[spotlight series. olivia babarczytrevor kinggeorgie abayryan o’keefe]

[sydney soundtrack. Home]

Sydney - Australia’s largest city (with a population of over 4.5m people) – almost always appears at the top end of world’s most livable cities’ list. It is not hard to see why. This breathtakingly beautiful, sunsoaked harbor town, with a near perfect climate (albeit a sticky one), bursts with fit, tanned, healthy bodies and exudes super casual vibes. This energetic beachy town was an easy place to call home for seven years. A glittering harbor, endless beaches, lush forests and nature, architectural delights, good shopping, good coffee and an increasingly exciting food scene … this city will become an obsession.

Having lived in Sydney for such a long time, we find it hard to narrow down our top picks. We have tried our best however, to showcase some of our current faves, followed by a bunch of other loves, divided up by area. Undoubtedly though, this list will only just scrape the surface. We hope you can still find some goodness below, to help you enjoy this spectacular harbor town! You might notice that we don’t really include the obvious tourist haunts (we figure it’s a given that you will visit the Opera House or climb the Harbor Bridge) – the recos here are more about living la vida local!

And when in doubt, check our go-to online newspapers - Broadsheet or Twothousands - for the latest haps around town. These guys have their finger on the pulse.


Coffee: a new find, we love the coffee at Will & Co. We probably love even more the hidden nature of this cute little spot, only open on weekends. Tucked down an aqua-colored lane off Hall Street (#33), Bondi Beach. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with the caffeine goodness and friendly vibes at the Earth Food Store in Gould Street (just around the corner).

Breakfast (casual): Four Ate Five– consistently delicious food, great coffee and very friendly local service. The owners here are young and perky, and we love this old local of ours, on Crown Street. Great for breakfast, but equally good for lunch. Always busy. Pop into the Organic Café next door afterwards for something sweet (we love their spelt muffins).

Breakfast (for something more special): Bambini Trust– an old favorite. Enjoy the charm of this cosy Italian spot, across the road from Hyde Park. Great egg dishes and good Italian-style coffee. Also brilliant for lunch, dinner, or an aperitiv in the wine bar next door.

Lunch (casual): Çafe Sopra – a huge, light-filled warehouse space, with fresh fruit and veg market downstairs, and Italian grocer / café upstairs – the homemade pasta here is to-die-for. Great bustling atmosphere on weekends. No bookings.

Lunch (more special): Sean’s Panorama– make it a long one – this is our absolute favorite restaurant in all of Sydney. Local and seasonal, Sean’s ever-changing menu is short, but sharp. Always interesting, you will learn from the attentive waiters where each and every product comes from. Excellent wine selection. Cosy. Atmospheric. Across the road from North Bondi Beach. Exsy, but worth every penny.

Dinner (casual): Il Baretto– another local favorite. Along the nondescript end of Bourke Street, this super casual little corner spot has been serving up classic and non-fussy Italian for years. Order bruschetta, followed by either the marinara or carbonara. Mama mia, this is good. BYO.

Dinner (more special): Icebergs – the views from this Bondi institution will impress the socks off you, as well as any guests you drag along. Start with Campari cocktails at the bar, and then move into the restaurant for a delicious dinner. The location alone is worth going back for, time and time again.

Pub: The Forresters or Watsons Bay Hotel – we love both these spots, for different reasons. The Forresters is a great inner-city option. Fun crowd and atmosphere, friendly staff, and a great little Jamaican-ish restaurant upstairs. The newly renovated Watsons Bay Hotel is impeccably perched on the water’s edge in Watson Bay, and offers a fun and relaxed Beach Club (color and style which reminds us very much of the Parker in Palm Springs), as well as some boutique accommodation. This stunning spot is perfect for a few cheeky beers in the sun.

Organic: Earth Food Store– amazing organic grocer and cute little café. Great coffee, green juices, smoothies and our favorite – the “buffin”! A gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free buckwheat muffin, packed full of fresh fruit and nuts (flavors change daily). We dream of these little beauties when we are far away, and they are the first thing we rush back for on any Bondi visit!

Organic Wholefoods & Raw food Cafe: Sadhana Kitchen – check out this newbie in Enmore for seriously healthy deliciousness.

Fish: Fish Face– a tiny neighborhood spot, the fish is always fresh and consistent. We also love Fish & Co – a super laidback café in Annandale, dedicated to serving only certified sustainable catch.

Steak: Porteno (for super cool, super friendly, delicious Argentinian grill) or Rockpool (for incredible meat, more high-end, quite corporate), or $20 steak at theGrand National (this might not be the best steak you ever have, but its good value, reliable, and comes paired, with a good salad, and a good crowd).

Asian: Longrain– a long time favorite. Come here for modern Thai and amazing cocktails.

Italian: A Tavola. Our number one Italian. Authentic, simple and delicious. Great buzzy atmosphere. Request a table in the back courtyard. Exceptional homemade pastas, and desserts.

Hidden dining experience: Table for 20 – the first to bring neighborhood/communal dining to the Sydney food scene, Michael Fantuz is the host with the most. With two long tables of 20, book out the whole restaurant (for 40 people), just one table, or just a few seats. Either way, you will be blown away by Michael’s mama’s authentic, home-style Italian cooking, the impeccable and friendly service, and the live music. Start with drinks upstairs at Sticky Bar.

Wine: 10 William Street - from the same amazing Italianos who brought you Fratelli Paradiso, this cute and cosy wine bar is perfect (especially in winter). Come for a Campari, wine and some antipasti. Nab the window seats.

Bakery: Sonoma (for their incredible range of real-deal sourdoughs) and Bourke Street Bakery (for their world-famous sausage rolls, prepare to queue).

Gelato: Messina. This is the BUSINESS!! No question. Try any of their 3 locations.

Farmers’ Market: Eveleigh Farmers’ Market - this weekly Saturday market is our favorite stop for local NSW based farmers and artisan food producers’ seasonal produce. From fruit and vegetables, to organic meats, fish, dairy, breads, olive oils and fresh flowers – you will find it all here.

City Beach: Tamarama, or “Glamarama” as it is known by the locals. Good surf, plenty of sand and sunbaking opportunities, lovely lawns and bbqs for picnics, and a very beautiful crowd.

Walk: Bondi to Bronte – our most favorite walk in the world. Spectacular views along the coast. Don’t stop at Bronte, keep going if you have time, all the way to Coogee (or anywhere in between).

View: Opera Bar – views to rival most bars in the city, come for a pre-dinner (or pre-Opera House show) drink at this casual harborside bar.

Day trip: Palm Beach – only an hour north of Sydney, this special place is one of the jewels of the Northern Beaches. Swim in the ocean, or paddle on the lake, but whatever you do – eat and caffeinate at the ever-charming and beautiful lakeside Boathouse.

Surf: Blueys Beach, Seal Rocks, Treachery (the best), any of the Northern beaches (try Queenscliff).

Weekend away: Canberra – not normally your first choice I am sure, but trust me on this, HOTEL HOTELhas arrived…and it will make the 3hr drive south from Sydney VERY worth your while.

Bookstore: Ariel Booksellers. Open from 9am until midnight. We have whiled away so many late-night hours amongst the shelves here of art, design, travel and photography books, as well as beautiful cards.

Kids store: KIDO. A one-stop kiddie shopping paradise.

Women’s store: Blood Orange – tucked away in the backstreets of Elizabeth Bay, this was our local favorite when living in the neighborhood, and still is. Loren Abood curates the most classic and beautiful selection of brands. A little treasure.

Men’s store: The Stables– we love the menswear on offer here at The Stables’ flagship store. We also love that there’s a cute café hidden behind the retail section, to grab a salad and a good coffee, in between purchases.

Random bits and pieces store: The Society Inc– the most heavenly corner store, full of swoon-worthy things.

Cinema: Golden Age Cinema & Bar – we adore this relatively new, super rad 40-seat cinema/bar that has been brought to life out of the restored heritage-listed Paramount Pictures Building, showing golden oldie flicks.

Band venue: Oxford Arts Factory – a long-time favorite, we love this intimate venue on Oxford Street Paddington. Mumford & Sons’ first ever Aussie gig here in 2010 was life-changing! We also love 505 in Surry Hills, which was once housed in a sketchy hidden warehouse venue, this artist run performance space, has been showcasing and supporting local and original artists since 2004. Be prepared to be surprised each week by a different fun activity: the 505 crew are impartial to a bit of boogie woogie with their backgammon, or spaghetti western with their poker. BYO booze.

Theatre: we love supporting Australian theatre, and we were frequent visitors at both Belvoir St Theatre and the Sydney Theatre Company. Dynamic, entertaining and inspiring.

Hairdresser: Barney Martin – this beautiful, light-filled and welcoming salon has been keeping Sydneysiders looking lovely since 2004. Run by super-sweet Brit, Barney Martin, and his very friendly team – come here for stylish cuts, colors, and good coffee to boot!

Nails: Paddington Nails – nothing flashy, nothing fancy, but a good, affordable and sociable mani/pedi.

Massage: Venustus – the 4-handed massage here will change your life.



To caffeinate…

The Paramount Coffee Project: a beautifully designed café in the old Paramount film building in Surry Hills.

Harry’s Espresso Bar: super chilled and friendly Bondi spot – good coffee, smoothies and juices.

Tiger Mottle: an old local favorite from our days living in Five Ways - friendly, cosy and tucked into those cute Paddo streets.

Single Origin Roasters: tiny Surry Hills café focusing on single origin, fair trade, organic and sustainable brews.

Reuben Hills: the coffee is great, and the food options are delectable. Mulled wine poached pears & their avocado, coriander & lime on sourdough rye, two of our brekkie favorites.

To eat…


Jackies Cafe: a Sydney institution, Jackie has run this café for years. Popular with the fashion set in Paddo – great people watching, and great scrambled eggs. The sushi here is amazing as well.

Earth Food Store: not just amazing for your organic fruit and veg needs, but breakfasts here are so healthy and delicious. Grab a seat at the communal table, grab a smoothie or a coffee and something to snack on. Yum.

M-Deli: a little local hang, on a street corner in Tama, is off the beaten drag and is great for weekend morning brunch.

Flat White: if you are prepared to wait, you will be rewarded with some seriously good nosh. The setting itself is nothing overly special, but the stuff that comes out of the kitchen sure is.

Brown Sugar: we love this spot. A Bondi institution (that was once in North Bondi, but moved down the hill quite a few years ago). Breakfasts are great, and so are dinners. Friendly, local service and great food.


Kawa: very much a Surry Hills-sceney hang, but the people watching is unstoppable and they do a mean freshly squeezed juice and sanga. Grab a little table on the street. A never fail option. 

The Stables: we love this cute, bright café, tucked behind their multi-brand retail store out the front. Yummo healthy options and good coffee.

Jackies Cafe: Two words. Sashimi salad.

Piadina: Cute little Bondi favorite. We love this tinypiadineria.

Miss Chu: the rice paper roll queen as she is known, pumps out some of the best riceys you will experience on this side of Vietnam. We love the vegetarian ones. Our local was the Darlinghurst one, the original…but there are plenty of other options now as well.


Toko: for slick, contemporary, communal izakaya-style Jap; beautiful crowd and good cocktails.

Thada Thai: this seriously cheap and cheerful Thai is a long-time love of ours. We used to dine here multiple times each week. Fresh and delicious. BYO beers and wine. Grab a messina for dessert from next door.

Fratelli Paradiso: such a great neighborhood spot. Closed Saturdays! But amazing for a mid-week dinner. Dark, cosy, always busy. Good date night spot too. The food here is phenomenal.

Phamish: seriously good, modern Vietnamese. Prepare to wait (or order to-go).

Jimmy Liks: another great Asian option – modern Thai. Long, sleek cocktail bar on one side, communal dining tables on the other.

Nomad: the latest hotspot on the Surry Hills scene, this big, inviting warehouse space is doing good things. Inventive and interesting menu. Great wines.

Deli Bottega: go for mussel nights on Tuesdays. Very Bondi.

To drink…

The Shop Bondi: our number one favorite. Super casual, under the radar little café/wine bar. Pull up a milk crate, and sit on the street.

Shady Pines Saloon: we love this spot! A little slice of Americana tucked down a laneway in Surry Hills. Taxidermy, bourbon, peanut shells – yes.

Love Tilly Devine: one of the first small, laneway bars to open once the Sydney liquor-licensing laws were relaxed, we used to love coming here for a Campari or a vino. Service was always a little ho-hum, but the drinks taste good and it’s a super cute spot.

Stuffed Beaver: another Americano-style bar, blaring nineties music and dishing out free tequila if you can throw your peanut shells into a cup behind the bar. What more could you want!

Wine Library: perfect for a few glasses of red on a not-so-sunny winter’s day.

To sleep…

Diamant: this boutique-ish hotel is conveniently located just behind the famous Coke sign, right in the heart of Kings Cross/Darlinghurst.

We love an Airbnb pad: check out these ones in [Paddington] and [Bondi].

To shop…

Surry Hills: for the Collector StoreKIDOPaper2,Koskelaici et la, and a bunch of vintage stores.

William Street, Paddington: for The Corner Shop, andTrunk (high-end vintage).

Glenmore Road, Paddington: for Scanlan & Theodore,Bassike and other Australian designers.

Elizabeth Bay: for Blood Orange.

To do…

Book out Bite Club: for a private, hidden communal dining experience in a stunning, old Woollahra home.

Brett Whiteley Studio: check out the former studio of Australian twentieth century artist, Brett Whiteley.

Walk the harborside walk from Rose Bay to Watson’s Bay: dotted with beaches.

Pack a picnic and head to Darling Point’s harborsideMcKell Park, an idyllic spot for some harborside lawn action.

Grab a beer on the deck of the CYC (Cruising Yacht Club of Australia) in Rushcutters. Relaxed, sunny fun amongst the boats.

Have a swim in the harbor at the Murray Rose Pool(formerly Redleaf) in Double Bay – with a netted swimming area, there is also plenty of sand and grass for sunsoaking and picnicking.

Camp Cove: a short walk from Watson’s Bay, this quiet little cove has stunning views over the water and back to the CBD.


To caffeinate…

Bambini Trust: a somewhat corporate hangout, but we love it. Be sucked in by the Italian charm.

Workshop Espresso: a hole in the wall espresso bar, right in the heart of the city. Perfect for your caffeine fix.

Marlowe’s Way: this sneaky little hidden café is a challenge to find. Part of the reason we like it. Cosy and great coffee, by Little Marionette.

To eat…

Pendolino: perched at the top of the beautiful Strand Arcade, come here for excellent (more formal) Italian.

Uccello: fun on a sunny day. The Italian restaurant here opens up on to the Ivy Pool Club – a city rooftop poolside spot more reminiscent of one of the rooftop hotel bars in LA, than something in the heart of the Sydney CBD. We love the pops of color, the yellow and white striped awnings, the white leather booths.

Establishment Garden Bar: the sunny back atrium-style courtyard here offers a fabulous Thai-style menu and is a great option for a low-key weekday lunch.

Berta: cute, hidden laneway Italian. Consistently good. Friendly service. Great food.

To drink…

GOOD GOD Small Club: the perfect place to make some shapes! Do yourself a favor and track down this hidden basement bar in the heart of Sydney’s Spanish Corner. Amazing Aussie and international names come through. We were especially excited to see The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, De La Soul and 2 Many DJs.

Grasshopper: this little bar is tucked down a city laneway, and spreads outside with milk crates for seats, old lids for ashtrays and bell jars filled with cocktails. An intimate, but noisy, little drinking hole.

Bulletin Place: with a cocktail menu that changes daily, tapas available from Bar Tapavino next door, and a secret, cosy location – this small bar is the perfect spot for an after-work cocktail.

Island Bar (see below).

To shop…

Pitt Street Mall: Strand Arcade (for great little Australian designer boutiques).

Westfield Mall: if you’re into that shopping center kind of thing (which we’re not really!).

To sleep…

Establishment: boutique accommodation right in the heart of the city, above the Hemmesphere cocktail bar.

Park Hyatt: recently renovated, come to this high-end option primarily for the killer views over the Harbor. Wake up to the Opera House or the beautiful Harbor Bridge. An unbeatable location.

To do…

Get a boat out to Cockatoo Island for drinks at theIsland Bar, made from recycled shipping containers. Seasonal opening times – check website for details.

While away a couple of hours in the beautiful Botanic Gardens – dodge the bats.

Boy Charlton Pool & Cafe: do a few laps, and then grab coffee and a snack at this cute poolside café. A pretty neat location– smack-bang next to the Botanic Gardens and opposite Woolloomooloo Wharf, right on the water.


To caffeinate…

Coffee Tea and Me: we adore this little hole-in-the-wall café in Redfern. Campos Coffee & little treats.

The Grounds Alexandria: always packed, this Alexandria coffee house/roastery does a great brew and some good food to boot. They have a pig called Kevin Bacon (who was sadly stolen back in October, but found again). Doesn’t get much better than that.

1346 Venice: housed in a restored warehouse in Waterloo, come here for a Golden Cobra coffee or to check out the restored 1930s Crocker motorbikes.

Little Indi: we adore this little wholesome café, tucked into the loading dock of a hardware store in Alexandria. A largely local, organic and vegetarian menu – there is a focus here on minimal waste, and all organic scraps are composted in their coffee bean sack-planter boxes! We love the raw granola to accompany our coffee.

To eat…

Eathouse Diner: we love this bright little diner – all turquoise and kitsch and retro and loud. American-style cocktails, nosh and service. Always fun.

Baffi & Mo: busy little Redfern staple, good for coffee and weekend brunch.

Sadhana Kitchen: we used to frequent this raw, organic and vegan kitchen in its former backstreet-Enmore digs. Now on Enmore Road, we love coming for their superfood smoothies and raw-sagna!

Moon Park: Bulgogi, bibimbap, kimchi. This minimal industrial beauty, pumps out all these Korean favorites and more. Try their famed fried chicken.

To sleep…

Check out this cute Airbnb pad in Redfern: Cool Tin Shed

To shop…

Doug up on Bourke: take your time to cruise around the huge-array of industrial antiques in this awesome warehouse space.

Great Dane Furniture: the name says it all. Those Danes just know how to do furniture.

A Pair of Chairs: restyled classic and retro furniture selection.

To do…

Carriageworks: a great site for contemporary art and culture (and don’t miss the weekly Saturday Eveleigh Farmers Market).


To caffeinate…

The Little Marionette: a small, breezy hole-in-the-wall café in Annandale. The service here is relaxed and friendly, and the coffee – which is roasted on site – is fresh and delicious.

Coffee Alchemy: an unassumingly great coffee stop in Marrickville.

To eat…

Oscillate Wildly: located in Sydney's vibrant suburb of Newtown, Oscillate Wildly is a small shop-front restaurant situated in an intimate, neighborhood setting, where product sustainability is of the utmost importance. Express passion and creativity through food

Sustainable fish at Fish & Co.: British chef, Tom Kime, opened this simple café with a belief that if we consciously decide to only use certified sustainable catch, we can keep enjoying eating seafood for years to come. If we protect our oceans and marine environments, then the fish will do the rest for us for nothing. The seafood here is so fresh and delicious, and the menu is always interesting. Additionally, Tom Kime is a super passionate, lovely guy.

Cornersmith Cornersmith is creating quite a buzz, due in no small part to the beehives on the roof. One of the most interesting of the new wave of Marrickville cafés, Cornersmith maintains a staunch position on local, seasonal and ethical produce.

Bloodwood: this Newtown restaurant and bar, is about all things seasonal and sharing. A great cocktail and wine list as well.

To drink…

The Welcome Hotel: a great local pub in Rozelle. Come here for some delicious craft brews, or a long Sunday lunch.

To sleep…

Junktique apartment: for something a little different. This cute serviced apartment is located over a retro emporium.

To shop…

Deus Ex Machina & Deus Cafe: the Venice Beach outpost in LA is where we spend a lot of our time – but this is the original. Dare Jennings (“the godfather of fun”) has created an awesome space for food, art, music, surf, motorbikes, movies, clothing: a custom-motorcycle workshop meets uber-cool clothing shop meets great café.

Pigeon Ground: located in the backstreets of Camperdown, come here for vinyl, vintage clothes, books and other random

To do…

White Rabbit Gallery – an amazing private Chinese contemporary art collection in Chippendale.

Balmain ferry hopping – catch the ferry to Balmain East and walk through the suburb to Birchgrove, and then catch another back to the city.

Cucina Italiana: run out of an old Italian-style mansion in Annandale, this authentic Italian cooking class is fun with a couple of friends or a big group. Make a bunch of delicious favorites, and then sit down to enjoy your handywork over a long lunch.


To caffeinate…

We love coffee (and the friendly service) at the tinyBarefoot Coffee Traders in the backstreets of Manly. Cute and friendly, great waffles as well.

Anvil: it’s not just the coffee (by Fat Poppy) that will impress here. The location is unstoppable. Built into the ferry wharf in Kirribilli, this super cute harbor-side spot does amazing brekkie and lunch as well.

To eat…

The Boathouse in Palm Beach– worth the drive! The most beautiful spot for breakfast.

Healthy lunch from Nourished: we used to frequent this Avalon staple in its former life as The Healthy Chef. We get just as much joy now from the wholefoods goodness in its new form, as Nourished.

Balmoral Boat Shed: little sister of The Boathouse in Palm Beach, this is a perfect beachside stop for weekend breakfast or lunch.

Pilu Freshwater: located on Freshwater Beach, with incredibly stunning views – come here for high-end, delicious Italian.

Burnt Orange: this verandah house does a great weekend brunch and also has a cute boutique.

To drink…

Newport Arms Hotel – Sunday afternoon institution, waterfront beergarden. Very laid back.

To sleep…

Barrenjoey House: a 1920s guesthouse and restaurant on Barrenjoey Road. Simple, clean accommodation.Avalon: book a room in this stunning, sunny pad. Home of ex-surfer

We constantly swoon over this amazing getaway inPatonga. Just over 1 hour north of Sydney.

To shop…

Bassike: this Avalon store is the original. Come here for cotton basics, and their cult t-shirts.

Mark Tuckey: one of our favorite Australian furniture designers. Come here for all your homeware needs.

To do…

Taronga Zoo: a beautiful ferry ride will take you to the entrance of the Zoo – one of our favorites in the world – follow up with a swim and a picnic in Mosman’s Clifton Gardens.

Walk around Cremorne Point: with the harbor on one side, and some beautiful residential homes and bushland on the other – this walk is quite spectacular.

Shelly Beach: just a short walk along the coast from Manly, is this special little cove. We love it here. Great for snorkeling and paddleboarding. You will be transported to another place. With Brazilians galore, and more Portuguese being spoken then English, we often used to think we were on some hidden little beach in South America – not a bad problem to have.

Spit to Manly walk: this is a great (but long) walk through bush and hidden beaches. Stunning.

Palm Beach: for TV lovers, this is the beach were Australian long-running soap opera – Home & Away – is set. Sunbake, surf, walk amongst the sand dunes, and up to the lighthouse.

Whale Beach: another great option for sun and surf.

Lunch at Clareville Kiosk: this light-filled and airy cottage sits next to Clareville Beach and is a lovely option for a fancy long lunch or dinner.


We love jumping in the car, winding down the windows and hitting the road to these amazing places…all pretty sublime weekend getaways.

Jervis Bay: for the whitest sandy beaches in the world, crystal clear waters, hidden coves through the National Park. This is nature at its finest. Camp, swim, fish, snorkel, chill.

Pretty Beach: laidback little town, not too far north of Sydney – for stunning beaches and lakeside relax time. Camp, or treat yourself to some luxury digs atBells at Killcare.

Seal Rocks: one of our favorite Australian beaches. Wild, untamed and raw. A great place to camp. Lots of great rentals available as well. Norma’s Beach Housedoesn’t look too shabby, and we love the look of Lot 3.

Bowral: this Southern Highlands town offers lush, green rolling hills, rambling country farms, cute cafes and boutiques. Oh and golf, if that so tickles your fancy.

Thredbo: This Snowy Mountains village has the best skiing Australian can offer. Fun days on the slopes, and après nights.

Blue Mountains: one of our favorite winter weekend getaways. Cosy up by a fire in a cute mountainside pub, drink red wine; do some stunning hikes; check out the local farmers markets, cute restaurants and antique stores. Jump on a horse! The horseback riding out here is pretty spectacular.

Royal National Park: spend a day jumping into the freshwater lagoons, surfing at the beaches, bushwalking and picnicking under a gum tree. Stop into the cute towns of Austinmer and Thirroul for lunch…and whatever you do, please stop at theScarborough Hotel, for a beer in the sun at the best (we think!) cliffside beer garden in the world, with amazing views along the coast.

Canberra: yes, it’s a little sleepy, but Australian’s Capital City is a great stopover on any trip to the Snowy Mountains. We are especially excited for our next visit given the VERY exciting arrival of HOTEL HOTEL: a new hotel/collaboration between designers, artists, artisans and fantasists. This cool lil spot is sure to bring new and colorful interactions and experiences to the Canberra cultural scene.

orpheus island

[spotlight series. arie prabowo]

[orpheus soundtrack. without you]

Orpheus Island Resort is a little known jewel in the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia. A spectacularly beautiful, intimate and remote island resort surrounded by national park, this is a true tropical paradise. The island itself has 11km of coastline (most of which is bordered by the national park) and is surrounded by impossibly turquoise waters. This is the ultimate picture-perfect, pinch-yourself setting. Palm trees (have you ever met a silver “Bismarckia” palm? wow), tropical plants, a heavenly infinity pool overlooking the quiet beach, beautiful suites, outrageously comfy big white canvas hammocks, and endless options for action (think fishing charters, sunset cruises, paddleboarding, kayaking, day spa-ing, etc etc) or relaxation instead.

From the moment you arrive, the island’s super friendly staff welcome you like old friends. You are greeted with big smiles, trays of champagne and perfect chilled tunes that just float along in the background. Ranaul Crabb runs the show and is an incredible host. His lovely staff will have remembered your names within minutes of meeting you, they will remember your coffee order and have it delivered to your breakfast table each morning before you can utter the words “cappuccino please”, they will bring you sparkling water refills by the pool (because you opted for sparkling rather than still the day before), they will remember that you really, really like Aperol Spritzing (but with Campari instead), and that, if possible, you always prefer your scrambled eggs to be on the runny side. This is personalized service at its finest, and attention to detail like nothing we have experienced anywhere before.

All meals are included, and Indonesian chef Arie Prabowo, ensures you have something beautiful, interesting and delicious on your plate every time. He is also more than happy to tailor the menu to your liking. The onsite herb and vegetable garden (which is worth having a look at) plays a big part in meal time. Dinner time is quite fancy and there will be a personalized menu (with your name printed on top) waiting for you on the table setting out four courses you will soon enjoy. Where i had sashimi for my starter, my friend (who is pregnant) might have had something vegetarian instead. Or perhaps a grilled version of whatever raw thing i was eating. Thoughtful and considered each time. Some wines (by Victoria’s Fowles winery) are included. We loved their chardonnay and shiraz. If you are wanting to try something different though, there is a more thorough wine list on offer and those wines can be purchased separately. Our favorite meal of the day though was lunch - a different theme each day. We were taken from Indonesia to Mexico to Japan and on to the Middle East over the four days we were there. Lunch was more about big family-style, share plates with lots of color and flavor. The way we like to eat.

For lodging, there are four different room categories, each at different price points. If budget is no issue, we suggest going for south suite one or two. These large, spacious, light-filled suites are totally lush and come complete with your own private outdoor tub. Old black and white photos of the island back in the 50s line the walls, the beds are covered in pale pastel linens, the fridge is stocked with cold beer, wine and champagne, there is good coffee, iPod docks, robes, and so on. Enough to make you feel very much at home. You cant go wrong with any of the room types though (because lets face it, its not like you're going to be in the room much anyway).

Our island mornings would begin with a few laps of the pool, followed by a huge and delicious breakfast, and then some stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking out to the mangroves (before the tide went out), followed by lunch and a walk (at low tide) to visit the sea garden full of giant clams (these things are amazing)!!! For those interested in reef life, there is a reef research centre on the island which is also worth visiting. In the afternoons, we would bounce between pool and beach (and pool and beach), until it was time for our afternoon spritz. A long and indulgent dinner would follow, and we would then be tucked up in bed by 930pm. The luxury of island days that seem to go on forever. Just perfection.

At some point during your stay you will also get to enjoy a cute concept they call “dining with the tides”. This is where two couples are set up on the jetty with a silver service degustation experience. It was a full moon the night we were out there, and the tides were high. We saw stingrays racing below us. It almost felt like we were dining on a boat. Dinner started with an appetizer of 36 Hour Marinated Ocean Trout (with preserved lemon, apple celery foam, green sauce and radicchio), followed by pan seared dive scallop (with cauliflower, turmeric crisp and macadamia), and then fillet mignon (with capsicum jus, garlic cream, beetroot, spiced red wine, and roasted potato swisschard), with a hazelnut praline semifreddo with salted caramel and spiced chocolate for dessert. Needless to say, we were so full (but so happy) that we pretty much had to be rolled off the jetty back to our room! It was a fun experience.

To get to Orpheus, you need to find your way to either Townsville (closer) or Cairns airports. From there, the lovely folk at Nautilus Aviation will take you across to the island by helicopter. From Townsville its a short 20min hop. We must say, it was quite the rockstar arrival. The views on the trip over the Great Barrier Reef were incredible.

The whole trip to Orpheus completely blew our mind. Not just for its spectacular natural beauty, but for every little detail we were lucky enough to experience from the minute we arrived to the minute we (sadly) had to leave. It was an island we knew very little about, but very quickly got to love. Its a special place, and one that we are so happy to share with you.


broome | australia.

[spotlight series. jo durbridge]

[broome soundtrack. the shine is brighter at night]

Broome had long been at the top of our travel wish list, so we were hugely excited to be invited by Tourism WA to come and experience the magic and wonder of this far north corner of Western Australia. A unique town situated on a peninsula, where one of the world’s last great wilderness regions meets the Indian Ocean, Broome is the gateway to the Kimberley - a land largely untouched and unchanged by man. The pearling capital of the world, Broome’s people are transient and multicultural. Travelers from all corners of the globe are drawn here by the sun, the heat, the changing landscapes, and the laid-back lifestyle. A slower pace and friendly vibe. Broome can offer up a holiday full of total relaxation or one jam-packed full of action, together with once in a lifetime, breathtaking experiences. Here, you can choose your own adventure.

The Yawuru (pronounced ya-roo) people are the Native Title Holders of Broome and the surrounding areas. Warany-jarri liyan yargarrgi - means (in Yawuru) to agree with one spirit, one feeling and one mind, and the Yawuru people believe that once you have visited Broome, you will experience this spirit, this feeling and hold it always in your heart

We certainly will.

We loved our time in Broome, but even more so loved our time adventuring into the Outback. We spent time in the remote coastal areas of Cape Leveque, Cygnet Bay, and Eco Beach. Its hard to describe the intense richness of the colors in these parts - the redness of the dirt, the impossibly turquoise sea, the whitest of white sands - but hopefully our pics will give you some idea. 

Some things to note (bearing in mind we were visiting at the start of the wet season):

- its gets hot - really hot - early. Don't leave home without suncream, hats, sunglasses, and water.

- shops in town close early. By 2pm, Broome feels a bit like a ghost town.

To caffeinate.

The Zookeepers Store: our favorite coffee in Broome (especially when Paul is behind the machine - hi Paul). Great coffee, good breakfasts, and friendly vibes. Opposite the Cable Beach Club. Known for their “cronuts”.

The Good Cartel: great drive-through coffee, just get there early. Opening at 4am (!!), they shut up shop by 12pm.

Aarli Bar: good coffee (and great food) in a leafy courtyard in the centre of town. Popular with locals as well.

To eat/drink.

The Zookeepers Store: as above.

Aarli Bar: for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Delicious asian-inspired menu. 

18 degrees: beautifully designed bar. Good cocktails. order the Threadfin salmon (local to these parts) - it was served ona super fresh and delicious watermelon salad the night we went. great cocktails as well. we loved our Campari spritz. Ryan, the owner, was previously in the music industry with EMI in Sydney, then moved to NYC for a few years, before deciding to move to Broome (talk about a change of pace) after he visited for a 2 week holiday.

Zensai: great Japanese. the host dave, originally from tassie, is super friendly and loves a chat. We loved the miso salmon, and green tea rice.

Cairo Cafe: when Aarli Bar was (sadly) closed the evening we tried to visit, we stumbled across this low-key cafe by mistake. We were greeted by a super friendly and smiling owner, and really loved our totally fresh and delicious vegetarian platter (fresh falafel, dolmade, fried eggplant, pita, humus, tahini and rice). Not somewhere you would dine-in, but perfect to grab something to-go.

Matso’s Brewery: a Broome institution. A beer and cider heaven. Try the Desert Lime Cider with Wild Ginger. Perfect for an afternoon drink on the patio.

Land of the Pharaohs: when all you feel like is a damn good kebab.

Cafe Amore: for homemade pasta, tucked away in a residential part of town. This was one of our favorite finds.

Sunset Bar and Grill: for a cold beer at sunset. The location is hard to beat. Even better, grab some Coronas and go and sit on the sand like the locals do.

The Roebuck Bay Hotel (The Roey): a real-deal Australian pub. Broome’s original. Cant say we were tempted by its Thursday night wet t-shirt competition, but if thats your thing…

To do.

Cable Beach: the quintessential Broome experience. 22km of white sandy beach. Walk it. Ride camels along it. Drive your 4WD around it. Sit on it and watch the sun go down. Wander down to the southern tip to check out Gantheaume Point to check out the amazing red rock formations and to see the giant dinosaur footprints at low tide.

Sun Pictures: the world’s oldest outdoor cinema. A cute spot to grab a deck chair and settle into a flick (they show new releases as well as golden oldies). You can even BYO food and drink (although they do have a candy bar as well).

Town Beach: near Roebuck Bay for sunrise. This is where the locals hang out. It is also the perfect spot to watch the staircase to the moon, and to kick back with a BBQ.

Check out the Staircase to the moon: a natural phenomenon where the full moon rises over the exposed mudflats of roebuck bay at extremely low tide creating an optical illusion of a staircase reaching up to the moon. Most commonly watched from either Town Beach or the Mangrove Hotel (from March until October). Streeters Jetty: in Chinatown makes for some awesome photos when the tide is high. The water is like thick jade. Off Dampier Terrace.

Yoga: at the blue body buddha sanctuary. A beautiful open air community space just behind the Cable Beach Club. We did sunrise yoga here each morning.

Courthouse Markets: a broome institution. fresh local produce, locally made ice cream, and various crafts. every saturday (year round), sundays (from easter to october) and night markets (from easter to october).

Reddell beach: for sunset when the light hits the radiant red of the rocks.

Chakra readings and spiritual healings with Sage at the Ancient Earth crystal shop. Sage is an absolute character and downright legend.

Broome museum: for an interesting look at the history of this fascinating place.

A trip into the Kimberley (ESSENTIAL): more details in our guides to Cape Leveque and Eco Beach.

To sleep.

Cable Beach Club: easily the best place to stay in Broome. The location is unbeatable. The only hotel accommodation on Cable Beach. Lovely reception staff and family friendly (warning: there are kids everywhere). Great restaurants (Zensai our favorite) and some pretty luxe treatments in the day spa.

The Mangrove: our second pick. Located on Roebuck Bay, although it feels a little bit 90s-ish, the rooms have recently been renovated and it is fresh and clean. Beautiful sunrises, and close to Matso and 18 Degrees.