A beautifully written piece about the special travel place that is close to your heart!

Where is yours?


It is April in the midst of autumn in Melbourne. Yellow leaves have fallen and they are visible blowing across the grass. The pavement is still wet from the previous night’s rain and the early morning sun glares off the Yarra River. Southerly winds are beginning to pinch. Melbourne is a beautiful city and for now it is what I call home, yet I still need to escape.

A two-hour drive from home is my coastal wonderland. Even on the coldest days I feel warm here and even on the darkest nights my soul is cleansed. It is a place of rolling hills, flowing waterfalls and sprays of sea salt.

Autumn, in all it’s gold is a great time for surfers here. Year round, the beach is not crowded. The summer is warm, but the ocean is still chilly and most of the year surfers are cloaked in neoprene.


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Southwest Airlines sure has that Southern hospitality

My first encounter with Southwest Airlines left me a little dubious on the services that was to come. However, the service, the plane and the experience all rather surprised me and left me with a smile.

The check in was very lackadaisical and seats were not assigned. When we got to the lounge it was quite cramped and there wasn’t much space – when the boarding began people were pushing around and stepping over one another to get in line to get a good seat. I don’t like free for all seating for this reason. The space thing could be more to do with New Orleans Airport.


Once on, the plane was quite small and with leather (pleather) seats. However, the seats were comfortable and I settled in well. The staff were relaxed and chatty and it turns out I was actually sitting next to a flight crew member on reserve being flown to Houston for his next shift. We ended up talking, Aron and I, the entire flight. He was a lovely man originally from Austin and now living in Houston, Texas. He gave me great advice for Austin (namely that there isn’t much to do right now due to holidays) and talked to me about travel in USA.


It was lovely to hear the perspective of an airline worker in the USA and someone who lives there. We talked about a lot of travel related things and the differences in our countries. I’ve hopefully inspired him to carry on his travels down to Australia as he’s always wanted to go but never had the push to actually get there. It always helps when you know someone or have a friend in a new place.


During the 2 flights (New Orleans – Houston – Austin) the flight attendants were attentive offering nuts and drinks and were helpful to those around me.


We had good landings, a smooth ride and we were comfortable all the way.


So SouthWest, well done! You’ve certainly done more to impress me then your counterparts in recent years, American Airlines and Delta Airways whose service leads much to be desired.

Mercy Huts

Sharing with you an amazing organisation started by my darling friends Paulie and Sal McMahon.


The vision of Mercy Huts is to establish eco friendly beachfront accommodation on beautiful Nemberala Beach, Rote Island, Indonesia. The purpose is to provide financial support, employment and training  for families of this area who are living in poverty.


The Thistlewaite family of 6 are still on the ground in Rote and Paulie and Sal are currently in Melbourne but continuing our road trip via the great ocean road and then North on the east coast to raise further awareness for the Mercy Huts project. See below what life is like for this wonderful couple on the Island.

Saddle up for a laugh…

We invite you to take a dive into the day-to-day hilarity of our Rote existence. A mix of cultural and environmental differences compel one to at times laugh hysterically and at other times, to cry with the same intensity. Walk in our shoes – more like thongs or bare feet – through these series of Rote tales and enjoy the attached collage of pics:

– The people of Rote live according to an unusual schedule…if you could call it a schedule at all. They rise at Rooster o’clock, around 5am declaring their days beginning with ‘doof-doof music’ and distinctly Indonesian hollas. As soon as the suns rays can be felt, the Rotenese go into a mild slumber which deepens in the afternoon. A curious byproduct of this daytime slumbering is a mass of ‘group hangs’ where locals sit in large groups, seldom speaking, intently watching every passer-by and often playing cards. At night the place comes alive once again.
-The locals currency of time is referred to here as ‘rubber time’ or ‘Jam Karet’ in Bahasah Indonesia. The locals little regard for time can be summed up in our experience whereby in the company of 20 Indonesians, NOT 1 could offer us the time! “The time, who needs the time?”. Time is no master here in Indonesia and we Westerners are left to navigate this apparent other ‘way of doing life’. Admittedly we’re not even close to figuring it out.
– One admirable trait of Village-like Nemberala is the peoples fostering of community, something quite contrasting with our primarily individualistic lives back in Oz. Everyone here lives together, hangs together, eats together and gets right up in each others ‘personal space’ (a term unlikely known here). It’s curious to us, sometimes endearing and other times claustrophobic.
A funny example of this was on Easter Sunday when Paul & I found a secluded beach, sighed in delight as we lay out our towel and opened our books for some relaxing. No sooner had we lied down when we were invaded by a crew sporting enthusiastic beetlenut smiles, machetes, a couple of spear guns, 3 fishermen fresh out of the water fishy-smelling and wearing only undies (beige at that), and then their wives joined us for a now 12-man ‘romantic picnic’. Learning the true meaning of ‘community’ is not always a voluntary exercise but it is a soul-warming one. It really isn’t hard making friends here!
– Even the farm animals and bugs feel the need to uphold this sense of ‘community’, always frolicking in our backyard and even our bedrooms – is anyone else shuddering. One rainy night a goat sought shelter under our eaves (aka bedroom) and another night a crab burrowed under my bottom while I slept. Our toothbrushes have been embraced by cockroaches, our food and peculiarly my bra nibbled by ants whilst sneaky bugs join us on the wrong side of our mossie net most nights! This is just the sweet price we pay for living under the eaves of a hut and in a wonderful culture where community is everything.
– One of our greatest desires here in Rote is to connect and learn from the locals. They have so many beautiful ways of living that we in the west have busied out of our lives. Learning the language is a thrill and hard work. We experience some really precious moments where neither party knows what the other is saying, yet we stand looking at each other willing for understanding with our stunted language. We have started learning Bahasa Della, the local dialect of Nemberala. ‘In a classroom’ you ask? Not quite. In a dark room of a family home with over 20 people crowded in, simultaneously volunteering us new words to repeat with their eruptions of laughter indicating we still have a long way to go. We are also teaching English to some local women who bring us vegetables.
– I don’t know about you but breakfast has always been a meal I delighted and indulged in. Here we have had a staple bfast of banana, papaya and a boiled egg for over 1 month. Recently Paul brought me home a blender from the markets and I literally cried…over a blender!!! ‘We can now make smoothies!’ I rejoiced…no ice or milk but still an exciting prospect. Making my 1st smoothie was a disaster! No petrol in the generator so no power, a mission to get petrol due to a post-Easter shortage in the village, my addition of satay (with disguised chillie) resulted in a coagulated mess that I fed to the goats. 2nd attempt was far from Boost-juice-worthy but still the familiarity warmed my heart…and belly.
Some other funny, weird and entertaining tales…
– Our entire crew of 8 have sported gruesome infections from open wounds that are stubborn to heal and have hung around for weeks! Our ailments are apparently pretty serious: ‘Heavy growth of Lancefield Streptococcus’ or ‘Cellulitis’ but are healing up which is a relief. The lumps are captured in the attached pics – we hope they don’t offend anyone.
– There is a bug here that we affectionately call a ‘Guinea pig with wings’- it’s huge! See Paul trying to catch it!
– Upon visiting a waterhole with the kids from the mercy home we had to giggle when they each received a sachet of shampoo to double the swim with a bath. Some great pics of that day, especially of 8yr old Abraham who has a pretty hard past but is a great kid with the best smile.
– We witnessed a house fire of a 2 story building where the ‘professional’ fireman met with a plethora of good Samaritans to take on the blaze. I had to go to great lengths to refrain from laughing out loud as the men and plants got more of a shower than the house. You know the snaking hose trick, well picture that, but on mass scale…all whilst the house burnt to the ground.
– the car finally got fixed 3 weeks after it first went to the Dr. BUT unfortunately it broke down 1hr from town and is now out of action with a damaged radiator. So far eggs, pepper and soap were applied to fix it hmmm!? We’re seriously a hilarious sight cruising around in ‘the bomb’. Think the locals like it as we’re not in the slightest bit pretentious, but it’s shaping up to be more of landscaping feature than a means of transport.

All in all, these cultural and environmental idiosyncrasies of Rote are all part of its appeal and will continue to bewilder us, grow us and make us laugh for a long time to come. We hope you’ve enjoyed sharing these stories whilst laughing with us!. For more laughs and pieces of the journey visit our Mercy Huts Blog (www.mercyhuts.com/blog/)

Love hearing from you all and take care!

Sally and the Mercy Hutters (Matt, Nat, Jayden, Molly, Grace and Noah Thistlewaite plus Paul)
Follow all that is happening at www.mercyhuts.com and www.facebook.com/mercyhuts or drop us an email at rotevillas@live.com.au
If you’d like to make a donation click here to find out how
‘Thank you for helping us to ‘help orphans and widows in their distress’ – Jame1:27


Adina Apartments Spreading to Greater Sydney

Adina Apartments are providing great accommodation for business travellers all across Sydney. The latest development is heading to Norwest, Baulkham Hills. Make sure to get in early on the bookings for this new property.

Pre-opening bookings available for Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest  

Guests can now book their first stay at the new Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest, opening August 2012     

May 2012: Guests are now visiting www.adinahotels.com.au to pre-book their first stay at the brand new Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest.

Located within the Norwest Business Park at Baulkham Hills, the apartment hotel is set for completion in August 2012. It will feature:

  • 106 apartments including:

–        21 studio rooms

–        80 one bedroom apartments

–        three two bedroom apartments

–        two three bedroom apartments

  • One conference room
  • Onsite café
  • Fitness centre
  • Swimming pool
  • Car parking facilities

Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest will be a welcome addition to Norwest Business Park – preeminent property developer Capital Corporation’s latest development. Known as 22B Norwest, it is a significant and progressive business park fast becoming a thriving commercial hub. Situated just 45 minutes’ drive from Sydney’s CBD, Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest will make doing business with some of Australia’s leading brands easy by offering a place for guests to make themselves at home, along with providing conferencing facilities.

At Adina, there is no need to sacrifice lifestyle when travelling – guests relax in the spacious living areas of the stylish apartments, relish the convenience (and cost savings) of fully equipped kitchens and laundries and wind down at the in-house gym and pool. Also, an emerging dining and retail precinct is close for those making Adina their base while away from home or relocating.

Rachel Argaman, CEO of Toga Hotels, said: “We are delighted to offer guests the chance to pre-book their first stay at the brand new Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest. We are thrilled to introduce our known and loved Adina Apartment Hotel brand to an area with high corporate and leisure demand. Toga has embraced the growth of the Norwest Business Park and an ongoing partnership with Capital Corporation.”

Steve Grant, Director of Capital Corporation, said: “Capital Corporation has been instrumental in the development of Norwest Business Park as we have built and/or developed over 40 properties since its inception. We are pleased to be able to expand our portfolio by developing Norwest’s first serviced apartments and are excited to be working with Adina Apartment Hotels on this venture.”

The building which houses Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest is comprised of approximately 11,000m² of quality office accommodation and speciality showroom in addition to the quality appointed serviced apartments. Designed by Scott Carver Architects, 22B Norwest will also include a three level open deck car park, coach set down and parking areas.

Toga Hotels is currently pursuing an ambitious growth strategy for the Adina Apartment Hotel brand within Australia. In addition to Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest, coming soon is Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach (2013), Adina Apartment Hotel Mascot (2013) and Adina Apartment Hotel Royal Randwick Racecourse (2014).

For more information about Adina Apartment Hotels visit: www.adinahotels.com.au.



About Adina Apartment Hotels

Make Yourself At Home


Designed with the contemporary traveller in mind, Adina Apartment Hotels offer stylish interiors, refreshingly large apartment spaces, premium lifestyle facilities and warm hotel service.

Adina Apartment Hotels offer a wide selection of apartments for travellers to choose from including: one, two and three bedroom apartments and studio rooms. Guests are enticed to make themselves at home in Adina’s apartments. Their design blends contemporary interiors with functional features. Elegant furniture and sophisticated colour schemes are married with fully equipped kitchens and laundries, separate living areas and daily hotel service.

The focus on design and convenience continues throughout each Adina apartment hotel with well thought out details to add comfort such as restaurants, pools and gyms. Australian art and unique Australian touches feature in each Adina, a nod to their Australian ownership and management by Toga Hotels.

Adina Apartment Hotels can be found in the following city locations: Sydney, Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Copenhagen and Budapest.

For more information about Adina Apartment Hotels visit: www.adinahotels.com.au.

About Toga Hotels 

Toga Hotels is a leading accommodation provider in Australia and currently operates 52 strategically located apartment hotels and hotels in Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

  • Adina Apartment Hotels in eight locations (Australia and Europe)

Soon to be 12 with the opening of Adina Apartment Hotel Norwest, Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach, Adina Apartment Hotel Mascot and Adina Apartment Hotel Royal Randwick Racecourse.

  • Medina Apartment Hotels in 21 locations (Australia)
  • Vibe Hotels in seven locations (Australia)
  • Travelodge Hotels in 16 locations (Australia and New Zealand)

That equates to over 6,700 apartments and hotel rooms which vary in price, location and design in order to meet a range of different accommodation needs.

For more information about Toga Hotels, visit: www.togahotels.com.au.

I love Melbourne Reviews and hot spots. I wish I made time to do more. Hopefully watch this space but for now my good friend JMac has done a cracker review.


The girls and I went to an amazing RAW feast a few Friday’s back at Monk Bodhi Dharma. YUMMMMMMM. It was even better showing up to a raw vegan restaurant dressed in a onesie as a cow 🙂 – The restaurant is located just off Carlisle Street in Balaclava of you’d like to check it out.

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