The Rozak House

 

If you can imagine a veranda hovering over a rocky cliff face high amongst the trees – you’ve just pictured the Rozak House.

Located on a secluded 60 acre block of bushland at Lake Bennett, 80 kilometres south of Darwin, the Rozak House was the vision of retired Microsoft software engineer, Mike Rozak.

He bought the land in 1999 after he fell in love with the raw, unspoilt natural beauty of the Northern Territory and lived in the Rozak House until he sadly passed away in 2013.

Rozak worked with local firm, Troppo Architects, to design the award-winning house and deliver his dream of a home that truly blurs the line between “inside” and “outside”. The result, a house that epitomises tropical living with three separate, elevated pavilions connected by slatted timber decking.

“Mike relished the remoteness of his house, its glorious seclusion and fantastic views,” says Tony Rozak, Mike’s father.

“He loved to share his house. His doors were always open to the local wildlife and to his friends.”

Perched more than 60 metres high above the Lake, you can’t see the house from the main road. In fact, it’s so hidden, only glimpses of its tin roof can be caught through the trees as you approach via a steep driveway.

Only recently the house has been listed on Airbnb, with Mike’s family keen to see his legacy of sustainable living (the house is completely off the grid) and love for the natural environment and wildlife embraced and shared.

And while Mike famously slept only in hammocks, queen beds have been added for guests. Some hammocks still remain though – perfect for curling back with a good book.

The first thing we noticed about the Rozak House was: there are no walls.

Instead, insect mesh and louvered windows from floor to ceiling provide sweeping views of the surrounding bush down to the Lake below. They also keep thing nice and breezy (there were ceiling fans but we didn’t need to use them).

After being bathed in the most incredible golden light in the “living” pavilion, we enjoyed a glass of red, feet up, totally relaxed as the sun set.

Even the shower is connected to the outdoors here, with insect-mesh walls and timber slat flooring.

And those lack of walls make for a pretty incredible sight come sunrise.

From the eastern bedroom pavilion, we watched from our beds as the sky caught fire, casting an ethereal glow over the tree-tops.

According to his family, Mike Rozak referred to his home as a “thinking house”.

And, after witnessing THAT view, there was only one thought on our minds.

Total Bliss.

 

More info:

www.rozak.com

Book via Airbnb here

New kid on the block: Frankie’s Pizza Joint

 

“Casual, chic, disco, fun,” is how owner of Frankie’s Pizza Joint, Alana Matthews, sums up the new Darwin City restaurant/bar.

Located in the Smith Street Mall (the old Viva’s bar), a stone’s throw away from PM Eat & Drink, the tapas restaurant Alana and husband Ji opened to acclaim in 2016, Frankie’s is very much the couple’s “second child”. Quite literally.

As well as the pair’s second business, Frankie is also the name picked out for a potential second child.

Inside this new kid on the foodie block, the first thing you notice is the shiny disco ball hanging from the ceiling complete with neon pink lights. It sets the mood from the moment you walk in the door.

“We wanted to create a place that was really casual and fun where you could be sitting with friends drinking wine and having a great time and then you look at the time and realise its 1:30am,” says Ji.

Like the décor, the wine list is also a point of difference to PM. It’s noticeably cheaper. And deliberately so.

Alana and Ji make no secret Frankie’s is targeting a younger crowd with disco beats and a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights.

Speaking of wine, of course they’re all Italian, much like the two chefs in the kitchen who hail from Milan and Venice and make all the pizza dough, pasta and bread on site everyday from scratch.

And it shows. The gnocchi was the best we’ve ever had.

Five stars also goes to the venue’s signature cocktail, Frankie’s Sweet Heart.

In keeping with the blush colour palette of the interiors, it’s a sweeter, “pink” take on the traditional Aperol Spritz with Limoncello and cranberry added.

Which brings us to the pizza. And yes we saved the best for last.

As Ji says: “They’re light and fresh and won’t leave you with a food coma.”

We had the FFPJ, the pizza named after the venue, with prosciutto, cherry tomato, rocket, fior di latte (Italian mozzarella) and oregano.

But wait, we hear you say, what does the extra F stand for?

Well, after spending months pouring blood, sweat and tears into the new business, Ji says the name evolved into something else… F*cking Frankie’s Pizza Joint – FFPJ see?

As for our verdict on the new place?

It’s F*cking awesome.

 

Frankie’s Pizza Joint

Paspalis Building, Smith Street Mall (the old Viva’s bar)

Open:

Tues-Thurs 12pm-10pm

Fri-Sat 12pm-2am

More information 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

Darwin Heli-Pub Crawl

Beer. Helicopters. More beer. It’s no wonder you’ll find the Darwin Heli-Pub Tour at the top of even most locals’ bucket list.

This local included.

So, when we recently had the opportunity to tick it off ours, naturally we headed straight to Delaney’s and bought a new akubra just for the occasion.

When you’re about to go on the most outback tour imaginable – hey, you gotta look the part!

So, Akubra in hand we belt up for our three-pub tour (there’s also the option of visiting five pubs), which starts with a scenic flight to the first stop: Crab Claw Island.

The fly over is a feast for the eyes with incredible views over Darwin Harbour, its vivid blues flowing in twists and turns through luscious green mangroves.

Crab Claw Island Resort is nestled on a peaceful stretch of beach and offers a typical Territory style pub where you can unwind under the palm trees and savour that first beer of the day.

After soaring over vast bush land and mountains of termite mounds, we land at pub number two: Darwin River Tavern.

This place oozes outback, from the timber walls to pet buffaloes, but the menu is surprisingly extensive.

Fresh barramundi and wagyu beef burgers were washed down with yet more beer before it was time to head to the third and final pub: Goat Island Lodge.

This place is folklore in the Top End so we were itching to see it for ourselves.

If you’re not aware of the backstory, Goat Island, situated in the middle of the crocodile infested Adelaide River, is owned by Dutchman Kai “Happy” Hansen and it’s population is: 1.

Well, that’s if you don’t count Kai’s crazy dog “Hotdog” or pet crocodile ***eeeeep!

King Kai, as he prefers to be called, has an open bar policy, loves beer and a laugh and is THE most Territory bloke you will ever meet.

On Goat Island the pace is slow, the yarns are long and strangers quickly become friends.

So take your time, it is a pub “crawl” after all.

 

Darwin Heli-Pub Tour:

Airborne Solutions

 

All set for Fashions on the Field

In Part Two of our Darwin Cup preview, we get down to the nitty gritty about the Dos and Don’ts if you’re planning on entering this year’s Fashions on the Field (FOTF).

With a mini competition for the kids at Family Day tomorrow (check out our inspo featuring our beautiful nieces above) Fashions on the Field gets down to serious business on Ladies’ Day with the ultimate winner to be crowned on Darwin Cup Day.

With a Darwin filly winning the coveted FOTF title on Melbourne Cup Day not once, but twice, the local competition is of high standard and you can expect the fashion race to be just as fierce as the Darwin Cup itself!

So, if you’re planning on entering this year, here are some hot tips from style guru and head FOTF judge, Georgie Murphy, which may just help get you first past the post.

DS: Hi Georgie, welcome back and looking forward to judging a few of the FOTF race days with you again this year! Let’s start with the top. Hat or fascinator?

GM: I like a hat, but I think the shift from fascinator to headbands and crowns is great one!

DS: Me too, amen to that!

DS: Moving on to the rest of the outfit now, which can be overwhelming at times… What bag? What shoes? What colour nails? Eeeeep! To break it down for us, what are five quick tips for anyone planning on entering FOTF?

GM: Ok here goes:

  1. Let your personality shine through in your outfit (and smile!).
  2. Consider current fashion trends but remember you’re at the races.
  3. Embrace the carnival of colour theming (see previous post for more on that here).
  4. Think of your outfit from top-to-toe, headwear, accessories, shoes, nails, make-up and hair style included – it’s the overall picture that counts!
  5. Have a try on your full outfit in advance of race day and visit a seamstress (unless of course, you’re handy with a sewing machine yourself!) for any last minute tailoring – it might be a hem, cuffs or collar that needs quick attention that could make all the difference.

DS: And I’m going to add to that and say take your time on the catwalk! Remember, it’s not a sprint and the more time we have to take in your whole outfit, the better it is for us to judge.

DS: What about any big No Nos?

GM: You need headwear. That’s a non-negotiable.

Short skirts, low cut tops and lycra are also something that won’t score well. Leave them in your wardrobe for the dance floor later on in the day.

For everything else, it’s about how it’s worn and how the complete outfit looks. For example, a smattering of sequins or embellishment could make a FOTF outfit a winner. A gown that is top to toe in glitter won’t do as well.

DS: So that’s the ladies covered, now what about the men?

GM: For the guys, think about fit – doesn’t matter whether you’re donning the suit or a pair of shorts and a casual collared shirt, it’s a good idea to make sure it flatters you. Remember you’ll be in our outfit all day, so make sure it’s suitable and comfortable.

Consider summery fabrics like cotton and linen for your top half, and have fun with prints, colours and textures for your shorts or trousers.

Don’t forget accessories, like a cool belt, perhaps some new shoes or a pocket square for a pop of colour. Don’t be a slave to exactly match your tie, pocket square and your belt, it just get’s a bit much.

Men entering Fashions on the Field would typically wear a hat, but it’s not a definite must do. Hats are a great to complete an outfit for the track, whether you’re hitting the FOTF catwalk or not.

The good things about men’s hats for the track is they are typically a little more practical than the millinery women wear, and provide some shelter from the Darwin sun. Look for light weight material wide brimmed numbers like a panama.

DS: Great advice as always Miss Murphy! Looking forward to seeing some handsome men line up for FOTF on Cup Day!

 

Find out more about the 2017 Darwin Turf Club children’s, men’s and women’s Fashion on the Field competitions here.

 

Blue dress –Just Looking Boutique

Girls headbands – Monsoon Millinery

Blue earrings, pink flower headband – Pink Hill

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

 

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.