Sunday, November 17, 2013

Woodlands Hotel

The Woodlands Hotel is at 84-88 Sydney Road, Coburg, Melbourne. Unprepossessing from the outside, it's a revelation inside: generously proportioned and quirkily decorated with interesting details and a style all of its own, part Alice in Wonderland, part Gormenghast, with lots of wood, low-key industrial styling, cloister-like arches and a scattering of Asian touches thrown in: sombre wooden monks in a cavity, concentric wooden circles revealing nothing, devils' wings shrouding a chair, biplanes on the ceiling, giant toy soldiers standing guard upstairs. Staff were friendly and relaxed, and the service was snappy. We ate in the airy, plant-filled beer garden; the food was expensive for pub food but beautifully presented, fresh and very tasty; the only possible complaint is that there wasn't enough of it. A wicked lunchtime apple martini, Monster Mash Hopped Out red ale, grilled barramundi with dashi broth, beer battered flathead with chips: perfect Sunday dining.

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Heide Museum of Modern Art

Heide (named after nearby Heidelberg) was the home of John and Sunday Reed from the mid-1930s; it became a mecca for artists from across Australia and finally became a public art gallery in 1981, just before the Reeds' deaths. As well as the art gallery buildings there are 15 acres of beautiful landscaped gardens with tin cows grazing in meadows and quirky sculptures everywhere. You can picnic (as we did) on the grass surrounded by beautiful trees, spending a lovely autumn morning there without even going in to the gallery, though plenty of people did and even more seemed to be eating splendidly in CafĂ© Vue. A wonderful place just at the back of the hideous three lane highways and bland industrial wasteland of suburban north-east Melbourne.