Caretakers Cottage

Can I get an AMEN!?

Sitting adjacent to the hulking, gothic-style, protestant supporting Wesley Church on the fringes of Melbourne’s CBD is a charming little cottage. And inside that charming little cottage is an even charming-er little bar called Caretaker’s Cottage.

Originally the living abode of the church grounds caretaker, it has been there since 1858, but likely never served a Penicillin Milk punch (Johnny Walker black label, fresh ginger, lemon, salted bush honey, camomile, Talisker 10 year float) nor had cracking Guinness on tap, nor had The Avalanches spinning on vinyl.

The cottage was probably lit by candlelight and some stage, but it probably did not illuminate trendy 20, 30 and 40 somethings on date night whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears, which this intimate space seems to be perfect for.

It’s more than that though; outside, perched slightly above the rest of the Melbourne CBD, you are sandwiched between skyscrapers and elegant 19th century architecture –a contrast of new and old. It’s a space conducive to conversation.

In its first year of trading, Caretakers placed number 60 on the longlist of the Top 50 World’s Best Bars list, the only Australian bar to make the cut. This week, they went one better and placed 23rd in the 2023 list. Onwards and upwards.

Click here to see the rest of the World’s Best Bars.

Level 8 Los Angeles

We separate travel experiences by category on this website: do, stay, drink and eat. Level 8 probably ticks all four of these boxes, and then some.

It’s the new behemoth that has transformed downtown Los Angeles.


It’s sprawled across 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space on level 8 of the brand new Moxy Hotel and AC Downtown Hotel, right across the road from where the Lakers play.

It’s a labyrinth that includes a Japanese restaurant, a South American restaurant, burlesque, an opulent poolside party area that looks like a modern Great Gatsby scene, and a luxurious Mexican church-themed bar that includes a confessional booth, which you’ll surely need to visit more than once. There’s even a 24 hour supermarket downstairs.

The cool thing about Level 8 is that it’s everything you need in one – a night out from dinner to a raucous party, to a filthy club boogie and right through to kick ons – without ever leaving the building.

Shelter Brewing Co.

Beers in the west have sure come a long way from the humble bush chook.

Busselton’s locally owned Shelter Brewing Co is a recent addition to the thriving West Australian beer scene, joining stalwarts like Little Creatures, Colonial and Bootleg from that part of the world.

As well as producing an array of epic froffies, Shelter run an insightful brewery tour that also happens to be pretty laidback – like everything else here.

Seagulls, the smell of salt and probably a fair amount of sun are likely to be what greets you at Shelter, and it’s difficult to escape the feeling of that you’re in a Tim Winton novel. The brewery itself is humungous, with an arched roof that is typical of the architecture in this part of the world. Out the front is green lawn that leads up to the beach, and the longest jetty in the southern hemisphere.

Inside, the brewery has a capacity of about 800, and has bands playing occasionally. Tom from Shelter takes us around and tells us that 80% of the building’s power comes from the sun, the same ample sun that shines in through the gigantic wall to floor windows in the north-facing building, creating the pleasant aesthetic of drinking a beer in the sun whether you’re sitting inside or outside. He explains Shelter’s philosophy when it comes to brewing beer, which is typically laidback; “we brew beers that we want to drink”.

We walk along a platform, past a row of truly enormous vats while Tom explains the brewing process, made easier to understand with brewers brewing away right in front of us. Magic right there in front of our eyes.

There’s seven beers on tap – ignore any misgivings you might have when you hear the name of the brand-new and limited edition Beetroot Stout. It’s a smoky type of operation that is (thankfully) more stout than beetroot, and it’s delicious. The Indian Pale Ale is great too.

Shelter generally brews seven core beers, and you can get them from from bars and bottle shops around Western Australia, and available to order online for the rest of Australia.

YONA Phuket

“There’s nothing to do in Thailand,” said no-one ever, a rhetoric which continues with Yona Beach Club, the brand-new tropical party paradise floating aimlessly just off the coast of Patong Beach, Phuket.

We saw another article describe this place as a floating oasis, which doesn’t make any sense. How can an oasis, as a body of water, be floating? Yona too, is not a body of water, but a tiny, stunning man-made island. But we know what they mean.

The club’s two palm-tree lined levels offer a restaurant, several bars, a DJ booth, a bunch of cabanas to lounge about and two swimming pools to do the same. There’s kayaking and paddle boarding you can do if you feel like it, and it’s open late – from 11am until 2am every single day. This is probably the ultimate place to have a pool party….got a birthday coming up?

This is one of the most Insta-worthy bars/clubs we’ve seen in a while, and we can see it absolutely exploding as a result.

If chomping mushrooms at full-moon with a bunch of raving youngsters isn’t you, or you’re looking for something a little more upmarket, in the words of Talking Heads, this might be the place.

Grand Designs in Portarlington

The 1888-built Portarlington Grand Hotel has had a few renovations over the years, but none as big as this.

A $10 million refurbishment has turned the local watering hole of this once sleepy town on the Bellarine into an absolute coastal gem.

There’s a few different parts to get your head around. First, the Atrium; a light-filled, open-air space with nautical vibes that don’t overdo it.

Out the back of the Atrium there’s the Lawn, a breezy, green area with picnic tables and umbrellas. You can imagine an absolute vibe kicking up here in the summer months.

Heading indoors there’s the front bar; with wooden floorboards and booths – a bloody good spot to catch some mates. And further down through the classy walkway is the bistro, which is packed out most weekends for lunch and dinner.

The pub’s food offering makes heavy use of this coast’s excellent seafood. Portarlington mussels – the subject of a truly riotous mussel festival every January – are especially delicious here in the seafood-and-chorizo risotto. You’ll also find pub staples such as panko-crumbed schnitties, the classic chicken parma, whiting with chips and more. Locals supply the grog, with esteemed wineries Jack Rabbit and Terindah Estate, plus Flying Brick Cider Co, The Whiskery and more.

Portarlington is only an hour from Melbourne by ferry, which cuts across Port Phillip Bay and is actually shorter than driving, making it the perfect weekend getaway location. There’s 18 stunning rooms upstairs from the pub main, six featuring balconies looking out over the town and the water.

There’s been plenty of pub and restaurant openings over the last few years, and s well as being on the water and a destination in its own right, Portarlington is in close proximity to surf coast hotspots like Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads.

Get down there…before everyone else does.

Epic Recycled Brewery

Kamikatsu in southern Japan has set its sights on being a ‘zero-waste town’, and judging from their brewery, they’re well on their way.

The building that houses Rise and Win Brewery is made from mostly recycled materials, first and foremost the epic patchwork of windows at the front of the building, all nabbed from abandoned houses in the area and given a new lease of life.

The brewery itself isn’t too shabby either; the taproom featuring a delicious, rotating selection of kegs.

The beer itself follows the lead of the rest of the town, composting the by-products of the brewing and using wheat grown nearby for beer that is truly local.

There’s everything from a lighter summer ale through to a stout, and a tasty looking BBQ-inspired menu.

The rogue whisky maker in central Tasmania

Peter Bignell takes waste reduction to a new level.

About 13 years ago the sixth generation sheep farmer in Tasmania’s central highlands, came into possession of an excess of rye. To get rid of it, he decided to start making his own whisky. And so Belgrove Whisky was born.

Since then, his whisky has gone from strength to strength, from winning national awards to being served in high-end Tasmanian restaurants like Peacock and Jones (where he recommends his white rye whisky be paired with the wallaby tartare). He’s had Gordon Ramsey out to his property, and had him unceremoniously shovelling sheep shit for the ‘Wholly Shit Whisky’ blend.

Peter and his Iraqi offsider Maan (who gave up a PhD to brew the good stuff for a living) do not do things the traditional way. An old washing machine is used in the mixing process. Peter makes his own stills. He places a reliance on smell and taste where others would use tools and computers.

“We’re here to make flavours, not alcohol, and that’s very important,” he says.

“We do everything by hand, so no two of our blends are ever exactly the same.

“And yes, we could probably get a bunch of computers together that regulate everything and make some really good whisky out of it. But gee that would be boring, wouldn’t it?”

Tours and tastings of the Belgrove’s distillery is not the clean-cut, streamlined beauty of the bigger operations, and therein lies the beauty. The distillery is at Peter’s house. Tastings take place in his shed, rather than a glitzy tasting room. Instead of a spittoon or a sink, any leftover whisky from each sample should be tipped onto the floor.

The Belgrove White Rye whisky is the one featured on Peacock and Jones’ menu, and on the day get lost visit, the aptly named Bogan Burnout is a favourite. The whiskey is emblematic of a commitment from Peacock and Jones, and indeed the Tasmanian culinary scene in general, to sourcing local produce wherever possible.

Best of all, the man himself doesn’t seem to give a shit.

“Things don’t always work out. For instance, I tried to make a whisky that no one likes,” Peter says.

“I failed miserably. Everyone seems to like Bogan Burnout.”

Belgrove Whiskey features on a brand new menu at Peacock and Jones, based within Hobart’s Henry Jones Art Hotel. 

The best Irish pub not in Ireland?

I told an Irish flute player I met at the bar of the Drunken Poet that it had been named among the best Irish pubs outside of Ireland.

“No mate,” he corrected me. “This place is better than most of the pubs at home.”

If you’re in Melbourne on St. Patrick’s Day it’d be rude not to pop in here…or any day, to be fair, given the craic on offer at this absolute stalwart.

It has all the hallmarks of what makes a great Irish pub: a warm space of small nooks and crannies, tiny circles of chairs crammed with talented musicians named Caihome or Aoife, plus the best pint of Guinness in Australia.

The pub gets its name from the portraits of ‘drunken’ poets that line the walls. There’s live music from talented fiddlers and flutists, or live poetry and spoken word six nights a week. This is the key – there’s always something happening, which is what makes it so special. Sláinte.

Washington D.C. After Dark

get lost’s man on the ground Roberto Serrini is no stranger to being out and about in a foreign city after dark, so he’s a good judge when it comes to this sort of thing.

We recently sent him to Washington D.C., and amongst finding a brand new food halls with epic, upmarket American favourites and the super cool, slightly creepy International Spy Museum…

The Garden District, Washington D.C.

…he was also able to show us where to go on a night out in the ‘Murican capital.

Perch yourself up at a bar and let the experts do their thing.

Check it out:

Brewery in the bush

There are just two ingredients you need for an incredible brewery experience.

Good beer is mandatory, but an almost treasure-hunt-like experience to find a new brewery always reminds you that the journey is always more important than the destination.

Wyadra Brewing is a small craft beer producer operated by John and Kate Dall on their remote property at Tallong in southern New South Wales. And when we say property, we mean literal tin shed propped up against an old oak tree and sandwiched between a dirt track and busy freight rail line.

After traversing the aforementioned endless dirt track, Wyadra appears like a mirage on the horizon.

Three crowns from its icon logo emerging like a beacon of beer beckoning us for a good afternoon of boozing in the bush.

In the brewshed, you can gather around John’s makeshift timber bar and roaring log fireplace while old vintage cars hover on hoists above – one of which is an old red Lamborghini.

In between John’s home-made hors d’oeuvre of Primo cabanossi and tasty cheddar cheese, the real star of the show at Wyadra is the beer.

And if you’re looking for an afternoon to settle in and forget you’re actually miles away from Australia’s biggest city, acoustic guitar acts from the bush frequent the shady branches of Wyadra’s old oak on a Saturday afternoon.

Ask for a tour of John’s mechanic shed-cum-brewery and be sure to buy a sticker for your Esky so you can tell your kids about your experience, this one won’t remain a secret from Sydneysiders for long.