Archive for the 'Sydney' Category


Next race: Blackmores Half Marathon

Blackmores Half Marathon crossing the Harbour Bridge. Photo from Charlie Brewer, used via Creative Commons license.

Blackmores Half Marathon crossing the Harbour Bridge. Photo from Charlie Brewer, used via Creative Commons license.

There are two big half marathons in Sydney each year: one in the autumn sponsored by the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper which I’ve done all four years I’ve been here, and one in the spring sponsored by vitamin company Blackmores. I’ve only done the latter race once, in 2010; schedules have conspired against me since.

But this year I’m in it again. So are a lot of other people judging by the number of Blackmores running shirts I’ve seen worn along Cooks River in the last week.

This race is rather exciting because it’s part of the Sydney Running Festival, an entire day of races (a marathon, a half marathon, a 9km bridge run, and a 3.5km family fun run). All of these races go across Sydney Harbour Bridge, making for really engaging and scenic running. I’m looking forward to doing it again.

This will be my seventh half. Training is going OK, but I can feel the aches and pains setting in: I’m not as pliable as I used to be. Grmph. Also the hump of the bridge means I’m unlikely to set a personal best. But I’ve always been happy with anything under 2 hours, and will continue to be.

Year Half Marathon Time (HH:MM:SS)
2009 London Parks 01:50:57
2010 SMH 01:44:12
2010 Blackmores 01:46:14
2011 SMH 02:32:31*
2012 SMH 01:46:23
2013 SMH 01:45:56
2013 Blackmores ?

*I was running with a first-timer.


Taste of Sydney 2013

Taste of Sydney is a foodfest. Dozens of restaurants, and food and drink producers, from the area set up outdoor tents where you can sample their wares. I went last night on a pass courtesy of the good folks at Yelp.

Last night was the first night for Taste of Sydney and it runs until the end of Sunday. It’s held in a fenced-off area of Centennial Park and is made to be very comfortable. There are lounge-y areas, tall tables for standing, live music, funky lighting and bar areas, and a general atmosphere of laid-back foodiness.


Most of the food producers had free tasting samples, and I hit quite a few of them. Nibbles of cheese, meats, pastas, juices, dips and much more were easy to come by and almost uniformly delicious. All the exhibitors had packaged goods you could buy to take away of course.

The restaurant stands each served a small menu of appetiser-size dishes. This makes it an excellent opportunity to sample some of the popular, high-end Sydney restaurants without actually getting a reservation (if any of them do that anymore) or splashing out on an entire dinner. The queue for Porteno‘s stand, for instance, was very long.

Aside from all the free sampling I bought some suckling roast pig from 4 in Hand (delish) and a falafel kit from Sami’s Kitchen (making it tonight, the samples were tasty)

As I walked around I realised how many food-related TV quasi-celebs there are in Australia now. Besides the real chefs like Kylie Kwong I spotted about a dozen folks I recognised from peripherally catching popular food shows like My Kitchen Rules and Masterchef over the last few years. Each season of those includes so many contenstants that it results in a huge number of recognisable faces. Lots of exhibitors last night were taking advantage of them.

The vibe at Taste for Sydney was fun, the choices were many, and the grub was very good. But if I’d had to pay the $30 entrance fee just to get in and try the tiny free samples I would not have found it to be good value. The food for purchase were in very small portions and none were priced cheaply. I’ve never felt bad about paying to properly try out a restaurant I wanted to go to, so paying for the privilege to sample last night wasn’t the thrill it might have been for others who like to test things out first; for those folks this would have been heaven. And there certainly seemed to be lots of people there.

So thanks Yelp for spotting me entrance to something I wouldn’t have tried otherwise.


Sydney Festival: The Blind Date Project

Last Thursday night I attended my next Sydney Festival event: a bit of improv theatre called The Blind Date Project.

In each performance of the one-hour play actor Bojana Novakovic is greeted in a karaoke bar by a different, surprise (to her and to the rest of us) actor playing her blind date. How the night proceeds is up to how they improvise with each other and via stage direction sent by text message to their phones by the director. The audience sites in the karaoke bar and watches it all unfold.


The night I went was great. There was expected blind date awkwardness, getting-to-know-you games, a whole lot of humour, a whole lot of flirting, and exposed secrets. The date is suspended a couple of times when the participants have a go at karaoke but it’s a welcome relief from the so-ordinary-it’s-bizarre interpersonal exploration. Some of us might be used to living that but watching it is weird.

It’s a funny, exciting, brave little theatrical adventure each night. I expect it was a lot of fun for the actors too.


Sydney Festival 2013: you should do stuff

The annual month-long celebration of the arts, Sydney Festival, starts in a few days. If you’re going to be in this city during January you should go see an event. Some are free. All will be an interesting adventure.

Rubber Duck says attend the Sydney Festival or else. Picture: Adam Taylor Source: The Daily Telegraph

“Hey, how YOU doin’?” Picture: Adam Taylor Source: The Daily Telegraph

Here’s what I have tickets for or am planning to attend:

  • The Secret River: Two of Australia’s most respected artists come together for the first time to adapt Kate Grenville’s award-winning novel for the stage. Directed by Neil Armfield and adapted by Andrew Bovell, this ambitious new play dramatises the story of two families divided by culture and land.
  • Concrete and Bone Sessions: World renowned professional skaters and BMX riders rule the speed bowl of an Inner West skate park – made super-human by their wheels. Pitted against them, parkourists, breakers and dancers fight for survival in a contest of wit, speed and virtuosity.
  • Kashmere Stage Band: This program combines the heart-warming, foot-stomping tribute of the award-winning documentary Thunder Soul about about the legendary Texan school funk orchestra, narrated by Jamie Foxx, with a rare live performance by members of the reunited band.
  • Osaka Monaurail: Lots of bands pay tribute to the classic James Brown sound of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, but few live and breathe it like nine-piece Japanese funk and soul band Osaka Monaurail.
  • Rubber Duck: The bright yellow inflatable duck at Darling Harbour is five storeys high and five storeys wide and has been popping up in various cities around the world since 2007.
  • Archie Roach: Archie Roach is celebrated as one of Australia’s most gifted artists. He has released a stream of remarkable albums, receiving praise from and touring with Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, Patti Smith and more.
  • Summer Sounds in the Domain – Sing the Truth: Join thousands of Sydneysiders at The Domain to see singing stars Angélique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright, together with the Sing The Truth band, performing classics by their favourite female songwriters, as well as from their own much-loved catalogues.

Kayaking in Manly

Just back from four hours sea kayaking around Manly. It was a beautiful day for it: mostly sunny, not too hot or cool, no swell in the harbour (amazing after yesterday’s weather). We stopped at a few little beaches, some of which can only be reached by the water.

We went out of Manly Kayak Centre, who seem to have done a great business with some discount vouchers this year (that’s what we used). They’re an easygoing bunch, but pointed us in the right direction for a really fun day.

I’ll sleep well tonight.


Cockatoo Island for the Sydney Biennale

There are lots of events still going on for the 18th Biennale of Sydney arts festival. Today we and the folks from Brisbane took the free ferry out to Cockatoo Island, one of the centrepieces of biennale events. It turned out to be an amazing day: the artworks in and around the historic island were interesting, the weather was sunny and hot, and we managed to score tasty pizzas and cocktails at The Island Bar. Good times.

Art installation at Cockatoo Island. Polystrene chain links

Art installation at Cockatoo Island. Periodic fog bank emerges between the building and the cliff. Okay, whatever.

Island Bar on Cockatoo Island. Ahhh…





My City2Surf results: better than last year

The City2Surf results have been published in the newspaper; they should be online tomorrow.

I was pretty close in my estimate. My time for the 14km run was 1:09:45. That’s about two minutes slower than my first time two years ago, but almost four minutes faster than last year’s time. I’m pretty happy with that.

And I raised $600 for RedKite. That’s awesome, thanks to all of you who contributed. You still can, if you like.

I should get the full stats – i.e., how I ranked in my gender and age group – when the full results are posted online. Given the wet, windy weather I’ll be interested to see what the overall race numbers were like.

UPDATE: the official results.

The numbers: 1859 was my race bib number, 1:09:45 was my net race time, and 8783 was my finish position in the entire crowd.


Sydney Craft Beer and Cider Fair: thanks Yelp!

Woo hoo! Free beer!

Sydney centre for “wine, spirits & education” Oak Barrel is holding its inaugural Sydney Craft Beer & Cider Fair later this month. Looks good. They’ve got craft beer from Australia and around the world.

Yelp, the online review and event community that’s recently launched in Australia and that I contribute to, is one of the Fair’s sponsors. They recently hold a competition for Yelp users here to win a double pass to the Fair. The competition was to “tell us what you’d call your own personal craft beer or cider brand”.

I used my internet name in conjunction with my love of dark beers, sci-fi films, and bad puns to come up with Timinator Dark Lager: I’ll Be Bock.

And, lucky me, I won. To be fair only eight people entered; you can see the other entries here. But I’ll take it!

I’ll blog again after the event on May 26th. Assuming I can still type, that is.


Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Sydney Theatre Company

Earlier this week I caught the hot new production at the Sydney Theatre Company, Les Liaisons Dangereuses. It was, as all the reviews say, excellent.

The literati may know this story from its original 18th-century French novel. Many people my age will know it from the mid-’80s film version. The younger may know the outline of the story as it was adapted in the 1999 film Cruel Intentions (though you lose the underlying theme of the moral degeneracy of pre-revolutionary French aristocrats).

This play was tops. It’s sexy, thrilling, funny, and labyrithine. The main actors dominate, though all are good. Hugo Weaving as Victome de Valmont gets to chew things up. He’s so good that by the end of the play I was so longer mentally inserting the words, “Mr. Anderson,” at the end of every sentence.

It’s showing at Wharf 1, which is not the biggest theatre, so you’re very close to the action. The costumes are just right: retro ’50s/’60s, enough to make you think of times past, but not stuffy period clothing. The way that they stage the duel scene is both imaginative and effective.

The play is still on until June 9th, though getting tickets will be hard. There are a couple of matinees with single seats, possibly.


Easter hiking

Spit to Manly

Spit to Manly walk. Photo from Gary Hayes via Creative Commons license.

Today saw me getting back to hiking, something I’ve not done for a couple of months. I did the Spit to Manly walk, one of the best-known ones around Sydney. It was a great hike, with the first third being up-and-down dirt trails through bush, the middle third being wide flat paths across the headland, and the last third skirting the residential areas around Manly. There are a few points we had to wade as the tide was in. There were good views, lots of other hikers, and some Aboriginal rock art along the way. Despite information claiming it should take between 3 and 4 hours, we knocked it off in just over 2. Must be my super-fitness.

Once in Manly we met some friends at 4 Pines, an excellent craft beer spot. I’d been wanting to try it for a while, and it’s  winner: good beer, good food, and a good location (if you get there early).