Briefly in Adelaide

entrance to the old Adelaide markets, the cactus house in the Botanic Gardens

entrance to the old Adelaide markets, — cacti in the Botanic Gardens

Parachuted into Adelaide, a whirlwind trip with Qantas celebrating their campaign “Feels like Home”; 95 years of bringing Australians home. A trip centred on an Instameet at Seppeltsfield in the Barossa Valley; one of Australia’s oldest wineries. We were following in the footsteps of a royal visit – Charles and Camilla had visited just a week before…

Seppelsfeld Winery

Seppeltsfeld Winery

Seppeltsfield is impressive. An avenue of massive old palm trees welcomes you into a hive of activity: wine tasting, tours of the barrel room, an extensive artisanal workshop, concerts being sound checked and at the time of our visit, a Segway training class.

inside the knife making workshop at Seppeltsfield, following pathway up to the grapevines....

inside the knife making workshop at Seppeltsfield, — following the winding pathway up to the grapevines….

The Instameet eventually morphed into a wine tasting, almost a dissertation on the merits of different ports… the kind of day where everyone was in a good mood.

leaving the vines of the Barossa Valley for the Little Miss Dive Shop and Crab Shack in Adelaide.

leaving the vines of the Barossa Valley for the Little Miss Dive Shop and Crab Shack in Adelaide.

Back in Adelaide, people were out celebrating the balmy night. There seemed to be more sidewalk cafes and small bars than last time I visited – noticeably more buzz. Unlike Sydney parking isn’t a major problem, there is an ease in getting about.

adelaide cafes

Outdoor dining on the streets of Adelaide — French crepes and coffee at Le Carpe Diem cafe

We celebrated the end of the Qantas tour with a convivial dinner at Mothervine wine bar. In a town, not our own, but somehow familiar & comfortable, known and unknown at the same time.

a bush hut in the Botanic Gardens , little Miss Crab Shack

a bush hut in the Botanic Gardens — Little Miss Dive Shop & Crab Shack

Bladerunner in a Carpark in Chinatown

the audience listening via headsets

up on the roof of the Goulburn Carpark – BLADERUNNER – the audience listening via headsets

There were people lining up outside a nondescript car park on the border of Chinatown, the weather unsettled. Entry via several flights of grimy fire stairs, until you go out on an empty level 4 ; neon laser lights pulsing through the mist. Rounding the corner the bar was further up the ramp, sounds floating from the DJ playing Vangelis. This was Bladerunner, screened and reimagined by the Golden Age cinema, Sydney, 2016.

the view as you walk up the carpark-  the bar & DJ lit by neon and smoke

the view as you walk up the carpark ramp – the bar & DJ lit by neon and smoke, art installations along the way

I find a kind of genius in Bladerunner. Not as a complete film, more as an experience. It’s undeniably original, daring, bold. The art direction has been plundered by many of the less imaginative film makers, but the atmosphere holds strong. On the carpark roof there were neon installations, a noodle bar, strange art street performers and cinema goers dressed as replicants. Lit by an almost full moon and slicked with rain, the event started to become the film.

perfect Bladerunner weather, Chinese cocktails in plastic bags

it rained just before the movie started: on brand Bladerunner weather… heady Chinese cocktails in plastic bags

It takes a lot of planning and detail to pull off a unique and memorable night. I’ve been to a few open air events recently that have felt by the numbers- as a participant you are there to be processed and spend money – the design made up of plastic marquees and an oversupply of garbage bins. This was nothing like that.

neon installations

Some weeks ago, I went to the Golden Age screening of Jaws in the Andrew Boy Charlton pool in the Domain. A few hardy souls watched from little tiny boats, the rest of us behind them on deckchairs and tiered seating. Hard not to think of the real sharks swimming out in the inky Sydney Harbour just behind the screen.

a Golden Age event from a couple of weeks ago - Jaws in the pool in the Domain

It’s kind of a new thing these nights. Film meeting art and music and food. Reliving shared cultural memories: images and phrases that have become part of the collective unconscious.

delicious noodles and satay from Longrain

the noodle bar from Longrain with custom made signage

Byron Bay without a Phone

the airstream guest room at The Atlantic in Byron Bay

the airstream guest room at The Atlantic in Byron Bay

Feeling like a digital fugitive, I left for a few days holiday in Byron Bay without taking my phone…

big skies over the Byron Bay lighthouse

big skies over the Byron Bay lighthouse

It felt like something was missing, probably how a policeman feels without a gun. But it is interesting how quiet and slow it gets without connectivity. Like there is more space around things.

enticing path way to the beach,  the swing seat on the verandah of the Atlantic

enticing path way to the beach, the swing seat on the verandah of the Atlantic

The Atlantic hotel was the perfect base. A calm & beautiful well-mannered space with little details thoughtfully attended to. It has that rare ingredient in a hotel – charm.

long walks along the beach to The Pass

looking back to The Pass

Long walks along the beach did their thing: the start of a slow exhale after a demanding and vigorous job. It’s admirable how Byron council has protected its beach from the presence of buildings: the vast natural beauty is undiminished.

A display wall at Ahoy Trader, by the lap pool at the Atlantic

A vibrant wall at Ahoy Trader, by the lap pool at the Atlantic

There’s good food in Byron now. My favourite stop was the raw vegan cafe Naked Treaties. A real sense of food being made with love: the almond milk cappuccino was a whole new level of coffee experience. Just next door the homewards store Ahoy Trader, bursts with vitality and colour. What could well be the best boutique in Australia is just opposite the Atlantic – Island Luxe Tribe. Like a store you would find in Los Angeles or Copenhagen: it has beautiful unique clothes in luxurious raw fabrics. That hard to reach junction of elegant and casual.

shades of Hawaii...

Byron could be an older version of Sydney, one that’s been merged with a part of Hawaii. Yet at the same time, in a complete contradiction, it feels very current. A tropical dreaminess can be found there, a gateway to that elusive state of recharging and replenishing.


Bathurst : Strange Architectural Dreams


Like any city or town, there’s a few different Bathursts. The most obvious, popular one would have to be the car racing Mt Panorama Bathurst. Then there’s the university subculture world. I gravitate to the “Newtown” end of Bathurst: Keppel St where the art gallery BRAG is, often stopping off at Al Dente for a sandwich or The Hub to sit out on the grapevine covered terrace.

The Bathurst Courthouse, made of the distinctive pink red Bathurst brick

The Bathurst Courthouse, made of the distinctive pink red Bathurst brick

But the more time you spend there, another layer of the town reveals itself. One of unusual architectural parts: Florentine domes, extravagant Victorian flourishes and intricate wooden fretwork. In the two hundred years since it has been established some accomplished and adventurous architects and builders have passed through.


Surrounded by the gracious public gardens that includes ponds, a Fernery and a Begonia House, the Courthouse is the jewel in the crown setting the tone of the town with its Renaissance influenced symmetry. Located in one of the wings is a charming old style museum, including a gorgeous collection of birds eggs housed in substantial glass cases. If you make your way upstairs you get walls of the original paintwork and access out onto the balcony to look over the street.

Florence in Bathurst

the Florence end of Bathurst

It’s lovely just to walk around this part of town. On a sunny day a picnic of sandwiches under the trees is calming. I try to pop into the Fossil and Mineral Museum, on nearby Hawick St, really one of my favourite museums in the world.
The same Victorian architect who designed the Courthouse also designed the Bathurst Gaol. It is fascinating to learn more about James Barnet: he designed 169 post offices, 130 courthouses, 155 police stations, 110 gaols and 20 lighthouses. His major works include the GPO, Customs House, Callan Park, the Mortuary Station at Central.

Bathurst Gaol - the lion holding the key. Legend had it if the key dropped the prisoner went free

The Dickensian Bathurst Gaol – the lion holding the key. Legend had it if the lion dropped the key the prisoner went free.

Another major Bathurst highlight is the late Victorian Carpenter Gothic style at the Show Grounds. An American style that’s also know as Rural Gothic, it’s not often seen in Australia. One other wonderful example is the historic home Meroogal.

a corner house    ...   a pavilion at the show ground

A welcoming corner house. Distinctive timber detail from a pavilion at the show ground

But it’s not just the public buildings. Exploring the back streets can reveal some unique gems… houses that could be the central set in a movie or TV show.

A Wes Anderson style house

Sunset falls over the distinctive Bathurst street lamps. A house Wes Anderson might like.


This Easter I took on the challenge of designing and running a pop up cafe in one of the historic buildings in Hill End. Formerly a billiards hall, a girls boarding school, a boxing ring, a museum – this grand old dame of a building is being renovated by National Parks and Wildlife to be leased as a restaurant and Bed and Breakfast. In the meantime it was up for grabs and for Easter 2015 it became Hillendia…

it’s warm inside….

The ground floor is seductively beautiful: large, open plan, kind of 19th century industrial, further enhanced by National Parks exposing the bricks on one long wall. Bricks that had been made in Hill End many years ago, now speckled with paint, giving a strong character and texture to the room.

kangaroos grazing across the road

Chinese lanterns from a movie set

flowers from the garden of the Hill End Press

During the Gold Rush Hill End had a population of around 8000, now it’s under 200. But at Easter the crowds come and the numbers swell again into the thousands- the pop up would cater for them.

the importance of signage

everything over scale looks good

Starting to work on the project I realised the only way it could happen was to keep things local. The coffee ended up coming from Bathurst – Fish River Roasters, the toasted sandwiches from the Hill End General Store, and the pies and delicious sweet treats from the Hill End Estate bakers, who are based in the village.

a board game in the corner

There was an ease to this and a feeling of community spirit. Luke Sciberras loaned a painting, Bill Moseley from the Hill End Press a tin type photograph, while his wife Genevieve helped me behind the counter. La Paloma pottery provided plates for the cakes. The furniture came mostly from the National Parks and Wildlife archive shed- collected from the old buildings and businesses. This was a space grown out of a love of Hill End, its art and its history.

the avenue in the mist

I liked the experience of working in the country. More face to face conversations, less emails pinging around in an uncertain cyber space. Things got done quicker. Everyone seemed to have a dog.

Hill End greens

precious archive shed finds behind the counter

The actual running of the cafe was like diving into the deep end of the pool – it was hard to estimate the rhythms and flow of the business…

Hillendia after hours

The old saying of never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes came to mind. These last few weeks I have been much more patient and understanding in cafes. It’s a tough game.

a painting on loan from Luke Sciberras

Hillendia stenciled on the windows

In the end the crowds never quite came – the weather was against us. But the good will and generous feed back from the customers and people in the village warmed the space. Hillendia was there, for a moment, and now it’s gone. And there was something beautiful about it.

a lovely old dresser from the archive shed

so the sun came out at at the end of Easter…

The Beauty of Irregular Things

Harvesting a small crop of quinces from the orchard I was struck by their rare irregularity of size and shape. More usual is a uniformity of fruit and vegetables, flowers too.

evening walk through the village

looking through to clouds of insects

During the Tulipomania in 17th century Holland, one of the features that set off the craze was the ‘breaking’ of individual tulips. This occurred when a tulip, maybe one in a hundred, opened with a random and brilliant colour combination; pigments splashed like flames on the petals in a way never seen before. No one know the reason for it then, but it was discovered in the 1920s; it was a virus and it weakened the flower so it was bred out.

an original tiny house

There’s less straight lines in rural Australia. Crookedness exists still in the houses and sheds of the old Gold Rush towns. The buildings have an almost human individuality. You could given them a name.

2nd thoughts about window placement

a chimney that’s kind of a work of art

The thing is you can’t really go back to it. Impossible to recreate the handmade touch on a CAD drawing. Sometimes you see a version of it- often a drawing used to sell cookies or something similar, but it never looks quite right, always a bit forced. It’s a skilful job now- to preserve the buildings left to us yet to hold their authenticity and reality. Not to lose them like the beautiful broken tulips.

a posy from the garden

these geese think they own the village

A Picnic at Hanging Rock

photograph by @ingridweir

“On Saturday 14th February 1900 a party of schoolgirls from Appleyard College picnicked at Hanging Rock near Mt. Macedon in the state of Victoria.
During the afternoon several members of the party disappeared without trace…”

Miss McGraw from the film

photo by @helloemilie

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of my father’s film “Picnic at Hanging Rock”, I invited 4 Instagrammers whose feeds have inspired me for some time now – @mrpaddingtonbear @stephaniesomebody @helloemilie and @deanraphael to meet me at the Rock and share their artistic interpretations of the film.

that fateful Picnic…. still from the 1975 film

photo by @mrpaddingtonbear, dress by Lover

We planned to meet at the base of the Rock in the early afternoon, despite weather reports a thunderstorm was coming in.

photo by @helloemile

I arrived early on the hot and sultry day and found a group of schoolgirls, dressed in Picnic at Hanging Rock inspired clothes, gathered for a photo on their annual Valentines Day excursion.
It’s like that Hanging Rock. Coincidences and strange things happen there. You enter the park and are instantly on the location of the film. The majority of mobile phones cut out…

photo by @deanraphael

The question most people want to know is what happened to the girls. Joan Lindsay, the author, never answered the question. She begins the novel with an enigmatic introduction – saying whether this story is true or not hardly matters as the events occurred so long ago. Her secrets stayed with her.

“Waiting a million years, just for us”

lost on the Rock

The impending storm made our shoot a memorable experience. Growls of thunder were heard intermittently. The clouds rolled in… time seemed to speed up and go very fast.

by @deanraphael

by @helloemilie

In the end we were completely rained out. Soaked. Escaping down the Rock on the path through an otherworldly landscape of tree ferns, misty with rain and strangely very dark.

photograph by @deanraphael

“Everything begins and ends at exactly the right time and place” Miranda, Picnic at Hanging Rock

A Pie made with Apples from the Garden

Missing a country fix this week, so stole away for a few days. Got the total experience: the kangaroos grazing in golden afternoons, shaky legged little foals by the side of the road and an abundance of heritage apples fallen in the garden. The apple tree is of a very old English type and dates back to Gold Rush times. The apples are small and tart and delicious. There is something immensely special about making a recipe from food from your own garden…

the hour when the kangaroos all come out

an abundance of apples in the village

The lovely Country Apple Pie recipe I used…
5-6 apples, peeled cored and sliced ( I used 10 of the small sized heritage apples)
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon of flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 9-inch pie crust- store bought or homemade

a beautiful little foal seen alongside a country road

the apples from the tree on La Paloma pottery

Toss apples and raisins with lemon juice. Sprinkle vanilla extract 1 teaspoon at a time over fruit and toss after each sprinkling. Mix together remaining ingredients, except butter, and toss with fruit. Pour apple mixture into piecrust. Dot apples with thin slices of butter.
Top with piecrust and crimp bottom and top crusts together. Make slits in top crust so steam can escape during baking. Bake in a preheated 175 degree centigrade oven 45-50 minutes until golden brown. Serves eight to ten.

The Little Wonder in Bathurst, named after a gold mine

A Summer Evening in Coogee

Cabinet of Curiosities: hand made mushrooms at the Coogee Pavilion Rooftop bar

The beachside suburb of Coogee takes its name from an Aboriginal word meaning “smelly place”. I would associate the main intersection of Coogee with a fast food smell but I think they were referring to the decaying seaweed that washed up on the beach…

large bird mural in the Coogee Pavilion rooftop

the Ross Jones Memorial pool in South Coogee

Just recently Coogee has had a major shake up with Justin Hemmes opening the Coogee Pavilion Rooftop bar. Designed by Amanda Talbot, the Rooftop is generous in scale and feels fresh and new. To sit up on one of the city’s few rooftop gardens sampling the Turkish inspired dishes while the sun sets and the air gets all salty is a true Sydney summer experience.

the previous incarnation of the Coogee Pavilion; it has been and aquarium and a swimming pool

Many years ago, the Coogee Pavilion was housed an aquarium and 1935 saw the infamous “Shark Arm Murder” case. After a local fisherman caught a large shark at Coogee, he donated it to the aquarium: a few days later it vomited up a man’s arm. On closer inspection the arm had not been bitten off but sawn through. Tattooed on it was a distinctive tattoo of two boxers that led the police to the identity of the victim- a member of the vicious 1930s gangster underworld…

a Coogee apartment block

the whale nook in the Coogee Pavilion

There were no references in the current design to the shark arm that I could see but lots of interesting little nooks and vignettes. Sydney artisans from knitters to blacksmiths have been involved and it gives the space a real individuality. An eccentricity that somehow relates back to Coogee and its Victorian funfair history.

dramatic sting lights at the Coogee Pavilion downstairs

the bird inspector

At the south end of the beach are the fabled McIver’s Ladies Baths and the entry fee is still an unbelievable 20 cents.

how can anything be 20 cents ?

like an element from a stage set

Walking down the sandy grassy path to the pool, past the narrow old fashioned changing sheds is like entering a secret world. The pool itself is more like a rock pool and winds its way around the cliffs. Apparently this is where the Aboriginal women would come to swim. This is another magic spot in Sydney- a swim here followed by roof top drinks could just make a perfect night.

at McIver’s Ladies Baths…

the rainbow lorikeet tree

Designing a pop-up bar at the Opera House

The Sydney Opera House transcends being a building- Utzon’s sails are embedded deep in the collective unconscious. It’s kind of mythical. I’ve loved it for a very long time, ever since I was a child & then later when studying Architecture at Sydney University. This summer I designed a pop up bar to go on the Western Promenade for the month of January. . .
sometimes a dream job just finds you-

the magical approach by ferry

the bow tie & braces uniform of the bar staff

Being a UNESCO heritage building there are many protective regulations in place but for 40 days of the year the rules are relaxed with the “Summer at the House” program. In 2015 the theme was “Beach”. To get a handle on it I started to think about the unique flavour of Sydney in summer- that relaxed, casual, abundant feeling. Anyone can go down to the harbour, to a park or a public area, take a picnic and have a millionaires’ view. I wanted this bar to be somewhere where people would feel at their absolute best. . .

the inspiration – Jackie Onassis on Skorpios

The reference that seemed to encapsulate that feeling was a photo of Aristotle Onassis and Jackie on their private Greek Island, dressed all summery, under a pergola dripping with vines. Also influential was the look and feel of the Soho House group: their masterful mix of the simple and rustic with the sophisticated that create a unique feeling of comfort and charm.

checking back over my concept document

the lucky anchor I found on the beach

Even though it looks onto the stunning vista of the city, the Bridge and passing boats, the actual area in front of the Playhouse is windswept and harsh. The bar needed to provide patrons shelter from the rain and sun. I also wanted to bring in a sense of fun and to do this, used a colour palette of Indian Red, Turmeric Yellow and Aqua Blue. Hot spicy colours that promised a good time.

the front of the cool room

the waterside bar front of the kitchen/bar cabana

The footprint was 1000 square meters and comprised of a lounge area, bar/kitchen cabana and a pergola where musicians would perform every night. An engineer had to certify the structures for a high wind rating. Given that is was only for a month, the strokes had to be broad.

looking through to the kitchen/bar cabana

the circus like canopy of lights

The bar is coming to an end in a few days: it will be dismantled and packed up – the show will be over. What I’ll remember most, apart from the challenges of the process, are the actual nights spent there. Lying on the cushions with friends drinking pina coladas and listening to beautiful live music. The canopy of lights glowing next to the sails. And a couple of times when stepping back and looking up, the privilege of designing a space, however temporal, at the Sydney Opera House.

that view…