Tag Archives: Canberra

Finding Balance: Mura Gadi 2nd Edition

Orroral Map © Tracey Benson 2013
Orroral Map © Tracey Benson 2013

We are really excited to announce the release of a second edition of the publication Finding Balance: Mura Gadi by Tracey Benson, published on Blurb.

With essays by Tracey Benson, Linda Carroli, Catherine Summerhayes and poetry by Shannon Novak, this text documents a series of bush walks in national parks around Canberra, Australia.

The book will also be released soon on Amazon, so check it out at Tracey’s page on Blurb


365 Places: Brindabella Hills Vineyard

Day 42: Brindabella Hills Vineyard, New South Wales, Australia

The Brindabella Hills vineyard is just a little further along the road from Surveyor Hill, a vineyard I talked about in an earlier post for 365 Places.

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

Yesterday, we headed to Brindabella Hills vineyard for lunch before going to Surveyor Hill for the night, to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The cafe has only been open for around 6 weeks and it was great to go somewhere close-by for lunch, where could enjoy some fine food and wine while taking in the stunning western views of the Brindies.

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

We opted to try a number of the entrée sized tasting plates so we could get some ideas about what to order next time.

This was our lunch order, which was accompanied by a glass of very good Pinot Gris:

  • Ciabatta Bread with Homeleigh Olive Oil, Caramelised Balsamic and Two Girls Dukkah $7
  • Chorizo, Potato and Mozzarella Croquettes with Two Girls Tomato Chutney and Rocket $16
  • Zucchini and Haloumi Balls with Two Girls Chili Jam, Mint Yoghurt and Rocket Salad $16/$24
  • Popcorn Shrimp with Black Salt, Spicy Aioli and Lime $16/$26

It was all totally delicious, and we followed it with sharing some Sticky Date Pudding and Coffee.

Here are some pictures of Brindabella Hills vineyard.

What I love about having a weekend in this area is that although we are about 5 kilometres from home as the crow flies, it feels like we are a million miles away.

This morning after a delicious breakfast at Surveyor Hill, we headed over to the monthly Hall Markets. This month was a bit of a disappointment as many stall holders and market goers stayed home as it was a rainy Sunday.

Vineyard Cafe
Opening from 12th October for lunch on weekends and public holidays

Bookings essential – phone 02 61619154 or email cafe@brindabellahills.com.au

365 Places: Surveyor’s Hill Vineyard

Day 35: Surveyor’s Hill, New South Wales, Australia

Today, the special place is a bit closer to home and a place that has great sentimental value to my husband Martin and I. Surveyor’s Hill Vineyard is about 10 minutes drive from the historic village of Hall.

View of surveyor's Hill and the Brindabella Ranges. Image Credit: http://www.survhill.com.au/index.html
View of surveyor’s Hill and the Brindabella Ranges. Image Credit: http://www.survhill.com.au/index.html

The Vineyard is a fabulous place to stay for a weekend getaway, as there is a lovely restaurant, plenty of nice walks around the area and very comfortable B&B style accommodation. When Martin turned 50, my gift to him was a weekend staying here, which we both enjoyed very much.

B&B Accommodation at Surveyor's Hill Vineyard. Image Credit: http://www.survhill.com.au/stay.html
B&B Accommodation at Surveyor’s Hill Vineyard. Image Credit: http://www.survhill.com.au/stay.html

Some history of the hill from the Surveyor’s Hill Vineyard website:

Surveyor’s Hill is the remains of an ancient volcano more than 360 million years old, rising to 736 metres above sea level.

First established in the mid-1980s, our vineyards are among the older plantings in the district and grow at the foot of the hill between 550 and 585 metres. Soils are free-draining and derived from weathered porphyritic rocks.

When we stayed I booked a special deal that included a three-course dinner with wine tasting and breakfast as well as the accommodation. The food at the Pomegranate Bistrot was first class and all the meals had lovely attention to detail as well as being delicious.

Wild Rabbit Pie: Image Credit: http://www.survhill.com.au
Wild Rabbit Pie: Image Credit: http://www.survhill.com.au

Contact Details

Surveyor’s Hill Vineyards
215 Brooklands Road
Wallaroo via Hall, NSW 2618

Phone: 02 6230 2046
Website: http://www.survhill.com.au

Check out our new section of the site: Destinations

Good morning lovelies!

To make it easier to find articles and photos of some of our favourite locations, we have created a new section of the site: Destinations. Under the tab, located on the main menu, you can find information grouped under the place-name.

We hope this new feature will be useful and help you navigate our site.

Tracey and Marty in Istanbul
Tracey and Marty in Istanbul


365 Places: Turkish Delight

Day 25: Turkish Delight, Canberra, Australia

Today’s place I love is another local Canberra treasure – Turkish Delights. It is situated in Weedon Close in Belconnen and is a fantastic place for eating in or take away. This restaurant’s claim to fame is that it is the first Turkish restaurant in Canberra. Their website says:

Turkish Delight Restaurant has been a pillar in Canberra’s Turkish community for more than thirty years, standing as Canberra’s very first Turkish restaurant. Our precious restaurant first opened alongside one of the late waves of Turkish migrants in the 1980’s and in that time, became a second home to Turkish people newly settling in Canberra. Over the years our restaurant has been both a second home to Canberran Turkish people as well as a symbol of lasting friendship between Turkish and Australian people.

To eat in the restaurant is a true delight, as the decor and music takes us right back to Turkey. Many ornate lamps hang from the timber roof, the walls are lined with Turkish Kilims and other objects d’art including pictures in ornate frames, musical instruments, coffee pots and copper bowls complete the look.

The food is equally delightful. Tonight we feasted on two of my favourites – Borek and Dolma plus a “Chicken Deluxe” Pide. Borek is basically feta cheese and parsley rolled up in filo pastry and deep fried until light and crispy. It is a much lighter variation on the Croatian version of Borek I have tried. Dolma is also known as Vine leaves – rice with herbs rolled into grape leaves that are soaked in lemon juice and garlic and served with herb and garlic yogurt – just delicious! There are lots of vegetarian options on the menu, so this is a great place to take friends who don’t eat meat. For the carnivores amongst us, you can’t go past the grilled lamb chops or the kofta balls – nom nom!

365 Places: Sanur’s Balinese Restaurant

Day 19: Sanur’s Balinese Restaurant, Belconne, Canberra, Australia

Today I am writing about another restaurant I love – Sanur’s.

Rijst Tafel Sanur: From Sanur's website
Rijst Tafel Sanur: From Sanur’s website

Since moving to the Belconnen region 7 years ago, this restaurant has been a favourite for group dinners with friends and family alike. I have had a few birthday dinners at Sanur’s and the food is always delicious.

This is my ideal order:

  • Balinese Duck Roll $12.9 Roast duck meat, tangy paw paw salad, wheat pancake & Balinese Sweet Sauce (2 pancakes)
  • Nasi Rames Daging $16.9 Indonesian style of mixed rice with gado gado, beef rendang, perkedel daging, crispy shallots & garlic crackers
  • Coconut Delusion $8.9 Coconut pancake filled with unti (shredded coconut) with pandan anglaise, ice cream & toasted almonds

The Duck Pancakes and the Coconut Delusion is to die for! Marty and I usually share these, otherwise we would not finish our main course.

Another good thing about Sanur’s is the food is all Halal, so if you have Islamic friends, it is a great place to take them.

Website: http://sanurs.com.au

Shop 1, The Broadwalk
1/114 Emu Bank, Belconnen, 2617
Phone & Fax: (02) 6162 1688

Opening Hours
Lunch 12.00 – 14.30 (Tuesday – Saturday)
Dinner 17.30 – 22.00 (Tuesday – Sunday)

For more information about this project, check out the map for 365 Places.

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.

Profile: Vintage Creations

A few weeks ago in my post Idyllic Canberra Sunday, I mentioned that I found a stall at the Old Bus Depot Markets that makes bags from recycled leather jackets – Vintage Creations. The bags cans be worn 6 different ways, which is really cool!

The following weekend I purchased one of these beautiful bags as a birthday present to myself. Leisa the designer, made me a bag, specifically designed to carry my laptop and an A4 folder. This is because I wanted a bag that was suitable for work as well as a bag that would be versatile when we travel.

There is something special about having a bag that is hand-made from recycled materials, eco aware and designed especially for you. The bags are really practical which I love – lined with waterproof material, so you can carry a water bottle, and lots of pockets so you can organise your gear.

I was really happy with the result, and as you can see from the pictures, the bag is very versatile, offering many ways to wear if differently. The front cloth panel is also interchangeable, so you can completely change the look of the bag so it can complement your wardrobe.

When we were at the stall, a number of people already with Vintage Creation bags, dropped in with friends, who then bought a bag for themselves. My colleagues at work have also been admiring my new bag, and seeing we are a tribe of sustainability fans, I am sure I will see some of my team mates sporting new bags soon.

Leisa also gave me a discount in return for writing about her bags, which I am more than happy to do for products and services that I support.

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

Youth Week Canberra: Burner Collective

Today we headed over to Glebe Park in Civic to check out a Youth Week event “Beats in the Park”, put together by Burner Collective, a collaboration between Lukas Benson and Angus Adamson. Burner Collective “aims to help expose local electronic producers and provide an outlet for them to host and disperse their tunes in a way that connects them with other local artists, creating community and exposure.”

Beats in the Park: Burner Collective
Beats in the Park: Burner Collective

This is not our usual type of activity, but given that the sun was shining and we were already in Civic, we were keen to check it out. We didn’t stay for the whole event as it ran from 2pm to 10pm, but we spent a few hours sitting back, relaxing and enjoying some great emerging talent.

One of the things we particularly enjoyed was checking out the audience, an eclectic mix of dreadlocks, hoola hoops, baseball caps, and beards. The music was very diverse, with sounds reflective of reggae, electronic production, hip hop and more. The nicest aspect of this event was the vibe, laid back and positive, just the thing for a Sunday afternoon.

The weather was on Burner Collective’s side, after more than a week of steady rain, we had a perfect autumn weekend, fresh and clear.

For more information about Burner Collective, you can check out this article in BMA magazine.