Wine & Food Tasting Tour – Sydney

We began our walking tour of Sydney near Circular quay where we met with our host Janet. She was bubbly and lively from the first word. I knew this tour would be one to remember. Janet entertained us with stories of Sydney back in the era of convicts and then we were off.

We started our wine journey at Wine Odyssey and took part in the aroma challenge. This required the group to challenge our senses to figure out what various scents could be – is it strawberry or passionfruit?? We enjoyed three wine tastings of our choice from a selection of 44 of Australia’s finest wines.

We were quickly back on the road and it wasn’t long before Janet requested our attention in an alley for another fun filled early settler story. She called upon volunteers to help her tell this story and it was very entertaining to see the participants having fun and losing their inhibitions while becoming involved in the story. Many laughs were shared.

As we made our way to Harts Pub, we heard tales of ghosts lurking around the very streets we were walking and learned more about what life was like in the early years. When we arrived at Hart’s Pub, we move into one of their relaxed lounge style rooms where we all sit and chat about the tour so far – I am pleased to hear fantastic feedback about both Janet and the tour in general.

We were treated to crunchy wedges and tasting paddles of different beers – absolutely delicious and this is coming from someone who doesn’t drink beer often. The atmosphere is fantastic and we all enjoyed more stories from Janet and chat amongst ourselves about which beer we liked the most.

We made our way to the Four Seasons and were entertained with further stories about the area. I was amazed by Janet’s knowledge and enthusiasm throughout the entire tour. We finished the tour with a selection of gourmet tasting plates. My choice was the lightly seared scallops with a lemon and dill sauce. They were absolutely mouth wateringly delicious. I enjoyed every single mouthful.

This turned out to be the most entertaining, humorous and tasty walk around the city I have experienced to date.

By GoDo team member, Michelle

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Bruny Island Adventure – Tasmania

There is no surprise why Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, is renowned as the city of boats. Waiting for our Pennicott Wilderness Journeys Full Day Bruny Island Tour to begin, the Harbour glistened as boats of many sizes, from the humble fishing boat to the Red Roughy Antarctic exploration vessel and the rickety Castella – built in the same year as the Titantic! – rocked back and forth in the crisp Tassie breeze.

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Upon entering the Hobart office, tour leader Huw emerged as quite the character from behind the desk. Before long, Huw’s vibrant bounce had us all onto the mini bus and making our way through Hobart towards Bruny Island.  You can join the tour at Bruny if you so wish, driving to the island yourself, however I highly recommend taking the bus from Hobart if possible. Whether a local or a tourist, it’s a great way to learn more about Tassie.

Thanks to Huw’s impressive and entertaining tour guide knowledge, the bus ride was a fascinating insight into Tassie’s capital; both the thriving city today and the convict history. Hobart, the second oldest city in Australia, was home to 60,000 of the 120,000 convicts who descended upon Australia in the 18th century. We wound our way through the lively Salamanca district with  its historic sandstone buildings,  markets, restaurants and bars.

As we drove out of the CBD and past many quaint seaside towns, Huw explained the city’s infamous whaling history which saw 10,000 whales, almost every single majestic creature in the Hobart River killed throughout the 1800s. Only two years ago did Tasmanians see the first whale born in the river once again. It’s taken centuries for the population to return however hopefully with a better understanding of the need to protect the whales from becoming extinct, more whales will begin to breed in these waters.

A quick stop at a local bakery filled the bus with the smell of fresh bread. Lunch is provided on the tour with all ingredients sourced fresh on the day from local producers. We soon arrive at Kettering to drive on board the car ferry which will take us across to Bruny Island. There’s time to check out the boats, get a coffee and indulge in a quick breakkie if needed at the small cafe as we wait – but do keep in mind morning tea isn’t too far away on the other side!

Boats moored at Kettering – a great place for a wander before boarding the car ferry to Bruny Island.

Before we know it, we’re off the ferry and on the road once again traversing across Bruny Island itself. Bruny is made up of a north and south island joined by an extremely narrow neck of land. Both islands are similar in size to Singapore however in comparison to the 5.9 million Singaporeans, only 650 lucky people call Bruny home. Although do be warned – the population grows to around 10,000 during the holiday period!

Delicious morning tea

Pennicott Wilderness Journeys have their own shop and cafe on the island where we stop to enjoy a drink and a delicious home made blueberry muffin before  jumping on board the bright yellow boat and adorning ourselves with the highly attractive oversized red jackets. Tour leader, Chris joins the group and together with Huw, the pair make for highly entertaining and knowledgeable guides. Ginger tablets are handed around for those who may suffer from sea sickness. I look out to the peaceful watery expanse with nervous anticipation as I contemplate what awaits our little open boat as we take on the Tasman Sea. The engine roars and we’re off.

The boat darts in between the jagged sea cliffs soaring to impressive heights. We stop at various points as we learn about the land formations and wildlife which are so unique to this part of the world. Roaring through the water, we hit the waves with force and are thrown in our seats from left to right. Roge and I braved the two front seats despite the warning that the people in these hot seats are in for an exhilarating, bumpy ride. If your stomach churns at the thought, I’d recommend sitting in middle of the boat for a more sheltered experience. : )

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Chris and Huw were fantastic at making sure everyone was comfortable and feeling ok. If you’re daring enough like we were to sit in those two front seats, do be prepared to be hit by all forces of nature! We stopped to marvel at an intriguing blow hole but as the boat drew closer I feared the worst. A huge spurt of water came dumping down on Roge and I as the boat (us included) roared with laughter. Yep – they got us!

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We stopped off at various rock formations along the way including zooming through the narrow gap between the Totem Pole and Catherdral Rock – an experience which sent the shrills of excitement through the boat!

Zooming around the headland, we arrive at a spectacular male Australian Fur Seal Haulout. Seal stench aside, the seals are incredible as they playfully dive into the water, bark at a fellow seal who may be encroaching on their space or lie languidly on the rocks. Chris and Huw allow for plenty of times to take photos, video and simply watch these intriguing animals.

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We then made our way back to shore as I held tightly onto my beanie and jacket, shielding my face from the ocean spray and bitter wind – squealing with laughter at every bump and turn.

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Steaming homemade pumpkin soup awaited us back at the cafe along with a generous and delicious roll of salad and Tasmanian salmon or local ham. On the bus ride back to Hobart, we stopped off at a couple of places to sample more of the local produce including chocolates, fresh oysters and smoked meats with Huw assuring all food lovers on the bus there’s plenty more produce to indulge in on the island should anyone wish to return.

Nods were seen all round the bus. Huw and the team had taken us on the most spectacular journey from Hobart to Bruny Island, sharing with us the history, quirky facts, delicious treats and most importantly some of Tasmania’s most unique and awe inspiring natural wonders. Bruny Island is a must for anyone venturing Tassie’s way and the Pennicott Wilderness Journeys team are a wonderful team to take you out there. As they like to say, just follow the yellow boat road – you won’t be disappointed.

By Bruny Island adventurer and GoDo team member, Gemma

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Great Barrier Reef Cruise + Snorkel – Cairns, QLD

Possibly my favorite experience, this cruise had it all. Snorkelling, diving, great food, drinks, and even a chance to use their helmet walker. The Full Day Great Barrier Reef Cruise and Snorkel will not disappoint.

The day started early around 9:30 as I stepped on the boat along with hundreds of other reef-goers. The crew and photography team welcomed me with warm smiles as I climbed my way onto the big cruiser. After a safety briefing we were free to do as we pleased until we arrived at the reef about an hour or so later. It was at this point the waves started getting rough. I have never been one to get sea sick, but the constant up and down motion and swaying of the boat had my head slung on the table and feeling nauseous. Luckily, bags are provided and sea sickness pills are available to all for free (I recommend trying these out).

On arrival, we docked at a pontoon. This was great for people like me, because I got to stand on some sturdy ground to get a break from the boats rocking. It was also at this point that lunch was served. If food is important to you, you are in luck. This buffet had everything and plenty of it; curry, chicken, beef, prawns, salads, fruit and more. Feel free to load up on as much or as little as you want, either way you’ll be happy.

After lunch, it was time for scuba diving for my first time. I was really nervous at the time. I was suited up and made my way to the diving area under the dock. This was a great first place to learn – their beginner’s spot was very quiet and perfect for practicing the basics before diving deep. I had a hard time learning to breathe properly at first and found myself diving and coming back up a few times. Luckily, my instructor was extremely patient and encouraged me to keep going. I went down one last time without having to come back up until the end of my instruction. Under the water was magnificent – we even got our pictures taken by a professional and were allowed to purchase some photos of ourselves underwater with their huge fish.

After the diving, I tried my hand at snorkelling. All the equipment was provided, including life jackets so I was able to dive in at any time I felt like it. This was a very relaxed experience, however, I could not see nearly as much as I could while diving. For this reason, if you can, I highly recommend scuba diving – this is how the reef was meant to be experienced.

Later we departed, we enjoyed a well deserved cup of tea and biscuits. The way back wasn’t as rough (thanks to the ginger pills) and we even had some visitors. We spotted a few whales on our way back which was the perfect end to a great day.

I left the boat, thanked the crew, and knew I had an unforgettable first day at the reef.

By GoDo team member and snorkelling adict, Andrew

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Sunset Cruise – Cairns, QLD

I arrived in Cairns and had a full day to explore the town, grab some food, and buy some gifts for the family back home. After walking around for in the hot sun for hours on end, it was an absolutely pleasure to relax on a smooth sailing sunset cruise.

Upon arrival, I was greeted at the kiosk with a warm smile and handed my ticket. I made my way over to the Jetty to board the Croc explorer. The line was lengthy as other guests were beginning to board and I was one of the last to get there.

Once on board, the crew was welcoming and gave us a quick safety briefing. My attention was immediately drawn to the bar and the snacks that were handed out. Plenty of crackers, cheese, pretzels, and salami. I grabbed my complementary beer (or wine/soda/champagne if you prefer), scooped up some crackers and sat down outside.

The weather was great, the breeze was cool, and the sights were magnificent. I got to see some incredible views of the sun hitting the water as it set for the day.

There was seating available inside or outside on the upper deck – however I recommend standing on the back deck at the bottom. Here you get great views and people tend not to crowd the area.

Overall the cruise was very relaxing and enjoyable. It’s the perfect way to start out an evening – a great way to impress if out on a date without breaking the bank – only $29 for this amazing experience. That being said, I do highly recommend coming with a friend. Nearly everyone there was with their spouse, so being a 21 year old guy whose girlfriend is on the other side of the world made for a slightly more solemn (yet still peaceful) experience.

By American adventurer and GoDo team member, Andrew

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Barista Course – Sydney

One sunny Saturday morning I stepped out of the bustle of the busy CBD and into the coolness of Sydney’s historic Dymocks building.

I was there to embark on a journey full of robust aroma and rich flavour, creamy froth and delicate chocolate topping.  I was on a mission – to conquer everything the Barista course had to throw at me, from milk frothing to pouring the perfect espresso shot.

I was the last to arrive (as usual!) and I was ushered to my seat at the end of a long communal table.  One of the teachers made me a delicious cappuccino, and after introductions were made we got straight into the first lesson.

We learned about the history, origins and evolution of coffee.  The difference between Arabica and Robusta beans was apparent as both were passed around in little cups for us all to see.  We learned about the drying and roasting processes and also about why coffee tastes different in various parts of the world.

Then it was up on the machines to test our milk-frothing skills.  I was amazed at how easy it was to get a gorgeous, consistent froth once you knew the tricks!  Learning how to pour the perfect espresso shot came next – we discovered how to adjust the grind and how to extract the perfect shot with its rich, aromatic crema.

We watched in amazement as two of the instructors demonstrated over a dozen different drinks in ten minutes! Cappuccino, latte, flat white, short black, long black, macchiato, Vienna coffee, babycino , even mocha and hot chocolate and some I’d never heard of before – ristretto, doppio,  affigotto!

Next we all had a go at doing the coffee menu on our own – the most frantic part of the whole day, and also the most fun!  Sadly, my coffee didn’t quite hold its own against the instructors’ examples, but they were still delicious nonetheless!

Finally we learned how to clean the machines properly, using techniques employed in professional cafes, and got the chance to pick the instructors’ brains with our many coffee questions.

At the end of the day I walked away with a certificate bearing my name, and the determination to practice my newly acquired barista skills at every opportunity.  And yes, I am now making good use of the office coffee machine!

After all, this saying is very true. : )

By GoDo team member and coffee lover, Melisa

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Sober Karaoke in Sydney CBD

The name says it all.  You would think that sober is to karaoke as chalk is to cheese.  But nothing stops the GoDo crew, not even 31 days off the grog for Dry July.  Our mate Murray from the Karaoke Bus Sydney kindly took the team for a lunchtime spin around the Sydney CBD.

Karaoke Bus Sydney

Haakon, Mel, Leah and Duncan brace themselves (our faithful driver Murray in the window takes his job very seriously)

The trepidation that you are met with when you enter a karaoke bar is not unlike the nerves we felt as we walked toward the bus.  But, Murray, the ever professional tour operator, didn’t skip a beat; Grease Lightning is already blearing from the speakers as we fill the bus and settle into our circa 1973 blue vinyl bus seats.  Were it not for this classic filling the bus and vibrating the floors, we would have been listening to crickets and I grab the microphone and ask my peers who would like to start us off.

Silence. Silence, and, of course, Grease Lightning.

I’m a professional at this; I spent enough time in Japan in my youth frequenting the karaoke boxes, sussing out the best all-you-can-drink packages and stumbling home hoarse at 5am. But admittedly it’s been a long time since I did this. And I don’t remember the last time I didn’t do it primed to the gills with beer and plum wine spritzers.  Moreover, I had thought until now I had kept a rather low profile in the office, and no doubt this was all about to come undone.  Give me a microphone, and you may as well call me Mr(s) Hyde.

I start singing.  I don’t know Grease Lightning well, but I sing it anyway.  The odd whistle comes from the team.  Someone starts clapping; and it gets too much for our software developer Duncan, who grabs a microphone and starts singing with me.

And it’s on.  The crew start charging up the front of the bus, putting in their requests, tapping their feet.  Before we get to the Rocks, members of the team are swinging from the roof-to-floor pole that’s placed conveniently in the middle of the bus toward the back, dancing like it’s 1999.

The GoDo Crew rocking out

They’re clamouring for the microphone now – the contageous nature of karaoke proven again.

The sound of inhibitions being tossed aside filled the streets of Sydney as our crew of 15 sober GoDo team members and friends belted out the following classics:

Grease Lightning
Bad to the Bone
Eye of the Tiger (Murray, you wouldn’t be a real karaoke bus without Eye of the Tiger)
Call me Maybe
Satisfaction
Like a Virgin
I Gotta Feeling
I had the time of my life

As the tunes flowed, the team scrambled to grab a microphone one after another.  Someone makes a terrible mistake by putting the GoDo GM Renee’s favourite Moves like Jagger before her performance review has taken place, but like a true champ the boss is up and singing it with marketing coordinator Lauren, who swore she wouldn’t be singing today, nail it – Adam Levine would have been impressed.

Here’s Lauren singing Maroon 5 – and singing Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones – and crooning the pop hit Call Me Maybe. Lauren, not the shrinking violet she assured us she’d be!

The time we weren’t crooning, bopping and grooving, the team spent waving to the normal folk on their lunch breaks in George Street. One guy looked incredulously at us, looked down to check his watch, and looked back as us.  Yep, it’s 1.30 on a Thursday. Yep, that’s a bus full of crazy karaoke singing cats.

You would never have thought you could have more fun in one hour at work, on your lunch break. Murray is inspired to go back to the office and put together some team building 1-2 hour packages.  Traditionally, Murray caters for hen’s shows, has customised his tours to include other activities such as go karting add ons for bucks shows, and even hosted an 80th party last week.  Yep, that’ll be me at 80.

We were sad to finally see the bus pulling in at Wynyard Station, and sweaty, hoarse and high on life, we piled out of the bus and back towards the office.  Put perfectly by Duncan as he settled in back at work: “There’s something intoxicating about karaoke… I feel the hangover kicking in now.”

Who needs the booze?  GoDo’s high on toonz.

To book this bus-full of fun, head to http://www.godo.com.au/activity/KABS100.  If you’re looking to customise this activity, give the team a call on 1300 46 36 48 and we’ll help you build your perfect Karaoke Bus experience.

Click below to view the GoDo Crew rock out to the karaoke classic Eye of the Tiger. WARNING: This video might not actually contain anything that resembles singing. Please lock up your dogs before listening to this video.

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Sydney Whale Watching

Seeing the whales in the wild has been sitting right up the top of my bucket list for years. A mere glimpse of one of these majestic creature, perhaps a flipper or even a boat rocking flip on a lucky day … any sighting of a whale would be a big tick off my ‘must dos’.

You can imagine my excitement when the opportunity to do some list ticking came my way. After weeks of stepping over puddles here in Sydney, we were blessed with the most spectacular weather Monday this week. The whale Gods were shinning upon us! I headed off to Wharf 9, King Street Wharf Sydney to meet with Tony, the owner of Australian Spirit Sydney Harbour Cruises, who was to kindly take us out for a Half Day Eco Whale Watching Cruise.

Sailing out of Sydney Harbour is an experience which never fails to make me proud to be Australian. The Opera House and Harbour Bridge glistened against the clear blue sky set as the Aussies on board proudly boasted about our spectacular country to international tourists on board.

As we continued our journey out past Sydney Heads in search of the giants of the sea, the boat filled with anticipation. All eyes were glued to the ocean expanse in front of us. Everything inside of me willed the whales to make themselves known.

Two and a half hours passed with not even a spurt.

Finally – 750 metres off Maroubra beach, two whales burst to the surface. We couldn’t contain our excitement. Rushing over to the side of the boat, everyone “oooooed” as the graceful giants came up for air and then disappeared into the deep blue once again. Getting as close as legally allowed, we followed the whales for another few hours. The sight of the mother and calf never failed to impress all who intently watched their every move.

The setting sun signaled the end of a spectacular day out on the water. Reluctantly, we waved the whales goodbye and headed back to the Harbour as a stunning sunset welcomed us home.

Although we felt we’d been out on the boat for an eternity, it’s a drop in the ocean (excuse the pun!) compared to the time the whales spend migrating from the chilly Antarctic waters up to Far North Queensland to mate. Once they’re done, they turn around and make the long journey all the way home. The whales will be journeying past Sydney up until mid to late July, and returning to local waters in September. If you can’t catch them on their way up, you may be able to catch them on their way back down the coastline! Whatever you decide to do – don’t miss seeing the beautiful giants. It’s one on the bucket list everyone should tick off.

By GoDo team member, Gemma

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