Sydney by Sail

Those who fly into Sydney at sunrise are often rendered speechless by the calm, sparkling city on the verge of a daily hive of activity. The vast ocean that seems to dominate every uneven corner, creeps into every crevice of land, while reminding passengers that Australia is really just an island.

Sydney is a city built around its harbour, and unless one has regular access to a plane, is at its best when viewed from the water itself. It’s a cloudless winter day when we board Sydney By Sail’s three hour social yacht race in Pyrmont. The skipper gives us novices a brief introduction to the boat, the basics of sailing, and our route for the day. We are given the option of being as involved as we’d like, and the keen beans on the boat jump at the chance to learn to sail. We’re ‘competing’ against another novice group, and we’re determined to become pros...

Read about my sailing adventures as the NSW Blogger for


I think, therefore I ... blog

I am regularly amazed, surprised and inspired by the ingenuity of friends, family and work colleagues I am lucky enough to be surrounded by.  The number of people who work full time, have projects on the side, write blogs, start businesses, help charities, study – often quietly, without fanfare or a need for recognition.  Scratch the surface and you discover such extraordinary talent and interest hiding in people you think you know well.

This manifests itself in a number of ways - I have recently stumbled across a number of blogs by friends with a unique take on life, and decided it was time to share.

What do you do in your spare time if you’re a hot shot lawyer, serious touch footy player, yoga enthusiast, completing a Masters degree while navigating the expat Hong Kong social circuit?  Probably pretty bored with all that time on your hands.  Or you could just sign up for a womens’ boxing tournament and learn to fight (Hong Kong Hedge Fund Fite Night) – oh, and write a blog while you’re at it.

Two Aussie expats on a one year secondment to Chicago (yes, one of them may be my sister).  Hilarious take on all things American.

Creative, challenging, honest ideas for provoking thoughts and discussion – “Sometimes a good idea rattles around in your head like a loose pinball and it’s only when we share it with other people, that the idea takes shape and form”.

Take a leave of absence from your job as a management consultant; head to the city where dreams are made of;  find an internship with a non-profit tech startup.  Easy.  Challenging? Inspirational.  Now read the blog;

Eat Drink Play by Ms Darlinghurst

Ms Darlinghurst needs no introduction. Arbiter of all things trendy, foodie and fun in the Sydney social scene, she has taken the Eastern Suburbs by storm with initiatives like Secret Foodies, Sydney Bar Tours, and EatDrinkPlay.   

A supremely creative type disguised behind a suit by day, Paul Somers and his team are passionate about the Sydney bar scene.  They are creating a community focused on bars, nightlife and innovation while using film to bring the places they visit to life.

A med-student crazy about all things cupcake. .. “If T.S Eliot's Prufrock claimed to measure out his meagre life in coffee spoons, I believe my existence could well be quantified by the numerous measuring cups of flour, sugar and cocoa that I sift and stir each week in pursuit of baking perfection.”

xx Lifeafterfive*

PS. Do you write a blog? Do you have a friend who does but is too shy to share? Let us know in the comments below!


Cuervo Fiesta Mexicano at Cafe Pacifico

The word fiesta instantly conjures images of Mexico - saucy dancing, salsa laden cuisine, and salt rimmed tequila based cocktails.  A city that can’t resist a party, the Sydney scene has recently seen an outbreak of all things Mexican with new Mexican cantinas, themed bars and cuisine popping up everywhere.  Pubs such as The Norfolk are featuring tacos on their menu (even if they are korean meatball flavour), while chains such as Guzman y Gomez are exploding into foodcourts all around town.  While hot newbies such as Barrio Chino and El Loco are drawing crowds, we would be remiss to forget where it all started in 1997; Café Pacifico.

Olivia Guest, Donna Freak, Alex Adams (Ms Darlinghurst) & their donkey
With over 90 tequilas on their menu, Café Pacifico is the logical host for Cuervo’s Fiesta Mexicano on 13 September as part of BarShow Week 2011.  Cuervo’s master blenders, Don Francisco Hajnal and Phil Bayly, swizzle drinks, blend agave syrup and twirl bottles for a crowd wearing hipster hats that I suspect will reappear in force on Bondi’s grassy knoll this summer.

Donna Freak (Secret Foodies) & Daniella Alhadeff (lifeafterfive*)
Pinatas hang from the ceiling, blow up donkeys lose their tails while maracas are shaken in time with the latino music.  Traditional margueritas on the rocks with agave syrup is my drink of choice, with braver (it’s a school night!) souls opting for the Anejo ‘Old Fashioned’ marguerita concoction.  There are Batangos (as discovered at the Schweppes Elixir launch), another drink that resembles a latino Bloody Mary (tomato juice anyone?) and quality tequila shots are handed out like canapés.

The food lives up to all cheesy, spicy expectations, with delicious mini quesadillas of all varieties in abundance, corn fritter balls and cerviches making an appearance and ensuring  stomachs are lined.

With colourful streamers cascading over the crowd, the bartender performing his moves from the tabletop and the bar fraternity out in force, Café Pacifico and Jose Cuervo are proving that they’re ready to lead Sydney’s charge to Latin America.  Grab a donkey, plant a cactus and get your maracas ready for a fiesta near you.

Pinatas waiting to be opened

A happy Mexican

Cafe Pacifico on Urbanspoon


The hidden power of smiling

One smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as two thousand bars of chocolate, according to CEO of HealthTap, Ron Gutman.  As one of many who derive instant happiness from cocoa products in many forms (Tim Tams, Lindt balls and Cadbury blocks are all effective therapies which spring to mind), understanding the power of a smile provides a calorie neutral alternative.

In his TED talk ‘The Hidden Power of Smiling’, Gutman says that not only does a smile portray you as likeable and courteous – you also come across as more competent.  He refers to Charles Darwin’s ‘facial feedback response’ theory which suggests that the act of smiling itself actually makes us feel better, stimulating our brain reward mechanism.

As a child, Gutman decided he wanted to be a superhero when he grew up, and went searching for the first requirement – a superpower.  Resorting to science and research when magic wouldn’t suffice, he claims the smile to be the unrecognised superpower within all of us.  For those still searching for magic beans, OD'ing on Tim Tams or resorting to retail therapy for a pick me up, consider whether you're meeting your adult daily smiling quota of twenty times per day.

Watch Ron Gutman's TED talk;

Need a (scientifically supported) reason to smile?
  •          Reduce stress
  •           Live longer and happier lives
  •           Have positive impressions on others


Cafe Dov

Potts Point.  The postcode 2011 is synonymous with trendy, urban cafes, hidden streets and discerning customers.  With new cafes opening faster than one can say (and spell) skim-soy-decaf-mochachino, an establishment has to offer something special to ensure fickle customers aren’t enticed by the shinier or shabbier furniture down the next alley.

Visiting Café Dov for a ladies lunch, a full house indicates that they’ve found an effective formula to ward off the competition and keep the crowds loyal. Despite a bustling dining room, the staff go out of their way to be friendly, shuffling the tables like magicians to create somewhere for us to sit.

A creative menu, seasonal and local produce and a buzzing atmosphere, Café Dov has raised the bar for café competition in Potts Point.   A couple of menu highlights...

Cafe Dov chicken salad
Corn fritters with spinach, poached egg and tomato relish

Baked ricotta with poached rhubarb, apple puree and fresh strawberries

cafe DOV on Urbanspoon


Diesel Island; the land of the stupid and home of the brave

A pink goat greets us as we enter a non-descript warehouse in Alexandria, followed by crashing waves, a denim flag and a welcome line of models threatening to fight us with feather pillows. 

Welcome to Diesel Island, ‘the land of the stupid and home of the brave’.  Where cocktails are served with provocatively labelled flags, scantily Diesel-clad ‘island natives’ loll about in tree houses and Alexandra Richards (daughter of Rolling Stone, Keith Richards) DJs to over 250 well-heeled ‘pioneers’.

Diesel Island... where heels are high & goats are pink
The locals in their natural habitat

Island Law #2; Trouble makers shouldn't be sent to jail but art school
We have been invited to ‘help shape the future of this magnificent country’ at the Sydney event on 31 August 2011.  The controversial global campaign aims to provoke discussion and push boundaries by stating that the world is f**cked up, but Diesel Island is the least f**cked up country of all.
Conceived by advertising agency Santo, the campaign documents the first pioneers arriving on the tropical island – “living exciting experiences, solving some of the world’s oldest problems and holding wild parties to celebrate the birth of their nation”.

Alexandra Richards DJs to the crowd
Martin Matthews, General Manager of Brand Collective, explains that while Australians aren’t as aware of Diesel’s satirical, ironic character, the concept of challenging the status quo and rewriting the rules while having fun resonates with the Australian ethos.

The natives stand to attention as the Diesel Island anthem plays over the big screens, the cocktails are abundant and a giant seafood paella is cooked under driftwood scaffolding.  I am reminded of island law # 7 – everything that exists was once imagined.  Somehow, I don’t think it’s going to be a hard sell to Aussies looking for a utopian escape.  Just be sure to reach the island before someone calls on the PM to ‘stop the boats’.

Watch the history of Diesel Island

Pioneer Jane Willesdorf enjoys a rebellious cocktail

"We prevent terrorist attacks by not pissing them off"