Showing posts from June, 2011

Sydney Olympic Park - An Enchanted Evening

The cries of  "Aussie,Aussie,Aussie" still reverberated in my ears this cool and nippy Saturday evening. This is what the Sydney Olympic Park (SOP) can do to me. I have many happy memories of the Sydney Games, especially when viewing live the diving and gymnastics events - plus the Opening Ceremony on a mild September night.  I was there this time one Saturday night to attend the encounter between the Waratahs and the Brumbies in rugby union at the officially renamed main year 2000 Olympic Stadium - the ANZ Stadium (above, at dusk).

I could recognise the key facilities and buildings from the heady days and nights of the Sydney Olympics - and also recall the hordes of volunteers in their bright and distinguished shirts. There is special fondness for the Aquatic Centre and Acer Arena.  Apart from the still maintained parklands like Blaxland and Bicentennial, I noted hotelsl like the Pullman, Novotel(above image) and Ibis ( all a stone's throw from the ANZ Stadium). There is a…

Return to Kiama, NSW

Kiama, which in indigenous Australian language possibly meaning "fish caught from rocks" or " where the seas roar",  is  a pleasant two hour drive south of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  It is the home of the Wadi Wadi tribe. Most likely the place name is an honour to the ancient father spirit of eastern New South Wales - Kiahma.  An obvious lifestyle place, it offers a varied coastline that provides volcanic rocky cliffs, beaches, scenic views and an often serene ocean for most of the year.  Above image, weekend lunchtime at the town centre.

Most outsiders associate Kiama with its blowholes, large and small (above).  I returned to Kiama on the day of its monthly outdoor markets on the third Sunday of each month. The customised tent tops do provide an interesting contrast to the backdrop of deep blue water.

Jeannie, Grant and I had a quick bite at the Seachange Cafe (along Manning Street) which provides gourmet burgers, quiche and pumpkin soup on the wintry but clear bl…

Planting Seeds, Inflation and Moderation In Everything Else

Even the local Chinese takeaway at a nearby shopping centre confirmed my gut feel. Three choices used to be five dollars, now it's eight. Meanwhile, electrical and electronic items have taken a dive in the asking price, whilst fast food sets have shot to double digits. Prices of guppies and the various kinds of gold fish have doubled.

Anything that requires more human input costs more, obvious in health care, age services and food preparation. The cost of a bowl of chicken curry laksa at Malaysia-Singapore Takeaway in Sydney used to be five dollars in 1989, and today you dish out twelve dollars at the level five food court in Sydney CBD's Westfield. Customers are still willing to pay a premium for coffee and chocolate at fancy chains - and for the retro 3D technology in viewing latest release movies in modern cinema halls.

Paying more does not always mean receiving better customer service. We used to be able to sit anywhere up to our whims in a darkened cinema hall, but now have…

The Doughboy, Potts Point, NSW

Since this post was written in 2011, the name of the place has changed to the Rocketboy Pizza.

Doughboy is a recent pizza chain that joins several others already on the typical Australian fast food scene. It currently has four outlets in metropolitan Sydney, including Bondi and Randwick. My first encounter with Doughboy was in Potts Point, along the more quiet Victoria Street, adjoining a Chinese dumpling bar and residential unit blocks and removed from the infamous Kings Cross strip. A client friendly Aussie youngster efficiently maintained the small joint, which nevertheless was frequented by take away walk-in customers.

What impresses me about Doughboy was its effort made in creating a lifestyle, with bright red colours, eye-catching names for its fare like the Chick and its ability to maximise utilisation of its limited retail space. The Potts Pott outlet had a kitchen downstairs but which was well hidden from view of the street side. I also appreciated its well done salad …

Berowra Waters, NSW - The Punt and Marina

Arriving at Berowra Waters, north of Sydney's greater metropolitan area, is akin to unexpectedly coming upon a well hidden village - and one which you logically expect to be well preserved, perhaps warped in the mists of time. The approach road is winding and narrow, with a sense of order maintained only by the courtesy of drivers and the effectiveness of brakes. The sense of possible danger is mitigated by the views below, the vista of the destination - a placid river full of mostly little boats, well loved cottages and bigger abodes clinging on to cliff sides and a swath of greenery against rock with character.

All arriving vehicles dutifully lined up to board the punt. This was no gamble, for although there was no bridge across the river, even in this so-called modern age, it was a pleasant and orderly logistical move when boarding the floating platform moved by steel ropes -passengers walked into a cabin, protected from the elements, whilst vehicles were guided into or took a c…

Berowra Waters, NSW - Fish and Chips

On the trail of locating the most delightful and tasty fish and chips in New South Wales, we had plans to go to Brooklyn, near the Mooney Mooney Bridge on the road north to Newcastle and the NSW Central Coast from Sydney side. The rather volatile weather made us detour to Berowra Waters, a 20 minute drive by car into the bush north of Hornsby. Berowra Waters is one of the
getaway points along the varied path of the Hawkesbury River. It is sited between cliff sides, but can so well hidden and interestingly enough is better accessible by boat, rather than by its approach narrow and curving roads. We did find a casual seafood place, the Fish Cafe, beside the marina and a fine dining restaurant, across the punt on the northern side of the river. Above image, the fish and chips offered that weekend.

The barramundi grill looked tasty (above) and lunchers can just hop off their boat or water taxi (below) to arrive on decks above the placid waters to take in Sunday brunch.

The salmon (above) was…

Helensburgh, NSW - Dosa, Roti and Vegetarian Curry

The Hindu Temple at Helensburgh, the Venkateswara, operates a totally vegetarian canteen on the side of the main building -and provides an opportunity to partake in a light brunch of a different sort. I am particularly fond of the crepes and pancakes, served piping hot and one dabs torn off pieces in light curries of dhall beans and other appetising concoctions. Most of the servings start at only five dollars, a far cry from prices asked at commercial outlets, and the monies collected are for charity under temple management.

The temple can be reached by taking a public bus from the centre of Helensburgh, which itself is connected to Sydney's Central Station. Breakfast and brunch are available from around 10am to 2pm on weekends. This temple has been built in the Dravidian or South Indian tradition, based on a complex in Andhra Pradesh, located in the hinterland outside the metropolis of Chennai (formerly Madras).

Helensburgh lies just outsidethe boundary between greater Sydney prope…

Breakfast in St Ives, NSW

Persimmons, apple slices, tomato bites, grapes and omelette with tuna, onions and more. This set the theme for a leisurely and lazy Sunday morning breakfast in St Ives, half an hour north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Nestled amongst hilly terrain and a fair amount of bush, the suburb is perceived to be settled mostly with Jewish immigrants from South Africa and Brits from the UK, although sixty percent of the householders are Australian born. In this leafy suburb, around 30% of the residents use the car to go to work, as there is no train line, but buses do ply the residential roads. Autumn i s especially evident in this area, with many deciduous trees turning half-way bare during the month of May. Houses predominate, and as mid year 2011, although unit blocks are increasingly built.

Stanwell Tops, NSW - Icarus Flies

No melting wax was involved here, but I am reminded of the Greek legend of Icarus, when I see the bird people off the cliff slopes of Bald Hill at Stanwell Tops, just sited on the south side of Sydney's Royal National Park. On this occasion, the art of flight has been achieved, whether one heads into the direction of the rising sun, or more precisely towards the hillsides of the northern villages leading into the city and harbour of Wollongong. The combination of supporting wind, effective design and human spirit has provided a most spectacular show and capability.