Bhutan – we’re introduced to the city and culture by Rinchen


Reflections and memories of Bhutan – sharing scattered days of my amazing trek in Bhutan with Team Black Dog Institute: Waking up for our first full fay in Bhutan. I was shattered from a huge few days of travel and had gone to bed at just 8pm! We felt back to ourselves and ready for a big day. We packed our trekking bag and prepared for a short acclimatisation walk at 3200m and above today!

We were met by Rinchen our lovely guide and taken first to the city centre . Our first stop the Bank of Bhutan, we needed Ngutrum the local currency but it was also a fascinating experience seeing how day to day operations run.


Nic Newling and Rinchen practice selfies.

Then off to buy some essentials for our trip at a local supermarket, always a novelty. Our last local activity was the fruit and veg market. Unlike many other markets we had been to in other countries, this was calm and relaxed. We strolled around observing the local fruits and vegetables and smiling at the stall holders. We purchased some apples for our trek and then watched a presentation on sanitation by school children from a nearby school – beautiful!


On to the bus and we drove out of Thimpu valley along windy cliff teetering roads. We enjoyed the valley views and chatting amongst the team, quickly getting to know one another. We arrived at Dochula pass, 3150m.


We were amongst another beautiful sight, the Druk Wangyel stupa with more than 108 stupas built by the Queen Mother in 2002. We stood on top of a lookout and were greeted by a wonderful circular restaurant, Druk Wangyel Cafeteria. Our team rested with tea and coffee while admiring the spectacular views.

Time to trek! We walked up into the forest and continue on up, up, up for another 40 minutes. It was good to have this warmup and feel what it’s like to be at altitude. It certainly isn’t the same as walking at sea level and we gave ourselves some grace for being a little tired. The good thing is, while you stop to rest you can marvel at the forest surrounds, endless valley views and prayer flags flapping in the wind. We started at 3200m and at the highest point we reached 3500m.

The descent was certainly easier and we really soaked up our environment. If the area we will do our trek in is even half as beautiful as this one, we’re in for a spectacular six days! We reached the Buddhist stupa again and returned to the restaurant for another incredible meal! We then headed back to Thimpu in the afternoon sunshine again getting to enjoy such wonderful views.


In Thimpu we saw the king and his cavalcade of cars drive past. Quite a thrill. We then went for the second attempt at the Dzong Fortress. We made it in this time and were so glad we did. Beautiful brightly coloured paintings of Buddhist stories, incredible architecture and a wonderful setting in the heart of the valley. We attended a chanting ceremony of the monks in the temple of 1000 Buddhas and in the shadow of another giant golden Buddha. So spectacular.


I also decided my goal at the temple was to get the guards to have a cheeky smile and laugh with me. Come on guys! Look on the bright side! So I posed or waved with many of them – it was really fun and they had a good giggle too.


The afternoon was filled with shopping! Some people buying local outfits and traditional dress. Then onto a long strip of stalls and markets selling beautiful handicrafts. The items are so unique and truly Bhutanese that it was easy to quickly spend our cash. But so worth it to take a peace of this peaceful country home with us. Some haggling and joking made it a fun experience with the locals.

On then to a special cultural show organised by our wonderful local tour company. We go swept away into the culture and history of Bhutan as these women and men danced and sang so effortlessly before us. It was almost as If they were miming stages because we could not believe that these beautiful sounds could be coming from the people before us. We clapped loudly after each dance and were welcomed to join in on the last one, a spectacular experience.

Again the weary travellers had had an enormous day of activity. We went back to our hotel for a meal and stumbled across a Sweet 16th birthday party in the restaurant. We were invited to join in and sang to the birthday girl, enjoying the delicious birthday cake. Just another example of the beautiful nature of the people of Bhutan


Tomorrow, we begin our trek! The trek to happiness!! But to be honest…. We found it the moment we landed here.

This was Day 3, 10th October 2015, of our Inspired Adventures Bhutan Trek for Happiness, raising funds for Black Dog Institute.

This is an excerpt and my own images and note. Read the full blog at Inspired Adventures. 

Win tickets to French film, “Marguerite” showing at cinemas around Australia

Running another movie tickets giveaway!! 5x double passes to french film, Marguerite. There have been 3 winners so far – 2 more to give away!!
Head over to the Lovelly Communications website to enter! Merci!!


We’ve got another wonderful tickets giveaway for you all! The good people at Transmission Films are bringing to Australian screens the French film, Marguerite. Based on the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a woman with such a passion for singing she would give everything to live her dream of singing in a grand hall. A drama with heart and passion, you’ll be captivated from the first note.

marguerite1921, the beginning of the Golden Twenties. Not far from Paris it is party day at Marguerite Dumont’s castle. Like every year, an array of music lovers gathers around a great cause at the owner’s place. Nobody knows much about this woman except that she is rich and that her whole life is devoted to her passion: music. Marguerite sings. She sings wholeheartedly, but she sings terribly out of tune.When a young, provocative journalist decides to write a rave article…

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A few days in Queanbeyan to reconnect with my homeland

It’s nice sometimes to be sent to a place in your home country that you wouldn’t often get to visit. I travel all over the world and see some amazing things, but you know it’s nice to just explore your own homeland and see the beauty that is so nearby. I may not have chosen to go to Queanbeyan in NSW, a town outside of Canberra our Nation’s Capital, but I’m glad I got to go! It’s a  lovely little town and it was nice to spend just a few days there reconnecting and gaining some new experiences from those who’ve travelled many steps before me.


Travelling down on the train from Sydney, it was gorgeous to see the countryside and actually to realise my phone wasn’t working. I sat next to a charming old man. 93 and travelling back to Goulburn from his daughters house. He told me about enlisting in the army at age 18 for World War II. He shared his stories, he told me about his families history in the area and about how Australia had changed over time. I learnt so much in a few hours. I actually only sat next to him to charge my laptop. I then didn’t use it once! It was really nice just to hear the stories of someone who has lived so much.


Look let’s be honest, there isn’t heaps to do in Queanbeyan! But as I had some time to kill in the evenings and mornings, I wanted to make the most of it, so off I went on my walks! I strolled around town and loved coming across the natives… insert cows!




The Mill House Cafe sits next to the old Byrne’s Mill and is a charming spot right near the river. Lovely food and definitely a hot spot for Sunday brunches. Throw in a gorgeous autumn morning and you have the perfect way to start your day.


If there’s one thing Queanbeyan isn’t short of, it’s pubs! We had a  wide variety of choice when it came to a beverage and a meal on the weekend evenings. We opted for a walk across the river and to grab some very exotic, Zambreros. I can’t in this post, express how much I love Zambreros. I didn’t have time to take a photo of my meal cos I scoffed it – maybe that explains it. Mexican on the go! Delicious!

Another  day I sat in the food court at the local shopping centre for lunch. I had a salad and was all set to pull out my laptop and get some work done.I was making a mess and the old man who had sat across from me kindly handed me a napkin. I’m such a grub. We shared a few smiles and glances, I could sense that he wanted to talk. We just chatted a little at first about my i-phone and my computer and all the equipment I had on the table. He went on to tell me in his thick accent that he was a passionate photographer and travelled all around Australia. His accent was from Finland. A place I had actually been which surprised him and we shared some of our favourite points of the Scandinavian wonder. He explained he was a taxidermist all his life. He loves fishing, and now photography. He had such a sweet smile and such enthusiasm for his hobbies and experiences in life. He loves camping and now spends majority of the year exploring Australia, hoping to cover every inch of land he can. What a joy.


My final morning was spent strolling around the town. I walked past cows, rivers, streams, parks and a market. Everywhere I went I got a nod, hello or smile. There were friendly puppies and the air was fresh. What a beautiful image to leave this little country town on.



I headed back to the charming train station which looked straight out of the early 1900’s. I waited for the one train to roll into town to take me back home to Sydney. I felt refreshed and ready to head home to the city. Looking forward to the time and space on the train to be with my thoughts and to catch up on some writing, perhaps to even write this blog.


But again, the universe had other plans in mind. This was not a week for writing. This was a week for making new connections and reconnecting, with my home and myself. I sat next to an elderly lady. She asked if I’d taken the train before. I told her yes, on the way down. I mentioned how nice the view is and how wonderful it is to look out the window and just take in this beautiful country. I mentioned the chat with the lovely old man and how nice it was to hear his stories.

We then spent the entire four hour train ride chatting away. We told stories of our travels and exchanged hot tips on destinations. She was in awe of what I had down with my business and travels and that I was 28 years old. She had been a teacher and she shared with me her experiences in schools and watching young people learn. We talked about our families, films and our plans for the future. It was amazing. The time passed quickly and when we arrived at Central Station we exchanged business cards, we hugged as if we were old friends and said farewell.

It reminded me of the beauty of storytelling. It’s a shared experience. We don’t just make stories, having the adventure is only one part. It’s getting to share that with someone and relive it as you tell the tale. It’s also listening and learning. How nice it is to sit back and listen to someone as they share the special moments of their life and you watch their eyes light up as the memories unfold.

Stop. Look. Listen. Learn. Enjoy. and…. Share.

“No matter how far I go, I still call Australia home.”

Sherpa Film – Spectacular!

Here’s a review I wrote on Lovelly Communications about the Sherpa Film. It’s an incredible production and was something I had been waiting to see. We were also lucky to run a competition and giveaway 5x double passes. The competition got some amazing responses and I really enjoyed the disxussions around the movie as well as the topic of “obstacles” and “mountains” we must overcome.

See this movie, it is so highly recommended!


Last weekend I went to see Sherpa Film and was blown away. It was everything I hoped for and more. Everest has a special place in my heart after I trekked there last year with World Vision Australia. It also brought up the conflicts that you feel when heading to this most hallowed place that brings with it political controversy and environmental concerns, the film addresses all of this with pinpoint accuracy.

The cinematography in this film was spectacular. An Australian production and world class cinema. The techniques to capture some of the epic shots of the mountain are unbelievable and it took me right back to the base of the largest mountain in the world.

Emotive and captivating. Sherpa Film draws you in from the opening shots and takes you along an emotional journey as you learn more about Chomolungma, the sherpas name for Everest, their mountain home. I learnt…

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Perth people! Must see Betty Grumble: Sex Clown Saves the World is coming to you!

The hilarious, talented and always  entertaining Betty Grumble is on her way to Perth. She’s performing SEX CLOWN SAVES THE WORLD and it is not to be missed. She wowed Adelaide and is a cult favourite around the Sydney nightlife scene. Do yourself a favour and attend!

Betty Grumble clown

More about this show:

Hello Perthlings! Grumble is coming for you for one night only!

Meet Betty Grumble, surreal showgirl, obscene beauty queen and sex clown. She has one hour to save the world. This is your invitation to the event horizon as we go unashamedly into a burlesquing cabaret of deep disco dissent.

An ecosexual gesture and womanly reveal GRUMBLE weaves stories of rage, desire, hope and humour among energetic eruptions of song, dance, sensation and internal organs.
Kinda Your Grown Up Kids Show! SO…..Are you Betty to Grumble? Bring your grin’ cause if it wasn’t so serious she wouldn’t be laughing so hard.

Love and Anger, xxx Grumble.

WINNER – High Commendation Adelaide Fringe 2016 Weekly Cabaret Award

WINNER – Underbelly Edinburgh Award Adelaide Fringe 2016


Or you can buy on the door 🙂

Adult: $30

Concession: $25

Skint: $5

betty grumble

See more from Betty Grumble on Facebook and Instagram:

Facebook – Betty Grumble
Instagram – @bettygrumble



Day 3 of #Laxico2016 – Heavenly Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe

See my strategy is to have you all on the edge of seats wondering “What did Emma do on her holiday??” It has noting whatsoever to do with the fact that I haven’t made time to post these… or perhaps even write them. Suspense dear Watson. That’s the name of this game! ENJOY!

Day 3, Wednesday 24 February 2016.

SKI DAY!! Snow Snow Snow! Woke up and leapt out of bed, pulled back the curtain and greeted by snow covered rooftops, tall mountains all around, a lake view and blue bird skies. Perfect day!


I was like a kid at Christmas and jumped on Matt to get up asap so we could get snow ready. We planned to go to Heavenly on this day so that we didn’t have to travel far. It’s also the mountain we had heard the most about. I went online though to checkout tickets and see how we did that… $125 USD!! I was in shock. I mean I know it’s a famous mountain, but what, that’s about $170 AUD – almost 1.5 times what we pay in Australia. Well in Australia it’s about $110 – $120 at most mountains, but with the sucky dollar, this was hurting!


We got out into the town and It was fresh but really not too cold. It’s a really lovely little area and we had everything we needed within walking distance. Matt hired his skis and decided to give some demo skis a go, why not! It was then off to the ski lifts. Both of us were getting excited now.. we almost forgot about the pain that was about to hit our credit cards!



The first thing you do is hop on the Gondola and head right up, turning around to see the most incredible views of the Lake.


Ok! I can see where the expense of the ticket comes in, this was absolutely spectacular. We were two very happy ski bunnies.



Matt hadn’t been skiing for about 5 years and when we got to the top of the Gondola and actually onto the snow, he did a little happy dance. It was adorable! We asked the helpful man near the giant map where we should start. He gave us great advice on a cruisey area to begin on and where the sun had already hit so the snow will have softened up. We were off.


We got to the run and Matt said he was going to just take it easy to start. I said “sure, ok see you at the bottom.” And took off down the run, cruising along and loving being back on my board. Then out of the corner of my eye goes a flash of yellow pants and then Matt skis off in spectacular style down the hill. WHAT! I mean he said he was good but seriously, the boy can ski! I was attracted to him before but this just added a whole new level. Talent on snow is sexy. Yes, I had a crush on my boyfriend!




Absolutely perfect skiing conditions. Couldn’t have asked for better weather with warm sun, bluebird skies and the snow was soft and even. The California Run down with the lake view was absolutely epic. Pretty cruisey and flat, but just to be able to look at that view the whole way down, worth it!

But now, I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves.


We took some time out to chill out a couple of times on the deckchairs in the sun. It was a perfect day for people watching and such a great setup by the lifts. We spent $20 on coffee, Gatorade and two chocolate bars. Definitely need to pre-plan food and shop at the market. Good to be able to take a rest and enjoy the scene.


We lasted until about 2.30pm. We ski hard and fast, and pretty sure we were still jetlagged. With five days ahead of us, we decided to take it easy. The gondola ride down facing the lake was just incredible. Seriously how has it taken me so long to get here. A friend of mine in California goes every year and has been raving about the region. Since staying with him 4 years ago, it’s been on my list of ski holidays. To share it with matt and to be able to enjoy skiing together was a dream!



Shattered from our day on snow, we really appreciated being able to walk to our hotel and having all the facilities within the complex. We opted for an easy dinner again. Showered and fresh, we walked to the lift, out of the lift and about 30m into the Hard Rock Café!



We knew this would be a more expensive dinner but we also know what to expect, we knew it would be all American food and just easy. Big burgers, lots of fries and beers. We then were tempted by the dessert menu. We chose a hot fudge sundae after a tough decision making process… aka scissor, paper rock.




This happened. Urghhhh we dug through the mountains of whipped cream and discovered ice cream, hot fudge and not one, but TWO brownies under all of that. Needless to stay we waddled to bed and slipped into a food coma!

Cath Styles in SHIFT at Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2016

EXCITING TIMES! My gorgeous and talented friend Cath is back at Melbourne International Comedy Festival with a brand new show, SHIFT!

I’ve always found it fascinating how Cath juggles her professional career psychiatric nursing, with her passion and love for comedy. She nails both but add in family, friends, and life as well as your two work lives…. things get interesting.

It’s on from 5-17th April and we’ve got 2 x Double Passes to giveaway.

Tell us when and how you have lived a double life?

You can pick the date you would like to attend – just answer in the comments below!


We invite you to explore the craziness of a way of life where strange is normal, and normal is strange as Cath Styles presents her new show SHIFT at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2016.

Cath Styles has been a psychiatric nurse for 25 years, and a comedian for 10. Between the nights, evenings, weekends and holidays she’s worked in both jobs, she’s never had a weekend off. Ever! Shift is the show where both her worlds collide, and explores her on again, off again, love affair with her (paying!) job.

SHIFT poster MICF copy

No stranger to finding the funny in the dark and bizarre, the creator of festival favourite Darkness and Light blends stand-up and storytelling to tell touching, and twisted tales of her enduring 25 year fling with psych nursing.

The show will run from April 5 to 17 at The Downstairs Lounge at the Grand Mercure Hotel at 6.30pm. Details for…

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