A fresh twist has arrived to Bondi. Normally a strip of beach cafe’s and over priced restaurants with those who strive to be seen. Nestled back in the Adina apartments building in a cosy restaurant with monochrome interiors you know you are in for something quite special.
The back story is that an ex Longrain chef , Tomi Bjork, found great success in Helsinki and Stockholm – five huge restaurant and a tv gig to be more specific. Now he’s back home and has left us a treat to enjoy.
Start with squid ink steamed bao with soft shell crab, XO mayo, cabbage and vinegar to get into the Asian Fusion mood, with subtle spanish influences. There is a whole section of the menu devoted to vegetables and we very much appreciate, as they are so healthy and delicious.
The wine list is great serving one of my go to favourites – reisingfreak. Also the gin and tonic menu is also worthwhile and fits the food well.
A visit to wine country is like stepping into the promised land. Instead of milk and honey there is definitely riesling, cabernet franc and chardonnay grapes in abundance. It is strangely refreshing to be standing in a vineyard where your favourite drop is growing right in front of you.
Now most Sydney siders head to the Hunter Valley with the allure of the added convenience. However Mudgee has far more to offer in the way of wine, food, escapements and colonial charm of the town.
Everything is quite central in Mudgee, the town and vineyards are all neatly packed together, perfect if you remember to bring your bike along or drink a little too much at wine tastings.
While there are so many vineyards our favourite was Robert Stein vineyard and also has a converted restaurant overlooking a pond called PipeClay. You will want to lock in your dinner reservations well in advance, otherwise you will miss out and have to eat at Eltons in town – although its also fantastic. If you run out of time, Roths had a good selection of local wine to try and also had more of a local buzz about the place.
Lowe wines are also worth visiting, especially the restaurant Zin House which has a farm to table mantra. Visitors are welcome to roam around the vineyard sipping wine and picnicking on the lawn. The good wines are not that easy to find but there are a few hidden gems.
Robert Stein Vineyard
Our airbnb, Lewis Road Cottage
It is easiest to find a place in the centre of town so you can get coffee in the morning from the good cafes, or supplies if you plan to have a night in and put your developing chef skills to the test. There are local farmers markets on the odd Saturday with gorgeous organic produce like pomegranates, grapes, fennel, zucchini and of course – cheese. It is best to go early as everything runs out quickly.
There are a few great Airbnb’s out there where you can rent your own cottage for the weekend. If you are after a more rural experience then Turon Gates offers an eco lodge and other clamping options if you want to catch your dinner too. Trout is rumoured to be in the river along with the volcanic soil that brings out the flavours in the wine, amongst other things.
Unexpected ingredients that bring together new fresh flavours that you will want to experience again. LuMi is where Federico Zanellato makes his claim to fame with Italian and Japanese infusion fine dining. The location is a little off the beaten path in one of the glittery wharfs in Pyrmont. With super yachts relaxing on the water right outside the simple but well executed restaurant is easy going but packs a punch with each course.
Delicate, fresh and with unexpected twists and tuns keep you guessing and entertain you with likes pure pleasure – food. All the dishes connect to each other, be it the fennel poles or freeze dried orange. What is refreshing is that the dishes are not too sweet for invariant subscribers to Sara Wilson.
LuMi it truly delightful and easy to breeze in and out of for memorable weekend events.
What is eight hours, with stops from Sydney and five from Melbourne? Falls Creek; nestled onto Mt McKay and has the only ski in ski out resorts in Australia. The international Poma ski lift was set up in 1948 by cattle workers and today there are over 92 runs and 12 more lifts.
The location is a little testing to get to with the distance and driving up the mountain with snow chains on hand. It is all completely worth it to be so close to the summit and the small charming town that has everything you need for a few days. There is a supermarket, post office, snow gear stores and many cute little eateries. Many of them are kiosk style so you can get burgers, doughnuts or hot drinks painlessly while all wrapped up in a helmet, gloves and the essential duck down jacket.
Falls Creek is mostly an intermediate alpine resort and there are a few black runs for advance skiers open in July. Beginner skiers have wombats ramble to practice on but can quickly advance to intermediate runs as a lot of them are not that steep like Perisher.
Crisp mountain air, snow covered mountains, magic blue-sky mornings, clouds whizzing around below – all make Falls Creek unforgettable in minutes.
The luxurious resorts on Falls Creek are not easy to find in Australia. QT, Husky, Astra all fit the bill. Initial reviews of these properties were not great but having stayed at the QT – I can say it was incredible.
We had a room overlooking the mountain under reception in the main building. Although there was a carpark below we had a spa in our room balcony that we didn’t notice this aspect that much. The room was spacious with a gorgeous kitchen if you had the urge to whip up something of your own for dinner. The breakfast downstairs was great, everything you could imagine although the coffee was an extra charge.
It is hard to beat falls creek and its attractions. Even the drive down is though Rutherglen if you are coming from the north, which is a gorgeous wine region. Beechworth in Victoria is also close which has some unique honey delicacies like mead, honey ice-cream and every kind of honey you can imagine. The quaint old towns have some great lunch spots to make a trip out of it.
You can get your pass on the day right next to the lift as they don’t do exchanges if it rains on the day you booked. It is a little cheaper to buy online and its saves a bit of time if you do. You need to submit a photograph and let them know where you are staying to get your pass card. There are plenty of places to rent gear and it is fairly quick to do.
In winter it is best to go down in a 4×4 as the road is steep and you need snow chains. You also need to get a parking permit, which you can get on the mountain and there is a process to be parked. You need to wait in a line in your car and a warden will drive you to the place where you will be parked for the length of your stay and then drive you back to the booking office to walk back up to your accomodation. September is really nice in Falls Creek, it is warmer and plenty of snow also with the snow making machines. You don’t need a 4×4 car then as most of the snow at the bottom as melted and its easy to drive up.
The inner west is always full of surprises and this glam outpost surrounded by warehouses has somewhat of a shabby chic effect. Lamb is a Sydney favourite and the Greeks and Turkish know how to work those dishes. Chef Darryl Martin has gone back to his Cypriot roots and infused traditional dishes with fresh flavour.
I would be quite happy for Barzarri to be my new local haunt and work my way though the menu, especially coffee that is boiled in a sandpit. The unexpected flavours keep you guessing and also the wine list is top notch and can’t look past the Rieslingfreak No.2 Polish Hill River Riesling. Just remember to book, its a popular spot.
There are one to two Turkish jems in Sydney and Efendy takes preference. Nestled in a charming villa, the best features still intact like the marble fireplace and historic trees. There is something special about the food. The kataifi pasta wrapped prawn on muhammara or a new kind of hummus that has capsicum and walnuts instead. The fresh hummus with pomegranates and mint or the lamb shoulder tandir on cracked wheat bulgur. The Turkish know how to eat and in style. Opulent silver platters with food on blue printed plates add an eclectic contrast but somehow it all works together.
It is a great experience and something that you could do quite comfortably again. The real test is of course if you can eat with your hands instead of your trusty fork.
Address 79 ELLIOTT STREET BALMAIN NSW 2041 AUSTRALIA 02 9810 5466 efendy.com.au
Open Dinner Tuesday to Sunday and Lunch Saturday and Sunday
An unassuming neighbourhood in the inner west of Sydney is where sixpenny has its address. It ironic that in such a middle class suburb such simplistic but extraordinary food is being plated in a small but earthy restaurant. Botanical, herbal, unexpected, daring dishes make up the choice of either the small or large menu.
The wine parings make the courses larger than life and it is one of those experiences to remember. The lightly pickled cucumber with rose & raspberry starts off dinner which is akin to a stroll in the Australian native forrest with each installation. Spanish mackerel with radicchio & fermented cucumber makes you rethink how to eat fish and the bitterness is balanced well with the other flavours.
The dessert courses carry through the sweetness in the duck with frozen blackberry and mead vinegar custard. The white peach with native ginger & reduced milk sorbet looks like a bowl of rice but there is more to the dessert than what meets the eye. All the subtle flavours work seamlessly together for what sixpenny is known for, and not surprising for the forma noma chefs, Daniel Puskas, James Parry.
Spanish Mackerel with Radicchio & Fermented Cucumber
Smoked Duck with Witlof & Plum
Mead Vinegar Custard with Frozen Blackberry & Strawberry
Cities that can boast sterling beaches, harbour restaurants and attractions like the opera house are few and far between.
The Sydney Opera house is always a huge draw card. Positioned in the centre of the Sydney harbour there are restaurants like the prized fine dining restaurant, Bennelong and even the Opera bar below is a local hot spot. The cruise ships depart for pacific islands in the evening and are quite fun to watch.
After visiting the Opera House it isn’t always so easy to find where to head to next. Avoiding Darling Harbour, haymarket is a good idea as its more so a dead area in comparison. Instead there are many places down Angel place of George St to choose from. Further up there are shopping destinations like the Queen Victoria Building and Strand Arcade for a traditional Australian experience. More high street retailers are along the MLC centre and also at the department store David Jones. If you are short of time to go shopping, the Westfield off Pitt Street has a full selection.
Sydney siders are extremely active, group physical training in the park are popular things to do. When you are surround with beautiful outdoors right on your doorstep its easy to see why. The botanical gardens offer great run routes or more famously the Bondi to Coogee coastal track, if you want to join in with the local fun. Its perfectly acceptable to go to brunch at beachside cafe’s in your work out gear and feel free to wear your on trend off duty outfits. Mode Sportif has some inspiration.
A great favourite spot is Paddington, where the society terrace houses frame the streets and mark some of the best pubs and boutiques. There is nothing that Sydney siders like more is spending the afternoon and evening down at the local haunt with friends and acquaintances watching footy. This is either NRL or AFL, but ladies the Sydney Swans offer some glorious athletic abilities – not to be missed!
Other city hot spots include the Botanical Gardens which hosts a cinema under the stars with the Opera house in the backdrop. The best months to visit Sydney are November to May as that is when the rain and possible storms will desist. I have had a few friends come over in October and the wall to wall sunshine has been noticeably missing.
Stroll from there past the opera house to the rocks, where you will be seemingly be taken back to Sydney’s historical beginnings. Cobble stone streets are charming with the harbour views. On the other side as you walk under the bridge you will be in Walsh Bay. The Sydney Theatre Company has delightful restaurant and bar right on the wharf. Its a little tricky to find but ask the staff downstairs to help. You might see a famous Australian about, last time I walked past Hugo Weaving.
More so if you walk around to the end of the street you will be in Millers Point for Hotel Palisade. There you can enjoy scrumptious food, cocktails and panoramic views at the rooftop bar.
If you have some extra down time, head to Wooloomooloo Wharf for some exclusive restaurants that see the grammar squad snapping away at their phones each weekend.
If you go to one restaurant in Sydney that will have to be the local institution, Chiswick. Matt Moran and his team grow the green produce in a garden nearby and finds it way onto your plate. There is something satisfying with eating nutrient rich salads, lamb and being seen where you want to be.
The north shore may be known as the ‘nor snore’ but if a more relaxed pace is to be desired, then think again. The Egg of the Universe offers yoga classes and matching foods to make you feel in top shape in every way possible.
Balmoral beach is a Sydney treasure with gentle lapping waves and perfect restaurants. The Boathouse offers a casual dining experience where you can go from beach to table to beach again. Heading north to Freshwater or Curl Curl beaches are just a taste of some other other out-of-town trips that are on offer. Palm Beach, Jarviouis Bay along with wine country in the Hunter Valley or Mudgee are prime selections.
All you need to bring is your bikini. Hop on a plane for sun, sand, restaurants and the great barrier reef. It is quite possibly the easiest place to have a real vacation.
You are greeted with your name displayed at the airport for your transport to your hotel once you hit the tarmac. The island has a higher number of golf carts than people, out of season. Whizzing around the hills is an easy way to get to all the hot spots.
If you are looking for a place to wine and dine then Hamilton island has some of the highest quality restaurants. What is really nice is that you can charge all your meals and drinks to your hotel in all 13 restaurants so you don’t have to bother about credit cards so much. You can choose to dine near the marina which is laid out like a colonial town or on the other side next to catseye beach for more of a resort feel.
I would recommend spending a night or two at Qualia on the far north of the island. It is really pricey but the experience is definitely worth it. All the villas are set in the bush and makes for the perfect escape. You can stroll down to the pebble beach, relax at the infinity pool or get one of the staff to take you on a boat trip to the surrounding islands for a private beach. This does require an advance booking but they really go out of their way to exceed all your expectations.
There are some perfect spots to watch the sun go down like one tree hill. It can get really busy with all the guests making their way up there with picnic baskets and wine.
Hamilton island really comes to life during race week. This is one of the largest yacht regattas in Australia and draws a very high profile crowd. There are plenty of off shore events to go to and it is a great way to meet new people. They are located though out the island they make a special effort to create something memorable like having trivia questions or celebrities to be the MC.
There are countless tours in the area and the crown jewel would be Whitehaven beach. The perfectly white sand is volcanic and when you are dropped on the beach you can go on a 30 min walk to the top for one killer view. Then head down for some shy manta rays, swimming and undoubtedly photographs to keep the memory alive.
There are countless activities like bush walking, snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, paddle boarding, tennis and golf. It is the perfect way to try something new. The golf course is on its own island and has a great restaurant, which is worth the trip even if you don’t have any intentions of playing.
Catseye beach is home to local turtles who are best seen just before sunset. There are tour groups you can join or if you are particularly adventurous then you can suit up in your fins and snorkels and head out from the beach. There are life guards on the beach if you get into trouble, so its perfectly safe.
We all get proven wrong from time to time. Having seen a great chunk of what Australia has on offer, I didn’t really think there was any more. Tucked away in the eastern corner of Queensland is a pretty big island. Aboriginal Australians in their isolation used to eat people that mistakenly thought it was a Colonial port.
This dark past really makes you wonder about Fraser Island. Can anything really survive on a giant sand bar besides dingoes. While there are a few resorts located on the island most visitors either hire a four wheel driver or book a seat on one of the many tourist operators to have a quick look.
We set out at 6am from Hastings St in Noosa and drove a good two hours along the beach to reach Hervey Bay. Loaded onto a barge we landed onto the white sandy shores in 10 minutes. Which was a nice surprise after a long drive.
Fraser Island is huge, there’s no two ways about it. Attempting to see all of it in a day is not something I would do unless you are happy to storm about the place.
Next we dive into the forest and the count down begins for the real reason we came, Lake Mckenzie. The roads are non existent and we bounce around like no tomorrow but were in it for the long hall at this point. There is plenty to appreciate, with some of the tallest and straightest trees you can ever see and just being close to nature.
The moment we have all been waiting for as we pull up to a car park, pick up our picnic baskets stroll down to the beach. Low and behold is the most perfect lake I have ever seen. Could I be dreaming? Well the water is a little icy but on a warm winters day there is no holding back the buzzing beach where visitors perch for an hour or so before their transport leaves.
Exhilarated, refreshed and in awe as we make our way back to the four wheel drive. I would be back in a heartbeat if there was a quicker way to get there.
If you have some serious driving skills hire 4WD and catch the ferry. There is a tow truck that charges a small fortune to lift you out of the sand if you get stuck
You don’t have to stay on Fraser island and boarding a ferry is very easy to do
There are a few resorts on Fraser island but they are pretty basic however there are a few options on airbnb available
Camping is a better option for a experience that is closer to nature, you will need to get a permit for your car and also stay (there are dingoes on the island and would not be a good idea if you have children)
Bring your own picnic as the food on the tour bus is not great and there aren’t any other food options
Take your walking shoes as there are a few walks you can do