Tag Archives: Outback travel

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona McArthur

Feeling pretty chuffed this week. My beloved Sydney Swans are still perched very nicely near the top of the AFL ladder, my book is finished (at least until edits come), and I’m playing decent golf for a change, but I’m also super thrilled to introduce a new Friday Feast guest, lovely Australian author Fiona McArthur.

Fiona’s a country midwife who knows all about babies, which is why she writes gorgeous Medical Romances for Harlequin Mills & Boon. And they’re popular. Like over two million copies worldwide style popular. Yup, this is a lady who knows her stuff!

Fiona’s next release is Two Tiny Heartbeats (isn’t that a beautiful title?) and it sounds wonderful. Check it out.

 

TWO TINY HEARTBEATS

 

Two Tiny Heartbeats by Fiona McArthurGold Coast City Hospital

First-day baby bombshell!

Discovering she’s pregnant—with twins!—is not how midwife Lucy Palmer imagined her first day in her new job. Worse is that it took her gorgeous new colleague Nikolai Kefes to suggest a pregnancy test and scan. As they watch those tiny heartbeats on the monitor, Lucy knows instantly that her two little babies are the only things she can focus on. And that her highly inconvenient attraction to the hunky Greek obstetrician—with his legendary reputation for short, sweet, emotionally unavailable relationships—definitely has to be ignored…!

 

Doesn’t that sound fun? I bet it’s gorgeous. Keep your eye out for the release of Two Tiny Heartbeats in October. In the meantime, Fiona has many other novels to warm your heart.

Speaking of warming hearts, try this fantastic post on for size!

 

Train Journeys and Falling In Love With Them

 

Thank you Cathryn, for asking me to join you on your Friday Feast. Not known for my culinary skills but I do like eating so thought I’d share a food journey with a difference.

Early start at the station on the Spirit of the Outback trainFancy a Trip on the Spirit Of the Outback? Longreach to Brisbane. Ever wondered about the cost, the time it takes, the sleepers and the meals?

You have to love being a writer because research trips are definitely perks of the trade. Not often I can drag my husband on trips so we went the whole hog. I thought it was worth saving up for, sleeper class, which included all meals in the Tuckerbox Dining car, and we put the car on the train (ours was the only one on there – it looked so cute) and it meant I could be back at work a day earlier if we drove home from Brisbane – so more time out west. Vote one. Queensland Rail. Seriously. They do it right.Fiona's car on the train

This was the final stage of our recent ten day trip around the amazing red earth of western Queensland, an absolute joy, and more of that coming on my new webpage soon, and a whole lot more in my next book, but I know Cathryn loves to hear about something in the food department.

The good thing is you can’t talk about the Spirit Of The Outback without talking about the meals. A skillful chef, a huge kitchen and a unique and fabulous setting makes the cuisine as tasty and elegant as any restaurant. But in the beginning…

Longreach station

Longreach at sunrise is a little chilly in June while the excitement of looking for your carriage makes up for it. When you leave Longreach, you’ve got half an hour to settle in and admire the glorious colours of those first Fiona enjoying the view on the Spirit of the Outbackgolden rays on the plains and the contents of your little hessian comfort bags – sigh for the days airlines used to give you half what was in these little packs – with eye masks, washers, organic lip balm, plus the usual’s. I love stuff like this as my friends will laughingly tell you. Sniff. Anyway, the views are magic as you peer out the windows, and wave at the traffic when we run alongside the road.

Then your delightful hostess, in our case, Raylene of the endless goodwill – will encourage you to make your way to the dining car and take a seat at the beautifully set alcoves complete with white linen tablecloths, wildflowers and silverware, and best of all, lovely big windows that showcase the reds, browns and orange of outback Queensland.  Truly we are blessed by our beautiful country. Especially arid and sparse it takes my breath away.Fiona's husband Ian at the table

But back to food. Breakfast was all hubby could wish for, (because I had fruit and water – NOT!)  crisp bacon, soft eggs, buttery mushrooms and sausage, grilled tomato, fresh juice and hot, freshly brewed coffee. Groan. And no gym to work it off, still, probably wouldn’t have used it if they had one. But leisurely, and fun.

Then it’s back to your private cabin or into the spacious lounge car. Next time, I’d spend more time in the lounge car because a carriage full of windows give the best view of the surrounding countryside and it’s too easy to stay comfortably antisocial in your own little lounge cabin although the windows are lovely there too.The Tree of Knowledge

Rattle, rattle, rattle for a couple of hours and then a leisurely meander off at Barcaldine to admire the cleverly created replacement Tree of Knowledge, didn’t notice Kevin or Julia poking around up there just outside the station, and a walk along the platform and cheeky peer in the window by my DH. Then back on board where we took the chance for us to go through the hundreds of photos we’d taken over the last week and a half, a joke about the fact that I’d been keen to visit the Qantas Museum in Longreach when hubby decided I’d seen more planes than he’d had breakfasts, and a few more notes on my computer.

Before we knew it lunch was on, must admit I had a wee glass of Sav Blanc to go with my Barramundi Fillet with citrus butter and garden salad. Divine. Ian had Backstrap Lamb and we both daintily nibbled at the Pavlova. Actually not dainty at all. There was also Haloumi salad and Chicken terrine so lots of choices.

It was nice to go for a wander when we paused at Emerald, one of my boys had spent a bit of time working at the feed lot up here for Australian Ag, and I’d heard a lot about Emerald and wanted to see it. Looks like a great town. Love the way the station steps are in the middle of town. Couldn’t believe the agricultural equipment for sale. Must have been millions of dollars worth which illustrates the amount of food produced in this area.Fiona enjoying bubbles in the lounge car

Back for a quick freshen as the afternoon sun was casting long shadows away to the mountains and then I was sipping bubbles in the lounge car chatting to fellow travellers. It wasn’t quite as formal as the Orient Express, God Bless Australia,  but we’d all spruced up and the sun was casting  golden halo around Blackwater. We flew through Comet, but I hear (from that son) it had a good pub, but I digress.

Sunset out of Blackwater (apparently the creek ran black – from the tree roots but now it’s coal miners heaven – and as evening and dark arrived we went through to dinner to find tender grain fed pepper steak and sticky date pudding. Amongst others, and seriously I think I’ve eaten enough.Sunset from the train

When we came back, after a desultory discussion with our fellow travellers,  our lounge had been made into two surprisingly wide and comfortable bunk beds with crisp white sheets and bottled water. Did they know about that second glass of bubbles? After the early start (my car climbed on the train earlier than we did) we were well ready for bed. Loved snuggling down to the peaceful rattle of the rails – apparently it’s better to get a middle cabin as it’s quieter not perched above the wheels but –  zzzzzzzzzz.

And in the morning, (sounds like one of my books) by the time we’d washed and changed (and yes there is a shower with wonderful hot water), captured a great pic of one of the ?Glasshouse Mountains, and it was time to disembark in Brisbane.One of the Glasshouse Mountains

To retrieve our own car we simply walked to the end of the train, were escorted to a driveway, and within twenty minutes it appeared beside us. A little meander through only a couple of Brisbane streets and we popped out on the freeway to Gold Coast. Easy Peasy for this country bumpkin. So twenty four hours flew and I adored it all.

Have you any train stories? Been on any scenic train journeys?  I’d love to hear because I fear I am now addicted. Xx Fi

Spirit of The Outback leaves Longreach 0715 Monday (and Thursday) Arrives Brisbane 0710 Tuesday (or Friday) So 1325 kms in 24 hours.

Cost from Longreach:

Economy non-sleeper between $152-235 depending when you buy the ticket – purchase food from the snack bar

Economy with sleeper – $244-315 depending when you buy the ticket – purchase food from snack bar

First class with sleeper-$427-529 depending when you buy your ticket – all meals but purchase wine and beer

Car -$299 and unaccompanied $499.

There are good discounts for seniors and concession and unlike lots of other telephone booking services Queensland rail sales people are awesome.

Ph 1800 872 467       And no, I didn’t get this journey compliments of QRS. 🙂

 

Thanks so much for sharing your journey, Fiona. It sounds absolutely wonderful. I’m a sucker for train travel after living overseas. It’s such a great way to explore a country and an easy way to cross long distances in comfort. A bit of bubbly while watching the world pass by? That’s my kind of travelling!

So, Feasters, enjoyed any iconic or scenic train rides that you’d like to tease us with? Or maybe your relaxing foodie adventure was on a cruise. Maybe you flew to an exotic tropical island for a picnic (in which case I shall hate you a little bit). We’d love to hear.

Given my last trip anywhere was on the Blue Mountains train into Sydney Harbour to meet up with faaaabulous authors Christine Stinson and Jaye Ford for lunch, I need a bit of armchair travel!

If you’d like to learn more about Fiona and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter and Facebook. You can also write to Fiona direct at fionamcarthur2@gmail.com