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… 

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Notes from the back of a Daylesford wine bottle

Good Catholic Girl ‘Teresa’ Riesling 2010, Clare Valley: 

‘St Teresa of Avila b. 1515 (patron of headache sufferers) is said to have been viewed levitating during deep prayer. My mother Teresa, prays, but to this point has not achieved levitation. The consumption of Clare Riesling over many decades has not caused her to levitate either. Could this dry crisp Riesling be the one?

Grapes grown by good catholic boys Faulkner and Pearson of Penworthham and Marsson of Watervale. Blessed with 600 dozen. Julie Ann Barry, Maker. www.goodcatholicgirl.com.au”
 

This excellent young Riesling was sitting perkily in the fridge of Monastiraki (Greek: ‘little monastery), the latest offering from Tina Banitski, the artist and mastermind
of The Convent, in Daylesford. 

The forbidding former Catholic nunnery and school is now a cheeky art gallery, as well as Bad Habits cafe and the Altar bar (because the bar contains a chunk of the original altar in it, as well as the tabernacle). 

Tina has also recently renovated a nearby house, stuffing it with work from her favourite artists, curios and wine to create Monastiraki, the perfect getaway for a bunch of friends or family. 

People, it is officially Out There, from the paint-splattered mannequins hanging from the coat hooks to the scarlet or lime green bedroom walls, the fabulously wild artworks, cushion-tastic daybeds and buttock sculptures, essential, of course, for any self-respecting boudoir.


A different direction: Lovin’ Lorne

My drive from Melbourne to Lorne, on the Victorian coastline, is not quite Hunter S. Thompson’s iconic road journey, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, where he packs his attorney, two bags of grass, mescaline, acid and a salt shaker half full of cocaine: I’m packin’ my mum, some nice nectarines and a swimsuit in the hope that the water in Lorne’s Loutit Bay, aka Bass Strait, isn’t going to freeze my blood.

Click here to read more.


Where good looks count: Clear Mountain Lodge, Brisbane

Here’s a little tale about a lodge on Brisbane’s far northern fringe, near Samford. So I played down the arguments about the GPS, but it truly was a grim, bleak drive up to the lodge. Well worth it, really.

IT IS a cold and windy night, the night we head to Clear Mountain Lodge, a small hotel about 35 minutes’ drive north of the Brisbane city centre.

The lodge is, unsurprisingly, at the top of lonely Clear Mountain, in Brisbane’s little-known hinterland. In the dark of night, having been unceremoniously stranded in Queensland thanks to Chilean volcanic ash clouds, the lodge could be on the moon, for all I can see.

Thank goodness for the GPS, the neo-tech husband says. I’ll switch off my Walkman so I can hear you call me antediluvian but I just don’t trust them. So we argue all the way to Clear Mountain, before calling the hotel to check its location.

“Just drive to the top of the hill. You can’t miss it,” the receptionist says. “Don’t follow the GPS and go on Old School Road. It’ll send you down a four-wheel-drive track through a forest.” Tres Wolf Creek.

Click here to read more.


Happy Easter!

It is a mark of the difference between Australia’s commercial TV stations and the national broadcaster that at Easter, Channel 7 is showing The Fast and the Furious 2 (muscle mary Vin Diesel does street car races) the while the far more high-brow ABC is showing the 1956 movie, The 10 Commandments.
The Cecil B De Mille number was filmed partially just outside Cairo, starring Charles Heston as Moses and Yul Brynner as a hunky Pharaoh Ramses, with an abundance of muscles and lavish use of body oil.
The TV notes describe the movie as “the monumental dramatisation of the book of Exodus, [which] recreates the life of Moses from his infancy through to his deliverance of the Israelites”.Talk about big subject matter.
  
Anyway, Charles and Cecil stayed at the Mena House hotel, which still stands right beside the Pyramids, and Charles would ride his horse down from filming into the hotel’s afternoon cocktails on the lawn, all flowing beard and robes. 
With the discounts and incentives Egyptian tourism is currently offering to lure tourists back after the revolution, I reckon you’d be allowed to do a Charles and ride your pony down from the Pyramids into hotel drinkies, no worries. 

PS: I now note that Channel 7 IS actually showing the same movie, only starting at 11.30pm!


Essential guide to Kuala Lumpur

There’s more to KL than those big towers – and what are they, anyway? You go up high, you look around, you go down…

Instead, we say hit the malls for some truly fabulous shopping, and get down and dirty on the streets of Little Inida, Chinatown, the Malay quarters…

Click here for where to shop, eat, sleep and sightsee in KL…


Open-air drama in Melbourne’s skies

ONE of my pet hates is staying in hotel rooms where you can’t open the windows. I understand, in extreme circumstances, that annoying hotel guests might muck up the aircon, say, in a Dubai summer or a Helsinki winter. But in balmy Australia?

Ok, so ‘balmy’ might be pushing it in autumnal Melbourne at the mo, but it was deliciously sunny the days I visited the Langham Hotel, on Southbank. To read more about the hotel and its new terrace rooms, click here.


Jacarandas and moody blues

“BALFOUR Street, New Farm?” asks the airport bus driver. “Are you sure? There used to be a real rough, scuzzy backpackers’ down there.”

“No, really. There’s a new hotel and it’s supposed to be quite swish,” I assure him. The rest of the minibus has its ears open, so it’s with a flourish the garrulous driver pulls up in front of the wide verandahs of an urbane-looking Queenslander and declares: “Well, that’s a turn-up for the books. Not bad looking at all.”

click here to read more about Spicers Balfour, in Brisbane. Yes, Brisbane.