Finally re-opening the store!

Finally re-opening the store!

If you have been on this site recently,  you may have noticed that the shop page has been unavailable for a little while.  Well, just like most of you, my life has been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.  However, I am very thankful that my health and the health of my loved ones have not been affected. I also have managed to keep my day job, for now anyway, so I am one of the lucky ones, I know it may not have been the case for you, so I would like to acknowledge any suffering that this crisis may have caused to you.  I am also thankful to live in a country that has an excellent health system as it is not the case in other countries.  And of course, thank you to all the dedicated health professionals and support staff that are so essentials.

Some of the things you will find in our shop: reef safe sunscreen, eco-fashion

This post is a bit more personal, but I thought I would share with you what has been happening in the last few months. I started with this business idea a long time ago but did not have the time, money to do much with it.  Very, very slowly it evolved from a blog to a shop last November (2019). I did not have much time to dedicate to it as I was working full time and needed to educate myself about business (that is still ongoing). Nevertheless, I was very proud of my achievements.  But then,  all that came to an abrupt end in March. Like most Australians, I went into lockdown. Unfortunately, that meant that I was away from my shop items in order to be close to my loved ones.  I was working from home with my day job and wondering if this was ever going to end. Well, it still has not ended but I would say that things are on the up-trend. Queensland has re-opened its borders and interstate visitors are slowly coming back. Albeit, some delays for Victoria.  So, great to see that despite everything, Australians have not lost their taste for travel. International travel is off the table for now but with such a blessed country, there is so much to see! 

I also sincerely hope that one of the things that will change is that we will travel more sustainably and ethically.  Because our health is intrinsically related to the health of the planet we inhabit, it would be a natural progression.  If you are ready to make a bit of a difference,  I invite you to come and visit our website, we have some great blog articles to help you make better choices and contribute to our collective wellbeing.  Shortly, there will be some more information about how to travel more sustainably in North Queensland.  So stay tuned for more info on this. 

But today, I really wanted to tell you that I am really excited about announcing that I will be re-opening the ‘’shop’’ section of the website on the 1st of August 2020. You will find there, eco-friendly fashion and travel essentials. Helping the planet by packing eco-friendly has never been more fun! Have a browse here….. and thanks for your patience during these unprecedented times!  See you soon and until next time, travel safely and sustainably!



Bring back the magic in your life – Visit Port Douglas and the Daintree

Port Douglas and Daintree Rainforest

Snugged in between two World heritage areas, the Port Douglas and Daintree region is picturesque and magical. If you want to find your mojo back or just need some time to disconnect with the rest of this crazy world, this is the ideal destination. Time seems to just slow down and the rainforest takes all your worries away. If you don’t believe me or want to know more, just watch this video.

Daintree Rainforest
Dubuji boardwalk – Cape Tribulation

Port Douglas is the ideal base to start exploring the area. There is a variety of accommodation and surely something will suit your needs. From the luxury hotel room to the self-contained unit, there is something for everyone.

What draw tourists and locals to the region is generally the easy access to the Great Barrier Reef and a number of cruises will get you there.  As I just recently obtained my open diver certificate, I was of course not to miss this opportunity. I went with Poseidon who does take snorkelers as well. The boat visited three different sites on the outer reef which were all healthy and stunning. A truly amazing day.

Diving at Agincourt reef
Diving at Agincourt reef

Visiting three different sites can be a bit intense so if you are after a more casual day out there are plenty of options available.

We went there during the Christmas holidays which happens to be just the beginning of the rainy season. This means that intermittent showers were on the menu. To be honest, I love the wet season. For one, most people associate rain with cold. Not here.  On the contrary.  There is nothing more refreshing than a good outdoor shower.  Secondly, the rainforest is at its prime during the wet season. I find that the colours of the rainforest are most vibrant right after the rain (Instagrammers, take note).

The Great Barrier Reef is just an out of this world experience and is rightly much talked about but it is not the only World heritage area that you can visit in the region. The Daintree Rainforest is the oldest living rainforest on earth. Yes, older than the Amazon.  And it shows.  At first, the rainforest is a bit intimidating, it appears like a big mess of green but once you get more acquainted, a whole new world just opens.

One way to get to know the rainforest is to see it through the eyes of the Kuku Yalanji  people who have been inhabiting the forest since the dawn of times.  Mossman Gorge Centre is a good start to enquire about guided walks and to get introduced to the forest.

Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge

If you feel up for the adventure, crossing the Daintree river will reward you with incredible sights and I assure you, you will come back transformed from this escapade.

We drove up from Port Douglas, across the Daintree River with the ferry and up to Cape Tribulation. ⁠

It is a bit difficult to explain what happens after the ferry crossing. It is a bit like entering a magical world where the rainforest takes over and all your troubles go away. Entering the Daintree forest is like going back to the Jurassic era when dinosaurs were roaming. Just out of this time zone. ⁠

When you crossed the ferry, take the time to stop at the Alexandra lookout to soak it all in. It is just a little bit after the ferry crossing and will reward you with views of Low Isle and its lighthouse framed by king ferns.

Alexandra Lookout
Alexandra Lookout

An other way to get acquainted with the rainforest is through a better understanding of the biodiversity that it represents. To get a bird’s eye view, Daintree Rainforest Aerial Walkway is just what you need. Stop by and learn about the trees and its strange inhabitants like the cassowary.

There are a number of walks that you can do along the road to Cape Tribulation. One that is not to be missed is the Dubuji boardwalk. This walks will bring you through a forest of fan palms. It is an extremely rare and iconic forest. To be honest, it just holds a special place in my hearth. This is where the magic happens. There is just nowhere else in the world like it. Breath it all in and thank the forest for the cleanest air you will ever breath.


Hope you get the chance to visit!  Until next time, keep exploring and take care of our beautiful planet!



A day to remember: Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet

Whitehaven and Hill Inlet

One of the bucket list things to do in the Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia – is to visit Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet.  Rated one of the top beaches to visit in the world and top things to do in the Whitsundays, let’s go see if it can hold on to its reputation!

The pure white sand and the ethereal blue of the sky and sea blend in a swirl of contrasts at Hill Inlet. Say no more, let’s go and explore!

A few facts about Whitehaven before we take you there….

With 98% silica content, the sand is incredibly white and makes a swishy sound when you walk on it.  I have never been on a beach that has such a distinctive sound! Even if you go there when it is scorching hot, the sand will not burn your feet if you walk on it.  Amazing! The only thing you have to be mindful of is the sand going into electronic equipment like phones and camera…. Apparently, it can make a lot of damages.

So, here is how our day went. We departed from Hamilton Island – but it would be as easy to go from Airlie Beach, just a bit longer. The boat we took departs from Airlie Beach, pick some passengers on Hamilton Island and then heads up to Whitehaven Beach. There are a few companies that will bring you there for a day trip but we went with Cruise Whitsundays and it was quite a stable and quick ride. About 30 -40 minutes later we were ferried ashore to Whitehaven Beach where canopies were set up. Make sure you bring your reef-safe sunscreen as the sun is quite intense! Some people stayed on the beach of a leisurely stroll or swim, others like us took a small boat to go to Tongue Bay, where we headed up for a bushwalk to an observatory where we could admire the Hill Inlet swirls.  Seriously, be prepared to be dazzled! Thank you, mother nature, for this beautiful display. Seriously worth it in every way.

We headed back down to the other side of the hill where we were picked up and ferried back to Whitehaven beach right on time for lunch. Now, we could have just relaxed on beach for the rest of the afternoon, but instead, we decided to go for a bushwalk.  We did a short circuit, bout 1 hour, to take advantage of the various vantage points and we were not deceived!

Whitehaven beach is located on the largest of the 74 islands of the Whitsundays appropriately called Whitsunday island which is a national park. That means that there are no developments and the viewpoints are quite exceptional.

After relaxing a bit on the beach, it was already time to go back but, oh! what a day.

A majestic place where time stops and the beauty of nature will make you forget all your troubles. Just go there and have a look for yourself, there is just nothing else like it!

Want to see more? Have a look at our Youtube video here.

Noumea and surrounds in a nutshell (a coconut shell that is…)

Noumea and surrounds in a nutshell (a coconut shell that is…)

Tropical short trip with a French vibe….

I have also made a video on Nouméa and one on Koné and Bourail if you want to see more images.

Let’s take a short holiday from the  Fashion and Petrol: A love Story series and travel to New Caledonia….

At 2 hours by plane from Brisbane, why not? We took an Aircalin flight from Brisbane and landed in Noumea shortly thereafter.  For those in the southern states, Aircalin offers direct flights from Melbourne and Sydney as well. Fun fact, did you know that “calin” means hug in French…… Haaaa, so cute…. There are also plenty of cruises that will stop to New Caledonia if this is your preference.

We did not have a lot of time, and we decided that we would leave the loyalty islands, which are the jewel of New Caledonia, to another trip. Instead, we decided to explore the mainland or ‘’ le caillou’’ (the rock) as they call it.

We stayed in Anse Vata which is located just outside the CBD on the seaside.  We stayed at the hotel ‘’Le Lagon’’ and were quite impressed by the joyful welcome and services provided there. Le Lagon is a more ‘’boutique’’ hotel located in a quiet spot of Anse Vata and offers charming rooms. There are other accommodation choices like the Hilton Promenade, but we opted for a smaller scale hotel.  We explored from there and made a short road trip to Bourail and Kone.

What you need to know before going

Language: French and Kanak with English spoken in the tourist sectors. If you do not speak French, you can definitely get by in the tourist spots but will struggle if you venture further like in Kone. Learning a little French vocabulary may get you a long way if you want to go outside the beaten path.

Money: Pacific Franc. You need to be warned: the cost of living is much more expansive than in Australian capital cities. If you live in a more remote Australian location, it will be very similar….

Temperature: Quite comfortable really…… there is a wet and dry season, so expect more rain from December to March with potential for cyclones. We went there at the end of December beginning of January and got a mixed bag of sun, rain and wind. There are plenty of activities to do in Noumea on rainy days, so it was not really an issue.

Politics: New Caledonia is an overseas ‘’collectivitée’’ of France. It is still part of France in many ways but is governed by the Noumea Accords which gives a great deal of autonomy to New Caledonia. This accord also allows for referendums on New Caledonia’s independence to occur at various stages. The last referendum happened in November 2018 where Caledonians voted to stick with France. As we travelled there only a month after the referendum, we still felt a bit of a social tension but nothing to make us feel uncomfortable.

What to see

In Anse Vata, the foreshore is quite nice for a stroll. It is swimmable but do not expect the white beaches of Isle of Pine or Loyalty Islands. If that is what you are after…. Then, hop on a boat or a plane, and I am sure those places will fill you with joy. Nevertheless, a taxi boat away is Duck Island. If you want to enjoy a relaxing day at the beach only minutes away from Anse Vata, Duck Island is the place to be. It is quite small and attracts lots of tourists, but it is still quite pleasant. I did the underwater snorkelling trail, and surprisingly, I was surprised by the quality of the coral and amount of fish I saw. I even saw a turtle!  Due to the number of tourists and the close proximity of the urban areas, it is not bad. Not a pristine reef, of course, but quite good.  If underwater is not your thing, there is an arts trail on the island. Worth a stop.

But, back to the more urban area.  We are in French territory so let’s talk croissant, wine and cheese. To my greatest delight, there was a boulangerie located just a stone throw away from Hotel Le Lagon.  That was the spot for our endless supply of baguette and croissant. There was a corner store where we could get some good cheese and other French delicacies which we brought back to our room for dinner on the balcony.  A wine shop was also not too far, so we avoided the expansive restaurants on main street. Surprisingly, good French restaurants are off the beaten track and not easily accessible from Anse Vata. A bit of a shame.

The Kanak people who are the first inhabitants of New Caledonia have a rich and diverse culture. There are two museums dedicated to the Kanak people and more broadly to the Melanesian culture. Both offer different perspectives. I personally really enjoyed the Museum of New Caledonia which is located right downtown in a bit of a shabby looking building. It has an extensive collection of artefacts which tells a story about mostly about pre-colonisation life. It helped me to better understand the cultural roots of the Kanak people. A must see.  The Tjibaou Cultural Centre, on the other hand, is an architectural wonder and stands tall in the landscape; you will see it from afar. The centre is a bit of a hike from Noumea CBD or Anse Vata, I recommend to take a cab for less of a hassle; otherwise, you need to take two buses from Anse Vata, and if you don’t speak French, it may be a bit of a headache.  To be honest, the centre had interesting exhibitions, but somehow I felt that the content did not commensurate the architectural grandeur of the building. But I am an archaeological nerd…. The Tjibaou Cultural centre is still worth the visit. The architecture is stunning, but it is captivating to understand the more recent history and struggle of the Kanak people.

Another great place to visit around Noumea is the Parc  Zoologique et Forestier. Again, I would suggest the cab (even if it is expansive) to go there as it can be a bit of an expedition.  Nice place for a pick-nick and stroll in the gardens. But the real reason for my visit there was to meet the Cagou ( what is this, you may ask?).  The Cagou is a beautiful non-flying bird that is endemic to New Caledonia. It is now an endangered species and is very rare to find in its natural habitat.  Definitely worth meeting the bird!

Venturing Further on the Caillou: Bourail and Kone

Bourail, or more specifically the Domaine de Deva is a large estate with ocean frontage and mountain views.  It will make the joy of hikers and golfers. It is home to the Sheraton Deva Spa and Golf.  Quite posh and expansive but with an awesome location.  It is possible to stay overnight in a luxury hut and sip a drink near the Polynesian inspired main building.  If you are there, you can arrange to go snorkel in the UNESCO classified lagoon or enjoy a view from the top of hills or from the skies (by plane). For our part, we definitely enjoyed the view from the hills.
For a less expansive getaway, I would suggest going to Poe, which is nearby, we stopped at Nemo for lunch, and the food was absolutely exquisite. I recommend you do the same.

We also ventured further to Kone which is inland. The lush green mountains and the scenic route was a nice change in the backdrop. It is mostly a mining town with some agriculture. Not very touristic but good to see a variety of landscape.  It is possible to take a small plane and see the heart of Voh. Unfortunately, the weather was not very clement, and we decided to pass as we there only one night.  We stayed at the Koniambo hotel which was quite lovely. We really enjoyed eating bougna, which is a traditional meal consisting of sweet potatoes and meat, at the dinner buffet that night.

Overall, we had a great tip, albeit short, in New Caledonia. We will definitely have to go back to see the islands, but Noumea was really pleasant. There are heaps of things to do and see in and around the city.  The people we met were really nice and friendly.  The relaxed atmosphere was quite enjoyable. We were there for new year and had the best time with the locals celebrating in the streets of Anse Vata. Truly unforgettable!

Go on…. give it a go…. worth it! For more images, see the youtube videos. (Nouméa and surrounds)

Until next time….. travel safe!


Julie from Tropical Suitcase