James Turrell: A Retrospective

James Turrell

Photo: nga.gov.au

Last Friday night, Matt and I put on our fancy clothes and ventured out to the National Gallery of Australia for the opening night of James Turrell: A Retrospective – an exhibition where light is the medium and your mind is the playground.

I always love the NGA’s summer exhibitions, but this one is something special. Mesmerising. Playful. Moving. Turrell has a way of making light and colour touch all of your emotions at the same time.

The opening event itself was pink-themed happiness wrapped up into one evening and served to us on a platter alongside trendy slider burgers, tiny choc-top ice-creams and limitless pink cocktails. In all of which, Matt and I were more than happy to indulge.

The exhibition, however, was our main indulgence. In an almost trance-like state, we found ourselves moving through the exhibition and searching for the source of light in every piece – getting excited when we discovered how it worked and watching on as others discovered what we already had, united in our common awe of Turrell’s intricacies.

With our little white booties on, we waited patiently for our turn to walk up the stairs and venture inside one of Turrell’s works – entering into an abyss of seemingly endless colour. I could spend hours inside the Ganzfeld, watching as the colours change and blend into one another.

Words and photos just don’t cut it. My advice – discover Turrell’s magic for yourself.

The exhibition, James Turrell: A Retrospective, is open until June 8 2015.

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Friday Night Drinks at Old Parliament House

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As the weather warms up and the nights get longer, there is no better way to welcome the weekend than with a few sneaky drinks on a Friday evening. I love nothing more than to leave work early on that last day of the working week and kick it al-fresco style with a drink in hand and some friends in tow.

Friday Night Drinks at Old Parliament House kicks off at 4.30pm every Friday during the warmer months. With live music, delicious cocktails and $5 beers (or wine if that’s your thing), the House of Reps courtyard is the perfect way to relax into your weekend.

Canberra Cafe: Stand By Me, Lyons

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Steve and I have been a little silent on the local cafe front in recent months, but last weekend we made time for some quality brother-sister brunching with a little visit to a pretty new place tucked away in the quiet suburb of Lyons.

Stand By Me opened up earlier in the year and has been getting some good (and well-deserved) hype. It was our first time and we were impressed. I love their fun and quirky seasonal menu the most. I had some kind of “poached eggs, avocado on toast” magic combination and it was delicious. Steve enjoyed his burger too, but he was most impressed with their coffee. He’s not normally a coffee kind of guy, but he was ordering a second soy cap along with me.

The staff are friendly and the place is super cute. We ate al fresco-style out the front, but inside also has a cute hipster vibe. It’s a place that is equally as perfect for a chai latte on a rainy day, as it is for a milkshake in the middle of summer. Stand by Me is located at 1 Lyons Place in Lyons. We will definitely be going back.

- Bec x

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Human Brochure: Cycling Canberra’s Centenary Trail

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Earlier in the year I was selected as one of the 101 Canberra locals taking part in Visit Canberra‘s Human Brochure campaign. Over the last few months I have spent my weekends “researching”, better known as “eating and drinking my way around town”, as well as attending special after-hours events organised by the fantastic Visit Canberra team and a selection of the amazing local businesses and attractions we have here in Canberra.

The campaign culminated in a big weekend in early November. My interstate guests, Elspeth and Lauren, flew in from Adelaide on the Friday night and my local guest, Matt (of course), was already here. We were ready to spend the weekend exploring Canberra. It started with our VIP event early on the Saturday morning.

But first, a Saturday that starts before 9am, is a Saturday that starts with coffee. Ours started courtesy of my favourite cafe in all the land, Lava, with takeaway coffees all-round (except for Matt, he’s a chai latte kind of guy).

It was then on to our guided mountain biking tour with Paralympian, and one of Australia’s most successful athletes, Michael Milton, along part of Canberra’s newly-opened Centenary Trail. It was a great ride, giving us fantastic views over Canberra, a bit of a thrill on the downhill and permission to spend the rest of the weekend eating our way around town, guilt-free.

A big thank you to Visit Canberra, Michael Milton and his tour company BigFoot Adventures for this incredible experience – I am definitely inspired to get out and explore more of Canberra from atop a mountain bike.

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Human Brochure

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Where We Ate: The Gold Coast Edition

I think we can all agree that a holiday is not complete without delicious food. On our recent trip to the Gold Coast, Matt indulged my foodie tendencies and let me organise our non-theme park days around all of the cafes and restaurants I’d heard about from friends or seen on my insta feed.

Here are a few that are worthy of mention.

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Grocer & Grind (Shop 1/1 Sunshine Boulevard, Gold Coast)

Grocer & Grind is a delicious little cafe-come-wholefoods-grocer tucked away behind Broadbeach. Their menu is all healthy, all quality, all fresh and all local. Serving high quality coffee, breakfast all day and a range of delicious smoothies, this is a cafe that delivers on all fronts. We sat next to the big open windows and enjoyed a feast of breakfast foods for lunch. It was flippin’ fantastic.

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Elk Espresso (16 Chelsea Avenue, Broadbeach)

Elk Espresso is a gorgeous little cafe not far from the beachfront in Broadbeach. I’d discovered this little gem a few weeks earlier when I was at the Gold Coast for work and I was pretty keen to get back. Their menu is deliciously quirky, the produce is fresh, the dishes are pretty and the coffee is on point. The laid-back vibes make it the perfect spot for a sleepy holiday breakfast or an afternoon coffee break. They also do dinner on Friday nights, which, from the looks of their instagram account (@elksespresso), looks pretty flippin’ delicious too.

The Cardamom Pod (Shop 11/110 Surf Parade, Broadbeach)

The Cardamom Pod is an all-vegetarian all-delicious restaurant nestled in a corner among all of the other restaurants in Broadbeach. We made it there for dinner one night and for only $30 scored their share platter of 4 dishes plus rice. They are also open for breakfast on the weekends, which I have heard is amazing, and their smoothie menu alone is worth the visit.

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ESPL (4 The Esplanade, Surfers Paradise)

From the moment I laid eyes on their sugar-coated, caramel syringe-stabbed doughnuts on their instagram feed (@blackboardcoffee), I was on a mission to find one of Blackboard Coffee’s many locations along the Gold Coast. It didn’t take long to find ESPL. A tiny little cafe opposite the beach at Surfers Paradise, ESPL arguably serves up the best soy cap in all of Surfers and, more importantly, stocks those little pockets of decadence I’d been eyeing off on instagram for a few weeks. We didn’t get the chance to seek out their other locations, but their larger cafe at Varsity Lakes looks like the perfect spot for a long and lazy brunch.

Our Guide to Theme Park Happiness

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There is one reason, and one reason alone, that Matt and I decided to holiday at the Gold Coast – the search for theme park happiness. It’s that feeling of elation experienced as the combined result of fear, excitement, adrenalin and fairy floss-induced sugar comas commonly occurring in theme parks across the world.

The Gold Coast has well and truly established itself as Australia’s capital of theme park happiness. It was on our first day that Matt and I discovered this special kind of happy during a visit to this little out-of-the-way place called Dreamworld.* We subsequently found it again the next day at Movie World and the day after that at Wet ‘n’ Wild.

Matt and I absolutely love theme parks – we both love roller coasters and I have a particular fondness for dorky tourist photos, eating fairy floss and wearing souvenir Bugs Bunny ears on the bus all the way back to our apartment.

If you too are going to the Gold Coast in search of theme park happiness, we have three quick tips on how to find it faster.

1. Do some research and buy tickets before you go.

There are always deals on offer somewhere on the internet. For instance, Australian health and car insurance companies often have cheap tickets available for members. If you do a bit of research and buy early, you should be able to get tickets on the cheap with some money left over for gorging on over-priced ice cream and fairy floss during your visit.

2. Avoid school holidays if you can.

Matt’s uni holidays just happened to fall on the week the NSW and Queensland school holidays overlapped, so we had little choice but to brave the swarming crowds of pre-teens dragging their parents from ride to ride. It wasn’t quite as bad as I may have just made it sound, but that’s a blogger’s prerogative. In reality, there were only a few times when the lines were longer than we thought reasonable. But however painless our experience was, if you do have the choice, going on a weekday outside of school holidays would guarantee you some serious theme park happy.

3. Pack your lunch

This was Matt’s idea. To be honest, the thought of getting organised enough to have a packed lunch at a theme park had never even crossed my mind. That little extra effort beforehand though was really worthwhile – we had a far superior lunch to any that could be purchased at a theme park and we had more money to spend on fairy floss and ice cream. Just ensure you don’t take notice of the rule stating you can’t take your own lunch. We were blissfully unaware this rule existed and it never mattered. Just don’t take in anything glass, they will take glass off you.

*Dreamworld is actually quite large.

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Instagram Inspiration: Brisbane & the Gold Coast

Today I’m on my way to Brisbane for a 10-day jaunt in the sunny state of Queensland. I’m meeting Matt in Brisbane for a few nights before we head down to the Gold Coast to go to all of the theme parks.

Before any trip I always like to do a little investigative work, mainly to find out where it is that I can feed my expensive soy cap habit and get a good quality coffee as soon as I arrive, but also to get an idea of what the must sees and dos are of a place before I get there. As my number one social medium of choice, instagram has quickly become my primary source for sussing out the coolest parts of a city.

In the lead up to this next trip I’ve been slowly collecting inspiration from the insta world and want to share my favourite Brisbane and Gold Coast-based instagrammers with you.

@harriet.od // Brisbane

Harriet is a close friend of mine, but I am not biased when I say that her insta feed is stunning. With every new post I see from Harriet I get more and more excited about heading up to Brisbane and spending time with this gorgeous human in one of her favourite hangouts.

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@onlybec // Brisbane & Gold Coast

Owner of In Bloom Flower Delivery, a boutique flower delivery service in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, Bec’s instagram is full of great spots to grab coffee or some lunch in and around Brisbane mainly, but sometimes the Gold Coast too. Bec has just been featured as the first Queensland “Day in the Life” on the Stomping Ground Australia – definitely a fantastic source of foodie inspiration for my trip!

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@something_brewing // Brisbane

I am always into anyone who is committed to finding good coffee and telling people about it. Whoever it is behind this little gem of an insta account, I think we’d make good friends.

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@mimihyll // Brisbane

Mimi is a self confessed coffee snob and her blog, Mimi Must Try, is dedicated to “Brisbane’s must try’s”. This combo makes for the perfect insta feed to follow in the lead up to my trip – I am all about “must try” coffee.

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@foodramblings // Brisbane

The instagram account of Brisbane food blog, Food Ramblings, is filled with delicious images of all the food I’m going to eat when I get to Brisbane. Yes, all of it.

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@swsco // Brisbane

Nicolette is a Brisbane-based photographer originally from Texas. Her photography is stunning and she regularly frequents cute cafes in Brisbane. I’m absolutely in love with her feed.

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Lastly, here is a collection of images from the insta accounts of various cafes, restaurants and shops in Brisbane and the Gold Coast that I’ve found and hope to check out while I’m there.

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Top (left to right): @showroombrisbane, @eatstreet, @twotreesespresso
Middle (left to right): @lamkinlane, @rawpawpawcafe, @reverendsfinecoffee
Bottom (left to right): @elkespresso, @grocerandgrindgoldcoast, @blackboardcoffee

I would love for you to share your favourite spots around Brisbane and the Gold Coast – I’m always looking for quality personal recommendations. And if you’re super keen, you can also follow my Queensland adventures on instagram @inexplicablewanderlust.

See you in sunny Queensland!

- Bec xx