It’s my “many-ieth” time to the Blues Festival experiencing the eclectic line up of blues and rhythm artists from around the world.
In the past I have seen James Brown, Elle King, The National and many amazing artists.
This year is also special but I have time on my hands and it is a whole different ball game.
With a 5 day pass and VIP pass you can really relax and not race from tent to tent trying to squeeze in as many artists as possible.
I’ve decided to camp – which is great. You meet fellow festival goers and can make new friendships quickly. The thing I really like about camping is the ability to bubble out from the festival madness and have reprieve.
The thing I don’t like about camping at the festival is that the days can start early if a baby is crying and the nights can go long if people decide to start a mini party. Both of which happened on the same night on my stay.
The toilet facilities are basic at Blues and it really makes you value the luxuries of a home shower.
The staff are really friendly at the festival although beaurocracy seems to have gone a bit mad with multiple people involved with the process to “manage” people to find a camp site. None of which is needed at other festivals.
Beer, wine and water ran out by early afternoon on Sunday which left a lot of people disgruntle this festival. I couldn’t understand why water had run out and how that could occur in 2018!
Alas fortunately for Blues Fest this year, the artists got the festival over the line. Seal, Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crowe, Rag Man, and Bones, Morcheeba, Prince’s back up band, John Butler Trio and more… made for another sensational year.
I know from growing up in Hobart that the night scene is excellent.
Live bands, old fashioned pubs and clubs are in abundance.
Many pubs while looking a bit “uneventful” on the outside will be pumping on the inside. Let your teenage inquisitive self take control and explore.
These are a couple to try out… no doubt there are more that I haven’t been to in awhile.
Cargo has be the local go to for a beer or boogey for a few years now. I have had many a late night here with great music, vibes and drinks.
Next door to Cargo is Jack Greene an awesome bar done up how I would design my underground, bar at home! We went on Friday night and caught the tail end of a duet playing excellent 80s tracks that had people dancing and swaying.
The bar also offers great Tassie gins! Ask the staff for their recommendation and don’t stop at one… (NB The Usual clause of drink responsibly etc)
Wine and Grape
We headed here on Friday night and it is a younger scene but great fun and excellent for a dance. It goes late… Grape Bar is open until 2am Friday and Saturday nights and a fun place for a dance.
Republic Bar in North Hobart is well known for housing live bands. It has a large out door area with a big smokers area if you need. And inside a large dance space to let your inner teenager express itself on the dance floor.
Heading towards the other side of the wharf are a few quintessential bars and great meets and drinks places.
Built in … and restored a few moons ago, Customs is a wonderful pub where you can sit inside or outside under heat lamps. You can watch life go past with a locally brewed beer or delicious pinot noir. This is the go-to pub when the Sydney to Hobart is on. The food is also excellent. It is situated at the docks and the views of the Derwent River are great.
The Telegraph Hotel
This used to be the place to go to on a Friday night. Telegraph still is worth of including in a pub crawl around the water front.
The Lower House
This hidden bar is a newish addition to the Tassie pub scene being around for maybe 10 years. The Lower House is worth a sneaky peak on a Friday. Also a younger scene. It is the next block up from Custom’s House.
The Henry James in the old Jam Factory offers incredible Tassie wines and a wonderful ambience.
Tavern 42 degrees – great atmosphere and upstairs turns into a night club friday and Saturday.
You will find James and his boutique bar under Salamanca Galleria, in the walk way beside Retro Cafe, Salamanca. A definite must if you like wines. Oh and gins!
All in all, Hobart has some of the best wine bars in Australia, and a healthy, active night scene that has never wavered. The locals are friendly and there are plenty of live bands on around town. Venture out, even if the night is cold, and you will find your mood catered for!
Situated 40 mins by ferry from Auckland is the lovely island of Waiheke.
The population is about 9000 steady residents that swells to 45,000 in summer.
The scalloped wind-protected bays are delightful and on a sunny day shimmer in the light.
The ferries with Fullers leave pier 2 in Auckland Wharf every thirty minutes on the hour andsimilarly the return ferries leave on the hour and every thirty mins. The full time table is here.
The ferry serves wine so it’s a nice transition from the hustle and traffic of Auckland to the more peaceful, tranquil island living.
Finding an awesome place to stay for two nights, (plenty other options here), my digs are called Studio 16 in the fun bay called Surfdale .
From the studio, equipped with more than one needs for a two night escape, you can walk to the local Irish pub, Malones. Reknown for it’s Argintiniesand latinos (quite a few on the island now) you can find some fun.
From darts, to a pool table and on our first night there, the infamous drones of the Baby Boomas it’s a fun joint!
There’s a lot to do in Waiheke if you chose, or nothing to do. Your choice!
I head for an afternoon of wine tasting – something the island is well known for: rose and reds.
Starting at Wild on Waiheke, we start with some samplers – all around $4 per taste. The winery is also a craft beer distillery and I am told they are excellent beers. The food looks amazing and if you want you can shoot a riffle (laser) or part take in archery.
Next door are two excellent vineyards – Tu Motu – which has some of the best (and most expensive) reds I have had in awhile and Stoneyridge .
Stoneyridge is my ideal way to spend a Sunday – funky cool tunes, relaxing outdoor al fresco sitting, wonderful wines and lovely views over the vineyards. We are there in winter and the winter’s sun catches the green of the valley in the most superb way – it glistens.
The only downside to the vineyards on the Sunday is the fact they all close at 4pm!
We miss out on the newer vineyard, which reportedly has been $35million in the making.
Eating out is fun, and we find many options in the town of Oneroa. If you head down a little alley way, bay side, towards, Sandbar you can find a funky little wine bar. The night we are there an acoustic guitar play keeps us entertained while we sip on lovely wines.
The Sandbar is nice and open and great for a drink – apparently they can get a crowd in there as well.
Upstairs is Vino Vino, an Italian restaurant that has a lovely balcony also over looking the bay. The food is OK but the view makes up for it… so best you go during the day or on sunset!
We have two nights in town and the first night eat at the Red Crab, the local Thai place. The foods is good, wines a good price. Not the most amazing Thai food but not bad either.
Across the road is the more elaborate Oyster Inn. With wide balconies, a great wine list and lots of seafood on the menu, it is a more romantic spot. We have the chilli fish curry (very hot) and the John Dory. Really GOOD!
Other activities on the island include kayaking, stand up paddling all back at Maitati Bay where the ferry arrives. You can do lots of short walks around the island and bays as well as a 3km art route. We didn’t get to see much of the island’s art this visit but have been told it is a really thriving scene.
Transport around the island is easy – you will need a taxi from the ferry to most places – budget at least $30 NZD to get 5km. There is a good public transport bus which is only $3.50 per person, or shuttle buses also run regularly.
If you are planning on going, staying at least 2 nights, 3 would be ideal.
It’s a Friday night in Auckland and we are keen to head out.
We start at My Bar, a funky wine and beer bar tucked away, on Durham St South – a lane way off Queen Street.
It is the perfect place for TGIF drinks, and you can order Japanese from next door which they will bring into the bar for you.
Next spot is a drinking hole along from Queen Street called Lord of the Fries. Beside the food/pub area is a cool standing drinking area. Heater lamps, smoking areas and nice tunes make for a great meet up place.
Then its on to some serious partying.
Dr Rudi is a roof top craft brewery and sporty fun meet up place.
There is an open area for smokers, over looking the super yachts. Pretty awesome views.
We stay here for a few drinks (and hours) as the vibe is good, the guy on the piano has the place dancing, and the DJ gets everyone grooving too. A fun friendly place.
Downstairs is another popular drinking hole called Danny Doolans but we find it quite cramped and busy after DrRudi’s but also sporting a great vibe.
The Soul Bar around the corner is good for the mature crowd wanting to bypass the 20something drunkards and offers great music, food and a dance floor. It stays open quite late.
On the way home we find ourselves in another Irish bar dancing away to 80s and 90s tunes called Father Ted’s. It is a fun bar that sees our night out.
All of the bars offered music and a great dance floor. I am really looking forward to going back again soon!
Canguu is a region in Bali, west of the more popular beaches of Kuta, Legion and Seminyak. Canguu is a very laid back area of rice fields, farms, coast line and beaches. It is famous for its surf breaks of Canguu, Batu Balong and Echo Beach (far away in time… sorry couldn’t resist).
The coast consistently caters for all sorts of surfers: long board riders, short board riders, kite surfers, beginners and big wave junkies and draws people from around the world. It’s not a “shopping mall” crowd, it is a down to earth “I-dig-surf-and-life” kinda crowd.
Aside from chasing the perfect wave along Canguu, you can also find eclectic organic, hipster restaurants, funky music venues, a healthy art scene and a plethora of yoga and health venues. Hence why I love the region so much: i t has everything I need.
These are my top three restaurants and cafes in Canguu
Breakfast at the Shady Shack
For breakfast (either before or after your morning surf), is the Shady Shack.
It’s sister cafe, Betelnut is really well known and on the other side of the paddy field, but Shady isn’t far behind it in popularity and the times that I go there it is packed.
Both cafes offer local and organic produce, turned into inspired creations. The vegetarian options are amazing and really well priced.
I meet Gypsy the owner briefly and we discuss the diverse menu, her use of medicinal plants and even bee pollen in her shakes. Being an avid subscriber to Hippocrate’s advice of “let food be your medicine” I am an instant fan of the Shady Shack.
The menu is extensive and caters for vegans to meat eaters but it is predominantly a plant based food fest.
The creations are beyond my imagination and I love the way each meal is it’s own art display and visual orgasmic delight. Nourishing one’s soul and body is so important with food and Gypsy and Shady Shack have nailed it, 10/10.
Today I have the Haloumi Bowl at Shady Shack and it is sensational: rocket, zucchini spaghetti, roasted capsicum, pickled beetroot, quinoa, chick peas, and a couple of devine sauces. A tasteorgasm!
At Betelnut my favorite would be their big salad bowl with 4 different salads. But the last two days I have had the fish burger, with chippies and salad. Also yummy.
Lunch at Old Man’s
If you haven’t already, go for a late morning surf at Batu Bolong then head to Old Man’s for lunch.
Old Man’s is the communal meeting place for locals and travellers and I don’t think a day goes past when I am not there .
You can literally come out from a surf, rinse off the Indian Ocean in a shower at the back of the pub and order a chilled bintang while still dripping wet.
Sean the owner is a great guy, known by many and very hospitable. It’s laid back atmosphere is accepting and there’s usually a band playing most nights of the week.
Batu Balong Beach is at the end of the street and is an awesome place to watch life slip by or roll by, with the many hypnotic waves. Grab a coconut and make yourself at home. No one is in a rush around here.
I usually have the snapper and chips but the menu, for a pub, is very accommodating even offering vegetarian options.
Every day has a happy hour, but my advice would be to head there for lunch and or an early dinner. Which brings me to my favourite dinner dine in place Lacalitas.
Dinner at Lacalita
Chef and Aussie ex-pat owner, Will, opened up Lacalitas after his Seminyak sensation, Lacalaca was rated a winner by trip advisor. Both restaurants boast mexican flavours but both have their own individual flare and style.
Lacalita is an infusion of contemporary and mexican foods. I love Lacalita’s menu and have eaten here nearly every night for the past week!
La Taqueria Tostaditas and the Ahi Poke are delicious for starters and the soft crab is my favourite for mains. The menu is worth drooling over and whatever you do don’t rush .
The BEST thing on the menu (in my humble opinion) is the chilli margarita. I am not sure if I am going back any more for the food, the chilli margaritas or the fantastic atmosphere and decor.
The walls have lots of interesting items to check out, wonderful photos and memorabilia. It all comes together to be one of my favourite restaurants, quite possibly in the world.
The smiling friendly staff really do make you feel at home and Putu, who I have got to know reasonably well, will remember your name so by your second visit you will feel like Lacalita is home.
Will and Lacalita it’s a big 10/10.
Congratulations for producing a world class restaurant with the best trimmings in the humble, laid back region of Canguu.
A place where your taste buds are tingled, your eyes teased and your body is tickled!
It’s the most ecclectic fun I have had in a while.
I am not even sure where to start.
Execpt I know that upon reflection day one is the most extraordinary mind blowing experience and then day 2 you get the jist of it all and by day 3 you are really finding your groove.
I think and in no particular order that the first day ran a little something like this…
Arrive at Woodfordia camping grounds and find myself pulling into the Priaries in a lush paddock full of newly woken Woodfordians rubbing sleep out of their eyes. I pitch my tent (all by myself) and find my way along Lois Lane to the festival. My tent is pitched in “Goneamy Way” street, which is beside “ Bombsaway” and “ Let’s go this Way”
Up dales, down dales, past fairies and unicorns, the whole place is incredible.
After a chilled wine, which we are trusted to sip while walking around various venues (so mature), I find myself listening to a talk with Noel Pearson (what an incredible soul and orator) on environmentalism and helping minority groups such as indigenous, become self reliant through eco systems, permaculture etc.
Woodfordia self regulates. There is a definite non-code of consensus in some areas – dress, beliefs, singing, being etc but a definite code of “we don’t tolerate closed minds, non tolerant, critical people. Leave your rules, and laws at the front gate. Or don’t bring them up at all. Namaste, thank-you, bless”.
The art is stimulating and is a like a living art gallery.. stills, scultpure and acting arts (singing, pantamine and more).
The music is awesome. Blues, Jazz, funk, hip hop, folk, regae rock. It is endless.
We are all talking a similar language and defintely similar vibration. No angst, no stress and the only time commitment is working out how quickly you can walk the distance between two tents to see the next gig, comedy or talk.
People are muttering the same things too…
” How long have you been coming? Isn’t it wonderful!”
” I wish this was how we lived all the time”
The community is strong and self regulated. No BS, no over the top rules and great freedom.
People are gathered up in a wave of love and collective conscience of beauty and gratitude. This is a festival worthy of an annual visit!
This visit I am priveledged to catch up and see my friend’s band, CC The Cat playing. A funky five piece that play mellow, groovy reggae tunes perfect for an open air gig or a jammed hyped crowd. I dig their tunes and love the band.
I will write more about the labyrinth, the fire festival on subsequent blogs….
For now it is 330am, and I realise that it’s time to let my body drift to another Woodforia… cloud land. A glorious walk over the hills into Woodfordia and I am here in my beautiful nest to sleep with all the other “ villagers” in a very happy prairie vale.
It’s exactly what I expected without having any expectations and I love it.