In search of solace and adventure on Australia’s Lord Howe Island.
Every year a group of 50-something-year-old friends get together for a break from the routine and head down to the island state of Tasmania in Australia. On the tenth anniversary of this undertaking of walking, climbing, camping, throwing our backs out we looked for something a little bit different ... a week in the south west wilderness on sea kayaks. Sometimes the best preparation is no preparation, and this was our plan. We met at Hobart airport and with our guide from Roaring 40ºs Kayaking boarded a Cessna, piloted by a confident and good looking young pilot, about the age of our children. Once airborne, we were soon flying low over the Dolerite Peaks and tarn lakes that dot the eastern half of Tasmania. Head south and the next land mass is Antarctica. Head west and we would hit Argentina (we are south of the tip of Africa).
Melaleuca airstrip was our destination - the shortest commercial airstrip in Australia. A dirt runway, a few sheds and a web cam are the homage to the 21st century, the rest is the artwork of nature most recently transformed post glaciation 12,000 years ago. Melaleuca is the gateway to the southwest wilderness of Tasmania. The Aboriginal people left little to mark their presence and a few hardy tin miners and rugged pioneers left tracks and the occasional cottage and headstones.
We ensconced ourselves in the six kayaks thatRoaring 40ºs keep permanently down there and after a few instructions and safety briefing, paddled off confidently into the sunshine and perfect calm. We started in a placid creek which soon opened up to vistas of low mountain ranges and endless brooding skies. The waterway lead on to Bathurst Harbour, then the Narrows which funnel the westerlies (they are not called theRoaring 40ºs for nothing) and finally Port Davey, a semi open waterway exposing us to the challenging ocean swells and on occasion, furious storms.
The sea swells and winds are exhilarating but initially a little intimidating. The rewards are stupendous. Stunning red sunsets, low mountains adorned with swirling clouds, empty beaches, fresh water streams you can safely drink from, rocky capes to flirt with from the kayaks and small islands with crashing waves to avoid. Nothing beats effortlessly racing along on days with the current and wind on your side. Nothing is worse than driving rain and headwinds with sea spray and a ferocious bull ant in your tent.
Our guide was entertaining and professional, trained in all that was required including emergency medicine. We asked what happens if someone has a heart attack: the answer was rest and aspirin and hope that a helicopter could land if the weather allowed and our emergency satellite phone had reception. Fortunately our worst injury was an avulsed toenail (sorry, was that too much information)!
Over the week we enjoyed fine expedition food (including a birthday cake cooked on a camp oven), kayaking on placid tannin-stained waterways and oceans that were just a tad angry, beach-combing, climbing the surrounding low ranges and the joys of isolation in wilderness never knowing what the next day would bring, but whatever it was would be “interesting”.
Our admiration went out to those whose foresight resulted in the creation of the 1 million acre South West Wilderness, a refuge from the 21st century.
Words by Emil Martin & Photographs by Angela Terrell
A Sydney-siders ode to a suburb where time hold no sway and cats are king - it's always wise to get a little lost in your own city.
Nestled between bold boisterous Sydney suburbs - whose resounding voices are as cacophonous as they are merry - is what can only be described as the secret garden’s city love-child. A place that is cultivated and wild, pristine and earthy, and no stranger to a paradox.
In Erskineville edifices speak of great wealth and lack thereof, of creativity and character. This place doesn’t put on a show, but in the same breathe, offers the most sincere welcome. It’s in the air. Come in, take your time, your quirks and idiosyncrasies will do well here. Encased in silence the sojourner can stop amiably and drink it in. No signs point to the nearest museum, nor will the main street yield boutiques. But there are terraces, and plenty of them, covered in vibrant paint that has started to crack beneath the Australian sun. Each home a unique statement, a reflection of those who live within. Suburban beauty at its most unique.
It is the need for respite that often sees one sashay into Erkos’ midst. If this sounds appealing then I implore you to bring along the book that has meekly, then with growing indignation, demanded that you consume its contents. Here plot twists and narratives reveal themselves slowly as you're unlikely to ever feel rushed. It is expected that one ambles in Erskineville, admires the sites, breathe deeply, recall the quiet joy of counting a ladybug's spots.
But there are signs of life. And plenty of them. Pubs and cafes line the one main street, perfect hideaways. Happily one coffee can be stretched out for hours, that book can be devoured, because the main rat race is several streets over. Distance makes the heart fonder.
As for wildlife, this habitat has given rise to a dominant creature. Even though quaint houses and artful gardens have replaced rolling hills, beasts still prowl. While sharing the same ferocious appetite for aesthetic elegance and menacing stares as to their forebears, all these urban beasts seem to crave is attention. But be warned, should you pause to play with an Erskineville cat, they're not likely to tire of your quickly. Like a shadow they will be persistently by your side. Stealth must be used to disentangle from their gaze.
As the afternoon draws to a close, make sure to bid adieu to the trimmed hedges, the assorted pots, the carefully arranged birdcages. These form the metropolitan jungle, a quiet oasis populated by plastic flamingos and cats - an inner-city haven that shall wait here, patiently, until you return, keen to forget what it feels like to be rushed.
Words & Photographs by Amy Henderson
Befuddled, I sat in my living room. Not to say I was exactly in a frump, but I certainly wasn’t smelling the daisies and I had somehow mislaid my rose tinted glasses. I reflected on my mood. What was underpinning this listlessness? This shifting in my seat and mind? Why did the sun seem not so bright as its beams would suggest, nor its warmth so inviting?
And then, bing! It went off in my mind. I had been back home for exactly 2 months, and wanderlust had come to claim its next victim.
I knew the signs. My mind vamped up in preparation to defend, to rally against the infiltrating need to gallivant into the great unknown. I vowed to avert my eyes from the European photo albums of friends. To radically curtail the scrolling through world pockets on Instagram. To, with much aplomb and dignity, abstain from the vast catalogues of brilliant media bursting with the promise of the great out there. I glowered (good naturedly) at the coffee table.
And that’s when I decided that I needed to head out. Not to a foreign land, not somewhere ‘unfamiliar’, but through my own neighbourhood. Alone in my living room, I declared that day a holiday. In the full sense of that wondrous term I would move about and see the sights, take photos, ogle at the local creatures about their usual routine. All the while shedding my cloak of local resident. It was to be the Tocal day (rough translation - tourist local).
I was in earnest to notice the small things, to partake of them. I would intrepidly step out of my front door and examine every nook and cranny ignored, every corner usually passed, ever rivet and crack in the road consistently cursed, and rejoice.
I left the house and turned to the back streets. As only the untameable weather of Australia could bequeath, there was brilliant sunshine to my left and the creep of storms to my right. The clouds were darkening but I reasoned a good dousing on an adventure only lends itself to the telling of a richer story. I persevered. Weaving my way further into the older side lanes it became apparent that for all my complacency, I had never walked down these streets but a five minutes meander from my home. Or, I had never truly seen them. As glib as it sounds, I started to become enamoured with the trees that had sheltered my walk back from work, week after week.
The houses flanking either side were old and cracked. Vines creeping steadily and assuredly, increment by increment up exteriors that had seen the cycles of moon, children, student, workers, lovers all yield to the bold step of time. I thought of the grand tree at the centre. What games had it overhead as children concocted guises, worlds and emperors? How many clasped hands of couples had it shielded, how many lovers tiffs had it attempted to sooth with its cool shade? The sun streaming through in pleasant dialogue, I smiled up, sensing a bemused reaction to my new scrutiny.
Thrilled at the prospect of dousing a lass on holiday, the storm clouds rolled in. All elements of the streetscape seemed to be hunkering down. Banding together as if in solidarity. Ready to face what the heavens would pour forth in indifferent rage and might. The telegraph poles and wires, whispering as to the last rainstorm that swung and unfurled. The freedom and wildness they felt wobbling to and fro, and yet, reaching the point of sheer inconvenience when the gusts became too precocious and mischievous. I thought of the great wealth of mirth stored on the sundered corners and curbs, upturned umbrellas seeking their dance with the gusts and vision obscuring hair, aflutter in fiasco.
I had stumbled onto the green and here, poised to house my weary frame and feet, a local watering hole. Partaking of the local cuisine and beverage assortment is essential on any holiday. I paid homage to this necessity by ordering a coffee. All this meandering on my holiday was taking its toll, all hail caffeine.
My emotional-scape was such that when my long black was brought out and the first drops of treasured nectar nourished my beleaguered self, my eyes moistened a little and I knew I had made the right decision to go on tocal- oliday. I wasn’t lost, I knew the language, I was sipping magnificent coffee at an aesthetically charming cafe and the amount of green was soothing the last traces of my pre-holiday blighted self.
I walked back to the main street of Newtown. The hustle and bustle was there to greet. Unrelenting, noisy and boisterous. Boutiques dazzling with glamour and eccentricity. The full breadth of Thai cuisine in all its forms beckoning. Cafes buzzing with students just about to grasp but a sliver of Kant or Marx. Life, laughter, leisure, it was here too. Maybe they had all issued holiday days as well.
The sun, never being upstaged for long, blazed down, all the more passionate to dispel any retirement rumours. Sweetly perched in ordered boxes a merry party of colour, I had never noticed the flowers before. I seemed to be grinning at everything.
I treasure that exploration. I will return to the little alley way – the urban secret garden. For I laughed there.
Dear reader, find the little pockets that make you laugh. Repeat as many times is necessary. Throughout the day I contemplated what has possesses us to think that holidays are only comprised of small fortunes bestowed on long journeys, tantalising unfamiliarity and exotic food? What about the unfamiliarity three streets over? Do you really know your area? Truly!? Give it a whirl, grab the partner, housemate, dog, camera in hand and: Explore home.
Sitting under rustic timber rafters you can almost sense the words permeating the air. At a time when kindles and online book sales are a way of life, Berkelouw Book Barn in the Southern Highlands township of Berrima offers something unique. Seeped in tradition, this is a place to unwind, appreciate all things written and listen as the thousands of books on display divulge their narratives.
The Berkelouw family have been involved in book selling since 1812 with many generations experiencing the rich and at times deadly tapestry of world history. Initially trading in vellum-bound theology texts only and later joining the International Antiquarian Booksellers Association, all was bought to a tragic halt with the siege of Rotterdam during WW2. Sadly, all their stock was destroyed, including a bible thought to be the most valuable in Europe at the time. In 1948 a new direction and way of life ensued with the fourth generation of book-loving Berkelouws moving to Sydney to re-establish the business, thus beginning the Australian connection.
Over the years Berkelouw Books has moulded as the times have changed and in the fast paced world that we live in, now offers a cultural encounter that can be enjoyed by all. “People love a story and its history” says Katja Berkelouw as we chat near the 200 year old European Oaks that grace the country property. “We are more than just selling a book, we are selling the experience”. In fact Berkelouws were the first bookshops to have integrated coffee shops, and in Berrima they have now enhanced visitors’ experiences by diversifying their offerings and creating something more substantial.
In 2008, 5000 mature vines were planted in their vineyard, Bendooley Estate Wines. A growing entity in the wine world, their luscious grapes have already produced silver medalwinning chardonnay. The Bendooley Estate Restaurant offers wonderful meals and the coffee shop, also nestling in the barn, cascades outside allowing a latte to be enjoyed under the shade of billowing plane trees. Yet this does not occur without a certain number of challenges. “Australians are food obsessed and want to know where their food is coming from” says Katja. As a result, they source their food regionally whenever possible, and try to use locals when staffing. “It is important to get the dynamism right when staffing and as many young people want to go to Sydney for job opportunities [that] can sometimes prove difficult”. Obviously they have it right as the staff were friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.
Recognising the growing wedding market, it has also become a unique venue for 'big days', with vows exchanged on the verdant rose strewn lawn running down to the lake. "We like to be very involved in the wedding day experience” says Katja as we tour the beautifully nurtured gardens surrounding the ivy clad homestead. Most weddings take place on the lawn under the dream like ancient cypress, with everything done to ensure that the setting is beautiful and the event is personal. This obviously has a flow-on effect for local businesses. Hairdressers, florists, photographers and even regional bus lines have benefited from the change in direction that Berkelouws has undertaken, which in many ways was the only answer to the cost of maintaining this 200 acre historic property. “We are so lucky that we have been able to create a business for ourselves which benefits those around us, yet also lets others benefit from the beautiful environment. A quirky environment and a great product can reinvigorate a whole area”.
With cottage accommodation available for short term rental it seems they have met the needs of all. Originally the gatekeepers lodge, this restored two bedroom cottage is a cosy and contemporary base to experience the delights of the Book Barn and the beautiful Berrima region. Staying here or simply visiting, it is a wonderful opportunity to observe first-hand the joys that come with living (and running a business) in the country. “In this fast paced world history and tradition are becoming more important, and some people are even putting down their Kindles and the like. This is when there is a chance to experience a great quality of life and mix with interesting people from all backgrounds. People in the rural environment have more time for each other and are prepared to have a chat. Everyone knows the local mechanic and if you forget your wallet when shopping, it is never a problem to pick up the shopping now and come back later to pay. It seems that trust is instilled in them”.
I sit there listening to Katja, dreaming of children being children, of the freedom to roam outside for hours and days when everyone chatted over the back fence. It seems that by forging ahead on its business diversification, Berkelouw Book Barn actually gives everyone the opportunity to be part of the storybook of Australia’s rich history. Instant gratification has been replaced here by a sense of time and place. Colourful and informative, the books on display around the restaurant and fireplace speak of a past and a present that exists for all to enjoy.
For issue 3, our Australia issue, we're playing just a tad with the Lodestars Anthology design. A big part of this plan is Sydney-based illustrator Belinda Xia. While we can't divulge any more (you've only got to wait until August for the magazine), we can share this interview with the effervescent Australian creative. Let's hope it inspires you to crack out the pencils and see the world in colour.
Where did you train and how did you come to be an illustrator?
I did a Visual Communications degree at uni but other than that I’m a self-taught illustrator. I always loved drawing from a young age but was encouraged to steer towards a more 'conventional' career. It took some experimentation to find a medium which I enjoyed (and was good at!) and it evolved from there. Illustrating was initially just an on-the-side creative outlet, but is fast becoming so much more!
Can you describe your style?
Clean, elegant and pretty. With pops of humour and silliness - I’m a sucker for a good pun.
What inspires your work?
Clean lines and beautiful details. Fashion is definitely an inspiration - I find the textures, shapes and forms so alluring and with a graphic design background, I like to look at composition (I particularly love white space) when putting my own works together.
I find illustrating in general allows a greater appreciation for details because you’re made to recreate someone else’s work and must represent it beautifully!
4) What is the best thing about your job?
Being creative on a daily basis and being able to find inspiration anywhere! I went to a herb garden workshop one weekend and left wanting to paint them all. Constantly evolving stylistically is another perk, I’m always learning - never sit still. However don’t be fooled, I also work extremely hard through long hours and sacrifices - but it’s worth it. I couldn’t do it without the support of my partner, family and friends.
Fashion and the natural world seems to infiltrate your work quite a bit - is this intentional and why does it play such an important role?
I’ve always loved fashion (like most little girls) and started off drawing things I couldn’t afford to buy - I had to have them one way or another! I suppose you tend to look for ways to combine the things you love so you can have them selfishly in one place. To be honest, flowers first featured in my works because I was rubbish at drawing them and wanted to practise - I can never do them justice!
Does Australia influence your work in any way?
I love drawing Australian fashion - does that count? We have a unique quirk and effortlessness in our shapes and style that I’m so proud of. I think the silliness in some of my works also comes from the great Aussie sense of humour.
Illustrating the Australian wildflowers in [the upcoming Australia issue] was actually a lot of fun - capturing the beauty of our own backyard!
Is there a creative community in Sydney?
Definitely! Perhaps it’s not as boisterous as say New York or Berlin, but Sydney is teeming with creative talent in our galleries, restaurants and shops. Brewery Yard Markets is a lovely boutique-feel market in the city which showcases beautiful work by some very talented artists. I find Sydney’s creatives are very supportive of each other and there’s a real community vibe.
Has there been a project (past, present or future) that you’ve particularly enjoyed?
My entire illustration career has been an absolute joy because it still surprises me that I can get paid to do something I love so much.
Pet commissions are particularly special because they come with a personal connection and story that I feel lucky to be a part of. I was recently commissioned to draw a one-eyed dog back when it had both eyes. So many interesting stories indeed!
What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
Start. Regardless of what your passion is! I umm-ed and aah-ed for so long, and now seeing how far I’ve come in the relatively short time - I wish I’d started sooner! If you’re motivated to do it in the evenings after eight hours at a desk job, you’ve definitely found your calling!
To learn more about Belinda, and order a print, click here.
Last week we were lucky enough to venture out on the wonderful Scenic Rim Trail, an other-worldly four day walk through the stunning wilds of Queensland, punctuated by rather decadent stays at Spicers Canopy and Spicers Peak Lodge. The trail itself, sprawled over private land and National Park, is part of the Great Dividing Range and made up of terrain with a fondness for changing every few meters. This is not your average hike. While the full experience shall be appearing in the pages of issue 3, the Australia issue, we couldn't help but share some of these photographs with you now. Happy day dreaming.
Sometimes you just have to give in to the urge to get away from it all.
The call of azure waters, of seafood you can catch yourself, of white sands, underwater playgrounds and luxurious wooden villas you can really only reach by plane. Sometimes the call of the tropics is just too much to ignore and when you must give in, give Haggerstone Island a thought. It’s really is the place you’d rather be.
Part of the iconic Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia’s greatest natural treasures, this remote island is where you venture to experience true Far North wilderness. Found beside the Cape York Peninsula (itself a rugged wonderland seemingly untouched by the modern world) and 600 kilometers north of Cairns, the focus on this private island is very much on the sea, sand and stunning world around you. There are no other distractions and nor would you want there to be.
Accommodation comes in the form of the guesthouse, built largely from timber, which is framed by gardens of both the orchid and coral variety, shipwrecks-turned-reef, bird-harbouring forests and beaches you can call all your own.
Here’s to island life and tropical climes.
And on a rather important side note, "never go on trips with anyone you do not love." Ernest Hemingway
Words and photographs by Angela Terrell Let's be honest; nobody likes getting older and having all those grown up responsibilities.
Yet last weekend I discovered one that I faced head on, excitedly attending an ice cream appreciation course where my very adult job was to taste 24 flavours of icy treats. More than just having the average lick, this was an intellectual pursuit where the experience gained by my broadening age demanded an ability to detect nuances in flavour that maybe a more youthful beginner would miss.
There definitely should be an unadulterated simplicity to ice cream, and Helados Jauja, a tiny hole in the wall ice cream shop in Carlton, manages to have this purity in their product. The ice creams are naked, devoid of the premixes often used elsewhere, yet come in an absolute plethora of tastes. Using only local ingredients (I especially liked the thought of their mint coming from pots in their garden), everything is prepared by hand, even if that means peeling quite a few difficult pineapples. There is an amazing fusion of Argentinian, Malaysian and Australian influence in the flavours, yet the traditional scooping method is definitely Patagonian. Piled high on the cone or the cup, the ice cream is served like a tall curled pyramid, workers risking wrists to make sure the lashings are always perfect.
It is difficult to be different in a world of increasing ice cream competition yet with heart and creativity Jauja’s inventions are far from usual. White peach and lemon sorbet is light, tangy and refreshing, and the olive oil with lemon zest and mixed nut totally tantalize your taste buds as flavours slowly evolve. The Argentinian influence is never far away though, and flavours such as pisco sour, dulche de leche and the antioxidant rich yerba mate provide a fascinating point of difference to the usual strawberries and cream. For those who prefer the Asian influence, Durian is kept in a separate covered container. Have a quick smell and you will understand why. For those who like to honour their Australian gastronomic heritage, there is always the lamington or Aussie pavlova!
Every month a new flavour is introduced and during my March visit Salted Chilli Lemon Pomello, with its intensity and depth of flavour, was all the rage. The aim here is to make something indulgently rich or refreshingly light and Sambayon fits the bill perfectly. The egg yolks and cream give it a luscious and creamy texture requiring it to be kept in a separate freezer to protect this integrity. Often not on show because of this, one could presume that a fresh batch is not available so be sure to ask for it.
We are part of a global village, influenced by many cuisines, and innovation is learning how to meld these flavours which Helados Jauja seems to manage perfectly. Food should be all about conviviality, epicureanism and culture. I smiled as I watched a group sitting on a curbside couch after ruminating for quite some time over flavours. They chatted together excitedly between licks, their tastes buds obviously tantalized by explosions of taste. It is so important to be a grown up and still love a good ice cream cone.
Quintessential Melbourne, the city with its soaring streamlined skyscrapers mixing seamlessly with the Victorian era architecture of buildings from the early days of urbanisation. Meandering through the city is the sparkling, yet distinctively umber hued water of the lower Yarra. Its gentrified banks welcome thousands of promenaders enjoying developments that have appeared along its reaches since urban renewal programmes of the 70's (as well as a range of waterside bars and bike paths).
Yet the second largest city in Australia is also unique in so many ways with a seemingly perfect mix of multicultural diversity, sport mania and artistic and creative flair. AFL mad, Melbourne is also home to big events like the Melbourne Cup, the Australian Open and the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Supporters jerseys can often be spotted in the numerous cafes that spill out onto pavements on almost every street, and the smell of freshly brewed coffee is enticing to say the least. Vibrant and inviting they are perfect meeting points for a pre match rendevouz. Various streets reflect the 140 cultures that make up Melbourne’s cosmopolitan population with areas such as the Greek precinct, Chinatown and Italian Lygon St heralding restaurants with tastes and sensations from around the world.
Having the chance to just wander is a treat and I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to admire the creativity of the distinctive street art adorning public spaces and lane ways. Colourful buildings, park walls and even derelict factories have become public galleries where every passer-by can become an art critic. Officially appearing on approved outdoor locations only, these flamboyant murals contribute immensely to the urban environment and have helped Melbourne gain the reputation as being one of the world’s great street art capitals.
There is no end to the possibilities for filling in your day. Tree lined boulevards and parks lead into the heart of the city yet an efficient tram system takes you to the outskirts where trendy neighbourhoods entice you with cafes, galleries, bookshops and stores that are beguiling in their content (I know Lodestars is particularly fond of Happy Valley Shop, who now stock the magazine). Fitzroy and Collingwood have become known as the Bohemian quarter of the Yarra, and nearby Brunswick, Smith and Gertrude Streets are all vying as having the trendiest shops and boutiques to explore.
After such wanderings though it is always so important to find somewhere to rest your head and ponder your peregrinations. The White Room in the heart of North Fitzroy is the perfect oasis and its understated elegance and restrained luxury is the consummate juxtaposition to the outrageous colour of the street art outside. The converted, utterly original room is a rustic delight, full of well selected design treats - a bed covered in crisp French linen, a wall of framed vintage art, leather chairs you can disappear into and a leaf-covered garden that makes you feel very far away from the rest of the world. Full of character and curiosities (and with a fridge stocked with seasonal breakfast goodies), this is an immaculately curated, utterly white space created to make you feel at home. It's also only a 20 min walk or direct tram to city. Having said that, if you prefer to stay closer to the Yarra, or the National Gallery of Victoria, why not book a night at the iconic Langham Hotel. Decadent yet refined (and incredibly friendly), this elegant venue offers everything you'd expect from a luxury, inner-city escape - we were smitten the moment we saw the orchid-rich floral arrangements of the entrance, the family friendly themed afternoon tea and the panoramic view found in the top floor Club Lounge. Sinking into out cloud-like beds as the city lit up beyond our window was a dream. Of course, you could always stay at both venues - any excuse for an extra night in Melbourne.