Renting a car in Australia

Self-drive in Australia may sound like an awesome holiday dream come true but when you start researching for more information and comparing the different car rental companies, you’ll probably end up as confused as me. Especially when it is the first time you are actually renting a car.

There are more than 5 car rental companies in Australia and they all have their individual price/day, discounts, add-ons etc. Here are a few important points to take note when booking.

1. GPS

Having a GPS is extremely important in Australia. Do not rely on your smartphone’s GPS. There were many times while my family and I were driving on the roads and we get zero reception (emergency calls only) so if we wanted to change our destination last minute, there was no way to because there was no data for your phone to load the changed route. You can either bring one from your home country or just rent it for a price from the car rental agency.

Another advantage of GPS is that it is much more accurate in timing than Google Maps.

2. Excess Reduction

This is the most confusing point to consider when renting a car and you’ll probably end up with a headache like me in the end. Excess reduction is a product that the car rental agency will offer in order to reduce your liability if there is any damage to the car. Some agencies have a variety of excess reduction options you can choose from and the price of your car will vary significantly depending on what you choose.

As kaisu Singaporeans, my family and I opted to reduce our liability to zero which means that there won’t be a scenario where we will need to pay any amount if something happens to the car. However there is a trade-off for this which is the hefty surcharge. So if paying that cash can make your trip more enjoyable, do it.

3. Sealed & Unsealed Roads

If you ever read the Terms & Conditions when renting your car (which you should), you’ll notice these 2 terms popping up frequently – sealed & unsealed roads. Unlike Singapore where most roads are sealed and there is almost zero probability of you driving on an unsealed one, there is a high chance of you driving on an unsealed road in Australia especially for less urban areas and for us we encountered them frequently in Tasmania.

“A sealed road is a road of which the surface has been permanently sealed by the use of one of several pavement treatments, often of composite construction.”

Most car agencies will not cover you if damage is done while driving on unsealed roads. But I would say this isn’t much of a worry if you just try to be extra careful when driving on unsealed ones.

4. Check your car before driving off

Always check your car before driving off the car rental site because if there are any scratches or damages to the car later when you return, you’ll be held responsible for them. They would give you a car rental slip and remind you to check the car for any damages before you leave the counter. If you do find any, just let the staff at the parking area know and they will indicate them on the slip and sign off to void you of any of the damages caused by the previous driver. Note that sometimes when they pass you the slip, there may already be indications but  do not take it for granted! It is always best to check again yourself because we found several dents and scratches which weren’t already indicated on the slip.

5. Driver

Insurance only covers one driver – the one who rented the car online. (I didn’t realise that and only after I completed the entire booking, I realised the insurance only covered me but I wasn’t the one who will be driving so I had to delete the entire booking and do it all over again). Moreover, insurance will not cover drivers who are under the age of 25. If there is no other drivers who can do that, you can still drive but there will be a surcharge for that.

There are many other points to take note of but I feel that these 5 are those which are more of importance. You can read this article here to understand what else you have to take note of.

The rental company which we went for was Avis which we were very satisfied with during the trip. Oh another thing, if you are unable to collect your car at the timing which you’ve booked beforehand, do not worry because they actually do reserve your car for several hours in the event there is an unexpected event such as a flight delay (which was what we experienced).

Then, have a safe and fun trip in Australia! Feel free to ask me any questions and I’ll try the best of my knowledge to answer them 🙂

November 8 Coffee & Company

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetHaving read about this cafe on the list of food places to try on Thomson road, my friend and I decided to visit for a weekday dinner.

The cafe was pretty hard to find (okay, maybe it’s just me). The building, Thomson V two was very prominent but the interior of the building was confusing especially if you’ve entered from the other entrance like me. The cafe is only accessible from the other entrance.

Even though it was a weekday evening, the cafe was mostly filled when we entered. As it is a pretty small cafe, service was good as the staff attends to you almost immediately.

Apparently they have changed their menu and I was kind of disappointed as I was unable to try their sweet potato fries.

Potato Rosti

Sorry but I can’t really remember the exact names of what we’ve ordered (this post is pretty backdated, around 2 to 3 weeks ago). I love my order which was the potato rosti. The greens were yummy and even though the sausage and bacon was a little salty, it paired well with the rosti and scrambled eggs.

The reason why we ordered a waffle wasn’t because the serving was too small but more of our sweet tooth. You know how a meal feels incomplete without a dessert. It was good, but definitely not the best I’ve had (till now, Wimbly lu’s waffles are still top on my waffle chart).

Overall it’s a great place to chill especially after work. The cafe was fairly quiet the entire period we were there which makes it an excellent place to unwind.

The Assembly Ground

Cafe interior
Cafe interior

Situated at the Cathay level 1, the cafe emits a cozy ambience with low lying dim lights, comfy chairs and vintage decor. It was around half filled when we stepped in even though it was a Saturday lunch hour.

As the lights were really dim, I have to admit I had trouble reading through the offerings they had. Furthermore the tiny words fared poorly against the faded brown background.

Menu

The price range was acceptable since it was situated in town and a main was around $14 to $20. Similarly to the other cafes, most of the offerings had either poached or egg benedict. I decided to go ahead with the rosti as I was quite sick of having too much fries the past few days (The sandwich comes with salad and fries). And of course, I ordered a root beer float 🙂

Root beer float
Root beer float
Rosti omelette

And the verdict? The root beer float was good (Like duh? How can it go wrong) and yep, that’s all. The rosti was really bad in my opinion. It currently ranks as the worst rosti I have ever eaten. At first glance, it looks like stir-fried vermicelli and it definitely tastes like one as it had a rubbery texture and was really dry. My friends who saw my order couldn’t tell it was rosti at all. The salad too was dry and the sausages were too salty. I really regretted ordering this.

However not all were unpleasant.

Mushroom sandwich
Mushroom cheese sandwich
Assembly brunch
Eggs zoey

The sandwich was the best out of all. The portion was pretty huge and the filling was generous with mushroom.

Well, I’ll probably come back again if I’m in the area and this time round I’m definitely going straight for the sandwiches.

GRUB

Procrastination has been hitting quite hard on me recently (hence the lack of update even though I promised myself I’ll try my best to blog more frequently). My friends and I had Grub a month ago and here I am finally typing this.

Honestly, I’ve never heard of Grub before my friends suggested to me that we’ll try it out for T’s birthday (Slow. I know). And so when they were all hyped out to try out the food there since it’s so famous, I was just barely excited having to wake up early on a Sunday morning.

To make things worse, we got lost.(Yes, in small tiny Singapore). Apparently we parked at the wrong carpark and we attempted to find our way there by walking but decided to go back to the car and find the place again (which was such a wise decision. Thank God. For it was so far away!) When we’ve finally found the place this time with the aid of Google Maps, the second obstacle arrived which was to find a parking lot. It was really packed even though it was still early in the morning. Hence we decided to split up with two of them stay in the car and wait for a lot while the rest of us get a number and wait for our turn at Grub.

Guess what? The estimated queuing time was 25 minutes since the eatery was really small which I estimate around a 50 seater at most (including both in and outdoors). Since we were there already, we were determined to STAY even though we had to wait under the hot sun. Lucky for us who chose that it was fine to sit either inside or outside, we managed to get our seats before the estimated waiting time. We witnessed another group who chose to sit inside wait longer even though they arrived before us. So, yay for that.

We proceeded to order quickly as we were famished from that long wait.

Root Beer Float
Root Beer Float

My root beer float to quench that thirst but $6 for this? Not very worth it but I’m a big fan of floats so yep, I HAD to order it.

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Cheese Burger

Cheese burger is just… a normal cheese burger. Don’t order this if you are expecting something more than that. I honestly feel that Carl’s Junior has better tasting burgers than this.

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Breakfast Set

 

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Crispy Fish Burger

Not only does it look good on the camera, it tastes good as well. One of their best dishes. Even though I am not a seafood lover, I liked it. There was no fishy stench at all.

Mentaiko Fries
Mentaiko Fries

This is awesome food. The star of the day. The sauce is topped with crispy seaweed. Totally understand why every food review on Grub talks about this.

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Churros

A total waste of money and calories. It tasted more like a bread instead.

Overall verdict? It’s a great place to hang out and chill probably on a weekday if there’s no crowd but I won’t go back again since the food isn’t that splendid except for that Mentaiko Fries and Crispy Fish Burger.

Ps. A great place to take food photos since the lighting was great.

Little Part 1 Cafe

It has been awhile since my brother and I have similar off days so we decided to hop on the bandwagon and explore a new cafe. I have to admit we took 30 minutes to decide the night before on a cafe to try out since there were so many cafes for us to select from. Little Part 1 Cafe was chosen because of our love for German food after having visited Germany ourselves last year and some of the German restaurants in Singapore. Besides that, there were several genuine positive reviews on both HungryGoWhere and Ladyironchef.

We tried to make reservation the next day predicting that it’ll be probably pretty packed for a Friday evening. Reservation was a hassle. We tried calling the outlet but no one picked up. The other method was to send an sms to a specific mobile number as specified on their official website. Finally we got a reply but there was no exact confirmation that we did reserve.

When we reached the place, we were having doubts on our booking and already had plans up our sleeves to either visit Fat Boys or Habitat Coffee nearby if there aren’t any seats available for us. Well, thank goodness the reservation was made successfully!

The cafe was surprisingly small, estimated around 30 pax at most? However it was cozy and it is a great option for small dinner hangouts. Even though it was only 6.20pm when we reached, most of the seats were already occupied or placed with a “reserved” sign. The only empty seats for walk-ins was a middle round table which could probably only fit a group of 4.

Having done my “homework” beforehand, ordering was a breeze. For first-timers, ordering will probably end up as a chore with the faded menu (not sure if it’s actually a design or they couldn’t replace the menus). I had to squint in order to read it properly.

We decided to go ahead with spicy buffalo wings (what they are well-known for as written on their menu) as starters. As I am not a spicy food eater, I was quite worried when the wings came. On first glance, it was pretty unappealing as the skin was scorch black and it came with a dip of what seems like sweet chilli.

However on first bite, it was unexpectedly good. The spiciness of the buffalo wings come around 30 seconds later and it starts to numb your tongue and throat. It was the perfect match with our beers. If we haven’t ordered the other dishes in advance, we would definitely ordered more to satisfy that fried chicken and beer craving (you’ll understand what I mean if you have watched You who came from the stars).

Spicy Buffalo Wings

While trying to finish our appetizer, the other main dishes came quickly, one after another until our table was totally full. I guess this is a usual trend of German restaurants having to serve all the food together which is very much similar to Chinese restaurants.

We tried the ribs first for it was one of the most voted “must try out dish”. It was exactly as what the review I’ve read written. The meat was so tender that it literally fell off the bone. I find it a hassle to scrape meat off bones when eating ribs. This was perfect to me. However to my brother, he was disappointed. He liked it the other way. Oh well, too bad for him and great for me! The meat was succulent and the sauce was finely made. It can get quite addictive as you eat on. My brother in the end agreed that it was good and remarked that a full slab would have been a better option compared to the half which we’ve ordered.

Half Slab Ribs

Next, we tried out the beef quesadillas. This is in my opinion, the best dish for the entire night. The combination of the tomatoes, beef, mushroom and cheese was in such perfect harmony that all of us nodded in unison with our mouths full. The crispy outer layer complimented the juicy beef within.

Beef Quesadillas

I would have to say I was disappointed with the Chicken Schnitzel or probably because we tasted this last out of all the dishes hence it wasn’t as tasty as it would have been if we tried it upon served. Even though it was crispy when we ate it, I think we were too biased towards the beef quesadilla to make a fair judgement.

Chicken Schnitzel

Lastly, Bratwurst Brat. It was good but after awhile, I got sick of the taste. However, my brother really liked this main. In addition, to our surprise the mash potato was really good. It literally melted in our mouths. Kudos to them for putting so much effort into a side dish!

Bratwurst Brat

Overall, I think it’s a great place to visit especially after work. It was cozy and I love how the place was decorated with all the mini portraits of customers.

More pictures of the place and the food (not forgetting our selfies :p)

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Ps. For people who like to take food photos, it’s quite difficult to take nice pictures because of the warm lighting if you’re eating in the evening.