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Saturday 30 September 2023

Adelaide festival has a focus on wellness

Wellness is a serious buzzword right now and Adelaide is at the forefront with its upcoming WellFest.

There are over 70 events on the calendar for the WellFest Adelaide 2023 program, including the WellFest Adelaide Amazing Race, which will take participants on a wellbeing race across Adelaide that is inspired by the reality TV series.

“Adelaide is such a vibrant and accessible city surrounded by our spacious parklands - the city is ready-made to support wellbeing whether you work, rest or play here,” says Greg Ratsch, acting managing director of the Adelaide Economic Development Agency.

The festival will cover six core pillars: mindfulness, sleep, self-care, nutrition, fitness, and connection.

From yoga to running, the festival runs from Friday, October 6, to Sunday, October 8.

To view the full event program visit

All ticket sales for the Amazing Race will go to WellFest Adelaide’s chosen charity, the Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation.

Image: Naomi Jellicoe

Friday 29 September 2023

Australia's riesling maestro dies

John Vickery, one of Australia's iconic winemakers, has died at the age of 90.

Vickery was responsible for some superb rieslings for Leo Buring, and had recently been making wines for the Hesketh family under the Vickey label in partnership with Keeda Zilm The pair is pictured above. 

Over a career that dated back to 1951, Vickery won over 50 wine show trophies and over 400 gold medals.

Vickery grew up in Lameroo in the Mallee area of South Australia and graduated from Roseworthy College in 1955.

While still a student he did vintages at the Emu wine company in Morphett Vale, and at Woodleys

He joined Leo Buring at Chateau Leonay winery, where the focus was on Eden Valley and Watervale fruit, where he produced superb wines without access to modern equipment.

Over the years Vickery worked for I worked Lindemans , then Southcorp (now TWE) , then Orlando, creating a new style of dry rieslings.

In 2007, he was awarded the Medal of Order of Australia for 'service to the wine industry as an oenologist, particularly through the development of innovative methods for riesling production.

Not only was he a great winemaker, he was also one of the most popular men in the industry.


Coonawarra puts the spotlight on cabernet

Coonawarra vies with Margaret River for the title of Australia's capital of cabernet and the Coonawarra Cabernet Celebrations Wine Festival starts this week.  

The festival aims to showcase and celebrate the wine region's signature grape variety with a program of over 70 events across five weeks. 

Organisers hope to emphasise the elegance, drinkability and ageing ability of Coonawarra cabernets, starting on Friday, September 29, and running through to the end of October. 

The calendar is dotted with special events and bespoke tastings experiences on offer at cellar doors and wineries across the region.

Heidi Guyett, events and marketing manager of Coonawarra Vignerons, says there will be plenty of opportunities for wine aficionados, foodies and families alike to explore and experience Coonawarra. 

“This year’s program is as extensive as ever, with over 70 food and wine experiences to be enjoyed,” she says.

“Our member wineries have gone to great lengths to offer an exciting array of events. From family fun days to high end wine dinners, vertical tastings to blending workshops, winery tours, masterclasses, and long lunches, the region will offer visitors, and locals alike,  the opportunity to experience and discover the best of Coonawarra.

“Aside from tasting the exquisite wines of the region, festival goers will have the opportunity to dine and meet with winemakers and boutique winery owners, go behind the scenes in the winery and even sample wines that are yet to be officially released, all the while learning about the process and the passion that goes into Coonawarra’s famed wines.” 

The first weekend will see the Coonawarra Cabernet Celebrations Golf Day and Family Fiesta theme kick off the month-long festival. 

The celebrations will ramp up over the weekend with Pizza and Tunes at Raidis Estate on Saturday and  and the return of Rymill Coonawarra’s Cabernet Carnival on Sunday. 

The following weeks will see events with themes around blending wine, and the marriage of cabernet sauvignon with other varieties - a weekend tribute to the original festival, which historically took place on one single weekend, along with an exclusive look at new-release wines. 

The International Cabernet Masterclass also returns as a feature event in the October program and will present a premium selection of Coonawarra wines alongside international Cabernets from regions including Bordeaux, the Napa Valley and Tuscany. 

For details see

Thursday 28 September 2023

Leading Asian airlines sign up for strategic alliance

Big news in the world of Asian aviation this week with Capital A, the holding company for AirAsia brands, and Garuda Indonesia Group announcing a strategic partnership that should work well for regional flyers.

The leading low-cost airline in the region and the national flag carrier of Indonesia aim to "strengthen the global aviation ecosystem post-pandemic".

The partnership between the two entities will explore network expansion across various business lines, including commercial airline services between AirAsia and Indonesian domestic airline Citilink, logistics services with Teleport and Garuda Indonesia Cargo, as well as maintenance, repair and overhaul services.

The MOU signing ceremony in Jakarta, Indonesia, was attended by Garuda Indonesia president and CEO Irfan Setiaputra and Capital A CEO Tony Fernandes.

“We are witnessing the blossoming of a meaningful partnership between two leading Asean brands that are loved by millions of people in this region, known for best value, quality and choice," said a very enthusiastic Fernandes.

"Our relationship with Garuda began when Citilink joined our Superapp journey. We are excited to further elevate this relationship by pooling our strengths and resources to add more value to people’s lives.”

Setiaputra said the collaboration marks "a significant milestone".

“We believe that after the pandemic, collaboration within the aviation ecosystem is a necessity that should continue to be optimised," he said.

"With this commitment in mind, our collaboration with Capital A is expected not only to provide a solid foundation for the business outlook of both companies but also to strengthen our joint commitment to delivering added value in the best aviation services for the community.”

The partnership will leverage on the depth of close to 50 domestic destinations in Indonesia covered by Citilink with the breadth of AirAsia's 150 international destinations.

Selected routes in early 2024 will provide seamless transfer experience for both inbound and outbound travellers, with checked-through baggage service and issuance of boarding passes from point of origin.

Discussions are also underway between Capital A’s aircraft maintenance provider Asia Digital Engineering (ADE) and Garuda Indonesia’s GMF AeroAsia to further explore opportunities for another strategic partnership.

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Indigenous culture under the tourism spotlight in Australia

Right around the world there is a growing interest in first peoples' cultures, and in Australia AAT Kings has just unveiled the launch of its new Aboriginal Culture & Australia Highlights tour, as part of the group’s 2024-2025 touring season.

The limited-season, Australia-first indigenous-focused guided holiday features several destinations from city to outback across Melbourne, Uluru, Sydney and Cairns over 13 days, with a focus on local connection, cultural immersion, sustainability, and wildlife and nature.

The Aboriginal Culture & Australia Highlights tour has been developed in response to Tourism Australia’s consumer insights, outlined in the global Future of Demand research project released late 2022.

The report highlighted the latent demand for Indigenous experiences.

The AAT Kings team has "collaborated closely" with Discover Aboriginal Experiences (part of Tourism Australia’s ‘Signature Experiences of Australia’) to identify and curate Indigenous operators and experiences that form part of the new itinerary, showcasing indigenous-owned businesses.

The tour highlights include:

# Sunset drinks at Uluru, including an exclusive barbecue dinner and Dot Art painting experience.
# A behind the scenes Sydney Opera House tour, Dreamtime Walking Tour of the Rocks district and indigenous-themed harbour cruise in Sydney
# Great Barrier Reef trip with Dreamtime Dive and Snorkel experience (above) 
# A lunch at Big Esso by Mabu Mabu in Melbourne’s Federation Square with cuisine by renowned Torres Strait chef Nornie Bero.

"Dreamtime Dive and Snorkel provides a unique opportunity to gain insights from our cultural guides as they provide interpretation of the sea country on which we operate our Great Barrier Reef tours,” said John O’ Sullivan, CEO of Experience Co, which owns and operates Dreamtime Dive and Snorkel.

“We are delighted to be included in this new tour from AAT Kings and applaud this initiative which will make it easier for visitors to access a range of first-class indigenous experiences across Australia.”

The tour also features a number of optional tours to cater for international markets and appeal to a broad range of travellers. 

"We are committed to helping drive indigenous tourism and play a leading role in increasing understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal culture - a major step towards reconciliation and support of First Nations people in Australia,” said Ben Hall, CEO, AAT Kings.

“This new tour is just a glimpse into how AAT Kings is committed to growing our range of Indigenous experiences across our suite of travel products, to advocate and highlight the range and depth of Indigenous tourism experiences, across Australia.” 

The Aboriginal Culture & Australia Highlights tour will have limited departures in 2024 and 2025. Travellers can currently save up to 15% as part of the AAT Kings New Season Sale which runs until until  October 31, 2023, with prices from $8,609 per person, twin share. 

The tours will commence in Melbourne and conclude in Cairns.

For more information and to book visit:

The Lane is a chic new Hunter Valley retreat

The Hunter Valley is about to greet a new 60-studio eco retreat in the heart of the vineyards.

The Lane Retreat, on Palmers Lane in Pokolbin, is a new venture for Mulpha, the group behind Bimbadgen and Emma's Cottage, and sits on the edge of Bimbadgen's Palmers Lane vineyards.

Overlooking a dam that is visited daily by a local mob of kangaroos, Palmers Lane looks like the ideal spot for a gourmet couples weekend.

I was given a sneak peek at the new precinct last week - while the final touches were being added ahead of the opening in mid October.

The 60 architect-designed studios look very smart and will complement the winery and tourism offering at Bimbadgen’s home vineyard on McDonalds Road.

With its own gourmet store and pantry for those keen to self cater, the retreat was originally expected to be completed by spring 2022, but fell victim to Covid.

The Lane Retreat will have in-built solar energy and other environmentally friendly features.

Set on 15 hectares of 50-year-old vineyards and natural bushland, the retreat has commanding views of the Brokenback Range and boasts a shared swimming pool. 

The nifty studios have a rustic chic vibe and feature king beds, sitting space, dining/study table and chairs, bathrooms with rain showers, outdoor decks with vineyard or mountain views, kitchenettes with coffee maker, toaster, microwave and mini bar, daily gourmet breakfast provisions and free wifi. 

And if you arrive late fear not. On booking, guests will receive a confirmation email containing a link that provides all the details of your stay. Simply check in via the GOKI link prior to your arrival and as soon as your room is ready, you will receive a notification with your unique code to allow you access to your room. How very modern. 

For those with mobility issues, accessible studios are available. Both room categories start from $309 per night as an opening offer. 

“As a group providing premium hospitality and experiences in blue chip locations, we are excited to be enhancing our Bimbadgen offerings while maintaining the integrity of the estate and environment," said Mulpha GM Belinda Stapleton.

“This will mean another great on-site accommodation option for events and weddings at Palmers Lane, as well as providing fantastic getaway retreats for people visiting the Hunter.

“In recent times people have rediscovered the joy of places and simple pleasures closer to home and are looking to treat themselves to short breaks in great locations, with great amenities.

“It’s hard to beat one of Australia’s premier food and wine regions just two hours’ drive from Sydney.”

Guests can relax and sit by the communal swimming pool, or enjoy a glass of wine at one of two outdoor gathering areas before setting off to explore the many delights of the Hunter.

Fresh coffee, gourmet provisions, a selection of drinks and gifts are available daily at the Lane Pantry, with wine tastings and fine food at Bimbadgen’s excellent Esca Restaurant or Wood Fire Pizza, just a three-minute drive away. 

The group's Emma's Cottage cellar door, with its own Alter wine range, is also just a short drive away. 

Bookings with breakfast for two and a bottle of Bimbadgen wine from $309 per night midweek and $443 per night on Friday/Saturday nights, valid for stays from October 15-December 24.

# The writer was a guest of The Lane Retreat

All change at Tarrawarra in the Yarra

The recent appointment of Sarah Fagan as chief winemaker at Yarra Valley stalwart Tarrawarra Estate has been followed by two more additions to the team. 

Viticulturalist Chris Beard (above) and the Swallowfield Vineyard in Gembrook are the latest to join the Tarrawarra squad. 

Tarrawarra has been at the forefront of the Yarra Valley chardonnay and pinot noir production for almost four decades after being started by Eva and Marc Besen, with the first wines made by David Wollan. 

Over the last 40 years, the total area of vines planted on the estate has expanded to almost 28 acres - and the 12 acres at the Swallowfield Vineyard in Gembrook in the Upper Yarra will provide more quality fruit. 

Beard will work with vineyard manager Stuart Sissins and brings 20 years of experience from his role managing the vineyards at Seville Estate and long tenures at Mount Mary and Yarra Yering.

"I have long admired Tarrawarra's commitment to quality and community, whether it be their excellent wines or superb restaurant," Beard said. "I am thrilled to continue that pursuit of quality in the vineyards as I join the team on one of the Yarra's most spectacular properties.

"The Swallowfield vineyard in the upper Yarra Valley is one of the greatest sites in the region. This property is a hidden gem, farmed by the same owner since 1990. 

"With Sarah Fagan's focus and talent and my experience working with some of Australia's greatest vineyards, I believe this will be some of the finest pinot noir and chardonnay anywhere. I can't wait for people to taste these wines."


Tuesday 26 September 2023

Turkish delight: Plant-based Sydney pleasures

Steakhouses are two a penny. Asian restaurants? In abundance. Seafood specialists? So many.

But plant-based eateries focusing on the cuisine of Turkiye? Not so much.

Not only does renowned chef Somer Sivrioğlu’s eatery Maydanoz have a different food and wine vibe, it also offers excellent, informed service at a central Sydney location - just behind Wynyard station.

Even on a Monday night, Maydanoz (Turkish for parsley) is buzzing with several groups relishing the share plate offering.

It is a venue that is very much on-trend, with many individuals nowadays making efforts to reduce their meat and dairy intake.

I'm a protein man through and through but the flavours and textures on offer at Maydanoz are good enough to turn my head, while my vegetable-loving wife is in her element.

Anyone expecting simple flatbreads, kofte and meaty kebabs will find themselves out of their comfort zone - but in a good way.

The meze-style menu is a collaboration between Sivrioğlu (currently filming MasterChef in Turkiye) and his group executive chef Arman Uz, who is on duty the night we dine.

The menu features many dishes that would be cooked at home, not in restaurants, along the Aegean coast of western Turkiye, Uz tells us.

Guided by an excellent maitre 'd and a charming server, both very well informed about the menu, we sample dishes ranging from festive stone-baked bread with Pepe Saya butter, lentil kofte with lettuce leaf, radish, molasses and pickled chilli (a Turkish san choy bow), and salty and chewy barbecued Tilba haloumi with thyme honey and sesame. 

Lovers of dips will enjoy the whipped feta, pistachios, sweet and sour grapes with basil and dill, while mains included Brussel sprouts with , baba ganoush, pistachio and chilli, along with Imam Bayildi; eggplant, tomato, bullhorn, tamarind and green herbs. 

For those who cannot live without meat or fish, there are but two protein options: kingfish collar kebab with sumac onion, ezme salsa, and chicken with bulgur pilaf, chilli and tomato.

For adventurous drinkers, Australian wines are joined on the list by Turkish wines from the coastline stretching from Gallipoli on the north to Denizli on the south.

Think the likes of easy drinking styles including Isabey Sauvignon Blanc, Majestik Grenache and Kalecik Karasi Rosé, Sevilen Plato Kalecik Karasi, and Centum Syrah, all very reasonably priced by the glass.

There is also a good list of cocktails and beers.

Maydanoz is open for dinner Monday to Saturday from 5pm and lunch from Monday to Friday from noon. It is well worth a visit. 

See (02) 9262 3161 50 Carrington St, Sydney.

# The writer was a guest of Maydanoz 

and apple juice.

Exhibition honours the moment Australia II made history

Time flies. It is 40 years today since Australia scored a historic first America's Cup win - in an event it can no longer afford to enter.

The Australian National Maritime Museum is marking the 40th anniversary of Australia II’s historic win by exhibiting Ben Lexcen’s drawings of the famous keel that are in the National Maritime Collection.

The exhibition, entitled Show us the Keel: Winning the America’s Cup in 1983 takes us back to September 1983 when John Bertrand and his crew crossed the line to take the America’s Cup from the US for the first time in its history.

Designer Kexcen named his radical concept of an upside-down keel with winglets ‘Darth Vader’, referring to the all-powerful villain of the Star Wars movies that took cinema by storm in 1977 and 1980.

His drawings chart the progress from a conventional design to the winged profile.

The design challenged the strict formula for designing 12-Metre class racing yachts, known as the America’s Cup Rule.

Australia II and its winged keel was kept literally under wraps before the America’s Cup races off Newport, Rhode Island.

To chants of ‘Show us the keel!’ and a media frenzy about what was hidden under the covers, Australia II and its boxing kangaroo mascot sailed to victory and into the hearts and minds of Australians.

Prime Minister Bob Hawke famously said: "‘Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum".

Alongside the design drawings, the exhibition includes a range of items associated with the win.

The free exhibition is at Wharf 7, Maritime Heritage Building behind the main museum building in Sydney and is open from 9am to 5 pm Monday to Friday.

Image: Sally Samins 

Monday 25 September 2023

Rep rehab: Qantas outlines planned improvements

The beleaguered Qantas Group has signalled a series of planned improvements to its service standards as new CEO Vanessa Hudson gets her teeth into the role after succeeding unpopular Alan Joyce.

Qantas will invest a further $80 million in customer improvements across the financial year 2024 in addition to the $150 million previously budgeted, which will be funded from profits, the airline said in a statement issued today.

The additional investment is aimed at addressing a number of customer ‘pain points’ through improvements such as better contact centre resourcing and training, an increase in the number seats that can be redeemed with Frequent Flyer points, more generous recovery support when operational issues arise, a review of longstanding policies for fairness and improvements to the quality of in-flight catering, the statement said.

Qantas is also working to accelerate some initiatives already underway, such as the re-platforming of the Qantas app.

Qantas and Jetstar expect to carry more than 4 million passengers over the September/October school holidays and football finals period on almost 35,000 domestic and international services.

This compares with around 3.7 million passengers on approximately 28,000 services over the same four week period last year.

New aircraft deliveries and wet-leasing arrangements will help Qantas and Jetstar boost international capacity by 12 percentage points by the end of the calendar year – an increase of almost 50 additional flights a week.

This includes Qantas resuming its Sydney-Shanghai services and starting two new routes, Brisbane-Wellington and Brisbane-Honiara, as well as a new Jetstar service from Brisbane to Tokyo.

Image: Qantas 

Meet a big city hotel with a personal touch

A good experience at check-in is often a harbinger for a good hotel stay.

So it proved at the InterContinental in Sydney last week - a five-star hotel that has recently undergone a major refurb.

The InterCon is a blend of the old and the new; a modern hotel centred around the old NSW Treasury Building that is located a couple of blocks from the ferry quays and transport interchange at Circular Quay, and a short walk from the Opera House.

We arrived early looking to drop our bags prior to a ferry ride. Instead, extremely slick and impressive staff at reception (above) had us on our way to our room well before check-in time, and upgraded us to a room with impressive Sydney Harbour views.

All 509 guest rooms, including 28 suites, boast views of either Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens or the city skyline.

The welcome letter in the room even had my name spelled correctly - which is usually only a 50% chance at best.

Throughout our stay staff were uniformly smiling, helpful and professional - very welcome and something of a rarity in today's hospitality environment.

The hotel has undergone a $120 million redevelopment in recent years, enhancing modern features while preserving original elements of the Treasury Building, which dates back to 1851.

Another heritage element is the oldest working lift in the southern hemisphere, opened around 1919. 

Recent additions include the impressive Pont Brasserie dining room (separate review coming soon) and the Bar Messenger underground dive bar.

While location is important, so is technology - and here you'll find fast and free in-room wifi, push button technology to control air con, open and close curtains etc.

Rooms feature something called a "cloud bed" (above), very comfortable and available in a range of sizes; luxe amenities and blackout curtains.

Breakfasts (including many dishes cooked to order) are served in The Conservatory on level one, while The Treasury on the ground floor is open from morning until late, serving light breakfasts, casual meals, beverages and high tea at weekends.

Aster on level 31 is a rooftop bar on the same level as the hotel swimming pool and fitness centre, while 24-hour room service is available. 

Impressive on all levels. A large hotel with a personal touch.

See for more details and room rates.  

# The writer was a guest of the hotel  



Sunday 24 September 2023

Club Med to land in South Africa

Ever wanted to stay at a Club Med resort?

Tempted by exploring a game reserve in South Africa?

You will soon be able to do both at the same time after Club Med unveiled plans for its first South African resort.

The all-inclusive resort operator has announced Club Med Tinley, which it says will offer a combination of beach and safari experiences.

Set to open in 2026, Club Med Tinley is situated on the Dolphin Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, around an hour north of the city of Durban, TravelMole reports.

It will showcase the opportunity to stay on a Big-5 Game Reserve for a safari adventure in Northern KZN.

The resort will be located just 30 minutes from King Shaka International Airport and is planned to have 342 rooms and 64 suites. There will be 80 rooms in the game lodge, and a convention centre.

Club Med Tinley, overlooking the Indian Ocean, will offer a range of family activities, land and water sports, a kid’s club, plus the first surf school at a Club Med facility.

The South African resort will also offer a spa, fitness centre, yoga school and an adults only pool and bar.

Some like it hot: They will enjoy this

Are you a lover of seriously spicy dishes? 

Meet a new sauce that is likely to need the assistance of a cleansing ale or two. 

Capilano Hot Chilli Honey has been launched to meet the growing hunger for hot ‘n spicy foods.

Whether you want to add some kick to your chicken wings, or some pep to your pad thai, then this new sweet/savoury combo might just be your new best friend. 

As someone who always likes their Asian dishes "just a little bit hotter", I will be experimenting over the next couple of weeks and will report back. 

The people at Capilano say their Hot Chilli Honey "is perfect for drizzling over pizza, wings, ribs, burgers, or adding a creative twist to avocado toast". 

It is being hyped as "an ideal secret ingredient for that extra 'wow' factor".

Hot Chilli Honey combines 100% pure Australian honey from Capilano’s network of 800+ Aussie beekeepers with flecks of habanero chilli that can be used as an ingredient or condiment. 

In tune with the current vibe there are no preservatives or additives. 

“We know Australians are always looking for ways to add excitement to their meals and prioritise natural ingredients,: says Fiona Tavian, Capilano's GM Innovation (funky title). 

"Chilli honey is the perfect way to add a sweet-savoury spicy kick to their foods, with the average household consuming chilli every 10 days.

“While Capilano has been around for 70 years, we are always looking to innovate and make honey feel new and exciting." 

Capilano’s 340g squeeze pack of Hot Chilli Honey is priced at $7.50, and is available at Woolworths stores. It will be stocked in Coles supermarkets from October 2. 

It is a bit fiddly to open, by the way, but worth the effort. 

It also available online at

For 20 food suggestions see

Saturday 23 September 2023

Should babies be banned from commercial flights?

Is it time for young babies to be banned from commercial aircraft? Or at least be seated in a separate compartment? 

That is a question that was posted on the Global Travel Media site this week. And it is sure to provoke controversy.

I know most parents do their best when flying with infants. It is a tough job. But should other flyers be inconvenienced by screaming infants after paying good money for their seats?

Likewise, should children running around and kicking seats be allowed to impact on those seeking sanctuary in an airport business lounge? As I saw this week. 

After all, if adults created as much noise as some babies do they would be told to pipe down, or even be removed from a flight.   

Several Asian airlines already offer quiet zones where children and babies are not allowed. But how about zones simply for parents and young ones. So kickers and screamers can be surrounded by other kickers and screamers.

Dutch-based charter company Corendon Airlines recently announced that it will sell tickets in an adults-only zone - seating over 16s only - on its flights between Amsterdam and the Caribbean island of Curacao starting from November.

I, for one, would be prepared to pay extra to sit an adults only zone. 

I've heard possibly apocryphal stories of rich parents who seat themselves in business class and their children and nanny among the plebs in economy.

The “Only Adults” zone in the front section of Corendon’s Airbus A350 will consist of nine XL seats with extra legroom and 93 standard seats. 

This section will be partitioned from the rest of the aircraft by walls and curtains, creating a shielded environment “that contributes to a quiet and relaxing flight,” the company says.

“This zone on the plane is intended for travellers travelling without children and business travellers who want to work in a quiet environment,” it said in a press release.

Or maybe there could be certain fights designated adults only, so that those for whom this is an issue can be assured of peace and quiet. 

 Fair, or unfair? 

Something different for wine lovers and collectors

Looking for something to jazz up your cellar or bar at home? 

Long-time wine industry professional Philip Meyer has just the thing. 

Meyer has collected some "wine bling" during his career, including many panel boards from wooden crates that contained highly collectible wines, including from from Bordeaux and Burgundy. 

So think Chateau Margaux, or maybe Bonneau Du Martray.

The range also includes box ends from leading wineries in Italy and Spain and prices start from $30.  
Meyer describes the wine box ends from around the world as "a little semi-retirement project".

Wine box ends are the original wine panels from wine crates made by high-end vineyards. They are also known as wine crate sides or wine face plates.

The ends are engraved with the winery’s logo and/or artwork and sometimes include the vintage year of the wine they housed.

Meyer says they are "perfect gifts for wine lovers, as art work, drawer fronts, a table top or wall hangings". 

Perfect, too, for anyone opening a wine bar. 

Friday 22 September 2023

Dark Mofo blow for Tasmanian tourism

The organisers of Hobart winter festival Dark Mofo have announced that the event will pause in 2024 “for a period of renewal”.

Dark Mofo intends to reshape a more sustainable model for a full return in 2025, and set the foundation for the next 10 years.

Despite achieving record attendances and box office results this year, organisers said a reset was essential due to rising costs and changing circumstances.

An agreement has, however, been reached with the Tasmanian Government to hold two aspects of the festival in 2024 - the Winter Feast and the Nude Solstice Swim.

These two key events will also coincide with the opening of a new major exhibition at the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona).

Dark Mofo artistic director Chris Twite said that the State Government had been proactive in offering solutions to proceed with the festival in 2024. But ultimately the organisers opted for a reduced scope that would honour Dark Mofo’s commitment to local community and small businesses, and give the organisation the time and space for planning for the future. 

“We are thankful for the support and assistance that the State Government has shown in response to our need to reshape for the future,” Twite said.

“Dark Mofo has always been dedicated to enriching and transforming lives through ambitious art and ideas. We want to make sure that we have a festival that continues to deliver incredible art and artists, that continues to expand its artistic boundaries and remains a beacon of creativity, innovation, and cultural significance.

“While this was a tough decision, it ensures we move forward in a viable manner. The fallow year will enable us to secure the future of Dark Mofo and its return at full force in 2025.

“We are excited that in June 2024 - amidst the rebirth and renewal of Dark Mofo - that Tasmanians and visitors alike will still be able to meet and commune around the fires of Winter Feast and cast off the weight of another year at the Nude Solstice Swim once more.” 

Dates for the 2024 Winter Feast and Nude Solstice Swim will be announced soon. 

Tourism Tasmania CEO Sarah Clark says that organisation will respond to changes in the festival programming and ensure Tasmania stays "top of mind" for Australians next winter.

Tourism Tasmania will Increase investment in its Off Season program; pursue a new strategic airline partnership to drive bookings to the state across the entire winter and deliver a one-off industry content program helping support the promotion of Off Season offers.

We shall see.

Take a trip back in time for one weekend only

Take a journey back in time when Sydney’s Central Station is briefly transformed to a bygone era. 

The return of the annual Transport Heritage Expo this October long weekend (September 30-October 2) will give visitors the chance to enjoy heritage train, bus and steam boat rides across the city. 

There will also be unique experiences at Central station, including tours of the clock tower and tea on board a 1960s dining carriage.

“The Transport Heritage Expo is a rare and exciting opportunity for people to journey back in time and immerse themselves in our state’s rich transport history,” said Transport Heritage NSW CEO, Andrew Moritz.

“This year, we’re fortunate to display some incredible pieces from the state collection, including three rarely seen passenger carriages, which were first introduced to the NSW Government Railways in the 1890s.”

Highlights of the Transport Heritage Expo will be a one-hour steam train ride to Hurstville and return, a trip on a vintage electric train and a ride on a timber-bodied railmotor on a tour of the Botany freight line.

Vintage bus rides will include "a 29-minute round trip of the Sydney CBD aboard a lovingly restored vintage double-decker bus from the Sydney Bus Museum". That's a pretty precise time frame given Sydney traffic! 

There will also be 45-minute harbour cruise on a choice of the Waratah or Lady Hopetoun – two 120-year-old veterans of Sydney Harbour.

Tickets are on sale now at or by calling 1300 115599.

Images: Steve Burrows

Thursday 21 September 2023

Adelaide Hills set to sparkle


The Adelaide Hills wine region will turn on its sparkling style next month  

The annual Sparkling Springtm festival will run from Friday October 20 to Sunday October 22 for its second edition after a successful start last year. 

The festival will feature tasting events, bites, degustation lunches and live music. 

Participating wineries will include leading sparkling producers including DAOSA, Deviation Road, Lobethal Road, Mount Lofty Ranges Vineyard, Golding, Croser, Howard Vineyard, Sidewood, Bird in Hand, The Lane and Nepenthe. 

Alex Trescowthick, president of the Adelaide Hills Wine Region said the event “shines a light on the amazing sparkling wines being made here in the Adelaide Hills.

“Sparkling wine is one of the hidden gems of the Adelaide Hills wine region. Our cool climate provides the perfect growing conditions for sparkling varieties, chardonnay and Pinot noir. The talented Hills’ winemakers use traditional methods to craft some of the country’s most outstanding sparkling wines.

“October is great time to visit the Adelaide Hills. Expect warm sunny weather and picturesque vineyards with swathes of new leaves to signify the start of the growing season. It’s a great time to discover your favourite sparkling to enjoy over the coming festive season.”

Full details at 

Tasting with some of Tasmania's best wine producers

Here is the perfect excuse for any interstate wine lovers who have been thinking about visiting Tasmania and popping by some cellar doors.

Wine South will host the annual Spring in the Vines Festival over the weekend of November 3-5.

Producers throughout the Coal River Valley, Derwent Valley, Tasmania Peninsula and Huon Valley/d'Entrecasteaux Channel will be opening up for tastings of new releases, older vintages, food and fun.

Spring in the Vines began in 2020 to showcase Southern Tasmania’s cool-climate wines and scenic vineyards.Producers large and small - some who do not usually open to the public - will open up to visitors, allowing wine lovers to chat directly with producers.

With more than 5000 visitors anticipated for the 2023 event, the festival provides a significant economic boost to the southern wine region.

“Spring in the Vines is a unique and inclusive festival, bringing together vineyards, wineries, winemakers, and negociants, to showcase southern Tasmania as a premium wine destination,” says Nathalie Urbain from Wine South, the producer collective that organises the event.

Wine South president Mark McNamara says Spring in the Vines is “an event not to be missed by all Tasmanians and visitors to our beautiful state, showcasing the season’s newly released wines.”

Many wineries- over 40 are expected to participate -  will be partnering with local musicians and food producers.

“Spring in the Vines is the perfect chance to emerge from your winter hibernation with friends and family and experience everything that is unique about southern Tasmanian wine, our vineyards and producers, and take home some the best of the new season wines,” McNamara says.

Details at and further updates will be posted closer to the date.

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Global recognition for Brisbane hotel

 A boutique Brisbane hotel has upstaged properties in Sydney and Melbourne and been named No.12 in a list of The World’s Best 50 Hotels 

The Calile Hotel was also named best in Oceania in the inaugural The World’s 50 Best Hotelawards announced in London today. 


The invitation-only event, attended by representatives from the 50 nominated hotels, was held in the historic Guildhall. 

In attendance for the ceremony, The Calile Hotel co-owner Catherine Malouf said she was extremely proud to be representing the Malouf family (owners) and employees from The Calile at such a significant celebration.


"This is a win for our team, our collaborators, our loyal guests and a win for Brisbane as a destination, and we are humbled to represent the Australian hotel industry on the world stage,” she said. 


"There is no doubt The Calile Hotel has carved a name for itself and sparked a trend in ‘urban resorts’ with its bold architectural commitment, sustainable practises and by embracing its local and sub-tropic climate within an urban setting." 


There are, of course, several of these lists, but it is nonetheless noteworthy recognition. 


 Speaking at the opening of the awards event, the managing director of World’s 50 Best Group Tim Brooke-Webb said: “The 50 Best Hotels has redefined hospitality - setting new standards and pushing boundaries to create unique moments for your guests.” 

So plenty of hype there. 


Hotel general manager Rob Unson said: “Being named 12 in the world was a fitting fifth birthday present for the 175-room boutique hotel and a great win for Australian tourism.


"It takes an outstanding team to deliver outstanding guest experiences, and I want to take a moment to thank the hotel team – from our housekeepers to our pool attendants, maintenance and kitchen teams and our front of house guest service attendants who go above and beyond to welcome our guests back through the arches time and time again.”


Voting criteria was based on selecting seven best hotel experiences during the voting period. Voters were asked to consider every element of the hotel’s operation from first contact pointto room comfort, quality of food and beverage, on-site facilities and check out. 

Making classic cocktails at home just got a lot easier

Ever get the feeling that you would love a cocktail but can't be bothered getting dressed up and heading to a cocktail bar?

Fever-Tree is shaking things up with the recent launch of two new cocktail mixers.

Choose between the Classic Margarita Mixer and Sparkling Mojito Mixer, which are are an addition to Fever-Tree’s current offerings of tonics, sodas and ginger ales, all of which are popular solo, or mixed with different spirits.

All you need is a glass, some ice and rum or tequila - and away you go at home. Salt, garnishes and straws are optional.

Each bottle contains multiple serves with no extra liqueurs or syrups needed; no squeezing or aggressive shaking required.

Fever-Tree is promoted as Australia’s #1 luxury mixer brand with 90% share in the premium mixer market.

Both bottles are without artificial flavourings, sweeteners, or preservatives, and they boast a total sugar content that is lower than competitor brands.

The Classic Margarita Mix is a blend of Mexican limes, Italian blood oranges and a pinch of Scottish sea salt, while the Classic Mojito Mixer is also made from Mexican limes, as well as Moroccan spearmint.

“This is just the beginning of growth and innovation in the cocktail mixer category for Fever-Tree," says MD Andy Gaunt.

"As was the case with carbonated mixers, the non-carbonated category is ripe with opportunity, and bound for tremendous growth. It’s the perfect time for Fever-Tree to be making their grand entrance."

The Mixers are available for $19.50 a bottle - enough for four or five cocktails - at Dan Murphy’s stores.

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Sydney in 15 minutes - from the water

Here is one for anyone planning on visiting Sydney. 

Take a 15-minute Sydney Harbour ferry trip from Circular Quay to Barangaroo for a tour of many of the city’s highlights from the water - at public transport prices. 

Here’s few shots I took today. Please enjoy.

For more info please see 

Meet the couple changing the perceptions of Queensland wines


Queensland wine is still struggling for widespread acceptance.

While there have always been some talented artisans working in the Granite Belt region, consistency of quality has long been a problem.

Meet Ray and Jenny Costanzo, who are among a new wave lifting the profile of the Granite Belt and Queensland as a whole.

Ray is a third generation winemaker, having completed a Bachelor of Applied Science (winemaking) at Charles Sturt University and honing his skills doing vintages in various parts of Australia and the USA, before returning home to Stanthorpe to follow in his father and grandfathers footsteps as winemaker at Golden Grove Estate.

But the Costanzos also have their own little side project: Storm King Wines with wines that are handcrafted and made in tiny quantities.

Across two vintages, they are producing some of the most exciting wine styles Queensland has to offer with the new releases from the 2022 vintage full of vivacity and nuance.

Founded two years ago, Storm King is named for the area where the couple lives and reflect "a passion for wines that are just a little left of centre result and worth savouring".

The savoury, textural 2022 Vermentino ($40) raw-boned 2022 Shiraz Malbec ($45) and 2022 Tempranillo ($45) - an absolute standout - are made with extended contact with skins, natural ferments, hand plunging, basket pressing and minimal filtrations. 

The tempranillo (above) will change whatever preconceptions you may have about Queensland wine, but be quick: only 660 bottles were produced. 

Sustainability, too, is paramount with recycled grape waste and compostable inks used for the labels, and the use of a more environmentally friendly cork producer. 

Monday 18 September 2023

Dirty deeds in the world of wine

Vintage Crime is not the book for you if are looking for a comprehensive list of the various grape varieties of Italy, or the top cellar doors to visit in Stellenbosch.

But if you are looking for some human interest stories about the world of wine, its history and some notorious dodgers and divers then you'll have some fun.

Wine journalist and Master of Wine Rebecca Gibb says her book is all about wine "amelioration, adulteration, and deception" told chronologically through 10 wine frauds.

She covers some of the most high-profile wine scams and some of the lesser-known devious activities over the years.

The book spans ancient times, in bawdy Imperial Rome no less, to the 21st century and how mega fraudster Rudy Kurniawan rose from obscurity to global notoriety.

There is a focus on human stories: wine producers, merchants, collectors, and drinkers rather than on the bottles of wine themselves. 

A fun and engaging book choice when you want to take in a chapter here and a chapter there, rather than binge reading. Enjoy at your own pace. 

Vintage Crime: A Short History of Wine Fraud is to be published by University of California Press.

Meet the drink vending machine that offers more choice - and helps the environment

Ever wished you could craft your own drink - and help save the planet from single-use plastic bottles?

Meet Refilled, a Sydney-based start-up that hopes to eventually end the sale of beverages sold in single-use plastic bottles in vending machines.

Starting at sites including Google HQ Sydney, UTS and the University of Sydney, its Refillers are plastic-free vending machine that can be used by anyone with a reusable bottle.

The company hopes to install 100 units around Australia by 2024, aiming to capitalise on the trend of reusable bottles and by giving people more flavour variety and nutritional options than just plain water on tap.

The Refillers are described as "a cross between a fridge and a giant soda stream" and offer chilled still and sparkling drinks in a range of flavours with the ability to add optional boosters such as caffeine, vitamins, and nootropics.

The founders say over 891 billion single-use plastic bottles are produced worldwide every year and fewer than 20% are ever recycled, which makes vending machines a major source of plastic pollution.

A single Refiller can stock 10x more beverages than a typical vending machine so it can also reduce waste and delivery emissions.

Refilled is tracking the number of bottles is has saved in real time, and has created reusable bottles with QR codes that can be scanned at the Refiller and used to pay for drinks – no card, phone or cash required.

To date, Refilled has raised $600k through angel investors and Melt Ventures, an impact VC Fund. It is seeking an additional $1.5 million in its next funding round.

“Refilled is transforming the ordinary, everyday act of drinking water into climate action," says co-founder and CEO Ryan Nelson.

"Most people have good intentions and want to do good for the planet, but not everyone can afford to buy an electric vehicle or install solar panels.

"Armed with just a reusable bottle and a couple of bucks, our Refillers offer an affordable, achievable way to eliminate plastic pollution. If we can replace even a fraction of drinks vending machines, which are an outrageous source of plastic waste, we will stop millions of plastic bottles going to landfill.”

For more info see