MELBOURNE. Too cold in winter, too hot in summer. Right? Wrong. Don’t be fooled – despite its reputation for having Goldilocks weather I present to you 4 seasons (in one day) and 5 great reasons to visit the Victorian capital, any time of the year.
The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of Fraser Place Melbourne http://melbourne.frasershospitality.com and the Jasper Hotel Melbourne http://www.jasperhotel.com.au
JUST when we thought Australian politics couldn’t become any more bizarre, Prime Minister Tony Abbott proved us all wrong this week, when he threatened to “shirt-front” Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit in Brisbane next month. Being a Queenslander, I have to confess I had no idea what this shirt-fronting business was all about, and for several hours I thought there might be some kind of bro-mance going on between Tony and Vlad. For those who don’t know what this quaint turn of phrase means, it is apparently an AFL term to describe a front-on charge designed to knock an opponent to the ground. Frankly, since learning this, I haven’t stopped laughing all week.
Apparently the Ruskis think it’s pretty funny as well, with Russian embassy official Alexander Odoevskiy telling Fairfax Media that he had “learned a little more about Aussie Rules football”. Odoevskiy went on to say “We are not sure when the Prime Minister would like to shirt-front the Russian President.” So, in the spirit of this great city in which I live, I’d like to offer up 10 Perfect Places to shirt-front a Russian President in Brisbane. (Hey, you never know when it may come in handy).
1.Head to the Cauldron
Ok, so we’re more into rugby league than AFL in Brissie, but don’t worry, we still know how to go the biff. Of all the places in the Queensland capital which has seen its share of fights, it’s got to be Suncorp Stadium or “The Cauldron” to locals. What many people don’t know is this hallowed turf was once a cemetery (I’m just sayin’ Tony). If the thought of Tony (a keen cyclist), beating up Vlad (a judo expert) makes you thirsty, head to the nearby Caxton Hotel, which has also seen plenty of bust ups over the years, particularly during State of Origin. Locals call this hotel “the Cacko” and after you’ve seen Tony take on Vlad, you’ll be laughing too. http://www.suncorpstadium.com.au; http://www.caxton.com.au
2.Make Love, Not War
I like to think of Brisbanites as lovers, not fighters. But we do have a secret war history. Few people realise that General MacArthur based the Allies’ southern pacific headquarters right here in Brisbane during World War Two. Today, the MacArthur Central shopping centre stands in the same building. For more of a war tour head to the MacArthur Museum and see the impact the events in Europe and the Pacific had on Brisbane. Entry fee costs $5 for adults. Tony, I’m happy to pay your entry fee, if you promise to stop picking on the nuclear giants. http://www.mmb.org.au
3.Got a Beef with the Russian President?
God, how we love a good steak in Brisbane. In honour of his bullish behaviour, I’d recommend Tony take Vlad straight to the Spanish Garden Steakhouse at the Breakfast Creek Hotel. It’s on the way from the airport, so it’s real handy, and the beef is good too. Still dancing around the issue, Tony? Then head to Cha Cha Char! for some of the best wagu in town. Given I’m dining out on the worst Prime Minister in Australian history, I may as well recommend the “Worst Vegetarian Restaurant” as well. Yes, the Norman Hotel makes this cute claim. Step away from the steak knives, Tony.
http://www.breakfastcreekhotel.com; http://www.chachachar.com.au; http://www.normanhotel.com.au
4.Bridge That Golf
What blokes in the history of the world haven’t patched things up over a game of golf? But let’s keep this one simple. Rather than going to some fancy, smanchy course, I recommend the Victoria Park Golf Complex for Tony and Vlad. This course offers some of the most challenging putt putt on its 18 hole course with Brisbane skyline view. Best of all, Tony, it comes complete with sand and water traps, a rocky terrain, swinging poles and even punching bags. http://www.victoriaparkgolfcomplex.com/golf/puttputt.html
5.The Smoking Gun
This one was a no-brainer really. Tony, you might want to bulk up before all that shirt-fronting, so I recommend you head to The Gunshop Café at West End. Mate, you’ll love it but don’t get too excited. Yes, this was a former gunship where they sold firearms, but the only smokin’ thing these days is the food on the menu. Has anyone told Vlad lately he’s got nice guns?
This former World War Two bomb shelter is now a cigar bar in South Brisbane. Just think, Tony, no one will hear the screams. Yes, behind this mysterious red façade you’ll find some of Brisbane’s best coffee as well as a couple of Cubans. I mean cigars, not actual Castros. Although Fidel would fit in well with this whole shirt-fronting scenario, I reckon. A quick Google search reveals Putin does not smoke (nor drink, apparently), so the upstairs smoking deck may be lost on him.
I reckon a day at the bay down at Redcliffe should sort everything out between this pair. Tony, what I suggest is you take Vlad for a lovely stroll along Bee Gees Way, which pays homage to these local lads who set the world on fire. Still feel like Jive Talkin’, then take a wander along the Redcliffe Jetty. Testosterone Tony, how about you get your James Bond on and strap yourself in for a tandem skydive over Suttons Beach? (Vlad, I recommend you pack a separate parachute). http://www.redcliffe.net.au/visitor-information.htm
8.Cuddle A Koala
Who can stay angry when you’re cuddling a koala? And Lone Pine Sanctuary has 130 of these furry little beasts with names like Rory, Sinnamon, Lina, Rose and Beck. But, best of all, there’s a platypus named Barak – who most tourists call Barack. Yes, as, in Obama. Now, if anyone can sort out this shirt-fronting mess, it’s Obama. http://www.koala.net
9.In Pursuit Of Libertine
This suggestion might be a bit girly, but Tony and Vlad can create their very own love potion at Libertine Parfumerie at New Farm. This place offers masterclasses in the art of fragrance and features a huge range of products.In fact a number of their scents have been worn by world leaders including Winston Churchill and Napoleon. Their fragrance Creed is 250 years old and is worn by the Obamas. Another fragrance, Love In White, has been worn by 3 or 4 US First Ladies. Let’s call this new fragrance the dirty shirt-front.
10.Get A New Shirt-Front
In case we are all wrong, and all Tony really wanted to do was actually buy Vlad a new shirt, there’s a few interesting options in Brisbane. At Mitchell Ogilvie – which has a secret bar in the store – it’s rumoured that $30,000 suits are currently walking out the door in the lead up to G20. The boys could also head to the The Cloakroom, which offers a modern tailoring service. But Tony, you can do your own ironing. I don’t care what you say about how “the women of Australia” like to spend their time.
THE bloke perched in the exit row in front of me has reclined his seat and his head is resting in my lap. The woman behind me has her knees nestled snugly in my kidneys and the child beside her is screaming bloody murder. Every time I attempt to nod off to block out the horror of this particular flight, the stewardess pauses right beside my ear, and in a shrill, sing-songy voice says, “you’re a cheeky monkey”. At this point in the journey I’m unclear whether she’s talking to the fella in front of me, the screamer behind, or indeed me for allowing this perverse and peculiar scenario to unfold. All I know is that the distinct lack of alcohol on board is not helping things. Not one bit.
I’m travelling from Brisbane to Melbourne with a suitcase stuffed with every item of black and wintery gear I own in my wardrobe, clutching on to every cliché I’ve ever heard about it being grey and cold down there. But it seems the Victorian capital has other ideas. Just like the man on the plane, Melbourne decides to seduce me with a hot flush of warm, sunny weather, colourful graffitied lane ways I’d only ever read about, and pop-up bars brimming with hot blokes and cold beer.
I’m in the Victorian capital to cover another story for my good friends at Traveltherenext – http://www.traveltherenext.com – and have decided to stay on for an extra night to check out the newly refurbished Jasper Hotel. I love a good hotel and even better if it has a salacious story and this, my friends, boasts both. Recently reopened after a $7 million facelift this hotel, which sits near the top of Elizabeth Street, was originally built in the mid 1970s as a women’s shelter and refuge. In the 1980s it became a YWCA with a women’s only gym, ballet and dance studio and by the 1990s and under the name of the Hotel Y, it became a three-star backpacker hotel. It wasn’t until early 2000 that it became the Jasper Hotel named after the local Jasper stone from which it is built.
It’s little wonder given her hectic history that the Jasper Hotel needed a bit of tarting up. And how. One of the most interesting features of this 90-room, eight-floor grand dame is on Level 2 where the old basketball court in the centre has been transformed into 16 suites and a central courtyard complete with synthetic grass. The suite in which I spend the evening is said to be part of the former dance studio. Hotel guests will appreciate the all-Australian APPELLES bathroom products, free WIFI and pool/gym access at the Melbourne City Baths, which first opened in 1860.
While I’d love to report that due to her colourful health-orientated history and access to fitness facilities that I actually did some exercise while staying here, the opposite would actually be true. You see the hotel also offers 24 hour room service, as well as a lovely restaurant and bar, and it would be more fair to report that I actually enjoyed the Australian/Asian fusion food – which pays homage to its Malaysian owners – and a couple of cheeky Aussie wines, instead.
Apart from its evocative fable, one of the most endearing aspects of the Jasper Hotel is its location. You’re about 30 footsteps from the Queen Victoria Market, where some of the best entertainment in town can be had by simply standing and observing the stall holders peddling their produce. Take about thirty steps in the other direction from the front door and you’ll find arguably the best Turkish gozleme in Melbourne at the unassuming Borek Bakehouse along Elizabeth Street.
Fully sated, I head for the airport and home. The flight isn’t full, so I swap seats from the middle to the very last row where at least I’m assured of no kidney kickers and, hopefully, no screamers. Shortly after I settle in, a big bloke appears from nowhere and slips into the seat in front of me and falls asleep. But I’m winning, as he’s laying lengthwise and there’s no lap dance today. And best of all, there’s wine on this flight, and they’re handing it out for free.
The Global Goddess was a guest of the four-star boutique Jasper Hotel Melbourne. To celebrate its launch, the hotel is offering an overnight rate of $139 a night until January 11, 2015 (subject to availability). http://www.jasperhotel.com.au
I’m taking a little break from blogging today to celebrate my nomination in two categories for the Bupa blogging awards. The Global Goddess is up for the Travel Adventures and Social Good categories. Finalists will be announced mid October and winnners in mid November. I wish to thank you all for reading, supporting and following me. With love and light, The Global Goddess xx.
LAST Friday I was attacked by a man I had never met before in a supermarket car park in Brisbane. I use the word attacked because while it was not physical, it was very verbal and extremely emotional and at one point, I believed he was about to become physical. I could also use the word abuse. So what prompted this attack? While parking my car, I had mistakenly parked over two car spaces, as the white lines indicating where to park had faded. It was a tight two spaces, because a tree in the corner had uprooted the bitumen, so I chose to park as far away from the uprooted bitumen as possible.
What happened next rattled me. As I alighted from my car, an angry white male, in his late 50s to early 60s, was standing there, screaming at me, saying he had wanted to park in the space beside me (for the record, there were plenty of empty car parks around). And in an absolute rage he started roaring: “Just take a look at yourself Sweetie!” At first, I didn’t know what I’d done and then I pointed out that I simply could not see where the white lines were meant to be. He paused and agreed with me, stating he had already complained to the shopping centre about this. Which I would have thought was the end of the argument. But then he came menacingly close, and just kept yelling at me: “Take a good look at yourself Sweetie!” The only thing I could do was mutter: “Don’t call me Sweetie”, which further infuriated him as he spat out the word “Sweetie” over and over again, at one point stepping close as if he was going to hit me. Eventually he drove off, and I sat in my car and wept. I cried because I was shocked, scared and stunned at the blatant sexism of this man.
I texted a male friend who urged me to call the police. But I argued the man had not committed any real crime. At the same time a female friend texted and she insisted I make my complaint to shopping centre management, which I did, feeling embarrassed and foolish the whole time, as I wept and shook. They were kind, giving me water and tissues and recording my complaint, but essentially powerless to do anything. As I drove home, without my groceries, I wondered what would have happened had I been dressed in a burqa. I’ve been thinking for weeks about writing about the simmering anger that seems to be pervading Australian streets right now, but until this incident, I felt unable to articulate this new paradigm.
I am not, for one minute, suggesting last week’s incident compares at all to what is happening to peace-loving Muslims in Australia right now. If there are any parallels to be drawn, it’s how unjustifiably angry and disenfranchised some Australians seem to be. And how prepared they are to act on this anger. And that scares me. In the past week, there’s been numerous reports of attacks on Muslim people simply going about their business. A woman in a burqa being set alight by a man; another woman having hot coffee thrown on her from a car window; Muslim kids in a kindergarden in lockdown to protect their safety. Every single day, there’s something nasty and new against Muslim Australians.
I’m horrified and disgusted by what’s happening to our country right now. And ashamed. I love Australia and I believe we are a big country with a big heart. There’s no room for bigotry. And no room for stupidity. For a Prime Minister who is meant to be showing leadership, I’m appalled that all Tony Abbott has achieved is whip up a culture of pure hatred. I’m stunned that those attacking everyday Muslims going about their business are so ill-informed that they cannot separate the radicalism of those who support the Islamic State from everyday people who look a little different. Given our long record of immigration and multiculturalism, I’m bemused when somebody accuses someone else of being “un-Australian”. I am yet to see a definition of what being an “Australian” is. Is it in how I dress? The colour of my eyes, hair and skin? What I eat or don’t eat? Does it lay in my religion or lack of faith?
The day after I was abused in the car park, I returned to the shopping centre, as I still needed to get my groceries. And for the first time, I felt fear. But as my morning progressed, I realised that Australians are essentially good people. He’ll never know it, but I thank the man who accidentally bumped into my grocery bags, and then stopped to apologise. Another man let me go first in the queue, even though it was his turn. And so, my confidence returned and more interestingly, I found myself remembering to be compassionate towards others. Yes, we’re Australians, but we are also global citizens, who happen to be incredibly lucky to either be born or have immigrated to this amazing land Down Under. This largely peaceful place of droughts and flooding rains. Of sunshine, beaches, barbecues, rainforests, reefs and yawning Outback. An attack, whether it is by a terrorist organisation, or an angry man in a car park, has always been likely. But a life lived in fear is no life at all.
TRUE to form I spy the tea and coffee on offer, panic, and sidle up to what I believe is a member of the wait staff and discreetly enquire whether they could rustle me up a champagne. It’s 3pm on a Wednesday afternoon and I’m at a High Tea, but I’m bamboozled by the lack of bubbles, the thought of which has kept me going on the one-hour drive from Brisbane to the Gold Coast. What I don’t realise until a little later is the waitress is actually a senior member of the hotel executive team who has invited me to this event and I’ve just made a complete boob of myself.
Thankfully boobs are in vogue this particular afternoon, as the High Tea is being staged to launch the cookbook Cook 4 a Cure to raise funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and to celebrate the opening of Australia’s newest resort brand ULTIQA Resorts. I’m at the five-star beachfront ULTIQA Air on Broadbeach listening to Australia’s highest-selling cookbook author Kym McCosker speak about her latest tome, the 18th in her “4 ingredients” cookbook series. So successful is Kym, she’s outsold Jamie Oliver 3:1 with more than nine million cookbooks now retailing in 30 countries. Her first book catapulted her to the highest-selling self-published author in Australian history, clocking up three million sales. Which is not bad from a girl from the tiny Queensland town of Mundubberra.
It’s a perfect Pacific Ocean aqua afternoon outside, replete with migrating humpback whales languidly slapping their tails out on the horizon, but inside it’s all passion and pink satin. Cook 4 a Cure, which is sold exclusively through Big W stores, aims to raise $100,000 for breast cancer research to assist the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s goal of zero deaths from this insidious disease by 2030.
Throughout the afternoon, dining on such delicious rosewater tea and Kym’s home-made cakes and biscuits that I actually forget I’m not drinking any champagne, I have an overwhelming desire to check my breasts, which is exactly what guest speaker Mark Wood urges us to do. (Normally it’s AFTER I drink champagne that I am overcome by the urge to commit inappropriate acts in public). Mark, regarded as the “Mr Pink” of the Australian speaking circuit, volunteers his time to speak about breast cancer after losing his wife Annie to the disease seven years ago, and says one in eight Australian women will be told they have breast cancer at some stage.
“Today, 37 women will be told they have breast cancer. To think that’s happening to 37 people today and the day after is far too many. And seven people would have lost that battle today,” he says.
“My wife got a death sentence but my daughter, who was 12 at the time that Annie died, got a life sentence losing her mother so young.
“Twenty years ago, 37 per cent of women diagnosed with the disease died, but that’s now been halved through awareness and education.”
At this point, I wish I did have some champagne, as then I could blame the demon drink on becoming all tired and emotional, but as I furtively glance around the room, I find I am not alone. There’s not a dry eye in the house.
The National Breast Cancer Foundation has raised $105 million in the past twenty years towards 370 research projects which don’t just target breast cancer but other forms of the disease. And, in exciting news, Mark says researchers are working on nano-technology which will be able to tell from a simple breath test whether any cancer is present in your cells.
“People often think breast cancer runs in the family but the statistics don’t support that. Of all new cases, 90 per cent have no family history. So please don’t think because you haven’t got it in your family you won’t be affected,” he says.
It’s a fitting message delivered in a fitting setting, as ULTIQA is a Queensland family-owned property group owned by the Henry’s who not only donated the function room and their time free-of-charge, but during the afternoon, contribute $5000 from their personal pocket to add to what will be raised by Kym’s events and book sales to breast cancer. Mark Henry, the resort group’s Managing Director, says the name ULTIQA stands for ultra modern boutique apartments. There’s currently four in the ULTIQA stable including Air on Broadbeach and Freshwater Point Resort, also at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast; Rothbury Hotel in Brisbane; and Shearwater Resort on the Sunshine Coast.
I spend two nights experiencing the two Broadbeach-based properties, which echo with the heart and hard work of the Henry family. In between, I check out my boobs. And it seems I am not alone. On my second morning as I walk along the beachfront, I’m accosted by a 14-year –old-school boy, who offers to slather me in sunscreen, before scurrying off and sniggering with his mates. I should be offended by this future misogynist-in-the making but I simply smile to myself. This is clearly an indication that I’ve still got it. Yes, some days, all the breast things happen.
The Global Goddess was a guest of ULTIQA Air on Broadbeach and ULTIQA Freshwater Point Resort. To find out more about this latest offering in Queensland’ s tourism story please go to http://www.ultiqaresorts.com.au; To find out more about 4 ingredients, please go to http://www.4ingredients.com.au; To donate to National Breast Cancer Foundation go to http://www.nbcf.org.au/Donate.aspx
Where am I today? I’d love to say I’m off on a date, like the title of this blog suggests. And I am (kinda) just not the romantic sort. I’m over Guest Blogging at Styling You
As many of you know, I don’t have a CLUE about dating, so I’ve gone to the very stylish Nikki Parkinson to share my story (and for some much-needed fashion advice).
Look out world, here I come!
Check out what I had to say about my one and only date dress, and Nikki’s advice, here at: http://www.stylingyou.com.au/2014/09/what-to-wear-on-a-first-date/
And if you’re new to The Global Goddess, please scroll down (or refer to the Archives page on the left hand side) to read more about my dating, travel and spiritual adventures. Please follow me by clicking on FOLLOW on the very top black strapline of this page (next to my picture).