Millers Point

“We’re just trying to brighten up the area”, the woman who was painting a “mural” on the windows of a house in Sydney’s Millers Point told me, as I asked her if she minded if I took a photograph. Although I’d read and heard about the plan to relocate some Housing Commission residents from Millers Point, it wasn’t issue I was fully across. I visit the area probably only once or twice a year. Nor was I aware of the local campaign currently underway to stop this. It was an interesting diversion along the way, as we took part in a Craft Beer Tour. I wished her good luck, as we continued to The Lord Nelson for a late afternoon bevvy.

Craft Beer Tour

“This tour combines two of my passions: history and beer”, our tour guide told us, as we began the Craft Beer Tour yesterday. I don’t recall exactly how I discovered the tour through Foodi, though it was possibly doing a search for “history and beer”, as they’re also passions of mine.

The tour covered Sydney pubs such as The Hero Of Waterloo, The Lord Nelson and others, and the beers we consumed ranged from light to dark in style, and from well-established brands like Reschs and James Squires, to those made only on site. The tour also covered some really interesting insights into Sydney history, including a visit to the basement of the historic pub, The Hero Of Waterloo (which was really terrific). The tour was well-paced, with enough room to sit down down and enjoy the experience, without the feeling you were constantly on the move.

By the time the tour ended at the Lowenbrau, we were a little tired of beer, having spent close to four hours wandering around, and so headed to a nearby bar for some wine instead. It was a really enjoyable tour, and good value at $35 (plus beer).

Australian Of The Year

It’s been a few years since I’ve travelled to Canberra for the Australian Of The Year Awards. The last time was, I think, 2010 (or thereabouts). Through my work, I have a close relationship with the team organising the awards, and was involved in setting up ABC Radio’s live coverage of the announcements. Having helped set things up, I travelled down for the first year, and left it at that, knowing the team at ABC Canberra do an excellent job with it all. The weather was great this year, and I was really pleased to have travelled down, as I got to meet some terrific folk, hear about some of the amazing stories from the finalists and winners, and also enjoy the sounds of Jessica Mauboy, Paul Kelly (and others), and even got to catch up with an old school friend and her sister. A terrific Sunday night…

Canberra Botanic Gardens

I learned more about Australian plants in an hour walking around the Botanic Gardens, Canberra than I think I’ve learned in my life. Although I was a member of the Gould League as a child, most of the detail about banksias and grevilleas has never really sunk in. I love plants, I’m just not one for “detail”. Ask me to name a flower, and I’d struggle. This is despite having grown up with a garden of my own which I tended with regularity. But with a specialisation in Australian plants, and with a careful as I walked around taking photographs, I learned a lot more. I probably should learn more, eh?

To be honest, I never really intended to visit the Botanic Gardens. I’d caught an ordinary Canberra bus (though labelled it would take you to a bunch of tourist attractions) with a greater interest in seeing the new National Arboretum. Located on land that was devastated in the bushfires of about five years ago, the Aboretum features lots of amazing tree species. Although well attended, I probably arrived there five or ten years early. At the moment, most of the trees are saplings. At the moment, it doesn’t look “visually spectacular”, though it’s conceptually very spectacular. It’s a really great example of the forethought that goes into some of the “nation building” projects you find around Canberra.

Still a wander around the Botanic Gardens (along with lunch) made for a very pleasant way to spend my first part of this trip to Canberra.

Friday Afternoon at Coogee

So it’s Friday afternoon, you’re sitting at home in a t-shirt and shorts, and a friend texts you to say “I need a drink”. A tough week at work, apparently. So you agree to meet for a bite to eat, and can’t decide where to go. “Let’s go to the beach somewhere”, we decided, agreeing quickly on Coogee. “Of all the Eastern suburbs beaches, it’s my favourite, I declared”. “Besides the people on the 372 bus are much nicer than those on the 393 or the 395″, I added. “They stand up for old people, they don’t think their shopping bag is entitled to a paying seat of its own, and they don’t ignore you because they’re so engrossed in their mobile phone”, I said. Ten minutes later we were at Coogee and exploring the options. Quickly we settled on fish and chips at the outdoor cafe near where the buses stop. The food was good, though not great. Later, a walk along the beach, and we both concluded that “oh so necessary drink” wasn’t needed after all. Ice cream, on the other hand :)

Worth the wait: Chinatown Noodle Restaurant on Quay Street

For many years I’ve been a fan of the two dumpling/noodle restaurants in the Burlington Centre in Sydney’s Chinatown. There’s the “popular one” (the one on the left) which always has a queue, and there’s the “less popular one” (on the right) where you can usually get a table fairly quickly. Both sell reasonably cheap, good quality dumplings and noodles. There are countless other restaurants and cafes in Chinatown where you can purchase steamed or pan-fried dumplings, in both Northern and Southern Chinese styles, but these two seem to be the most popular in the part of Chinatown close to where I work.

But even closer, around the corner, there’s far better offering in my opinion at the Chinatown Noodle House on Quay Street. Unlike many other restaurants who pre-prepare and often freeze their noodles and dumplings, these guys appear to make them for you “on demand”. You have to wait a bit longer, but they’re definitely worth the wait. They also have a really fantastic eggplant dish. Highly recommended.