Jagermeister Hunting Lodge, Sydney Festival

“You’re invited to hunt out top talent”… whether the invitation is referring to onstage or amongst the crowd, talent abounds at the opening night of the Jagermeister Hunting Lodge in the Honda Festival Garden. 

Despite the balmy January evening, we enter an alpine winter hunting lodge that appears to cozily shelter us from a European frost (a world away from the hot Australian Sydney summer outside). A faux fireplace flickers in front of plush leather lounges, tables and chairs are carved out of logs and mock mounted animal heads line the walls. Glamorous girls serve drinks while clad in shorts and fur beanies, while bow-tied “photographers” use oversized cameras to snap polaroids of the trendily eclectic crowd. 

Kiwi rockstar Tim Finn performed at Tuesday’s launch, revving up the audience with a mix of Crowded House, Split Enz and his own solo music. Shaking his floppy white hair to the music, moonwalking like Michael Jackson on red bull, he announced to the adoring crowd that “cos it’s the Sydney Festival, we’ve gotta talk about really high brow things like astrology and star signs…".

A pop up bar and live performance space in the middle of Hyde Park, entry to the Lodge is free as part of the 2012 Sydney Festival. Chandeliers adorned with jagermeister bottles hang from the wooden installation as the bar serves a selection of mixes of jager, jager, wine… and jager. Jager & Dry is recommended by the bartender, and the various cocktails remind visitors that there is more to the spirit than just chemical warfare (jager bombs don’t even feature on the menu). 

If craving inspiration for high brow conversation (as Finn reminded us, it is the Sydney Festival after all), garden tables are dotted outside to enjoy cocktails, gaze at the stars and check the position of mercury. With intimate live performances, novel surrounds and a hipster crowd worth people-watching, the Jagermeister Hunting Lodge is another winning example of the Sydney Festival’s goal kicking. This is our city in summer.

Popping up as part of the 2012 Sydney Festival the semi-permanent bar and music venue will be open to the public between 10th-29th of January for a series of intimate secret shows.

Shows are open to the public and most are FREE (subject to capacity). Ticket registration is required for some events. Visit for more information.


Guest Post: “If you can hammer a nail, you can build a boat”...

Guest post by Vincent Stander

“Anyone can cook!” was the mantra of the legendary chef, Jacque Gusto, in the movie Ratatouille that inspired a mouse to become a chef.

Now the Balmain Boat Company has made the exclusive world of boat ownership accessible…and far more rewarding. “If you can hammer a nail, and ice a cake, then you can build a Balmain Boat”, according to legendary industrial designer and co-owner Andrew Simpson.

Balmain Boat Company is an IKEA-style DIY boat building concept. The boat is delivered to your door in three boxes that contain 42 already cut pieces of plywood, epoxy glue, screws, nails, caulk (a google search enlightened me that this was sealant) and an instruction manual on how to build your own boat!  

Upon receiving these singular pieces of timber, paging through the instruction manual, watching the online instruction video, my initial reaction was that I had oversubscribed myself. 

Being a 30-year-old eastern suburbs male whose resume in the DIY department boasts one IKEA drawer set and the ability to change the tire on my push bike (with difficulty), I did not believe I was up to the task of building a boat. I called co-owner Nicole Still with the intention of returning the beautifully cut pieces of wood  before they were wasted on someone who would to hack and deform them into something akin to firewood and not a passenger-carrying vessel. 

For future reference, do not contact Nicole to say that you are unable to do something…you could try Andrew.

The boat build consisted of four distinct phases: 
(1) assembling the frame/skeleton 
(2) planking
(3) applying the sealant / caulk
(4) painting.

The clean edges and perfect dimensions of the computer-led wood cut pieces ensured that putting the frame together was a bit like building a large puzzle and nailing in each piece, and when securing the planks they were within millimetre perfection from the bow to the stern plate.

Each of the stages required specific skills, some of which I had not attempted before: using a power drill, applying sealant with a caulking gun, mixing the paint and curing agent to the appropriate proportions.

The social element of the boat build was unexpected and the most rewarding. I had friends around to look at the boat and all had an admirable attempt at hammering nails or drilling in screws (many of them for the first time of their lives!). I enjoyed conversations with Doug Sturrock of Sturrocks of Sydney about boat paints and numerous conversations with Sam from Bunnings about sealant and caulking guns. 

My dad was always a phone call away when I needed a hand or advice and successfully fulfilled the goal of Balmain Boat Company which is “to make parents and grand parents look like legends”. 

The dad... the legend
And similar to building a tree house or a model aeroplane, a Balmain Boat is rewarding in many more ways than the mere final ownership of the boat.

Do you know anyone in Sydney likely to get engaged in 2012? What better way to propose than an afternoon row on Sydney Harbour? BBCo will lend a boat (FREE) to any guy looking for a spectacular engagement plan. Email them at:


Rojo Rocket, Central Coast

“… There’s a track winding back to an old fashioned shack….”

While the sunny Central Coast may be approximately 450km from Gundagai, the famous Jack O’Hagan ditty springs to mind as we wind our way up Avoca Drive in search of the much hyped Rojo Rocket.

A garden of cactus, an artfully painted Mexican door and a friendly welcome are our first encounter with this strangely located oasis. We walk down a path surrounded by tropical greenery while a painted cow statue observes us from a red framed lily pond and a tanned blonde waiter stands by to greet us. We discover a buzzing restaurant full of large table groups, couples reclining on day beds outside and an upstairs taqueria with a cocktail cantina and funky music. Multi levelled and multicoloured, all venues are open to take advantage of the balmy coastal evenings.

Adrian Reed, whose Mexican wife Nigdali came up with the concept, mingles with the holiday crowd, popping by tables and daybeds to ensure punters are enjoying their margaritas, churros and tapas.

Toto, I do believe we’re not in Sydney anymore” remarks a member of our group, the exuberance, artwork and originality of the architecture placing us in some exotic Latin American locale. Every glance reveals a trinket worthy of scrutiny, from a screen playing silent movies in the garden behind the bar, to fluorescent lit miniature nativity scenes built into the wall next to the skull surrounded fireplace.

We decide to settle in the upstairs outdoor bar, and order guacamole and freshly prepared lamb tacos from the flowery taqueria cart. The tacos are succulent and flavoursome, while the generous guac servings disappear quickly. The cantina delivers a steady supply of shaken margaritas and fruity sangria, while the gentlemen among us can’t resist the opportunity to partake in a celebratory post-dinner cigar.

An infectious holiday spirit, incredibly friendly staff and an authentic and well executed Mexican menu are the substance behind the hype of this seaside town treasure. Catering to all from hens’ parties in search of fiesta, to casual family dinners to special occasions requiring silver service, Rojo Rocket looks set to be the must-visit destination of the Central Coast.

See more photos of Rojo Rocket and the Central Coast on the Lifeafterfive* facebook page.

Rojo Rocket on Urbanspoon

Rojo Rocket on Urbanspoon


A kiwi cocktail...

It was over 90 years before a select few apples were allowed across the Aussie / NZ ditch, yet luckily for cocktail enthusiasts a more popular kiwi export has migrated in a fraction of the time.

With an ethos combining fun and freshness, VnC cocktails have conquered a gap in the Aussie market by creating a pre-mixed, premium range of cocktails. A delivery of the naturally spirited range arrived on my doorstep just in time for a weekend getaway up the coast.

Our unanimous fave was the Passionfruit Caprioska, based on a fruit which is described as “the mousy librarian who removes her glasses and everyone realises is a real fox”. A close second was the mango daiquiri, a blend of banana and mango with New Zealand vodka.

Despite a high number of sweet ready-to-drink beverages on the bottle-o shelves, the concept of a natural fruit juice cocktail seems to have been previously overlooked. Founded by kiwi Shane McKillen in 2007, his commitment to no artificial colouring, preservatives or colours will appeal to those health conscious Sydney-siders who are still partial to a tasty cocktail.
Despite being the first company in the world to gain Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme (CEMARS) product certification, VnC cheekily claims that the “only problem NZ has is that there’s only three tv channels”.

Following in the footsteps of Flight of the Conchords, pavlovas and beached whales (forget the pesky apples), this is a kiwi export that is likely to punch above its weight (and probably soon be claimed as our own).

A pack of VnC Cocktails was sent to lifeafterfive* by Liquid Ideas.


Copacabana; a coastal escape

A forty pack of icy poles, spirited games of frisbee, fluoro pink thong shaped lilos. Sunscreen is lathered on sandy legs, leathery bare feet brave hot sand to buy chips from the store, rockpools invite leisurely walks to the end of the beach. A local kiosk serves surprisingly decent Byron Bay Coffee Co coffee, with the essential Jack Johnson beachside soundtrack and an owner who remembers your name, order and how your day was yesterday. 

A January getaway to Copacabana on the NSW Central Coast is a nostalgic excursion to the simple childhood pleasures of Aussie summers, with icy poles on the beach graduating to cocktails on the balcony.

A sleepy town of approximately four shops, Copa is close enough to Avoca and Terrigal to satisfy any rare cravings for urban shops and amenities, while maintaining the cruisy vibe of remote coastal life. Music, sunshine and good company are the essential ingredients for a revitalising escape from reality; a place where one forgets what day of the week it is, meals blur indefinably between brekky, lunch and barbeques, and spontaneous beach footy games follow dips in the ocean and flicking through magazines on the beach.
Distance from Sydney: 90km
Population (2001 Census): 2,753 


Are you a man or a mollusc? Crabbe Hole cafe, Icebergs

“Be a man - not a mollusc” declares a membership rule emblazoned on the wall of Bondi Icebergs, reflecting the tough constitution drawn up by founders in 1929. To become a true Iceberg, one must spend three of four Winter Sundays doing laps of the pool for five years, completing a minimum total of 75 during the period. The individuals overcome races in icy conditions, rough swells and actual ice blocks to achieve the hard-earned, highly sought after membership.
Crabbe Hole cafe
For those of us content with mere mollusc status, the Crabbe Hole café is an oft overlooked Bondi gem that allows enjoyment of billionaire views with top-notch coffee and artisan bread. A blend of poolside casual and Bondi chic, the laidback friendly service and plastic chairs common at any suburban public pool kiosk accompany a menu of Pat and Stick's gourmet ice creams and Sonoma sandwiches. A mirror above the counter reflects the paintbox blue of the ocean pool, framed by rocks and set above the beach. Large yellow umbrellas provide ample respite from the sun, and clientele of every demographic avail themselves of the well-priced yet selectively premium fare.

Perched on the ledge above the pool and below the RSL, one can watch the colourful caps of swimmers traverse the lanes while an equal number of tanned bodies stake prime poolside real estate, clustering on the steps and surrounds to worship the sun while avoiding the sand.

Fig and walnut bread ($5 with jam), a coffee ($3.50) and the Sunday paper may not be a fortuitous beginning for those preparing for five years of Iceberg initiation, but if you’re content to be a mere mollusc, this is a hole in the wall worth a visit.

Mocha $3.50
Fig & Walnut toast $5
The Crabbe Hole on Urbanspoon