Bali cooking class

Bali cooking class

I hadn’t planned to do anything strenuous on a recent holiday in Bali – just sleep, eat, swim. But life often has other plans. We had been in Ubud for a couple of days, happened upon a royal cremation that saw a few thousand people converge on the cultural and spiritual town of Ubud, about an hour’s drive from the capital Denpasar. Well, that was a colourful and jolly affair.




The following day we did some slow sightseeing outside of town and then took a walk down a back road in Ubud. About to turn back because of the fierce heat and I spied the sign ‘Goya’ at the entrance of somewhere that looked rather fancy. Then a chap asked us if we’d like to take a look at the resort. Sure.

We walked through a spacious foyer breezeway and then stepped down and followed a path lined with tall bamboo crowding to create dappled shade.

Out of the shade and in front of us was an infinity pool (they are de rigueur in Bali), and to the left a canopy covered a lovely outdoor restaurant. Now, how does this happen? We talked to the staff for a few minutes and next thing, we had signed up for a cooking class to be held the following day.

I had partaken in a few cooking classes in the past, they were hands on but not comprehensive – maybe some chopping, plating up or dipping rice paper sheets into hot water. This was the real deal. Our chef was with us every step of the way. We were introduced to the variety of spices, and how to prepare the ingredients. We cut, diced, shaved and mortar and pestle wrestled a sambal into submission.

Despite the heat we toiled towards a fine lunch. The sambal spice was included in the Chicken Lawar, Pepes Ikan (barramundi) steamed inside banana leaf). Dessert was Sumping nangka (jack fruit).

Once we finished cooking the meal we were walked to a little cabana, were we given our certificates for being the best cooks ever to attend a cooking class here!

We ate really good food in Bali over an eight-day period BUT this was the best meal of all. True.

Included in the price of $AU45, is the class for a couple of hours, a reserved table to eat lunch and a video and pictures taken and emailed to us (these are the pics and the video) and for an extra $5 you can stay and swim in the infinity pool afterwards.


For details: Goya, Bali cooking class email:

Writer Bev Malzard paid for this class herself and recommends the experience as fun and filling! Just a tip, wear makeup or tidy up for the video – she didn’t but thinks it could have been a winner as a Masterchef audition!




USA: get your kicks on Route 66

USA: get your kicks on Route 66

A pilgrimage is what a drive along Route 66 is today. The fabled road lives in songs and literature and just won’t fade away. This is America’s Main Street.

In the earliest days of television in Australia, the black and white screen flickered with many (mostly) American series to entertain the young minds of the babyboomers: Mickey Mouse Club (remember Annette Funnicello?); CheyenneSugarfoot and Rawhide (cowboy cool dudes) and family entertainment – The Nelsons (oh Ricky!);The Donna Reed Show and Father Knows Best. But for us growing, restless teenagers of the time this was ‘too square’, no grunt at all. Bandstand was a constant and we got our rock’n’roll edge with Six O’Clock Rock but drama to get our motor running? No.


Then in the early 60s along came Route 66, edgy, and supremely cool; two guys in a sleek convertible Corvette heading from Chicago to LA . . . with incidents and episodes along the way.  Tod and Buzz slicked back their hair, got moody, threw on their duffle coats and jumped in the car – to drive.

We may not have heard the early song by Nat King Cole – well, it was a recorded in 1946 but Get Your Kicks on Route 66 is embedded in everyone’s musical memory. And our generation may not have that restless seed of youth blossoming as it did in the 60s but the Mother Road waits for the adventurous!

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The romanticised highway represents a transition from dirt road to super-highway. Route 66 was the shining beacon as to the importance of the automobile as a new world achievement – and to the American people it symbolised the new freedom and mobility for every person who owned and drove their car. Route 66 was born in 1926, pieced together from a network of existing trails and anonymous roads. It’s the Mother Road that carried life along the highway from Chicago to Los Angeles. The Interstate Highways System took it over in the 1950s and much of old Route 66 was decertified and became a secondary road, a highway of broken dreams and a mythical place that stranded small towns and businesses with cruel bypasses.

Today it’s the road to a new adventure – a link to the past with an air of freedom. In the past decade the idea of Route 66 has been reinvigorated and has made a rock’n’roll kind of comeback – warts and all.

Driving to find the glory days you don’t have to go far out from Los Angeles and for a couple of hundred miles discover what’s happening along the way.

Route 66 and beyond can work nicely if you:


Head out of LA and visit Big Bear Lake, Yucca Valley. Set in the heart of the San Bernadino Mountains, Big Bear Lake and surrounds is startlingly beautiful country with much to do for fun: off-road adventure in a Pinzgauer 4WD – hot to trot and loads of fun; Big Bear Village has a rustic charm with a sophisticated edge – the coffee in town is damn good too!

 Yucca Valley is reached after a drive that descends through a layered spread of heavily grassed land to almost paint-by-numbers clarity in the tapestry effect of the landscape. And in the distance a tiny sliver of snow is glimpsed on the top of the San Bernadino Mountains.

There’s a hometown atmosphere and this ‘High Desert’ region is welcoming and eye opening for its nature and cultural heritage. And if you want to meet the locals – they are the friendliest people around, just drop by Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneering Palace for mesquite barbecue chow and you’ll enter an establishment  plonked on the side of the road that looks deserted except for a few utes parked out front. Walk through the doors and it’s packed, there are waitresses zooming around the tables and the beer is flowing and the music is about to start – hip and happening! Step out the backdoor and you are in the old west.

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Pioneertown was founded by a group of Hollywood investors in 1946 with dreams of creating a living movie set. The 1870s ‘frontier town’ with authentic facades never did take off but folk had fun there and several of the properties are working sets with art and craft people doing their thing.

Hit the highway and drive through the empty, lonely landscape until you come to the sublime (if you love a desert park) Joshua Tree National Park.

 In the park is the Desert Queen Ranch, a crumbling reminder of the toughness of this country and the remains here tell the life story of Bill Keys’ family – the  trials, triumphs and tribulations. Keys lived there from 1910 until his death in 1969.

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Bill Keys was a resourceful man who was the Desert Donald Trump of his day – pursuing mining and ranching and taking every opportunity to make a killing – which he actually did. He lived on the isolated ranch with his wife and seven children, three of whom are buried there.

During a property dispute Keys shot and killed a man and was convicted of murder and spent a few years in the big house educating himself. (He was paroled in 1950 and was pardoned in 1956 through the efforts of Earle Stanley Garner, author of the Perry Mason novels.)

The original homestead is still there plus outbuildings, a schoolhouse, farm and mining equipment and old truck chassis. The elements are rusting and corroding the debris from Bill Keys’ empire – to restore it or let it crumble back to the earth – that’s still being debated.

Even though it’s a remote and strange desert park, Joshua Tree has drawn some pretty interesting characters – including lots of alien/spaceship sightings. Oddly, the Andreas Fault Line is visible in parts of the park and juts out of the earth like a dragon’s spine. Cattle rustlers are legendary and Keith Richards and Graham Harrison sat out here and took copious amounts of drugs while waiting to have a close encounter with a UFO . . .

In keeping with the mystical/hippy/left-over60s vibe of the area much of the interesting stuff of the area has survived and thrived.

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The ‘Integratron’ is an acoustically perfect tabernacle dome and energy machine sited on a powerful geometric vortex in the magical Mojave Desert. (This was created by George Van Tassle, and is based on the design of Moses’ Tabernacle drawings and the writings of Nikola Tesla and telepathic directions of extraterrestrials – that’s the speil anyway.) Whatever floats your boat out here but climbing up to the platform to lie down while someone rims ceramic bowls is quite something – a resonating sound bath indeed.

The historic route continues to evolve as states repair and redirect the road. Entering Amboy, there’s the classic Route 66 stamped on the road in front of a Roy’s Motel sign – classic 60s and a poor old motel that is crying in the shadows for someone to bring back its retro coolness. Faded and atmospheric, the location is not as neglected at is seems. It’s used for commercials and movies – the no-longer-a- town Amboy, Roy’s Motel and Cafe has a certain staying power. A buyer paid cash (lots) for the site in 2005 and has promised to preserve the town and reopen Roy’s.

 (The writer cruised into Amboy and was excited to see about a dozen gleaming, shiny black and silver clad Harley Davidson’s – this is where it’s happening she thinks. Just the backdrop for the ‘Wild Ones’; as she drew closer to the bikies – she noticed as they were decked out in denim and leather, chains, bandanas and snake-hipped girls by their sides – they were all drinking Coca-Cola. This was a meeting for the Christian Motorcyclists Association, riding Route 66 to Chicago – it was big, but these boys weren’t going to be bad!)

Away from the bustling metropolis of ‘town’ we started to see the beauty and drama of the Mojave National Preserve – sand dunes lead to volcanic cones, craters became mirage-like salt pans and sand was accumulated in vast amounts everywhere the eye could see – where does it come from?

We cruise past the Whiting Brothers Gas Station, a relic that has been preserved and then stop for a milkshake (it had to be a milkshake) at the Bagdad Cafe (remember the film?). It is still basking in the glory of movie fame – albeit needing a bit of nip and tuck. The love this cafe draws is evidenced by notes stuck on the windows – the clientele is universal; all stopping by to take a peek at the defunct motel from the film and to order a chocolate malt!

We stop for some big town buzz and Barstow fits the bill. Amazing outlet malls here and for some real local hospitality we eat at Idle Spurs Steakhouse – a favourite in the High Desert region of Southern California. Built around the original house – these folk have been slinging steaks since 1950.

After a lazy sleep-in we keep moving west as we’ve backtracked. We stop at the extremely charming and colourful Victorville Route 66 Museum – and we’re greeted by the local lady volunteers – they are the ants pants! There is so much going on in the museum, take an hour or so to let it seep in – from The Grapes of Wrathto the Mother Road’s heyday as one of the greatest ways to experience America on driving holidays.

We wrap up our short Route 66 driving trip with a stop at the original Wigwam Motel. This motel is one of just a couple remaining of a great chain. The wigwams are neat as pins and there’s the place beside them to park your car. This is one of two only (the other is in Holbrook, Arizona)  Wigwam Motels still in business to offer hospitality to drivers on Route 66.

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Now stationary, I ponder America’s amazing history – this small part of the vast continent. Roads criss-crossing the country, frenzied drivers taking the freeways, highways and byways, toll roads, side lanes and flyovers – is the romance still there for them, behind the wheel does it still feel that it’s the way to claim the ground under their feet or is it like Route 66, a fabled Main Street where driving trip from A to B is the ribbon that unites more than an idea? (to hire Motorcycles );



How to explore Umbria, Italy

How to explore Umbria, Italy

If it wasn’t for the Etruscans, there might not be olive oil or wine in this region of Italy. Let’s head to the hilltop fortress towns of Umbria and enjoy the legacy of the ancient invaders.

It had been a carb-overload lunch hosted by chef and pastamaking teacher Lorenzo Polegri, a showman and a man of smiles and passion as he demonstrated how to perfect the art of pasta making. None of us in our group were very talented but who cares? We enjoyed our repast in Ristorante Zeppelin in the quiet midday ambience of the mediaeval Umbrian town of Orvieto.


This town, a natural fortress, is one of the many glorious fortified towns and cities of the Umbrian region, which includes the spiritually robust Assisi, the glorious mystery of Perugia and this elegant site of Orvieto, all founded by the very late, lamented Etruscans who disappeared into the emerging Roman empire in the third century BC.

After eating food fit for Etruscan epicureans, we scattered to waddle into the narrow curved streets of this city bathed in autumnal afternoon light.


Curving past small shops, drifting along, I lifted my eyes and saw the most confoundingly beautiful structure – a green and white striped cathedral – a bold statement against the stark blue sky – with intricate, delicate relief carvings on the capitals with sumptuous cornerstones. The bold marble panels adorn the façade and are respected as one of the masterpieces of the late Middle Ages. It may not be the biggest and the best in the world – but this striped beauty captured my heart.


Orvieto Cathedral is one of Italy’s most celebrated cathedrals. The 14th century edifice was built between 1290 and 1500 and she shines as brightly as ever. Built under papal direction, the building is famous for its mosaic inlay facade.

Duomo di Orvieto is widely considered the most glorious example of Italian Gothic. A miracle is said to have occurred in 1263 in the nearby town of Bolsena, when a travelling priest who had doubts about the truth of transubstantiation found that his Host was bleeding so much that it stained the altar cloth. The cloth is now stored in the Chapel of the Corporal inside the cathedral.



Next stop along the way on our escourted journey is the jewel of Umbria, Perugia. Perugia is the capital city of the region of Umbria and covers a high hilltop around the area. Another Etruscan beauty, Perugia is known for its universities (the first founded in 1308) and is celebrated for its culture and artistic pursuits.

The city has centuries of tumultuous religious and political (same thing then) history and all of it immersed in the stone here.


The Rocca Paolina was the ‘underground’ city, built in 1373 at the then highest part of the town. The richest merchants of 16th century Perugia lived here but it was destroyed by local citizens in an uprising provoked by the Pope. The town disappeared but the streets have been uncovered and the mediaeval homes that were a platform for the new fortress are now on show.

The stone houses with Gothic doorways and tunnels look as if they are waiting for people to go about their daily business. The atmospheric route through the fortress by escalators take you through Rocca Paolina under the portico of Palazzo del Governo.

We headed out into the night and into the strange and curious labyrinthine streets underground. After ascending to ‘uptown Perugia’ to the historic centre, in a state of wonderment we found ourselves in the vigorous city of Perugia, with its night lights on and aromas enticing us into a 21st century pizza house.

Next stop across the Umbrian Valley is the mother ship of holy hilltop fortress cities: Assisi. Birthplace (in 1182) of Italy’s favourite saint, Francis, the city is always buzzing with pilgrims.


Saint Francis and female favourite Saint Clare are the drawcards for the fans. The bodies of both saints were discovered in 1818 and luckily they hadn’t been tampered with by grave robbers. For centuries, holy relics had done great business across Europe.

So what is left (bones of Saint Francis) and preserved remains of Saint Clare is on show as the faithful and curious pass by in snaking queues through Basilica di Santa Chiara (where Clare is) and the Basilica di San Francesco.


There are fine examples of Giotto’s frescoes and Cimabue’s painting to be viewed and other cultural attractions includes many little pottery statues of chubby monks and waving popes. And for fans of Norberto, the famous Umbrian painter, there’s a small gallery with an excellent variety of fine prints to aquire.


It feels like we’ve ticked off the holy trinity of hill towns in Umbria and look forward to the next stop in Tuscany. More and more I appreciate the fact that we enjoy these splendid visits, and afterwards hop back on to a comfy coach which takes us to our next stop. So far we have been transported from Rome, taken to ‘secret places’, had intimate meals with welcoming local folk, and been invited into authentic experiences. Each night we have been put to bed, well fed and happy, in lovely hotels.

As we anticipate lunch and tastings of the local olive oil, and a meal of regional cooking in another handsome hill town – this time Spello, with its historic centre still enveloped by Roman walls. We stretch our legs in the coach, chat about the marvellous day we have had and agree that those Etruscans knew a thing or two about leaving an amazing legacy in Umbria.

Writer, Bev Malzard was hosted by Insight Vaations and found the itinerary exciting and edifying. She recommends sampling gelato at every stop along the way. You will not be disappointed.

Vienna’s best breads

Vienna’s best breads

A slice of life

I love bread. Sourdough, rye, Turkish, flatbread, brioche, French sticks, naan, roti, wholemeal, soft white rolls, Italian focaccia and am not ashamed to admit to a couple of slices of white Tip Top bread with butter and vegemite.

And part of travel is eating lots of bread . . . (sorry to the gluten intolerants). Naan to mop up curry sauce and dhal for breakfast in India and beautiful European breads with cheese washed down with coffee.

Years ago when I first travelled to Austria I was naive and hadn’t been exposed to sliced heavy bread in the morning. My first taste (not toast) was accompanied by a cream cheese and a fat slice of ham. And that’s when romancing the loaf began. No matter where I am, I’ll try the bread on offer.

Europe sets the standard for good, wholesome, hearty breads. And Vienna is upping the ‘brot’ ante for the comeback of artisan bread. For too long Vienna has loafed around with heavy, commercially manufactured bread and now it looks for a slice of the crusty good life.

The renaissance of small bakeries in Vienna is full on – here are a couple of snaps taken around the back streets where the aroma of freshly baked bread drew me into the bakery for a bun or two.

I was taken around the city bakeries by ‘Brot Andi’, Andreas Djordjevic, an institution in Vienna. Andreas is in charge of the bread cart in the two Michelin-starred Steirereck, the best restaurant in Vienna. The restaurant is divine with the most beautiful ceiling, amazing food styling – and flavour of course – and then there’s the brot . . . .

I rather fancied the name of Arthur Grimm’s bakery – no relation of you-know-who.
This was a scattering of breadcrumbs to entice you to walk the streets of Vienna in the early morning, and  . . . just follow your nose.

Writer, Bev Malzard once joined with a work colleague to experiment with ‘the sandwich as a meal’ concept. Over a week of 21 meals they managed to put every meal on a sandwich. Eggs on toasts for brekkie, a salad and ham sando for lunch, steak and chips between two slices of bread for dinner. Great strides in gastronomic adventure were made when there was a pie and sauce sandwich, a fish and chips sandwich, a pea soup sandwich (this had to be made and eaten rather quickly), a baked dinner sandwich, with gravy and beef and black beans and fried rice sandwich and the surprise meal . . . an apple pie sandwich. That was an  excellent week. 
The divine image at the top of the page was taken by the gifted Monika Grabkowska.

Scandinavia: Great Danes

Scandinavia: Great Danes
‘Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen, friendly old girl of a town’ . . . continues to enchant visitors with tradition and its easygoing personality. But there’s more to explore as its varied and eclectic architecture ­– old and new – stirs ‘for’ and ‘against’ controversy, eventually melding into the visual fabric of the city, just as it always has. 

If you’re not walking, boat or bicycle is the way to discover Copenhagen. Denmark’s capital city is a true, natural beauty that has, over the centuries, been designed, primped and polished to within an inch of its life. Always on show, and stepping up to the mark as a pretty, chocolate-box-toy-soldier presentation, the city on the water has burst out of its uniform ambience and over the past decade presented a collection of new buildings which have changed the face of the harbour shoreline, canals and through some of the quiet streets.

When you think of Denmark, what comes to mind? Hamlet, pastries, a little mermaid, fine china, a certain princess, Vikings, beech forests, Hans Christian Andersen, herrings and very down-to-earth sensible people? All of the above, but what shines the light on modern Denmark, the ancient centre of Scandinavia, is design. Everything in the country, and especially the city of Copenhagen is about excellent design. Whether it’s mediaeval churches, Renaissance castles and country homes, ordered streets and canals, or pretty, colourful harbour-side storied houses of the cities’ that flourished in the ‘golden age’ from 1588-1648, the element of design surprise continues to grow and be embellished to mellow into the 21st century.

A leader in industrial design for the last century or so, Danish design conjures names such as Bang and Olufsen (audio and stereo brand), Bodum (coffee chic), Royal Copenhagen (fine china) and Geog Jensen (the famous Danish silverware brand).

The essence of the country’s individual design is to be found in its timeless simplicity, quality materials and functionality.

Danish architecture, in Denmark and abroad is a standout on the international architectural scene. And it is often at the centre of public scrutiny and controversy. For example, take one of the world’s most famous buildings, the Sydney Opera House designed by Jorn Utzon. This universally admired building was bankrolled by a public lottery, caused so much dissention within the ranks of the state government in the 1960s that the design was drastically modified, much to the architect’s disappointment at the time.

Utzon designed beautiful buildings all over the world and in his own country. In the dock area of Copenhagen, the Paustian furniture store, also Utzon’s brainchild is a place of inspiration. Contained in the stunning building is Denmark’s largest collection of quality furniture and carpets, lighting and accessories and basically the best interior design from Scandinavia and the rest of the world. Perhaps not the best place to pick up some souvenirs but fine for picking up design and decorating ideas.

Two newish buildings that have had Copenhagen residents atwitter over the past few years are the amazing Copenhagen Opera House (designed by Henning Larsen), completed and opened in 2004 and the Royal Danish Library (known as the Black Diamond), a looming construction pressing the shoreline and designed by Danish architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen. It is named for its outside cover of black marble and glass.

The Black Diamond has a host of detractors and as many admirers. It leans dramatically over the waterfront and reflects the water and light, constantly changing its hue. This extraordinary building is an extension to the 19th century red brick Royal Library. It certainly catches the eye and the imagination as you glide by in the harbour.

Best view of these beauties before actually heading indoors to experience Opera and books is to take a canal boat trip and get your bearings of the harbour and all it offers. In fact it’s a lovely way to start your discovery of Copenhagen.

In and around town by foot or bicycle you’ll find beautiful old buildings from various eras that undoubtedly caused a stir in their time too.

The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, a fine art museum is an imposing grand period design standing on Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard. This museum is full of wonderful items including Etruscan art, 19th-century paintings from Denmark and France and many sculptures than span 5000 years. There are a few starts on show here – but two favourites are the work of Paul Gaugain and more than 30 pieces by Rodin. Take a rest from art here and you’ll be having coffee and cake or maybe a meal at a beautiful tropical plant filled winter garden restaurant.

Also one of the oldies but goodies is the famous Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park that has charmed adults and thrilled children for more than 160 years. It’s not Luna Park or Disneyland, but an area with old-fashioned gardens, a host of food pavilions and rides galore from the innocent, romantic rides of the past to the modern Demon – a corkscrewing roller coaster and the dead drop Golden Tower. The Tivoli is at its best at night when the magic of lights turn the park into a fairytale enclosure. Kitsch and schmaltz rule the day and from the behaviour of the visitors this is just the atmosphere desired.

Along the waterfront the Amalienborg Palace is an austere standout as there are four ‘mansions’ in the square making up the one home for the royal family. The buildings surround the centre square and the royal precinct is guarded by sentries. There is a ceremonial changing of the guard at noon daily. Amalienborg is one of Copenhagen best examples of Baroque architecture ­that didn’t run riot with the curls and swirls.

Head inland to view the splendid Frederikskirken, the marble church with its glorious dome that can be seen from all over the city.

You can’t visit Copenhagen without a thought for Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid. It’s odd that she sits patiently looking toward the shore and not the harbour, which could take her away from all the attention and fuss. Nostalgia aside it feels disrespectful to see tourists putting their arms around her and invading her tiny space on a rock.

If you still have a hankering for unusual architecture there’s Holmen’s red brick warehouses, barracks and foundries that were built on reclaimed land in the 17th century for the Danish military. Holmen is home to schools specialising in drama, film, architecture and music. For architecture fans the Royal Danish School of Architecture holds regular exhibitions in Meldahis Smedie in Holmen.

But brilliant design isn’t just about buildings. Copenhagen’s restaurant and café scene underwent an amazing transformation in the mid nineties. This modern Scandinavian revolution has produced, to mention the tip of the eatery iceberg, Café Victor, Dan Turells, Café Sommersko, Ultimo and Quote. These new and very fabulous eateries and wine bars made their name for their interpretation of Danish cooking as well as their good looks.

Window shopping shows the sophisticated design side of fashion, from men’s and women’s clothing to cutting edge shoes and accessories. Homeware shops have so many innovative kitchen implements and interior design items that the best advice you can get before travelling to Copenhagen is to pack your suitcase to half full, then take half out ­ – there’s serious shopping to be done here.



There’s good food, great accommodation, excellent transport and activities to keep you going for a week or so, but spare a thought and perhaps your appetite for what is considered by many to be Denmark’s crowning design glory ­– the open-face sandwich. Forget wraps, baps, filled croissants, bagels and foccacia – this is the real Danish deal, cheap and more than cheerful.

There are 13 one-Michelin stared restaurants in Copenhagen (Google them) and if you want an amazing, three-starred Miclein meal – book (well before you visit) Geranium or AOC – mad if you don’t!
(The featured image at the top of the page was taken by Pierre Chatel-Innocenti.)

‘Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen, friendly old girl of a town’ song written by Frank Loesser for the film Hans Christian Andersen (1952) starring Danny Kaye.

Switzerland – Zurich’s best car park

Switzerland – Zurich’s best car park
Ah Switzerland, land of glorious scenery, of alps, lakes, elegant cities. So why am I writing about a Car Park? Cos it’s a cool car park.

It’s not often visitors to Zurich get excited about a Car Park – but you never know what this city is going to turn up. A couple of years ago the land in front of the Zurich Opera House was dug up to prepare it (down several layers) for a Car Park to service the city.

Going down a few layers revealed the well-preserved, substantial remains of a ‘stilt’ village: stilts, rudimentary tools, domestic implements, fishing nets and shamanistic tokens.
The archaeological discoveries made under the so-called ‘place of the Sechseläuten (festival)’ in Zurich were so numerous that assessment work lasted five years.
This find confirmed how the early/first people of this region lived. Villages were perched around Zurichsee (Lake Zurich), with the houses and community dwellings sitting over the edge of the water. Popular theory is that they lived over the water, up high because of marauding wild animals and there would always be food to be caught on the lake.
(Top image is of the reconstruction of the Neolithic lake dwelling site.)
The remnants of life on the lake were sowell preserved because they had been immersed and lacked in mud/silt therefore not disturbed nor destroyed.
The remarkable age discerned and documented puts the life and times of the village at 4300 years BC!  So more than 6000 years to date.
The Car Park went ahead – very carefully and in a thoughtful and intelligent manner. There are display cases with some of the finds, a film of divers and what they found at the edge of the lake and the finest damn Car Park in town.

The vast square on top of the Car Park spreads out before the Opera House. The surface is covered in oblong squares of Switzerland’s finest granite. Lots of grumbling from the locals at the exorbitant cost but there’s every chance it will last as long as the stilt houses!
There are a few randomly placed chairs which are happily filled with people, their faces tilted to the ever welcome sun.

Just another surprise in Zurich – go see for yourself.

Tasmania’s Bruny Isand

Tasmania’s Bruny Isand


Getting my glamp on!

Camping? No. Been there, done that and the thought of the cold ground seeping up through my bones, cutting through a wafer thin foam mattress and a patchy, duck feather sleeping bag strangling me is about an attractive proposition as being kept awake by the flapping of a nylon tent in a gale-force wind. So there.

But, here I am, snuggled in a king-size bed, with crisp white linens crackling around my face, darkness folding itself across the entrance of the large tent (should I call that a habitat?) and smiling to myself and remembering that I was never going camping again.

But, glamping. Yes! How civilised, how wonderful and how about this location?

We began our journey in Tasmania to enjoy the ‘Bruny Island Long Weekend’ experience with an early morning pick up at Daci & Daci Bakers in Hobart. No hurry, a fresh-out-of-the-oven pastry and a hot cup of java and then we are delivered to a private boat at the waterfront and so it begins . . .

We enjoy smooth sailing on the silky Derwent River and watch the city fade as the ancient coastline emerges.

There are dolphins at play and at the bottom of the steep, sandstone cliffs there appears to be a gang of sleepy seals playing possum. Sea birds swirl around the tops of the cliffs and we feel very far from civilisation.

We disembark. North and South Bruny is connected by a narrow strip of land called The Neck which is easier to say than isthmus.


The island is around 50km in length and during a couple of days here we get to see the various hotspots.

Our bags (travelling light) are stashed and we waste no time before we begin to walk. We take a narrow path and begin our walk to a cape on the east coast of Bruny Island. Along the way we see no other human beings. Our hosts/guides/protectors are Robert and Dave who guide us gently through the sea level scrub before we start to rise higher where the scraggly, tough native trees are either gathered tightly together or are out on a limb leaning to the north. When the wind she blows . . . she blows.


I haven’t done a lot of bushwalking in the past few years but realised how much I like it. Pushing the legs a little harder than usual, breathing in the crisp, end-of-summer scented air is invigorating. The remains of the wildflowers and tree blossoms are hanging on to the endless summer (and it’s been a cracker this year).

The max number of guests on any given Long Weekend is eight, and we are seven which makes getting to know each other easy and companiable.

Our walk takes about five hours with a packed picnic lunch stop, a visit off-the-beaten-track to an old hut that had been built years before – a kind of men’s shed in the wilderness; a trek to the farthest cape and a walk along a splendid, deserted beach with a smattering of rocks that boast of geological marvels and weathered history.

We are on our way to our camp but stop first to gaze at the smooth water of Great Bay to see how the famous Bruny Island oysters are farmed. A clutch of gnarly shells are brought out from the waters, shucked and eaten, au natural with great gusto. No that’s how you finish a bushwalk!


The camp. Nestled in a clearing mid an old growth forest is our accommodation for the next two nights. The roomy tents (with big beds) are camouflaged in the bush and are a decent distance from each other. (It’s funny, throughout the normally silent night as the toilet is up the hill, away from the tents, all you hear is the sound of tent zippers opening and closing.)

Down the hill is the outdoor shower. Standing under pounding hot water and staring out at sentinel stands of eucalypts is a pretty special experience.

Then the big surprise unfolds. The hut where we eat our meals (like a bunkhouse) sits alone and as I wander down for pre-dinner drinks a fine film of smoke wafts into the air. Ah, dinner is cooking!

We sit in the fading afternoon light chatting while Dave and Robert work like a well-oiled team cooking our dinner. Mmmm, roast lamb, vegetables, hot rolls, and a sweetheart of a dessert.


Into bed afterwards and asleep before I hit the pillow.

The chefs are at it again for breakfast – bacon and eggs? Don’t mind if I do.

The rest of the gang went on another bushwalk today to East Cloudy Head to stretch the legs and for a view of the wild Southern Ocean. I opted for sightseeing.


The landscape is gentle and dotted with little farms, old and new. Decrepit houses and shacks make for good photography and by chance we saw the famed white wallaby make a brief appearance in the bush as we drove past.

The highlight of the day was to visit and climb the stunning Cape Bruny Lighthouse. First lit in 1838 the lighthouse is a stunning example of the best lighthouse architecture of its time. And it’s Australia’s longest continually staffed lighthouse.



We stopped later at The Neck for a lazy lunch and I returned to camp early and bagsed the first shower.

Another evening of good company, gourmet food (local pork and vegetables), fine Tassie wines and late-night laughs. One of the guests had shouted herself this weekend to celebrate her 60th birthday. She loved it, as we all did.

This ‘glamping’ business suits me.


Robert Knight and Dave Lane.

We walked and talked and learned so much about the nature of the island, the history and how to have a luxury experience without the four walls of a hotel.

It was a lazy start the last day, for me. The others took off for another walk but I wanted to hug a few trees before departing.

And continuing being ‘gourmet-spoilt; we had a long lunch at The Jetty Café to keep the high standard up.

I felt a little sad leaving Bruny Island as I was just beginning to understand this wild and beautiful part of Australia.

Well done Robert Knight (director of the company) and super cook and guide Dave Lane for a truly memorable long weekend. Amazing how little time it took me from ‘no camping’ to ‘I love glamping’.

Writer, Bev Malzard looked back on her pictures from many years ago (below) from her bushwalking days/daze. There are tiny tents she squeezed her sleeping bag into, billy cans with porridge and dried fruit cooking up for breakfast, heavy walking boots kicked off after a long day’s walk, and shots of her pouring red wine into her mouth from a wine skin. Ah, those intrepid times . . .

Bev Malzard enjoyed the hospitality of The Bruny Island Long Weekend (and heartily recommends it). For more information on the itineraries, departure times and now, the winter package, visit