Tag Archives: weekends

— Wagga Wagga —

Dogs’ days out

WRITTEN BY ALISON LANGLEY • 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 Hem

    isphere’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.

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    — 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.

    — 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.

    — Australia —

    10 dream holidays for animal lovers

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JULY 24, 2018

    Whales, sharks dolphins, penguins, camels, horse – whatever your wildlife fave, we’ve tracked down the most amazing places and best experiences to come face to face with the best of Australia’s wildlife holidays for animal lovers

    1. Swim with the whale sharks, Ningaloo Reef, WA

    Few people who encounter Ningaloo Reef’s whale sharks (around 12 metres long) deny it is a life-changing event. The best time to swim with these massive softies on the north-west tip of Western Australia (in one of the world’s healthiest reef systems, World Heritage List in 2011), is between April and June.

     

    Operators such as Kings Ningaloo Reef Tours, charge around $400 per person. See: A close encounter with Ningaloo’s Whale Sharks

     

    The ultimate wildlife encounter? Swimming with the whaler sharks of Ningaloo

    The ultimate wildlife encounter? Swimming with the whaler sharks of Ningaloo

     

    2. Sunset camel ride along Broome’s Cable Beach

    It takes a while to settle into the slow pace but there are few better experiences that help you appreciate the beauty of the Kimberley than a camel ride along Cable Beach.

     

    You’ll pay a bit more for the sunset trip, a travel cliché that’s earned its grandiose reputation, but stump up if you can – it’s worth it ($70 adult, $55 for children for 1 hour with Ships of the Desert). See: Broome sunset camel ride

     

    Slow Broome's Cable Beach sunset camel ride

    Slow Broome’s Cable Beach sunset camel ride

    3. Cage diving with sharks, Port Lincoln, South Australia

    Steel cage beats customer’s nerves every time. Confronting? Yes. Controversial? Sometimes. Exciting? Always. You need no diving experience to jump in with operators such as Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions at South Australia’s Port Lincoln and gear’s provided. Prices start from $995 per person. See: The Great White truth about cage diving

     

    Face to teeth with a Great White (Rodney Fox) off Port Lincoln, SA.

    Face to teeth with a Great White (Rodney Fox) off Port Lincoln, SA.

     

    4. Dwarf minke whale encounter, Cairns

    “Even the steeliest of hearts would be floored with the joy and gratitude of this privilege, swimming mere metres from these creatures,” says our editor Georgia Rickard. She went on the three-night ‘Cod Hole’ expedition (which departs Cairns every Monday, dropping you off at Lizard Island, from $1575 per person).

     

    A seven-night trip returns you back to Cairns via Osprey Reef (from $3215 per person). See: Diving in deep with the Barrier Reef’s minkes

    5. Horse riding in strange and wondrous places, Kimbereley and Magnetic Island

    Play out the quintessential outback stereotype as you canter your way across the red earth of Kimberley’s Home Valley Station or, at the complete other end of the spectrum, go swimming with a horse as you ride through the gorgeous shallows of Townsville’s Magnetic Island at Horseshoe Bay Ranch (the horses wade chest deep).

     

    See: Outback at a Canter – Kimberley on horseback and Ride a horse into the ocean at Magnetic Island

    Sea horses? Riding at Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island.

    Sea horses? Riding at Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island.

    6. Swim at the whim of dolphins

    It’s almost impossible to guarantee a dolphin encounter anywhere in the world – dolphins swim with you and not the other way around. However, in places such as Western Australia’s Monkey Mia, the odds of connecting with these soulful creatures are greatly increased. Here are five places where the dolphins (in theory) will come to you.

    7. Peruse Phillip Island’s penguin parade

    Phillip Island is one of the premiere places on the globe to secure a personal penguin experience – and not from far, far away either. Witness the compact creatures groom themselves and interact with each other as they waddle up the beach back to their burrow after a hard day in the ocean (the Ultimate Tour, $84.20 is recommended).

     

    See: Out and About: Phillip Island

    Waddle time: Phillip Island's penguin parade

    Waddle time: Phillip Island’s penguin parade

    8. Homing in on the elusive platypus

    Few creatures are as shy as our very own intriguing platypus so seeing one in the wild is an absolute privilege.

     

    The mysterious mammal is best spotted in its burrow during the daylight or when it’s on the hunt after dark. Mackay’s Broken River or Adelaide’s Warrawong Earth Sanctuary are two recommended spots for an encounter.

    Increase your chances of seeing a platypus in the wild…

    9. The marching red crabs of Christmas Island

    Certainly not the cuddliest creatures on the list, but wildlife god Sir David Attenborough once described the mass movement of the red crabs of Christmas Island as “the world’s greatest migration”. And they don’t just frolic on the beach either, marching their way through the forest and the rest of the island too.

     

    November’s the best time to witness this powerful and colourful mating ritual. See: Exploring Christmas Island

    10. Where did dingo?

    They’ve not always had the best reputation, but if you want to see Australia’s wild dog in its natural habitat then the concentration on Fraser Island is a must.

     

    Remember, though, these are wild animals, only to be appreciated from afar – there is plenty of information once you’re there on how to interact with them safely. See: Fraser Island: Australia’s natural theme park

    Catch many dingo glimpses (from afar) on Fraser Island.

     

    MORE

    Five more horseback holidays to hop on

    Witness a turtle’s first flippery steps

     

    — Australia —

    Eight of the best winter travel essentials for any escape

    WRITTEN BY OLIVIA MACKINNON • JUNE 25, 2018

    Heading somewhere a little cold – snowy even? We’ve got you covered, quite literally…

     

    Continue reading

    — Outback South Australia —

    Everything you need to know about South Australia’s bright pink lakes

    WRITTEN BY OLIVIA MACKINNON • JUNE 7, 2018

    Hidden away in the South Australian outback are some of the most spectacular, naturally pink lakes you’ll see.

    Somehow these lakes have managed to stay overlooked by many tourists – who we can only assume haven’t been made aware of just how incredible these naturally bright pink lakes really are.

     

    Scattered across South Australia’s outback, each of the lakes get their vibrant pink hues from a salt-loving algae that is attracted to the high salinity levels found in the water. While some of the lakes are still being used to harvest gypsum – a soft sulfate mineral used as a fertiliser – a number of old salt mines have been abandoned, leaving travellers to enjoy beautiful, undisturbed views of the incredible natural hue created in the water.

     

    The vibrant colours of these lakes change according to the seasons, cloud cover, salinity levels in the water and the time of day, so while you might not always be guaranteed bubble-gum pink views, we can promise you stunning shades year-round. The ever-changing colours make each of these lakes an excellent location for budding photographers to capture the beauty of this natural phenomenon.

    Which lakes should I visit?

    Lake MacDonnell, Eyre Peninsula

     

    How to get there:

     

    Located about 860 kilometres from Adelaide, Lake MacDonnell is best accessed via plane from Adelaide airport to Ceduna and then a short 45 minute drive.

     

    What else can I do there?

     

    The closest town to Lake MacDonnell is the small township of Penong which is famous for its windmills and easy access to the popular Cactus Beach. Known as one of the best surf beaches in Australia for its excellent breaks and secluded location, this beach attracts keen surfers year-round.

     

    Kati Thanda Lake Eyre, South Australian outback

     

    How to get there:

     

    One of the best ways to access Lake Eyre is via tiny outback town William Creek, which is roughly a 15 hour drive from Adelaide. That being said, we recommend that you plan an extended trip through the outback to take in the remote scenery on the way.

     

    Alternatively, catch a quick 1.5 hour flight from Adelaide to Roxby Downs (Olympic Dam Airport) and hire a 4WD there to complete the approximately three-hour trip to the lake.

     

    What else can I do there?

     

    Despite its remote location, there’s plenty to do around Australia’s largest lake from exploring the expanses of the massive salt pan to taking in the views with a scenic flight. While you’re in the area, the William Creek Hotel, established in 1887, is a great place to stop for a drink, meal or even a night. As many visitors choose to visit Lake Eyre as part of a larger trip, we recommend you add the semi-nearby Coober Pedy to your itinerary to check out its underground hotels and even look for some opals to take home.

     

    Lake Bumbunga, Clare Valley

     

    How to get there:

     

    Only an hour and 40 minutes’ drive from Adelaide, Lake Bumbunga is one of the most accessible pink lakes in South Australia.

     

    What else can I do there?

     

    Many tourists enjoy lunch at the popular Jitter Bean Oasis cafe on the Princes Highway during a visit to Lake Bumbunga. The wineries of the nearby Clare Valley are less than a 40-minute drive from this stunning lake, where visitors can enjoy award-winning wines, incredible food and take in the outdoors by walking or biking the nearby trails.

    Lake Hart, South Australian outback

     

    How to get there:

     

    This beautiful lake is a five-and-a-half hour drive from Adelaide and just over an hour south of Roxby Downs, making it a worthwhile stop on your way to Lake Eyre. Otherwise, the lake can be glimpsed by passengers aboard The Great Southern Rail’s Ghan service.

     

    What else can I do there?

     

    There isn’t much else to be done in the area other than camping nearby to enjoy the lake-side views and the excellent stargazing opportunities. Many visitors use this beautiful lake as a stop along the way to Coober Pedy, Lake Eyre and Yulara.

    Lake Albert, Murray River

     

    How to get there:

     

    Located less than two hours from Adelaide along the Princes Highway, Lake Albert is a must-see destination. Just off the highway there is a spot for travellers to pull over and take in the lake.

     

    What else can I do there?

     

    For an unforgettable experience at Lake Albert make sure to stay a night or two in the nearby town, Meningie. Here visitors can take in the surrounding landscape by walking, canoeing and fishing in the area and can also drive a 4WD along local tracks and the beach.

    — Sydney —

    The controversial Sydney suburb that beat Surry Hills as Australia’s best neighbourhood

    WRITTEN BY OLIVIA MACKINNON • MAY 8, 2018

    The rent may be sky-high in Surry Hills – and the restaurants multiple – but one seemingly undiscovered hub has taken the crown as the number one neighbourhood in not just NSW – but the whole of Australia…

    The Australian Traveller 100 series are viewed as somewhat of an institution for people with an interest in exploring our vast country. From 100 places to visit before you die, to the 100 things to do in Australia that you’ve never heard of before – these annually-devoured lists have a habit of getting lesser known destinations on the map… so to speak.

     

    This year, the task was set to find the 100 most awesome places to hang out a little longer in Australia – sounds easy right? Well, with 10 categories set, it was up to the Australian Traveller team to first choose ten finalists for each category – and then take on the hard task of ranking them.

    Kensington Street, Chippendale

    From camping spots to idyllic islands, alternative capital cities to foodie favourites, the final list has been set – and honestly? A couple of the placements could be viewed as a little… shall we say… controversial.

     

    None more so than the place awarded the coveted number one spot on the list of 10 best neighbourhoods to hang out in. Normally a no-brainer to take out the number one spot in any ranking, this year Sydney’s Surry Hills tumbled into the number five spot. Oh the horror…

     

    It seems Surry Hills fell to make way for the up-and-coming suburb of Chippendale – and perhaps for good reason.

    The bar inside the newly renovated Old Clare Hotel, Chippendale

    Rife with galleries and a laid-back vibe that makes it a seriously sought-after address for Sydneysiders, Chippendale also combines a Melbourne-esque coffee scene with a cool, Surry Hills-style culture. It’s an amalgamation of some of Australia’s most popular spots to date, and magically, it’s managed to remain somewhat of a secret to mainstream folk.

     

    However, we have a feeling that may soon change…

    Three must-visit spots in Chippendale:

    White Rabbit Gallery

    Filled with contemporary Chinese art with a definite Western pop culture twist, this gallery is the perfect place to show an appreciation for contemporary art, as the gallery focuses on art produced after 2000 – a time the director, Judith Neilson, likens to the ‘Big Bang’.

    Kensington Street

    Koi Dessert Bar, Chippendale

    Forget the indecisiveness that comes with attempting to choose a restaurant for a night out – Kensington Street has it all. From the quaint gin bar, Gin Lane, that looks like something from a cafe hidden in a picturesque Parisian street, to the incredible ice-cream creations, for lack of a better word, at Koi Dessert Bar just down the road (mind the crowds of people lining up).

    Koi Dessert Bar, Kensington Street

    One visit will show you that this lantern-lit street really does have it all.

    Old Clare Hotel

    The interior of the Old Clare Hotel, Chippendale

    Spread across two heritage-listed buildings, you may not be aware that the ‘Old’ Clare Hotel is actually revitalised. Complete with refurbished rooftop pool, immaculate exposed-brick rooms and stunning modern bathrooms, you’d be forgiven for failing to recognise the ‘Old Clare’.

    A table at Old Clare Hotel, Kensington Street, Chippendale

    The brand new bar is bustling with the youth, who in addition to the shiny new elements of the space, are just as attracted to the rustic, poster-painted interior of this much-loved space.

    — Sydney —

    You heard it here first: luxury private home rental brand onefinestay is launching in Australia

    WRITTEN BY OLIVIA MACKINNON • MAY 2, 2018

    onefinestay – a service most easily described as the Airbnb of luxury homes – has launched 22 stunning Sydney properties, with homes in Melbourne and Noosa to follow soon, in its first foray into Australia.

    Continue reading

    — Grafton Travel Inspiration —

    Five places to find utter tranquility in the Clarence Valley

    WRITTEN BY ALISON LANGLEY • APRIL 30, 2018

    The waterways, coastal sanctuaries and pretty, flower-laden towns of the serene Clarence Valley make for an ideal place to slip off the radar awhile.

    Many people are yet to discover Clarence Valley, a beautiful region usually bypassed by the humdrum Pacific Highway that connects Australia’s East Coast. We urge you to take a detour and make this your new destination – a blissful valley of quiet villages, pristine beaches and verdant hinterland. And while you could spend endless moments in this secret valley, we’ve rounded up the absolute must dos when here. Indeed, you’ll wonder why you never stopped in the first place.

    Grafton

    The locals will be the first to admit it, Grafton’s charm isn’t immediately apparent from the Pacific Highway that skirts the city, but scratch the surface and you’ll find charm, beauty and soul. Sure, there’s the Jacarandas that make this city a coveted destination, but these beautiful blooms are only part of a rich backstory of culture, architecture and town planning – before the term ‘town planning’ was invented. With the Clarence River curving through the city like a big grin (check it out on a map to see what we mean), Grafton isn’t just the commercial hub of the Clarence Valley, it’s home to the arts – both visual (Grafton Regional Gallery) and performing (Saraton Theatre); it’s home to festivals both traditional and new; it’s home to cafés and restaurants of ridiculously good quality; its home to proud Indigenous people and traditions, and it’s home for more than a third of the Clarence Valley’s population. It’s the beating heart of the Clarence Valley.

     

    Highlight: In late October and early November, the streets and parks of Grafton are transformed as the Jacaranda’s explode in all their purple glory.

    Yamba

    Yamba is one of those magical places that evokes nostalgia. This sleepy town is a vision of beauty with myriad waterways, soaring headlands and uncrowded beaches. Surfers will love the epic surf breaks at Angourie Beach and Yuraygir National Park, which is the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline in NSW (not a pro? You can learn to surf!), while anglers flock here for the excellent estuary, rock and beach fishing. Home to a century-old lighthouse; a marina full with bobbing pleasure craft; pelicans, ospreys, dolphins and whales; and a bustling weekly farmers’ market, Yamba is what holiday’s past were made of.

     

    Must try: Savour locally caught seafood, in particular famous Yamba prawns. Try popular Wato’s Little Fish Bistro & Takeaway and Clarence River Fisherman’s Cooperative.

    Maclean

    While Yamba is all about the beach, and Grafton is the beating heart of the Clarence Valley, Maclean has an entirely unique identity. Conspicuously known as ‘The Scottish Town’, Maclean is home to more than 200 power poles painted in family tartans, the annual Highland Gathering, and other nods to a history populated by settlers of the ‘och aye’ persuasion. On a still winter’s morning, when mist cloaks the town in a soft shroud, the Loch Ness monster could pop up next to the pelicans and upriver dolphins, and you wouldn’t be too surprised.

     

    But Maclean’s more than the clichés found in its Scottish souvenir shops. Maclean is part river village, part coastal town – close enough to the Pacific to feel the salt on the sea breeze, and country enough that your groceries will be carried out to your car if you require. The town also serves as a junction: it connects people to the beachside jewels of Red Cliff, Brooms Head and Sandon River, and to the inland valley gems of Ashby, Woodford Island and Lawrence. Fitting then, that they’re all visible from ‘The Pinnacle’, Maclean’s commanding 360-degree vantage point and an important Aboriginal site.

    Iluka

    A get-away-from-it-all destination, the beautiful coastal town of Iluka is the perfect escape from the daily grind; a small village famous for its World Heritage-listed Iluka Nature Reserve, which is a pocket of natural wonders with excellent surfing, whale watching, walking tracks and panoramic views from Iluka Bluff. Iluka is the ideal place to take your family and relive your childhood memories – think hot chips, choccy milk, a bag of lollies and sausage rolls after a morning running around the beach. But Iluka is not all about the kids, mum and dad will appreciate the cafes, galleries and boutique stores, as well as great surf and fishing spots – if you love your seafood, you can’t go wrong in Iluka. Bring your bikes, boards, rods and enjoy all that Iluka has to offer.

    Wooli

    Surf or river? Your choice is a simple one in Wooli because thanks to its natural landscape you can do both! This beautiful seaside town is located on a narrow peninsula that has Wooli River to its west and the Pacific Ocean to its east, and is encircled by the Yuraygir National Park. Explore the Wooli River by stand up paddleboard, canoe or boat and see kangaroos and wildlife on its shores. Wooli is the gateway to the Solitary Islands Marine Park, an area protected for its estuaries, beaches, islands and marine life. Go deep-sea diving and explore the natural underwater beauty of this region.

     

    Highlight: Explore some of the vast 100 kilometres of coast and 36 idyllic beaches, on the multi-day Yuraygir Coastal Walk. Whether you choose to walk for a day or four, you’re likely to have close encounters with kangaroos and wallabies, whale-watching (during the winter months), snorkelling and swimming, with overnight stops at beach campgrounds and villages (Angourie, Brooms Head, Sandon, Minnie Water, Wooli) along the way.           

    Don’t miss these other highlights of the region

    Take some time out of your trip, go and do a bit of #exploring – you’ll never know what gems you might find outside of the major towns in the Clarence Valley.

     

    *The Clarence River – Winding from the Clarence Valley hinterland to holiday mecca Yamba, this is the longest river on the east coast of Australia, perfect for yachting, canoeing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, fishing, rowing, house-boating and more.

     

    *Clarence Canoe & Kayak Trail – Covering more than 195 kilometres of river, this exhilarating trail – which happens to be the longest whitewater trail in Australia – offers spectacular scenery including the Clarence Valley Gorge, and an abundance of wildlife (such as the platypus).

     

    *Ulmarra – A visit to Ulmarra is like stepping back in time as the village remains one of the finest examples of a 19th-century Australian river port. The entire village is classified by the National Trust.

     

    *Go camping – With national and state parks making up 51 per cent of its area, the Clarence Valley is a camping and campervanning wonderland and the perfect place to connect with nature. Get out in the wild; your kids will love you for it.

     

    *Convict Tunnel – The Old Glen Innes Road is, as the name suggests, the Old Road that used to connect Grafton and Glen Innes. Tracing the majority of the Mann River upstream, this road takes you through some of the most rugged and beautiful terrain in our area. Located around 90 minutes from Grafton (just past Dalmorton) is the historic hand-carved tunnel. A common misconception of this tunnel is that it was picked away by convict labour, however it was, in fact, constructed by paid contractors working for Cobb & Co.

    Upcoming events

    12 May – Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic

    5 July to 15 July – July Racing Carnival

    October to early November – Jacaranda Season, Grafton

    7 October to 4 November – Jacaranda Festival

    22 to 28 October – Clarence Valley Country Music Muster

    9 to 11 November – Yamba Rod Run

     

    To find out more head over to: https://www.myclarencevalley.com/

    — Strahan —

    How to spend a day in Strahan, Tasmania

    WRITTEN BY LUKE VINCENT • APRIL 10, 2018

    Let a Strahan local show you around the best bits of her wilderness-fringed hometown on Tasmania’s west coast.

    Strahan is the thriving port town on the west coast of Tasmania that Sheree Crane is proud to call home (her parents grew up here and she opted to raise her two children here too, it’s that good). Sheree works for Gordon River Cruises, a locally owned award-winning cruise company that sails into the heart of the Tasmanian wilderness.

    The details

    Where exactly: A five-hour drive north-west of Hobart along the scenic Lyell Highway.
    Population: The town’s population of 800 more than triples during the summer tourist season.
    What’s it all about: The town is an important link as the gateway to the Gordon River and the Southwest National Park, Tasmania’s largest, and part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

    7am: Breezy breakfast

    Start your day with the buffet breakfast served at View 42º Restaurant. Sit out on the deck that overlooks Macquarie Harbour.

    8.30am: A wilderness cruise

    Jump aboard Lady Jane Franklin II for a Gordon River Cruise: the wild scenery will blow you away. Along the way you’ll visit salmon and trout farms, where you’ll learn what it takes to get a salmon from the harbour to the galley for you to enjoy as part of your buffet lunch.

     

    You’ll then travel up the unforgettable Gordon River. This spectacular national park is only accessible by boat or sea plane. Travel 13 kilometres to Heritage Landing and enjoy a 30-minute guided boardwalk into the rainforest.

    Strahan Sarah Island Convict Settlement walks hikes bushwalk

    Discover the plight of Sarah Island’s first settlers with the animated and captivating guides from the Round Earth Company.

    Next is a visit to Sarah Island, the old and harsh convict settlement. Follow the animated and captivating guides from the Round Earth Company to learn of the plight of our first settlers or wander at your leisure before your return across the harbour back to Strahan.

    2.45pm: Pining away

    Follow the footpath to Morrison’s Huon Pine Sawmill for a free demonstration of the old sawmill that has been operating in the same family for four generations.

    3.30pm: Platypus playtime

    Follow the self-guided path in the opposite direction along the Esplanade to People’s Park for the rainforest walk to Hogarth Falls; an easy 40-minute return walk. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the platypus that live in the creek that winds its way through the park.

    Strahan river cruise things to do west coast Tasmania

    Tasmania’s west-coast wilderness jewel: Strahan.

    5.30pm: Re-play, since 1994

    Watch the longest running play in Australia, The Ship That Never Was. Based on a true local convict story, you’ll find the Round Earth Company performing it in the Richard Davey Amphitheatre.

    7pm: Dine on Tasmania’s finest

    Return to View 42º Restaurant to try some renowned Tasmanian produce. Don’t miss the Macquarie Harbour whole baked trout, Woody Island oysters, Cape Grim beef and West Haven goat’s cheese, just to mention a few.

     

    It’s all accompanied by Tassie beers and wines.

    Sunset: Cosy up on the beach

    Take the eight-kilometre drive to Ocean Beach. Rug up, take the wine of your choice, picnic blanket and camera to witness surely the most magnificent sunsets in the world. From September to February you will also be able to view the majestic sight of short-tailed shearwaters coming in to roost.

     

     

    MORE: An entirely different way to see the West Coast: The steamy heights of Tassie’s West Coast Wilderness Railway

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    — Orange —

    Eight of the most bizarre events at Orange F.O.O.D Week

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • APRIL 5, 2018

    Forget everything you think you know about traditional fare, the annual celebration of food in Orange is anything but average. In fact, it borders on downright fantastic. There are a few events in particular that are so special – even a little obscure – that they’re well worth working into your April schedule.

    Orange is one of those Australian regions that’s becoming increasingly synonymous with incredible food and wine.

     

    It has become a bustling hub for the curious; seeking either a long weekend in a truly serene part of Australia, or a supremely authentic food and wine experience that showcases some of the country’s best offerings.

     

    If you’re interested in the latter, no doubt you’ve heard of Orange F.O.O.D Week and all of the deliciousness that comes with it. Running from April 6 to 15, the event is in its 27th year; somehow managing to come back bigger and better each year.

     

    There are many treats to be shared and enjoyed, but none quite as memorable as the eight bizarre finds we discovered in the program.

    1. The F.O.O.D Train, Friday, 13 April

    What better way to celebrate the final weekend of this fabulous food fair than on the F.O.O.D train? Once on board you’ll enjoy a light breakfast before being whisked away to a country lunch and fine dining experience (on the Friday). You can also take part in Forage, a 4.1-kilometre stroll through some of Orange’s most picturesque vineyards at your own leisure on Saturday and Sunday. You will then be treated to lunch at a hatted restaurant before returning home on the locomotive.

     

    Bookings: The $890 (per person) ticket includes two nights’ accommodation. orangefoodweek.com.au or 02 6361 7836

    2. Yesteryear’s Appleation Degustation, Friday, 6 April

    Borrodell Vineyard is hosting a four-course dinner and yep, you guessed it, apples are on the menu. Featuring Australia’s largest collection of heritage apples (both local and international), you’ll be keeping the doctor away for months to come.

     

    Bookings: $100 per person. borrodell.com.au or 02 6365 3425

    3. Sassy Wines Smoked BBQ Ribs Long Table Lunch, Saturday, 7 April

    Like the sound of sticky, smoked BBQ ribs? Silly question. This two-course long lunch at Sassy Wines will have you perched on the cellar door deck, overlooking the vineyard.

     

    Bookings: Your $70 ticket includes coffee. sassywines.com.au or 0409 311 395

    4. The Raclette Racket, Saturday, 7 April

    If you like your cheese melted and gooey, no doubt you’re a keen raclette fan. This three-course feast celebrates The Second Mouse Cheese Co’s delicious local cheeses.

     

    Bookings: $85 (per person) with beer, wine and cider available for purchase. theagresticgrocer.com.au or 02 6360 4606

    5. Hands-On Cider-Making Class, Sunday, 8 April

    Starting off with an apple tasting at Small Acres Cyder, you’ll then go on to learn the techniques of making cider from scratch. Your lesson includes the finished-product cider tasting – and tapas!

     

    Bookings: $25. smallacrescyder.com.au or 02 6365 2286

    6. Opera in the Woolshed, Thursday, 12 April

    Rossini’s The Barber of Seville is a very popular offering in comic opera, and it’s being showcased at Larras Lake North Woolshed. Be prepared to laugh until your belly hurts, as undoubtedly this performance – set in the Australian Goldfields in the 1880s – will have you clapping for more. BYO car boot picnic as only a light supper will be provided.

     

    Bookings: $55. operainthewoolshed.com.au or 0411 208 240

    7. Vegan in the Vines Dinner, Friday, 13 April

    De Salis wines is hosting a six-course vegan dinner in the vineyards, courtesy of Alfies’ Kitchen. The menu features loads of local produce and exceptional wines.

     

    Bookings: $140. desaliswines.com.au or 0403 210 703

    8. Croissant and Crumpet Workshop, Saturday, 14 April

    If you’re a crumpet-and-honey lover, this is the experience for you. The guys at Habitat Vineyard will teach you how to make sourdough croissants and crumpets. You can take home your pastry creations and bake them in your own oven. Lunch is included. See website for more dates.

     

    Bookings: $130. habitat-vineyard.com.au or 0403 811 985