Monthly Archives: July 2010

Standing in That Big Blue Bit Called the Pacific

4.03pm, Monday 26th July, Brisbane Airport, Queensland, Australia
Today I have a ‘did you know?’ thing for you. Did you know that the Pacific Ocean is absolutely massive, and covers about 30% of the earth’s surface? I’ve had a very, very lucky run this year, and have been on both edges of that particular big blue bit of water. Early this morning I was perched about thigh deep on one side of the Pacific – the Southern bit – at Surfer’s Paradise south of Brisbane, and earlier this year I was on the other side – the Northern bit – at Del Mar, which is on the coast just north of San Diego. How good is that! It all looks a lot the same  from both spots actually – big watery nothing else for the whole horizon, which is great in itself. It certainly makes geography lessons come alive when you get to lift this stuff out of the atlas and into three live dimensions. Come to think of it, with the internet and all, the atlas will probably become  a collectible relic of the past, just like street directories  – with every man and his dog running a GPS to get around. I’m going to keep my maps and start marking off the blue bits I’ve stood in and flown over on this job – I’ll probably surprise myself.

Watch out for the Wallabies!

Why was I in Surfers? Went for a bit of a look after seeing the Wallabies get up over the Springboks in Brisbane last Saturday night.

*** OK, on that note – “Kia Ora” my New Zealand colleagues – here’s a big prediction that could get me into hot water in a few weeks time when we’re working over in the Land of The Long White Cloud. I know it’s early days, but we saw something special start with this win against the Boks. ‘King Coach’ Robbie Deans is starting to get what he wants, and I think the Men of Gold are going to take it right up to the All Blacks, and maybe not the Bledisloe, but will take one cup off them. It will be the Webb Ellis Trophy – in Auckland – next year. All the signs are there kids, all the signs are there.

(If they don’t, I may never work across the Tasman again – as I’ll be laughed out of the place. But that’s what I reckon)

See ya when we’re back in the wintery old Barossa – where I might have to invest in a new hot water bottle!

Our Sustainability Guy Definitely Thinks Big

Cecil Camilleri

While Jane is away, I thought I’d share an insight into our lovable sustainability guy, Cecil, with multiple PhDs. He is not afraid to think big about these issues. Check out the article in this link

Tony B

And the Tigers win!

7.54am, Tuesday, 20th July, Kingsford Smith Airport, Sydney, New South Wales

Tigers win 30-16!

This trip I’ve done both codes of Sydney football – Union and League. Last night we were down at ‘the old lady’ Leichhardt Oval – true home of the Balmain Tigers – to see the Tiges get up over the North Queensland Cowboys 30-16. Lote Tuquiri was on fire and slid two tries in along the sidelines, and the boys stood up in the second half and steam rolled home. And there we were in the Keith Barnes Stand, soaking it all up and still telling stories of ‘remember when’ – my favourite being the legendary Scott Gale ‘chip, chase and re-gather’ try to that end – and yes we were actually at that game!

It was a great time back in the late ’80s to be following the Balmain Tigers, and we had such a great time as an extended ‘football family’. You think things are always going to be that good! If I knew then that we actually had the ‘tiger by the tail’, I never would have slept and would have packed even more in! So it was nice to re live it all last night with a two other diehard fans – Danni and Paul, who came down from Scratchley’s on the Wharf at Newcastle. Good luck for the rest of the season, and keep your eye on a young back from Wests Tigers, Blake Ayshford.

So thanks for a great week Sydney. I’m off to the Barossa to  get back amongst the wintertime weather.

Tales of Old Sydney and a Win for Easts

Easts wins!

4.24pm,  Sunday 18th July, Glebe Point Road,  Inner Western Suburbs, Sydney, New South Wales
Bit of a slow start this morning after a big 40th birthday party last night for a mate of mine from the Balmain Tigers (Rugby League) cheer squad. That was in their heyday in the late 1980s when they were always in the finals and I was living in Sydney for three years. It was a classic case of playing ‘remember when’ and reminding folks of all the embarrassing things we did when we were young!! Not to mention the amazing ‘nocciola’ hazelnut ganache choc mousse Italian birthday cake concoction from Patisseria Cavallaro over in Leichhardt. They have been putting these things together for over 20 years. Another one of those best kept Sydney secrets.

Best thing about this break is that I’ve been putting in very Sydney days. Yesterday was my first-ever local suburban Rugby Union match, and seeing as we’re the sponsor for Easts and they were playing traditional local rivals Randwick at home – it was off to Woollahra Oval for me. And if you’re heading for anywhere near the water in Sydney, the best possible way to travel is on the water – so it was onto the local ferry from Circular Quay to Rose Bay.

I was going to walk around to the oval from there, and as luck would have it, I ran into a mate of mine – The Mad Irishman – at the ferry stop! He was walking the dog with a charming older gentleman who turned out to be one of the city’s more famous fine dining restarauteurs from the 1960s, so I was treated to coffee and a bagful of yarns at the Sugarloaf Cafe – on the way to the oval – for a good hour or so.

Names of classic dinner and dancing establishments  like The Caprice, La Taverne, Caravelle and  The Silver Spade Room were bought to life with fabulous descriptions of food and decor – let alone the unforgettable stories of the clientele. Visiting entertainers like Burt Bacharach, Sammy Davis Jr, Frank Sinatra and a 17-year-old Shirley Bassey, blended in with the more ‘colourful’ socialites and high profile Sydneysiders, made for ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ tales that kept me enthralled. What a lucky meeting and lovely start to my afternoon.

Down the road a couple hundred metres to the oval, and I got to Easts about 15 minutes before game time. Apparently this rivalry with Randwick goes back years, and I am very pleased to report an incredibly entertaining game with something like 13 tries – from big solid forwards as well as some pretty back line stuff, several Wallabies on the pitch, and a pretty vocal crowd to make it all interesting. Best statistic was the score – Easts 46 to Randwick 34. And to top it all off,  I was lucky enough to meet the young fly half Matt Toomua who plays for Easts and has already debuted for the Wallabies. Definitely one to watch!

I think it will be a quiet old night tonight, dinner will be a very healthy combination of  mini iced cupcakes left over from last night’s party and toasted ham cheese and tomato sandwiches, and then tomorrow is another day … leading up to the big clash between the Tigers and North Queensland Cowboys tomorrow night at Leichhardt Oval. See ya when it’s a new week!

A Great Day on the Harbour

7.20pm, Friday 16th July, Glebe, Sydney, New South Wales
Another tremendous clear sky day here in Sydney,  and before we get to our adventures today – let me sort out yesterday.

The 18 Footers Club

Things went pretty well as I outlined at the Kings Cross internet cafe. We ended up around at the Australian 18 Footers Club in Double Bay for lunch – one of the absolutely best-kept secrets in Sydney! The building shares a jetty right on Double Bay with the inner harbour ferries, and we sat on the deck right out front !

Now what are the 18 Footers all about? That was my question.

It turns out that 18-foot skiff sailing on Sydney Harbour started back in 1892 and developed into an organised ‘sailing league’ in 1935. Your man J.J. Giltinan got involved and planned a proper “World Championship” for these sailboats in 1938  in Sydney to coincide with the city’s 150th anniversary, and that has developed into the modern day sailing season that runs from October to March each year – with a fleet of 20-25 boats owned by the club, which is still situated at Double Bay.

Now they have their own restaurant, lounge and bar which is open year-round – and the spectator boat that loads up with 200  supporters and heads out on Sunday afternoon race days in season, with their own on-board bookie and bar. 

The club has a fabulous history, and seeing as JJ Giltinan was also instrumental in setting up the NSW rugby league competition, apparently a lot of the early rugby league stars used to crew 18 foot skiffs in their off season – to keep fit.

I spent a couple of hours soaking up the sun, sea air, and sailboat stories with two delightful young blokes: Luke Redmond, the club manager, and Jordan Roche, the bar manager. We have several of our wines on at the 18 Footers Club, and it’s definitely one of the more impressive ‘on the water’ addresses that we’re at!

 After lunch I caught the ferry back to Circular Quay and noticed that as we went past Wooloomooloo Bay that the navy ships Sydney, Success, Ballarat and Tobruk were all in port. Around the corner, and a nice look at the Opera House and Harbour Bridge just as the sun was sinking behind North Sydney … and you can see why folks are sold on Sydney being one of – if not the – most impressive harbours in the world.

Serve With Honour

PS Here’s the ship’s crest for my adopted patrol boat HMAS Childer.s “Serve With Honour”.

Now to today.

The Sugaroom wontons

Back on to the harbour, around to see our boy Rami at the Sugaroom on Johnstone’s Bay. We did our Sydney consumer dinner for the Rare & Fine wine release back in May this year, and we took the opportunity to go round and have a look at the new winter menu. I tried chef Nick Clarke’s new  Prawn Scallop & Spinach Wontons with Nam Jim, as the inner harbour traffic chugged by – sailboats, barges, ferries, fishing cruisers, tugboats and the odd coastal freighter. If you were ever in any doubt about Sydney being a proper working harbour – Sugaroom is the place to prop and watch it all happen. Seeing as I’m on leave, I even had a glass of wine with the wontons – a glass of NV Zonin Prosecco from Friuli – just to see what all the fuss is about. Clean fresh light & fluffy pear apple perfume and bread dough with a sweet/sour apple twangy finish. Nice with the coriander, lime juice and prawn combo. I cannot tell you how lucky I know I am to be able to do this stuff . If you’re looking for a quiet corner of the city with great food, coffee and just lovely people looking after you – go see Rami & Nick at the Sugaroom. And just for fun – don’t forget to ask Rami for some of his home made limoncello – memorable stuff!

And so now  it’s an early night, as it’s the big birthday party tomorrow night that I’m actually in Sydney for … and I have a rugby game to go to first. See ya when it’s Saturday.

This Annual Leave Stuff Is Definitely the Go

11.28am – same day, same place
Sorry folks, the next word in that sentence is “style”. That’s what you get for using dodgy cheap internet spots stuck out the back of grocery shops!

Any rate – huge night had by all – Easts and Yalumba are a lovely mutual admiration society, and a lot of us will be out there on Saturday afternoon at 3pm as Easts take on traditional rivals Randwick at home. As kearnsy says, “Go Hard!” boys.

The view from the ferry

And for me, I’ll be off to the Australian 18 Footers Club after Wooloomooloo for lunch – the boys have offered to show me around, and the sailing club is right on the water at Double Bay – so a nice spot to watch the Harbour traffic go by. This annual leave stuff is definitely the go – I could get very used to this!

See ya from the supposed to be sinful bit of the Harbour City!

Top Night With Phil Kearns and Easts Rugby Club

11.16am, Internet cafe next to the Swans Club, Kings Cross, Sydney, New South Wales
What a difference being on the other side of the country makes! Here in Sydney it is a beautiful clear day, and I’ve caught the bus into the city, walked all the way through William Street , through Kings Cross, and I’m on my way to Wooloomooloo. Why? Because there’s a naval supply shop that’s been there for ages, and I’m off to buy the ship’s crest for the HMAS Childers – the patrol boat that I toured up in Cairns just recently, and adopted.

Last night was our big once-a-year-wine dinner at Easts Rugby club – all part of being their major sponsor – and what a top night. Jen excelled herself with the room setup, and for anyone who has ever been to the Tao nightclub in the Venetian – Las Vegas – we had the floating tea lights just like they have – as our table centrepieces. Very chic! The wines were flying – not only did we start with Jansz, but we did the Virgilius, Heggies Reserve Chardonnay, 2006 FDR 1A (on fire!), 2005 Signature – with one of the signatories Greg Pullen very much in the room as the architecht over many years of the Easts & Yalumba relationship , and the Single Site Lyndoch Shiraz – very traditional, solid wall of fruit stuff.

Special mention for the star guest of the night, Phil ‘baby face’ Kearns,  the greatest Wallaby hooker I’ve seen – and he was very quick last night – and stopped me speechless in my tracks yet again! Top man to work with and calls a great  game in his role as commentator with his unique “a spade is a spade”