All posts filed under: Guide

Curated adventures

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 …

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 …

Return to Shimokitazawa, Tokyo

Shimokitazawa is Tokyo’s coolest neighbourhood, so it goes without saying that when I returned to Japan, that is where I would be based. You can eat vegetarian here, you can drink Kirin at hole-in-the-wall bars, shop vintage or at Muji, play arcades well into the night, or get lost in alleys and find your way back with ease. And it’s around 4 minutes on the train into Shibuya. We opted for an Airbnb place near the station’s South Exit – it was actually just around the corner from the Darwin Room, which I mentioned in my last Shimokita post. This was a less-explored part of Shimokitazawa for me, and held a different vibe from my last visit – but one I really loved. We actually had everything we needed – great food, a cool-as-hell locals bar (more on that below), close access to the station, and ARCADES! We got totally addicted to the drumming machines, where you have to whack the drum to the beat of the song on a screen filled with cute cartoon …

A Short Guide to Copenhagen

Copenhagen is a city of style. It leads you through its culture with a curtsy and then sits you in a craft brewery for a pint of tasty ale. It has you strolling alongside chic bicycle riders on city fixies with baskets and subtle colour schemes. It has Noma around one corner and a river-side street food emporium around another. It has Roskilde. And one day it will again have me. Our Copenhagen journey went like this: one day/night exploring the city, staying at the budget but cool Annex Copenhagen, followed by four days at Roskilde music festival (yeehah! More on that soon) where on one day we escaped the festival madness for an afternoon in the hipster neighbourhood Norrebro, followed by two more days experiencing the city, staying at the incredible design hotel Hotel SP34. As an introduction to the city, wander from wherever you are staying (Copenhagen is flat so it’s lovely to stroll around) to Nyhavn – the iconic, colourful waterfront dining district that dates back to the 17th Century. Grab a …

Bali Bliss: Ubud

Ubud is known as the cultural centre of Bali. It is the first place I visited, and I imagine I will head straight here when I am next in Indonesia. It is a contrast of green rice fields and potholed streets, world-class restaurants and street food carts. There are galleries and temples and motorbikes screaming past – and what looks like more than a few women seeking the enlightenment of Eat, Pray, Love. Ubud does really have an energy though, for me it was an immediately calming one, as it felt all my home worries evaporate in the warm air. A feeling I would keep on this whole Balinese journey. After checking into the incredible Ibah Warwick Hotel (speaking of Eat, Pray, Love, the reason we know about this hotel is because my travel buddy Kel’s boyfriend stayed here with the cast and crew when filming the movie) we went exploring up the main street in Ubud. We stumbled on the stunning Saraswati temple, lined with a water lily pond in bloom. STAY – Sunrise …

24 Hours in Melbourne

A visit to Melbourne is always a good idea. With a vibrant arts scene, a smorgasbord of the country’s best cafes and restaurants, graffiti-clad laneways, excellent shopping, the leafy banks of the Yarra River, and cool urban neighbourhoods, even a short break in the city will leave you buzzing from Melbourne’s endless energy. We stayed at St Jeromes – The Hotel, which is on the third floor of Melbourne Central, where in addition to the impressive central skylight architecture, you can find Australian fashion labels like Sass & Bide and Scanlan Theodore, and in the exit laneway towards Swanston Street we stumbled on graffiti artists working on a mural, a common sight in the city. Two laneway visits are a must in Melbourne city – the narrow cafe-clad Degraves Lane and graffiti-filled (it was where Banksy created rat murals which were later cleaned up by council workers) Hosier Lane, which is also the site of one of my favourite Australian restaurants, the Spanish gem MoVida. EAT: Gazi is a modern Greek restaurant owned by restauranteur …

Tokyo Neighbourhood

Tokyo Cool: Shimokitazawa

Shimokitazawa is to Tokyo what Williamsburg is to New York or perhaps what Newtown or Redfern is to Sydney. It smacks of urban modern cool, but remains a little grubby around the edges. It’s an intersection of long-standing businesses, hipster cafes, hole-in-the-wall (as Japan does best) eateries and laneways full of vintage and new fashion. It has energy. SHOP: Marble SUD  – if you love hiking and bears and pine trees in national parks and other wild places (which, clearly I do hello wild spin) then visit this cute (kawaii in Japanese) store which has all of these things and more printed onto dresses and bags and caps and hankies and other objects you can keep close to your body. It’s Japan does Alaska – what’s not to like about that?! I’m super grateful to Ebony of the amazing Hello Sandwich blog for giving me some pointers of where to eat and drink in Shimokita, like an afternoon drink at the lovely family-run Mois Cafe which is in an old Showa era house! (When you’ve …