Forty Spotted Gin Bar

As if we needed another reason to visit Tassie, the team behind Forty Spotted Gin have just gone and opened a bar. Hidden away from Hobart’s main strip, the venue is a work of art, and has been built using thousands of individual pieces of timber joined together to symbolise the nest of a forty-spotted pardalote – one of the Apple Isle’s rarest birds and the gin brand’s namesake.

The entire Forty Spotted range is available to sip and sample, including the just-released half-strength Raspberry and Rose, plus there’s an impressive collection of more than 20 unique gins from right across the world. You can even book a 90-minute gin-blending masterclass at the ‘Ginstitute’, and take home your very own bespoke bottle of the good stuff.

Paranormal Wines

The name says it all, really. Canberra’s cool new bottle shop-meets-bar is a mecca for lovers of quirky, out-of-this-world wines, especially varietals that are natural and organic. With a simple brick frontage it’s unassuming from the outside, and just as relaxed once you step inside, making it the perfect place for a cheeky after work drink or lazy Sunday sesh, or to quickly pop into on your way to dinner, when it’s BYO and you need to impress with a fancy drop.

Nibbles come in the form of marinated olives, La Luna Holy Goat Cheeses, Ortiz anchovies and charcuterie platters, which can be enjoyed at the huge communal table or even across the road at Hassett Park. Our pick of the vinos? You can’t go past the house rosé – thank us later.

Slow Lane Brewing

Don’t be surprised if the name Slow Lane Brewing rings a bell. You’ve probably seen the cute, candy-coloured tinnies at your local independent bottle shop, and with some luck you’ve even tried – and most likely loved – one of the popular sours or pale ales. If that’s the case, you’ll be stoked to hear this husband and wife-owned brewery has just opened the doors to its Botany based warehouse and taproom.

Be prepared to do a double take at the wall lined with wine barrels (Slow Lane ferment many of its beers in aged oak barrels – it’s a European thing), before settling at one of the tables to enjoy a delicious froff, including a hoppy sour ale brewed using an experimental yeast strain discovered growing on a tree in a Philadelphia graveyard. Yep, that’s a thing.

Harlow

Just when you thought Melbourne couldn’t possibly have any vacant rooftops left to spare, along comes Harlow. Formerly the Great Britain Hotel, after a handy 1.3 million-dollar refurb this new space is ready to go, and believe us when we say, she’s a real beauty.

With a capacity for 200 people (without restrictions, of course), there are plenty of spots to perch and either sip a Rockstar – an exclusive rooftop-only cocktail of watermelon-infused tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, watermelon simple syrup and chilli salt or knock back a parma or burger. They also do a boozy bottomless lunch, which we all know is the cool thing to do right now. But it’s the sweeping, uninterrupted city views that will have you returning time and time again.

Neon Palms

The 80s are back, baby, but this time they’re cool! Neon Palms is a Miami Vice-inspired, pastel coloured fever dream serving up frozen slushies, a synth-heavy soundtrack and guaranteed good times. Located in the trendy Perth suburb of Northbridge, it’s the brainchild of hospitality pals Hayden Carter and Sasha Fagan, who met bartending at the Ritz-Carlton Perth and share a love of the whole Miami-in-the-80s aesthetic.

There are private booths to cosy up in, an outdoor courtyard lined with AstroTurf and custom neon signs adorning the walls, while the lurid-looking (and no doubt, tequila heavy) cocktails match the décor perfectly. If hunger strikes, Brazilian chef Marcelo Kretzer is dishing out mean Cubano sandwiches, and his signature homemade empanadas are an absolute must-eat.

Hurtigruten Expeditions to protect Antarctica’s whales

Hurtigruten Expeditions has joined forces with California Ocean Alliance (COA), a research and conservation organisation, to study and protect the whales of Antarctica.

To coincide with the restart of Hurtigruten Expeditions’ 2021/2022 Antarctica season, several COA scientists will be sailing onboard the MS Roald Amundsen (the world’s first hybrid electric-powered expedition cruise ship) to collect data and study ambient noise conditions.

In particular, the team will focus on the myriad sounds that marine animals make, and the influence of human presence on the soundscape. They will also collect skin and blubber biopsy samples to evaluate individual health, population growth rates and stress levels.

And by observing how different whales behave near humans, it will allow Hurtigruten Expeditions to adapt and minimise their interference with these majestic marine creatures, while still giving guests the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see them up close.

Guests will be encouraged to get involved with the research during their expedition cruise, and can chat to the scientists, attend lectures and demonstrations, and visit the state-of-the-art Science Centre, which features museum-style exhibits and is overseen by the cruise industry’s only Chief Scientist, Dr Verena Meraldi.

Escape to a tiny house

What they lack in size they make up for in character, and boy do these tiny houses pack a punch. Tiny Away’s fleet of 75 cute and compact cabins are dotted right across the country, in gorgeous rural locations like the Kangaroo Valley in New South Wales and Boneo in Victoria.

A stay in one of these eco-friendly, off-the-grid homes offers the chance to get back to nature without sacrificing your creature comforts, and all the properties are kitted out with luxurious and modern amenities. Outdoor fire pits, plush linen and coffee machines are just a few of the welcome additions you can expect to find, and some places even welcome pets.

One of our faves would have to be Serenity Abode in Beaconsfield Upper, which is a stylish and cosy lodge (it even has fairy lights!) nestled in lush forest between the Dandenong Ranges and the Yarra Valley. And we can’t go past The Clyde – a teeny bungalow perched on the banks of the Williams River in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, where you can go kayaking, fishing, swimming and boating.

With a lockdown-friendly booking policy, the only hard part is choosing one home to visit!

Discover Aboriginal knowledge in NSW

You owe it to yourself to take an Indigenous tour through Wiradjuri country in NSW where visitors are invited to walk in the footsteps of Wiradjuri people.

Water is the backbone of the traditional homeland of the Wiradjuri people – the largest Aboriginal group in New South Wales, where the Wambool (Macquarie), Kalari (Lachlan) and Murrumbidjeri (Murrumbidgee) Rivers meet. The tour is led by Wiradjuri man Mark Saddler and owner of Bundyi Aboriginal Cultural Knowledge tours whose family hails from a country called Euabalong, in Central New South Wales.

Mark’s award-winning tours are personalised for travellers, whether individual or group, and offer deep knowledge of his Riverina homeland around Wagga Wagga.

In Wiradjuri country, a strong culture has been thriving for thousands of generations. Mark shares his knowledge about bush tucker, native animals, and the connection Aboriginal people have to those animals and places.

Discover freshwater middens along the banks of the Murrumbidjeri and learn about centuries-old spears buried in the canola fields. On full and half day tours by bus or 4WD in the Riverina, visitors learn how to map bygone waterways using ancient ‘scar trees’, that are trunks with enormous gashes removed to carve canoes.

A two-hour walking tour is available, inviting visitors to look, smell, touch and immerse in this ancient country and culture. Every part of Australia is Aboriginal country with unique stories and experiences to be told. The word Bundyi means sharing or to share in Wiradjuri and Mark can’t wait to share his country with you!

Learn about ancient Pearling in WA

Discover the beauty of the Kimberley Coast on the Borrgoron Coast to Creek tour with Bardi man Terry Hunter.

The Kimberley Coast is where the world’s largest tropical tides play, and where the Dampier Peninsula’s Aboriginal people have observed nature for millennia. Terry grew up on a remote pearl farm on the Kimberley and is following his ancestors’ lead by existsting in harmony with nature. Terry shares his people’s sustainable approach during a two-hour walking tour through the mangrove-rich landscape.

The Bardi (land) and Jawi (island) people of the Dampier Peninsula retain a particularly special relationship with their land and sea that encompasses in-depth knowledge of bush food, medicine and traditional hunting and fishing practice. Travellers hear Terry’s stories of a fascinating bush childhood, and his deep historical knowledge of the pearling trade. Terry is a fourth-generation pearler and shares his culture on a one-hour tour of Cygnet Bay Pearl farm. This experience includes the Hunter family history’s four generation connection to Cygnet Bay and stories of life growing up on this remote pearl farm.

Forage for oysters, hear Indigenous stories and discover a culture that has lived in harmony with this country for thousands of years and continues to practice traditional ways of caring for the land. Gain cultural insight through storytelling and connection on a personal level on Discover Aboriginal Experiences offerings.

Explore Australia’s Indigenous South-West

Josh Whiteland is a Wadandi man and cultural custodian from the Busselton, Dunsborough and Margaret River areas of Australia. In this beautiful south-west corner is Wadandi and Bibbulman country. When Josh isn’t busy sharing his Indigenous knowledge of bush tucker with visiting culinary stars, he’s sharing his in-depth cultural knowledge to guests on his Koomal Dreaming Cultural Experiences.

The Wadandi and Bibbulman people have walked the ancient Margaret River lands for almost 50,000 years. Together with other Aboriginal groups from Kalbarri to Esperance, they are known as Noongar. The Noongar culture is as rich and varied as the countryside itself. Visitors are invited to share in the Noongar knowledge of culture in this pristine environment.

The fascinating tour combines culture, food and geography for a deep cultural experience and opportunity to taste native ingredients, learn about bush medicine and meet the animals and plants. Josh will also demonstrate the traditional way of fire lighting.

Josh recounts stories of the Dreaming Spirits that relate to his traditional area and welcomes visitors deep into Ngilgi Cave for a memorable didgeridoo cave experience. He’s not only talented with local foods and native flavours, he’s also a deadly musician and dancer.