Author: katiemayor

Dorset Days: Lyme Regis (+ River Cottage Canteen), England

A day that starts with the natural wonders of the Jurassic Coast and ends with a pastel sunset on pastel houses by the sea is one to make you see the world through (English) rose-coloured glasses indeed. While navigating the winding country roads of Dorset is a challenge (I hadn’t driven a manual for some time, and this was a pretty rubbish re-introduction I must say – ha!), it is also a delight if you can veer your eyes off the road. Patchwork green farmlands with hedges of stone and tree, foxgloves lining the narrow roads, and the most fairy tale of cobblestone villages you could imagine – moss covered and with roofs made of straw – at times I almost expected Peter Rabbit to dart in front of the car. Hungry (probably from expending all the energy from my last meal by clenching the steering wheel tightly and despairing over two way streets with only one lane), we head direct to the seaside on arriving in town to find some grub. The beachfront footpath …

STAY: Hotel Hotel, Canberra

Staying in a killer hotel can really lift a trip into another realm. An experience in itself, Hotel Hotel in Canberra’s New Acton Nishi precinct did just that. I wanted to move in. On check-in, we were upgraded by an enthusiastically friendly and helpful concierge. I had been quite keen to check out the colourful ‘Creative Room’ style, but who says no to an upgrade (especially when the larger room included a work space and I had to do a phone interview on arrival with the creative director of Enlighten Festival)!? One thing that strikes you as you walk from lobby to hallway to room is the aesthetics of the materials used – such as concrete and reclaimed timber – which point to the eco sensibilities behind the design. The spacious (if somewhat cavernous) room was a mixture of earthy, Australian (love the Indigenous art), and contemporary with pops of colour in the shaggy stool and hanging light. I did my interview peering out the room window on a central garden that the building wraps …

Weekend Spin in Canberra: Art, lights, bikes and balloons

A couple of years ago, on the way back to Sydney from hiking Mt Kosciuszko, I stopped off for a few hours in Canberra city’s northern fringe neighbourhood of Braddon. Colourful design shops, a food truck yard, a plant-hanging, white-tiled coffee roastery overflowing with a less-pretentious hipster crowd than I was used to. I flicked through a guide to Noted, a writers’ festival “with an explicit commitment to emerging and experimental writing from diverse backgrounds”, which had been on the weekend before. What is this? The capital come cool? In the past I’d seen Canberra through the lens of school excursions to Parliament House (and the wide-eyed Science fun of Questacon – I couldn’t deny it that). But this was like the concrete had cracked and out had grown poppies. I was itching to come back and see if they had spread through town. So I did. Inspired by an eco design hotel, and a weekend where a lights festival and a hot air ballooning one meet, we packed up the car and steered southwest …

Some Cafe, Collector

When I was a teenager, we used to leave Sydney on road trips to the snow at 2am and drive through the night – a convoy of little snowboarding ragamuffins. One time we broke down just outside of Collector, a tiny town not far from the ACT border. We waited for hours for the one service station/general store to open at 8am. It was a long morning in what felt like the tiniest country town on earth. So when researching a weekend trip to Canberra, I was surprised to hear that exact general store had been bought by a young couple and turned into a destination foodie spot, simply called Some Cafe. On arrival, the almost-full parking lot out front made it obvious the secret is out, especially as it was only Friday. I’m guessing it wasn’t all locals – as there are barely 400 of them in this small country township, just tucked off the Federal Highway. Turns out the busy carpark was a non-issue, given the large front verandah and multiple rooms to …

9 Best Spots to Eat and Drink in Canggu, Bali

  Canggu is a wonderful mix of bustling and laid-back, and its definitely on the map as one of the hottest spots in Bali. This is especially evident in the rise of great places to eat and drink, so here I highlight a bunch of the best spots, whether you are after a dragon fruit brekky bowl, a French pastry for your sweet tooth or a deliciously zesty gado gado. Crate Cafe February is rainy (low) season in Bali, but you wouldn’t know it as you approach Crate, which is heaving every morning of the week! Lucky enough to nab the street-side spot in front of a colourful mural, we settled in for some of the best bowls (with the best names) in town. My delicious ‘bowlorama’ with frozen banana, dragon fruit (a MUST for brekkies in Bali – this bright pink fruit is in abundance!), granola, watermelon and shredded coconut confirmed that the Crate hype is justified. I coupled my breakfast bowl with a ‘Go Fruit Y’Self’ juice of strawberry, pineapple and banana. Skymie …

Chinese New Year Lunar Markets, Sydney

Hello Year of the Rooster! Sydney has brought the festival vibe this Chinese New Year with giant zodiac lanterns, Asian artworks splashed across town and the cutest rooster macaroon you ever did see. The Sydney Morning Herald Lunar Markets have their final weekend this weekend (get down there if you haven’t already!) at Pyrmont Bay Park. Hanging lanterns, origami workshops, stilt walkers and DJs abound. This is Sydney though, so all we really care about is highly instagrammable food made by the stars of the local culinary scene (which is quite ridiculous behaviour that I wholeheartedly endorse).   THE FOOD: Absolutely everything we put in our mouths here was darn delicious. But let’s break it down in order of tastebud joy. Despite being Japanese food mad, I only discovered YAKISOBA when my cousin cooked it for me two weeks ago, and the kewpie-covered delight that you can get at the Lunar Markets has cemented it as THE SHIZNIT. Thankfully there was a line for this dish or I would have thought the world had gone …

Paradise found: Bingin Beach and Uluwatu, Bali

Forget Queensland, Uluwatu on Bali’s Bukit Peninsula is the real surfer’s paradise. From curving lush cliffsides, watch the endless Indian Ocean bring in the sets. Whether drinking a Bintang at surfer babe bar Single Fin, swerving round the coast by motorbike, bowing namaste in yoga class, or lazing beachside with a turquoise view, there’s much to love about Bali’s laid back southern coast. Surfers started coming to Bingin Beach and Uluwatu from the 1960s when surf legends the likes of ‘Mr Pipeline’ Gerry Lopez started coming here. My gal Kelly here knows what’s up when it comes to Bali, as she’s been coming here with her partner Adam – a keen surfer – for over 10 years. She suggested we stay in Mick’s Place, run by one of the original surfers to move to the Bukit peninsula. Recently opened, the Acacia Bungalows just behind the main hotel was where we set up to chill out, and thankfully we made it to the cliffs in time to watch one of the most spectacular sunsets (or is …