Lucky Rabbit

Happy Lunar New Year! While for most people of Asian backgrounds it is the Year of the Rabbit, in Vietnam it is actually the Year of the Cat. Either way, I’m hoping for a more peaceful year than the turbulent Tiger.

The new year is when people often call time on relationships and jobs that are no longer working for them and it’s been an interesting time in the world of media, sport and politics in that respect with announcements from high-profile women including The Project’s former host Carrie Bickmore, AFLW football player Daisy Pearce and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Whatever your thoughts on them, they deserve some privacy and respect for their decision to step away from their previous roles.

The nature of life is change and I expect the new year will continue to ring in further change. While I didn’t make it in to Chinatown this year to celebrate the new year, my brother Matt braved the heat and took these pictures on my blog post today. It’s been great to see people not only attending Chinese New Year celebrations in Melbourne but also the Australian Open (AO) tennis and Midsumma Festival this past weekend.

In true East meets West fashion, I ended up having a good old fashioned Aussie BBQ with my mum’s side of the family at Yarra Bend Park staying until the sun set on the first day of the Rabbit year. Speaking of which, you may be interested in Lucky Rabbit: a celebration of Chinese New Year at the Chinese Museum by artist Chris Chun depicting each of the Chinese Zodiac animals combining Asian and western motifs. Better hop to it…


Orient Express

It’s been busy leading up to Christmas as much as I’ve chosen day-time walkie talkies with friends instead of dinners out with end of year and pandemic fatigue. I walked to Burgundy Street in Heidelberg on Saturday meeting friends at The Pepper Tree cafe (two doors up from The Train Yard cafe and across the road from the Salvo’s Store). There are some new businesses opening with Doctor Dumpling (below) catching my eye! While on Sunday, I met friends at Ora cafe in East Kew and walked the Darebin Creek trail past Alphington Grammar and La Trobe Golf Club all the way to Sparks Reserve in Ivanhoe and back. I have slowed down to walking rather than running at this time of year even though metaphorically I think I am limping to the finish line.

It’s nice to see more sustainable Christmas options as gifts this year including directing your money towards Melbourne businesses that need the support or donating to organisations such as the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre if you shop with Your Grocer. Recycled, local and sustainable fashion options are also much kinder to the environment. It’s been interesting reading about second hand fashion stores selling solely on Instagram and this upcycled denim skirt (below) by KITX has caught my eye as much as I lack the budget to buy! I’m also enjoying looking at the fashion choices of Carrie and her SATC friends on And Just Like That

KITX denim skirt

I’ve been to the inner city twice this past week with the ANZSOG Christmas party on Wednesday at the Emerald Peacock Rooftop Bar in Lonsdale Street which while a bit cool weather-wise, was still lovely. It’s not far from another recommended summer outdoor dining venue Pepe’s Italian & Liquor. Things were pumping a bit harder at Johnny’s Green Room in Lygon Street Carlton which I walked past yesterday with my family as we had al fresco pre-dinner drinks at Milk the Cow (where I spied this cool Kung Fu bottle below in the window of Bottega Tasca Fine Wine & Spirits) and dinner at old favourite University Cafe after watching sci-fi movie Dune on the big screen at IMAX Melbourne. We also enjoyed browsing at Readings which has just opened another outpost at the Emporium in the city.

Speaking of Kung Fu, you can catch Jason Phu: Analects of Kung Fu inspired by martial arts and showing for free at ACMI and we loved watching Marvel movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings as a family. It was also uplifting to know that a second Cantonese Red Emporer restaurant has moved to the former Shark Fin House site in Chinatown and if you’re in the area this coming weekend, Melbourne’s Chinese Museum is also holding its Christmas Open Day on Sunday 19 December.

Summer of soul

Well we did it Melbourne! While lockdown has ended with a whimper rather than a bang in our household – I’m very happy for everyone especially our young people who have missed out on two crucial years in their lives. Some of my lasting experiences and strongest memories are those from my early twenties when it felt like the world was at my feet and anything was possible. It is going to take time to re-group and I am feeling for our stretched health workers who are still doing the hard yards for all of us. They are the unsung heroes of this pandemic continuing to treat the sick or injured without fear or favour.

Soul singer Emma Donovan & The Putbacks with Paul Kelly @ Heide earlier this year

As kids go back to school, travel returns, businesses open up and live events come back – it’s an exciting summer ahead and it’s been interesting to see the news and media narrative switch gear to issues other than COVID-19 including climate change once again, and diversity and equity. On the latter, I’ve really enjoyed watching both Summer of Soul (Disney+) on the 3rd annual Harlem Cultural Festival held in 1969 (with previously unseen footage) featuring luminaries such as Nina Simone and Stevie Wonder as well as Hitsville: The making of Motown (on ABC ivew) narrated by Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson who were instrumental in the success and machine that was Motown music.

I’ve also really enjoyed watching the fascinating documentary Step into Paradise (also on ABC iview) on fashion designers Jenny Kee (more on her below) and Linda Jackson – definitely one for the fashionistas and art lovers out there, which captures the heady times of the 1960s, 70s and 80s in particular in Australia and the UK. I’ve missed watching New Gold Mountain (SBS On Demand) set in Ballarat during the gold rush era which is when my forebears started to arrive in Australia from See Yup in China. My Dad’s been watching it and was a bit disappointed the actors spoke in Cantonese rather than our See Yup dialect.

Yum cha bamboo steamer

I am yet to visit the See Yup Temple in South Melbourne but have been to the Golden Dragon Museum in Bendigo. The Chinese Museum in Melbourne also held a Chinese Australian Achievers 2021 launch and online talk last Thursday night featuring people such as Tony Ayres, Elizabeth Chong AM, Jenny Margaret Kee AO, Lee Lin Chin, Li Cun-Xin AO, Benjamin Law and Alice Pung (to name but a few) to accompany the One Million Stories: Chinese Australians 200 years permanent exhibition. It’s inspiring to not only see but hear my fellow Chinese Australians and their voices. Despite these more progressive times that we live in, I am still often the only Asian in the room at an event, at the table (or on screen these past two years!) although I think this is rapidly changing and I hope to see more of my contemporaries in leading roles and positions in modern Australian society.