February 27, 2014

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One of Sydney’s most looked forward to events, Bars March (formerly known as Parched March), has launched for its fifth year.  Held in support of Animal Welfare League NSW, Bars March is a whole month of responsible drinking of fabulous cocktails in great bars, for a good cause.

Amidst a glamorous crowd, some with their georgeous pooches, Café del Mar on the terrace at Cockle Bay, was a superb venue for the launch. Guests had the choice of enjoying the restaurant, watching the chefs in the open kitchen preparing platters of IMG_4605the best canapés I have eaten, or standing on the large outdoor deck watching the sun go down over Darling Harbour. The delicious Mediterranean inspired canapés were provided by Café del Mar Head Chef Ben Fitton and Brand Ambassador Miguel Maestre, they included Chermoula crusted chicken, rouille and endive, Persian fetta and jamon serrano, and Padron peppers, pink salt and cumin.

Bars March partner Suntory provided a selection of amazing cocktails, including my favourite, the Side Car consisting of Remy Martin VSOP, Cointreau and lemon juice. Also looking good was the Midori Fizz mix of Russian Standard Vodka, Midori, soda and lime.

All the favourite events are back and throughout March, special cocktails are on offer at more than 80 Sydney bars, from major venue groups to funky little hotspots. Two highlights are the Puppy Prom on 16 March at The Alexandria Hotel 1pm-4pm and Mr CBD on 20 March at The Argyle top floor 6.30pm-10pm.

IMG_4618 (1)Animal Welfare League NSW works to save and improve the lives of pets that have been surrendered, neglected or abandoned and is reliant on donations. They protect animals through regulatory work with various Government bodies and help to enforce legislation with a team of Inspectors who are on the ground every day. For pets in need, they provide customised care through a foster care and branch network, three shelters and veterinary hospital, while working to find loving forever homes for animals in their care.

Show your support by visiting participating venues and buying a Bars March charity cocktail, attending fundraising events and taking part in social media competitions. For info:

Sandra Tiltman 

Photos:  John Pond (see more photos at


February 27, 2014

Floating villages LR

Fiji and New Caledonia are now passé, having been favourite destinations on cruise itineraries for many years. Now it’s Papua New Guinea’s time to take the limelight as the new star that everyone wants to visit. Australian cruise travellers are always on the look out for somewhere new and exciting to visit that’s close to home.

There’s only one way to experience the mysterious world of Papua New Guinea and that’s on board “True North”. From culture and village life, to remarkable fishing and diving expeditions, their guests are privy to some of this magical region’s most extraordinary experiences. Daily activities include scenic walks, fishing, snorkelling, diving, picnics, cultural events and spectacular flights in the ship’s helicopter.

For those more interested in exploring underwater spectacles, the remote Admiralty Islands and Bagabag Island offer some of the most pristine coral reefs for divers and snorkelers. The mysterious Sepik River is high on every adventurer’s list but each itinerary offers its own unique set of experiences and activities with guests choosing to do as much or as little as they like.

True North Papua New Guinea Rainbow LR“True North” is Australia’s premier luxury adventure cruise ship and is purpose built to sail deep into the heart of the wilderness, visiting areas that larger ships cannot access. The 36 guests are tended to by a crew of 20 and are privy to only the highest quality experiences, courtesy of the on board biologist and a team of naturalists, a ship’s helicopter and six dedicated expedition boats.

Exceptional food and wine are served on board, with the modern Australian cuisine supplemented by locally sourced ingredients, complemented by a selection of Western Australian wines. Cabins are spacious and modern, plus there is a panoramic lower deck dining room, an alfresco bar and an observation lounge.

First visiting the wilds of PNG in 2005, “True North” has continued to foster and build on relationships with the local people in some of the most remote parts of the country. It’s these relationships that allow guests to visit communities that have remained largely unchanged by the pressures of the modern world, providing guests with the rich cultural and adventure experiences that await them in the “land of the unexpected”.

Peter Trembath, GM at North Star Cruises said “Papua New Guinea is one of the last true wilderness areas in the world. We’ve been exploring the region for a while now and we know that our itineraries leave an indelible mark on our guests. We encounter rich cultural and natural history in an almost pristine environment. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience.”

Each year “True North” explores this remote land in November and December with itineraries ranging from five to twelve nights.

Sandra Tiltman 


February 27, 2014


Celebrating its first birthday last week, The Soda Factory at 16 Wentworth Avenue, Surry Hills has become one of Sydney’s favourite bars, after just twelve months.

DJ Grandmaster Flash jetted in from New York especially for the celebrations.  After leading a toast to The Soda Factory turning one, he then performed an intimate show for the party.

DSC01256At The Soda Factory, the fun begins right at the front door, where you are greeted by staff on roller skates, wearing 1950s era diner uniforms.  Entry into the bar is behind a retro coke machine door.

Sumptious lounges and comfortable armchairs are just two of the reasons why this bar is so popular.  Add in a great atmosphere, large selection of cocktails, wines and beers, terrific music, a food menu of American favourites and there you have it, a bar you want to visit every night.

Following the huge success of their hotdog menu, co-owner and Executive Chef Michael Chase has launched a full diner menu. The lit-up vintage American diner sign hanging by the bar’s new diner section won’t let you forget it. Long tables have been fitted, accommodating larger groups to enjoy the expanded menu. The full diner menu is available 5pm-10pm daily, with a late night menu operating 10pm-late. Michael commented “After the enormous popularity of our Gourmet Hotdogs, we wanted to truly bring an authentic taste of Americana to Surry Hills, with our take on the diner classics – along with some special Soda surprises like the Cheeseburger spring rolls & Popcorn Shrimp.”

Sandra Tiltman     Photos:  John Pond


February 27, 2014


Who could resist an invitation to be at Bondi Beach for the launch of the new movement #WakeUpBeAMazing, even if it was a 6.45am start.

The Wake Up, Be Amazing movement is about rising early, seizing the day and having a delicious breakfast.

five:am organic yoghurt, who was behind the launch, believes that when you wake up early, you get a unique view of the world, a sense of clarity rarely seen throughout the day. Whether it’s a surf, yoga session or meditation the early morning is the perfect time to do something just for you.

Yoga 213 was on hand for an energising hip hop yoga class, followed by a fabulous nourishing breakfast. A tropical smoothie made with five:am natural yoghurt was a great way to start, followed by a selection of five:am organic yoghurt products.  I especially enjoyed their coconut and coffee flavoured yoghurts.

IMG_4444During breakfast, Aussie pro surfer Laura Enever and actress Jess Tovey spoke on why they loved to get up early and seize the day.

The menu also showcased special items curated by The Holistic Ingredient founder, Amy Crawford.  Her berry chocolate chia mousse featuring five:am natural no added sugar yoghurt along with an avocado, coconut & lemon cheesecake featuring five:am greek-style yoghurt were delicious.  It certainly made getting up early worth the effort.

Sandra Tiltman      Photos:  John Pond