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Archive for the ‘Australian Travel’ Category

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NSW Winter Weekender | Cultured Canowindra


Suffering from a decidedly soggy case of the sniffles we bypassed the ambitious original plan to let Brünhilde (the beloved KTM 900 mortorbike) stretch her wheels and opted to hire a car. We got a pretty good deal through Thrifty with a few insurance upgrades thrown in and a 15% discount thanks to my membership with NRMA (just book online to reap the rewards, otherwise it’s 10% over the phone) and roared over the Blue Mountains in a nifty Suzuki Swift.

Our destination was Canowindra. Only 4 hours from Sydney, Canowindra has the misfortune of a perpetually mispronounced appellation. Out-of-towners are spotted instantly for asking; “How far to Cann-oh-win-dra?” Where locals and those in-the-know realise that it should be: Ca-nouwn-dra. (Obvs.)


We pulled into Orange to breakfast at Factory Espresso. This mod-oz brunch spot would be right at home in Newtown or Prahran. Housed in an old mechanical workshop, it is complete with a coffee roastery out the back and they serve house-brewed blends such as The Godfather and Decaf Redux which you can try as a syphon, cold drip and pour over coffee experience. I had the tapioca porridge, he had the eggs.

Slightly intimidated by the “bookings only” policy some local wineries enforce for cellar-door tastings, we found Canobolas-Smith (between Orange and Canowindra) for a taste of the local fruits of the vine. Murray Smith, I later learnt, was one of the early pioneers of the wine-growing scene in Orange. He’s been at it since the 1980’s but has kept the place a friendly, hands-on operation. The viticulturist amused us with tales of the Australian wine tasting scene while we sipped his spectacular chardonnay. I bought a bottle for $40 which left me feeling a little robbed but it did taste great.

The superstar standout treat of the trip was pulling up into Belubula Cottage  , overlooking the Belubula Valley, just outside town. This place was recommended to me by the owners of taste Canowindra but my expectations were not high, so imagine my surprise and delight when the manageress, Marg, emailed me asking my favourite foods for breakfast! I should have known then I was in for something special.

We entered the little self-contained cottage to cosy heating and a kitchen full of treats like marshmallows and drinking chocolate, freshly bakes bread and butter, a stack full of Country Style magazines and bath salts just waiting to be sprinkled into the clawed bathtub which overlooks the bucolic vista outside. The place was heaven and redefines country hospitality. Marg had thought of absolutely everything, from plush robes hanging in the bedroom (think about it, when was the last time a mid-range hotel gave you that?) to cooking spices to go with the eggs and bacon she popped in the fridge. I have not stayed anywhere like this for years and couldn’t recommend it more highly.

Then, finally, we arrived (via the local, and only, cabbie in town) at Taste. A cultural hub in the rolling hills of the Central West, this is the place to taste the region’s best wines, enjoy gourmet food, arts and music, Bob and Marg Craven have created a perfect little niche. We had booked tickets to see the Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier show and dinner they were hosting, and we weren’t disappointed. Treated to the best seats in the house, we listened to the pair sing and play their way through their new album Stories of Ghosts . Conway’s acerbic humour and sarcasm are nicely counter-weighted by Willy’s chill-factor but they are both a very entertaining pair. Washed down with a local red, we were escorted back home by our friend the taxi man, and curled up in our cast iron bed to fall asleep listening to the rain gently drum the roof.

Story by Estelle Pigot

Can Do Kandos

 A weekend escape to The Town That Built Sydney



The Dubbo XPT chugged into station after a carefree hurtle over the mountains and my travelling companion remarked “Oh, it’s cold.” to which a passer-by replied, “Welcome to Lithgow.” We braced ourselves against the mid-summer chill for a brief wait before switching to a Mudgee-bound bus which delivered us  out the front of the Railway Hotel, Kandos (population 1306). The bus was necessitated by the fact that the Gwabegar railway line hasn’t run through Kandos since 2007.

We had arrived in The Town That Built Sydney – home to NSW’s most productive cement works until it was abruptly shut down in 2011, never to be reopened. The local abundance of lime deposits in the Capertee Valley inspired the opening of the works in 1913. The town’s original name – Candos – was an acronym based upon the names of the six directors of the company and in their time, the works were the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

Just west of the Great Dividing Range, Kandos is 3 hours from Sydney, the town features imaginative structures built in the ‘Spanish mission’ architectural style popular in California and whimsical Federation-era construction curiosities. Visiting for the inaugral Cementa 13 art festival, we discovered that the orderly company village facade (40 wide streets, all scrubbed and freshly painted, not a skerrick of litter in the gutters) does not do justice to the quirky township’s personality.

On the back of a Twitter tip-off, we tried our luck with the delightful hospitality of Marie and Barry Trounson of Kandos’s Fairways Motel (est. 1975 with the first guests through the door being the directors of the cement works) and found that there was room at the inn.

marie_barryMarie, was born in Kandos and destined to be the town’s hostess with the mostess. Her determined work ethic, vivaciousness and generosity are all part of a personal philosophy to, ‘Do everything you can for whoever you can’  We were her good deed for the day when she arranged for us to catch an earlier bus home and with her husband driving like only a country man can, ensured we got to our connection in Ilford with time to spare. If only the dour barmaids at The Railway Hotel had been apprenticed in hospitality by the charming Marie!

She remembers the shock of the Cement Works closing, “It was like losing a member of the family.”  Although she notes that it hasn’t affected business at the motel which overlooks a tranquil 18-hole golf course and is on the fringe of the town (only a short walk to Angus Street). Marie’s sense of community is strong and it’ no wonder;Barry has been strongly involved in local business for many years, serving on the council and working with his son in the younger’s an award-winning winery (now closed, however the beautiful property is for sale if this article convinces you to take up a tree-change. Contact Richard Traunson, manager of the mixed grocery and fuel business in Capertee.)

The museum is a carefully curated trove, and one must make a stop to meet the exuberant proprietress of Shady Lady Hats who with a few expert adjustments (and side-cracks to boot) will have you be-hatted in style. For snacks, cheeky sips of lovely Mudgee wine or hearty breakfasts, you will be cared for graciously at the Clock Stop Cafe by the defunct train tracks. A coverted train station, the deco is so authentic you might feel like you’re about to be ushered aboard an Agatha Christie mystery.

Or, if it’s Mother Nature you yearn for, take a trip out to Dunns Swamp. Manmade in the 1920’s to provide water for the Kandos Cement Works, it forms part of the beautiful Wollemi National Park and is a picturesque camping, fishing or picnic spot (don’t forget to pop into the Kandos bakery and stock up for the picnic on their delicious treats).

Dinner may warrant a drive to neighbouring village, Rylestone, where a culinary surprise exists in the form of the funky 29 Nine 99 restaurant which knocks visitors socks off every day of the week. Outstanding yum cha, with dumplings to die for on offer served up by couple Na Lan and Reg Buckland. But if it’s simple fare that you seek, step into the Hotel Kandos for classic pub grub at its country best.

Enclosed on one side by an enigmatic escarpment, the finest hour is sunset in Kandos. With a drink in hand on the balcony of the Railway Hotel, tourists and locals watch the sky softly burn to an orange glow that illuminates the cliff face to a fierce blush. Glossy cockatoos shriek from the boughs as the shadows of the gums lengthen to streak across neatly mowed town parkland. Maybe it’s a little rose-tinted, but the world sure looks lovely from here.




Fairways Motel
Cnr Ilford Rd & Henbury Ave
Kandos NSW 2848
Telephone: (02) 6379 4406


Clock Stop Cafe
37 Angus Ave
Kandos NSW 2848
Telephone: (02) 6379 4180

By Estelle Pigot


Oooh-oooh-oooh we all felt our temperatures rising, as the thermometer soared to 42 degrees last weekend but fans flocked to central NSW to share their burning love for the King of Rock and Roll. A sea of Elvis’s flooded the streets and a feverish carnival of enduring love for a rock god engulfed this country town.

Damien Mullin was the show-stopping impersonation performance of the festival. I managed to catch him twice at the Parkes Leagues Club (once in a copy of the 1968 Comeback Special black leather jumpsuit, the other where he sweltered in skin-tight polyester). He planted kisses on the squealing sexagenarians in the front row, bestowed sweat-soaked scarves on the giddy fans and belted out tunes that caused rockabilly riots on the dance floor.

The five-day festival is a major boon to local tourism. A local man working at the Coachman Motel in town, said “With this Elvis thing gEstelle Pigot_ Two Flat Whitesetting bigger and bigger, Parkes has changed a fair bit in the last 5 years.” With evident pride, he added, “A lot of country towns in NSW are drying up but not us – there’s heaps going for Parkes right now.”

Established 21 years ago and held every year in the second week of January to coincide with Elvis’ birthday, the event is booming. It attracts a bigger and weirder crowd of grey nomads, die-hard fans, boot-scooters, bikies, queer rockabillies and everything in-between, each year. But Bogan Elvis – the prevailing look of choice for attendees – reigns supreme at Parkes, putting a distinctly Aussie spin on the quintessential son of the US of A. He and his companions strut and stumble down the main street, too skinny to fill out his jumpsuit adequately, cigarette in hand, his synthetic black wig slipping over one eye, seeking out chicken devil wings to soak up that bellyful of beer.

The town takes Elvis very seriously with one known resident so ardent a fan of Presley who, with APN ONLINE PARKES ELVIS FESTIVALhis mother’s permission, changed his name to Elvis by deed poll. Formerly known as Neville, he travelled to Gracelands and returned with 6 suitcases of memorabilia which is displayed during the festival. Other highlights included look-alike and impersonator contests, the unbelievable street parade, wedding vow renewals presided over by the King himself and over 150 other whacky events.

It seemed disrespectful not to visit The Dish while in town, where we copped our dose of nerdy science history while slurping on our ‘Mercury Milkshakes’ and tucking into ‘Eggs Benedish’ served by teenagers sporting beehives and Hawaiian skirts.

If the aliens invaded Parkes during festival week it would be at the empassioned beckoning of the statue of Sir Henry Parkes. Revellers mock his dramatic stance, turning it into an Elvis-style move; bedecking him in oversized gold sunnies and drape a satin cape across his shoulders. Nobody would notice extra-terrestrials as this quirky jamboree takes place  – they would fit right in.

henry parkes aliens

We’re All Going On A Summer Holiday – Crowne Plaza Recharge Deal

It’s road-trip season, kids! So back the cut lunch and beach-towels and squash in the back because Crowne Plaza thinks you’ve earned a good old-fashioned summer holiday. Their ‘Recharge’ promotion is on now and is giving you  up to 20% off the best available rate*.

Available for stays of two nights or more, the package includes complimentary full buffet breakfast for two, with stays starting from AU$132 per night.

A family wedding (of the traditional, wild descendants of Irish convicts kind) required a recent stay in Terrigal and thank heavens for the Crowne’s soft pillows to nurse our throbbing heads. Seaside views of the quaint and lovely kind… and you just need to see this breakfast to believe it.

Everything from traditional continental breakfasts to the (rarely available at other hotels) delicious healthy options, the spread had my companions’ eyes bulging out of their heads and required a number of returns to the buffet. There’s even a little coffee stand with a snaking line for your barista brewed fix, in case you’re missing your morning commute rituals. But don’t worry, you won’t feel like you’re still in town because as you wait, you will be gazing out the arched windows and through the pines to the sea, to the sea.

If you have overindulged at breakfast slim down in the sauna or sweat it off at the gym facilities which we took advantage of, hoping to purge the evils of a night of slurred speeches and far too many toasts to the happy couple.

Terrigal Crowne Plaza isn’t the only destination included in this deal.


Participating Crowne Plazas include:

New South Wales & ACT

  • Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach from AU$200
  • Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley from AU$190
  • Crowne Plaza Newcastle from AU$190
  • Crowne Plaza Norwest from AU$132
  • Crowne Plaza Terrigal from AU$180


  • Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise from AU$159

South Australia

  • Crowne Plaza Adelaide from AU$160


  • Crowne Plaza Melbourne from AU$190

West Australia

  • Crowne Plaza Perth from AU$179

Packages are bookable from 19 November, 2012 through to 27 February, 2013 for stays between 1 December, 2012 and 28 February, 2013. For more information on Crowne Plaza’s Recharge packages, or to make a booking visit –

* Packages are subject to availability. Terms and conditions and blackout dates apply. Minimum two-night stay.

Falling for Grenfell’s Signs

Oh Grenfell! You were the place that nagged at the heart of Australian poet, Henry Lawson, his birthplace. To read the monument to his birth just outside this centre of this NSW country town, you get the sense that Lawson felt a little guilty about his departure from the town. His poem, Said Grenfell To My Spirit, opens with the town itself berating him for his disloyalty –

Said Grenfell to my spirit, “You’ve been writing very free Of the charms of other places, and you don’t remember me.”

4 hours out of Sydney, this historic gold town has known a few celebrity ex-pats (notably the bushranger, Ben Hall) and surrounded by flowering canola blossoms and rambling Patterson’s Curse, it’s probably no prettier than it is in springtime. But it wasn’t the history, the view or the pub that caught my eye on a recent exploration of the town. It was Grenfell’s lovely typography.

I was struck by the many painted signs, some old some new, and wondered if perhaps Grenfell was also home to a typographic talent, yet uncovered?  Whoever the one or many sign-writers are, their legacy adds a particular flair to this  town of 2200 people.

After gold was discovered in the area by a shepherd in the 1860’s, the town boomed as miners flocked to the area to get their piece of shiny. By the 1870’s it was producing the most gold of any town in NSW.

The Weddin Mountains fringe the village, and in them are caves and hideouts of bushrangers from these boom times.  The locals will tell you, in that traditional country Australia, laconic style, that there’s gold in the caves still – bushranger loot –  stashed away right before they were shot by police or dragged off to the lock-up, a hundred-year-old secret.

Apprently it’s hard to get to, though, on account of the mini-avalanches that have resulted in the entranes being blocked by fallen rocks.

So, there are hills in which to hunt your fortune. But if you prefer a more leisurely exploration, try sign-watching and enjoy Grenfell’s typography treasures.


Newcastle Australia Day Maritime Festival 2011

The National Maritime Festival aims to raise the profile of the Maritime Centre Newcastle and increase community awareness of the vital importance of our Maritime heritage. At its simplest, the National Maritime Festival provides a welcome spectacle and a day of entertainment and involvement for many, many thousands of Novocastrians as well as visitors from interstate and overseas.

The Australia Day Maritime Festival provides for education, cultural integration and community involvement while enhancing the use of maritime facilities. The annual National Maritime Festival leaves a lasting legacy of pride and enjoyment of our Harbour City of Newcastle. The National Maritime Festival is a chance for you and your family to experience a day on Newcastle harbour celebrating my story, your story, and our story .

What: Newcastle Australia Day Maritime Festival 2011
Where: 3 Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle, NSW
When: Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 January 2011
Cost: Free

Defy Gravity in the Yarra Valley

How do you experience the esteemed Yarra Valley wineries if you’re broke and don’t drive?  Now there’s a dilemma many students philosophise over as they recline into their second-hand couches sipping three-dollar merlot.  Most decide that it’s not possible, that it’s an experience reserved for the wealthy, and recline further – resigning to live vicariously through an episode of Getaway.  I am one of those broke students with no car.  Luckily (?!) for me I have one of those darling girlfriends who just loooves an adventure; the more ambitious, the better.  Now throw in a couple of recently purchased second hand push-bikes to the mix and I was faced with the recipe for a beautiful disaster; its bittersweet taste not easily forgotten.

The toasty interior of the Flinders to Lilydale train allowed a temporary escape from the harsh reality of Melbourne’s furious winds outside.  At bang on midday we sat down at Danielle’s Cafe (conveniently located directly opposite Lilydale train station) with a map marking the wineries around the region.  With well over 50 estates within a 30 kilometre radius, we sought the advice of the friendly blokes at Yarra Valley Cycles (conveniently located two doors down from the cafe).  They drew a few squiggles and wished us luck.  A quick gulp of Danielle’s enlivening latte, a cautious glance at the brooding weather clouds overhead and we were off:  pedalling down the B300 highway at the steady pace of 11 km/h, alongside the thunderous cavalcade of hurtling trucks and semi-trailers blowing their warm welcome of horns and jeers.  Viva la adventure!

Read more about the Yarra Valley»

CARE Australia – Supporting the wider community

Here at Two Flat Whites, we’re all about giving creative types the chance to share their talent with the world. Two Flat Whites focuses on discovering, promoting & nurturing Australian talent. Whether you are a budding young writer, fashion designer, artist, photographer, musician, restaurateur, chef or film maker this is the network for you!

Two Flat Whites are launching a series titled “Supporting the wider community”. The aim of this series is to help promote the need for the more fortunate to help out the less privileged in our society. We will be doing this by showcasing a number of charity organisations that Two Flat Whites supports.

We kick off with CARE Australia. They joined the CARE International family in 1987, led by former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. Today, CARE Australia manages programs in over 20 countries. They focus on feeding the hungry in developing countries, pioneer primary health programs and respond with both emergency relief & long term agro-forestry projects.

Finding it a little difficult to find a present for someone special & want to step out of the box? CAREgifts are a fantastic solution. A CAREgift really does keep on giving. Your gift could provide endless benefits for a community and help alleviate poverty. With CAREgifts, lives are changing, people are becoming healthier, children are better educated and families are benefiting from higher incomes

Visit the CARE Australia website here.

Newtown NSW – the freedom

It’s the strangest kind of place that makes it feel like home. For those of the café late lifestyle Newtown, Sydney is a beacon of great food and even better coffee. For those who live locally, the Saturday throngs are a chance for amusement and mischief. From the Bird-Whistle man to Old Dave, the Virgin Newtowner is assailed with a bewildering range of characters totally oblivious to a visitors finer sensibilities. Though you may be sure that Old Dave will have judged from distance whether you might be up for a blue one or even better a lobster.

With the odd poet selling their wares to the multitude of local buskers making their drinking money with a few tunes, there is always an edge to Newtown that can surprise, amaze and even unsettle but never bore. In this truly diverse suburb, the waitresses know the characters and are much more likely to give them a free coffee than shuffle them along. But put aside your prejudices and Newtown can be a truly unique experience.

And it pays to have local knowledge. While Cafes and Restaurants have bloomed in Newtown with new trade coming from outside, the cheap, cheerful and bloody marvelous have disappeared somewhat. But not quite! Avoiding the main drag on a Saturday night can bring bonuses of great food at a very reasonable price.

Love Kilimanjaro African Restaurant but cannot get in, there is the African Express Eatery, owned by the same people, beside the Duke of Edinburgh on Enmore Road. For Pakistan/Indian food, Guzzlers on South King Street is the King of Cheap Eats. And down in St Peters, the Good Wok never fails to please! For Pizza, Torino’s on Enmore Road or for Pasta, there is a cosy little Italian restaurant Mamma Maria’s upstairs from the Old Fish Shop on the corner of King and Church Street!  Who needs Norton Street?

Thai restaurants? I wouldn’t even dare to suggest but almost all of them are great so go with your mood! Taking out a Vegetarian? The Green Gormet vegetarian Yum Cha will win you a friend for life, though almost everywhere in Newtown has plenty of Vegetarian options. For beer and food, the Courthouse is great, while the Zanzibar and Soni’s give a little more up market experience with lots of Tapas to keep you happy.

Coffee has to be Campos, votes one of the best 10 cups of coffee in the world, though it does get quite crowded. A take out with a nice walk to Camperdown Park is always a possibility. Other than that, take your time and check out some of the side streets for the hidden treats or join the crowd watchers on one of the many cafés facing onto King Street.

Article written by Pauline Bleach

Townsville QLD has plenty to offer!

After precipitating we follow our set course to sea, starting at its Ross River dam, we slither through kilometers of gallery forests where birds chirp intrinsically.  As gravity decides our direction we can see an abundance of culture and life; joggers, strollers, rowers, water skiers, cyclists, fishers and the occasion youth trying to take it all in and show it around with a camera.  We pass Castle Hill where hiking and 360 degree views reign.  We flow through the old train yard and the smell of booming residence is rich.  Here we split the right stream meanders out to sea but the left stream pumps through the heart of the city.

By day commerce fills the Flinders Street Mall.  By night social activities take hold we can see the ever popular Palmer Street known for its restaurants and jazz bands.  Its older sister Flinders Street East resides on the opposite side of the bank where clubs, pubs and bars are frequented by the local youths, students and army population. In between these street yachts and catamarans bob up and down and we welcome their interest in us with claps against their hulls.  At day they sail out to the Magnetic Island with its green and lushes forests and beautiful beaches.

We pass the port of Townsville, pass the breakwater and drift to the left.  With a single glance we can see the Strand.  People sit on the dunes with dogs, children, fish and chips while seagulls glide in front of them in cool off-shore winds.  As I evaporate out at sea, I recognise my necessity here and I hope I will visit again.

Article written by Chris Jensen

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