Tuesday 11 November 2014

Two cafes and a road trip - Bill's in Bondi and The Belle General in Ballina

This past week Mr Pickings and I took off on a road trip to Sydney.  I have often said to him - "let's just keep driving" whenever we cross over to the southside of town and see the big highway sign which tells us the big smoke is only 900+ klicks away.  So this time we did it!  We drove to Armidale the first night and spent a lovely evening in the very cool air at a wonderful place called Moore Park Inn.  Even though it was Sunday night, the chef was on and made us a delicious meal.  I thought it was somewhat amusing that room delivery cost $7 when the owner only had to walk about 10 metres to our room with the plates!

chicken and mushroom tart 

Next day we drove down Thunderbolt's Way to Sydney.  What a fantastic road this is!  So peaceful and beautiful, and we were lucky enough to see a koala and baby very close to the side of the road.  (our niece who works for the RSPCA said this was a bad sign though, as they should be much higher in the trees).

We stayed the night with friends at Gosford, then headed down to Sydney.  There is such a lot to see and do here, so with only 2 days it was all a bit of a lightning foray.  The afternoon we arrived we went to Bondi to see Sculpture by the Sea- such a wonderful festival.  It was a beautiful day and it was a joy to walk along the cliffs taking in the marvellous artworks.  We met up that night with an old friend who now lives in Sydney. Nothing more delightful than spending time with someone who knows you so well, and takes no nonsense.
On our last morning we went to Bill's in Bondi for breakfast with all the beautiful people.  For a Thursday morning it was pretty darn busy, full of tourists like us.  Service was quick and efficient, and the food was fantastic!

the ceiling wasn't really falling on our heads!

We really enjoyed a delicious breakfast and it was a lovely end to our Sydney sojourn.  We just had the long drive back home.  Oh well, what's a thousand kilometres between friends?!

Bill's blend of single origin coffee $3.90
beetroot carrot apple and fennel juice just made your blood sing! $8.50

scrambled organic eggs and sourdough toast $14.50
side of haloumi $4.50 and housemade gravlax $6.00

On the way home we stopped in Ballina for a couple of nights to recoup.  We love it there and go down several times a year.  I have been dying to try out a new(ish) place called The Belle General in East Ballina. We managed to haul ourselves out of bed and get along there for breakfast the next day.  We hadn't booked but luckily for us someone hadn't turned up so we grabbed their table.  The restaurant was comfortably full, but it didn't feel crowded or overwhelming and service was very efficient.

Mr Pickings perusing the menu

the menu (check it out online)

The Belle General proudly uses local produce, and organic and  free-range whenever possible.  Clearly, locals and tourists alike are keen on this approach.  I loved my soft breakfast taco with beans, (added) bacon, avocado and scrambled eggs.  And even though I am not a fan of banana or dates, the Super smoothie was soooo delicious I wolfed it down. (Yes you may well ask - why did she pick that one then?  To which I have no answer except senility).  Mr Pickings hoed into his brekkie of pancakes and fruit which was a special that day.  (sorry- can't remember the price).

Mr Pickings had the Summer smoothie with mango, raspberries etc
(oh and banana which he also doesn't like! but loved in this). $10.50   

my taco was delish!  $19.00 + $4.50 for the bacon

Mine was a substantial dish and I had to force most of my taco on Mr Pickings who willingly sacrificed himself for the cause.  I think I have a bacon fetish and always order it as an extra where appropriate (obviously not with sweets or a fish dish!)   And I loved the hot and sweet chilli relish- yum!  No whimping out here with the heat.

my artistic shot of their pendant lights

the great outdoors

the lovely ladies of The Belle General doing their thing 

As we left, 2 (other) lovely local ladies also having breakfast stopped to have a chat with us.  They had seen me taking photos of the food, and wanted to know what we were up to.  They talked about how the Northern Rivers area is picking up economically, and starting to zing.  I do think it is a bit of a shame that development is starting to take over this area. I want it all to myself!  No but really, the very thing we love about it is the peace and beauty, and sadly we are starting to see housing estates take over.  I guess I am selfish, but I would like to see the serenity remain.  But it is still a wonderful place to visit with lots of great eating places and beautiful scenery, and of course really nice people to talk to!

The Belle General

Address: The Belle General Cafe Takeaway Store
12 Shelly Beach Rd East Ballina NSW
Phone: 02 6681 3263
The Belle General on Urbanspoon


  1. what a lovely road trip. $7 for delivering food sounds like a lot, Love the look of the beetroot, carrot, apple and fennel juice and I am going to try and recreate that at home :)

    1. Hi Tandy
      The juice was so good. Very earthy. I loved it. Yep $7 was a lot ! He only had to walk out the door:)

  2. You have no idea how much I would love to get in the car and take off for a few days. One day. With the pets and the old folks, we don't get out much. :) Your journey left me wanting more.

    1. It was so much fun maureen. You should try to do it. I have wanted to see the sculptures for years so was really happy to get there at last.

  3. I love that trip from QLD to Sydney - sounds like you had fun and I love Ballina too - great place to recoup.

    1. Hi Rachel
      We love it down there. We visit often as we have a potter friend down there.

  4. What a lovely time you guys had! Will keep the Belle General in mind for if we visit Ballina! And the room service charge is a funny one isn't it!

    1. Oh yes Lorraine. So much to see and do and eat around northern rivers. It's great.

  5. It looks like you found some great places to dine during your time away. I love the look of the chicken and mushroom tart and the scrambled eggs look really good. I agree with you re the North Coast - the area doesn't need housing estates as they will spoil all that is wonderful about that part of the world. However, we can't all fit in Sydney! Sorry we weren't able to catch up during your time in Sydney. It wasn't me in that cafe! xx

    1. yes it would have been nice if it were you charlie in that cafe! we did some great eating on our trip. as my waistline testifies.:)

  6. This place looks just perfect and those smoothies would just hit the spot at the moment. :)


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