Noma Sydney

Pie made from dried scallops and lantana flowers.

As we entered Noma (Sydney) for lunch yesterday, there was a real sense of “showbiz”. As we were shown to our table, the four of us were greeted by probably twenty or thirty staff. “Hello, hello, welcome”. Having lived all my life in Australia, I often feel cynical about such displays of hospitality. Though such displays often feel contrived, this seemed to me very genuine. Over the next two and half to three hours, as we enjoyed our meals, and chatted with the staff, it became pretty obvious the staff were, too, lovers of fine food.

Though I’ve visited Copenhagen a few times, I’ve never been to Noma. Their seasons are always sold out weeks/months in advance. But I have read about Noma, and its reputation as a world class restaurant. In particular, I’ve been interested in the work done by the chef and co-owner, René Redzepi in re-inventing Nordic cuisine, and by his innovative use of unusual/interesting ingredients. When they announced a ten week season in Sydney, I was certainly interested, though not confident I’d be lucky enough to secure a seat/table. There are still 27,000 people (or something like that) on the waiting list. Thanks to the perseverance of Damien (running a couple of computers simultaneously) we were lucky enough to secure a table. And so yesterday, after months of anticipation, four of us sat down and enjoyed a remarkable lunch.

From the opener (macadamia in a spanner crab broth) to the closer (a fresh take on bon bons), everything was a surprise and a delight. There were many highlights. For me, they included the “dumpling” of marron and magpie goose (eat it like a taco), the sea urchin with tomatoes and berries, and the marinated fresh fruit (which included teaming up watermelon with a very bitter native plum). There were thirteen courses in all, and absolutely no sense of “I’m still hungry, let’s get some Maccas on the way home”.

Another particular highlight for me was the deep sea snow crab served in a sauce of egg yolk and fermented kangaroo. Though I’ve eaten crab all my life, I’ve never had crab like this before. The particular crab we were served lives in such deep waters that they’re actually white. There’s little/no lite where they live in waters off the continental shelf. We learned an awful lot about crab, actually, as we got chatting with a lovely family from Western Australia, who actually supplied the crab for the restaurant. “René came for dinner one night”, we were told, as we began to better understand how the team from Noma had spent several months/weeks/days travelling around Australia sourcing ingredients, and then developing the uniquely Australian meals. “A world class chef comes to your place for dinner. Pressure much?, I joked.

That was one of the great things about the afternoon: the shared experience. After the meal, the opportunity to meet the family from WA made it all the more enjoyable, as they too share a love of food. Around the rest of the room, I noticed other people were similarly making friends.

I’ve been a little sick over the last week, and so chose not to have the matched wines (shock! horror!) but Damien, Kristen and Glenn did, and they all said they were all very well-matched. They were also, I think, natural wines, meaning there were without preservatives. Though I do love wine, I equally enjoyed the meal, I think, without drinking.

As each meal was served the staff explained in detail (without too much detail) the meal, and seemed really happy to answer our many, many questions :) They definitely earned their keep :)

“I’ve tried to explain this to people at work, spending so much money on lunch but they just didn’t understand”, one of us said, “Noma”. For the last few months I’ve been feeling lots of “Catholic Guilt” about this also. The “guilt” comes from the fact that I’m a working class boy from a small country town in Australia. The money I spent on LUNCH would feed whole families in some parts of the world for weeks, if not months. In my own mind, I balanced it out because I do contribute a fair bit of money to a couple of charities which help people around the world.

But how do you explain spending so much money on a lunch to your colleagues/ friends/ family who live equally “first world lifestyles”? According to my friend, you ask them how much money they’ve recently spent on a rock concert. Many people in Australia (and other “first world nations”) will routinely spend several hundred dollars on a ticket to a rock concert. Personally, I spent three or four hundred dollars to see Bette Midler and Liza Minelli. I know a few people who spent over seven hundred dollars to see Barbra Streisand. So my perspective on this is simple: it was like the greatest rock concert of all time (for food), and we got to meet and chat (at length) with the star.

Dinner at Aria


A few months ago I was lucky enough to be on a table that won the “Lucky Door Prize” for a dinner at Sydney’s Aria Restaurant. Along with ten others, I enjoyed a wonderful night this evening of great company, great conversations, delicious food and wine, and great views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Though the servings look small, they were very filling and very, very enjoyable. We were treated to matched wines chosen by the son of one of our hosts. We also had a visit to our table by the restaurant’s owner, Matt Moran. Feeling very, very fortunate/privileged tonight, so I thought I’d share a few of the lovely photographs I took. Very grateful.

The Paddington

The Paddington

“We were the oldest people there”, I said to my friend as we left The Paddington last night. “No, there were some other oldies there”, she argued. Yes, she was right, but overwhelmingly The Paddington attracted a hip and happening younger crowd. And no wonder, it’s the latest Sydney hotel to be “Hemmesphied”. Justin Hemmes has had a terrific record in transforming bars into terrific new spaces. And it’s my feeling he’s done another great job.

“You really must go”, I told a colleague this morning. “For $50 each, we shared a bottle of wine, a whole chicken, salad and chips. It was delicious, and there was chicken left over”, I added.

We were lucky enough to be given a quieter spot overlooking the main serving area, as it was a reasonably noisy space. In part, because it was so damn busy. It was nine o’clock on a wet Wednesday night in Sydney, and the place was jumping. Highly recommended.

Tourist In My Town

Sydney Opera House viewed from the walkway of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

With a friend visiting from the UK, there was a wonderful opportunity for me to be both a “tourist guide”, as well as be a “tourist in my own town”.

We started the tour at Sydney’s new harbour reserve, Barangaroo. As it is still early days for the reserve, there’s a lot happening, including free tours. In a group of about eight people, we were guided by a young guy, Henry/Harry who talked about the history of the area prior to European settlement, as well as what’s happened since. We also tasted some bush tucker, and learned a little about the native fauna which was excellent. He was great.

From there we took the pedestrian walkway over the Sydney Harbour Bridge (great views without the expense of Bridge Climb), caught a ferry back to Circular Quay, visited Customs House (where you walk atop a glass panel and where below you there is a recreation of central Sydney), and finally had a late lunch at Sydney’s Paragon Hotel.

A wonderful afternoon, and terrific to be a “tourist in my own town”.


Mumford & Sons

“When was the last time you went to an open-air concert?”, my friend asked me as we stood, waiting in the crowd/rain for Mumford & Sons to come on stage at Sydney’s Domain tonight.

Though not strictly in the moshpit, we had found a place not far from there, close to the mixing desk which, my radio/audio background, told me was one of the best places to go for a concert. Mixing desk, and all.

Though we COULD have gone to the show from 1.00pm, and COULD have experienced all of the preview acts, we decided not to. It was the combination of poor weather in Sydney today, and the fact we’re both around fifty years old.

It turns out the last time Sue had been to an open-air concert was to see Dire Straits. “At QE2 Stadium in Brisbane in 1985?”, I asked her which, co-incidentally was the first ever open-air concert I attended. It turns out it was a more recent appearance by Dire Straits, and although she couldn’t remember what year it was, or if it was Sydney or Canberra, she remembered it rained.

For me, the most recent open-air concert was Stockholm Pride in July this year. The headline act of the night was Eurovision 2015 winner, Måns Zelmerlöw. I took some really great photographs that night, mostly because I discovered the best spot to stand at a Swedish pop concert is right behind the people in wheelchairs. Yes, I know that sounds callous, slightly opportunistic, but the Swedes are really great when it comes to ensuring people in wheelchairs have good locations at pop concerts. As it happens, I was standing next to a couple of Swedish newspaper photographers who also obviously knew “the secret”.

“Let’s go and stand behind those teenage girls”, I said tonight. We stayed there for about 45 minutes to an hour, until we finally got a little sick on the late teens/early twenties pushing their way through, stollies in hand. One of the best decisions we could have made, though later in the show we couldn’t help but feel some admiration for some of them. As we looked up at the big screen, we noticed a group of four or five girls who had been particularly offensive as they pushed their way through, had managed to make it all the way to the front, and will no doubt have a starring role in the Mumford & Sons concert DVD.

I really like Mumford & Sons. Though “I Can’t Wait” is probably my favourite song of theirs, “Little Iron Man” is also a great number. In particular, I love the appearance of banjos and mandolins in their music. What was really clear from tonight’s show was what great musicians they are, effortlessly (it seemed) going from one instrument to another. And though they did a lot of songs from their latest album, they didn’t disappoint the crowd by failing to play their “hits”. They played for about 100 minutes. They were also at pains to point out on a number of occasions how important Australia had been to their success.

Though it would have been fun to have spent longer nearer to the stage, and to have seen them closer (and not just on the video stage) it was still lots and lots of fun, despite the weather, the mud, and the teens/early twenties pushing their way through. We weren’t the oldest people there, but close…

Long Weekend

Australian Life - my favourite, a photograph from Wilcannia

There’s an app on my phone which tells me how many steps I walk each day. Sure, there’s a margin of error, as it relies on me actually having my phone on me every day. But the margin of error is low, as I actually do have my phone with me most days.

The app tells me that I generally walk about the “required” 10,000 steps most days, but that it sometimes falls below that, and often increases well above that. During my travels in July and August, the number of daily steps has increased dramatically. But since arriving back, I’ve turned into a bit of a lard arse.

That’s been particularly the case this weekend. I’ve been a sloth. The combination of post-holiday blues, daylight saving, and a long weekend, has meant I’ve spent large parts of the weekend doing nothing much at all. I’ve slept, I’ve watched TV, I’ve rested, and I’ve gone out for lunch/dinner.

And today I’ve gone walking with my friend Sue. We visited Art & About’s Australian Life, we walked through the Botanic Gardens, and around Barangaroo. I felt awfully proud that I’d made about 13,000 steps throughout the day. And then of course I ruined it all by having a beer on the way home. Nonetheless, I’m feeling virtuous that I didn’t spend the entire long weekend as a sloth.

Taylor Square Newsagency Closes

Taylor Square Newsagency

My earliest memory of the Sydney’s Taylor Square Newsagency was when they had a “footpath sub-branch” outside The Oxford Hotel. As a young man from the country, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the large collection of international newspapers and “adult magazines” they sold. And yes, in my younger years, I may have bought some of both. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, I was still a magazine buyer. And so when I came to Sydney, I liked nothing more than “stocking up” ahead of a return to life in the country.

By the time I’d moved to Sydney in the mid 90s, I’m pretty sure they no longer had the “footpath sub-branch”. Instead, the Taylor Square Newsagency had a fairly healthy floor space on the opposite side of the road, and they had an amazing collection of magazines. Back then I was still buying “fashion magazines” and “gay magazines” and things like “The Face”. Yes, really.

A few years later I was buying cooking magazines and computer magazines. And then it was family history magazines. More recently, I was using the Taylor Square Newsagency for art magazines, the only magazines I still buy in the physical form.

Along the way, I popped in to the newsagency for the occasional Lotto ticket, and memorably to buy some early morning newspapers. There was a New Years Day when I presented the Breakfast Show on ABC Radio, and, since the newspaper deliveries to work didn’t occur early enough, stopped in there to pick them up on the way to work. So I caught a cab from home, via the Taylor Square Newsagency. As I wrote at the time

“I want to go to Ultimo, but I need to go via the Taylor Square newsagency to pick up some newspapers on the way”, I told him. In scenes reminiscent of a Hollywood movie, forty-or-fifty people descended on the taxi as we pulled in at Taylor Square. You could see the look of desperation in their eyes, and then disappointment as they soon realised the taxi wasn’t free. Feeling a bit sorry for the taxi driver and the “siege situation” I’d dragged him into, I promised him I’d run in and out as quickly as possible. As I ran in, I noticed there were queues everywhere on Oxford Street, even apparently at the sex shop next to the newsagency.

On Monday morning, I checked in with my colleagues to see if they still called in to pick up the early morning papers. “No, we do everything online”, they told me. And I guess that’s the issue for the Taylor Square Newsagency: life has changed. They probably should have downsized their floor-space, as others have, as the newspaper/magazine industry has changed. There again, there’s also the issue of how Oxford Street has changed since the arrival of the 1.30am lockout, which, undoubtedly has indirectly contributed to things. I hear “The Oxford” is about to close also for a few months, and then “turn straight”. Life really has changed since the late 80s, early 90s, eh?

I was actually a little sad when I walked past the newsagency late on Sunday night and noticed they had closed. A friend told me she and a friend had the same reaction. “He got really teary”, she told me. “Where am I gonna buy Italian Vogue from now”, he asked. :)

It must be even sadder for the family which has owned the newsagency since the 1930s.

Circular Quay to Manly

Sydney viewed from the Manly Ferry

Manly really is seven miles from Sydney, and a thousand miles from care.

I spent the afternoon with some friends at Manly’s 16-foot Skiff Club. A few drinks, a bite to eat, lots of good conversation.

Here are some photographs I snapped along the way.

Morgan Evans at Sydney Fringe

Morgan Evans plays Erskineville as part of Sydney Fringe

Even though I only discovered him about six months ago, I’ve become a bit of a fan of Morgan Evans, a country singer from Newcastle. And when I say country, I really mean contemporary country/rock. I’d doubt there’s any redbacks on the toilet seat in his repertoire.

“I’m going back to Nashville with literally just a backpack and a bunch of CDs”, he told us, in keeping with tonight’s “low-key” show at Erskineville (part of Sydney Fringe). There was just him and two others on the back of a truck, performing in front of probably no more than 100 people.

The show was made up of largely new songs, and though unfamiliar to many people, I noticed one woman in the front row who sang along to virtually every track, even the new ones. In between, he chatted about the “risk” involved in the decision to move to Nashville for a year, including a busted relationship. After Nashville and after last week’s Gympie Muster, thirty minutes on the back of a truck in the inner city of Sydney must have been quite a contrast all round. A terrific show.

Barangaroo Reserve

Sydney Harbour Bridge, as viewed from Barangaroo Reserve

Do we really need another casino in Sydney? Do we really need more tall buildings in the city? Do the people in public housing at Miller’s Point really need to move? Although there are some parts of the Barangaroo development in Sydney which concern me, I was very impressed when Kate and I visited the space earlier today.

The official opening will be tomorrow, and of course, since it’s Sydney, there’ll be fireworks. So it was good to visit today, ahead of tomorrow, when many thousands of people will descend on the space to see what it’s like, and before it becomes the next “must do” thing for visitors to Sydney.

And why not? It’s really bloody impressive, though deceivingly simple. Put simply, they’ve built a new car park. But above that car park, they’ve created a wonderful reserve space where you can enjoy amazing views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Anzac Bridge, Darling Harbour and more.

But closer to the shoreline is where it becomes really amazing, with beautiful stone blocks right down to the water. “There are no signs that say you CAN’T swim here”, Kate noted as we sat on the rocks, enjoying the sunshine, and the wonderful, wonderful views.

Although it seems so many of the big decisions in Australia these days aren’t being made with a view to the future, only about the short-term, it’s wonderful to see this space remain open to the public.


The Goods Line

The Goods Line, Sydney

“You have to remember, Sydney is a city built on gullies and ridges”, I have said to many people over the years. It’s something that was first pointed out to me by a friend of a friend. And she was right. “If you ever get lost in Sydney, walk up to the top of the hill, and you’ll know instantly where you are”, I’ve told people. Sydney is in stark contrast to many of Australia’s other large cities, which have, generally speaking, been built on grids.

There’s also a school of thought there’s been little to no planning in Sydney. Aside from the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, and occasional projects like Darling Harbour, there’s a school of thought that Sydney “just happens” without little thought for the future.

I’ve also heard it said, that, compared with other Australian cities, architects are more likely to take into account the surrounding buildings when it comes to designing new buildings themselves.

Maybe both views are correct.

Either way, there are a some reasonably exciting projects underway in the city I now call home. Last weekend, for example, Barangaroo opened to the public for the first time. Despite the controversies surrounding the casino and so on, I think it’s really exciting to have more public space opened up. I would have liked to have visited on the weekend, but ran out of time.

So this morning, when a workmate asked if I wanted to check out nearby Goods Line, I jumped at the chance.

I’ve been working in Ultimo for twenty years now, and it’s been really exciting to watch the changes in the area, such as the expansion of UTS and the developments around Central Park.

And now we have our “own version” of New York’s “Highline”. Although comparisons with New York’s “Highline” are inevitable, this is quite a different project. First, it’s much smaller. Second, it’s very early in development. Further down the track there are plans, apparently, for wall gardens, noodle markets, and so on. And of course, with the planned relocation of the Power House Museum, it will probably change again.

But for now, The Goods Line is a much-welcomed new “green space” not far from where I work, and which I plan to make much use of.

Hawkesbury River

Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney, Australia

Travelled through the Hawkesbury earlier today. Such a beautiful area. This photograph was captured with a mobile phone camera, held up against a dirty train window. So you can only begin to imagine what it might be like with a proper camera outside, enjoying the winter sunshine.

Men Only

Deni Hines at The Midnight Shift

Ahead of meeting up with some mates for dinner tonight, I called in to The Midnight Shift on Sydney’s Oxford Street for a G&T. I’d arrived early, and I figured a G&T would be a nice way to kill 15 or 20 minutes. To my surprise, Deni Hines was also there.

Although I “grew up” with Deni Hines, I’m more familiar with her mother, 1970s Australian pop icon, Marcia Hines. “When I told my mother I was playing The Midnight Shift, she told me she played here when it was Men Only. I’m proud to say I’m second generation to play The Shift”, she said.

I also remember when The Midnight Shift was Men Only. Unofficially for many years, but also officially, as they usually excluded women for footwear reasons. “You’re wearing open-toed shoes” they would often explain as the reason why women were not allowed to enter.

I wish they had been a little more honest, and just said something like “There are times when women want a women-only space, and times when a men want a men-only space, so I hope you can appreciate that”. Not only would that have been a little more honest, I think that would have also have led to much less conflict. I can imagine there would have been more occasions when people would have said,, “OK”, rather than get into fights about definitions, as I know my friends and I sometimes did.

2015, and life is different. And on a Queen’s Birthday Weekend, I couldn’t help but notice the bars on Oxford Street were awfully busy. On a normal Sunday night, there would often be handsful of people at bars like The Midnight Shift and The Oxford Hotel. But tonight the bars were full, and even places like The Oxford which normally struggle for patrons were charging a $15 entry. So after a G&T, some Deni Hines, and dinner, it was home for bed (and some blogging).

Beautiful Winter Day

Despite the crap weather we’ve had over the last few weeks, Sydney really turned it on today. It was a beautiful day – warm, but not too warm; cool, but not too cool – and so Sue and I spent the afternoon wandering around the Royal Botanic Gardens. In between, we took in a tour of Government House (which was very enjoyable – the tour guide was excellent), and enjoyed a glass of wine at Opera Bar. It doesn’t get much better.

Mr Crackles

Mr Crackles on Oxford Street

Admit it, you have to say “Mr Crackles” sounds like a pretty dodgy name for somewhere to buy food. “Mr Crackles” sounds too much like “Mr Bubbles” who was an (in)famous paedophile in Australia, especially since it’s located on Sydney’s Oxford Street.

In contrast, I’d heard very good things about “Mr Crackles” on Oxford Street, Sydney but had never consumed anything from there.

It was not the greatest crackling I’ve ever had, but pretty good after a couple of beers.

Drinking Gin at The Barber Shop

Drinking Gin at The Barber Shop

When someone says, “I don’t want to come across as a wanker from Melbourne because I actually come from a small town of 300 in country WA” you just know they’re gonna come across as a “wanker from Melbourne”. He failed to redeem himself as he proceeded to make generalisations about people from Sydney “wearing white shoes” and the like. A short message for people from Melbourne: “the Melbourne/Sydney thing is something which only exists in the consciousness of people from Melbourne. Here in Sydney, we think both cities are great. It’s not an issue. And, for the record, I come from country NSW. Despite the faux pas, I thought he was an interesting bloke.

Jeremy Spencer from West Winds was one of the speakers at The Gin Revival, a talk held at the fantastic hipster bar, The Barber Shop. Located on Sydney’s York Street, there’s a barber shop out the front, and out the back, there’s a cocktail bar.

Though I wasn’t previously aware of recent developments in the production of Australian made gin, when I heard about the talk earlier in the day on the radio, I thought to myself… “Saturday afternoon… a bit of chit chat… some Gin… and a funky hipster bar… that sounds like me. Or at least some kind of version of me.”

Jeremy spoke about how he and his colleagues had come from a history of working in bars. “Really good brands are built in bars”, he said, arguing you should make the drink first, and then involve the marketing people, rather than the other way around. He also spoke with passion about trying out new ingredients, such as tomato and sea parsley, to add a savoury element to the flavour of gin. Another of the speakers, Stuart Gregor from Four Pillars Gin made the acute observation, “The world doesn’t need another London Dry Gin. And if it does, it should come from London”.

Interestingly, the crowd was told, sales of gin have grown about 20% in the last couple of years.

“Gin is the next whiskey”, commented Jeremy, in terms of how people will start to relate the flavours with certain geographies.

I do love a good G&T, and so it was a really great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Vivid Sydney 2015

Vivid Sydney 2015

It’s as the whole world is a photographer now. Or at least that’s what you might conclude from spending Friday night wandering around at The Vivid Festival at Sydney’s Circular Quay. I took a few photographs myself, of course. But for me, Vivid isn’t a photographic assignment. It’s a wonderful cultural experience.

In my role at 702 ABC Sydney, I was involved in Vivid from the very early days. The station was asked to come on board as a media supporter, which we gladly did. Since then, Vivid has grown and grown and grown, as it’s become a terrific experience for a broad range of people from across the city to experience some wonderful public art.

We were expecting the crowds to be “worse”. I’m not one for crowds at the best of times, and the idea of slowly chugging along in a mass event, compared with walking around in a fairly solitary manner leaves me cold. For the last few times Sue has often been in Sydney around Vivid time, though sadly it’s often rained when she has been here. Now, living in Sydney, we had more flexibility about when we would visit. Thankfully, the rain held off. And as we walked around, the crowds didn’t seem too bad at all.

For both of us, our favourites were the projections on the Museum Of Contemporary Art. Varied, beautiful, and very much in keeping with both the insides and outsides of the building.

Peeing In Public

You don’t often get breaking news on this blog. But as I made my way to Taylor Square tonight I noticed something which I don’t think has been reported on the mainstream media. I noticed the sign at Taylor Square was now reporting the fine for peeing in public was $500. Months ago I noticed it was $200, so you can imagine my surprise. I can’t believe Four Corners haven’t jumped on to this great example of investigative journalism.

Night Out in Sydney

Panang Duck Curry at Longrain in Sydney

It’s always a challenge finding terrific places to eat/drink for visitors to Sydney. You can rely on your local favourites (of course), but then you realise they lack a bit of the “wow” factor. There again, you can fall back on Sydney cliches with harbour views. When Robert and Sandra told me they would be in Sydney (visiting from Stockholm), and were hoping to catch up for a meal, I made a few suggestions. This is what I suggested in an email.

Mr Wong is pretty hot at the moment, though getting a booking might be near impossible. Although the venue is excellent, the food is not a pinch at what you would find elsewhere in Chinatown.
Mr Wong

Fratelli fresh is terrific Italian food not far from where you’re staying. I’m a big fan of this venue in Potts Point, and have been to Bridge Street once and enjoyed it very much. Not expensive at all.

Pendolino – really good italian food, a little more expensive, but really fantastic

On a lovely night, we could do worse than Opera Bar. What’s not to love?

Not as exciting as Reykjavik, but have wanted to try, and this looks like fun for a drink? Have been wanting to try it.

But… if you were up for a bit of an adventure a bit further away (bottom of Surry Hills)

I’d recommend a beer at

Followed by

Also in the day I heard about Uncle Mings, so we added that into the schedule.

In the end, I chose the first couple of starters, and they were in charge of the remainder.

We started at 5.30 at Uncle Mings.
Cocktails excellent. Dumplings very good. Atmosphere – had the wow factor. Very friendly staff. The place was pretty full by 6.30.

At 6.30, we went to Mojo Record Bar (a few doors up from Uncle Mings).
Beer. Terrific atmosphere. Record store angle is great. Very friendly staff. A good place for an after Uncle Mings beer.

At 7.30 Longrain – as always fantastic. Photo taken on my very excellent cam phone. !!
We had three shared meals – more than enough.

At 9.00 And finally, a cleansing ale to end the night at

Home in bed by 10.30

A wonderful night with two really fantastically interesting people… and as I said as we parted company… “I get to see you twice this year”, as I’ll be in Stockholm in July. 98 days until I start my mid-year holiday.

Sunday Night at Stonewall


When I was in Brisbane the other week I walked past “The Alliance Hotel” on Boundary Street. As I peered through window, I noted it seems like a very modern “boutique” hotel these days. However, I remember it back in the 80s when it was a fairly down-market gay bar.

“Down-market” is probably the wrong phrase to use, as it’s a venue I remember with fondness. They had $3 meals on a Monday night, as I recall, which was a very attractive offering to an impoverished university student living such as myself.

But it was the Sunday nights I remember the most. There was a “Sunday Session” from roughly four until ten, which was always a wonderful opportunity to catch up with friends for a beer or two. And they had a wonderful drag show which seemed to go on for hours. Although there were lots of drag legends in Brisbane at the time such as Toye de Wilde (who once ran for the Queensland Parliament) and Destiny Devine (who we named our cat after), the “star” of the show was a character called Freda Mae West. Freda Made was, probably, in her 70s, and her “star turn” was an inability to lip-sync properly. Most famously, the line “I see you shiver with anticipation” from Rocky Horror had the crowd in rapturous laughter.

In some ways, the Sunday night show at Sydney’s Stonewall reminds me of those days at The Alliance. Hosted by Polly, the show is all about having a fun time, having a few drinks with your mates, and in preparation for the week ahead, not taking life too seriously. A treasure.