fluffy towes
Carmen

Carmen Jenner is a travel, food, and lifestyle writer, wanna-be photographer and the founder of Fluffy Towel. She specialises in travel memoirs, destination pieces, hotel reviews, guidebook contributor, travel advice, restaurant reviews, family travel, and copywriting.

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Perth, Australia

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Moonburra Stay: A place to breathe

filed14 Nov 2017 from

With towering gum trees and a quintessential colonial homestead, there’s no mistaking I’m in Western Australia, and despite the outback setting, only an hour or so from Perth. All that’s required is to slow down and succumb to Moonburra Stay’s outback luxury.

Elevated over the Avon Valley National Park in the Chittering Valley, the view resembles an exhibition of the Heidelberg School. The scene below could very well have been the inspiration for artists, Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton or Tom Roberts had they camped in the very spot. Except this is a 3D gallery complete with bleating sheep languidly grazing as kangaroos and birds stealthily rustle among the gum trees.

The sprawling homestead sleeps 12 in total, and Moonburra’s flexible floor plan accommodates groups of families, friends or work colleagues, as well as couples who may well never emerge from the Moonlit Suite, except maybe to investigate the contents of the kitchen. Throughout the homestead, cleverly placed signs indicate where items belong. The beautifully appointed sleeping quarters also include thoughtful details such as room numbers, so you know which rooms to activate on the air-conditioner remote as well as treats on the pillows.

As if the expansive valley views weren’t enough, the fridge stocked with organic produce makes it’s easy to imagine moving into Moonburra Stay for an extended sojourn. I cheekily wonder if owners Michael and Lizelle Hartley would mind a writer-in-residence.

Evidence of the Chittering Valley’s bounty is laid out like a Mediterranean smorgasbord. Citrus water and apple juice cool in the fridge on tap. Honey is sourced from West Coast Honey in nearby Gingin. Sweets and desserts are supplied by Maison St Honore´ and are situated in the Swan Valley a few minutes away (who incidentally are the only place in Perth to my knowledge who make the delectable canales, which are little French pastries that are somehow crispy and caramelised on the outside and custardy on the inside). Salads, curries and soups are also available by pre-order.

The following morning Lizelle and the homestead’s manager Christine prepare an elaborate breakfast, which includes eggs from Christine’s chickens. The jam is handmade by Christine, and the quince paste is one of her Swiss family’s recipes. Had we indulged in a BBQ pack, the meat would have been supplied by Bullsbrook Meat & Gourmet who sources his meat from local farmers. Instead, we opt for gourmet pizzas and foolishly bring enough supplies for a platter that would feed a burgeoning group despite being only a party of four. We forgive ourselves since it’s Clare’s birthday. Clare McAlaney is my business partner at the Extra.Ordinary. Hub and owner of Creatavision Publishing, and apart from her special day, we have plenty to celebrate as our latest book project Australia’s Extra.Ordinary. West Coast is in full swing.

The Chittering Valley is dotted with groves of oranges, mandarins, lemons, avocados, mangos and pumpkin, available from roadside stalls. They’re easy to find along the 76km wine trail which winds through Bullsbrook, Bindoon, Gingin and Muchea with wineries specialising in Verdelho, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Time your journey for the 4th Sunday of August for the Taste of Chittering food festival or come during the wildflower season and follow the Everlastings Trail from September to November.

Further afield the quaint historic towns of York, Toodyay and Beverly await, where country charm, architecture and art abounds, especially at the East End Gallery in Beverly. New Norcia was founded in 1847 by Spanish Benedictine Monks and is Australia’s only monastic town.

Or don’t move off Moonburra’s sweeping deck and swan around the pool or create a feast in the outdoor kitchen. Summon a massage or attend a workshop regularly held in the homestead. Or wander out to the fire pit for kangaroo sightings beneath a starry night.

As night falls and the frogs commence their symphony and wood fires puff away, I can think of nowhere else I’d rather be. It never ceases to enthral how easy it is to get away without ever really leaving Perth.

Moonburra Stay, 21 Kooyong Close Bullsbrook, Western Australia www.moonburrastay.com.au; Lizelle +61 433 655 983, Christine +61 458 212 528

The Trip to Spain

filed16 Aug 2017 from

The Trip to Spain

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are back on another epic road adventure fuelled by their witty banter and impersonations in The Trip to Spain.

If I could choose only one other writer to explore an exotic terrain with it would be Brydon for his comic genius, warm wit and wry smile. I’d even forgive him for not taking one note or photo during his restaurant reviews if only for his Marlon Brando and gay Nazi impersonations.

The Wild West, Balinese style

filed23 Mar 2017 from

Melaya Villas Bali by Stephan Kotas

Melaya Villas Bali by Stephan Kotas

It’s a wild ride to west Bali.

Invigorating is another way to describe the four hour drive from Denpasar. As trucks and motorbikes play dodgems I put all my faith in our trusty driver and concentrate on the spectacular scenery.

We pass a Hindu wedding ceremony, a religion which peacefully lives alongside Islam and Christianity; where pork and beef are revered by the other.

Thirty years ago the road wasn’t even sealed and it …

All loved up in Koh Samui

filed27 Feb 2017 from

Koh Samui's tumultuous weather gods holding court

Koh Samui’s tumultuous weather gods holding court

The night promises all the drama of a tropical storm as palm trees bow to the tumultuous weather gods holding court. Koh Samui’s serene skies make way for the approaching monsoon season as the rain pounds sideways into Manathai Koh Samui’s restaurant Waterline. Everyone takes cover as the wait-staff prepare the restaurant for the impending deluge. There was a time not that long ago when fine dining wasn’t a feature and Koh Samui, …

The Artists of the Margaret River Region

filed04 Oct 2016 from

mrros_coverhr

Very exciting news! The Artists of Margaret River Region is due for release on 28th October 2016. Featuring 80 artists of the Margaret River Region in this beautifully designed book, which has been published in association with Margaret River Open Studios (MRROS), M&P Publishing and local photographers Elements of Margaret River and Crib Creative, it’s a celebration of creativity.

Inspired by the Margaret River Region Open Studios, the book is intended to showcase the work of the many artists who …

Why should you hire a professional freelance content writer?

filed05 Sep 2016 from

 

Hiring a professional writer can be as care free as walking the Cape to Cape track

Hiring a professional writer can be as care free as walking the Cape to Cape track

Even in this day and age of DIY renovators, when most of us have a plumbing or electrical issue we hire a professional. Sure, we could Youtube it or find a handy friend to help out but it’s often a false economy, usually with costly and inconvenient consequences. So why would you let someone who doesn’t write for a living write about your …

Shreyas: A Indian journey of self-discovery

filed30 Jun 2016 from

shreyas statues

Shrouded in mist, the yoga pavilion sighs with guests working their way through the Sun Salutation routine. Despite the obscene hour and chilly morning, I’m in a state of bliss. Who am I? I don’t normally “do” early mornings, or even yoga for that matter, and yet I’m happily performing my poses in a dreamlike state.

We unravel our bodies into horizontal positions beneath our blankets with the intention of emptying our minds as our bendy instructor guides us through …

Careening around Colombo

filed01 Jun 2016 from

 

tuk-tuk pin-up

The swanky homes of Cinnamon Gardens and the Town Hall resembling the White House in Washington are hard to miss when careening around Colombo in a tuk-tuk. But many of the city’s secrets and surprises are hidden behind walled courtyards and held by the locals themselves. Breaking the ice is easy at the mere mention of the favourite national past-time of cricket.

Cricket Crazy. Even if you secretly don’t know Don Bradman from Ricky Ponting, you can fake it …

Truffle hunting in Manjimup

filed12 Apr 2016 from

On the 28th July in 2003 the first ever (well, the first documented one) truffle was found in Western Australia’s Manjimup. Thirteen years on, the Truffle & Wine Co. is so successful they now export to the US, Germany and France.

I went on a truffle hunt three years ago and I can still smell that earthy aroma. And as you can see below hunting for truffles is a very simple process…once you’ve selected the right plot of land, inoculated …

Gently Bentley

filed30 Mar 2016 from

driving

Pulling out of the Bentley showroom in Claremont onto Stirling Highway, I’m very much aware many houses cost less than the Bentley Continental GTC V8 S we’re test driving. However, given the craftsmanship on this elegant beast, it almost seems gauche to mention to money.

Our automatic seat belt presenter embraces us as we head up into the Perth Hills for a night of indulgence. It doesn’t take long to relax into the ventilated massaging leather seats with contrast cross …

Emergence Creative

filed18 Mar 2016 from

Function Centre Exterior wiht pots

It’s the conference for those who don’t do conferences. With the backdrop of Margaret River as their muse, some of WA’s most creative come together 16-19 March 2016 for Emergence Creative. I checked out the conference venue last weekend, and I have to say Willy Bay Resort is the epitome of what Margaret River is all about. Luxury villas set within the region’s famed vineyards and forest. Bliss!

For more information check out my article Meeting of Minds Meeting of …

The Colombian Cloud Atlas

filed07 Mar 2016 from

El Sauce 5

In one of the most dangerous countries in the world I stand on the side of the road with my thumb out. There is another woman striking a similar pose except she’s poured into the Colombian uniform of jeans tight enough to make out the lace on her g-string and, of course, the obligatory stilettos. This attire applies to women of any age, size or shape and I admire their fierce quest for sexiness as dust settles on my sneakers.…

ANZAC centenary Western Australia’s Great Southern Drive

filed22 Apr 2015 from

Greens Pool...too beautiful to be real

Greens Pool…too beautiful to be real

The approach into Western Australia’s Great Southern region is a mix of weathered scrub bordered by the rugged peaks of the Stirling Ranges hovering in the distance. This idyllic scene has been a fixture on the landscape for over one million years, but is a world away from how our ANZAC troops left the region to fight for Australia’s future.

The 25th April 2015 marks the ANZAC centenary and the 1st November 2014 …

Stars in the Sand: touring Morocco with Jeff Martin

filed01 Apr 2015 from

MOROCCAN TOUR WITH JEFF MARTIN

 

coversm1

On the back of a mammoth year of touring and recording, including the release of the Tea Party’s first album in a decade, “The Ocean At the End,” Jeff Martin further delves into the exotic and Middle Eastern melodies on his return visit to Morocco.

Much has been documented about Jeff’s music and mystique, particularly his instrument collection from around the world, which includes the Hurdy Gurdy, Sitar, Harmonium, Oud and a 1916 ‘harp …

Mango madness

filed09 Mar 2015 from

mango boxWe generally associate mangoes with the tropics but about an east of Perth in Gingin, there are about 20 commercial growers handpicking their juicy fruit as I write this. The Mediterranean climate in the part of the world allows the fruit spend 120 days on the tree, which is one month more than in the tropics. The extra time before harvesting allows the sugars to become more developed, making them sweeter to eat, and the warm temperature also means minimal …

Wagin: An outback gem

filed06 Mar 2015 from

paddock art

Almost exactly halfway between Perth and Albany, the dusty outback town of Wagin toils away beneath a vast expanse of nothingness except for clouds swirling on a background of blue.

Wagin Little GemAs the outback scrub gives away to hills of faded gold, the Southern Wheatbelt region is dotted with cattle languidly grazing in paddocks while lorikeets and galas nibble on roadside picnics of seeds. The quintessential outback town of Wagin is at the crossroads of the Great Southern region; with Albany …

Far Out, Queensland

filed25 Feb 2015 from

Thala's private beach

Lonely footprints on sandy white beaches, swaying sugar cane fields and an outrageously turquoise sea. I’m starring in my very own travel brochure. Far Northern Queensland is the epitome of life in the slow lane and thankfully, I can’t see it ever speeding up.

The beauty continues at Thala Beach Lodge; it’s almost shameless. Located on a private 145 acre peninsula between Cairns and Port Douglas, you’re ideally situated to explore the hinterlands, Daintree rainforest, Cape Tribulation and of course …

Hola Colombian coffee

filed05 Feb 2015 from

Coffee cupping with La Jacoba

Coffee cupping with La Jacoba

Oh, the lengths I’ll go to for a decent cup of coffee. Like to the other side of world. I’ll soon be in the city of Pasto, in the department of Narino in south western Colombia, and bordering Equador.

It’s well and truly off the beaten tourist trail and yes, I promise to be careful of machete wielding drug lords cruising around the streets in search of random travel writers. This is generally the kind …

Barberyn Ayurveda: Sri Lanka’s Science of Life

filed19 Jan 2015 from

Deep sense of relaxation after the oil massage

There are few destinations as jam-packed as Sri Lanka with beaches, ancient civilisation, wildlife, spices, tea, culture, cuisine, gems, adventure sports, luxury hotels and the ancient philosphy of Ayurveda. Meaning the “Science of Life,” Ayurveda has been passed through the generations for over 5,000 years and is still practiced today. But I must confess, I’m slightly anxious about my stay in an Ayurveda resort, even though Barberyn is considered one of the most authentic and holistic healing retreats in the …

Houseboating through the backwaters of Kerala

filed12 Jan 2015 from

houseboats on river

Palm trees lean over the water’s edge to greet us as breaks in the foliage provide glimpses into a world of rice paddies. Every shade of green is startled by iridescent saris in blues, oranges, reds, and pinks. Escaping the hassle, wanna-be hippies and eye watering smog we board a houseboat on the backwaters of the state of Kerala. Located in the south-west corner of India and covering four districts Kollam, Kottayam, Alappuzha and Kochi, the waterways snake across 900 …

Uncovering the Peel region of Western Australia

filed27 Oct 2014 from

Lane Poole Reserve

Lane Poole Reserve

Just an hour’s drive from Perth and you can lose yourself in amongst the rugged scrub, a stunning coastline, rolling farmlands, majestic native forests, the languid Murray River, one of the world’s longest walking and cycling trails, waterfalls and Lane Poole Reserve; one of those special spots the locals would prefer you didn’t know about.

Uncover more here Uncovering the Peel region as published in Horizons Magazine August/September 2014

Raven foods

Raven Wines

 …

Land in hot water: Japanese style

filed26 Sep 2014 from

In some cultures floating around naked with strangers would land you in hot water. In Japan it quite literally does, but this is not a story about exploits in a far flung destination but a story about Japanese hot springs.

PR hot springs l_159767

The Japanese have been soaking in hot springs (onsens) for over 2,000 years and it’s safe to say they know a few things about this ancient tradition. With over 138 million people visiting 55,000 onsens every year and …

Bali: Eat, lay, bend and write

filed18 Sep 2014 from

statue2On a recent journey to Bali’s tranquil Ubud I didn’t find myself and despite hunting high and low not even Javier Bardem frolicking in the rice paddies either, sorry girls.  I did however discover many enticing ways to eat, lay, bend and write, with a few naughty detours along the way.

Nestled into the hillside and offering flourishing views every which way, ONEWorld Retreats (www.oneworldretreats.com) offer unique experiences at Ubud’s boutique hotel Kumara Sakti.  There’s no questioning the …

Stay fit and travel

filed22 Aug 2014 from

Staying in shape while on vacation can be difficult especially with the changes (and temptations) in your eating habits, environment and sleeping schedules throwing your usual routine out the window. Although a departure from the norm is kind of the point of travel, you can still stay healthy. Work-out sessions can be difficult to squeeze in while on the road, high seas, mountain ranges, hot air balloon or exotic waves, but these tips by guest blogger Gavin Apter, innovator of …

Permanent Impressions: Independent Publisher Book Awards Winner

filed01 May 2014 from

I’m very proud to report Permanent Impressions: A salute to contemporary heroines won Bronze in the Best Regional Non-fiction category for the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards, also known as the IPPYs. It was an absolute honour to work on such an amazing project with the incredibly talented artist Jana Vosedil and dynamic Carina Hoang of Carina Hoang Communications, who incidentally won Silver for her Boat People book in 2012. Permanent Impressions pays homage to 50 of Western Australia’s …

Take five in Bali

filed12 Feb 2014 from

banana crepes effect

My day begins with a breakfast of sweet banana crepes wrapped around avocado, mango cream and sliced bananas topped with a fresh fruit compote and chocolate cream, followed by a flower facial tonic and virgin coconut oil body scrub, and then a recline in a private bathhouse lit by chromo-therapy lighting. All of these activities occur by the rambling rapids of the Ayung River in Ubud, Bali. Fivelements certainly dispels the myth that health retreats are gruelling.

For the full …

2013 in a camera case

filed31 Dec 2013 from

camera at sunset

I may be a writer, but as one specialising in travel, this online world demands pretty photos as much, if not more so, as words. Hence, most travel writers are also professional photographers by default.

When packing for a trip the bulk of my luggage is books, beauty products (yes, I know I have a problem) writing materials (including the old fashioned method as well as a laptop) and my Canon with an assortment of lenses. I never seem to …

Manila Madness

filed24 Nov 2013 from

We’ve all seen the heartbreaking photos in the wake of Haiyan. And while many of us probably won’t be rushing out to book our next holiday to the Philippines, it’s a shame, because not only do they need tourists more than ever, it’s a fascinating country.

The sprawling metropolis of Manila has many mini cities within its labyrinth and several years ago I took a walking food tour through Chinatown, actually it was more like an eating tour as I …

Bunker Bay, takes my breath away

filed13 Nov 2013 from

bunker bay

 

I recently had a glorious stay at Pullman Resort Bunker Bay and all the words and photos in the world can’t do this part of the world enough justice. No wonder all Western Australian’s get a dreamy look on their faces whenever you mention the Margaret River region. Read the full article published in Qatar Airlines inflight magazine here Pullman Resort Bunker Bay

 

 …

Finding Perth

filed29 Oct 2013 from

I’ve landed a great gig writing for Findery where I get to “find” cool stuff in my hometown Perth, Western Australia.I’ve seen dead animals at the Natural History Museum in Guildford, got my girls out with a Breastique Art workshop, braved a storm in a campervan in Denmark, discovered some great coffee at Love Thy Neighbour, unearthed why honeymooners once flocked to Ngilgi cave in Yallingup and even did some of my research in the horizontal position at Hidden Valley …

Truffle Time

filed29 Jul 2013 from

On the 28th July in 2003 the first ever (well, the first documented one) truffle was found in Western Australia’s Manjimup. Ten years on, the Wine and Truffle Co. is so successful they now export to the US, Germany and France.

I went on a truffle hunt last week and I can still smell that earthy aroma. And as you can see below hunting for truffles is a very simple process…once you’ve selected the right plot of land, inoculated the …

10 Reasons to Desert Yourself on Gaya Island

filed14 Jul 2013 from

yoga

 

As the speedboat zoomed towards Gaya Island Resort, I was already devising ways to never return to reality.

A few minutes off the coast of Kota Kinabalu on the Malaysian state of Sabah lies a refuge away from life as most of us know it. Located on the island of Pulau Gaya within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Malohom Bay sweeps majestically at the Gaya Island Resort’s feet.

Gaya Island villas

1. Lay down and weep

On the approach in it’s …

Ayurveda Unveiled

filed27 Jun 2013 from

Shirodhara with therapist -IMG_0849_small

 

One of the oldest forms of holistic healing in the world, Ayurveda promotes natural beauty, positive health and a long life. Sri Lanka heaves with Ayurveda practitioners and treatments vary from wandering into a centre for a relaxing massage to an intensive stay at an Ayurvedic resort where you’ll be revived physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Before booking your plane tickets and going all zen-like here’s the lowdown on life at an Ayurvedic resort.

1.       Up close & personal

It’s …

Author of Sex and the City, Candace Bushnell is coming to Perth

filed20 Jun 2013 from

Sex & sarong party

I don’t mean to name drop, okay maybe a little bit but Candace Bushnell, author of Sex and the City, is coming to town so don’t miss out on having Cosmos with Candace. She’s an absolute delight, a New York broad through and through and it’s like talking to the real Carrie Bradshaw.

I heard her speak a couple of years at the Galle Literary Festival, as above, at a wonderful event called Sex in a Sarong on the …

The Mexican Suitcase

filed19 Jun 2013 from

zocalo fish eye

How fortuitous for a suitcase containing thousands of lost negatives from the Spanish Civil War to be found by a film-maker. In fact, the story of the journey of the suitcase is interesting on its own, but not nearly as fascinating as its contents.

As war survivors share their horrific tales, The Mexican Suitcase incorporates many of the retrieved photos into the documentary with disturbing images of ravaged corpses, boy soldiers with rifles, women performing hard labour and sad-eyed children.…

The Artist and the Model

filed19 Jun 2013 from

spanishff

Set in the Pyrenees in occupied France during 1943, The Artist and the Model depicts a time where men dressed elegantly, creative types didn’t rely on technology to produce art and models had bodies that embraced their womanliness, body hair and all. So when model Merce, (Aida Folch) reveals the wisps of her armpit, it’s almost as shocking as the complete nudity she displays for much of the movie.

After escaping from a concentration camp Merce is picked up off …

Rooftop Comedy

filed19 Jun 2013 from

conservatory_cropped

As patrons perched on top of the Conservatory Rooftop Bar bathed in red light while giggling about the ridiculousness of life, it was easy to forget about the crisp night air. With a New York meets Miami vibe, the light changed to blue and then green to match the palms and turf flooring.

MC Dan Willis swifty carried the show and was surprisingly gentle on the “white collar crowd” considering he was no doubt more liberal with his previous performance …

Apache CLIP Award

filed19 Jun 2013 from

Svetlalana Baily_CLIP 2012 Winner

If photos of pretty landscapes are your thing then you won’t mind that the Apache CLIP Award is over. On the other hand, if you’re swayed by the grittiness of reality you’ll be watching this space, particularly the exhibition space of the Perth Centre for Photography (PCP) for its next exciting instalment.

CLIP stands for Contemporary Landscapes in Photography and the criteria of the competition was to create original and stimulating pieces to challenge traditional landscapes. The Apache CLIP Award …

BBQ-ing US style

filed07 Jun 2013 from

The Australian Tongmaster Team, MLA, BBQ aficionados and Kevin

The Australian Tongmaster Team, MLA, BBQ aficionados and Kevin

After the sun had long disappeared I pondered on how I ended up in a field in Lexington’s North Carolina passively smoking a beef brisket and drinking the local moonshine. RV’s with palatial proportions steamed into town for the BBQ-ing version of Woodstock at the Annual Capital BBQ Cook-off 28th-29th April 2012.  Heaving with 50 competing teams vying for the $15,900 prize money, many of the competitors were …

Don’t look out the front windscreen

filed07 Jun 2013 from

ongoing truck in tuk-tuk

When travelling around Third World and developing countries I have a rule. It’s the only thing I have control over when being flung around the back of a stinky taxi in KL or griping onto the side of a tuk-tuk in India. DON’T look out the front windscreen. Trust me, its better that way. You don’t see the oncoming trucks or the cows who refuse to move away from a mad intersection. You don’t even notice the look of terror …

Sex in a Sarong

filed24 May 2013 from

 

snapshots of Sri Lanka book cover

 

 

 

The following story (edited to the conservative title of ‘Soiree in a Sarong’) has been extracted from ‘Snapshots of Sri Lanka.’ The book contains many wonderful stories about the teardrop isle and proceeds go to Samadhi Grove, an early childhood development centre in the village of Smagipura in southern Sri Lanka. Your generosity is appreciated and for a copy please go to Vivid Publishing

 

 

 

 

My floor-length is gown is hitched up around …

Sandakan: The Land Below the Wind

filed20 May 2013 from

 

Sunbeams over Sandakan

Sunbeams over Sandakan

While tropical adventures are aplenty in Sandakan, Malaysia, the former capital of the state of Sabah oozes a tumultuous cultural past.

The phrase “land below the wind” was coined a century ago by sailors to describe the Malaysian state of Sabah on the northern coast of Borneo because of its location south of the typhoon belt. American author and expat Agnes Keith brought notoriety to the phrase in her book of the same name. In fact, she …

I think I’m stripping Japanese, I really think so

filed09 Mar 2012 from

Sadly, March marks the anniversary of the great Japan earthquake and tsunami and although the devastation and heartache is insurmountable, tourists are returning to Japan. Who can blame anyone wanting to explore the land of sumo wrestling and geishas, where everything is familiar and foreign all at the same time. A culture obsessed with rules and protocol and yet consumed by perplexing, and quite frankly kinky, pasttimes.


Photo 8 bride back

 

Luuuurve Hotels

Cheesy Love Hotels rented by the hour in Japan were …

Battle of the writers festivals

filed27 Feb 2012 from

Fireflies flit along the shoreline as I hitch my floor-length dress up around my thighs. Stepping into the warm Indian Ocean I wobble along the watery path lit only by fire torches towards the tiny Taprobane Island off Sri Lanka’s south coast. Waves crash as I grip the sand bank beneath my toes and friendly hands reach out to guide me to cocktails with Candace Bushnell, the author of a little well-known story called Sex and the City.

This …

Craft Beer Festival 2012

filed24 Feb 2012 from

Thirst quenching honey-hued bitterness satiates WA’s south west.

I must confess I’m not a beer lover. There I said it. I may be a failure at the Australian tradition of a downing a coldie, but after a tasting at Eagle Bay Brewery, I didn’t mind it. In fact, I even finished my sample of the German style Kolsch. Drank as a lager and likened to the crowd pleasing Little Creatures Pilsner, my Kolsch (note how I’ve already become a …

Sri Lanka’s wet ‘n wild south

filed28 Jul 2011 from

Some of the finest, least populated beaches anywhere can be found on the newly peaceful island of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean.

beach swirls

Foreigners, burquas, and children bob along to the rhythm of boats along the curvaceous bay of Unawatuna. The scents of coconut oil, incense, diesel, sunscreen, salt, and curry flirt with abandon in the gentle breeze. The idyllic scene is complete with swaying palm trees and sauntering bikini-clad bodies glistening in the humidity. Yet, the very sea that …

East of France

filed10 Feb 2011 from

Vietnamese girls glide by on bicycles much as willowy frames saunter along the streets of Paris. French colonial architecture stands resplendent in Siem Reap and the sultry streets of Saigon are dotted with patisseries. The tree lined boulevards of Hanoi are centred around Hoan Kiem Lake while the River Seine snakes through the City of Light.

Hue Part 1 506

 

Hanoi Metropole

The word Indochina came about with the French colonisation of Vietnam which soon expanded into surrounding regions, and most predominantly into Cambodia and …

Buskers of Fremantle: The Freo All-Stars

filed28 Dec 2010 from

THE BLUE STAR OF FREMANTLE

Fedora tipped over blue

Seductive plucking of tune

Street-side superstar

Freo presents Ivan Zar

Travel Photography Workshop 068b_edited-2

In amongst the throng of bohemians languishing along Fremantle’s capuccino strip, I’m immediately drawn to the man sporting a suit and fedora in mid-night blue. Oozing 1960’s glamour evocative of the Cuban time warp, I learn his name is Ivan Zar. A master of blues, the haromonica, and his unique metallic slide guitar, his style is gutsy yet unassuming. Influenced by …

Liquid gastronomy: Tea inspired cuisine

filed22 Dec 2010 from

While visiting Sri Lanka I had a spot of Tea Gastronomy and learnt all about tea-inspired recipes – and I shared a little more than inspiration with few chefs in Dilmah’s headquarters.

tea picker 2

Far from the maddening pace of Colombo and about three hours north of Sri Lanka’s idyllic beaches in the south, you’ll hit mountain ranges awe-inspiring enough to give any trekker palpitations even before their ascent. The chequered green ranges are dotted with women picking tea, many of whom …

Oprah’s wild west

filed09 Dec 2010 from

Final-2---Copy

Okay, so Oprah’s not gay or coming to Perth…but she did change her plans on a whim to visit Uluru care of singer and friend Paul Simon. Oprah and her entourage’s itineraries are shrouded in secrecy so you never know the world’s most isolated of cities, Perth may still feature in the limelight. So far Oprah hss hammed it up on Hamilton Island and has cuddled a koala, but here’s a few of Fluffy Towel’s weekend suggestions if she does …

Great Gourmet Weekends In Australia

filed25 Nov 2010 from

Okay, here’s a bit of shameless self-promotion. Great Gourmet Weekends in Australia has just been released by Explore Australia and its jammed packed with delicious options around the country. I was lucky enough to “research” and write the Western Australian content. Each state has in-depth coverage and is available in stores across the country and there’s giveaways too. Available to purchase online at Great Gourmet Weekends in Australia

Andy & Michelle 4

Here’s a little tease for your tastebuds,

Meet the Osbornes of Darlington

The hills are alive: getting back to nature

filed18 Nov 2010 from

“Beep, beep, beep,” drones the forklift. It reverses up and down the salvage yard next door, just a few metres from our lounge room. A grunting semi-trailer pulls up with a delivery of wood to be unloaded throughout the entire afternoon. Soon, the rubbish truck will arrive to empty the enormous bins with its noisy hydraulic lifts. A plane thunders above and if I run outside I can wave to the passengers. A train “toots”. On the other side of …

Contiki Tip 34: How to use a map

filed13 Nov 2010 from

So there we all were, waiting, waiting, waiting, and waiting for our ferry to take us to Venice. A very exciting prospect indeed as I was dying to see one of the most romantic cities of all time. However, there was nothing very romantic about our situation. We were at the very dodgy port of Patra, aka the Rats of Patras, waiting to board our ferry for a two night cruise to Venice.

We were about halfway through our 34-day …

Broome Vroom

filed11 Nov 2010 from

Broome Vroom was a finalist in The Purple Passport travel writing competition. If you liked my story please vote http://diary.thepurplepassport.com/global/other-global-cities/cast-your-vote

“My name is Roger and I’ll be your guide today. Welcome to the Mango Tango Tour,” drawls our driver as he caresses his white Harley-Davidson trike, our mode of transport. We climb aboard the curvaceous blonde and hit the highway to sip wine at a mango plantation.

This is our second trip to Broome and I can see why so …

Paris at the Hilton

filed08 Nov 2010 from

 

The harpist serenades us as lady-boys shoo away flies with white cloths, or are they merely surrendering to the scorching heat?  Celebrating our daughter’s sixth birthday, we’re having lunch at No Problem Restaurant in a wooden structure suspended on stilts over a mangrove on Mactan Island, one of the 7,000 islands in the Philippines.

We’re sampling the traditional dish of Sutukil, a term derived from three words Sugba (SU), Tuwa (TU), Kilaw (KIL) meaning to broil, …

What Race?

filed01 Nov 2010 from

 

I had lasted 11 hours in my silly shoes, but there was no way I could wear them for the twenty-minute hike back to the car. As my sandals dangled from my hands, the cool tarmac had taken a velvety texture beneath my bleeding feet.

The brisk air itched my sunburnt shoulders and ached every muscle as my hangover kicked in. However, I was healthier than many of the other punters we passed along the way. Some were in vomiting …

Holy Cow! Five Reasons to Not Bustle Past Cowaramup

filed28 Oct 2010 from

Holy Cow!

If you’re moo-ving around the Margaret River region three hours south of Perth, you may notice some life-size cow sculptures left-over from the CowParade Margaret River, an international event held in over 50 cities. The competition saw local artists hussling up the bovine creatures in all kinds of attire and positions. It seems only appropriate to start your cow hunt in the charming dairy town of Cowaramup, situated on the Bussell Highway and just 10 minutes north of …

Finding divinity in the bush

filed21 Oct 2010 from

New Norcia Sept 2009 162

Upon entering the elaborately decorated St Ildephonsus’s chapel, Bach’s Toccata and Fuge in D minor pipes out of the magnificent organ. This heart-stopping scenario doesn’t occur in rural Italy, but in the dusty Western Australian bush. As I settle onto the antique pew to admire the heavenly fresco the juxtaposition of a time-honoured civilisation plonked into the youthful Australian way of life isn’t lost on me. The head-turning town causes no end of intrigue as patrons fly along the Great …

Ceylonese Cravings

filed12 Oct 2010 from

 

Peace man!

 

Many a tear and blood has been shed over the tumultuous past of Sri Lanka. It’s of no wonder then that the isle of serendipity is in the shape of a tear. But this tale isn’t about the 25 year war or the tsunami. It’s about a quest for a decent cup of coffee in a land of tea bushes.

Despite holding countless culinary charms, Sri Lanka isn’t exactly prized for its cafes. I stopped asking …

Walk on the Tame Side in Paris’ Montmartre

filed17 Sep 2010 from

The view of Paris from Basilique du Sacre Coeur

Made famous by the Moulin Rouge and its hedonistic revellers, Montmartre is well worth a wander during the day.

As you alight the Metro stop Abbesses, check out the Paris cityscape mural, and its unusual green wrought-iron arches and amber lights, which are one of the few original Art Nouveau stations in Paris.

After savouring the seediness of Montmarte’s adult outlets, browse the electic range of shops while heading up to …

Divine Diversity: Holier Than Cebu

filed16 Sep 2010 from

Photo 1 Magellan’s Cross looms above, a larger than life relic to Christianity on Cebu, one of the 7,000 islands in the Philippines.

There are Catholic icons everywhere: a crucifix hanging off the rear-view mirror in a taxi, a painting of The Last Supper displayed in a cafe, or a rosary pressed between fingers clutching a steering wheel while negoiating the mad traffic. All over the city there are churches and the country-side is dotted with tiny chapels. The city morgue is …

From Colombo to Galle: A Sri Lankan travel revival

filed01 Sep 2010 from

Throngs flock to the Galle Face Green in Colombo at sunset to gossip, eat, fly kites, and enjoy the passing parade

The palm-tree pattered isle formely known as Ceylon is recovering from its 25-year civil war and the devastating 2004 tsunami. Plenty of blood has been shed and oceans have been cried over the tear-shaped island of Sri Lanka. But now it is experiencing a resurgance, and nowhere is this more visible than in its Capital Colombo and on the …

Smiles from the Teardrop Isle: Family Travel in Sri Lanka

filed31 Aug 2010 from

Art imitating colourful life in Sri Lanka

Like a jewel dropped into the ocean, Sri Lanka sparkles bright. Tamer than its Indian neighbour, the spicy isle is heaving with culture, wildlife, gems, adventure, welcoming locals, and exotic beauty every which way.

Unlike other Asian hotspots Sri Lanka is virtually untouched by tourism compliments of the 25 year war. The country breathes a collective sigh of relief as the war is finally over. The figurative doors have flung open and tourists …

Breasts Out West

filed30 Aug 2010 from

Art imitates art

Jiggly giggles abound on this crisp winter’s day and with only the sun to kiss our skin, we smear body paint over our torsos. This is not the scene for some titillating fantasy, although the guy “working” on his roof next door may dream otherwise. We’ve gathered here today to celebrate the female form and to raise awareness for breast cancer by creating art with our breasts.

Breastique Art is the brain child of Shiona Herbert, “I …

Philippines Aflame

filed24 Aug 2010 from

Duck embryo anyone? Bottoms up!

Buns of steam

I have a confession. My attention isn’t entirely focused on the food whilst on the Big Binodo Food Wok Tour in Manila’s Chinatown. For starters, I’m a little bit star-struck as not only is our delightful tour leader Ivan Man Dy, a local celebrity in his own right, but I’m retracing the steps of Anthony Bourdain. And so my fascination with the rock-star of the culinary world continues – and in particular …

Top 50 Restaurant Guide Western Australia

filed24 Aug 2010 from

The Top 50 Restaurant Guide Western Australia 2011 is due for release in November 2010. This guide is STILL the first and best independent restaurant guide for WA, and I’m proud to say I was a key contributor and restaurant reviewer to the guide.  To thank our valued supporters, the 2010 edition is available for free download at the Gourmet Godfather

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Guest Blogger Radames Ortiz

filed06 Oct 2009 from

Radames Ortiz has contributed to numerous literary journals including, Gulf Coast, Texas Observer, Open City, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Cortland Review and Exquisite Corpse. His work has been collected in various anthologies which include US Latino Literature Today, Regeneration: Telling Stories from our Twenties, and Is This Forever, Or What?: Poems and Paintings from Texas. In 2003 he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, awarded an Archie D and Bertha Walker fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and …

Eating out in Siem Reap

filed06 May 2009 from

 

The market place

The market place

Advertisement for Cambodia BBQ on the side of a tuk-tuk...so many Australian animals on the menu!

Advertisement for Cambodia BBQ on the side of a tuk-tuk…so many Australian animals on the menu!

Although many travellers come to Siem Reap to explore the marvels of Angkor Wat and the neighbouring temples, it’s the cuisine that leaves many staggered for words.  With an array of international tastes well catered for like Thai, Vietnamese, Indian and French, The Old Market area is a popular spot to sample traditional Cambodian cuisine, or also known as Khmer …