Category Archives: australia travel

Melbourne: Art Hotels, Beer Hall Drinks, and Jazz

Melbourne's Jazz Festival (c)
Melbourne’s Jazz Festival (c)

Most people don’t know that Melbourne is well voted, time and time again, as one of the world’s most livable cities. With it’s impressive calendar of high profile events throughout the year, including the Melbourne International Jazz Festival (May 30 – June 8, 2014), Melbourne International Film Festival (July 31 – August 17, 2014) Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival (November 4, 2014), and the Australian Open Tennis Championships (January 19 – February 1, 2015), it’s also the gateway to regional Victoria, with her deserts, alpine ski resorts, mighty rivers, great lakes, wildlife, and unparalleled spectacle known as the Great Ocean Road. At the same time, art and design groups are flourishing, alongside Melbourne’s natural beauty.


For example, luxury boutique hotel group, Art Series Hotels is bringing their well-known art inspired concept to regional and urban cities around Australia in a compact & affordable way. First stop, Bendigo – the regional hub of art and culture – and the perfect location for the first studio inspired hotel.

Artist Mark Schaller, today regarded as one of Australia’s strongest mid career artists with his expressionistic, vigorous style, will join the fold. A founding member of the renowned Roar studios in the early 1980’s, his paintings and prints that have been acquired by major institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and National Gallery of Victoria. He’s the real deal.

And… we love the idea of the art studio hotel. No, we actually live for it. A hotel is the best possible location for an experience filled with art and design. To not simply to stay in a location, but to experience the vision and emotion of each designated artist while also on vacation. That is at least one meaning in life. If not the best one.

PS. The second Art Series Studio, Larwill Studio will open in Parkville, Melbourne in December.


If that’s not reason enough to check out Melbourne, you also have their unique dining and cocktail scene. We hear Adam D’Sylva’s Tonka is a throwback to his Indian and Italian heritage, featuring cocktails including the Darjeeling Fizz, Tonka Lassi and Miguel’s Milk Punch, while Cookie combines Thai food with its mantra of being a Beer Hall, Eating House and Disco to create the perfect environment to dine, flirt, sip and reminisce. The walls are adorned with murals and artwork from Melbourne artists, and the popular ‘kiss wall’ eventuated of its own accord and is now covered with scores of lipstick kisses amassed over the years.


Sounds pretty good to me.

For more information on things to do, places to go, and sights to see in Melbourne, click the link to for Travel Victoria’s website.

We also liked the list of Melbourne’s hot Jazz clubs on the blog, According to their blog, they said to check out, among others:

Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, a Melbourne institution known for late night jams and dubbed by Lonely Planet as “the world’s best jazz club”. Located in a back alley off Little Lonsdale Street, the club has been around for more than 20 years.

25 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne

Uptown Jazz Café, hidden up an unassuming set of stairs on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, there’s live music four nights a week and the stage is graced by a renowned list of local and international acts. There’s also a solid Japanese restaurant downstairs if you want to grab a bite prior.

177 Brunswick St, Fitzroy


Sydney – An LGBT Mardi Gras Experience

Wave Your Equality Flag!
Wave Your Equality Flag!

In celebration and support of Marriage Equality and Civil Rights FOR ALL – regardless of gender, sexuality, color, creed, (or the religious institutions that attempt to use an omnipotent invisible power as an excuse to limit the rights of wonderful, loving human beings) – here is a brand spankin’ new post on Sydney, an LGBT Mardi Gras Experience by Max Kelerstein, social@Ogilvy’s Digital Strategist Extraordinaire and LGBT Travel Guru.

Kylie Minogue at Mardi Gras Sydney
Kylie Minogue at Mardi Gras Sydney

Ever thought about escaping winter’s bitter cold for some hot summer fun? If you answered with a resounding ‘yes’, like me, then you must consider going to Sydney’s Mardi Gras. Did I mention it’s all gay? I just came back from experiencing the gayest Mardi Gras celebration on earth and it all happens Down Under. This year, celebrated Australian artist and gay icon Kylie Minogue was the guest of honor – and although I’m not a huge fan – you can imagine how crazy Australians reacted at seeing her in the parade and ensuing parties. Previous years’ guests have included Rupert Everett, Margaret Cho, Adam Lambert, and Lily Tomlin, among others.

Just chillin in Sydney
Just chillin in Sydney

The celebrations last for about 2 weeks with a whole range of events including a film festival, concerts, cultural events, and must-see parties.  One of these was the Sydney Harbour Party, a 6-7 hour event on a beautiful venue that overlooks that stunning Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Then there’s the parade, similar to what a NY Pride parade would be. People from all over the world come to Sydney for this celebration, generating over A$30 million for the state’s economy. Not too shabby.

Besides the official Mardi Gras activities, the variety of gay bars and clubs around Oxford Street provided plenty of nightly entertainment. Midnight Shift, my favorite of the gay clubs there, had one of the best drag shows I have seen, featuring choreographed performances by three glamorous queens and two beautiful back up dancers. The beaches are also a must go and South Bondi Beach is the place to be seen, though for a more local crowd (and HOT surfers), follow the rocky path to Tamarama beach. Whether you get a tan at the beaches or you party the night away at one of the many parties and clubs, Sydney should be on your top list of places to visit for LGBT travel – just remember you need a visa (that’s very easy to get)… and plenty of sun block!

Max Kelerstein - LGBT Travel Correspondent
Max Kelerstein – LGBT Travel Correspondent

By Max Kelerstein

Twitter: @TheMaxK

If you’re interested in another LGBT travel story, check out my Tel Aviv post.

Bondi’s Sexiest Beach Bar

Sydney's Sexiest Bondi Beach Bar

On the hunt for hot, we came across this sweet spot right on the cusp of Aussie’s fine coast. Since Australia isn’t nearly as fickle as LA, we’re pretty sure it’s still swirling with sexy.

From Shecky’s Nightlife

By Kelly Dobkin

Sydney: Icebergs Dining Room and Bar
One Notts Ave. (@Campbell Parade)
Bondi Beach + 011.61.29365.900

Cliffside ocean views make Icebergs in Sydney one of the most beautiful bars in the world. Have a seat on the outdoor patio right up against the water, or lounge on plush couches inside, where floor-to-ceiling glass windows and candlelight showcase pristine views. You’ll likely be surrounded by gorgeous bronzed mates who’ve just stepped in from tony Bondi Beach.

Gorgeous, bronzed mates? Most beautiful bar in the world? Australia?

Bloody fine, indeed.

Australia’s Latest Spa

Hamilton Island's Latest Spa

How’s this for off-the-radar?

Spa wumurdaylin (woo-mer-day-lin) just opened in August and it’s the newest full-service day spa on Hamilton Island in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

The name ‘wumurdaylin’ means dragonfly, a symbol of renewal, freedom, and beauty. With 11 treatment rooms and 3 couples rooms ideal for honeymooners, guests can step off the beach and into a sensory cocoon haven with décor inspired by the surrounding Whitsunday Islands.

The menu includes body cocoon wraps, exfoliations, facials, massages, manis/pedis, and alternative therapies such as naturopath consultations and Reiki treatments.  What makes the spa offerings different is that they incorporate indigenous products that are unique to the Great Barrier Reef and infuse Ancient Aboriginal techniques. This is why we had to share. We’re all about indigenous treatments.

Signature treatments include:

· LI’TYA Susu Dew ‘meaning ‘sea spray’ is a rhythmic body massage, inspired by traditional Australian Aboriginal techniques, which balances and re-aligns energy flow ($140 AUD/hr)

· For Him and Her – in couples treatment rooms, pure spa bliss is guaranteed with a full body massage, oriental head and scalp massage, de-stress foot exfoliation, Moroccan rose and guava hand hydration treatment and a petite spa facial ($510 AUD per couple/2 hrs)

· Mother of Pearl Body Polish – a gentle full body exfoliation treatment that’s rich in marine and plant collagens, crushed mother of pearl, walnut and wattle seed to smooth and refresh tired skin ($160 AUD/hr)

· Mothers-to-be: a nourishing maternal blessing organic honey and cocoa body wrap ($220 AUD/1.5 hours) or a soothing full body pregnancy massage ($120 AUD/hr)

Spa wumurdaylin also uses luxury Australian spa products from Waterlily and LI’TYA as they provide a unique indigenous experience while capturing the beauty of the Whitsunday Islands.   Waterlily delivers authentic aromatherapy spa rituals harnessing the rejuvenating properties of essential oils and all Waterlily products are infused with cold pressed plant oils, anti-aging vitamins, fresh flowers, fruits and herbal concentrates to create a sensory journey for the body, mind and soul. LI’TYA, meaning ‘of the earth’, is an organic premium product range that contains pure botanicals, organic Australia native plants, pure essential oils and natural fragrances with a tread light philosophy.

We would now like to know… when’s the last time you visited the Hamilton island?