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IKEA Canberra: Hidden Catalogue CLUE!

12 Oct

Last week you would have read my post about IKEA Canberra – soon to open on Monday, 16 November – launching a treasure-hunt style game across Canberra: the IKEA Hidden Catalogue.

This week I’ve got a clue! Remember by participating you can win up to $1000 to spend at the new IKEA Canberra store. The steps are all outlined here. Remember, it’s not just about guessing where it is, but actually going there and posing with the item and tagging #IKEAHidden on your social media channels.

Without further ado, here’s the clue!

You’ll feel like a giant when you reach this Canberra institution that boasts reptiles and dinosaurs as its neighbours. Little ones will love it here and if they find this one, they could be cooking up a storm.

The fine print: You have to be 18 years+ to participate. For more clues and full terms and conditions head to


IKEA Canberra – find hidden furniture for your chance to win!

6 Oct

You may have (ha! I mean will have!) heard that IKEA Canberra is opening on Monday, 16 November. And in case the excitement wasn’t already at fever pitch, from this week IKEA is launching a treasure-hunt style game across Canberra: the Hidden IKEA catalogue. $50 IKEA gift cards are up for grabs each week with a grand prize of a $1000 gift card. That’s a lot of IKEA!

Intrigued? Here’s how to play.

Each week from 6 October there’ll be weekly clues on Use the clues to get searching for the secret location and find the hidden piece of furniture somewhere around Canberra!

When you find the hidden IKEA product, it’s up to you to take your most creative IKEA catalogue shot and share it on your social media channels – Twitter, Facebook or Instagram – with the #IKEAHidden hashtag to be in the running to win!

Check back to my blog in the week beginning 11 October for a post with a clue!

The fine print: You have to be 18 years+ to participate. Full terms and conditions are here.

Draft update to the Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan

27 Sep

As you all know, Belconnen is my home and it has my heart. When I’m not blogging or working, I’m advocating for Belconnen as Chair of the Belconnen Community Council.

Over the last 18 months, we’ve worked hard a range of community consultations into the update of the Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan, like hosting a free barbecue at the Belconnen Arts Centre. Master Plans are important because they set out the future character of the area – what things might be developed, what it could or should look like, and what areas should be preserved.

Today the draft update to the Master Plan was released. It includes a whole lot of things that the BCC, I and the community have been advocating for to make the Belconnen Town Centre an even better play to live, work and play, including:

  • clarity about height limits in the Town Centre (proposing different heights for different sites, and providing for both high- and medium-density)
  • activating the previously abandoned Joynton Smith busway and turning it into a cycleway to better connect the Town Centre to Florey
  • increasing and widening paths in the Town Centre so it’s easier for cyclists and pedestrians to get around; joining the path around Lake Ginninderra behind the Belconnen Arts Centre so it’s completely connected
  • expanding the 40km/h zones so that it’s safer for pedestrians and cyclists to move around, and replacing plastic speed humps with build-outs and raised pedestrian crossings
  • providing a multi-storey car park in a place that’s central to encourage activity – ie park your car and then walk around the Town Centre, such as to Emu Bank. This could free up key areas which could be used for entertainment (like on Emu Bank) and also provides an alternative for commuters instead of activity like driving from the Belconnen Markets to Westfield to Emu Bank to John Knight Memorial Park – and may also free up existing car spaces elsewhere

  • preserving the Diddams Close peninsula and considering ways to activate these open spaces, such as community gardens or concerts
  • activating Margaret Timpson Park with play areas (including water play), a legal graffiti wall and barbecue facilities
  • proposing stricter rules around building design to ensure high quality
  • linking the Town Centre to the University of Canberra
  • providing a destination at Emu Bank with more outdoor dining, increased walking areas and – potentially – fewer car parks taking up important lake views

There are also sections in the Master Plan which will require careful community consideration. These include the proposal for different height limits in different parts of the Town Centre and high-rise buildings along Lathlain Street, as well as the eventual redevelopment of the bus depot as housing. There’s also a question about what might the Master Plan be missing? Are there any great ideas out there which haven’t been included and really should be?

The best part about it being a draft Master Plan is that we’ve now got time to answer these questions and provide feedback. Formal feedback opportunities will open later this week but in the meantime please do yourselves a favour and read the proposals so you are ready to comment. There are plenty of diagrams and detailed explanations, as well as overarching statements about the character. It all starts on page 57, but the preceding pages give really useful context (like a study into car park use) as well as a summary of the input the community provided.

Read the draft update to the Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan here. The future of the Town Centre depends on your input!

Dining at Pialligo Estate

21 Apr

Many of you’ll recall me visiting raving about Pialligo Estate just before it opened. The food is innovative and fresh and the setting is divine. But that was a preview to the real thing. There’s a difference between a taste of what’s to come versus sitting down in the venue with the kitchen putting together its menu for hundreds of diners, crafting meals. So, I had to check it out – and in the interests of being thorough I went twice in three weeks!

My first visit to Pialligo Estate was in early February, one of those lazy afternoons that have to really stretch to touch darkness. This evening’s mid-March and it’s colder and darker and I’m happy to say that once we’re through the enormous, heavy entrance doors, it’s inviting and welcoming. We’re seated in the lounge area and offered cocktails and starter drinks as our table’s readied. The Ginger Tonic – ginger and elderflower liqueurs with gin and Fever Tree tonic water ($18) – is an absolute delight. Around us, the colours are earthy and warm – despite the restaurant’s grand size, it feels like we’re sitting in a cosy cabin in the Snowy Mountains.

Yes, those are pumpkins.

At our table on the first night, we opt for the six course chef’s tasting menu. The amuse bouche is salmon sabayon – something we sampled at Pialligo’s opening. The dish is as good as I remember, but again so cruel that it’s simply an opener rather than a main.

It’s followed by a tomato and burrata (cheese) which complements the sweet coolness of the salmon.

Our other dishes flow in quick succession, adding up quickly. There are two things you need to know about dishes at Pialligo: even with the tasting menu, the dishes are huge. Do not fill up on bread, no matter how tempted you are – and you will be – or you will be carrying around an oversized food baby (learn from my mistake).

The second is that all our dishes (save dessert) come with a jus or sauce which is poured over the dish after serving, so as eager as you are to consume, wait for the jus!

The sweet cobia with radish (so pretty and delicate) and salted plums surprises me; I’d normally have had no interest in the fish, but enjoy it.

The sweet spanner crab with dry watermelon vinaigrette and cornichons looks fantastic but doesn’t quite fit the menu for me; for some reason I think crab should be an early starter dish, before any other seafood.

One of the prettiest and tastiest dishes is the Jumjum farm roasted duck from outside Sydney, accompanied by blood plum and lightly grilled sweet corn, grown near where we walked in. It’s huge but soft, and the other flavours cloy to the duck.

The wagyu is silken, supported by black onion sauce and a shallot puree. Only thanks to the moreish flavours am I able to fit it into my first stomach (there’s always a dessert stomach).

The cheese course challenges me but my palate establishes strong relationships with new flavours so that I’m begging to know what they are to be able to hunt them down.

This blackberry, blueberry, pistachio crumble with two types of ice cream is one of the most beautiful dishes I’ve seen; the picture is striking but the dish is even more engaging in person (and yes, tastes great). As we polish it off, we’re offered the petit fours – nougat, lime macarons, marshmallows and salted caramel pieces. It’s a gorgeous but somewhat overwhelming finish following such a large meal.

The weekend we return it’s incredibly busy: a Saturday right in the middle of Easter with a 21st to boot. We’re sat and served drinks and starters quickly. Our entrees are served with equal attention and the cured and raw Blackmore wagyu with sourdough and beetroot ($21) is among the best I’ve ever had, and Boyfriend’s vegetable medley (artichokes, garden-grown black figs, hazelnut) is large and delicious ($19). I know I’ll be ordering these dishes again and again.

I normally enjoy smaller oysters, but these McCash oysters from Bateman’s Bay ($4 each) vary in size, with some so small they lack structure – no fault of Pialligo’s but a little disappointing all the same.

For main I order the Holmbrae chicken – chicken that’s served at restaurants like Sepia and Aria – served with prawns, peas, sea urchin and shellfish sauce ($42). This is unlike anything I’ve ever had before, and the strong sauce with the strong chicken flavour challenges and confuses me; I don’t think the flavours match but I’m glad I’ve tried such an interesting dish.

We’re full this time after an entire day of constant eating so, tempted as I am, skip dessert. Petit fours again conclude our experience.

Pialligo Estate’s service each time echoes the warmth of the building – it’s a pleasure to visit!

Dates: Saturday, 14 March and Saturday, 4 April

Where: Pialligo Estate, 18 Kallaroo Road, Pialligo. You will need to book – it will be busy! (02 6247 6060)

Cost: The chef’s tasting menu is $110; drinks extra

Value for money: High

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile

Want more? Try their Facebook page and website.

Remedy by Lonsdale Street Roasters, Belconnen

25 Aug

There’s a new kid cafe in (Belconnen) town (centre).

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Woolshed Falls, Reids Creek Walk, Spring Creek Cascades

5 May

After eating at a one-hatted restaurant, a two-hatted restaurant, a no-hatted but still awesome restaurant, and enjoying this delightful brewery (not to mention all the wineries), we’re feeling a tad guilty, and go in search of a bushwalk (but not too onerous of course – we’re on holiday!).

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Bright – Mt Hotham – Omeo – Falls Creek – Mt Beauty – Bright

26 Apr

Let’s go for a drive, I say, when we arrive at Bright after a great start at the Myrtleford Butter Factory.

It won’t take long, I say. It’ll be a great way to see the alpine country.

Famous last words.

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Bittersweet, Kingston

15 Dec

You’re all going to groan, but my experience at the Bittersweet cafe in Kingston is, well, bittersweet.

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Belgium Beer Cafe Beergustation

15 Nov

Following a big Beer Day Out, a shocking experience at the Durham, and a pretty decent time with Chuck Hahn at the Tradies, we’re not sure how the Beergustation at the Belgian Beer Cafe in Kingston as our final experience for Canberra Beer Week will go. At $99, it should hope to be good!

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Oktoberfest 2013

4 Nov

Beer. Dancing. Yodelling. Sausages. Loud music. EPIC. Pork knuckle. Lebkuchen. What else could I be talking about, except Canberra’s very own Oktoberfest?

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