SUMMER SPOTS IN SYDNEY

Icebergs, Aria - they've been done time and time again. Gorgeous to be sure, but if you're after a great place to graze and soak up the sun in Sydney this summer (without the fuss) read on.

The Royal Hotel, Paddington.

The Royal Hotel, Paddington.

The Boathouse, Manly.

The Boathouse, Manly.

The Butler, Potts Point $$$ - One of our favourite spaces when the weather gets warmer. A botanically themed dining room leads out to a luxe terrace with stunning views. A well balanced menu of sharing plates covers old school dishes such as lyonnaise pork sausage rolls and steak frites to modern creations like jerk tofu with green chilli salsa. A well stocked bar will have you dining here with absolute content from day to night.
http://butlersydney.com.au

Crinitis, Woolloomooloo $$$ - The italian institution Crinitis has multiple locations but it's the wharf-side Woolloomooloo outlet that makes eating pasta slurpingly good. With too many options on their extensive menu to order without having serious FOMO, we recommend the reasonably priced $59 4 course banquet that includes a starter, pasta, main and dessert. Two thumbs up for a sausage rigatoni and nutella pizza. Bellissimo!
http://www.crinitis.com.au

Crinitis, Woolloomooloo.

Crinitis, Woolloomooloo.

The Boathouse, Shelly Beach Manly $$ - The Boathouse operation is slick and bustling. Despite the DIY service (find your own table, menu on the wall, order at the counter), the vibe is bright and fun. Flatbreads, dips and burgers come out quickly and are beautifully done. If you're feeling fancy champagne buckets are on hand and extremely popular while watching the surf.
http://www.theboathousesb.com.au

The Royal Hotel, Paddington $$ - The recently revamped Royal Hotel sits pretty on a quiet street in Paddington. Even more pretty is the interior, where the upstairs dining room is light filled and intimate. Extending outside is a wrap around terrace, perfect for al fresco meals in summer. Waffle fries, charcuterie boards and heirloom tomato salads get the palate going. Mains of schnitzel and pumpkin ravioli are wholly satisfying too. Head upstairs to the rooftop when you're done for a drink with an urban view.
http://www.royalhotel.com.au

Woollahra Hotel, Woollahra $$ - A really relaxed environment, the Woollahra Hotel is great for after work drinks and a quick feed. With a bright greenhouse-style dining space, pizzas, burgers and super food salads hit the spot when you've got the munchies. But perhaps Woollahra's biggest drawcard is it's cocktail menu. With a section dedicated to G&T's with different accents and mixes, we could quite happily work our way through the entire list on a balmy afternoon.
http://woollahrahotel.com.au

Catalina, Rose Bay $$$ - Catalina does modern fine dining without the fuss. Perched on the water in Rose Bay, Catalina has a seafood menu to match. Lobster fettuccine, freshly shucked oysters and crispy skin barramundi are light and fresh. If you're after a snack, the sushi menu is worth a try. Finish with a glass of rose and you're set.
http://catalinarosebay.com.au

EXPLORING QUEENSTOWN

Exploring Queenstown with Canada Goose

Mt Nicholas Farm.

Mt Nicholas Farm.

Arrowtown.

Arrowtown.

Arrowtown

Arrowtown

Mary MacKillop Church, Arrowtown.

Mary MacKillop Church, Arrowtown.

Skyline, Queenstown.

Skyline, Queenstown.

Stargazing at the Skyline, Queenstown.

Stargazing at the Skyline, Queenstown.

High Country Horses, Glenorchy.

High Country Horses, Glenorchy.

Petting Farm, High Country Horses.

Petting Farm, High Country Horses.

Albarino at Mt Edwards Winery.

Albarino at Mt Edwards Winery.

There's so much to do in New Zealand. The south island offers a plethora of extreme activities, booked at booths on nearly every street corner. But for those who like to keep it low key, I've found some unique experiences around Queenstown that wont break your back.

MT NICHOLAS FARM EXPERIENCE: A scenic cruise and you're at a historic farm situated on Lake Wakatipu. 100,000 acres (the size of Singapore) of incredible terrain is home to over 29,000 sheep. The tour takes you on a 4WD journey around the farm, watching sheep dog round up the lambs and witnessing the production of Merino Wool.
Mt Nicholas Farm Tour

ARROWTOWN: A 20 minute drive from Queenstown and you're in Arrowtown. A quaint town with historic miners cottages, Arrowtown has some great food and boutiques on offer. Head to the Chop Shop for an Asian influenced brunch, Dorothy Brown's for art house cinema, Nadine Milne gallery for upcoming New Zealand artists and The Blue Door for a great speakeasy.

SKYLINE QUEENSTOWN: The gondola is an iconic fixture in the Queenstown landscape but by no means is it kitsch. Take the scenic ride to the top of the mountain and experience some of the best views in town. The more adventurous can ride the luge while others can have a nibble at the indoor cafe. The real winner is the stargazing tour, where you are kitted out with Canada Goose jackets and are guided through the galaxy through some serious pro telescopes.
http://www.skyline.co.nz/

HIGH COUNTRY HORSES: Take the stunning drive out of Queenstown to Glenorchy and you'll find High Country Horses. Small groups are guided through deep river crossings and over land used to film Xmen and The Lord of the Rings. Experienced riders are able to canter while first timers are well looked after. They also have a petting farm full of lambs, calves, deer and pigs.
http://www.high-country-horses.co.nz/

WINE COUNTRY: Pack a picnic and take yourself on a tour around Otago's wine country. Great Chardonnay's, Riesling's and Pinot's are right on Queenstown's doorstep. If you stop at one, they'll most likely recommend another and your day will fly by. Try the Albarino at Mt Edward and make your way from there.
http://www.mountedward.co.nz/

PACKING ESSENTIAL - CANADA GOOSE: Despite spring lambs in abundance during my south island trip, temperatures dropped to below zero overnight. Keeping warm whilst still being functional, as a photographer is essential. This trip I packed the Chelsea Parka by Canada Goose (worn throughout). With its delicate quilting, minimal aesthetic and removable coyota fur hood it's versatile and well designed. The artic tech keeps you dry, multiple zipped pockets on the inside (spare batteries and memory cards - check) and it's filled with 625 Fill Power Duck Down. It's a staple for any traveller.
http://www.canada-goose.com/

DINING IN QUEENSTOWN

Queenstown is changing. Artisanal producers are flocking to the local valleys and reaping the rewards of the land. Handmade chocolates, natural wines and goats cheese are made with love and devoured by a new gentrified kind of traveller. So while bungy jumping is still on the menu for some, we set out to find who's serving up the best food in Queenstown.

 

Rata - Fine Dining $$$
Named after the local Rata tree and taking inspiration from New Zealand's South Island, Rata is a fine dining experience without the fuss. Diners casually graze on a menu that is approachable and refreshing. "Bites" of tuna, avocado and grapefruit were perfectly balanced and pulled pork croquettes were moorish. Larger dishes such as beef cheek with cauliflower risotto and roasted duck with confit and black garlic were fine examples of Chef Josh Emett's understanding of the South's produce. Sweets demonstrate serious technical skill by the pastry chef with cream filled cinnamon "oysters" and oozing salted caramels. With a well curated wine list and an off-the-strip location, Rata has quickly established itself as a favourite amongst well seasoned travellers and the locals.
http://www.ratadining.co.nz/


Botswana Butchery - Steakhouse $$$
You'd be hard pressed to find a prettier dining room than the one at Botswana Butchery. Melting in to a deep cigar chair and watching the sun set over the lake is an experience in itself. Butcher's knives hang proudly on the wall while the log fire crackles away and diners happily tuck in to some local lamb (a specialty). Traditional starters such as french onion soup run alongside more unique dishes like Peking Duck. Main's showcase a range of game and meats but I skip straight to the butchers block. My grain finished eye fillet was juicy and full of flavour, served with your choice of sauce (try the garlic aoili). Classic sides of mac & cheese, greens and mashed potato were done well and wines are reasonably priced. Finish with a dark chocolate marquise and you have a very solid meal. Even better, you can book one of their individually furnished private dining rooms (can accommodate 2 to 30) for those special moments.
http://www.botswanabutchery.co.nz/


Madam Woo - Modern Malaysian $$
Madam Woo is buzzing on the night of my visit. A no booking policy doesn't deter diners who are happy at the bar sampling Madam Woo's fresh Asian inspire cocktails (a must try). Hanging lanterns warm the room and cool waiters seamlessly delivering plates of spicy food to ravenous tables. Hawker rolls come out as crispy and flaky Roti Canai filled with herbs and chicken. They're fresh and have me wishing I'd ordered another serve. A Nonya chicken curry is bursting with all the flavour elements of a Malay curry and black bean pork spare ribs fall apart in your mouth. Classic Asian desserts of sago pudding and banana fritters are damn good with coconut cream and fresh mango.
http://madamwoo.co.nz/


The Sherwood - Local Modern Dining $$
The in-house restaurant for the Sherwood hotel offers food sourced from it's own garden and surrounds. Head chef, Ainsley, plates up food with so much thought and care, it's almost a shame to eat it. A menu mapped out in to Earth, Fire, Wind and Water sees grains, veg, meat and fish seasoned with what's available from their backyard. A charcuterie board of their own house pancetta and pastrami is simply delicious, served with their pickles and sauerkraut. Polenta is creamy and is served effortlessly with beef and kale during my grazing feast. Save room for lemon meringue made with chickpeas, a combo that miraculously worked and left me wanting more. Flipside, let the sommelier guide you through their natural wine map, pairing local Otago wines to your food and expertly finding selections depending on your personal taste.
http://sherwoodqueenstown.nz/


Pedro's House of Lamb - Lamb takeaway $
This institution only serves up one dish: a shoulder of slow roasted lamb and scallop potatos. It's $45 and serves two. They will even deliver to your hotel for a small fee. The lamb melts in your mouth and is fragrant of thyme and rosemary.
http://www.pedros.co.nz/


Fergbaker - Bakery $
Skip Fergburger (it's just a burger) and head next door to their bakery. Pies and cakes will feed you for less than $10. Particularly good is their Boston Cream Donut. Wash it down with their mango acai smoothie.
http://www.fergburger.com


Taco Medic - Tacos $
Tucked away, high up on the hill towards the gondola sits Queenstown's best kept food truck secret, Taco Medic. Serving up gluten-free tacos in fresh pressed corn tortillas, this truck has a limited menu of four tacos and they're all good. The slow roasted pork (The Bushman) is dusted with pork crackling and The Stockman (pulled beef) is smoky and spicy. Add some chips and guacamole to the menu and we'd feel complete.
http://tacomedic.co.nz/


Vudu Cafe - Brunch $
If you want decent poached eggs, look no further. Except perhaps to their new sister cafe Bespoke Kitchen, which is next door to the Queenstown Medical Centre. Coffee, pastries and salads are all on offer and use some of the best produce available.
www.vudu.co.nz/

ONE HOT YOGA, SOUTH YARRA

Health rarely crosses my mind but a year of flying, jetlag and bad diet had taken it's toll. A hip injury and an expanding gut prodded me in to choosing an assignment at Aro Ha, a luxury wellness retreat. So, in order to prepare I committed myself to two weeks of daily yoga and pilates. At the chicest studio I could find, of course.

One Hot Yoga and Pilates from architect Rob Mills and yogi Lucinda Mills is an inner urban hub for those who are conscious about where they practice. Beautiful men and woman float in and out of classes glowing and prepared for the day ahead. I was in the right place.

Downloading the One Hot App where everything is at the touch of a button, I was able to purchase memberships, book classes or cancel on the run. It's user friendly and perfect for the modern yoga enthusiast.

Classes range from Slow Hot Flow-a staple at One Hot, Power Flow and Yin Yoga. The teachers are calm and present and despite some of the sessions being at capacity (5pm onwards) they are attentive to your technique.

A few doors down is One Hot Pilates with several studios kitted out with state of the art Allegro Reformer Machines. Classes run several times a day with expert instructors who really get your body burning. Glute, calf, arm and ab muscles were starting to take shape in a short two week period. My posture improved within a few days and there's nothing like instant gratification to keep you motivated to continue.

Stepping outside my comfort zone are Hot Mat Pilates and Ball Pilates. Utilizing only the body for balance and strength, these classes are difficult but leave you feeling properly worked.

Body chiselling aside, the design of One Hot oozes calm and wellness. Neutral grey walls, quiet sitting areas, giant sea shells and their signature scent encourages mindful thinking and presence. The connection between space and the body at One Hot has really been mastered.

Memberships range from individual passes, purchasing a pack of classes or monthly to yearly subscriptions. They have a great two week intro with unlimited access to both their Pilates and Yoga studios for only $50. So get those buns going.

 

I trained courtesy of One Hot Yoga.
http://www.onehotyoga.com.au/

IT'S ALL COCO, BABY.

There's a lot of talk about the benefits of coconut oil by beauty aficionados, nutritionists and celebs. So for my recent trip to Hawaii I stocked up to see whether one bottle of coconut oil could fix all my hot weather ailments.

HAIR - I used a coconut oil based shampoo and conditioner by Coconut Revolution, which comes in a travel sized pack for those humid getaways. Ladies blessed with unruly locks, like myself, should use this stuff religiously on holiday. The shampoo left my roots squeaky clean and the conditioner was ultra moisturising without being heavy on my fine hair. I finished off with a coconut serum which tamed the flyaways and left my tresses entirely edible.

BODY - The heat really dried out my skin in Hawaii. Combined with sand and residue from salty water, I was showering 3 times a day and my legs were starting to scale like snake skin. If your skin is really dry, like mine, topically treating it with coconut oil after a warm shower or bath will give the best results. However, it's a light oil and not deeply absorbed, so while it can keep you going during the day (the Coconut Revolution bottles are small and purse friendly), I did need to deeply moisturise at night with my regular body lotion.

FACE - Where coconut oil really did work for me was as a make-up and dirt remover before cleansing my face. Rubbing the oil in the evening lifted off caked on mascara and soothed my skin before my normal routine. It's a step in my skin care routine I would continue at home.

TEETH - You may have heard of people using coconut oil before to keep their smiles bright and teeth white. I gave it a go by swirling and pulling the stuff in my mouth each day. It wasn't pleasant and the recommended five to ten minutes session per day was whittled down to one minute by the end of two weeks, but I did see results. My teeth are whiter and my oral hygiene significantly improved. If you have patience, it's a great natural home remedy.

TIPS - Look for coconut oil that is organic and cold pressed. I'm not a preacher for organic or any other health labels but in this case it's essential as you maximise your benefits. Because it can be used on your body, face, hair and in your cooking, getting the best coconut oil makes it much more versatile for your needs, all from just one bottle.

For more information:
http://www.coconutrevolution.com.au/

 

ISLAND PACKING ESSENTIALS

Our recent trip to Sri Lanka and Maldives saw us in a dilemma. How does one walk the hills during the day and sip premium gin at night without having to take a checked bag? Here are our packing essentials for the islands of the Laccadive Sea.
Rio playsuit by Faithfull The Brand.

Rio playsuit by Faithfull The Brand.

Bali bikini by Melissa Odabash.

Bali bikini by Melissa Odabash.

'Axel Mano Milanese hat. Stephanie cream cover up by Melissa Odabash.

'Axel Mano Milanese hat. Stephanie cream cover up by Melissa Odabash.

'Axel Mano Parisisal hat.

'Axel Mano Parisisal hat.

Ignes cover up by Melissa Odabash.

Ignes cover up by Melissa Odabash.

Tan sandals by Palmaira Australia.

Tan sandals by Palmaira Australia.

Haute playsuit by Faithfull The Brand

Haute playsuit by Faithfull The Brand

Marbella bikini by Melissa Odabash.

Marbella bikini by Melissa Odabash.

The cover up and bikini: Melissa Odabash

Celebrities and it-women flock to Melissa Odabash for her well-cut, vibrant designer swimwear. We packed the Marbella and Bali Bikini's and her lace cover ups (which were on point for swanning around swish resorts and even made an appearance at dinner). The bra's provide great support, heavy chested women take note, and bottoms don't dig in. The large range accommodates a variety of shapes and sizes and is available online.
http://www.odabash.com

 

The playsuit: Faithfull The Brand

When an Australian and a Norwegian lass created the line, Faithfull The Brand, in Bali, the result of dreamy off-shoulder dresses and open-backed playsuits in hand-printed fabrics seemed natural. Rope and tassel accoutrements leave you feeling beachy and youthful and they fold up tiny for your packing pleasure. Circumferencing an island on your bike, throwing over swimwear to the beach or with gladiator sandals for cocktails: there's no place Faithfull can't go.
http://www.faithfullthebrand.com

 

The hat: 'Axel Mano

We love bespoke hats. Despite being a packing nightmare, they're essential for any island holiday. 'Axel Mano, make their hats in Sydney, Australia by hand, with a range that takes the classics and makes them look organically cool. Leather embellishments, unique colours and a bit of opulence sets 'Axel Mano aside from so many other hat makers. Tip: If you're not taking a hat box then pack it upside down, stuff and surround with clothing to keep it's shape.
http://axelmano.com

 

The sandal: Palmaira

We love the revival of Avarca sandals. Made by hand in Menorca, one island to another, we think these tick off the best of comfort, style, packing size and affordability. The leather is soft and the cut allows your feet to breathe in the heat. Available in a range of colours, we like to stick to the neutrals for versatility.
http://www.palmairasandalsaustralia.com

GETTING AROUND SRI LANKA

With so much to explore on the small island of Sri Lanka, one would think it's pretty simple to knock off a few POI in a short time. Not so. Don't let google maps fool you. Single lanes, windy roads and stop-start traffic can triple your travel time . So here's a list of the best ways to get around Sri Lanka (if that is possible).

Train

Sri Lanka has an old but reliable railway that can get you most of the way for only a few dollars. From Colombo, the network spreads North, South and East effectively. Kandy, Galle and Badulla are all easily accessible. The rides are slow and often go overtime but if you can't spring for a driver they're a great option. Maps and schedules can be found at the official Sri Lankan Railway site and I recommend booking first class seats in advance.
www.railway.gov.lk

Privately run carriages also operate a more luxury option and are available to be booked online.
www.exporail.lk and www.rajadhani.lk

 

Tuk-tuk (three wheel vehicle)

A perfect option for short trips, they are great for sight seeing around a city. Charging roughly 50c per kilometre, you have a great view of whats going on around you. If you're overloaded with luggage it's best to avoid tuk-tuks as there isn't much space.

 

Driver: CEYLON TOURS

My preference is to use a driver around Sri Lanka. It is one of the most reliable ways to get between towns. I used Ceylon Tours, Sri Lanka's oldest and most established tour company and they were flawless. Our driver Mervin was knowledgeable on all aspects of Sri Lanka from local affairs, religion, food and points of interest. The cars were new and clean and all requests along the way could be accommodated. They will let you know how long your drive is going to take and they wont underestimate. They are experts in knowing the unpredictability of Sri Lanka's roads. Ceylon Tours can also handle many other aspects of your stay in Sri Lanka from tours, accommodation and flights.
http://ceylontours.com

LA TULIPE, BYREDO PARFUMS

I'm not an authority on nice things. But one of my good friends is. Always educating me on how to be cool, she enlightened me recently to BYREDO in the form of an addictive smelling gift.

Being a design addict, I spent most of my time inspecting the packaging, which was so impressive, I cared none for the scent at that point. I coo'ed and ahh'ed over the stock of the paper, the perforated seals and the tiny envelope with LA TULIPE'S mantra.

It writes:
ONCE THE SUN BECOMES WARM ENOUGH, WALK ALONG THE STONE PATH, THROUGH THE GATE, UNDER THE TRELLIS. SIT ON THE MARBLE BENCH. FEEL THE COOL GRASS UNDER YOUR FEET, THE WARM RAYS ON YOUR BACK. DO THIS EVERY MORNING TILL SUDDEN VARIEGATED GLINTS OF RED OR PURPLE OR PINK OR ORANGE CATCH YOUR EYE. THEY’LL BE THE FIRST BLOOMS OF THE SEASON. CLIP ONE, BRING IT BACK, PLACE IT IN A SMALL WHITE VASE ON THE TABLE. I WILL FIND IT THERE, UNYIELDING IN ITS SIMPLE DEVOTION TO ITS OWN PURE FORM, COLOR, AND SMELL. I’LL KNOW SPRING HAS COME.
 

And so in the mood for Spring, I am.

A Jo Malone addict (of which I am still fiercely loyal), and having been gifted many fragrances over the years (Bond no. 9, L'Histoire, Le Labo), none have managed to incorporate themselves in to my day to day. Welcome to the working week, LA TULIPE.

Prone to a headache from most perfumes, I adore something unique, light and floral. If you are discerning with your fragrance, just like your hotels, then I suggest you go sniff out BYREDO for yourself. There is no sickly sweet aroma nor a heady kick in the face. It's fresh, bespoke and quite frankly smells expensive. No "Oh Gucci Rush, yes I have that one too" here.

So, does LA TULIPE really smell like tulips? Yes, but in a much more mysterious way. With top notes of Rhubarb, Cyclamen and Freesia, a heart of Tulip and base of Blonde Woods and Vetiver, the finished scent rolls around the nose and finishes floral and peppery.

With around 15 different fragrances, there's enough choice for most. Gals, look at men's if you're stuck. I have quite a few men's perfumes and they are some of my favourites. The native Swede founder, Ben Gorham is a half Indian, half Canadian (hurrah for half Indians!) style icon and his fine art training from Stockholm Art School is clearly evident in his aesthetic. They even have a collab out with Oliver People's - chic. So source it locally and sniff one out.

MADE IN FRANCE (obviously).


www.byredo.com