Water & Wine

Can there be anything as relaxing as sipping on an ice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc, while sitting on a balcony overlooking a sparkling blue ocean? No, I thought not. I must admit it’s the one thing I do seek out when I go on holiday or even when just relaxing locally around Perth. It’s not always easy to get all three together, wine, balcony and ocean but I am prepared to sacrifice the balcony for a deck or a courtyard. Oh, and very occasionally I have also been known to substitute an ice cold beer for the Sauvignon Blanc.

I’m lucky to be living only minutes away from one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world. This was brought home to me recently when I took a relative, visiting from overseas, on a drive along the coast. Her comment was ‘why would you need to go anywhere else for a holiday?’ and when you think about it she was right. So here are my top three spots for a drink or leisurely lunch whilst gazing out at the clear blue Indian Ocean:

Soda Sun Lounge, North Beach.

Upstairs at the North Beach Shopping Centre, this restaurant, as their website declares, ‘elevates casual beachside dining to a whole new level.’ You can stop by for brunch, lunch or dinner, or simply enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail. The interior, with a perfect mix of booths, couches and tables offers a relaxed yet stylish atmosphere. Outside in summer, an extended lunch on the deck is an absolute pleasure. The menu offers a variety of options from a club sandwich or goumet pizza to a Black Angus scotch fillet. If you’re there with a friend I would certainly recommend several share plates to allow a taste of a variety of simple yet tasty dishes.

The Breakwater, Hillarys Boat Harbour.

The winner of a swag of awards, this place is a favourite with locals and tourists alike. You have the choice of the downstairs deck only a few metres from the water, or you can take in the view of the harbour from the upstairs balcony at Reid’s Lounge. This is where I personally like to partake of the aforementioned glass of wine, or two. Just a warning, it’s very busy on a weekend so if you can  try and visit on a weekday.

Indian Ocean Brewhaus, Mindarie Marina.

A lazy weekend afternoon can be whiled away in a very pleasant manner at this northern suburbs marina. This microbrewery brews its own range of preservative free, handcrafted beers on site and, I must admit, it’s a tasty drop. The place has a certain vibe to it, with live music in the courtyard on a Sunday and a friendly, family atmosphere. From the relaxing couches and umbrella covered tables, the view over the marina to the limestone breakwater can tempt you to stay just a little longer than intended.

Ubud market – a new experience

Confused scents jostled with each other. Only inches away, in front of me, to my left, to my right, orange, yellow, green, blue, red, gold, silver, competed for ascendency. I gaped, I know I did. Sarongs, statues – of wood and stone, jewellery, bags and belts, watches, paintings, incense. Everything they believed a tourist could possibly want was there, crammed together.

It seemed too much and I felt the urge to turn, to retreat back the way I had come. The incessant swerving of the scooters and the tooting of the car horns in the street outside, which until a moment ago I had wanted to escape from, suddenly seemed the preferable option.

But I held my ground, I could do this. I slid tentatively into the maze. I avoided eye contact and donned my ‘just looking’ attitude. “You try, you like” ricocheted around me, but I maintained my resolve. It survived only a matter of minutes before the “you like, what colour, how many you want?” infiltrated my defences. I lingered just a moment too long over the cushion covers, my fingers actually touched the fabric. “What colour you like?” I answered – green.

Black, brown, orange and red were pushed aside as she unearthed bright green, olive green and pale green cushion covers. Again I fingered them, “that one I think.” “How many you like?” Again I answered, “two.” She named her price. Now I had to do what was expected of me. Oh god. I was the one who always walked away when others began to barter. I had been to Bali before and to theVictoria markets in Melbourne, both times with a friend. She was an avid barterer. She would focus, she would get her price or she would walk away. I always left her to it feigning a sudden interest in men’s shirts or children’s toys on the neighbouring stalls. But I knew the principle. I took a quiet breath, halved the price. Her expression did an about turn. How could I? Had I done it wrong? I wondered. She came back at me with another figure but I managed to counter once again with my own. Again her eyes widened and a gasp escaped. She held her ground, but so did I. I shook my head in a ‘no’, my feet did a 90 degree turn. They didn’t get as far as 180 degrees. Her shoulders sagged, she sighed, her boss wouldn’t like it she told me, but I got my price.

I know I had a silly grin on my face. I was hooked. From there it was not so much a slide as a skid into the world of bartering. When I found myself on the street again over an hour later juggling the black plastic bags as evidence, I realised – there were things I had forgotten to buy. I was already planning my next visit.