May 10, 2023
7 mins Read
Journey with our writers as they take you into Australia’s top 6 emerging neighbourhoods from our 100 Emerging Destinations and Experiences series.
Travelling with: Megan Arkinstall
The doors have swung open to a new era for one of Sydney’s grand heritage-listed buildings. Part of the new ‘Sandstone Precinct’ just steps from Circular Quay, the Department of Education building has been reimagined as Capella Sydney after a painstaking seven-year project. The sensitive restoration honours the original 20th-century design by government architect George McRae, whose legacy also includes Town Hall and the Queen Victoria Building.
If he were alive, the Scotsman would be well placed today swilling whisky in the hotel’s glamourous bar that bears his name. While Capella’s interiors are contemporary and eclectic, McRae’s vision of a central garden courtyard is realised in the light-filled glass-ceilinged lobby. It features a seven-metre green wall, pair of weeping fig trees, and a mesmerising kinetic floral light installation that opens and closes under streams of sunlight.
Australian art adorns the walls, including those by First Nations artists Otis Carey and Judy Watson. Interpreting Sydney’s history with ancestral elements of Sydney’s Eora people, Watson’s work is framed by the original bronze directory boards of the Department of Agriculture (who occupied the southern end of the building before the educators moved in).
Capella oozes luxury with its high-end design and palatial guest rooms, styled with premium furniture and high-tech amenities. Its refined restaurant Brasserie 1930 is an Australian take on a classic French Brasserie experience, created by renowned Bentley Group. And service is unparallel and personalised to detail.
Capella’s culturalists, who walk the line between concierge and all-knowing friend, are tasked to curating guest experiences. Each evening they host cocktail hour, sharing the intriguing story of late Sydney street poet Arthur Stace over an aperitif.
Creating a strong sense of place through both tangible and experiential in line with luxury is what the hotel does so well, setting a new benchmark for luxury accommodation in Sydney.
Travelling with: Jo Stewart
Some visitors to Melbourne might have hopped on a No. 19 tram from Flinders Street Station to Brunswick to explore Sydney Road – the longest shopping strip in the southern hemisphere. But fewer would have ventured further along the busy arterial road into Coburg. Now, the Pentridge Precinct entices visitors to stay on the tram for a few extra stops.
For more than a century, no one in their right mind would want to go beyond the cold, imposing bluestone walls of Pentridge Prison. But since closing in 1997, the historic penitentiary has been transformed into a lively area that people visit for enjoyment, not internment.
In addition to the cinema, gallery, supermarket, art studios and beer hall, there’s now accommodation in the form of the 106-room Adina Apartment Hotel Pentridge and The Interlude, a boutique 19-room retreat.
Olivine Wine Bar and North & COMMON restaurant ensure guests are catered to with good food and wine.
Operated by the National Trust, Pentridge Prison Tours run day and night. Three tours share different stories from the infamous penitentiary that’s housed a who’s who of crims, including bushrangers such as Ned Kelly and Harry Power, gangsters such as Squizzy Taylor and larger-than-life local Mark ‘Chopper’ Read. If you can handle dark themes, the adults-only H Division Unlocked tour reveals the grim stories behind the brutal wing dubbed ‘Hell Division’.
In comparison to its hellish history, the Pentridge of today is pure heaven.
Travelling with: Christine Aldred
Industrial areas on the outskirts of towns are having a heyday and the spacious backstreets of Noosaville are no exception. Queensland’s Sunshine Coast has been dubbed the craft beer capital of Australia, so you’ll naturally find three breweries in Noosaville (one with a distillery attached).
Healthy eaters will relish the organic market, a foodie enclave featuring fruit and veg, a butcher, bakers and a local coffee roaster. Pâtisserie legend Adriano Zumbo has joined the scene with a pop-up to please sweet tooths while Blue Plum dishes out Japanese fare and gyozas. Shoppers are spoilt for choice with a mix of retail outlets boasting homewares, fashion, locally made pottery, galleries and vintage wares. You can even get yourself a made-to-measure wetsuit from Zee Wetsuits for hitting the surf.
Travelling with: Taylah Darnell
Dromana Habitat captures the best of Victoria’s abundant Mornington Peninsula region and shares it with the world from the backstreets of an industrial estate. Those attending a workshop with one of 14 traders who call this precinct home will be welcomed by the sound of tinkering from Everwear Denim, crafting up a pair of new jeans. There’s also the unmistakable earthy aroma of hops from Australia’s first gluten-free brewery, TWØBAYS Brewing Co.
The makers at Dromana are not themselves new – in fact, many have called the precinct home for years. But their decision to connect and collaborate has resulted in a union that has catapulted the idiosyncratic artisanal collective into the spotlight. Whether it be a Sorrento Moon Cuvée Spritz masterclass with Rahona Valley Wines or a conversation with artisan cheesemaker Shaun Landman of BoatShed Cheese, you’ll leave Dromana feeling sanguine and sated.
Travelling with: Alexis Buxton-Collins
The fragrant Afghan soul food at Parwana has long drawn Adelaideans to Torrensville and it’s still full every night of the week, even after doubling the floor space. But a spate of recent openings in the neighbourhood has provided plenty of other reasons to head west. Watch the in-house roaster in action while you get your caffeine fix at ultra-hip Elementary Coffee, then wander down to Lenny’s Records where the genial owner specialises in left-of-centre rock, folk and psychedelic music.
Head further west to Brookie P (aka Brooklyn Park), where the latest ventures from female-fronted hospitality group Sonic Yoni are about to open in the former council chambers; Yellow Matter is an inclusive brewery prioritising accessibility and So Long, Marianne is a menu-less wine bar with degustations that change daily to minimise waste.
Travelling with: Carla Grossetti
Executive chef Shaun Presland (ex-Saké) has adopted and adapted food and flavours from hawker centres around Asia to inform the culinary direction of the new Tiger Lane dining precinct at the Canberra Centre.
Expect the food and beverage options at the 12 eateries to nod to the neon-lit laneways in downtown Tokyo, the bustling riverside markets along the Mekong River and the diversity of the regional dishes of China for the final phased opening of the precinct mid-May.
Restaurants Taki and Inari opened in 2022 and trace Presland’s culinary journey back to the time the sushi master lived and worked in the Yamagata Prefecture in Japan.
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