Tag Archives: weekends

— Gippsland —

Best Weekend breaks in greater Gippsland

WRITTEN BY MIKAELA STOLLZNOW • AUGUST 20, 2019

  • There’s a rumble of curiosity building around Gippsland, with weekend wanderers discovering impressive scenery and welcoming locals just beyond Melbourne’s city fringe.

     

    Set off from Melbourne on a drive through rolling countryside to discover boutique food, award-winning wines and vintage finds in the pretty villages and coastal towns of greater Gippsland. Where should you start, you ask? These are the hot spots everyone is talking about.

    Lakes Entrance

    Treasured for its swimming beaches, waterfront cafés and colourful fishing fleet – many of which sell the day’s catch to local restaurants – Lakes Entrance has long been one of Victoria’s premier holiday destinations. Cross the footbridge to Ninety Mile Beach and hire a fishing boat, kayak, surfboard or stand-up paddleboard (SUP) for a chance to see the playful and curious Burrunan dolphins that thrive in the sheltered waters of the Gippsland Lakes.

    An aerial view of Lakes Entrance.

    Walhalla

    Turn back the clock in charming Walhalla to experience life as it was in the gold mining era. Wander through lovingly restored heritage buildings, ride the Walhalla Goldfields Railway and explore the underground mysteries of the Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine. This pocket-sized mountain town of fewer than 20 residents is pretty as a picture in spring in particular, with blossoms hanging  heavy from the trees.

    Loch

    Lovely little Loch is truly picture-perfect and bursting with collectables, antiques and gifts. The locals are also strong advocates for having zero ‘food miles’, with most cafés and restaurants only using produce from the area. Gin is what really put Loch on the map, however, so stop in at the Old Bank – now home to Loch Brewery & Distillery – to sample their signature gins, traditional craft ales and a single malt whisky that’s so good it’s snapped up as soon as it hits the shelf.

    Loch, Gippsland

    Sample the signature gins, traditional craft ales and single malt whisky at Loch Brewery and Distillery.

    Inverloch

    The seaside village of Inverloch is just a stone’s throw from Melbourne and fast becoming the go-to weekend getaway when you need to escape the city hustle and bustle. Check out the popular surf beach and sheltered foreshore, plus the string of lively cafés and restaurants in town. To see more of the scenic surrounds, take the Bunurong Coastal Drive to explore a dinosaur dig, spot a passing whale or simply stroll the many beaches, caves and rock pools.

    Inverloch, Gippsland

    Check out the string of lively cafés and restaurants in town.

    Mallacoota

    Over in the east, Mallacoota could quite possibly be Gippsland’s greatest escape. Perched on the edge of the UNESCO-listed World Biosphere Reserve of Croajingolong National Park, the town boasts one of the most picturesque camping spots in all of Australia. Walking, cycling, fishing and simply slowing down are Mallacoota’s most popular pastimes.

    Mallacoota, Gippsland

    Mallacoota jetty’s the perfect spot to go fishing.

    To discover more about the greater Gippsland region, visit Visit Gippsland.

    — Hunter Valley —

    Maitland: your next short-break getaway

    WRITTEN BY PAIGE RICHARDSON • JULY 30, 2019

    Maitland has undergone a transformation of late, as independent culinary hot spots and local artisans spring up across the region, discovers Sally Scott.

    Often overlooked by its more famous neighbours, Maitland packs a punch for a short break getaway. Located just two hours from Sydney, this charming region has a rich cultural history, emerging food scene and thriving arts community. Most of the action can be found in Maitland’s High Street and the redeveloped shopping precinct The Levee, on the banks of the mighty Hunter River. Here you’ll find an eclectic mix of local creatives, antique stores and cafes serving superb local brews.

     

    Make sure you to stop into nearby Morpeth while you’re here. Once one of the busiest river ports in NSW and gateway to the Hunter, this quaint historic village showcases the best of the region’s local artisans, cafes and boutique accommodation.

    COQUUN

    A new addition to the city’s dining scene is the impressive COQUUN, located on the banks of the Hunter River. Named after the Hunter’s original moniker, it roughly translates to ‘fresh water’ in the Indigenous owners’ language. Respectful tributes to the Wonnarua people are peppered throughout the menu with terms such as ‘Karay’ (meaning Kangaroo) and native ingredients adding some local flavour. Visit this refined bistro for a true taste of the local area.

    The Riverlink Building, Maitland

    You’ll find COQUUN inside the spectacular Riverlink Building.

    The Bronte Boutique Hotel

    Located in Morpeth’s main street, The Bronte is a beautiful boutique hotel boasting just six rooms. The historic building has been refurbished with an eclectic fusion of Victorian and Asian antiques and breakfast is served on the sunny front balcony.

    Icky Sticky Patisserie

    Kick start your Maitland food journey with a pit stop at the Icky Sticky Patisserie. These drool worthy creations are the work of Jessica Boutard, Phillip Bowtell and their talented and passionate team of pastry chefs. Their sweet treats have loyal locals flocking daily to the patisserie to score their sugar rush. Hot tip: get there early on the weekends to ensure your pick of the pastries.

    Icky Sticky Patisserie

    The drool-worthy creations on display at Icky Sticky Patisserie.

    MRAG

    The Maitland Regional Art Gallery (MRAG) is a series of exhibition, retail and café spaces dedicated to making arts and culture accessible to locals and visitors. Come for the art and stay for the food at popular Seraphine Café. MRAG also hosts the acclaimed Olive Tree Art and Design Markets seasonally, showcasing the region’s most talented artisans.

    Morpeth Sourdough

    During a weekend getaway to Morpeth, Stephen and wife Allison discovered the original bakehouse of his great, great, great grandfather William Arnott, founder of Arnott’s Biscuits. With baking in his blood, “it was destined” that he buy the premises and launch the Morpeth Sourdough bakery on the historic site. Fast forward more than 15 years and the Arnott’s sourdough is still in high demand and only available from the Morpeth store.

    Morpeth Sourdough, Morpeth

    First built in the 1830s and restored circa 1850, the Morpeth Sourdough building is truly special.

    Donarch Fine Chocolates

    When Donna Archer couldn’t find a Raspberry chocolate made with real raspberries, she decided to make her own! The result is the award-winning heart-shaped ‘Raspberry Heart’ chocolate and fantastical Donarch Fine Chocolates store filled with almost every chocolate imaginable. Think Donarch Honey, Dark Choc Ginger or the hand-painted Salted Caramel.

    Dennerley Leather Designs

    With over 55 years’ experience between them, husband and wife team Bob and Annie Dennerley understand the patient work that goes into producing quality, handcrafted leather goods. Their collection of belts, bags and leather accessories at Dennerley Leather Designs are all cut and stitched in the High St store using traditional tools and methods. Stick around to catch the master duo at work.

    The Rigby

    This sophisticated wine bar on Maitland’s High Street is more than just a cosy cocktail lounge, with a growing reputation for its great dining, too. Step into the character-filled 1870’s heritage building at The Rigby and be greeted by Howard Bourne or his son Nick – the dynamo family team delivering exceptional service and an inviting menu with handy wine matching suggestions.

    The Rigby

    This sophisticated wine bar on Maitland’s High Street is more than just a cosy cocktail lounge.

    The Cunning Culinarian

    Brainchild of Alina Mackee, The Cunning Culinarian brings her love of rustic, home baking into a welcoming country style café housed in a gracious old building on High Street. Using the freshest produce (some of it even home grown at the onsite kitchen garden), the food is bursting with colour and flavour. The homemade relish on our corn fritters is so good you could bottle it!

    The Cunning Culinarian, Maitland

    Order the house made granola, vanilla bean poached pear, coyo and steamed almond milk for breakfast..

    Bread & Water

    The regions first 100% gluten free café, Bread & Water, has opened right next door to Maitland Gaol and is bound to be a hit regardless of your dietary needs. Owner Vanessa Martin, who is also celiac, ensures the food is made to exacting standards with no risk of cross contamination. Vanessa’s mission is to “satisfy your desire to indulge without worry” – a dictum evident in the abundant tempting gluten free goodies available.

     

    To discover more about magical Maitland, visit visitnsw.com/maitland.

     

    — Rottnest Island —

    Discovery Parks Rottnest: destination happy

    WRITTEN BY PAIGE RICHARDSON • JULY 29, 2019

    Rottnest Island is not only home to the cuddly marsupial dubbed the ‘world’s happiest animal’ – the quokka – but happiness seems to be in the very air on this picturesque island.

     

    “When you sit here, you have the smell of the sea air in your nostrils, the sound of the waves lapping at the shore and the sight of the golden sunsets. It engages more senses than just taste – it’s an experience,” says Karl Wulff, executive chef at Pinky’s Beach Club and Thomsons Restaurant, the two premier eateries at Discovery – Rottnest Island. The smiles continue behind the scenes, too, since the master chef also believes that ‘a happy kitchen creates beautiful food’ – an ethos that’s easy to endorse once you’ve dined here.

    The Rottnest allure

    A prominent fixture on the island, Wulff’s 21-year career spanned many prestigious resorts and restaurants across Australia’s east coast and New Zealand – including MONA in Hobart, Port Douglas’ Peppers Beach Club, Hamilton Island Resort and Tatler Restaurant in Queenstown – before the lure of Rottnest Island drew him west.

     

    And he’s not alone. The pint-sized 19km2 island destination is attracting a record number of visitors since the eco-friendly Discovery – Rottnest Island took up residence along the alluring shores of Pinky Beach. Right next door to the island’s best swimming beaches, and with million-dollar sunset views and the iconic Bathurst Lighthouse completing the picture-perfect vista, Discovery – Rottnest Island is a glamping experience like no other.

    Discovery – Rottnest Island: the foodies’ base

    The property features 83 eco tents in a range of styles to suit both budget and luxury travellers, all interconnected via walkways woven through the sand dunes and native landscape of the island. Holidaymakers can stay by the beach, close to nature – but with all the creature comforts one would expect from an island getaway. Meander through the dunes to arrive at Pinky’s Beach Club alongside the newly developed pool, complete with poolside bar.

    Discovery - Rottnest Island

    Discovery – Rottnest Island is a glamping experience like no other.

    It’s here that Wulff practises his happy food ethos. His philosophy – that a kitchen’s energy flows into its food – has helped to put Discovery – Rottnest Island’s relaxed restaurant on the map for foodies the world over. It’s why he encourages a positive, happy workplace: so his guests have a superior dining experience.

    Loyal to local

    His approach to menu design is ever changing, but grounded in a deep commitment to celebrate fresh, local produce – an approach that’s hard to whittle down in a region so spoilt for choice as Western Australia. Local fishermen catch seafood from the water at the resort’s doorstep and the team utilise local ingredients, such as sandfire and saltbush, which grow right on the island.

     

    “It speaks to the story of Rottnest Island and pays homage to its hunter-gatherer history,” says Wulff.

     

    Complementing this is his passion for the great Aussie barbecue, which inspires him to prepare many of his dishes over fire and coal. This, he says, “is where it really allows the foods’ own flavours to speak for themselves”.

     

    “The island has a very simple quality that’s being preserved beautifully,” muses Wulff. “Food trends come and go but I really believe in a simplified, pared-back menu that lets the natural flavours of the food shine through.”

    Luxury meets simplicity

    Simplicity is a common theme for Rottnest and the resort is no different, boasting the island’s first low-impact glamping experience. What’s glamping, you ask? It’s a clever portmanteau that has been bandied about quite a lot recently, but one that Discovery Parks – Rottnest does so well. Literally meaning ‘glamorous camping’, it’s where luxury meets simplicity.

     

    Combining a light environmental footprint with high-end luxury, guests to the property sleep in an eco-tent (almost) under the stars in an immersive experience rarely seen. It’s no surprise then that the resort opened its doors to visits from all-star celebrities Sir Bob Geldof and Chris Hemsworth in the first few weeks.

    Rottnest Island

    Rottnest is known for its peaceful setting where families can come to enjoy a relaxed and secluded getaway.

    Despite its celebrity appeal, Rottnest is known for its peaceful setting where families can come to enjoy a relaxed and secluded getaway. Located just 25 minutes by ferry and with bikes the transport method of choice, getting to the island and exploring its unique wildlife and setting is easy. From the birds cruising above, to friendly quokkas roaming the island freely at leisure, it’s hard not to feel unbridled joy as you truly get back to nature.

     

    Discovery – Rottnest Island is a place where you can reimagine the great Australian family holiday, disconnect from the world and enjoy freedom, space and simple pleasures.

     

    Start planning your adventure on one of Australia’s most breathtaking coastal locations at Discovery – Rottnest Island today.

     

     

     

    — Newcastle —

    Newcastle: the perfect coastal escape

    WRITTEN BY PAIGE RICHARDSON • JUNE 24, 2019

    Discover why Newcastle is the perfect coastal escape to enjoy and explore at any time of year.

     

    Newcastle is a thriving city by the sea. With fine dining and pub eats to fill your belly, live music, theatre, arts and architecture to keep you entertained, and beaches and boutique shops to explore, there’s enough to keep you busy for a weekend – or longer!

    An iconic coastline

    A trip to the city, flanked by eight golden beaches waiting for surfers, sandcastles, sunrise snaps and sunset picnics, wouldn’t be complete without a visit to at least one. Set off on the city’s iconic coastal walk, Bathers Way, where the paved track hugs the coastline for six kilometres, linking to the Newcastle Memorial Walk and offering stunning views of the sea, historic ocean baths and beach pavilions. Popular with the locals, the trail promises fresh air and exercise with a side of beach views, and plenty of caffeine stops along the way.

    Bathers Way, Newcastle Memorial Walk

    The fascinating ANZAC Memorial Walk.

    One of Newcastle’s most spectacular vantage points, Fort Scratchley, is a unique, nationally significant heritage site. The canons here took aim at a Japanese submarine in 1942 during World War II, firing what are still the only shots fired at an enemy vessel from the Australian mainland. Standing sentinel above Nobbys Beach, you can explore the barracks, ponder the sight of canons standing guard over the sea, take in the 360-degree views and embark on a guided tour of the fascinating wartime tunnels.

    Arts abound

    If you’re an art and culture enthusiast, history buff or theatre lover, Australia’s seventh largest city has got you covered. Newcastle offers a range of unforgettable experiences, most within easy walking distance in the city centre.

     

    Newcastle Art Gallery, the nation’s first purpose-built regional gallery, is nestled between the green splendour of Civic Park and popular shopping and dining strip of Darby Street. Presenting a dynamic range of exhibitions and events, and nationally recognised for one of the finest public collections in Australia, the Gallery houses around 6,500 works of art and stages events, workshops, tours and talks. The gallery even plays host to a number of activities especially for kids. From Torchlight Tours to workshops and art trails, art has never been so accessible and fun.

     

    Close by is one of Australia’s great historical theatres. Dating back to 1929, the Civic Theatre offers a broad program of concerts, musicals and plays from national and international greats underneath a grand ornamental dome. Outside, the building takes a Georgian Revival style with a flourish of Italian Renaissance while inside you’ll find a Spanish Baroque theme. Recessed arches and statue-containing Alamo-style parapets add to the effect. Time your visit to allow for a pre-show meal, drink or coffee with friends at the theatre’s contemporary bar and café, Civic Digest.

     

    For a dose of history, add the Newcastle Museum to your itinerary; home to permanent and visiting exhibitions that offer insights into the city’s past, present and future. Housed in a converted railway building, Newcastle Museum offers a great insight into the city’s industry and people. Permanent exhibit, Fire and Earth, takes you to the centre of the coal and steel industries that have dominated the identity, landscape and people of the hunter, while A Newcastle Story charts the evolution of the city from early Aboriginal life to present day, showcasing the changing environment, people and places that have made the city what it is today.

    Newcastle

    An aerial view of Newcastle’s stunning coastline.

    Forage and feast

    If it’s green spaces and nature that you seek, Blackbutt Reserve is a must-visit. Just ten minutes’ drive from the CBD, and accessible via public transport, Blackbutt is a nature-lovers dream. With a boardwalk animal sanctuary, over 180 hectares of bushland and a new kids’ adventure playground at Richley Reserve, there’s fun for all the family.

     

    As the sun goes down, whether you’re after fine dining or casual eats, craft beers or cocktails, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The harbourside area of Honeysuckle overlooks the working harbour, while Darby, King, Hunter and Beaumont Streets all offer restaurants among quirky street art and boutique shops.

    Newcastle

    Newcastle has a thriving dining scene.

    With so much to do and see, why not set a date and explore this vibrant harbour city.

    Details

    Wherever you’re coming from, Newcastle is within easy reach. Located just two hours drive from Sydney, the city also has regular inter-city train services that connect to Sydney and Brisbane, via many regional towns. Direct flights are available from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and the Gold Coast, as well as regional cities including Ballina, Byron, Dubbo and Taree. Newcastle Airport is just 25 minutes’ drive from the city centre.

     

    Discover more at visitnewcastle.com.au

    — Grafton —

    Clarence Valley: where culture’s in bloom

    WRITTEN BY PAIGE RICHARDSON • JUNE 20, 2019

    The Jacarandas of the Clarence Valley draw thousands of visitors – but the region offers so much more to explore year-round.

    A purple dream

    Every now and then, you just have to stock up on the feelings that remind you that life – and the world – is beautiful. The Clarence Valley Jacaranda season in Grafton is a way to plug into that sense of wonder, as Grafton’s streets and parks are transformed into something out of a purple dream.

     

    Beginning on the last weekend in October each year and running through to early November, this wonderful floral event – and its crowning glory, the Grafton Jacaranda Festival, the oldest in the country – has been likened in significance and glamour to Japan’s famous cherry blossom celebrations.

     

    Visitors flock from near and far to the largest Jacaranda display in the country, wandering the tree-lined streets, posing for photographs and enjoying all the magic of this very special time of seasonal transition.

    Grafton Jacarandas

    Take in the magic of Australia’s largest Jacaranda display in the country.

    More than Jacarandas

    But did you know that the region is also home to more than 100 annual celebrations? There’s April’s plunge Arts & Culture festival, Art in the Paddock at Yugilbar Castle – yes, it’s an actual castle! – in June, the always-exciting Grafton races in July, regional flagship food event Gate to Plate held in September, the multicultural celebration of the Camp Oven Festival in August at Nymboida, not to mention big-ticket touring artists like Lee Kernaghan, local lasses The McClymonts, plus all the entertainment of the Clarence Valley Country Muster – one of the must events on the Australian country music calendar.

    The heart of Clarence Valley

    Grafton is a city of trees, but it’s also a place of beauty, heritage and soul hidden from the highway – and a delight to all those who venture within. The first city on the NSW north-coast, it remains the beating heart of the Clarence Valley. And while it may be famous for its Jacarandas, you’ll also find Cape Chestnuts, Golden Trumpet Trees, Tree Waratahs, Tibouchinas, Poincianas, Silky Oaks, giant Figs Trees and many more botanical highlights to marvel at.

     

    Blessed with broad avenues and magnificent architecture, Grafton’s long-standing concern with civic beauty shows itself in the abundance of beautiful trees, parks, statuesque civic buildings and fine residences. Take a walk or cycle along the streets and pathways to reflect on the region’s great heritage and history.

    Grafton, Clarence Valley

    Grafton promises an abundance of statuesque civic buildings and fine residences.

    Stroll on under Grafton Bridge for expansive views of the Clarence River in all its glory, and Susan Island. While there, see if you can spot the wreck of the Induna, 200 metres upstream from the bridge.

    Planning your visit

    If it’s the Jacaranda season that captures your imagination, remember it’s surprisingly brief, which only makes the experience more rare and memorable. Pick up a novel, perhaps one set in Grafton itself (The Mint Lawn for example, written by Clarence Valley Ambassador Gillian Mears), stretch out, start reading under the trees and let the blossoms fall as you while away the hours.

    Grafton, Clarence Valley

    The Grafton Post Office, first established in 1874, was designed by colonial architect, James Barnet.

    Don’t forget to pick up some delicious produce from a cafe, emporium, farmers market or deli to have a picnic in your own patch of purple?

     

    Here’s our favourite: How about doing nothing? Just for a moment. When was the last time you put aside your device, switched off from modern life’s distractions, stopped thinking, stopped doing? Being in the presence of these remarkable blossoms encourages stillness – even if only for just a few minutes. We can’t wait to see you here.

     

    For up-to-date events info, check out myclarencevalley.com – or better yet, come join us on Facebook via @myclarencevalley.

     

     

    — NSW North Coast —

    Clarence Valley: Australia’s hidden whitewater heaven

    WRITTEN BY PAIGE RICHARDSON • JUNE 17, 2019

    Welcome to Australia’s hidden whitewater heaven, and your next big adventure.

     

    You want bragging rights? You want to silence everyone at your next dinner party with the words, “Guess where I’ve just been?” Then welcome to the Clarence Valley.

    World-class whitewater

    The Clarence Canoe & Kayak Trail is not only the longest mapped whitewater trail in Australia – covering more than 195km of river between Nymboi-Binderay National Park and the township of Copmanhurst – it also contains some of the most diverse paddling conditions found anywhere in the world.

    Clarence Valley

    Gentle cruising is just one mode on the Clarence Canoe & Kayak Trail.

    The combined weight of three spectacular river systems are at your disposal here: the Nymbodia, Mann and Clarence. Which means that one moment you can be gently cruising along glassy sections with barely a ripple admiring the beautiful scenery, and the next moment you’re holding on for dear life through bone-rattling Grade 3 and 4 rapids with names like Tombstone and Demolition Derby.

    Breathtaking outdoor experiences

    Considered by many pro paddlers as some of the most challenging conditions Australia has to offer, Clarence Valley attracts visitors from all over the world, and rightly demands their utmost respect. But the adrenaline-fuelled element of a visit to the region is barely half the story. There’s stunning Clarence Gorge to explore, with several major waterfalls – including the seriously pretty Rainbow Falls – to occupy even the most feverish outdoor photographer.

     

    There’s some of the most fantastic freshwater catch-and-release fishing conditions to be found anywhere in the country – especially along the Nymboida/Mann River System, where the bass and cod are just waiting for you to come and test your mettle. There are wonderful campgrounds for you to become totally immersed in the back-to-nature experience, complete with curious wildlife and birdlife, cautious platypus and turtle sightings and more, plus the unparalleled joy of utterly switching yourself off from the outside world in this remote, wild and bewitching region.

    Clarence Valley Gorge

    Sitting pretty at the stunning Clarence Valley Gorge.

    A camp lover’s wonderland

    If you’re not quite up to the challenge of conquering the trail in a single day or you’d prefer to take it one section at a time with a comfortable bed to return to, then Clarence Valley has plenty of options to choose from.

     

    One option would be to base yourself in Grafton – the gateway city to the Clarence Canoe & Kayak Trail. Grafton is the beating heart of the Clarence Valley and offers a variety of accommodation styles; from quaint overnight lodgings, like the Clarence River Bed & Breakfast, to 4-star motels.

     

    But, with 18 National Parks, 26 holiday parks and campsites, eight primitive sites and over 40 state forests to pitch a tent, the Clarence Valley (a region encompassing nearby towns of Yamba and Wooli) is a true wonderland for campers. Get a copy of The Clarence Valley guide to Happy Camping to find your perfect spot in nature.

    Clarence Valley camping

    Pitch a tent in this camper’s wonderland.

    Next time you’re considering a break from the everyday, treat it instead as a chance to challenge yourself with a memorable leap into the unfamiliar. That’s the promise of a visit to the Clarence Valley: you’ll be tested; you’ll be awestruck; and you’ll return home with bragging rights to last a lifetime.

     

    For more information – and inspiration – visit myclarencevalley.com.

     

     

     

    — Australia —

    Six winter weekends away

    WRITTEN BY PAIGE RICHARDSON • JUNE 14, 2019

    Whether we like it or not, winter is now well and truly upon us. But it isn’t all bad. Shorter days and cooler nights mean we can tuck into a pub lunch in front of a fire without regret, sip on mulled wine at a night-time festival or jet off on a cosy winter weekend away.

     

    To make booking your own wintervention that much easier, AccorHotels is rolling out a heartwarming deal that means $25 off each night and $1 breakfast. The only problem is choosing where to go so, to help you out, we’ve listed our favourite spots around the country where you can soak up all things wintery. (Oh, and if winter’s not your thing, get yourself to the Gold Coast like this lucky crew.)

    1. Melbourne

    Why winter weekend here? If there’s one season Melbourne does particularly well, it’s this one. Winter-themed markets, festivals and shows, not to mention the countless bars and restaurants lining its laneways, all give visitors plenty to do over the chilly months.

     

    What to do: Rooftop bars are some of the last places you’d think about going on a winter’s night, but with space heaters, fur blankets and twinkling city lights adding to the mood, they’re easily some of Melbourne’s best-kept winter secrets. Also worth checking out is the spectacularly fun winter festival White Night, running 22-24 August.

     

    Where to stay: Steps from the heart of the city, and with super sophisticated (read: Instagrammable) décor, the historic Hotel Lindrum is an easy pick for a luxurious Melbourne stay. Curl up next to the fire in the Back Bar & Billiard Room with a glass of red, or enjoy a game on one of the original billiard tables preserved from the hotels’ days as Lindrum’s Billiard Centre.

    Hotel Lindrum

    The historic Hotel Lindrum is an easy pick for a luxurious Melbourne stay.

    2. Sydney

    Why winter weekend here? When most people think about visiting Sydney, they think summer – but the city does winter surprisingly well, too. Just look at Vivid Sydney, the largest winter festival in the world or Sydney Film Festival – which you can still catch until the end of June.

     

    What to do: If you missed out on Vivid this year (the festival wraps up on 15 June), why not check out Bondi Winter Magic Festival – running from 28 June to 28 July – take a whale-watching cruise, or indulge in a gorgeous high tea served on Luna Park’s Ferris Wheel?

     

    Where to stay: Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is an attractive option, not just because of its central location, but also because, well… have you seen it? A stylish, grand building with glittering city views, you’d be right to question whether you weren’t in fact in London or Paris.

    3. Barossa Valley

    Why winter weekend here? Wine, wine and more wine. If that’s your idea of a good time, Barossa Valley is your best bet for a weekend getaway. This charming South Australian wine region was made for warm socks and evenings spent by the fire.

     

    What to do: In between wine tastings, break for lunches at quaint old pubs and fine-dine your way through dinner at one of the region’s top restaurants. Plan your visit around annual wine shows and festivals, organise a DIY wine trail or up-skill in the kitchen with a cooking class.

     

    Where to stay: The region’s rolling green hills are one of its best features, and Novotel Barossa Valley Resort offers guests front-row seats to take it in with plenty of floor-to-ceiling windows throughout. A tennis court, giant chess set and heated outdoor pool aren’t too shabby either.

    4. Canberra

    Why winter weekend here? From truffle-hunting to nearby skiing, you’ve probably forgotten – or maybe you never knew – Canberra had so much to offer in winter. But it does and, with convenient direct flights, and just a three-hour drive from Sydney, the country’s capital makes for one easy winter weekend away.

     

    What to do: There is, of course, that ol’ truffle festival. Running from June to August, it sees 250 events rolled out to celebrate the region’s Black Winter Truffle. Not into truffles? Take a day trip out to one of the many nearby ski fields or check out a blockbuster exhibit at one of the country’s most impressive line-up of museums.

    Australian War Memorial

    The Mercure Canberra is just a stones throw from The Australian War Memorial.

    Where to stay: The heritage-listed Mecure Canberra has all you need in a base for a weekend away. It’s easily located, a 10-minute walk from the Australian War Memorial, has a hotel restaurant you’d actually want to eat at and will even let you bring your pet; choose the pampered pet package to give your pooch the star treatment.

    5. Hobart

    Why winter weekend here? Dark Mofo may have put Hobart on the winter destination map, but as visitors to the Tassie city quickly realise, there’s a lot more to it than just the quirky arts festival. Whisky trails, cider festivals and endless crisp nature hikes are just a few of the many things to do here.

    Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park

    Hiking the Tasmanian Overland Track in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is an unforgettable experience.

    What to do: Salamanca Markets are always a cold-weather favourite. Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park will have you pinching yourself at its breathtaking, surreal scenery. And Tasmanian Whisky Week (12-18 August) will leave you a total whisky expert.

     

    Where to stay: With a whopping 300 rooms, ibis Styles Hobart Hotel is the largest hotel in Tasmania and Australia’s first and only 5-star Green Star certified hotel. Sitting right against the Hobart waterfront, its rooms are afforded some stunning views – particularly at sunrise or sunset. Add a heated indoor pool, two saunas and an award-winning restaurant to all that and it’s exactly where you want to be after a long day of outdoor exploring.

    ibis Styles Hobart Hotel

    Sitting right against the Hobart waterfront, ibis Styles Hobart Hotel is impressive on a lot of fronts.

    6. Margaret River

    Why winter weekend here? Most people know Margaret River for its wine, but with an exciting line-up of music, arts, food and film festivals – as well as number of walks that take advantage of its glorious beaches and greenery – the region makes for one solid winter weekend getaway.

     

    What to do: It’s truffle season too in Margaret River, so drive over to Manjimup to join a truffle hunt. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, taste your way around the region’s many breweries and wineries, explore its caves or lunch at one of its picturesque tiny towns.

     

    Where to stay: ‘Pinterest-worthy’ is the first word that springs to mind when first laying eyes on the much-awarded Pullman Bunker Bay Resort Margaret River. After a day of winter wandering, slip into its heated pool and watch the sun slip behind nearby vineyards. In the morning, use its direct beach access for a sunrise stroll.

     

    With more than 180 participating properties, Accor Hotels has a wintervention to suit any traveller.

    — Wagga Wagga —

    How to go on a dog-friendly road trip in NSW

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • APRIL 26, 2019

    A dog-friendly road trip around regional New South Wales takes in some of the state’s most spectacular countryside – not to mention pet-friendly accommodation, restaurants and pubs where pooches are pampered as much as their owners.  Words and photography by Natasha Dragun.

    It’s 9pm on a sun-soaked summer evening, and it’s well past Ziggi and Zoe’s bedtime. But they’re still running around the immaculate lawns of Corynnia Station, ignoring my calls to come inside, tumbling over resident fur-babies that are making the most of the fading day.

     

    A horticultural oasis in the middle of vast, parched farmland, this beautiful homestead has been a labour of love for Julie and Bruce Armstrong for more than four decades. In 1982 they began transforming the 8000-hectare estate in Carrathool, a small village on the Riverina plain around 500 kilometres west of Sydney, into a working merino sheep and cotton farm.

     

    At the heart of it all is their sprawling home, decorated with eclectic objets d’art and curious that the couple have collected on their travels around the world. Some rooms and the old jackaroo cottages have been remodelled and set aside for paying guests like our family of four – two humans, two fur babies – with the added bonus being that everything here is pet friendly.

    Animal friendly road trips

    Happy little campers.

    It’s our second night away from home on a road trip around regional New South Wales, and my first-ever driving getaway with both bulldogs – Ziggi, our seven-year-old mini Aussie bulldog, and Zoe, our cheeky seven-month-old English bulldog – on the backseat.

     

    According to recent research, dogs are considered a barrier to most pet-owners when it comes to having a weekend away, but thanks to a growing range of upscale, pooch-friendly accommodation, cafes and bars, it’s becoming increasingly easy to holiday around the state with our fur-babies in tow.

    Day One

    Heading out of Sydney, our first stop is at Trader & Co. in Yass, where the aroma of freshly baked bread proves to be an irresistible incentive to behave on the lead. We sit streetside, the dogs getting a side of bacon while we order bowls loaded with quinoa, roasted beetroot, free-range eggs and organic vegetables.

     

    A collective of socially conscious enterprises, including Six8 Coffee and The Kitchen, the establishment also has a retail section curated by Studio Wild, stocked with chocolate, homewares and jewellery by local creatives.

     

    It’s a scenic drive on through the Snowy Mountains to Tumut Plains, where we check into self-contained, pet-friendly Elm Cottage.

     

    Laced with native flora overlooking the Goobarragandra River, the property is a paradise for the pooches; they explore the pastures while we pour chilled glasses of riesling from the Clonakilla winery in Murrumbateman, north of Canberra – a brief detour on our way here.

     

    The dogs are happy to see there’s more bacon on the breakfast platter left in our fridge, as well as a couple of packets of treats, which we use to bribe them back into the car.

    Animal Friendly Road Trip

    Farm life.

    Not far away is Tumut River Brewing Co., which ambitiously makes more than 50 types of beer, with 20 on tap at any given time. There’s a delicious spiced pumpkin ale, an amber lager known as Voodoo Child, and the zingy Ginger Ninja: a ginger beer made using locally grown apples.

     

    Owner Tim Martin delivers water bowls for the dogs and tasting paddles of his award-winning creations for us, along with a couple of wood-fired pizzas: one topped with Snowy Mountains smoked trout, the other with rosemary and potato.

    Day Two

    On our way to Corynnia Station we motor through Barellan, the former home of tennis great Evonne Goolagong, and stop in the tiny town of Temora to snap Ziggi and Zoe at the region’s newest attraction: a statue of Boofhead. A fox terrier that rode the railway lines in the 1960s and was given lifelong membership at the local RSL, Boofhead is like the Riverina’s version of Red Dog. He is immortalised in a bronze statue on the station’s only platform, along with a collection of railway memorabilia dating back to the 1890s, when the station opened.

     

    Another pooch, a nameless kelpie, is similarly celebrated in nearby Ardlethan, a small service town known as the birthplace of the iconically Australian dog breed.

     

    It may be sleepy today, but this part of the world was booming when gold was discovered here in the 19th century; at one time, it was also home to the Southern Hemisphere’s largest tin mine.

     

    And then there’s the country’s most famous canine statue: the Dog on the Tuckerbox in nearby Gundagai (money collected from the visitors’ centre and wishing well here is donated to the local hospital). Unfortunately, we don’t have time to linger, as lunch in Griffith beckons, an hour’s drive away.

     

    On the city’s main drag, Miei Amici is busy when we arrive, but we manage to nab one of the alfresco tables, which comes with plenty of space for treats and water for the dogs.

     

    Zoe nudges Ziggi out of the way when the snacks are delivered, then manages to devour most of the bacon while we enjoy loaded salads and cheese toasties. Inside, the cafe’s walls are lined with artisanal oils, vinegar and pasta from local purveyors, so we stock up on pantry essentials.

    Animal Friendly Road Trip

    Home sweet home.

    At Corynnia Station Ziggi and Zoe curl up on the colourful Persian rug in our VIP Homestead Suite – a private section of the original 1930s building – while we sip coffee from floral china on the patio. But truth be told, it’s the garden we’re all most infatuated with.

     

    Perfectly manicured grass surrounds the house, broken only by beds of fragrant roses, tall stands of lavender, pots of curious-looking succulents and statues by artist Kim Gibbs.

     

    Enormous jacarandas create shady nooks for wrought-iron chairs, while grape vines drape over the pool, enveloped by neatly trimmed hedges.

     

    There are butterflies, birds and cicadas, humming melodically at sunset when Julie and Bruce invite our clan for drinks on the verandah; in winter, guests gather around an outdoor fire instead.

    Day Three

    The next day in Wagga Wagga, lunch is at another brewery: the Thirsty Crow. We sip on Thirsty MO, a red ale made with malt from the Riverina, while owner Craig Wealands brings the dogs frozen-pea-and-bone-broth balls to combat the heat.

     

    The slick establishment offers tasting paddles of its beers, which include the six produced annually as well as a couple of seasonal brews and drops by other Wagga micro-makers. The menu is fresh and flavourful, featuring sliders, ribs and dips, and an incredibly generous brewery board loaded with cheeses, smoked meats and house-made pistachio loaf.

     

    From here it’s a 50-minute drive to Kimo Estate in Gundagai, our final overnight stop. The working sheep farm’s 300 hectares of rolling hills are also home to four individually styled cottages – one a luxe pitched-roof eco-lodge, another the former shearers’ accommodation turned into a luxe bolthole, and ours, Daleys Cottage, set under a blooming acacia.

     

    Character-filled bedrooms revolve around the cosy living room with its open fire, while the fully stocked kitchen comes with a breakfast hamper and local wines, the latter for purchase.

     

    We’re in a remote part of the state, but there’s internet access – and a sign advising that if the wi-fi is down, we should crack a beer and sit on the patio instead. We do just that, soaking up an incredible sunset before motoring down the Hume Highway to make our dinner reservation at the Sir George Hotel in Jugiong.

     

    The historic pub’s selling feature is its spacious lawn area and beer garden, where Ziggi and Zoe run amok while we order from the incredibly sophisticated menu including our choice of ricotta-stuffed zucchini fritters, silky white anchovies and warmed Italian olives – with a side of bacon for the dogs, of course.

     

    — Sydney —

    The Sydney restaurant list that will satisfy any picky eater

    WRITTEN BY ELIZA SHOLLY • APRIL 12, 2019

    As a Melbourne expat living in Sydney, I’m often faced with the dilemma of showing out-of-towners how the NSW capital can do food and culture right.

    I learnt about Hilton’s destination travel guides via a friend of a friend, where guests (and non-guests) of the hotel chain can hop onto the website of the city that they’re visiting, and explore a range of custom itineraries in each destination.

     

    Armed with this knowledge, I decided to peruse the list of restaurants they endorse to guests, keen to see whether their recommendations impresses the palette of one very particular eater (me).

    Post-renovation bliss in an old Glebe favourite:

    The Glebe Hotel

    The Glebe Hotel is back baby, in all its post-renovation glory.

     

    Formerly known as the Australian Youth Hotel, this heritage listed bar and dining destination has completed seven months of interior and exterior renovation works, which includes a new name, menu, and a pretty jazzy jacaranda mural by Sydney artist, Indigo Jo.

    The famous jacaranda mural by Sydney artist, Indigo Jo

    After walking through the classic Glebe pub on Bay Street, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to encounter The Stables Bar & Grill: a beautiful, light and airy dining space with exposed brickwork, wooden tables and a bar.

     

    The menu, created by British Head Chef, Ben Allcock, focusses on the kind of gastro-pub fare Glebe has become famous for over the years. For me, the hero was the seafood. Start with an small plate of Octopus, and back it up with the crisp skin Atlantic salmon. Buttery is an understatement.

    An Italian postcard in the heart of Sydney’s CBD:

    Rosetta Trattoria

    Since opening in 2017, it’s hard to collate a list of Sydney’s best Italian without a nod to Rosetta Trattoria.

     

    Located in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, this relaxed, unpretentious space is home to your endless Italian bucket-list.

    Unexpected fun at Rosetta Trattoria

    First you have the restaurant, which features a menu curated by Neil Perry and Head Chef Richard Purdue.

     

    Expect an extensive antipasti selection, alongside a mouth-watering selection of house-made pizzas and pastas.

    Beauty on The Rose terrace

    For those who like their Italian from the water, there’s also an impressive seafood selection, best enjoyed with one of the 26 white and red wines from both Australia and Italy.

     

    Outside, the Little Rose terrace bar will transport you to the Cinque Terra cliff sides – just replace views of the super yachts with the sails of the Opera House. Both equally impressive if you ask us.

    Soak up the CBD sun with complimentary bar snacks

    Every weekday from 4pm to 7pm, diners and inner-city workers can soak up the sun with $10 negronis, spritzes and house bellinis, $7 prosecco, wine and beer and complimentary bar snacks.

    The new (old) kids on the block in Glebe:

    The Charleston 

    Have you ever been to The Cottage in the Sydney suburb or Balmain? If so, you’ll know it’s one of Sydney’s best kept secrets – if not for the great pizza, then for their famous espresso martinis.

    The Charleston, Glebe.

    The chic cocktail bar inside The Charleston in the Sydney suburb of Glebe.

    Well, the great news is, the same people responsible for The Cottage’s greatness have opened new digs on Glebe’s busy main street; Glebe Point Road – and let me tell you, one evening at The Charleston, will have you wanting for many, many more.

     

    Part restaurant, part cocktail bar, The Charleston delivers on all fronts. To start with, there’s the awesome menu with a strong Southern influence. Think melt-in-your-mouth fried chicken, gooey, bubbling mac and cheese, cinnamon-coated doughnuts and mouth-watering tacos, complemented by super fresh ceviche and some of the most mouth-watering cocktails in town.

    The Charleston, Glebe.

    The mouth-watering tacos served at The Charleston, Glebe.

    In terms of decor, The Charleston is a little more on the chic side, combining industrial elements with sleek brass, soft pinks and a touch of mint green – not to mention some eye-catching fernery. It’s the ultimate spot to catch up with friends and let the world pass you by.

     

    A stunning summer menu:

    Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel

    Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel.

    The stunning sunset from Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel.

    When you think summer, sun and a great day out with friends, many of us will automatically picture the blue and white striped umbrellas that adorn the beer garden of the Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel. Pioneers of seaside favourites like oysters, prawns and amazing fish and chips – the Watsons Bay group have actually released a new Capri-inspired summer menu that’ll be a bigger draw card than the frosé.

     

    Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel’s cuisine has always enjoyed an Italian influence and this summer’s menu was drawn from the culinary adventures of executive chef Dave Clarke in southern Italy. Dave said: “I spent time in Capri, Positano and the Amalfi Coast and saw how the Italian ‘beach clubs’ are real eateries on the water – seafood dominates the menus, produce is simple and locally grown and the meals have bold flavours but no fuss. Our new menu follows this mantra, taking each dish back to basics but as good as it can taste.”

     

    For those who enjoy share plates, the calamari and zucchini fritti, prosciutto and refreshing melon and yellow fin tuna crostini served on sourdough will be the dishes to choose. If you’re after something a little more substantial, the king fish and whole barramundi are set to be very popular, and one of Dave’s favourite additions to the main courses is a roasted half chicken with Tuscan rub.

    Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel.

    The summer menu is inspired by Italy, with a heavy focus on sustainable, delicious ingredients.

    But fear not, you’ll still be able to get your faves! Dave has complemented his Italian fare with popular Watsons Bay classics including beer battered fish and chips, sushi and sashimi plates and the Wagyu burger in a menu to please all palates and appetites.

    The Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel Beach Club menu is served from 11:00am till late, seven days a week. The menu will be refreshed mid-summer with a range of coastal specials championing seasonal fruits and vegetables.

    A civilised dining experience:

    Glass Brasserie

     

    I know what you’re thinking, hotel restaurants have a notoriously bad rep. That’s what I thought too, until I tried Glass Brasserie at the Hilton.

    Impressive interiors at Glass Brassiere

    Impressive interiors at Glass Brassiere

    Helmed by chef and restaurateur Luke Mangan, the menu provides guests (and many Sydneysiders) with a true culinary experience. Just the interiors alone, designed by New York’s Tony Chi, are enough to get you excited.

     

    The 240-seat space features a 13-metre floor-to-ceiling glass wall, featuring perfectly positioned booths that offer views of the Queen Victoria Building.

     

    Serving modern Australian cuisine, emphasis is placed on local and seasonal produce. Kingfish sashimi and tiger prawns are entrée heroes, followed by an ‘off the grill’ section that will really start some dinner table conversation.

     

    The staff are warm, attentive and helpful – writing the book on how civilised dining should be done.

     

    A quaint (and undiscovered) wine-bar:

    Dear Sainte Eloise

     

    It’s rare to find a Sydney restaurant that is yet to be flooded with crowds. In saying that, Dear Sainte Eloise is somewhere that deserves all the recognition it gets.

    Mood lighting strikes the right balance at Dear Sainte Eloise

    Mood lighting strikes the right balance at Dear Sainte Eloise

    A tiny wine bar down a Potts Point laneway, Dear Sainte Eloise received its name from George Orwell’s memoir, Down and Out in Paris and London.

     

    Featuring a 400-strong wine list, this venue is the perfect place to sit, relax and digest after a day of perusing. And with a menu that changes every few days (based on seasonal availability), it’s also the perfect place to keep going back to.

     

    Impressive cocktails:

    Solander Dining and Bar at West Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton

     

    Before we get to bragging about the incredible cocktails at Solander Dining and Bar, first, a history lesson.

    Cocktails for days at Solander Bar

     

    Daniel Solander (1733–1782) was an instrumental figure in the early documentation and collection of Australian plants. Today, the Hilton venue has tipped its hat to the whimsical character in the form of a botanical-inspired restaurant and bar.

     

    Now to the good stuff.

     

    For the thirsty, the venue’s experienced bartenders create bespoke botanically-inspired cocktails, mocktails and serve a range of spirits, wines and craft beers from the stunning emerald green terrazzo marble bar.

    Velvet couches and patterned floors strike the perfect balance

     

     

    And food? Solander Dining and Bar’s emphasis is on modern Australian fare. Belgian chef David Vandenabeele was enticed from Manhattan’s Langham Hotel, creating a menu that boasts the very best regional and seasonal produce that NSW has to offer.

    A charismatic restaurant with a large vibe:

    Restaurant Hubert

     

    Located in the heart of downtown Sydney, Hubert is the kind of vintage hole-in-the-wall that will make you feel as if you’ve accidentally stumbled onto the set of a movie.

    The interiors at Restaurant Hubert allow you to truly dislocate from the outside world

     

    Upon entering, 4000 miniature liquor bottles line the spiral staircase that transports you into an alternative post-war Europe universe. The wood-panelled space is dazzling, romantic and topped off with a 100-seat theatre complete with a grand piano perched atop a stage.

     

    Hubert is much about the ambience, good conversation and laughter, as it is the quality of the wine and the food. About which they also have plenty to brag.

    Restaurant Hubert seems to be the only restaurant any one is going to

     

    To truly get the grand Hubert experience, we suggest travelling in a group. The banquet menu requires at least four people – and with the amount of food you get, you’ll also need at least four stomachs at the table.

     

    Whether it’s the whole garlic chicken, prime beef tartare or the can’t-leave-without-trying Escargot – make sure you wear your stretchy pants.

    A plant-based offering to please the masses:

    Alibi

     

    You may have heard of new kid on the block Alibi, the plant-based dining pioneer making waves out of the Ovolo hotel franchise. Well I had not, and was keen to give it a try.

    Take a seat at Alibi

     

    The fresh new menu has been spearheaded by renowned US chef, restaurateur and global plant-based aficionado Matthew Kenney. This is his first venture in Australia and it does not disappoint.

     

    The menu offers a seasonal, colourful and innovative selection alongside plenty of cocktails and wine to wash it all down.

     

    For signature dishes, Alibi offers kimchi dumplings with sesame and ginger foam, heirloom tomato and zucchini lasagne with pistachio pesto, plus kelp noodles and crispy olives.

    Spicy Udon, sichuan tempeh, shiitake mushroom, watercress, toasted cashew, togarashi

    For dessert (we know you’re interested), think pumpkin chocolate pie with coconut and cardamom cream or apple crumble with vanilla cashew ice-cream and almond maple caramel.

    One-of-a-kind waterfront dining:

    Berowra Waters Inn

     

    Just a 50 -minute zip from the city is Berowra Waters Inn: a destination restaurant that has been held alongside Australia’s best since its 1984 inception.

    Berowra Waters Inn boasts some of the best views in Sydney

     

    Housed on Berowra Creek, the rugged gorges and gum-tree lined site is only accessible to diners by boat or seaplane.

    Views from Berowra waters

     

    Head chef Brian Geraghty owns and runs the space, which boasts a frequently changing menu based on availability. If you’re a stickler for cuisine however, I guess we can all settle on a mix of classic French with modern Australian.

     

     

    The degustation menu heroes the venue, explained ever so pleasantly by the delightful staff. And with floor-to-ceiling windows, every table has a window seat.

    — Australia —

    Australia’s best food festivals

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • APRIL 2, 2019

    Foodies, here is your plan for the year ahead – cancel everything else…

    The Curated Plate

    Any chef worth their Michelin star knows just how important a great producer is – particularly one who can provide them with responsibly sourced quality produce. And finally, there is a festival to celebrate this relationship.

     

    The Curated Plate is a new four-day destination food festival in the Sunshine Coast, bringing together the region’s finest native ingredients with the best chefs in the Australian and International dining scene.

     

    From August 8-11, exclusive culinary events will span the region, encouraging visitors to immerse themselves in the flavours foraged from the organic and sustainable practices that surround them.

    Mooloolaba Beach is just one of the beautiful backdrops for The Curated Plate

    Program highlights include:

    Seasonal Stars
    Mooloolaba Beach
    August 8

    Enjoy a breathtaking four-course dining experience prepared by Raymond Blanc, one of the finest international chefs. He will be assisted by two Australian based prodigies.

    The Legends Lunch
    Yandina Station
    August 8

    The legendary Peter Gilmore (Quay, Bennelong) and one of Australia’s most talked about chefs, Analiese Gregory (Franklin) will join forces again in the kitchen for an all-out lavish, long lunch, held in the stunning surrounds of Yandina Station.

    Peter Gilmore’s creation at Quay

    The Food Fair at Black Swan Park
    Black Swan Park, Cotton Tree Maroochydore
    August 9-11

    A curated food fair for the senses – see, touch, sip, smell and taste the best of what the Sunshine Coast has to offer. Talk to the producers, enjoy pop-ups by local eateries and some family fun with entertainers.

     

    These are just a few of many incredible ways to send your taste buds into a frenzy at The Curated Plate. Expect markets, food trails, long lunches and out-of-the-box dining experiences, all helmed by Australia’s brightest young talent, trailblazing culinary masterminds and International heavyweights.

    Tasting Australia

    Surprising venues, modern twists on old classics, Australia’s best beverages and inimitable eating and drinking experiences – these and more are all on the menu at Tasting Australia.

    Tasting Australia runs across Adelaide and regions from April 5 – 14, 2019

    With more than 160 events across 12 regions, and more than 70 Michelin-starred and award-winning chefs and beverage champions from around the world, Tasting Australia transforms Adelaide and regions into a spectacular grazing table.

     

    2019 highlights include the return of the popular East End Cellars Masterclass series, with 24 expert-led tastings of wine, gin, sake and more, a raucous celebration of the classic pub schnitzel in SchnittFest, the second annual Tasting Australia Spirit Awards and a spectacular Opening Night Party in the festival hub Town Square.

     

    Two Tasting Australia Airlines flights have also been added to the schedule with new flights to Kangaroo Island and Mayura Station (Limestone Coast), where guests enjoy full-day, all-inclusive regional escapes.

     

    This year, the event is held from April 5-14, and by the sounds of it, definitely one worth travelling for.

    Kangaroo Island Feastival

    The ‘Island’ has been described as ‘Aussie bush meets the Mediterranean’ and, with its similarly crystal waters, excellent food culture and laidback lifestyle, we can understand why – especially when the island’s annual food celebration, FEASTival rolls around. With 30 events to choose, make sure you set aside at least one early morning to watch the sun rise at one of the island’s many beaches.

    Noosa Food & Wine Festival

    There’d be a fair few people willing to rank Noosa Food & Wine Festival as a top food and wine event in the country. And fair enough – it features a staggering line-up of more than 200 top national and international chefs (many of the celebrity variety) imparting their collective wisdom.

    The impressively comprehensive, four-day itinerary allows dedicated followers of food to eat and drink their way through long lunches, live concerts, wine tastings, degustation menus, cooking demonstrations, high teas and food trails through the divine Sunshine Coast and Hinterland scenery.

    Port Douglas Carnivale

    Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Port Douglas Carnivale makes the most of the divine tropical climate and produce that the city – and the region – is famous for. Culinary highlights this year will include Taste Port Douglas (featuring the likes of MasterChef and MKR alum Colin Fassnidge, The European Melbourne’s Ian Curley, and Pete Evans’ executive chef Massimo Mele); the Sheraton Mirage Longest Lunch, and Palates of Port, an eight-course degustation dinner at Sugar Wharf showcasing eight of the areas most talented chefs.

    Savour Tasmania

    In the short years since its inception in 2009, Savour Tasmania has become a headlining Australian food festival, beloved by producers and foodies alike. Its basic aim is to raise the profile of the Tasmanian food and beverage industry, by promoting the state as a destination for unique food and wine experiences. How? By inviting a line-up of internationally recognised chefs to present a range of degustation dinners focusing on natural Tasmanian ingredients in world-class restaurants and venues. Good idea, right?

    Freshly caught seafood and other premium ingredients create masterful dishes of unrivalled flavour at Landscape restaurant

    Freshly caught seafood and other premium ingredients create masterful dishes of Savour Tasmania

    The event also includes the Tasmanian Red Wine Weekend, featuring a range of master classes and wine tastings.

    Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, Darwin

    While not strictly a food festival, the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets are a Northern Territory institution held each Thursday and Sunday evening at sunset from May to October. The real drawcard are the myriad stalls offering up a multicultural feast of cuisines. The best way to enjoy the colour and atmosphere is to decide on a dish, then take up position on the sand to and watch the sun set into the Indian Ocean.

    Canberra & Capital Region Truffle Festival

    The arrival of the brisk winter weather signals the start of truffle season, and the Canberra region is one of the country’s premier truffle growing areas. As a result, the pungent fungus (including the highly prized French Black Truffle) is feted by growers, chefs, restaurants and food lovers at the Canberra and Capital Region Truffle Festival.

    Wine and Truffle Co.

    In addition to truffle hunts, master classes, cooking demonstrations, dining experiences and the launch of a limited edition black/purple Citroën DS5 (appropriately named ‘the Truffle’), this year’s big news is that Antonio Carluccio, the Godfather of all celebrity chefs, has been confirmed as the Festival Patron.

    Good Food Month: Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane

    It’s the largest food festival in the nation, taking place across Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane, and it’s called Good Food Month. Events run the gamut, from fine-dining banquets whipped up by leading local and international chefs to the hugely popular night noodle markets, to family-friendly outdoor festivals.

     

    And, somewhat confusingly, it’s held across two months: October for Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and regional Queensland; and November for Melbourne and regional Victoria. Dig in.

    Margaret River Gourmet Escape

    Margaret River has earned an enviable worldwide reputation for its wine growing and making prowess, and its buzzy, convivial annual food and wine gathering isn’t far behind in esteem. Making the most of the stunning surrounds, the region is swarmed by chefs, vintners and foodies for three days of beach barbecues, long table lunches, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, and Q&A sessions with the chefs.

     

    MORE: 

    30 tasty wine and beer festivals

     

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    — Australia Brisbane —

    Six of the most luxurious hotels in Brisbane

    WRITTEN BY SOPHIE DELLAGIACOMA • FEBRUARY 22, 2019

    Known for its sunny disposition and a welcome as warm as the weather, Queensland’s subtropical capital is going through a renaissance. There’s a vibe in the air and Brisbane’s glorious sunshine has nothing to do with it. (Well, it might have something to do with it).

    A wave of great new cafes, restaurants and bars, a thriving culture scene, a jam-packed events calendar, and all in an environment that inspires relaxation and outdoor living – Brisbane is a city transformed. As part of the revival, the Queensland capital has welcomed more than 25 new hotels in recent years, adding further appeal to an already cosmopolitan city.

     

    Here are six of the best Brisbane hotels to bed down in luxury.

     

    The Westin Brisbane

    Swim-up pool bar? Don’t mind if I do. When The Westin Brisbane opened its doors in November, it delivered on its promise to provide a relaxing retreat in the heart of the city. Pool bar aside, the Westin’s trademark focus is on wellness which is evident with Australia’s first Heavenly Spa by Westin, a full-service day spa with five treatment rooms, a steam room and blissful relaxation pods.

    Add the fully equipped WestinWORKOUT Fitness Studio; the renowned RunWESTIN program, which includes access to a running buddy, if you so desire; and Eat Well, the brand’s commitment to providing nutrient-rich and, of course, delicious culinary options, and you have yourself a dream destination.

    The Nautilus Pool Bar

    The Nautilus Pool Bar at the Westin

     

    FV by Peppers

    For a slice of New York City on the Australian east coast, throw off your Manolo Blahniks and put your feet up at FV by Peppers. A luxe $600-million-dollar project, FV by Peppers was inspired by New York’s flatiron building and the iconic triangular shape cuts a fine figure in Brisbane’s hip Fortitude Valley. The Big Apple influences continue throughout the hotel and the heated U-shaped skyline pool, complete with spectacular views and in-pool seating overlooking the Brisbane skyline, is a glam example. There is also a moonlight cinema, yoga retreat, fully equipped gym, and three VIP private spa lounges available to hire.

    FV by Peppers

    FV by Peppers IS the point of difference.

     

    Ovolo The Valley

    Still in Fortitude Valley, design-led hotel group Ovolo has also moved into the neighbourhood, further enhancing the suburb’s creative cred. Renowned for boundary-pushing boutique hotels, Ovolo celebrates the eclectic culture and rich history of its new inner-city home with a frenzy of colour and playful design. Wild wallpaper, eccentric furniture and eye-catching art combine to tell the story of the Valley while plush rooms and suites, a rooftop swimming pool, gym, sauna and a unique meeting room make for a fabulous stay. And keep watching this space. A bar and kitchen concept is in the making and slated for a mid-year opening. With collaborating chef Justin North and interiors firm Luchetti Krelle behind the project, it promises to be something special.

    The Ovolo The Valley food

    Unique and mouthwatering dishes are coming soon to sate your appetite.

     

    Ovolo Inchcolm

    Such is the lure of Brisbane, Ovolo brings you not one, but two options in the Queensland capital, the second instalment located in Spring Hill. Exercising the hotel brand’s quintessential quirk, Ovolo Inchcolm, manages to pay homage to the building’s 1920s heritage while creating new and curious stories that spark the imagination. You have stylist Anna Roberts to thank for that.

    Ovolo brisbane hotel room

    Sleep well in ultimate comfort

    Led by chef Andy Ashby, Ovolo Inchcolm’s signature restaurant and bar, Salon de Co, is an Art-Deco dream and the perfect spot to indulge. PS: All Ovolo hotels include free breakfast, free WiFi, free in-room mini bar, free laundry and free daily happy hour drinks. Who doesn’t love a freebie?

     

    The Calile Hotel

    A subtropical oasis in the thick of Brisbane city? Welcome to The Calile, the $100-million urban resort on Fortitude Valley’s famous James Street. A destination in its own right, The Calile pool is the epicenter of the hotel, a place where the bustle disappears and sky-gazing from plush cabanas is king.

    Aerial view of pool at Calile Hotel, Brisbane

    Spend a lazy day around the pool.

    Leave the pool if you must, but there’s no reason to leave the resort. Create an in-room sanctuary with complimentary new-release movies and motorised block-out blinds, or satisfy any hunger, from breakfast through to dinner, at either The Lobby Bar or in-house restaurant Hellenika, the second chapter of a Gold Coast institution. Plus, ground-level shopping precinct Ada Lane offers retail heavyweights such as Bassike and Dion Lee.

     

    Emporium Hotel South Bank

    The Emporium Hotel has been reborn and the new incarnation is already a riverside star. Twice the size of its Fortitude Valley predecessor, the Emporium has bolstered South Bank’s glamour factor thanks to its 143 luxuriously appointed suites, premium dining and function spaces, and opulent decor throughout.

    Emporium Hotel Southbank rooftop

    Sit back and watch the sun go down atop this stunning terrace.

    Since it was unveiled in September, the hotel’s rooftop restaurant and bar, The Terrace, has been the talk of the town given the unparalleled panoramic views across the Brisbane River to the city skyline and beyond. The adjacent 23-metre infinity-edge pool doesn’t hurt either!

    — Gold Coast —

    14 of the best things to do in Palm Beach

    WRITTEN BY LUKE VINCENT • FEBRUARY 9, 2019

    Palm Beach (Gold Coast) has roots as a 1960s holiday home dream and a somewhat shady rep, but it’s now having its time in the sun with new developments and an emerging dining scene.

    There was a time when you would have had absolutely no reason to stop as you drove through Palm Beach. Sitting like the forgotten middle child between Coolangatta – on the Gold Coast’s southern border with New South Wales – and its hip older sister, Burleigh Heads to its north, Palm Beach was at one time known more for its needle exchange site than a buzzing cafe scene.

     

    Straddling both sides of the Gold Coast highway with a numbered system of street names that’s more Santa Monica than Queensland, ‘Palmy’, as it’s affectionately known, was always a bit rough around the edges, even in the 1870s when the area was designated pastoral land. The South Coast railway didn’t even stop there until 1922, when it was still part of Elanora.

     

    A subdivision by the Palm Beach Company Ltd was what led to the beachside ’hood gaining its own name and subsequently, fibro holiday homes started sprouting along Jefferson Lane. It was the affordable dream – in the early ’60s The Truth newspaper in Brisbane advertised ‘holiday homes for the working man’ with blocks of land up for sale, with ‘whatever deposit suits you’.

     

    But within the last few years, this suburb has been gentrified quicker than you can say “Range Rover” and a new wave of discerning young residents has washed in. New luxury apartment developments are taking over corner blocks and real estate prices are skyrocketing.

     

    That’s what’s led to a spate of openings within the past 12 months, so many, in fact, that you’ll be hard pressed to fit everything into a weekend.

     

    Start with these local haunts and see how you go.

    1. Wildernis: cocktail and breakfast

    Is it a cafe serving cocktails or a bar serving breakfast? It’s both! Local tradies Josh Bailey and Andy Canfield decided to rip out the adjoining office space that came with the lease on what was once Little St Kilda Cafe and lifted the roof to drink in one of Palmy’s best assets: its ocean view.

     

    Now running as a cafe downstairs serving healthy eats and smoothies, it’s the rooftop that steals the show, opening for weekend brunch and Sunday sessions, with a sneaky little laneway linking the two. Local ales are on tap, and there are house cocktails and Ink Gin from nearby Husk Distillers too.

    2. Mr Bengel: Burleigh brekky

    Mr. Bengel Palm Beach Gold Coast Queensland food bars coffee

    Breakfast spots like Mr Bengel bring a healthy, hipster vibe to the beachside neighbourhood (photo: Krista Eppelstun).

    With a pedigree built in Burleigh Heads (with popular restaurant and rooftop bar, Justin Lane, and Harry’s Steak Bistro & Bar) the guys behind Mr Bengel have injected a very GC vibe into this Gold Coast Highway spot. You’ll find rainbow and green breakfast bowls brimming with kimchi and sauerkraut, and loaded with avocado, greens, smoked salmon and free-range eggs.

    food breakfast Mr. Bengel Palm Beach Gold Coast

    A green breakfast at Mr. Bengel (photo: Krista Eppelstun).

    3. Little Maisy: Instagram shopping

    Little Maisy Palm Beach boutique shopping Gold Coast

    New boutique Little Maisy’s features all Australia brands and designers (photo: Krista Eppelstun).

    What exactly is an Instagram store? That’s the question asked most in the adorable new kids’ boutique, Little Maisy. Stocking over 45 ‘Instagram brands’ – all handmade and Australian-owned products, previously only available via Instagram – expect trendy silicone teething chews in the shape of pineapples and teepee tents, Rubz & Lolli leather shoes and hashtag slogan tees.

    4. The Craft Parlour: Workshops for you

    The Craft Parlour Palm Beach Gold Coast art workshops

    The Craft Parlour hosts 15 workshops a month for people to come and get creative (photo: Krista Eppelstun).

    “I’m not into up-and-coming places, everything I’ve done is organic,” says Rachael Valentine, the girl behind the cutest house in Palm Beach, filled to the brim with plants, crafty creations and op-shop finds. There’s no denying she was ahead of the game, though. After organising workshops at Miami Marketta, Rachael chose Palm Beach to bring The Craft Parlour to life permanently and now holds 15 workshops a month in everything from macrame and resin art to meditation.

    5. 8th Ave. Terrace: foodie views

    Capitalising on cracking views over the Pacific Ocean, this two-level bar and restaurant from the owners of Espresso Moto feels like a luxury castaway’s playground with timber flooring, brass bar tops, and thick wooden beams overhead. Hanging pots spill over with greenery and binoculars hang ready for action on one of the walls. Head here for sundowners and bar snacks, or book ahead for one of its wine dinners. 8thaveterrace.com.au

    6. The Collective: street food with table service

    The Collective Palm Beach Gold Coast restaurant food

    Street food and food trucks fused into one restaurant (photo: Krista Eppelstun).

    The Collective takes the concept of street food markets and food trucks and amps them up with table service and one menu that allows you to choose from five kitchens. Offering everything from poke to pizzas, tacos to baos, and chicken ‘n’ waffles to jugs of Pimm’s, this two-level space heaves on weekends; arrive early if you’re in a group.

    7. La Costa Motel: ’50s style

    La Costa Motel Palm Beach Gold Coast accommodation stays

    La Costa Motel will take you back to the time of ’50s motels (photo: Krista Eppelstun).

    While there are no hotels in Palmy (yet) and you’re more likely to rent a place on Airbnb, 10 minutes down the highway you can take a step back in time in one of the original ’50s motels at La Costa. Rooms are simple but sufficient, and let’s face it, it’s all about the location – just a few short steps to the beach – and the cute beach umbrellas and cruiser bikes out front of the weatherboard digs.

    8. Espresso Moto: caffeine and bikes

    Start your day at the bar and check out the motorcycle workshop inside this cafe on the Gold Coast Highway; the owners flew in a mechanic all the way from Italy to tinker with the tools inside the uncharacteristically clean glass-enclosed space. An industrial theme permeates, while the all-day menu – affixed to Espresso Moto numberplates – is more hipster biker fuel than grease monkey, with dishes like ACai Bircher Muesli with house-made lemon curd.

    9. Greenhouse, The Bathhouse: Palmy pamper

    Green House The Bathhouse Palm Beach

    Relax and unwind at the Greenhouse, The Bathhouse (photo: Krista Eppelstun).

    Technically just over the ’burb border, it’s still fair to group Greenhouse, The Bathhouse as part of the Palmy crew. Leave your shoes at the door for a massage or facial using plant-based products, or stay for a full session rotating between the whirlpools, eucalyptus steam room, red cedar hot rock sauna, and magnesium plunge pool and sun deck, snacking on vegan eats in between.

    10. The Blue Door on 5th: organic feast

    Blue Door on 5th Palm Beach Gold Coast Cafe Restaurant

    The Blue Door on 5th is full of fresh food and produce from Byron Bay and Stanthorpe (photo: Krista Eppelstun).

    You wouldn’t think bread and butter could become an event, but at this new restaurant homemade rye sourdough is served with great cubes of salt and a grater to sprinkle over smears of buffalo or Jersey milk butter. Diners then dive into a menu crafted with local produce from farmers between Byron Bay and Stanthorpe, with most of it organic, and as much butchering as possible done in-house.

    11. Bow Wow

    This is not a pet store, nor a merchandise store for the rapper of the same name. This little gem actually stocks an eclectic range of pieces from vintage clothing and new styles to beautifully restored furniture.

     

    We spotted a pair of 1940s brass lamps with Bruce Goold Banana Grove lampshades and some cool vintage maps. Swoon.

    12. Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk

    Start from the beach carpark near The Boathouse; walk north along the narrow stretch of sand for about 200 metres and turn right when you see a sign to the lighthouse.

     

    Another 100 metres will bring you to another sign with two trail options: Smugglers Track, which is a steep 10-minute climb via steps, or the Access Trail, a 15-minute gradual incline. Either way, you’ll get your heart rate going.

     

    At the top the views of the isthmus between the ocean and the bay are spectacular. Turn the other way and you have panoramic views all the way to the Central Coast; from May to August keep an eye out for whales.

     

    There are guided tours of the historic lighthouse every Sunday between 11am and 3pm; $5 per adult, $3 per child.

    13. Pronto Creative

    Start your day with a hearty breakfast and caffeine fix at Pronto Creative. Located on Barrenjoey Road, this casual cafe has been a locals’ favourite for 35 years, serving up a mean coffee and a healthy menu of freshly squeezed juices, sandwiches and daily baked muffins.

    14. Barrenjoey House

    This iconic guesthouse, located near Palm Beach wharf, has seven guest rooms above the public restaurant, all painted a fresh white with relaxed coastal styling.

     

    A light breakfast of fresh sourdough and preserves, yoghurt, muesli and fruit is served in the guest dining room, but if you stay in the gorgeous Loft – and we recommend you do – you can enjoy breakfast privately in your own cosy dining nook that looks out to Pittwater.

     

    Choose an accommodation package that includes a three-course meal in the restaurant, a beautiful space with a subtle colonial-Africa ambiance: exposed beams, rustic woods, rattan chairs, and palm-frond prints.

     

    Though the menu certainly lends itself to fine dining, service is sophisticated yet relaxed; dine on the candlelit terrace during summer, or by the fireplace in winter.

     

    EXPLORE MORE HIP HOODS

    NSW   | Palm Beach | Coogee |

    VIC  | St Kilda |

    QLD | Fortitude Valley | Paddington

    NT | Darwin |

    WA | Perth |

    TAS | Hobart |

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    — Hunter Valley —

    The definitive list of the best places to eat and drink in the Hunter Valley

    WRITTEN BY OLIVIA MACKINNON • JANUARY 11, 2019

    Hunter Valley locals are a savvy foodie community. Here are some regional gems worth visiting on a weekend getaway for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    As well as being a new meeting point for millennials and a much-loved destination for oenophiles, the Hunter Valley is now widely known for its culinary delights. Here is where to eat and drink in the Hunter Valley.

    Breakfast

    Fawk Foods Kitchen & Bakery is a spectacular spin-off by Frank Fawkner, head chef at EXP. Restaurant. The best time to visit this #fawkingawesome bakery is for breakfast: order the delectable sourdough topped with barbecue-glazed thick-cut belly bacon and free-range eggs.  If you’re feeling really indulgent, try the oven-baked pancakes with caramelised apple, Chantilly cream, macadamia crumb and maple syrup with a piccolo on the side.

    Fawk Fine Foods, Hunter Valley.

    Delicious eats at Fawk Fine Foods.

    For a cafe to stand out in the Hunter Valley it has to be doing something right. Cafe Enzo does a lot of things right. The breakfast boards here are worthy of applause from the good-natured crowds who converge here over coffee and cake around communal tables. Set in Peppers Creek Village in the heart of the Hunter, the menu at the frantically busy cafe highlights all that is wonderful at the local markets.

     

    Grab a stool and sit around the bar at Emerson’s Café & Restaurant watching chef Emerson Rodriguez spin around the space in what is one of the best shows in town. Groups who enjoy bubbles over breakfast can also proceed to Restaurant Cuvee at Peterson House for a glass of the house sparkling alongside vanilla bean pancakes or eggs bennie.

    Mr Busby's, Hunter Valley.

    Stunning food at Mr Busby’s, Hunter Valley.

    Ask Siri for help finding the Simply D’Vine Cafe, which is tucked away inside a sprawling plant nursery off the highway in Nulkaba. The rustic cafe is run by Casey Parsons (ex EXP. restaurant) and wife Megan who offer all-day breakfast options such as sourdough topped with eggs, house-made chilli jam and a scattering of rocket.

    Mr Busby's, Hunter Valley.

    Chef Rafael Tononat of Mr Busby’s, Hunter Valley.

    Mr Busby’s is the latest reference point for how great modern Australian dining is in regional Australia. Mr Busby’s is located at Dalwood Estate on the banks of the Hunter River and is the perfect setting for a leisurely breakfast or lunch. Adjust your waistband to better enjoy the baked eggs with smoked black beans.

    Mr Busby's, Hunter Valley.

    Baked Eggs from Mr Busby’s. Image credit: Dom Cherry

    Lunch

    Thirsty, hungry travellers should factor in a visit to The Church where you can enjoy a platter of salumi alongside stellar local varietals from the cellar at Usher Tinkler Wines. Muse Kitchen is the sister venue to the two-hatted Muse Restaurant and a plush place to avoid the swilly tourists over a languid lunch. Leaves & Fishes is another local institution. Sit in the dining room, which is saturated in sunshine and order fresh king prawn linguine, with garlic peas or crisp-skinned pork belly with hummus, spiced chickpeas and honey-roasted carrots.

    Leaves & Fishes, Hunter Valley.

    A bowl of linguine from Leaves & Fishes, Hunter Valley.

    Margan Restaurant is one of the top-rated regional restaurants for a reason.  Margan is renowned for its inspired approach to agri-dining and sustainability and the rammed-earth restaurant is the place to enjoy the farm-to-fork tasting menu of your dreams. When in season, order Margan Suffolk lamb with kohlrabi, potato and garlic with a glass of the Margan Breaking Ground Tempranillo Graciano Shiraz 2015.

    Margan, Hunter Valley.

    Lunch is served at Margan, Hunter Valley. Image credit: Dom Cherry.

    Take in the views of the undulating hills in the distance at Eremo Restaurant, located at the newly restored Spicers Guesthouse. The modern Italian restaurant is run by multi-hatted executive chef Cameron Matthews whose menu will suit those in the mood for food that is Italian with a twist, running from wild weed spaghetti with Fraser Island spanner crab and lemon to Merrifield suckling pork with polenta and grilled greens. Enjoy a bottle of local wine on the side.

    Margan, Hunter Valley.

    Simple, brilliant food at Margan, Hunter Valley. Image credit: Dom Cherry.

    Chef Shayne Mansfield is now at the helm of Restaurant Botanica on the grounds of Spicers Vineyards Estate, not far from Spicers Guesthouse, and overlooking the beautiful Brokenback Mountain Range. Shayne is forever in search of new local farms and producers within the local Hunter Valley region and in turn showcasing these incredible ingredients within his menus. Vegans will find the restaurant worth the detour for the mushroom risotto alone.

    Head Chef Shayne Mansfield of Restaurant Botanica, Spicers, Hunter Valley.

    Wend your way south for about 20 clicks to find Bistro Molines, which overlooks a terraced hillside of rose-lined vines belonging to Tallavera Grove Vineyard. Robert Molines is a French transplant, having moved here in 1973. Over the years, he has earnt the bistro a critical mass of recognition and the rustic-chic restaurant remains as charming as ever. Working alongside Molines is head chef Garreth Robbs whose style of cooking helped the restaurant retain a hat in the 2018 and 2019 Good Food Guide. Expect highly seasonal dishes such as a ballotine of Little Hill Farm chicken, medley of mushrooms and gnocchi with truffle butter or a bowl of mussels mariniere with a hint of chilli.

    Bistro Molines, Hunter Valley.

    Mussels from Bistro Molines, Hunter Valley. Image credit: Dom Cherry.

    Bistro Molines, Hunter Valley.

    Inside stunning Bistro Molines, Hunter Valley. Image credit: Dom Cherry.

    Originally a private hospital, The Cottage Scone has been converted into a destination restaurant overseen by chef and co-owner Colin Selwood (founder of Sydney stalwart China Doll), who heeded the call for an Escape from the City. The in-house made charcuterie, which includes country-style venison and pistachio terrine, beetroot relish and chicken liver parfait, is elevated to outstanding thanks to this bucolic country cottage setting and Selwood’s stellar French training.

    The Cottage, Hunter Valley.

    Inside The Cottage, Hunter Valley.

    The Cottage, Hunter Valley.

    The exterior of The Cottage, Hunter Valley. Image credit: Alicia Taylor.

    Dinner

    Walking into the intimate EXP. Restaurant dining room at Oakvale Winery feels like going to a friend’s house for dinner. Whether you sit at the bar watching chef Frank Fawkner (ex-head chef at Muse) plate up at the pass or in the restaurant surrounded by handcrafted furniture and local art, you should expect a bit of pre-dinner theatre. The menu changes frequently as Fawkner’s focus is on seasonal dishes such as Warroo kangaroo, pumpkin, macadamia and saltbush. Fawkner also has a side hustle, selling small-batch black garlic under the Fawk Foods umbrella.

    EXP. Restaurant, Hunter Valley.

    Kangaroo cooked over the BBQ with butternut pumpkin, macadamia and salt bush from EXP. Restaurant.

    If you really want to make the most of a trip to wine country then book ahead at Muse Restaurant, the two-hatted restaurant that is one of the Hunter Valley’s main draws. It’s easy to fall under executive chef Troy Rhoades-Brown’s spell in the elegant dining room, where polished wait staff pirouette around the tables. Rhoades-Brown marries French technique with local ingredients to deliver crowd-pleasing dishes such as Little Hill farm chicken, polenta, charred Morpeth sweetcorn, black bean and togarashi.

    Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley.

    Photo-worthy meals from Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley.

    There is a sunny energy to the experience of dining on the balcony at Esca Bimbadgen where you are as likely to see a wedding party as a wedding proposal. While the restaurant’s interior is a neutral clean Scandi palette, the balcony pops given its proximity to these patches of green. Order a bottle of wine – perhaps a Bimbadgen Shiraz Viognier 2017 – with a main course of lavender honey duck with cassis gel, carrot puree and red wine jus and then exit stage left via helicopter.

    Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley.

    The stunning exterior of Muse Restaurant, Hunter Valley.

    Hunters Quarter has been a hotspot since opening in 2017 as word of the head chef Brian Duncan’s credentials grew from a whisper to a roar. Duncan has worked for the Dorchester Hotel (three Michelin stars) and Claridge’s Hotel (one Michelin star) in London and was executive chef at Level 41 and The Establishment in Sydney: try the spanner crab dumplings or the lightly peppered kangaroo loin with pickled fennel, quinoa pilaf and plum compote.

     Esca Bimbadgen, Hunter Valley.

    Stunning skies overlooking Esca Bimbadgen.

    According to local legend, Yellow Billy was a local bush ranger who raided and plundered around the Broke and Pokolbin region during the 1860s. Yellow Billy (a.k.a. William White) was also a forager who lived off the land so it only seems right to light a fire in his honour at Yellow Billy Restaurant: the custom-made fire pit here is used daily to cook proteins and vegetables.

    Esca Bimbadgen, Hunter Valley.

    Food that’s more like art can be found at Esca Bimbadgen.

     

    To help plan your ultimate trip to the Hunter Valley, be sure to check out our handy Hunter Valley travel guide…

    — NSW South Coast —

    Six quirky NSW South Coast stays you need to book

    WRITTEN BY OLIVIA MACKINNON • JANUARY 11, 2019

    From tiny houses to luxury villas and safari-style tents, accommodation on the white-sand fringed south coast of New South Wales is totally unique. Here’s our pick.

    Though the hype around Hyams Beach and it having the whitest sand in the world may have first put the New South Wales South Coast on the map, it doesn’t take long for visitors to realise there’s a lot more to the region.

     

    For those in search of rest and relaxation, the area, which stretches from south of Sydney to the Victoria state border, offers scenic nature trails, award-winning wineries and farm-fresh restaurants. And for the adrenaline junkies, it’s got plenty to do too – you can snorkel with seals, picnic on a cliff-face and zip line through rainforest.

     

    With so much to do and see on the NSW South Coast, there’s no doubt you’ll want to make a trip of it. But when starting to plan, something you’ll notice quickly is the distinct lack of hotels in the area. Luckily though, it more than makes up for that with quirky stays instead. Here, we’ve picked some of our favourites.

    1. Paperbark

    Open since 1999, Paperbark Camp in Jervis Bay is a pioneer of Australian glamping and easily one of the most well-known accommodation offerings in the area. Set in bushland, the camp features 12 safari-style tents and a main building housing the reception, a cosy, common area with lounges and a fireplace, and fine dining restaurant The Gunyah.

     

    Don’t be put off by the word ‘camp’ – here, no luxury is spared. Hot water thermoses for tea and coffee are dropped outside of tents every morning, picnic hampers stocked with gourmet supplies can be ordered in advance, and in-tent massages can be indulged in. Be sure to take one of the provided push bikes to nearby Huskisson for an ocean-side cycle.

    2. The Woods

    A sign pointing towards ‘Unicorns’, a gorgeous open-air chapel set amongst tumbling weeds and hopping kangaroos, and a train car converted into a day spa assert The Woods Farm’s crazy farm wonderland status. Set on 16 hectares of land in Jervis Bay and offering both cottages and glamping tents, it’s an appealing stay to all types of visitors.

    The Woods, NSW South Coast.

    Inside the beautiful tents at The Woods.

    Couples and groups of friends can spend their days here playing bocce, biking or strolling the grounds, or taking advantage of the once-a-week yoga class held in the chapel. Families can get to know farm animals including chickens, alpacas, and cows, splash around in the pool, and make pizzas together using the wood-fire oven on-site.

    3. The Cove

    The newest accommodation on this list, The Cove was recently bought by the same owners as The Woods Farm and has since received a massive refurbishment. One-, two- and three-room cabins were given fresh licks of black and white paint, interiors were styled with chic décor, and bedrooms were kitted out with comfy linens. The Fun House, designed to sleep 36, features a commercial kitchen and a cute coastal vibe.

     

    Located in Booderee National Park, the accommodation is steps from Sussex Inlet where you can stand-up paddle board and kayak, and a short drive away from spots where you can whale watch, scuba dive and surf.

    4. In2thewild

    The tiny house stays trend has well and truly arrived in Australia, and In2thewild is a company offering it in New South Wales. Among their listings, their India and Isabella homes can be found on the South Coast. India sits on a Shoalhaven vineyard, while Isabella is nestled in the Wollongong rainforest with views of the sea. Adding to the experience is the fact that exact locations are only emailed through to you just before your stay.

    In2thewild listings.

    A field of daisies outside one of the properties listed within In2thewild.

    You can stock up on food on your drive in, or pre-order a local produce-laden hamper. Inside both homes, you’ll find a kitchen and stove, bathroom with hot shower, and, upstairs, a queen bed and skylight so you can fall asleep to the sight of a starry sky.

    5. Tilba Lake Camp

    In 2015, Rebecca and Tim Jones gave up their corporate city jobs to move to the country and start up a bed and breakfast. The resulting Tilba Lake House, five hours from Sydney in Central Tilba, has since grown to include three bell-shaped glamping tents – one equipped with an en suite – and two tiny homes called Bonnie and Clyde.

     

    Though not far from each other on the grounds, the two types of lodging differ greatly. The tents are tucked into gardens with uninterrupted views of both Tilba Lake and the Pacific Ocean, while the tiny homes, referred to here as ‘eco-pods’, face rolling green paddocks dotted with sheep and cows, and a mountain range beyond.

    6. Bangalay Luxury Villas

    Bangalay Luxury Villas.

    Dine by the pool at Bangalay Luxury Villas.

    Giving accommodation a lived-in feel while still making it seem neat and tidy can be a tricky task. But it’s one owner and stylist of Bangalay Luxury Villas Michelle Bishop makes look easy. Walking into its villas is like stepping straight into the pages of a homewares catalogue. The décor is neutral and earthy with black and white accents such as matte black chairs and a black mesh lampshade.

    Bangalay Luxury Villas.

    The exterior of Bangalay Luxury Villas.

    Choose from one- or two-bed villas, and relax on its wooden deck with views of a golf course or gardens. Also on the grounds is a swimming pool and a restaurant called Bangalay Dining. A favourite among locals, you’ll find it packed on weekends.

     

    To discover everything you need to know about a picturesque stay on the NSW South Coast, check out our handy travel guide…

    — Melbourne —

    9 of the best things to do in St Kilda

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JANUARY 7, 2019

    Returning to her roots, Jocelyn Pride takes you into the heart of St Kilda, renowned for its bohemian lifestyle. Oozing charm, it’s the perfect spot for a weekend on Melbourne’s fringe.

    As the locals say: ‘If you think you’ve seen everything, you haven’t been to St Kilda’. For more than 170 years through ups and downs, surges and resurgences the ‘grand dame’ of Melbourne is as sassy as ever.

     

    It’s the type of place where everyone comes and anything goes. From backpackers to money baggers, artists to artistes, famous to the infamous, it’s all here in a bubbling pot of culture and creativity.

     

    Grand Victorian mansions juxtapose with hole-in-the-wall apartments, tree-lined boulevards with narrow cobbled alleyways set against the lapping waters of Port Phillip Bay less than seven kilometres from the CBD.

     

    St Kilda is named after the British ship, the Lady of St Kilda, which historians believe was named in honour of the other St Kilda – an archipelago way off the coast of Scotland.

     

    Transformed from a cargo ship into a cruiser, the ship was anchored in Port Phillip Bay in 1841 ready to be sold. JB Were, who had an interest in buying the vessel, described the anchor point as a ‘place for a picnic’, and the name St Kilda stuck.

     

    From small beginnings, as building allotments were released, and the original sandy track from Melbourne was transformed into a railway line, St Kilda boomed.

     

    By the turn of the 20th century it was considered one of the fashionable places to be, but by 1932 the Depression hit hard and with it came prostitution and crime.

     

    After World War II, St Kilda was described in the 1946 Australian Blue Book as ‘the Coney Island of Australia, a playground for both day and night for Melbourne’s citizens and visitors’.

     

    Too true. The only problem is, it’s nigh impossible to squeeze it all into a weekend, so here’s a few not-to-be-missed local haunts to get you started.

    1. Babu Ji

    Owner Mani Waraich’s philosophy is simple: “If you marry Indian food with western food you get Melbourne food.”

     

    Babu Ji might be a pint-sized cafe, but it more than earns its place within St Kilda’s most gracious building: The George.

     

    Simple and informal it’s like pulling up a chair in a friend’s dining room. Each curry is made from scratch using herbs that Mani grows and the food is presented as an art form.

     

    “People eat with their eyes,” says Mani. Choose dishes from the ‘street food’ or ‘pot menu’ with a daily chef’s set menu featuring local produce.

     

    Both licensed (great craft beefs) and BYO, it’s only open for dinner and you will probably need to book.

    melbourne victoria weekend hip hood

    St Kilda restaurant, Babu Ji is an artful fusion of Indian and western.

    2. Misery Guts

    “I didn’t have a plan, just a vibe,” says Jules Pleadin, owner of the unforgettably named Misery Guts bar.

     

    “Locals were crying out for somewhere to hang.” Hang they do and miserable they are not.

     

    Full of curios (“I ran out of space in my home”), such as old cinema chairs bearing the painted slogan ‘Misery loves company’, a piano at the ready for tinkling, and cosy lounges around an open fire, this former bank (complete with vault) hums with a mellow atmosphere.

     

    The cocktails are classic, Aussie beers on tap and the wine list bright and breezy.

    3. Scout House

    Seek and you will find it at Scout House. Scouring vintage goods from all corners of the globe, local resident Orlando Mesiti brings an eclectic collection of quirky homewares and furniture to his classy shop on the Paris end of Fitzroy Street.

     

    Think French street signs and Cire Trudon candles.

     

    And don’t worry if you can’t resist one of Scout’s custom-built signature beds – they deliver Australia wide.

    4. Miss Jackson

    Miss Jackson might be tucked away in its namesake side street, but it’s no secret.

     

    On weekends expect to queue, not only for the best breakfast around, but also to secure one of owner Steve Nicoloss’s drool-worthy designer doughnuts.

     

    Don’t be fooled by the plain walls – the food is anything but. Everything is made in-house (even the honeycomb butter) and the menu flows with the seasons.

    5. Pontoon

    Fancy gazing out to sea at St Kilda’s newest hangout? Grab a spot at Pontoon’s 18-metre-long bar.

     

    Designed to ‘bring the beach’ into the room, Pontoon is part of the rebuilt Stokehouse Precinct, which burnt down in 2014.

     

    It’s sleek yet casual with 18 beers on tap, rosé slushies and creative bar snacks from the chargrill.

    melbourne victoria weekend hip hood

    Mouth-watering spread by Pontoon in the rebuilt Stokehouse Precinct of St Kilda.

    6. United Kitchen

    When Lee Gill met Tong Li on a trip to China she had to marry him. “I thought ‘Lee Li’, what a cool name,” says the British-born jewellery designer. “And of course I also fell in love.”

     

    After searching for a place for their culinary venture (and married life), they settled in St Kilda. “It has a homely feel that embraces newcomers.”

     

    The Food here is Asian with a Latin American twist. A tip: don’t miss the grilled cos lettuce or the soft shell crab, and the lemon myrtle margarita is sublime.

    melbourne victoria weekend hip hood

    St Kilda restaurant, United Kitchen serves Asian food with a Latin American twist.

    7. Milk the Cow

    At around ‘milking time’ – that’s 4pm not 4am – you’ll find this European-esque fromagerie absolutely jumping (but not with cows over the moon).

     

    Indulging in a flight of wine and cheese is the St Kilda way of topping off a great day or the start of a big night.

     

    Open until late, there are more than 70 cheeses, a wine list as thick as an encyclopaedia and if wine isn’t your thing, choose from flights of cider, beer, saké, whisky or cognac.

     

    Read our review here…

    melbourne victoria weekend hip hood

    Make sure you sample the cheese and wine at Milk the Cow, St Kilda.

    8. Alex Theatre

    Catch a show from comedy to drama, watch dance or attend a film festival at this buzzy new arts space.

     

    With two theatres and a studio creatively refurbished by Melbourne actor/ producer Aleksander Vass, the short seasons showcase international and local talent.

    9. St Kilda pier

    Promenading the kilometre-long St Kilda pier is about as ‘Melbourne’ as it gets. Fortunately, the historic kiosk at the end of the pier was rebuilt to the original Victorian plans after being destroyed by fire in 2003.

     

    The cafe is great for soaking up views of Melbourne, but there’s more. Like many things in St Kilda, a surprise beckons beyond the kiosk: penguins. Hundreds of them. Come dusk the aptly named little penguins waddle into their burrows between the rocks. A pathway and small jetty along the breakwater makes for easy (and free) viewing.

     

    Volunteers from Earthcare St Kilda are on hand and if you’re lucky you might catch them doing their regular penguin health checks.

     

    EXPLORE MORE HIP HOODS

    SYD | Palm Beach |

    MEL | Thornbury |

    BRIS | West End | New Farm | Fortitude Valley | Paddington |

    Enjoy this article?

    You can find it in Issue 72 along with
    loads of other great stories and tips.

    BUY THIS ISSUE

    — Australia —

    15 awesome ways to spend New Year’s Eve 2018

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • DECEMBER 6, 2018

    Are you ready for New Year’s Eve 2018? Start your year doing something memorable. Here are some ultra fabulous ways to welcome in 2019 wherever you are across Australia.

    New Years Eve at Pier One, Sydney, NSW

    As far a NYE views go, uninterrupted ones of Sydney Harbour Bridge and the world renowned New Year’s Eve Fireworks are pretty up there.

     

    Pier One Sydney Harbour is the place to be to welcome in 2019 in style.

    Unprecedented views at Pier One

    For only $499, the all-inclusive ticket will give party goers access to all you can eat street-food style stalls and drinks all night from the selection of pop up bars. With some of Sydney’s best live acts providing the soundtrack to your night, NYE @ Pier One Party is going to be the party to end all parties.

    True North New Year Spectacular, Sydney, NSW

    Start 2018 relaxing onboard exclusive expedition ship True North.

    True North New Year's Eve Spectacular Sydney harbour

    True North takes a Sydney Harbour New Year’s Eve cruise to the next level.

    The four-night New Year’s Eve journey will explore some of Sydney’s most peaceful spots such as Pittwater and Maitland Bay, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Cowan Creek, with beach barbecues and scenic flights thrown in for good measure.

     

    And the big event, Sydney’s midnight fireworks, can be viewed from one of the best vantage points in the city.

    Antarctica Scenic Flight, departing Melbourne, Vic

    Not many can boast about flying over Antarctica.

     

    Even fewer can say they did it while drinking champagne and listening to a live jazz band as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. Welcome 2018 as you fly over mountains, glaciers, ice plateaus and icy coastline in broad daylight.

    Antarctica Scenic Flight New Year's Eve from Melbourne

    Escape the crowds: what about an Antarctica Scenic Flight on New Year’s Eve (ex-Melbourne).

    The flight departs Melbourne at 5:30pm NYE, returning at 6am the following day. From $1199 including dinner, breakfast and bar service.

    White Party, Cable Beach Club, Broome, WA

    Broome is known for its stunning sunsets, so where better to farewell the last light of 2017 than Cable Beach Club?

     

    The much-loved resort is hosting a White Party at its Sunset Bar & Grill with a DJ playing tunes into the night, plus canapés, substantial bites, a dessert buffet, late night snacks, cocktails and premium wine and beer.

     

    Dress in white and enjoy the balmy Broome weather as you countdown to midnight on famous Cable Beach. $180 per person, all-inclusive.

    Grand Bar’s Glow Party, Adelaide, SA

    Glowsticks, white t-shirts views…what more could you want?

     

    Light up your 2019 at the New Year at Grand Bar’s Glow Party. A complimentary drink will get your night started and then party all night with drink specials and live DJ entertainment. G

     

    low sticks and white shirts are recommended, with UV paint provided for those brave enough. Advanced tickets are $25 per person.

    Red Bull Music x Lost Paradise Festival, Glenworth, NSW

    Just one hour’s drive from Sydney’s city centre lies 1200 hectares of lush bushland known as Glenworth Valley.

     

    Here, over four days and three nights, the best of glamping, music, food and meditation will merge together for a sustainable, luxurious and enlightening experiential event.

    Lost Paradise festival.

    Lost Paradise also incorporates an indigenous element. Image via Jordan Munns.

    Lose yourself in a forest disco and escape the big city life in the stunning Glenworth Valley this New Years Eve. Held over four days, this is the 5th year of Australia’s latest eco-friendly festival armed with dedicated Earth Warriors to keep the beautiful bushland as pristine as they found it.

     

    Lost Paradise features a plethora of artists from around Australia including Tash Sultana and Peking Duk, as well as UK festival favourites The Kooks and M.I.A – just to name a few!

     

    Kicking off the party the only way they know how, the Red Bull Music crew will be in full swing on Friday 28 December with local and international artists descending upon the Lost Disco stage to bring the revelry.

     

    A colourful celebration of the year that was, the ethos of this home-grown carnavale is providing a space for everyone to unwind with a kaleidoscope of experiences. The forest backdrop plays host to a series of talks, yoga workshops and an Indigenous culture space with immersive activities connecting festival goers with the sacred land on which its held. For those wanting to get the party started, the Barcadi El Coco Danceteria is armed with the likes of Winston Surfshirt (DJ Set) and CC:DISCO! – amongst many more day-to-night festivities.

    Beyond the Valley, Lardner Park, Vic

    Located in Victoria’s picturesque Gippsland region, the Beyond the Valley music festival will run from 28 December to 1 January.

     

    It’s a lineup of hip hop, electronic, dance and techno, featuring The Presets, Little Dragon, San Cisco and many more. As well as bars and food trucks, morning yoga classes and camping are included. $169 per person; glamping available at an extra cost.

     

    Taste of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania

    A Midsummer Night’s Eve, part of Hobart’s week-long Taste of Tasmania (28 December – 3 January), is a fabulous way to end the year on a high note.

    The Taste of Tasmania is a celebration of Tasmania’s culinary evolution

    With headline act The Whitlams and fireworks, the event will boast around 70 stallholders showcasing the state’s finest seafood, cheese, wine and other yummy produce. And littlies will love ‘Kids in the Park’ featuring a silent disco.

    Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra, ACT

    For a vantage point away from the parties, anywhere on the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin was made to witness the fireworks.  as they were launched over the lake. Commonwealth Park and Kings Park were just a couple of options to keep at front of mind.

    Rottnest Island, WA

    Rotto’s Thomson Bay, with its turquoise waters and sugar-white sand, is a popular place for families to gather on New Year’s Eve.

     

    There’ll be live music, glow-in-the-dark face painting, a photo booth, sand art and more. Fireworks will go off at 9pm, with additional ferries scheduled to get people back to the mainland (25 minutes to Fremantle or 90 minutes to Perth), or stay on the island and wake up to 2018 in paradise.

    Darwin Waterfront, NT

    Darwin’s waterfront is a lively place any time of year, but on New Year’s Eve it’s awash with festivity including a free outdoor concert and fireworks at 9pm and midnight.

    Darwin waterfront New Year's Eve party

    Top New Year’s Even in the Top End: Darwin’s waterfront is the place to be come midnight.

    There’ll be PAW Patrol shows, face glitter and balloon art for the kids, and food stalls and surrounding retailers will trade for dinner. Or bring a picnic and relax on the grass with your nearest and dearest.

    Gwinganna New Year Detox, Gold Coast, Queensland

    Start your New Year’s resolution early at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat’s New Year Detox (27 December – 3 January), a week-long program that will leave you rested and energised.

     

    From $3485 including organic meals, two massages and a facial, and fun activities, this will be a New Year’s Eve your body will thank you for.

     

    Uluru Adventure, Intrepid Travel, NT

    Fancy starting the year in the heart of Australia? Intrepid Travel’s three-day Uluru Adventure camping tour spends New Year’s Eve at either Uluru (30 December departure) or Kings Canyon (31 December departure).

    Uluru New Year's Eve with Intrepid Travel

    Uluru at dusk.

    Tough choice, eh? Both tours follow the same itinerary, including a visit to the gigantic boulders of Kata Tjuta, and start from $695.

    NYE Paddle and BBQ, Brisbane, Queensland

    Paddle your way into 2019 along the Brisbane River as the city skyline starts to glitter.

    Riverlife illuminated kayak tour Brisbane River New Year's Eve

    Paddle in 2018 with a Riverlife illuminated kayak tour along the Brisbane River.

    Starting at 8:30pm, the Riverlife illuminated kayaking tour will be followed by a buffet barbecue with dessert, beverages, music and dancing, and a front row position for the midnight fireworks. Tickets are $125 per person.

    Roof of Australia self-guided walk, Snowy Mountains, NSW

    There’s nothing like a bout of fresh alpine air to get you motivated for a new year. AusWalk’s seven-day Roof of Australia self-guided walk is available over the New Year, an ideal time to explore the country’s highest alpine ski area by foot. The walk takes you along rivers, into undulating valleys and past fields of vibrant wildflowers and breathtaking mountain views.

     

    From $2355, including accommodation, most meals, chairlift rides, National Park fees and luggage transfers so you only need to carry a daypack.

     

    *All events were available at the time of writing

    — Sydney —

    8 things you haven’t done this Sydney summer – yet!

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • NOVEMBER 10, 2018

    So you’ve seen the jet boats at Circular Quay and popped the Champagne at Icebergs, but what about some other Sydney summer activities around its famous shores? Freya Herring selects 8 things to do as the weather heats up that may have slipped your radar.

    1. Go to Tahmoor’s Mermaid Pools

    Swimming in a Sydney summer often means fighting for your place among the throng. Why not head out of the city to cool yourself down? At least there’s air con in the car. Try hitting up the Mermaid Pools in Tahmoor. It’s a spectacular waterfall that can only be found after a brisk 45-minute hike – and you need to jump in from at least 10 metres… BUT it’s much quieter than the famed (somewhat dangerous) Figure Eight Pools, and who needs to fight for space when it’s this hot, amirite? Strong swimmers only though please, this ain’t an activity for beginners.

    2. Find your inner aqua-yogi, Manly

    Like water? Love yoga? Then how about doing a yoga sesh atop a paddleboard? At Manly’s flow mOcean you can get your fitness on while splashing about in Sydney Harbour at a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga class. It’s super fun but it’s also actually incredibly good for you – not having the natural balance of a stable surface means that core will burn like never before.

    3. Kayak down the Parramatta River

    Kayaking isn’t just for the ocean you know. In Sydney’s West you can hop on a kayak at Jolly Roger Kayaks and paddle yourself down the historic Parramatta River. Paddle past Newington Armory and Cockatoo Island, and check out mangroves and historic homes en-route. They’ll even show you how to commute to work via kayak and take your stuff back to base, so you need only do it one way.

    4. Glamp on Cockatoo Island

    Like the look of that there Cockatoo Island? Turns out you can glamp upon its gorgeous shores, and feel a million miles from Sydney even though you are slap bang in the centre of it.

    5. Do a bush tucker walk in the Botanic Garden

    You’ve eaten the fried saltbush at Bar H and the warrigal greens at Billy Kwong, but how about going straight to the source? The Aboriginal Heritage Tour at the Royal Botanic Garden will see you taken for a wander around the park with an indigenous person, who will teach you about bush tucker and the history of Sydney’s Gadigal people. Depending on when you go, you might see macadamia trees in full, blushing-pink bloom, wash your hands with foaming wattle leaves, or hear all about the once-booming oyster harvest on the water’s edge.

    6. Go snorkelling at Cabbage Tree Bay

    Most Aussies haven’t been to the Great Barrier Reef, but have you even snorkelled at your local reef? Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve on the Northern Beaches is a great place to start. The water is ripe with wildlife such as wobbegong sharks, cuttlefish and blue gropers – in fact, 160 different species of fish have been recorded in this little cove alone. Plus, you can get out of the water and head over to The Boathouse on Shelly Beach for a delightful lunch in the shade, and that’s a perfect day right there.

    7. Take aperitivo on the (Fresh)water

    If you want to pretend you’re in the Cinque Terre but without the crowds, head to Freshwater and Pilu’s latest offshoot, Pilu Baretto, for an Aperol Spritz as the sun sets and the temperatures begin to loosen into night. Try their $50 tasting menu, with dishes like handmade pasta and soft, warm potato bread with whipped ricotta and house-made bottarga.

    8. Swim with the fishes on an underwater scooter

    Head down to Clovelly to do a dive with a difference – you’ll be led along by an underwater scooter. You can choose to jaunt about on the surface or swim down to the ocean floor. It’s diving – but supersized.

    — Broome —

    12 of the best day trips from Broome

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • OCTOBER 23, 2018

    Drag yourself away from the beach for the day and you’ll be rewarded with some truly amazing Kimberley experiences.

    1. Set sail on Broome’s oldest pearling lugger

    Continue the pearling experience aboard Intombi, Broome’s oldest authentic wooden pearling lugger. As one of a handful of luggers still afloat, passengers can cruise on maritime history. The lugger was originally built in 1903 and has since been restored to her former glory to take small groups (no more than 20), around Broome, with gourmet food and alcoholic beverages also available. Sunset cruises take five hours and are $149 per person.

    2. Outback sci-fi

    Take a sci-fi journey across Roebuck Bay with Broome Hovercraft Eco Adventure Tours. This aeronautical ride takes you over tidal flats, sand bars and past mangroves, as well as other unreachable destinations around the bay.

     

    Experiences vary from a romantic sunset tour, complete with hors d’oeuvres, to the prehistoric tour, which takes in some of the world’s best preserved ancient dinosaur footprints, fossilised in beachside rocks. Prices from $111 per adult and $80 per child, including transfers.

    3. The Bungle Bundle

    Broome Aviation offer a boat and air trip called Bungle Bungle Geikie tour with many memorable highlights in between. Key features of the regions magnificent landscape you can tick off the tourist hit list include a historic town tour of Fitzroy Crossing before boarding a boat, which takes you through spectacular Geikie Gorge and the world of the Aboriginal Dreamtime.

     

    Back on the aircraft you will traverse Purnululu National Park to take in the awe-inspiring natural dome-shaped wonders of the Bungle Bungles. After another stop off for lunch the final leg of the journey takes you over the pioneering town of Derby before returning to Broome. The 11-hour adventure costs $1205 per person.

    View of the Bungle Bungles, located in the heritage listed Purnululu National Park

    4. Desert Dwellers Safari

    Saddle up for the quintessential Broome experience with Broome Camel Safaris on iconic Cable Beach. There are a few tour options but our pick is the one-hour Sunset Camel Tour, run by one of Broome’s most experienced camel operators, and includes a pair of freshwater pearl earrings as a parting gift. Nice. The sunset tour is $70 for adults and $55 for children.

    Camels at sunset on Cable Beach, Broome

    An iconic experience you will remember forever

    5. Pearls for the girls

    No adventure to Australia’s pearling capital would be complete without stopping at Willie Creek pearl farm. As one of Western Australia’s most awarded tours, Willie Creek is situated approximately 38 kilometres north of Broome and is accessible by coach, helicopter or car. Take a boat ride through azure waters where visitors are given an insight into pearl cultivation, followed by a chance to purchase pearls in The Kimberley’s most isolated pearl showroom on the banks of Willie Creek. Tours start at $55 per adult and $30 per child.

    6. Defy gravity at Horizontal Falls

    Described by David Attenborough as “one of the greatest natural wonders in the world”, the Horizontal Falls near Broome is one of the most unique waterfalls on earth.

     

    The best way to experience this natural phenomenon is with Horizontal Falls Adventures, onboard what is said to be the fastest boat in The Kimberley. Passengers are taken through the fast moving tidal flow, followed by the opportunity to swim with ocean beasts in their crocodile-and-shark-free cage.

     

    The six-hour tour includes return seaplane flights from Broome, breakfast and lunch. From $745 per adult and $645 for children.

    Cruise the Kimberley

    Take a cruise through the Kimberley.

    7. Paradise at the tip

    Two hundred kilometres north of Broome on the tip of Dampier Peninsula, you’ll find Cape Leveque, home to some of Australia’s most beautiful and deserted beaches. Here travellers can spend the day soaking in sparkling turquoise waters, framed by striking rich red cliffs – a Kimberley icon.

     

    Although remote, it’s worth the effort, particularly with a variety of water sports available such as kayaking, swimming, fishing and snorkelling. Travellers can opt for the three-and-a-half hour drive from Broome, but we recommend taking advantage of the landscape with a scenic flight. From $495 per person.

    Coastline Cape Leveque

    The dramatic coastline on the way up to Cape Leveque (photo: James Whineray).

    8. See the universe

    See far beyond Broome with Greg Quicke’s Astro Tours, which focus on what’s said to be some of the best stargazing skies on the planet. Using massive telescopes and lasers, guests will see planets, galaxies and moons visible from both the southern and northern hemispheres due to Broome’s proximity to the equator. Prices start from $65 for adults and $35 for kids. 9. Trikes and tucker

     

    Bikes and buses are nothing new; but a trike or better yet, being chauffeured in a limo trike is certainly unique. This is one of the options with Broome Trike Tours, which take guests around the local area. Other tour options include meeting crocodiles at the Malcolm Douglas Wildlife Park, sampling chilli beer at iconic Broome watering hole Matso’s Micro Brewery, and taste-testing bush tucker at Minyarr Park. Prices start from $50 per person for a pre-dinner champagne cruise.

    10. Not just for guests

    Enjoy the perks of being a guest at Eco Beach Resort, without staying a night. Situated 100 kilometres south of Broome on Roebuck Bay, Eco Beach offer a myriad of experiences for guests and day-trippers alike. And with a brand new airstrip, a scenic flight from Broome takes a speedy 12 minutes.

     

    Whale watching cruises and mud crabbing at Jack’s Creek (they’ll cook your catch on hot coals later), are among the choices, as well as guided bush walks and massage. Activities start at $30 per person.

    11. Discover The Dreaming

    Learn about the local Indigenous culture with a three-hour journey east of Broome to the remote community at Jarlmadangah Burru on a Kimberley Dreamtime Adventure Tour with Kimberley Wild Expeditions.

     

    Here you’ll discover Indigenous traditions, including hunting techniques, bush tucker, bush medicine and Aboriginal rock art with detailed stories about The Dreaming. As well as sampling local bush tucker, guests also have the privilege of sharing lunch with locals at their private campsite. A truly authentic cultural experience off the tourist path.

    Waterfall The Kimberley

    Don’t go chasing…

    12. Gorge-ous

    The Kimberley for the time poor: Broome Aviation’s Gorgeous Gorges tour is a full-day adventure that encompasses the region’s must-dos, with scenic flights over gorges, waterfalls, red ranges and remote islands that make up Buccaneer Archipelago.

     

    But what makes this experience so special is the opportunity to travel on land too. Among the many stops is Windjana Gorge, home to the revered Johnstone River Crocodile and an ancient reef system that’s significant to geologists. Passengers can cool off with a swim at Bell Gorge waterfall. Prices from $990 per person.

     

    MORE: Australian Traveller’s Ultimate Kimberley Guide

    Enjoy this article?

    You can find it in Issue 51 along with
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    — TAS —

    The beautiful Tasmanian road trip you didn’t know existed

    WRITTEN BY OLIVIA MACKINNON • AUGUST 22, 2018

    If you’re ready for adventure, buckle up for the scenic, gourmet drive of your life…

    Tasmania’s North East is the home of stunning coastline, eclectic wildlife, delightful wine, gourmet food and luxury stays. The region really comes to life during spring, and the only way to explore every corner is by car. Spirit of Tasmania offers you a unique sailing experience while giving you the ability to take your own vehicle to/from Tasmania. You’ll experience spectacular ocean views, on board dining and entertainment and comfortable accommodation, all while you anticipate the memorable road trip ahead. Your holiday starts when you step on board and then continues as you drive across the rich Tasmanian landscape.

     

    We’ve mapped out the perfect North East Tasmania road trip to start from the moment you dock at Devonport, and end when you return to board Spirit of Tasmania home.

    Devonport to Liawenee

    Thousand Lakes Lodge. Image via Eugene Hyland.

    Travel south towards Liawenee and experience a tasting adventure like never before. Stop at Ashgrove Cheese Factory, Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm, 41° South Tasmania Salmon Farm and taste over fifty types of honeys at Melita Honey Farm. These scrumptious destinations are all within forty-five minutes of each other and on the way to Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary. Spend the afternoon learning about the endangered Tasmanian Devil at the very sanctuary that houses the world’s largest heritage population. Hop back in the car and travel one and a half hours to the uniquely remote Thousand Lakes Lodge to spend the night.

    Trowunna Wildlife. Image via Eugene Hyland.

    Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm. Image via Eugene Hyland.

    Liawenee to Coles Bay

    Coastal Pavilions, Freycinet Lodge. Image via Eugene Hyland.

    About an hour’s drive from Liawenee is Liffey Falls State Reserve. The reserve is home to four incredibly stunning waterfalls that will absolutely take your breath away. Explore them all to your adventurous heart’s desire and then get back on the road and travel east three and a half hours to the magnificent Coles Bay. Spend the night at the breathtaking Freycinet Lodge’s Coastal Pavilions. The pavilions are nestled among the trees of the Freycinet National Park and offer complete privacy and luxury.

    Liffey Falls, Tasmania

    Coles Bay to Bay of Fires

    Wake up early to explore the surrounding area before you travel north up Tasmania’s East Coast. Make sure you take a dip at Wineglass Bay and make a quick stop at Cape Tourville Lighthouse. Order a fresh seafood lunch at Freycinet Marine Farm before you start to drive up north. It won’t be long before you pass Friendly Beaches, which consists of nine kilometres of pristine coastline. Pick a stop, take a dip and get back on the road. In two hours you will have arrived at Bay of Fires. Set on a hilltop with unrivalled views, The Bay of Fires Lodge should be your home for the night.

    Freycinet Peninsula and Wineglass Bay from the air, Tasmania.

    Bay of Fires to Mount Arthur

    Extending from Binalong Bay to Eddystone Point, Bay of Fires is a region of Tasmania’s East Coast defined by its white beaches, blue water and lichen-covered granite boulders. Spend the day swimming, surfing, bird watching and relaxing before you start to head inland. Travel two and a half hours towards Bridestowe Lavender Farm to catch the lavender start to bloom in spring, but on the way make sure you stop by Willows Roadhouse for one of their famous scones! About thirty minutes away is the beautiful self-contained eco studio The Trig on Mount Arthur.

    The Trig. Image via Eugene Hyland.

    Mount Arthur to Tamar Valley

    If you have the time in the morning, about a forty minute drive away is Hazelbrae House, a property housing over 5000 Hazelnut trees. Drive forty minutes up to the River Tamar to Moores Hill Estate. Send your tastebuds into meltdown as you visit a number of wineries in the region including Loira Vines, a small boutique vineyard. Make sure you finish your day at Tamar Ridge Cellar Door owned by the famous wine making company Brown Brothers. Stay the night at their apartments next door.

    Lunch at Hazelbrae House. Image via Eugene Hyland.

    Tamar Valley to the North Coast

    It’s time to continue heading up to the stunning north coast. Travel thirty minutes to Wingtons Glamping at Clarence Point to leave your gear and explore the surrounding area. Fifteen minutes away is the beautiful Greens Beach. About forty minutes away is the gorgeous Narawntapu National Park. It’s one of the best places to view free-roaming wildlife in the state including Tasmanian Devils and has a twenty six-kilometre horse-riding trail. Once you’re done in the National Park, head back to Wingtons Glamping to fall asleep under the stars in a majestic golden safari tent.

    Wingtons Glamping. Image via Eugene Hyland.

    River Tamar to Devonport

    Travel an hour west to the beautiful Hawley Beach to enjoy a surf and a swim along the lovely coastline. When you start to get hungry, pack up shop and drive fifteen minutes to Ghost Rock Tasmania for lunch and a wine at their world famous Cellar Door. Travel a further forty minutes west and, after a seven-day self-drive adventure, you’ll arrive back to the coastal town of Devonport where you’ll drive on board Spirit of Tasmania with a full car of Tasmanian produce. Reminisce about your road trip over a glass of Tasmanian Pinot Noir whilst sailing across Bass Strait back home again.

     

    For more information on Spirit of Tasmania, check out the website…

    — Mudgee —

    Mudgee’s first glampsite has added more tents… and wow

    WRITTEN BY OLIVIA MACKINNON • AUGUST 10, 2018

    Just when you thought the world of glamping couldn’t get any better, Sierra Escape – Mudgee’s luxury eco site – expands.

    A stone’s throw from a town best known for its abundance of culinary experiences, Sierra Escape is the first and only glamping abode in the Mudgee region, and the ultimate destination for those who don’t like to check their comfort at the door. And with the recent addition of two new tents, glampers now have an even better opportunity to explore the 113 hectares of countryside waiting at its doorstep.

     

    Sierra’s proud stance as an eco-glamping site means it runs on solar power, and although all tents provide an outlet to charge laptops, cameras and mobile phones, straighteners and dryers have been left off the list of necessities (so get ready to embrace your natural hair). More importantly what it does offer is a cosy fireplace, fire-pit for marshmallow roasting, a small fridge, stove and free-standing bathtubs. If that’s not a good enough excuse to relax with a glass of Mudgee wine that we can’t stop raving about, then we don’t know what is!

     

    For keen foodies, Mudgee’s centre is less than 30 minutes away. Head to the Zin House for certified organic and biodynamic local fare, or if you’d prefer to stay by the tent, barbecues are on-site. If you’re looking for something a little different to add to your holiday, try a cultural foodie experience with Indigiearth – an experience where you can have bush tucker prepared for you at your tent.

     

    For the morning, Sierra offers both a breakfast and pantry pack including milk, tea, coffee, muesli, pancake mix and jams: perfect for breakfast in bed.

     

    Choose between beautiful Carinya, the original tent that started it all in January 2017, and new additions Dulili and Uralla…

    Dulili – the family tent

    The inside of the Dulli family tent at Sierra Escape, Mudgee.

    Accommodating up to seven people, if you’re looking at taking the family or a group of friends on a glamping adventure, the Dulili tent is the way to go. Ideal for entertaining and the perfect amount of space for all the kiddies (or buddies!), the Dulili has two bedrooms; the first with two queen beds, a single trundle and the second with a double bed. Make like MasterChef and cook up a storm in its designer kitchen, serve your creations on either the indoor and outdoor dining tables or have the kids treat you to brekkie as you enjoy the views and secluded setting.

     

    The living room of the Dulli family tent at the Sierra Escape, Mudgee.

    Uralla – the luxury tent

    The outside bath at the Urulla luxury tent at Sierra Escape, Mudgee.

    For those who want to take luxury glamping that step further, the Uralla is the ultimate choice. Sierra gets you started on your foodie indulgence with a complimentary bottle of local bubbles and chocolate waiting for you on arrival, and a yummy breakfast pack for Sunday morning sleep-ins.

     

    Boasting a large king bed, designer kitchen, fireplace and beautiful views from its prime position on top of the hill, Uralla is the perfect excuse to eat toasty marshmallows by the outdoor fire-pit or some wildlife watching in your indoor (or outdoor!) free-standing bath tub.

     

    Pricing is between $390–$650 per night depending on your choice of tent.