Writing opinion pieces and reviews gets me away from the desk (and at a bar, where I belong), and balances my commercial style. Credits include The Billfold, The Vine, Time Out Melbourne, Broadsheet, Hide & Seek Melbourne, and The Age ‘Good Guides’ books. I also co-edited Wingspan, a birds and conservation magazine.
Click on the dropdowns below for more writing samples and links.
The Cost of Becoming Interested in Fencing as an Adult
When I first started fencing, I imagined the only gear I’d need is a cutlass, some of those thigh-high leather boots sported by Errol Flynn in Captain Blood, and a chandelier full of candles to show my enemies how sharp my weapon is. Who would have thought fencing is a full contact, anaerobic sport that requires an ocean of protective gear?
By the time I realized this, I had the bug and there was no turning back. Once I’d faced an opponent twice my size, dashed up and down the piste and bested him with a flick of my wrist, the gym treadmill was no longer an option—nor the jog/walk to the bottle-o to pick up the Wednesday wine I once thought of as “exercise.” Read here.
The Bottom End – CBD bar
If the opening scene of Goodfellas jumped into bed with a Midwestern diner and invited along a merrie Englande-style theatre restaurant for a threesome, the resulting smutty movie would look like The Bottom End. Slither into a shadowy booth for a Robert Mitchum (bourbon, maple syrup, orange juice and egg) or prop by the bustling bar to loudly chug down a Black Velvet (Guinness and sparkling wine). Americano chow includes greasy treats like Philly cheese steak, Po’ Boys and NYC Buffalo Wings a-go-go. Waitresses are dressed ‘classy’ in the 1960s sense; in another life they’d be avec heels and sans pants having their bums pinched by panting Roger Stirling types. This raunchy pub/diner/club is a ton of dirty fun and just what you need to get your swerve on, old-style.
Did anyone know that backpacking is now an extreme sport? This formerly gentle and non-competitive pastime is now as stratified as the Olympics and rather like any tournament with brackets, divisions, ranks and top seeds worth cheating a drug test for, always has a clear winner. If you paid twenty bucks to swim at the Hilton you are a LOSER. If you scammed a free swim, pinched a fluffy robe, a fruit basket and eleven Piña Coladas then you are a GOLD MEDAL WINNER.
Who spent the least money to get from A to B and with the least luggage? Who had the most meaningful interaction with the Village Woman? Who changed everyone’s lives by teaching illiterate people how to make mobile phone covers out of plastic bags and at the same time saved the environment? You know of whom I speak.
Pop Culture in the Developing World
Travel Chums (and other bums)
Travelling with Breasts
Searching for Sugar Man: Mythmaking at its Best?
In Praise of the World’s Worst Food
The Lost Worlds of Yesterday
Fugazza – 5-star cafe review
Don’t even get me started on the ’90s.
According to the editors of Frankie, window dressers of Dotti etc (ie people who wouldn’t know the ’90s if they were divebombed with a planeload of Eddie Vedder’s flannies), this period was all about ay-may-zing fashion: crop tops, tiny camel toe shorts, Docs and Aztec prints and acid wash jeans.
Somewhere along the way, everyone’s forgotten what the ACTUAL ’90s were about. Oversized, high-waisted pale blue jeans. Chambray shirts buttoned up to the top (tucked in at the front, not the back) with a cameo brooch. Waistcoats. Overalls. Jason Priestly’s hairstyle. Don’t argue with me, I was there.
The café food was just as bad. Portobello mushrooms and sundried tomatoes stinking up the joint. Giant dusty white chocolate chip cookies in heavy jars that are still there today, like ominous time capsules of Yuk. Two litres of café latte. Caesar salad with a side of Snapple. All served with the height of sophistication: a focaccia made with bread so enormous you could flag down planes with it, a scrape of pesto and an old bit of grilled eggplant out of a jar. Everything was immense yet kind of tasteless.
Luckily, someone Italian has decided to right the wrongs of the past and bring back focaccias as they were never served in Melbourne. I am as Anglo as Beowulf’s lucky battle undies, and even I know that we’ve been missing out on this proper cheap, tasty Italian snack food for years.
KFL Supermarket, Footscray
Phooey to temples, street festivals and ‘the ubiquitous [insert attraction]’ of a well-known guidebook – everyone knows that the first place you should visit in a foreign country is the supermarket. I’ve spent many happy hours looking at tins of breadnuts in coconut milk, weeping over trays of balut (fertilised duck eggs; even more disgusting than it sounds) and roaring with laughter at cakes of placenta soap.
If you’ve ever lived in or travelled throughout Asia, KFL Supermarket will give you a fix of quaint packaging with far too explicit translations. At most times of the day, boxes are strewn across the entrance for that welcoming touch and people scuff along each aisle, only stopping to shriek at a long-lost condiment from their childhood.
It has to have one of the most inclusive collections of dried, tinned and preserved Asian food I’ve seen outside of that mighty continent. Got a craving for lotus mooncake with the egg yolk in it? Fried dace with black bean? Basil-seed drink with honey? How about a tin of ‘fried gluten … with spices’?
“Remember Large Magazine?” Interview with publisher Harry Rekas.
Bao Now cafe review
Fusion tucker has needed a kick in the pantaloons for a long time now.
It always seemed a bit of a bad joke. Sushi milkshakes. Eel blancmange. Caper macaroons, served on a pig’s ear. Since this questionable fad spread worldwide in the ‘80s, it seems every trendy Melbourne restaurateur will simply not rest until we’re all eating “scrambled eggs, with a comb, from a shoe”, just like Manny in Black Books.
This is where Bao Now steps in.
Reminding us that fusion food can be imaginative and inexpensive, Bao Now cheekily takes your ‘buds on a worldwide journey and transports your adventures in same fleecy dough wrapper.
“Any Desert Airport in a Sandstorm” travel feature on Mauritania, West Africa
For two years I worked at the non-profit organisation Birds Australia (now BirdLife Australia) as the production editor of the quarterly membership magazine Wingspan.
In 2010 I assisted in refreshing the layout and content of Wingspan, which had been produced with the same design for 13 years. The magazine was awarded the ‘Best Book in the Periodical Category’ award from the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales at the 2012 Whitley Book Awards.