Gorge-ous Girls Weekend

There’s something about Nitmiluk National Park that keeps drawing us back. Girlfriends in tow.

Maybe it’s that feeling you get when you swap the city for the open road, or that first sight of the Gorge soaring up into the sky.

It defiantly could be that taste of a cocktail in the Cicada Lodge pool on a 41 degree day.

Or the colours of a bush sunset, watched with your besties by your side.

All of the above are on the menu during our Gorge-ous Girls Weekend at the delightful Cicada Lodge, where all worries are forgotten the moment a mango-flavoured welcome cocktail slides down your throat. It’s like liquid gold on a seriously hot day.

Even Mother Nature got the Girls Weekend memo.

The sky lighting up the prettiest shade of pink as we end a day of cocktails, canapés and river cruising with a sunset hike to Baruwei Lookout.

Thankfully, our Girls Weekend late checkout means after a luxe brekkie by the pool we can head off on our fav thing to do at Nitmiluk: Hike to Pat’s Lookout.

Having last visited bang-on the middle of the Wet Season, we were blown away by how different the landscape looked. Everything a rusty orange.

With no river crossings to manoeuvre, we “power-walked” the 8.5km return trek in around 1hour 45 minutes. #GirlPower

And much like the bush hike was a welcome change of scenery from slogging it out in the gym, our Girls Weekend at Cicada Lodge was a refreshing change of pace from everyday life.

And maybe that’s the thing.

The thing that keeps us coming back.

 

More info on Cicada Lodge’s Gorge-ous Girls Weekend here.

Flame Trees and Urban Myths

 

 

A blazing bouquet of flame-red flowers, the Poinciana Tree at Darwin’s Botanic Gardens is arguably the City’s most beautiful tree.

The ‘Flame Trees’ are also home to one of the town’s urban myths – The Poinciana Woman.

A haunting ghost story, only kids who grow up here during the 80s and 90s would recall it.

As the story goes the ‘Poinciana Woman’ hung herself from a branch of a Poinciana Tree after she was raped and fell pregnant. Apparently, you can hear her high-pitched screams in the dark and you can call her “back” if you stand under one of the trees and call her name three times… (*eeeeep!)

Whether you believe the myth or not, the trees are truly beautiful.

But, like a ghost in the night, blink and you’ll miss them.

The ‘Flame Trees’ are only in full bloom for around 4-6 weeks traditionally during October-November.

Just in time for Halloween…

 

Hat: Akubra

Skirt: Rowie the Label

Top: Rowie the Label

Giddy up for the Carnival of Colour

We’re thrilled to be teaming up with the Darwin Turf Club this year to promote the Darwin Cup Carnival!

This year’s theme is ‘Carnival of Colour’ which is a great fit for the Top End’s vibrant lifestyle.

The month-long Carnival includes a host of on and off-track social events as well as eight race meets culminating in the Darwin Cup on the first Monday in August, a public holiday in Darwin.

For those un-initiated to the Darwin Cup Carnival, it’s far more laidback than its southern counterparts. While Flemington has its famous roses, the Darwin Cup Carnival is more renowned for its dirt track which turns into a dance floor after the Darwin Cup.

In other words, the emphasis is on fun.

But, while the mood may be relaxed, the fashion stakes are just as high as you’ll find in Melbourne or Sydney.

So, the question is what to wear?

To help you out, we’ve put together a few race looks for inspiration and got some hot tips from Darwin Turf Club Head Fashions on the Field Judge (and our style crush) Georgie Murphy.

DS: Hi Georgie, let’s start off with what are your top three race wear trends for the Carnival?

GM: In no particular order, three of my faves are the midi length skirt, mixing textures and the use of accessories to complete a look.

The midi-length skirt is flattering, can be worn a variety ways (my personal favourite is the pencil skirt) and to me, the midi length is the epitome of race day elegance.

Using a variety of textures in one outfit, be it lace and leather or even heavier fabrics like a wool or felt with lighter fabrics like linen, allow racegoers to create a unique take on any look. It also means Territorians can embrace autumn and winter fashion trends despite our warm climate!

Accessories are no longer just an afterthought to an outfit. That’s been shown across catwalks, to street style and of course trackside.  They’re available at all different price points and can allow you to add a new edge to clothes you already own.

DS: Yes! We loooooove big earrings at the moment!

DS: What about your tips for embracing the carnival of colour theme?

GM: This year’s carnival of colour will allow racegoers to embrace their favourite colours and maybe even try a new colour palette too. Rather than going top-to-toe in one colour, mix different shades, into your look.

Bypass old rules like “blue and green should never be seen” and instead, experiment with colours that might clash or loud prints and patterns.

With eight race days across Darwin Cup Carnival allow each day at the track to have its own personality – some are more casual, others more chic. Keep this in mind as you decided what to wear!

DS: Thanks Georgie, see you at the track!

Buy tickets here.

**Thanks to the beautiful Mavericks for being such a handsome model on this shoot 🙂

 

Red dress, shoes & gloves – Love thy Label

Red Hat – Maria Koko Designs

Earrings – Christie Nicolaides

 

Orange dress – Pink Hill

Multi-colour fascinator – Monsoon Millinery

Blue shoes & blue bracelet – Stomp Shoes Darwin

Blue bag, yellow bracelet & gold earrings – Pink Hill

 

Kakadu

With the Dry Season now well and truly underway, a weekend pilgrimage to Kakadu is as popular in Darwin as a market fresh mango smoothie for breakfast (NB: VERY popular).

Fortunately, our recent trip to the National Park was during the week so we were able to beat most of the crowds that flock here for a smorgasbord of Lion King-like landscapes, crystal-clear swimming holes, ancient Aboriginal rock art, magical sunsets and star gazing at the Milky Way.

About a three hour drive from Darwin, our base for discovering Kakadu was Cooinda Lodge, where I can honestly say I experienced some of the best service of my life!

Our Cooinda stay kicked off with the Yellow Waters Sunrise Cruise, which not surprisingly delivered an epic sunrise that cast an incredible golden light over everything – including the crocodiles! And there were plenty of those, as well as the most gorgeous water lilies and an abundance of bird life.

Out trip continued with a walk through Nourlangie Rock, home to some of Kakadu’s most iconic Aboriginal rock art, followed by sunset at the nearby Nawurlandja Lookout. This was the perfect spot to watch the colours of the mammoth Nourlangie Rock change with the sky. It was also a deeply spiritual experience with Nawurlandja an official sacred site home to burial grounds of the local Aborigianal people who lived there for 20,000 years.

The highlight of the trip was definitely Maguk Gorge. While the popular swimming hole wasn’t open to the public just yet, we were lucky enough to receive an escorted tour by local Park ranges to the top of the waterfall where we had several plunge pools and waterfalls to ourselves all afternoon!

It’s no wonder #KakadaDope became the official hashtag of our little road trip!

 

Girls Weekend at Cicada Lodge

A luxury weekend escape and a wet and wild adventure don’t normally go hand in hand but that’s what we got from our recent girls weekend at Cicada Lodge in Nitmiluk National Park.

A four hour drive from Darwin, Nitmiluk is normally packed with tourists during the Top End’s “Dry Season” (aka May-October) but it’s during the Wet Season where you’ll have way more fun.

Think: Mother Nature’s version of a water park.

100 per cent owned by the local Jawoyn people, Cicada Lodge is a luxury lodge perched above Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge, where the ancient dreamtime culture of the Jawoyn collide with contemporary comforts.

Indigenous paintings from local artists line the walls of the elegant rooms, which all contain private balconies that open out to the tranquil bush surroundings.

Our girls weekend kicks off with a River Cruise run by Nitmiluk Tours.

The two-hour cruise takes in two of the Gorges (there are 13 all up!) and you change boats at one point where the water is not high enough to connect the gorges. The benefit of doing this tour during the Wet Season (Nov-April) is dotted along the 12km maze of waterways you’ll find dozens of mini waterfalls springing out from hidden holes on the 70m high rock face.

After our river cruise we return to Cicada Lodge in time for sunset canapés and cocktails by the pool before a three course dinner (complete with personalised menus!) inspired by local bush tucker.

Yes, crocodile meat makes an appearance while other dishes we had included a damper-style tomato and blue cheese ciabatta, braised kangaroo served with a truffle, parmesan and pomme puree, pan fried chicken breast served with asparagus, pea risotto and roast vine tomatoes and red velvet brownie served with cream cheese Chantilly and red chocolate ice-cream. Yuuuuuuuuum!

Tip: make sure you get the “Katherine Cooler” cocktail, as the name suggests it’s the perfect refreshment after a hot day on the river.

After falling asleep to the pitter-patter of rain on our roof, we wake up to find everything fresh and dewy. Speaking of fresh, our breakfast comes with some of the best OJ you’ll ever taste as well as seasonal fruit, yoghurt and a DIY-style croissant with meat and cheese.

Once we’ve had breakfast we hit the walking track early for the 90min hike to the Southern Rockhole – a waterfall and swimming hole located around 4km from the Lodge.

For those who don’t like to walk you can also book a ferry through the Visitor Centre (we booked the ferry back it’s $12 p/p) however, the hike itself is relatively easy with the track well-marked.

There’s just one thing. In the Wet Season, that track we mentioned? It actually resembles more of a stream in some areas especially if you go after a heavy overnight downpour like we did.

But getting down and dirty is what coming to Nitmiluk in the Wet Season is all about. So get your shoes wet, splash in puddles, soak in the lush green landscapes and embrace the adventure.

Those creek crossings are all worth it when you get to ‘Pat’s Lookout’ which is a short walk from the Southern Rockhole track turnoff. The views over the Gorge from here are simply breathtaking. Sit, stand and take it all in before snapping that Insta pic that will make all your friends jealous.

Not to be outdone, the Southern Rockhole is equally as spectacular. Powered by the rain, a huge torrent of water cascades into the pool below which you will practically have to yourself as crowds are non-existent this time of year.

With so much water around you, it’s hard to believe in the Dry Season the Rockhole is empty!

After the short ferry ride back to the Visitor Centre we squeeze in one last swim in Cicada’s luxurious pool and take in the incredible views before it’s time to say goodbye, or as the Jawoyn prefer to say “Bobo”, which means “Goodbye, see you soon”.

Yes, yes you will.

More info: http://www.cicadalodge.com.au/

**Check road and parks closures during the Wet Season before you leave here.

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.

 

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.

#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.

 

 

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!