May 6, 2013


Residents of Sydney’s eastern suburbs now have a good reason to take the plunge and travel across the water to the other side of the harbour.

The reason:  Kirribilli is now home to a most delightful small bar and restaurant named The Botanist.  Open for only five months, the word is spreading and it has become a very popular venue, not only with the locals, but with many from Sydney’s East.

Named after Botanist, Gerard Fothergill, who travelled the world researching plants, and whose latter years were spent running a small bookshop in the very building the restaurant now occupies.  The Botanist pays homage to these historical and botanical themes of exploration and discovery, with food and cocktail menus using abundant offerings of fresh produce, herbs and spices.

DSC00040The Botanist recently launched a new innovative cocktail and food menu, as well as a new website.   Cocktails on the new menu, constructed by co-owner Hamish Watts, all reflect the Botanist themes with simple and elegant flower and spiced infusions, such as the Mexican Garden made with Don Julio Blanco tequila, Le Bulleit Bleu a blueberry infused Bulleit bourbon and High Seas rum punch a mixture of Captain Morgan’s spiced rum, Cointreau and pineapple.

Their share plate menu, designed by head chef Justin Walshe, formerly of La Grillade, includes exciting additions with a Mexican flare such as soft shell tacos with the choice of marinated beef and chilli chicken, as well as pulled pork or southern style chicken sliders and pizza choices of a veggie mushroom, artichoke and olive and Italian sausage, potato and rosemary.

On Saturday or Sunday, why not walk across the Harbour Bridge and reward yourself with brunch, served every weekend from 11 a.m.

The Botanist is located in Kirribilli’s main shopping precinct, not far from Milsons Point railway station, for those who do not want to drive and the hassle of finding a parking spot, it’s well worth the trip.   Sandra Tiltman.  Photos:  John Pond



May 6, 2013


No other location in the world seems to conjure up thoughts of a tropical island paradise more than Tahiti.  With its high mountainous terrain, black sand beaches and surrounding coral reefs, Tahiti is also famous for turquoise blue lagoons and palm fringed beaches as well as fine French cuisine, it ticks all the boxes for a holiday away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Tahiti offers the visitor everything from swimming, snorkeling, jetskiing, water skiing, wind surfing, parasailing, sailing between the islands by powerboat or catamaran to the art of just doing nothing and relaxing in one of the many luxury resorts dotted throughout the region.

Located in the Southern Pacific Ocean and formed from volcanic activity, Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward Group of French Polynesia and is the economic, cultural and political centre of French Polynesia.

Tahiti was proclaimed a colony of France in 1880, although the indigenous Tahitians were not legally authorised to be French citizens until 1946.  Originally settled by Polynesians, who now comprise about 70% of the island’s population, with the remainder made up of Europeans, Chinese and those of mixed heritage.

Part of French Polynesia, Tahiti is a semi-autonomous territory of France with its own assembly, president, budget and laws.  France’s influence is limited to subsidies, education and security.  Tahitians are French citizens with complete civil and political rights.

PA080866French is the official language throughout Tahiti, although the Tahitian language is widely spoken as is English.

Tahiti’s currency is the French Pacific Franc which is pegged to the Euro.

Tourism is one of Tahiti’s most important industries along with Tahitian black pearl farming and the export of vanilla, fruits, flowers and fish.

Average temperatures range between 21C and 31C having little seasonal variation.  November to April is the wet season with January being the wettest month and August the driest.

Tahiti is also famous their traditional dancing, where rows of grass skirt wearing dancers perform their fast hip shaking moves to the sounds of drumbeats.  Last year while sailing aboard Carnival Spirit from Hawaii to Sydney, I was fortunate to visit Papeete, Moorea and Bora Bora.  The ship spent a day in each port, giving us a perfect opportunity to sightsee, shop for the famous black pearl jewellery, tropical print clothes plus experience some of the local culture.  While docked in the capital city, Papeete, a local troupe of dancers and musicians came aboard Carnival Spirit to present a cultural performance, much to the delight of the passengers.

Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity are just some of the cruise lines whose ships visit Tahitian ports while on the voyage to and from Australia, at the beginning and end of each cruise season.

Paul Gauguin Cruises offers luxury small ship cruises of various lengths aboard their vessel Paul Gauguin, visiting some ports that larger ships can’t reach throughout the region.

Faa’a International Airport, located 5 km from the capital, Papeete, is the only international airport in the region.

Air Tahiti Nui offers regular one stop flights to Papeete via Auckland, in under 10 hours, from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, in partnership with Qantas.

Founded in 1996, Air Tahiti Nui commenced flight operations in 1998 and now operates five A340-300 aircraft from its Tahiti base. The airline has headquarters in Papeete and operates from Faa’a International Airport on the island of Tahiti.

Sandra Tiltman   PHOTOS: John Pond  Read my blogs at and website also