
https://www.facebook.com/Veganyumm
https://www.facebook.com/rawsqueeze
https://www.facebook.com/charliesveganpantry