Fall Down The Rabbit Hole At Luxury Brisbane Hotspot

Do you have a favourite bar? A No.1 fall-back place you know and love with a passion, at which you always choose to meet loved ones and celebrate all of life’s many ups and downs?

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For me, that place is Brisbane’s multi-award winning Emporium Hotel Cocktail Bar at the upmarket Fortitude Valley precinct. I adore its cosy, luxurious red velvet chairs; scrumptious food and to-die-for cocktails; and its sumptuous, enticing interior, including a grand onyx bar overlit by an amazingly opulent, antique crystal German chandelier, originally from a castle in Europe, home to elegant debutante balls. Then there’s the bar’s exquisite stained-glass wall which was originally a Parisian shopfront crafted more than 100 years ago. What’s not to love?

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NB: This is an unsponsored story – I recently stayed at Emporium Hotel and revisited my fave bar as part of a birthday present from my husband, but such is my love for the place, I thought I’d act as a kind of tour guide here. So, if you’re fortunate enough to visit the sunshine state during winter – when the weather is still very mild and warm – as a long-time local, this is definitely where I reckon you should go.

In fact, I’ve consumed so many celebratory cocktails with my friends at Emporium, I’m left wondering why there isn’t, in fact, one named after me? Just joking; I’ve marked engagements, marriages and babies; new love; lost loves and loved one’s deaths, all with a cocktail in hand there.

And, speaking of cocktails, the Emporium Hotel has just released its Winter Wonderland cocktail menu with which to warm the cockles, celebrate shorter days and brave the cooler nights. The menu plays homage to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland – now, there’s a white rabbit hole I’d gladly fall down! Each section of the menu is inspired by a chapter from the much loved book-turned-movie – some that reference back directly to the title and others the subject within.

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I tried an aptly titled cocktail for my big birthday night out called Mother’s Ruin (pictured) from the enigmatic Chapter Two: The Pool of Tears chapter. It was an amazing blend of Beefeater Gin, lime juice, sugar syrup and Angostura Bitters. And no, I’m happy to say there were no tears afterwards; just many happy feel-good quaffing moments.

Emporium Hotel Food & Beverage Operations Manager Katrina York says the menu is unique in Brisbane. “The Emporium Hotel’s new Winter Wonderland features a range of uniquely crafted beverages and winter warmers, to spiced varieties and fruity blends with a twist, and is sure to lure locals out from under their covers this winter,” Katrina says.

“The Emporium Hotel menu has unique traits no-one knows about. We grow our own herbs, which creates the garnish on each cocktail, and we have our own beehive on the roof of the hotel, with which we source our honey from for the food and beverage menus – adding an extra Emporium signature to the Winter Wonderland range.”

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And the luxury hotel can also lay claim to an impressive array of accolades including recently being inducted into the Queensland Tourism Awards Hall of Fame and Winner: Best Luxury Accommodation, Queensland Tourism Awards 2014, 2013, 2012.

You can also enjoy a new Emporium Suite & Cosy Winter Package until August 31. It includes overnight accommodation in a room type of your choice; a bottle of red wine and a warming lavender wheat bag and Molton Brown massage oil on arrival; continental breakfast for two, served in-suite and late check-out at noon. Rates start from $249 per night. Check it out! Many happy cocktails to you, too.

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June 24, 2015

Top Green Thumbs Unite For 2015 Queensland Garden Expo

How does your garden grow? If you fancy yourself a bit of a “green thumb” you can get expert advice when Australia’s largest sub-tropical garden event – the 2015 Queensland Garden Expo – returns to the Sunshine Coast next month.

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Staged at Nambour Showgrounds, from Friday, July 10 until Sunday, July 12 from 8am daily, the expo will showcase presenters such as renowned gardening experts Angus Stewart, Annette McFarlane, Claire Bickle, Jerry Coleby-Williams, Noel Burdette and Phil Dudman. And you can be out and proud with your enthusiasm for the three-day event, garden lovers, for it’s set to attract 35,000 people from across Australia and beyond, says spokesman Marion Beazley.

“We’ve been busily locking in our speaker program over the past few months and are pleased to say the expo is shaping up to be one of our biggest and best yet,” Ms Beazley says.

“A number of New Zealand garden enthusiasts have already taken advantage of the recently introduced Auckland to Sunshine Coast flights and purchased their tickets to this year’s event. It’s been really exciting to see the expo’s reputation growing internationally.”

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And while last year’s 30th anniversary event will undoubtedly be a hard act to follow, Ms Beazley says participants at this year’s event can enjoy 300 exhibitors and more than 55 nurseries selling in excess of 40,000 plants.

“We’ll also have more than 100 lectures and demonstrations taking place, providing attendees with a wealth of information on everything from creating a thriving veggie garden and rearing chickens, right through to getting kids involved in the backyard fun and cooking with fresh herbs,” she says.

Some of the expo’s most popular areas and events would make making a comeback in 2015 include the Giant Organic Kitchen Garden and Living Backyard feature areas and some of Queensland’s most talented green thumbs battling it out in the hotly contested landscape garden competition.

“The landscape garden displays have become one of the most visited areas of the expo in recent years,” Ms Beazley says. “Last year’s competitors upped the ante by creating a cold-climate garden display in the Sunshine Coast’s sub-tropical weather, and recycling old shower heads as part of an inspired water landscape.”

“The competition really encourages landscapers to pull out all the stops and show off their creative flair and we find expo attendees always walk away feeling inspired and motivated to transform their own backyards.”

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And younger generation green thumbs don’t miss out – with kids’ workshops and a children’s play area being set up in one area of the grounds.

Tickets are $18 adults and children under 15 are free with an accompanying adult. To purchase tickets, or find out more about the event and accommodation packages on offer, visit


June 16, 2015

Noosa Long Weekend Festival Set To Attract Record Crowd

Do you need an extra reason to visit the “sunshine state” this winter? Here it is: the 2015 Noosa Long Weekend Festival, featuring more than 75 cultural events at various locations around the popular Queensland region, from July 14-26.

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Tickets are selling fast to the much-anticipated annual festival, which will showcase literature events, forums, live music, theatre performances, interactive art, films, cabaret and supper clubs.

And the literary luncheons are already in hot demand, with book lovers embracing events such as the In Conversation series which sees top authors interviewed by the likes of ABC journalist Kerry O’Brien about their inspiration and writing process.

This year’s author line-up includes Helen Garner, author of This House of Grief; Barrie Cassidy, host of ABC’s Insiders and author of the bestselling book The Party Thieves and Private Bill; and best-selling author Liane Moriarty (pictured), author The New York Times bestseller The Husband’s Secret and her recent sixth novel Big Little Lies, which has been adapted into a TV series of the same name.

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And this year’s festival will also include a twist on the more traditional literary events, incorporating a five-course degustation dinner focusing on authors Evan and Brian Mitchell’s bestselling book The Psychology of Wine.

But it’s far from being just about books: this year’s expanded festival is expected to attract record crowds to other top events such as a special one-off performance by Opera Australia; An Evening with the Queensland Ballet; and David Williamson’s new play Dream Home.

Last year’s festival attracted more than 10,000 visitors to 35 venues and locations, says event director Ian Mackellar.

“Last year’s festival was undoubtedly a hard act to follow, with but we’ve worked hard to lift the bar even higher in 2015 and are thrilled to have Opera Australia perform a fully staged production of its acclaimed opera The Magic Flute — the last opera ever written by Mozart — to the Sunshine Coast for the first time,” Mr Mackellar said.

“The cast and orchestra will open the festival and will set the stage alive with an Egyptian-themed set and costumes straight from the 1930s.”

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Fast Facts

  • 13-day festival
  • 75 ticketed and free events
  • 35 locations around Noosa
  • 260 nationally and internationally acclaimed actors, writers, artists, musicians, performers, film makers, environmentalists and commentators
  • 9000 tickets on sale
  • Book tickets and more information via
June 8, 2015