Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Turning Japanese

I booked myself in for a bath and shiatsu massage today at Onsen Ma after Mr Rosanna gave me a gift voucher for Mother's Day.  It's located in one of Melbourne's first happening laneways - Meyers Place - in between The Waiters Club, soul food restaurant Mr Big Stuff and Argentinian Bar San Telmo and opposite Loop.  You go up the stairs and almost immediately you're in a dimly lit zen-like space where you take off your shoes and put Japanese slippers on.

Images above via Onsen Ma
I was running late for my 1 hour bath - I was given a tub with towels and a locker key to the change room where you undress before going into the segregated bathing area for women, which includes showers, a big heated Japanese bath and adjoining sauna.  If you are self-conscious about nude public bathing, you can also book a private bath however this is more expensive.  There were a couple of other women there first thing this morning and I have to say, it is a very civilised and relaxing way to start the day.  Everything is provided at Onsen Ma - towels, lockers, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner and there's a dressing area in the change room where combs, grooming products and hair dryers are provided.
Image via Mr Big Stuff
Image via San Telmo
The general rule is to shower first and rinse off before moving into the bath where there are steps to sit on inside which leave you neck-high in hot water.  I almost fell asleep right there and then but eventually moved into the sauna, which was really hot!  I had another quick shower after emerging from the sauna before getting ready for my shiatsu massage.  If you haven't brought loose comfortable clothing with you, Onsen Ma also provide a Japanese wrap top and pants to wear for your shiatsu treatment.
Image via Onsen Ma
My massage was with Belinda, who wasn't Japanese, but still a great masseuse.  It's also a nice feeling to be clothed during the massage given how cold it is at the moment, which is what I like about shiatsu in general.  If you're after a completely silent and tranquil place to go for a shiatsu, this isn't it.  While it's subdued and low key, the rooms are not sealed off so you do hear people in the male and female bathing areas and I'm not sure what was going on at Mr Big Stuff downstairs, but they had the rap music on pretty high, not enough to disturb me too much but it's audible when you're lying down.
Image via Kuni's Melbourne
Given I ran on concrete at Run Melbourne on Sunday, which I'm not used to, my hips and neck were still a bit tender so having a hot bath, followed by a massage, was pretty heavenly!  I met Mr R for a quick Japanese lunch afterwards across the road at Takumi on Bourke Street, which was OK - we didn't realise they specialise in wagyu beef.  I am still yet to visit YU.U on Flinders Lane which is hard to find - my usual Japanese go to places in the city have been the more authentic Yamato in Corrs Lane near Chinatown and stalwart Kuni's in Little Bourke Street - both of which have been there a long time.  My very first ever Japanese restaurant experience was Kenzan in Collins Place where I was taken for my 18th birthday by a favourite Aunt and Uncle and I've previously taken Mr R to the very hip Izakaya Den off Russell Street.
Coffees at Ombra Bar
Strangely enough, Mr R and I felt like having a coffee after our Japanese lunch boxes so dropped into the very stylish, authentically Italian Ombra Bar on Bourke Street, near Self Preservation (which we've previously been to), for coffees and salted caramel profiteroles - yum!  I also loved Ombra's use of beautiful recycled white and blue Italian glass jars from Bologna as their sugar bowls (and indeed their clever storage space of food and drink in the whole place).  Their pizzas and other baked delights in the front counter window looked spectacular.
Salted caramel profiteroles - Ombra Bar

Monday, July 27, 2015

Leaping like a leopard

Well my big run was yesterday and I'm glad to say I finished it!  I've only previously done the 5km Sussan Women's Fun Run, which was a lifetime ago - in fact it was life B.C. (before children) so the 10km Run Melbourne race was significant for me, being the second only fun run I've ever done and being twice the distance on the back of having had two children in the ensuing years.
Image via Sussan Women's Fun Run 2015
As a parent, it's been a long hard road back to fitness but I'm really pleased to say that these past few months of training in the cold paid off in that I actually ran faster in the second half of the run than I did in the first half, completing my run in just on an hour.  Given I never got to 10 km in my training, the last couple of kilometres were hard - things were starting to hurt by 8 km but the best feeling was seeing the finish line in sight as I headed into Birrarung Marr and Mr Rosanna being there along the way as my personal one man support team and cheer squad.
Image via Run Melbourne
Mr R is actually an ex-state champion middle distance runner from a running family so has done a few races himself back in the day, and a good person to have as support.  We caught the train in from Clifton Hill, which we often do when we're going into the city and don't want the hassle of parking - it means you have the choice of both the Epping and Hurstbridge lines when going in and returning meaning in theory half the waiting time for trains.  We actually met some other friends doing Run Melbourne in the last carriage so it was fun to go in with them, do a quick toilet stop in the warmth of the Arts Centre and then line up for the big race.
Me at the end of the race!
I'm not sure if it's because I'm used to the more social aspect of doing boot camp, but people were pretty quiet doing Run Melbourne - maybe because they were all concentrating in the zone or maybe because they were struggling to get through - but I found it quite subdued.  I started yelling when we got to the last kilometre because I was just happy to have made it that far!  It is a big thing to complete a run no matter what the distance and I reckon 75% of the crowd at Run Melbourne were women - it was really inspiring to see.  Also inspiring were the good luck messages I got before I did my run as well as the congratulations on finishing.  One of the messages one friend sent to me included some of the immortal lines from the movie Gallipoli:

Jack: What are your legs?
Archy Hamilton: Springs. Steel springs.
Jack: What are they going to do?
Archy Hamilton: Hurl me down the track.
Jack: How fast can you run?
Archy Hamilton: As fast as a leopard.
Jack: How fast are you going to run?
Archy Hamilton: As fast as a leopard!
Jack: Then let's see you do it!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I love Melbourne

I must admit I have a bit of a girl crush on food writer and TV presenter Rachel Khoo.  I've been following her stellar rise since her first cooking program The Little Paris Kitchen appeared on SBS and I'll be watching tonight when Rachel Khoo's Kitchen Notebook Melbourne series starts.  I think her cookbooks would make lovely gifts if you have any Francophiles living in your house.
Image via www.rachelkhoo.com
It's nice to see the sun out today and there are a number of events on this week.  St Paul's in East Kew is holding a Winter Night Market tomorrow which I think would be a good one to go to if you're in the area.  Elk's Garage Sale starts today and runs until Saturday at the Old Peerless Glass Factory at 296 Plenty Road in Preston while the Made 'n Thornbury Craft Market is also on this Saturday from 10 am - 2 pm at 99 Leinster St in Thornbury - I daresay you'll find some lovely handmade and other goodies from these markets and sales.
Image via Winter Night Market
Heidelberg Symphony Orchestra actually holds its children's concerts x 2 of 'Peter and the Wolf' this Sunday at Ivanhoe Girls Grammar and I discovered fairly recently that there is also a Preston Symphony Orchestra.  I think it would be a really fantastic way to introduce your kids to live classical music if you get a chance to see either orchestra in action.  Open House Melbourne is also on this weekend and I'm tipping Saturday might be the better day to be venturing outdoors.
Image via Open House Melbourne
My long awaited 10km run at Run Melbourne is on this Sunday morning so I'll be pounding the pavement in the cold along with a number of friends and family who are doing the half-marathon, 10km and 3.5km pyjama run.  I'll see you there if you're coming along!
Image via Run Melbourne

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A local's recommendation

If you're anything like me, you probably like to get recommendations about local contacts so I just wanted to share a few today.  We're actually into the second half of winter and I am sure glad that it's on its way out after such a long and cold season.  If you have a fireplace or know someone who does, Mr Rosanna and I have previously used Blythe Clean Sweep (who have a Greensborough office) run by a father and son team to clean our chimney (as well as install a damper to keep animals and smoke out) - it's a good thing to do every year before you start lighting fires at home.  Email blythescleanweep@gmail.com or phone 0412 116 981 for more information.
Rosanna Village image via dyob.com.au
I am a fan of the 'make do and mend' philosophy and often have my shoes re-heeled and soled at Chris the Cobbler at 5 Bellevue Avenue, off Lower Plenty Road in the Rosanna Village shopping precinct.  They also repair bags and cut keys and I often think cobbling is a dying art.  Both my local baker and the guys at Chris the Cobbler have told me they'd like to take on apprentices but no-one's taken them up on the offer.  I've picked up a card for Julie's Clothing Repairs and Alterations while I've been at Chris the Cobbler as I think it's a great idea, particularly if you're a vintage clothing lover like me who sometimes needs alterations done or have short legs and need pants taken up.  I've not used Julie before but it's nice to know there is a local go to person.  Her mobile is 0415 595 173 or home 9457 6292.  I've also been recommended a seamstress by the David Jones ladies wear department at Westfield Doncaster - Anna Marino is at 31 Cuthbert Street Bulleen and her phone number is 9850 5371.  If you're no fan of ironing or time-poor, a local lady called Wayan is also offering professional ironing at $20 per hour or $35 per basket - call 0468 947 377.
Bien Food Store & Cafe image via www.goodfood.com.au
Before the Italian delicatessen Slice of Europe in Station Road, Rosanna closed down, they also recommended a couple of other European delis including Olympus Delicatessen at 72 Jackson Court in East Doncaster as well as Slavonija Deli C-234 Preston Market in Murray Road, Preston, which I have previously mentioned on my blog.  It's just as well Bien Food Store & Cafe, which has previously been written up in The Age Good Food, is still open - their Macedonian food is delicious!
Image via Otto & Spike
Interesting to read too, that heater sales along with scarves and beanies and snow/outdoor gear have been going through the roof due to our colder than normal winter.  I was lucky enough to be given a beautiful Otto  & Spike scarf from one of my sisters for my recent birthday - they've been making knitwear in Brunswick for the past 40 years and one of the lucky businesses to have been part of the recent demand for winter woollies.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Eye on the prize

We have some really talented artists and designer makers right here in Banyule and I just wanted to mention two of them today who are also my friends as well as fellow past and present Banyule Arts and Culture Advisory Committee members.
Terrigenous Relics by Lene Kuhl Jakobsen,
Manningham Victorian Ceramic Art Award 2015 exhibition
The Manningham Victorian Ceramic Art Award 2015 exhibition opening was held on Wednesday night at the Manningham Art Gallery in Doncaster and ceramic artist Irianna Kannellopoulou won the Valley of the Arts Award for her work titled 'Where the wild things roam', while Lene Kuhl Jakobsen is an exhibitor with her work 'Terrigenous Relics'.  The exhibition is on until 29 August.
Terra Forms by Lene Kuhl Jakobsen, Akar - Form exhibition, Mr Kitly
Lene is having a busy month in that she is also involved with another exhibition opening tonight 'Akar - Form' at the very cool Mr Kitly at 381 Sydney Road in Brunswick, which is a hop, skip and jump away from my client Avant Card.  Her work 'Terra Forms' is the hero image currently featured on the Mr Kitly website.
I've been working on the upcoming Postcard of the Year Awards being held next month in Melbourne for Avant Card where the top 3 winners from the past year will be decided by some of Australia's best creative minds in the advertising and media industry.  Last year's Postcard of the Year Award winner was the very cute spinning wheel card for The Lego® Movie.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Women He's Undressed

Yes, it's the very saucy sounding movie by Gillian Armstrong on Academy Award winning Australian costume designer Orry Kelly, which opened today.  And boy, did he dress the best of Hollywood's leading actresses of the time - Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Katherine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Ingrid Berman to name a few in iconic movies such as An American in Paris, Some Like It Hot, 42nd Street, The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca.
Image via www.womenhesundressed.com
The other film I think that would be worth watching is Iris - the movie about 93 year old New York fashion icon Iris Apfel - which is showing as part of this year's Melbourne International Film Festival.  I think the saying that 'fashion fades but style is eternal' rings very true in this case.  I hope I still have my own style like Iris if I'm lucky enough to live to 93!  She's one colourful lady.
Melinda Harper tea towel - Heide Store
Speaking of colour, I was at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen volunteering today and Melinda Harper's exhibition Colour Sensation is a riot of colour inside all of Heide III - the central gallery space.  It was fascinating to watch people's reactions to her work and also choose their favourite piece.  A lot of it is on a big scale - big canvases which look amazing in a  museum environment and energising to be around - especially in the greyness of Melbourne's winter.  If you're wanting your own piece of her art, there are also limited edition frame worthy tea towels, silk scarves and magnets all available at the Heide Store, which is always a dangerous treasure trove for me!
Head Store interior
Speaking of art, it's been interesting to read that Preston Market is currently developing a new arts precinct of over 20 studios which will be known as PAM (Preston Art Market) Lane.  If you are a designer maker and interested in the space, you can find out more here.

And speaking of markets, the Ivanhoe Makers Market is on this Saturday 18 July while the Finders Keepers Melbourne market at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton starts this Friday 17 July and run until Sunday 19 July.  LoveHate are also holding their studio sale in Fitzroy North this Friday 17 and Saturday 18 July with up to 80% off so I reckon there will be some big bargains to be had.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A ray of sunshine

I have to say that the weather here is far from inspiring at the moment.  I've been exercising outdoors in the cold all this winter and it's not been much fun although the sun did come out briefly this morning and it was great to feel some rays on my skin.  I think if I lived anywhere colder than here, I'd need one of those special lights that prevent sad syndrome!
Image via www.yogananda-srf.org
I did manage to see Awake: The Life of Yogananda on Friday night at Cinema Nova in Carlton and have started reading his book 'Autobiography of a Yogi', which is considered one of the all time spiritual classics and the one book which Steve Jobs from Apple apparently had on his computer, which was distributed at his memorial service asking all people present to give themselves the opportunity in life to 'self-actualise.'

I think one of the hardest things in this modern age is maintaining equilibrium irrespective of the gains or losses in your life (and it's definitely more difficult for me coping with losses) and the interesting thing about having seen the movie, and now reading the book, is this whole spiritual message.  The fact that we need to search for the 'divine' within and that the answers always lie within us, not in the external world.  The other thing which struck me was that the movie and book also focus more on the spiritual/mental aspect of yoga and meditation rather than here in the west where the focus tends to be more on the physical practice of yoga itself.  This would have been way ahead of its time when Yogananda was preaching his message to people in the United States in the 1930s.
Image via itunes.apple.com
If you're interested in meditating I've found the Simply Being app a really relaxing thing to listen to before I drift off to sleep at night, especially as I've set mine to the sound of music (you can also choose nature sounds like the ocean).  It's a guided meditation app and you can set it for however long you wish from 5 to 30 minutes - it's been a relatively easy thing to incorporate into daily life, particularly if you find it hard to get to classes like me.

And while I'm on this philosophical bent, I did want to let you know that the next Red Shoes business women's networking event is the appropriately titled 'Comfortable in your own skin' which is being held this Wednesday night 15 July at the Old Shire Offices in Heidelberg.  The discussion will be lead by Sally Arnold - an author, speaker, psychotherapist and high performance coach who specialises in helping women move out of 'stuckness' in their personal and professional lives.
Image via sbs.com.au
Interesting too to see that The School of Life has teamed up with this year's Melbourne International Film Festival, which opens on 30 July with the theme 'Watch how you feel' combining festival movies with some of its programs and courses.  They also have a philosophy salon on Buddha next month, which I think would be a really interesting one to attend.
Image via The School of Life

Friday, July 10, 2015

Let there be light

Some late breaking news - the Gertrude Street Projection Festival starts tonight and runs until 19 July so if you're in the local area this weekend or next week - go and check it out.  There is actually an opening night party at The Catfish located at 30 Gertrude Street from 8 pm tonight as part of the Leaps and Bounds Music Festival, which sounds pretty awesome!
Image via gspf.com.au
They're predicting arctic conditions this weekend but if you are brave enough to head outdoors, the Collingwood, Coburg and Eltham Farmers Markets are all on.

I've started eating donuts again matched with hot chocolate and you may be interested in knowing there is a hot chocolate festival, which starts next month at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Gettin' Ziggy with it

Can I tell you how excited I am about the upcoming David Bowie is exhibition at ACMI - the Australian Centre of Moving Image?  The thin white duke has always been the epitome of art rock cool with me and the master of change throughout the decades.  The exhibition starts next Thursday 16 July and runs until 1 November - it's been a sell out show in London, Paris, Chicago and Berlin and I can't wait to see it.
David Bowie hero image via ACMI
Speaking of art, Abstraction the Heide Collection started last Saturday and runs until 11 October at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen and showcases work from the 1930s to the 1990s in the Heide Collection.  Close by, the biennial Manningham Victorian Ceramic Art Award 2015 opens on Wednesday 15 July and runs until Saturday 29 August at the Manningham Art Gallery in the MC2 building on Doncaster Road in Doncaster.  My friend and local ceramic artist Lene Kuhl-Jakobsen is a participant in this year's event.  While I'm on the topic of ceramics, she's not local but I also love the organic work of Bridget Bodenham and have been eyeing off her pieces which are for sale from the Heide Store at Heide Museum of Modern Art.
Image via niteart.com.au
While there will be no White Night event this year in Melbourne, there will be Nite Art across Melbourne held from 6 pm to late on Thursday 23 July featuring three precincts, 30 arts sites and 75+ artists.  We live in a great artistic city and I'm really glad there are events like these founded and staged by some of the world's most imaginative and creative minds.  In the depths of winter, it warms my heart and feeds the soul.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A pizza my heart

I'm not sure about you but I've started to eat my way through winter since the cold season arrived.  I was relatively good while I was up north (when you're having to bare your body in bathers most days, it makes you more conscious of what you're eating) but not so great while I've been back home.  Like my youngest son, my weakness this winter has been bomboloni (Italian donuts filled with jam, custard or chocolate) and hot pies - apparently two of the worst things you can eat according to the dieticians!
Bomboloni image via Wikipedia
Hmmm...I'm going to have to change my ways before spring. Speaking of food however, there is a round up of the best pizza places in Melbourne in today's Age Good Food guide and I just wanted to highlight the ones that got a mention in the north-east.  Lazerpig in Collingwood, Supermaxi in Fitzroy North and The Moor's Head in Thornbury all made the top 10 with Hall of Fame entrants being 400 Gradi in Brunswick East, DOC and Kaprica - both in Carlton - and Ladro in Fitzroy.  Locally around here, Mr Rosanna and I sometimes go to Pasquale M with the boys in Rosanna and we have also bought takeaway from Toti's.  We were also fans of Amici Pizzeria for authentic Italian pizza in Heidelberg before it changed hands (I'm not sure of the quality now) and Woodfire Cafe Pizzeria in Ivanhoe is also good.
Pizza image via 400 Gradi
And while it's more east than north-east, Broadsheet also did a great round up of places to eat in Box Hill the other week if you're a fan of Cantonese and other Asian food like me.  Yum!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Awake

It sure is cold at the moment - I think I spent last Friday in shock at how cold it actually was - it just makes you want to hibernate indoors!  Luckily, there is a lot going on at the moment to keep you amused.
Image via Yarra City Arts
The third annual Leaps and Bounds Music Festival started on 3 July and runs until 19 July in the City of Yarra and is presented by 3PBS.  There are some great gigs on at different venues in the north-east including Collingwood, Fitzroy and Richmond.  PBS is one of my favourite radio stations and if I ever have my rooftop disco party, aside from my little sister Cat from Architecture of Audio, Edd Fisher from Tomorrow Land would be my resident DJ.
Tomorrow Land image via pbsfm.org.au
Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen also has a heap of things going on including Grandparents Day: Be your own superhero this Wednesday to its Family Day: Farmyard Animals this Sunday 12 July.  You can find out more about what's on at Heide here.  
The Johnston Collection image via Wikipedia
Image via Rona Green blog
I've always wanted to visit The Johnston Collection - the independent not-for-profit museum in East Melbourne and I think milliner Richard Nylon's 'Feathering the Nest' exhibition which starts tomorrow and runs until 20 October would be great to see.  Speaking of exhibitions, I've long been an admirer of local artist Rona Green's quirky work and her next show 'Chancing Your Arm' runs from 7 - 26 July at the Australian Galleries in Collingwood with the official opening tomorrow night from 6 - 8 pm.  There are some more exciting art events taking place this month which I'll talk about later this week.
Image via Cinema Nova
It was the inaugural International Day of Yoga on 21 June this year coinciding with the Summer Solstice and if you are a yoga fan like me you may be interested in 'Awake: the story of Yogananda' which is currently showing at Cinema Nova in Carlton until 16 July.
Paladaar Thai menu above
Finally, I celebrated my birthday on Saturday and Mr R took me to one of my favourite local places, Paladaar Thai in Alphington.  It's a lot lighter and brighter inside following a recent paint job (I did prefer the ambience of it being more dark and moody) but the food is still excellent.  I love the little snail on the menu which symbolises non-meat items and our meal (and attentive service) was excellent.  They also have a fireplace (although strangely enough this wasn't on despite it being freezing cold outside) in the renovated Art Deco former bank building just near Alphington train station.  It's well worth a visit if you like Thai food.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Rainforest and The Reef Part 2

Four Mile beach, Port Douglas
Once again, Mr Rosanna and I decided to head up far north this year for a break, which was well-timed given we were all sick before we went to Port Douglas.  And while we were more adventurous last year when we were there, this year we spent more time mooching around Port Douglas itself while we rested and recovered.
Me at Four Mile Beach
Mantra Heritage lagoon pools at night
We stayed at the Mantra Heritage this time and I have to say, it is in a great location if you don't mind being a bit further away from the beach (10 minutes walk).  It's right next to Coles and there's entrances both out to Macrossan Street - the main street in Port Douglas (where all the shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs are located) - and behind in Warner Street, which makes walking to the Marina or Sunday market extremely easy and close.  There's also secure undercover parking downstairs if you hire a car like we did and Origin Espresso, which does fantastic coffee and burgers is also a hop, skip and jump away.  If you do go and stay somewhere further away, it's worth doing an online supermarket shop before you arrive so you don't have the hassle of having to go grocery shopping after an arduous day of travel - Port Douglas is an hour away by car from Cairns.

The Mantra Group own a whole lot of resorts up in Port Douglas, and indeed around Australia, and I have to say their styling is spot on - the rooms are all very 'now' and the Mantra Heritage has two fantastic heated lagoon pools along with a built in BBQ and undercover dining space - the pool up the top closer to Warner Street is warmer than the one below, which is deeper and more private.  With both pools, you can actually book 'swim out' rooms that have decks leading straight out to the pool although I wondered about privacy and noise as much as they are convenient if you like to swim.  Our room also had some quirky design issues like the wardrobe being in the ensuite bathroom and the bedroom being completely internal so pretty dark inside with no windows just shutters out to the main living area.  There was also no dishwasher, and no oven (which made cooking pizza interesting) in the kitchen with limited crockery and cutlery although we still managed to cook every second night.


We were on the top level facing Warner Street with a big enclosed balcony with shutters looking out onto the Mobil service station (which is currently being re-built) and other shops but it was surprisingly quiet and a lovely spot to sit in the afternoon reading books and magazines (or wrestling in the case of my kids) or dining al fresco at the big table.  It was also handy being able to just duck out the back when it came to visiting the Sunday market or catching the Bally Hooley steam train from the marina.


At the wharf end of Macrossan Street, you'll find St Mary's by the sea chapel and this time we ventured inside to have a look.  I think weddings there would be absolutely spectacular as there's a window out to the sea from inside and the nearby Sugar Wharf to hold your reception (or the two lovely restaurants down that end of town in Harrison's and Salsa Bar and Grill on Wharf Street).  Indeed, while we were there, there was a wedding party being chauffeured around town in Beautiful - the two-toned mint green and vanilla Kombi van, which was just gorgeous!


Chai tent - Sunday Market
There are also a couple of new restaurants  as you walk to the marina, which looked lovely, including Seabean and Siam by the Sea on Wharf Street.  The marina itself feels a bit like a ghost town inside the complex and I think retail in general is pretty quiet there.  It's the boats out to the reef for snorkeling, sailing and fishing which are busy - Lure Restaurant is still in a great location at the marina and we also did dinner out again at The Tin Shed which overlooks the water and has one of the best sunset views at Port Douglas.  Dinner out at The Courthouse Hotel is also a great local thing to do although I think if you can book an upstairs table in their balcony dining area, it's a lot more quiet and refined.  We didn't get a chance to do any fine dining (note to self: it's a good thing to go with grandparents or other families next time) but kids eat free before 6pm at Zinc Restaurant and Watergate has a $10 kids menu from 5.30 - 6.30 pm if you feel like splurging.
View from The Tin Shed
Port Douglas marina



My favourite shops and cafes there all seem to be combined - some of the best include homewares shop With Sugar, which has The Little Larder cafe next door as well as florist/gift shop Floral Edge with Betty's Bohemian Beach Cafe, which is relatively new, next door.  Other interesting shops include homewares shop Pebble on Wharf Street with its sister accessories store Twig on Macrossan Street - both do beach chic really well with their whitewashed interiors and nature-inspired goods.  Whileaway Bookshop Cafe is a great place to buy a new book and grab a coffee and has the newly opened The Mexican next door, while other interesting shops include Art Attack with Roar cafe inside, Coffeeworks and Studio 49 Artisan Gallery and Art Cafe housed in the former school house (although it was closed when I tried to visit) on the hill off Murphy Street offering some great views looking down the street.
Personalised gift wrapping at With Sugar
Studio 49 Artisan Gallery and Art Cafe

View from Studio 49
My favourite cafe/shop that had just opened was Ahoy Trader and Sparrow Coffee.  It's the second Ahoy Trader store (the original is in Byron Bay) by Jai Vasicek who is known for his beautiful tile crosses and wall tiles (which you can buy locally at Romulus and the Gypsy in Ivanhoe) - the store is beautifully merchandised with some great brands including By Charlotte jewellery and Lightly homewares along with Vasicek's own designs.  Sparrow Coffee is also really cool - I loved the turquoise La Marzocco coffee machine and I think they'll give Origin Espresso a run for their money in the coffee stakes.
Coffee at Origin Espresso
Sparrow Coffee
I managed to get a few runs in on Four Mile Beach and went past people doing Yoga on the beach, which runs 7 days a week every morning from 8 - 9 am for $15 per class.  Teachers from the nearby Prema Shanti yoga retreat in Cape Tribulation run the classes during the school holidays.  Deep Yoga has also expanded to include Deep Whole Foods and The Deep Retreat and it was walking distance from the Mantra Heritage along with Port Douglas Yoga held in the Saltwater building on Macrossan Street.

The boys were really lucky in that the world's largest inflatable waterslide was also up in Port Douglas over the school holidays so they had great fun one morning sliding in the sun.  We also once again visited immersion zoo Wildlife Habitat, which is worth doing if you are an animal lover - feeding the kangaroos and wallabies is a real highlight as well as breakfasting or lunching with the birds, which we loved.  While we didn't go out to the reef due to the weather and our children being prone to seasickness, we did go on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway on the one overcast day we had in Port Douglas and it was spectacular.  It's well worth doing if you don't mind driving nearly all the way back to Cairns to catch the cable car to Kuranda and back.  Kuranda is worth a day trip - it's a hippy town in the mountains which was probably a bit too touristy/commercialised for my taste but it was lovely to see some of the indigenous Australian locals there and Aboriginal culture.  Take a jacket and wear closed toed shoes if you go as it gets cool inland.  There is also a fantastic scenic railway through the rainforest to Kuranda from Cairns but given it's a two hour trip one way, it makes for a long day if you do a return trip.


We spent our last night in Port Douglas at Moonlight Cinema which is held at the upmarket QT Resort and it was a beautiful night watching the bats flying against the evening skyline as the sun went down.  If you go, I'd buy tickets online in the morning as there were some disappointed movie goers who turned up only to find the Pixar movie 'Inside Out' had sold out.



Port Douglas isn't the most diverse of places to go - it's full of predominantly Anglo-Saxon Australian families and baby boomers from the south, and international tourists and backpackers, seeking sunshine and warmth during the coldest months of the year in Australia.  The most interesting thing I saw during the time we were there was this lovely Dutch lady (below with the cowboy hat, white headphones and coloured flag) who was dancing (literally) to the beat of her own drum on Four Mile beach as well as doing a bit of flag twirling and ukulele playing to boot.  As I've said before, I think if you want true heat (high twenties) you need to go that far north over the Australian winter or else go overseas.  It's been a shock to the system returning to Rosanna during what is traditionally the two coldest weeks of the year from early to mid July, but given I'm a winter baby, I'm sure I'll get over it.  There's lots going on over the next few weeks and months right here in Melbourne and I look forward to sharing more with you.  Stay warm!