Capri, minus the umbrellas


Smoke set rooftops and fog-like haze illuminated by cloudless morning sunlight creates an interesting setting for a saturday morning.

Lots of smoke but no visible flames. No fire engines. No chaos.  The quantity of the aerosolised carbon but lack of fire makes for an event worth discussing on the morning walk. Time to investigate.

As is usual with these events, everybody else in Coogee (including the hungover guy in dark glasses with the unsteady gait, the homeless guy with a friendly dog, and the 10yr old skateboarder rebelling against his mother's helmet plea) knew that back-burning in the blue mountains was the root cause. Amazing how a 'controlled' fire 50+ km away can result in such dense smoke in Coogee.

The cool thing about this smoke was that it made the water seem all the more blue. Mediterranean blue. Like a Capri postcard minus the tans, models and umbrellas. There is likely some scientific explanation for this effect which Dr Karl could divulge via a radio consult. Optical illusion, molecular interplay, photophore excitement... I doubt Dr Karl works on Saturday and I don't have his number. He probably doesn't do weekend on-call. 


Reasoning aside, every now and then you come across something new which you haven't seen before.

April/may is the best time of year for Coogee as the crowds have thinned and the water is cool but still swimable. This day was made even cooler by the novelty of new.


Coogee Pavilion begins to take shape...

Details have started to emerge (telegraph, the shout) for Coogee's most talked about development - the Merivale owned, "Coogee Pavilion". Occupying the 1500 sqm shell of the iconic Beach Palace Hotel, the Merivale development is touted to soon be dishing up a family friendly beach experience for all ranges of appetites, leisure pursuits and grooming needs. 

The stated desire to assemble a somewhat eclectic ménage of businesses (sashimi bar, barber, movie theatre, juice and coffee spots, paddle board hire) will set a design challenge for the group renowned for its polished fit outs and attention to detail. No doubt this modular approach will enable flexibility in this enormous space and a chance for adaptation according to use. My imagination does project the image of Kevin McCloud cynically muttering the possibility of this resembling a Westfield foodcourt or a posh market. I guess if anyone was going to accomplish it though it would be Justin Hemmes. His Papi Chulo development in Manly is spectacular and Mr Wong's is something Sydney can really be proud of.  

There is no doubt Merivale is working overtime to shake the perception that this development may be a way of channeling the late night party crowd to a region unaffected by late night lock-out laws. Key words like "Community", "Community focus", "Community consultation", are plastered across every press piece and council document I can find relating to the pavilion. I for one am optimistic about this venture and I would be surprised if Merivale risked its reputation by ignoring community sentiment in a region so vocal about being family friendly and anti- drunk dickheads. Phase 1 of the development is scheduled to be open at the end of July. 

The famous "Honeybee" smoothie from Melonhead on Coogee Bay Road. The current smoothie champion with which the Pavilion will have to compete.

The famous "Honeybee" smoothie from Melonhead on Coogee Bay Road. The current smoothie champion with which the Pavilion will have to compete.

Sydney Fashion Week aka #MBFWA

So every year Fashion Week rolls into town heralded by the unsolicited domination of my Instagram feed. I don't really mind. In fact, I kind of like it...

Most of my instagram comprises blogs relating to Sydney, fashion, lifestyle, music, photography, swimwear ;) and #foodporn. So if it wasn't for fashion week, it would probably just be the usual combination of yoga poses/surf photos/breakfast foods and curated clutter arrangements in filtered sunlight. With that in mind the streetstyle, runway, behind-the-scenes and champagne snaps interspersed with C-Grade celebrity selfies and promo spam is a change that I embrace.

This year #MBFWA (Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia) was particularly special. A talented friend, Anna Quan, invited me to do behind-the-scenes work for their debut show. This was a really special thing to be part of and the energy, vibe and scale of production were a sight to behold. Not to mention loads of dressed up models with well practiced looks ready to pose. Yeah that was pretty cool too - from a strictly photography point of view :).

It's these kind of experiences which let me day-dream where a career in photography may have ended up should my current full-time career path have fallen through. Here are some photos to share the experience... 


For the female readers (and adventurous males), I strongly recommend you check out Anna's collection here. She has done an incredible job with the detail and finish of her line. With buyers from interstate and overseas currently placing orders it is highly likely that the collection will sell out... 

Progress in The Palace and A Little Kitchen makes an impact...


Justin Hemmes, the Merivale property/bar/dining magnate responsible for 27.5% of the interesting places to eat and drink in Sydney recently purchased the Beach Palace hotel!! (see also here)  

This is fantastic news for the food and drink scene in our not-so-sleepy seaside village and continues a spate of developments in gastronomic options for Coogwegians including the opening of "The Little Kitchen" up on the south end of Arden St and the continued evolution of the francophile hole-in-the-wall Le Petit Cafe.

So what is The Little Kitchen you ask?

The Little Kitchen is a beachside foodie destination which echoes the quality product/minimum fuss vibe which saw 3 blue ducks soar. The result of careful planning and execution from husband and wife restaurant industry pros Amy and Neil Thompson. Neil left his job running the kitchen at the hatted Four in Hand and Amy, former front of house at Rockpool.

The food is outstanding. Immaculately crafted plates of damn good, honest cuisine made from scratch. This food is groomed to a state of deliciousness and aesthetic prowess without being too fussy (or wanky). The portions are well sized and the coffee is well good also. 

My picks for lunch are the burger or the seared tuna dish. Breakfast options range from the hangover british fave, Kedgeree, through to the full english brekky or a great rendition of eastern suburbs crack (aka avocado on toast with a poached egg). The fare is well priced and the personal touch of this venture really sets them apart.

Can't wait to go back for dinner...

Click to see the breakfast menu 

Four Frogs hit The Spot

"The Spot" (aka. the junction of St Paul St and Perouse Rd) is one of Randwick/Coogee's main restaurant areas. Lubricated by the proximity to the iconic Ritz cinema and downstream from the Royal hotel - this place comes alive on Thursday-Sunday evenings as the dinner/drink/movie combination draws residents in like moths to a flame. Thai food has traditionally been king of the spot with 4-5 Thai restaurants within a stones throw of each other.



If your not one of these Thai restaurants, its a difficult market to break into. There is a constant turnover of lukewarm venues and ventures. Only a few seem to have staying power. With that setting in mind I am really glad to see Four Frogs open up across from the cinema. These guys saw a crepe sized hole in the market and jumped at it with their house milled organic buckwheat flour and homemade chocolate sauce. In theory crepes are going to be a winner. It's food you can eat any time of day and can easily accompany a wide variety of beverages.

bacon, egg, cheese.
bacon, egg, cheese.
classic banana and nutella
classic banana and nutella

It's a known medical fact that pancakes/crepes are irresistable to the inebriated... These crepes (or galettes) are killer. Writing about them is making me hungry. Again. The hardest thing is choosing which flavour combo from the extensive list of sweet and savoury options. A real bonus is the drinks menu - French cider dominates along with curated wine and champagne options. Really worth checking out in my opinion.

is it just me or do these interiors kinda have a Christmas feel about them.
is it just me or do these interiors kinda have a Christmas feel about them.
cider heaven
cider heaven

Sleepy in Clovelly...

Rock fishing at sunrise. 

Rock fishing at sunrise. 

So for some reason I kept waking up in the middle of the night. I just couldn't seem to switch my brain off. Business ideas, inventions, blog posts, travel destinations, breakfast options and academic pursuits were whizzing through my consciousness completely unannounced. This happens to me on occasion - probably a product of subclinical hypomania and the overuse of bright screens prior to sleeping.

I tried all the usual tricks like going for an aimless walk around the apartment, drinking a glass of milk and listening to my go to jazz playlist dominated by Wes Montgomery. I even did the husband trick of waking Grace up to inform her of my lack of sleeping success - she was thrilled. 

In the end it got to about 4.30am when I decided to go out and take some photos. Landscape photography is a bit like meditation or low intensity yoga I guess. It gets you outdoors and requires you to focus (sorry for the pun. Not one of my best).

I decided Clovelly was a goer. Great mix of rocks and water and a ridiculous number of don't dive/jump/slip off the cliff signs to give scale to the shots. Many photographers go to great lengths to get these touches of civilisation out of the shot. I don't mind them to be honest - they add scale and reference.

Here are the results.

This is my favourite - dramatic sky; tranquil water. rocks and the iconic surf club.

This is my favourite - dramatic sky; tranquil water. rocks and the iconic surf club.

Not a Coogee Breakfast...


A common observation made of the Coogee cafe scene goes something like this:

"love the beach and atmosphere and I like the cafes, but I just don't know if any of them are really worth the wait on the weekend... :( ... wanna come to surry hills instead?" 

I don't have much to say to this. In fact, I kinda see myself agreeing with it.

There are plenty of good places to get a coffee but very few places, if any, reach out to that level of awesomeness that will make you excitedly line up for half an hour. I usually resort to a take-away coffee and go sit on the beach with the rest of the locals while all the out-of-towners, morning-afterers and special-occasioners take over Coogee Bay Road.

This brings me to the conundrum of where to go when that self indulgent sit-down, read-the-paper, order-two-coffees breakfast urge inevitably sneaks into your psyche on a perfect Sydney summer morning. 

At the moment I have two reliable favourites for perfect breakfasts. If it is a weekday and everyone else is at work/school - go to three blue ducks in Bronte. This Macpherson street gem is a no brainer for awesome food and the perfect vibe. The only problem is that everybody in the world knows about it and therefore weekends have huge queues.

This bring me to my second favourite... Ruby's diner. 



Ruby's has been one of my regulars for the last 3 years or so. It is uncompromising in quality, the indoor/outdoor arrangement has just the right amount of sun, and the food and service can't be beaten. They take their coffee and food very seriously and they have been using Iggy's bread since before it was famous. Also, if you sleep in and get there after 11.30 the lunch menu has the best burgers in the East.

Ruby's is in Queens Park. It takes about 12mins to get there from Coogee if you drive or 20min on the 313/314 bus. The food isn't cheap (about $15-19/plate) but that's because it is awesome. And by awesome I mean superb quality, uses fresh, high quality ingredients and is well portioned. (I am never hungry when I leave.) 

The only major downside is that occasionally it can be hard to find a convenient park and you'll have to suck it up and walk a few hundred metres. But that is the same anywhere in the Eastern Suburbs. 

Other things to love about Ruby's: 

- Awesome wall art

- Great people watching

- Serves breakfast all day

- Can buy bread while you're there

- Great selection of homemade muffins/banana bread etc

- Does a bloody good buckwheat pancake


PS Photo credit to Charlie for the food and coffee snaps. I was having a lazy day with the camera. 

Getting some study in at Ruby's

Getting some study in at Ruby's

people watching...

people watching...

A few of the food options: kale breakfast salad with poached eggs, avocado and slow roast tomatoes on toast, buckwheat pancakes with quince and raspberries and yoghurt. 

A few of the food options: kale breakfast salad with poached eggs, avocado and slow roast tomatoes on toast, buckwheat pancakes with quince and raspberries and yoghurt.