Book, stay, enjoy. That's

Saturday 30 June 2018

Toast Martinborough has fun runs on the board

Anyone planning a visit to New Zealand might want to match their dates to Toast Martinborough 2018 - an iconic wine, food and music celebration with a relaxed vibe held in the wine village of Martinborough.
Toast Martinborough general manager Anna Nielson said the 27th edition of the event, to be held on Sunday, November 18, will be one of the best yet.

“Good wine is always in vogue and Toast 2018 is no exception," Nielsen said. "This year nine vineyard sites will team up with some of the best chefs in the business to offer wine and food matches of unrivaled flavour and sophistication, all of which will be supported by a collection of musicians guaranteed to have everyone singing, dancing and laughing." 
Martinborough, located just over an hour's drive or train ride from New Zealand capital Wellington in the Wairarapa region, is home to over 20 boutique vineyards all located a short walk or cycle from each other.

A key part of Toast's appeal is the multi-site celebration allowing festival-goers to easily walk or ride on the free shuttles operating between each vineyard.

“Whatever the destination, a warm welcome and a glass of something delicious awaits,” Nielson says.
Like last year, this year's festival will see festival-goers issued with a shatterproof stemless wineglass and a cashless wristband payment system. They will also have access to the Toast Martinborough app – a one-stop-shop for all essential information – and be greeted by “Toast Hosts”.
Group bookings (for six or more) are $75 a ticket, (plus Ticketek fees) on sale now through
The 2018 Toast Martinborough program will be released later this year. Keep up to date with all the news via

Friday 29 June 2018

South Australia offers free wifi to tourists

Wilpena Pound, Kangaroo Island (above) and Coffin Bay are among 60 major tourism sites set to switch-on a free wifi service, thanks to a partnership between Telstra and the South Australian Tourism Commission.

The joint initiative will provide connectivity for visitors at some of South Australia’s most iconic and remote locations, allowing free access to unlimited data for one hour per day using their smart phone, mobile device or laptop. 

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment David Ridgway said the connectivity would enhance visitor experiences and allow guests to make the most of their time in South Australia. 

“We know people want to be able to locate our restaurants, use maps and share their experiences and happy snaps on line, in real time,” Ridgway said.
“Technology is transforming tourism and we want to use it to produce social and economic benefits for the state.”

South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said: "We are delighted Telstra came on board for the project. 

“It’s a big benefit for us too - we want our visitors to be mini-ambassadors for our state, sharing their trip on social media.

“A picture is worth a thousand words and #SeeSouthAustralia is quickly becoming a global resource where people plan their holidays, re-create images or share their experiences with their friends.” 

The 60 hotspots will work with Telstra Air, Australia’s largest wifi network. Existing Telstra Air customers will also benefit from unlimited wifi data at new hotspot locations and can connect automatically using the Telstra Air App.

Nine hotspots have been switched on in Hahndorf, Moana, Moonta Bay, Angaston, Beachport, Port MacDonnell, Victor Harbor, Tailem Bend and Kingscote. Another 51 hot spots are due to be rolled-out in the coming months. 

Thursday 28 June 2018

Join Maggie Beer for an affordable lunch in Sydney

Celebrated food innovator Maggie Beer will join Luke Mangan into the kitchen at his signature restaurant glass brasserie in Sydney for a series of special winter lunches.

The duo be serving up a collaborative winter menu that features a seasonal dishes using fresh  produce from around New South Wales and Maggie's home state, South Australia. 
Signature dishes including mustard pear stuffed chicken breast with crushed parsnip and jus, made with pears from Beer's orchard in the Barossa, Seville marmalade-glazed pork belly with verjuice, potato puree and cavolo nero, and cumin-roasted sweet potato and black barley with tahini and Persian fetawill sit on glass brasserie's $29 Wine Bar Lunch Menu, which is served weekdays with a complimentary glass of wine.
The Hilton's star eatery is one of very few hatted restaurants in Sydney to offer a premium 'power lunch' at such a reasonable price. 
Its approachable price point allows Sydneysiders the chance to dine on dishes made by one of Australia's much-loved celebrity chefs without having to break the bank or board a flight to Barossa.

“At glass we pride ourselves on providing our guests with the best possible dining experience teamed with the finest quality food and produce. I love the idea of partnering with like-minded chefs who can bring something really special to the table," said Luke Mangan, who will also have more time to improve Virgin Australia's in-flight food, which he oversees. 
"Maggie's reputation and long-standing position as one of Australia's most-loved chefs speaks for itself. I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time in the kitchen with Maggie and I am excited to serve up these new dishes to our guests.” 
Beer said: Being able to work alongside Luke and his team at one of Sydney's notable restaurants is a real privilege. I am extremely passionate about local produce, so I'm thrilled to be able to bring a bit of the Barossa with me as part of this collaboration. My only hope is that Sydney gets as much joy out of eating these dishes as I did in making them.” 
The question will be exactly how much time the two cheffing stars actually spend in the kitchen for this promotion - but the price is certainly right. 
The offer is available Monday to Friday from noon-2pm until August 31. 
To make a reservation visit:

Some good old-fashioned sense on enjoying wine

Most Australians would probably say, with great confidence, that they do not need an American to tell them how to become a happier, more confident wine drinker.

They'd be wrong, though, as California-based writer Jon Bonné talks a lot of sense and is easy to understand.

No talk about diurnal variations or clonal influence here; just good, old-fashioned commonsense to give novice wine drinkers a little more confidence.

Bonné's new book: The New Wine Rules has plenty of good advice about buying and storing wine, advice that is just as useful to someone in Melbourne as in Buggerup, Idaho.

Learn why you should smell the cork (should you be stupid enough to buy wine under cork in the first place) and why a wine’s price rarely reflects its real quality.

Learn some ways to impress friends with little-known facts on serving and ordering wine in restaurants, as well as how to pair perfectly with food.

Bonné is the Californian Matt Kramer. For nearly a decade he served as the award-winning wine editor and chief wine critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, and he now writes on wine for several publications.

Be warned, however, that this edition is written with British consumers in mind and has not been adapted for Australian sensibilities.  

The New Wine Rules is published by Quadrille on July 1. RRP $19.99/ $NZ22.99.

Wednesday 27 June 2018

Barossa wine showcase to hit Sydney and Melbourne

Several of the leading winemakers from the Barossa are heading for Melbourne and Sydney to show off their wares at Barossa.Be Consumed this July.

The Barossa Grape & Wine Association, in partnership with Lever (Revel’s event activation arm), will hold two one-day events to bring big city wine lovers up to date with the latest from the region.

For the second season of Barossa.Be Consumed, 44 wineries will be bringing the character and stories behind their wines to each event, including former Young Gun of Wine finalist Michael Papps from Yelland and Papps, historic Seppeltsfield and 2017 Jimmy Watson winner Turkey Flat Vineyards.

Guests will have the chance to extend the Barossa experience to their own homes after the event thanks to the innovative Sip, Pick, Pack & Ship service.

This allows consumers to directly purchase wine from producers on the day of the event and have it shipped straight to their front door.

The crew from Harvest Kitchen will serve up flavoursome dishes including spice-fried free-range chicken with ancient grain salad, along with treats from Barossa Cheese.

Local producers will feature at the Barossa Maker’s Table showcasing iconic dishes using home-grown goods from around the region. The event will also feature tastings with local distillers Seppeltsfield Road Distillers and Barossa Distilling Company, along with Barossa Valley Cider Co.

"We are very excited to be on the road with Barossa.Be Consumed," said Yelland and Papps winemaker Michael Papps. "It’s an opportunity for us to talk to wine lovers about our region and what makes it so unique.”

General admission tickets are $65 excluding booking fee, which includes a Plumm wine glass to taste from and take home, all wine tasting and various food and drink samples.


New wine bar to focus on women winemakers

A new wine bar to open in London next month plans to focus largely on wines made by women.

The owner of Lady of the Grapes, Carole Byron, told Decanter magazine she plans to showcase wines made by female winemakers when her business opens in trendy Covent Garden in mid-July.

“When I first started in the industry I realised there were not a lot of women [involved] so I want to support all women in wine from the vineyard to the shop," Byron said.

“I want to champion women in the wine trade and make them more visible through our wine list, because it’s not just men who make wine.”

As well as wines made by women, Lady of the Grapes will focus on wines that are organic, biodynamic or natural, and from independent vineyards.

There will also be a menu of organic food, and a deli selling cheese and charcuterie products.

‘We are creating a distinctive yet relaxed space where you can drink exquisite natural wines and eat stunning artisanal organic food,’ Byron said on her website.

There will be 80 wines on the list, and 15 of those will be available by the glass.

Lady of the Grapes added that it was still seeking to raise further financial support through a Crowdfunding campaign.

"We want to ensure each and every customer has a delightful epicurean experience while supporting female winemakers," Byron told The Evening Standard.

"As we see more and more women taking the lead and being in charge of vineyards, let's shine a light on them within this traditionally male-dominated industry."


Tuesday 26 June 2018

Don't even try to grab some sleep at this airport

So you have a few hours to kill in an airport; maybe your flight is late, or you have a bad connection?

It makes sense to lie down and grab a sleep for an hour or two, doesn't it?

Not if you are at Stansted Airport (above) in Britain, where security guards are on patrol to implement a recent ban on passengers napping inside the terminal.

Warning signs have been posted around the terminal warning: "Please do not lie down on the seats."

The Essex airport brought in the ban earlier this month, claiming hundreds of passengers were camping out overnight - some of them on hammocks or blow-up beds.

The airport's departures wing is now closed after the final flight of the night. It remains shut from midnight until 2am, meaning anyone arriving at the budget flight airport during that time is directed to the arrivals area.

They can take a seat and rest there, but they are banned from having a nap on the floor, The Daily Mirror reported.

Passengers who book early morning flights have been told not to arrive sooner than their scheduled check-in time.

Stansted officials said the airport has seen up to 600 people camp out in the terminal overnight. Some travellers would rather sleep on the terminal floor instead of using local hotels.

"There are a number of reasons for the periodic overnight closures to the departures area of the terminal building: construction work as part of our £600 million airport transformation program, and to allow cleaning and other preparations for the next day's flight operations," the airport said in a statement.

"This means we've been reminding passengers there are no dedicated sleeping facilities in the terminal and advising they can no longer sleep on the floor overnight, so passengers should not arrive sooner than their scheduled check-in time."

Stansted Airport currently serves over 170 destinations across Europe, North Africa, Asia and Central and North America. It serves more scheduled European destinations than any other airport in the UK.

Australian wine superstars head for the US

After spending June promoting the wines of Australia in China, Wine Australia has set its sights on industry heavy hitters in the United States in July.

Around 100 influential Americans will get the chance to experience Australia’s vibrant wine culture at Australia Decanted, a four-day, invitation-only symposium exploring the varieties, regions and styles of wine in Australia.

Tim Kirk of Clonakilla 
No fewer than 13 eminent Australian winemakers will guide the American "influencers" through explorations of classic expressions, new interpretations and the influence of altitude, attitude and terroir on Australian wine from July 22-26 at Lake Tahoe in California.

Australia Decanted will feature seminars, tastings and a vibrant program that will give the invited national retail and on-premise buyers, selected educators, Master Sommeliers, Masters of Wine and media a fresh understanding the Australian wine industry.

Virginia Willcock of Vasse Felix 
The Australian winemakers are Bruce Tyrrell (Tyrrell's Wines), Virginia Willocks (Vasse Felix), Sue Hodder (Wynns Coonawarra), Sarah Crowe (Yarra Yering), Louisa Rose (Yalumba), Michael Hill-Smith MW (Shaw & Smith Wines), Michael Dhillon (Bindi Wines), Mac Forbes (Mac Forbes Wines), Steve Pannell (SC Pannell Wines), John Duval (John Duval Wines), Tim Kirk (Clonakilla), Steve Flamsteed (Giant Steps) and Jeffrey Grosset (Grosset Wines).

No Tasmanians, I note, but a good spread between icons and rising stars.

Senator Anne Ruston, assistant minister for agriculture and water resources, said events like Australia Decanted will send a strong signal to the US market that Australia is ready to do business.

‘Engaging with the US market and building demand for our wine exports is a key goal of the $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package," she said.

‘We’re backing our exporters to secure new distribution channels and accelerate the growth of Australia’s wine exports in the world’s largest wine market."

Wine Australia chief executive officer Andreas Clark said Australia Decanted is the beginning of a dedicated, multi-year marketing strategy in the USA.

‘We’re investing significantly to share our stories in the USA," he said. "Australia Decanted will flow into Aussie Wine Week in September 2018, and then consumer activations in New York City will build into a month-long celebration of Australian wine across the US market in September 2019.

‘The $50 million package has enabled us to drive bigger and bolder engagement to change the perception of Australian wine, capture market opportunities and drive export and tourism growth.

‘We’ve just wrapped up our most successful events in China – Vinexpo Hong Kong and the China Roadshow – and under our Australian Wine Made Our Way campaign, we are telling our stories to the world’, he said.


Sunday 24 June 2018

Thai resort ensures guests can watch World Cup in style

There are few resorts as beautifully situated as SALA Phuket, tucked away in a remote spot on one of Thailand's most beautiful islands.

Thailand, like just about everywhere else on the globe, is currently transfixed bv the FIFA World Cup - and SALA Phuket, where I stayed a few months ago in considerable style. is making sure its guests enjoy the tournament.

SALA Phuket has opened a dedicated World Cup lounge, with all games shown on a big screen and a special all-day snack menu (below) available at discounted prices.

A game of the day is selected every day, with complimentary canapés and drink specials offered during the featured match.

All matches can also be enjoyed from the privacy of guest villas, complemented with a special in-villa snack menu.

SALA Phuket Resort and Spa, 333 Moo 3 Mai Khao Beach, Thalang District, Phuket.

+ 66 7633 8888


Saturday 23 June 2018

From Lulu to The Eurythmics: discover the rich history of Scottish rock music

From Lulu to the Bay City Rollers, from the Average White Band to the Eurythmics, the Proclaimers to the Rezillos, Scotland has always had a vibrant pop and rock music culture.

Now sixty years of the nation's pop history - told through costumes, DIY demo tapes and instruments - is on display in a new exhibition, Rip it Up: The Story of Scottish Pop at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Items belonging to Alex Harvey, Annie Lennox, Wet Wet Wet, Lulu (above), Texas and Gerry Rafferty are among the 300 objects on display - many of which have been lent by the artists themselves.

Marmalade, Big Country, Del Amitri, Deacon Blue, Texas, The Incredible String Band, Travis, Nazareth, Simple Minds, The Waterboys and Wet Wet Wet are just some of the Scottish acts who have topped the charts and delighted audiences around the world.

Think Jesus and Mary Chain, Franz Ferdinand, Mogwai, Altered Images, Al Stewart and punk icons The Skids.

From Sheena Easton to Garbage, and Belle and Sebastian, the Scots have had something for every taste - and even had a couple of stars left over to give to Australia in the Young brothers from AC/DC, Jimmy Barnes and Colin Hay from Men at Work.

Gerry Rafferty
Visitors to the exhibition will be able to catch a glimpse of the leather Elvis suit worn by Sharleen Spiteri of Texas, Alex Harvey’s cane and a demo cassette for The Proclaimers' hit Letter From America, complete with hand-drawn pictures of themselves on the cover.

© Neil Hanna
There will also be an acoustic guitar belonging to The Skids' lead singer Richard Jobson.

Stephen Allen, the exhibition curator, told Sky News: “Scotland punches above its weight in pop music.

"There’s a very strong sense of musicality within Scotland, a lot of storytelling.

"In Scotland, there’s a very strong sense of identity and social justice and that’s something that comes out very strongly throughout the exhibition."

Rip It Up runs from June 22 to November 25 at the National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh.


Friday 22 June 2018

How an airport security check can lead to you being scammed

Having once been scammed by the security staff at a French airport I am at my most alert when going through the travel screening process. 

I'm wary of both the security staff, who I am sure were responsible for the disappearance of my laptop in Nice, as well as fellow travellers, who can be either incompetent fools or con men.

Security staff can work together to distract and delay you; demanding you open your bag, which has just been scanned, while your wallet, phone, laptop etc are unattended further down the conveyor belt.

A delay like this can take several minutes, as the staff go through every inch of your completely innocent baggage, and you are both panicked and alarmed by the scrutiny. 

If you do notice that something has gone missing it will then take several minutes for a supervisor to appear. Your chances of getting your property back from these accomplished scammers: zero. 

Just as dangerous are the team of two crooks working together at the check point. One goes ahead, while the other delays you by fiddling around with coins, shoes, belt or wallet, often needing to go through the x-ray machine a couple of times. 

Meanwhile, your valuables are out the other side and into a bag carried by the staller's accomplice. 

No matter what is happening always keep a close eye on the other end of the conveyor belt. 

It makes you less of a target, although you can also be deliberately delayed by a slow-moving security pat-down person. At a busy airport that can lead to the same result.  

Does the world really need another wine glass? Jancis says we do.

Stand aside Riedel, Spiegelau, Schott-Zwiesel and Plumm. World-renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson has decided the world needs yet another wine glass.

Robinson has unveiled her own wine glass, water glass and two decanters in response to what she calls "an everyday frustration".
The 1 Collection includes a single glass that has been designed to offer “the best tasting experience for every wine”, whatever its style or strength.

Robinson told The Drinks Business that she wanted to find a single glass that would work with all styles of wine, but had failed to discover such a product.

“I was looking for the perfect wine glass,” she said.

“I love white wine as much as red and have never understood why white wine glasses are routinely smaller than those designed for red wine,” she added.

“White wines can be just as complex, and just as deserving of what you might call aroma enhancement as reds. It just seems so obvious and sensible to have one single wine glass for all three colours of wine – especially when so many of us are short of storage space.

“On my travels around the world of wine, it has become really noticeable in the last few years that producers of Champagne and other sparkling wines, as well as those making sherry, port and other fortified wines, want their precious liquids to be appreciated in just the same way as table wines.”

Robinson has worked in association with London-based product designer Richard Brendon.

“As someone who wants to make enjoying wine as straightforward and pleasurable as possible, I was insistent on a single glass shape and size,” she said.

Other products in the collection include a bottle-shaped Old Wine Decanter, which has been crafted to allow users to decant
 off the sediment while limiting the wine’s surface area, minimising the risk of oxidation.

There is also a Young Wine Decanter with space for a young wine to be swirled and aerated, accelerating the maturing process and allowing the favours of a younger vintage to develop and mellow in the decanter. The bowl is also large enough to accommodate a magnum.

To complete the collection, there is an accompanying water glass that could be used as a stemless wine glass.

The 1 Collection will be available exclusively at Harrods from July 1, from Hopson Grace in Canada and Neil Bradford Design in Australia.

Thursday 21 June 2018

Dine in style at Launceston's newest luxury hotel

Launceston, Tasmania’s second city and the gateway to the Tamar Valley, has a new five-star hotel and top-notch eatery with the opening of the Peppers Silo Hotel and the Grain of the Silos restaurant overlooking the water in Invermay.

Opened in early June, the Grain of the Silos Restaurant, which boasts celebrity chef Massimo Mele as consultant, delivers on a promise of paddock-to-plate eating.

The menu comprises foods from local farmers delivering world-class produce, including Tasmanian beef and lamb, along with fresh seafood.

Head chef Peter Twitchett lists all his producers on the back of the restaurant menu and says he particularly enjoys Robbins Island beef, wasabi, black truffles, hazelnuts and the humble Tasmanian potatoes.

Mele and Twitchett have crafted a modern Australian menu featuring appetisers like pulled pork croquettes, local oysters in mignonette dressing and raw salmon, wasabi leaf, spring onion, ginger.

Starters include a sensational warm quail salad with fennel (above), currants, pine nuts and almonds, and a chicken liver pâté with rhubarb compote and crusty bread, while standout mains were a 200-gram Cape Grim eye fillet served with three different sauces (below) and perfectly-cooked chips; and fresh flathead fillets served with ash and artichoke mash.

Desserts include a caramelised apple tarte tatin with walnut ice cream and a selection of cheeses from Tasmanian producers Pyengana, Grandvewe and Coal River Farm.

The wine list put together by local wine educator Curley Haslam-Coates features names like Winter Brook, Sinapius and Moores Hill, along with some intriguing interstate and imported options.

It’s also well worth staying overnight in the hotel, particularly if you can snare a room overlooking the Tamar River.

Originally erected in 1960, the Kings Wharf grain silos were left unused for decades until two years ago.

The redeveloped site is now a 10-level hotel featuring 108 guest rooms, including 52 inside the barrels of the former silos, undercover car parking, conference facilities and an integrated lobby and reception space.

Amenities on-site include a gym, day spa, child-minding facilities, hairdressing salon, function centre and private dining rooms.

The staff are friendly and helpful, and Peppers Silo has also worked closely with Guide Dogs Tasmania to employ a canine ambassador called Archie, a black Labrador who resides at the hotel and helps the concierge with daily tasks such as greeting guests and delivering the morning newspapers.

Owner and developer Errol Stewart said Launceston needed new tourism projects and has a shortage of hotel rooms in summer.

Peppers Silo is located at 89-91 Lindsay Street, Invermay, Launceston. (03) 6700 0688.

# The writer was a guest of Peppers Silo


Wednesday 20 June 2018

Truffle Lodge in Tasmania takes glamping to new heights

Camping? No thank you. Getting tangled in tent ropes? Using primitive drop toilets? Cooking baked beans over a campfire?

Thankfully, Tasmania's new glamping experience, Truffle Lodge on the banks of the Derwent River, offers camping with a difference - and the level of luxury matches the beauty of the setting.

Truffle Lodge, set next to a hazelnut orchard, planted in 1998, is a luxury camping resort set on 12 acres of absolute river frontage dotted with eucalyptus trees that provide much-needed habitats for the endangered swift parrot. It is promoted as "five-star luxury under canvas".

Calling Truffle Lodge’s canvas-topped lodgings tents is, however, something of an understatement. With hand-carved wooden baths, rain-showers, king-sized beds, coffee machines and heating, the tents are better equipped than your average hotel room. 

Plus, each tent has river frontage and a private deck from which to watch the water rush by.

All sleeping accommodations are at least 81 square metres; large safari tents furnished with ceiling-to-floor drapes, canvas, leather and recycled wooden furniture, deep luxurious beds, large decks with hammocks and rocking chairs looking out over the river. 

Breakfasts and dinners (both surprisingly good) are available in Truffle Lodge's communal areas. The Lodge also has comfortable fireside lounges, decks and fire pits, and is connected to the tented rooms by a boardwalk. 

Tasmania’s chilly weather means Truffle Lodge is closed right now for a winter break, but it will reopen when the mercury rises and co-owner Laurelle Grimley is promising the second season will be even better than the sell-out first season. 

We are delighted that so many guests indicated that they wanted to come back,” said Grimley.
The new season will feature more luxury en-suite tents, an open tented pavilion, bush bath, river beach and daily activities programs including yoga, local storytellers, truffiere tour, bocce and dinners in the orchard.

Food will also be taken to a new level with three-course dinners and a new list of local wine, including “just about impossible-to-find small vineyard wines”.

Truffle Lodge is at 3411 Lyell Highway, Gretna. 0417 996 305.

# The writer was a guest of Truffle Lodge  

Budget airline launches low-cost flights to Berlin

Budget airline Scoot has launched its inaugural flight from Singapore to Berlin, marking the start of four-times weekly non-stop services to the German capital (below).

The low-cost arm of the Singapore Airlines Group now has three long-haul destinations after Athens in Greece and Honolulu in the United States, both of which were launched last year.

Scoot’s flight TR734 departed Singapore Changi Airport and received a traditional water cannon salute upon arriving at Berlin Tegel Airport this morning. 

The aircraft, a wide body Boeing 787 Dreamliner named “Bo Jio”, carried 311 customers - 95% full.

Lee Lik Hsin, Scoot’s CEO, said: “With the addition of Berlin just a year after we successfully launched Athens, and then Honolulu, Scoot’s low-cost long-haul network continues to grow at a steady pace. 

"Vibrant, creative and steeped in history, we are confident that the city of Berlin will appeal to any market or demographic, and open a new and exciting part of the continent for travellers.”

Scoot’s 787 Dreamliners offer several amenities and services suited to long-haul travel, including in-flight wifi, in-seat power and in-flight ScooTV entertainment streamed to guests’ own devices.

Guests can also choose from a full-leather ScootBiz seat with meals and drinks included, or enjoy a peaceful journey in the ScootinSilence economy class quiet zone. 

Scoot’s route network now spans 65 destinations across 18 countries and territories. 

For details see

Tuesday 19 June 2018

Geelong calling to wine lovers and gourmets during July

Geelong is the place to be for wine and food lovers in July with the Tastes of Central Geelong Festival running July 6-29 and the Winter Shiraz Weekend Festival on July 7-8. 

Tastes of Central Geelong is a 24-day festival of food, flavours and fun held at various venues throughout Central Geelong, including 18th Amendment Bar (below).

Visitors can sample gourmet food and drink, learn tricks of the trade from local chefs, wine and dine and participate in food-themed events and laneway dining.

The Winter Shiraz Weekend Festival comprises two days of wine, food and entertainment throughout the Geelong region.

Visitors are invited to taste a selection of local shiraz wines and meet the makers on The Bellarine, the Moorabool Valley and Surf Coast. 

Relax with a glass of red by open fires or beside outdoor braziers in beautiful surroundings while local chefs work to match the region’s renowned cool-climate wines with hearty winter fare.

This year, Friday night tastings will also be held at some of Geelong’s top wine retailers. 

Masters of Wine to meet in Australia

The Masters of Wine symposium is held, like the Olympic Games, once every four years.

The 2018 edition ended in Logroño, Spain, yesterday and it was announced the 2022 edition will be held in Adelaide, South Australia.

Brian Croser, representing Australia in Rioja, said: “We are highly honoured and very surprised,” at the decision by the Institute of Masters of Wine to head to Australia for the organisation’s next major event, which will take place from June 21-24, 2022.

The veteran winemaker said that Adelaide was the ideal place in Australia for the symposium, both because of its proximity to many famous wineries and wine regions, but also because the city is home to both The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) and Wine Australia, The Drinks Business reported.

Croser said that by the time the IMW comes to Adelaide “the Australian wine community will have changed an enormous amount.”

The IMW International Symposium is the institute’s biggest and most important event, and Adelaide follows this year’s symposium in Logroño; the 2014s event in Florence, and 2010 in Bordeaux.

The Australian-based symposium will follow a similar format, taking place over four days in mid-June.

The event in Australia will be co-hosted by Wine Australia, and will be the institute’s 10th symposium. Andreas Clark, CEO of Wine Australia, said: "We’re thrilled to be hosting the world of wine in Adelaide in 2022 and look forward to showcasing Australia’s diverse and thriving wine scene, and our enviable epicurean culture."


Monday 18 June 2018

McLaren Vale winemaker takes out top Young Gun award

Talented young McLaren Vale winemaker Rob Mack from Aphelion Wines (above) was today named Young Gun Winemaker of the Year for 2018 at a function at MONA in Hobart.

Mack is founder and director of the business, which makes "micro batch, hand crafted, minimal intervention, delicious wines".

Prior to striking out on his own, he worked at Kilikanoon in the Clare Valley, Laithwaites Wine People in Sydney and McLaren Vale Winemakers in McLaren Vale.

In 2016 he graduated with a Bachelor of Wine Science from Charles Sturt University after six years of study.

He won the Riedel-sponsored award over 12 finalists from around the country.

Other award winners were: Danger Zone winemaker: Chris Carpenter, Lark Hill, Canberra region; Winemaker's Choice: Paul and Gilli Lipscombe (below), Sailor Seeks Horse, Tasmania; People's Choice: Melanie Chester, Sutton Grange, Bendigo; and Best New Act: Jonny Hughes, Mewstone Wines, Tasmania.

The Wineslinger Awards for outstanding wine lists and service went to Harvest Newrybar in Northern New South Wales for the people's choice and the City Wine Shop in Melbourne for the overall award.


Sydney Airport offers a healthy new pre-flight treat

Passengers will be able to board their flights far more relaxed than in the past following the opening at Sydney Airport of a new flexology centre at the T1 International terminal in partnership with Stretch Studio.

Designed to enhance mobility and well-being through assisted stretching, Stretch Studio provides passengers with a unique opportunity to undertake a personalised session with a flexologist before boarding their flight.

Flexologists employ a range of techniques to prevent stiffness and soreness from extended flight times.

Making use of gentle pressure on limbs and holding stretches, they work to lengthen muscle fibres, increasing blood circulation, decreasing the risk of cramps and deep vein thrombosis, and combating pre-flight anxiety by releasing endorphins into the body.

Glyn Williams, general manager retail for Sydney Airport, said the new Stretch Studio was the perfect concept for passengers travelling long distances, with many international flights in the air for more than 10 hours.

“We’re very pleased to welcome Stretch Studio to T1, which offers a unique and convenient way for customers to feel physically and mentally more relaxed before they board,” Williams said.

Stretch Studio director Yaron Remen said: “I’m thrilled to bring Stretch Studio into Sydney Airport’s T1 International terminal. Everyone who travels long distances on an aircraft knows that whether you’re in first class or economy, stretching before a flight is very beneficial,”

Sydney Airport is Australia’s major gateway airport, serving more than 43.3 million passengers a year and connecting Sydney to a network of over 100 international, domestic and regional destinations.

Sunday 17 June 2018

Head to Australia's pearling capital for a gourmet festival with a difference

TV cooks Adam Liaw and Marion Grasby will headline this year's Shinju Matsuri (festival of the pearl) to be held August 25-September 2 in Broome - the pearling capital of Australia in West Australia's remote north-west.
Celebrating four diverse cultures that have come together in Broome for pearls - Japanese, Malaysian, Chinese and Indigenous Australian - Shinju Matsuri features a unique dining program in extraordinary locations.
Liaw and Grasby will join forces at the popular Sunset Long Table Dinner (above), held on Broome's Cable Beach on September 1. 
The Willie Creek Pearl Meat Cook-Off is also returning and will see Broome's best chefs compete to create the best dish featuring pearl meat, a rare delicacy from the famous pearl-producing oysters native to the region. 
The event will feature beer, wine and pearl meat tastings, with Liaw as guest judge.
Liaw also headlines a new event, the Pearl Harvest Yum Cha – an open-air dining experience along Dampier Terrace in Broome's historic Chinatown on August 30. 
Tickets include all you can eat Chinese Yum Cha. Other event highlights include a Float Parade through the streets of Broome, Art AwardsFloating Lantern Matsuri and a Festival Finale concert.
Tickets for the events are now on sale, with travel packages featuring accommodation and tickets to selected events. For full details see

Saturday 16 June 2018

All change. New operator for one of Sydney's star tourism attractions

Sydney, the most visited city in Australia, is revamping one of its premier attractions after announcing a change in operator for the BridgeClimb on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

The New South Wales Government's Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) announced that BridgeClimb Sydney had been unsuccessful in its bid to win a new 20-year contract to operate on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

The NSW Government body said that Hammons Holdings Pty Ltd, the operator of Scenic World in the Blue Mountains, had won the contract over current operator BridgeClimb Sydney.

Hammons Holdings director David Hammon said his company would expand opportunities for international, interstate and local visitors.
"We're really looking at ways to make new climbs on the bridge," he said. 
The world famous experience was a world first, pioneered by BridgeClimb chairman and founder Paul Cave.
BridgeClimb has hosted four million climbers from over 140 countries since opening on October 1, 1998. BridgeClimb turned the Sydney Harbour Bridge from a postcard to a global bucket list experience.  

The climb is renowned as a world-class experience and operation, and has an unblemished safety record, without one serious injury in 20 years. The decision to change operators is likely to come under serious scrutiny should that change. 

Cave thanked all climbers and praised his team. 

"It has been a privilege for us to make a hero of the bridge, and of every climber on every climb," he said. 

BridgeClimb also thanked the Sydney Harbour Bridge Workers past and present who maintain the mighty Sydney Harbour Bridge.

For all customers booked up until September 30, the attraction will operate as usual. The new operators take over on October 1. 


Friday 15 June 2018

How does Adelaide's newest five-star hotel stack up?

When I last stayed at the Pullman Adelaide it was still known as the Crowne Plaza Adelaide, a decent enough 4 1/2 star hotel very well situated in the centre of the South Australian capital.

Late last year the hotel was upgraded from 4 1/2 to five stars and given the Pullman makeover.

It is a very good hotel with excellent staff, but it lacks a little pizzaz.

It's fresh and bright but a little generic. It could use some artwork, or brighter colours, perhaps.

Situated on Hindmarsh Square, the Pullman features 308 guestrooms, the buzzy Salt restaurant and bar space, gym and lap pool and top-floor meeting room facilities.

There is a business centre on the ground floor, but it only features Apple machines. There is free, but clunky wifi, that can be upgraded for a payment (boo!).

Room service was excellent with my meal arriving promptly. The main course was warm and tasty, the dessert (below) delicious. Full marks.

Pullman, part of the AccorHotels group, has become the No.1 five-star brand in Australia by providing exactly what this hotel delivers; comfortable, well-equipped rooms with good lighting, modern bathrooms and all the facilities you need.

James Hines, managing director of developer Hines Property, said: “Partnering with AccorHotels and the Pullman brand will enable the hotel to move from a 4.5-star offering to five stars and it will be great for guests to have another five star option to choose from when visiting Adelaide,” he said.

I've seen the Pullman online for as low as $136 - which makes it stupendous value. For details and bookings


Thursday 14 June 2018

Tasmanian winemakers head for Sydney and Melbourne

The countdown to Vin Diemen is on, with Tasmania's leading Tasmanian winemakers set to show off their wares in Sydney and Melbourne in August.

Tasmania will come to Sydney for one day only on Saturday, August 11, from noon-5pm (from 11am for VIPs) to showcase the best of its food and wine. And to Melbourne the following day at Pure South Dining over the same time frame.

The venue is the Cell Block Theatre, National Arts School, Darlinghurst, to taste a range of wine styles from sparkling and riesling to chardonnay and pinot noir.

There will also be dishes prepared from beautiful Tasmanian produce.

Ticket prices includes all wine tastings and a Plumm wine glass to taste from and take home. Prices start from $65 ($55 for Early Bird purchasers). Melbourne has a different price structure that includes food.

I find it hard to understand why, at a time when Tasmanian wine is booming, this event has reduced from visiting Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to just Sydney and Melbourne. But who am I to wonder why?

Perhaps, instead of pie in the sky trade missions to remote regions of China, the Tasmanian Government could help extend Van Diemen to Brisbane and Adelaide, maybe even Perth.

Sydney event tickets are available here:

and Melbourne tickets here:


Sydney gets the chance to sample warming Swiss-style winter fondues

Fondue is a uniquely Swiss culinary experience and the perfect winter warmer.

Swissotel Sydney will be serving fondues to guests, locals and visitors in Sydney CBD over winter - with both cheese and chocolate fondues on offer.

The team at Swissotel Sydney has recreated a traditional fondue recipe - a combination of Swiss cheeses, Emmental (a yellow, medium-hard, savoury and mild tasting cheese) and Gruyere (a traditional, creamy, unpasteurised, semi-soft cheese), Kirsch (a clear, colourless cherry brandy), white wine and garlic, all blended together and served in one pot.

The chefs at Swissotel Sydney can also adapt the flavour of the fondue dip to suit guests' preferences by adding Fourme d'Ambert blue cheese, Gorgonzola Dolce blue cheese or truffle on request…or all three!

The fondue is served with traditional crusty baguette bread, pickled onions and a farmer's garden salad. Other optional dip additions Include: spiced meatballs, 'mac and cheese' croquettes, potato rostis, beer battered chips, seasonal vegetables, mushrooms, cured speck, pork salami, and even nashi pear.

To complement the experience, Swissotel Sydney has also curated a unique beverage menu which pairs perfectly with the fondue. Their selection includes: Kirsch, mulled wine, peach schnapps, calvados and apple schnapps. Guests are warned that fondue tradition dictates that if a person loses their bread in the fondue pot they owe the group a round of drinks!

For dessert lovers, there is a sweet option. Diners can dip their way into a special house-made milk chocolate fondue with favourites such as marshmallows, strawberries and more.

“We have been working on this concept for months now and we are absolutely thrilled to finally launch it in time for winter," says hotel GM Ross Buchanan.

"Fondue is an authentic Swiss culinary tradition which is perfect to enjoy with friends when the weather turns cold. The team and I are excited to share this unique experience which ties into the history of the Swissotel brand, with Sydneysiders and guests to the city.”

The Swiss fondue is available at Swissotel Sydney every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 5.30pm to 10pm. The cheese experience is priced from $29 per person while the chocolate alternative at $22 per person with a minimum of two people per booking.

To book and for more information about Swissotel Sydney visit: