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Tuesday, 18 September 2018

"I no longer hate what I see in the mirror": Kelly Ford's 50kg+ weight loss

Kelly Ford has had a personal victory, and has won the war she waged on her weight, with the prizes a healthier mindset, lifestyle, and happiness!

She shares her story exclusively with Josie's Juice and we could not be prouder to feature Kelly's story here. We met several years ago when our sons were in the same autism-centric playgroup, alongside all our kids, and during her last pregnancy.

Here is Kelly's story, and her very inspiring before and after photos:

"I have battled my weight since I was a child. I remember my first ever 'fat' insult in primary school probably aged 5 or 6 where I was called 'fatty boomba', 'fatso' and the oh so original 'fatty'. These insults, accompanied with feeling and seeing yourself as different to everyone else does strange things to a child's mind as they grow up. I was constantly aware of my size even though I was actually not that overweight in primary school at this stage. 

Due to insults and insecurities I didn't feel comfortable participating in sport at school. See, this is the common thing with kids that are overweight: they don't feel comfortable playing sport due to their weight and therefore can't shift the extra weight and turn to food for comfort and companionship. 

High school at an all girls Catholic school wasn't that bad and I survived with hardly any 'fat' bullying. My weight always bothered me but I was a smart and happy kid and for the most part I still had fun and was often the class clown. I had great friends - some of them are still in my life. I could never get fashionable clothes in my size (I was probably a 14-16) from year 7-10 and as one of five kids my parents tried but could never afford to take me shopping at some of the plus size stores.

I had my first baby at 19 years old and gained an obscene amount of weight (50 kgs). I was 140kgs when I gave birth to my son. I did not have an understanding of nutrition, I just ate because I was hungry and I was in an unhealthy emotionally abusive relationship with my son's father. I had depression and no self worth at all. 

I lost the weight and I also lost the unhealthy relationship and got down to a healthy size 14 and about 85 kgs. I was far from healthy though. I lost weight because I hardly ate food, I smoked and drank coffee and cask wine. I probably still had depression but was happy that I was finally 'thin'. I could shop at Sportsgirl, Bardot and I cried with happiness when I bought a pair of size 13 Lee riders jeans. It was a good feeling. 

I met the love of my life (my now husband Tuks) and with happiness came some weight gain. Only a little so I didn't mind too much. I was feeling happy and healthy. We got engaged and then found out we were pregnant. Wedding plans were put on hold and we planned for our baby. I gained 30kgs during the pregnancy. I had my baby boy and joined Weight Watchers because I had a wedding to plan! I wanted to be back to my 85kgs by the wedding and I had less then a year. I got to 95kgs and we had a beautiful wedding. 

A couple of months after our wedding I fell pregnant again and this time gained 35kgs. I reached the 130kgs and felt pretty horrible. I had my third baby boy and barely had a second to myself and the weight never shifted. That year was hard and very trying. We found out that our two year old had autism, and not long after that we fell pregnant again!

This time I was starting out pregnant at at least 125kgs and really couldn't afford to gain more than 10kgs. I was sent to a dietitian to control my pregnancy weight and with help I gained about 12-15kgs. It still brought me to 137kgs and when I had my first baby girl.

I was so happy that nothing about my weight mattered for a while. Except when I fell pregnant again! Haha, again I ended up being back up to almost 140kgs and gave birth to my second baby girl. I'd had five babies and they were all delivered by caesarean section so I made the decision to have my tubes tied and that was it, no more babies.

I ate way too much during my pregnancies and also would balloon up with fluid. I never had much energy to exercise and being so big it made it difficult anyway. My relationship with food was never healthy and although I loved healthy food I ate way too much of it and obviously unhealthy food as well. I used food when I was happy to celebrate and reward I never seemed to know when to stop. 

My relationship with my self image was in more dire straits and I hated to look in the mirror. I hated my photo taken and I even though I had a gorgeous man who loved me and said he was attracted to me I still felt disgusted and worthless most of the time. I'd felt like this pretty much my whole life and I was sick of it! The mental struggles I'd battled my whole life was emotionally tiring, and that was just my head!

Although I had my beautiful family and my husband loved me exactly as I was, I was heading toward 35 years old and being 130kgs was seriously affecting my life in every way. I had sore ankles, swollen feet, sore back and I felt 50 years old. I had always considered having weight loss surgery but was always terrified. So I decided to join a women's bootcamp that was run by a friend. I tucked all my insecurities up into size 20 tights and shapewear and put on my Nikes. I had never even heard of a burpee before and I could barely run 10 metres without feeling like I was having a heart attack but I went and although I hated it, I was proud of myself. Within a month I'd lost 4 kilos and 18cm off my waist. Then a month later I twisted my ankle at my daughter's gymnastics and I was out of action for two months. 

In that time I decided to call and make an appointment with a bariatric surgeon Dr Gary Yee at St George Private Hospital. I made it for December 2015 and I thought I'd explore the gastric band option which is a procedure where a laparoscopic adjustable gastric band, commonly called a lap-band, is an inflatable silicone device placed around the top portion of the stomach intended to slow consumption of food and reduce the amount of food consumed. It doesn't have a very good reputation in comparison to other weight loss surgery options and isn't as popular anymore. 

After lots of research I decided that the gastric sleeve was a better option for me and was hoping the surgeon would confirm this. The sleeve gastrectomy is both a restrictive and metabolic approach to weight loss. By removing a majority of the stomach, usually 80% is removed so the amount of food that a person can consume is limited. This helps people lose weight gradually. Also with the sleeve gastrectomy, the stomach produces less ghrelin, a hormone that triggers the feeling of hunger, so patients experience a reduction in the hunger sensation between meals. Once 80% of your stomach is removed essentially you are left with a stomach 'sleeve' probably the size of a banana. A half a cup to a cup of food will fill you up and you will be full and satisfied. This will help you to lose weight. 

So Dr Yee agreed with me that the gastric sleeve was the best option for me and we booked in my gastric sleeve for the 17th March 2016! We set a goal of 75-80kgs and I had a personal goal of 70kgs. I was so nervous and excited! 

My husband and mum and my younger brother were probably the only ones who were not so much on board with my decision to have weight loss surgery. They were just worried. Once I explained everything and assured them this was what I wanted to do and was going to be okay they were very supportive. 

I had and still have so many beautiful family and friends that are so supportive - I was blown away by how supportive they were. My sister in law knew someone who'd had the surgery, and she passed on contact details so I could chat about my concerns. I also had two other friends that had had the sleeve and were loving life. I was starting to get really excited now and couldn't wait for March to come around. 

I really indulged over Christmas and the New Year and put most of the weight that I'd lost at Bootcamp back on. I wasn't too worried because I knew it would be the last time I could eat the way if always eaten. 

The date was nearing and I needed to do a VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) or pre operative diet which consisted of three OPTIFAST meal replacement shakes / products and 2 cups of veggies a day for two weeks prior to surgery. I started this diet on the March 3, 2016 and weighed in that morning at 123kgs with a BMI of 41. I knew it was going to be so hard and yes, it was! I did it, and lost 7kgs in those two weeks. 

Surgery day arrived - it was a Thursday and I weighed in at 116kgs. I was scared but excited. The surgery went perfectly and I was in recovery after a 2 hour operation. I felt pretty awful but I'd expected that. I had absolutely no desire to eat but I was so thirsty. I wasn't able to drink water but I could have some ice chips. I went I sleep and woke up the next day feeling so much better. I still had no appetite and was on some pretty full on pain relief. I was so out of it that my husband and girls came to visit me and I could not keep awake. I refused the next dose of those pain pills and the next morning I felt a million times better. I was up and walking and feeling great. I was able to eat some soup and drink some juice and when I say 'some' I mean like 3 spoonfuls of soup and like, 50-100mls of juice. I was able to go home when I could drink a litre of water otherwise I'd be in severe danger of dehydration so I'd have to stay on the drip. It was a challenge to drink that water but I did and was able to go home Sunday morning. I'd spent three nights in hospital. I was to be on a liquid diet for two weeks while my stitches in my stomach healed. Then I'd progress onto a puréed diet for two weeks and then soft foods for two weeks and then normal diet after that. It was difficult because yummy food smells would come past and tease my nose and although I didn't physically feel hungry I wanted to eat and crunch on some real food. 

Once I could eat normal foods again I could eat about half a cup of food at a meal, sometimes less and sometimes almost a cup of food. I no longer eat white bread, hardly ever eat rice or pasta as these foods are very filling and haven't got much nutritional value so I need to eat protein first and then some veggies and there's just no room for much else. I take multi vitamins and reflux tablets (a common side effect of the sleeve surgery is reflux) and I drink a protein shake most days to get my protein in. Protein is important for 'sleevers' as rapid weight loss can go hand in hand with muscle loss. Taking meds and monitoring what I eat and drink is a small price to pay for finally being a healthy weight. 

I had made some amazing friends from the weight loss surgery community on social media and in particular on Instagram, and they have been and still are an incredible support network for me and it's made my weight loss journey something I would have never even imagined it would be. Most people wouldn't even think that people you've never met could be some of the most amazing people that cheer you on and encourage you when times are rough and you're off track. It's like a super support group that's right at your fingertips. I now have made lifelong friendships with some of these amazing people. 

The gastric sleeve gastrectomy is designed to be a tool to help you lose 50-60 % of your excess body weight. It will usually be in the first 6-12 months and you may continue losing weight even at 18months post op. The most important thing to remember is that it's just a TOOL to help you lose weight. It doesn't stop you from eating bad food or make you get up and work out. In the first year you must change your eating habits develop a good healthy relationship to food and exercise so you'll keep your weight off. 

Now at two years post op I can easily eat more food than when I was first sleeved but I choose (most of the time!) to eat clean and fresh foods that are good for my body. I work out with my husband a few times a week, I walk as much as I can and I do Pilates. I've changed my lifestyle and in turn I've changed my kids lifestyle as well. They no longer have soft drinks and chocolate biscuits in the fridge whenever they want it, and they are all exercising and being active. I refuse to let obesity be a part of their lives like it was in mine.

I've lost 52kgs since March 3 2016, and 65kgs from my heaviest weight of 140kgs. I am proud to say I now weigh a healthy 72kgs and have a BMI of 26. 

My husband can lift me up and carry me around, I did the City To Surf with my husband in August 2016 and walked 14kms in just under 3 hours, I climbed the Harbour Bridge and didn’t even break a sweat (except I was petrified of the heights!). I can fit in seats and not be scared of breaking them, I don’t need a seat belt extender when flying, I can keep up with my kids and they can hug me and reach their arms around me. I can run! I can walk for hours without getting tired, I wear a SIZE 10-12! My feet shrunk a size! I have bones! LOL! There are just so many NSV (Non Scale Victories) that I can't even mention them all.

This year I am taking the final step of my weight loss journey. I’ve lost the weight but unfortunately am left with an abundance of excess skin that serves no purpose and actually has a negative impact on my healthy lifestyle in terms of exercise and feeling good about myself which I deserve to feel. I am going to have skin removal surgery this year. 

I was told in the beginning of my decision to have weight loss surgery that I would have some regrets at some point and although it has not been all sunshine and roses, I have not once, and I really do mean not once, regretted my decision to have weight loss surgery. It has saved my life and I no longer hate what I see in the mirror. I no longer have sore feet and a sore back, I no longer feel disgusting and uncomfortable and I am finally able to be happy with me."

(Scroll down for another happy update from Kelly below...)

I have now had my skin removal surgeries done by an amazing Sydney plastic surgeon Dr Amira Sanki at Southern Aesthetics in Kogarah.

I saw her in January 2018 and she recommended an extended abdominoplasty (tummy tuck to remove a large apron of hanging skin) and a breast augmentation to help my deflated breasts.

I wanted to have an arm lift and she suggested to wait to see how I recovered from the tummy and breast surgery first. So I had my tummy and breast surgery in a six hour operation in May 2018. Wow how amazing did I feel? Well, more than I’d ever dreamed of!

I then had my arm lift (removed my hanging skin from my upper arms) four weeks ago and again I feel sensational. The recovery after plastic reconstructive surgery isn’t easy but it sure is worth it. I felt like the weight wasn’t truly gone until the extra skin I was left was gone as well."

Monday, 17 September 2018

"Our generation is begging to government: open your eyes." Daniel Aragona on Defqon.1 deaths

Daniel Aragona - known professionally as Daniel Tonik - is a Sydney based DJ and producer. He has been running events across Sydney for just over three years. 

Daniel is passionate about "music, culture and entertainment and the positive impact it has on bringing people together." See more on Daniel here: https://www.facebook.com/danieltonikdj/

He wrote this piece just for Josie's Juice after posting on his social media about the very sad news on the deaths of two young festival-goers at Defqon.1, the electronic music festival held in Penrith on the weekend.

The two festival attendees died from apparent drug overdoses and a further 13 were hospitalised for treatment of drug-related issues at the Sydney event.

Defqon.1 was founded in the Netherlands in 2003 by Q-Dance, a Dutch company that stages “hardstyle” (a dance music genre combining hardcore techno, house and trance music) music events and festivals.
Police have said 355 drug searches were conducted with 69 people found to be in possession of drugs, including the 10 charged with supply offences. A range of illicit drugs were seized including MDMA, cocaine and ecstasy.
If you think this isn't the first time you're reading about deaths at this music festival, you'd be right. In 2015, a 26 year old man was found unconscious in a tent and later died, and in 2013 a 23 year old festival-attendee also died.
The debate has been sparked again on pill testing. While doctors argue those attending festivals will take drugs anyway, our politicians are concerned they'll be seen as endorsing illegal substances.
Daniel weighs in here, giving an insight into his perspective:
Daniel Aragona

"Ban. Restrict. Shut Down.

A familiar theme within our state over the past few years.

Following two deaths due to drug use at Defqon.1 Music Festival last weekend, Premier Gladys Berejiklian released a statement saying that she vows to put a stop to the festival.
I cannot believe how ridiculous this backward approach is, the government can shut down all the events, clubs, bars and venues they want; they still won’t be tackling the issue at hand.

The sad thing is that the government honestly believes that they are fixing the drug problem by banning events and shutting down venues. The fact of the matter is, drug use still exists and will continue to exist whether or not every venue and event is banned in Sydney. It is super frustrating when our “millennial” generation wants to be involved with politics but there is no support from our government; there are issues which are being ignored, young adults being ridiculed by media with nothing but negativity… the government wants young people to be more involved but contrarily ignores us.

It is not so much about losing a festival, it’s more so the government taking a backwards approach to provide a “solution”. They will keep shutting things down until there is nothing left and the problem will still remain the same.

If we don’t stand up to this (and they do go ahead with banning Defqon), they will ultimately continue to do this to every festival.

I have been involved in the music and nightlife industry for over five years. I am absolutely irritated by the negative stigma created around the clubs and events. It angers me when I see comments from people calling it “drug festivals” or stating things like “only pill popping, no-good-to-society kids attend things like this.” I am not a user of recreational drugs, I do not condemn nor condone the use of drugs; I believe everyone has a right to make their own life choices. But I am begging, our generation is begging, for the government to open their eyes and not turn their back on the real issue. Let me tell you, you will never stop the manufacture, distribution and use of drugs… they have tried, but drugs still exist, people still take them and people wont stop taking drugs.

I cannot stress the importance of Pill testing at festivals!! It has been in use overseas for years with positive results. It has been tried and tested at Canberra’s “Groovin’ The Moo” Festival, it was a proven success with results quoted:

“128 participants
85 samples tested
50% was 'other' (lactose, sweetener, paint)
50% was pure MDMA
2 of the samples were deadly”
“STA-SAFE’s Dr Caldicott said five people used the amnesty bin and between 10 and 20 per cent of others who had their drugs tested said they were also considering throwing out their pills.”

It works. Harm was reduced and lives were saved. But no, our government wants to downright cover their eyes and go with what they do best: Ban. Restrict. Shut Down.

After all this, the people still blame the festival or the club. Let me be the first to tell you, clubs/festivals/events in Australia have a zero tolerance to illicit drugs, event managers implement strategies to reduce harm including extra policing, more widely accessible first aid and they do everything in their power to stop deaths and injury from happening. Yet they are still blamed for the mistakes of the minority.

Let me leave you with this… Yes, people take drugs at music events, but they also take drugs at home, at work and in the streets. People die from drug-related deaths in their own homes every year, does the Premier threaten to ban houses?

How far does our government need to push culture and entertainment out the door before we wake up and realise that there needs to be change?"

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Centennial Glen Stables: Horse riding REVIEW

If you like the idea of horse riding but are a novice (read: have never done it at all) and would like to have your kiddies and you experience it in a setting which is memorable and breathtaking, we have found your spot in NSW!

Here is the owner of the stables, Jim (who really is 'gentleman Jim'):

Centennial Glen Stables, located in the heart of the famed Blue Mountains, in the beautiful Kanimbla Valley, is a gorgeous spot to get on a gorgeous horse, and see the divine Blue Mountains countryside.

Choose your preferred experience, and book with the friendly staff at Centennial Glen Stables, who will guide the most inexperienced rider, to the pro.

For all riders, riding instructions are given, and safety hats are provided (so all you need to do is turn up). Had little kiddies who want to feel the fun as well? There are lead rides available for children.

You also have 'Mountain Trail Riding' - half hour to 1 day rides - where all rides are guided, and riding lessons are also available on request.

Feeling like you want to immerse yourself in a whole day of it? A one day horse ride from 9am - 5pm is available, with a minimum of 4 riders to be a part of this experience.

Even if you have no experience, but want to get 'on the horse' so to speak, you can do that here. The friendly team give instructions on how to guide the horse.

Want to go all sulky? You can drive your own sulky ride (horse and cart), where there are a maximum of two adults and one small child per sulky. All sulkies are guided, and it consists of a 1 hour farm trip.

It's the most beautiful way to see wildlife, the incredible mountain views and enjoy the peace and quiet of the valley.

There are also pony rides for the children, and mountain trail riding.

Want even more adventure? You can ride from Centennial Glen Stables, Kanimbla Valley to Megalong Valley, and return. This trip includes a stop at Megalong Valley Tearooms for lunch. It's a 4 to 5 hours of riding (dependant on the riders' riding experience). It starts at 10am finishes around 4pm. The cost of this is $225, with lunch not included (pay separately at Megalong Valley Tearooms).

The advantages of doing your horse riding experience at Centennial Glen Stables is that you'll be doing it in small groups, and you are riding with very quiet and well looked after horses.

And another bonus is Centennial Glen Stables is the true definition of "it's not the destination, it's the journey."

Before you even get to Centennial Glen Stables, you'll be experiencing a mixture of lush bushland, bona fide dirt roads, and beautiful farmlands.

Pricing for rides (min two riders):

1/2 hour ride: $50
1 hour: $60
1.5 hours: $90
2 hours: $110
3 hours: $150
1 day ride: $225

Want more info? Visit the website HERE.

Or call for more details and to make a booking:

Phone: 02 4787 1193
Mobile: 0417 273 438 or 0438 871 193

Centennial Glen Stables is located at Kanimbla ValleyDrive, via Shipley Road, Blackheath, 

in the Blue Mountains, in NSW.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Madeline Stuart: down syndrome adult model, world first!

Madeline Stuart is the world’s first professional adult model with down syndrome. She's a worldwide phenomenon and a powerful advocate for inclusiveness and diversity in modelling.

Dubbed the 'Fashion Game Changer', she is just 21 years old, Australian (Brisbane) born, and Madeline is already a household name around the world, with over 850,000 social media fans following her successful campaign to become the first professional model with down syndrome.

Madeline’s story captured the world’s attention from the minute it went viral, with nearly 7 million people following the inspiring weight loss journey that kickstarted her modelling career.
Her ambitious goals and dedication have seen her go viral numerous times in the past 3 years. She has translated that initial success into modelling engagements all around the world, as well as numerous magazine articles in international publications such as Vogue, Forbes Magazine who named her the #1 fashion game changer, Huff Post and more, product endorsements and sponsorships.
Madeline has just announced her first major Australian partnership with P&O Cruises and is currently in the U.S walking in 9 shows at New York Fashion Week before heading to London and Paris.  

Madeline has also walked in fashion events in Africa, Russia, Albania, Germany, France, UK and the UAE.

See her Sunrise interview here:

Want to follow? Links are here:

Facebook             https://www.facebook.com/madelinesmodelling
Twitter is             www.twitter.com/Madeline_Stuart 

Web is                http://www.madelinestuartmodel.com

What a beauty!

'Go Back To Where You Came From Live' 2018 participants: PHOTO

In a global FIRST format, the 'Go Back To Where You Came From Live' participants have been revealed, and the always controversial show will screen on SBS from 2 – 4 October at 8.30pm.

This world first show will 'take the pulse' of the refugee crisis.

Here is a first look trailer:

The cast of opinionated Australians will be led by Meshel Laurie, Gretel Killeen and Spida Everitt.

A group of Australians are about to embark on a journey to some of the most dangerous places on earth.

In SBS’s most ambitious television event to date, Go Back To Where You Came From Live will take the pulse of the evolving global refugee crisis in real time.

The refugee crisis continues to be the world’s greatest humanitarian disaster with 68.5 million* displaced persons worldwide.

In 2018, Australia’s policies around refugees continue to polarise and the refugee and asylum seeker debate is still one of the most complex and divisive.

Over three nights from 2 – 4 October, Australian audiences will follow events live from conflict hotspots and frontlines across multiple continents, witnessing the complexity of mass human migration and its ripple effects in 2018. Journalist Ray Martin and SBS World News’ Janice Petersen will be stationed in the ‘Nerve Centre’ in the studio in Sydney, as the stories unfold through a mix of documentary elements and live crosses to participants on-the-ground.

The participants, each with pre-conceived ideas about refugees, will glimpse the reality of life in disputed territories, at border crossings and inside refugee camps. They will get a first-hand experience of the global refugee crisis beyond the headlines, protests and policies, and opinions from all sides of the debate will be challenged.The participants about to undertake this journey are a mix of high profile and everyday Australians, each with strong views on how Australia responds to the refugee crisis. They include:   
  • Meshel Laurie, comedian, radio and TV personality, is an active supporter of asylum seekers. Her Buddhist spiritualism is a motivator for her to give back to communities around the world.     

  • Spida Everitt, ex-AFL player and breakfast radio host who believes refugees should only come in “the right way”, should work and offer something to Australia. Spida thinks African gangs are a problem in Melbourne and worries for the safety of his daughters who live there.

  • Gretel Killeen, writer, performer and media personality. Gretel believes Australia’s treatment of refugees is barbaric.  

  • Steve, 41, from Adelaide, a prison youth worker and anti-refugee provocateur who thinks Australia’s stop the boats policy is effective. Steven says refugees in Australia are country shoppers, who head to Australia for economic reasons.  

  • Gareth, 29, a theatre student from Bathurst, with mixed views. While he believes indefinite detention is not humane, says we can’t just open the floodgates and need to protect our borders. 

  • Dannii, 24, from Townsville, is a young conservative who works at her local church and believes in protecting Australia’s cultural values. She thinks our current policies are spot on and shouldn’t be altered.

SBS will announce more participants and the global locations they will visit in the coming weeks.

Marshall Heald, SBS Director of Television and Online Content, said:

“Using state of the art technology to broadcast from the heart of the global refugee crisis, Go Back to Where You Came From Live is one of the most ambitious television events in Australian broadcasting history.  By taking audiences to the frontlines of this crisis in real time, the latest instalment of SBS’s award-winning series will capture a snapshot of the issue as it develops with a sense of urgency befitting the subject.

“Opinions will be challenged as we witness stories of adversity, resilience and an optimism for a new life from refugees and asylum seekers at home and abroad. Putting this human face on a seemingly unsurmountable problem and encouraging a national conversation is what SBS does best.”

Go Back to Where You Came From Live is a CJZ production for SBS, with principal production investment from SBS in association with Screen Australia. Financed with the assistance of Create NSW.

Michael Cordell, CJZ Creative Director, said:
“Covering the global refugee experience in a live television event is probably the most difficult project we have attempted. Despite the challenges it’s hard to imagine a more important story to bring to Australian audiences. The immediacy and veracity of live TV will make this incredibly compelling.”

Sally Caplan, Head of Production at Screen Australia, said:

“It is exciting to see this award-winning series return in an innovative and more technologically advanced format. SBS has proven itself to be a leader in event television, with bold documentaries that spark national conversations on complex issues. With new hosts, and new ways of bringing these stories into Australian living rooms, I’m sure this series, produced by the experienced team at CJZ, will resonate with audiences and have an impact beyond broadcast.”

Sophia Zachariou, Director of Screen Investment, Engagement and Attraction at Create NSW said: 

“As a champion of diverse storytelling, we are hugely excited to be involved in what is set to be a timely and epic broadcast experience. Through incredible access, Go Back Live will shine a unique light on the global refugee crisis to capture the attention of audiences across the country and challenge the perceptions of many. This is such an exciting technological feat for SBS and we can’t wait to watch the experience unfold across the three nights.”

This is the fourth season of CJZ and SBS’s Go Back To Where You Came From; one of the world’s most awarded television formats - winner of two Logie Awards, an AACTA Award, an International Emmy, and two Rose d’Or awards, as well as a UN Peace Award.

Go Back To Where You Came From Live airs over three consecutive nights, 2 – 4 October, 8.30pm, LIVE on SBS and streaming live on SBS On Demand.

Join the conversation #GoBackLive

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Jenolan Caves: REVIEW

Have you been to Jenolan Caves of late?

I'm not talking your school excursion back in the 1980s. I mean a recent trip to rediscover this incredible Australian gem!

It is a true 'bucket list' item, and if you're a Sydney resident, there is simply NO reason not to take a day trip to rediscover (or experience for the first time) this natural beauty. Go on, get in the car 

A little heads up - walking shoes and plenty of water and a good research of he guided tours offered are essential - don't worry about doing a shorter tour or one that is the least strenuous - you will still see SO much of the beauty of Jenolan Caves and experience it as much as the super fit people who take on the longest, most strenuous ones!

When you're planning to visit Jenolan Caves, check out the walks HERE.

There are NINE spectacular caves, which feature pure underground rivers and truly beautiful limestone formations.

There are guided tours as well as multi-lingual tours, plus children's tours and even night tours, including the popular 'Legends, Mysteries, and Ghosts' tour.

Feeling super adventurous?

Try the 'adventure caving' experience! We saw some people kitted up for this and I personally thought: OH, not for me! But if you're up to it: do it! It'll take your bucket list adventure to another level.

There are also bushwalks, and more underground activities to suit all fitness levels.

The best part?

Even in the middle of summer, or even in snowy conditions outside, the caves are a constant 15 degrees celcius all year round!

Jenolan Caves is an award-winning experience for all walks (pardon the pun) of life!

Hungry after of burning energy? Stay for dinner! We stayed for dinner at Chisholm's restaurant and it was worth the experience of seeing 

It is the perfect end to a day of climbing and exploring. Before you tuck into dinner, relax in the adjoining rooms where you can relax in the library area and get yourself ready for your cosy dinner.

Here is the current menu:


Pumpkin, chilli and lemon myrtle soup (v)

Shanghai sticky pork belly, quinoa granola, shallots and oyster mushrooms (gf, df)

Caves chicken liver parfait, melba, Cumberland sauce and cornichons
Roast chicken and brie roulade, smooth polenta, capsicum coulis and kumara chips (gf)
Braised lamb shank with potato gratin and a warm broccolini and hazelnut soil (gf)
Hot and sour goat curry (gf, df, cn)
Barramundi geng gari, choy sum and sprout salad (gf, df, cn)
Char grilled Oberon Black Angus tenderloin (200g) with béarnaise, French fries and arugulas (gf)
Char grilled Oberon Black Angus scotch with mash, cress and a mixed mushroom sauce
Parsnip and sweet potato strudel with garbanzos and Arrabiata sauce (v, veg opt)
Prawn and ocean trout risotto with saffron and fresh parsley
From the Grill:
Char Grilled Oberon Black Angus tenderloin (200g)with béarnaise and araugalas (gf)
Char grilled Oberon Black Angus scotch and mixed mushroom sauce
On the Side:
Rocket, pear and walnut salad, blue cheese and pomegranate (v,gf)
Creamy mash potato
French fries
Mixed leaf lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, cucumber and capsicum (v,veg,df,gf)
Fragrant Rice Pilau
Sascha torte with chantilly cream
Blueberry cheesecake with mango and strawberry ice cream (upon request)
Pear Tart Tatin with vanilla ice cream (upon request)
White chocolate bavarois with nectarine and raspberry compote
Visiting at Christmas time? Chisolm's Restaurant even has an Xmas lunch buffet. And in July, the restaurant offers Yulefest or Christmas in July!
On selected July evenings, they have a special festive menu (even a kids' Yulefest menu) and a special hand out of small gifts, with Santa making an appearance INSIDE one of the caves!
You can just picture it, right! Cosy nights at Jenolan (and yes, it gets REAL cold!) enjoying the unique beauty of the Blue Mountains region, having a special meal at the restaurant or bistro, then retiring to bed amongst the unique caves atmosphere.

Caves House is an icon of Blue Mountains accommodation. In 1897, NSW Government Architect Walter Liberty Vernon, designed and built the grand Jenolan Caves House, only a minute's stroll from the Grand Arch, as a wilderness retreat for wealthy travellers. At the time, o expense was spared. He used the alpine, picturesque  'Federation, Arts and Crafts' style. 
Caves House has even been listed on the NSW State Heritage Register, with Jenolan Caves House identified as meeting a range of cultural standards - aesthetic, historic and social, which make it significant for past, present or future generations.
Ready to book accomodation? CLICK HERE.
The accomodation here is varied! It incorporates romantic style rooms, historic guestrooms, modern rooms, backpacker lodging, and bush cottages. Caves House retains all of its beauty and elegance, and offers warm country hospitality. Caves House prides itself on having hosted visitors from all walks of life, from honeymooners, families, backpackers, international tourists, celebrities, even royalty. The hotel tariffs vary for all needs and budgets.
Here is the style of accomodation on offer:
  • the iconic Jenolan Caves House, with charming decor, reflecting the late Victorian era - every room is different - no two rooms are alike!
  • motel-style Mountain Lodge, with modern decor, very popular with families
  • the Gate House (backpacker lodge), for budget-minded travellers
  • self-contained Binoomea Cottage, for large families and groups of friends
  • idyllic Jenolan Caves Cottages, set amongst kangaroos and native wilderness, a short drive from the caves.
Jenolan Caves is open for tours every day, for people of all ages.   

Visiting Jenolan 4 hours or more from now? Book online. Visiting within 4 hours? Book by phone.

Do it! Experience Jenolan Caves all over again! Or marvel in it for the first time.