Staycation @ Hilton Darwin

The “Staycation” trend is here to stay (pun unintended!). So, in the name of “research” we recently had the tough job of experiencing a little weekend getaway at the Hilton Darwin.

Perched on the 20th floor, our Executive Room offered sweeping views of Darwin Harbour.

But, Robe Life would have to wait as our first order of relaxation on this little staycation was High Tea at the hotel’s Mitchell’s Bar on the ground floor.

A relatively new product for Hilton Darwin, the High Tea included a bottle of Chandon Brut sparkling (yesssssssssssssss) and three plates with generous servings (NB: do not have lunch beforehand, we found the servings very substantial and struggled to finish all the sweets!).

The savory plate featured tasty finger sandwiches on either multi-grain or brown bread (who said High Tea couldn’t be #HealthLiving?!) with fillings including fresh smoked salmon with cream cheese and capers, grilled vegetables and turkey with mustard and pickles.

The second plate was easily our fav – scones with jam, cream and strawberries… soooooo yum! The final plate included a section of sweet treats think chocolate éclairs, macaroons, banana cake and strawberries.

The Hilton Darwin has recently undergone an extensive $10 million refurbishment and you could really tell with 5-star luxury at every corner as well as 5-star service too. The lovely staff from the High Tea even sent takeaway coffees back to our room as well as the left over champers.

An early morning swim at the hotel’s pool on the 10th floor over-looking the Darwin skyline was the perfect start to our lazy Sunday which was followed up by a delicious buffet breakfast at Mitchell’s Grill which to our delight included espresso coffee.

It was a tough job this research, so what was our verdict?

The only bad thing about a staycation is the check-out.

 

More Information:

Hilton Darwin’s Weekend High Tea – $60 per person, includes a bottle of Chandon Brut or $25 per person for standard inclusion (without the sparkling)

Available each weekend from 11am to 4pm.

Booking details – ph: (08) 89824155 or email: Mitchells_Restaurant_Darwin@hilton.com

www.darwin.hilton.com

 

The Lucky Bat Cafe

The Lucky Bat Cafe oozes Darwin. A hand-painted cyclone isobar weather map stretches over the walls, which are adorned by colourful pops of art depicting Darwin icons like barramundi, dragon flies, and salty plums.

For anyone who grew up in Darwin, it’s like stepping into a time machine and being spat out in the 90s. Of the brightly coloured screen printed shirts that also hang on the walls, one even shows the old ‘Rite Price’ sign. **Cue memories of grocery shopping with your parents.

A collaboration of artistic minded friends, The Lucky Bat Cafe cleverly meshes this classic Darwin narrative with a modern hipster vibe via plenty of potted plants, wood, antique spoons and touches of neon.

Everything inside was handmade by the owners or recycled. Even the chairs are old-school… literally. You probably sat on them in your classroom days.

“We really wanted to bring a Darwin feel to the Cafe and the bohemian, beachy vibe of Nightcliff,” said owner Danny Chrichton.

“We’ll be showcasing local and emerging artists – a different artist each month.”

The menu is also a nod to Darwin with mango shakes and fresh herbs but it’s the baked eggs which have quickly become a crowd favourite.

“The food is food we love to eat ourselves: fresh, healthy and super tasty,” said Danny.

And it sounds like the Lucky Bat team have plans to take over Gotham – sorry Nightcliff – soon with a courtyard behind the cafe featuring a four-tonne wood fired oven to open shortly.

And for those wondering, the inspo for the Cafe’s name came from a trip to George Town in Penang, Malaysia where the famous colonial buildings have bats and other motifs carved into the wood reportedly to bring the occupants inside good luck.

From what we’ve seen, we’ve no doubt good fortune will be flying the Lucky Bat’s way soon.

The Lucky Bat Cafe: 3/7 Pavonia Place, Nightlife

Open: Tue-Sun 7am-2pm

More info: Facebook page here.

 

Eat Local Dinner @ Wharf One

When you say the word “hump” a few things might spring to mind…but we bet a mouth-watering serve of beef isn’t one of them.

But, that’s exactly what was served up at Wharf One’s ‘Eat Local Dinner’ prepared by former MasterChef contestant, Lynton Tapp as part of the inaugural Territory Taste Festival last week.

The special four-course dinner with matching wines featured produce sourced locally (think fresh seafood like prawns, ah-mazing barramundi, mackerel, kangaroo, citrus flavours and damper) with Lynton basically serving up his idea of the Northern Territory on a plate.

And, having grown up on a remote cattle farm, the Territory chef made the bold choice of plating up Brahman Hump.

For the non-Territorians out there, Brahman cattle is often considered the poor cousin to the Angus steak you normally carve up at your fav restaurant but you might not know that this tasty cow is actually our main cattle exported overseas.

The Brahman is easily identified by it’s stand-out “hump” over the withers at the back of their necks. Apparently, it helps the animal survive in hot, arid conditions ie. the Northern Territory.

Now, we’re not going to lie.. there were a few raised eyebrows on our table after it was revealed the Brahman Hump was on the menu and yes, a few verses of the Black Eyed Peas were sung at various points during the night…

But, it was absolutely delicious! Everyone was genuinely surprised at how tender the meat was comparing it to pulled pork. The Hump was served with blackened cucumber and fermented chilli and was hands-down our fav dish of the night.

But enough about the food … what about the wine?!

As part of the dinner, the winemakers up from down south for the Territory Taste Festival talked about each wine presented, which as you can imagine involved a fair few LOL’s (these guys do drink for a living after all). Our fav drops were the Salome Tempranillo Rosé and the Woodstock Chardonnay.

Quote of the night went to the winemaker who said he “feels naked without a Chardonnay in his hand”…

All we can say to that is… Welcome to the Northern Territory. We’ve got no beef with that here.

 

Restaurant: Wharf One Food & Wine

Chef: Lynton Tapp

More information about the Territory Taste Festival here.

Territory Taste Festival

Good food, great wine, a mojito (or two) a beer garden and sunshine were the ingredients for a perfect weekend at the inaugural Territory Taste Festival at the Darwin Convention Centre.

The size of the Festival blew us away.. it was huge! And it was just as well as the place was packed with organisers saying the Fest attracted a crowd of 10,000 over the weekend.

It was a pretty hot so thank god most of the event was held indoors in the air conditioning. There were all kinds of food on offer from scones and jam to paella to loaded fries complete with jalapenos (mmmm loooooooooooooove jalapenos).

We were also fortunate to taste some incredible barramundi cooked up by legendary Australian Chef, Matt Moran, on the big screen at one of the Festival’s many live cooking demonstrations. Needless to say it was delish.

But, the highlight for us was the wine bar hosted by Liquor Down Under.

It was literally standing room only as Darwinites and visitors gathered around wine barrels to taste test drops hailing from wineries in Margaret River, the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. In true Darwin-style, strangers became friends and things got pretty chatty pretty fast.

A couple of the winemakers on hand remarked at their surprise at how popular the stand was as they were told Territorians were “beer drinkers”.

Well, if the Territory Taste Festival was anything to go by, the beer drinkers might have to move over.

These days it seems you’re more likely to find an Espresso Martini and a glass of red in our beer gardens.

Cheers to that.

High Tea at The Pearl

 

If you’re looking for a beautiful, elegant day out with your girlfriends look no further.

We were super excited to finally try The Pearl’s Champagne High Tea on the weekend and we weren’t disappointed.

It’s intimate. It’s classy.

And it comes with bottomless French champagne.

Have we got you’re attention yet?

After a first course of oysters followed by chicken liver parfait with cognac served with a French baguette and mini pickles, out comes the prettiest tiered platter of canapés and deserts we’ve ever seen.

Smoked rainbow trout rillettes, fresh figs with feta and honey, watermelon with black olive tapenade and feta and……..

Homemade truffles and marshmallows. **DROOOOOOL

At $99 a person it’s definitely a splurge for a girls day out but well worth it.

Did we mention the bottomless French champagne?

 

The Pearl Champagne High Tea

Saturdays 12-3:30pm

More details on The Pearl’s Facebook page here.

Amazing Arnhem Land

A friend described Arnhem Land as God’s Country and turns out she wasn’t wrong. It is quite simply, spectacular. You might even say heavenly.

Arnhem Land is where the outback meets the sea. Think red dirt roads blending into white, sandy beaches where aqua waters lap the shore. Oh, and chances are there is not another soul in sight.

Not kidding.

Pristine and untouched are not just words you throw around here. This place defines them.

The photos above are from the campsite at Garanhan (Macassan Beach), which is in north east Arnhem Land 37.5 km or around a 40 minute drive from Nhulunbuy (Gove) along a sandy 4WD track. Gove is an easy 90 min flight from Darwin and you can hire 4WD at Gove airport. There are toilets at the campsite but bring your own drinking water and you must pre-arrange a permit to camp there.

The campsite is set right on the beach and perfectly placed to watch the sunrise. We were lucky enough to be treated to a special Yolngu cultural performance by Lirrwi Tourism at sunset, which was truly magical.

The Yolngu people are the Traditional Owners of the land and are only now opening up more of these special places to tourism so check it out. You’ll see it’s paradise, just without the people.

 

More info:

Permits to Macassan Beach have to be arranged before you go there through Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation.

More information about Arnhem Land here.

#DFest15

For the month of August, the city of Darwin comes alive with the running of the Darwin Festival – or what we locals call D Fest.

For 18 days, the Festival takes over town with Civic Park in the City turned into a daily night time picnic under the stars while the Lighthouse, the Botanical Gardens Amphitheater and other venues host a jam-packed program of music, theatre, visual art, dance and cabaret events. There’s also a host of free events too.

The easy highlight of this years program was a sold-out Saturday night show by SAFIA at the Lighthouse. For one of the hottest acts going around at the mo, shout out to the D Fest organisers for securing the guys who are selling out shows around the country.

Local DJ’s Sietta followed the set with beats that kept the crowd going well into the night/morning and Remi even took to the stage for an impromptu duet a night after his own show. AND he was also spied grooving his way across the d floor and getting down with the locals. What a legend!

We’ll miss our Festival Park catch ups, cocktails and palm tree swizzle sticks.. thanks for the memories #DFest15.

 

 

Darwin Cup

It’s a safe bet the Darwin Cup is always a great day out. And 2015 didn’t disappoint.

The day after ‘The Hangover Cruise’… it was a slow start… (see The Hangover Cruise post and pics to understand why…) But.. Darwin Cup weekend was always going to be a marathon not a sprint. And just like the thoroughbreds set to line up in the Cup, we called on all the endurance we could, to get past the post.

Once again, we were kindly hosted in the CUB marquee (aka major sponsors Carlton United Breweries) and the photo above was taken on a new feature of the marquee this year – the Sky Deck. What a view!

This year, outfit-wise I went with a skirt-top-combo as I think there is less chance of someone wearing the same outfit! Flashback 2013… arghhhhhhhhhh!

Fashion aside, as with all good Darwin Cups the day ended dancing with friends on the lawn as the sun set… the Cup long run and won.

‘Til next year.

Crown: Gina Marie Millinery

Sunglasses: Dior

Top: Binaca Spender

Skirt: Bianca Spender

Clutch: Mimco

The Hangover Cruise

The appropriately named, The Hangover Cruise was held on the Sunday of the Darwin Cup long weekend.

This meant that most cruise-goers were a) hungover from the Darwin Cup Gala Ball the night before, b) hungover from regular Saturday night festivities c) preparing to be hungover for the Darwin Cup the following day (which is a public holiday for the main race day of the year in Darwin) or d) just hanging out for some fun in the sun.

A new event on the Darwin social calendar this year, The Hangover Cruise was pure genius by the super-talented @PippatheTrader (aka Pippa who owns The Trader cafe in Winnellie).

The style set were mostly decked out in classic white and nautical theme with more than a few reflector sunnies.

Beats were provided by DJ Christian K and was a mix of classic chill and a decent dose of ol’ skool hip hop with an impromptu performance on the bongo drums from local lads, Jed and Julian. If you didn’t get your groove on the boat did it for you.

End result: everyone was swaying one way or another.

Additional pics: Instagram/@Pippathetrader

Skirt: Aje

Sunglasses: Dior

Davis Cup in Darwin

The Davis Cup in Darwin…. whaaaaaaaaat????!!! When we heard the semi final between Australia and Kazakhstan was to be held in Darwin we bought tix straight away (before you say “ok eager beaver” we are a little starved for top level sport up here alright so we have to take what we can get and… IT’S THE DAVIS CUP!!!)

A specially constructed grandstand and grass court was installed at Marrara, which took months to build and made the place almost unrecognisable – Mar-rara is that yoooou?? The weather was postcard-perfect and oh what a weekend it was.

The Kokk and Kyrgios lost both matches on the first day (Kyrgios smashed not one, not two, but THREE racquets) so things weren’t looking great. But we won the doubles on the Saturday and then the Aussies pulled an old switch-a-roo on the Kzaks and put the big serving Sam Groth in the crucial do-or-die 4th match.

The atmosphere was crazy amazing. Everyone was absolutely going off and Groth aced on grass to send the fifth rubber into a decider and guess who walks out? The legend Lleyton Hewitt to save the day.

And he did.

It was vintage Hewitt in his farewell year and it was a privilege to witness the first time in 76 years Australia has come back from 0-2 down to win a Davis Cup tie.

C’mon!