Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Rock 'n' roll hotel brand lives on with a new guise

Back in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, the Sebel Townhouse Hotel was one of the trendiest places to stay in Sydney - and was much loved by rock stars and celebrities. 

Constructed in 1963, the Sebel was part of the nightlife precinct in and around Kings Cross and hosted guests including Elton John, David Bowie and Dire Straits. In 1984, it was the venue for the reception of Elton's wedding to Renate Blauel. 

Nowadays the Sebel name lives on as a brand in the Accor group and The Sebel will reach 35 properties in the Pacific with the announcement three new The Sebel hotels are set to open in Australia and New Zealand within the next 12 months.

The new hotels are the The Sebel Yarrawonga (2020, below), The Sebel Melbourne Ringwood (2021), and The Sebel Wellington Lower Hutt (2021).

“The expansion of The Sebel brand in Australia and New Zealand will deliver benefits for guests, loyalty members and their communities," said Simon McGrath AM, Chief Executive Officer for Accor Pacific. 

“The Sebel is a leading premium brand with a strong reputation for delivering exceptional accommodation and an outstanding service experience. 

"Trusted brands, like The Sebel, bring quality and credibility to the serviced apartments sector, which has been rapidly growing in popularity. We are expecting to see a boom in this area, particularly in the current climate, as serviced apartments limit unnecessary contact with other guests and offer a safe and secure way to travel.

“Each of these hotels will have significant impacts locally, driving employment and tourism to each location. Accor continues to expand its offerings across Australia and New Zealand - the Pacific is a strong region and the future of travel is bright.”

The Sebel Yarrawonga opens on November 1 in the picturesque Murray River region adjacent to Silverwoods Golf and Lifestyle Resort. 

It is situated an hours' drive from Albury town centre, a three-hour drive from Melbourne and five hours from Sydney. The property has 63 studios rooms and apartments, with a further 54 rooms expected in stage two of the development in 2022-2023.  

For more information and to book, visit

Some welcome news for the Australian wine industry

Steady demand for Australian wine around the world has seen growth in value to all top-five export markets and a 4% increase in overall value to $2.998 billion, Wine Australia’s latest Export Report reveals. 

In the 12 months ended September 2020, the average value of Australian wine exports increased by 4% to $3.89 per litre, matching the growth of overall value. 

The volume of exports declined slightly by 0.4% to 771 million litres (85.7 million cases).

Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark said the overall value is at the highest level since exports reached $3 billion in the second half of calendar year 2007.

"Despite the unprecedented disruption that we’ve seen in markets around the world, Australian wine export volume has held reasonably steady and it is particularly pleasing to see both the overall value and the average value of exports growing during these challenging times." Clark said.

The growth in value was predominantly driven by exports to the United Kingdom and mainland China. And that growth has been particularly strong in the last quarter of the 12-month period.

"During the July to September 2020 quarter, the value of exports increased by 23% compared to the same period in 2019, and this comes after declines of 4% in the April to June quarter and 7% in the January to March quarter," Clark said.

"Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been clear trends for wine consumption emerging around the world. 

"While premiumisation has continued, there has also been a resurgence in commercial wines, and this is evident in the growth that we’ve seen in different price segments, where it was particularly strong at the low and high ends.

‘Different markets have had different trends. In markets such as the UK and USA, growth was primarily at the commercial/value end, while in China growth for premium wines has remained strong this year."

Exports in glass bottles increased by 2% in value to $2.4 billion and decreased by 3% in volume to 336 million litres. 

Over the past 12 months, Australian exporters shipped wine to 117 destinations. The top five destinations by value all recorded growth. They were: China, USA, UK, Canada and New Zealand. 

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Get crafty now Tasmania has reopened its doors

Tasmania has re-opened its doors and is welcoming  back Australian travellers from Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. 

The Tasmanian Government continues to monitor the situation in New South Wales, with the hope that border restrictions may ease in early November. 

Tourism Tasmania CEO John Fitzgerald says: “Tasmania is excited to welcome back visitors and provide them with a much-needed holiday. Tasmania has bucket loads of character that no other destination in Australia offers. 

"Tasmanians are creative bunch so it’s fantastic to see new and unique experiences being developed during 2020 for visitors to now come and enjoy. Our passionate tourism industry are ready to greet visitors safely, but with our customary warm Tassie welcome.” 

Among the new events for both locals and visitors are two arts and crafts fairs on the same week in December; from December 4-6.

Artists and Makers of the Huon - Art and Wine Trail sees local artisans join forces with two local wineries to welcome visitors to the Huon Valley, south of Hobart. 

This offers a rare opportunity to visit some of the secret studios hidden away in the valley and visit the artists in their creative environments. 

Each of the participating business has implemented a Covid-19 safety plan. 

Participating wineries and artists include: Kate Hill Wines, Home Hill Winery, Lisa Britzman at Campo de Flori Ceramics, Ross Patston-Gill, Brian Looker , Henrietta Manning, Bronwyn Clarke, Lysbeth Driessen, David Rauenbusch of Phoenix Creations (pictured above) and Richard Stanley.

In Hobart, the designed:made - makers market will take place in Hobart's historic Town Hall and will feature some of Tasmania's best emerging and established designers.

This design market is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of Tasmania's best market style events for high quality craft and design. 

Organised by designed:made inc. the design market includes a wide range of work including furniture, jewellery, ceramics, glass, textiles, prints and more, with nearly 40 designers and makers present, including Sonja Cook (wallaby leather bags, above).

The stall holders are selected to ensure a mix of both established and emerging designers and makers, so there is always new and interesting work on display.

“This makers market showcases what talent Tasmania has to offer with high quality designed objects made in a host of different mediums. The event brings together a unique range of product which often is hard to access, and meeting the maker directly, definitely adds to the experience," said Linda Fredheim, one of the event organisers.

"2020 has been a difficult year for many of Tasmania’s designers and makers. With galleries and markets closed, and general widespread uncertainty, artists and designers have struggled financially and creatively. Everyone has had to adapt. Lots of our designers took the opportunity to completely rethink their practice, and used the time to develop new processes and perfect new techniques.”


Monday, 26 October 2020

Winemakers band together to sell a taste of Tasmania

group of leading Tasmanian wine brand owners have formed a partnership, together with a locally based marketing specialist, to launch online wine sales platform Wines of Tasmania.

Each month, a selection of exceptional, rare and hard-to-find wines from Tasmania’s best wine producers are blind-tasted by a panel of wine industry experts. 

The best are then chosen to be included in a monthly subscription box - aimed at spreading the word about Tasmania's benchmark wines.

The business was conceived out of the Covid-19 pandemic when the border to Tasmania closed and face-to-face cellar door sales essentially ceased. 

Katrina Myburgh, founder and managing director of Wines of Tasmania said: “I saw an opportunity to build a quality umbrella brand that would select the finest wines, package them beautifully, and share them with people who have not had much exposure to Tasmanian wine, knowing that they would be blown away, by every single bottle."


Katrina pitched the idea to a group of Tasmanian wine industry leaders who joined Katrina to form the company Wines of Tasmania Families P/L: Fran Austin and Shane Holloway from Delamere Vineyards; Bec and Tim Duffy from Holm Oak; Linda Morice (and the late Vaughn Dell) from Sinapius; and Fiona Weller and Julian Allport from Moores Hill.


“It would only work if they [Delamere, Holm Oak, Sinapius, Moores Hill] agreed that the common goal was to build the reputation of the Tasmania wine industry and not just their individual brands, despite the flow-on effect from which they would benefit,” said Myburgh. 

“Their direct involvement as reputable wine brands also provided the necessary credibility for other producers to get on board.”

Wines of Tasmania launched in September 2020 and has featured iconic Tasmanian wine brands including Dr-Edge, BelleBonne, Freycinet Vineyards, Derwent Estate, Mewstone, Marion’s Vineyard and Two Tonne Tasmania. Henskens Rankin, Pooley and Stefano Lubiana Wines are lined up to be included in the coming months.


Linda Morice, owner at Sinapius, said: “When Katrina came to Vaughn and I earlier this year, we immediately thought it made sense. There was so much uncertainty as a fair amount of our wine sales are made through our cellar door. 

"Without those tourists turning up on our doorstep, and the fact we don’t do a lot of marketing, we needed to find another way to get our wine out there. Vaughn was on board and we were excited at the prospect to work collaboratively with other like-minded, quality-focused and value-driven wine brands”.


Sadly, within a week of Vaughn and Linda agreeing to join Wines of Tasmania, Vaughn passed away in his sleep, at just 39 years of age, from an undiagnosed heart condition.


“Safe to say, this year has been really tough,” said Linda. “I have my days, that’s for sure. But the Wines of Tasmania business has helped me focus on continuing the Sinapius legacy that Vaughn and I created. 

"Our brand is very much aligned with Wines of Tasmania – rare, select, hard-to-find, exceptional wines. That’s us. We’re not big. We’re not found everywhere, either. We simply want to make the best possible wine and ensure wine lovers have access to it.”


Fran Austin, co-owner and winemaker at Delamere Vineyards could immediately see the benefit of bringing like-minded industry colleagues together. 

“There’s that saying ‘we’re stronger, together’ which I think sums up Wines of Tasmania," she said. "So often we get bogged down in the detail of our own businesses and can’t see the bigger picture.


“We all have similar views and values when it comes to growing, making and promoting quality Tasmanian wine, so when we’ve come to the table in recent months to build the business plan, we’ve been able share our own experiences from the past couple of decades and solve a lot more than if we were trying to achieve that on our own,” said Fran.


Currently Wines of Tasmania is geared at a niche domestic audience, however, there are plans to take it further into Asia Pacific, and beyond. 

For more information, visit


Coopers says farewell to Session Ale, Hello to Pacific Pale Ale

Coopers Brewery is tapping into Australia's love affair with the sun, surf and music by releasing
 Pacific Pale Ale in time for summer.

The launch will see the Australian family-owned brewery’s existing Session Ale renamed as Pacific Pale Ale with the new branded cans to be available nationally from late October.

As part of its national promotional campaign, Coopers has teamed up with renowned Australian singer/songwriter Angus Stone. 

With a striking blue label, Coopers Pacific Pale Ale is styled as "a fresh, sessionable and fruity ale with a distinct dry hop character and mild bitterness".

“It’s still the same great tasting beer in a blue can but with a new name that we feel better reflects its position in the growing craft beer category,” said Coopers marketing and innovation director Cam Pearce.

“We launched Session Ale in late 2017 and it quickly established itself as a popular drink among craft beer enthusiasts. 

"Since then the perception of the overall Session Ale category has evolved to now be more reflective of a mid-strength beer while Pacific has become identifiable with a style reflecting refreshment, flavour and fruitiness.

“So to better align with its category and reflect its refreshing, tropical flavour profile, we’ve changed the name to Pacific Pale Ale.”

Pacific Pale Ale will be sold in can format in six packs and cartons from all good bottle shops and will also be available on tap.

Sunday, 25 October 2020

UPDATE: Why paper diaries remain popular

Like most people I use a mobile phone and my laptop to diarise my appointments. 

And most the time they sync perfectly and remind me about a Zoom wine tasting, or an appointment with the optometrist. 

Twice recently I've added appointments to my iPhone calendar. One vanished without a trace - the other shifted itself to a completely unrelated date. 

Which is why it is not only Luddites who keep written diary on their desk. There is something comforting about a classy paper diary - and it will not be subject to tech glitches no matter how many power failures you suffer from. 

That's why paper diaries have not only survived into the digital era, they have continued to thrive.

Paper diaries have been updated for the 21st century and what were once blank pages are now printed in an assortment of useful layouts which tell us what to write, where, and when. 

Whether it be for keeping you on schedule for meetings, organising a daily task list or simply reflecting on and noting down events of the day, keeping a handwritten diary remains a thing. 

Studies have shown, also, that the physical act of handwriting can have positive effects on memory retention – so you’re less likely to forget that meeting you had scheduled. 

Collins Debden, global leaders in stationery, diaries and planers recently sent me a lovely 2021 diary and notebook - along with a second pair to give away to one lucky reader of Gourmet on the Road. 

There are many different styles in the Collins Debden range, but I particularly like the Metropolitan Notebooks Sydney range - premium products without the hefty price tag. 

The diary has a vertical week view and three-year planners, a list of international holidays, international dialling codes and a time-zone map and is printed on premium Japanese Kinmari paper. There is room for making notes, too.

The sleek notebook design looks very professional with a premium bonded-leather cover and smooth finish, available in in both tan and charcoal. Prices start from $23.50. 

Collins diaries date back to Scotland in 1819 - meaning they have been used over two centuries. 

The full Collins range is available at Officeworks, newsagencies, bookstores and quality stationery stockists across Australia, or online at

# The winner of our competition was P. Flinn of Barwon Heads in Victoria, whose prize is on its way. 

Saturday, 24 October 2020

New luxury Hobart hotel entices celebrity chef Mele

Celebrity chef  Massimo Mele will head up the culinary team as culinary director at a new hotel in the heart of Hobart.

A native Tasmanian with an international reputation and Italian roots, Mele will aim to bring his signature Italian warmth with a local Tasmanian twist to Parliament Square when the restaurant opens early next year.

Born in Tasmania and raised in Naples, Mele's career started at his parents' restaurant in Glenorchy and as an apprentice at Donovan's Restaurant in St Kilda.

He opened Mud Bar in Launceston, travelled widely and then worked at Hugo's Group and La Scala on Jersey back in Australia before overseeing the food at The Silos Hotel in Launceston.

“My first ever kitchen job was at my parent's restaurant and after years spent working in kitchens around the world it feels incredible to return to my roots and be involved in creating something special here in Hobart.

"Being back in Tasmania for the past couple of years with my family has given me the opportunity to go back to basics and reconnect with the land, educating myself and building strong relationships with some of the best producers in the state. 

"I really want this restaurant to celebrate that in a way that feels authentic to my values and passion as a chef.”

The yet-to-be-named restaurant will be located within the landmark Parliament Square project, also home to The Tasman, a Luxury Collection Hotel part of the Marriott Group. The heritage redevelopment connects Murray Street with Salamanca Place.

“We are proud to be partnering with a local Tasmanian chef to bring Hobart's rich local character to life," says Stephen Morahan, general manager for The Tasman.

The restaurant will open when The Tasman officially opens its door in 2021, offering a new cultural centre for Tasmania's capital city.