Tag Archives: Cafe

365 Places: The National Arboretum

Day 81: The National Arboretum

Yesterday we went to the National Arboretum which was a great way to spend a bit of time on a Saturday afternoon.

The Visitor’s Centre is a beautiful building, with some stunning design features which I hope I have captured below. The use of local timbers and stone has been used to great effect and it is a lovely building to enjoy both from the inside and the outside.

National Arboretum © Tracey Benson 2014
National Arboretum © Tracey Benson 2014

What is the Arboretum?
An arboretum (pronounced ar-bo-re-tum) is a collection of living trees, cultivated for conservation, scientific, research and educational purposes.

The National Arboretum Canberra first opened in February 2013, and has attracted many visitors from Canberra, Australia and around the world. The Arboretum website says that:

It is already contributing to the protection of tree species and tree diversity world-wide, as well as generating new research and understanding about how trees grow, survive and adapt.

The aim of the Canberra Arboretum is to become one of the great arboreta in the world; a place of outstanding natural beauty, community amenity and scientific value.

The  Arboretum  is home to 94 forests of rare, endangered and symbolic trees from Australia and around the world. More than 48,000 trees grow on the 250 hectare (618 acres or 2.5 million square metres) site, with species from over 100 countries. Map of the Arboretum (PDF). You can also take a number of walks around the Arboretum. At the Village Centre you can get a free map of the self-guided walking trails or downloaded the guide here (PDF).

Here are some pictures:

Maybe next weekend we might do a walk through the Cork forest.

In the Top 1% of TripAdvisor

This nice little email was in my inbox this morning – great to see that people like reading my reviews 🙂

Top one percent
Top one percent

You can check out my reviews of activities, accommodation and food on TripAdvisor as Geokult.

365 Places: Cafe TREEO

Day 34: Cafe TREEO, Sawtell, News South Wales, Australia

Today I am writing about another favourite place to hang out on the Coffs Coast, Cafe TREEO Sawtell. A while ago, I wrote about our love for the village of Sawtell in 365 Places: Sawtell and over the past week we have grown to love this location even more for it’s beautiful coast line, wonderful village atmosphere and the great food and coffee at TREEO.

The coffee is really good here as is some of their wonderful iced teas and fruit drinks, which are served in big jars, which seems to be an increasing fashion for cafes serving smoothies and cold drinks.

The breakfast and lunch menus all offer the traditional cafes favourites but with a twist. For example, for brunch today I had the citrus cured tasmanian salmon with poached eggs, goats chevre, avocado & preserved lemon on sourdough, which was just delicious and huge for lunch. $17.00 Marty had the grilled chicken salad with baby spinach, avocado, pine nuts, capsicum, roasted butternut pumpkin & persian feta $17.50

TREEO pride themselves on using fresh local ingredients and the food is also beautifully presented. The cafe also has a quirky atmosphere which really suits the laid back style of Sawtell.

Their website says that:

Cafe TREEO is the product of Duncan & Leesa Elliot who moved from Sydney 2 years ago to grab their little slice of paradise in Sawtell. Duncan is a chef of over 20 years having cooked across the globe with the bulk of his years spent in Michelin star restaurants in London, while Leesa who cut her teeth in the video games industry is a marketing professional. With their talents combined they have created a unique offering focused on quality across every level.

Here is a picture of Duncan with some of his team.

Duncan and TREEO team
Duncan and TREEO team

If you drop in just for coffee and a snack, you must try their ‘to de for’ chocolate brownie – bring your friends though – this is a slab of brownie, not for the faint hearted!

My hope is that one day TREEO will be my local cafe and I can enjoy their fine offerings everyday.

Cafe TREEO Sawtell
18 First Ave
Sawtell, New South Wales 2452
Mon – Sun: 7:00 am – 4:30 pm

365 Places: Trappers Bakery

Day 28: Trappers Bakery Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia

Image Credit: http://trappersbakery.com.au/
Image Credit: http://trappersbakery.com.au/

When we travel north for holidays to Sydney or further afield to spend time with family on the NSW mid-north coast or Queensland, our first pit stop along the way is at Trappers Bakery on the outskirts of Goulburn.

Trappers always have a good selection of pies and pastries and the coffee is pretty good. What is special about this bakery is the country-style atmosphere – as you walk in, there is a lovely little cottage garden and inside features a roaring fire. I also love the recycled furniture and the reused timber on the roof, plus the corrugated iron light fittings – here is a picture I took yesterday.

Trapper's roof
Trapper’s roof

Martin Drury has also created a Photo Essay of Trappers.

The best part about stopping at Trappers is the feeling we are on the road, heading somewhere north – to warmer climes and coastlines.

200 followers – thank you!!

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Thanks again – you are awesome!

This is us at our fave cafe in Istanbul , more later 🙂

Tracey and Marty in Istanbul
Tracey and Marty in Istanbul

365 Places: Ardeche Restaurant, Canberra

Day 10: Ardeche Restaurant, Civic, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

Today the remarkable place I wish to share is not a town or a country – it is a restaurant: one of my favourites in Canberra. Ardeche for us is a place we hold dear, not a place we go to every week or month but to mark special occasions. For example, we had our son’s 18th birthday there and it was top-notch. We were so impressed with the level of service and attention to detail, which helped to make this event so memorable for all of us and especially our son.

Although the restaurant doesn’t look like much from the outside, don’t let that fool you. The service is always impeccable, though thankfully not pretentious or arrogant – unlike so many other Canberra restaurants and cafes. The food is simply divine, we always think that we will have room for dessert, but there is always a wee little corner left for soufflé.

Tonight was a special dinner for the family to acknowledge our son moving out of home. This is his favourite restaurant and the home made omelette option just could not compete with dinner at Ardeche.

Here is what we ate tonight:


Soupe à l’oignon $13: ​Traditional french onion soup served with a parmesan Croûton.

Escargots à la Bourgogne $20: Pan fried snails, garlic, butter & white wine, served in a puffed Mille Feuille, finished with a sweet pepper coulis.


~Main course~

Poulet flambé au Pernod et sauce au safran $26.50: ​Breast of chicken- char-grilled and oven baked, flamed in Pernod, white wine, saffron, mushrooms, cream and served on bed of saffron risotto.

Poulet Tagine $25.50: North African Style Chicken with dates, lemon, chick peas, served with spiced Couscous & minted yoghurt.

Boeuf Bourguignon $26.50: Traditional French beef casserole with mushrooms, onions,​ carrots, bacon & red wine, served with a side of pomme purée.



We had the blackboard special – Chocolate soufflé with Grand Marnier  ice cream

Crème Caramel: Crème Caramel, grand Marnier passion fruit  coulis and served with Vanilla ice Cream.

Desserts $14.50

Considering the quality of the food and the service, we consider the price to be reasonable by Canberra standards. I will have to think about another special occasion we can mark by going back to this little gem.

Tilley’s – a Canberra institution

Tilley's light © Tracey Benson 2014
Tilley’s light © Tracey Benson 2014

When we first arrived in Canberra in 2001, we lived in a tiny apartment in the infamous Brigalow Court in O’Connor. The rent was cheap, it was close to the school, the university and located opposite the Lyneham shops.

In those early days, I would often meet a friend for coffee at the cafe across the road, Tilley’s Devine Cafe Gallery, affectionately known as Tilley’s. I learnt very quickly that this cafe had a rich history as an identity as a local music and social venue.

Tilley’s has a special history for Canberra women as well, as when it initially opened men were only welcome if they were in the company of women.

Lights at Tilley's © Martin Drury 2014
Lights at Tilley’s © Martin Drury 2014

Sally Pryor, in 2003 wrote about Tilley’s in the Canberra Times:

With elegant, dark wood fittings, a moody, deep red colour scheme, and soft jazz wafting between the old-fashioned booths lining the walls, there is some things essentially nostalgic and cinematic about Tilley’s romantic atmosphere, reminiscent of a Hollywood film noir. Its timeless in a way that’s hard to emulate in a youngish, fickle town like Canberra, where high turnover of night spots seem inevitably dictated by the relative hip-factor of the decor, the DJ and the cocktail menu.

Over the years we have had some special times at Tilley’s, for example, we celebrated our son’s 21st luncheon there, which was a lovely day. Another fond memory is of  the cold winter’s day we were very privileged to see Martha Davis from The Motels rehearsing for the evening concert. I remember being quite star struck as well as feeling incredibly lucky to see one of my rock heroes in such an intimate setting. When I asked the waitress if we should go (as we hadn’t paid to watch), I remember her smiling and telling us to relax and enjoy our hot chocolates. Our son was only 8 at the time and he wondered what the fuss was about. For me, memories of playing “Take the ‘L’ out of lover” on the record player in my bedroom came flooding back. At the time, The Motels were one of my favourite bands, so to sit in the booth, all nice and snug watching  Martha was really special.

Inside Tilley's © Tracey Benson 2014
Inside Tilley’s © Tracey Benson 2014

Today, after a gorgeous morning getting pummeled at the foot&thai, we wandered over to Lyneham for a delicious lunch at TIlley’s. It is a cafe style menu, with generous servings and some nice options. The Mushroom Bruschetta was delicious, my husband really enjoyed the Fish and Chips and the Portuguese Chicken Burger was a winner with the 21 y/o.

Tilley’s has not changed much over the years, and Sally’s description of the decor and music in 2003 still holds true. This is a rare thing in a town where re-branding cafes is almost a yearly occurrence, thanks to some bad advice going around from some marketing ‘guru’. Also what hasn’t changed is the quality of the coffee, they certainly know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino – it is surprising the number of cafes in Canberra that don’t know how to make a decent coffee. So after a morning of self indulgence and spoiling, we are off to a great start for the Easter long weekend.
Phone for reservations and information
Reservations available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week.
+61 2 6247 7753

Corner of Brigalow & Wattle Streets,
Lyneham ACT 2602, Australia

Canberra Trash and Treasure Market

Trash and Treasure Jamison
Trash and Treasure Jamison

Last weekend, we went to the Trash and Treasure Market at Jamison. It was my first time going to the market, as I am usually not awake early enough. Luckily it was the first day we turned the clock back, after the end of Summer time, so the sun woke me at around 6am.

Trash and Treasure is a Canberra institution and if you want a bargain you have to get there early. We arrived about 8:15am and the car park was packed. The market has all manner of goods – lots of plants, organic fruit and vegetables, second-hand clothes and bric a brad. I was really chuffed to score some organic apples for $2.50 a kilogram – much better than the $18.99 a kilo I paid the other week at Griffith.

Trash and Treasure Jamison
Trash and Treasure Jamison

After checking out the markets, we headed to one of our favourite spots for breakfast, Ricardo’s Cafe. What surprised us is that most of the tables were reserved and it was packed – at 9am! Usually it is busy, but ordinarily we never have problem finding a table, today it was a bit of a challenge.Here is a picture of one of their ‘to die for’ Portuguese Tarts.

Portuguese Tart from Ricardo's
Portuguese Tart from Ricardo’s

The Trash and Treasure Market is operated by the Rotary Club of Belconnen and is held each Sunday from 6am to 1pm at the Jamison Centre car park in Macquarie, except when Christmas Day coincides.

Idyllic Canberra Sunday

Today was pretty much my idea of a perfect Sunday in Canberra. After sleeping in just a little and catching up on some household chores, we headed off to the Old Bus Depot Markets and Fyshwick Markets. After we stocked up, we then went to my favourite cafe in Belconnen, Ricardo’s Cafe for coffee and Portuguese Tarts. After we dropped off the groceries, we enjoyed a lovely walk up Mt Painter.

EveryTrail Map of Pt Painter walk
EveryTrail Map of Mt Painter walk

Mt Painter Walk at EveryTrail
EveryTrail – Find hiking trails in California and beyond

Organic Markets
One thing I really love about Canberra is the quality of food that is organic and/or locally grown and made. There are a number of markets where you can buy really good organic food. For example, the Fyshwick Markets has the Fyshwick Gourmet Organic butcher who sells free range and organic meats, as well as game meat like venison and kangaroo.  For your organic fruit and veggies, you can usually find a good variety at Wiffins, if you get there early. The prices are also reasonable, last week I paid $18.99 for a kilo for apples at the Organic Energy Foods at Griffith, Wiffins had two varieties for $12.99. I never save money though, as I just seem to buy more apples to make up the difference. In defence of Organic Energy Foods, their shop is beautifully presented the produce is always excellent quality and they home deliver.

Other places you can find organic produce in Canberra, include the Capital Region Farmers Market (7.30am to 11.30am on Saturday mornings at Exhibition Park), the Southside Farmer’s Market  (Sunday afternoons at the Woden CIT Campus) and the new Northside Farmers Market at the University of Canberra Campus (2.30-5.30pm, Kirinari Street, in front of Building 10).  You can also go to Choku Bai Jo at the North Lyneham and Curtin shops. Choko Bai Jo also lists the road miles that produce have travelled, to help customers make informed decisions.

Old Bus Depot Markets
The Old Bus Depot markets are always a treat. Located in a couple of old industrial buildings along the Kingston Foreshore, you can find all sorts of wonderful treasure: antiques and collectibles; art and craft; fine food (especially olives, cheeses and breads); and, usually some live music. The markets are situated next door to the Canberra Glassworks which is also worth a visit, as the artists often have demonstrations of glass blowing. I managed not to spend too much money, though we did indulge and share a delicious chocolate brownie with pecans. However, I was very taken with some bags from Vintage Creation made from recycled leather jackets that can be worn 6 ways, I think I will be putting in an order with the designer as they are just gorgeous and I cannot resist a beautiful and practical bag.

Portuguese tarts at Jammo
After enjoying the markets, we went to our favourite cafe in the Belconnen region – Ricardo’s Cafe at the Jamison Plaza (affectionately known as Jammo). Their coffee is always reliable – I am a self admitted coffee snob so this is very important, the food is good and the service is friendly and prompt. We have been going there for years and we are never left waiting for our coffee or our food. They have also consistently won ACT Restaurant and Catering awards over the years. The highlight for us though is a sticky sweet little treat – the Portuguese Tart, made on the premises and absolutely magnificent washed down with a coffee. We have noticed recently that they are getting very busy, so if you have a group, it might be an idea to book a table in advance.

Mt Painter
After offloading the groceries, it was time to get out for a walk, today we stayed close to home, walking up Mt Painter. The views of the Molonglo Valley and the mountains were magnificent, such a great way to end a busy weekend. I will leave you with this view of Mt Stromlo and surrounding areas.

Mt Painter views, photo by Tracey Benson
Mt Painter views, photo by Tracey Benson