The last hurrah

Mr Rosanna and I booked a last-minute holiday at McCrae a couple of weeks ago for this Australia Day long weekend and boy, we’re sure glad we did.  It was our first time using Airbnb and we booked 1A on McCrae located right behind the Blue Bay cafe (popular with cyclists and dog owners) in the little strip of cafes and restaurants off the service road near the Nepean Highway.img_5404Our accommodation was pretty simple and basic but what it lacked in style it made up for in terms of convenience being right across the road from the beach and walking distance to the shops and cafes including the very groovy Merchant & Maker, pop up pizza restaurant Zero 95 (whose flagship restaurant is in Templestowe!) and the stylish and upmarket modern Greek restaurant Alatonero (above).  We had pizza and gelati the night we arrived in McCrae at Zero 95, both of which were very good.

Gelati sign at Zero 95

We spent Australia Day morning on the beach in front of the bathing boxes before treasure hunting at the Rosebud Vintage Bazaar where I found a vintage Chinese silk jacket and Japanese dress.  It’s a great place to while a few hours away and has a retro cafe attached to it if you get hungry.  If you like 50s style fashion, you might also like the clothes from local label Pretty Parcel.

Rye Carnival

In the evening, we joined the throngs of people at Rye who’d come to enjoy the carnival rides, live music and fireworks on the beach, which were spectacular.  We were so close we could feel the ground vibrating and if we held out our hands, it was like we were touching the fireworks (below).  It was well worth it just for the experience as much as I missed out on coffee from the Woodland Folk van as we dashed across to the beach from the Ferris Wheel ride at the carnival.

The next day we joined my cousins, who happened to be down on the peninsula at the same time, at the Ashcombe Maze.  Our kids had a great time running around trying to find the hidden gnomes around the place.  If you have bigger kids, the nearby Enchanted Adventure Garden where you can tree surf looks like a lot of fun but allow 2 – 3 hours for it if you go.  That night we took our kids to the Dromana Drive In to watch Moana which was also a great experience for Mr R and I re-living our childhoods complete with Aussie rock music playing in the background.  It felt even more 1970s when a blonde surfer couple, both with long hair and faded jeans, pulled up in their van beside us and then walked to the nearby playground pulling some pretty rad moves with their white frisbee.

Ashcombe Maze Fountain

We spent Saturday morning trying the new Eagle Skylift at Arthur’s Seat, which has replaced the chairlift and has only been open since November last year.  It’s not cheap ($78 for a family of 4) for a 15 minute ride up and 15 minutes back, but you can buy single trip tickets and the views are stunning.  The cafe is up the top if you’re wanting a bite to eat while there’s only a kiosk at the bottom.  Go early to avoid the crowds, heat and wind but remember they do make you get off at the bottom and re-queue even if you have a return ticket.  The complimentary water and sunscreen is a nice touch as well as the entertainment (busker and balloon artist) at the bottom.

While we didn’t get the opportunity to visit Marlene Miller Antiques in Sorrento, we did drop into the Marion Rosetzky Gallery in Red Hill, which is located in a beautiful bushland setting where you can buy Marion’s Persian-inspired tiles in various forms.  There’s also a selection of jewellery, Buddhas, glassware and Fair Trade products from Africa and other places.

On our last night in McCrae we went to the early dinner sitting at Alatonero, which was empty when we arrived before being packed out within a matter of 5 – 10 minutes.  The food was sensational – we had the saganaki, chargrilled octopus and pan-fried calamari as starters followed by the 18 hour slow-roasted lamb with a Greek salad.  There is also a kids menu and choc tops on offer for them for dessert.  Drinks service was a little slow but we found out later that they were down one staff member, who’d called in sick.

Mr R and me – Alatonero

We spent our last day on the peninsula at Point Leo as we met friends who are surfers.  We grabbed a bite to eat at the Point Leo General Store next to the Trigger Brothers surf shop before entering Raw’s Reserve where it’s $4 to go in.  Make sure you use the toilets at the camping grounds before you go to the beach because unless you’re a Point Leo Boat Club member, there are no toilets at the beach!  The little cove on the right side of the boat club is perfect for novice surfers and boogie boarders while the left side is better for sunbathers as there are less rocks to step on.  Sun shelters are a good idea as I managed to get sunburnt despite wearing sunscreen, hat, sunglasses and cover up.img_2983We’re back in Melbourne and I’ve been busy not only working on the Bold Thinking Series lectures but also the 50th Anniversary communications for La Trobe University, which I will post about soon.


The Phoenix rises

It’s a double celebration for me this week given we celebrate both Australia Day and Chinese New Year in my household.  The Year of the Rooster starts on Saturday but I prefer the more impressive sounding Year of the Phoenix.  I also love the symbolism of the Phoenix who dies but then is re-born from the ashes of its previous incarnation – we all have the power in life to transform ourselves just like the Phoenix…

Image via Bell Street Mall

Tann‘s in Ivanhoe is having lion dance dinner performances for Chinese New Year while the Lunar New Year is also being celebrated with a twilight market and art projections in the Bell Street Mall, West Heidelberg on Friday 3 February.  While I have been to the city a number of times for Chinese New Year, I’ve heard it’s less crowded at Box Hill, which is celebrating the festival on Saturday 11 February – the same CBD lion dance performers from the Chinese Youth Society also feature at this festival.

Front entrance – Uncle St Kilda

Speaking of twilight, Zoo Twilights start this Friday Night at Melbourne Zoo while I also think the Melbourne Ska Orchestra at Shimmerlands, University of Melbourne this Saturday would be a lot of fun.

Uncle St Kilda – dessert

As for my past weekend, I actually spent last night once again in St Kilda catching up with my RMIT University friends from many years ago – most of who live in the south-east which means crossing over to the dark side!  I have to say it was worth the trip down Hoddle Street as the rooftop bar at Uncle St Kilda was pretty awesome.  We opted for the $50 per head banquet and the modern Vietnamese food (and rooftop dining) reminded me of St Cloud Eating House in Hawthorn – the food was very good but a greater variety of dishes (two chicken dishes came as part of the set menu) and some vegetables would have made it even better.  There is an Uncle Restaurant in the city if you are wanting to stay closer to home.


Local Profile – Belinda Lee

There have been some recent changes with the karate program at Ivanhoe Aquatic Centre and with Chinese New Year coming up, I thought it fitting to feature…well…someone Chinese!  I can attest to Belinda’s energy and positivity as I’ve seen her teaching in action.  I’m even more impressed that she’s a female black belt and has decided to take ownership of the existing karate program at Ivanhoe.  We’re lucky to have her in the north-east…


Name: Belinda Lee

Occupation: Karate Instructor and Primary School Teacher

Lives/works: Ivanhoe and Surrey Hills

How long have you lived/worked here? Ivanhoe has been my home for 33 years (that’s all my life!), except between 2007 – 2010 when I left for Japan to teach at an International English School and further my training in Karate. I started teaching karate 14 years ago, where I started at Ivanhoe Aquatic and Nets Stadium in Macleod.

Belinda teaching Japanese students

Describe yourself/what you do: Others have described me as one big ball of energy! I like to think I am energetic! If bouncing to class was normal instead of walking, that would be me! I try to transfer all this positive energy into my classes. I love to motivate people and teach them new skills. I challenge my students and aim to make learning enjoyable.

Belinda accepting her Sensei Award

Whether I am teaching adults, teenagers or children the joy in their eyes when they achieve something is what makes my job worthwhile. Teaching is my main focus. Lesson preparation comes with instructing, I mentally prepare and visualise how I want my class to run. I think about the students when I plan.picture-of-me-1I also am training to become an outdoor Bootcamp instructor in the Eastern suburbs. I hope one day I can bring that to the North-East side. Fitness is a very important life skill for me. I want to stay healthy and keep active. Be fit for life!

Best thing(s) about living/working in Melbourne’s north-east: The people around me, the care they show for each other. I have learnt from others, students and parents alike. I feel rewarded when as a group I see my classes encouraging each other, respecting the different ages and levels and lifelong friendships are formed. I also love the coffee and all the trendy cafes that have popped up over the last few years. I like my coffee best in the mid-afternoon. As an early riser, I feel a coffee hit is needed around 2 pm. We are spoilt for choice in Melbourne’s north east!

For more information:

Belinda Lee – Senior Instructor | 4th Dan  | Owner – Lee’s Karate

Ivanhoe Aquatic Centre
170 Waterdale Rd. Ivanhoe, Victoria 3079

Phone: 0421 416 119


Website (under construction – stay tuned!):


The living is easy…

Given we’ve had a staycation these summer school holidays, we decided an impromptu day trip to St Kilda was in order this past weekend.  It’s not in the north-east but it definitely still is the star of the southern suburbs.  There’s something about being by the water, palm trees and beautiful Art Deco buildings from another time, which make you feel like you’re on holiday (plus the fact that a lot of international tourists are there).img_5287 Continue reading “The living is easy…”

Living Landscapes

I’m ready for you Friday night!  It’s been a long week back at work and my brain is still catching up…I’m hoping to feel less fuzzy next week now that I’m at least back up to speed with things.

Wildlife Reserve
Wildlife Sanctuary image via

NGV Friday Nights is currently on until 10 March and as part of the David Hockney: Current exhibition, La Trobe University is uniting art with the environment as the NGV’s Learning Partner.  Inspired by Hockney’s landscapes, the Living Landscapes project invites you to create and contribute your own 3D plant to La Trobe University’s virtual landscape.  In return, La Trobe University will plant one in reality at their Wildlife Sanctuary.  The Sanctuary is so close to my office that I’ve now seen the kangaroos and emu that live there….I’m just hoping not to see the snakes!img_5271I actually returned from leave to find a beautiful gift (above) from the University’s other partner, State Library Victoria, in the form of a Haigh’s chocolate and nut mix packaged in a book box – such a clever idea and so fitting.  I’ll be holding four of my eight Bold Thinking Series lectures there this year.

Image via Robin Cowcher, ink and watercolour

Speaking of books, the Words and Windows Exhibition Launch and Family Event is being held on Saturday 21 January at the Eltham Library and will be launched by best-selling author and Australian Children’s Laureate Leigh Hobbs.  I was lucky enough to work with Leigh Hobbs when I was the publicist at The Light Factory Gallery and his illustrations are just as delightful.

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, the Heide Makers Market is on this Saturday from 9 am – 2 pm.  January is still feeling relatively sleepy with people still being away on holiday.  I’m looking forward to starting again with Chinese New Year later this month and I will have a fitting local profile up very soon.

Funicular fun

Ah yes…I just wanted to use that word funicular…it’s actually the clever contraption that Mr Rosanna and I are in (below) that his builder Uncle Peter has made for his spectacular cliff house on the river near the city.  This is us on Christmas night for the annual seafood dinner extravaganza which they hosted last year.img_5263I have been eating my way around the place these past few weeks.  If you’re ever in the eastern suburbs, Town & Country on Whitehorse Road in Balwyn is well worth a visit.  The cafe does great food and the nursery and retail shop next door sell some really beautiful homewares if you are looking to re-decorate  or update your house this summer.img_5258As a family, we’ve also done a number of local cafes including Hunter Lane in Rosanna where we grabbed a booth table looking out onto the railway.  It’s a really great addition to the area.  Funky Brewster is still closed until next week but I am looking forward to paying it a visit once it re-opens.img_5257We also popped in for a quick lunch at East Ivy in East Ivanhoe – again grabbing a booth table near the kitchen.  Both places do good food which needs a little bit of tweaking but I’m not complaining – the menus are much better than your average suburban fare and the service was excellent.img_5259I spent this morning out at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre with my friend ceramic artist Lene Kuhl Jakobsen having a look at the Verdant Garden exhibition and Victorian Quilters Inc. show Regeneration – needless to say I’m always drawn to the works that feature flowers and plants (see above quilt images).  Unfortunately, upstairs was closed for maintenance due to storm damage but this should be fixed soon if you’re planning a visit.  Lene and I had coffees and devonshire tea in the stunning cafe setting (the scones are enormous so you can share one between two) currently featuring artwork by local artists Siri Hayes and Kate Hudson.  It was a beautiful way to spend the morning.img_5260For those of you lucky enough to still be away at the beach on holidays, I am jealous!  I’m going to try to make the most of my last weekend before going back to work next week.  Have a good one.img_5261

Nb. Miss Rosanna is a Bundoora Homestead Art Centre Board member

Yoga Girl in La La Land

How was your Christmas and New Year?  I must admit – I’m not quite ready to go back to work.  We’ve had a quiet and restful staycation here in Melbourne not doing terribly much at all.  It’s been great to catch up with some of our closest friends as well as spend time with our extended family, who we don’t see a lot of during the year.

Our God-dog Pepper

I’ve had time to feed the neighbour’s chickens, dog-sit for one of our closest friends, make home-made waffles for breakfast, go for a family bike ride and start to de-clutter given the explosion of Christmas toys and the transformation of my home office back into a bedroom.  I have also managed to up the running over the summer break and I hope to continue this when I return to the office.

Yoga Girl image via Rachel Brathen

One of the things I love about the holidays is not feeling guilty about taking it easy and living life in the moment.  I was given this book (above) by my friend Mandy for Christmas and read it from cover to cover on Boxing Day.  I’d never heard of Rachel Brathen although this isn’t surprising given I’m not on Instagram.  Some of her yoga poses are quite extraordinary but her life story is just as fascinating.  It’s inspiring to read about people who have experienced hardship early on but have managed to turn their life around and not only survive, but thrive and go on to great things.  Wisdom often comes from experience, including failure and making mistakes.

La La Land movie image via Lido Cinemas

I also went to the movies at the Lido Cinemas in Hawthorn with my best friend Jules the night of the storms in Melbourne to see the magical film that is La La Land with Ryan Gosling playing a jazz pianist and Emma Stone as an aspiring actress.  Even if you’re not a fan of musical theatre, this new film done old school Hollywood-style is quite enchanting.  I won’t spoil the ending for you but it is a must-see for all you romantics out there.