As it turns out Nitmiluk National Park is big, like 292,800 hectares big. I look down at the two pins I think will carry me through this landscape, then look up to a helicopter. It has swift appeal as I study the croc warning signs. It’s my first day in N.T. and I’m venturing solo.
The text that comes through from Dad cements my decision, “there’s crocs in the Katherine River, darling.” I chuckle at him fearing I’ll be the first Tasmanian ever eaten on a well-worn tourist trail, worthy of NT News headlines. I opt for the $99 flight.
High above, it’s like country I’ve never seen. Sandstone in dissected chunks sprawls out on either side of Katherine Gorge. The river below follows a well-worn path, nearly two billion years in the making. Hovering high in our glass bubble, the vastness is difficult to contemplate; yet the diversity sharply clear. Rainforest gullies collide with sunburnt sandstone plateaus and lily ponds sit silently. As 13 gorges disappear beneath, our pilot dips low and comes across buffalos taking a late morning dip.
This 15 minute perspective captures what N.T. has in abundance…and that’s space. Up in the blue that sense of vastness is powerful - it opens the mind, lets you see beyond horizons and even encourages a dash of Jawoyn dreaming. Who would want to wake up…or touch down.
Words, images + footage: Alice Hansen
The Mindil Beach sunset is a daily spectacle – happening reliably around the same time each day. What’s more, it’s complimentary. It’s the type that makes me wonder why every sunset shouldn’t be acknowledged. A great big fiery ball hovering over the Arafura Sea, punctuated by children splashing and yachts intersecting its rich glow.
I’ve not seen one like it, almost reachable, and so blindingly beautiful I can’t see a thing when my gaze is pulled elsewhere. Sinking my toes deeper into the sands, cementing my front row seat among hundreds of beach goers, a Mindil sunset has the ability to stop everyone in their sandy tracks. For the final moments of this sinking stunner, volleyball games are abandoned and even excitable children fall still. And at the end, a collective cheer of appreciation. It’s only then that I pull myself away for the Sri Lankan, Chinese, Brazilian and Portuguese offerings of the markets behind, equally reliable as the sunset on Thursdays and Sundays.
Words & images: Alice Hansen
Type ‘flyboarding’ into google and it’s near impossible not to be intrigued. Part space-age, part super human, I decide Darwin is the place I will fly. Starting out in France, it only hit Australian shores in 2012. I motor along, spluttering behind the jet-ski, nodding as if I understand all the directions. It happens to be the first time I’ll be attached to what looks like a fire hose and shot vertically toward space. What could go wrong? What I do recall is, “keep your legs straight and your feet flat.” With this is mind, and a powerful rocket launcher beneath me, I pray that perhaps I too will walk on water.
A few feeble attempts send me straight into the water from which I rose, typically head first or awkwardly sideways for the onlookers to enjoy. Then it happens…on the third or fourth attempt I shoot up from the water, like a platform diver in reverse, and remain suspended. I’m so shocked by my very own miracle I can do nothing but screech with excitement. I’m flying. I’m really flying. I think I’m still flying….now I’m on a very odd angle plummeting awfully fast towards sea level. That’s the joy of fly boarding, the moment you feel like a 16 metre high champion, you’re brought quickly back to earth.
The feeling is surreal, and just as contagious as the girl on the jetski warned. “I loved it so much I just had to get a job. I’m addicted.” As I proudly paddle to shore, I wonder if I’d climbed a few stories high on my escapade, to which she replies, “you did so well, you were at least a metre or two from the water.” A metre or two?? But why did I feel like I could have lit the Olympic flame?
In any case, it was the best fun I’ve ever had with two feet locked in boots. And as I watched the fly board co-owner dive and swerve like a pro - destined to be the first Australian female to compete at the world championships in Dubai later this year - I understood that this fly boarding is a sport of precision and skill. Oh, and a whole lot of watery fun.
Words, images + footage: Alice Hansen
*Please note, images and video are not myself (I wish!!) but Darwin Flyboarding co-owner Helen. Helen and Gerard also support the local NT community including Anglicare and tourdecure, they're a good sort. So head out and fly with them when you're in the Top End.
WHERE: Darwin Waterfront Lagoon
WHEN: Thurs, Fri - 12 noon onwards, Sat - 9am onwards & Sun - 11am onwards
Bookings are Essential
PRICE: Start at $160 for adults, $90 for children U/16
It is winter and yes Canberra is incredibly cool. In fact, -4 degrees chilly this morning. But this is not the cool that strikes me hardest. It’s the hip, cool factor of Canberra that whacks me like a wet fish. Walking through Braddon I have faded memories of a New York neighbourhood. The Hamlet hums with hip creativity and when I look deep into a handmade terrarium, I realise folk are getting up to all sorts in Canberra. Little wonder the nation’s capital is sending waves of ‘cool’ as far as the New York Times. On that note, the waves aren’t too far from the roundabouts either.
MOXOM + WHITNEY
I don’t know about you, but when I see chairs hanging from the ceiling and flamingos strutting in terrariums I know there’s a hint of humour in the business model. I instantly like Moxom + Whitney even though I don’t know who they are. Mossy imagined worlds aside (and yes you can have one tailored with a meer cat centrepiece), this crew are serious florists. They do weddings with the same meticulous attention they serve up cupcakes and champagne at their Flower and Terrarium School. That’s right, in the nation’s capital you can pack your school bag and attend Terrarium class.
WHERE: 55/30 Lonsdale Street
Restauranteur Soc Kochinos grew up in Braddon. He knows its industrial past well- days of caryards, mechanics and the smell of oil. So it’s fitting he’s opened the doors of Grease Monkey in a former Repco car service workshop. Hobbling cars have been rolled out to make room for meaty patties between soft fluffy buns, of course served up with Grease Monkey ketchup and craft beers. Pull up a pew at the long pewter bar or take your chances in the beer garden outside – just ‘beware of the monkey.’
WHERE: 19 Lonsdale St
GROOMED ON LONSDALE
My nephew Jack is but five months old, and has a few tufts of fluff above big blue eyes. He’s a Canberra local and without doubt this is the place he must get his first haircut. Any man about town should consider this warmly-lit saloon a regular haunt. While Jack may not appreciate the finer details- antique switches, suave New York neck ties, shoe polishing and traditional straight blade shaves – he may fancy the chess board. But as his shoulders broaden, no doubt he’ll be back to this barbershop come gentlemen’s outfitter for further styling.
WHERE: 30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
“You must have a cronut,” I’m told. It’s a cross between a donut and a croissant and created such a fuss when invented by Chef Dominique Ansel in New York there were limits on how many cronuts one could have. Somewhere between the flaky pastry insides, sugary dusting and injectable salty caramel, I began to understand why Ricardo Café’s heaving line held such anticipation. Wedged in a cronut crowds, devotees shift between toes to see today’s flavours, molten Nutella versus snickers or sweet salty caramel. Just don’t do what I did and shovel down more than one…
WHERE: Jamison Plaza, 1 Bowman Street, Macquarie
I look at a shipping pallet and all I see are potential splinters. Boyandgirlco look at the same pallet and see a piece of functional furniture in the making. This kind of upcycling genius has to be seen to be understood – from smooth lined coffee tables to elegant light stands – all crafted from timber pallets. This boy and girl (Anita and Carlo) are all for rehoming, repurposing and refurbishing. They’ll custom-design for you, lead you through a workshop with your own hammer (first one was free!) or, they’ll make a dream pallet cubby house for those little peeps in your life.
WHERE: 16 Lonsdale St, Braddon
What a freak show. When we arrive at Patissez, the line for a ‘freakshake’ is out the café, across the walkway and onto the grass. Why? Because these ridiculously indulgent milkshakes took the interweb by storm. Now, they have an overflow of real-life customers more generous than the Nutella spooned into their standard shake - that would be a third of a large jar! Just nine weeks young, don’t expect to waltz straight up for your pretzel-clad shake, as it turns out, social media has freaky powers. But for under a $10 note, the chocolate hit is worth it!
WHERE: 21 Bougainville St, Griffith
Owned by sister duo Ana and Diana, it’s uncertain which one trips and which one skips. I only met one, and I imagine the other is equally jovial. A functional and stylish mix of fashion and homewares, each piece feels a one-off that can stand alone with panache. The girls have hunted local and afar, evident in the men’s offerings as well. Walk in stylish or not and you’ll feel welcome….Skip out with a bag and you’re bound to be.
WHERE: Shop 63, 30 Lonsdale St, Braddon.
BENTSPOKE BREWING CO.
If you like bikes and beer, pedal your spokes this way. All the ciders and beers are made in house – on tap and ready for those Canberra locals who ride to and from the office. But you don’t have to be a cyclist to appreciate this microbrewery and the hearty pub menu. Dual-level bars appear a hit for all who feel they deserve an after work drink- whether freshly unpeeled from lycra or not.
WHERE: Cnr Mort & Elouera St, Braddon
TIP YOU'RE IT
I’m not sure if it was the swinging basinet, the ‘people snuggler’ jumpers or the owner’s big warm smile that appealed more. Whatever it was, this is the place to head for that little someone in your life. Find a personalised night light, a flat teddy cushion or melt with temptation for said swinging basinet. Oh, and expect service that is as warm as the blankies in milk carton.
WHERE: 5/18 Lonsdale St Braddon
ELK & PEA
Caribbean Jerk Chicken anyone – on a bed of almond puree with a crispy side crunch of taco salad? The Elk & Pea have a menu that works best shared with a gaggle of good friends in their birdcage. By design, the desserts have a Latin twist and are difficult to pass up….perhaps a doughnut that when served with tequila ‘gives it horns.’
WHERE: 21 Lonsdale St, Braddon
As mentioned- the waves are a short ride away. Kangaroos, waves, cheese factory and coastline are less than three hours from Parliament house.
Words & images: Alice Hansen (except Boyandgirlco via FB page)
Get your fill and give to the full in this fine town
Who doesn’t like being invited up dark stairs by someone wearing goggles? As wintery snow settles on your handbag, you know The Chalet is a different kind of special. Darlinghurst’s winter wonderland is the type of pop up where one cannot refuse a mulled wine from the handsome waiter, puffed to the 80s hilt in his ski vest.
Park yourself near licking flames of the eco-smart fire and you have the makings of a night engineered to feel like you’ve just come off the slopes. Warm chatter, toastier drinks, and a menu with chips so delicious you’ll demand to know the secret five spiced salts.
WHERE: 235 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst
LITTLE JACK HORNER
Where is Little Jack Horner? Of course, he’s on the Coogee corner. Jack Horner happens to have front row seats to Coggee Beach – and they’re not all modern wooden stools. Sink into a plump cushion along the window line for a lazy brunch. Even the salty-locked kitchen staff move at a cruisy pace, yet meals arrive swiftly. The beachy feel is well matched to a menu of soy and mustard glazed swordfish belly tacos and Tasmanian smoked salmon bruschetta. Peel yourself off the cushion for a beach walk, or settle in for live tunes through the afternoon.
WHERE: 270-274 Coogee Bay Rd, Coogee
They have a pig named Kevin Bacon. If that’s not reason enough to head to The Grounds in Alexandria, then perhaps the heirloom vegetables, boutique bakery or coffee crafters may do the trick. A transformed 1920s industrial precinct now hums with a coffee academy (go on, sign up for coffee class), farm animals (Kevin Bacon plus friends) and locals swarming to the produce-based menu picked straight from the market garden.
The Potting Shed doubles as a watering hole. Who doesn’t need a swinging seat and craft beer after a hard day in the garden?
WHERE: Building 7A, 2 Huntley Street, Alexandria
It is already the best hot chocolate in town courtesy of one sentence. “Dad, can you take these two hot chocolates over?” Next, an elderly man with a big smile comes over to our window, placing the delicate glasses down between us. With care, he then turns each handle to point in our direction. On farewell, he delivers one more smile.
From the rushed streets of inner Sydney, his gentle pace is contagious. Daughter and chef, Miga Aboulian is Lixie’s cocoa magician behind the tempering, the freeze-dried raspberries hidden in organic blocks and the embossed morsels housing salty caramel goodness. Lixie is petite and bite-sized deliciousness.
WHERE: 275 Crown St, Surry Hills
SORRY THANKS I LOVE YOU
Need to say something to someone you care muchly about? Head for Martin Place and deliver a sorry, thanks, or even a bold ‘I love you’ with a hand-crafted gift. In this pop-up expect exclusive pieces- the type that take months in the design and making.
Spoil that person of yours with a deer antler paring knife made by one of Tasmania’s most revered cutlers, Tom Hounslow. Thankfully it’s a place where you’ll find that one item he or she doesn’t have.
WHERE: Shop 2, Ground Floor, GPO Building, Martin Place, Sydney. Open until end of 2015
If you’re still in the giving mood, there’s more generosity to be shared in Martin Place. Look up the Footpath Library, founded by Sarah Garnett. One night Sarah noticed a homeless man reading a novel beneath the street light. He was waiting for a food van to arrive.
Today, the Footpath Library encourages literacy in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth by collecting donated books and sharing them with those who find books hard to access. Give out toasty milos in Martin Place or send a few dollars their way. It may be about books, but it’s not hard to see the social side brings the greatest warmth in winter.
WHERE: Martin Place, Sydney. Visit the Footpath Library.
Words and images: Alice Hansen
It’s an unlikely tale; a trio of Tasmanian country boys in their thirties reviving a century-old whisky industry in New Zealand. But it’s exactly what they are doing......
Click on cover (left) to read full feature.
It’s been more than two years since I first interviewed Jackie and her family but today I’m in for a special treat. I’ve been invited to her family home out in the rolling hills behind New Norfolk, the place where Jackie grew up.
As with every time I see Jackie, I’m greeted with an enormous smile. She’s sitting at the kitchen table, one no doubt she’s shared much laughter and family time around. Like always, twin sister Anna is right there by her side while their mother, Margaret, pulls open an oven door to release the smell of homemade goodness.
There’s joy filling the house as Anna’s young children play nearby and the twins’ two soggy husbands, Shane and Heath, come in from a country jog through misty rain. Shane is quick to deliver a kiss to Jackie’s forehead and we all settle in for fluffy white scones and jam.
I glance across to Jackie and I’m met with those sparkling blue eyes. It appears nothing makes her more happy than being surrounded by her family. Even the concept of a feeding tube dissolves into laughter of how fortunate Jackie is to ‘enjoy breakfast in bed prepared by Shane every morning.’
Jackie had been given three to five years following her diagnosis, but seven years on she has defied this grim prognosis delivered by the white-coated medical profession. Perhaps they weren’t aware of the heart in that young 25-year-old girl; nor the spirit of positivity that defines Jackie.
The day Jackie told her twin, Anna recalls dissolving into tears. She knew that MND causes nerve cells controlling the muscles to fail and that slowly Jackie would lose the ability to speak, move and eventually breathe.
Naturally, the New Norfolk family were devastated. Yet Jackie remained calm, “I can’t change this news,” she said. “What we’ll have to do is make the most of every moment we have.” And make the most of it she has.
The pair surprised Shane’s parents by hopping aboard a month-long cruise. While they were away, family and friends secretly finished off their dream home; tiling bathrooms, painting walls and landscaping gardens. Anna could not believe the number of people who arrived to help.
This has been a trend in the years that have followed Jackie’s diagnosis. Even the New Norfolk CWA women were astounded at a recent cake stall when cakes flew off the table and they were left with none before they’d barely
gotten comfy to do some knitting.
Together Jackie and Shane have travelled Australia, Jackie in a specialised car seat funded by donations from friends and family. According to Jackie, on the great Australian road trip she had ‘the time of her life.’
Recently Margaret was overwhelmed with the response from an email that circulated at her work to help Jackie. “There were complete strangers wanting to donate and assist Jackie,” explains Margaret, “it began as an email amongst a few colleagues and somehow progressed to donations across Australia. It was just astounding the generosity and desire to help.”
Local people have offered holiday homes, free financial advice, anything they can to make the ride a little smoother for Jackie and her family. And with this support and love, Jackie has continued to take on life with rigour and enthusiasm.
Despite deterioration in her health, over recent years Jackie has achieved much. On unsteady feet Jackie even walked down the aisle as her sister’s bridesmaid, with Shane offering a loving arm of support. And the new generation are equally mindful of Jackie’s needs.
“My daughter Ireland understands that her aunty needs extra help,” says Anna. “Even as a little two-year-old, she’d climb up on Jackie’s knee after a sneeze and wipe her nose for her.”
While listening to this story, the family circle of ‘looking out for one another’completes its loop. A slight head nod in the direction of Indigo (Ireland's little sister), and Jackie let’s Anna know that she’s a little too close for comfort to the family wood fire.
I’m then invited to their fairy room, which happens to be the same bedroom where the twins grew up. Two neatly made pink twin beds feature in a room filled with childhood photos looking out to the calming bush beyond. No
wonder fairies like to visit here.
But for me it’s time to go, not without being led along a ‘magic path’ by Ireland in search of giant eggs. It’s not hard to imagine the games that Anna and Jackie played down by the river before they both got married in this very backyard.
When it’s time to go, Shane prepares to put Jackie in the car. He lines the wheelchair up beside the front passenger door and puts a swivel disc on the ground. He then lifts Jackie from wheelchair to standing position ready to be transferred to the car chair.
At this point, held up in his arms, I’m reminded just how much Jackie relies on the love around her, but how much she gives back in return. She may not be able to wrap her arms around her husband, but she does so every day with her courage and her love of life.
It’s something we can take with all of us, a small gift from Jackie; a reminder that all of us only have today. If we can greet it with a sparkling smile and soak up the love around us, then we have reason to beam.
To read about Jackie on Southern Cross TV & for more information visit MND Tas.
Sam, of Bruny Island Marine Farm, left behind his stockbroker's suit for waders and his blissfully relaxed nature mirrors his new office space. As warm water swirls about our ankles, we each enjoy a freshly shucked beauty straight from the farmer's hand......click on the image below for full story.
For more information visit The Bruny Island Long Weekend
tunnel vision coffee
People take their morning coffee seriously here in Hobart. Just ask someone who hasn't had theirs yet. I saw a huddle of them this morning and I’d dare not step in line before them. But this was no ordinary coffee queue on a 2-degree morning. As I walk down the steps, Barista David Osborne looks eerily God-like; a silhouette with blinding light at the end of a tunnel, steam rising up in swirls of delicious coffee aroma. Commuters rub their chilled hands with anticipation, drawn like moths to a flame (or at least like heater-hoggers to a small electric heat-giver David has tucked alongside his formal dining table).
Cheery chatter fills what’s typically a dull, cold, tile-walled tunnel and I can soon understand the appeal. David not only serves up a great coffee but injects such enthusiasm into each cup that I see folk wander off with a new spring to their step….disappearing into that strange light.
David says hello to everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re pushing a lawn mower, pedalling an infant through the blistering cold or walking at a ‘I’m late for work pace' that better resembles a comical Kath and Kel powerwalk. He’ll still afford you a generous smile.
It seems David believes in more than just a coffee, he’s created in his own words, “a little place in a beautiful space for the human race at a Hobart pace.” That means you can pull up a pew and listen to David’s jovial chatter all morning in his quirky makeshift living room, view artwork beautifying the grafitti-ridden walls and listen to live music of a Wednesday….let’s just say you get your $3.50 worth.
Tunnel Vision is located in the Rose Garden Tunnel of the ‘ABC roundabout.’
Vist Tunnel Vision on Facebook
from builder to barista - parklane espresso
It's tiny. It's humble. And it's beautifully Tasmanian. The unassuming coffee stop is tucked away near the lane-way to a car park, from which it owes its simple name. Step inside Parklane Espresso, and the sweet
It's cosy enough to notice that the Mum rocking little bub is popping in to see 'Barista Daddy.’ It's friendly and warm enough to strike up a conversation straight away with most of the coffee goers. It's easy,
it's pleasant, it already feels like coffee-home.
And like most innovative Tassie locals, it turns out Barista Joe Ware hasn't always been a boutique cafe owner. In fact, he's spent many a hardy day as a builder and as I glance around the handsomely crafted space I begin to see his handiwork.
"This striking Myrtle was all salvaged from the Upper Florentine," Joe tells me frothing the milk as passionately as he's looking down at the rippled markings of the Myrtle countertop. "Tallest hardwood on the planet comes from there. This Myrtle and Black Heart Sassafras was collected from the forest floor by my mate. Beautiful isn't it?"
I nod appreciatively, running a hand over the smooth Tasmanian piece, hundreds of years my senior. It certainly is beautiful. And it's as Tasmanian as the couple bringing Parklane Espresso to life. Just as the
tea is local and the coffee beans are from the neighbourhood too.
"We want to have a really nice local feel," he continues, sliding my coffee towards me. "Zimmah Coffee- this man knows how to roast beans. I tried beans from all over the country and yet the guy up the road had the finest."
So engrossed by the experience I fail to ask for sugar. Those who need it in their cup will know..without it... potentially your morning is all but ruined. My anticipation flounders in bitter fear. I take my first precarious sip. I pause. It's heavenly.
I'm not sure if it's the big proud smile from Joe just a few weeks into his new venture, or the sweet glow of the Myrtle, but today my coffee needs no sugar.
In fact it never will from Parklane.
Parklane esppresso is located in Salamanca Square and also offers coffee beans, Tassie tea and delicious treats.
For more information find them on Facebook.
coffee on the run with a smile- cuppa coffee
Coffee on wheels? Now there’s a thought. Coffee that can come to you…with a big complimentary smile? Now we’re talking. If you have employees that work much better with a dose of caffeine, Cuppa Coffee’s owner Bella Hart has you covered.
Bella’s gourmet coffee van begins its morning tending to commuters at Midway Tavern 6.30-9am then trundles its way happily through the suburbs of Hobart brewing for businesses in the know….bosses who understand the productivity value of a latte.
Bella also offers muffins, biscuits and wait for it…icy poles. But let’s stick to the toasty items for now. If you’d like Cuppa Coffee for an event, a meeting o to perk up those bleary-eyed non-morning folk you’re trying to motivate, get in touch with Bella.
Visit on facebook or also stop by the Cuppa Drive Thru in Newtown.
*Those who have your own treasured coffee stops, we'll be covering more soon. Alternately share your local favourites with us.