I’m a journalist, travel writer, editor and copywriter based in Melbourne, Australia. I write pacy travel features, edit edifying websites and fashion flamboyant copy. My articles and photographs have appeared in publications worldwide, from inflight to interior design: I’ve visited every continent, and have lived in three. Want to work together? Drop me a line… 



The 50 best travel finds of 2014 from around the globe

Miss Moneypenny’s, Noosa

Yeah, I know it’s already 8 January, but I’m still looking back… maybe it’s because Australia really hasn’t kicked back properly into work yet. Consensus is that next Monday is the day we all turn our brains on once again. I had many great discoveries last year, including the new COMO hotel in the Maldives, Maalifushi, a villa in Lombok and the newly scrubbed Tahrir square in Cairo, but  also a few fun finds locally, in Australia. Here’s my contribution to a recent round-up by the Sun-Herald‘s brace of writers on our best travel finds in 2014.

Miss Moneypenny, Noosa, Queensland

watching is a delight in Noosa, when the buff and the beautiful hit the
sidewalks. Take a ringside seat at Miss Moneypenny, one of the newest additions
to Hastings Street, and order up on the seafood share boards and an 80s cruise
ship drink, their signature pina coladas – we’re in the tropics, people! The
open-air bar-cafe-restaurant spills into the street, ideal for seafood Sundays
or Saturday’s late-night supper club.missmoneypennys.com

Jean-Paul Gaultier Exhibition, National Gallery of Victoria 

Playful, cheeky, self-deprecating: not the words usually associated with
fashion. Jean Paul Gaultier delights in smashing the mould; remember the
conical bra he strapped onto Madonna in 1990? Haute couture comes alive with
moving catwalks and interactive mannequins, the exhibition has already
travelled from San Fran to Stockholm. But in Melbourne, the only showing in the
Asia Pacific, Gaultier assures us, it’s almost perfect. Make a night of it with
the NGV’s fantastic Friday Nights program, with DJs and talks, includes
admission to the exhibition. Costs $22 adults/$10 children 5-15 years
(exhibition only), $28/$10 Friday Nights at Jean Paul Gaultier. Until February
8, 2015. ngv.vic.gov.au

Seahaven Resort, Noosa

A stalwart in Hastings St, Seahaven has enjoyed a $16 million refurbishment
and is unrecognisable from its former self. The resort eclipses the big names
for blockbuster location, bang on Noosa’s Main Beach. Accommodation ranges from
studio boltholes to two-storey penthouses, with fully kitted kitchens, rain
showers and laundries. Plan drinks on your balcony, overlooking the sea.
Seahaven’s three swimming pools and its beachfront barbecue.  It’s a
two-minute trot along the beach boardwalk for morning coffee or for dinner at
Noosa’s sensational restaurants. Sunrise yoga on the beach is de rigueur. seahavennoosa.com.au

This feature was published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper.

Top 10 destinations to visit in Australia in 2015

If you can’t survive the festive season without a list to hand, here’s another one, this time for 10 planning ideas for your 2015 travels.  
InterContinental Hotel Double Bay, Sydney

1. Explore wild Australia in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory

Wildly remote and deeply mysterious, Arnhem Land is in the
far north-east of the Northern Territory, fringed by the Timor Sea and
Kakadu National Park. Tourists can now join a working cargo ship
and sail with their car on a cruise-drive journey from Darwin to
Nhulunbuy via Maningrida and Galiwinku on Elcho Island. Get off the
beaten track and into the beating heart of traditional Aboriginal
Australia with a new seven-day cultural tour
through the sparsely populated Cobourg Peninsula. Track sea turtles in
East Arnhem Land at the annual turtle camp on Maabayj (West) Island
(phone: +61 400 419 238) or shake it every August at the Garma Indigenous cultural festival.
Western Arnhem Land’s hot spot is Gunbalanya (Oenpelli), which lures
international collectors to its newly refurbished Injalak Art and Craft
Centre. Watch artists painting and weaving their beautiful artworks,
then climb Injalak Hill to discover breathtaking galleries of rock art.
The best time to travel is May to October.

2. Play picturesque golf and feast on freshness when you visit Tasmania’s King Island

Perched precariously in the wild waters of the Bass Strait, little King Island is
a reminder of the landbridge that once connected the Australian
mainland and our most southerly state, Tasmania. All eyes are on the new
Cape Wickham golf course,
opening March 1, 2015, on Tasmania’s north coast. Designed by US
architect Mike DeVries, Cape Wickham’s course hugs the coastline, with
surfers and a lighthouse overlooking play. King Island’s foodie
reputation far outweighs it size: it may be just 65km long and whipped
by the Roaring Forties trade winds, but its creamy bries, blue veins and
rich cheddars have a soft place in most Australians’ hearts. Order a
King Island hamper before you arrive, stocked with local crayfish and
the world’s most pure rainwater, King Island Cloud Juice. Explore its
walking trails and shipwreck history. Fly in from Tasmania or Melbourne.

3. Sample country kitchen delights on the Great Ocean Road hinterland in Victoria

Hungry? Go west, intrepid traveller, 135km from Melbourne to
Birregurra, population 700. It’s home to the new three-hatted restaurant
Brae, the pride of chef
and restauranteur Dan Hunter, who put another Victorian country town,
Dunkeld, on the map for his fare at the Royal Mail Hotel. Brae is a
30-acre property with olive groves and an organic kitchen garden. Diners
are served quality, sustainable food, showcasing the region’s
exceptional produce, from organic milk to hand-fed ducks, wallaby
tartare and stand-out shiitake. In 2016, Hunter plans to open just six
rooms to guests for an all-immersive stay in this secluded, rich corner
of Victoria that leads down to the Great Ocean Road. While you’re in the
hinterland, check out Timboon Provedore, Birregurra Provedore,
G.O.R.G.E. Chocolates, and Otway Estate brewery and cidery on the Otway Harvest Trail, then roll on to the Great Ocean Road’s 12 Apostles Gourmet Trail.

4. Immerse yourself in hipster cool among Adelaide’s restored laneways

Once upon a time, Adelaide City’s best wine cellar was a
lonely creature amidst the romantic architecture. Now, East End Cellars
has many new friends, with the reinvention of Vardon Ave and Ebenezer
Place as the top spot for a shot of espresso, a wine fix or whatever
fancy cocktail you plan to concoct. Cruise the leafy laneways for
locally designed, ethically sourced jewellery at Studio Eco, get your
sweatshop-free fashion at Nature’s Threads, artistic homewares from
Council of Objects or a restored fixie pushbike at Treadly. You wanna
eat? They’ll dish up chai and Afghan dumplings, Belgian mussels and
beer, tea and vegie pita, or simply hardcore coffee. That’s not to say
that East End Cellars themselves have been sitting still. Their
sophisticated Mother Vine wine bar is the newest on kid on two blocks
that wrap up the best of Adelaide’s food and wine into one tidy package (www.rundlestreet.com.au).

5. Stay in style at the national capital in Canberra

With a wave of sleek newcomers to Canberra’s hotel scene this
year, the question is not “Why should I go?” but “Where should I lay my
head while I’m there?” The city’s arts and culture precinct, NewActon,
is the home of two of the headliners: the chic Hotel Hotel, with a unique design inspired by the Aussie holiday shack, and slick QT Hotel, with sunny rooms and an antique-meets-chic barber shop for the well-groomed man. An old classic gets dressed with edgy art at Peppers Gallery Hotel and everyone’s waiting for the luxury hotel in theNational Zoo and Aquarium, where only a glass wall separates you from a snoozing white lion. Keep an eye out for five-star The Avenue Hotel in the city’s CBD and the remake of the heritage-listed Hotel Kurrajong Bartonin the Parliamentary Triangle, both slated for December. Business hotels in the pipeline include the four-star Little National in Barton and Vibe Canberra Airport, a hop-skip to the ACT’s new terminal.

6. Relax in Hayman Island’s luxurious seaside surrounds

The jewel of Australia’s east coast, the Great Barrier Reef, now has a new gem with the opening of One&Only Hayman Island
in July 2014. With an AUD$80 million price tag on the island’s
makeover, the result is the perfect blend of whales, wallabies and the
luxury of a private island resort. Expect toothpaste-bright beaches,
warm turquoise seas and swaying palm trees married with flowing white
curtains and come-hither daybeds. Make your home a beach villa, with its
absolute beachfront and private plunge pool, or check into the
two-bedroom Diane von Furstenberg penthouse and ask the butler to
arrange an Ocean Dreaming massage literally in the water. The journey is
half the adventure: to get to the resort, you’ll travel past
Queensland’s most beautiful beach, the 7km-strip of Whitehaven Beach, on
Whitsunday Island. Chopper over it, sail up to it, picnic on it: can
you imagine how many diamond rings have been offered here?

7. Go beyond the beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs

Double Bay and Bondi are the beach stars of Sydney’s iconic
east, and both have been blessed with fresh wave of new openings. All
the talk in this part of town is about the new InterContinental Hotel
in Sydney’s upmarket Double Bay. Opening November, expect super-modern
luxury, grill restaurants, rooftop pools, gin bars and even a kosher
kitchen. The hotel has inspired a wash of new restaurants around it,
including a second Sydney Sake, Fish Face by hot young chef Josh Niland and nightclub Casablanca.
It’s worth remembering rival Bondi Beach is only 10 minutes by taxi, so
pop over and be seen in The Hub on Hall Street, home to Mr Moustache, China Diner and A Tavola. Maurice Terzini, of Bondi Icebergs fame, has just set up shop in Da Orazio Pizza + Porchetta and Sydney’s best breakfast has also moved to Bondi, with the opening of bills Bondi from one of Sydney’s most well-known chefs Bill Granger. Make like a local and order the ricotta hotcakes.

8. Eat your way across the world without leaving Brisbane’s markets

Brisbane lights up each weekend with the new Eat Street Markets
on Hamilton Wharf. Strewn with shipping containers, you can mix it up
with the locals and eat around the world, from Mexico to New York via
Singapore and, of course taste the best of Australia. Snack on
old-school Vietnamese dumplings at Dakbla or French crepes with Miss
Claude, or put a Brissy spin on an old classic with crumbed tiger prawns
and chips at Phunky Dory. Finish off with a cocktail or craft beer and a
light browse – churros in hand – through the shops selling quirky
clothing, candles, antiques and books. The best way to reach Hamilton
Wharf is down the Brisbane River. Take a CityCat river ferry to Brett’s
Wharf and it’s a leisurely 10-minute stroll to Hamilton Wharf. The
markets run every Friday and Saturday night from 4-10pm

9. Raise a glass to Italian cuisine in Victoria’s King Valley

Tucked away high in the foothills of the Victorian Alps is a
busy little community doing its own beautiful thing: smoking meats,
making cheeses, pressing wine. The King Valley
is a little slice of Italy in a quiet pocket of Australia. And when
living la dolce vita, the only drink to drink is the Italian take on
sparkling white wine, heavenly prosecco. How do you find this Australian
Arcadia? Why, follow the Prosecco Road, a food and wine trail that visits the valley’s best vineyards, restaurants, cafés and providores – with a spot of bocce
(Italian lawn bowls) thrown in for good measure. Stay the night in a
local B&B and prepare for a car boot that clinks all the way home,
thanks to your newly found love of precious prosecco. The King Valley is
about three hours’ drive north of Melbourne.

10. Hunt for exotic truffles in unlikely Manjimup, Western Australia

Achingly expensive, hard to attain and an acquired taste:
what’s not to love about truffles? The rich, earthy fungus has
traditionally been hunted in Europe’s ancient forests, but chefs’ eyes
are turning from the Old World to the New, looking to Western Australia,
now Australia’s largest producer of French black truffles. Unearthed in
truffle orchards of English oak and hazel trees with specially trained
dogs, you can take the hounds out for a winter morning’s truffle hunting
around Manjimup and Southern Forest Region, about 300km south of Perth.
Hungry hunters, stop for a truffle-infused lunch and be sure to pack a
shopping bag to haul home your truffle-infused treasures, from
chocolates, to oils and salts. WA’s fresh truffle season runs from June
to September, and out-of-season simulated hunts are available. Tour
operators include Go in Style Luxury Transport and The Truffle & Wine Co.

This feature by Belinda Jackson was published by Tourism Australia.

The sky’s the limit in Sydney: travel news


sky’s the limit
jostling for camera space out a bus window, Australia’s first glass-roof
coaches are now on the road with AAT Kings
launching two new buses. The glass-roofed coaches give a panoramic view of Sydney and the Blue Mountains. The coachline’s
Sydney Day Tours
route also crosses the Sydney Harbour Bridge. AAT Kings has also recently linked up with some of Australia’s most
iconic experiences, from a train journey on the Indian Pacific to a six-day
walk through Tasmania’s Bay of Fires through Great Walks of Australia, as part
of its new Australia brochure. The half-day Bondi Beach & Sydney Sights
tour costs from $59 adults, $30 children. Phone 1300 228 546,
see aatkings.com.

Take a spa on board
Australia’s spa
culture gets a sky-high promotions boost when Qantas packs ASPAR spa products
in its new Kate Spade and Jack Spade inflight amenity kits. The new kits are
available initially for business-class passengers on A380 services between
Australia, London, Dubai, LA and Dallas, and include an ultra-hydrating face moisturiser and vanilla & orange lip moisturiser to help counteract skin
dehydration while airborne. If you’re not in the air, you can find Aurora Spas
in the Gold Coast’s Palazzo Versace and The Prince hotel in Melbourne and, since
June this year, also in the First Lounges in Sydney and Melbourne. ASPAR
products are paraben and SLS free, and are not tested on animals. See aurorasparetreat.com.au and qantas.com.au.

In bed with the
Take Australian artist John Olsen to bed (metaphorically, of course) with these new
pyjamas from his namesake art hotel, The Olsen, in Melbourne’s South Yarra. The
limited-edition, 100 percent cotton pyjamas by Australian designers Masini & Chern are emblazoned
with Olsen’s ‘Jumping Frog’ motif, and are the heroes of a new range of
lifestyle goods by the Art Series hotel group.

Each of the six art hotels will
have its signature products, which you can snap up during your stay, or, on its
new online shop, Artefact, which launches later this month. One thing’s for
sure: there’ll be no blushing if you get caught in a hotel corridor in this
sleepwear. Cost $190 for the set or $80 for the shorts. See artserieshotels.com.au.


Building a perfect cruise
Lego just got a whole lot more mobile with new playrooms on
all 12 ships in the MSC Cruises fleet. In a bid to woo cruising families, the
new Lego rooms, aimed at kids up to 12 years, come on board this month. The MSC
Orchestra will be the first of the fleet to arrive in Australia from Dubai on
her maiden voyage on February 21. The Renaissance ships have separate four
separate kids’ clubs, from the Baby class for under-threes up to the Teens, from
15 to 17 years. The Lego upgrades are part of a E200m renovation program across
the entire fleet. Phone 1300 028502, see msccruises.com.au.


Modern retro

If you can’t bring yourself to lug around a chunky DSLR,
but are frustrated by the limits of most compact cameras, Fujifilm’s new X100T aims
to bridge the gap. Don’t be fooled by its retro styling, the 16MP camera has a
fixed 35mm-equivalent, f/2 lens that can snap a 3×2-meter jpeg for those
billboard statements and the world’s first electronic rangefinder. It also
shoots RAW files, has a stealth-mode silent shutter, lets you change the
aperture by a third (rather than a full stop), focuses manually or with
high-speed auto-focus and has a large, 3-inch monitor for easy viewing. It can
produce full HD video, has wi-fi and, in an of-the-moment quirk, can apply
filters to achieve that 70s look, for those who think they were born too late. Available
in black or silver and weighing 440g, the X100T is available this month, costs RRP
$1749. See fujifilm.com.au.


Worldly food wisdom
Maeve O’Mara shares the wisdom of the world’s kitchens in
her fourth cookbook in the SBS TV Food Safari series, Complete Food Safari:
delicious adventures through 44 cuisines. The book will teach you the tricks of
the perfect Kabuli pulao from Afghanistan to Danish gravat lax or crowd-pleasing
salt and pepper squid, as China sees it.

Each country has an explanation of its
food culture, a fascinating array of home cooks and a breakout of essential
flavours, from humble Clive of India curry powder (thank you, Broome), to
Brazil’s malagueta chillies and Syria’s seven-spice mix, baharat, used in over
400 recipes. Costs $59.95, out now. See hardiegrant.com.au.

Dressed to thrill: Gaultier fashion exhibition opens in Melbourne

Gaultier with Australian supermodel Alexandra Agostin.

“It’s not often an art opening turns into a discussion on trans-gender issues,” an art curator said, gleefully, to me today.

We were gossiping at the preview of the fabulous retrospective by fashion dynamo Jean Paul Gaultier.

Surrounded by conical bras (you remember Madonna in THAT bra in her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990?) and wildly elaborate, intricate, completely over-the-top fashion, what surprised me most was the man himself.

Flanked by two Australian muses, Alexandra Agostin and transgender supermodel Andreja Pejic (in her first appearance as a woman), Gaultier laughed, smiled, joked and charmed the (couture) pants off the 500+ audience who came to see him launch the exhibition, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to Catwalk. 

The exhibition has already travelled across the globe, bringing more than 140 creations to the people, from San Fran to Stockholm, but this time, Gaultier assures us, it’s almost perfect.

Alexandra Agostin and Andreja Pejic in the audience
at the exhibition’s launch in Melbourne today.

As was pointed out in the press conference, it is generally very difficult for the non-fashion world (ie. the rest of us) to view couture: sure you can look at a magazine, but where’s the movement, the life?

Melbourne, you’re a lucky woman: this is the only showing of the exhibition in the Asia Pacific. Opens tomorrow at the National Gallery of Victoria until February 8, 2015.

Adult $22
*Concession $18
Child (5-15 years) $10
Family (2 adults + 3 children) $60
NGV Member Adult $17
NGV Member Family (2 adults + 3 children) $48
Additional Family Child $5

If you’re in the hood, check out the NGV’s fantastic Friday night with John Paul Gaultier program.

Traveller: Takeoff travel news 20 July 2014

AIRLINE: Fresh bite of the Big Apple

Our passionate affair with New York gets
extra oomph when China Southern Airlines starts flying to the Big Apple via
Guangzhou, in southern China, from August 6. The service will run four times a
week on new generation Boeing B777-300ER aircraft to JFK airport, featuring cutting-edge
touchscreens in the pointy end and a new Premium Economy class with a 38-inch seat
pitch, up from the 32-inch pitch on standard economy seats. Use any layover
time to explore old Canton/new Guangzhou with its new
free 72-hour transit visas. China Southern now has two US hubs, New York and
LA, and codeshares with Delta from LA to eight cities including Atlanta, Boston,
Fort Lauderdale and Honolulu. The airline says the US is ‘earmarked for
expansion’. Stay tuned. 1300 889 628, csair.com.au.

KIT: Soft-shoe shuffle

If you’ve ever used ‘too bulky’ as a
reason not to pack runners, your lame excuse is no longer valid with
the discovery of Skechers GOwalk 2 travel shoes. A pair of average woman’s size
7 weighs just 226 grams and the mesh upper lets them squish down to fit even in
your carry-on, with no need for socks, so there’s more packing space for
shopping finds. Flexible and lightweight, the slip-ons are suitable for walking
the town and ideal for foxing airport x-ray scanners and shimmying down the
aisle on long-haul flights. Available in women’s, children’s and the men’s
GOwalk 2 – Maine. $99.95. 1800 655 154, skechers.com.au.

SITES: Road warriors
World Heritage Sites buffs should have
Peru in their sights as it now has 12 sites on its books, following the
addition of the Incan Great Trail to Machu Picchu. The UNESCO-listed Qhapaq Ñan (literally, ‘beautiful road’)
was the Incan empire’s super-highway, running 30,000km along the spine of the
Andes. Archeologists have also recently uncovered another ancient road leading
to Machu Picchu, opening up new views (think: new camera angles!) of the
citadel, which was built around 1450 but remained hidden until its rediscovery
by a US historian in 1911. Other sites in Peru’s top 12 include the sacred city
of Caral-Supe and the Chavín Archaeological Site. peru.travel.

KIDS: Marking time 
the kids to draw on the walls at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria, on
St Kilda Rd. In the dynamic Pastello – Draw Act playroom, kids can strap on helmets or shoes loaded with crayons and
run at the (paper-covered) walls to leave their anarchic
mark. There are also gigantic crayon pendulums and
a long drawing table with ‘cutlery crayons’ for small-scale masterpieces. The focus is on the movement and the act of drawing, not the
outcome, say Pastello’s creators, Italian design duo Erika Zorzi and
Matteo Sangalli. The interactive play space is also a
good time-out space for tattered tots. Open daily, 10am-5pm, until August 31. Free.

FOOD: State on a plate 
Put your city on a plate with the new Tapastry concept by feted chef and Pullman culinary ambassador Justin North. The sharing plates, devised by
North and the five-star hotels’ executive chefs, showcase
regional ingredients: we’re
talking Hawkesbury calamari, slow-cooked pork belly from the Northern Rivers or
single-origin chocolate by Zokoko, in the Blue Mountains. If you’re not leaving town, taste Tapastry at the Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour or
Sydney Olympic Park, or go further afield at the Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple
Resort in Palm Cove or Sails in the Desert, in Ayres Rock. The Tapastry concept is being rolled out
throughout the group’s 12 Australian five-star properties. 1300 656 565, pullmanhotels.com.

GADGET: Cool runnings 
You’re always running late, and your friends
know it. Skip the tedious ‘I’m on the train’ mobile call and give them get a
glimpse of your ETA with glimpse.com. The travel tracker pops your headshot up
on a dynamic, real-time map that you can share with nominated friends from
email, text, Facebook or Twitter. The info is available only for a designated
amount of time, up to four hours maximum, for added security. Best of all, the
app is free, with no accounts, passwords or logins, and you don’t even need to
have it installed to receive a glimpse.  Available
for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry users and now updated for Windows Phone 8.

FAMILY TRAVEL: Fiji for Teens
Kids too big for kids’ club? Let your teens explore Fiji
with the locals at the eco-friendly, five-star Jean-Michel Cousteau
Resort, recently voted best overseas family resort by Luxury Travel
magazine. The resort is up in the country’s wild northern island, Vanua
Levu, which teens can explore with a “buddy” from the activities
staff. Make a billi billi (bamboo raft) and head off swimming, hike
through the rainforest, go river tubing or snorkelling and finish off
with a beach bonfire. Free for teen guests 13 years and up. Stays cost
from $372 a person, twin share on a six-night stay from October 6 until
March 31 (excluding Christmas). 1300 306 171, fijiresort.com.

You may have noticed there are no deals on my website lately – I’m now writing the travel news for the Sun-Herald‘s Traveller section each week. To keep an eye on great deals, visit smh.com.au/travel 

Vintiquing in Melbourne: best vintage & antique shopping

CoteProvence, 433 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

It may be a 24-hour flight away but Melburnian Belinda Jackson says her home town holds rich rewards for antiques and design lovers holidaying in Australia.

‘Which do you like better, Melbourne or Sydney?’ It’s a question we Melburnians can’t help asking international visitors. Maybe we have second-child syndrome: founded in 1835, Melbourne is nearly 50 years younger than its glossy sibling. but despite Sydney’s glittering harbour and its first-city status, we also know that we have a great deal to rival what it offers. Who needs the harbour when you can walk the pier at St Kilda? Melbourne’s design scene is more exciting and, of
course, the coffee’s better down south. You’ve come a long way – but Australia’s
second-largest city definitely is worth the journey. 


Melbourne is one of the world’s great Art Deco cities,
thanks to a building boom leading up to its centenary in 1934. Many
architecture aficionados rate the Manchester Unity Building their favourite, but
guide and deco expert Robin Grow loves the Century Building
for what he describes as its ‘sleek, unadorned and uncompromising
verticality’(cnr Swanston St & Little Collins St). Join Robin on his Melbourne Art Deco tour, for $49, which takes place every
second Sunday of the month, meltours.com.au/architecture.htm


Undoubtedly one of the city’s most exciting streets for design is Gertrude Street in Fitzroy. It’s only a couple of
blocks long, but packed with great cafes, restaurants and some of
the city’s best vintage shops (see below). Fitzroy’s sister hotspots
include its neighbour, Colllingwood, refined Prahran and the
street-art-spattered lanes and alleyways of the central business district. Forget taking a taxi, make
like a local and zip between these areas on the trams.
A word of advice for the serious hunter: the high-end antique
stores cluster around Armadale’s High Street. Here you will find the Armadale Antique Centre (1147 High St, armadaleantiquecentre.com.au),
the Francophiles at Capocchi (941/951 High St, capocchi.com.au),
the fresh and fun Fenton & Fenton (471
High St, fentonandfenton.com.au) and the master of quirkiness, Graham Geddes Antiques (877 High St, grahamgeddesantiques.com).

Kazari + Ziguzagu,
450 Malvern Rd, Prahran


See what Melbourne’s artist community has to offer at the Rose Street Art & Design market (rosestmarket.com.au) which takes place efvery Saturday and Sunday, or look for vintage reads in the weekly book market
at Federation Square, the city’s love-it-or-hate-it modern architecture statement
(fedsquare.com). You won’t find anything
shiny and new or mass-produced at Camberwell’s enormous Sunday market, but lots of lovely pre-owned and
handcrafted goods (Sundays, 7am-12.30pm). The 135-year-old Queen Victoria Market is an institution selling produce through
the week, before acquiring a gifty edge on weekends (qvm.com.au). Lunch on hot pide (Turkish pizza) from the
delicatessen hall or squeeze in with the hipsters for a caffeine hit at tiny Market
Lane Cafe (109-111 Therry
St, marketlane.com.au).



Design Dispensary, 92 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

It’s said that if three Melburnians are standing
together, an espresso machine will soon turn up. This town has a serious speciality
coffee culture: aficionados hang in hip Proud
ordering cold drip, pourover, syphon and chemex coffees. The ricotta
hotcakes are astonishing and yes, you can get a latte. (172 Oxford St,
Collingwood, proudmarycoffee.com.au) For some New
York love, everyone’s talking about Bowery
to Williamsburg’s
pecan pie (16 Oliver Lane, City) while old
school vibes still resonate at oh-so Italian Pellegrini’s
Espresso Bar
, said to be the first place to pour an espresso in this town and
still rocking its original working-class diner theme (66 Bourke Street, City.


An hour and a half south of the city, you’ll discover our
beloved beach getaway, the Mornington Peninsula. This is the ideal place to enjoy fish and chips
and a paddle at Safety Beach or indulge yourself with a long lunch at Merrick’s General Store (3460
Frankston-Flinders Rd, Merricks, mgwinestore.com.au) or indeed at one of Red Hill’s
many wineries. In Dromana, don’t miss Felix
which appropriately sums itself up as ‘unique, boutique, antique’ (167 Point Nepean Rd,
Dromana, felix.net.au) while Big Chair stocks Australian-made, upcycled
furniture and also pocketable gifts (119 Ocean Beach Rd, Sorrento, and 118 Main
St, Mornington, bigchair.com.au) andhe little town of Tyabb is an antiques and
vintage hub. Check out The Vintage Shed
(thevintageshed.com.au) and the vast Tyabb
Packing House
at 14 Mornington-Tyabb Road (tyabbpackinghouseantiques.com.au) before heading back to the city.


WHERE TO STAY Artist and architect Maggie Fooke has created an
artistic haven at Brooklyn Arts Hotel (48-50 George St, Fitzroy, brooklynartshotel.com.au) which is just off Gertrude Street.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK Enjoy old-world glamour at The Everleigh bar (150-156 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, theeverleigh.com) Euro-cuisine at Moon Under Water
restaurant (211 Gertrude St, Builders’ Arms Hotel, buildersarmshotel.com.au) or modern Australian gastronomy at Saint Crispin’s
(300 Smith St, saintcrispin.com.au).

To find out which are Melbourne’s top eight vintage & antique shops, click here.

This feature by Belinda Jackson was first published in British magazine Homes & Antiques

A tale of three cities: Colombo, Kandy & Galle

A wooden horse, salvaged from the ruins of a temple,
rears up in its new home, the chic Colombo boutique
hotel, Tintagel. Photo: Belinda Jackson

Colombo, Kandy, Galle: discover the triumvirate that encapsulate Sri Lanka’s essence of life. 

From modern capital to ancient seat of power and colonial maritime enclave, they form the classic touring route that crosses mountains, soaks up mystical tales and touches the ocean’s shores.

Click Abercrombie&Kent_SriLanka to read more.

This photo essay was first published in Sundowner (Abercrombie & Kent magazine, November 2013)

It’s just the two of us: mother-daughter travels

There’s a world of ideas for a mother and daughter getaway with it all, writes Belinda Jackson. 

spa, eat, see and do – for mums and daughters, a trip together is a
unique way to celebrate and refresh your relationship without the
demands of kids, work and partners. Mums with teenage girls, snatch that
special time before they disappear into the world alone: perhaps this
is the chance to test the waters before gap years and the prospect of
solo travel raise their heads. After all, who could ask for a better
teacher of essential life skills?

in Italy, what would Audrey Hepburn do?” She’d probably drive to
beautiful little Siena (mental note: pack Pucci scarf and big
sunglasses), climb the top of the Mangia tower before shopping for
handmade Tuscan boots, then refreshing herself with lunch at a trattoria
and a little gelato.

Andrea Powis channels the ultimate diva on a 10-night tour through
Tuscany and down to Rome on a tour made for sisters or mums and
daughters. “It’s effervescent, elegant and timeless,” she says.

are home-cooked dinners at family vineyards and lunches in Renaissance
palaces with Florentine princesses, nights spent in country villas,
palazzos and monasteries, and two days on red Vespas, stopping for
morning cappuccinos in walled towns, with light shopping workouts in
between (non-Vespa divas are chauffeured). The tour ends in Rome, with a
tour of Villa Borghese and a promenade (and possibly more shopping)
along Via Condotti. The 10-night tour departs Florence on June 7, 2014.

Costs from $6699 a person, twin share. Phone 0408 721 569. See travellingdivas.com.au.

Revel in the flash and dash of fashionable Tokyo then soak up the tranquillity of a Shinto shrine in the Japanese countryside.

stays at traditional ryokans and imperial palaces and Buddhist temples
on the list, there is time for peace and reflection on this journey.
But, hey, there’s also fabulous shopping at oh-so beautiful department
stores and Tokyo’s hip strips.

This is a privately guided journey,
making it perfect for mums and daughters to reconnect: in spring for
cherry blossoms, summer with its gentle warmth or among the spectacular
autumn colours.

Departing from Tokyo daily, the nine-night tour includes
a first class on a bullet train from Hakone to Kyoto, a tea ceremony in
a private home, Michelin-starred restaurants and local izakayas and the
chance to emulate some of Japan’s best-dressed women in a kimono and

Costs from $11,185 a person, twin share. Phone 1300 851 800, see abercrombiekent.com.au.

Shopping is bonding, says Karen Parker O’Brien, who leads private shopping tours of New York City.
a mother-and-daughter day out, you’re bonding as best friends who care
about what the other thinks,” says the former fashion buyer, who will
take you into private showrooms and studios.
Her top shop is the homewares “museum” ABC Carpet & Home, on Broadway. “It’s a magical store.”
champagne and gourmet snacking, expect retail highs in designers’ NYC
showrooms, expect up to 80 per cent off in the wholesale haunts. A
private four-hour VIP walking tour costs from US$400 for four people,
limo tours from US$500. See karen@styleroom.com, styleroom.com.

is proof that daily life can and should be lived exuberantly, says art
historian, chef and guide Marieke Brugman. Celebrated culinary guide
Marieke’s nine-day tour through northern Spain starts in soulful
Barcelona before venturing north to Bilbao, Navarra and La Rioja.

mediaeval fishing harbours that spawned navigators and fashion
designers. Dine at a coveted chef’s table in the three-Michelin-star
Arzak, rated eighth in the world by San Pellegrino.
pintxos, sleep in mansions and learn kitchen secrets from northern
Spain’s masters. Marieke may even lead you into the whiskey bars of San
Sebastian or into tavernas run by elegant septuagenarian ladies.

especially of a more mature age, are not invisible in Spain,” says
Marieke. “To the contrary, they’re celebrated.” Departs September 26,
2014. Costs $10,000, phone 0419 580 381, see mariekesartofliving.com.

Crown Metropol’s sky-high pool, Melbourne.

better way to repay your mum for the sleepless nights, the endless
dishes and a lifetime of caring than to check her in for two days of
water therapy … we’re talking rituals using Aveda products,
stress-busting massages, a soothing facial and exclusive spa access at
Melbourne’s sky-high Crown Metropol. Level 27 is home to Crown’s lush
Isika spa, expansive views of Melbourne’s skyline as well as that
amazing pool, the one where Offspring’s lovely Patrick farewelled
television’s most glamorous mum-to-be, Nina.

The revive package
also includes one night’s accommodation in an Isika spa suite, breakfast
at the sky-high private guest lounge, 28, lunch and dinner at Mr Hive
and stress-free valet parking.
For total relaxation, book midweek
to avoid the weekend hustle. Costs from $880 a person or $1485 for two,
twin share. Phone 1800 056 662, see isikaspa.com.au.


the Hunter Valley is an easy getaway, with healthy cuisine, meditation,
morning tai chi and motivational speakers. Save 15 per cent on a
two-night weekend stay until December 20. From $940 a person, two
nights. 1800 212 011, goldendoor.com.au.

in dinner and a show, with Agatha Christie’s A Murder Announced, with
an overnight stay in Mantra 2 Bond Street, Sydney, from $500 a night
(until October 27) or in Melbourne, staying at Mantra on the Park, from
$472 (from October 30 to December 4). 1300 987 604, mantra.com.au.

the soul with a gentle bushwalk in the Southern Highlands and a stay at
the no-gadget Solar Springs Health Retreat, from $255 a person, twin
share. (02) 4883 6027, solarsprings.com.au.

Written by Belinda Jackson, published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper.

Can’t get to Afghanistan? Here’s the next best thing.

Gold hair pendant, 1st century BC – 1st century AD.
Photo:  Thierry Ollivier 

Afghanistan’s been on my wishlist for years, but it seems every time there was the hint of open borders, the country would become a flashpoint for disaster on a global scale.

So I could only imagine the wondrous beauty hidden in the mountainous country until yesterday, when the Melbourne Museum launched its latest exhibition, Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures.

The exhibition has more than 230 priceless artifacts from archaeological sites along the Silk Route. Afghanistan was the crossroads for the trading network, and the riches are decorated in motifs from the ancient world, blurring Indian, Greek, Persian and local mythological creatures and legends into one beautiful culture.

The story goes that a hill of Bactrian gold lay undisturbed for 2000 years, before being discovered in the late ’70s and held by the National Museum in Kabul. The museum was destroyed between 1992 and 1995, and what remained was looted.

Sutara Arian from Channel 31’s
Afghan program, in national dress
at the opening yesterday. 

So it was thought the gold was destroyed or melted down by warlords during the Soviet War or under subsequent Taliban rule, but the exhibition’s curator, archaeologist and National Geographic Fellow Fredrik Hibert – described by ABC’s Jon Faine yesterday as a real, live Indiana Jones – found it preserved by a courageous band of ‘keyholders’.

Hibert led a team into Afghanistan in 2003 and opened the vaults to reveal Afghanistan’s treasures, some of which have found their way to Melbourne.

Gold, turquoise, pyrite and bronze were wrought into diadems, pendants, statuettes and, the showpiece of the exhibition is a collapsible nomadic crown garnished with golden birds and the Tree of Life.

There are also beautiful photographs from Afghanistan today, including scenes from the Hindu Kush, terraced wheat fields of the Kunar River vValley and the ruins of a royal Greek city founded by Alexander the Great’s followers, Aï Khanum.

The exhibition was supposed to have been opened by the Governor-General, but leadership spills (the non-story of the day) stole her away. However, we did spot a tv-crew from Channel 31’s Afghan program, including host Sutara Arian (pictured) in gorgeous traditional dress. You can catch her program at 1.30pm Thursdays.

Collapsible nomadic crown, 1st century BC – 1st century AD.
Photo:  Thierry Ollivier 

Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul

22 March – 28 July 2013
Adults $24, concession $16, children $14, 131 102, Melbourne Museum 

Colomboscope to get the town talking

Galle Rd & the Indian Ocean, Colombo.

If you’re in Colombo next weekend, pencil in a few events from Colomboscope, an arts festival curated by  Sri Lankan author Ashok Ferrey. 

If I was in town, I’d be making a beeline for the panel of war reporters and a Sri Lankan army representative talking about massaging the numbers of war in ‘Who Counted the Bodies?’ Too grim for your tastes? There’s also a great debate on English-Singlish-Tinglish (blends of Sinhalese and Tamil), piano recitals, poetry and a rock concert 🙂 

FRIDAY 22ND MARCH 6.00 pm – 06.15 pm
Festival Opening  *Free Event*
Incredibly short speeches by Festival Sponsors: Anirvan Dastidar (CEO Standard Chartered Bank), Tony Reilly (Country Director, British Council), Bjoern Keitels (Director Goethe Institut), Ashok Ferrey (Festival Curator).

6.15 pm – 7.30 pm
Announcement of Short List for the Gratien Prize 2012
*Free Event* Compeered by Nafeesa K Amiruddeen. Introduction of judging panel, comments on the judging process by chair of panel, citations on the shortlisted works, brief self introductions by the five authors, and readings of their short-listed works.

8.30 pm – 10.30 pm
*GOURMET DINNER* At Bayleaf, Dutch Hospital, and Park Street Mews
Details and tickets from February 15th at Park Street Mews.

SATURDAY 23RD MARCH09.00 AM – 09.40 AM The Kaduwa
*Free Event*
Does English serve to unite or divide? English-Singlish-Tinglish – how far should be go with the indigenization of the language? Sumathy Sivamohan, Shermal Wijewardene and Malinda Seneviratne air their views. Moderator Shyamalee Tudawe wields the sword.

10.00 AM – 10.40 AM
1- Anjali Joseph in conversation with Tony Reilly
The prize-winning author of Saraswati Park and Another Country on her writing life.

11.00 AM – 11.40 AM 2- My Life in Robes
Two men and a woman in robes – a Christian priest, a Buddhist monk and a Muslim lady – talk about what those robes mean to them: how they serve to define their identity and how they change the way others perceive them. Moderator: Jill Macdonald.

12.45 PM – 1.30 PM
3 – Lunchtime Concert: Some Musical Fun
Concertmaster Lakshman Joseph de Saram and the Chamber Music Society of Colombo. Mozart Divertimento K. 522

02.00 PM – 02.40 PM 4 – Songs from Across the Water
Four poets: Three of Sri Lanka’s finest – Holocaust poet Anne Ranasinghe, Ramya Jirasinghe and Vivimarie VanderPoorten – and T. S. Eliot Prize nominee Sean Borodale, on expressing identity and alienation through their work.

03.00 PM – 03.40 PM 5 – Flying on the Other Wing
Minoli Ratnayake talks to Carolin Emcke, Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, Koluu and Brandon Ingram about sexual identity and living an alternate lifestyle in modern-day Sri Lanka, and to film-maker Asoka Handagama about the portrayal of it on film.

*Free Events* 04.00 PM
Book Launches and readings

6.00 PM – 08.00 PM
Film show followed by Q&A: Flying with one Wing by Asoka Handagama curated by Anoma Rajakaruna

06.15 PM – 06.30 PM Dance Recitals
*Free Event* Martha Graham – The Resurrection, by Seneka Abeyratne

07.00 PM – 07.45 PM Performance by nATANDA
Choreography by Kapila Palihawadana

08.00 PM – 10.00 PM *GOURMET DINNER*
At Bayleaf, Dutch Hospital, and Park Street Mews.

10.00 PM – 12.00 AM Rock Concert 
*Free Event* Kumar & Out of Time

09.30 AM – 10.10 AM
The Gratien Prize *Free Event*
Former Gratien judge and nominee Neluka Silva talks to last year’s winner Madhubhashini Dissanayaka Ratnayake and this year’s short listed hopefuls about Sri Lanka’s top literary prize for English writing, and what a win would meant to their writing career.

10.30 AM – 11.10 AM 6 – Sean Borodale in conversation with Smriti Daniel
T.S. Eliot Prize nominee, poet Sean Borodale talks to poet and journalist Smriti Daniel

11.30 AM – 12.30 PM 7 – Who Counted the Bodies?
War reporters Carolin Emcke and Julian West in conversation with Rajiva Wijesinha and a representative of the Sri Lankan Army, about the problems of war reportage: Who exactly assigns the numbers in an environment where facts and figures can be massaged equally vigorously by both sides? Moderated by Savithri Rodrigo.

01.00 PM – 01.40 PM 8 – Eshantha Peiris in Concert
One of Sri Lanka’s most gifted pianists, with his own selection.

02.00 PM – 02.40 PM 9 – In the Driving Seat
Three very different women novelists – Yasmine Gooneratne (The Sweet and Simple Kind), Anjali Joseph (Saraswati Park, Another Country) and Shamila Kandatha (Just the Facts, Madam-ji, A Break in the Circle) talk to Mrinali Thalagodapitiya about what exactly drives their work. Is it plot, character or genre? Or is it just plain good writing?

03.00 PM – 04.00 PM 10 – Kaveri Lalchand: One woman show
Side-splitting laughs with a born entertainer.

*Free Events*
04.00 PM – 04.30 PM Book launch – M.T.L. Ebell

05.00 – 05.30 PM  CD launch by Spa Ceylon

06.00 PM – 08.00 PM Film show followed by Q&A: August Sun by Prasanna Vithanage curated by Anoma Rajakaruna

07.00 PM – 07.45 PM Dance Recital: ‘Absence’, created by Ruhanie Perera in collaboration with Sally Dean and Jake Orloff

08.00 PM – 10.00 PM AFTERPARTY – Street bands and food carts

Keep in touch with it all here