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Life

Hinterland | Spicers Clovelly Estate

Take a midweek escape to Spicers Clovelly Estate and discover a relaxed haven with food at its heart

North of Brisbane, beyond the arresting beauty of the Glasshouse Mountains, lies the charming hamlet of Montville. Like her sister towns sprinkled along the elevated hinterland ridges of the Blackall range – Maleny, Mapleton and Flaxton – Montville is surrounded by lush cooling rainforest that makes you feel like you’re entering a change of season.

Montville village is a friendly, relaxed community with the cafés, arts galleries and small businesses contributing to a vibe of gentle whimsy. It’s a beautiful place to be; one minute you could be strolling through rainforests enjoying a symphony of native birds, the next sipping coffee (or wine), pondering uninterrupted 180º views of the Sunshine Coast.

 

STATELY ESTATE

There’s plenty to do in and around Montville, but just on the outskirts is the relaxed haven of Spicers Clovelly Estate.

A 13-room retreat, Clovelly Estate is part hideaway, part gastronomic treasure, part Euro-style escape. And an ‘escape’ it is, particularly midweek, when one can truly enjoy an unhurried serving of this amazing part of the universe.

Built in 1908, Clovelly is a glorious property surrounded by figs, jacarandas, magnolias and gardenias. It sits on a gentle rolling landscape of lush grass dotted with edible garden beds, leafy nooks and an impressive array of native and imported trees and shrubs. As you roll into the driveway, it feels like you’re heading down a private road in southern France.

The heart of the property is the main house that serves as reception, restaurant, bar and lounge, making it feel like a stately B&B. This residence, like the rooms, is comfortable and elegant, but tastefully understated with French doors, textured fabrics, signature furniture pieces and walls dressed with framed country scenes and illustrated fauna.

 

THE LONG AND THE SHORT

Like at all Spicers properties, food is a significant part of the allure at Clovelly Estate, perfectly complementing the service, accommodation and overall experience. The Long Apron restaurant is at the heart of Clovelly and it is easily the best restaurant north of Brisbane’s CBD.

Glowing reviews and accolades are frequent and unlike most restaurants attached to accommodation, the Long Apron has been allowed to blossom and thrive under its own creative steam. Chef Cameron Matthews has been at the helm since Clovelly opened, and for seven years has developed and shaped a truly unique and considered food offering that is intelligent, but without pretence.

“I always knew I was going to be a chef,” says Cameron emphatically.

“The first dish I made was off a Golden Circle can and it was essentially custard with pineapple pieces and meringue on top that you baked. I remember it tasted absolutely amazing! That was probably when I was six or seven.”

Cameron has an affinity for delivering dishes that highlight quality ingredients without exposing the complicated techniques and processes used to elevate them. It’s as though he wants you to know there is something significant going on beyond the plate, but not enough to distract you from what is on it.

The Long Apron is a true dining experience with an eight course tasting menu, or a five course degustation menu, showcasing elegantly utilised local ingredients from the estate’s gardens and surrounding producers. Dishes like Fraser Isle spanner crab, soured cream, beach herbs and XO, aged duck breast, duck and date sausage with olive oil poached carrots, and Daikon, lamb belly, black garlic and Ortiz anchovy are all designed to effortlessly highlight delicious ingredients and at the same time promote impressive skill, technique and creativity.

A pared back extension of the Long Apron dining experience, perfect for lunch, can be found at the recently launched Short Apron. Think coal grilled octopus with sauce romesco, or full blood Black Angus rump, grilled mushroom and onions. Then for sweets, dark chocolate mousse with bitter orange purée and passionfruit pâte de fruit.

Orchestrating kitchen magic requires Cameron to have access to extraordinary produce and during a tag along to one of his favourite local suppliers, it’s obvious that the understanding and respect for what each party does goes deeper than a simple suppler-chef relationship.

The Falls Farm, an 18-acre biodiverse property, produces high quality heirloom vegetables and herbs, specialising in rarities. Owned by Ben Johnston and Jess Huddart and tended by Ben’s greened thumbed mother, Christine Ballinger, Falls Farm is an edible oasis. The moment Cameron and Christine walk into the garden, the ideas start to flow; new dishes, flavours and preparations are dreamt up as they walk through the rows, tasting and discussing. It is clear that Cameron’s inspiration for dishes at Long and Short Apron starts at the source.

 

OUT AND ABOUT

Back on the lawn of the Estate, glass in hand, the conversation moves beyond the property to the things you can do, taste and see in the area. Once you’ve had your fill of massages, yoga, spa treatments, boules, croquet and swimming pools, the options are plenty, especially midweek, when the whole region is at your beck and call, and you can meander you way through the finer things in life.

The best advice always comes from locals and the Clovelly staff are full of suggestions. The arts and crafts communities in Maleny and Montville are thriving and both have art trails that act as a great guide and are ideal for absorbing the artistic outputs of both communities. Coffee aficionados will satisfy their cravings at Little May on Montville (don’t eat too much cake!), while nature lovers can enjoy bush walks, waterfall swimming and nature trails. Mary Caincross Park, Kondallia Falls and Lake Baroon offer scenic choices and are close to the property.

Photographers will find so much picturesque potential with the sunset botanical tour a great place to start.

For keen gourmands, there are cooking classes at Clovelly’s sister property Tamarind, located in nearby Maleny. Or you can explore the Hinterland Gourmet Food and Wine Trail, which offers the chance to taste some wine at the local cellar doors.

Behind the wheel, once you’ve called into the Falls Farm to say hi to Christine, head down the range and explore the Sunshine Coast food bowl, where there’s an abundance of local food to explore. Just ask the guys at reception or the kitchen and they will gladly point out their favourites.

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Calmer Waters at Likuliku Lagoon Resort Fiji
Words by Jackie Macdonald on 20 Apr 2017
Well on the road to recovery from cyclone winston, Likuliku Lagoon Resort Fiji is keen to welcome visitors to bliss out in its unique brand of tranquility.  At the end of the day, according to Fijian legend, even the sun needs to sleep and it does so behind one of Fiji’s islands. Malolo, part of the Mamanuca group of islands to the west of the mainland, was believed to have been created by the gods as the sun’s bedroom, hence the local saying, “Na siga e dromu I Malolo”, meaning, “Malolo, the island where the sun comes to rest.”  While Malolo is a usually a picture of serenity, back in February 2016 it, along with the rest of Fiji, endured Cyclone Winston, the strongest tropical cyclone to ever make landfall in the region. At its most intense, it saw winds of 230km/h. Amid the devastating damage that saw 40,000 homes destroyed, 44 people lost their lives and around 350,000 were seriously impacted.  But in the aftermath, Fijians were keen to let holidaymakers, particularly loyal Australian tourists, know that they were still open for business. While some resorts were flattened, others sustained only minor damage and could reopen fairly quickly. Tourism is a key driver of the local economy and Fiji could not afford to have people staying away when it needed them most.  Thankfully, although visitor numbers initially dropped, by October they were healthy again and Fiji is looking forward to returning to its position as an R&R mecca for work-weary Australians. Malolo was one of the islands that was able to welcome tourists back reasonably quickly and today, its adults-only haven,  Likuliku Lagoon Resort , whose name means “calm waters” is a soothing sanctuary for holidaymakers looking to relax in incredible luxury. A Pristine Welcome
Whether you choose a  chopper or boat to get to Likuliku , it’s the sight of the lagoon’s beautifully deep blue waters that provides the first welcome to your Fijian holiday.  This sheltered haven once provided refuge for war canoes, but today its pristine waters have been declared a marine reserve, known locally as “Na tabu”, so they’re teaming with sea life that darts in and out of the crevices of the coral reef.  The next greeting comes from a serenading group of resort staff whose melodious greeting is followed by a unified cry of “Bula!”, one of many to come. This one-word, all-purpose salutation is heard hundreds of times a day throughout Likuliku, making you feel your presence is greatly appreciated at all times.  Aside from its idyllic location, Likuliku is rendered unique by its overwater bures (rooms). Usually associated with the resorts of the Maldives, these wonders of engineering are a first for Fiji. In a line of 10 sitting out from the shoreline, these suspended sanctuaries provide an uninterrupted view between the deck and the great blue blanket of sea.  But you don’t even have to leave the living room for an aquatic experience, with glass-bottomed floor panels giving a great glimpse of the plethora of fish and their saltwater friends.  Coral Concerns
A week in an  overwater bure  comes at a premium price, but as the Group General Manager, Steve Anstey explains, “They are complex. They cannot just be built anywhere and their construction and maintenance is difficult and costly.” Part of the complexity lies in the fact that they have to be built on a flat seabed surrounded by coral reefs, with the latter providing essential stability.  But if that’s ringing environmental alarm bells, never fear, as Steve describes, “We were all acutely aware and concerned for our precious reef during construction and together with the Mamanuca Environmental Society, we took elaborate steps to protect them at all times.”  As well as the tides, the overwater bures have to withstand extreme  weather events like Cyclone Winston and thankfully they stood up to its incredible ferocity.  Lizard Lodgers Although the sea life is certainly the star of a visit to Likuliku, there’s another wild inhabitant that’s stealing a spot in the limelight. You have to look very carefully, but in a vegetation-filled enclosure near the resort’s main building are some unique lizards lounging around.  The Malolo Iguana was though to be extinct until a chance find in 2010 saw an injured one rescued from behind of the Likuliku bures. Unfortunately, this little guy didn’t survive, but much to the delight of iguana aficionados the world over, several more have since been found, seven of which call the resort home as part of an observation and breeding process. Five Star Sustenance
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Life
California Dreaming
Words by Paul Diamond on 27 Jun 2017
No longer just the domain of superstars of the screen, Los Angeles is adding some new leading lights to its food and wine scene. As the second most populated city in America, Los Angeles is often the entry point for Australians wanting to explore the home of the brave. For food and wine lovers, the City of Angels is often a pit stop on the way to the urbane dining rooms of San Francisco with the perception being that fine  food and wine play second fiddle to the lure of Hollywood. But things have recently changed, and LA’s food and drink scene now dazzles as much as any movie star. So it’s well worth spending a few days exploring the refreshed food culture; from the high end down, there’s plenty to taste. But first some advice. If you want to check out the celebrity haunts or local favourites like Venice at sunset, you’ll need to hire a car. Because while getting your head around driving on the right after 15+ hours on a plane can be daunting, the public transport is even more so. But once you’ve secured some wheels, avoid the 405 anywhere near the morning and afternoon peaks, otherwise you’ll find yourself in the granddaddy of all traffic jams and LA drivers take no prisoners. For those really wanting to experience the LA bubble, look no further than Beverly Hills. Originally built as a farming ranch, the Hills became its own city at the beginning of the first World War. When compared to the rest of Los Angeles, it’s like Beverly Hills has its own atmosphere and it’s easy to see why the rich and famous choose 90210 as their postcode. Low Key Luxury
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Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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